I’m sure I’m not alone in having spent my spare moments where this election went wrong.I have a few ideas, but first let me say where I don’t place the blame.
I don’t blame Hillary Clinton. She’s a competent, experienced, savvy politician, and in a normal election, she would have won. Notice that the winner was actually the opposite of all those things — we should not take from this experience the lesson that we should have nominated an idiot psychopath.
She was not a perfect candidate, but they don’t exist. In particular, I had legitimate concerns about her militarism (being chummy with Kissinger was disturbing), but the ideas that bothered me would not have disturbed the people who elected Trump. They’re all for bombing foreigners.
I don’t blame Bernie Sanders. I am not convinced he would have been a more successful candidate — a better candidate, I think, but again, what appealed to me wouldn’t have appealed to the Trumpkins. He did try to shake the Democrats out of their complacency, but they eventually settled on a “safe” candidate, who legitimately won by playing the existing Democratic machine better.
I don’t blame Stein or Johnson. They were terrible, awful candidates, but the kind of people who would vote for those bozos would have voted badly anyway. There is always noise, and that’s what they were — inevitable statistical fluctuations.
So whose fault was it?
The out-of-touch Democratic Party. We lost because the white middle class doesn’t see the Democrats as siding with them. Robert Reich has a good summary: it’s the unions.
Democrats also abandoned the white working class.
Democrats have occupied the White House for sixteen of the last twenty-four years, and in that time scored some important victories for working families – the Affordable Care Act, an expanded Earned Income Tax Credit, and the Family and Medical Leave Act, for example.
But they’ve done nothing to change the vicious cycle of wealth and power that has rigged the economy for the benefit of those at the top, and undermined the working class. In some respects, Democrats have been complicit in it.
Both Bill Clinton and Barack Obama ardently pushed for free trade agreements, for example, without providing the millions of blue-collar workers who thereby lost their jobs any means of getting new ones that paid at least as well.
They also stood by as corporations hammered trade unions, the backbone of the white working class. Clinton and Obama failed to reform labor laws to impose meaningful penalties on companies that violated them, or enable workers to form unions with a simple up-or-down votes.
I remember when the Democrats were the labor party. That hasn’t been the case for a long, long time. If you’re in the rust belt or the farm belt, Democrats have been doing a crappy job of supporting your interests.
Glenn Greenwald says the same thing.
The indisputable fact is that prevailing institutions of authority in the West, for decades, have relentlessly and with complete indifference stomped on the economic welfare and social security of hundreds of millions of people. While elite circles gorged themselves on globalism, free trade, Wall Street casino-gambling, and endless wars (wars that enriched the perpetrators and sent the poorest and most marginalized to bear all their burdens), they completely ignored the victims of their gluttony, except when those victims piped up a bit too much — when they caused a ruckus — and were then scornfully condemned as troglodytes who were the deserved losers in the glorious, global game of meritocracy.
That message was heard loud and clear. The institutions and elite factions that have spent years mocking, maligning, and pillaging large portions of the population — all while compiling their own long record of failure and corruption and destruction — are now shocked that their dictates and decrees go unheeded. But human beings are not going to follow and obey the exact people they most blame for their suffering. They’re going to do exactly the opposite: purposely defy them and try to impose punishment in retaliation. Their instruments for retaliation are Brexit and Trump. Those are their agents, dispatched on a mission of destruction: aimed at a system and culture that they regard, not without reason, as rife with corruption and, above all else, contempt for them and their welfare.
Democratic leaders have been feeding at the same trough as the Republicans. No wonder they aren’t trusted. They’re so mistrusted that the white middle class effectively voted against their own interests to oppose them. Does anyone believe Trump will do anything to help the schmoes who actually work for a living? Nope, but he did a great job playing on their resentments.
Another factor must not be forgotten: good old American racism and sexism. There’s more to it than lack of support for the middle class — after all, it was only the white middle class that succumbed to Trump’s lies. Unfortunately, it was the non-white middle class that was victimized by Republican voter suppression.
The media. The awful, no good media. We have 24 hour news channels that aren’t interested in information or news, but need noise to fill up the time. So they provide cheap babble and superficial propaganda nonstop — and they’re suckers for the kind of sensationalist tripe people like Trump at providing. And what have they spent the past few months focused on?
Fucking polls. It’s all we hear about, that and scandals. Policy and plans are all ignored. Nate Silver is treated as a hero.
Remember the election where Romney and the Republicans were living in a rainbow world where their crappy polls were predicting victory? We’re in the same boat now: our polls all predicted triumph, and oh, what a surprise. When will we learn? Screw all the pollsters. Ignore them. Not that the news will.
It also leads to good-enoughism. Hey, the polls tell us we’ve got 52% of the vote! For some reason, that’s not read as hey, 48% of the population dislikes us. All you have to do is edge out the competition, and you win all the marbles. No need for deep structural change in our policies, always pick the safe candidate who will maintain the status quo with as little upheaval as possible, even when upheaval is exactly what the electorate is asking for.
The machinery to make Donald Trump president of the United States had been idling for two decades waiting for Trump or someone very much like him to come along, set off the afterburners, and zoom off with the entire party. Just to use our previous example, while nobody on your television Tuesday night saw fit to make much of it, the Republican triumphs in several states were helped immeasurably by the mechanism of voter suppression that had been painstakingly built by state legislatures and painstakingly reinforced by the larval Rehnquists who’d been salted throughout the federal judiciary. It was just sitting there, the entire mechanism, waiting, its full power as yet untested because no conventional politician wanted to push the mechanism to full limits, because very few conventional politicians wanted to risk the damage to the institutions of democracy that might occur if that machine revved up to full throttle.
I blame the Republican party, too. They’ve been feeding this beast for decades. Trump was not an anomaly, but a logical conclusion.
It has been said that Trump hijacked the Republican Party. This is said by Republicans who still wish in their timid dreams that Ted Cruz or Marco Rubio had been strapped into the machine for another safe run on the same old track. That is not entirely true. He didn’t hijack the machine. He just turned it into a high-performance vehicle. Trump’s visceral appeal—the sexism, the racism, the xenophobia, the crude stupidity and know-nothingism, the appeals to a lost America, to people who most deeply felt its loss, none of whom was him—was merely fuel of higher octane than anyone had dared put into the machine before. He poured it in by the gallon, disengaged the emergency brake, mashed the accelerator to the floorboard and was off.
The white middle class has been soaking in Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck and Michael Savage and Alex Jones and Fox News. The Republicans embraced it. The Democrats provided nothing to counter it.
So what do we do now? In the short term, we fight. We oppose everything Trump stands for every step of the way. We learn from the Republicans: intransigence and obstructionism doesn’t hurt your party when the public despises the government as it stands. No more making nice, no more of this “reaching across the aisle” bullshit. Kill Republican policies dead whereever you can, and for once, the Democrats have to be vocal about their opposition.
In the long term, the Democrats have to wake up and realize that a comfortable slight edge isn’t enough, especially when Republicans cheat like hell with gerrymandering and voter suppression. That means they have to take a deep look at what they’re doing — they might have to give up those nice benefits from monied interests to actually appeal to workers, the poor, and the voters who don’t pour money into the trough. Clinton spent twice as much as Trump on the campaign — maybe we should realize that feeding the advertising machine isn’t as valuable as feeding the needs of the electorate.
What I’m afraid will happen, though, is that the Democrats will turtle up and play even more cautiously. They’ll look at the fact that they won the popular vote by a slim margin and think that all they have to do is change nothing and wait for the rising tide of minorities to eventually lift them into power. They must not do that. We will be surprised again. This is not a horserace. We are not gambling. We are not playing the odds and hedging our bets.
I’ve lived through three crushing political disappointments now: the elections of Reagan, Bush II, and now, Trump. It’s tempting to say we’ll get through this and have a better day in 2020. The lesson I’ve learned is that we won’t: that I lived through them doesn’t mean that others didn’t suffer and die. Reagan presided over the deaths by negligence of so many gay people; he laid a foundation of racism and contempt for government that we still have to deal with. Bush wrecked our foreign policy and killed thousands of our own and hundreds of thousands of others — don’t dismiss that by announcing that you survived his reign. Who knows what chaos Trump will sow, but people will be hurt. They will be hurt right now. Black people are being murdered by the police, immigrants are being oppressed right now, and we do not have the luxury of waiting the new regime out. It is not consolation to say that the pain will be selective and that the survivors will survive.
That’s exactly what has led to this situation. We need to stop engaging in this fine-grained balancing act where we try to ‘triangulate’ and build coalitions of the barely tenable, because it leads to fragile support that can be disrupted by one loud-mouthed boor who promises to break everything.
Daz: Uffish, yet slightly frabjous says
This, this and thrice this. And 2/3 of the “scandals” aren’t even bloody scandalous. Just prurient, distracting, gossip.
Chris Phillips says
Frankly, HRC was screwed over by a long running and totally unjustified smear campaign that would have landed in the Libel Courts in the UK and the Republican party bankrupted over the nonsense. That portrait of her as crooked and corrupt was scandalous and directly led to her not commanding the proper respect at the polls.
From this distance, the monumental stupidity of the evangelical movement was highlighted by some interviews on the night with Jerry Falwell jr and a maniac “christian” who went on about the power of forgiveness for Trump and being a vessel of God’s work that made me puke.
Unfortunately, no one with a sense of decency and a brain is going to get elected in the USA until those aspects of human character are respected over wealth, power and celebrity status.
I’m curious. Are “working class” and “middle class” considered interchangeable in American social discourse then? Because over here in Britain they’re very distinct terms (the former meaning people who do manual, low-skilled and low-status jobs, and the culture that they traditionally enjoyed, the latter people with clerical, skilled and high-status jobs and their culture). Is the divide not as culturally significant over there, or do you just use language differently?
The Vicar (via Freethoughtblogs) says
There was a famous poll a decade or so back which showed that almost everyone in America considers themselves to be “middle class”. The term has very little meaning here other than “non-rich”.
Saganite, a haunter of demons says
Exactly. Yeah, the Democrats were plenty complicit and yeah, Trump is a protest- and pseudo-anti-establishment candidate. But the Republicans were far worse in that regard. Clinton gets slammed for voting for the Iraq war, but who started it? The Republicans under Cheney and Bush. And who voted for it, too? Pence. And who keeps screwing over the little guy with trickle-down economics the most? Republicans. Who promised to continue, nay, increase that trend even further? Trump. I mean, yeah, I dislike the Democrats for their corporatism, too, but electing Republicans to the presidency, the congress and the senate? All of it? That’ll just make all of those very issues worse manyfold, not to mention the many other issues they are terrible on. The Trump supporters elected the worst establishment ever, the very people most active in causing this damage that they are outraged about. Again, the Democrats are bad in their own right and guilty of many of the same crimes, but they are marginally less so than the Republicans these voters just chose to give all this power to now. I can only hope some of them will realize their mistake as the economy falters again. All the social justice stuff may not matter to them, but they’ve made sure that they will suffer themselves, too, worse than ever, via Trump and the Republicans.
Derek Vandivere says
#3, cartomancer: Yes, middle class in the UK is higher than middle class in the US. Expanding on the Vicar, as I understand it nobody in the UK would want to describe themselves as middle class other than self-deprecatorily..
And I have to fly into DC tomorrow. Glad for my Dutch passport..
slithey tove (twas brillig (stevem)) says
I always used it most simplistically:
Upper class = wealthy
Lower class = poor
Middle class = everybody else, most of us
So yeah US and British use English different
@3 & 4
It’s a sort of fluctuating term. Subjectively Vicar is right in that the average person considers themselves middle-class, regardless of what their economic status really is.
In practice, the term middle-class is referring to having a certain level of income (or, more accurately, purchasing power) regardless of field. Working class is a little more nebulous. Traditionally it referred to “blue-collar” workers, though not necessarily unskilled labor (a master carpenter would be considered working class and would be a high-skill job that pays very well). In general, though, it tends to refer to people who are employed rather than employers. Even that’s not 100% correct, but it’s a rough approximation.
