Trump

There Oughta Be a Law… Editorial/The New York Times

President Trump’s contempt for the Constitution confirms the harshest charges leveled in recent accounts of his off-the-rails presidency.

Jennifer Heuer

6 septiembre 2018 / THE NEW YORK TIMES 

President Trump has never handled criticism well, but this past week has proved especially challenging.

First came the portrait of Mr. Trump in a new book by Bob Woodward — a scathing account featuring anonymous members of Mr. Trump’s own administration characterizing him as “an idiot,” “a professional liar,” the mayor of “Crazytown,” and a clueless, hopeless man-child with the comprehension of a “fifth or sixth grader.” A day later, a second blow landed: an Op-Ed article in this newspaper, by an anonymous senior administration official, that recounted how members of Mr. Trump’s team have worked to protect the nation from his “worst inclinations.”

Mr. Trump quickly corroborated these accounts by demonstrating precisely the sort of erratic, antidemocratic behavior that is driving administration officials to come forward with their concerns. He ranted that the stories were all lies and raved that the gutless traitors who had slandered him must be rooted out and handed over to the government. Finger-pointing, name-calling, wild accusations, cries of treason — it was an unsettling display, not simply of Mr. Trump’s emotional fragility and poor impulse control, but also of his failure to understand the nature of the office he holds, the government he leads and the democracy he has sworn to serve.

Twenty months into the job, Mr. Trump has yet to grasp that the highest law of this land is the Constitution, not whoever occupies the Oval Office at any given moment.

Related:
The anonymous op-ed essay

His blind spot for the Constitution has been much on display in other ways in recent days. Asked about protests that erupted during this week’s confirmation hearings for the Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, Mr. Trump expressed dismay and puzzlement:

“I don’t know why they don’t take care of a situation like that. I think it’s embarrassing for the country to allow protesters. You don’t even know what side the protesters are on.”

Someone with the president’s best interests at heart may want to explain to him that the First Amendment specifically protects political expression, no matter how befuddling some find it. Presidents do not get to outlaw speech simply because they find it distasteful.

This may seem like a familiar concept, but it is one with which Mr. Trump struggles. On the campaign trail in 2016, he argued that the protesters causing a ruckus at his rallies should be “thrown into a jail” and their lives ruined. “I hope you arrest ’em and do whatever you have to do,” the candidate told a crowd in Missouri. “And you know what? Once that starts happening, we’re not going to have any more protesters, folks.” No more Constitution, either.

Three weeks after his election, President-elect Trump shared his take on flag burning: “Nobody should be allowed to burn the American flag — if they do, there must be consequences — perhaps loss of citizenship or year in jail!” Such a move may strike some people as a bold and patriotic step toward making America great again. It was ruled unconstitutional by the Supreme Court in 1990.

Another constitutionally protected right in the presidential cross hairs this week: freedom of the press. In response to Mr. Woodward’s book, Mr. Trump mused provocatively on Twitter, “Don’t know why Washington politicians don’t change libel laws?”

No one enjoys criticism, especially from people who are considered supporters. Even so, it takes a special kind of leader to suggest that critical coverage should be handled by eroding the First Amendment, as Mr. Trump has since early in the 2016 race, when he began vowing that, as president, he would “open up those libel laws” to punish media outlets that did “hit pieces” on him. Apparently, denouncing journalists as the “enemy of the American people” and whipping the crowds at his rallies into an anti-media frenzy is not enough to soothe Mr. Trump’s chronic sense of victimhood.

Also back in the news this week is Mr. Trump’s war on the N.F.L. players protesting racial injustice and police brutality. In this case, Mr. Trump hasn’t moved to make kneeling during the national anthem explicitly illegal. He has simply slammed the protests as “disgraceful” and the players as disrespectful, unpatriotic “sons of bitches,” called on the offending players to be fired, suggested they maybe “shouldn’t be in the country,” stoked public rage against the entire league, and toyed with the idea of punishing the league via the tax code.

Not all of the talk Mr. Trump is itching to do away with is, strictly speaking, protected political speech. When he learned last month that Michael Cohen, his former lawyer and longtime fixer, had cut a plea deal with federal prosecutors, Mr. Trump threw a fit, arguing that “flipping” — that is, cooperating in criminal investigations — wasn’t just disloyal and disgraceful, it “almost ought to be outlawed.”

Mr. Trump has also advocated denying due process to immigrants seeking asylum. As he tweeted earlier this summer: “We cannot allow all of these people to invade our Country. When somebody comes in, we must immediately, with no Judges or Court Cases, bring them back from where they came.”

Mr. Trump, we understand that you consider the Constitution inconvenient at times. And we appreciate how vexing you find these subordinates sniping at you. But if you continue to behave as you do, and keep proving your harshest critics right, it’s only going to get worse.

The editorial board represents the opinions
of the board, its editor and the publisher.
It is separate from the newsroom and the Op-Ed section.

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Soy parte de la resistencia dentro del gobierno de Trump. Funcionario anónimo en el NY Times

El presidente Trump en un evento en agosto en el Club de Golf Nacional Trump en Bedminster, Nueva Jersey Credit Tom Brenner para The New York Times

El autor es un alto funcionario en el gobierno de Trump

5 septiembre 2018 / The New York Times

The New York Times tomó hoy la inusual decisión de publicar una columna de opinión anónima. Lo hemos hecho de esa forma a pedido del autor, un funcionario de alto rango en el gobierno de Trump cuya identidad conocemos y cuyo empleo estaría en riesgo por divulgar esta información. Creemos que publicar este ensayo de forma anónima es la única manera de ofrecer una perspectiva importante a nuestros lectores.

El presidente Trump enfrenta una prueba a su presidencia como la que ningún líder estadounidense moderno ha enfrentado.

No se trata solamente del alcance que puede tener la investigación del fiscal especial. O de que el país esté amargamente dividido respecto del liderazgo de Trump. Ni siquiera de que su partido pueda perder la Cámara de Representantes ante una oposición empeñada en derrocarlo.

El dilema —que él no entiende por completo— es que muchos de los funcionarios de alto rango en su propio gobierno trabajan diligentemente desde adentro para frustrar partes de su agenda y sus peores inclinaciones.

Yo sé que es así. Yo soy uno de ellos.

Para ser claros, la nuestra no es la popular “resistencia” de la izquierda. Queremos que el gobierno tenga éxito y pensamos que muchas de sus políticas ya han convertido a Estados Unidos en un país más seguro y más próspero.

No obstante, creemos que nuestro primer deber es con este país, y el presidente continúa actuando de una manera que es perjudicial para la salud de nuestra república.

Es por eso que muchos funcionarios designados por Trump nos hemos comprometido a hacer lo que esté a nuestro alcance para preservar nuestras instituciones democráticas y al mismo tiempo frustrar los impulsos más erróneos de Trump hasta que deje el cargo.

La raíz del problema es la amoralidad del presidente. Cualquier persona que trabaje con él sabe que no está anclado a ningún principio básico discernible que guíe su toma de decisiones.

