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In lieu of an abstract, here is the essay's first two paragraphs:

In How We Got Here (2000), David Frum plumbed the 1970s for essential truths about contemporary American life, seeing in that decade the engines of economic and social transformation that, as the book's subtitle puts it, "brought [us] modern life—for better or worse." Frum called the 1970s "a time of unease and despair, punctuated by disaster."' He was writing in the waning days of the twentieth century, with Bill Clinton in the White House and a fog of unease and nostalgia misting the land. But if he was worried about the state of American life in 2000, he is even more concerned now in 2017.

In the years since his book was published, the country has endured the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, two seemingly interminable wars, a financial meltdown that brought into stark relief the privileging of the financial sector by the federal government, the emergence of both left-wing (Occupy) and right-wing (Tea Party) populist movements in response to political, social, and economic unease, and a rise in racial tensions. Perhaps most importantly, the country has installed Donald Trump in the White House. Frum's cover story of the March 2017 issue of The Atlantic, "How to Build an Autocracy," spells out how the Trump administration could lead the United States away from liberal democracy. Widely read and widely admired, Frum grimly assesses the current political situation, seeing in Trump threats to American life that are perhaps unlike any encountered in the past.


This is an essay in Executive Order: Images of 1970s Corporate America, by Susan Ressler, © 2018 Daylight Community Arts Foundation:

Essay © Mark Rice, 2017.

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