A maniac at the helm

John Cassidy at the New Yorker says it’s getting worse.

Since Donald Trump entered the White House, American democracy has sometimes been described as dangerously fragile, but that isn’t necessarily true. Having survived for two hundred and forty-two years, American democracy is more like a stoutly built ocean liner, with a maniac at the helm who seems intent on capsizing it. Every so often, he takes a violent tug at the tiller, causing the vessel to list alarmingly. So far, some members of the ship’s crew—judges, public servants, and the odd elected official—have managed to rush in, jag the tiller back, and keep the ship afloat. But, as the captain’s behavior grows more erratic, the danger facing the ship and its passengers increases.

Well if the ship is vulnerable to having a maniac at the helm then it is fragile, however sturdily built it may be. We haven’t had a president like Trump before so we haven’t been forced to realize how helpless we are to stop such a president. We’ve smugly talked about checks and balances because that’s what they told us in school, but nobody told us they don’t actually work if the president and Congress are of the same party. A system that can’t make Trump stop is very god damn fragile indeed.

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