Melbourne Writers Festival author and staff writer for The New Yorker, George Packer, did an hour long session at Deakin Edge in Fed Square with Australian author Don Watson on the topic America in Decline.
It was a bit of a meandering discussion that touched on George Orwell, the Iraq War, where Packer was a reporter and wrote book The Assassins' Gate: America In Iraq, and eventually got on to the main topic of America in decline, as Packer retold some stories about the lives of people featured in his 2013 book The Unwinding: Thirty Years of American Decline. It is this decline that explains some of what is happening with the presidential campaign this year and rise of anti-establishment candidates such as Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump.
The most interesting parts of the discussion for me were when Packer talked about President Jimmy Carter and how he was the last person to tell the truth to the American people through his presidential addresses. When he lost after one term to Ronald Reagan, no President has been brave enough to be that honest since. Packer also touched on Trump voters and how their issues and concerns shouldn't be dismissed outright and need to be considered by Democrats if they get into office. Afterwards I was able to buy a copy of The Unwinding and get it signed by Packer. As I briefly discussed having to deal with the Trump voters in my family his advice was to continue to engage them using facts and kindness.