The United States is in a crisis. It has been in a crisis since the 1990’s. It began with “all teams win” in school sports and “have sex with whomever you want, it won’t affect your family or your life” in sex education and Sunday morning morals. Students were told that college was the way to survive because it led to a “safe, secure job”. It started when institutional education took a turn on a few key principles. Now, people don’t know how to win in sports, they are unhappy in their families and their lives, and they don’t know how to keep or even find a “safe, secure job”.
People like Anne Coulter and myself, who foresaw Trump’s election and went on record, understood the nature of the crisis, which was why we forecasted the election with the confidence we did. We “Trump predictors”, (including Allan Lichtman), maintained our confidence in the face of so many voices telling us otherwise because our principles for understanding the political atmosphere shouted that much louder.
Americans believe in one of two types of crises; both relate to Maslow’s hierarchy of needs.
About half of the country believes we have an “upper needs” crisis, that if we don’t refine our diplomacy, lay down our defenses to show good faith, and give more money from our vast public funding, that we will lose our homes. They believe that our enemies will change their hostilities toward us if we leave them alone and give them whatever they want from us.
The other group, about half of the country, believes that we have a “lower needs” crisis, on Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. They believe that we have threats and problems which, themselves, exist on the lower level of Maslow’s hierarchy—food, shelter, basic physical safety and danger, etc. They believe that if we don’t keep strong doors, keep our defenses no matter how rude, and find ways to make high-profit businesses—preferably small to mid size businesses—to pay taxes into our depleting public funds, that we will lose our homes. They believe that our enemies are like Hitler of WWII, that giving them what they want will make them want more and they will never leave us alone until either they or we are dead. The second group’s answer is becoming stronger, so that we might live longer, as our enemies exhaust their resources trying to harm us until they either change their fundamental opinions to agree with us or give up realizing that we can’t be overcome.
These are the two groups in America and their two types of crises they each believe we are in.
The group that believes in the higher level of needs being the most pressing are taking to speech, protest, and expression. The group that believes in the lower level of needs is, for the most part, keeping their peace and working through quiet action. This “lower level needs” group surprised pollsters at the recent election—even if we ignore the Trump supporters who stayed home in California and New York, the vote for Trump was still more than the so-called “expert” pundits predicted.
But, there is a deeper crisis. Both groups will only persist as long as their sense of crisis empowers them.
When people fear loss of Maslow’s upper levels of needs—friendship, self-actualization, comforts of living—they are motivated to complain. And, they complain until they are tired. This means having conversations, demonstrations, and possibly violence for some of them.
But, when someone feels that his basic needs are in jeopardy, his very survival—such as the feeling of being chased by a bear—only then does that “fight or flight” extra boost of energy kick in. This gives stronger and more lasting energy to people who genuinely feel that their basic-level of survival needs are threatened. In basketball terms, they get the power to play the “full court press”. Malcolm Gladwell explains in David and Goliath that, to do a full court press is exhausting and that a team can only pull off a full court press if the team is “desperate”.
The deeper crisis we face is tied to the nature of the “basic responders”. They have had basic-level crises before. Their own jobs have been in jeopardy and they had to find a way to survive. They had run away from home, been fired from their life-long job, lived on a farm that paid their bills, owned a family business instead of a job—and their own survival had been in jeopardy before. They did not have a “safe, secure job” guaranteeing their basic level of needs. They have been desperate before, pulled off a full court press before, and it actually worked and barely saved their own skin. Then, they saw how much stronger they were, and they went on to build stronger, more lasting work, whether as entrepreneurs, artists, farmers, small business owners, or to find a new professional job—they finally did what was statistically impossible.
During the 2016 election, when the issues of the nation’s needs were on the table—the higher level and lower level needs—about half of the nation feared for basic needs, they said to themselves, “I have been here before myself. Now, our nation is in the same place I was in.” Then, their fight or flight powers kicked in, they played the full court press, and did what was statistically impossible.
Anne Coulter and I believed that there were enough people in the “basic-needs” group to make November happen. We recognized the basic-needs people because we are part of them; we have survived our own basic-needs crises and have our own pasts that convince us we are right. Just as we opposed Romney and McCain for not tapping into those basic needs, we knew Trump would. Having come out of major debt, Trump also had his own basic-needs crisis. Anne and I had seen this movie before. We had been in similar movies of our own before. We already knew how the movie ends. For us, forecasting the election wasn’t a theory, it was already in our pasts.
So, Anne Coulter and I proved that we understood how America’s election would turn out because Anne Coulter and I understand America from our own lives. The deeper crisis is that America still hasn’t decided what to think. The country hasn’t made up its mind on whether trained instincts lie—or whether they might only be lying to us this time. The country remains undecided about what our basic-needs instincts tell us. We are undecided about the basics. Undecided—that is the deeper crisis in America.