Donald Trump and Xi Jinping in 2018: Evan Osnos, American Decline, and the Country of Cats

The state of the Party is strong with Xi at the core. Chinese society may be in fact a basket case of anxieties, but few folks identify the primary source of their unease and distress with the Party or the system. What’s the name of the delivery guy who scratched my new BMW? Will my kid get into the right school? Is my boss sleeping with my secretary? Am I sleeping with my secretary? How much will it cost me to get rid of my secretary? Do I have enough money to pay for my child’s education and my parent’s health care? Why does my daughter ignore me now that she’s an executive at something called a “start-up”? Why don’t my parents get why I don’t want to get married/have a kid/date somebody of a different gender?

The big issues – human rights, political freedom, economic stability – matter. That’s why they are the BIG issues, but they are not what dominates the dinner table or the WeChat feed. At least for now.

On the US side, America is a country divided between a solid base of Trump supporters who wouldn’t care if he farted on a toddler while yodeling the Russian national anthem and a larger – but less cohesive – block of Americans who would prefer the bloated corpse of a dead elephant seal in the oval office to its current occupant.