Life After the Trump Experiment
How do you feel when you fail? Perhaps it depends on what is at stake. For example, most people who fail at baking bread for the first time are more or less undeterred, understanding that mastery of a recipe often necessitates some trial and error. Of course, this is true of any experimental process: Before scientific research can yield the answers we seek, many scientists must test a hypothesis, and fail, and although those failures are seldom celebrated in the way the successes are, each of these experiments is a necessary part of progress.
But for some reason, the same philosophy isn’t extended to other experiments, sometimes for good reason and sometimes not. The failures in scientific research, those experiments in which the outcome didn’t match the hypothesis, are never celebrated like the experiments which give us an answer. But it takes many scientists trying, testing, and sometimes failing, to get that answer. All of these experiments, “failures” or not, are all a step on the path to progress.
Perhaps the most derided failures however, are those of political experiments.
The reason for this is obvious. A political experiment has an effect on many people, whether it succeeds or not. The failed recipe will never be eaten by guests, and the failed experiments in science go ignored at worst. But a failed political experiment has an impact, oftentimes on the lives of many people.
It’s through this idea that I’d like to talk about the “Trump Experiment.” With a month before the election, there are no certainties. The political climate is as uncertain as the stock market. With all of the polls and historical data, it’s all still speculation. But from a statistical perspective, things don’t currently look all that great for President Trump. Any reasonable person would argue that there is certainly a possibility that he will be voted out one month from now, and if that happens, it will be at least in part due to those voters who chose him four years ago, and cannot bring themselves to choose him now.
These are people who four years ago felt that he was a change. They felt he might shake up a stagnant and unacceptable status quo. They embraced a little chaos if it meant meaningful change. The vote they cast in 2016 was a vote out of frustration and perhaps even desperation. What they were voting for was a Trump Experiment. Four years later, there are voters out there who know that their experiment failed.
A President Trump was not less corrupt than Washington. He was not more in touch with working people.
And now these voters need a way to come back. But how do you come back in today’s hyper-partisan world, a world where political experiments do real damage and are therefore not given the same respect seen by experiments in other fields?
I’d like to make a plea to those who did not take part in the Trump Experiment. I’d like to ask you to open the door for these political scientists. Yes, I’m calling these particular Trump voters political scientists because like any good scientist, they had a hypothesis, they tested it, and they’ve acknowledged that the experiment did not match their expectations. Whether their hypothesis was flawed is another question. They wanted to test it, they did, and they are satisfied that the project was a failure.
That is admirable. America itself was an experiment. It always has been. And while I can respect one’s decision to try something new. I have even more respect for those who can admit when it hasn’t worked.
So I want to open the door for these people to step back in.
And I should clarify what I mean by “opening the door.” These people stepped out of the safety of the halls of research and into the chaotic unknown. It is now time to return to the lab, the place of thought, the place of experimentation, the place of progress. This lab is not necessarily the Democratic party. The lab doesn’t subscribe to my theory, or yours. It is the non-partisan place where scientists think, study, and discuss.
Opening the door means allowing them to come back with the dignity a scientist deserves, and start rebuilding. Where they start rebuilding is up to them. They don’t need to help build on my idea or yours. God knows that the republican party could use some rebuilding after such a tumultuous four years, and if we don’t let these scientists back to do it, if we don’t allow those reasonable people, those with the humility and courage to admit when something has failed, to return to do the rebuilding, they’ll remain outside in the stormy chaos they had a part in making.
While many of us have a spiteful edge that wants to see them live in the mire they contributed to, we know, as fellow scientists, that that would not be right, and more importantly, it would be foolish, leaving the republican party with no remaining true scientists, and allowing it to fester and grow without any of the integrity they would provide.
Let us open the door.
Anyone who engaged in this experiment in 2016, know that I, and many others, do not hold it against you, and even thank you for the progress you’ve achieved by showing us a history we must not repeat. We welcome you back to the lab, and we look forward to helping you rebuild this country, making it truly great again, from either side of the aisle.