American politics in the time of Trump: Don Watson in conversation with James Brown

Part of the series



6 October 2016


The University of Sydney


Public forum



Don Watson and fellow Quarterly Essayist James Brown discussed the strangest election campaign the US has ever seen. In Quarterly Essay 63: Enemy Within, Don Watson takes a memorable journey into the heart of the United States in the year 2016.

Travelling in the Midwest, Watson reflects on the rise of Donald Trump and the “thicket of unreality” that is the American media. Behind this he finds a fearful and divided culture. Watson considers the irresistible pull - for Americans - of the Dream of exceptionalism, and asks whether this creed is reaching its limit. He explores alternate futures - from Trump-style fascism to Sanders-style civic renewal - and suggests that a Clinton presidency might see a new American blend of progressivism and militarism. Enemy Within is an eloquent, barbed look at the state of the union and the American malaise. 


Co-presented with Sydney Ideas.


  • Adjunct Associate Professor James Brown
    Adjunct Associate Professor James Brown
    Senior Fellow, United States Studies Centre

    James Brown is a Senior Fellow in the United States Studies Centre's Foreign Policy, Defence and Strategy Program. He is also the President of the RSL NSW.

  • Don Watson

    Don Watson spoke at a US Studies Centre event in 2016. He is the author of the Quarterly Essay, Enemy Within: American Politics in the Time of Trump. His acclaimed books include Caledonia Australis, Recollections of a Bleeding Heart, American Journeys and The Bush.

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Part of the series

Election Watch

Since 2008 the United States Studies Centre has been helping make sense of the US presidential elections with a series of events featuring Centre experts and visitors.

View all events in this series