Take note, social workers: Trump more symptom than cause

January 23, 2021

The vast majority of U.S. social workers were rightfully outraged by most social policy associated with the Trump administration. Racism, misogyny, and xenophobia, not to mention the deliberate extension of gross economic inequality, widespread bald corruption, endemic disregard for the truth and contempt for scientific evidence – these signature features of Trump and Trumpism simply don’t square well with core social work values, and most notably our inalienable commitments to human dignity, social justice, and evidence-based social welfare policy.

So, yes, big, BIG sigh of relief (and maybe more that one bottle of champagne too many) is surely justified while watching Trump and the gang recede in the rear view mirror of American political history.

But no one, least of all social workers, should fall for the phony narrative that merely reversing the damage of the Trump years will put us back in good shape social welfare-wise. This theme and attempting to address its myriad aspects is likely to dominate this blog space over the next several months, so suffice it to say right now only that we must not forget that in the calculus of symptoms and causes, Donald J. Trump was much more the former than the latter, more product than prime mover of America’s deep-seated and violently dynamic political malaise.

Unfortunately, democracy will not “prevail,” as President Biden proclaimed in his inaugural address that it has (while looking out, ironically, at a largely vacant expanse of barbwire fencing and National Guard troops screened for insurrectionist inclinations), until we address the causes of the disorder rotting U.S. political culture. And that, social workers, has everything to do with proposing, adopting, and implementing effective social welfare policy and programs.

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