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Garrett78's Journal
Garrett78's Journal
October 19, 2019

"Negative Partisanship Predicts the 2020 Presidential Election"

An excellent and fairly hopeful piece by Rachel Bitecofer, written before the Ukraine story broke: https://cnu.edu/wasoncenter/2019/07/01-2020-election-forecast/

By and large, I don’t expect that the specific nominee the Democratic electorate chooses will matter all that much unless it ends up being a disruptor like Bernie Sanders.

Indeed, the only massive restructuring I might have to make to this forecast involves a significant upheaval like the entrance of a well-funded Independent candidate such as Howard Schultz into the general election....Other potential significant disruptions might be a ground war with Iran, an economic recession, or a terrorist attack on the scale of 9/11. Otherwise, the country's hyperpartisan and polarized environment has largely set the conditions of the 2020 election in stone....on Election Day Donald Trump will earn the vote of somewhere around 90% of self-identified Republicans. And as 2018 demonstrated, Republicans will increase their turnout rate over 2016. This, combined with a floor for Trump among Independents of around 38% (because of right-leaning Independents) and an infusion of cash that will dwarf his 2016 efforts, Trump has a floor that is at least theoretically competitive for reelection and will force Democrats to compete hard to win the presidency. The polarized era doesn’t produce Reagan Era Electoral College landslide maps.

I agree with the above excerpt. My biggest concern is that because desperate people take desperate action, we are likely to see more voter suppression efforts (e.g., the closure of polling sites in urban areas) than ever before...and even more collusion with foreign powers than we saw in 2016. I'm convinced that the reason Trump is increasingly brazen in his corruption is to normalize it -- or make the public numb to it -- as we head into next year's election. And, as Rachel Bitecofer suggested, the days of a candidate walking away with 400+ electoral votes are long gone. 2008 was a landslide by today's standards, which means we can't get too comfortable.

On the other hand, we won't be nominating a polarizing figure who has been the target of vicious attacks for a quarter of a century. And Trump is no longer new or as much of an unknown quantity, so there will be fewer casual "I'll give him a shot/he won't win anyway/both candidates suck" voters. Someone with a "strongly approve" number in the high 20s and a "strongly disapprove" number that's almost twice as high shouldn't have much of a chance at re-election, even with the electoral college in place and even with a fairly steady economy. It's also worth remembering that we had won Pennsylvania and Michigan for 6 straight elections and Wisconsin for 7 straight. We can definitely win back those states. Florida, North Carolina, Arizona and even Georgia are also in play. It's hard to imagine us losing any of the states that Clinton won.

Again, though, we're dealing with the Republican Mafia. We can't be complacent.

First, and probably most important, is the profound misunderstanding by, well, almost everyone, as to how he won Michigan, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania in the first place. Ask anyone, and they will describe Trump’s 2016 Midwestern triumph as a product of white, working class voters swinging away from the Democrats based on the appeal of Trump’s economic populist messaging.

I wouldn't say "almost everyone," as myself and many others have been railing against that bogus narrative for nearly 3 years. But it's true, sadly, that far, far too many people (in the media and all across the political spectrum) have been (and still are) pushing the demonstrably false "economic anxiety/Clinton focused too much on identity politics" narrative. Even after all of the articles that make clear how false that story is, such as this one and this one.

And it wasn't Obama-Trump voters that were Clinton's downfall either (regarding Obama-Trump voters, everyone should read what Jamelle Bouie wrote). The unfortunate reality is that hundreds of thousands of Obama voters, across key states, simply didn't vote in 2016. Again, Hillary Hate was undoubtedly a major factor.

Next, many people continue to misunderstand who so-called "independents" are. Very few are actually swing voters. The vast majority are highly partisan (most only require the slightest nudge in order to vote for a particular candidate). In fact, studies have shown that the average "independent" of today is more strongly aligned with a particular party than the average party-affiliated voter was in the 1970s. The other thing to understand about independents is that they are less reliable voters, less engaged.

The failure to understand that truth about independents and a misunderstanding of what actually happened in 2016 has led some to this notion that only a specific type of candidate (older, white, male, moderate) can defeat Trump. Also, people get seduced by the hypothetical matchup polls, but they're historically inaccurate at this stage in the game--just ask President Dukakis. We shouldn't be relying on those as any sort of a barometer in terms of picking our nominee.

The bottom line is that our focus must be on boosting turnout of POC, youth and white suburban women. And not on appealing to a limited subset of supposed swing voters who are widely dispersed across all 50 states, at the risk of not firing up the base. Get out the base, get out the base, get out the base. And be prepared to fight voter suppression efforts. That's what will win us the election. If we get turnout even close to 2008 levels, it'll take epic corruption to prevent our nominee from topping 270 electoral votes. But let's not pretend that the GOP is above epic corruption.
October 18, 2019

"Impeachment is too important to leave to Congress--it's going to take mass mobilization"

Elected officials in the Democratic Party, like established politicians everywhere, aren’t instinctively comfortable with the idea of popular resistance, but it’s not an entirely alien concept to them, either. In the extreme political emergency of 2017, they embraced protest politics. That started with emergency mass demonstrations at airports to block Trump’s initial travel ban, continued through the Women’s March, and was seen repeatedly on Capitol Hill and in congressional town halls as people came out en masse to oppose repealing the Affordable Care Act.

