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The Art of the Impossible

March 14, 2017

The Art of the Impossible -- Steven Kates

The Art of the Impossible is now out in the world and can be bought on line either here in Australia or anywhere at all here at Amazon. I thought originally that the aim should be to have the book available for Christmas but for a variety of reasons, including that nothing was settled until the Electoral College met in December, it has taken until now. But at the time, I had not even read the book myself, had only brought the posts together. Now I have read the book – four times or perhaps even five – and I no longer think of it as a book that will have only immediate interest. This is truly a book for the long haul. These are some of its features.

First, it is almost entirely about Donald Trump. The first post is from July 2015 which was a long time before anything had settled, but even before I had seen or heard a word from him or about him, I was absolutely on the same page. That very first post – Politics is what you can get away with – is about the disastrous presidency of Barack Obama, the corruption of the American political system and the destructive impulses of the American media. Nothing Trump would say during the entire election period was not something I had not already said myself, whether about border protection, migration or economic mismanagement. Everything Trump has said is what I have said. You will therefore find here the most sympathetic account of his rise to the presidency available from any source. No one, and I do mean no one, has been as onside and from so early on as I have been. I won’t say there weren’t nerves to settle and issues to bed down, but no one was as primed to see the policies put forward by Trump as I was. And as it happened, I was there on the day his trajectory changed with his July 11 presentation in Las Vegas which I live blogged at the time, and then discussed in some detail the following day.

Second, it is what I call a “blog history” and I think it’s the first of its kind. The entire book is made up of the blog posts I had written contemporary with all of the events described. In its own way, it is a new kind of history, in the way that the Anglo Saxon Chronicle may have been a new kind of history in its own time. Things would happen, and as is fitting with a blog, I would partly report on what I had read about or seen and partly give my own reaction and write up my own perspectives. The book is therefore entirely an historical account that describes events as they happened. But its more than just a series of events. Each of these events comes with a series of comments that puts these events into the perspective of someone who understands things in a way almost identically with the way they would have been seen by Trump himself. When I did the survey on “Who Should I Vote For?” my overlap with Trump was 94%.

Third, my own education and then my entire career has been inside of a political economic framework, with a large part of my area of study, both then and now, in political philosophy. I am a classical conservative and I knew another one when I saw him. I instantly recognised Donald Trump as a kindred spirit. I was never in the slightest doubt that he was and is a conservative in the proper meaning of the word. He seeks to conserve what is best but accepts the need for change but only after careful assessment. I had also worked as the Chief Economist for Australia’s largest and most representative business association and knew the crucial importance of leaving things to the market and limiting as much as possible the role of government, both in relation to regulation and expenditure.

Fourth, the events as they happened are all there. The book takes you back to each of the major moments during the campaign. Even better is that each of these moments is described without the benefit of hindsight. Each moment is looked at right then so there is a sense even now of following everything along. It therefore has the feel of a documentary rather than the views of someone who already knows what’s going to happen. You are there. You are right in the midst of things. Small events become larger events and important markers along the way – remember Michelle Fields, for example? You are right back in the midst of the campaign where these things are again happening right before your eyes just as they happened then.

Finally, I think this is an historical record that could only have been written at the time and can never be re-produced again. I think this is part of what gives it a feeling of contemporary relevance since you can no longer go back to the moment to remember how things felt and the uncertainties that were in the air. This record however take you back to the very moment when these events were first being experienced, when they were the present and not, as they now are in the past. It is the only book I have written that I feel might still be worth looking at in a hundred years, and not only right now, which I also think. If you would like to relive the American election almost day by day there is no better way to do it.

And on top of everything else, it will help you understand why Donald Trump won the election and how fortunate we are that he did.

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