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American Democracy’s Moment of Truth

Even after four years, many Americans have yet to reckon fully with what Donald Trump's presidency means for the country's politics and long-term future. Even if Trump fails to win re-election, he and the party he now controls have led the United States into dangerous territory from which there is no clear exit.

NEW YORK – At certain moments in history – often after substantial social progress has discomfited certain segments of society – an individual appears on the political scene claiming to stand for something grand and new. Skilled in the arts of self-presentation and emotional manipulation, he (it is always a man) captures the hearts and minds of millions with his macho bluster. In due time, a personality cult forms around him. And though he has threatened or used violence in his ascent to power, he enjoys the support of the faithful, who see him as the savior who will bring order to a disordered world.