The Corner

White House

Can Trump Fix ‘Alienated America’?

Just a couple weeks ago, David French and I had the pleasure of hosting writer and editor Tim Carney on the ‘Ordered Liberty’ podcast to discuss his new book Alienated America. Perhaps more than any book I’ve read since Donald Trump was elected, Tim’s work actually explains why we got Trump.

There is a good reason for his election, and it’s not because of Middle-American racism, as many on the left insist. But it’s much less about media bias and left-wing extremism than some Trump supporters would like us to believe, too. Based on the information Tim collects in his book, the real culprit is the decline of civic society: family, marriage, church, community — the structures that keep the American dream alive. Americans are increasingly, as Robert Putnam put it nearly two decades ago, “bowling alone.” And they are suffering for it.

This is the most compelling insight of the book, and a paradox of sorts. Trump was indeed elected in response to something very real, a sincere feeling among people in dwindling communities across the country that their American dream is dead. They are surely right to feel that way, though it seems unintelligible to those who live in flourishing communities.

But precisely because that feeling exists in those communities primarily as the result of a decline in the institutions of civil society — rather than in direct response to specific policy or economic changes — Trump and his administration cannot possibly promise to be the ultimate solution to their woes. No political agenda, no matter how working-class friendly, and no one man, no matter how much of a populist he might be, can make America great again. In short, government isn’t the best answer to what is, first and foremost, a cultural illness.

Listen to our conversation with Tim here:

Episode 119: Alienated America

Most Popular


Men Literally Died for That Flag, You Idiots

The American flag’s place in our culture is beginning to look less unassailable. The symbol itself is under attack, as we’ve seen with Nike dumping a shoe design featuring an early American flag, Megan Rapinoe defending her national-anthem protests (she says she will never sing the song again), and ... Read More

The Plot against Kavanaugh

Justice on Trial, by Mollie Hemingway and Carrie Severino (Regnery,  256 pp., $28.99) The nomination and confirmation of Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court was the political event of 2018, though not for the reasons anyone expected. All High Court confirmations these days are fraught with emotion and tumult ... Read More
Politics & Policy

He Just Can’t Help Himself

By Saturday, the long-simmering fight between Nancy Pelosi and her allies on one side and the “squad” associated with Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez on the other had risen to an angrier and more destructive level at the Netroots Nation conference. Representative Ayanna Pressley, an African-American Massachusetts ... Read More
Politics & Policy

Ilhan Omar Is Completely Assimilated

Beto O’Rourke, the losing Texas Senate candidate who bootstrapped his way into becoming a losing presidential candidate, had a message for refugees who had come to America: Your new country is a hellhole. The former congressman told a roundtable of refugees and immigrants in Nashville, Tenn., last week: ... Read More
White House

On Gratitude and Immigration

Like both Rich and David, I consider it flatly inappropriate for the president of the United States to be telling Americans -- rhetorically or otherwise -- to “go back where you came from.” In consequence, you will find no defense of the president from me, either. What Trump tweeted over the weekend was ... Read More

We All Wanted to Love the Women’s Soccer Team

For the first time in my life, I did not root for an American team. Whatever the sport, I have always rooted American. And if those who called in to my radio show were representative of my audience, many millions of Americans made the same sad choice. It takes a lot for people like me not to root for an ... Read More

The ‘Squad’ Gives a Gift to Donald Trump

On Sunday, Donald Trump gave the Democrats a gift -- comments that indicate he thinks native-born congresswomen he detests should “go back” to the countries of their ancestors. On Monday, the four congresswomen handed Trump a gift in return, managing to respond to the president’s insults in some of the most ... Read More