Unless our Pussy-Grabber-in-Chief invokes emergency powers to suspend Congressional investigations and Presidential elections, we’ll soon be rid of him. The problem of Donald Trump will still remain, however, even after the specific damage he’s done is ameliorated, because the problem of Donald Trump is not really about Donald Trump himself. The real problem, which Trump both exploited and exacerbated, is the fact that a man like him could ever be elected President in the first place.
30% of the electorate in supposedly liberal California voted for Trump in 2016, including 10% of San Franciscans! Throughout his term so far, his approval rating has yet to dip below 36%. Now, you might argue that these are electorally insignificant numbers, but I’m not talking in electoral terms but human ones. When the percentages get that high, it’s not possible to blame Trump primarily on the billionaires or the Russian trolls or the Fox News propaganda machine (though these forces have certainly “exploited and exacerbated” the problem) because when we’re talking about one third of all Americans, we’re talking about our brothers and sisters, our neighbors and our coworkers, our doctors and our children’s teachers. We’re talking about ourselves.
Without the various right wing political machines intentionally sowing misinformation and fear, the percentages listed above would certainly be lower, but how much lower would they have to be before we’d no longer consider them a human (as opposed to electoral) problem?
The human nature of the problem means that the solution cannot simply be to topple the “establishment” powers that keep us, “the people”, in chains. Rather, it is we the people who are the problem. Rather than “speak truth to power,” a romantic exercise in self righteousness, we need to find a way to speak earnestly and honestly with one another, a far more difficult task. We must find a way to convey to our fellow Americans the enlightenment we claim we possess.
Until we do, our occasional electoral gains will always be at risk, and even in our victories, as we lord it over the “losers” on the other side, we’ll know that we haven’t really fulfilled the promise of democracy.
Update (3/19/2019): I just remembered a story Noam Chomsky once told about visiting a Montana militia group and speaking with them about their concerns. It was a reminder that it’s possible to reach out to the most deplorable of groups, because we ought to have the answers to the problems that vex them — that they are essentially the same problems. How can we live happily and securely? How can every person be granted all that is theirs by right? Chomsky’s associate commented after the visit that in another era, those young men seeking to protect themselves from powers they felt were threatening their very existence would have joined a union instead, and wondered what had happened that they no longer considered this to be an option. It’s a question worth asking ourselves, and maybe even discussing with the “other side.”