Quarterly Essay 63: Enemy Within American Politics in the Time of Trump
In Enemy Within, Don Watson takes a memorable journey into the heart of the United States in the year 2016 - and the strangest election campaign that country has seen.
Travelling in the Midwest, Watson reflects on the rise of Donald Trump and the "thicket of unreality" that is the American media. Behind this he finds a deeply fearful and divided culture. Watson considers the irresistible pull - for Americans - of the Dream of exceptionalism, and asks whether this creed is reaching its limit. He explores alternate futures - from Trump-style fascism to Sanders-style civic renewal - and suggests that a Clinton presidency might see a new American blend of progressivism and militarism. Enemy Within is an eloquent, barbed look at the state of the union and the American malaise.
"If, as seems likely, Clinton wins, it will not be out of love, or even hope, but rather out of fear. She can win by simply letting her deplorable opponent lose. On the other hand, she's nothing if not adaptable, and she could yet see the chance to lead the nation's social and economic regeneration ... Call it a New Great Awakening or a New New Deal; it would owe something to both, and to Bernie Sanders as well, but also to her need to be more than the first woman president.
--Don Watson, Enemy Within