Your Monocausal Think-Piece is the Reason Bad Things are Happening

This is a substantial part of America’s upcoming agenda next year: torture, massive wealth redistribution to the top, more systematic police harassment and mass deportation.

For this we can thank Donald Trump. And Trump won because of disconnected, educated liberals. No, it was because of the white working class. No, it was because of suppressed turn-out and suppressed support in non-white communities. No, it was because of decades of Democratic back-stabbing on trade in the Rust Belt…paired with a demagogue who understood this. No, it was because Hillary ❤’s Kissinger. No, it was because of sexism. No, it was because of Jill Stein. No, it was because of Gary Johnson. No, it was because of third-party voters, not the candidates. No, it was because of the Stormfront-Pat-Roberston-Franklin-Graham-Fox-News-David-Icke-Alex- ‘Drudge’-Jones-Breitbart mediaplex. No, it was because of just one part of this media phenomenon. No, it was because of the Electoral College, and the failure of the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact over the last 16 years. No.

Just no.

In any close election, there are a large number of factors that are decisive. Change any single decisive factor and the outcome is different.

This is why coalitions are important in politics. And it is why, at certain points in history, relatively small groups of people can take decisive action that changes history. At least in one important sense which is relevant to your decisions today, it is true that you can make a real difference. We are a nation on a knife’s edge, and our nation bestrides the world like a … well, it is kind of a deeply divided half-pint Colossus withan unkempt shock of nuclear missiles sticking out of its Eagle head, being ridden by a very, very little orange man with some rather thin reins between his mind and his hands, and between his hands and the monster.

This means that you can do something that turns out to be decisive. Retrospectively, the nearness of the election illustrates this powerfully. When things are close there are many decisive actors … and it is literally the case that a great many of us could’ve been catalysts for collective action that turned out to be decisive. Small groups of thoughtless citizens change the world all the time. That doesn’t rule out the thoughtful ones.

Of course, your decisiveness depends on other factors crushing up against each other like tectonic plates … things you cannot move that hold each other in a terrifying tension. The tension is not only terrifying because media tells you to be afraid, but because earthquakes really do happen. And earthquakes shatter lives and hopes.

Last week, we lived through a moment in history when small things had a huge impact, where the plans people had made over previous years and decades came to fruition. And today, we still live in a world where moments like that will happen again. Probably not today or tomorrow, but (you know) soon. And for the rest of our lives. And it is true for our homes, neighborhoods, cities, states, nation and world.

The remarkable and counter-intuitive fact about such situations is this: what you choose to do can matter enormously. Not just on a local scale, but a global scale. And this is simultaneously true, and without contradiction, for a lot of other people. So go ahead and focus on what you could’ve done. Not to beat yourself up, but to inspire you to action today.

And I’ll worry about myself. So if you want to ignore the conclusion of the previous paragraph and you’re still looking for a monocausal explanation for Trump’s victory, go ahead and blame me. Dan Heck did this. Speaking precisely and practically, and not in moralistic generalities, that is actually pretty plausible. I worked as a political organizer in the Midwest for about a decade. I’ve been given the enormous privilege of listening to a whole lot of people throughout the Rust Belt, and I knew that Trump was going to be effective in my region in ways that Hillary couldn’t be. But I’d taken some time off to focus on building my family’s business and raise my daughter. If I had put my energy in the right places over the last 12 years, I really might be living in a different world, getting ready to organize around less immediately-dangerous problems.

The point isn’t that I’m particularly important or good at this kind of work. I’m not. And the point isn’t that I want to fladulate myself over this in public, and cry ‘woe is me, this is on me guys.’ It is the tectonic stalemate that makes this claim plausible, and if it is true for me that means it is true for a whole lot of people.

The point is that your decisions can matter enormously…to the people close to you, certainly. Hug them today, especially if they are shivering in justifiable fear. And they can also matter to people on the other side of the world who you will never know. Feel free to join me in this mea culpa. Culping is mattering.

Then get out there and help stop the brutality and cruelty that are about to descend on us. Even if this Breitbartian quasi-fascist machine is only spitting out quarter-truths, it is clear that it will focus its immediate wrath on people of color. At the same time, it isn’t only starting there, and it certainly isn’t going to end there. What you decide to do, starting today, could well be a decisive factor in stopping it from dragging as many people down with it as it would like.

Community Organizer. Enemy Lover. Pastor. Practices honest, serious, loving and fun discourse. (Yes, still just practicing.) Author of According to Folly, etc.

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