Ed Riche on Donald Trump’s Election to Presidency

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Even if the plants return to the US from China and Mexico the work in them is going to be done by robots. A lot of people are soon going to be without purpose and the malaise caused by that means Trump won’t be the last of his kind. Let’s start thinking about how to deal with systemic joblessness caused by technological change.

What can a local left-leaning progressive like myself, like much of this paper’s readership I suppose, take from the election to the Presidency of the United States of America a trust-funded huckster by, in some part, racists and misogynists and, in the main, those rejecting the established order at any cost.

The election should teach the progressive left and center to get their shit together, to occasionally venture from downtown and discover what lies beyond the exurbs and arterial roads. They probably need to table, for a time, issues other than the core cause, the fight for economic justice.  Identity politics divides people into ever smaller tribes, ultimately supporting the absolute sovereignty of the individual that is the lonely heart of libertarianism, something fundamentally at odds with the notion of community from which progressive politics emerged.

Humans can’t apprehend remote risk so don’t worry enough about the climate to vote on the issue.  Trump didn’t hesitate to make the increased exploitation of coal part of his fuzzy platform. Coal! He claims climate change is “a scam” (though how it was hatched by “China” and to what end I’ve never grasped). The pitch to respond to the overwhelming evidence concerning climate change has to be reimagined to be heard.

The GOP numbers weren’t much different than they were in the last contest.  The election was lost, not won.  Clinton was a dreadful candidate with a terrible campaign.

History is a logy continuum. The American Civil War and the Sykes-Picot Agreement had an influence on the outcome.

Dignity has pretty much left politics and the truth didn’t matter, problems we had better address unless we enjoy wallowing in the muck.  If we allow that an emotional response is equal to one based on empirical evidence there will be no settling anything.  One person’s “emotional intelligence” is the equal of another’s. Klansmen feel a certain way about things too.   An insistence on arguments based on fact will help the rational win them.

Media matters.  Reality television turns out not to reflect but to project.  Social media was weaponized by the so-called “alt right” yet remained a hypnotizing echo chamber for progressives.  News media has fewer resources all the time so Trump got covered by just showing up and providing free television minutes. More and more content is going to be “sponsored” and rarely transparently so. If organizations which imagine they are fighting for progressive causes mean to advance them they are going to have to spend much more on message.

Trade is about to become a bigger part of the political conversation.  I doubt Trump will risk the reaction to tearing up NAFTA but the neoliberal line that all trade is always good is being re-evaluated.  (Most trade is probably mostly good but there are many things wrong with Argentinian blueberries being on the shelves at Sobey’s during the peak of our Newfoundland season.)

The wide loss of meaningful work is a looming crisis.  The end of manufacturing jobs in the rust belt played a part in the election. Even if the plants return to the US from China and Mexico the work in them is going to be done by robots.  A lot of people are soon going to be without purpose and the malaise caused by that means Trump won’t be the last of his kind. Let’s start thinking about how to deal with systemic joblessness caused by technological change.

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1 Comment

  • Firm disagree on giving up on “identity politics,” Ed Riche. At times of high stress, our most vulnerable become targets of abuse and scapegoating—the disabled children murdered by Nazis because they were a “burden” on the system, the homosexuals rounded up because they were deviant, the Jews ghettoized to protect Aryan purity. I refuse to sacrifice justice to the altar of the economy. (Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety. – Franklin)

    What can we lefties ACTUALLY do? DEMAND GOOD JOBS. Organize! Be loud and louder in our defense of each other and marginalized groups. Listen to more conservative people (they are our friends, neighbours, family members, co-workers), but don’t cave in to appeasement.

    “An insistence on arguments based on fact will help the rational win them.” This only works if the person you’re arguing with believes those facts in the first place. Trump played on a mistrust of the press (he is, indeed, still slandering the press!), and if there is no source you can trust for information, facts become meaningless. Anyone who has studied Hitler’s rise to power can see very clear parallels.

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