Here are 35 questions about our political climate:


1. Which came first, President Donald Trump or the degradation of our political system: Which was the cause, and which was the effect?

2. When did political debate become reduced to 280 characters on Twitter?

3. When did the number of Twitter followers become the measure of political viability?

4. How did an Instagram post come to command more respect and attention than a substantive policy presentation?

5. How did “successful journalism” come to be defined by the number of clicks?

6. When did we stop believing what we read in the press?

7. When did cable news turn into the World Wrestling Federation, with each contender playing to its own cheering section?

8. Why are the least-informed, most unrealistic and most unreasonable political voices the loudest?

9. When did the labor movement become viewed by some as the enemy of the middle class?

10. When did this country, which once built the tallest buildings and longest bridges, forget how to build and allow itself to lose its global competitive advantage?

11. When did we lose our confidence?

12. Why is it that teachers, doctors, lawyers, hair stylists and plumbers need a license to do their jobs — but the job of president requires no qualifications or experience?

13. Is campaign finance reform an oxymoron as long as rich corporations, labor unions and wealthy individuals can still make unlimited “dark money” contributions?

14. What happened to ideas that are good and sound rather than ideas that sound good but are unrealistic and infeasible?

15. Does anyone remember the old saying about political candidates: “Before they tell you what they are going to do, ask them what they’ve actually done.”

16. When did the greatest threat to America become other Americans, and when did diversity become our weakness rather than our strength?

17. When did some people begin thinking anti-Semitism is tolerable?

18. When did white supremacists become so emboldened that when they rally in our streets they no longer feel the need to cover their faces with hoods?

19. When did Puerto Rico become a foreign country?

20. When did the Democratic Party stop being a big-tent party?

21. When did the political left become an enemy of the political left and the Democratic Party become a circular firing squad?

22. When did we decide compromise was a bad word?

23. When did our people stop believing our government can function as a force for good?

24. When did people start running for office just so they could sell a book or to boost their business?

25. When did we lose respect for our history and choose not to learn from it?

26. When did we decide progressive posturing is more important than progress?

27. When did Democrats get so caught up in hating the rich that they forgot about helping the poor?

28. When did the struggling middle class begin believing that the Democratic Party had abandoned them and put its trust in the Republican Party?

29. When did it become acceptable that high-ranking government officials lie all the time?

30. If so many people are so frustrated, then why don’t more people vote?

31. What happened to political courage?

32. When did we lose our sense of humor?

33. When did we get so angry?

34. Where is the emergency exit for this theater of the absurd?

35. Is it time that all Americans look ourselves in the mirror and ask if each of us is doing all we can to make a positive difference in our future?


Only when we say “yes” to the last question will we be able to answer the first: Which came first, Trump or the degradation of our political system: Which is the cause and which is the effect?


Andrew M. Cuomo, a Democrat, is governor of New York. He wrote this article for the Washington Post.