Trump’s “Sturm und Drang”

Transpartisan Note #120

by A. Lawrence Chickering and James S. Turner

In his January 9th N.Y. Times  op-ed, provocatively titled Trump Has Made Us All Stupid, self-described “conservative columnist” David Brooks says we Americans are all mixed up in trying to understand the real issue behind the Trump-led killing of Iranian general Qasem Soleimani, turning it into another American fight over the character/nature/syntax of Donald Trump.

This “fear-stoking apocalyptic language,” Brooks explains, disguises the real important issue at the core of the matter:  what, if any, role can the US play in insuring peace, not war, in the Middle East.

We at The Transpartisan Review believe that the Transpartisan Matrix helps sort out the overheated, media-fueled rhetorical combat. Do you see the Matrix in Brooks’ examination of the oratorical battle surrounding Iran and the Soleimani killing?

In Trump Has Made Us All Stupid he writes:

“We fight viciously about Trump, but underneath, a populist left-right curtain is descending around America, separating us from the Mideast, China, even Europe. The real high-risk move is the one both parties are making together: that if we ignore the world it will ignore us. (It won’t.)”

“…the anti-Trump echo chamber is becoming a mirror image of Trump himself.”

“Most of this week’s argument about the Middle East wasn’t really about the Middle East. It was all narcissistically about ourselves!”

“Love or hate him, Trump has used military force less than any other president since Jimmy Carter.”

“And this is the final paradox. For all the “Sturm und Drang” that surrounds Trump, populist Republicans and Democrats are gravitating toward the same foreign policy: We’re in the middle of a clash of civilizations; the Middle East is so screwed up, we should just get out; we’re too stupid/ineffective/racist/imperialistic to do any good there anyway.”

We transpartisan advocates see a Transpartisan Matrix of Order/Left and Freedom/Right sorting our sense of the “multiplicity of impulses” Brooks writes about and, when integrated, how they might create useful policy.

What do you see?

(The term Sturm und Drang first appeared as the title of a play by Friedrich Maximilian Klinger, written for Abel Seyler’s Seylersche Schauspiel-Gesellschaft and published in 1776.  Sturm und Drang came to be associated with literature or music aimed at shocking the audience or imbuing them with extremes of emotion. From Wikipedia.)

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