Aunque fue electo como republicano, el presidente muestra poca afinidad hacia los ideales adoptados desde hace mucho tiempo por los conservadores: libertad de pensamiento, libertad de mercado y personas libres. En el mejor de los casos, ha invocado esos ideales en ambientes controlados. En el peor, los ha atacado directamente.

Read in English

Además de su mercadotecnia masiva de la noción de que la prensa es el “enemigo del pueblo”, los impulsos del presidente Trump son generalmente anticomerciales y antidemocráticos.

No me malinterpreten. Hay puntos brillantes que la cobertura negativa casi incesante sobre el gobierno no ha captado: desregulación efectiva, una reforma fiscal histórica, un Ejército fortalecido y más.

No obstante, estos éxitos han llegado a pesar del —y no gracias al— estilo de liderazgo del presidente, el cual es impetuoso, conflictivo, mezquino e ineficaz.

Desde la Casa Blanca hasta los departamentos y las agencias del poder ejecutivo, funcionarios de alto rango admitirán de manera privada su diaria incredulidad ante los comentarios y las acciones del comandante jefe. La mayoría está trabajando para aislar sus operaciones de sus caprichos.

Las reuniones con él se descarrilan y se salen del tema, él se involucra en diatribas repetitivas y su impulsividad deriva en decisiones a medias, mal informadas y en ocasiones imprudentes, de las que posteriormente se tiene que retractar.

“No hay manera, literalmente, de saber si él cambiará su opinión de un minuto al otro”, se quejó ante mí un alto funcionario recientemente, exasperado por una reunión en el Despacho Oval en la que el presidente realizó cambios en una importante decisión política que había tomado solo una semana antes.

El comportamiento errático sería más preocupante si no fuera por los héroes anónimos dentro y cerca de la Casa Blanca. Algunos de sus asistentes han sido personificados como villanos por los medios. Sin embargo, en privado, han hecho grandes esfuerzos para contener las malas decisiones en el Ala Oeste, aunque claramente no siempre tienen éxito.

Puede ser un consuelo escaso en esta era caótica, pero los estadounidenses deberían saber que hay adultos a cargo. Reconocemos plenamente lo que está ocurriendo. Y tratamos de hacer lo correcto incluso cuando Donald Trump no lo hace.

El resultado es una presidencia de dos vías.

Por ejemplo, la política exterior. En público y en privado, el presidente Trump exhibe una preferencia por los autócratas y dictadores, como el presidente ruso, Vladimir Putin, y el líder supremo de Corea del Norte, Kim Jong-un, y muestra poca aprecio genuino por los lazos que nos unen con naciones aliadas que piensan como nosotros.

Sin embargo, observadores astutos han notado que el resto del gobierno opera por otro camino, uno en el que países como Rusia son denunciados por interferir y sancionados apropiadamente, y en el que los aliados alrededor del mundo son considerados como iguales y no son ridiculizados como rivales.

Por ejemplo, sobre Rusia, el presidente se mostró reacio a expulsar a muchos de los espías de Putin como castigo por el envenenamiento de un exespía ruso en el Reino Unido. Se quejó durante semanas de que altos miembros del gabinete lo dejaban atrapado en más confrontaciones con Rusia y expresó frustración por el hecho de que Estados Unidos continuara imponiendo sanciones a ese país por su comportamiento maligno. Sin embargo, su equipo de seguridad nacional tenía motivos para hacerlo —dichas acciones tenían que ser tomadas, para obligar a Moscú a rendir cuentas—.

Esto no es obra del llamado Estado profundo (deep state) —una teoría de conspiración que afirma que existen instituciones dentro del gobierno que permanecen en el poder de manera permanente—. Es la obra de un Estado estable.

Dada la inestabilidad de la que muchos han sido testigos, hubo rumores tempranos dentro del gabinete sobre invocar la Enmienda 25, la que daría inicio a un complejo proceso para sacar del poder al presidente. Sin embargo, nadie quiso precipitar una crisis constitucional. Así que haremos lo que podamos para dirigir el rumbo del gobierno en la dirección correcta hasta que —de una manera u otra— llegue a su fin.

La mayor preocupación no es lo que Trump ha hecho a la presidencia, sino lo que nosotros como nación le hemos permitido que nos haga. Nos hemos hundido profundamente con él y hemos permitido que nuestro discurso fuera despojado de la civilidad.

El senador John McCain lo dijo de la mejor manera en su carta de despedida. Todos los estadounidenses deberían prestar atención a sus palabras y liberarse de la trampa del tribalismo, con el elevado objetivo de unirnos a través de nuestros valores compartidos y amar a esta gran nación.

El senador McCain ya no está con nosotros, pero siempre contaremos con su ejemplo —una estrella que nos guía para restaurar el honor a la vida pública y a nuestro diálogo nacional—. Trump puede temer a los hombres honorables, pero nosotros debemos venerarlos.

Existe una resistencia silenciosa dentro del gobierno compuesta por personas que eligen anteponer al país. Sin embargo, la verdadera diferencia será hecha por los ciudadanos comunes que se pongan por encima de la política, se unan con los adversarios y decidan eliminar las etiquetas para portar una sola: la de estadounidenses.

Trump wants to remove these immigrants “from shithole countries”. Dos notas del Washington Post

An ugly bit of history tells us what it could do to the economy.

“Mexican men and children who live in corral.” Robstown, Texas, 1939. (Russell Lee, Farm Security Administration via Library of Congress)

Andrew Van Dam, 10 enero 2018 / The Washington Post

washington postIt isn’t cited much in contemporary debate, but one enormous, racist episode in U.S. history could forecast the potential economic fallout of the Trump administration’s decision to terminate the residency permits of those granted Temporary Protected Status (TPS) in the United States.

Between 1929 and 1934, Americans were getting hammered by the Great Depression. As their anger and frustration grew, it was directed toward America’s Mexican population. During the ’30s, an estimated 400,000 and 500,000 Mexicans and American citizens of Mexican descent were sent “home,” often forcibly, by state and local officials, with the approval of the federal government.

The stated motivation for the mass expulsions was typically economic, focusing on the burden posed by poor migrants, as well as the competition for jobs.

The Trump administration’s rationale for ending TPS for an estimated 244,590 migrants from El Salvador, Haiti, Nicaragua and Syria is also partly about economics — although President Trump has more broadly claimed his immigration policy is about safety.

Ending the humanitarian program is a keystone of Trump’s fast-rising virtual wall against migrants including so-called dreamers.

According to an official statement of immigration principles posted in October: “Decades of low-skilled immigration has suppressed wages, fueled unemployment and strained federal resources.” The report also outlines strategies for deporting those who are in the U.S. illegally or who “abuse” their visas.

TPS beneficiaries have deep roots in the U.S. economy. Consider Salvadorans and Haitians, the two largest groups who are set to lose their residency permits so far. According to a 2017 report by the Center for Migration Studies, most Salvadorans have been in the country for more than 20 years. Among Haitians, who were granted the status much more recently, the figure is only 16 percent.

