The one-year anniversary of Donald Trump’s presidency has seen some relief. The republic still stands. NAFTA and NATO survive. There is no border wall, no war with Iran or North Korea. Trump’s biggest accomplishments so far — tax cuts, energy deregulation, repealing the Obamacare mandate — are pretty conventional right-wing stuff.
Ignore the rhetoric and norm-breaking, the argument goes, and Trump is just like any other Republican.
In regional elections on Thursday, parties that want to break away from Spain got 47 percent support against 44 percent for those that oppose independence. (The balance going to a party that refuses to take sides.)
These figures are line with the latest government survey, which found almost 49 percent of Catalans in favor of independence and 44 percent opposed.
Clearly neither side has a convincing mandate and with turnout at 82 percent — the highest in living memory — it’s also clear that more voting, whether in the form of a referendum or another election, will not break the deadlock.
I used to think that the rise of far-right populism, the crisis of social democracy and growing divides along class and educational lines were creating a new political reality in the West.
In a 2016 report for the consultancy Wikistrat, I argued that the political spectrum was shifting from left-right to cosmopolitan-nationalist.
Others made similar observations:
Andrew Sullivan observed in 2014 that America’s blue-red culture war had come to Europe: “Blue Europe is internationalist, globalized, metrosexual, secular, modern, multicultural. Red Europe is noninterventionist, patriotic, more traditional, more sympathetic to faith, more comfortable in a homogeneous society.”
Stephan Shakespeare, a British pollsters, argued a year later that people were either “drawbridge up” or “drawbridge down”.
The Economist characterized the divide as between open and closed: “Welcome immigrants or keep them out? Open up to foreign trade or protect domestic industries? Embrace cultural change or resist it?”
David Goodhart divided people into “anywheres” — mobile and open-minded — and “somewheres” — attached to country, community and family.
I thought Republicans hit rock bottom when they elected a president with neither knowledge of nor interest in world affairs, a man who confessed to groping women, mocked a war hero despite himself dodging the Vietnam draft and who disparaged all Mexican immigrants as murders and rapists — but clearly I was wrong.
In Alabama, they have nominated for the Senate a man who was removed as the state’s chief justice for refusing to recognize the supremacy of the law over his own religious beliefs, who perpetuated the racist lie that Barack Obama wasn’t born in the United States, who believes homosexuality should be illegal, that Muslims can’t serve in government and the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks were God’s punishment for America’s heathen ways.
This isn’t quite the fall of the Trumpian house of cards. Paul Manafort’s indictment is very specific to him and his work in Ukraine. More information must come out before we can be certain this will lead to the White House. While the revelations of George Papadopoulos create the strongest link yet, they have not produced an indictment to date.
Yet there is an essential tale here: for the first time in modern American history, a foreign power has substantially interfered with a political campaign. It’s not that others haven’t tried. The Soviet Union tried several times to back favored candidates, especially in the turbulent 1960s and 70s. But in those Cold War cases, American candidates refused the help.
This is the first time it looks like someone said yes.
Donald Trump is splitting America’s Republican Party in two — and his side is winning.
NBC News and The Wall Street Journal asked Republican voters if they consider themselves to be a supporter of the president first or a supporter of the Republican Party. 58 percent said Trump, 38 percent the party.
The Trump supporters are more likely to hail from rural areas and to be men while Republican Party supporters are more likely to be women and residents of the suburbs.
CNN found a similar divide: Trump’s support is strongest among old white voters without a college education. Republicans under the age of fifty with a degree are disappointed in him.
These trends portend a realignment of America’s two-party system in which the Democrats become the party of the affluent and the optimistic and the Republicans a coalition of the left behind.
An NBC News-The Wall Street Journal poll found that more than three-quarters of Democrats, but less than one-third of Republicans, feel comfortable with societal changes that have made the country more diverse.
Democrats, only 29 percent of whom are white and Christian anymore, embrace ethnic and religious diversity as central to the American idea. Republicans, nearly three quarters of whom are white and Christian, see these changes as eroding what they believe America to be about.
Not surprisingly, Donald Trump’s supporters worry the most. The Pew Research Center found (PDF) that only 39 percent of them agree diversity makes America stronger.