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The Trump Era Held Up A Mirror To Our Shattering Culture

Emily Jashinsky By

Where the anxieties of the working class and Baby Boomers were channeled into Trump, the anxieties of the left were channeled into a furious, culture-wide censorship campaign.

“The madness of Trump, as bad as it was, it really needed to happen. We really needed a reflection of our world’s greatest problem, which is not climate change, but sociopathy and narcissism. Especially in America. It’s going to kill the world. It’s not capitalism, it’s narcissism.” So said songstress Lana Del Rey, reflecting on the Trump administration this week.

She’s right to dig deeper than climate change and capitalism, but wrong to finger an incurable element of the human condition for America’s ills. The broader point, however, is important. Del Rey is arguing that Trump’s political ascent exposed or, perhaps, accelerated a cultural clash. She seems to be convinced this exposition will ultimately be constructive.

I’m not so sure. The problem is not that we’re all as narcissistic as Trump. The problem is that we’re all as anxious. Characterizing Trump as anxious may seem odd—and I’m certainly not invoking the psychological concept—but his central promise to “Make America Great Again” was predicated on a reasonable anxiety that the version of America he knew and loved was slipping away. That resonated immensely, and for some eminently fair reasons.


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