Peter Wehner writes: Particularly in this social media era, a president who thrives on disruption and chaos is impossible to escape. Every shocking statement and act is given intense coverage. As a result, the president is omnipresent, the subject of endless coast-to-coast conversations among family and friends, never far from our thoughts. As Andrew Sullivan has observed, “A free society means being free of those who rule over you — to do the things you care about, your passions, your pastimes, your loves — to exult in that blessed space where politics doesn’t intervene.”
A presidency characterized by pandemonium invades and infects that space, leaving people unsettled and on edge. And this, in turn, leads to greater polarization, to feelings of alienation and anger, to unrest and even to violence.
A spirit of instability in government will cause Americans to lose confidence in our public institutions. When citizens lose that basic faith in their government, it leads to corrosive cynicism and the acceptance of conspiracy theories. Movements and individuals once considered fringe become mainstream, while previously responsible figures decamp to the fever swamps. One result is that the informal and unwritten rules of political and human interaction, which are at the core of civilization, are undone. There is such a thing as democratic etiquette; when it is lost, the common assumptions that allow for compromise and progress erode.
In short, chaotic leadership can inflict real trauma on political and civic culture.
All of which brings us to Donald Trump, arguably the most disruptive and transgressive president in American history. He thrives on creating turbulence in every conceivable sphere. The blast radius of his tumultuous acts and chaotic temperament is vast.
Mr. Trump acts as if order is easy to achieve and needs to be overturned while disruption and disorder are what we need. But the opposite is true. “Rage and frenzy will pull down more in half an hour,” Edmund Burke wrote, “than prudence, deliberation and foresight can build up in a hundred years.” [Continue reading…]