There are two sets of questions on the progressives’ minds right now. First, how could Donald Trump get elected President`? Why did it happen? Who bears responsibility? Second, what should we do now? How can we mitigate the damage a Trump presidency will inflict on the American society? Can we prevent future Trumps happening again?

Both sets of questions are equally relevant. The answer to the first set is important because it could help us recognize and deal with the mistakes liberals, progressives, and the like, have committed in the past.

The second one, however, is more urgent and requires development of both short-term and long-term strategy to deal with the calamities lurking behind the horizon. Some people, such as Michael Moore, Bernie Sanders, and others have already suggested several short-term steps.

But what liberals and progressives in America desperately need is a sound long-term strategy that needs to be defined and put in motion as soon as possible. We need to formulate and implement a strategy that will not only help minimize the damage of Trump administration but, more importantly, equip the American electorate with the ability to recognize and reject potential demagogues similar to Trump in the future. Trump may leave the White House in 2020 (or earlier if he gets impeached), but the danger of having another candidate like him in the near future remains.

But, how to do that? There are two possible options on the horizon. The first one is to change the voting system and allow only the educated and smart people to vote. Jason Brennan, political philosopher from Georgetown University and the author of a recent book, Against Democracy, has suggested something like that. A political system in which only educated people have the right to vote is called epistocracy, and literally means the rule of the knowledgeable ones. This is both a bad and a hardly implementable idea. Voting is not only an instrument for selecting the governing class, but also a basic human right derived from the value of individual self-determination. Denying the uneducated and ignorant individuals the vote gravely violates this right and goes counter the fundamental principle of liberalism – freedom of choice.

The second, and much better option is to educate the citizenry so they are able to make better choices. This idea is a bit more complex than it seems. Some exit polls show that Trump did not win by attracting only the uneducated voters. More than 54% males and 45% females with college degree also voted for him. So, obviously having a college degree doesn’t make one equipped with the ability to recognize and reject an utterly incompetent and bad candidate for office. Progressive education must mean something else than having a four-year college degree.

I am a professor of critical thinking at an urban community college in the heart of the New York City. Critical thinking is a philosophical discipline that helps students acquire skills of theoretical and practical reasoning. During the past semester I have talked to them a lot about Trump’s candidacy, his ideas, and personality during the last semester. There are several things I learned from them that might show us a way into progressive future.

First, I noticed an interesting correlation between a student’s success in critical thinking and his (or her) receptivity to Donald Trump’s ideas and proposals. Most of the students who do well in this class recognize without any difficulty the vacuity of Trump’s ideas, and they reject them outright. Those who do not do well in this class seem more open to consider him an authoritative and admirable candidate for president. Prompted by a comment from one of the students that Donald Trump has ‘some good ideas’ I asked him to name one of the ideas he considered good. He looked at me blankly and said: ‘well, his business, for example. Look at his buildings, they’re great’.

Fortunately, most of the class laughed at this comment because they have learned about logical fallacies, a set of incorrect ways to make an argument and by doing so adopt a false belief. Donald Trump’s candidacy, in one sense, has been very good for my class simply because he is such an excellent example of how not to think, indicating to us clearly what kind of arguments we should not accept. Most of the things he says include faulty logic, and my students recognize that. For example, Trump’s claim that the US District Court Judge Gonzalo Curiel is biased because he is of Mexican origin is a logical fallacy called ad hominem. His diatribe against Mexicans coming over the border as rapists is scare tactics. His claim to be a good candidate for office because he is supported by a number of generals and military officials is appeal to authority. His claim that there is nothing wrong with exploiting legal loopholes to avoid paying taxes is conflating legality with morality. These are only some examples of Trump violating basic logic; my students have identified much more.

What this experience tells us is that the ability of American citizens to reject demagogues in the future depends on their ability to think critically. Some Trump supporters may be educated and have college degrees, but they all fail in exercising basic logic, the fundament of proper thinking. This is not some vague academic problem. Philosophy is not a study of arcane concepts, but a tool for better thinking and decision-making. Critical thinking strongly correlates with one’s ability to make good decisions and improve well-being. Faulty logic leads to bad decisions; bad decisions lead to bad outcomes. American society will have ample opportunity to learn that in the next four years.

Second, teaching critical thinking in the age of Trump revealed to me to what extent American community colleges are important in securing a progressive and promising future for all of us. Being at the forefront of educating masses of underprivileged individuals, community colleges, by teaching critical thinking skills can play a crucial role in enabling current and future voters to make better decisions, and reject demagogues and manipulators such as Trump.

The role of community colleges is not only to teach students the skills of their particular industry, but help them adopt a questioning disposition towards the world, and be better decision-makers for the benefit of all of us. If American community colleges succeed in that, we are going to have a much more educated, enlightened, and progressive electorate that will stand guard against demagoguery and political spin.

So, if we want to prevent future Trumps, we must invest in community colleges, and teach kids philosophy.