If I had one wish this election year it would be to provide every American with <a rel="noreferrer noopener" href="http://<a target="_blank" href="https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0062978411/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=9325&creativeASIN=0062978411&linkCode=as2&tag=theflosqu-20&linkId=c0223d21e3c17b8db12ce42c99cb86ca">Trumpocalypse: Restoring American Democracy</a>a copy of David Frum’s, Trumpocalypse. In this work, Frum, arguably the most intellectually-gifted conservative writer of the last 30 years lays out the case for why Donald Trump is not only a bad President, but a fundamental threat to long-term maintenance of American values and by extension liberal democracy at home and abroad.
The debasing of institutions and overriding threat to American Democracy presented by Trumpism is the theme of Frum’s second masterpiece book on the Trump threat. In the early days of the Trump Presidency, Frum penned Trumpocracy which detailed the debasement of American values and foreign policy – a realignment from the United States traditional commitment to promoting liberal democracy to supporting authoritarian regimes where Trump had business ties or admired strongman-type leaders.
That trend has continued since Frum wrote Trumpocracy, with strongmen like Russia’s Putin, China’s Xi, Turkey’s Erdogan and Hungary’s Orban having more influence over the American President than democratically elected leaders of traditional US allies like Merkel of Germany or Macron of France.
Frum’s intellect and sense of history is among the sharpest around. It was his book on the 1970’s that picked up in the early part of the George W. Bush Presidency (before 9/11, but after Bush took office) that gave me a sense of that decade more than the 60’s and 80’s as the one that shaped America, and led to my near-obsession with 1970’s Florida politics. I wouldn’t for example, have any interest about Anita Baker and her role in the Dade County “Save our Children” if I hadn’t read his book first and then intensely researched the subject afterward.
Back to Trumpocalypse – Frum puts emphasis on the factors of Trump as a wannabe tin-pot-dictator who isn’t in any way a traditional capitalist or businessman. Trump’s businesses depend on cronyism, graft and political contacts. His repeated failures in the domestic marketplace leading him to make alliances with governments abroad, many of which were autocracies of varying degrees. The relationships with the likes of Erdogan and Putin are not just because he admires illiberal strongmen, but because his business acumen depends on favoritism and cronyism- which is easier to accrue with such immoral leaders.
Trumpism is an ideology, Frum argues that competes head-on with concepts like democracy and modernity. Democracy, as we’ve traditionally practices it is not compatible with the world view of Trump supporters or their concept of “freedom.” The author proposes many “fixes” for democracy and our institutions to guard against future Trump’s, all of which are worthy of discussion and consideration.
Frum, who we must remind our readers is Jewish and was born in Canada (he became a naturalized American citizen toward the end of the George W. Bush’s Presidency) makes a very compelling case about the desire of Trump supporters to erode democracy and implement schemes akin to the electoral college on all aspects of the American electoral system. Trump supporters egged on by their leader are eager to define who are “real Americans,” and who aren’t. This to an extent is a legacy of the Nixon years, I would argue, but no doubt the intensity and volume of such arguments has reached since 2015 when Donald Trump began running for President.
While political ideology plays a large role in many of Trump’s opponents it should not be the defining motivator for opposition to the President, the author argues. Woke liberalism and the desire of the left to create more open borders should be rejected – this represents a threat first and foremost to building the type of electoral coalition needed to defeat Trumpism and secondly to the institutions of the country themselves.
Certainly, this point can be argued. America’s immigration system is broken, but if you emigrate legally to this country it’s easier to become a citizen than it is in most western democracies, something the far left often forgets. I also would remind our readers that as a first generation American, I was born a US Citizen though both my parents held Indian passports at the time (both became US citizens in the following years).
Had I been born in the same circumstances in the United Kingdom, I would not have been granted citizenship on birth. The same is true for a number of other western democracies.
Frum’s fear is that if a doctrinaire leftist approach to immigration and wokeness is followed by the Democrats, any chance to meet disaffected Trump voters in the middle could be thrown away. We see this strategy potentially by Vice President Joe Biden in his decision to reject calls to “defund the police,” and instead articulate a vision for law enforcement reform.
The fear of a “Trump Dynasty” or dynastic movement plays a part in Frum’s thinking. Even if Trump were to lose in 2020, his children, now invested in the illiberal, scheming movement their father began could continue to be a thorn in the side of American democracy.
Trumpcalypse is a brilliant read and even if you disagree with much of the author’s ideology, as I do, any objective person concerned about protecting American democracy will find it indispensable in these trying times. It’s a book anyone concerned about the direction of this country should read.