TL;DR the terms are somewhat fluid
The system does not oppress white people qua white, which is why it’s the other, nascent wing of the party I keep hearing about that needs to accommodate and come to terms with marked identities and intersections, not cling to class as the only true and unsullied prism through which social and economic injustices can be confronted and corrected. “White working class,” very much an identity* that dominated this election like no other, is well on its way to irredeemable euphemism. Plenty of weary and frustrated working class and working poor voters voted in their own interest and for a political party that, this cycle ’round, articulated that distinction just fine. They’re just the wrong color, or observers carefully ignore them because they subconsciously regard people of color as inherently and deservedly low-caste (whereas the economic oppression of the white working class is something akin to an unjust tragedy we must solve with robust and blustering American Greatness).
Yes, populism is seductive because it gives people the grievances they want — while allowing them to martyr themselves with them — but offers no solutions to the ones they actually experience.
As for as a culture that is contemptuous of Trump supporters, I can’t see how a white supremacist, patriarchal, xenophobic status quo threatens them or their middle-class lifestyles. The country, as of the election, was emphatically not worse off than it was eight years ago. The only people who can possibly believe this are the ones long cushioned enough to regard change as a zero-sum affair. As for the nose-holding abstainers, I don’t know what their excuse is. I know white Republicans participating in polls did their damnedest to keep the quiet parts quiet, to deny, even to themselves, what their motivations were, but the effect in both instances is still very much the same: racism did not move them, except backwards, inwards, and with fear.
*a surprising number of fairly affluent white Americans seem to believe they fit the definition of working class, possibly because they romanticize the term, when it describes a sphere, stripped of people of color, as folksy and authentic
The Democratic Party did not abandon the white working class. The white working class abandoned it. Over civil rights, over feminism, over sensible trade policy, over policy matters well over its head.
And now it’s been hustled by a monster from its own id that lied to it about bring jobs back from places they didn’t go in the first place because they actually just don’t exist anymore and will never exist again.
How *could* the Democratic Party have been more responsive to the demands of the working class? Those demands are unreasonable, they are ridiculous, they are counter-productive — and they always have been. Should the Dems have been like the Republicans, dog-whistling at them to gain support for an agenda they didn’t properly understand, much less approve of? How long do you think that would have worked? How do you think that would have panned out?
The degree to which Democrats were or weren’t feeding from that corporate trough isn’t even honestly relevant. They were never given the chance to make a difference and when they did something positive they got yelled at by the very people they sought to help. That’s not what that election (all the way back in 2010) was about anyway.
The problem is what the problem has been: old white people who are so afraid of a changing society and so incompetent in matters of policy that they will consistently vote against their own interests if someone is willing to play to their irrational anxieties.
Erlend Meyer says
I think you need to start a revolution, something has to change on a fundamental level.
I suspect the economic reasons are the most important, the racism and misogyny has always been there. It didn’t stop people from electing the first black president 8 years ago, and HRC is whiter than white bread. But it’s also something that’s easily exploited when people feel powerless.
Neither party is without responsibility for the current mess, every single president, every single politician for the last 30 years has supported the current regime. Electing a non-politician does make some sense in that perspective.
Gallup reports this phenomenon amongst all Americans in recent years, as well.
PZ Myers says
#10: The answer is UNIONS. America has been shredding unions for decades, and membership has plummeted, as have relative wages and basic protection for worker’s rights.
Note that Reich and Greenwald also point out that the Democratic party has been all about free trade and bugger the wages and jobs in the US. I can see the theoretical appeal, but if a little protectionism could generate the political support for social reform, I’m all for it.
Ooh. Working Class. Yeah, that’s a fraught term.
Technically speaking, it describes people who are employed for an hourly wage in a position requiring manual labor — that means both unskilled laborers and tradesmen. It’s often used interchangeably with “working poor” nowadays, but used to be synonymous with the middle class because the middle class used to be well-paid union members who worked in factories.
The middle class, as an entity worth political consideration, no longer exists.
We now have the working poor, a shrinking “professional” class (what Fox News viewers don’t realize they mean when they say “liberal elite”,) and an increasingly wealthy rentier class. Oh, and a growing class of permanently unemployed (retirees, unemployable disabled, and so forth) people. If we could find a way to get the first and last to stop voting against their interests, politics in America might start to make sense.
#13: Are you trying to tell me Democrats haven’t fought for union rights? They fight tirelessly for union rights, only to see the people they fought for vote in a Republican who strips their rights without a second thought and calls it “right to work.” So what could Democrats really have done?
Democrats were for free trade. Republicans were for free trade. Everyone was for free trade because one thing all the economists agreed on (and mostly still agree on) is that free trade is good, and it mostly still is though there’s now some disagreement about *how* good it is.
I’m all for using protectionism or the threat thereof to secure worker rights in the — I think “developing world” is the euphemism I’m supposed to use now for the people we screw over for cheap textiles — but that won’t bring the unions back and it won’t make the jobs reappear.
We have heard a lot about people wanting to vote for the “anti establishment” position in #Brexit and the 2016 US presidential election, but what do those voting to leave and elect Trump really mean by “anti establishment”. Traditionally the anti establishment figure or position might be seen as one that is not influenced by, or part of the current ruling class and that has not been formed in the current system of government and associated business.
That is not what I think Trump and #Brexit voters mean by anti establishment, they are not really looking for a revolutionary outside the system but someone that will not force them to accept modern progressive liberal norms. Anti establishment to these people is about not having to accept political correctness or the spread of equality among all members of society. Anti establishment, to use a currently popular phrase, is dog whistle for anti liberal/progressive politics.
We just have to look at the main protagonists in #Brexit and Trumpdom to see that these movements were led by a city trader and a billionaire, hardly traditional anti establishment characters. These guys are the system but they certainly won’t force society to become more progressive or fair.
For the above reason I don’t think Bernie Sanders would have performed any better with those voting for Trump and who would never consider voting democrat and the “out-of-touch Democratic Party” will always by out of touch for those seeking an “anti establishment” society.
Whatever the reasons, Hillary had about 6 million fewer votes than Obama in 2012 while Trump maintained the roughly 60 million that Romney got.
It is obviously a little early to untangle who went where in voting terms but the NY times exit pole does suggest a large swing (16pt) from Dem to Rep in those earning less than $30000 a year, the lowest income category and a 14pt swing from Dem to Rep for white people without a college degree. Although it is possible that the “lost” Dem voters were to no vote cast and not to Trump. While the biggest swings from Rep to Dem in the exit poll was a 10pt swing in the white college graduate group and 9pt swing in the $100000-$199999 income group.
Which kinda leaves me feeling Trump upset the established wealthy a bit but that Hillary upset poor lower educated voters that would usually vote for her more.
The Vicar (via Freethoughtblogs) says
Okay, PZ, having reread this, I think you’re being far too generous to the Clintons.
Both of them were members — founding members, IIRC — of the Democratic Leadership Committee, and Bill was actually the chair for a while. The DLC systematically replaced liberals in the Democratic Party with right-of-center corporatists, only disbanding within the last decade, and then only because their work was done and the DNC itself was manned from top to bottom with their picks. (The tactics included funding primary challenges from the right on left-leaning Democrats, and — once they had reasonable control of the DNC, which was true starting in the 1990s after Clinton’s win in 1992 — withholding funds from the party itself to candidates who were challenging the new orthodoxy.)
This being the case, if you’re going to say that the Democratic Party is “out-of-touch” and “feeding at the same trough as the Republicans”, then that’s necessarily because the Clintons are out of touch and feeding at the same trough as the Republicans, and they thought it was a good idea to remake the party in their own image. And their enablers — including the twits who thought we should unite behind her in this election — thought that was a perfectly okay idea.
Hillary Clinton has never been the innocent, competent, wise candidate that Democrats wanted to see in her. What she has been is a trained attorney who is very good at not telling direct, provable lies or leaving unnecessary evidence around about anything, good or bad, that she has done. We were told all the way back in the 1990s that interns in the Clinton administration were warned that if they came up with any ideas they should pull their superiors into the hallway to tell them in person, in a non-meeting context, so that there would be no records to subpoena if it turned out they were doing something wrong. (Come to think of it, no wonder she’s so upset by WikiLeaks — her publicly articulated stances on the NSA and computer security show that she is utterly, utterly clueless about how computers work, and the idea that she or her campaign might have been leaving evidence of wrongdoing around after all these years — as in fact they did, that’s how we know about the collusion between the DNC and her campaign — must be deeply upsetting to someone of her kidney.) To claim otherwise is to paint her as a kind of Forrest Gump: constantly in the right place at the right time just by coincidence, and always totally surprised by the way things work in her favor. Sorry, not plausible in the slightest.
As Glenn Greenwald pointed out a month or two back: yeah, there’s no proof which would stand up in court that the Clinton Foundation was used to sell influence. But the Saudis gave millions of dollars to it in multiple donations, and the foundation’s ostensible goals are exactly the opposite of the Saudis’ policies. There is no plausible explanation for why they would give money other than that they thought they were buying influence, and the fact that they gave multiple donations over time suggests strongly that they got influence after their first donation and were looking for more. (And even if you give the Foundation the benefit of the doubt, the Saudis got influence; they’ve been killing Yemenis with brand-spanking-new weapons which were sold to them with Clinton’s approval, and we have been turning our backs on it, as well as their continued funding of actual Islamic terrorism.)
Over on this side of the pond, many folk in the media are asking ‘is the election of Trump the USA’s Brexit?’ And the answer seems to be, in a way, ‘yes’, pretty much for the above reason. Over here, it used to be the case that the Conservative party was the party of the rich elite, the upper class and upper-middle class, whereas the other main party, Labour, was the party of ordinary working people. However, in the mid-90s, Labour rebranded itself as ‘New Labour’, and swung very much towards being a similar sort of party as the Tories, so ordinary working people were left with the two main parties both catering for the rich elite (even when they claimed otherwise) and them more or less being left out in the cold, politically speaking. This built up a lot of resentment, which was exploited by the likes of UKIP, culminating in a vote to leave Europe, which I strongly suspect a significant chunk of the ‘leave’ votes were done as a protest vote, rather than because the people voting actually wanted to leave the EU (especially given how often I have since heard the sentiment ‘oh shit, I voted to leave, but I never thought that would actually happen’ coming from various people).
Hillary lost because her campaign misidentified the focal point of the election. Exit polls showed a ridiculous percentage of the electorate being motivated by negative emotions, lots of anger, disappointment, resentment, and frustration. Hillary ran a precise, data-driven campaign in an emotion-fueled election. The wrong tool for the job. Karl Rove, cursed be his name, was right that feeling beat facts.
Trump validated the electorate’s fears and anger, while Hillary tried to assuage it. When people were frustrated about the economy, Trump told them they were right to be while Hillary told them the economy had already gotten better. When people were angry about immigrants, Trump told them they were right to be while Hillary told them that net immigration was down and that there were better solutions than rounding people up in trucks and hauling them off. When people were afraid of Muslims, Trump told them they were right to be while Hillary told them that Islamic terrorism was not a credible threat and that American Muslims were as much a part of America as everyone else. When people were afraid of rising crime, Trump told them they were right to be while Hillary told them we’re in a period of near record lows. Trump promised to make them great, Hillary told them they were already great.
But in the end, it didn’t matter that all the facts were on Hillary’s side. People were being driven by emotion, and what they wanted was someone to validate those emotions, to make their problems, real or imagined, to go away. They didn’t want someone to tell them they were wrong. They didn’t want someone to tell them the problems weren’t real or were drastically overblown. Trump played to their feelings, and he won the day by doing it. I saw this a while back, but I lost sight of it as Hillary trounced him in the debates. His utterly dismal performances, rambling incoherently in sentence fragments and run-ons, were at the time a relief to me, because I thought that it finally gave America the clear comparison that was needed. I thought, like Hillary and her campaign, that enough people would finally see him for what he was. But I underestimated the fervor of his supporters, even though I’d seen it with my own eyes.
