Our biggest problems weren’t solved by eight years of Obama…and they won’t be solved by four years of Trump.
Well…the election’s finally over.
Let’s just say it didn’t go the way most people–on the left or the right–had expected.
So Now What?
It’s only 3 days after the election.
There are 1,453 more until the next one.
That sounds like a lot of days…but you know how time can fly.
We can’t waste those days. We need to make every one of them count.
That’s why I’m calling this campaign a “few years’ resolution.”
That’s why I want you to make one with me, to do everything you can between now and the next presidential election to make the world a better place–and really stick to it.
Don’t Fool Yourself
You probably know from your own experience that just because you make a resolution doesn’t mean you’ll follow through with it.
In fact, studies show that less than 25 percent of the New Year’s resolutions people make are successful.
Studies also show that campaigns to make the world a better place have a horrible time sustaining interest.
That’s just not going to cut it, if we really want to make 2020 better than 2016 was.
The fact is, there are some very powerful psychological and social forces that are going to make 2020 just as bad–if not worse–than this year has been…unless enough people successfully counteract them.
That’s why I’m encouraging you to sign up. That’s why I’m encouraging you to make this commitment with your friends and family. Because those are simple things you can do to counteract our tendency to make a resolution like this…and then not follow through with it.
I hope you’ll take that very human tendency to fool ourselves, to fail to turn good intentions into productive actions, seriously.
Whatever you think needs to be done to make the world a better place, I hope you’ll spend the next 1,453 days working your butt off at it. And I hope you’ll come back here for inspiration and encouragement.
But That’s Not All
But I have another goal for this project too.
Because I don’t think it’s simply a matter of all of us working harder.
We have to work smarter too.
A lot smarter.
Because frankly, folks, there’s a whole layer to this that’s critically important to address, but just isn’t being talked about much in politics, the media, or normal everyday conversations.
Over the past fifty years, we’ve had a huge collapse of trust in our institutions:
- We don’t trust the government.
- We don’t trust businesses.
- We don’t trust the media.
- We don’t trust the educational system.
- We don’t trust organized religion.
- We don’t trust special interest organizations.
You name it. If it’s an institution…we don’t trust it.
This is really scary.
This is why Americans feel like we’re in a crisis…even though the rest of the world looks at us and wonders why we’re so freaked out.
Because societies need strong, trustworthy institutions. And we know that a society that doesn’t have them is going to fall apart sooner or later.
We should be coming together to address that common threat that everyone is feeling…even if we have disagreements about how to do so.
But that’s not what’s happened.
In fact, instead of maximum unity…we have something very close to maximum divisiveness.
We have two coalitions, each making up roughly half the population, so bitterly divided against each other that they increasingly view each other as illegitimate, mortal enemies.
Why aren’t our institutions working–even though we’ve spent decades acknowledging they aren’t working, and decades trying to fix them?
Why have circumstances that call for maximum unity instead resulted in maximum divisiveness?
Why do we feel so powerless, so polarized, so stuck in this cycle of entrenched, escalating opposition that only seems to get worse by the day?
What happened on Tuesday didn’t change any of that.
Whether you’re ecstatic or devastated about the results…the big picture hasn’t changed.
We still don’t trust our institutions.
We’re still bitterly divided.
We’re still stuck at odds with each other.
None of those things were fixed by eight years of Obama…and they won’t be fixed by four years of Trump.
We Need to Change This
In the coming weeks, I’m going to make the case that there are some really important, bigger-picture, longer-term things going on in our society.
Things that neither political party will deal with…unless we make them.
Things that the media won’t cover…unless we make them.
Things that sociologists like myself have known about for a long time—but haven’t done a good job communicating to the broader public.
For real change to happen, there are certain things that (1) have to happen, (2) in a certain way, and (3) in a certain order.
That’s what I want to talk about in this space.
Not the stuff about which reasonable people can disagree–of which there’s plenty.
The stuff that’s simply gotta happen, based on what we know about how societies and social relations work, for our institutions to become strong and trustworthy, and for all of us to feel we’re on the same team again.
I hope you’ll come back frequently, for encouragement and to learn more about how you can make a difference.
And I hope this becomes a space where everyone concerned about our biggest problems can share what they’re up to, and how they’re taking advantage of the 1,453 days between now and the next presidential election.