Bad Hombres

Richard King reviews three books on populism in the Sydney Review of Books:

What-is-Populism-Jan-Werner-Müller-book-coverSo, it’s happened. Donald J. Trump, the guy hardly anyone thought could win the Republican nomination, and, having won the Republican nomination, hardly anyone thought could become US President, is US President. It still doesn’t feel entirely real, and the sense that we’re living in an alternative present, a counterfactual come to life – more Back to the Future Part II, at the moment, than It Can’t Happen Here or The Plot Against America – has yet to fully dissipate. But dissipate it will, must. The Cheeto Jesus is in da House. Hair Force One has landed.

Trump’s supporters are ecstatic, his opponents appalled: not since the war in Vietnam has the US looked so deeply divided. In his much-shared piece published the day after the election, New Yorkereditor David Remnick warned against the media normalisation that was sure to follow the result. But if anything positions have hardened in the two months since the inauguration, with Trump’s people renewing their attacks on the media, and his political detractors – no, enemies – oscillating between denial and anger: denial that a man who lost the popular vote and possibly conspired with the Russians to undermine Clinton could ever be deemed legitimate; and anger that someone so remote from the standards of liberal decency now sits in the Oval Office. Thus do the first two stages of grief define the liberal and progressive reaction: not morning in America but America in mourning.

More here.