I do not like how this looks for the future of American politics. This election has sent a terrible message. I has legitimized terrible tactics. The Senate’s strategy of stonewalling on judicial seats, including SCOTUS, until they get control has paid off bigger than they could ever have dared hoped. They’re strategy of obstructing, undermining, and sabotaging until they get control has given them control of all three branches of government. The strategy of fearmongering and deceit, of rallying support through spreading lies and stoking fires of anger and hatred, has won out over the strategy of facts and truth. Politics has always been dirty and ugly, but it has become even dirtier and uglier, and it’s only going to get worse before it gets better.
I agree unions are the only path forward, but I think that’s just another way of articulating the background problem.
Certainly the most damaging attacks on the union movement have come from management and Republicans, but if you want to build up a union now, you’re asking working class whites to team up with non-whites. Sometimes I think unionization is also the path to a more racially tolerant and just society, but right now it just looks to me like the union movement is dead in the water because white people (in large numbers) don’t want to cooperate with anyone else at any level.
I remember reading an article a while back (I forget where) that was mainly notable for using a different class descriptor in every paragraph, each to refer to the same demographic, in an obvious (and hilarious) effort to avoid using the term “working class”. There seems to be some strong aversion to the term in US discourse.
An alternative way of thinking about class that I got from John Michael Greer (in a blog post predicting a Trump victory back in January: Donald Trump and the Politics of Resentment, which is well worth reading IMHO) involves look at class based on how people earn their primary income. He identifies 4 main classes: Investment, Salary, Wage, and Welfare, although he does note that other classes exist. He also makes the point that the fortunes of the Wage class have suffered tremendously over the last few decades, largely to maintain the status of the Salary class, and that the resulting resentment is one of the key factors driving the rise of Trumpism. It all seems fairly reasonable to me, but then I’m a long way removed and have no direct knowledge of any of this.
No, that’s absolutely not the case. We definitely have a very significant portion of society who are middle class and proud of it.
I suspect that religion and faith may have also played a role — not just religion as religion, but sacred patriotism, too. My understanding is that the Religious Right vote was a huge factor, particularly Evangelicals. Most of them voted for Trump, and did so primarily because Trump promised to gut separation of church and state and, especially, roll back Roe v. Wade. He was going to “make America great again” — as one nation under God. This issue is simple and easily understood in a way economics and health care aren’t. And they touch the very heart of the identity of a person of faith.
People of faith really do believe in miracles — and simple answers to complex problems. God would not allow any situation to happen which can’t be solved by turning to God. This mindset is probably going to block out a lot of the logical, rational arguments about voting in your best interest. Your best interest is always aligned with God, who has a long track record of deliberately using sinners as trumpets for His will. It tests you.
The Vicar (via Freethoughtblogs) says
How about not passing NAFTA? (The Clintons thought it was great at the time, and only admitted in the last ten years that it was a mistake… IIRC, on this as with so many other issues, Bernie Sanders actually worked against it at the time, because unlike the Clintons he really is an intelligent, competent politician who cares about the country. It’s simply astonishing how many of the Clintons’ failures, which they claim nobody could possibly have foreseen because they didn’t foresee them, were passed despite Sanders being there giving spirited argument against them, making predictions which turned out to be spot-on about how they would fail.)
How about, after making a campaign promise to renegotiate NAFTA as Obama did, actually following through on it? (Rather than, you know, secretly promising the Canadians that that was an empty promise to give a false appearance of populism, which in fact happened. This problem is not limited to the Clintons.)
How about, after NAFTA turned out to be a disaster for unions and American manufacturing in general, not following it up by enthusiastically negotiating NAFTA-on-steroids trade agreements like the TPP and the (thankfully dead-in-the-water because at least the EU is sane) TTIP?
How about, after getting caught creating the TPP — Clinton was one of the people who wrote it, for crying out loud! — not continuing to try and push it through, as Obama has done continuously, election notwithstanding?
How about not telling your campaign that you have turned against the TPP purely to get the unions off your back, and that you already have plans for another reverse after the election?
Neil Rickert says
I disagree somewhat with your analysis.
The white middle class were union members. But those unions were hotbeds of racism. When the civil rights legislation of the 1960’s went into effect, there were efforts to break that union racism. And members of those racist unions were offended. Many of the union members moved to the Republican party (as “Reagan Democrats”), attracted by the “southern strategy” of the Republicans.
It isn’t that the Democrats abandoned the white middle class. It is more that the white middle class abandoned the Democrats. And then Democrat policy shifted somewhat to the right, because they could not win elections any other way given the loss of the white middle class vote.
So, sure, the white middle class has suffered badly. But that is largely because of their own choice to vote their racism rather than their economic interests.
Derek Vandivere, #6
It’s a bit more complicated than that. A lot of middle-class people in the UK are very comfortable describing themselves as middle-class, and it’s something a fair number of upwardly-mobile working-class people would aspire to. In the 80s and 90s we had a sitcom called “Keeping up appearances” which encapsulated the phenomenon quite well – it’s about a woman from a firmly working-class background who married a man with a low-level clerical job and is obsessed with appearing as middle-class as she can (her name is Hyacinth Bucket, which she insists is pronounced “bouquet”). Much of the humour arises from her firmly working-class sisters turning up and puncturing her pretentions. On the other hand such people are figures of fun for both sides of the class divide – comfortably middle-class people think they’re tasteless parvenus, working class people think they’re snobs with pretentions. There is also the classic John Cleese, Ronnie Barker and Ronnie Corbett class sketch, which shows the dynamic quite well. It’s a source of considerable social tension in our culture – to what extent one can and should move from one class to another has never been well defined. To add further complication, “middle class” is generally also divided into upper middle class (professionals – doctors, lawyers, teachers etc.) and lower-middle class (clerks, shopkeepers, business owners etc.), and in some ways that is the most important dividing line. Very wealthy businesspeople present something of a problem to our system, since they should be lower middle-class but have more wealth and power than even the upper class (the aristocracy).
The idea that redundant car factory workers would consider themselves “middle class” seems quite ridiculous to British sensibilities.
This was the same white middle class that supported Obama so to put support of Trump over Clinton down to racism seems a little simplistic.
Leo Buzalsky says
There seems to be a contradiction here…or at least comments that raise more questions than they address:
But Bernie Sanders tried to appeal to the white middle class. And Bernie didn’t really even get the support of the unions themselves. Why is that? Frankly, I am very skeptical about this notion that the Democrats being out-of-touch is that big of an issue (not saying it isn’t; just that it’s miniscule in the big picture). I think the bigotry and racism is much more concerning to, as PZ notes, the white middle class than unions or trade issues. And I’ll remain skeptical until someone can give me a convincing answer as to why these people that Dems are supposedly out of touch with would not support Bernie when he raised these issues. (Or am I mistaken in thinking Bernie raised such issues?)
There is quite a large majority of decent people in this country with decent values as demonstrated by Clinton’s popular vote win and the great support for Human Rights (LGBT, Women, etc.) The problem is they are split across two political parties. Attempts at unity through the Democrats and that has failed. it is time for Liberals to join the Republican party and make it again the party of Lincoln. If enough of us joined with like minded Republicans in their party we could have a real impact on who the winning candidates for office would be. We need to start at the State level, of course, and as more and more Liberals become Republicans the effects of gerrymandering become less and less.
PS: I realize this is impossible but it is no more unrealistic than a successful third party.
In Wisconsin, Republican Governor Walker has so pissed off the unions that I think it unlikely that anyone who considered strong unions an important issue voted Republican. A friend who was running as Democrat was backed by all the unions — and lost. Wisconsin, which is purple, turned bright red. And it was considered a critical state.
Why? I’m not sure. Many reasons, I’m sure. But in Walker’s Wisconsin, I doubt it had anything to do with unions switching sides. Their members and usual supporters may have, though — for other reasons.
slithey tove (twas brillig (stevem)) says
shit. my simplistic take was that it was all about “self”. Hillary worked throughout her career to help the downtrodden, etc. While the majority of voters were being pummeled by the free trade and tax breaks of the super wealthy, and the do nothing congress, that being SoS she was identified as an enabler. People saw her as wanting to help all the marginal cases while ignoring the problems faced by the vast majority. So lets vote for the worst possible who guarantees to wreck the entire system that was scewin us over.
don’t care if she helps the sick, elderly, poor, whatever. she won;t help the unemplyed middle who are struggling with under water mortgages and student debt ind insurance required for healthy people.
ugh. the list of complaints of the status quo is longer than those legendary emails she mythically deleted.
Drumph’s flaws irrelevant, system needs other than insiders. He’ll burn it to cinders. We’ll clean up after.
The Vicar (via Freethoughtblogs) says
…which means she is an incompetent, because she’s been doing nothing but politics for the last, what, 35 years? 40?, but she still can’t read the national mood, even to that extent?
“Why should I change my policies? I’m winning!” she told us when we asked her to take on more of Sanders’ platform.
Your eagerness to absolve her for her failings would be charming if her failings hadn’t just stuck us with Trump and/or Pence for a minimum of 4 years.
Haven’t you heard? The excuse the DNC is settling on to avoid blaming the Clintons or themselves is racism. Anyone who didn’t vote for Clinton, whether they voted for Obama or not, is a racist, because Clinton would have been a continuation of Obama, you see. (I wish this was a joke. But it’s what I’m seeing from the Clinton apologists right now, after they realized that a majority of white women voted for Trump, too, so they couldn’t keep calling it sexism. It is nevertheless true that although a majority of white people still voted for Trump, Trump still did worse with white people in general, with educated white people, with urban and suburban white people, and most particularly with young white people, than Mitt Romney did. It’s pretty much only among older white people and rural white people that Trump outperformed Romney.)
I disagree with the second part. She would have lost with a bigger margin against Ted Cruz or John Kasich or etc. I don’t think “blame” is the right word to use here but she was not the right candidate. She is far more competent than Trump for sure but competence along does not make one a good candidate. She did not have the charisma and she did not also have a message to energize her base. When you look at Trump for instance, he has a message and he has a narrative: America sucks, people in charge are stupid and they don’t know what they are doing, but I am going to make every thing great again. It is a silly message but it is a message. What did Hillary have in return? “I’m with Her” and “Stronger Together”. Those are not narratives, and they do not make any sense. Why should people be excited about making Hillary the first female president? And “Stronger together”? Stronger for what? To do what? What’s the point of being “stronger together”? I get that Hillary’s message is the more rational, more thoughtful, and the more realistic one. But it is also the more complicated, the harder to sell and the harder to package one as well.
These factors make her a bad candidate. While a lot of people voted for Trump because of racism or xenophobia, a lot of people also voted for him even though the did not like him. The fact that Hillary Clinton could not get the votes of people who don’t like Trump, says something about her being a bad candidate.
An interestingly different point of view. :)
Crazy as it may seem, Trump’s win may be a chance for the US to redeem. And for the world to heave a huge sigh of relief.
Personally l consider Trump even more dangerous than Clinton–and I considered her very dangerous–but the essay is interesting.
The Vicar (via Freethoughtblogs) says
@#31, slithey tove (twas brillig (stevem))
The problem with this is that Clinton was consistently on the wrong side when there were big issues involved. NAFTA? A Clinton measure. Welfare “reform”? Clintons actually campaigned on “the end of welfare as we know it”. War? Show me a single military action or spending bill from 1990 onward that Clinton opposed, even when she was not a Senator. TPP? She helped write it. Global warming? Hillary talked a good game now, but she and Bill were complicit in ignoring it in the 1990s, she’s been a big friend to the fossil fuel industry for decades, and every one of her appointees in her campaign was pro-fracking and/or anti-renewables.
