The Most Dangerous Deficit We Face

I’ve written before about the perfect storm of factors that combined to create the result of this year’s presidential election but the ones I cited were mostly political and procedural. Here’s an outstanding analysis by Dr. Michael Bader, a psychologist and psychoanalyst in San Francisco with over 30 years of experience, that emphasizes the cultural/psychological factors that were involved. Specifically, Bader cites the long-term, ongoing decline in empathy in our society.

I strongly recommend reading the whole thing, especially if you’re a progressive (or even a Democrat). In the meantime, though, here’s a pull quote that I hope will pique your curiosity:

The failure of our institutions to empathize with the plight of the middle and working classes, to recognize their sacrifice and reward their hard work is traumatic. It is the same type of trauma that children experience when their caretakers are preoccupied or rejecting. The trauma erodes trust. It overwhelms systems that people have developed to deal with stress and creates psychological suffering and illness.

The future of the progressive movement lies in understanding and unequivocally embracing the fight of the working class, not as an electoral strategy but as a pillar of the values that drive us. Otherwise, the people who’d most benefit from progressive policies will find no reason to reject corporatism that masquerades as opportunity or bigotry that pretends to be populism. Our most destructive deficit isn’t in our budget. It’s the empathy deficit that makes us ripe targets for a cynical carnival barker like Donald Trump.

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