When Globalization is Public Enemy Number One: No Longer Fresh at the Milken Institute Review

Should-Read: I have never found prioritizing fairness to be difficult. I am not a God. I do not know everything. An honest process to aggregate all of our perspectives and information will do much better than I would. So the first priority is to make the process more honest—always. Convincing people that my current views are correct takes second place. But to make the process more honest requires calling out dishonesty but not disagreement. Is distinguishing between the two hard? In my experience, not terribly: Jacob Levy: The Weight of the Words: "The business of prioritizing procedural norms, the rule of law, alternation in power, and electoral fairness is psychologically difficult...

...It’s counterintuitive to believe your cause is right and also to believe that it’s right for your side to lose roughly half the time.  Being a good sport isn’t easy even in sports, and the stakes are much higher in politics. A lot of people, including a lot of elected officials, never really manage it. But stating the norms out loud—in the US, affirming that they are central to the American system—helps to balance out the authoritarian and populist temptation.... Populists and authoritarian... make a virtue out of the inclination to love our in-group and hate the out-group. As with his embrace of white nationalism, Trump’s equation of opposition with crime and treason isn’t just “norm erosion,” a phrase we have seen a lot of in the last year. It’s norm inversion, aligning the aspiration to do right with substantive political wrong.

“Ignore the tweets, ignore the language, ignore the words” is advice that affects a kind of sophistication: don’t get distracted by the circus, keep your eye on what’s going on behind the curtain. This is faux pragmatism, ignoring what is being communicated to other countries, to actors within the state, and to tens of millions of fellow citizens. It ignores how all those actors will respond to the speech, and how norms, institutions, and the environment for policy and coercion will be changed by those responses. Policy is a lagging indicator; ideas and the speech that expresses them pave the way. Trump has spent a year on the campaign trail and a year in office telling us where he intends to take us. Some people want to follow; some think the destination is, well, a pretty disgusting hole. But if you don’t want to follow, stopping up your ears with a hearty “la la la I can’t hear you I got a tax cut” is profoundly unrealistic...

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