Look, let’s take a quick parallel: if Henry Kissinger had started an orphanage in 1975 for Vietnamese and Cambodian war orphans, no sensible person would have said “this act which benefits a few hundred people wipes out all the evils he did to millions, the people of Vietnam and Cambodia should embrace him as a benefactor”. The Clintons have been making — to give them the benefit of the doubt — major screwups for a long, long time, which have harmed large segments of the U.S. population when they aren’t harming the entire world. To say that even their Foundation, which is the largest-scale thing they’ve been involved with (and is by no means the beacon of virtue that her apologists like to pretend it is) wipes out all that is just silly.
Paul Durrant says
Someone pointed me to the votes totals for recent presidential elections
The Republican vote has been pretty steady. The problem this year has been getting Democrat voters to actually get out an vote.
I am angry, but also deeply embarrassed to be an American today.
The infuriating element, for me personally, is the irrelevancy of fact in our society. Mexicans are rapists because the leader says so, climate change isn’t real. I have nothing to respond to this with but impotent rage.
I am going to abide within my anger and shame, I can think of no other way to endure what’s to come.
So sorry, everyone.
Silver Fox says
I agree with much of what you said. But, having also lived through my share of presidential elections, 12 to be exact, I worry about what will happen in two or four years time if Trump does not, or cannot, deliver on his promises. We saw with Obama how impatient the American electorate can be. Trump’s supporters will want to see immediate results. If nothing much changes by 2020 they will be desperately casting about for an alternative. Lets hope that does not come in brown shirts and jack boots
We all know that Trump cannot bring back the steel mills of western PA or the southern textile factories because of cheap Asian competition. If he tears up existing trade agreements and most favored nation arrangements and raises protectionist tariffs we will find ourselves in a trade war with China. This could cause a global recession and the loss of millions of jobs. Appalachian coal will never be booming again, not because of economic policies, but because of competition from natural gas. The Great Southern Wall will never be built and the population will continue to become browner, more Latino, more diverse. The climate will continue to warm, perhaps at an accelerated pace, causing more severe droughts and crop failures in the South and Plains states. Trump’s misogyny and putrid sexism will never be forgotten by young, millennial women unwilling to accept that “this is just how things are.”
At the same time the Dems will be seeking revenge. All of those people who sat out this election because of they viewed Trump and HRC as essentially equal in their awfulness will now see that the lesser of two evils is still the better choice. Elizabeth Warren could be the candidate in 2020. She would fire up the progressive wing and bring in young, liberal women.
I’d love to have more open dialog about unions. Heres the catch: dems keep blaming politicians, free trade, and business for the decline of unions, but I would suggest that unions can be their own worst enemy. I have been a member of four unions in my life, and without fail, each of those experiences were awful. Just awful. I wanted them to be good experiences, but they were not. Turns out, if you have a good union it’s great, but if you have a bad one – and as an organization that’s about power it’s succeptible – it’s awful. I want to be pro labor, but I’d love to hear new ideas about how to do it.
Paul Durrant #46 wrote:
This may be irrelevant, but in my (very small) circle of acquaintance I know or know of maybe 4 or 5 liberal Democrats who deliberately sat out the election because they both hated Trump and everything he represents … BUT wanted him to win.
Why? Because the entire American political and capitalist system is so broken, so biased, so bad, that it needs to be completely purged and replaced, not fixed a little bit by someone who is still part of that system. Wipe it clean and build a new one.
How? A people’s revolt. Things in the US have to get so bad that there’s just this groundswell of resentment and fury, an irresistible tide that sweeps over the establishment and puts honesty, compassion, and love back where it belongs. In other words, exactly what the Trump supporters thought they were doing, but from the other side. And Trump will do that — wreck things enough to get the public to wake up and be progressives.
When I argued that this could only come from a position of privilege (it won’t be you, but Other People whose lives will have to be sacrificed like broken eggs in a liberal omelet,) I was informed that no, the people who refused to vote for this rationale felt they were on the bottom and already had nothing to lose. All white and educated, but admittedly scrabbling pretty close to the bone, one might say. And concerned, of course, for the other poor folks like them, who hate Trump and everything he stands for — or soon will.
@ Paul Durrant, #36
Perhaps, but unless we know where the Democrat vote was most reduced its hard to say, Clinton won most of the big city areas in reliably Democrat-voting states where the population is highest, and this I suspect is why she appears to have won the popular vote. If a large number of those Democrat voters who did not vote this time are in some of those areas (like California, Illinois or New York), their vote would likely have made no difference to the overall result. On the other hand, if a lot of likely Democrat voters they sat it out in Pennsylvania, Michigan, Florida and Ohio, then its a definite problem. Having said that, I suspect that a problem in getting out the vote is closely linked to many of the other issues which will have had an effect – apathy, distrust of politics and politicians, and feelings of being disenfranchised (and actual disenfranchisement through gerrymandering) – are often cited as reasons for people not voting.
I found Frederik de Boer’s perspective in the Washington Post interesting.
I’m not sure whether he’s right that Sanders would have actually won as the Democrat’s candidate, however I have family in the Rust Belt and though they voted for Clinton, they say many of their neighbours were Sanders supporters who ultimately voted for Trump, citing the same issues which de Boer raises. On one of the British news programmes last week, Trump supporters were asked if there was anything that could persuade them to vote for Hilary. Some said they would do so “if she was Bernie Sanders”. Sound bites, sure, but interesting.
The way I’ve always understood it iis that “middle class” refers to the amount of money you make, while “working class” refers to the kind of job you have. They’re different classification systems altogether, not different levels in the same one. There’s lower-middle-upper for income, and then working class refers to blue/pink collar jobs while white collar is the one “above” that. Because I can guarantee you that, for instance, the contractor working on my house repairs makes a lot more money than I do as a teacher, so he’s probably upper middle class while I’m lower middle, but I’m white collar while he’s blue collar.
I always find it odd to watch British tv and hear “middle class” being said like it’s some kind of highfalutin’ thing, where as mentioned above, everyone in the US likes to call themselves middle class because the only option below that is “poor”. And nobody likes to think of thesmelves as poor. Interestingly, people who are wealthy in absolute terms also like to call themselves middle class, because they think that you only end up “upper class” if you live like the Kardashians or something.
What a Maroon, living up to the 'nym says
There was a ballot question in Virginia that would have enshrined our “right-to-work” (i.e., anti-union) laws in the state Constitution. The unions campaigned heavily against it, and it was defeated by a margin slightly greater than the margin of victory for Clinton. I’d be interested in seeing the correlation between the two votes; I suspect that a lot of the white working class Trumpkins voted for the question, but I don’t have any data to back that up.
I did see that in my county, Clinton won by a huge margin (no surprise there) while the question lost by a somewhat smaller (but still large) margin.
Chris Young says
Here’s what I think should happen. I feel the time has come for a very targeted movement, which I’m calling the Majority Movement. This movement should be organized around the single principle that our leaders should be chosen by the majority. And I include in this our legislative leaders, as well as our president.
These should be the immediate goals:
1. The full enactment of the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact.
2. The elimination of gerrymandering at both the state and national levels. (This should not be mistaken for the replacement of Republican gerrymandering with Democratic gerrymandering. We should not support that. It would undermine our legitimacy.)
3. Ensuring a Democratic wave election in 2018 in Congress, state legislatures, and state governors’ offices. (The last two are vital, not after-thoughts. The are equally as important as Congress.)
4. With a congressional majority in 2019, stop our minority president in every possible way legislatively. No compromise. Period.
5. Encourage the consistent use of the term “minority president”. When asked for an explanation, stress that we believe that he is legally the president but has zero mandate to do anything. The people have spoken. And they did not choose him.
Lynna, OM says
Cross posted from the Moments of Political Madness thread.
Repetition works. Repeated lies from the rightwing became the “truth” about Hillary Clinton.
Here are some quotes from voters who are not economically stressed, and not under-educated:
New Yorker link
Read more: http://freethoughtblogs.com/pharyngula/2016/11/05/discuss-moments-of-political-madness-6/#ixzz4Pce33Ee6
Lynna, OM says
On the issue of the part misogyny played: Being White and Male Counts for More Than Intelligence, Grace or Decency
The excerpt is from a longer article that is worth reading in its entirety.
slithey tove (twas brillig (stevem)) says
I guess the revolution is a “grassroots” kinda thing (ie grassroots will rise to fix the forkkup Drumph provides). Government of all affiliations are too embedded. Some like to address the marginal groups of poverty and oppression, saying the middle ‘can take care of themselves’, the other affiliations address the other marginal group of super wealthy paranoid hoarders who think all the poverty scum are out to steal their hard earned inherited wealth. While the majority group in between is being hammered from both sides.
ugh, I seem to be starting to lean that way myself, *smack*
slithey tove (twas brillig (stevem)) says
whatever happened to “Think global, act local“??
Seems the Dems have dropped the second half of that expression.
Thomas Frank explained why this election was fated to end as it has. “Listen up Liberal” should be mandatory reading. http://listenliberal.com/
What a Maroon, living up to the 'nym says
I’ve been thinking a bit about how Trump’s constant interruptions during the debates were perceived by his voters. Most of us saw them as obnoxious, overbearing, patronizing, sexist, and just rude, but I have the feeling that every time he said “Wrong” or “such a nasty women” his supporters were thinking, “Yeah, he put that b—- in her place!”
SC (Salty Current) says
The Gallup word clouds in this article are so telling.
Oh, I blame Stein. After sitting at Putin’s table at a gala RT dinner in December, she spent months spouting Trumpist/Putinist rhetoric, including lies about Clinton. She became a mouthpiece for Trump in the guise of a leftist. She defines “useful idiot.”
As to unions… Yes, they’re important going forward. But they have to start to look very different (some of them already do). Not only do they have to be more diverse coalitions and start to look more like and connect with social movements domestically, they have to develop strong relationships with unions and popular movements in the “Global South” and in Europe. We need to reclaim the “globalist” label from the far-Right’s depiction of internationalism being a project of shadowy elites and make it, in practice and in the way we talk about it, a popular project of workers and communities forming ties across borders. This means forming links to unions and movements in Latin America especially, but also in Palestine, Rojava, Greece, France,…
This is something Bernie Sanders’ campaign rarely if ever encouraged. His campaign was populist, but it was always pretty nationalist. When asked by Fusion* about Latin America (framed in terms of the “dangers” of populist governments there and if he’s concerned about similar outcomes here), he responded that he really knows little about the region and so couldn’t provide an intelligent answer. That’s just astonishing for someone who’s been a leftist politician for as long as he has, and points to a serious problem.
Of course it’s expected that a presidential candidate would talk about “American jobs” and “American workers,” but there’s no reason that can’t be in the context of a vision for popular activism that crosses borders and recognizes the global struggle. At this point, it’s urgent. For all of the alleged anti-globalism of the Right, Trumpism-Bannonism-Putinism is aggressively and self-consciously globalist, and is working to form global networks of parties, movements, and media (as did, for example, Nazism and Francoism in the 1930s, with great success).
Generally, as a whole, the Democrats have been terrible when it comes to supporting the Left in Latin America. In fact, foreign policy for decades has been largely bipartisan (what will happen to that under a Trump administration – can’t believe I have to type those tragic words – remains to be seen, but it will undoubtedly be even worse). The Democrats, despite rhetoric about new relationships with countries in the region, have relentlessly continued to stick with the policies of undermining democratically elected governments, political and economic sabotage, support for rightwing movements and coups, delegitimizing democracy, and media disinformation campaigns (which the mainstream media are all too happy to go along with). Just the other day, you could read this article about the State Department’s response to the Nicaraguan election. These statements are boilerplate and you can fill in the name of whatever government or leader is seen as insufficiently compliant or too far to the left for “US interests.” The facts of the matter in any specific case – the president’s authoritarianism, the level of corruption, the freedom and fairness of the election process – are irrelevant to their statements or actions. Zelaya was to the Right of Sanders, but he had to be overthrown, so overthrown he was, which brought in a hugely corrupt, viciously violent and oppressive regime that the Obama administration calls democratic and whose police and military they support.
