Trump’s electoral fiction floats free of verifiable reality. It is defended not so much by facts as by claims that someone else has made some claims. The sensibility is that something must be wrong because I feel it to be wrong, and I know others feel the same way. When political leaders such as Ted Cruz or Jim Jordan spoke like this, what they meant was: You believe my lies, which compels me to repeat them. Social media provides an infinity of apparent evidence for any conviction, especially one seemingly held by a president.
One consequence of such conspiracies and ructions, and the preoccupation with pure politics that they cause, is that a gap has opened up between the effective and the ceremonial parts of the Presidency. Mbeki and his crew used to form a bridge between policy and politics. Under Zuma, the practical and the symbolic aspects of the office have become increasingly divorced. The Presidency is in danger of becoming a symbolic institution, dedicated to projecting an image of a beloved national leader and obsessed with how the world looks rather than with how it is. If this continues, its practical work will increasingly fall away. The planning commission will plan and the monitoring unit will monitor. But ministers and premiers will do their own thing, oblivious to one another and unable to work towards a wider national good. – Anthony Butler in Business DayBACK TO TOP