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August 06, 2017

America's Trump Era Street Fight: What happens long-term? Does anyone have a clue?

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So what's the future for America and the West? What happens? Long-term, I mean. The divisiveness in this country is at an all-time high in my Boomer lifetime. No, I don't think it will result in armed civil war. Or in attempted secession of a state or two. Those worst two things won't happen. But something has to give eventually. A year. Two years. Maybe longer. But, unlike others, I like--yes, like--the way things are progressing because I'm in this for the long haul.

First, let me explain something. I didn't vote for Donald John Trump to be President of the United States. No. Not because he's a Bad Person--Trump is not; a political scientist named David Barber wrote years ago the POTUS job brings out the best and worst in its holders, and we may be seeing that now. No, I thought HRC was a better candidate. But I've thought for 2 years and still think that Trump's bid to become POTUS has been an enormously healthy and positive thing for America in the long term.

Yes, Trump has been and is a good thing, mostly inadvertent.

Why? Three separate things. Trump (a) highlighted and (b) turned up the volume on a bitter, divisive and important ongoing conversation about The Future of America (and generally the West). That conversation is beyond politics. It's a conversation about Culture. One that no other candidate/president could have illuminated and made even better. Moreover, in my view, due to his own unrestrained personality, Trump made it possible to (c) to talk about the future of America more openly (if often vulgarly) than before.

Now? Now we can talk, folks. It's a street fight--but at least there's a dialogue.

In the dialogue, there are far more than two factions in the Trump Age culture conversation. In fact, "liberal", "conservative", "Democrat", "Republican" and "Libertarian" have all but lost their meanings. (Best example? The Left once fancied free speech in a religious if not absolutist way. That's no longer as true. Conservatives and Libertarians now own that ground under their freedom-and-liberty rubric.)

But maybe this generalization is useful. One the one hand, you have traditional Democrats and The Left lamenting that the march of progress--in human, civil, gay, women's and minority rights--is being halted and reversed. You are ruining our social justice working masterpiece, they say. That's understandable. I get that. On the other hand, on the right and with moderate conservatives, the mantra in the ongoing conversation of the famously "left-behind" Midwestern, Southern and GOP base that elected Trump is:"Wait. Not so fast. We weren't ready for a lot of this in the first place." In short, they are saying, Liberals, please don't make us evolve morally or in terms of values on your schedule. We'd like to think about this. We're not bigots. We simple don't want to be told how to think, feel, talk and behave.

My take? I think it's always tricky to pass any laws in a democracy which go directly to anyone's notion of right or wrong. Nothing harder. This is not Cuba. Not North Korea. Not Iran. You can't legislate morality or values. But even the American system permits the chief executive, the Congress and the courts to give people a "push"--but the timing on the push has to be good to justify the statism. Maybe close to perfect.

President Johnson's 1964 Civil Rights Act had brilliant timing. The passage of time, some ugly events, much peaceful civil rights protest, and Congress-made and judge-made law for 100 years paved the way for the 1964 Act. Few or the right or left would now dismantle it. Brilliant. A bit lucky. But same-sex marriage and trans-gender bathroom rights, for examples? Sounds good. Why not? Legislative that? Make that law now? No. Not brilliant. Good idea probably. Bad timing. Slow down. That was a mistake. A large segment if not most Americans were NOT ready for those--and we should never expected it to be.

Anyway, go back to the beginning of this post. Re: Divisiveness in America and The West generally. 3 questions. But Item 2 is the most important.

1. Where is it leading us?

2. Exactly why happens long term?

3. And, if you're feeling brave and prescient, what happens next? Short term?

And from a favorite movie:

MICHAEL: How bad do you think it's going to be?

CLEMENZA: Pretty goddamn bad. These things gotta happen every five years or so, ten years. Helps to get rid of the bad blood...

Posted by JD Hull at August 6, 2017 08:06 PM


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