Using Technology to Deepen Democracy, Using Democracy to Ensure Technology Benefits Us All

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

I Don't Know What Is Going To Happen

I was among the ones who knew Trump could win the nomination of his party and then the presidency in principle, but for whom I never did really believe this would happen. I didn't believe it, even knowing just how racist this country really is. I didn't believe it, even after living through Nixon and Reagan and W.

Anyway, I don't know what is going to happen next. There are people who seem to feel sure with each week's handful of unprecedented Trumpian violations the next revelation or the one after that will change some sort of calculation on the part of enough GOP representatives to open the door to accountability in some form. There are other people who seem to feel sure instead that in two years' time widespread dissatisfaction and fear of Trump may create a mid-term wave empowering Democrats to provide such accountability.

I hope these people are right. Obviously, in a world where elected officials and political staffers were accountable for the consequences of their decisions on the diversity of folks those decisions affect then these people would be right as certainly they should be right. But the simple truth is that nobody knows how low the GOP will go to get their tax cuts for the rich and profitably harmful deregulation, just as nobody knows if disenfranchisement and voter intimidation and divisive negativity and widespread cynicism can be overcome to check the nationwide electoral disappointments for Democrats and the trajectory of the nation back into the inequities of the nineteenth century.

As someone in the business of helping students into knowing more, opening them to new knowledge, polishing the forms in which they articulate knowledge to others -- all this knowing how much I am not knowing right now feels especially painful and awkward. I find I am really going back to basics these days -- emphasizing basic critical thinking and expression skills, making sure whatever the topic basic distinctions between commodities and public goods or basic connections between partisan reform and radical movements are always clear and available for students to use in the service of actually democratizing work.

Millions and millions and millions of people disapprove of Trump -- millions and millions and millions more did not vote for him or for anyone else despite their eligibility and perhaps enough of these people may be mobilized to change things. Change will be built in part out of those realities. But who is to say how soon and how much that change will reflect the values of sustainability, equity, plurality, and consent that define my own perspective? We can only do our best and help others to their best. One of the knowledges conferred by critical theory is that nobody, not even those credited with knowing most, know everything that matters about what is happening in the moment they are living, so that none of us may be fully justified to despair.

No comments: