Monday, January 16, 2017

Comparing a Couple of Presidential Eras, And a Statement on Trump

I am fortunate to have Tom Huston as a facebook friend. He is a fellow collector of American political memorabilia. He is one of the top collectors in the country. Tom was a Senior Advisor in the Nixon White House (pictured here with Nixon) and a close friend of William F. Buckley. He was one of the originial fixtures in the intellectual conservative movement of the 1950s and 60s.

Tom makes a keen observation about the how history will view the 28-year period of Presidents between Ronald Reagan and Donald Trump. He views it's significance, or lack thereof, similar to that of the period betweeen Abraham Lincoln and William McKinley.

His point, I believe, is that both eras are characterized by very transitional periods in which societal and historical forces at work disrupt, overshadow, and make difficult attempts at leadership. The transitional period after Lincoln was characterized by a failed and tumultuous attempt at the Reconstruction of America after a great American Civil War. The transitional period between Reagan and Trump has been characterized, as Thomas Friedman puts it, by an age of rapid acceleration and exponential change and disruption in the areas of technology, globalization, and climate, which has upended, confused, and made fearful lives and institutions. Tom would likely point also to weak leadership during both eras, but that is diffucult to judge and evaluate under such circumstances, in my view.

Here is Tom's thought-provoking and insightful observation: "A century from now historians will attach to the presidencies between Ronald Reagan and Donald Trump the same significance that they now attach to those between Abraham Lincoln and William McKinley. Of course, they will highlight the election of the first African-American president and may footnote the impeachment of Bill Clinton and the unique achievement of George W. Bush in presiding simultaneously over two losing wars and a cataclysmic collapse of the economy, but the accomplishments of these intervening administrations, such as they may be, will (at best) take second place to great social and technological forces that remade the country during this 28-year period."

In 2017, we continue to move forward in uncertain, transitional, rapidly evolving and changing times. We have very questionable, non-traditional, in my view, unprepared, naive, dishonest leadership in Donald Trump. We shall see where this formula takes us and whether this leadership can sustain in these continuing, unprecedended times, rivaled only by the age of Reconstruction in the last quarter of the 19th century.

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