Wednesday, March 22, 2017

I'm Not Ready To Give Up On All The Trump Voters


A group of American students on a Spring Break cruise broke into a chant of "Build the Wall!" off the coast of Cancun. That's not going over real well in the country they're visiting.
This is just one of the many blameworthy behaviors that young spring breakers have shown recently in Cancun and that are described as acts of xenophobia and discrimination against Mexicans within their own country, which is (or should be) totally unacceptable.

...Several Mexican tourists on board the ship expressed their annoyance, but the Americans did not stop at all and continued singing the racist hymn.

This situation is far from being an isolated incident, and it adds to the growing number of complaints from tourism sector workers, who point out that in recent days many Spring Breakers have been offensive, rude and haughty towards Mexican people.
This is what David Leonhardt's OpEd, All the President's Lies, in yesterday's NY Times had to say about their leader, the one who makes this kind of behavior permissible. "The current president of the United States lies. He lies in ways that no American politician ever has before. He has lied about-- among many other things-- Obama’s birthplace, John F. Kennedy’s assassination, Sept. 11, the Iraq War, ISIS, NATO, military veterans, Mexican immigrants, Muslim immigrants, anti-Semitic attacks, the unemployment rate, the murder rate, the Electoral College, voter fraud and his groping of women."
Trump sets out to deceive people. As he has put it, “I play to people’s fantasies.”

Caveat emptor: When Donald Trump says something happened, it should not change anyone’s estimation of whether the event actually happened. Maybe it did, maybe it didn’t. His claim doesn’t change the odds.

...Our president is a liar, and we need to find out how serious his latest lies are.

I want to admit something-- a guilty pleasure. Sometimes I fantasize that in the tuture someone wanting to vote take a lie detector test. "Did you vote for Donald Trump in 2016?" Those who say yes-- or who set off the alarm bells-- can't vote until they complete a basic civics course. I know; it's a horrible thought. It's just a fantasy. That's not who I am. I understand solidarity-- which is why, when when of my oldest friends (the daughter of a communist no less) e-mailed me (from an outdoor cafe in Barcelona) Frank Rich's column , No Sympathy for the Hillbilly. She wrote in her e-mail: "Waste of time for Dems to pursue them... I have been saying no sympathy for them, useless. They should be accountable for their votes." I've known her since 1966 and I'm pretty sure she's of two minds on this, like many of us are. I don't know about solidarity with those spoiled brats on the Cancun cruise chanting "Build the Wall," but... Well, let's look at what Rich had to say first:
Why did white working-class voters reject Hillary Clinton and the Democrats? Why did they fall for a billionaire con man? Why do they hate us?

There were, of course, many other culprits in the election’s outcome. Comey, the Kremlin, the cable-news networks that beamed Trump 24/7, Jill Stein, a Clinton campaign that (among other blunders) ignored frantic on-the-ground pleas for help in Wisconsin and Michigan, and the candidate herself have all come in for deserved public flogging. But the attitude among some liberals toward the actual voters who pulled the trigger on Election Day has been more indulgent, equivocal, and forgiving. Perhaps those white voters without a college degree who preferred Trump by 39 percentage points-- the most lopsided margin in the sector pollsters define as “white working class” since the 1980 Ronald Reagan landslide -- are not “deplorables” who “cling to guns and religion” after all. Perhaps, as Joe Biden enthused, “these are good people, man!” who “aren’t racist” and “aren’t sexist.” Perhaps, as Mark Lilla argued in an influential essay in the New York Times, they were turned off mostly by the Democrats’ identity politics and rightfully felt excluded from Clinton’s stump strategy of name-checking every ethnicity, race, and gender in the party’s coalition except garden-variety whites. Perhaps they should hate us.

While many, if not most, of those in #TheResistance of the Democratic base remain furious at these voters, the party’s political class and the liberal media Establishment are making a concerted effort to convert that rage into empathy. “Democrats Hold Lessons on How to Talk to Real People” was the headline of a Politico account of the postelection retreat of the party’s senators, who had convened in the pointedly un-Brooklyn redoubt of Shepherdstown, West Virginia. Democrats must heed the rural white enclaves, repeatedly instructs the former Pennsylvania governor and MSNBC regular Ed Rendell. Nicholas Kristof has pleaded with his readers to understand that “Trump voters are not the enemy,” a theme shared by the anti-Trump conservative David Brooks. “We’re Driving to the Inauguration With a Trump Supporter” was the “Kumbaya”-tinged teaser on the Times' mobile app for a roundup of on-the-ground chronicles of these exotic folk invading Washington. Even before Trump’s victory, commentators were poring through fortuitously timed books like Nancy Isenberg’s sociocultural history White Trash and J. D. Vance’s memoir, Hillbilly Elegy, seeking to comprehend and perhaps find common ground with the Trumpentariat. As measured by book sales and his appeal to much the same NPR-ish audience, Vance has become his people’s explainer-in-chief, the Ta-Nehisi Coates, if you will, of White Lives Matter.

...[I]t’s one thing for the Democratic Party to drain its own swamp of special interests and another for it to waste time and energy chasing unreachable voters in the base of Trump’s electorate. For all her failings, Clinton received 3 million more votes than Trump and lost the Electoral College by the mere 77,744 votes that cost her the previously blue states of Michigan (which she lost by .2 of a percentage point), Wisconsin (.8 point), and Pennsylvania (.7 point). Of the 208 counties in America that voted for Obama twice and tipped to Trump in 2016, more than three-quarters were in states Clinton won anyway (some by a landslide, like New York) or states that have long been solidly red.

