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Garrett78's Journal
Garrett78's Journal
November 29, 2016

The "working class whites" narrative vs. Alex Roarty's piece. Major conflation going on here.

In another thread, the reaction to a piece by Alex Roarty suggests some may be conflating 2 completely different arguments. I don't really find anything objectionable with Roarty's article, aside from the silly Nancy Larson quote at the end (as if urbanites and suburbanites aren't "ordinary people&quot . After this year's election, Obama made the point that he had visited a lot of rural towns so as to not lose those towns as badly as he would have if he hadn't visited them (minimizing losses and maximizing gains are both important). The Roarty piece is essentially saying the same thing, along with pointing out 2 common sense ideas:

1) Rural Dems (not all of whom are white) are more likely to vote if the Dems do outreach in their communities (do some advertising and, if not sending the candidate there, at least send some surrogates who have rural experience--Bill Clinton, for instance). Just as Dems do GOTV in blue areas, they need to do GOTV in red areas.

2) Campaign in part on bringing broadband Internet to rural communities. That's a specific, sensible proposal.

That's totally different than the somewhat popular DU narrative about "working class whites" and blue collar workers. That narrative suggests Dems aren't already fighting for *both* economic and social justice. That narrative suggests that Clinton didn't speak enough about economic issues, such as addressing jobs or the rising costs of health insurance. Some even claim she spent more time on "transgender bathrooms." And that's all bullshit. That whole narrative is ridiculous. Clinton's website, her speeches and her debate performances all addressed those economic issues at length and with great substance (to a *much* greater extent than Trump did). Plus, that narrative implies that working class POC don't care about economic issues, which is absurd. And there really is no excuse for supporting Trump.

For tens of millions of Americans, racism, sexism, xenophobia, heterosexism, Christian supremacy and single issues (like abortion) take precedence over everything else. Throughout US history, there's been a white backlash to racial progress (such as the election of Obama and his executive action that produced DACA). There isn't a whole lot Dems can do about that--a sizable portion of the electorate (35+ percent) is simply not reachable, and that's always been the case. Also, that major proponents of the TPP won (with ease) and that the re-election rate of incumbents was even higher than normal suggests a major flaw in the anti-trade/anti-establishment narrative. And let's not lose sight of the fact that tens of millions subscribe to patently false beliefs.

I wrote about all of those things (and more) in my long, link-filled post-election essay.

As for the idea that Obama voters can't be racist, you have much to learn if you engage in such simplistic thinking as that (it's on par with the classic "I have a black friend" defense). You may want to start with this article: "Why Did Some White Obama Voters Go for Trump?"

Let's face it, Clinton was victimized by decades of hate (much of it totally irrational and rooted in sexism and misogyny). The exact same message could win in 2020 so long as the messenger isn't Clinton.

And we can't overlook voter suppression (Shelby County v. Holder decision was devastating). Or the FBI's unprecedented interference. Or the deadful media. And when it comes to House races, we can't overlook gerrymandering as a huge factor.

But, yes, Dems should do more outreach to rural communities, particularly where there are POC. The crux of the message doesn't have to change much. Dems just need to show up in more places.

November 28, 2016

A reminder of just how awful Trump is.

This is only the tip of the iceberg, but here goes:

Trump brags about and commits sexual assault (and he likely raped a 13-year-old)

Trump was endorsed by the KKK and has a long history of overt bigotry (plus he discriminated at his housing developments)

Trump suggested banning Muslims

Trump suggested most Mexican immigrants are rapists and drug dealers (in fact, that's precisely when his campaign picked up steam)

Trump lies and contradicts himself constantly (at a rate *much* higher than Clinton, according to Politico and anyone with a brain)

Trump cheered the housing collapse because he could capitalize on it

Trump ran a fraudulent "University"

Trump stiffed the contractors/blue collar workers he hired

Trump isn't even coherent much of the time (read the transcripts from his speeches and debate performances)

Trump didn't put forth substantive policy positions, whereas Clinton did (on economic matters and everything else)

Keep all of that (and more) in mind when you excuse people for supporting Trump. There was *no* excuse for voting for Trump. And inherent in the "working class whites" narrative is the notion that working class POC don't care about economic issues, as well as the notion that Clinton didn't discuss economic issues at length. Nothing could be further from the truth. Someone in another thread said Clinton didn't address rising health care costs, which is completely untrue. Her website (which you can still access), as well as speeches she gave, addressed rising health care costs at length--to a much greater extent than Trump did.

