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

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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

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