When you trace the politics of Donald Trump from his presidential campaign to his presidential administration, you always seem to come back to the same internal theme: incompetence. The result has been a sequence of disasters, both big and small, and the specific causes of these failures are the same. Trump and his people ran campaign ads boasting of their promise to put America first, and the actual response has been our being put first, atop a chain of disasters that have led to mass unemployment, a prolonged war, a wrenching natural disaster, an unhinged immigration crackdown, and more.
The policies of the Trump administration – the withdrawal from the Paris climate agreement, the dismantling of regulatory and financial institutions, and the battle over judicial confirmations – all appear to be motivated by the same impulse: to place America first and overcome all of our other human concerns. Even when these efforts come up against the facts and figures, the politicians are lying or obfuscating their way through the process. And on the big ones, Trump has shown an astonishing capacity for self-inflation. It’s not exactly hard to imagine a progressive, left-wing movement warning in 2024 of a Trump “coup,” fueled by the lack of understanding among Trump’s base of the gravity of the moment, and the likelihood that Trump’s presidency, from this point on, will be ungovernable.