“At his inauguration, President Trump promised to renew the unity of the American people, claiming that “through our loyalty to our country, we will rediscover our loyalty to each other.” Then, Trump seemed intent on creating a reborn civic and social consciousness, and on empowering ordinary people against big government and big money.
And yet, Trump’s administration has ushered in a virulently antisocial politics that dissolves the most basic bonds and leaves individuals powerless against both market and state. Trump, like many populists of the right, gained a foothold by promising that a resurgent nationalism could make people feel cohesive, trusting and strong again. But like his right-leaning populist predecessors, he has offered only the imaginary bonds of nationalism — the illusion of fellow-feeling and homogeneity — even as his policies destroy the real and foundational bonds of family and community in the arenas of health care, immigration, labor and more.
. . . . In its amicus brief in support of unions, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops points out that the destruction of unions based on the loose interpretation of money as speech will render workers weaker than ever before. “Ironically then,” the bishops observe, “a misguided effort to protect one individual from government coercion would leave only individuals to stand against government (or economic) coercion.”
If only that world were really so far away. In reality, it is already here. What unites workfare, the annihilation of DACA and the war on unions is a totalizing individualism — the belief that people are essentially isolated individuals. That we are alone before we are together. That we are more and not less ourselves in total isolation. From that view flow policies that disregard or deny that people are, in fact, embedded in families, communities and industries, and that their bonds and obligations are powerful and ought to be respected and protected by the state. No politics issuing from that view can ever cultivate unity.
What Trump offered as an answer to the aching aloneness of Americans was nationalism, the exchange of an imagined community for actual ones, the promise of a mystic bond with people you’ll never meet even while the ones you know and love are deported, abandoned, dying. It was supposed to bring us together, supposed to make us strong. But his policies stand to leave us more alone than we’ve ever been, and in our solitude, weak.
Read the rest of Elizabeth’s op-ed at the link.
First, it was Mexicans, Muslims, and undocumented workers. Then came Legal Immigrants, Latinos, African-Americans, LGBTQ individuals, demonstrators, the sick, the poor, women seeking to exercise their constitutional right to abortion, unionists, Liberals, and Democrats. Don’t see YOUR GROUP on the “hit list.” Just wait. It keeps expanding, Folks like Trump and his White Nationalist buddies can’t live without an “enemy of the day” to rally their “base.”
When the GOP White Nationalists decide that YOU no longer fit their image of America, who will be left to stand up for YOUR rights. Harm to the most vulnerable members of our community, and failure to stand up for them, harms and ultimately diminishes the humanity of all of us. And, that’s how free societies are “deconstructed and destroyed.” Stand up for everyone’s rights! Just say no to Trump and his White Nationalist Cabal!