The Big Picture

Today is a good day to go back and look at the piece I wrote on December 9th, 2015 called: Trump and the Missing White Voters. Compare it to the Monkey Cage piece currently running in the Washington Post: Resentful white people propelled Trump to the White House — and he is rewarding their loyalty.

When you’re done with those two articles, go read the piece I wrote just after last November’s election: Avoiding the Political Southification of the North.

What I’d like to focus on is not so much how this strategy worked. I’m interested in getting people on the left end of the spectrum to examine how they’re reacting to its success. The number one thing that’s happening is that it is causing stress. The left is developing factions that blame each other with increasing volume. The second thing that’s happening is that people are reacting much like puppets on a string, operating without a bird’s eye view that allows them to see how they’re being manipulated. People don’t acknowledge the stresses that others are feeling, so blacks feel like too many whites want to keep their distance from them and whites have trouble getting people to understand the significance of the erosion in their communities for the Democratic Party and the political implications of this if it doesn’t change or gets worse. People tend to interpret any effort to stem or reverse this tide as an excuse for selling them out, on women’s rights, gay rights, environmental policy, immigration policy, and so on. Everything becomes a debate over people’s preexisting ideologies, so the solution either lies in aggressive socialistic redistributive policies or it relies on abandoning whole regions of the country as lost causes in an effort to boost minority and blue area turnout.

What isn’t considered enough is that a very well-considered strategy was used to beat us. It was an unconscionable strategy. But it was successful. And in a lot of ways we participated in making the strategy work by behaving exactly as they knew we would behave. When we fight among each other on these terms, we’re really playing a part in their strategy.

Everything I’ve been trying to do since I wrote that post-election piece on the Southification of the North, has been aimed at avoiding these traps. Part of me believes the effort is hopeless and our fates are sealed because we are going to act according to our own nature, and nothing can change that. But I actually believe that the only answer for a situation like this where the enemy relies on us defeating ourselves and we can’t help but do exactly that, is to have extraordinary leadership.

To solve any intractable problem of this type, whether in Northern Ireland or Palestine, a leader has to convince people to see things from a broader perspective, to pause from the never-ending tit-for-tat and see how their enemies are relying on them not to change. And there will always be reasons that people can convince themselves that this leader is trying to sell them out. He or she is weak in the face of the enemy. They aren’t committed to non-negotiable principles. They favor one allied faction over another. This is why problems of this sort can last centuries, and also why the leaders who rise to resolve them tend to get killed, often by people from their own side.

So, yeah, this is no simple thing. But we can start by understanding exactly what they did to us and how we helped them succeed.

Leave a Reply