On the bright side

A few things that may actually be good about living under Trump

We can now see more clearly the tragic dimension of politics.

We now have a cause which requires decent people to be brave.

The progressive disgust that “we still have to protest this in 2015” has led to the knowledge that the evil past can return again, and indeed in some sense never left us. The gentle arc of history is now seen to be a fiction. This is good.

We may perhaps return to the knowledge that politics is not merely a television show we can turn off. It is not a sport in which the success or failure of our team affects us only in a vicarious way. If something is smashed in politics, it is smashed in real life. If you lose in politics, you lose in real life. Realizing this will produce humility, because we will see that winning means making successful appeals to others who see things differently. It will also inspire courage, since we will understand that fighting includes the possibility of losing.

It will now be easier to see that a society can be full of knowledge and yet paranoid and delusional, cultured and yet vulgar, decent at the level of ordinary social interactions but depraved in its public life.

We can now see more clearly the badness and foolishness of human beings. The view that “most people are basically good” should not be allowed to stand without qualification. Because many liberals will increasingly imitate the bad behavior of Trump and his supporters, most people will have the chance to see the badness and foolishness even of people they agree with.

We can now be cured of our excessive irony, especially about public affairs. We can now re-discover bitter, self-effacing humor.

We can now see more clearly the evil of celebrity culture, and how different it is from authentic heroism and admiration. To be obsessed with a side-show candidate is to support that candidate, on some level.

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