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February 21, 2017

ANALYSIS: TRUE. The Real Division in American Life Isn’t About Trump.

The basic division in American politics today is not over the merits of President Trump. Many of those who voted for him believed that he lacked the moral grounding and gravitas that great Presidents must ultimately draw on. The division is between those who think that before Trump, things were going just fine and the American elite was doing an excellent job, and those who blame the rise of Trump on the failures and blindness of the so-called “meritocratic elite” who, they would argue, have been running the country into the ground.

In foreign policy, the United States has had two failed presidencies in a row. Our grand strategy of domesticating China into the world order by offering it an unprecedented opportunity to grow rich through low-wage manufacturing exports has hurt American workers without democratizing or reconciling China. Presidents Bush and Obama thought that the democratization of the Middle East would and could solve the terrorism problem—and so did their degreed and esteemed advisers and the commentariat.

Domestically, our leadership elite has watched passively as infrastructure decays, state and local pension systems accumulate unsustainable debt loads, the national debt inexorably climbs, and the social capital of the nation erodes.

There was no sign from the Clinton campaign that anybody understood that the nation’s path was unsustainable. The Clinton campaign was about “more of the same.”

The jury’s out on Trump’s solutions but at least he recognized that there was a problem.