These TPS recipients have median household incomes of between $45,000 (Haitians) and $50,000 (Salvadorans) per year, according to the center, and participate in the labor force at higher rates than the native population. Thirty-four percent of Salvadorans and 23 percent of Haitians hold mortgages. Tearing them out would be a massive shock to the system.

There’s been a wealth of research on how much immigrants add to an economy, but not as much about what happens if you forcibly subtract them.

In the United States, the clearest parallel may well be the mass repatriation of Mexicans during the Great Depression. It was an era of desperation, hyperbole and racist hysteria. Politicians of the time should sound familiar, a few hilarious archaisms aside. In his 1931 annual report, Commissioner General of Immigration Harry Hull bemoaned the “hardships inflicted upon the American citizen” by “exposure to competition in employment opportunities of the bootlegged aliens.”

To solve this problem, he promised “to spare no reasonable effort to remove the menace of unfair competition which actually exists in the vast number of aliens who have in one way or another, principally by surreptitious entries, violated our immigration laws.”

Hull and his allies got their wish. Almost a third of America’s Mexican population, which amounted to almost a quarter of the entire labor force in some Texas towns, were eventually expelled.

And did it work?

Economists Jongkwan Lee, of the Korea Development Institute, Vasil Yasenov, a postdoctoral scholar at the Goldman School of Public Policy in the University of California at Berkeley, and Giovanni Peri, economics chair at the University of California at Davis, looked at decades of detailed data to see if the higher wages and lower unemployment promised by opponents of immigration had materialized.

If anything, the opposite occurred.

Like TPS beneficiaries, many Mexicans (defined by the authors as people born in Mexico and their children) had established themselves in their communities. Researchers found cities that sent away more Mexicans saw worsening unemployment and slower wage growth after repatriation, even when adjusting for effects such as extreme drought and localized New Deal policies.

The effect was, however, too small to be significant in all but the hardest-hit cities.

Researchers found a similar story when they looked at occupations. There was little sign that natives benefited when the Mexicans were pushed out — even among the low-wage professions, which had had a higher share of Mexican workers.

In intermediate- and high-skill jobs, the fallout was even clearer. “Skilled natives lost jobs once Mexicans were repatriated, while less skilled natives did not necessarily replace them,” the researchers found.

“The Mexicans and natives specialized in different occupations,” researcher Yasenov said. “They don’t necessarily compete for the same jobs.”

Instead, the labor market was something like a Jenga tower. The immigrants were key blocks holding up bits of the structure. Once you yank the blocks out and the tower begins to wobble, it becomes extremely difficult to push new blocks into their places without toppling the whole thing.

In their full analysis, which ranged from 1930 to 1950, the researchers found that — despite politicians’ promises at the outset — no broad group of American workers benefited from the massive, coerced repatriation of one out of every three Mexicans.

It’s telling. This period in history should have made the perfect argument for the administration’s virtual wall anti-immigration policy. Native-born workers were crossing the country in desperate search of jobs. The unemployment rate peaked above 25 percent. And yet, there’s no evidence that in the end, U.S. workers benefited from tossing out hundreds of thousands of men and women who they saw as their labor market rivals.

In fact, there are indications that they suffered the worse for it.

Parallels to the present

The labor market has evolved since the Great Depression, Yasenov said, but the economic forces behind it haven’t. “If these programs didn’t produce significant effects back then, they’re not likely to produce significant effects now,” he said.

First, if history is any guide, the areas which exclude the highest numbers of migrants will also see higher job losses and slower wage growth among local populations than similar cities that did not receive as many TPS recipients.

For Salvadorans and Haitians, that will be seen in the states below — within them, the largest enclaves are Haitians in Miami and Salvadorans in Los Angeles, Houston, Dallas and the D.C. area.

Second, low-skilled occupations with high populations of repatriated workers will at best see no significant gains for those who remain behind, either in wages or in unemployment. Higherskilled occupations in those same regions will take a hit, as their employees, suppliers and customers are expelled. In this case, workers from both El Salvador and Haiti are concentrated in lower-skilled jobs, not dissimilar to those that were held by Mexicans at the onset of the Depression.

Understanding repatriation’s consequences in terms of the economy’s headline number or gross domestic product is a matter of simple math. At its core, GDP is the result of multiplying an economy’s population by each resident’s production of goods and services.

When you expel workers, like Mexicans during the Depression or Salvadorans today, you reduce the population side of the equation. But it gets worse, because you also reduce the production side as employers struggle to replace the workers, suppliers and buyers they just lost.

And if you’re reducing both sides of that GDP multiplication equation, you’re necessarily going to multiply the resulting drag on economic growth. Which is the opposite of what Trump officials are promising with their immigration overhaul.

***

Trump attacks protections for immigrants from ‘shithole’ countries

/ The Washington Post

washington postPresident Trump grew frustrated with lawmakers Thursday in the Oval Office when they floated restoring protections for immigrants from Haiti, El Salvador and African countries as part of a bipartisan immigration deal, according to two people briefed on the meeting.

“Why are we having all these people from shithole countries come here?” Trump said, according to these people, referring to African countries and Haiti. He then suggested that the United States should instead bring more people from countries like Norway, whose prime minister he met Wednesday.

The comments left lawmakers taken aback, according to people familiar with their reactions. Sens. Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.) and Richard J. Durbin (D-Ill.) proposed cutting the visa lottery program by 50 percent and prioritizing countries already in the system, a White House official said.

A White House spokesman defended Trump’s position on immigration without directly addressing Trump’s remarks.

“Certain Washington politicians choose to fight for foreign countries, but President Trump will always fight for the American people,” spokesman Raj Shah said in a statement issued after The Washington Post first reported Trump’s remarks. “. . .Like other nations that have merit-based immigration, President Trump is fighting for permanent solutions that make our country stronger by welcoming those who can contribute to our society, grow our economy and assimilate into our great nation.”

Outlining a potential bipartisan deal, the lawmakers discussed restoring protections for countries that have been removed from the temporary protected status program while adding $1.5 billion for a border wall and making changes to the visa lottery system.

The administration announced this week that it was removing the protection for citizens of El Salvador.

Trump had seemed amenable to a deal earlier in the day during phone calls, aides said, but shifted his position in the meeting and did not seem interested.

Graham and Durbin thought they would be meeting with Trump alone and were surprised to find immigration hard-liners such as Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) and Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) at the meeting. The meeting was impromptu and came after phone calls Thursday morning, Capitol Hill aides said.

After the meeting, Marc Short, Trump’s legislative aide, said the White House was nowhere near a bipartisan deal on immigration.

Mexico’s Potential Weapons if Trump Declares War on Nafta

 Workers on an auto parts production line in the Bosch factory this month in San Luis Potosí, Mexico. President Trump has threatened to impose a 35 percent tariff against Mexico. Credit Pedro Pardo/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

Workers on an auto parts production line in the Bosch factory this month in San Luis Potosí, Mexico. President Trump has threatened to impose a 35 percent tariff against Mexico. Credit Pedro Pardo/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

Eduardo Porter, 24 enero 2017 / THE NEW YORK TIMES

How could Mexico inflict the most damage on the United States?