A lawless government cannot be constrained by the institutions of the law alone. It is popular mass resistance that creates a crisis point and forces action. And if Democrats want to beat Trump’s stonewalling tactics in 2019, they should consider doing it again.

Watergate was a long time ago

Watergate played out under a party system that was remarkably loose compared to today. Not all conservatives were Republicans, and not all Republicans were conservatives. That arguably set the stage for presidential misconduct to be evaluated as separately from political ideology or orientation as is possible.

Arch-segregationists — mostly Democrats — were serving openly in the halls of Congress. Meanwhile, the greatest champions of civil rights were also mostly Democrats, yet a liberal African American Republicanrepresented Massachusetts in the Senate. Individual members faced cross-cutting ideological and partisan pressures, and even beyond race the system was only loosely organized with hawks and doves sitting in both parties.

Much more here: https://www.vox.com/policy-and-politics/2019/10/18/20905686/resistance-protest-impeachment-rallies-trump
October 18, 2019

What, if anything, is there to do about American ignorance?

I don't often read what Chris Cillizza writes, but I read an article of his a couple days ago and it's the end of his piece on which I wish to focus. Here's a link to the article: https://www.cnn.com/2019/10/15/politics/donald-trump-fox-poll-impeachment/index.html

And here's the part on which I'm focusing:

The problem here is that the 60+ million people Trump tweeted out the incorrect NY Post article a) will never see any correction as to why it's dead wrong and b) wouldn't believe it even if they did see it.

Which is a giant problem.

Obviously American ignorance is not reserved solely for right wingers, but the Republican Party base is clearly "a giant problem" that helps enable so many other problems.

Nearly 10 years ago, I read this depressing article that the above excerpt reminds me of, as it's all about How Facts Backfire.

Recently, a few political scientists have begun to discover a human tendency deeply discouraging to anyone with faith in the power of information. It’s this: Facts don’t necessarily have the power to change our minds. In fact, quite the opposite. In a series of studies in 2005 and 2006, researchers at the University of Michigan found that when misinformed people, particularly political partisans, were exposed to corrected facts in news stories, they rarely changed their minds. In fact, they often became even more strongly set in their beliefs. Facts, they found, were not curing misinformation. Like an underpowered antibiotic, facts could actually make misinformation even stronger.

This is an issue for people from across the political spectrum. But, of course, holding firm to *a* false belief or two isn't as destructive as holding firm to what amounts to a parallel universe, an alternate reality--a worldview that consists entirely of bullshit.

We've all lamented the stunning ignorance of the Republican Party base. But what, if anything, can be done?

One idea that occurs to me is for the next administration to push for making media literacy (identifying sources and verifying content, identifying the purpose of a particular message, determining who the intended audience is, etc.) mandatory curriculum starting in junior high, if not earlier.

What do you propose?
October 17, 2019

Shine a light on the tactics and not just on what's being said.

We are, once again, witnessing an example of trying to convince the public that crimes committed openly aren't crimes. Most notably with regard to Ukraine collusion, but also the effort to undercut charges of emoluments violations. This is part of a pattern. Deny, lie, obfuscate and then acknowledge while claiming it's perfectly okay and normal. 

Mark my words, there are many people (and I don't just mean Cult45) who will fall for that tactic and the narrative Republicans are trying to establish will become the dominant narrative. Unless Democrats are vigilant and work hard at establishing what should be the dominant narrative. Part of that effort has to include shining a bright light on what Mulvaney and Co. are attempting to do and not just on what they're saying. If we simply debate the substance, we're debating on their terms.

Most people aren't political junkies. Many are only vaguely aware of what's going on by way of whichever narrative or soundbite dominates. Your average person doesn't recognize, for instance, the tactic we all know as 'projection', or accusing your opponent of that which you're doing.

The same goes for the tactic of creating a massive problem (e.g., trade war, slaughter of Kurds) for whatever reason (incompetence, ideology, distraction), applying a bandaid and then claiming victory. Don't just debate the merits of the argument. Point out the effort to bamboozle.

It's not enough to debate the *what*, especially when it's on their terms. We must shine a bright light on the *why*.

October 16, 2019

Maybe they missed that whole transcript thing.

The media continues to write shit like this:

Lawmakers are examining whether Trump improperly pressured Ukraine to launch an investigation of Democratic former Vice President Joe Biden...

No, they're investigating the extent of the corruption.
October 13, 2019

The Republican powers that be aren't crazy, at least not in a clinical sense.

