So, those who say a Trump presidency “can’t happen here” should check their conventional wisdom at the door. The candidate has confounded conventional expectations this primary season because those expectations are based on an oversimplified caricature of the electorate in general and his supporters in particular. Conditions are ripe for an authoritarian leader to emerge. Trump is seizing the opportunity. And the institutions—from the Republican Party to the press—that are supposed to guard against what James Madison called “the infection of violent passions” among the people have either been cowed by Trump’s bluster or are asleep on the job.
So long as the British negotiating team plays by EU rules, it will lose. The myriad points of darkness that make up the vast complexity of the EU structure cannot be negotiated. In part, they exist so that they cannot be understood. If the British negotiators start with the elegant institutional and moral principles that frame their unwritten constitution, they can present the terms under which they will work with the EU. Not to worry – the Germans won’t stop trading with the British. They can’t stop, and the British will have the upper hand if they employ British aplomb and remember that excluding Britain from the free trade zone is not an option for the EU. From there, it is simple.
We hear a lot about the distraction problem . Trump’s more outrageous tweets eat up the news cycle and distract from hard news, like his massive conflicts of financial interest, or his massive fraud in the Trump University case. And it is important not to allow Twitter dustups to conceal real-world misconduct. But insisting on the difference between truth and lies is itself a part of the defense of freedom. Orwell, Arendt, and Havel teach us that the power to tell public lies and to have them repeated is evidence of, and a tool for the expansion of, a power that free people should resist and refuse. That is not a distraction.