American Progress and the Trump Inflection

American progress has many dimensions. There’s technological progress, cultural progress, economic progress and many other types besides. What’s interesting is that the US has excelled at technological innovation and it’s my view, from a progressive perspective, that inclusive politics has helped to drive that.

A number of our largest technology companies were founded or are helmed by first or second generation immigrants such as Elon Musk at Tesla, Satya Nadella at Microsoft and Steve Jobs at Apple, yet there’s deep discussion in the US about stopping or slowing immigration from a variety of countries, putting technological, and hence economic, progress at risk. If we limit immigration we may limit our ability to innovate because our diversity has been an enabler of innovation. In fact other countries that have more homogeneous populations have typically innovated less than we have. America’s inclusive politics – heterogeneity of ethnic groups and heterogeneity of ideas – has been a foundation of our success and is now under assault from President Trump.

The fundamental question we’re all grappling with is, “Does the public support democracy enough to protect it?” And of course, I think it does.

Donald Trump is a more autocratic leader with less respect for democracy and democratic norms than any President in memory. He is undermining the rule of law and attacking the judiciary and free press. He poses a significant threat to democracy itself, let alone actual progress, and is causing us to have debates at a much more existential level than we’ve had in the past. The fundamental question we’re all grappling with is, “Does the public support democracy enough to protect it?” And of course, I think it does. I’m optimistic that Trump has created an enduring opposition, and that the public will rise up against his attack on the democratic norms that have actually made America great. There’s been a burst of political activism on a whole series of fronts, such as the Women’s March which was the largest political march in American history, the #MeToo movement and the push for gun legislation in response to the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida.

We’re hearing new voices emerge in response to Donald Trump; women, young people and immigrants. Institutions alone are not sufficient to defeat Trumpism, it’s going to take many individuals engaging in politics in a new way. The Parkland teens are incredibly savvy and adept at social media and they’re resilient. They appear impervious, even in the face of a vast right-wing attack. My hope is that Trump is an inflection point in our country and he creates a movement of people that weren’t politically engaged before and come into the political process to fight the Trump’s nationalist, xenophobic, anti-democratic agenda, creating what I call a coalition of the rational that is not a mere majority but a vibrant, strong majority.

The base of the Democratic Party see Trump as an assault on our dignity every single day and we’re looking for leaders who will take that on, but who can also be very strong in their opposition. That doesn’t mean we have to become like Trump and attack people and pit people against each other but it means we need to be fearless. The Parkland teens are a fantastic example. They just say it how it is, speaking the truth at a time when people are desperate for authentic voices.

We’re at a moment in American history that people will look back on in generations to come and ask where they were on the divide and what they did in response. At this moment and I am confident that my children and grandchildren will be proud of the role that I and many others played in fighting Trumpism. I believe that at this time of inflection, everyone in the resistance is fighting to restore progress and to create a country that is better tomorrow than it is today.