How To Beat Trump
(Forthcoming Fall/Winter 2018/19)
‘Donald Trump is a loser.’
The aim of this book is to make this statement true.
He’s not a loser right now. He’s a winner. And Donald Trump is powerful—maybe the most powerful president in US history. Every day that he controls the news cycle with no more effort than it takes to twiddle his thumbs, he proves it once more. He sets the topic, if not the direction, of public discourse. Often, globally.
Why does he command our attention so? It’s a power that has been amplified by—but does not originate in—the office he now holds. We tell ourselves: because he’s the president of the United States, we therefore feel compelled to give him our attention. No. That answer gets cause and effect backward. Rather: because we felt compelled to give him our attention, he became president of the United States.
Donald Trump’s power, like all political power in a democracy, originates in us—in our fixed ways of seeing our world and our fixation with those who defy everything we thought we knew about it. He’s a pig. And pigs can’t fly. So every day we gape at his flight in anticipation of the messy splatter that is surely coming. And we go to sleep disappointed.
It turns out: pigs can fly.
Our third and final painful confession must be: Donald Trump is right. His way of seeing the world, so different from everyone else’s, has an unexpected validity. His mental map makes sense. It led him to his objective, even as other contestants—smarter, more experienced, better prepared for the contest—floundered.
The map that Donald Trump has been navigating by his whole life—a map that led him, time and again, to places of public ridicule—is suddenly accurate. Now it is the rest of us, navigating by the same maps as before, who look ridiculous. Liberal elites look on in horror as everything they have fought for since the 1960s—a world of equal civil, social and political rights for minorities; a global market for trade and investment unfettered by meddling state planners; an awareness of the existential risk of climate change—was wiped away overnight. The world has been turned over to a pack of madmen with ridiculous hair.
How is this possible? It’s possible because, unlike our physical reality, which forever excludes the possibility of porcine flight, our political and social reality can shift.
And it has shifted.
We shouldn’t have been shocked. We ourselves triggered the earthquakes. Globalization. Technological transformation. A new social medium. New systemic risks, punctuated by a global financial crisis. Sharply rising economic inequality and Chinese influence. Demographic trends approaching tipping points of racial, geographic and generational change. It was naïve in the extreme to believe that the landscape of our democratic discourse would be unaffected by these transformations—that the same map by which we navigated the terrain twenty-five years ago can still get us where we want to go today.
To conquer this shifting landscape, we need a new map.
How To Beat Trump draws it.
I’ll let you know when this book is released.