So far we have been talking in very general terms about
politics and political philosophy. We haven't said a
word about the most dramatic turn of events since the
election of Ronald Reagan in 1980 -- the emergence of
Donald Trump as a politician. Trump came almost from
nowhere in the 2012 presidential election. He had never
held elected office and he was ridiculed by any number
of political commentators. In 2016 he was back, and this
time he garnered the support of a solid core of people
in the Republican Party primaries. He defeated 16 other
Republicans and emerged as the party's candidate for the
presidency. The leaders of his own party opposed his
nomination. A number of prominent conservative
intellectuals criticized him and eventually left the
Republican Party. The National Review, the
conservative magazine founded by William F. Buckley in
the 1950s, devoted a cover story to opposing Trump.
Experts who study polls for a living predicted that
Hillary Clinton would win easily. But they were wrong.
On November 8, 2016 Donald Trump lost the popular vote
but won a majority in the electoral college. On January
20, 2019 he became president of the United States. What
happened? What do you think of the Trump phenomenon?
Here are some questions to consider:
about Donald Trump and the Trump Movement
- Mr. Trump's critics have repeatedly
said that he is "unfit" to be president. His
supporters think he is perfect for the job.
What do you think?
- How should we describe Donald Trump?
He has been called a conservative, a
populist, a demagogue, a xenophobe, a
fascist, a Nazi, a patriot, a nationalist, a
white nationalist, an economic nationalist,
a racist, a sexist, a member of the
alt-right, and more. What do you think is
the best way to describe him?
- Who are Mr. Trump's core supporters
and what are their concerns? I'm thinking
here of the people who supported him early
on in the 2016 presidential campaign.
- What are the lessons and the likely
consequences of the Trump movement and the
There has been a lot written about these questions. What I
would like each of you to do is to look at Trump from your
own perspective. Apply the principles you have presented
in this dialogue, and tell us what you think of the Trump
I have asked someone new to join us for this discussion.
His name is Mike. He's a student in the political science
department. I brought him in because I know that he is
pro-Trump; and I thought it would be helpful to have
someone here to argue a pro-Trump point of view.