“Donald Trump’s victory and this current political crisis were decades in the making. This moment is a reflection of serious institutional and structural problems in American society. How do you make sense of it all?
During the 1960s I was part of a generation that benefited from the expansion of American meritocracy. I was one of the first group of students to be admitted to Yale when it was opened up to Jews, admissions was made need-blind, people started getting financial aid and Yale transformed from being just the old boys’ network to something a bit more meritocratic and open. The beneficiaries of that in the 1970s, 1980s and 1990’s would become the lawyers who created and engineered corporate takeovers and ways to fight unions in the South, as well as how to lobby so that regulations would not be passed. That generation also became the bankers who created casino capitalism.”
This was the piece on Alternet I would have liked to reblog. Instead, I thought I’d give the story and a link so you can read the original yourself. It’s long and worth the effort.
The closing lines got me. They dug right into my soul and reminded me why I find myself so troubled by today’s world. It isn’t ONLY that Trump won the election.
“What are you worried about in this moment regarding the United States? And what are you happy or more positive about?
Well, if you see the people who are really in the trenches fighting back to improve society you’ll be optimistic. But the truth is we’re going to go through a lot more pain before we start to turn things around.”
I have understood for a long time that this thing we are living through didn’t start with the most recent presidential election in the U.S. We are seeing similar patterns in any number of European countries, including Great Britain, France, Holland and many more. For that matter, we see similar patterns in Muslim and Hindu nations. Hate is big.
Rolling the world back from this horror show will not be a matter of one or two elections. It is going to require a serious rethinking by many of us — including me — of what we want our world to be. Of who we, as human beings, need to be.
Right now, humankind is standing in front of a distorted fun house mirror. In it, we see evil. We see people without conscience targeting everyone. Whether they are bankers, politicians, hackers, or that nasty bastard down the street … they share a complete absence of concern for those who have less and need help.
These are not people who “help.” They are the destroyers, whether they are rich or poor. They have no moral center.
There are a lot of them. Many more than we imagined might exist in our world. Some of them are “friends” or “family.” Forgiving them because they are familiar to us is how most people deal with them, but it’s not an answer. It merely perpetuates the ugliness.
It says: “Your racism is okay because you are my uncle, cousin, or old friend from school. I will forgive you because you are part of my pack.”
But their racism is NOT okay, even if it is your twin sibling. It’s not okay under any circumstances. It is wrong, absolutely and completely. Sometimes, wrong is wrong. That’s the beginning and end of it. It isn’t okay because “Oh, well, he doesn’t really mean it.”
Yes, he means it. He always meant it. When it was politically incorrect, he shut up about it but now, it’s okay. After all, when the President says it, it must be alright. But you still think he’s okay, right? Family and all that.
You give him support and continue to support him or her. And you are as wrong as he or she is.
“Trump won every single category of white voters. It wasn’t some cartoon caricature of the “white working class” that the mainstream media likes to paint about the rubes out there in the hinterlands. That narrative about white “economic anxiety” is easier to report on and write about than it is to dig into the real systemic and structural problems in American society.”
No matter how we want to play with the statistics — after all, Hillary Clinton won the general vote, right? — that statement should scare the wits out of you. It stands white America as one group facing the rest of America with the potential of being the biggest, ugliest, deadliest race war ever to hit this planet. It not only stands white Americans against all other Americans. It stands our white American politics against the rest of the world, most of which is not white.
Most of the world is Asian or brown or black or some mixture of these. Most of the world is not white. Our political descent from white Europeans has skewed us to think that somehow we are better, stronger, fitter than “those other people.”
That might have been true — at least in terms of resources — 75 years ago. It most certainly is NOT true now.
If nip comes to tuck, the result is likely to be a world in which none of us can live. Not here, or there, or anywhere. And science fiction notwithstanding, there’s no other world waiting for our survivors. This is it. We screw it up, it stays screwed up for us. Forever.
Note: I’m not saying that everyone is evil or racist or in any way bad. But there are an awful lot more of them than I imagined this world could support. I don’t know why I didn’t realize it. With all the wars — civil and uncivil — obviously there is a lot of room for bad people. But I’ve lived in a world where my friends are good people. My family are good people. I have not lived with hatred and racism. I know of it and had some skirmishes, but the number of really bad people out there is way outside anything I imagined possible.