Last night, as the "Trump win" was becoming more and more likely (Donald Trump elected President of the United States?!?), I heard friends of mine remark that they were in despair, were planning to move to Canada, etc.
I did not have those feelings at all. I was excited instead.
I am writing this because my central message is: Panic won’t help anything. If you cannot stay calm, find someone to express your fears to who is more centered than you are at the moment. And, if you can stand it, read on, ...
Now, in case you get the wrong impression, I did not vote for Donald Trump. I voted for Bernie Sanders. And when he did not get the nomination, I voted for Hillary Clinton, somewhat reluctantly. Not because of her Emails, or even her, as a person. I voted reluctantly because I saw big changes coming and her candidacy seemed to represent a distinct lack of change, alas.
So, let’s get started. I’m not sure what order to put things in, but I’ll try to choose a good order.
The most important thing is to avoid rash decisions right now. There have been many surprises leading up to election day, and just because the election is now over, that doesn’t mean that the surprises are suddenly going to stop! So, please don’t despair! Many things you’re afraid might happen probably will not take place, at least not in the way you might imagine.
First of all, most of what Donald Trump said during the campaign is not going to come true. Just as with most candidates, he will not be able to keep many of his campaign promises. This is especially true because he wasn’t actually sincere about most of them himself. During his campaign, he kept changing his mind on many issues, and remained hopelessly vague on many others. And, by the way, I don’t think many of those who voted for him wanted him to follow through on most of those promises anyway. Those voters were not actually stupid, for the most part. They voted that way for other reasons. (Example: Most people know that Mexico is not likely to pay for a wall at the border. And nobody else will want to pay for it, either. So I predict that it won't get built and the whole idea will eventually be forgotten!)
I believe that the people who voted for him, by and large, did so because they were completely and totally fed up and enraged with what they saw as a collusion between big government, big business, and the super rich. Well, yes, there is a collusion, essentially. As it was, in the Bill Clinton campaign, the message is still, “It’s the economy, stupid!”
I didn’t think voting for Trump was a good idea to change all this, but then again, I’m in a different place, economically, from most people who voted for him. For me, a more measured approach might have been prudent. For them, they could not wait any longer. I don’t really blame them for that, actually.
So, if you are frightened by what Trump said during the campaign, please don’t be. My prediction is that he is not going to be able to build a wall, deport millions of people, end the Affordable Care Act, stop abortions, return to a fossil fuel economy, etc.. He will not be able to bring jobs back to the United States from overseas or make America “great” again. All these promises cannot be carried out by one person. We have not changed into a dictatorship overnight. Even with a Republican majority in the House, and a slim majority in the Senate (too close to call at the moment), Congress will not suddenly start working efficiently. I predict more fighting, hyper partisanship, and gridlock to come.
So, if he is not going to be able to do those things, what’s going to happen instead?
Well, first of all, some people who voted for him will become even more bitter and turn against him. He’s a liar, they’ll say. He’s no different from any other politician - say one thing, then do something else once they’re in office. His popularity and support will decline as a result. Some people will cast about for a new rabble rouser to shake things up again. Good luck with that!
Second of all, the split in the Republican Party will evolve but the party is not likely to be rejoined into a single entity. The split will likely just get stranger as the party becomes more fractured and breaks into different factions.
Meanwhile the Democratic Party is breaking up as well. There is going to be much rancor, finger pointing, and resignations in disgust based on this colossal loss (Hillary Clinton failing to become the first woman president). People who supported Sanders or even Jill Stein will start speaking more loudly now that ‘party unity’ is no longer useful in an effort to defeat Trump. In other words, many people who voted for Hillary reluctantly - just to avoid Trump - will now state their true feelings, now that hiding them is unnecessary. And they will do so loundly! The gloves are coming off. The massive support Bernie Sanders received is not going to evaporate; if anything, it will be emboldened! It may be disorganized at the moment, but the people who voted for him are not going to stand still or go away.
Last year, the Republican Party was toast, as i predicted just after the election in 2014. Back then, a friend of mine told me that he was very depressed after the Republicans took a majority in the Senate. I said, “This is the Republican’s last hurrah.” In spite of Trump’s victory, I stand by that prediction. Now the Democratic Party is going to have its turn and it won’t be pretty.
And in my opinion, it’s high time! The two parties have both gotten stuck in a charade of partisan bickering for quite awhile by now. Meanwhile, no matter who was ‘in power,’ the entire federal government has become more and more beholden to big business, foreign interests, lobbying groups, etc. Both parties have colluded to keep third parties from gaining any traction by keeping an antiquated election system in place, convincing most people that a vote for anyone other than a Democrat or a Republican is ‘wasted.’ Excuse me? Wasting my vote? A vote should never be wasted, but we’ve all come to accept this concept to avoid allowing the ‘greater of two evils’ to get elected. This contributes to negative campaigning (we’re voting against someone rather than for someone), and suppresses new ideas, creativity, and progress in government. It disenfranchises those who have become despondent or disgusted with the entire system. We mistakenly call that ‘voter apathy’ but I disagree. There is nothing apathetic about it. This is an active rejection of the current system and a reaction to voter suppression efforts by the major parties.
So, what will happen now? For the past 20 years or so, I have predicted a number of things that may have sounded quite outlandish to most people. But as events have unfolded, I’m seeing plenty of evidence for most my predictions. Sure, I’m wrong about some things. I thought Donald Trump would lose, for instance. I stand corrected. So, at the risk of sounding a bit egotistical, here goes.
