American Political Development is history at its worst. At least, that’s what some historians who reside in the United States and teach in American history might say about our field — it’s “presentist.” We throw in any American teleology, or pull any trajectory into reverse. But is it reverse engineering?
As we start from the present and move backwards, digging and delving into all those institutional nooks and crannies, tracing, mapping, and locating the so-called origins of any public policy that spans the United States, from the laws establishing the defunct ICC to the EEOC, are we really being presentist, or are we “institutionalists”? (The damn autocorrect makes me put this in quotes.) It’s not a search for APD; it’s a search for the American nation-state, or at least that cozy social-welfare policy state, which today seems like magical thinking, or (heaven forbid) what the so-called conservatives call the “nanny state?”
In fact, though, it’s not the search for the American nation-state, nor the American states. It’s closer to home than that. And aside from “manalyzing” with David Waldstreicher in the course we’re team-teaching this semester, I’d say Trump has managed to localize the nation-state — for me, that is. It’s the localization of the State — the Sovereign, not the states.
And it only makes sense, if you study corruption. From Papi Trump (the German?), to Papa Trump (the Swede, haha), and now baby Trump (not Donald J., but the one with the comb-over hair), they all bribed politicians in the states, as well as serving the State, let alone all the neighboring municipalities in greater New York. So it comes as no surprise that Penn Station would house all those lobbying the nation-state, foreigners and domestic lobbyist no matter.
After all, how did robber baron Cornelius Vanderbilt have so much money after receiving so much public land? The business of America has always been business. That said, we have to remember that Trump is a developer of “real” estate (i.e. physical property). There’s no other eviction that hurts so much as what a landlord can do by making one homeless. So why do so many liberals believe Congress could ever evict Trump out of the White House?
More later. But for now, David?