The faith in American unanimity that Joe Biden expressed in this year’s State of the Union speech sounded genuine. But how realistic is it in a country dominated by social fragmentation and a flood of alternative realities?
George Blecher is a former professor at the City University of New York. He is a writer, journalist and translator. His articles appear in, among others, the New York Times, Eurozine, New Republic, Christian Science Monitor, as well as Visegrád Insight and the Danish daily Information. He is a member of the Eurozine Advisory Board.
The red tide never surged but the re-election of numerous brazen careerists and hardline crazies is bad news for the next two years and beyond, particularly since the Democrats have little idea about how to oppose this new breed of politician.
Amidst bipartisan solidarity with Ukraine, Joe Biden’s State of the Union address focused on unity and reconciliation. But in reality, deep rifts remain not just between the parties, but within them too. The jockeying for 2024 has already long begun.
Pessimists fear that the Trump phenomenon has not so much derailed American democracy as revealed long-standing problems in the system itself. But if the causes of the crisis are apparent, prospects of a way out are lacking in a country bitterly divided.
The first month of the pandemic in the US
The Trump administration’s failing response to COVID-19 has prompted governors and mayors to step up and even form shadow federations to coordinate their efforts. Lifelong New Yorker George Blecher reflects on the first phase of the coronavirus crisis in the US.
Trump’s 2020 State of the Union address
In the midst of a predictably partisan impeachment trial, Donald Trump said not a word about the ongoing process or his abuse of power that led to it. Democrats may not be able to capitalize on Republicans’ exposed lack of morals in this year’s elections, facing deep fragmentation themselves, chaos in their primary processes and a problematic bid for the presidential nomination from an upbeat billionaire.
An interview with George Blecher on US politics in the age of Trump
Media acceleration puts enormous emphasis on speed, creating a pressure on politics that the elaborate procedures of cross-party cooperation cannot withstand. Modelled after Roman democracy, modern liberal democracies may as well have an expiration date, George Blecher argues.
The state of the union after the shutdown
Donald Trump’s achievements thus far have been rhetorical. But whether Democrats can take advantage of his weakness remains doubtful. Following the longest government shutdown in US history, Trump is now threatening to declare a national emergency – a move dreaded by even his supporters.
Despite Democrat gains in the mid-terms, the party is no closer to winning back the ‘silent majority’ that was once its core support. In the public sphere, divisions are becoming ever more entrenched. As things stand, Trump’s position remains secure, according to George Blecher.
Michael Bloomberg and the US presidency
As Donald Trump appals and captivates the world in equal measure, another New York businessman is quietly positioning himself for power. American democracy might face even more of a threat from a figure with a record of real success in business and politics, argues fellow New Yorker George Blecher.
Democrats have forgotten whatever promises they made to listen to their opponents, establishment Republicans have been left aghast, and not even Trump’s core support has seen much in the way of reward. As Trump’s star begins to wane, the polarization will increase, predicts George Blecher.
Trump at six months
Half a year in, the furious tempo of the Trump presidency is being maintained – and even heightened – with ever more baroque cast members rotating through the White House. George Blecher attempts to make sense of it all – with a little help from Tacitus and Suetonius.
Trump’s recent military adventures had the world worried, but it wasn’t clear if that was the result of an over-zealous press or genuine amateurishness on the part of the US president. At any rate, the randomness of the past month suggests he is not completely comfortable in his job.
Trump’s most likely reaction to the defeat of his healthcare bill will be to seek revenge on his political opponents. But if he takes his role seriously, he may decide to rally cross-party support for some of his more positive campaign promises, writes George Blecher.
Constitutional conflicts, foreign policy upheavals and media spats: one frenetic month into the Trump presidency, Americans are still in a state of shock. With the madness set to continue, it’s time for a petrified opposition to start making some noise.
Epilogue to an ugly war
Trump’s win was far from unpredictable: the Clinton campaign failed to take popular resentment seriously. Whether or not Trump follows up on all of his many election promises, more conflict can be expected.