Sunday, November 13, 2016

Trump's America

Shaun King's twitter compilation of nationalistic, racist assaults, abuse and general bad behaviour is horrific. The volume of incidents is remarkable. It seems pretty hard to make the case that Trump is to blame. He's a terrible person but he didn't create this, he just revealed it and in the long-run he may have done the US a favour. His election forces prosperous liberals to realize that previous victories in the "culture wars" were won and maintained by force (force of wealth, control of key assets like media and major pieces of internet infrastructure). The enemy was beaten and silenced but they were not persuaded, assimilated or brought inside the tent.

Just like you can't bomb away terrorism, you can't legislate, berate and shame away racism and bigotry. They both have deeper underlying causes that have to be tackled. I imagine they have also common underlying causes - hopelessness, alienation, seeing others prosper unjustly (in reality or just in your perception), seeing no path to prosperity inside the rules, for you or your family. Even when the rewards are trivial and the teams picked randomly, people display irrational biases for their team vs others. Humans are instinctive racists and bigots, suppressing that takes energy, motivation, thoughtfulness, generosity and other things that are in short supply for many people having a hard time.

Solving the problem requires addressing the underlying causes. Anything else is just suppressing the problem. It will still be there, seething under the surface, waiting for a chance to come out again, possibly in an even worse form.

Of course Trump and the republican party's policies over the next 4 years are probably just going to make life worse for both his supporters and his opponents, so there's the very real possibility that things will get a lot worse before they get better but a Hillary victory that allowed the left to continue ignoring Trump's supporters for 4 more years wouldn't necessarily be a better long-term result.

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