Trump Can’t Unite Us. Can Anyone

That can come in many ideological guises. That can come from politicians old or young, male or female, white or black, straight or gay, etc. But it is what Trump has tugged us ever farther from. It’s what, honestly, I think he’d be content to destroy forevermore, because he thrives in its opposite.

Ross: I’m not going to argue with your high-mindedness, but I just want to put in a plug for journalism that helps us understand where fear-based politics comes from. The latest Trumpian figure on the world stage is Jair Bolsonaro, a not-so-crypto-authoritarian who just won an absolutely crushing victory to become Brazil’s next president. Our colleagues put together this video on the roots of his unexpected-to-liberals support among many Brazilian women, and I highly recommend it.

I think generally that’s what we need more of from journalists — a way for the kind of people who find the success of populism simply incomprehensible to see the world as it looks to the people voting for populists. That’s the beginning of the kind of wisdom that will help us leave the darkest parts of Trumpism behind.

Frank: I am in no way arguing against that kind of journalism! We agree on that. I’m arguing against a constant aghast (but not really), scandalized (but not quite), censorious (but titillated) rehashing of Trump’s tantrums. And I’m urging politicians who want to better us not to traffic in fear. You brought up Beto: All the profiles stem partly from his amazing fund-raising and crowds, which in turn reflect an approach by him that is almost steadfastly uplifting and optimistic.

Since this is our last chat before the midterms, let’s pivot to those. A few specific predictions?

Ross: Dear God, man, you want predictions? Didn’t 2016 cure you of that malady? And with a whole week of twists and turns to go? O.K., fine: In addition to a boring, safe prediction that the G.O.P. loses the House and keeps the Senate, I think Republicans will win close races in Missouri and Indiana and actually increase their Senate majority — launching, in turn, approximately 17,000 liberal think pieces urging the abolition of the Senate. Your turn.

Frank: Again with the hyperbole! And again with the 17,000 number! I promise you there will not be more than 14,913 such think pieces. I agree on the Senate: Republicans will probably get North Dakota, too. An interesting twist in the House is that two states crucial to Trump’s election, Michigan and Pennsylvania, will be sites of red-to-blue pickups of seats for Democrats and will also see Democrats win the governor’s races, in my humble and reckless opinion.

Ross: I buy that: I think Trump’s campaign populism won him the Midwest but his deference to Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell’s unpopular economic agenda once in office has cost his party the chance to seal that realignment. But we’ll know for sure by the next time we convene, so until then, Frank.

Frank: Until then, Ross. And now I’m off to write a Beto profile.

Ross: 17,001!

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