Friday, December 2, 2016

Open Source Podcast: What is the Appropriate Response to the Trump Presidency?

by Nomad

Despite our new age of open communication, intelligent and informed discussion is not always easy to find. It's hard just find civil discourse online and on television. If you don't prefer confrontation over explanation, aggressive cross-talk, and questions that never get answered, you may just want to turn off your television altogether. 

You might not have heard of this weekly podcast but Open Source is, in fact, the world's longest-running podcast. Hosted by Christopher Lydon, a former New York Times journalist, this radio program focuses on the big ideas in culture, the arts, and politics with the smartest people in the world. It has been called "an American conversation with global attitude.”

In this week's show, we examine the very different world in the aftermath of Donald Trump's stunning election victory. Even as the Left attempts to pick up the salvageable pieces, we need to ask ourselves what is to be done next?

Of special interest is the opening interview with the former Greek finance minister Yanis Varoufakis who offers some advice for disheartened progressives. We should be very afraid of what Trump represents and what he could do.

However, he adds, we should not allow ourselves to be paralyzed by fear. The time to come together to prevent erosion of civil liberties is now. 

He also warns that we cannot allow a new age of tribalism to take root in the West. The "America First" is mirrored in other Western countries in Europe and abroad. The tribal approach is further broken down by race, by religion, by gender and by sexual orientation.
The "me first" ideology of the 90s, has transformed into the "we first." Our tribe must triumph over all other tribes and if you don't accept that our tribe has the right to dictate to all other tribes, then leave. That is the essence of tribalism and it is becoming a serious problem. 

Varoufakis is not alone in pointing out the frightening risks associated with tribalism. Davıd Ropeık, an Instructor at Harvard and , a consultant in risk perception, writes:
Tribalism is pervasive, and it controls a lot of our behavior, readily overriding reason. Think of the inhuman things we do in the name of tribal unity. Wars are essentially, and often quite specifically, tribalism. Genocides are tribalism - wipe out the other group to keep our group safe – taken to madness.
Wisdom must prevail or nobody will be safe.
All is not lost, says Varoufakis, but this is the time for a new sense of unity- in the face of the right-wing challenge. He is calling for a rainbow coalition, not unlike the movements of the 1960s.

This segment is followed by a discussion with some enlightening (but rather dry) academics. The question of what the future hold depends very much on our response. Lydon breaks it down into three paths: Normalize? Demonize? or Mobilize? 

The final segment, Lydon discusses with English historian Simon Schama on the opportunities that a Trump presidency offers. If only President Trump could somehow have a Scrooge-like conversion, with haunting visions of his gaudy Mar-a-Lago palace sinking beneath the rising seas.

If you are tired of the kind of journalism that talks down to you, then perhaps it is time to find better sources of your information.