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Donald Trump, Sufficient Velocity, and You

Discussion in 'Current Affairs' started by LordSquishy, Nov 18, 2016.

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  1. LordSquishy

    LordSquishy Probably Not A Producer

    Good morning.

    It’s been just more than one week since American voters elected Donald Trump to the presidency of the United States. It is, I admit, hard to say precisely what a Donald Trump presidency will hold for America and for the world. Without a history of public service to draw from, we are left with a conflicting record of private interests and campaign statements. In these tea leaves, we are forced to read policy positions on everything from nuclear waste disposal to urban development. Some people are hopeful, others fearful. I think there is merit in both positions.

    Over the past ten days, we have witnessed an unprecedented change in American political discourse. On television, across Twitter and Reddit, and elsewhere, we have seen a vocal and enthusiastic eruption of a discourse that raises the prospect of registering Americans based on their religion, of segregating them based on the color of their skin, and of taking away their rights because of their gender identity. And we have seen a spate of crimes against Muslims, against Latinos, against Jews, and against Blacks.

    Let me simply say this: by its nature, politics is disagreement.

    It is the nature of the beast that not all policies will benefit, or empower, or encourage everyone equally. That is the simple reality of limited resources. A lack of discussion of how to allocate those resources is autocracy; our democracy depends on, in fact it demands, a vibrant discourse on where, why, and how we put our blood, our sweat, and our tears.

    The price of politics is offense. Within any disagreement, people will undoubtedly be upset. When we argue for higher taxes or against gun control, when we demand more law enforcement or less money for public transit, some will feel that their priorities are being sidelined in favor of other priorities. They will be upset. They may be offended. That is the price we pay for a vibrant civic society.

    Yet we must never allow ourselves to forget this one simple fact: that no matter the legacy of our sins, we are never more than one crisis away from revisiting them. The terrible history of Bosque Redondo did nothing to prevent Bloemfontein, which did nothing to stop Dachau. No matter how well we document the horrors of our past, no matter how well we teach them, they are never entirely behind us.

    For centuries, demagogues have stood up in beer halls, written in newspapers, and held rallies to tell us that our fundamental interests as human beings are a zero sum game. They have told us that crisis demands extraordinary measures. They have told us that the reason we are poor is because the Jews are rich. They have told us that the reason the Rust Belt is failing is because the Chinese have stolen our jobs. They promise simple solutions to complex problems that begin with the word “us” and end with the word “them”. They tell us that in order for us to succeed, the interests of others must be sacrificed.

    We cannot allow ourselves to be seduced by the belief that freedom, or peace, or economic security can be ours if only we are willing to take them from others. We cannot allow ourselves to forget that no person, no family, no community is an island. Beneath the veneer of color, or language, or nationality, we are all human beings and the preservation of fundamental rights – of life, of security, of equality – for everyone is a necessary predicate to the preservation of those rights for anyone.

    We must resist the spread of this demagoguery. It is no kind of answer to say that it is a dialogue that has entered the political mainstream. That is always how it begins; with seeds of distrust and of hate that are allowed to spread, to find fertile soil in the inner demons of our natures, watered by repetition and exposure until they do not need to hide and can begin the translation from thought to action.

    There will undoubtedly be those who say, derisively, that this creates a ‘safe space’.

    To which I simply say: Yes.

    Be excellent to each other. That is never wrong.
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