NEW YORK TIMESIn normal times this question would not be top of mind for Mexican policy makers. Mexican governments over the last quarter-century have consistently pushed back against the nation’s historical resentment toward the United States, hoping to build a more cooperative relationship with its overbearing northern neighbor.

But these aren’t normal times. As President Trump prepares the opening gambit in his project to either renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement or pull out, Mexico’s most important strategic goal is narrowing to one word: deterrence.

It must convince Mr. Trump that if he blows up the trade agreement on which Mexico has staked its hopes of development, by weaving its economy ever more closely into that of the United States, the United States will suffer, too.

The critical question is whether Mexico’s threat will be convincing.

Mexico’s main challenge as it confronts a hostile Trump administration is the enormous asymmetry of the bilateral relationship. Ending Nafta would hurt the United States: Six million American jobs depend on exports to Mexico, according to Mexican officials. But to Mexico, it could prove devastating.

Mexico has relied on the pact to draw foreign capital into the country, not only ensuring multinational companies stable access to the largest consumer market in the world but also guaranteeing that their investment is safe, noted Luis Rubio, who heads the Center of Research for Development in Mexico City.

The makings of a Mexican strategy for defending its interests started coming into focus on Monday, when President Enrique Peña Nieto declared that negotiations for a future relationship with the United States would not be limited to trade.

“We will bring to the table all themes,” he said in a speech. “Trade, yes, but also migration and the themes of security, including border security, terrorist threats and the traffic of illegal drugs, weapons and cash.”

His hope is that by introducing broader uncertainty about the bilateral relationship — Will Mexico still cooperate in the fight against drug trafficking? Will it stop foreign terrorists from using Mexico as a way station into the United States? — Mexico can raise the stakes enough for Mr. Trump to reconsider his “America first” approach to commerce.

“Mexico has a lot of chips to play,” said Jorge Castañeda, a former foreign secretary who has staked out a combative approach.

Let Mr. Trump pull the United States out of Nafta, he argues. Instead of stopping Central American migrants at its southern border, Mexico should let them through on their way to the United States. “And let’s see if his wall keeps the terrorists out, because we won’t,” Mr. Castañeda added.

The view from Mexico City is not uniformly bleak. Some analysts believe there is a potential for a situation in which a new Nafta benefits all. “I have always believed one should never let a good crisis go to waste,” said Arturo Sarukhán, a former Mexican ambassador to the United States. “There is an opportunity that we could end up modernizing and improving Nafta.”

The view that there is a potential silver lining to Mr. Trump’s hostility toward Nafta is also popular in some Washington circles. The quarter-century-old agreement is due for some modernization anyway, if only to deal with things like data protection, online crime and e-commerce — which were not around in the early 1990s. Nafta’s weak provisions on labor and environmental standards could also be improved.

Graphic

How Deals Like Nafta Have Affected U.S. Trade

While trade has contributed to the growth of the American economy, the changing dynamics have also prompted concerns about lost jobs and the rising trade deficit. But when something is manufactured in the United States, the product is typically made up of parts and pieces from around the world.

 screen-shot-2017-01-25-at-7-00-22-pm

Many aspects of Nafta could be upgraded, trade experts say. It could do with new rules to open up government projects to bidders from all three Nafta partners. Allowing long-haul trucking companies from Mexico and the United States into each other’s markets could make trade between the two more efficient. What’s more, the Mexican-American border could benefit from more infrastructure investments to integrate energy networks, reduce clogged lines at border crossings and the like.

Now that Mr. Trump has formally nixed the Trans-Pacific Partnership, which would have tied North America and nine other nations from the Pacific Rim into one large trade bloc, some of its provisions could be drafted into a new North American deal.

Gary Hufbauer of the pro-trade Peterson Institute for International Economics in Washington suggests that the name “Nafta” be retired — it has a bad reputation. But a lot of its substance could remain, perhaps in the form of separate bilateral agreements with Canada and Mexico.

“Trump wants some easy victories,” Mr. Hufbauer pointed out. If he can score political points using his Twitter feed to persuade a few companies to keep jobs in the United States, why risk hurting the American economy by abandoning the North American trade deal? “Maybe that’s the reconciliation,” Mr. Hufbauer said.

Still, it’s hard to reconcile the proposal for an improved, more effective trading pact in North America with Mr. Trump’s frequent portrayal of trade as a zero-sum game that inevitably shortchanges the United States.

In Mr. Trump’s eyes, improving Nafta seems to mean eliminating Mexico’s trade surplus with the United States and limiting investment by American multinationals in Mexico. But one can’t quickly eliminate a $60 billion trade surplus with a new Nafta — not unless it has some incredibly draconian limits on imports or local content requirements that could be as damaging to Mexico as abandoning the pact altogether.

Many Mexican officials fear that it is precisely this kind of draconian change that Mr. Trump has in mind. It would be politically profitable, at least in the short term. And it would signal toughness to China — a more formidable rival that is next on Mr. Trump’s list. If Canada stays out of the fray, cutting a separate deal with the United States to replace Nafta, Mexico would be left alone in an existential fight for its future.

In this case, Mexico may have no choice but to raise the stakes and hope to arrive at the negotiating table with a threat at least as credible as Mr. Trump’s promise to pull out of the deal.

Mr. Trump’s negotiating position does have some soft spots. For one, said Mickey Kantor, the American trade negotiator who concluded the Nafta negotiations during the Clinton administration, “he is under pressure to deliver a deal.”

If Mexico stands its ground and even allows Nafta to dissolve, it would send its own signal to China: Resistance is not futile. And Mr. Trump’s threat to raise tariffs against Mexico to 35 percent could easily be challenged under the rules of the World Trade Organization.

This is, of course, a hugely risky strategy for Mexico. When Mr. Trump entered the presidential race in June 2015, a dollar was worth about 15 pesos. Now it’s worth about 22. A frontal confrontation with the United States might send it to 40, Mexican officials fear, fueling capital flight.

And yet that may be Mexico’s strongest card.

As noted by C. Fred Bergsten, director emeritus of the Peterson Institute, an irony of Mr. Trump’s approach to Mexico is that by weakening the peso so much, he is going to increase the bilateral trade deficit, increase Mexico’s competitiveness and make it more attractive for American companies to invest there. “That is going to swamp anything he achieves with his company-by-company efforts,” he added.

That’s if Mexico manages to hold on. The more ominous situation is one in which the United States pushes too hard and Mexico — its economy, its unpopular government, its public order and political stability — buckles. The United States has enjoyed a peaceful southern border for 100 years, since Pancho Villa made his marauding raids into the Southwest during the Mexican Revolution. “That is worth pure gold in this and any other world,” Mr. Castañeda said. “Mexico’s best argument is ‘Don’t mess with that.’”

