How We Got Here: The 2020 Political Crisis and the Future of Social Change (Part I)

Part I: Introduction — Tribalism Meets a Conflict Long in the Making

From Annie Spratt on Unsplash.

Even though a majority of Americans voted against the white supremacist candidate in 2016, how have we reached a point where hate is openly expressed and becomes more extreme by the day?

The seeds of conflict have been present within our country from the start, stretching back to its original grounding in racial injustice.

However, pinning the blame on Trump alone amounts to a superficial explanation for our sociopolitical problems — for Trump could not gain validation for his white supremacist agenda without benefiting from the power he derives from his base.

Rather, the main point is that we must understand the deeper origins of Trump’s base if we wish to untangle our sociopolitical crisis.

To situate the perspective that this treatise takes, note that all historical events are the product of shorter-term causes and triggers overlaid on more fundamental, long-term determinants.

By learning from the mistakes of this period, we have the power to alter our strategic decisions moving forward, significantly influencing the outcome of the current crisis.

Specifically, this treatise begins with the social rift that has developed between urban and rural America.

Overlaid on our social divisions, the progressive movement has made strategic, tribalistic missteps in a drive toward moral purity that has often suffered from an excessive focus on identity.

In our pursuit of justice, we have lost sight of the equally important pursuit of unity.

Given that our country may now be on the path to a mass, race-based atrocity — which is fundamentally what makes the current crisis so morally emergent — I must also note how the arguments herein relate to the centuries-old streak of racial injustice in our social fabric.

Perhaps most of all, the longstanding devaluation of Black lives in our country has desensitized the general population to the untold suffering that Black Americans have experienced at the hands of the state over the course of our nation’s history.

Despite this ugly history, there is no inevitability in the path to war and possible atrocity.

Nothing dictates that short-term causes must conspire with our country’s longstanding racism to produce human catastrophe.

To be clear, there is zero sense of proportionality in the moral responsibility of Trump and his enablers on one side and the progressive movement on the other side.

As I write on this subject, my aim is to adopt a humanistic approach.



Human, activist, scholar. Physician-Economist-in-training @UMich. CEO @proghealth. @FulbrightPrgrm Awardee. I work on anything that matters, locally & globally.

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Josh Greenberg

Human, activist, scholar. Physician-Economist-in-training @UMich. CEO @proghealth. @FulbrightPrgrm Awardee. I work on anything that matters, locally & globally.