Biden, Harris, and the Democrats know that once they formally assume office, they’re going to have a tough job.
Addressing these crises will not be easy, but it will be made even more difficult by the Trump supporters who think that their vote was stolen. These include both elected Republicans in congress as well as their constituents.
If the past few weeks are any indication, these loyalists are unlikely to cede peacefully. They will continue to jab at, poke away, and assault Biden’s and the Democratic Party’s proposals, initiatives, cabinet picks, etc..
But we knew that already. This should come as no surprise.
Although many people have attempted to dissect Trumps constituency and seek to explain who they are, rather than repeat this information, instead I want to offer some modest proposals on how we can potentially move forward as a country.
From those who voted for Biden and Harris, there seems to be (in general) two polar opposite proposals on how to deal with the disgruntled. One: that we need to make peace with the Trump supporters and find common ground, maybe recognize that there is some truth in their claim, double down on reading books like The Hillbilly Elegy, to understand their concerns. And only when we do this will be able to “heal” our country.
But others like Rick Wilson, of the Lincoln Project say fuck the Trump supporters. They are largely uncompromising, they don’t listen to reason, science, or experts. They don’t seem to want to find any common ground. And moreover, some of them have the capacity to be physically dangerous. Thus we must learn to navigate around them.
Maybe there’s some sort of midrange approach between making peace and forgetting about them. The former is already proving to be very difficult. The latter may be impossible as they seem unlikely to fade away. Part of the response will have to do with how much oxygen Trump and his loyalists get after January 20th. If he, and his closest allies are indicted, convicted, or incarcerated on any of the federal or state charges that have been discussed, this may blunt or alter the way we deal with him and his supporters. It may also enflame them. Part of the response also depends on how his enablers (e.g., Donald Trump Jr., Ted Cruz, Mark Rubio, Lindsay Graham, Mike Pompeo or any of the other less publicly visible sycophants) take up Trump’s torch, spinning conspiracy theories of their own.
With all this in mind, another question remains. How do we prevent something like this from happening again?
My goal is not to convince those who don’t want their opinions to be changed. But I offer the following proposals, the effect of which will hopefully felt in the long term, if we are going to move forward and prevent something akin to a civil war:
To begin with, we should advocate mandatory classes in critical thinking taught as early as elementary school. Some variety of this already takes place, but we need to redouble our efforts to create signature classes in this subject including national standards and testing that works.
Another educational suggestion is having civics classes taught at all years throughout the K-12 curriculum. Students making their way through the public school system should learn about the constitution. Not just memorize it, but understand its proper role in American society, what it is and what it is not, and how the constitution develops and evolves. Students should also know some basic US geography, and American history, not the sanitized Disney version of our history.
In order to accomplish both of these bold initiatives, all K-12 public education should be funded out of federal tax dollars, and not be based on property tax or taxes collected at the municipal or county level. We also need to establish a system to ensure that civics and critical thinking are properly taught. In High School although you’re supposed to learn these skills, but so much of that education is dogmatic.
Finally it’s time for the implementation of proportional representation (to which I add ranked order choice voting). (hyperlink to my previous post on proportional representation) A winner take all political system leads to too many people angry at the outcome. It also incentivizes voter suppression in “key” battleground states.
We can talk later about how this approach can be best rolled out, but without these types of policies and practices we run the risk of remaining a country that seriously divided, one where a significant portion of its citizens all too willing to believe the musings of snake oil salesmen and hucksters.
Sure we should address the bomb throwers, and the dangerousness of right-wing media, and the solutions I offer are not exclusive, but they are places to start. They are options aimed at minimizing and preventing the polarization like we are experiencing from happening again.
photo credit Mobilus In Mobili, “RVA Pro Gun Rally 2020-11”