Ron Pruessen

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    The imperial audacity of Trump’s magical thinking is nothing new for the US presidency

The imperial audacity of Trump’s magical thinking is nothing new for the US presidency

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Recent months have seen the escalation of Donald Trump’s appetite for magical thinking, particularly with respect to winning trade wars and masterminding regime change in Iran. Unfortunately, as Ron Pruessen suggests, Trump is not unique in the history of US foreign policy in his periodic divorce from reality.

As the war with Iraq was starting in 2003, the story goes […]

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    In politics, dysfunctionality has always been the American way

In politics, dysfunctionality has always been the American way

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“Dysfunctional” has become an inescapable adjective in discussions of American government in the Age of Trump – for good reason. Ron Pruessen suggests that dysfunctionality has deep roots in American history. As both an operational reality and an often-unappreciated intellectual current, it has staying power that will still be in play when a 46th president (hopefully sooner, perhaps later) […]

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    The midterms may have marked the slow beginnings of America’s post-2016 healing process

The midterms may have marked the slow beginnings of America’s post-2016 healing process

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Ron Pruessen has argued that the 2018 off-year elections revealed more complex patterns than much instant analysis seemed to appreciate. Where to go beyond that basic (and perhaps obvious) contention? Here he describes – a month after Election Day – his own still-conflicted readings of the results.

David Axelrod has written that election campaigns are “MRIs of the soul” – […]

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    Why talking about Red and Blue States doesn’t help our understanding of the 2018 midterms

Why talking about Red and Blue States doesn’t help our understanding of the 2018 midterms

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Attempts to decipher the meaning of the 2018 elections will be more successful if they steer clear of “Red State/Blue State”-style simplification.  Ron Pruessen argues that a country of 325 million people – with a constantly tangled history – should not be squeezed into snappy tweets and memes.

Dramatic elections like the recent “off-year” contests in the US often prompt […]

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    In allowing ourselves to focus on Trump’s excesses, we ignore the long historic roots of America’s problems

In allowing ourselves to focus on Trump’s excesses, we ignore the long historic roots of America’s problems

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His increasingly extreme tweet-storms may signal a mind under great stress, but Donald Trump must still be taking some satisfaction in his ability to dominate news and the wider discourse.  Ron Pruessen argues that it’s dangerous to spend too much time going along for the ride. If the excesses of this president are to be resisted and rolled back, […]

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    America’s history has many shameful and frightening moments. The strong reactions they spurred offer a glimmer of hope for today.

America’s history has many shameful and frightening moments. The strong reactions they spurred offer a glimmer of hope for today.

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With Year Two of the Trump presidency beginning, Ron Pruessen recalls earlier American voices of despair and disappointment.  As Mark Twain famously suggested, history may not exactly repeat itself, but it sure does rhyme a lot.

As a historian of the United States, I’ve never found my desire for objectivity standing in the way of being stirred by the language […]

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    Trump is not the first president to play fast and loose with the truth – but he may be the biggest fabulist.

Trump is not the first president to play fast and loose with the truth – but he may be the biggest fabulist.

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The term “trumped up” has become ironically relevant to the behavior of the 45th US president, as evidence of brazen dishonesty continues to mount.  Ron Pruessen considers how Donald Trump has utilized a mold inherited from predecessors – and how he is on the way to spectacularly breaking it.

“Lord, Lord, how the world is given to lying”: so says […]

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    Disgusted by Donald Trump? Turning away from the spectacle isn’t an option.

Disgusted by Donald Trump? Turning away from the spectacle isn’t an option.

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Almost nine months into the Trump presidency, it may be harder than ever to make sense of what is happening. How do we fully understand what seems to be a hybrid of Lewis Carroll and Stephen King imaginaries – of the Mad Hatter and Pennywise the Clown? Ron Pruessen considers his own frustrations and speculates about what to do […]

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    Donald Trump’s first weeks as president evoke Boschian visions of destruction and spectacle.

Donald Trump’s first weeks as president evoke Boschian visions of destruction and spectacle.

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And so it begins.  No soft launch, no early days honeymoon. The first weeks of the Trump presidency have unfolded – exploded – in a boisterous and provocative fashion that must have satisfied those wanting to “let Trump be Trump.” Ron Pruessen shares some early thoughts about the spectacle.  

I’ve been struck lately by the way we have moved from […]

Coming to grips with the Trump nightmare

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Hillary Clinton supporters can certainly appreciate the adjective that flavors the expression “in the cold light of day.” As voting results mounted after midnight on Election Day earlier this month, dawn brought dismaying and chilling realizations.  Ron Pruessen reviews some of his own efforts to come to grips with a nightmare scenario. 

“I have lived the last month with a […]

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