The consequences of this interference and rhetoric are immense. Millions of people have suffered and died, often through almost indescribable violence perpetrated by people trained by the US. Leftwing movements have been destroyed or set back decades. Progressive governance has been made nearly impossible (which the State department and the media then point to as an inherent incapacity for stable democracy in the region). Potential allies for Democrats in the US are harmed and pushed away, leading the Democrats in the US to be ever more isolated. Populations in countries whose democracy has been targeted come to hate the US and its meddling. Desperate people flee their countries and come to the US, only to be treated with disgusting callousness and exploited by the Right. The far-Right in the US and in other countries like Russia successfully turn these same tools on Democratic administrations and candidacies here, as we’ve seen in this election and for several years before. It’s absolutely no surprise that what the Republican Party have done to the Democrats in the US looks a lot like what both Republican and Democratic administrations and congresses have done in Venezuela and elsewhere, and it’s right to ask how it feels now that it’s all come back to haunt them. There’s no schadenfreude, though, since the worst consequences will fall not on Democratic politicians or the foreign policy and intelligence establishment but on precarious workers, poor people, women, LGBT people, racial and religious minorities, other animals, and those most affected by global warming. Imperialism always has domestic effects that favor the Right in many and often drastic ways, and it’s exactly what’s been happening in the US now.
Leftwing movements have to work to push the Democrats away from neoliberalism and neoliberal rhetoric. Trump and Bannon have been able to convince millions of people that the problem is a globalist cabal or “elite establishment” that they somehow oppose on behalf of US workers. It’s all a giant con, of course, as anyone paying attention to Trump’s policies and plans, his and his movement’s financial backers, the hypercapitalist statements of his advisors, and the Republicans’ platform and economic policies could have recognized long ago. His supporters are in for a rude awakening. But they succeeded because the Democrats have overall tried to convince people that neoliberalism is or could ever be compatible with social justice and progressive policies.
The answer for the US Left is to fight “anti-globalism” with real, popular globalism; to resist overt and covert imperialism with global solidarity; and to help people to understand that far-Right anti-globalism is really a globalism of socially reactionary capitalists who will further entrench the power of capital.
* I’m hugely suspicious of Fusion’s “reporting” about Venezuela. From what I’m read in my quick search, much of the staff are not-especially-qualified rich young Colombian guys, so that could be part of the explanation, but it’s strange given that much of their other coverage is fairly progressive.
Greg Hunter says
I think I have broken the code on Free Trade as it is a way to structure Global Laws without fighting the “Trilateral Commission” or the UN crazy scenarios. The problem with these laws is that Democrats nor Republicans are fighting to put “American Values” in these agreements when we had the power to do so. There could have been land conservation, religious liberty (Separation American Style where the FSM is as legit as the Pope) and worker protections.
We abdicated that power and it came back to bite the purveyors of this crap.
“Oh, I blame Stein.”
Absolutely. In the key state of Michigan, Trump won by a little over 13,000 votes (out of 4.8 million.) Stein got over 50,000 votes. Between her and Johnson, the effects of the third party candidates were similar in Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, and Florida.
And no one blames the archaic Electoral College, which gives us a Republican second place finisher for the second time in five elections? What other country declares the second place finisher the winner?
SC (Salty Current) says
Two follow-up points to my comment @ #51:
Potential allies for Democrats in the US are harmed and pushed away, leading the Democrats in the US to be ever more isolated. Populations in countries whose democracy has been targeted come to hate the US and its meddling.
It was little discussed or analyzed when the Ecuadorean embassy blocked Assange’s internet access in October. Their official explanation: “The foreign ministry said that while it stands by its 2012 decision to grant Assange asylum based on legitimate concerns he faces political persecution, it respects other nations’ sovereignty and doesn’t interfere or support any candidate in foreign elections.” Virtually no one in the media paid the slightest attention to these words, as they preferred to speculate about pressure from or a deal with the Obama administration. That could in fact be true, but it’s not incompatible with the principle of respect for sovereignty and non-interference being a primary motivation for the decision. The government has very good reason to hold to and proclaim that principle, given the endless interference of the US government and media in their political process.
Democratic leaders and the US media will very likely not learn the lesson they should about the effects of their interference in Latin American and Caribbean not only on the people in those countries but on themselves and the US Left on their own. It remains for leftwing movements to fight for a leftwing globalism and to push hard to get the truth out.
Zelaya was to the Right of Sanders, but he had to be overthrown, so overthrown he was, which brought in a hugely corrupt, viciously violent and oppressive regime that the Obama administration calls democratic and whose police and military they support.
And here’s an article from today, about the country’s corrupt “president” trying to override term limits. Infuriatingly, the article, like so many before it and no doubt virtually all to come, repeats the coup regime’s and US State Department’s lie (which Clinton and Obama knew to be a lie when they promoted it) that “A previous president, Manuel Zelaya, was ousted in 2009 after he tried to hold a non-binding referendum on ending the one-term limit.”
What a Maroon, living up to the 'nym says
Derek Thompson at The Atlantic makes the case that Trump’s win was not the result of a working-class revolt:
He links to Cleo Abram to substantiate his claims.
But those stats aren’t broken down by race or ethnicity, so have one of these with your stats.
“And nobody likes to think of thesmelves as poor.”
This isn’t universal, which goes some way to explaining the differences in usage. Americans don’t like to think of themselves as “poor” because they live in a culture that devalues and dehumanises poor people as stupid losers who didn’t work hard enough to achieve the American Dream. There is often very little solidarity with or amongst poor Americans (because as you point out, none of them want to think they belong to that group).
Whereas elsewhere poor people haven’t necessarily internalised that sort of attitude and are more prepared to accept their poverty as a systemic issue that doesn’t constitute a mark against their integrity or worth as a person.
The “desolidarisation” of the working poor has been one of the major propaganda victories of US capitalism.
Okay, I just checked this: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_Senate_elections,_2018
This is bad news:
So, Democrats have to gain at least 6 seats which is pretty much impossible given the states that are up. Republicans are going to have the Senate majority for the whole time Trump is president. Fuck it.
SC (Salty Current) says
consciousness razor wrote several in-depth comments about it on the Moments of Political Madness thread several days ago.
Trump called the electoral college a disaster in 2012. (Even though Obama, it turned out, won both the popular and the EC vote). I believe he said similar things in 2000, before he learned that Gore had won the popular vote.
Duth Olec says
Just want to pop in and say that if someone blames a third-party candidate they should also blame lack of ranked choice voting so hooray for Maine?
Regarding comment 57, when is the last time there have been more Republican seats up for election that Democrat? Maybe I’m remembering wrong, but it seems like every election it’s all “republicans have more chances for gains”. Also on behalf of Indiana I apologize in advance for the loss of a Senate seat in 2018.
SC (Salty Current) says
Same at the Guardian – “White and wealthy voters gave victory to Donald Trump.”
SC (Salty Current) says
The Vicar (this will be my only response to you, since I consider you a waste of time and think people like you are a part, if a small one, of what got Trump elected):
That’s a terrifically foolish comment.
SC (Salty Current) says
Income-group figures here. (As he points out below, there was a swing in the lower income groups from Obama to Trump, but still a ~10% edge for Clinton in these categories.)
Jeff W says
Vicar, thanks for your many comments (on this thread and many others). I am in complete agreement.
Vicar at #18
True—the more insidious part about that, as Greenwald points out, is that the idea that there is no obvious quid pro quo for this buying of influence is exactly the same argument advanced in Citizens United. And Hillary Clinton and Democratic partisans were using that argument to defend the actions of the Clintons (or Hillary Clinton in taking enormous sums of money from Wall Street for speeches). That Hillary Clinton is unprincipled is one thing—that she appears to be absolutely oblivious as to how unprincipled she is is quite another.
lothaloo at #33
Those slogans are not only vapid and meaningless, they signal an establishment politician who thinks the electorate will fall for—yet again—vapid, meaningless slogans. And for a country that has experienced 30 years of economic dislocation and rising inequality, it seems that a good portion of the electorate wanted something else. See this video by [Bernie Sanders supporter] Kyle Kulinski of Secular Talk who makes the same point that you do (as well as others). He answers the question of what Clinton did wrong with the answer “everything.”
And while Clinton was all about “competence,” it takes a peculiar kind of anti-competence for a candidate—with the entire Democratic establishment and much of the Republican establishment behind her—to lose an election against someone who had, demonstrably, the highest unfavorable ratings of any Presidential candidate in history. Sure, there is plenty of blame to go around and Hillary Clinton, who is, inarguably, responsible for her campaign—a campaign based largely on how competent the candidate is—certainly deserves her share of it.
rupicola at #42
This comment at Naked Capitalism says exactly the same thing:
SC (Salty Current) says
How bizarre that I couldn’t find Comey or the FBI anywhere in this discussion, an the only time Putin was mentioned it was by me.
SC (Salty Current) says
Unlike substantive, meaningful ones like “Make America Great Again.”
Rowan vet-tech says
The trump followers are definitely feeling emboldened. Just got in an argument with someone who, without irony, claimed that calling people out on bigotry is ‘fascist’, and that there should be NO consequences for free speech.
It is not about being substantive. It is about having a narrative. Trump’s narrative is that “America sucks and the leaders are clueless and I am going to make it great again because I’m the best”. No matter what you think about that, it is a narrative, because I just described it as such. What was Hillary’s narrative and how does “I’m with her” tie to that narrative? The only narrative that comes from it is the arrogant sounding narrative of “Make me the first female president of USA.”
What a Maroon, living up to the 'nym says
I’ll just leave this here: https://twitter.com/i/moments/796417517157830656
Very depressing and don’t click if you don’t want to see a whole bunch of racist/sexist attacks encouraged by the recent orange victory.
SC (Salty Current) says
“Stronger Together” is part of a narrative. It’s a clear statement of opposition to the divisive and reactionary dog-whistling and crisis-mongering of MAGA, and was expanded on in her speeches as well as those of her surrogates. “My opponent has argued that we’re greater if we subjugate or expel minorities and women and return to past hierarchies and hatreds. But the country has been improving and moving forward because under Obama people have worked together, and my administration will build on that.” That’s the narrative, whether you agree with it or not. I get that you strongly want to keep dwelling on the same tired argument, though, so I’ll proceed to ignore you while you get it out of your system.
SC (Salty Current) says
Sorry, lotharloo @ #67 – I thought that was Jeff W responding to me. Ignore the latter part of my comment.
SC (Salty Current) says
Well, now I’m crying. I’ve been reading similar things on Twitter. We have to come together and fight this.
SC (Salty Current) says
OK, after staying away from news and political discussions as much as I could yesterday, I think I’ve already seen and read too much today. This is the biggest political disaster to happen in our lifetimes. More and more terrifying aspects keep emerging. I’m realizing that I need to take it more slowly so as not to be overwhelmed.
Yes, true, that’s a narrative.
SC (Salty Current) says
Is this a serious question? The absolute worst part of this for me, and which makes me cry every tie I try to articulate it, is that I keep imagining that if some things had gone differently and the election went the other way, we would have awakened yesterday to the realization that we’d elected the first woman president of the US – a woman as the most powerful person in the world. In addition to all of the other domestic projects and policies she supported to help and protect people, it would have inspired girls and women around the world, led more women to go into politics, helped boys and men to recognize women as equals and potential leaders, marginalized the misogynists to some extent, meant the continuation of funding for Planned Parenthood, increased the chance that women would get equal pay and families decent childcare, protected and expanded reproductive rights, and helped to increase awareness of and protections against harassment, discrimination, and violence against women. It would have shown girls that they’re valued by their country, which chose a woman over a sexual predator.
The country elected the opposite. Trump and his allies and followers send the opposite message and will pursue the opposite path. It was a stark choice, between day and night, and it’s going to be a long night.
