Trump refuses to attend gatherings or events where White House occupants customarily appear. He, no doubt, wants to avoid occasions where jokes might be made at his expense or boos might be aimed in his direction
into uncharted territory. Since the nation’s founding, an adversarial press (protected by the First Amendment) has played the democratic watchdog, keeping citizens informed about figures in government.
Today, to a considerable degree, there’s an adversarial president who refuses to acknowledge criticism or to conform to established norms. This new reality means that divisions in America deepen and become more difficult to bridge.
Trump supporters — and he has a strong hold on about 40pc of voters and upwards of 80pc of Republicans after winning 46pc of the popular vote a year ago — cheer his denunciations of the media and fulminations against politics as usual.
Former Oklahoma Senator Tom Coburn spoke for more Republicans than himself when he told a reporter: “We have a leader who has a personality disorder, but he’s done what he actually told the people he was going to do, and they’re not going to abandon him.”
By contrast, a majority, close to 55pc, disapprove of what the president is doing, with many being passionate expressing opposition to him. A productive middle ground, a centre that holds, is difficult to locate in the US.
This tribalism keeps people from stating political opinions in social settings. It also means that the polarisation between partisan Republicans and Democrats will undoubtedly increase as the mid-term Congressional elections approach in 2018 and as Trump seeks another term in 2020, which he’s already announced he’ll pursue.
Unifying the country, traditionally a presidential objective, rarely seems to animate Trump. He focuses on his core constituency — in the patois of political professionals, his “base” — and their populist nationalism of “America First”. He appears at campaign-style rallies in key states, and most governmental speeches — including his address at the UN — seem composed with rhetoric intended to energise his loyal believers.
Interestingly — and an indication of just how individualistic Trump is — he refuses to attend gatherings or events where White House occupants customarily appear. He, for example, declined an invitation to the dinner of the White House Correspondents’ Association, spurned the chance to throw out the first pitch to begin the baseball season and has already sent regrets about participating in the Kennedy Center Honors ceremony this December.
He, no doubt, wants to avoid occasions where jokes might be made at his expense or boos might be aimed in his direction. This president prefers