America in the Age of Trump - Encounter Books

America in the Age of Trump

Opportunities and Oppositions in an Unsettled World

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Publication Details

Hardcover / 344 pages
ISBN: 9781594039478
AVAILABLE: 7/4/2017

America in the Age of Trump
Opportunities and Oppositions in an Unsettled World

America in the Age of Trump is a bracing, essential look at the failure of a great nation to meet the needs of its people and the challenges of the age—and the resulting collapse of public trust in government, as well as a pervasive crisis of national values, from broken families to a loss of faith in the American idea itself. This crisis of values occurs just as the country faces an unprecedented array of fiscal, economic, social, and national-security challenges—out of control federal spending, frighteningly large deficits, massive gaps of income and opportunity, cultural division, and a dangerous world in which American power seems increasingly incidental.

In America in the Age of Trump, Douglas E. Schoen and Jessica Tarlov offer a definitive and unique assessment of a nation in turmoil, looking beneath well-known problems to identify underlying yet poorly understood causes. Readers will confront the crises, one by one: of trust, values, and governance; of education, economic opportunity, and fiscal solvency; of national security, domestic tranquility, and race relations.

America in the Age of Trump gathers in one place a clear and comprehensive evaluation of the fundamental issues confronting the American future while offering bold, fresh approaches to meeting these challenges. Other books have described the specter of American decline, but none has been so comprehensive in its diagnosis or forward-looking—and non-ideological—in its remedies, explaining how we might yet overcome national self-doubt to reclaim our traditional optimism, reassert our place in the world, and secure a prosperous future for our citizens.

About the Authors

Douglas E. Schoen has been one of the most influential Democratic campaign consultants for more than 30 years. A founding partner and principal strategist for Penn, Schoen & Berland, he is widely recognized as one of the co-inventors of overnight polling. His political clients include former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Governor Evan Bayh of Indiana, and internationally, he has worked for the heads of states of over 15 countries.

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Jessica Tarlov is a senior strategist working for Schoen Consulting in New York City. She has experience on a range of projects including advising clients on messaging strategies and on design and execution of polling projects, both domestically and internationally.

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On September 19, 2014, President Obama had just left the White House residence with his family, on their way to Camp David for a summer weekend.

Moments later, Omar J. Gonzalez, a U.S. Army veteran of the Iraq war suffering from PTSD, jumped the black iron White House fence and raced across the lawn, undetected and unhindered by the Secret Service. Gonzalez approached the North Portico door, the iconic entrance, flanked by white columns, known to all Americans—and in front of which a Secret Service agent is supposed to stand at all times. No agent was in position as Gonzalez approached, however. He turned the handle; the door was unlocked.

Gonzalez went in. He was met by a female agent, whom he overpowered. Armed with a three-and-a-half-inch knife with a serrated blade, Gonzalez walked around inside the White House, supposedly one of the most heavily guarded buildings in the world. He passed through the Entrance Hall and the staircase leading to the White House family quarters, from which the Obamas had departed minutes earlier. He made it into the 80-foot-long East Room, the stately ballroom from which presidents sometimes give important speeches—as when Obama announced to the nation that U.S. forces had killed Osama bin Laden.

Finally, two Secret Service agents caught up with Gonzalez, tackled him, and subdued him. Gonzalez was arrested and later hospitalized. He pled guilty to two charges and will serve a brief prison sentence.

In a post-9/11 era of hyper-security, in which cities large and small had drawn up plans for all kinds of dreadful contingencies, most Americans assumed that if any place was safe from terrorists, it was the White House. Yet here the president’s own home had been breached, not by terrorists but by a lone unstable individual, who had simply walked in through the front door.

In the aftermath, politicians and commentators focused their ire on the Secret Service, which had seen one fiasco after another in recent years—including a security breakdown at a 2009 White House dinner that allowed a couple to crash the event and meet the Obamas, alcohol and sex scandals, a 2011 episode in which bullets struck the White House, and other incidents in which individuals had scaled the White House fence.

Gonzalez-like incidents don’t just happen; they are not the result of one-day glitches. They are the byproduct of institutional decay. Secret Service director Julia Pierson resigned soon afterward, and subsequent investigations revealed that agents’ radios hadn’t functioned properly, that some agents weren’t trained properly in how to use them, and that an alarm system in the White House had malfunctioned. It’s not clear if the agency can ever recapture its lost prestige.

The Gonzalez episode illustrates more than the decline of the Secret Service: it also stands as a fitting symbol of a nation in a tailspin. When Gonzalez was apprehended, he said that he had wanted to warn the president that “the atmosphere is collapsing.” He may have been speaking in meteorological terms, but taken broadly, his phrase is fitting. For millions, it is the atmosphere of American life that seems to be collapsing.