I’m a long time lurker around Pharyngula and I’ve read the comments quite a bit and occasionally I’ve had the urge to register and join the discussion. This time it became overwhelming.
I however don’t have the damn words. I clicked the link. I saw what was behind it. And I’m at a complete loss.
I’m not an american, I want to tell every american who isn’t a white cis-het male racist and misogynist that I’m sorry, I want to tell them they have my symphaties. That feels and is completely hollow, I know. There isn’t much I can do, and I just don’t even have the words. I’m not even sure the words exists.
Day fucking 1. And It’s not going to get better is it?
SC (Salty Current) says
I logged out, but someone just sent me this so I logged back in to share it. (He’s Jesusy, but the sentiments are the same.) It’s going to be a process. Logging out again.
Duth Olec says
Comment 68: Um- oh. Wow, why did I think the Democrats had the Senate and Republicans the House? Did I not pay any attention to the 2014 midterm elections or something??
Chris Capoccia says
“racism” is too simple of an answer. whites voted Trump at almost the same rate as they voted Romney in 2012. The big change was fewer votes for Dems from blacks and Hispanics. http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2016/11/09/behind-trumps-victory-divisions-by-race-gender-education/
Infrequent poster, but I’ve been wanting to get something off my “blue” chest the last few days. I truly think Hillary’s loss is being over-analyzed. Sure, one can say that it was racism, sexism, the failure of the Democratic Party to evolve, and any other number of things. We can all point to a bevy of examples purporting to tout the position that racism, sexism, and other handicaps are alive and well in this country. There is no doubt, these things are prevalent and damaging to our country. That’s not why Hillary lost the election, though.
The truth is that Hillary had less charisma than Trump. It’s plain and simple. Sure, many dyed-in-the-wool Democrats were going to vote for her, just as many dyed-in-the-wool Republicans were going to vote for Trump. That’s no mystery. If you’re a Democrat, of course you were going to vote for her. The issue was her getting people excited about getting out to vote for her.
I’m in the reddest state imaginable (Mississippi), and when Obama was running in 2008 and 2012, we knew the sea of red would overwhelm us. Nonetheless, Obama stickers were on the back of cars. People had yard signs out. At my local polling location, supporters of both parties came out in droves and waved signs and posters from whatever the legal distance was. People were intense, excited, and optimistic because Obama inspired them. That was in Mississippi! We were destroyed here, but were enthused anyway. This year? An alien from another planet would not know there was an election happening if he simply had to go by the landscape of my immediate area.
I’m not saying Obama’s politics were deserving of that, or that Hillary’s were better or worse. What I’m saying is that he motivated people and ran a campaign that mobilized his base. Hillary simply didn’t do that. Her platform revolved around “Not Trump.” Was that good enough for me? Sure. It wasn’t good enough for a lot of people, though. Was Trump rhetorical, disgusting, loud, and thuggish? Absolutely. Was he everything that disgusted me and most other members here? Without a doubt. When people are hungry, haven’t had a job in years, and can’t get out of the rut they’re in, I think they start to look past those things. They’re willing to sacrifice certain ethics in the hope that they’ll once again be able to put food on the table. In some ways, who can blame them, right?
Call it racism, sexism, or any of the above, that is not why Hillary lost. She lost because she lacked character, enthusiasm, and the ability to connect with voters. No matter how bad a politician’s politics are, what kind of person they purport to be, there is a certain “personality” that wins votes. Bill Clinton had it. Barack Obama had it. Ronald Reagan had it. And, let me throw up in my mouth a little bit, Trump had it too.
I cannot stress enough that this isn’t about liking Trump’s politics or disliking Hillary’s and all the *perceived* baggage that comes with it. In a tight race, it has always come down to charisma and mobilization. Even I, a fervent Democrat, looked at my ballot the other day and said to myself, “Really? This is really all I’ve got to choose from? I am so disappointed!” I didn’t think that because she was a woman, because I was racist, or anything else. I simply felt like neither candidate inspired me in the slightest. I showed up simply to do my civic duty, but I held my nose when I did it.
Imagine how someone “in the middle” felt. They probably showed up and said, “You know what? Screw it. I’m doing something different this year. I’m tired of this shit.” That’s why Hillary lost. It wasn’t about anything other than the American people’s distrust of her (however merited) and their ability to think, “At least I can laugh at Trump.” I’m not saying it’s an intelligent standpoint, or that I recommend it. It’s just the way people feel.
Let’s also not forget that Hillary’s Vice President nominee was so boring that he made Mitt Romney look like Entertainer of the Year. Seriously. She could have picked Bernie or Elizabeth Warren and there would have been so much more momentum given. She ran a terrible campaign, was boring, and did not resonate with voters. Surround that with manufactured scandals in the news, and she was a recipe for losing.
@ SC #77 – Yes, that’s it, that’s *exactly* how I felt yesterday morning. I thought maybe this country was making progress; now I don’t know who to trust. And I’m not just fearful of the Trump supporters – the thread yesterday opened my eyes to how much hate can be on the left as well, and that’s just hate for each other, trying to throw blame on Clinton or Sanders or Stein supporters. Sad, sad, sad.
The one thing that gives me hope is that many voted for Trump because they were desperate and felt disenfranchised. That’s a problem we can fix a heck of a lot easier than bigotry, and it’s also a heck of a lot less scary than bigotry.
Pierce R. Butler says
Please allow me to repeat an unanswered question from the previous thread, as it seems more apropos here:
One of the last straws I clung to as the polls went backwards in the last several days was the claim that the Democrats had an extensive get-out-the-vote operation while Trump had none. In hindsight, obviously that was wrong both ways. Again, a request for link(s): what happened?
Lynna, OM says
Over 90 million eligible voters did not vote in the 2016 presidential election. Or to put that another way, 43.2 percent did not vote, and 56.8% did vote.
Of those that did vote, Hillary Clinton got 47.7% of the vote and Trump got 47.5 %. The numbers so far: 60,071,781 for Clinton; 59, 791,135 for Trump.
Another way to look at this is that Trump won the presidency with a bit over 1/4 of the eligible vote.
One point I have not seen addressed anywhere yet.
During the nominating process, independent voters were not allowed to vote in some states because of closed primaries. They were told repeatedly by Democrats that the parties were private so they could set the rules for choosing the nominee. If independents wanted to vote, they should join one of the two major parties.
After Clinton was nominated, however, independents (I remember a figure that they were 44 percent of the voting population) were told had no choice but to support Clinton despite having had no say in choosing her (or Trump). Now they’re being blamed because they did not vote for a candidate that, for many, was obviously not someone they would have supported if allowed to participate in the nomination.
The parties and their pundit mouthpieces can’t have it both ways. Open the primaries to everyone, in which case independents will have a role in picking a nominee, a nominee that will likely be much stronger politically for being a genuine choice of a larger group within the general population. Otherwise, shut up about independents not backing someone in a “private” nomination process. They had every right to choose whatever party and candidate they wanted, including third party. Neither the Democrats nor the Reptilians have any right to someone’s vote and no right to criticize third-party voters.
consciousness razor says
Hold on. I have a right to criticize anybody. So what are you saying?
I agree that closed primaries are stupid. Don’t know what that has to do with any of your complaints.
Nobody told them this. You had a choice to pick any candidate you like, whether as a third party candidate or a write-in. That was your choice and you had it. But it would be bad to choose anyone other than Clinton, because that gives Trump an advantage.
You also had a choice in the primaries to choose someone other than Clinton. I don’t know where you think you get all of these pseudo-facts, but they simply aren’t true.
They were allowed to participate, even in closed primaries by registering as a Democrat. It’s fucking stupid, but it has no real consequence and is certainly something they were allowed to do.
What are you saying? Were they voting in a way which gave Trump an advantage over Clinton? Yes? I will blame them for that, because Trump is the worst kind of asshole. The stupid way in which primaries are conducted has nothing to do with that. The fact that Clinton wasn’t my first choice or the first choice of many other people also has nothing to do with that. We weren’t having a primary on Tuesday, so you should get over it and think about the choice which is actually in front of you. You make the wrong choice, then yes I will criticize for you making that choice.
Ariaflame, BSc, BF, PhD says
They have the right to choose whatever party. But if they start complaining about how bad it is under Trump then the amount of sympathy I have for them is practically nil.
Bringing manufacturing back to the rust belt is tough, but is it feasible for tech companies (google etc) to invest there? I’d think that would make the culture more progressive, no?
I posted the following elsewhere, on impulse, and I’m posting it again here because it has a better chance of getting properly picked apart here:
“Ok, time to make everyone hate me again.
“The Democrats very solidly lost the working class white vote this year, and it’s time to examine why. Part of it is because there was clearly a lot of feeling from working class whites that the government wasn’t looking out for them, but another part was because Trump was able to channel white racial fears to his favor.
“I bet a lot of you fellow liberals are feeling pissed off at white people right now. You shouldn’t be. Racism is really complicated, and, frankly, we progressives fucked up big time in how we’ve been handling it.
“It all comes back to the word “privilege”. We’ve been using it wrong–but not how you probably think. If you’ve studied the issue at all, you’ve probably heard an argument that goes something like this: “How can I, a poor white person, have white privilege?” And you rolled your eyes because, duh, that person doesn’t understand what privilege means.
“White privilege isn’t about actual wealth and success”, you, my handy straw liberal, reply, “It’s the inverse of oppression: It’s all the ways the system favors white people over people of color. It’s the prejudice you DON’T face.”
“And, hey, you’re technically right. White privilege is the sneaky sister of racism that helps keep those benefiting from it blind to the systemic inequality that actually exist. There’s also male privilege, straight privilege, able-bodied privilege, cisgender privilege, and the list goes on.
“Here’s the one that we missed, and where we fucked up: We keep ignoring class privilege.
“Don’t believe me? Here’s an example: If you were to call a middle to upper class white person “white trash” or “cracker”, he’d just look at you funny. Say that to a poor white person though? Yeah, those words are gonna sting a little harder.
“The message we’ve been giving poor white people for years is that we only care about SOME of the people the system is f*****g over, and definitely not them. Because, you know, racism is bad, but apparently it’s just fine to call some rural white dude “trailer trash” and insinuate he’s inbred and rapes hikers. Even if he fully understands what progressives mean when we talk about privilege, why the f**k should he care?
“If you look at how racism works, historically, you’ll see that it’s just as much about controlling poor white people as it is about oppressing people of color. If you have any doubt, look at how masterfully Trump used racism in this election. It was a deliberate strategy, and it worked. He got working class white people to believe he cares about them, when they’re feeling like no one does.
“Of course, that was some very dark power Trump played with–something we’ve spent generations trying to bury, and which has now been brought to the surface. And it’s going to get ugly.
“But there’s good news: political correctness is dead, and good riddance. Now that the dog-whistling mask has been ripped off racism, we have the chance to confront it head on, and do what our forefathers couldn’t: destroy it once and for all.
“But to do that, we have to reach out to white people–especially poor white people. Racism the enemy, not them. The fight to end racism is a fight to end needless division–if we’re not doing that, we’re doing it wrong.”
Did the Left in general abandon the white working class? A common theme on blogs committed to social justice is white male privilege. Doesn’t that rhetoric alienate those whose interests the Left historically tried to protect? We all agree that black lives matter. In middle America where a factory worker loses his job overseas is also probably asking “do white working class lives matter?”. Did they see the Left snubbing them and thus they turned to the far right and voted for Trump?
I’m seeing a consensus emerging in the analysis of this election that what happened was a result of the rust belt, of middle America, giving the finger to the Establishment. That they had been seeing their jobs, their towns, their way of life disappear thanks to a government that had abandoned them.
I want to consider a few things.
First, in every election during Obama’s terms, they elected rightwing congressmen to upend the system. The Tea Party. And as Congress got redder, it stymied Obama more and more. We all remember how they shut down the government in an attempt to destroy healthcare – a widely, bipartisan unpopular move. As they sent these men to washington, Middle America’s outcome got worse.