Trump Will Be a ‘Severe Disappointment To Millions’

spiegelSPIEGEL speaks to David Remnick, the editor of the New Yorker, about the dangers of fascism under Donald Trump, international leaders’ reactions to the election and the role of the press in reporting on the next administration.

Donald Trump at a campaign rally before the election

Donald Trump at a campaign rally before the election

Pulitzer Prize-winner David Remnick, 58, has been the editor in chief of The New Yorker since 1998. He is also the author of a widely praised biography of Barack Obama and has privileged access to the current president. He conducted several interviews with Obama after the election.

Interview Conducted by Holger Stark, 9 diciembre 2016 / SPIEGEL ONLINE

SPIEGEL: On the night of the election, you published a stunning warning that the election’s outcome was “surely the way fascism can begin.” It’s been three weeks now. Has fascism begun?

Remnick: No it has not and I want to be clear about what I wrote. The whole sentence, the complete thought is this: I don’t think there will be fascism in America, but we have to do everything we can to fight against it. As the Germans know better than we do, disaster can take a nation by surprise, slowly, and then all at once. My deep sense of alarm has to do with his seeming lack of fealty to constitutionalism. He seems to think it is within his rights to trample the First Amendment, to disdain the press, to punish protesters or flag-burners, to ban ethnic categories of immigrants, and so on. He has myriad conflicts of interest. He appoints people of low quality, to say the least. He lies with astonishing frequency and in stunning volume. His temperament and character is precisely what you would hate to see in your children, much less your president. We can wish all these things will magically change once he is in office, but will they?

I’ve lived through terrible presidents, we all have. I lived through the Nixon administration, which prolonged a horrific war for years and ran a criminal operation out of the White House, and I lived through the years with George W. Bush. And I lived for years in the Soviet Union and have seen the promise of democratic development turn, with Putin, into an authoritarian state. So yes, I think we should be alarmed, watchful, and, as journalists, rigorous and fearless. I think we should be alert.

SPIEGEL: Similar developments have taken place in other countries as well.

Remnick: Trump’s election is part of an international trend that’s no less alarming, in Britain, in France, in Germany, in Austria. Vladimir Putin wanted to see this outcome no less than he would like to see nationalists and anti-Europeanists win in France. He wants to become the de facto head of an illiberal, xenophobic, hypernationalist trend in world politics. He wants practical things, like the end of economic sanctions, but he also wants far greater sway in Europe and in the overall ideological trends of the world. So Trump’s rise is troubling not just on an American level but on an international level.

SPIEGEL: Donald Trump sends mixed messages. He claims to want to unite the country but he appointed a person like Steve Bannon, a white supremacist, as his chief strategist. What does all this mean in terms of the direction the Trump administration might take?

Remnick: There are inconsistencies in his ideology. It’s worth remembering that this is very different than the Reagan experience. Ronald Reagan came to office and had already been an experienced politician as governor of California, whose ideology and ideas, no matter how simplistic or no matter how much you may disagree with them, were fairly well-developed and fairly consistent. Donald Trump is a real-estate branding operator and a reality-show television star whose entrance into big-time politics, as a victor, as someone who will now wield tremendous power, was as shocking to him as it was to everybody else. I think that he got into the race thinking that it would be good for his brand, that he would surprise some people by doing better than expected, and then lose, and then come out of it with a certain amount of embellishment of his celebrity and, therefore, his business. He expected to gain, both financially and in prestige, by losing. But now he has won.

Suddenly, he finds himself president of the United States. Suddenly, he’s not only wrestling with whatever competing ideas exist in his head, but also with the shock of the responsibility itself. Again, we can hope that the responsibilities and realities will weigh on him and he will not be the president we fear, but rather something more stable.

SPIEGEL: Trump put the economy at the center of his campaign and promised to bring jobs back to the United States. What’s wrong with that?

Remnick: There’s nothing wrong with creating jobs. What’s wrong is to seed the illusion that you will magically bring back the economy of 1970, that you will reopen coal mines. The notion that somehow through a trade war or protectionism or magical thinking that we’re going to return to a romanticized economic past is, in the end, going to be an illusion. And a severe disappointment to millions of decent, hard-working people.

SPIEGEL: He combines antidemocratic policies with unconventional proposals. Reaching out to Putin might open new opportunities in foreign policy …

Remnick: … and maybe Santa Claus is real. Here’s the problem: reality. I would love to have a stable, productive relationship with Russia. I would also like to see Russia not interfere in our elections. I would like to see Russia not invade Ukraine or put pressure on and threaten Baltic states. But we live in the real and existing world. And now, despite the long election campaign, Donald Trump is going to have to live in the real world in which Vladimir Putin is exactly who he presents himself to be, and Putin is extremely skilled. He’s not going to make it very easy for the United States or Germany. And he’s going to test Trump.

SPIEGEL: Who knows how they will handle each other. Maybe Putin will find his match in Donald Trump.

Remnick: I don’t know that Donald Trump is anything more to Putin than what Lenin called a poleznye durak, a useful idiot. I want to make something clear. By the laws of the United States, Trump won the election. And unless some sensational story is discovered about manipulation or vote counts, we’re going to have to live with that. And I know, too, that millions and millions of people voted for Trump not because they are cartoon racists, but because they did not like Hillary Clinton for a variety of reasons, because they had real economic and social grievances. I think the hacking of the DNC, the FBI’s behavior, and, above all, the idea of Russian interference, are outrageous, but there is the law. And I think the Electoral College is an absurd 18th-century construct. But that is the law. Yet I say all these critical things not out of a sense of anti-patriotism but out of a sense of patriotism, out of a sense of alarmed and informed concern for my country.

SPIEGEL: It’s remarkable how many people suddenly made their peace with Trump following the election. Why is that?

Remnick: A lot of it is opportunism as well as reflex and resignation.

SPIEGEL: Even President Obama offered him more assistance and advice than usual. Why is he doing that?

Remnick: I don’t think President Obama gave him more advice and assistance than usual. He gave him precisely the amount of advice and assistance that is required for the peaceful transition of power in the United States. His hope, at least until January 20th, is that he can impress upon Trump the gravity of his position, convince him that things are not so simplistic or not simplistic at all. Obama called him “uniquely unqualified” and “temperamentally unfit,” and you can be sure he thinks that today, just as he thought it before November 8th. I know from my conversations with people in the administration that every world leader that Obama met in Berlin, in Peru, in Athens was extremely alarmed by Trump’s election. That very much includes Angela Merkel.

SPIEGEL: Let’s talk about the mistakes on the left. We learned from the hacked emails that the DNC supported Hillary Clinton at a very early stage and wanted her to be the party’s nominee. Was it wrong to get behind Clinton so wholeheartedly?

Remnick: Do I think that everybody on the Clinton side had a proper understanding of the resentments aimed at them? No, I don’t. Do I think they made mistakes in places where they could have campaigned and they didn’t campaign enough? Yes, I do. Michigan, Wisconsin. Pennsylvania. Hindsight is always 20/20.