In an increasingly diverse nation, racism, sexism, xenophobia, heterosexism and Christian supremacy takes precedence for tens of millions of Americans. Those things 'trump' everything else. And it is the GOP that plays "identity politics."

The fact is a large percentage of the American electorate cannot be reached by the Democratic Party no matter what (that's always been the case). Toss in some voter suppression, a pathetic media (that promotes false equivalencies and doesn't think it appropriate to fact check) and a candidate (Clinton) who was victimized by decades of hate (with a boring, moderate running mate) and there you have it--a razor thin margin in a few battleground states being the difference. I'm fairly confident that the 2020 Democratic nominee can win with the exact same message as Clinton, so long as that person isn't Clinton.

Also, one must consider just how many people subscribe to patently false beliefs:

1) http://www.alternet.org/story/148826/16_of_the_dumbest_things_americans_believe_--_and_the_right-wing_lies_behind_them

2) http://www.alternet.org/tea-party-and-right/you-think-you-knew-crazy-think-again-10-shockers-increasingly-unhinged-right

We must accept that we live in a country in which tens of millions of people believe wholeheartedly in some of the most absurd (and often vile) things imaginable.

November 28, 2016

What percentage of eligible voters do you think are unreachable for the Democratic Party?

Without the Democratic Party abandoning its base, there is a portion of the electorate that simply can't be reached by the Democratic Party. I would think virtually all of us could agree on that. Especially given the sorts of nonsensical things so many Americans believe.

Keeping in mind that ~40% of eligible voters don't vote in presidential elections, what percentage of eligible voters do you think can't be reached by the Democratic Party? In other words, what percentage won't vote Dem no matter what?


And what percentage of Trump voters weren't going to vote for Clinton no matter what?


Personally, I'd say 30-39 in answer to my first question, though I'm tempted to say 40+. And I think the answer to my second question is "damn near 100."

November 27, 2016

Just how awful is the mainstream media?

Earlier I started a thread about how voter suppression (thanks to Shelby County v. Holder) seems to be an underrated factor in the 2016 election. Well, the media deserves more blame, as well. Neil Buchanan, without even writing about the atrocious TV infotainment industry, does a great job of making clear just how awful the print media was during the 2016 campaign:

Neil Buchanan: The Cruel ‘Crooked’ Caricature That Doomed Clinton
By Neil H. Buchanan On 11/11/16 at 6:50 PM

It is impossible to overstate the significance of this year's election. The consequences for America and the world are profound, and we are only beginning to come to grips with what might come next. As we do so, it is important to learn and remember the key lessons from this terrible election campaign.

Unfortunately, liberals and media types are already engaging in the worst kind of post-election recriminations. Suddenly, we are being treated to 20/20 hindsight about Hillary Clinton's supposedly "flawed candidacy," even though the swing of only a few thousand votes in a couple of key states would have resulted in her winning the presidency.

Had she won the electoral vote, of course, there would surely have been no stories about how brilliantly Clinton navigated the treacherous political terrain of 2016, but rather more snark about how she should have done better.

Even the best commentators, like Jim Newell at Slate, immediately defaulted into claims about the awfulness of everyone involved on Clinton's side, writing that "the Democratic establishment has beclowned itself and is finished." To be fair, Newell published his piece at 3:25 a.m. on the 9th, only hours after the awful outcome had become a reality. His piece was more like an extended primal scream than anything else.

But the scariest part of this post-election conversation is how badly it misses the big picture. Republicans (with a big assist from the Supreme Court) have spent the last several decades figuring out how to prevent Democratic-leaning Americans from voting. Maybe that made a difference in, say, Wisconsin and North Carolina. Maybe?

More importantly, as I will discuss at length below, the supposedly liberal press relentlessly repeated the narrative that Clinton was unlikable, untrustworthy and so on. That onslaught of negativity poisoned the campaign in a way that no one could have imagined.

To blame Clinton for losing in such an environment, or to fault her "messaging" and other matters dear to political insiders, is quite frankly insane. It would be like watching a school bully tie a kid's shoelaces together and push her down the stairs, and then criticizing the kid for being clumsy.

Read the rest here.
November 27, 2016

Voter suppression seems to be getting overlooked as a factor.

So, I'm just starting this thread to remind folks that the Shelby County v. Holder (5-4) decision of 2013 was (and will continue to be) very devastating.

