Thursday, June 29, 2017

Democratic renewal in a season of loneliness

Ned Resnikoff of Think Progress has been pondering the toxic stew of historic white supremacy, fears both rational and irrational, and alienation that has gifted us with the aspiring autocrat in the White House. His nuanced argument reaches the conclusion that a democratic (small "d") renewal is possible, if we choose to make it. Do read it all. Here's a teaser:

... resistance to Trump is not enough. To eliminate the conditions that would lead to another Trump — or worse — the United States needs to undergo a process of democratic renewal. The countrywide network of formal institutions, informal communal bonds, and overlapping belief systems that hold a republic together is in dire need of repair. Patching it back together will require both widespread social movement activism and sweeping public policy changes at every level of government.

The point of all this activity, as trite as it may sound, would be to make people feel less lonely — to make them feel connected to their neighbors, to public institutions, and to something like an integrated national community. Activists and policymakers alike must apply themselves directly to the problem of alienation and meaninglessness.

Resnikoff's essay called to mind the two photos accompanying this post; they catch mundane features from my San Francisco environment that I might easily fail to note. Both come from big, conventional institutions which choose to use their megaphones to affirm social solidarity. I think it is fair to say that, in this geographical island of resistance, even plodding institutions instinctively grasp that what we value can best be preserved by what we share, by the connections we forge between isolated individuals.

Signs on walls seem a tiny gesture -- and they are. But a decent society and a viable community is made up of tiny gestures and it behooves us in bad times to foster every one of them. Where have you seen this happening? It matters.

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