The trouble with black swans is that, even when we know we’re looking at them, it’s hard to foresee their consequences.
Trump is undoubtedly unique in the history of the American political experience. To attempt to parse his victory, or to shoehorn our expectations for his presidency, within the confines of politics-as-usual is to fail to see what’s right in front of us. Trump lives far outside the political norm; why should we expect his presidency to live within it? I don’t believe the republic is likely to collapse, but it strikes me as dangerous to assert that everything will be okay.
President-elect Trump arrives at the White House on the winds of alarming political, economic, and racial unrest. There can be no argument that he channeled our lesser instincts — those of the bully, the bigot, the racist, the anti-factual, the petty authoritarian — into an effective political weapon. This is unforgivable, but it doesn’t diminish the validity of at least some of the unrest that led half of America to vote for him. I can understand how the economically downtrodden and culturally sidelined might, in some warped way, have felt like a vote for Trump was the only viable path forward.
There’s so much work to do. We need to understand and address the root causes of the unrest that led us here. Perhaps a Trump presidency will give us the opportunity and impetus we need to get started.
But the KKK? The Nazis? They never left us. Now, emboldened by our President-elect’s words and deeds, they’re coming out of the woodwork. On this count, I think Trump is already a tragedy of unimaginable scale.