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On a Personal Note

This is a dark time for America. There is an ongoing attempt to obstruct justice, led by the Attorney General himself. Congress will have to act one way or the other in what is likely to become the worst constitutional crisis since the Civil War.

Meanwhile, damage is being done constantly. It what appears to be a last-ditch effort, as if they know what is coming, Georgia and other states are passing highly restrictive abortion bans which are clearly unconstitutional. They seem to know that they will never have another chance.

For me to say, “Hang on, we’ll get through this” would betray the obvious privilege I have as a person who is not directly affected by all of this. And yet we know that this will pass one day, especially if we band together and make sure that it passes. On this, I assure you, I am with you. But I am also concerned by what might come next.

Ideas usually come to those who are busy working, actually.

I do not like to write in the first person, but this is a personal message. I hope you that you understand. I do feel very strongly that we all have roles to play through this, yet it is vital that we stick together.

The current tyranny cannot last, it is only a matter of who finally deals with it. Will it be Congress, reassuring us that the system does indeed work? Will it be voters, signaling a new wave of populism? Will it become violence in the streets, starting a new era of chaos?

The state of the institutions which guide our nation are only the first variable, however. We can hope that the system does work and that things will not become much more dire than they are today. After that, however, a new direction has to be charted. Where will we go? How will we renew America after we rescue it?

The short answer is that our leadership has to at least include people who have been marginalized and in pain for a long time. We will not overcome the problems which have metastasized into the current disease without this. This is why my role, as a pale male, middle aged and middle class, is necessarily limited. I can accept that.

Together. It will be different.

What I hope that I can add, however, is a deeper understanding of the trends which we can indeed see coming and how they might affect whatever systems, relationships, and politics come next. I hope that I can put things into context and reach beyond the hype and promise for a better future through technology to an appreciation that this is never guaranteed. Indeed, how we organize and at times control what we see coming for the betterment of the people of this and other nations is the greatest challenge we see ahead.

As we deal with the immediate situation, however, it’s hard to see this. When we finally do turn the corner and deal with the immediate threat to our republic, we will be largely unprepared to deal with the reality of the situation. What caused this situation was decades of stagnation and inability to deal with exactly this problem. The resulting backlash from the public which created Trump is simply a belief in a savior and a series of slogans in the absence of any real substance.

Once things change, they have to change for real. Tired old dogma and ideologies developed for situations long past their life will not be adequate.

Returning to the personal statement, I believe this is my role. It is not leadership in the political sense, but leadership in the way we have come to need it in a technological era. It is based on strategy, foundational principles, and teaching. More importantly, it is subject to the marketplace of ideas, meaning that it may never catch on in any way at all.

I accept that what I have been discussing over the last few weeks is entirely subject to being dismissed. However, I hope that it is not dismissed because of the urgency of the situation, which does require quick action. What is important at this stage is a conversation about these topics so that once we are at a point where it is time to renew our nation, and indeed the world, we have something which is relevant and useful.

We will get through this. Whatever I can do to help this process, I will. I simply believe that right now my best contribution is to help us to imagine what comes next. Perhaps that will galvanize us to unite and make a better future for all of us, together.   If there is more, please tell me.  If you have something add, please do.  Thank you.

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12 thoughts on “On a Personal Note

  1. Anything is better than what we have now. Anything. Sorry, it’s really hard to care. I know you’re earnest and I do like what you have, but it just doesn’t seem all that important.

    • I don’t think it is true that “Anything is better than what we have now.” Many Germans though that in the late 20s/early 30s. And look what they got. People can see and feel that the American republic it teetering, and they are concerned, but after-the-collapse, if it comes, could be a lot worse….

      • That is a good way of making my point. The problem is that I do not think there is any one solution, there is no “best practice” which is obvious. We need to work things out and have a very open democratic debate as to where we go. I accept that this is impossible right now. But whatever we can do to have things framed well when we are ready I think is effort well spent. The alternative is demagoguery.

  2. Your are so right about this. One of my recurring concerns is, even if the Dems manage to come out ahead in 2020, we are still left with half of the country hating “liberals” and hating any and all policies we try to enact. Half of the country will be seething with bitterness and rage. What happens then? To me, this is the problem we need to solve – NOW – but I have no idea how to try.

    • Thank you. I think that things have to start working quickly, and at least move in the right direction. We have to build confidence that a “system” which works is at least possible. Labels are not useful at all, abut they will be used to describe the situation and the players. We must have something which is above that and yet engages people. Success is the best way, but what can we do that will be successful immediately?

    • From following–a little–the internal Democratic Party debates, it seems pretty clear that the party is profoundly divided and only one wing or faction is seriously interested in the fundamental reforms needed. The “other” wing (Biden, Klobuchar, et al) are just as much owned by Wall Street, war industries, etc, as the trumpers. They are just more tactful about it. But they are determined that Sanders, Warren, other real reformers be kept out of power.

      • I agree, Alan. Maybe this is the place to start. “Divisions” are not inherently bad – at their most basic they just mean different ideas of what’s most important, or different ideas of how to accomplish things. If we refuse to listen or have the power to ram ahead with our own ideas, then our divisions become open wounds and we begin to dig trenches. There are some trenches in the Democratic party – one example is actively ignoring the Bernie supporters and forcing Clinton into the nomination – but most Democrats (I think) understand that we need to come together. If we can make that happen, it might give us blueprint for building bridges with non-Dems.

        That said, I am one person who is sick of the truly progressive, helpful ideas being the ones that get tossed out or compromised into debility. Maybe I’m digging my own trench in that regard but we can’t keep letting that happen. The Green New Deal is essential for fixing our country and for the survival of the human race. A big part of that is learning how to work together and creating a system that is not based on growth and consumption.

    • Yes, a good point. I would think that free-market supporting conservatives have to be as dismayed as anyone. This isn’t working for anyone right now. Even the very rich are starting to notice, and we should not forget that their status comes from being on top of a society and economy which actually works. It’s not right now.

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