The American Century began around 1870, when the American openness to immigration and societal experimentation on a continent-wide scale collided with the iron-hulled screw-propellered steamship, the industrial research laboratory, and the global submarine telegraph network. The American Century ended on November 8, 2016. On an... I won't call it "thinking"... elite... level, what we have today is the Republican Party of Henry Cabot Lodge and Robert Taft. On a knee-jerk pre-judged... or perhaps prejudiced... level, what we have is a large number of people who think that the present is not their friend and the future will be less than their friend and that people who look different plus rootless cosmopolites are their enemies. Save for the "normalcy" Republican Ascendancy between Woodrow Wilson's stroke and the defenestration of Herbert Hoover, these currents in the American psyche were under control. But no longer: On Martin Wolf: Donald Trump’s war on the liberal world order: "Striking features of Mr Trump’s behaviour are his fabrications, self-pity and bullying...
...others, including historic allies, are “laughing at us” over climate or “cheating” us over trade. The EU, he argues, “was put there to take advantage of the United States, OK?... Not any more . . . Those days are over.” These are absurd claims. Armoured by ignorance and such attitudes, Mr Trump might do just about anything.... This, then, is an important historical moment. The foundations of the postwar economic and security order, not just of the “holiday from history” of the post-cold war era”, are now in doubt. The question is whether one should view this as a temporary, albeit perilous, departure from the normal state of affairs, or a far more permanent shift.
The argument for the former is that Mr Trump is an exceptional figure, who came from nowhere, in special circumstances. When he passes, so will this upheaval. This may be a delusion. Unless he blows up the world economy, Mr Trump has a good chance of re-election and so may last for six-and-a-half more years. He has identified a large and resentful part of the US body politic whose state is unlikely to get any better, while the gerrymandering of the US vote is likely to get even worse. Not least, a growing number of Americans agree that China is a cheat and a threat and Europeans are carping freeloaders. Mr Trump will pass. Trumpism might not. The US could become far worse than soberly Palmerstonian. The rest of the world should take that possibility seriously — and think and act accordingly.