TTP: 75 Days

TTP: 75 Days

Last week, on April 6, I spoke with a group of healthcare leaders from Indiana, Illinois, Kentucky, and North Carolina. I spoke about my constantly updating presentation, “3 Pieces of the Puzzle: Understanding The Trump Presidency Through Three Stories From American History.”

During the third story, I shocked the room. See photo above.

“75 days,” I said. “75 days.”

That was the amount of time I urged them to pay close attention to events unfolding in and around North Korea and China. As you might imagine, the people listening to me were quiet, attentive, and intensely focused. My reasoning for saying this was that a fundamental shift has occurred with regard to China and North Korea. The US is behaving very differently than it had before.

As things turned out, the US bombed Syria the next day. The echo was heard perhaps loudest in the buildings, rooms, and tunnels controlled by North Korean dictator, Kim Jong-un.

My statement had an impact because of the third story surrounding it. This is the story where I describe the environment (the set of dynamics, trends, and events) around the American President who had just won one of the most divisive and bitterly fought elections in American history, the election which I argue is the closest in resemblance to 2016. I’m referring to 1912 and the subsequent presidency of Woodrow Wilson.

I walked my group through the onset of the World War, as it was called then. I helped them pay particular attention to the series of incidents from summer 1914 to spring 1917, the path taken by the US into the World War.

We spent time discussing how President Trump might have responded to the sinking of the Lusitania in May 1915. A participant responded, “He would have tweeted!” Perfect answer! Interestingly, Wilson did something rather like that in more formal diplomatic means (a “Note”).

It takes another twenty months or so before Wilson reverses course and swings from staying out of the war to jumping into it. In my view, the most important aspect of the American entry into the World War was the impact of the Bolshevik Revolution on Wilson. That was the instant when Wilson’s impulses for domestic reform (Change!) intersected with Wilson’s instincts that the world was embarking on a similar tide of global reform (Change!).

So, I’m not predicting the next response in the current North Korean crisis will erupt into a World War. I am saying that it could be one key step in a longer journey that reflects the unique relationship between the 1912 and 2016 elections: …”That was the instant when Wilson’s impulses for domestic reform (Change!) intersected with Wilson’s instincts that the world was embarking on a similar tide of global reform (Change!).”

It’s the intersection that you should be watching for.

Before I forget, a last thought. Sometimes you may think something is intersecting when in fact it isn’t–think of airplane contrails you see in the sky. Two sets of them may appear to cross but actually they are separated by miles and miles. No, I’m referring to a true intersection where two lines (or arcs bending together) meet in physical reality. That was the intersection that happened in April 1917 with Wilson’s speech to declare war. That is the power of the third story, the third piece of the puzzle.

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