SPIEGEL: But again: Was Clinton the wrong candidate?

Remnick: In hindsight. The person that most obviously had strengths where she had weaknesses was Joe Biden.

SPIEGEL: The Clintons made it clear to him at an early stage that he should stay out of her way.

Remnick: Joe Biden had a relationship with places like Pennsylvania and Michigan and Ohio and the white working class that Hillary Clinton didn’t. The one thing I’m quite critical of her for, and it obviously hurt her, is that at some level, the Clintons had to know that she was going to run for president. Why did they feel it necessary to make tens of millions of dollars with speaking engagements? They must have known that it would look grotesque. The word for it is “buckraking.” It’s beyond me. I don’t understand it.

SPIEGEL: Maybe they are so entangled in their own world of private email servers and million-dollar incomes. Maybe they live in a different universe.

Remnick: The private email server was a mistake, a serious mistake, and she should have apologized for it months earlier, but she kept making lawyerly excuses. The buckraking seemed to me to have an ethical and moral dimension that was just inexcusable.

SPIEGEL: There is currently a heated debate taking place on the left about how to integrate the various interests of different social groups under one tent. Was it a mistake to have relied on minorities in the electorate?

Remnick: The Democratic vote consists of minorities and educated whites. And the minority vote is growing, which is part of the alarm of so many Republicans and why Trump constantly whipped up their alarm with his racist statements. But it’s also important to remember that a huge constituency, such as Hispanics, is not 100 percent Democratic. It’s more complex than that.

SPIEGEL: But would you agree with people like Bernie Sanders who claim that the political left should focus more on the white working class?

Remnick: To some degree, sure. There are real grievances there that must be addressed not just rhetorically but in policy. But you have to understand that a lot of the working class is not white too.

SPIEGEL: But many people’s job-losses and fears are real.

Remnick: Of course. Although it is worth pointing out that unemployment was heading toward catastrophic levels in 2009 and is now under 5 percent. The question for so many is the quality of work, the future of work under globalism and de-industrialization. A typical example is a person who had a good factory job making 80,000 dollars, with health insurance, who was able to send his kids possibly to college and then he or she suddenly loses that job because the factory closed down. And now that same person is bagging groceries at Walmart and making $35,000. That person has lost a huge amount of income and a sense of pride, and, unfortunately, with a demagogue like Trump, there is the danger that this same person will be encouraged to believe that he or she lost their job and status because all the goodies are being given by politicians to darker people, to undocumented immigrants. And resentments bloom.

It’s a classic case of pitting one group against another for political gain. You are losing because of Jewish bankers. You are losing because blacks are getting their civil rights in the cities. You are losing out because Mexican rapists are taking your job. There are two forms of populism, left-wing populism and right-wing populism. Right-wing populism requires the denigration of an “Other.” Left-wing populism tends to be about the haves and have-nots.

SPIEGEL: There was one person during the campaign who seemed to outshine the others: Michelle Obama. Will we see her on the national stage at one point, maybe to challenge Trump?

Remnick: I doubt it very seriously. I’ve never encountered someone in public life who has less desire to hold office than Michelle Obama, though she is incredibly gifted at retail politics.

SPIEGEL: This election presented an unprecedented challenge to journalists. Trump himself concocted hundreds of lies without consequences and false news spread like a virus, almost always in Trump’s favor.

Remnick: Trump didn’t have to come up with them. They were provided for him by all kinds of fake news outlets that sometimes had their origins in places like Macedonia or Georgia or… anywhere.

SPIEGEL: What are the implications for democracy?

Remnick: It corrodes public discourse, it undermines our collective knowledge of reality. It makes democracy more complicated. I don’t want to romanticize the world in which everybody watched three networks and the Washington Post and the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal were incredibly dominant. That time has passed. And the internet is very democratizing in some ways, but it also has other effects. So that on Facebook, a lie can seem as convincing to some as an article from SPIEGEL or the Washington Post. That’s a problem. I can then like it and like it again and start creating my own media universe, both for me and for my friends, and so we become more and more fenced off from one another. We begin to inhabit oppositional and rarely intersecting mental universes having to do with ideology and fact and non-fact and news and non-news. We’ve seen these tendencies before in previous elections, but now it’s just incredibly powerful.

SPIEGEL: What are the lessons for the media?

Remnick: It means we have to do our jobs better, more tirelessly and stop whining about it. As journalists, we need to find every avenue to distribute our work, and try to be so good that we become increasingly more influential than before. We should put pressure on power and write the truth and write relentlessly and fearlessly. That’s the job.

SPIEGEL: As a result of the efforts of Jill Stein, the Green Party candidate, a recount is taking place in Wisconsin, maybe also in Michigan and Pennsylvania. In response, Trump claimed that the election had been fraudulent. What does it say about the status of American democracy that the outcome is being questioned by people in both parties?

Remnick: I live in a country where, at least by my sense of arithmetic and justice, Al Gore should have been president, not George W. Bush. To this day, John Kerry probably thinks he won Ohio in 2004 because he had suspicions about the vote in Ohio. And, by the way, Richard Nixon had suspicions in 1960 about the vote in Chicago when he lost to JFK. Democratic institutions, even in the oldest operating democracy in the world, are anything but perfect.

SPIEGEL: So even if there are irregularities, the outcome won’t change?

Remnick: I just don’t know. Prediction is a low form of journalism.

SPIEGEL: Looking forward four years from now, are you sure that we won’t look back and say, well, maybe Trump was indeed a second Reagan?

Remnick: It’s not as if I wish that he becomes a catastrophically terrible president. I want to hope for the best. But I am an adult; deliberately naïve, dewy-eyed optimism is not the proper posture for a responsible adult, is it? As a citizen and as a journalist, it’s my job to exert as much pressure on power to help that not become the case.

SPIEGEL: Mr. Remnick, we thank you for this interview.

The front page we hope we never have to print. The Boston Globe

El domingo 10 de abril, el periódico THE BOSTON GLOBE imprimió una portada que, según su Editorial Board, “esperamos que nunca tendremos que publicar”. Al interior de la edición el Globe publica el editorial que abajo reproducimos.

Segunda Vuelta

Ideas-Trump-front-page

The GOP must stop Trump. Editorial

10 abril 2016 / THE BOSTON GLOBE

Donald J. Trump’s vision for the future of our nation is as deeply disturbing as it is profoundly un-American.

Screen Shot 2016-04-10 at 11.48.31 PMIt is easy to find historical antecedents. The rise of demagogic strongmen is an all too common phenomenon on our small planet. And what marks each of those dark episodes is a failure to fathom where a leader’s vision leads, to carry rhetoric to its logical conclusion. The satirical front page of this section attempts to do just that, to envision what America looks like with Trump in the White House.

