For context, this Facebook friend and I were not close in high school but we were also never at odds. Acquaintances only which is saying something considering my graduating class had only 52 male students. He ended up in Europe in the finance field and has, over the years, made it clear through his posts that he is most definitely Left leaning. After the Brexit his Liberal brand was on full display in his Facebook feed with numerous posts disparaging the ignorance of such a populous decision. Prognostications, none of which have borne out, were made about the financial demise of Britain as a sovereign nation to further punctuate his belief in such an ignorant and selfish Brexit decision.
So this recent, almost self deprecating, post took me by surprise if only because there was not one single back handed "compliment" or even veiled derogatory reference to the anti-establishment mass that had voted for Brexit and Trump.
In an effort to answer his query about us deplorables I responded with the post below. My hope is that it at least helps him understand the perspective of the individualist that exists en mass. I don't expect miracles but a legitimate olive branch is rarely ever extended from the Left so I wanted to take this opportunity very seriously.
Facebook Friend's Post:
Having considered the point, I am willing to own being part of the metropolitan elite. After all, I live in a big multiethnic city, am a lawyer and work in the financial services industry (albeit for the regulator). I can't say that it makes me feel on top of the world, or did at any point. I certainly don't have great wealth, or even my own house.
I continue to believe in the value of free trade and open markets, of allowing motivated people to move to where the work is, of sharing across cultures and religions, of good education at all levels for all and good infrastructure. I believe that government can be a force for good when it is well directed, with clear goals and proper incentives.
I hear what the Brexit vote and the US election have said--the "will of the people", or at least that half of it--but nothing that the Trump supporters and the Brexiteers have said has convinced me that their solutions to the real problems will make people better off.
Still, maybe we all just want to be heard and our views respected. I am listening. I respect the people who see the situation differently and have the opposite view. I want to understand the problem. I want, though, a different solution. And I want to talk with you about it.
My Response To The Post:
As a "deplorable" let me just say that this phenomena is much simpler than you probably think.
a) Government over the last 100 years has gone from being mostly useful and slightly corrupt to being mostly corrupt and not even slightly useful. Peter Thiel put it well at his National Press Club appearance last week when he described how in the 30s, 40s, 50s and 60s you could look around as a citizen and see the government doing great things. The Interstate highways systems, the Hoover Dam, The Apollo Space Program, etc. Of course there was crony capitalistic corruption going on back then as well but things were getting done and everyone could visually see that fact. Today, people see corruption, ineptitude, waste, fraud, self enrichment of our leaders, mismanagement of taxpayer money and for what in return? Improved education? less expensive healthcare? Much improved infrastructure? Moon bases? Mars bases? Anything? This is not a completely surprising place we have come to. The value to cost lines on the graph move towards inverse the older a country becomes. As the government gets larger and more corrupt it becomes harder for the government to perform and thus harder to show visual progress until it gets to the point where it is virtually impossible to demonstrate progress. Many people today believe we have reached this point of government uselessness. Those people voted against the establishment (Trump/Brexit). It is worth noting that almost 20% Bernie voters voted for Trump underscoring this phenomena.
b) Given "a" the "deplorables" don't trust the government to do something big like open borders right. Especially considering the extremely poor financial condition the country is currently in anyway. Leaving Muslims out of the equation for a moment, most deplorables are not at all against immigration. Not at all. They are just not for the unchecked, unrestricted, open border immigration with no plan policy that is currently in place. And with some good justification considering the large percentage increases seen in violent crime by illegal immigrants. And no, Trump did not say that Mexicans are rapists. Even Vox admits to that. My father was chosen by the Reagan administration in the 80s to represent Cuban exiles that were being housed at Ft Leavenworth. These were the people that Castro emptied out of his jails into America and they were the worst of the worst. Are Cubans rapists? Of course not. The ones Castro sent here were rapist and that is all Trump was saying about many of the Mexicans that are illegally emigrating here now. Again, many of the Trump/Brexit voters concerned about this voted accordingly.
c) I am old enough to remember when if you wanted to go to a store you had to make sure you were at home where your phone and phone book were physically located. You then looked up the business in the phonebook and then rotary dialed their number to see if they were open. Afterwards you got in your car and navigated your way towards the business using only the address of the business. Today all of that pre-work is accomplished from anywhere in seconds and navigation is done by a computer that can fit in your pocket. My point is people today are not very resourceful, self sufficient or independently capable. Most of the millennials I know really wouldn't know what to do in a gridless situation or even how to open a can of tuna without a can opener. Most wouldn't even know what to do if they lost their phone for 3 hours. All of this ultra convenience has given people time to devote to frivolous and even misdirected thoughts and efforts. The post WWII Japanese noticed that their 1st generation offspring were hard working because they saw how hard their parents worked and participated heavily in the operation and maintenance of the homestead. But each generation thereafter became more disconnected, lazy, less disciplined and capable of being an independent, self relying person. I can't remember the book title in which this phenomena discussed but today we have a younger generation of people that are naturally dependent on a collectivist structure (which is, in a number of ways not a bad thing). However, the older generations are still largely comprised of individualists. One thing that mixes like oil and water are collectivists and individualists. The individuals voted for Trump/Brexit in large numbers. The collectivists voted (they won the popular vote) just not as many.
d) The collectivist crowd is dominating the discussion and social direction of acceptable language and the individualists are reaching a breaking point on things like political correctness. The safe space, triggered crowd has been making the terms of socially acceptable language and behavior very confining for the individualist. You can't say this or that or else you will be looked at poorly by your boss and possibly even loose your job. You can do this or that because it could trigger someone causing you to be questioned by the authorities. This shrinking universe of language and actions is being defined by the collectivists and safe space crowd and the individualists voted for Trump because they are tired of being judged by terms they do not agree with.
Well that's the simple version. For a more contextual and detailed background on this you can google things like "critical theory", "Antonio Gramsci", "The Frankfurt School" and "The Cloward–Piven strategy".
Have a lovely evening.
I don't expect a collectivist to understand overnight, or even ever, how an individualist thinks but I did appreciate the honest attempt at a dialog. I think I will try it myself and am afraid I already know the talking point answers I am going to receive about government being the only thing protecting us from big business answers. It would be nice if that didn't happen though. Well, a man can dream. Can't he?