TRUMPOCALYPSE Restoring American Democracy A book Written by By David Frum.
In our current COVID 19 situation where people’s lives are affected — biological and political viruses, uncontrolled — a terrible question, unimaginable since the Civil War, has emerged: How is the situation of our democracy? Are we in danger of a crisis that will shatter our brilliant experiment in self-government? And, if so, what can we do about it? The Atlantic writer David Frum is well situated to consider these questions and in “Trumpocalypse”.
David Frum longtime pillar of the Republican Party’s intellectual elite who was shocked to learn in 2016, with the rest of us, that the Republican Party no longer had an intellectual elite. “I came of age inside the conservative movement of the 20th century,” he writes in a new, post-coronavirus introduction. “In the 21st, that movement has delivered much more harm than good, from the Iraq war to the financial crisis to the Trump presidency.”
“Trumpocalypse” is described into two phases. The first is a brutal takedown of Donald Trump, occasionally to a fault. “President Donald J. Trump did not start the pandemic of course,” he writes in the new introduction. “But at every step of the way, Trump has acted as if guided by one rule: ‘How can I make this trauma worse?’” Frum’s best observations are more ultra fine. Here he is, quoting Trump’s self-revelatory evaluation of the Korean dictator Kim Jong-un: “Hey, when you take over a country … and you take it over from your father … if you can do that at 27 years old, that’s one in 10,000 that can do that. So he’s a very smart guy. He’s a great negotiator. But I think we understand each other.”
He places Trump internationally, as part of a “fascoid” movement — an unpleasant coinage he uses to indicate a diluted form of fascism — that is based not in nationalism, but in white racial identity “with a capital in Moscow.” Well, maybe. The “replacement of nation by race may explain why so many Trump supporters felt untroubled by Russian help for the Trump candidacy.” Or perhaps they were just convinced by their hero that the Russian disinformation campaign was fake news.
Frum expresses out that if there is a strong chance that Trump wins in 2020, he will do so, once again, with a minority of the popular vote, but a majority of the Electoral College. Is it possible, Frum wonders, that this will be the new American electoral reality? If so, the Constitution itself will look “ever less credible.” And as the United States becomes an increasingly polychromatic nation, Republicans may begin to argue that “with the country composed of the wrong kind of majorities demographically, it cannot be governed by majority rule electorally.”
Frum say’s out the solutions he proposes in the second half of “Trumpocalypse” are bold and provocative. He does not want to eliminate the Electoral College, or combine the Dakotas, Wyoming and Montana into one state ; sadly, such things aren’t feasible. He does suggest some small structural changes: eliminate the Senate filibuster, make it illegal for politicians to withhold their tax returns, have congressional districts drawn by independent commissions, not state legislatures. There are several others.
Frum’s boldest proposal involves policy, not governmental structure, and it goes back to the notion that too many Americans He proposes a political trade: a severe tightening of immigration rules in return for the passage of much-needed social and climate legislation — a comprehensive national health care system, a carbon tax. He does mention “If Democrats want to perpetuate their health care reforms, they must do a better job of solidifying a sense of national belonging. If Republicans want to safeguard the border, they must offer a better deal to those living on that border’s American side.”
The concentration of America’s economy, a celebrity society that aggrandizes the wealthy and a fragmented media have certainly played a role as well. Still, Frum’s proposal seems prescient: Covid-19 may have pushed the national mood toward the deal he posits — a stronger health care system and stronger borders.
Frum has done something crucial: He has recognized that a new national conversation is coming, and, with “Trumpocalypse,” he has provided a thoughtful way to start it.