The ascendancy of Donald Trump is the predictable outcome of trends long-present in American society.  

Trump is not as much of an aberration as we might hope to believe. Trump is the descendant of 17th century European settler who could kill indigenous people with impunity. Trump is the the descendant of the 19th century southern planter who could brutally exploit Africans to support his lifestyle. Trump is the culmination of the Monroe Doctrine in institutions such as the School of the Americas. Trump is the Wild West sheriff as coal industry lobbyist. He is us - as the saying goes. We haven’t fallen far from the tree of frontier psychology and Adam Smith’s invisible hand.  

Those currents from our history have just come to the fore in spades. In large measure, Trump is simply a far less polished actor than, for example, the directors of Goldman Sachs. Take, take, take is the underlying philosophy of this culture.  

Trump has simply embarrassed the proponents of laissez faire in economic and social policy by being so blatant, so crude. If only he were able to enact his policies with greater finesse. Then he’d be just fine. Then he’d just be a successful businessman not an authoritarian, racist madman.

Isabelle Kingsly


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