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Two Kinds of Thinking About Trump

May 17, 2016

This morning I read two pieces on Donald Trump’s presidential candidacy. This one comes from Wesley Morris. It was published at The New York Times website today, but will appear in The New York Times Magazine on Sunday. This one was authored by Nicole Hemmer and appeared in The Age yesterday.  The Morris piece contains much more history, which would normally draw me in. But I prefer Hemmer’s article.

Why? In a word, for its thought. Both pieces exemplify two strains of articles that have emerged about Donald Trump over the past six months.

Morris’s historical analysis plays to its readership, reinforcing what liberal NYT readers already believe and think about Trump’s person, policies, and followers (i.e. he’s not presidential, he’s bigoted, he’s ignorant, he’s conspiratorial, he’s racist, he’s authoritarian, he’s xenophobic, he’s a cancer, he’s anti-intellectual—and his followers are all of these things too).

Hemmer’s analysis, however, stretches you. Hemmer is trying to understand the phenomenon that has become the Trump presidential nomination.

Too many pieces on Trump have reacted to his statements. Too many have taken his bluster at face value. Few have attempted to look at his candidacy through a different lens.

Hemmer’s piece, however, attempts that. It does what only a handful have done. Hemmer tries to place Trump’s policies in a context, but recognizes the lack of fit. The piece works to frame our questions better. She wants more questions about what his candidacy means, not merely how Trump’s campaign appears to the public.

We need more non-traditional analytical thinking about Trump and his supporters, and less reaction to his political rhetoric. – TL


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