The Administration

Trump’s forgotten man and woman — still forgotten

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Last week we approached the six month milestone of Donald J. Trump’s presidency, so it is useful to return to where it began – Inauguration Day.

During Trump’s inaugural address, he stated: “January 20, 2017, will be remembered as the day the people became the rulers of this nation again.  The forgotten men and women of our country will be forgotten no longer.”

The forgotten man and woman.  Whatever happened to them?  

Unfortunately, they are still forgotten.

Donald Trump was elected the 45th president of the United States by riding the wave of yet another “change election,” exploiting the disconnection, dislocation, and disharmony within our economy and country, vowing to “Make America Great Again” and promising big change not unlike Barack Obama.  

{mosads}But Trump’s version of change will ultimately fail because it does not deal with the realities of the changing economy head-on.  You cannot bully your way to a better competitive position and stronger country; you have to build it — from the bottom-up.

And there is another fundamental flaw within Trump’s worldview.  Trump — not unlike Obama and Hillary Clinton — suffers from the moral crisis of the ‘macro-opic’ worldview: A worldview that myopically values the macro over the micro, the big over the small, the global over the local — a worldview increasingly synonymous with the rich over the poor.  

“Macro-opicacy” has hacked our system and led to the belief that we need more “big” in our country: Bigger government, bigger business, bigger deals, bigger solutions, even a bigger president.  A worldview that asserts that big and comprehensive approaches would solve all of our problems.  Yet, as we have seen, such approaches have proven either unachievable or have failed to meet the challenges of our time.  One has to look no further than the on-going healthcare debacle to see the failure of “macro-opicacy.”

We have now entered a new and dangerous time within our great experiment in self-governance.  

Our politics has moved from questioning the effectiveness and efficiency of government to questioning whether the system — our two-party system, in particular — is rigged and can even produce legitimate representatives of the people.  And now, we see some even questioning the bedrock values of the American political tradition and the Constitution itself — from those on the left challenging whether all speech is, in fact, free speech, to those on the right valuing the control of society that only leaders like Putin embody.

This building antipathy within our political system is manifesting into intolerance and creeping authoritarianism within our political life.  And, throughout, the forgotten man and woman?  They’re still forgotten.   

What is happening within the American body politic goes beyond the normal machinations of a democracy; it is reflective of a failing republic.  

It is no longer merely about bipartisanship and making “our politics work.” It is now about saving our republic.  And it begins by bearing witness to our reality.  

The truth is that comprehensive, one-size-fits-all approaches have failed.  There are no big, quick, and easy fixes.  No white knight presidents who can singularly solve the vast and varying problems that we face as a nation.  No centralized, federal government approaches that can meet the complexity of the challenges we face in the 21st century.  

But it is within this reality — this very truth — that a deeper insight is revealed and hope is renewed.  It’s not more ‘big’ that we need.  The change we need is more “small.”

If we are to save our republic, strategically renew our country, and maintain American leadership in the world, we must begin by rebuilding the foundation of our country by: (1) empowering the small and the local, (2) interconnecting the big and the small in society, and (3) disrupting from the middle: the political middle, the middle class, and the middle of the country.  

Empowering the small and the local: I am confident in this alternate future for our country — a future that fundamentally rejects macro-opicacy — because through small organizations and local communities across the United States, this is already happening.  From Detroit to New Orleans, from Water Valley, Mississippi to Erie, Pennsylvania, the American people are doing what they can; where they are at.  We need to broaden this trend and re-affirm this culture by systemically supporting it through public policy.

Interconnecting “the big” and “the small:” In the 21st century, “the big” and “the small” must become inextricably linked and intrinsically integrated.  This is how the United States will become whole again.  Today, we have both the technology as well as the necessity to create a new set of support structures and partnerships within our economy and society that integrate “the big” and “the small,” “the global” and “the local.”  We can foster a new interconnectedness that can also help renew the sacred social compact within our society.  Call it the “glo-calization” of our republic.

Disrupt from “the middle:” We must also build a new political party and movement that disrupts from the middle: the political middle, the middle class, and the middle of our country.  This would bring to our politics and political culture much needed balance and solutions-oriented approach as well as a renewed focus on “the small” and “the local” in our society: Small business, local economies, towns, and families.  Call this, new republicanism.

And to lead this change and save our republic, it is going to take a new generation of leaders. We — the 9/11 generation, the tech disruption generation, the sons and daughters of the baby boom generation — must save our republic and solve the great problems of our time.  We must adopt this new approach: “think big, empower small.”

This — the disruption of our republic from “the middle,” “the small,” and “the local” — must become the great national purpose of our time.

Alex Gallo served as a professional staff member on the House Armed Services Committee. He is a West Point graduate, a combat veteran, and a graduate of the Harvard Kennedy School. His work has been published by The Washington Post, National Review The Huffington Post, The Hill, and Foreign Affairs. Follow him on Twitter @AlexGalloUSA.


The views expressed by contributors are their own and are not the views of The Hill. 

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