Given how slim the margin was in numerous battleground states, I think it's possible voter suppression alone is why we aren't talking about President-elect Clinton.

November 26, 2016

In case some are under the impression Clinton did worse than expected among white voters:

GWB got 55% of the white vote in 2000 and 58% in 2004. McCain got 55% of the white vote in 2008. Romney got 59% of the white vote in 2012. Trump, according to exit polls, got 57% of the white vote in 2016.

Folks can argue all they want about whether the Democrats need to significantly alter their message (vs. doing a better job of turning more people out to vote and combating voter suppression vs. a variety of other strategies), but blaming an individual candidate is just silly. Because the white vote has held pretty darn steady for a long time now. In fact, no Democratic candidate for president has won the white vote since LBJ.

November 25, 2016

20% of eligible voters can't be reached by the Dem. Party w/out abandoning the Dem. Party base.

I'm not sure why some object so strongly to the notion that 20-25% of eligible voters can't be reached by the Democratic Party without the Democratic Party abandoning its base. That seems like a pretty obvious point. Someone posted an article from the Rude Pundit that makes that point. It's made in a less colorful way in this piece: "On Rural America: Understanding Isn't The Problem."

Trump didn't put forth any substantive policy positions, and I don't think many of his supporters were sitting around having nuanced discussions about trade or any other issue. If trade was such an important issue, Rob Portman wouldn't have kicked Ted Strickland's ass in Ohio. And the median income of Trump supporters is substantially higher than the median income of Clinton supporters.

No Democratic candidate for president has won the white vote since LBJ, and that's not because Republicans are the party of sound economic policy.

Of course Democrats need to do a better job of messaging, of making it clear that progressive politics is key to improving economic conditions.

Of course Democrats need to do a better job of GOTV, fighting voter suppression, combating gerrymandering, and attempting to reach those who don't ever vote. Even small improvements in those areas would pay huge dividends.

But the fact is racism, sexism, misogyny, heterosexism, xenophobia and Christian supremacy take precedence for tens of millions of voters. It's not that 100% of them are unreachable, but the time and effort necessary to undo the brainwashing is time and effort that can be spent in much more productive, efficient ways.

It'd be one thing if most people were working from a set of agreed-upon facts (which is even less the case in this age of 24/7 infotainment with media personalities who say it's not their job to fact check). There'd still be disagreement over causes for and appropriate responses to those facts. But millions of people flat out deny facts while subscribing to patently false beliefs. Presenting them with facts has a tendency to backfire, as studies have made clear. The false beliefs become more ingrained. That's true across the political spectrum, but it's a matter of scale. While most everyone will cling to at least some false beliefs, there are those who simply live in an alternate reality. If you want to dedicate time to pulling people out of that alternate reality, more power to you.

November 23, 2016

Engage the Disengaged While Maintaining Strong Opposition to Bigotry

My post-election essay:

Engage the Disengaged While Maintaining Strong Opposition to Bigotry

The election of Donald Trump was jarring if not completely surprising. I was filled with anxiety in the weeks leading up to the election, and convinced myself Trump couldn’t win as the thought of him becoming POTUS was too much to bear. I’m now filled with anger and grief, which must give way to activism. I won’t dismiss entirely criticism of Hillary Clinton and the DNC, but I think focusing on Clinton's flaws or the Clinton Campaign flaws (both real and imagined) is akin to excusing a host of other factors, some of which must be addressed regardless of who runs in 2020. Such as:

1) voter suppression (removing people from voter rolls, having an insufficient number of polling places in urban areas, voter intimidation tactics, and so on)

2) media coverage (SNL's opening on 11/5/16 was pretty spot-on)

3) the trifecta of racism, sexism and xenophobia (white nationalism has gripped Europe as well)

4) a general ignorance (including those who insist there's no real difference between the two major parties; even Noam Chomsky advocated voting for Clinton, as did Bernie Sanders)

5) the FBI’s unprecedented interference in the final days of a presidential campaign

In a sane world, the choice was clear. Trump is the definition of a demagogue, and that anyone would vote for him is a sad commentary on our society at this point in history. It’s 2016 and the President-elect is being celebrated by the Ku Klux Klan. Let that sink in for a moment.

Really, stop and let that sink in before continuing.

