Her lawyers argued that, as president, she was exempt from federal conflict-of-interest laws. This prompted many Americans to ask what a “conflict of interest” was. A Trump decade had changed the country. Departments of ethics had disappeared from American colleges. They were deemed outdated. Talk of “American values” was met with guffaws inside the Mar-a-Lago Beltway. What on earth were American values?
The other awkward issue was President Trump’s decision to name her husband, Jared Kushner, as Special Envoy for the Resolution and Eradication of all Global and Domestic Problems, a new position. Some cynics thought the title a touch inflated, even for cool-hand Jared. The cynics were soon put in their place by the hawks of Trumpelson News Inc., the all-devouring media group started in 2022 with a $38 billion bequest from Sheldon Adelson. Only losers would think Jared Kushner could fail at anything.
World leaders flocked to the all-night party. The rulers of Panama, Qatar, the Philippines, China, Brazil, Kuwait, Egypt and other close American allies were all seated at President Ivanka Trump’s table. The fact that by 2026 she had developed extensive business interests in all those countries was pointed out by a couple of obstinate old newspapers but generally dismissed as irrelevant.
NATO had long since disappeared, replaced in 2022 by the American-led Autocratic Solidarity Organization League (A.S.O.L.), whose core members were the United States, Russia, China, Turkey, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and France.
The A.S.O.L. leaders were a familiar bunch. President Putin of Russia and President Xi Jinping of China had both extended their mandates indefinitely. So, too, had President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey. As President Marine Le Pen of France approached the end of her second term there was widespread speculation that she, too, would scrap term limits. Any self-respecting A.S.O.L. leader would do no less! A recent addition to the treaty organization was President Kim Jong-un of North Korea, who had agreed to freeze his country’s nuclear program in exchange for membership — “a supreme example of the art of the deal,” as Donald Trump Jr. put it on Twitter.
In her 250th-anniversary toast, President Trump declared: “The experience of two and a half centuries has taught us that the greatest freedom may be the freedom of one person or family to rule forever, if that is what the people want. Nothing can stand in the way of the will of the people!”
A professor wrote a much-commented-on paper declaring the end of history. Liberal democracy was dead, the author contended. The internet and hyperconnectivity had turbocharged the deep-seated human craving for authority while empowering those who knew least to shout loudest.
Enlightened self-interest had always been an illusion. Self-interest was all there was. At least America had come to its senses in time to be in the vanguard of what the author called “the global digital…