In a recent post I looked at two contrasting views on whether Trump would get away with Putinizing America. Yesterday, David Brooks made this reassuring observation:
The central task for many of us now is not to resist Donald Trump. He’ll seal his own fate. It’s to figure out how to replace him — how to respond to the slow growth and social disaffection that gave rise to him with some radically different policy mix.
Aardvak loves David Brooks, but he would feel better about this reassurance if Brooks had not confidently observed that no great political party would nominate a clown like Trump.
Oh, wait, maybe I need to read those words about a great political party more carefully.
But I digress. To return to the main message:
Amidst his casual reassurance on the topic of fate sealing, Brooks marshals a horrifying array of factoids about the social conditions that let Trumpism happen.
- Between 1985 and 2000, the total hours of paid work in America increased by 35 percent. Over the next 15 years, they increased by only 4 percent.
- For every one American man aged 25 to 55 looking for work, there are three who have dropped out of the labor force.
- These labor dropouts spend 2,000 hours a year watching screens—and we all know what’s on those screens, don’t we?
- Lots of the labor dropouts are taking opioids.
- We have become an immobile society, migrating across state lines at half the level of the 50s and 60s.
- We have become less entrepreneurial.
- We have become less innovative.
In sum, ours is
a country that is decelerating, detaching, losing hope, getting sadder. Economic slowdown, social disaffection and risk aversion reinforce one another.
Of course nothing is foreordained. But where is the social movement that is thinking about the fundamentals of this century’s bad start and envisions an alternate path? Who has a compelling plan to boost economic growth? If Trump is not the answer, what is?
That’s Brooks’ summary. My own take on the facts Brooks marshals is that next time we might do a lot worse than Trump.
No more water. The fire next time.