A few hours ago a reprehensible man became the 45th President of the United States. This man openly mocked a disabled reporter; he claimed that John McCain was not a war hero because he had been captured in Vietnam; he quarreled openly with Gold Star parents; he is on video bragging about using his wealth and celebrity to sexually assault women–to “grab them by the pussy,” to use his words; he currently stands accused by roughly a dozen different women of various acts of sexual assault or harassment–but claims he never would have done so because some were too ugly for his liking; he mocked Ted Cruz’s wife, insulting her looks–he is a grotesque, sexist monstrosity. He also rose to political prominence as a leading figure in the deeply racist birther movement, claiming that President Obama was not an American citizen and therefore an illegitimate president; he scapegoats Mexicans and Muslims, labeling the former rapists and criminals, chiefly responsible for the economic ruin of America’s Rust Belt, while the latter are to be blamed collectively for the actions of terrorists across the globe. Thus, they must be banned entirely from entering the US and placed onto a federal registry. He also ran a fake university that was nothing more than a predatory institution meant to scam students; he operated a fake charity, whose proceeds he apparently used to purchase art of himself; he regularly stiffed contractors and other blue collar workers who worked on his properties, causing them (very often) to go out of business; he (more or less) openly bragged about not paying taxes for years on end due to a massive business write off years ago; he encouraged violence at his campaign rallies, and does not respect the country’s democratic institutions or norms–rather, he admires (openly) authoritarian strongmen around the globe. He is ignorant of public policy, seems to have no interest in learning anything about it, and does not understand in the least the tremendous benefits that accrue to the US as a result of its long standing alliances. The man is so simple-minded and ignorant that he simply sees everything as a sort of zero sum game, some sort of transaction in which the US is getting the worse of it. He has already said dumb things–about NATO, the One China policy–which, make no mistake, will have serious ramifications. I have no doubt that he does not understand any of this, nor might he ever.
This creature is now the most powerful man in the world–an erratic, temperamental, ignorant, bullying man-child with authoritarian inclinations will now stand at the head of the most powerful country and military in the world.
And how did we get here? For this we have to thank a broken Republican party, which has become so institutionally dysfunctional that it could not stop his rise during the primaries. The party fed its base such a steady diet of irrational nonsense over the last eight years via the conservative media bubble that Trump could come along and simply dispense with the dog whistle, saying all the things that the GOP base/primary voters wanted to hear. And then naked partisanship propelled him to victory in the general, as the entire GOP establishment eventually fell in line behind him and the “conservative” coalition came out and voted for him. Sure, there remained some principled conservatives–John Kasich among them, various think tank types–but defections were extremely minimal. He was embraced, eventually.
So it seems that we do indeed live in a great age of partisanship. There really are two Americas, a fact which I have long sought to play down. The divisions which separate the two are deep and meaningful and won’t go away any time soon. To claim otherwise would be to fundamentally misunderstand the country as it is today.