Skip to main content

trump at nato Emmanuel Dunand/AFP/Getty Images

The Shrinking of the Presidency

US President Lyndon B. Johnson once said, “The presidency has made every man who occupied it, no matter how small, bigger than he was.” But Donald Trump is testing that maxim: by somehow managing to reduce the position to his size, the US presidency may have met its match.

MADRID – US President Lyndon B. Johnson once said, “The presidency has made every man who occupied it, no matter how small, bigger than he was.” But Donald Trump is testing that maxim. In Trump, who is somehow managing to reduce the position to his size, America’s presidency may have met its match.

The president of the United States – the position, not the person occupying it – is a pillar of the international order. The US presidency gives direction and guidance to the entire system, a kind of rudder that guides the world toward calm waters or, when necessary, through periods of creative disruption.

With Trump in charge, that rudder is broken, and the entire system could be left stranded in dangerous waters from which it will be very difficult to escape, even after he is out of power. Indeed, the true risk of Trump’s presidency lies not in the dangerous conditions of the next four years, but in the emergence, in the long term, of a directionless – and thus highly unstable – world order.

We hope you're enjoying Project Syndicate.

To continue reading, subscribe now.

Subscribe

Get unlimited access to PS premium content, including in-depth commentaries, book reviews, exclusive interviews, On Point, the Big Picture, the PS Archive, and our annual year-ahead magazine.

https://prosyn.org/iT1rbDs;
  1. haass105_Gustavo BassoNurPhoto via Getty Images_amazon Gustavo Basso/NurPhoto via Getty Images

    The Amazon and You

    Richard N. Haass

    Sovereignty entails obligations as well as rights, and where compliance cannot be induced, pressure must be applied. And though positive incentives to encourage and enable compliance would be preferable, Brazil's government is showing that there must be sticks where carrots are not enough.

    1
  2. GettyImages-1151170958 ADRIAN DENNIS/AFP/Getty Images

    The Meritocracy Muddle

    Eric Posner

    Although populism in Western democracies is nothing new, resentment toward elites and experts has certainly been on the rise. Does this trend reflect a breakdown in the system, or a system that is actually working too well?

    7

Cookies and Privacy

We use cookies to improve your experience on our website. To find out more, read our updated Cookie policy, Privacy policy and Terms & Conditions