Ramblings: The Upside

“You’re not to be so blind with patriotism that you can’t face reality. Wrong is wrong, no matter who does it or says it.” 
― Malcolm X, By Any Means Necessary

Trump and Brexit. Between them it has been one hell of a week…and I’m typing this on a TUESDAY.

But from the various breaking news alerts to the sense of being caught between not just one but two non-functioning governments, I put on my best political Carrie Bradshaw and couldn’t help but wonder…

What is the upside to all of…this? Because in spite of the sheer-head-shakery of it all, I think there is a potential long game win for us here.

The thing about the election of Trump, Brexit, the waves of other disruptive political movements across the West in the last few years is that they are leaving many people with the sense that the old rules have been not just set aside, but torn up and tossed to the winds. There is a lot about that which is (rightfully) scary. But there’s also this:

The old rules include patriarchy and systemic sexism. The old rules include systemic racism coupled with classism. The old rules included systemic privilege for some and systematic exclusion for others. The old rules required certain systems to function, operating in symbiosis.

The groups of the historically powerful (mostly political leaders, mostly white, usually rich, and typically male) who have glommed on to these leaders and movements, which are trying to shake up the status quo, strike me as fundamentally shortsighted. Every Brexiteer and Never Trumper who eventually became converted has made a bet that the fundamental changes they are driving (or allowing to happen) somehow won’t affect him–that the cost of the disruption in our institutions and status quo will be born by someone else. So what if he challenges the norms of the presidency, at least the libs are owned, right?

This is faulty logic to me on the macro scale. If you help to unmake the system and rules that protects and privileges you, what exactly is your plan for when your protections erode? When your foes play by new rules? When your old friends no longer stand by you? When your access to wealth and privileged is diminished? I think a lot of the traditionally powerful are in for a surprise, and I’m not exactly angry at the prospect.

If one good thing comes out of this political era, it may be the unmaking of bad systems. I don’t pretend that the work of building better ones won’t be hard or unpleasant, but I’m also not going to pretend I mourn the loss of many of those Old Rules. I wish we could arrive at better and more just New Rules through a less destructive, less morally bankrupt, and more noble process than what we often have before us… but I think we must take what we can get. To waste the sheer human cost of the damage that is being done by not at least trying to make something better seems criminal.

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