Volatile Things, Mixed Together

This will be a political post.

I have a reputation as a pessimist, among people with whom I talk politics. But this feels funny to me–I don’t feel like I’m being pessimistic. Often I feel hopeful. I feel like good futures are possible.

But on the flip side, so are bad ones. I was reading a piece by Masha Gessen at the New York Review of Books, in which she described Russian vigilantes doing evil things with the tacit blessing of the state. And she drew the parallel with Trump’s pardon of Arpaio. And it’s hard to miss the resemblance.

Republicans spent decades concentrating volatile elements, like the gun enthusiasts who I noticed parading around Charlottesville as if they were real national guardsmen, and like the white supremacists who’ve bought the idea it’s all about heritage.

I call them volatile because they have the potential to change, in an instant, into something very dangerous. Masha Gessen refers to one example, but there are others. Insurrection and civil war are real things that really can, and have, happened.

Trump and his base want to break things and burn it all down. They’ve said as much. But when you jumble up all the volatile things and light them on fire, what follows is usually an explosion.