As the coup failed, so did Kemalism

I had intended to post links on Friday afternoon before dinner, but as the coup in Turkey unfolded, I could do nothing but spam “refresh” on the Bloomberg and Reddit live blogs. Watching something like that unfold in real-time over social media is a uniquely 2016 experience, and my heart ached to see the violence unfold in real-time. I’ve visited Turkey more than any other country, and it’s wholly unique culture and incredible history enraptured me from my first visit. Where else, other than Istanbul, can you visit a European city that has its afternoon cafe sessions soundtracked to the ezan, or see buildings that were once Roman, then Ottoman, and now Turkish?

I love it there, and have continued to learn and study even since my last trip so many years ago. As the coup unfolded, I thought of the previous ones I'd studied, and (initially) wholly expected it to be successful. Erdogan was violating the constitution, and moving the country away from secularism. Removing him is totally in-line with what the military has done. 

Why we shouldn’t celebrate the failed coup
Western governments (and even Turkey’s opposition parties) were united in their support of Erdogan’s government, and only a fraction of the military participated. Given the instability on Turkey’s borders, it’s probably a good thing the coup failed, but we ought to stop well short of celebrating. The coup’s failure marked the end of Ataturk’s vision for modern Turkey: whatever power remained in the military after the Sledgehammer trials will now be vanquished, and Erdogan will use this as the final excuse he needed to sweep away the secular state and remake Turkey as an Islamist dictatorship. I remember how upset my Turkish friends were when AKP came to power in the early 2000’s. Turkey once seemed as though it was on the verge of being that bridge from the Western world to the Muslim world, as Ataturk envisioned. With a big assist from Europe’s racism and rejection of Turkey, Erdogan has now completed the reversal of that course completely. 

Brexit is nothing. It’s the Amexit we ought to worry about
As I watched the events in Turkey unfold, I was filled with another sense of dread: how would my country react to this? And would it be the right way? As an editorial in the WSJ articulates so well, the sin of the Obama administration that will damage the world for generations are not petty things like Obamacare or transgender bathrooms. It’s their willingness to totally withdraw from the leadership role in the world that is required of a superpower. The world is more unstable now (how is this even possible?) than it was in 2008, and I believe that lays at the feet of the President’s vision for America in the world.

The other side is not dumb
I would characterize my political philosophy as conservative. Yet I read (and curate here) articles from almost overwhelmingly liberal news sources (Slate, Vox, WaPo, NYT, etc.) I do this because I see little value in reading conservative media: it merely serves as an echo chamber for what I already believe. I prefer, instead, to read the opinion of someone I vehemently disagree with and allow it to challenge (and more often moderate) my own. My friend Alex Call shared this brilliant Medium post that reinforces this idea: that those who disagree with us are not inherently moronic. The Internet makes it too easy to surround ourselves only with the opinions that reflect our own. Any person who wants to understand an issue owes it to themselves to try and understand all of it — not just the facts that reinforce their view.*

What was RBG thinking?
My distaste and opposition to Donald Trump is well documented. I still surprised to see Ruth Bader Ginsberg come out and publicly, clearly criticize him last week. Trump clearly has no respect for the Constitution, or regard for anyone but himself. Responding to him by eliminating long-held political norms only reinforces the idea that he’s right to do so, as well. America can not afford to elect Trump president — no more than it can suffer meddling by those appointed for life to interpret our laws in a political contest.

The economy is rigged — but not how you think
One of Bernie’s biggest talking points was about how the 1% exist to subvert the will of all people: in politics, in the economy, and through social programs. FiveThirtyEight has done a lot of work that convincingly argues the impact of high-worth donors in elections is overstated. Now Vox is dismantling another argument: yes, the economy is rigged, but it’s not some secret cabal of billionaires keeping us down. It’s the unintentional result of small bits of regulation and policy that interlock into an impossible web — together, these little things have an enormous result in limiting the dynamism of the economy. 

 

*I’m not sure if this means I can post Trump-positive articles, though. Sorry.