by Glen Pearson
This post can also be found at Huffington Post here
Those millions who voted for Donald Trump in hopes that he would turn government on its head and make it sensitive once more to the average family have been enduring weeks of increasing disappointment. They didn’t have to like him, but they were more than willing to dispense with their discomfort in order to start the process of getting government to listen again.
What these voters got was the very thing they were hoping to toss out. The airwaves are consumed with Trump and Syria, Trump and Russia, Trump and North Korea, Trump and weekend golf, Trump and a massive travel budget, Trump and nepotism. Despite his bluster, the American president has achieved remarkably little on those things that would change the fortunes of the average American. Remember all of his rhetoric during the lengthy election campaign when he denounced Washington’s “business as usual” or his repeated claims that both the economy and the political establishment no longer responded to the daily concerns of the majority of Americans? The abiding concerns of Americans hardly get any coverage and in-depth reporting on the CNNs of the world.
The prolific and eloquent observer of the early American scene, Alexis de Tocqueville, after considering the grand democratic experiment that the new nation was attempting, believed he understood why it would endure:
“The greatness of America lies not in being more enlightened than any other nation, but rather in her ability to repair her faults.”
Nothing in the months following the remarkable 2016 election points to any validity in Tocqueville’s observation. The country’s greatest challenges (faults) remain not only imposing, but ignored. Poverty, racism, crime, joblessness, climate change, radical social inequality, loss of trust – each of these isn’t due to Assad, Putin, or refugees, but ineffective administrations that couldn’t deliver on the real deal that Americans were looking for.
Let’s call it for what it is - a refusal to undertake what Americans truly require and voted for. Instead of draining the swamp, Donald Trump has become mired in it and foreign campaigns have served as mere distractions to the complicated domestic issues that he has little idea of how to solve.
Nothing need be predetermined in how we design our politics or our economics. The grand run that capitalism enjoyed in recent decades has ironically produced great wealth only at the expense of the larger society. There is no essential reason why women continue to be denied equal pay for equal work, but that is the way the economic system continues to work its way into the future. Politics refuses to challenge it and defend the very people democracy was designed to represent. There is nothing written in stone that says effective efforts to combat climate change can’t be entertained, yet that continues to happen despite the numerous international conferences that pledge real action in real time.
At some point in the last number of decades democracy not only lost its narrative but its ability to recapture its earlier promise. The political class permitted the transformation that moved it from the ultimate protector of the citizenry to glorified babysitter of capitalism and consumerism.
What is true in America is increasingly becoming a reality in other developed nations – democracy has lost it centre and capitalism has lost its narrative in its rush to go global. Can modern society be rehabilitated, bringing itself back to a place of purpose, inclusion and prosperity for everyone? There is no way that we can maintain all these levels of inequality and hope to grow social trust and a vibrant democracy. A strong democracy demands a healthy society. Every democracy must take back what was supposed to be its future. But that’s only if we redefine our present.