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Saturday, April 30, 2016

Trump Republicans must live with the history they create

"We all have some responsibility to do one activity that leaps across the chasms of segmentation that afflict this country."- David Brooks

Trumponian Republicans who are right wing zealots must remember the cliche "those who ignore history are doomed to repeat it". When history reviews eras like the rise of Naziism or McCarthyism, those who support Trump might be called to account for how the responded to the rise of Trumpism.

David Brooks writes about this very important accountability moment in The New York Times.

The GOP doesn’t realize “this is a Joe McCarthy moment” — history will judge them for where they stood

Image result for McCarthy
Senator Joe McCathy - Republican (1908-1957)- created right wing extremist branding now vilified as McCarthyism

It's strange to think that one's position on Donald Trump is worthy of historical import, but it will be.

Reported by Scott Eric Kaufman in Salon.com

In his Friday New York Times column, economist David Brooks argued that unbeknownst to itself, the Republican Party is having “a Joe McCarthy moment” — meaning that history will judge people by “where they stood at this time,” and that those “who walked with Trump will be tainted forever after for the degradation of standards and the general election slaughter.”

He wrote that America will, after this election, need “a new national story,” because up until now, “America’s story has been some version of the rags-to-riches story, the lone individual who rises from the bottom through pluck and work.” That story doesn’t work anymore, because as the relative successes of the Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders campaigns have demonstrated, people believe that system is rigged:
David Brooks writes in The New York Times

Donald Trump now looks set to be the Republican presidential nominee. So for those of us appalled by this prospect — what are we supposed to do?

Well, not what the leaders of the Republican Party are doing. They’re going down meekly and hoping for a quiet convention. They seem blithely unaware that this is a Joe McCarthy moment. People will be judged by where they stood at this time. Those who walked with Trump will be tainted forever after for the degradation of standards and the general election slaughter.

The better course for all of us — Republican, Democrat and independent — is to step back and take the long view, and to begin building for that. This election — not only the Trump phenomenon but the rise of Bernie Sanders, also — has reminded us how much pain there is in this country. According to a Pew Research poll, 75 percent of Trump voters say that life has gotten worse for people like them over the last half century.

This declinism intertwines with other horrible social statistics. 

Trump’s success grew out of that pain, but he is not the right response to it. The job for the rest of us is to figure out the right response.

That means first it’s necessary to go out into the pain. I was surprised by Trump’s success because I’ve slipped into a bad pattern, spending large chunks of my life in the bourgeois strata — in professional circles with people with similar status and demographics to my own. It takes an act of will to rip yourself out of that and go where you feel least comfortable. But this column is going to try to do that over the next months and years. We all have some responsibility to do one activity that leaps across the chasms of segmentation that afflict this country.

We’ll probably need a new national story. Up until now, America’s story has been some version of the rags-to-riches story, the lone individual who rises from the bottom through pluck and work. But that story isn’t working for people anymore, especially for people who think the system is rigged.

I don’t know what the new national story will be, but maybe it will be less individualistic and more redemptive. Maybe it will be a story about communities that heal those who suffer from addiction, broken homes, trauma, prison and loss, a story of those who triumph over the isolation, social instability and dislocation so common today.

We’ll probably need a new definition of masculinity, too. There are many groups in society who have lost an empire but not yet found a role. Men are the largest of those groups. The traditional masculine ideal isn’t working anymore. It leads to high dropout rates, high incarceration rates, low labor force participation rates. This is an economy that rewards emotional connection and verbal expressiveness. Everywhere you see men imprisoned by the old reticent, stoical ideal.

We’ll also need to rebuild the sense that we’re all in this together. The author R. R. Reno has argued that what we’re really facing these days is a “crisis of solidarity.” Many people, as the writers David and Amber Lapp note, feel pervasively betrayed: by for-profit job-training outfits that left them awash in debt, by spouses and stepparents, by people who collect federal benefits but don’t work. They’ve stopped even expecting loyalty from their employers. The big flashing lights say: NO TRUST. That leads to an everyone-out-for-himself mentality and Trump’s politics of suspicion. We’ll need a communitarianism.

Maybe the task is to build a ladder of hope. People across America have been falling through the cracks. Their children are adrift. Trump, to his credit, made them visible. We can start at the personal level just by hearing them talk.

Then at the community level we can listen to those already helping. James Fallows had a story in The Atlantic recently noting that while we’re dysfunctional at the national level you see local renaissances dotted across the country. Fallows went around asking, “Who makes this town go?” and found local patriots creating radical schools, arts festivals, public-private partnerships that give, say, high school dropouts computer skills.

Then solidarity can be rekindled nationally. Over the course of American history, national projects like the railroad legislation, the W.P.A. and the NASA project have bound this diverse nation. Of course, such projects can happen again — maybe through a national service program, or something else.

Trump will have his gruesome moment. The time is best spent elsewhere, meeting the neighbors who have become strangers, and listening to what they have to say.

Unfortunately, Mr. Brooks, your dedication about listening to others does not provide for the leadership America needs to push back on the crises of solidarity. We are the United States of America and, as citizens, we are supposed to pledge to that solidarity.  As for me, I have a litany of Maine Writer blogs to support where I stand during this intolerant Trumpism era.

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