Political pundit proposes plan to reunite America
David Frum, senior editor for The Atlantic and former speechwriter for President George W. Bush, used his latest book “Trumpocracy” as a springboard for a presentation about American identity on Thursday, April 5. The event, which was the latest installment of Hofstra University’s “Signature Events Lectures,” drew an overflowing auditorium.
Frum characterized the United States in its present state under President Trump as being “deeply polarized” and “completely unprepared” in terms of governing. According to Frum, Americans were once banded together by common values and lifestyles. In 2018, he believes, politics are so deeply rooted in society that the political arena has become indistinguishable from other aspects of life.
Frum emphasized the difference in Americans during the period of 1920 to 1970. “If you asked them a series of lifestyle predictive questions, do you go to church on Sunday, do you hunt, you would learn nothing about their political preferences,” he said.
Cristina Nosonowitz, a junior journalism major believes it is necessary for speakers like Frum to come to campus. “He talked a lot about a need for diversity in his plans to better the country in what is going to be a post-Trump era,” Nosonowitz said. “Hofstra is a really diverse campus and I think he covered a lot of good ground on how we need to look into the past,” she said.
“We need to knit people together in a sense of commonality by offering them a tangible expression of America,” Frum said. He explained that since the 1970s, the United States and subsequently its citizens, has lost its identity and that this has contributed to a stalemate in its politics. This is partly due to a new, globalized economy, increasing racial and ethnic divides, a growing separation between political parties and the unaddressed defects of democracy.
Frum laid out a plan for developing a stronger national identity for Americans that highlights the roles of “big government.”
“Nation-building projects,” as he referred to his proposal, consist primarily of the federal government creating programs with the purpose of giving Americans something to be proud of. He likened such projects to that of the healthcare system in his home country of Canada.
Joe Sibilia, a senior journalism major felt that Frum’s discussion emphasized the larger issues within the government. “There’s more to our government beyond Trump’s rants and ravings, it’s not just Trump that could be an issue,” Sibilia said. “There are people maybe behind the curtain causing issues.”
While adopting policies and spearheading initiatives that address issues in a New Deal Era-type fashion may seem like a daunting task, Frum assured audience members that it is possible. “The world you remember was built,” he said. “It didn’t just happen and it wasn’t always there,” Frum said.
Sibilia hopes that other attending students were able to gain a new perspective. “Diverse speakers with different political views give different perspectives for the students to have and take with them ... and really register and consider and hopefully expand their minds.”