What is a vision for America? The events of this month have certainly made me question things I never felt the need to. Diversity and unity; inclusion and exclusion; the limits of alliance building, and most recently - divide and conquer vs. combine and conquer.
I'm coming up short finding a convincing message of a commitment to ensuring everyone has a chance in America. What I have seen are Cabinet picks who aren't able to escape charges of racism, casual references to Japanese internment, anti-Semitic sentiment, immigrant-bashing, and open Islamophobia. And I've seen a lot of righteous indignation against it all. I'm seeing divide and conquer tactics employed. Carefree campaigns of misinformation - eg, the #MuslimRegistry distracting over the NSEERS reboot, or deliberately provocative tweets seemingly designed to waste people's time.
I came across this paper "Divide and Conquer" - with a discussion on game theory and its application to law, history, and race relations. It's fascinating. We hear the term all the time, but it really refers to a family of ideas. Reading this paper in light of current events was kind of chilling, actually.
The folks in the new White House seem to have a much clearer idea of what they want to do, though much of it is not yet public, and is obscured by a cloud of misinformation and distraction. If we assume they are a "unitary actor" then much of the rest of the population are highly fragmented multiple actors. That's less "diversity" and more " disorder" - lacking a common vision, and hence unable to focus. Certain segments are called out, perhaps, more than others (or at least each group is made to feel like they are being called out more than others.) Muslims complain of Islamophobia, Latinos about anti-immigrant, Jews anti-Semitism, etc. etc. Everyone in their own tidy category.
Believing you have it worse than others inhibits collaboration and communication. Whispers that "it might not be so bad" if you just "give him a chance" similarly inhibit collaboration. Inter-immigrant bigotry, racism, and misogyny also inhibit collaboration. In effect, I fear that we as a people are lacking a deliberate vision of what we want America to be, instead rallying around "not Trump" - precisely the reason Clinton lost. I'm guilty of this, too. If the new Cabinet is a unitary actor, they're dividing and conquering like bosses.
The fact remains, it's hard to unify disparate classes. People do feel more comfortable with people like them. Rallying around "not Trump" will take you nowhere - you can't expect your GPS to navigate if you put in a place you don't want to go.
What's a vision for America? There must be communication between various groups. There must be trust, and a belief in the common good, and incentivizing the human tendency toward collaboration rather than betrayal. A recognition that misinformation (or post-truth, if that's the new flavor for a very old concept) distracts.
I do not mean to be dystopian - this isn't 1984. I have no evidence, nor even a good faith belief, that there is some secret agenda. But it would be naive to assume the Cabinet picks were not deliberate. They supported him for a reason - either because he went with the bigotry, or didn't care about it.
Read about the Stag Hunt game and the Prisoner's Dilemma - it's only the first few pages - and think about what it would mean if the new White House was the "unitary actor" and various classes of people (immigrants, Muslims, women - anyone who felt slighted/marginalized by the campaign). Yes, it'll be simplified, but I think it'll drive the point home that we must unify in our diversity to overcome the well-defined bigotry of the new White House.