It is an exercise in taking a man at his word. And his vision of America promises to be as appalling in real life as it is in black and white on the page. It is a vision that demands an active and engaged opposition. It requires an opposition as focused on denying Trump the White House as the candidate is flippant and reckless about securing it.

After Wisconsin, the odds have shrunk that Trump will arrive in Cleveland with the requisite 1,237 delegates needed to win the nomination outright. Yet if he’s denied that nomination for falling short of the required delegates, Trump has warned, “You’d have riots. I think you’d have riots.” Indeed, who knows what Trump’s fervent backers are capable of if emboldened by the defeat of their strongman at the hands of the hated party elite.

But the rules are the rules — and if no candidate reaches that magic number, the job of choosing a nominee falls to those on the convention floor.

Screen Shot 2016-04-10 at 11.52.08 PMThat’s not a pretty picture. But then nothing about the billionaire real estate developer’s quest for the nation’s highest office has been pretty. He winks and nods at political violence at his rallies. He says he wants to “open up” libel laws to punish critics in the news media and calls them “scum.” He promised to shut out an entire class of immigrants and visitors to the United States on the sole basis of their religion.

The toxic mix of violent intimidation, hostility to criticism, and explicit scapegoating of minorities shows a political movement is taking hold in America. If Trump were a politician running such a campaign in a foreign country right now, the US State Department would probably be condemning him.

Realizing that the party faces a double bind, a few conservatives have been clear-eyed enough to see the need for a plausible, honorable alternative that could emerge from the likely contested convention. Names like Paul Ryan and Mitt Romney have come up. If no candidate gets a majority on the convention’s first ballot, such a nomination might be theoretically possible.

This would have no modern precedent: Ordinarily, parties put aside their differences after primaries and rally to the front-runner because they share basic common goals and values. In any other election cycle, anti-Trump Republicans would just look like sore losers. But Trump lacks those common values — not just the values of Republicans but, it becomes clearer every day, those of Democrats.

House Speaker Ryan spoke to the possible long-term damage with which the party is flirting. “Leaders with different visions and ideas have come and gone; parties have risen and fallen; majorities and White Houses won and lost,” he said. “But the way we govern endures: through debate, not disorder.” The problem is that Trump has already crossed lines that a politician with a sincere commitment to democratic norms must never cross.

At some point, after the election, Republicans will also need to ask themselves some tough questions about how their actions and inactions made the party vulnerable to Trump. After all, a candidate spewing anti-immigrant, anti-Muslim, authoritarian rhetoric didn’t come out of nowhere; the Tea Party has been strong enough long enough that someone like him shouldn’t be a surprise. Chasing short-term political gains, the GOP missed a lot of chances to fight the hateful currents that now threaten to overwhelm it.

For now, Republicans ought to focus on doing the right thing: putting up every legitimate roadblock to Trump that they can. Unexpectedly, a key moment in American democracy has snuck up on the GOP. When he denounced Trump, Romney said he wanted to be able to say he’d fought the good fight against a demagogue. That’s the test other Republicans may want to consider.

Action doesn’t mean political chicanery or subterfuge. It doesn’t mean settling for an equally extreme — and perhaps more dangerous — nominee in Ted Cruz. If the party can muster the courage to reject its first-place finisher, rejecting the runner-up should be even easier.

The Republican Party’s standard deserves to be hoisted by an honorable and decent man, like Romney or Ryan, elected on the convention floor. It is better to lose with principle than to accept a dangerous deal from a demagogue.

En la prensa estadounidense comienza un debate autocrítico sobre el ascenso de Donald Trump

My Shared Shame: The Media Helped Make Trump. De Nicolas Kristof/ The New York Times

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nicolas kristofNicolas Kristof, 26 marzo 2016 / THE NEW YORK TIMES

THOSE of us in the news media have sometimes blamed Donald Trump’s rise on the Republican Party’s toxic manipulation of racial resentments over the years. But we should also acknowledge another force that empowered Trump: Us.

I polled a number of journalists and scholars, and there was a broad (though not universal) view that we in the media screwed up. Our first big failing was that television in particular handed Trump the microphone without adequately fact-checking him or rigorously examining his background, in a craven symbiosis that boosted audiences for both.

NEW YORK TOMES NYT“Trump is not just an instant ratings/circulation/clicks gold mine; he’s the motherlode,” Ann Curry, the former “Today” anchor, told me. “He stepped on to the presidential campaign stage precisely at a moment when the media is struggling against deep insecurities about its financial future. The truth is, the media has needed Trump like a crack addict needs a hit.”

Curry says she’s embarrassed by the unfairness to other Republican candidates, who didn’t get nearly the same airtime.

An analysis by The Times found that we in the news media gave Trump $1.9 billion in free publicity in this presidential cycle. That’s 190 times as much as he paid for in advertising, and it’s far more than any other candidate received. As my colleague Jim Rutenberg put it, some complain that “CNN has handed its schedule over to Mr. Trump,” and CNN had lots of company.

Larry Sabato, a politics professor at the University of Virginia, says television networks “have a lot to answer for.”

“We all know it’s about ratings, and Trump delivers,” Sabato says. “You can’t take your eyes off him. When Trump is on, I stop what I’m doing and wait for the car crash.”

Sabato is particularly critical of Sunday morning news program hosts who have allowed Trump to “appear” by telephone, instead of in person.

Although many of us journalists have derided Trump, the truth is that he generally outsmarted us (with many exceptions, for there truly have been serious efforts to pin him down and to investigate Trump University and his various business failings). He manipulated television by offering outrageous statements that drew ever more cameras — without facing enough skeptical follow-up questions.

It’s not that we shouldn’t have covered Trump’s craziness, but that we should have aggressively provided context in the form of fact checks and robust examination of policy proposals. A candidate claiming that his business acumen will enable him to manage America deserved much more scrutiny of his bankruptcies and mediocre investing.

All politicians spin, of course. But all in all, I’ve never met a national politician in the U.S. who is so ill informed, evasive, puerile and deceptive as Trump.

When the fact-check website PolitiFact was ready to choose its “lie of the year” for 2015, it found that the only real contenders were falsehoods by Trump. So it lumped them together and awarded the title to “the many campaign misstatements of Donald Trump.”

That pattern of prevarication is what we in the media, especially television, didn’t adequately highlight, leaving many voters with the perception that Trump is actually a straight shooter.

The reason for this passivity goes, I think, to a second failure: We wrongly treated Trump as a farce. “The media made a mistake by covering Trump’s candidacy at the start as some sort of joke or media prank,” notes Danielle S. Allen, a political scientist at Harvard. “The repeated use of references to ‘the Donald’ across all platforms structured the conversation around ironical affection for a celebrity rather than around serious conversation of character and policy.”

“Trump was quite literally a laugh line,” says Ralph Begleiter, a former CNN correspondent and communications professor at the University of Delaware. Begleiter notes that Sarah Palin received more serious vetting as a running mate in 2008 than Trump has as a presidential candidate.

I personally made the mistake of regarding Trump’s candidacy as a stunt, scoffing at the idea that he could be the nominee. Mea culpa.