Howard Dean indicated that William Barr is "mentally unbalanced." I understand the temptation to refer to the likes of William Barr as mentally ill (given his speech about the ills of secularism and his contributing to the Deep State narrative), especially when so much of the rhetoric is increasingly 'unhinged', in addition to being just plain cruel. While there are mentally unbalanced people within the ranks of the powers that be, including narcissistic Trump, and most definitely within the electorate, the likes of Barr and Bannon and Miller and Pompeo and Mulvaney and McConnell are - make no mistake - driven by a specific ideology. They aren't "crazy" in any clinical sense, and some of them are quite intellectual. They're self-interested fascists out to undermine all democratic institutions. Most are racists, sexists and Christian supremacists themselves, or - at the very least - have no problem fomenting and exploiting racism and sexism and religious bigotry, which have proven for a long time to be highly effective tools for realizing their version of fascism (for which the Powell Memo served as an early blueprint).

They've seen the writing on the wall (social progression, increased secularism, changing demographics, etc.), so their tactics have become increasingly extreme (intense voter suppression and gerrymandering, extreme deregulation and privatization, full-throated attacks on science and public education, persistent attacks on the "liberal media" in the interest of shifting the Overton Window, stealing a Supreme Court seat and packing the judiciary with right wing ideologues, aligning with dictators who share the goal of undermining democracy for personal enrichment, replacing the dog whistle with a bullhorn, and so on). They take comfort in a tyranny of the minority system which, paradoxically, makes major structural reform nearly impossible to bring about for the very reasons why such reform is so desperately needed. Still, they have reason to fear and thwart the impacts of social evolution.

We can't afford to simply dismiss these monsters as mentally ill, even if they all happen to be sociopaths. It's vital that we understand that with which we're dealing.
October 12, 2019

Question for all those who are confident Trump is a goner.

Do you think he'll resign?

Do you think he'll actually get convicted by the Senate?

Or do you just think he'll lose his re-election bid?

October 10, 2019

My poem on racism

Fellow "white" people, please hear me out
We've been bamboozled, let there be no doubt

When divided, we're conquered, too
There's a sickness worse than any pandemic flu

A tool used to suppress wages and pollute our common air
A tool used to keep us all from affordable health care

Convinced of who's deserving and who's not
Willing to die so long as "they" don't get what's sought

Told we're better and given just enough more
Sold a bill of goods to keep us poor

Blinded to injustice, corruption and lies
Numb to hypocrisy and all those caged cries

To save your family, you'd cross any arbitrary border
But we aren't in those shoes, so we talk of law and order

Police brutality is disproportionate we know
We were told he's dead but there stands Jim Crow

The disease can be cured but only if we unite
It infects systems and structures, we're needed in this fight

There are no people of "white" descent
That's made up capital that we've done spent

Du Bois referred to our "psychological wage"
We're long overdue to redirect white rage

Genocide and enslavement formed the foundation
Upon lacerated backs was built a nation

Trillions worth of unpaid labor
Reparations wouldn't be some favor

No, simply put, a massive debt is owed
A construct, a lie and hatred was sowed

Dehumanization to justify families torn apart
And that, dear friends, was just the start

Rape, mutilation and the taking of life
The 13th did not end the strife

Convict leasing, lynchings, a phony drug war
New Deal for some, others shown the door

Housing denied with a simple red line
My ancestors given access, no question what's mine

Access to colleges another omission
No fuss, though, over legacy admission

I trust you can see the wealth gap was not fated
It was methodically, viciously, intentionally created

The same can be said of the ghetto and reservation
Don't be fooled by media misrepresentation

Hannity and Carlson, they're not your friend
They profit off keeping us bitter til the end

The media asks candidates if Trump is a racist
They ask if water is wet and pretend he's not also a rapist

We've been exploited and used
To ensure we overlook the abused

Cast off the chains, let's be free
Not us vs. them but an ethic of we

Equality sounds nice but equity's the goal
Find your humanity and play a vital role

October 3, 2019

What would it take to get a conviction?

Let's say Dems turned up audio of Trump saying to Putin, "If you promise to not release the videos of me raping children, I promise to do your bidding for as long as I'm in office."

Would that be enough to remove Trump from office? Or would Republicans argue that it was fake audio, or that it's concerning but not impeachable?

Seriously, what would it take?

October 3, 2019

Dems, repeat after me, transparent illegality is still illegality.

It's quite obvious that Trump and Republicans are using the strategy of "If I'm open about asking foreign governments to help me politically, then it can't be wrong." Trump did it in 2016 with "Russia, if you're listening..." And then there's Trump's comment to Stephanopoulos, his released call summary with Zelensky, Barr and Giuliani not really hiding what they're doing in places like Italy, Trump's open remarks about China investigating Biden, and so on.

If Dems don't constantly beat back that narrative, it will dominate. If there's one thing Republicans understand, it's establishing the dominant narrative.

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