Second, thanks to Bernie, Clinton had the most progressive platform ever. Policies such as the minimum wage increase, real healthcare etc.
Under this narrative, Middle America rejected the woman with the plan to help them, under the legacy of the System-burner Bernie, in favor of a man representing the Party that had increasingly screwed them over 8 years, and was a member of that same Elite, who had built on empire on fucking over the common man. Seems unlikely.
Consider this. There are two types of people.
One, like myself and pretty much everyone I’m friends with, the liberals, believe in the value of everyone’s lives. We see moral rectitude in increasing the outcomes of everyone. If we’re happy, we’re happy; if someone else is happy, good for them; if we help them become happy, then we are Moral. Our goal is to make life great for EVERYONE.
Then there are people who need to be on top of the People Heap. Who believe that outcomes are a reflection of one’s moral worthiness. If one person has an outcome worse than another, it is because of the former’s moral turpitude and the latter’s moral rectitude. These are people who will harm themselves in order to harm another person more, and whose greatest terror is that they are no better than anyone else. The more people they can throw underneath them – POC, gay people, religious minorities, you know the drill – then the higher they are on the People Heap and the more morally righteous they are.
Consider that this election is exactly what it looked like: An America composed of far more of the second type of people than we thought, whose idea of greatness is pillaging, persecution and genocide, of the PURITY of the dominant race/religion/gender.
I don’t think it is possible to reconcile this fundamental difference of worldviews. One will win, or the other. I intend to do what I can to make it ours.
SC (Salty Current) says
A good deal of evidence has been adduced (some on this thread, but the vast majority on the MoPM thread) that these claims are wrong.
– Clinton won the popular vote. By definition, this means she was more popular among voters. Trump’s victory in the deciding swing states was tiny.
– Clinton’s campaign was fine. She suffered from media coverage that gave vast amounts of often uncritical attention to Trump and focused relentlessly on the bullshit email and foundation “scandals” blown ridiculously out of proportion and often presented dishonestly.
– The media virtually refused to talk about her concrete policy proposals, which she loved to discuss in detail (she was criticized for this, too), or the Democratic platform, which was the most progressive ever, in large part due to Sanders. They also refused to focus on Trump’s policy proposals – his utter lack of knowledge or competence, the fact that his promises are based on bogus claims about the current situation, the incoherence and inconsistency of his policy statements, or the fact that his actual plans are not at all populist and would have nothing like the effects promised.
– The media did not address his or his surrogates’ endless, relentless lies about everything, including Clinton. (In their defense, a candidate this mendacious is totally unprecedented, but some print journalists like Daniel Dale kept the focus on it, only to be virtually ignored on television.)
– The media never hammered home Trump’s pattern of fraud, corruption, failure, self-dealing at others’ expense, and global financial debts and entanglements. Many journalists exposed these stories, but TV news either ignored them or reported and then forgot about them. They never became a narrative.
– Many in the media tried to spin even Clinton’s successes – like in the three debates, which polls showed she won decisively – as successes for Trump.
– The Kremlin fucking interfered in the election by stealing information and using WikiLeaks to pass it on, as well as organizing a disinformation campaign on social media. Even though there was strikingly little to be found amongst the tens of thousands of emails stolen and published, the media and many US leftists (including Jill Stein) helped them out by repeating and embellishing their propaganda.
– James Comey was played by an anti-Clinton contingent in the FBI and dogged persecutors in the House to act in a completely unprecedented manner highly prejudicial to Clinton.
– The Trump campaign played the same game as the Kremlin and the FBI contingent.
– Anthony Goddamn Weiner.
– The media, amazingly, focused little on the Trump campaign’s statements or actions toward Putin, or his or his campaign’s connections to the Kremlin, despite obvious evidence.
– Racism, sexism, misogyny, xenophobia, Islamophobia, anti-Semitism. Even if people don’t consciously share these attitudes, the most cursory examination of Trump’s statements and policy proposals over the course of the campaign (not to mention the AH footage) showed him to be a proud and unrepentant bigot, scapegoater, and misogynist. He’s been consistently supported by white supremacists. If people voted for him or declined to vote for Clinton against him despite this, it’s an expression of or at best complicity with these attitudes. Also, many men (and some women) who voted for Obama are simply unwilling to vote for a woman for president.
– There’s been a heavily funded propaganda war against the Clintons since the 1990s, which has instilled in many people the belief that she’s inherently and especially deceitful and corrupt (rather than typically deceitful and corrupt, which she is – unlike Trump, who takes corruption to another level entirely). Clinton can only do so much to dispel these notions and fight the double standard; in this case, as I said, the media was far too willing to play along.
– In contrast, Trump is none of the things he’s claimed to be: philanthropic, an outsider, “self-made,” successful in business, honest, civic-minded, anti-corruption, a plain talker, a champion of the people against special interests, a scourge of the elites… He’s a deceitful demagogue. But once again the media generally failed to accurately portray the reality.
– The media paid little attention to the Trump campaign’s financiers.
– The media paid insufficient (to put it mildly) attention to Trump’s ignorance of and disdain for the Constitution, including (incredibly) his attacks on press freedom.
– Likeability, favorability, and trustworthiness were weaponized against Clinton by the media in ways that ignored or distorted the empirical reality and became a self-fulfilling prophecy. They almost never talked to enthusiastic Clinton supporters/voters and drilled away at the “enthusiasm gap,” even as it closed.
– The Republican Party and their financial backers and propagandists have engaged (I’ll have more to say about this soon) in a long campaign of polarization, obstruction, and crisis-fomenting which has undermined the ability of government to function and faith in public policy.
– The Republican Party has long engaged in voter suppression efforts, and was rewarded by the Supreme Court with the destruction of the Voting Rights Act. This was the first election without the VRA in place, and racist voter suppression was the result.
– The vast majority of Republicans showed no backbone or conscience in their response to Trump.
– The majority of the most desperate, poorest, and most marginalized people voted for Clinton. Trump’s support came from majorities among relatively better-off white people, especially men. As usual, the white “little man” and his travails got center attention, while the struggles of black, Latin@, and Asian-American workers and movements, and their support for Clinton, were sidelined. The media fed the coastal elites vs. the common man trope sold by the Trump campaign.
Clinton was by no means a blameless or perfect candidate, but she, her campaign, and the Democratic Party bear far less of the responsibility for this travesty than many have suggested.
I think the Clinton campaign’s major failure (and mine as well) was to place more faith in the US electorate and the media than was warranted. I continued to believe that there was a large hidden Clinton vote among white women, which turned out to have been wrong.
The Australian equivalent of the Democrats is the Labor Party which used to be strongly pro-worker and pro-union. It gradually drifted away from that and in some cases was complicit in the weakening and eventual destruction of unions. So much so that the current government made up of tax-bludging billionaires who export their money into offshore tax-havens has now targeted the last remaining effective union with special legislation applied only to that union and criminalising virtually all of its activities. The Labor Party has done nothing in fact it used to be the Labour Party until it became a poor shadow of its conservative rivals copying its policies while pretending to care about ordinary Australians. Removing the ‘u’ from its name was the signal to decent working people that it no longer gives a damn about ‘u’.
SC (Salty Current) says
Oh, and also:
– Jill Stein was never going to drop out of the race, because she’s an assclam, and neither was Gary Johnson. I said a while back that I thought Bill Weld should drop out, and in recent weeks he did everything to support Clinton other than resigning from his ticket. In retrospect, this wasn’t enough, and he should have dropped out and made a big public splash about it.
SC (Salty Current) says
That would be great. So much work and fighting to be done before then.
SC (Salty Current) says
I’m watching Warren being interviewed by Rachel Maddow a little while ago. I’ll link to it tomorrow if it’s available.
For my part, I am absolutely certain Bernie would have done better, but what is less certain is whether he would have done well enough to win. Lots of young first-time voters were turned into jaded non-voters at the DNC’s lack of support for him.
slithey tove (twas brillig (stevem)) says
Thanks for bringing in Warren. I expect her to play a big part in opposing Drumph’s upcoming atrocious proposals he’s sure to offer. She does very fine job in her role as Senator. She is essentially our female president (ie leader), if only virtually and not actually in the office.
[*clinging*, fan of Warren, despite being one of her constituents]
Re: “middle class”, the answer is actually pretty simple.
Traditionally, the middle class were people who were wealthy but not aristocracy. No matter how much money you had, you could never be upper class unless you were born into it.
In America, we had no aristocracy (not officially, anyway) and our classes were defined entirely around money. In other words, our upper class was Britain’s middle class, not because we were poorer, but because in the Old World, rank supersedes wealth.
That’s why “middle class” in the UK seems to mean wealthy professionals and business owners, while in America, middle class means anyone not on food stamps.
ck, the Irate Lump says
I saw that earlier today in my twitter feed. It is horrifying and obviously was the natural result of Trump’s racist dog whistles (or dog fog horns) and unwillingness to directly and explicitly reject the deplorables who believed he shared their cause.
While I agree that she had less public charisma than Trump, I also have to point out that any public charisma she had was worn away after 30 years of bogus controversies and investigations. She always had to watch what she said and how she said it, or that would form the basis of the next ridiculous controversy. Sadly, this guarded nature that she developed was also responsible for some of the perception that she was corrupt (i.e. “If she had nothing to hide, why did she keep X secret??!?” The answer never given: It would’ve just been used as the basis for yet another nontroversy).
I didn’t want her to pick Sanders or Warren, but I had hoped that her team would find someone young and energetic who could promote the same ideas Sanders and Warren supported, and preferentially someone Hispanic. I’m not sure Kaine is quite as boring as you say, but he was not a good counter against Trump.
ck, the Irate Lump says
I’m sorry, but that’s oversimplistic and silly. “Me and my party are good, and the supporters of the other party are EVIL.” While I won’t deny that there are those who fit your caricature, there are not nearly enough of them to elect Trump.
No, most of the people who voted for Trump aren’t just evil or moral monsters, even if they will be causing an evil outcome. They’re just like you, me, or anyone else. They made a stupid decision to believe a wannabe strongman who promised to take the hurt away by punishing people who had nothing to do with the hurt. And they did it because the alternate explanation for the hurt of “It’s complicated” didn’t satisfy them.
We’re all capable of succumbing to the scapegoating that Trump used to get people to vote against their interests. People are doing it on this very thread.
Jeff W says
Holm @ #96
I am also.
For one thing, as Forbes points out Hillary Clinton “underperformed” with millennials—she got 53% of the millennial vote as compared to the 66% that President Obama got in 2008. More importantly, in 2008, millennial turnout was 51%; in 2016 it was 19%. Had Sanders, who was more popular with millennials, been the nominee, he might have done just as well, if not better than, Obama did in 2008, in terms of millennial support. That support alone might have made a difference in a state like Michigan where Clinton lost by fewer than 12,000 votes. And that’s just one example.
themadtapper @ #20 “Trump validated the electorate’s fears and anger, while Hillary tried to assuage it. When people were frustrated about the economy, Trump told them they were right to be while Hillary told them the economy had already gotten better.”
Her problem was that the economy has gotten better, but mostly for the rich, not for most of the working voters. For them, the economy hasn’t gotten better.
Statements like this really grated on me at the time: from one of the debates (New Hampshire):
…said the old, white, millionaire.
there has been a lot of good things said on this thread about this election and much of it is true. I do not think there is “ONE” answer to what happened, much has happened.
One the most reassuring things to come out of this election so far are the demonstrations..
signs of things to come I hope.
Nov 8 was but one day not the end of the world there is no need to stop striving to build the world we need.
SC (Salty Current) says
Elizabeth Warren on Rachel Maddow last night.
What a Maroon, living up to the 'nym says
US voters really hate Washington experience. Going as far back as 1932, only one non-incumbent won over an opponent with less Washington experience. That was HW in 1988.
