Donald J. Trump & Marine Le Pen
On the eve of France’s presidential election, another western nation is contemplating a turn towards a nationalistic and authoritarian political orientation. At the same time, America is on the cusp of marking its own inauspicious anniversary.
This May 8,2017, it will be six months since Donald J. Trump was elected to lead the United States, and by extension, the most dominant economic and military power the world has ever known. Tonight, it seems to me, is a good time to reflect on the political convictions and political discourse that led us to this point.
American and global political rhetoric are at an exceedingly vulgar and profane point in history. Regrettably, the current political state of affairs in many Western countries is anti-humanist, nationalistic, and anti-democratic.
As difficult as it may be to hear, the failure of elite progressives to take seriously the economic concerns of the lower classes has led us to this point.
As early as 1971, Saul Alinsky predicted the political perils of ignoring the underclasses in America and Europe and the possibility of their turn towards the ideological right.
They cannot be dismissed by labeling them blue collar or hard hat.
They will not continue to be relatively passive and slightly challenging.
If we fail to communicate with them, if we don’t encourage them to form alliances with us, they will move to the right.
Maybe they will anyway, but let’s not let it happen by default.
~ Saul Alinsky in Rules for Radicals
We have failed to capitalize on Alinksy's insight. Now our political systems and futures are being held hostage by the very same communities we shut out of our political centers.
To paraphrase Pericles: The ignorant will do what they will and the informed will suffer what they must. The only thing left to understand, then, is what type of democracies we will have at the end of these global contests over truth, meaning and sense-making.
Here is hoping that French citizens make better decisions than the Americans and the British.