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What the world needs now

Kathleen Parker on

"Can you imagine reading Faulkner now?" I recently asked a friend.

"We can't," he responded.

And Donald Trump, who proudly prefers television to newspapers and Twitter to books, is our president.

We've all exhausted our stores of punditry in trying to explain how and why The Donald won. Most analysis focuses on quantifiable voter concerns -- unemployment, immigration, trade, terrorism and the sort. But it's the unquantifiable that really drives the ballot: instinct. Trump figured out how to match his primitive drives to the modern needs of his supporters.

Come Election Day, the instinctual question was: Which of these two characters is most likely to keep the fires stoked and the predators scared? Trump, the overconfident lobber of Id-ioms? (See "Make America Great Again!") Or, Hillary Clinton, the head-nodding yes-woman who lacked a platform higher than the heels of her sensible shoes?

Done.

But what now? In just over six months in office, Trump has managed to alienate our allies, shatter our international standing, demonstrate no leadership ability or essential knowledge, fire or replace people in key positions, and exacerbate global tensions with his lack of discipline, maturity and self-control. Who can save us from ourselves?

There are still plenty of deep thinkers out there, but who is listening? Who is reading? Who among those who can contemplate the future -- as opposed to retweeting this-just-happened -- is even willing to lead? And what, finally, is leadership in an era when centuries-old institutions are failing and commonly shared beliefs are no longer common or shared?

Well, somebody. Someone who has consulted history to understand present and future challenges, who understands the role and risks of technology -- and who can help people understand the daily chaos with the erudition of Stevenson, the humanity of Eisenhower, and the wisdom of one we've yet to know.

Now there's a dream worth pursuing.

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Kathleen Parker's email address is kathleenparker@washpost.com.

(c) 2017, Washington Post Writers Group

 

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