In the wake of Donald Trump's inauguration, I decided to take a moderate position. It seemed to me that what was most essential in this crisis was reweaving the social fabric and committing to core ideals and virtues. I even for a while had a podcast making this point.
I came to this conclusion because Trump, to me, appeared to be a symptom not a cause, so focusing on him and his daily outrages was not going to be long-term helpful.
This also meant that I should set aside some things that matter deeply to me in order to build alliances in a moment when the survival of the republic and the moral order mattered more. So, for instance, Russell Moore, the head of the Ethics Commission for the SBC, has been a Trump opponent. I had long viewed Moore as an antagonist to my well-being as gay man, but our shared opposition to Trump matters more in this moment.
But it seems that the Democratic Party and many of the progressive activist folk I've worked closely with for the last couple of decades largely made other choices. One could see this split occurring even during the 2016 election.
Back in 2009 I was angered that the Democrats, when they did have power, didn't use it more effectively to achieve longterm goals. I have also complained many times that the Democrats have failed to play the political game as effectively as the Republicans. So, I do understand the position of those who think now is a time to fight more earnestly for longterm goals.
But I do worry that it is a failed strategy to solve the immediate needs of the country. I do hear those that say the leftward tilt of the Democrats will work because it will mobilize more voters who have otherwise stayed home. Maybe they are right, and some elections so far give evidence of that. This is an empirical claim that will be answered in time.
Today I read two things that sent me into pondering these questions in more detail. The first is an article in The Guardian about how Democrats are misunderstanding the moment and how their daily outrage is actually strengthening the Trump coalition.
The second is a good column from David Brooks about how the Democrats needs to decide on a compelling narrative. I happen to like the one he suggests. He writes:
Maybe the right narrative could be rebuilding social mobility for the young: America is failing its future. We need to rally around each other to build the families, communities, schools, training systems and other structures to make sure the next generation surpasses this one. People are doing this at the local level, and we need a series of unifying projects to make national progress.
This story pushes people toward reconciliation. It is future-oriented. It points to a task that we urgently need to undertake.
What are your thoughts on these vital questions?