From Jonathan Haidt’s Wriston Lecture for the Manhattan Institute, delivered on November 15.
The more radical Republican Party: When the Democrats ran the House of Representatives for almost all of six decades, before 1995, they did not treat the Republican minority particularly well. So I can understand Newt Gingrich’s desire for revenge when he took over as Speaker of the House in 1995. But many of the changes he made polarized the Congress, made bipartisan cooperation more difficult, and took us into a new era of outrage and conflict in Washington. One change stands out to me, speaking as a social psychologist: he changed the legislative calendar so that all business was done Tuesday through Thursday, and he encouraged his incoming freshmen not to move to the District. He did not want them to develop personal friendships with Democrats. He did not wanttheir spouses to serve on the same charitable boards. But personal relationships among legislators and their families in Washington had long been a massive centripetal force. Gingrich deliberately weakened it.
In a speech to Communist Party officials last January 20th, Major General Jin Yinan, a strategist at China’s National Defense University, celebrated America’s pullout from the trade deal. “We are quiet about it,” he said. “We repeatedly state that Trump ‘harms China.’ We want to keep it that way. In fact, he has given China a huge gift. That is the American withdrawal from T.P.P.” Jin, whose remarks later circulated, told his audience, “As the U.S. retreats globally, China shows up.”
Exactly as expected, the Chinese leadership slathered on the gold-leafed pomp with trowels when President Trump arrived in Beijing this week. As Jane Perlez put it in Tuesday’s New York Times, “They know just how to handle an outspoken tycoon with a big ego.”