Two Sides, One Coin
The Nation recently posted an article on how the great gonzo journalist Hunter S. Thompson accurately predicted the political anger that fueled many of trump’s voters last November.
“…a belief in total retaliation for any offense or insult, is what makes the Hell’s Angels unmanageable for the police and morbidly fascinating to the general public. Their claim that they ‘don’t start trouble’ is probably true more often than not, but their idea of ‘provocation’ is dangerously broad, and their biggest problem is that nobody else seems to understand it. Even dealing with them personally, on the friendliest terms, you can sense their hair-trigger readiness to retaliate.”
”The ethics of retaliation” is a good insight on the motivation behind many -- perhaps most -- of trump’s supporters.
While it certainly includes many bona fide deplorables -- i.e., those outright overt white racists who flocked so eagerly into trump’s camp -- it also includes a lot of rank and file non-racist / non-sexist / non-bigoted people.
But here’s what The Nation overlooks: Those engaged in the ethics of retaliation were not merely active pro-trump voters but passive aggressive Democratic voters who failed to show up for Clinton.
I’ve been paying attention to what a lot of trump voters have been saying and posting in the aftermath of the election.
Excluding those extremists who’re simply looking for validation of their malignant views, when you read the bulk of Trump voters’ posts (particularly white trump voters) and find the linking themes, you see two things:
They want security, and they want status.
Now security covers a lot of territory, but everyone seems to be on page with living in a world where change occurs at a manageable pace, giving people time to adjust and prepare; people aren’t anxious for daily bread for themselves and their families (and this includes housing, health care, etc.); protection from random violence, be it common crime, terrorism, or enemy attack.
Status is less tangible, but it includes a sense of self-sufficiency insofar as one’s security needs are met primarily through one’s own efforts, and that one isn’t regarded as worthless by society.
Those last two thoughts are tightly linked, because the mindset behind them holds one either pulls their own weight or is a parasite.
It creates a tension with the desire for security because unless one is a hermit living in an isolated area with enough naturally growing food to survive and no humans or predators to fear, sooner or later you have to cooperate with other people for your mutual aid and protection.
To be secure, you need the cooperation of others…
To have status, you have to stand on your own…
As has been noted here and elsewhere, there were a lot of Very Unhappy People in this country, and they were unhappy for some very specific reasons.
Many of those reasons are irreversible: We’re not bringing back the coal industry (it’s dying and has been for decades), we’re not bringing back manufacturing jobs (they’re not being shipped overseas or taken by immigrants so much as they are by machines), we’re not going to shore up cultural norms that were already starting to fade at the end of WWII.
We are on the cusp of a huge sea-change in human civilization, one that is going to alter everything for everyone around the world.
If we insist on playing the same old game, there’s going to be a lot of blood and pain and suffering for a lot of people.
If we listen to what people want, if we address those needs, we can avoid it and have a better tomorrow for everyone.
The key word is “everyone”.
Right now, today in the US of A, the two parties are mired down by ideological differences that are making it impossible to find viable real solutions to the problems facing us.
That’s got to stop.
They will not change themselves.
trump is a wake-up call -- rather, trump is a big 55-gallon barrel of ice cold skunk juice dumped on the bed. The angry / upset / frightened / pissed off people who voted for him want some changes, and if those changes aren’t for the best and don’t come muy pronto we can expect some really ugly changes over the next twenty years.
If we all recognize that changes must be made, and that for anybody to survive then everybody must survive, then we can drastically shift not just this country but the rest of the world into something better.
But we are going to need to make the change together.
Otherwise nobody is going to make it at all.
The trump voters and Clinton non-voters were promised a Leave It To Beaver / Ozzie And Harriet future but that’s not happening. There are no meaningful jobs to pay them high wages and salaries so they can enjoy a faux-luxurious life.
And why should there be?
When you try talking to most economist or fans of libertarianism and / or laissez-faire, you find a shocking paucity of imagination: They cannot conceive of the world continuing to operate the way they have known it to operate all their lives.
They will argue that free markets have always existed and have always made the world a better place while conveniently overlooking the fact that for most of humanity’s history the divine right of kings and the use of armies of human slaves / peasants to get things done were the norm and only in the last three centuries have significant departures been made from that.
We are now seeing the dawning of yet another major change in the way the world will operate and that change is this: Very few humans will need to work.
No, strike that -- very few humans will be needed to work.
We will have machines to do most jobs done by humans today, everything from brain surgery to replacing toilets (essentially the same basic programming when you think about it) to driving vehicles to a million and one things we can’t even think of them doing today.
The handful of humans who will be needed will fill very specialized niches, and will be rewarded quite handsomely for their efforts.
The vast majority of human beings won’t have to do a damn thing.
Now, today’s economists -- particularly those of a capitalist bent -- will clutch their piles of ill-gotten wealth even closer to their bosoms and hiss ”parasites” at the thoughts of all those unemployed people, decrying them as useless.
Those non-working people will be crucial to the economy of the future.
We’re going to pay them.
Not to work. To play.
© Buzz Dixon