This election wasn't so much about competing political ideologies as it was about a deplorable candidate who surrounds himself with deplorable people like Stephen Bannon, which is why I'm with Leonard Pitts in his refusal to unite with bigots. And why I was with Leonard Pitts when he called for annihilation of the GOP. If you object to the word “deplorable,” then you don’t know much about the likes of Bannon and the Alt-Right. There's a good reason why John McCain, Mitt Romney, Paul Ryan and other Republicans refused to support Trump, but they need to understand that GOP policy, rhetoric (including their own) and dog-whistling of the last several decades (going back to Nixon and his southern strategy) gave rise to the Trump Phenomenon that they claim to oppose. As President Obama remarked, “They’ve been feeding their base all kinds of crazy for years.”

Perhaps in a so-called anti-establishment climate, Clinton wasn't the best choice. But I'm not convinced an unvetted self-proclaimed “socialist” would have won. People will point to various hypothetical match-up polls taken during the primary season, but those have been historically misleading (for instance, such polls indicated that Michael Dukakis was going to become POTUS, and we know how that turned out). I also question how "anti-establishment" the electorate is given how many incumbents won re-election, as usual. Incumbent US House candidates won re-election at the highest rate in the last six elections, while incumbent US Senate candidates won re-election at the third highest rate in the last nine elections (source: https://www.opensecrets.org/ov).

And for all the talk about how unpopular Clinton and Trump are, which was supposed to result in much higher than normal third party voting, Clinton and Trump received more than 95% of the vote. More than 40% of eligible voters didn’t vote (voter suppression accounting for some of that) but that’s pretty typical for a US presidential election. Regarding the notion that Trump was the candidate of the working class poor, Nate Silver pointed out during the primary season that the median household income of Trump supporters was significantly higher than that of Clinton supporters. Exit poll data indicates that the same held true in the general election.

Not surprisingly, Trump is looking to fill his staff and cabinet with establishment types, lobbyists and big donors, as well as climate change deniers and bigots. Those of his supporters who may have been drawn to him for reasons other than his hate speech are bound to experience buyer's remorse. Ben White of Politico writes, “A populist candidate who railed against shady financial interests on the campaign trail is now putting together an administration that looks like an investment banker’s dream.” White goes on to quote a Wall Street historian named Charles Geisst: “You would have to go back to the 1920s to see so much Wall Street influence coming to Washington. It’s the most dramatic turnaround one could imagine. That’s the astonishing part.” I have to disagree that Trump’s choices are astonishing. Did anyone honestly believe Trump would stand up for Main Street?

As you’ll recall, Trump burst onto the campaign scene by denouncing Mexican immigrants as rapists and drug dealers while acknowledging that a few might be decent people. How big of him. Instead of being immediately dismissed as a bad joke, that’s precisely when Trump picked up steam. More than anything, I think what we're experiencing is a white backlash, which has historically been the response to any advance in racial justice (including the election of Barack Obama and DACA). Trump, a sexual predator who bragged about grabbing women by the genitals, even won among white women (and only lost by six points among white women with college degrees). No Democratic candidate for president has won the overall white vote since LBJ. Trump’s Birtherism and the Tea Party were rooted in racism, as is quite clear if you’ve ever heard interviews of attendees or seen the homemade signs so many carry. And it’s not just been constituents. Elected officials over the last 8 years have spouted all sorts of racist vitriol toward the Obamas.

I maintain that racism, along with sexism and xenophobia (the latter being closely linked to racism), continues to be a much greater factor in our society than many wish to believe. Sadly, we're seeing an uptick in overt racism in part because the President-elect essentially sanctioned it throughout his campaign. In reaching for a silver lining, I suppose one might contend that the more overt the racism is the easier it is to highlight and combat. However, denial of even overt racism, as well as white privilege, is a long-standing tradition. Well-known anti-racist Tim Wise points out that, "Indeed, as far back as 1963, before there was a Civil Rights Act to outlaw even the most blatant racial discrimination, sixty percent of whites said that blacks were treated equally in their communities. In 1962, only eight years after the Brown decision outlawed segregation in the nation’s schools (but well before schools had moved to integrate or equalize their classrooms), a stunning eighty-four percent of whites were convinced that blacks had equal educational opportunity. In other words, white denial of the racism problem is nothing new: it was entrenched even when this nation operated under a formal system of apartheid."

