America has a much bigger problem than Donald Trump. Its problem is being a country that could elect Donald Trump. That doesn’t go away if/when Trump leaves the White House.
If he leaves before serving two terms, he can run again in 2024. And if he doesn’t—or can’t run—in 2024 someone else with similar ideas can run in his place.
This reminds me of computer security. If you have a massive network of millions of unpatched servers and desktops, that are vulnerable to all manner of malware, it’s unwise to spend all your time fretting over one particular outbreak.
You may fix that one worm—that one virus—but it will not make you safe. Another one is sure to follow.
This analogy works well for externalities as well, since if that company keeps having breaches and there doesn’t seem to be any improvement in their security posture, people will stop doing business with them. And that’s definitely the message we’re sending to the world right now.
The United States is no longer a safe basket for your eggs.
So what is the lack of patching in this analogy? It’s the lack of educated, critical thinking among our population. It’s the anti-science mentality. It’s the willingness to embrace ignorance in exchange for having an in-group that agrees with you. Is the willingness to put that in-group first, to the exclusion of others.
And then there’s the gross ignorance that you’d expect from poor countries fifty years ago.
The analogy to patching works on multiple levels because unpatched systems don’t just get hacked, they also become unstable and stop working.
My point here is that nobody should think that Trump was the problem. America is the problem. Specifically, a population of idiots is the problem.
And this isn’t about higher education, or elites or any of that. Not everyone needs a Master’s degree or even any education after high school. The problem is with common sense, critical thinking, and a general compassion for others.
When the lack of these combine, they form a cesspool of vulnerability.
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We’re vulnerable to internal strife. We’re vulnerable to economic trouble because our institutions won’t function as well. We’re vulnerable to information warfare because people won’t question the source of emotion porn targeted at them. And that prevents us from agreeing on common goals and making progress.
From there we can be shattered into a million pieces by foreign adversaries like Russian and China, which is precisely what’s happening.
This wouldn’t be so bad if there were a few other Europes or America’s poised to rise and take our place. But that’s not what will fill our void. If the US falls it will be China and/or Russia that move in to replace us.
If you think the US is unpleasant or unfair, or that Europe isn’t tolerant enough of migrants, wait until you see what Putin will do. It doesn’t require much imagination, actually. We can see the societies that Russia and China have in their own countries.
Is there equality for minorities? Equality for women? Freedom of speech? Freedom of the press? How about LGBTQ in Russia and China. No. They are totalitarian states, and they are one-thousand times worse than liberals imagine the US to be.
But at this rate they won’t figure that out until it’s far too late.
We must address the unpatched network that is our ignorant population. The left is acting like out of control Lupus, attacking the very underpinnings of our country and the basis for its cohesion. And the right seems content to abandon our connections with the rest of the world.
Don’t blame Trump, and don’t blame the next authoritarian idiot that comes behind him. Their whistles only work on those who have ears for them, and unfortunately that seems to be around half the population.
It’s We the People who are the problem.
I don’t only blame Republicans for this. The Extreme Left has a major hand in this by refusing to provide a realistic center option. Someone has to speak uncomfortable truths around personal responsibility and other topics, and if there’s no center to do it, the Extreme Right will happily fill that void. People like Trump are enabled by the left being unwilling or unable to lead courageously while maintaining its progressive ideals. If strength and conviction are labeled Conservative by the left, then only conservatives will have those attributes.