What you are feeling is not a vibe shift. This is permanent change.

On the one hand, it is a deeply cynical, destructive, and indeed existential argument. On the other hand, Very People bought it. The good news is that Trump is no longer the President. The bad news is that on his way out, he dealt an almost fatal blow to those institutions when he encouraged supporters to “fight like hell” and march on the Capitol. Sure, the system caught on to Trump’s game and reprimanded. But the cost was deep disarray, a troubled political sector that has yet to fully grapple with the image of a president who tarnished the system. In a democracy governed by unwritten norms, setting a dangerous precedent is one of the most unsettling things you can do. And who knows who will be compelled to further the precedent next time?

The more urgent question for American democracy is: why did More Will people vote for Donald Trump more in 2020 than in 2016? Certainly he didn’t miss the news cycle his entire presidency. It is impossible not to miss the systematic destruction of the institutions on which governments rely. So could it be that they got the story that institutions were not worthy of salvation? did his presidency confirm Some About the decay in general social trust?

Consider the Edelman Trust Barometer. The public relations firm has been conducting an annual global survey since 2000 to measure public trust in institutions. Its 2022 report, which found that mistrust is now “the default emotion of society”, noted a tendency for trust in institutions such as government or the media to collapse.

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While it’s easy to dismiss Trump’s nihilistic threat, it’s much harder to wrestle with the realities that enabled him to succeed. After decades of letting inequality worsen, those who held the levers of American democracy suddenly had the will and motivation to send thousands of dollars into every American’s bank account. US households increased their wealth by $13.5 trillion in 2020, which has been credited with generous government spending to keep the economy afloat. It may have solved a big problem – how to keep people paying their rent and mortgages when work is off – but it introduced a new one: wait, So the government could have done it whenever it wanted?

It soon became clear that even the monetary gains from the pandemic were negligible. Due to the unprecedented boom in the stock market, more than 70% of the increase in household wealth went to the top 20% of income earners. Typically, workers with higher incomes saw their situation improve due to the macroeconomic changes post-COVID. Meanwhile, temporary pandemic assistance programs helped reduce child poverty in the US before being pulled back in late 2021.

It is possible – at times rational, even – to conclude that successive US governments have not treated widespread income inequality as an urgent problem. It is logical to conclude that successive US governments have been asleep at the wheel, satisfied with general economic growth while not paying attention to where growth was taking place.

We have a social language for this, a meaningful success of the Occupy Wall Street movement of 2011. Its physical impact may have been small, but its rhetoric reimagines the public language of inequality. We have the 1 percent and the 99 percent—and by every imaginable metric, the 1 percent are getting better, even during a global pandemic, In fact, the richest Americans have grown unimaginably wealthy during this period of great upheaval.

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If there is comfort in the vague promises of using the pandemic as an opportunity to rethink society – the pledge for a “Great Reset”, the pledge to “Build Back Better” – the comfort is immediately undone by the reality that they are science. Lots of resolutions have been hijacked by anti-, anti-vaccine, anti-lockdown people to claim baseless conspiracy theories, going as far as to suggest that the lockdown was deliberately set to trigger an economic collapse. is designed for.

These claims are not unique to the US. There have been shockwaves in Canada, where a cavalcade of truckers and their supporters occupied downtown Ottawa for weeks demanding the removal of the prime minister. On the other side of the Atlantic, they have populated the Netherlands, Germany and France.

It is hard to imagine how trust in national governments can be repaired. It is not the apocalypse at first glance. The lights are on and for the most part the trains run on time. But civic trust, the stuff of nation-building, the belief that governments are capable of making one’s life better, seems to have waned.

In February, the Republican Party declared that the January 6 Uprising and the events that preceded it constituted a “legitimate political discourse”. At most, it is a straightforward attempt to downplay the events of that day. At worst, the Republican declaration implies that America’s political institutions are fraudulent and that any form of protest – including rebellion – is valid. This may win the party votes in the upcoming midterm elections, but it will cost more than money: it will come at the cost of a further decline in public confidence.

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