As the 2020 presidential election looms into view, like an iceberg on the horizon, some liberals are muttering that if Trump wins again, freedom will crumble and democracy collapse. Which is both an exaggeration and defeatist, twin sins Dems suffer from enough without advertising them, apparently as an attempt to spur ourselves to confront a task that should require no exaggeration to take seriously.
Is not the prospect of four more years of Donald Trump motivation enough? Do we really need to toss in the death of the Republic to keep focused?
Besides, the essential truth — and this can't be said enough — is Trump is a symptom, not a cause. The United States reached a certain level of dysfunction and then conjured him up. First the rock split, then the demon emerged from the sulfurous crack.
Maybe we must experience the presidency of Ted Cruz to understand that.
Ample evidence can be found in George Packer's 2013 book, "The Unwinding: An Inner History of the New America," where a cast of fellow citizens illustrates our national shattering. Some are ordinary — Dean Price, son of a tobacco farmer, chases the will-o-the-wisp of biofuels. Tammy Thomas, navigates her Rust Belt ruins. Some are famous — Newt Gingrich, whose Dems-are-traitors worldview did so much to poison American political discourse.
And some straddle the two worlds. Jeff Connaughton is a University of Alabama business student when he is first wowed by a young senator named Joseph Biden.
Readers of "The Unwinding" grow disillusioned with Biden along with Connaughton, who works for him. And that is before Biden plagiarizes a speech by a British politician. Connaughton's moment of grim realization comes when, after his years of loyal service, Biden won't place a phone call to help him.
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