While I don’t doubt that economic struggles (misattributed though they may be) played a role in the presidential election result, I don't think many Trump supporters were sitting around having in-depth discussions about trade policy, or any policy for that matter. Consider that Ohio Senator Rob Portman, a proponent of the TPP, easily won re-election against Ted Strickland, who opposes the TPP just as Trump claims he does. Consider also that Trump himself hasn’t offered substantive positions. Instead, he repeatedly makes vague statements like, “We're going to look very strongly at health care, and we're looking at jobs -- big league jobs.” That's a meaningless statement utterly void of substance, but that's been par for the course throughout Trump's candidacy. And, no, that's not a statement from early on in his campaign. He made that remark in recent days following the election. So, he still has no plan. Somehow that didn't matter to his supporters, nor did it matter that previous Republican presidential candidates refused to support him.

We must also acknowledge what survey after survey makes clear, which is that large percentages of the electorate subscribe to patently false beliefs while denying scientific and mathematical realities. That includes elected officials. There have been Young Earth Creationists on the US House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology. In a piece on NPR, US Representative Ryan Zinke is quoted as saying “Four out of five terrorist attacks are conducted by children.” That statement is so absurd that one must question his mental state. But Zinke has a lot of company. Consider these examples:

1) “16 of the Dumbest Things Americans Believe”
2) “The Increasingly Unhinged Right Wing”

Millions of people can't even name the Vice President, much less express a nuanced position on a complex subject like trade or debt. Our ratings-focused, false equivalence promoting media is failing us, as are our educational institutions (increased privatization of schools and further media consolidation will only make matters worse).

One will not win over another by pointing out how ignorant or racist they are, and it’s certainly fair to say that everyone is ignorant about some things. But recognizing and working to address the fact that tens of millions are stunningly ignorant and bigoted seems necessary if one hopes to unify the deeply divided working class. The same goes for acknowledging that the mainstream media is largely responsible for stoking division with the primary objective of making money. Again, watch the opening to the November 5 edition of Saturday Night Live and tell me that isn't some pretty accurate satire. The skit doesn't even touch upon how more than a dozen women accused Trump of sexual predation with little media coverage relative to the seriousness of the charges. And those charges likely would have gotten even less coverage had a tape not surfaced of Trump bragging about sexual assault. Never mind the disturbing comments Trump has made about his own daughter. Nor does the skit bring up the fact that a young girl was allegedly raped by Trump and his sex offender friend, Jeffrey Epstein, and dropped the case due to receiving death threats. Nor does it bring up Trump's fraudulent "University" for which he's being sued. No, instead, it was all Clinton emails all the time.

If most were working from a set of agreed-upon facts, there would still be disagreement over root causes and appropriate responses. But what makes matters worse is that millions of people simply deny facts, while clinging to false beliefs in the face of contradictory evidence. And the media -- or infotainment industry -- of today is largely responsible for that. As Clinton told Trump (and, by proxy, his supporters) during one of the debates, Trump has created an alternate reality.

My point being that it does no good to suggest a Sisyphean task will be a walk in the park. We've got our work cut out for us.

While there is a valid leftist critique of Clinton and other Democrats, I'm afraid the decades of baseless right wing hate (much of it rooted in sexism) directed at Clinton has leached into the consciousness of leftists and left-leaning people. Bill Maher, who I don't always appreciate, rightly blasted talk of Clinton being a “lesser evil”: http://www.rawstory.com/2016/. Sure, US foreign policy has been responsible for some evil doings, but Clinton is more of a cog in the system than a driving force, a symptom and not a cause. And John Oliver brilliantly pointed out the ignorance of leading third party candidates: Link not working--go to YouTube and find 18-minute video of Oliver on 3rd parties. The most successful third party candidate of 2016, Gary “What is Aleppo?” Johnson, says we need not be concerned with global warming because our sun will eventually -- in billions of years -- engulf Earth anyway. Seriously, he really said that. A candidate for president and former governor said that.

Here’s where I admit that I was once a lesser evilist, Green Party voter. My frustration with the Democratic Party's rightward shift boiled over, so I went through a stage where I abandoned the Dems. Along with coming to recognize that such a stance exhibits white privilege (those who are most oppressed can ill afford to lose an election due to purist ideology), I read these mindset-changing pieces by Julio Huato: “My Reply to Stan Goff” and “Reflections on Strategy”. I don't agree with everything Huato wrote, but I'm with him when he writes "we cannot just will conditions that don't exist." As Bernard Chazelle wrote years ago, "America has lefties but no left." Leftists haven't laid the groundwork necessary for structural change.

