Anger

In the online New York Times of February 28, 2017, you can read a fine piece by Roger Cohen entitled “The Madness of Crowds.” In it, the author tries to pin down the sources of the anger that brought about the election of Donald Trump. In my opinion, he succeeds brilliantly. I especially liked the following two paragraphs:

[People] notice that the attempt to squeeze the last cent of profit out of any operation has also squeezed the last trace of sentiment out of what passes for human interaction. They see that technology serves relentless efficiency, and somewhere in that efficiency life gets joyless and existence precarious. They note that good unions, retirement benefits, manufacturing jobs, overtime and health care get eliminated or curtailed in pursuit of that last cent.

They observe how put-together types with attitude and little qualification can make a bundle buying and eviscerating solid companies that actually produce things or setting up consultancies that trade on connections at the money-influence margins of politics. They know that if something goes wrong with the rigged system the losses will get “socialized.” Regular schmucks who work a shift will pay while insiders walk away. That’s how things have been since the 21st century began. The fix is always in.”

If you are suffering, are somewhat hard up, or feel at risk in that sense, that will do it. Even if one doubts that Trump can fix this, that is still better than knowing for sure that Clinton couldn’t have. Her heart may have been in the right place, but her head was not. Her repeated promise to restore a state of affairs in which every person could realize his or her “God-given potential” was absurd. We live in a world in which increasing numbers of people have no potential to speak of. Automation and globalization, to say nothing of domestic job outsourcing and other forms of rapacity, leave them without salable skills — which is to say, without any chance at a life livable with dignity. Anger is the natural response. And while it does not ultimately solve the problem, it beats pretending that all is well, or holding it against oneself that one cannot get the better of the situation.

Trump is not the solution either. But neither is dwelling on his shortcomings. In actuality, there is no easy solution. For us as a society, this problem is tougher than putting a man on the moon and bringing him back. But we had better solve it soon.

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