The word of the day is “polarized.” The New York Times declared that Donald Trump “will take command of a country unsettled after one of the most polarizing periods in modern times.” ABC’s chief political analyst went even further, arguing that the level of division was so bad that our political culture was “much more akin to where we were in 1861.” Writing in the Washington Post, Philip Bump rightly noted that Trump “didn’t create the country’s divisions” before wondering: “Will he heal them?” The answer: No, he will not. He couldn’t heal them if he tried - and he's rushing headlong in the opposite direction.
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Here is something for Republicans in Congress to mull: If President Trump, the great businessman, ignites a trade war and tanks the economy, voters will draw the lesson “Those free-market Republicans have done it again. Capitalism equals depression.”
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Thus, we see the wearying pattern of the modern Trump media debate. The media call out his falsehoods and decry the erosion of norms. His defenders call out media hypocrisy but then are themselves often incapable of telling the truth. After all, to speak the truth means “giving in.” It means “not fighting.” Our politics is devolving into the pathetic spectacle of liars indignantly calling out liars for lying. Rule-breakers are outraged that other rule-breakers break rules. Norms that could be violated with impunity for “social justice” can’t be violated for “nationalism.” We stick with our tribe, through thick and thin — through truth and lies.
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