As an author, I’ve written a number of dystopian stories, and unless we start understanding what is happening in our country and the world, they’re all set to come true.
You have to understand, Donald Trump is not the problem. If you’re breathing a sigh of relief that he’s leaving office and a normal human being (yeah, setting the bar pretty low here) is taking his place, don’t relax too much. There will be another Trump. It’s guaranteed. And the next one might be a little less stupid, which isn’t necessarily a good thing.
The problem is Republican politicians and the right-wing media ecosystem, which includes everyone from Tucker Carlson to Mark Zuckerberg.
As Jon Favreau of Crooked Media has noted, no-one has more contempt for Republican voters than Republican politicians. Look at Mitch McConnell. Do you think he cares about the citizens he’s been elected to represent? Do you think he cares about the country?
Barack Obama recalls in his memoir that he and Biden were trying to explain the policy merits of a bill to Mitch McConnell, who responded, “You must be under the mistaken impression that I care.”
Mitch McConnell and the Republican leadership care about staying in power. That’s all. They don’t care if their constituents die of Covid, or keep their jobs, or have enough to eat. They care about staying in power.
And their playbook is working. They’ve been injecting Republican voters with a heady and addictive drug, keeping them riled-up, angry, and afraid. They’re constantly ready with a new injection when anyone starts jonesing. And since anyone jonesing will do anything for the drug, they’ll turn their voters out, over and over again.
We can rejoice that Joe Biden and Kamala Harris were elected. I was out on the streets that Saturday, too. But until we realize that this is going to happen again, it… will keep happening again.
What I’ve come slowly to understand — and this is true on both sides of the aisle — is that people aren’t voting on issues. They’re voting on culture. They’re voting like others who are like them, and they’re voting against those who aren’t like them. We all pretend it’s the issues, but it’s not.
The difference between Democrat culture and Republican culture is that the former is filled with affinity: I like this candidate, I like their culture, I want to see more of it. Republicans go to the dark side every time: I hate that other candidate, they’re going to bring doom and destruction, vote for our guy.
Writing in 2017 in The New Republic, Lee Drutman, senior fellow in political reform at New America, says,
What drove the vote in 2016 was not income, but identity. Trump won by appealing directly to the cultural anxieties of downscale whites: He told them he’d do something about the immigrants who were stealing their jobs and the Muslims who were plotting to blow us up. Hillary Clinton, meanwhile, appeared to dismiss working-class whites as “deplorables,” and put on a convention that was a paean to multiculturalism. As both parties made appeals based more on race and culture than on class and economic inequality, almost 10 percent of voters who cast their ballots for Barack Obama in 2012 decided to abandon the Democrats. The famed blue wall that ran through the Rust Belt came crashing down, and Trump walked over the rubble straight into the Oval Office.
We need to keep educating people. We need to keep organizing, not just in Georgia (though we especially must do that right now), but everywhere, and all the time. Prepare now for 2022. Prepare now for 2024.
It’s the only way to imagine a future for this country in which everyone has rights, has a chance at success, and has a life free of hatred. And keep the dystopian stuff… for the novels.