Trump and Biden or Lincoln and Douglas?

As I walked down the street, the loudest thing I heard was voter frustration. The exact theme has evolved over the years (“When will they stop the war?”) But I discovered now a theme that Washington operates for its own sake, not ours. It has its own internal conversations and actions, its own psychological scripts. (Joe Biden’s domestic agenda is driven by his desire for a legacy: He must become big and be understood as a second FDR! Kevin McCarthy went to Mar-a-Lago and revive Donald Trump right after the Capitol riots because Kevin wants to be a speaker!) It’s about political figures and their needs; everything else (is this good for the country?) seems like an afterthought. It has always been so, but it seems so much more so now.

All of this is distilled, among ordinary, intelligent people, more or less central, into one question: Will the next presidential election really take place between Trump and Biden once again. ? Donald Trump will be 78 years old on Election Day 2024, Mr. Biden 81. Is this the best we can do? They are old and they are they; Can’t we just go beyond them and the world they represent?

There have been some good memoirs and political histories over the past few years, and the best memoir speaks to this sense of impasse.

Most people who have worked with Mr. Trump have proved tireless: He is short-tempered, selfish, ignorant of history, and does not feel respected enough for our institutions and arrangements to be busy. focus on learning. These are not books that say Mr. Trump is “tricky” or “misused”, or “insolent” or “rude”. They said he was wild and full of threats. Former Secretary of Defense Mike Esper, in “A Sacred Oath,” said that Mr. Trump wanted to hit the Mexican drug cartels with missiles, and then denied the missiles came from us.

None of these books appear to be registered because those who oppose Mr. Trump, already familiar with the principle (he’s crazy), don’t need to hear about its many applications. His supporters either won’t listen or don’t care. Their story is that fanatics will never understand Mr. Trump and criticize him just because he threatens their power and position. What opponents see as ignorance is originality and boldness, a search for groundbreaking solutions to chronic problems. If he destroys the establishment’s porcelain store, that’s fine – porcelain is junk anyway.

But a recent history makes the difference and has a larger theme. “This Won’t Pass” by Jonathan Martin and Alex Burns captures the madness of Washington and the closed nature of the conversations that consume it. It’s deeply reported, with supplies from both sides and criticism from both, which is refreshing. It also represents an honest refusal by both sides to their constituents.

On the Republican side, it revolves around Mr. Trump. Party leaders, bureaucrats, executives and donors despise what he stands for: the degradation of everything. They say so privately, not publicly. They’re not trying to convince anyone, or say, “Try it my way”; they cower in and hope it passes. Mr. Trump holds about a third of the side: You win or lose with that third. The Republican Party as an entity, and a solid portion of its own constituency, is completely divided.

On the Democratic side, it is indisputable what the progressive movement is doing for the party and its prospects. Messrs. Martin and Burns report on a series of memos from Mr Biden’s pollster during his first year. Early on, voters were alarmed at what the administration was doing wrong, from illegal immigration to crime. No one paid him. They did not want to offend the party’s progressives, who were a small but important part of the base.

Republicans fear Trumpers. Democrats fear progress. Both sides fear most of their bases. So they lie to them – “I am with you!” – or misleading. This is self-defeating and leaves a frozen field in which ineligibility is fulfilled. Why compromise with Republicans if you’re trying to secure progress you hate them for? Why compromise with Democrats if it casts doubt on the Trumpist part of the base?

And so the “Won’t be nice” part.

Both sides will benefit in the long run if faced with issues they are avoiding. They have to stop being afraid of their supporters and say nothing. They should start trying to convince.

I propose a ridiculous series of Lincoln-Douglas debates that are not tied to an upcoming election but to the idea of ​​what it means.

For Republicans, the theme will be: Let’s talk about Trump.

To Democrats: Let’s talk about the progressive movement.

Abraham Lincoln and Stephen A. Douglas conducted seven debates in 1858, each about three hours long. They were covered heavily in the national newspapers because they were talking about the implications of the great problem then facing the country, slavery, and what to do about it. Both Lincoln and Douglas are excellent, Lincoln is truly a genius, so it won’t be dull.

Politicians today don’t have the talent and eloquence of Lincoln or Douglas, but all parties have outstanding people, so a few of them can do it.

Imagine an anti-Trump speaking with eloquence and reason, with goodwill, with good nature. Imagine someone would acknowledge what might be honorably acknowledged for the policy achievements of the Trump era but also talk about why the former president, by his very nature, could not and cannot. fit for the future. “Let’s talk about what the GOP has done to make their own voters so eager to wipe them out. Let’s talk about what’s good about that. Let’s talk about what was built after it, and what must now be rebuilt. ” Address everything, including the conspiracy theory, and explain why it’s just another way to give up, choosing an alternate world to get lost in. “Let’s make this world a better place. .”

And then hear a thoughtful answer.

Democrats: Be honest about what your progressives are doing for your party and its reputation. Everything — socialist economic policy, awakened cultural extremism. What do they get right, and what goes wrong? What progress will change and what conservation? Should the party disassociate itself from those who assert that mothers don’t exist but “those who give birth” do, that women don’t exist but “people with a cervix” do? Why do progressive solutions often emerge from the keyboard instead of living experience? Is life really that abstract? Why does the sense of progress always appear cold, lacking feeling with people with whom you share the same country?

Directly Challenging Progressives: Do You Love America? Why? Why don’t you talk about this? Do you approach vulnerable people with a sense of protection? Is there any difference between your claim of higher sensitivity and your tendency to push people around? Why should you take control of one of America’s two major parties?

Neither side has such conversations. But I’ve never met a completely inept human—completely—To a sincere appeal, respecting reason.

And anyway, it’s always good to talk about the meaning of things.

This is what C-Span is for.

Wonder Land: How did the United States become a nation on the brink of political or personal violence? Image: AP / Zuma Press Composite: Mark Kelly

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