Not the ‘Age of Trump’
A sampling of recent headlines: “Art in the Age of Trump;” “Truth in the Age of Trump;” “Feminism in the Age of Trump;” “Hate in the Age of Trump;” “Reading Yeats in the Age of Trump;” “Anything At All Can Happen in the Age of Trump.” And that’s barely scratching the surface.
Concerned about the impact of the “Age of Trump” on science? A wealth of recent literature examining that topic awaits you. Ditto for sex, gay rights, cities, philanthropy, bioethics, foreign policy, fashion, investing, anxiety, faithfulness, the Arctic, and even “vegan activism.” The list goes on: In the “Age of Trump,” everything is changing, and bigly.
To judge by the avalanche of commentary exploring every aspect of his eponymous “Age,” our recently inaugurated president is to the United States what Caesar Augustus was to Rome or Louis XIV was to France. Just months in office, he is already putting a profound mark on virtually every aspect of human endeavor.
So at least hordes of hyperventilating journalists, scholars, activists, bloggers, and opinionated citizens purport to believe. Mark me down as skeptical. My bet is that when future historians render a verdict on Donald Trump they will see him as our least consequential president since Benjamin Harrison, whose signature diplomatic achievement was to persuade Europeans to lift a ban on pork imported from the United States, or even since William Henry Harrison, B. Harrison’s grandfather, who died after a mere thirty-one days in office.
Particularly on the home front, the prospects of Trump achieving anything of lasting significance are rapidly diminishing. Barring some domestic equivalent of Pearl Harbor, Trump’s own incompetence, compounded by the internal dysfunction besetting his administration, will severely limit his prospects of making much of an impact. Throw in extreme partisanship, relentless sniping from the establishment press, and the obstructions posed by courts and the permanent government, and you end up with a recipe that almost guarantees paralysis.