Contribution to Book
University of Pennsylvania Press
American Political Development and the Trump Presidency
As the words of his inaugural address echoed across a rain- soaked National Mall, Donald Trump cut a hole in time. His presidency, he said, marked a breaking point in American politics. No longer would a “small group” of elites reap the benefits of government while “forgotten Americans” bore the cost. “Now,” Trump suggested, “we are only looking to the future.” Even so, the speech telegraphed a dystopian pre sent; the United States had become a landscape of rusted- out factories, cities teeming with crime, and national borders defenseless against terrorist threats. Gone was the promised land that Trump’s predecessors foretold in their inaugural speeches, the “city on a hill” that America was destined to be. Trump identified few, if any, sources of political possibility. America would be “made great again” not through providence, but by Trump himself: “I will fight for you with every breath in my body— and I will never, ever let you down.” Rather than binding the nation through conciliation and compromise, Trump promised nationalism: “The bedrock of our politics,” he said, “will be a total allegiance to the United States of America.” He labeled his foreign policy with a phrase burdened with an isolationist and anti- Semitic history: “America First.”
Rocco, Philip B. and Callen, Zachary, "Introduction: An Unsettled Time from American Political Development and the Trump Presidency" (2020). Political Science Faculty Research and Publications. 130.
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