The very interesting quick-turnaround book, Now What? The Voters Have Spoken. Essays on Life After Trump started from the very basest of emotions: hate. The book’s Editor/Creator Steve Kettmann admits this in its very first pages, with a listing of the things he has hated about Donald Trump. “I hate that his con, running for President as a publicity stunt, led to four of the worst years in the history of our country. I hate what his utter cynicism and naked racism did to bring out the worst in so many.”
And list goes on, but that’s not the point of the book.
The point is also presented in Kettman’s introduction, “We need to get better at talking to each other, at letting a variety of voices have their say.”
Although there are no pro-Trump voices here, there is a wide variety of takes on what Trump did and what is to be learned from it and on the crucial – title – question Now What? What is to be done about what comes next?
What came next after voters clearly ousted President Trump, after Now What? was conceived, written and published – in the days and weeks after November 7 was every journalist’s nightmare. It’s called “lead time” and it refers to the time between when a story is written and when it reaches its audience. The nightmare is that in that yawning gap of time, something happens that “changes everything.”
When we look back at the significance of November 7, 2020, we now see it through the lens of January 6, 2021. This new perspective doesn’t change, or materially weaken or strengthen the many sharp questions or engaging ideas offered by the 38 contributors to this collection, but it does reframe them in ways beyond the authors’ control. “Lead time” equals agita.
Michael Powell is a national reporter covering issues around free speech and expression, and stories capturing intellectual and campus debate. Prior to that, he was the Sports of The Times columnist for six years, wrote the Gotham column for the Metro section, was a national economics writer for Business, and covered the Barack Obama and Rudy Giuliani presidential campaigns in 2008. He came to The Times in 2007.
Mr. Powell was part of the team that won the 2009 Pulitzer Prize for Breaking News for its swift and sweeping coverage of the sex scandal that resulted in the resignation of Governor Eliot Spitzer.
Before joining The Times, Mr. Powell worked for The Washington Post from 1996 to 2006, where he covered the 2000 presidential campaign and later served as New York bureau chief.
He began his career in 1984 at the Burlington Free Press, going on to positions with the Bergen Record, New York Newsday and the New York Observer.
Michael Powell is the author of Canyon Dreams: A Basketball Season on the Navajo Nation and has contributed to the recent book Now What? The Voters Have Spoken, Essays on Life After Trump.