Race is a dirty political game

Race is a dirty political game

In another attempt to distract us from his repeated failure to repeal of Obamacare, President Trump has taken a step along a very dangerous road. Our world is crowded and getting more so. A government’s first duty is to protect its citizens. That includes protecting their wealth, their jobs, their health, their property, their space, their wellbeing. Now that Artificial Intelligence and robotics threaten livelihoods, even if sometimes probably only in the short term, a government is responsible for thinking how it should best preserve the jobs of those who, if unemployed, will be poorly supported by their fellow citizens.

The knee-jerk reaction is protectionism or ‘de-globalisation’. This is discussed as though there were some viable alternative to a worldwide society. Given the internet, other hugely extensive communications, surveillance techniques that report every move we make and drone warfare, it is incomprehensible that anyone thinks a country of any size can still be isolated. But Trump was elected on such a promise. About Charlottesville he declared that white supremacists were fine people. Now he is condemning black sportsmen who kneel for the US national anthem in protest at his racism. His language is unacceptable.

We are all inherently protectionist. Our survival depends on our self-preservation – or selfish – instinct. Humanity is the process of tempering, but not destroying, this instinct, for the benefit of others. Whether we live in a village or a city we need those around us for support, a tolerable social life and productivity – the joint use of effort. As recently as a century ago our communities were relatively closed. That didn’t stop quarrels and fights but it made handling them more manageable, less violent. Today, disagreement can become so hyped that it threatens the survival of the species – as with North Korea.

Competition sometimes involves playing hardball. In every sport there are rules about how hard that can be. In every sphere of life there are also accepted behaviours of competition. These grow and change over time. The changes are made by leaders who determine what will, on balance, make for a better society. It is the essence of leadership that s/he promotes beneficial, fair competition. Leaders who do not do so are tarred forever with the Hitler brush. Their contribution to society is negative. They are destroyers, not builders.

We all lead in our own modest ways. People see our examples, listen to our philosophies and follow them. You do not have to be President of the United States to make an impact – you do it all the time whether you intend to or not.

Discrimination of whatever sort is abhorrent to decent people. Discrimination by race is as foul as any.

Every leader should know that.