It’s still too early to tell, but I’ll concede a sliver or two of hope: the current global pendulum forever swinging to the right might be slowing down and coming back.
Africa is the leading indicator. South Africa’s Jacob Zuma’s ascent to power 9 years ago foretold what then happened in places like Austria and the United States. I wrote earlier that Zuma’s ouster earlier this year foretells what will happen worldwide, but the question is when? Do the rest of us have to wait 9 years?
Tanzania’s ruthlessly autocratic president was praised during the first few months of his regime as he fired employees who were taking bribes and rarely coming to work.
It’s fair to say that Tanzania’s fiscal and civic well-being is at one of its highest points ever. But its social and cultural soul has been stressed to the breaking point, and there are signs now that it’s breaking.
Yoweri Museveni has ruled Uganda for nearly 40 years and was just cleared by its supreme court to rule for life. But a populist entertainer is amassing groundswells of support to challenge Museveni, and two days ago Museveni’s car was stoned by onlookers.
In Nigeria a very vocal journalist that has been held in jail since Tuesday and secretly arraigned for not revealing his source to the government may soon be released as the protests swell outside the jail.
And of course today marks another milestone in America. (By the way, we’ve collected enough milestones in the last 18 months to build the wall.) More than 300 news outlets across the country coordinated a critical editorial of Trump.
Do you remember your algebra?
A + B = C
… so that means C-B=A or C-A=B or A+B-C=0.
Replace the letter space-holders with the words shown in the graphic that begins this post.
Democracy + Prosperity = Greed
As you work those into their various algebraic combinations it becomes clear that that simple formula represents our time.
And frankly, there’s no good rearrangement. All recombinations point to societies all over the world that are increasing the power and wealth of those already in power and riches, increasing with every moment the gap between the haves and have-nots, the privileged and the oppressed.
Essentially the formula represents the gap that must be closed if the world is to right itself. When a do-gooder like Hillary Clinton comes along with no prospect of being able to accomplish this, anger infuses those who had been dispossessed of the future they had been promised. They do the only thing they can do under democracy: choose the opposite.
That’s Trump, Museveni, Magufuli, Zuma and scores of others. If allowed to remain very long they become unassailable.
Of all the ironic histories of our society in my estimation the most ironic of all was the Bush mantra of compassionate conservatism. In our dynamic, complicated, stressed-out world, conservatism cannot be compassionate.
That’s exactly what the Trump supporters are telling us. It’s why Bernie could have beaten him. It’s why the Democrats when they come to power will fissure just like the Republicans have. It’s why America will not right itself until it looks to places like Africa, where people have less to lose so more motivation to truly bring about change.