Our Editor warns of the dangers of Trump—but also the dangers of reacting against him in the wrong way—in introducing the essays in December's magazineby Tom Clark / November 16, 2016 / Leave a comment
Published in December 2016 issue of Prospect Magazine
Fear and loathing: two emotions connected with the American right, especially by European liberals. But on hearing of Donald Trump’s stunning win, I think—if we’re honest—that many of us have reacted with a little fear and loathing of our own.
The fear part is amply justified by the alarming stance the President-Elect takes towards many parts of the world (as Martin Woollacott sets out on p22), as well as by many other things that candidate Trump had said and done. Recall the bullying, the racial slurs and the appalling alpha-male id. Recall, too, the avowed “love” of torture, the professed admiration for nuclear “devastation,” and the abject disdain for the rule of law that led him to advocate persecuting terrorists’ families. As Diane Roberts writes on p25, all of this has licensed the saying of things that have long been unsayable—and for very good reason. Despite Trump’s hour of victory talk of “reaching out,” American society will have to live with the demons he has unleashed for a long time to come.
But the loathing element of the response is no sort of answer for progressives—any more than it is for Trump himself. The duty is to understand. Not, perhaps, to waste too much time on the psychology that inspires Trump to emit what Sam Tanenhaus (p18) describes as his scream “out into the void.” No, the onus is rather to grapple with what it was that could drive half of the American electorate into his arms—to find out more about the lives of those who found him appealing, to listen with open ears to what they say, and to empathise with their despair.