Conflict and Justice in Donald Trump’s America – Part 2


Like many Americans, I have been lost in a swirl of emotion, confusion, shock and dread since 3am on November 9th, 2016, when Donald J. Trump was deemed the President-Elect of the United States of America. Let me repeat that: The United States of America. Trump won by winning the Electoral College vote 290-232 but losing the popular vote by over a million ballots.

Continued from Part 2:

  • Actively Support and Defend those Most at Risk during these more outwardly racist, xenophobic, and misogynist times. It is incumbent on all of us to take responsibility for those members of our communities who are more at risk now. This might mean volunteering time or donating gifts to organizations that protect and care for such groups (see, marching with or wearing safety pins and other emblems to communicate solidarity and concern, or simply deciding to literally stand near the potential targets of hate attacks in public in an attempt to mitigate harm to them. In other words, it is time for those of us who can to stand with those who are particularly at risk.
  • Do Not Assume they are all Alike. Assuming the worst from others guarantees it. Nine million Trump voters and the 3000 individuals he is now appointing to serve in his government are not all alike. Yes, some of his supporters are clearly bigoted and racist and they must be called out and resisted. But it is clear that Trump’s voting block was a complex mix of individuals fed up with the status quo and seeking radical change. This is much like many of us felt eight years ago when Barack Obama ran for President in the wake of the George W. Bush years. So one of our primary tasks for the next few years is to find or build allies in the Trump world. We simply must find ways to reach out and learn and engage across the cultural and political divides in our country. If we are to remain the United States (in the face of calls for Calexit), and if we are going to find the political will and wisdom to fix our most wicked problems in healthcare, education, employment and violence, we cannot allow ourselves to be further divided by self-serving politicians who promise simple solutions to immensely complex challenges. We will need each other to innovate and mobilize effectively. So make the choice to make new allies.
  • Do Not Assume we are that Different. Progressives have a lot of work to do as well. This is no time to come together in faux solidarity by gorging ourselves on self-righteous blame of the Right: a particularly seductive tendency right now. But like it or not we are all biased and racist and classist. We are most of us obsessive consumers of material goods that are made affordable through the oppression of others and directly contribute to the degradation of our planet. We often choose to live and socialize in Liberal echo chambers where our basic attitudes and values are reinforced and rarely questioned. And we bemoan even slight absences in our creature comforts when 21% of American children live below the poverty line and almost half of the world’s population lives on less than $2.50 a day. In order to stand firm against bigotry and indifference, we need to face it in ourselves, beginning with the contempt we currently feel for those who supported Donald Trump. We, too, need to take responsibility for the state of our nation, which continues to be too selfish, corrupt, violent, oppressive and generally unjust and unkind to the more vulnerable among us (unemployed, poor, homeless, physically challenged, etc.). We need to understand how we even passively contribute to these problems and take sufficient responsibility for creating the conditions that got us to where we are today.

Final segment continued in Part 3 which will be presented next week…


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Peter T. Coleman
Peter T. Coleman, author of The Five Percent: Finding Solutions to Seemingly Impossible Conflicts, is associate professor of psychology and education at Columbia University, director of the International Center for Cooperation and Conflict Resolution, and on the faculty of Teachers College and The Earth Institute at Columbia. In 2003, he received the Early Career Award from the American Psychological Association, Division 48: Society for the Study of Peace, Conflict, and Violence. He lives in New York.