Regarding the notion that there’s no real difference between the two major parties, consider the following:

1) a Clinton Administration wouldn't foment hatred or attempt to roll back progress made in the area of civil rights (Mike Pence is virulently opposed to LGBTQ rights)

2) a Clinton Admin wouldn't nominate horrifyingly right wing justices, who could spell disaster for women's rights, for the Supreme Court

3) a Clinton Admin wouldn't try to privatize Social Security, Medicare, public infrastructure and so on

4) a Clinton Admin wouldn’t attempt to do away with the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act

5) a Clinton Admin would push for alternative energy investment, maintain the US's position in the Paris Climate Treaty and wouldn’t consider scientific consensus (on climate change, on vaccinations, on evolution) to be a “hoax”

6) a Clinton Admin wouldn’t scrap the Iran nuclear deal

7) a Clinton Admin would have worked to improve upon the Affordable Care Act, which has insured millions who would not otherwise be insured at all (a public option would go a long way toward addressing rising costs)

8) a Clinton Admin would have attempted to lower the cost of college tuition

9) a Clinton Admin would advocate for sensible gun control policy (and against NRA obfuscation that falsely convinces people gun control advocates want to ban all guns)

10) a Clinton Admin would raise taxes on those making obscene amounts of money, often while producing nothing of value

11) a Clinton Admin would have used the bully pulpit to push for paid family leave, affordable child care and equal pay for women

12) a Clinton Admin likely would keep with President Obama’s policy of offering clemency to nonviolent drug offenders (the Obama Admin has offered clemency to more such individuals than the previous 11 administrations combined)

And on and on and on. If you don’t subscribe to right wing ideology, the choice was clear. As Huato writes, “In the last two decades, the Republican Party has established itself as the reactionary, proto-fascist political vehicle of a mélange of highly parasitic capitalist special interests -- military contractors, media conglomerates, energy companies, industry lobbies, financial firms, prison contractors, medium and small business organizations, and top and mid-range wealthy individuals -- and gained a dominant position in all levels of government. A large portion of its voting power results from exploiting the social prejudices of petty-bourgeois anarcho-libertarians, the nationalism and xenophobia of some sectors of the working class, and the conservative religious beliefs of evangelical Protestants, Catholics, and Jews.”

Make no mistake, the Democratic Party has been overly influenced by some of those same special interests Huato lists, but to suggest that the two major parties are the same is a misguided and lazy cop-out. Elections have real consequences for real people.

I watched all three debates and I'd never before seen one candidate so thoroughly dominate the other. Clinton kicked Trump's ass in every debate. She offered substantive policy proposals, whereas Trump did not. She gave inspiring and hopeful speeches, whereas Trump fomented hate, which was just about the only time he was coherent. Read the transcripts of Trump’s stump speeches and debate performances, and try to figure out what the hell he's saying half the time—I dare you. And I’d be remiss to not mention that Clinton did win the popular vote. I do have to agree with Obama’s suggestion that the Clinton Campaign should have spent more time in more areas of various battleground states.

All that said, the Clinton Administration likely would have compromised too much (often starting from a position of compromise as Democrats are wont to do) and wouldn't have followed through on various promises (leftists would, of course, need to put pressure on the administration). In fact, that tendency to capitulate is partially responsible for the Democratic Party being in such a weak position nationwide. A Clinton Administration would have been an extension of the Obama Administration but probably slightly more progressive. Not because Clinton is personally more progressive than Obama but because of the impact Bernie Sanders had on the Democratic Party platform, and because society is (seemingly) moving in that direction. How can I say society is moving in a progressive direction when Trump is the President-elect? For starters, I’m taking the long view. Plus, as devastating as the election was, I’m reminded of a Theodore Parker-inspired quote by Dr. King. “The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice,” the civil rights leader famously remarked. The arc was just made longer, perhaps, but I have to believe it is still bending toward justice. Trump may seem to be a proto-fascist, but that doesn’t mean the US is destined to become a fascist state.

What's done is done and I do think the Democratic Party altering its course is long overdue. I’ve been railing against the Democratic Party for years, and kowtowing to existing power structures is not acceptable. Going into a debate about health care reform with single-payer and a public option “off the table” is not acceptable, just as an example. Making Keith Ellison the new DNC Chair, something Sanders and others are advocating, would probably be a good start. Ellison was laughed at by George Stephanopoulos and co-panelists when he suggested in the summer of 2015 that Trump might be leading the Republican ticket. I would have been laughing, too. Ellison is a progressive and deserves some props for seeing what others didn’t.

