When future generations look back at the state of our world, with the impeachment of Donald Trump in America and the sweeping victory of Boris Johnson in Britain, these events will most likely not appear sudden or surprising.
They will instead be understood as a public response to frightening trends like global terrorism and financial inequality, a public response that will, over time, be accepted or rejected by the citizenry.
The impeachment vote today was triggered by two distant events that occurred on September 11, 2001 and September 15, 2008 that forever changed the world. The fall of the Twin Towers robbed America of its sense of security, as two oceans no longer protected us from dangers abroad.
An anxious public was fertile ground for sensational journalism, and media outlets like Fox News capitalized on this. The cable networks made it seem like beheadings and Ebola would soon reach our shores.
The overwhelming fear stoked by politicians and reporting driven by ratings led us to a dangerous cycle of bungled foreign policy, sustained global terrorism, and xenophobia. Our catastrophic decision to plunge into the war in Iraq, propelled by anxiety and bad information, prolonged and complicated the war in Afghanistan.
Mismanagement helped create the Islamic State, which fueled a refugee crisis that flooded Europe.
Meanwhile, the 2008 recession triggered by the fall of Lehman Brothers rattled our financial security. This radical economic change left working people with perpetual anxiety.
Globalization, automation, and migration rapidly altered the job market. People woke up to neighborhoods whose landscapes transformed overnight, with fewer brick and mortar retailers, bookstores, and supermarkets.