Take a gander at "What Time Is It? Here’s What the 2016 Election Tells Us About Obama, Trump, and What Comes Next". It's an interview with political scientist Stephen Skowronek about his theory of why we have Trump.
It’s from The Nation, so it’s too rosy about Democratic/Progressives, and too un-understanding about Republican/Conservatives for my taste. Nonetheless, I found it insightful.
Skowronek argues that there are long cycles in presidential politics.*
He claims all of presidential history follows a distinct pattern: “Reconstructive” presidents like Franklin Roosevelt and Ronald Reagan (to take only the last two cycles) transform American politics in their own image, clearing the field of viable competition and setting the terms of political debate. They are followed by hand-picked successors (Harry S. Truman and George H.W. Bush) who continue their predecessors’ policies and do little more than articulate an updated version of their ideas. They are usually succeeded in turn by presidents whom Skowronek calls “pre-emptive”—Dwight D. Eisenhower, Bill Clinton—who represent the opposite party but adopt the basic framework of the reigning orthodoxy. Next comes another faithful servant of that orthodoxy (John F. Kennedy/Lyndon Johnson; George W. Bush), followed by another preemptive opposition leader (Richard Nixon, Barack Obama) who again fails to overturn it. The final step in the sequence is a “disjunctive” president—usually somebody with little allegiance to the orthodoxy who is unable to hold it together in the face of the escalating crises it created and to which it has no response. The last disjunctive president, in Skowronek’s schema, was Jimmy Carter.
Like I said, it’s The Nation. So the implicit vision here is that Trump will screw things up so badly (like Carter), that the electorate will shoo-in a reconstructive progressive president who will define American politics until after I’m dead and gone:
The obvious answer would be somebody like Bernie Sanders or Elizabeth Warren.
In his defense, he hedges:
But I’m not so sure. If the opportunity is not simply to oppose conservatism but to build something different and new, then something much broader than the current left alternative—something that mixes things up—might be more attractive.
I’m all for Trump going down in flames, but I’m not sure I like that alternative.
* As soon as you see long cycles in a discussion, you should be very suspicious. Think about two points. How do we know there are cycles? Because we return back to where we started. How do we know there are long cycles? Because we have a huge amount of data. Skowronek’s theory is based on observing 2, maybe 3, long cycles. At the absolute limit, possibly six. Solid scientists are exceptionally skeptical of that sort of argument.
Via Marginal Revolution.