Paul Krugman notes the flood of resistance, or what he calls “a powerful upwelling of decency,” in for instance MeToo and the reactions to the Parkland massacre.

This isn’t what anyone, certainly not the political commentariat, expected.

After the 2016 election many in the news media seemed all too ready to assume that Trumpism represented the real America, even though Hillary Clinton had won the popular vote and — Russian intervention and the Comey letter aside — would surely have won the electoral vote, too, but for the Big Sneer, the derisive tone adopted by countless reporters and pundits. There have been hundreds if not thousands of stories about grizzled Trump supporters sitting in diners, purportedly showing the out-of-touchness of our cultural elite.

Not to mention an entire cottage industry around Hillbilly Elegy. It’s masochism, that kind of thing, journalists abasing themselves for being so damn elitist and smartyboots.

Political scientists have a term and a theory for what we’re seeing on #MeToo, guns and perhaps more: “regime change cascades.”

Here’s how it works: When people see the status quo as immovable, they tend to be passive even if they are themselves dissatisfied. Indeed, they may be unwilling to reveal their discontent, or to fully admit it to themselves. But once they see others visibly taking a stand, they both gain more confidence in their dissent and become more willing to act on it — and by their actions they may induce the same response in others, causing a kind of chain reaction.

Seems too obvious to be worth labeling, really. Trump himself triggered a regime change cascade, showing all the assholes that there are plenty of assholes out there. Show people a big basket of deplorables and they’ll make it into a whole warehouse of deplorables.

Such cascades explain how huge political upheavals can quickly emerge, seemingly out of nowhere. Examples include the revolutions that swept Europe in 1848, the sudden collapse of communism in 1989 and the Arab Spring of 2011.

Now, nothing says that such cascades have to be positive either in their motivations or in their results. The period 2016-17 clearly represented a sort of Alt-Right Spring — springtime for fascists? — in which white supremacists and anti-Semites were emboldened not just by Donald Trump’s election but by the evidence that there were more like-minded people than anyone realized, both in the U.S. and Europe.

What we have here is a battle of the cascades…which we knew all along. The Republicans have gerrymandered everything so that our cascade has to be way bigger than theirs to overcome the baddies, but Krugman thinks it may be that big. Here’s hoping.

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