Otherwise, FDR over Hoover; Eisenhower over Stevenson; Kennedy over Nixon; Carter over Ford; Reagan over Carter; Clinton over HW; W over Gore; Obama over McCain; and now… (ugh, I can’t bear to type the words…).
(Nixon-Humphrey is a bit of a toss-up here, but Humphrey at the time had more recent Washington experience.)
SC (Salty Current) says
You know who finds this post-election (often counterfactual) speculation about whether Bernie Sanders would have won a pointless waste of time?
(I think Sanders is dangerously mistaken on one point:
Sanders should be well aware by now that Trump’s talk of those needs and problems were nothing but a con, that he never cared about struggling people and never will. This rhetoric successfully stirred up racism, nationalism, and xenophobia in his followers, but he has no intention of working to improve those people’s lives. Every piece of concrete evidence from before the election and after it demonstrates who (besides himself) he intends his presidency to benefit. If Sanders does see this and thinks he’s playing a strategic game, it’s too late and it won’t work. He would be much better off stating clearly that Trump is a con man; pointing to the evidence; saying that he, Sanders, is going to continue to fight for the same policies to benefit people that he always has while fighting against those that hurt people; and demanding that Trump follow through on his promises and cooperate with those efforts.)
SC (Salty Current) says
That’s factually untrue. And Trump lost among the lower income groups and won among the higher income groups and in counties that saw the most economic improvement during Obama’s presidency. And it should be noted once again: she won the fucking vote.
…woman, who was campaigning to become the first major-party female presidential nominee in US history, to an old white man who’s been in congress for 25 years.
OK, I really am done here.
ck, the Irate Lump says
SC (Salty Current) wrote:
Warren is saying something similar, also qualified with something to the effect of “If he was being genuine…” I think it’s probably worthwhile to say these kinds of things if for no other reason than to make his lies clear, and to perhaps get some actual useful legislation passed (that would otherwise never get past a Republican congress) on the off chance he was telling the truth. Hell, if they play him right, maybe they could get him to support a minimum wage bill and leave the congress Republicans in an incredibly awkward position.
SC (Salty Current) #107:
OK, maybe not the working voters, feel free to provide a similar link that proves me wrong.
Sorry, I meant to say “old, white, multi-millionaire”
Also, I’m British, and lived through our first woman Prime Minister. I don’t care about politician’s genitals, I care about their policies. I agree it’s long overdue, but who here would have supported Mrs. Palin for president?
Also, I think Warren and Sander’s comments about President-Elect Hillary Clinton would also have included the caveat: “If she was being genuine…”
…And? We may as well say that all after the fact analysis is pointless because we can’t go back in time to use it. But it isn’t pointless; even though it won’t change the current situation, there is still something to learn from it.
…None of which changes her politics, which happen to make her very much a pro-establishment candidate.
Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says
Which after four years of liberturdian/rethug idiocy, four years of slightly left of the middle of the road may seem like heaven. Change goes many ways.
Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says
Adding to my #113, picture an ACA area where the lone company in the area is being greedy. If the government could offer public competition, that provided better service for lower price, it could lead to to a cascade effect that results in a public option for all medical insurance. The rethugs shit bricks just thinking about that. But it requires a moderate/progressive leader to talk the language (competition) to get enough votes to for a trial run.
As an aside, the Redhead and I much prefer medicare to private insurance.
Clinton gets slammed for voting for the iraq war…
Most people think that but she voted for a war resolution which stated that the inspectors should finish their job before war was considered. Bush went back on his promise to let the inspectors finish. .William saletan at Slate tracked down the original documents.
Saletan quotes Clinton explaining her mistake(her vote):
“President Bush, she told the audience, had made a “very explicit appeal” that “getting this vote would be a strong piece of leverage in order to finish the inspections.” In other words, a resolution to use force would prod Saddam Hussein into readmitting U.N. inspectors, so they could continue their mission of verifying whether or not he had destroyed his chemical, biological, and nuclear weapons sites. In other words, Clinton was now claiming she voted the way she did in the interests of diplomacy; the problem was that Bush went back on his word—he invaded before giving the inspectors enough time.”
This article makes the same points.
Sent from my iPad
SC (Salty Current) says
I’m going to begin by simply stating my reaction to some of these latest comments. This fixation on Clinton as the object of blame (ignoring the multiple factors that PZ and several others, including me, have pointed to), this seething anger towards her, this dismissal of the importance of a woman president make me feel betrayed. It’s literally physically painful to read people on the Left who I thought I could trust go on and on in their attacks on Clinton. It’s terrible what some of you are doing.
The time for arguing about Clinton’s real and alleged flaws ended with the primaries. She won the Democratic nomination by several million votes, and she was facing a fascist. Everyone who cared should have put all of their efforts beginning then, and increasingly as Trump’s character was further exposed, into stopping the fascist from coming to office. Some of us spent the past several months documenting and calling people’s attention to Trump’s authoritarianism, his ties, his lies, his funders, his and the Republican Party’s plans, and the bigotry and misogyny of his campaign; to Clinton’s and the Democratic Party’s progressive policies that weren’t being covered by the media; to the media’s incessant focus on Clinton’s emails and other manufactured “scandals” and the truth about them; to the forces arrayed against her; to the global political context and the national and international stakes in the election.
Several people instead chose to undermine Clinton’s candidacy by attacking her, pumping up third-party candidates, downplaying the dangers of Trump and Trumpism, and claiming her nomination was rigged. Responding to them and trying to impress upon them the existential stakes of this election took time and energy away from the work that needed to be done against Trump and in support of Clinton. In addition to the numerous factors I listed above, and to any failings of Clinton as a candidate or of her campaign, those people played a role in helping an unhinged fascist clown with a theocrat for a running mate be elected to the most powerful position in the world. It’s a catastrophic result, and their behavior is beyond shameful. For people to take this moment in the days after this tragic outcome, when everything we’ve fought for for decades is in jeopardy, to come here and bash Clinton some more is unreal. You want to take this opportunity to point out how offended you were by a single statement she made months ago? Go fuck yourself.
In reply to that comment substantively, I don’t believe “the establishment” is a useful concept at this moment. If it has any relevant meaning, it would have to refer to people and institutions with longstanding power. Women have been and continue to be systematically excluded from these institutions and groups. Many portions of the establishment hate Clinton with the fire of a thousand suns and want to see her imprisoned. But yes, she has worked to be accepted in parts of the establishment, to cultivate relationships with powerful people and organizations (many of which I detest), to support the Democratic Party, and to gain experience in the institutions of government. An outsider woman without this support would have zero chance of being nominated, but a woman with institutional experience has that used against her. And Bernie Sanders, who I respect very much, is not an outsider. He’s a white man who’s been in Washington for a quarter century, a Senator since 2007. If her centrism alone makes her a representative of the establishment, then the term is worse than useless.
It’s utterly pointless to contend that Sanders would have beaten Trump, pointing to his stronger support among some groups. He had much less support amongst other groups, which showed in the fact that he didn’t win the Democratic nomination. He’s also a socialist and Jewish, and would have been running against a campaign supported by the alt- and Christian Right, probably the most anti-Semitic campaign in history. Even when Trump was supposed to be appealing to Sanders’ supporters, he was calling him “crazy Bernie.” We can’t imagine the campaign against him had he been the nominee, but it would have been brutal and ugly and we have no idea how Sanders would have fared. Judging by the rough start of his new organization, it’s hard to see that his campaign could have responded very effectively.
And Clinton did have answers for economic problems. (I’ll point out again that Trump lost among the lower income groups and won among the higher ones, so the way this has been framed by many people is misleading.) The issue is far more complicated than is suggested by pitting a centrist Democrat against an economic populist and suggesting that the populist would have had wider and more enthusiastic support. The bigoted, hierarchical thinking of so many white people in the US leads them to reject even those progressive programs that demonstrably help them. It’s a thorny cultural and psychological problem that Sanders would also have confronted, and it needs to be discussed and debated. But she had many progressive proposals (not to mention policy accomplishments), most of which long predated Sanders’ run, many of which she’s focused on for decades. The media basically refused to report on them, even when she dedicated entire speeches to their content (then they mocked her for being wonky). Not only did the Bernie or Busters prefer to ignore this, but they treated her experience in debating and enacting policy – experience shared by Sanders, it should be noted – as a detriment.
Clinton isn’t Margaret Thatcher, and she isn’t Sarah Palin. They were/are rightwing women and non-/anti-feminists. Clinton is a centrist Democrat and longtime feminist who put women’s rights and causes at the center of her work (I’ve said many times that I hate many of her foreign-policy choices and their effects on women, but that has to be seen within the larger context). She’s had to put up with this shit for decades, and getting as far as she has is a huge accomplishment. I hated Thatcher’s politics, but hers was also an accomplishment. The difference is that Clinton did it without turning on other women – in fact, she’s become a stronger feminist over the years. This was the first real opportunity to elect a woman president in more than two centuries of US history, and a woman whose policies would have made a huge difference in women’s lives. This “I don’t vote for someone because of their genitals,” “I don’t vote with my vagina” nonsense is appalling, just as it would have been appalling had Obama lost and his critics on the Left boasted “I don’t vote with my skin.”
I described above the heartbreak I feel not only at seeing this world-changing event not come to pass but instead seeing a misogynistic sexual predator and his theocratic sidekick elected who threaten our rights, health, and futures. This is a moment of historic sorrow and danger, and you think it’s an opportune time to rehash your distaste for Clinton’s centrism? Seriously, GO FUCK YOURSELVES.
Respond if you must. I won’t be reading.
A Million Woman March in DC is being planned for the weekend of the inauguration.
“Trump will never be elected” Yeah, I said it too. I was wrong. I said back in 2015 that Trump would try to fire up the GOP Base — the extremes who hate anything that someone else tells them is “Liberal.”
Of course, they hate anything “leftist” or “Liberal” because the right have been telling them for decades to do so, and no one has bothered trying to tell them any different. Well, I said that trump will try to get through the primaries by howling for the base, and then he would have to hope that the rank and file Republican would fall in line and vote “R” just because that’s what they always do, in numbers far greater than Democrats could hope for. The “Smear Hillary” machine was also turned up to 11. However, it must be admitted that the Clintons had some unforced errors which made it that much easier for the smear campaign to work. IMO the Democratic party need to get back down to the state and local offices and get some more governors and some more state-houses before 2020 so they can undo the gerrymandering that is making it all but impossible to win house seats. Someone needs to remember that in the end, all politics is Local.
Oh, and PZ, I agree with you on the never-ending round of polls. Too much coverage of the horse race and not enough of the issues.
@#116 Salty Current. I agree!
@# 115 hotspurphd. My point in that post was that Hillary was correct when she said that she did not vote for the iraq war. She did not as Saletan details in the article in Slate.
(I was exhausted when I posted that)
It has been proven since then that the DNC was not neutral when they were supposed to be, which, to me, is rigging the nomination.
One thing I’ve learned, both from people on this site and bitter experience, is that when people’s feelings are hurt, no amount of explaining to them why their feelings shouldn’t be hurt makes it go away, you should listen to them.
Telling someone that they’re *-ist (or to go fuck themselves) for not believing the same you do hurts their feelings and doesn’t encourage them to support you (e.g. Obama boys, Bernie bros).
I also understand that when things don’t go they way people think they should, it’s stressful, and causes them to lash out.
Good luck with the march. I’m hoping for a huge and sustained push-back against Trump while he’s in office, and a progressive wave in two years time.
A. Noyd says
Exactly. Sanders and his ilk shouldn’t just be aware of the con, they should be—and should have been—pointing out Trump’s long history of brazen, vicious contempt for American workers every chance they get. And also pointing to Trump’s business incompetence, his repeated failures, his loan/debt mismanagement, and how a system prioritized around protecting the wealthy from the consequences of their failures has allowed him to get back up time and time again.
There is also this viewpoint: http://www.cracked.com/blog/6-reasons-trumps-rise-that-no-one-talks-about/
Any comments? What do you all think of this?