On Trump and the Election

(Editor’s note: Reader questions are in bold, followed by Ta-Nehisi’s replies. The speech above was delivered the day after Donald Trump defeated Hillary Clinton.)

With the election and current political climate, there’s a lot of very understandable gloom and trepidation right now. But is there anything happening in America now that makes you feel optimistic about our future as a society? Any bright spots you would like to see more focus on and draw peoples’ attention to?

I don’t know. I don’t tend to look for reasons for optimism or pessimism. I think human societies tend to be problematic. And we are just conforming to the rule.

Trump is very aggressively attacking the credibility of the media. How can the media and journalists best respond to his tactics?

Not sure they can. Dunno if this is really up to them. Feels like something larger happening. Obviously you can do your job well. But I don’t think, say, The New York Times doing its job well is going to garner them cred among the people who believe Trump is a credible press critic.

Do you believe in the meme that it was liberal intolerance for conservative views that generated the backlash personified by Trump? Or the related meme that liberals have ignored white heartland people?

Nah. Trump was polling well back in 2012 in GOP primaries.

How do you think protest movements are gonna evolve in the next few years to counter the alt-right direction that national politics have taken?

No idea. But they need to take appropriate measures against the very real possibility of government surveillance and harassment. We’ve done it before. Like, in the life-times of many Americans. No real reason to think it could not happen again.

What lessons can today’s protest movements take from the civil rights movement, Black Panthers, etc.?