We’ve Got a Big Problem

8 10 2016

It’s starting to look like Trump is done. Not that anyone should relax their vigilance– Frith knows anything can happen in the next month– but the leaked audio of Trump and Bush seems to have caused a real shift in the campaign. So we probably won’t have to deal with the national shame of Trump in the White House…but every other threat he represents will remain undiminished when Hillary Clinton is sworn in. Trump himself may go away (he won’t; I shudder to think what his next step might be) but he’s not the problem. The real problems are many and complicated, and we have to deal with them.

I certainly don’t have all the answers. But we have to take a hard look and try to understand what brought us here. Here are some things to consider, in no particular order.

  1. the left behind. I’m as guilty as anyone of passing judgement on Trump’s supporters, but the fact is, there are real grievances behind the urge to blow up the whole system with a wild card outsider. We used to have a job market in which a high school graduate could comfortably support a family. For a lot of reasons, that’s not the case anymore. Employers have been racing to the bottom for decades, and they’ve reached that finish line, and tunneled ever deeper. It shouldn’t be so hard to earn a decent living.
  2. education/information/media. Trump is a buffoon with no political skills whatsoever. And he secured a major party nomination, and briefly polled at close to 50%. What if, as well as a narcissist and sociopath, he had been the least bit charming? What if he had a modicum of self control? Because that person exists. That person is in an elected office right now. And Trump has just published the cheat codes for the presidential campaign. We need to immunize our population against that up and coming demagogue right now. We need to find a way to get past toxic anti-intellectualism, resistance to facts, contempt for experts. I don’t know how we do that. It’s a big job. I think it involves changing the culture of public education, changing how we receive and disseminate information, changing how the media defines and upholds objectivity.
  3. the Republican party. My Republican friends, I understand you live by certain principles that cause you to vote Republican, or maybe just oppose Democrats. That’s great. That’s the whole point of democracy– one of us doesn’t decide what happens. Instead we all discuss, and try to find a compromise. I’m down with that. But as an institution, the Republican party has utterly failed this country. Elevating a jackass like Trump to a contender for the presidency was nothing but cowardice and raw cynicism. It can’t go unpunished. We can’t set a precedent that such abject sycophancy is ok. Our leaders must, at bare minimum, stand up for human decency. Failing that, they must be thrown out.
  4. the Democratic party. For the reasons stated above, I dearly hope that this election torpedoes Republican majorities in Congress as well as putting Hillary in the Oval Office. But I don’t relish the idea of one party being in charge–again, see above, the whole point of democracy. And without question, the Democratic party has it’s share of corruption and failure. We need to hold their feet to the fire, especially if the main opposition party loses it’s teeth.
  5. electoral reform. Basically it’a an open secret that our elected officials don’t represent us anymore. There are ways we could address this. Unfortunately they mostly involve those in power jeopardizing their own power. Still, there are clear steps we could take; use ranked choice voting, reassess the electoral college, undo gerrymandering, increase voter access instead of restricting it, increase access for third, fourth and fifth parties, repeal Citizens United, and so on.
  6. civil rights for real. Women are assaulted every day. Minorities are murdered every day. Women are paid less, minorities are hired less. Yeah yeah, white men get murdered too. But bigotry is real, and deep, and wide. It’s disgusting. It’s inexcusable in this day and age. It’s time to wipe it out.
  7. polarization. We don’t have two major political parties, we have two tribes. Tribal affiliation has become more important than truth. This was Donald Trump’s tool. He seized the levers on the right. The next demagogue might just as easily seize the levers on the left. We need to become one country, before we are no country at all.
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