Event / Intelligence Squared

Mark Lilla and Brian Klaas in conversation with Ronan Farrow

9 May 2018 – 19.00

The Disunited States: Is the Trump Presidency Causing Irreparable Damage to America?

Join Intelligence Squared for a lively evening of discussion and debate, featuring Hurst authors Mark Lilla and Brian Klaas in conversation with investigative journalist Ronan Farrow.

America has never seen anything like this. Time and again, Donald Trump has attacked the very fabric of US democracy. He has called the press ‘the enemy of the American people’. He says that claims that Russia interfered in the US election are a hoax. And that the FBI – currently investigating his campaign – should be personally loyal to the president.

And it’s not just political institutions Trump is damaging, his opponents say: In America he has stoked racial tension, coddled Wall Street and given succour to the gun lobby. On the world stage, he’s alienated key allies, allowed China to dominate in Asia, and rattled sabres at North Korea as it races forwards with its nuclear programme.

If Trump is a new kind of threat, the big question is whether the damage he is doing to America is permanent. Will the country that survived two world wars, the Cold War and the attacks of 9/11 really be put off its stride by a reality show host who could be gone in less than three years’ time? Or is Trump dismantling the robust system that has kept America united and irreparably damaging its standing as the most powerful nation on earth?

But perhaps this is all liberal hand-wringing. Could Trump, in fact, be that rarest of things – a politician who delivers on his promises – and prove to be the reformer the American electorate voted for?

About the Speakers:

Ronan Farrow
Former State Department official, and investigative journalist who has reported for NBC News and written for the Wall Street Journal, the Washington Post, and The New Yorker. He was the first to uncover the Harvey Weinstein story, before the New York Times broke it in late 2017. He is the author of The End of Diplomacy and the Decline of American Influence.


Mark Lilla
Professor of the Humanities at Columbia University. In a New York Times op-ed in November 2016, ‘The End of Identity Liberalism’, he argued that Trump’s victory in the presidential contest was a backlash against the American left’s obsession with identity politics. Lilla’s article was the NYT’s most read political op-ed of the year, and he has now expanded his argument into a book, The Once and Future Liberal: After Identity Politics.


Brian Klaas
Fellow in Comparative Politics at the London School of Economics, where he focuses on democratisation and political violence. He is the author of The Despot’s Apprentice, in which he argues that Donald Trump poses a unique threat to to global democracy.


About the Chair:

Justin Webb

One of the presenters of Radio 4’s Today programme. He was the BBC’s North America Editor for 8 years, covering the 9/11 attacks and the election of President Obama.

Standard Tickets: £30.00
Students: £15.00

The Despot’s Apprentice
Donald Trump's Attack on Democracy
The Once and Future Liberal
After Identity Politics
Intelligence Squared
Emmanuel Centre
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