Pushing hard for campaign finance reform, regulation of the financial industry, investment in new industries (as the jobs that have left the US are never coming back), more labor unionization, and an end to gerrymandering would also be good. Busting up unions has been key to dividing and conquering blue collar workers. Gerrymandering has been key to further marginalizing the political power wielded by persons of color.

And the Democratic Party (as the only viable alternative to the GOP in a first-past-the-post/plurality voting system) most certainly needs to do more to combat oppression, which will only get worse given who is headed to the White House and how much control the Republican Party now has (at the local, state and federal levels of government). The Democratic Party can’t ignore bigotry, or the reality of white privilege (and male privilege), in the interest of appealing to working class white voters. It must find a way to be welcoming of immigrants, and combat institutionalized racism and sexism, while at the same time demonstrating that progressive politics is key to improving the economic and educational standing of all working class Americans.

I don't know what the answer is to combating all that ails us, but I don't think the answer is promoting socialism or any other -ism. Attempting to persuade people that a certain term (a loaded and divisive one at that) doesn't mean what they think it means seems like a poor use of time when there are pressing matters at hand. Nor do I think attempting to create a new viable political party is a good use of time and energy. Perhaps that could eventually, against all odds, be accomplished, but millions will continue to suffer in the meantime. Huato says of third party campaigns for POTUS, “...by any measure, the electoral, educational, or organizational results have been humbling. And that's to put it mildly. These radicals imply that, because they have come to understand in their minds that the main parties are not the right vehicles for the workers to advance their political interest, the tactical targets of the struggle are to be calibrated to their beliefs, as opposed to the actual behavior of the bulk of the class.”

I also question the efficacy of protest marches, though I understand why people are drawn to them during troubling times. Right now, people understandably need to feel a sense of solidarity in opposition to the second coming of George Wallace. Ultimately, though, those opposed to oppression must somehow find a way to achieve more concrete political victories, and that's going to require helping the electorate (and young people who will become part of the electorate) become more informed and more active (that means less mindless entertainment and more organizing around issues of concern). One can hope that the mass demonstrations taking place all across the US at this time will be a stepping stone in that direction. "It seems to me that leaps in the quality of an organic process have to be preceded by a prolonged, very patient process of accumulation of small quantitative changes,” writes Huato. “By definition, in and by themselves, quantitative changes do not alter the quality of the process. The quality remains. But those gradual changes prepare the sudden alteration in quality."

Truthfully, I don’t know how, at this moment in time, to achieve more political victories or address the various manifestations of institutionalized inequity (though I'm confident the former would aid in the latter), but I'm involved with the Racial Justice Organizing Committee and the Salem-Keizer NAACP as a means of figuring all of that out. Maybe some town hall meetings (with 30-50 local residents) would be worth organizing (some specifically for people under 18 and some for adults). Maybe going door-to-door between election cycles, and not just during campaign season, to discuss issues would be worth a try. Maybe pushing for civics education and media reform should top the agenda. I don't know. One thing I do know is that taking part in sparsely attended meetings of like-minded people isn't sufficient, therapeutic and necessary as those meetings can be. We must unite all oppressed people, engage the disengaged, create majorities and win at the ballot box. And we must start that process now.

Garrett S. (November 16, 2016)

November 6, 2016

How far off were the 2012 polls?

In light of the point made by Doctor Jack in another thread, as well as the point made in another thread about how polling is less reliable in this age of cell phone dominance, I'm wondering if anyone knows of other examples where the 2012 polls (in the days leading up to the election) proved to be way off. Because I honestly have no recollection of the 2012 polling.

Were there many states (other than Michigan) where Obama (or Romney) won by a substantially larger or smaller margin than those last minute polls suggested he'd win them by?
November 5, 2016

What percentage of the vote will Johnson and Stein get?

"3rd" party candidates almost always do considerably worse than pre-election polls suggest they will. On the other hand, we don't usually have 2 major party candidates with such high unfavorables (in an anti-establishment climate). It seems Johnson and Stein have already lost quite a few percentage points since polling began months ago. Will they lose more? If so, who ultimately benefits? If Trump's ceiling is low 40s, then you'd think Clinton would benefit (making a double digit victory a possibility).

What say ye?

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