This is an image from the Chicago Tribune that is indelibly burned into my mind. Yet as much as Trump is analyzed, the true object to think about is not the man, but the people. Win or lose, the people that support(ed) Trump are still a part of American society. They are not going to simply cease to exist. Most people of sanity in the world understand that a Trump win would be a disaster for the world. A Trump loss may be equally disastrous.
What will happen to that women in the picture after the election? Will she just go off and die somewhere? Will she join a part of a violent revolution? Will she have a moment of clarity and turn to self-reflection? Will others aggregate in her choices after the election? The fact is that we don’t know. And we don’t know for the tens of millions of other Trump supporters like her. This is the part that will perplex social science – and society as a whole – for decades, or even centuries.
The United States will forever be stained as the dark underbelly of American Society ever presents itself in the Trumpist state. The real question is, will the rest of the world “forget,” or will those people like the woman in the picture be stigmatized to such a degree that American Society will have no choice but to examine the state of its society? Again, no one knows.
One of the largest enigmas in Social Science, from Psychology to Sociology to Economics, is in post World War II Germany. While John Maynard Keynes may have pointed out the “Economic Consequences of the Peace,” few psychologists and sociologists really understand the depth and nature of Hitler’s followers. It’s not just that they were “brainwashed,” though that certainly happened; they openly claimed after the fact that they had no idea that Hitler lied to them, despite being forced to look at all the evidence that showed that they indeed, did know – or that there was no way that they couldn’t know.
In the post World War II era, the German people themselves were stigmatized by the world for the horrors that they consented to – even if some of that world blame was hypocritical. The Nuremberg trials were less about the actual trials, than they were about a type of Social day-of-reckoning en mass. It was a constant reminder to the German people, and the world, that the actions of the Third Reich were done with the full knowledge, faith and backing of the people. Hitler never came up with new ideas about Jews – he only reiterated the old ones that had been around for hundreds of years in the public sphere. He said what Germans had been thinking. German society, especially in the eyes of the world, would never be the same.
If Trump wins, it is indeed disastrous, putting the United States on a short-list of politically unstable states. A Trump loss without public or international accountability may be just as disastrous, putting the United States on a short-list of politically unstable states with another demagogue just around the corner. The rest of the world will await in fear of what they already knows is going to happen in a post-Trumpist society.