Situational Assessment 2017: Trump Edition
Jordan Greenhall

This is pretty interesting. Your ideas about Establishment vs. Insurgency seem consistent with what’s occurring. There are some areas I would dispute.

Communications Infrastructure: Non-interactive media is, at best, fragmenting, with or without President Trump’s input. I doubt there could be a President Trump without this already occurring. It’s been a trend since cable and deregulation in the early 90’s, and widespread broadband compounded and accelerated the trend. The number of content creators multiplied to include everyone with a camera phone. To the extent it’s possible to control the new channels (baring Great Firewall style control), the conflict isn’t over the channels themselves, but the filters that present what people want to hear. Take a look at WSJ’s Blue Feed, Red Feed to get an excellent example of how the filters we’re given influence the facts we have to make decisions.

Deep State: Your presentation of ordinary government being small changes hasn’t really been true for at least a decade. POTUS candidates regularly and openly talk about great transformations they’ll be making, be it a national health care system or protectionist policies. While not everyone will agree on this, it’s probably due to difference of world view and we can ignore the views of others at the risk of distorting our own reality.

I agree that the “Deep State” has difficulty with reacting dynamically. It’s inability to identify with and respond to the needs of people it doesn’t understand has “damaged it’s brand”. I disagree that it won’t do a good job of defending itself. It has the quality of quantity on its side in spades. A three and a half trillion dollar budget is a whale of a lot of people to fire, and it’s going to be really hard to RIF even a tenth of the bureaucrats, programs and infrastructure. Given the dependency of so may on these programs, even modest work disruptions would be devastating. For example, imagine the POTUS announces a 1% RIF, and the next month, Social Security checks are delayed a single day.
 For the people inside those organizations, memetic attacks aren’t particularly effective against people who’s pensions are on the line and might be all they have for retirement. Social isolation can be powerful, but, see filters, I suspect plenty of moral support will be made available.
 Globalism: Globalism is dying. The threat to Globalism is emerging technologies like additive manufacturing and improved regional farming. Just like the container ship made the current volume of global trade a reality, the rep-rap will make it unnecessary. This is not today’s motivator, but a lot of people are looking down the road and wondering what’s going to happen to all those oil tankers, and the nations filling them, when solar reaches price parity. Nations are already repositioning for these trends.

Additionally, Globalism’s promise was peace and prosperity. Much of Europe isn’t feeling the peace or the prosperity. Italy’s economy isn’t in the same league as Germany’s and the common market hasn’t been that good a deal for much of the Italian citizenry. Similarly, open borders between people’s who share common standards are easy, but a flood of refugees isn’t the best thing for a nation struggling not to default on its own debts. While nationalism is a defensive response to these problems, it hasn’t caused them, it’s the result.
 Culture War: This part seems pretty spot on. However, I’d invite you to shift your thinking from Blue Church/Red Religion, to Tribal/Trust. Both Blue and Red are currently exhibiting strong Tribal traits. I’d argue that President Trump’s decision to leverage tribal identity was a key factor in his success. The Blue tribal identity is equally present and equally intolerant of dissention from the tribal religion. Tribal groups are resilient and energetic when threatened. They’re also narrow and self limiting.
 Trust groups are more open and rely less on identity and more on conduct. I believe we are seeing the disintegration of one code of conduct, and the fragmenting of the Trust group it supports. Our civil discourse reflects this. If you doubt the code of conduct is disintegrating, post “What are American values?” to your Facebook wall. I’d be surprised if someone didn’t find the question itself offensive. The deeper and more fragmented the disagreement on the code of conduct, the further the Trust group devolves.
 Collective Intelligence: Without a doubt, the culture that can activate the talents of the most people to the highest degree will be the most successful. Idea sharing economies are better than isolated ones. Trust groups are better than Tribal groups at this. Tribes tend toward conservative behavior and anti-innovation. High trust organizations and societies share with less fear and with broader groups.

The most successful society will be the one that enables trust most broadly between its members while giving them the ability and incentive to produce and share. This will not be a society that divides itself between Red and Blue, or Blue and Green or Orange and Black or one where one side or the other wins a war. 
 On your Recommendations:

1: I agree with your recommendations regarding the Blue Church. I would add that the people who identify with Red Religion are in danger of becoming the exact same thing with a different paintjob. Many appear to be thrilled at the prospect.
 2: Sensemaking, as you call it, is a narrow line. Being more careful and taking responsibility for our own information consumption is essential. We have a responsibility for how we shape our world view. However, collective sensemaking puts us back in the filtered feed, and that’s a threat. The filter is a distortion.
 3: Can’t argue with this.
 All in all, I found it an interesting read. Should you read my response, I hope you find it a useful reflection.

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