I very rarely stray from my political econo-lane here at OTE, of which I’m duly proud. As some famous philosopher said, “That of which we do not know, we must not speak.” Clearly, he wasn’t a DC pundit.
But I live in Virginia, a few hours away from Charlottesville. I had dinner last night with a mom and her brilliant daughter, the latter of whom is headed down to UVA this week. I’m also Jewish. So the evil that took place there over the weekend is personal and I cannot in good conscience not respond.
The night of President Trump’s upset victory, my first thought was, “there goes the ACA.” Thus far, I was wrong about that. My second thought, and fear, was, “what hatred has he unleashed?”
Banishing such racial hatred and violence must our ultimate goal, but given the reality of this nation’s history, it is not a realistic near- or medium-term goal.
What I want in the interim–an interim that will surely outlast my lifetime–is for the fascists, racists, and anti-semites to go back under the rocks from which they’ve surfaced.
We cannot force them to stop fomenting and promoting hate (though our law authority must more effectively contain their violence). But President Trump has done more than just unleash their ugly fury. He lifted up the rocks under which they dwell and gave them passports into the light. He has legitimized and normalized them as a political force to be courted and implicitly supported.
This is just the latest and ugliest chapter in the devolution of our politics and deterioration of institutions that have long been in place to protect us against such people. Much of my work evaluates this erosion from the perspective of political economy, plumbing questions like: how is that the we were one vote short of passing a terrible health care bill, or why are we not taking the necessary steps to reduce rampant inequalities?
But these questions, while obviously important, seem quaint next to the ones that surfaced so clearly over this weekend:
How can we quickly delegitimize the evil that held sway in Charlottesville? How can we revoke their passports, de-normalize their hatred, quarantine their sickness, and send them back under the rocks from which they crawled?
I don’t know the answer, but I do know that whatever it is, it’s going to be a lot harder with Trump in the White House.