It is not the first time that we human beings have insisted on trying out what it feels like to jump into the void. At a Republican Party convention in 1858, President Abraham Lincoln —then a candidate for the United States Senate— declared: “A house divided against itself cannot stand.”
Looking at the Republican and Democratic conventions, it is curious to note how the GOP celebrated Donald Trump’s “triumph of the will” in Cleveland and the lack of enthusiasm some Democrats felt for Hillary Clinton in Philadelphia— the birthplace of the American War of Independence— despite the fact that she was making history as the first female presidential nominee on a major party ticket.
Something serious is happening in the world when experience, reason, and common sense have gone away. It is worrying to see torches, flags, uniforms and dramatic speeches, that in times of crisis and discontent, have been the fuel that set the masses on fire and led them down the path of destruction.
The Twitter kids, the new generation of media makers, are not connected to anything, not to truth or seriousness
There is a very clear reality right now and it is not that we are not pitting the old against the new. Because we are fighting with ideas that we have already transcended, but that, in some ways, are seen as the guarantors of a smooth transition. Especially in comparison to the free fall that will follow entrusting a mischievous child —in the best of cases— or an egomaniac —in the worst of cases— with the laboratory that could make the entire world explode.
Given this context, it would be good to learn the big lessons that this summer of our discontent is teaching us. First, the Twitter kids, the new generation of media makers, are not connected to anything, not to truth or seriousness, or even to an intention for what they propose to be possible. They only want their shouts and insults to ring out louder than the rest. We are facing a general crisis where the new wants and demands fury, noise and vengeance while the old is incapable of articulating a solution.
Second, the actions of the representatives of the old political order— like that great advocate of the Patriot Act, Iraq invasion and 2008 economic crisis, former President George W. Bush—fueled Trump’s candidacy.
The absence of proposals and injustice march on victorious while carefully prepared plans and years of experience languish in a long, futile, useless fight. Simply because the new provocateur is allowed to lie and insult while they would have just dismissed the traditional politicians.
Now this reality is not just a bad movie; it has become a nightmare for many societies that were not able to straighten out the course they were taking and that will only lead them to devastation.
It’s difficult to say how we will get up on November 9 after everything is done. The world may wake up to Trump and not know how to get back to sleep again. Is there, however, any hope that a clown will not become the president of the United States and that reason will prevail?
The problem is that reason, like justice, is not an individual process and it is not in the hands of just a few. It is a current, like air, and the harvest that a whole generation shares. And, as the Bible says, in order to be able to say yes, one must know how to say no first.
And, in that sense, we should have said no to the obsolete political class. We should have said no to the speculators and swindlers who caused the economic crisis and did not pay for it. We should have said no to the politicians who, boosted by publicity campaigns, felt that being able to change history on the basis of a lie was worth any price.
This summer we must recognize that we are not on the edge of the cliff because we are already in free fall. Let us hope that all those who cheer with balloons for the man who presents himself as the new leader of the Western world will think it over. That would be the only way to avoid a disaster. I look forward to continue reflecting with you in September.
English version by Dyane Jean-François.