1. At over 300 million people, the USA is the third most populous nation on the planet (after India and China). What works well in smaller countries cannot work here because there are too many of us. The bigger and more complex something gets, the less likely that anyone will be able to manage it well. Massive federal plans such as single payer insurance, etc. are doomed to failure. That’s because, not only is our population too large to manage such a thing, our country is becoming more and more diverse, so it’s become harder and harder to reach compromise on anything that covers the entire country. And you thought it was just those nasty Republicans in the House or Democrats with a socialist agenda? No, it’s all of us, really. We don’t actually want ‘one size fits all’ solutions anymore.
2. What worked when we drafted the constitution (in 1790) can’t work the same way with 100 times more people than we had back then! With the increase of suffrage (originally land owners only, then other men, then women), there are something like 300 times more voters! This does not mean the constitution was a bad idea. Quite the contrary. it’s just that you cannot scale something up to 100 times or 300 times as big and expect it to keep working mostly as it has. Right now, each seat in the House of Representatives is supposed to represent something like 500,000 voters (or almost 750,000 people)! Half a million voters, standing for three quarters of a million people? This system is truly overloaded to the breaking point, no matter who gets elected!
3. If our central government, as formed by the constitution, cannot continue to function the way it has, what will happen? The answer is, the USA as we know it is gradually diversifying, state by state. Officially, it may remain a 50 state union for the time being, but over time, each state has enacted, and will enact more and more policy that differentiates it from the others. Now, please don’t be frightened - after all, the Soviet Union, a truly great power in the world, broke up without having World War III or anything even close to it. There was almost no violence. People openly tore down the Berlin Wall, for instance, without any effort to stop them.
Many current policy changes, such as who can get married, what drugs you can smoke, or what guns you can carry, etc., are all being enacted on a state by state basis. The federal government is stuck in neutral (or stuck in the past), often being the last to join the party. Down at the city level, many municipalities are making rapid changes in environmental policy, alternative energy sources, restorative justice, and so on. They aren’t waiting for Washington or state government to do it, they’re doing it themselves. Look at laws regarding cannabis as a drug. On the federal level, it’s still illegal to possess or sell it. But millions of people are now flaunting that under recent state laws and new states are joining in as we speak. And some municipalities within those states are acting to restrict its use within city limits.
Furthermore, we, as individuals, are making changes ourselves or with the collaboration of non-governmental groups, without any government intervention, assistance, or interaction. For example, changing our diets, our transportation habits, energy use, attitudes toward others, and so on.
4. The world went from 3 billion people in 1960, to 7.35 billion today (more than double), in just 56 years! Communication technology has exploded in that time. In 1960, we had TV, radio, newspapers, magazines, books, the post office, and the telephone. Now add to that, satellite communications, fiber optic lines, the entire internet, and the world wide web, social media, electronic distribution of music, videos, movies, and other works of art, hand held computers/devices (known as smartphones) in common use, big data, encryption, increased surveillance of the public, etc. We have faster shipping and huge volumes of international trade.
All these people and all this technology are having an impact that is so vast, so complex, that it’s difficult for anyone (or any group of academics, for instance) to conceive of the implications. 7.35 billion people, world wide, all want meaningful work, food to eat, shelter, etc. We’re all competing with each other, even though most of that competition is out of sight, out of mind. Go buy a dress at a discount store. The brand is something you may never have heard of and you probably know nothing about the people who made it, how the fibers and dyes were made, or how it was shipped half way around the world for you to buy it.
Ok, if you are getting overwhelmed by all this, I don’t blame you. So how can you stay centered, calm, and make decisions in light of all this? I'll offer some guidance:
5. We are making a world wide transition in a number of fundamental ways:
• from hierarchy to networks - no more ‘reaching the top’ and thus no more ‘glass ceiling’
• from uniformity to diversity
• from an imbalance of power between two genders to a balance of power in a pan gender world (feminism was just the beginning)
• from linear to simultaneous thinking and communication (i.e. from newspapers to social media)
• from static to kinetic artistic expression (from paintings hung on a wall to YouTube)
• from violent confrontation to a ‘live and let live’ world
• from a separation, disregard for, and exploitation of nature, to better recognizing ourselves as an integral part of the natural world (result: we are better protecting it and ourselves).
I say all this for the following reason: If you see the decline of a world based on hierarchy, male power, linear thinking, static communication, violent disputes, and exploitative of nature ... as devolving into chaos, loss, and pain, I have news for you. The world is not falling apart. The world is evolving to something new, that’s all.
Sure, these are big changes. But there is something to look forward to, if you can forge a vision for it. That something is what comes after the word ‘to’ in my list, above. We are moving into a world that’s organized by networking, diversity, gender balanced, with simultaneous and kinetic expression, non-violent, and nature integrated.
Now, isn’t that something to look forward to? I think so. Challenging, yes. New and unfamiliar (and a bit unsettling - until you get used to it)? Yes, definitely. So PLEASE don’t panic. And please don’t fight it. And please don’t blame anyone for all this. There is no one to blame. We are all here to learn to love ourselves, each other, and nature more fully. It may not be easy. There may be inconsistent signs (such as the election of Donald Trump, who made bigoted and sexist remarks during his campaign). But mark my words. We are on the way to something new. Please keep that in mind. And no matter who gets elected to what, please don’t run away. We have work to do. And I want you with me on this, ok?