We failed to take Trump seriously because of a third media failing: We were largely oblivious to the pain among working-class Americans and thus didn’t appreciate how much his message resonated. “The media has been out of touch with these Americans,” Curry notes.

Media elites rightly talk about our insufficient racial, ethnic and gender diversity, but we also lack economic diversity. We inhabit a middle-class world and don’t adequately cover the part of America that is struggling and seething. We spend too much time talking to senators, not enough to the jobless.

All this said, I have to add that I don’t know if more fact-checking would have mattered. Tom Brokaw of NBC did outstanding work challenging Trump, but he says that when journalists have indeed questioned Trump’s untrue statements, nothing much happens: “His followers find fault with the questions, not with his often incomplete, erroneous or feeble answers.”

Likewise, Bob Schieffer of CBS tells me: “I’m not sure more fact-checking would have changed that much. We’re in a new world where attitude seems to count more than facts.”

That may be true. But I still think that we blew it and that this should be a moment for self-reflection in journalism.

Despite some outstanding coverage of Trump, on the whole we in the media empowered a demagogue and failed the country. We were lap dogs, not watchdogs.

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Can Paul Ryan and Donald Trump coexist within the Republican Party? De Dan Balz/The Washington Post

Dan Balz is Chief Correspondent at The Washington Post. He has served as the paper’s National Editor, Political Editor, White House correspondent and Southwest correspondent.

Dan Balz is Chief Correspondent at The Washington Post. He has served as the paper’s National Editor, Political Editor, White House correspondent and Southwest correspondent.

Dan Balz, 26 marzo 2016 / THE WASHINGTON POST

House Speaker Paul D. Ryan attempted to lift the horizons of his party with a speech last week in which he called for a competition of ideas rather than insults, and constructive political debate rather than the politics of demonization.

Ryan’s speech was aimed at pulling the Republican Party away from Donald Trump’s embrace — though he never actually mentioned Trump by name. Events quickly showed what he is up against. The speaker was quickly drowned out by a snarling argument between Trump and Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas over their wives that almost eclipsed the terrorist attacks in Brussels in the U.S. media.

By week’s end, the Republican race had gone into the gutter over tabloid charges of infidelity, which the senator vehemently denied and for which he blamed the New York billionaire, who called it unfounded. A race that seemed already at the bottom managed to find another low.

Ryan’s speech was a relatively high-minded moment in the middle of this mud fight of a Republican nominating contest. His effort to rescue the party from a coming crisis is laudable, but the root causes of the condition go far beyond Trump.

washington postThe front-runner for the nomination of the Republican Party is as much a reflection of the condition as a cause, a reality that Ryan (R-Wis.) touched on only lightly in calling for a more positive and uplifting approach to politics by all sides. Which means stopping Trump alone won’t necessarily solve all of the party’s problems.

Four years ago, scholars Thomas Mann, then with the Brookings Institution, and Norman Ornstein, then and now with the American Enterprise Institute, published a book examining the breakdown in American politics. It was titled “It’s Even Worse Than It Looks.”

The authors took aim at the gridlocked and dysfunctional politics of Washington and the broader issue of political polarization that has become endemic in recent years. They were unsparing but not even-handed in their critique. They were ahead of others in describing the underlying causes of polarization as asymmetrical, with the Republican Party — in particular its most hard-line faction — as deserving of far more of the blame for the breakdown in governing.

Mann and Ornstein are back again with a second and updated paperback edition, called “It’s Even Worse Than It Was.” The paperback arrives in the middle of the most raucous presidential campaign in memory, one that has exposed even more the fissures, fractures and divisions within the Republican Party coalition.

What played out primarily in the party’s congressional wing has come to consume the presidential nominating contest. In their own ways, Trump and Cruz have brought to the surface the economic and cultural anger among many of those in the party’s base as well as the distrust of the party leadership — the same motivating forces behind the Freedom Caucus rebels in the House Republican conference.

The current campaign only adds fuel to the Mann-Ornstein thesis of a Republican Party at war with itself in ways that have helped cripple the governing process. Trump and Cruz reflect the yearning within the Republican base for anti-establishment outsiders to topple the insiders in Washington.

Ohio Gov. John Kasich, the third remaining candidate for the nomination, is a dissenting voice, calling for cooperation and compromise. At this point, he is not just a dissenting voice; he is a minority voice in the presidential competition, unless he can start winning more primaries.

Trump and Ryan represent bookends in a political debate that has considerable consequences for the Republican Party and for the country. Trump’s position as front-runner not only highlights the degree to which the party is being taken over by anti-establishment forces but also foreshadows the possibility of a significant defeat in November if, as the GOP nominee, Trump is unable to reverse his standing among women, Hispanics, African Americans and other voting groups.

Ryan represents something far different, politics grounded in ideas and policies and an attitude of goodwill toward the opposition that he inherited from his mentor, Jack Kemp, the former House member from Buffalo who prodded his party to be more open and inclusive.

Yet Ryan’s speech left unanswered key questions about his capacity to change the behavior of his party’s conference in the House and in particular the degree to which he is willing to find a governing coalition apart from the hard-liners in the Freedom Caucus.

As the country’s highest-ranking Republican elected official, Ryan symbolizes the establishment’s backlash to Trump’s candidacy, a backlash that has so far failed to stop the New York businessman’s march to the nomination. The resistance might yet succeed. Whether it does or doesn’t, it raises the question of whether this presidential campaign ultimately will produce a true course change for the party or merely end up intensifying the forces that have brought it to this moment.

I put that question to Ornstein in an email exchange Friday: “This really is, I believe, an existential crisis for the Republican Party,” he wrote. “Will it be a Ryan-style conservative, problem-solving party, or will it be either a Trump-style, authoritarian, nativist and protectionist party, or a Cruz-style radical anti-government party content with blowing things up as they now stand? Or, just as possible, will the party break apart, with no clue as to what will replace it or how the pieces will fit into the broader political system?”

The prospects for a crackup are real, given what Trump’s candidacy has revealed about the party’s fractured coalition. Trump’s views on issues, outlined on the campaign trail and in a recent interview with The Washington Post editorial board, represent a fundamental break with many of the conservative ideas that have been at the party’s core for years.

Trump’s constituency finds his support for protecting rather than transforming Social Security and Medicare appealing. His words of praise for the work of Planned Parenthood, apart from performing abortions, are anathema to many religious conservatives. His views on trade run counter to the free-trade philosophy of the GOP elites. His comments about reevaluating the U.S. role in NATO shocked many in the Republican foreign-policy establishment.

That’s the threat Ryan and others in the party see as they watch the nominating contest move into the next rounds of primaries. But it isn’t clear that what the speaker advocated in his speech would be enough to put the Republican Party in a better place, even absent Trump. House Republicans are still an unruly group and, with some exceptions, the GOP still prefers to try to do business with itself.

The Republican Party remains a party of protest. It continues to struggle to demonstrate that, on the national level, it can be a true governing party.