The centrist think tank Third Way is focusing on the Rust Belt in a $20 million campaign that its president, a former Clinton White House aide, says will address the question of how “you restore Democrats as a national party that can win everywhere.” Here is one answer that costs nothing: You can’t, and you don’t. The party is a wreck. Post-Obama-Clinton, its most admired national leaders (Biden, Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren) are of Social Security age. It rules no branch of federal government, holds only 16 governorships, and controls only 14 state legislatures. The Democrats must set priorities. In a presidential election, a revamped economic program and a new generation of un-Clinton leaders may well win back the genuine swing voters who voted for Trump, whether Democratic defectors in the Rust Belt or upscale suburbanites who just couldn’t abide Hillary. But that’s a small minority of Trump’s electorate. Otherwise, the Trump vote is overwhelmingly synonymous with the Republican Party as a whole.

That makes it all the more a fool’s errand for Democrats to fudge or abandon their own values to cater to the white-identity politics of the hard-core, often self-sabotaging Trump voters who helped drive the country into a ditch on Election Day. They will stick with him even though the numbers say that they will take a bigger financial hit than Clinton voters under the Republican health-care plan. As Trump himself has said, in a rare instance of accuracy, they won’t waver even if he stands in the middle of Fifth Avenue and shoots somebody. While you can’t blame our new president for loving “the poorly educated” who gave him that blank check, the rest of us are entitled to abstain. If we are free to loathe Trump, we are free to loathe his most loyal voters, who have put the rest of us at risk.

...You need not take a liberal’s word for this. The toughest critics of white blue-collar Trump voters are conservatives. Witness Kevin D. Williamson, who skewered “the white working class’s descent into dysfunction” in National Review as Trump was piling up his victories in the GOP primaries last March. Raised in working-class West Texas, Williamson had no interest in emulating the efforts of coastal liberals to scale empathy walls. Instead, he condemns Trump voters for being “in thrall to a vicious, selfish culture whose main products are misery and used heroin needles.” He chastises them for embracing victimhood by blaming their plight on “outside forces” like globalization, the Establishment, China, Washington, immigrants-- and “the Man” who “closed the factories down.” He concludes: “Donald Trump’s speeches make them feel good. So does OxyContin.”

Though some in Williamson’s ideological camp recoiled from his blunt language, he’s no outlier among conservatives. The popular blogger Erick Erickson tweeted last year that “a lot of Trump voters have failed at life and blame others for their own poor decisions.” His and Williamson’s line of attack echoes the conservative sociologist Charles Murray, most recently famous for being shouted down at Middlebury College in Vermont, where some remembered his co-authorship of The Bell Curve, a Clinton-era slab of spurious science positing that racial genetics play a role in limiting blacks’ performance on I.Q. tests. In a 2012 Obama-era sequel titled Coming Apart: The State of White America 1960–2010, Murray switched his focus to whites and reprimanded those in the lower strata for abandoning family values and civic virtues. (This time, the culprit was not the genetic code but the anything-goes social mores wrought by leftist 1960s counterculture.)

...The conservative contempt for Trump voters-- omnipresent among the party’s Establishment until the Election Day results persuaded all but the most adamant NeverTrumpers to fall into line-- would seem to give the Democrats a big opening to win them over. Bemoaning how his blue native state of West Virginia turned red well before Trump beat Clinton by 42 percentage points, the veteran liberal editor and author Charles Peters was hopeful the tide could be reversed with time and, yes, empathy: “If we don’t listen, how can we persuade?” he implored readers of the Times. Those who want to start that listening now can download an “Escape Your Bubble” browser extension to sweep opposing views into their Facebook feeds; both MSNBC and CNN have stepped up their efforts to expose their audiences to Trumpist voices. But getting out of one’s bubble can’t be a one-way proposition. It won’t make any difference if MSNBC viewers hear from the right while Fox News viewers remain locked in their echo chamber. Nor will it matter if hipsters-- or Democratic politicians-- migrate from the Bay Area and Brooklyn to Louisiana and Iowa to listen to white working-class voters if those voters don’t listen back. There’s zero evidence that they will. The dug-in Trump base shows no signs of varying its exclusive diet of right-wing media telling it that anyone who contradicts Trump, Rush, or Breitbart is peddling “fake news.” When Bernie Sanders visits West Virginia to tell his faithful that they are being raped and pillaged by Trump-administration policies that will make the Trump University scam look like amateur hour, he is being covered by MSNBC, not Fox News, whose passing interest in Sanders during primary season was attributable to his attacks on Clinton.

The most insistent message of right-wing media hasn’t changed since the Barry Goldwater era: Government is inherently worthless, if not evil, and those who preach government activism, i.e., liberals and Democrats, are subverting America. Facts on the ground, as Hochschild saw in Louisiana, do nothing to counter this bias. In his definitive recent book on the Rust Belt drug plague, Dreamland, the journalist Sam Quinones observes that “other than addicts and traffickers,” most of the people he encountered in his reporting were government workers. “They were the only ones I saw fighting this scourge,” he writes. “We’ve seen a demonization of government and the exaltation of the free market in America over the previous 30 years. But here was a story where the battle against the free market’s worst effects was taken on mostly by anonymous public employees.” In that category he includes local police, prosecutors, federal agents, coroners, nurses, Centers for Disease Control scientists, judges, state pharmacists, and epidemiologists. Yet even now, Reagan’s old dictum remains gospel on the right (Vance included): “The nine most terrifying words in the English language are: I’m from the government and I’m here to help.” In Portsmouth, Ohio, the epicenter of opiate-pill mills and of Quinones’s book, Trump won by a landslide. As he did in Ohio’s Butler County, where Vance grew up and which now ranks eighth among all American counties in the increase in the rate of drug-related deaths between 2004 (when opioid fatalities first spiked) and 2014.

As polls uniformly indicate, nothing that has happened since November 8 has shaken that support. And what are Trump’s voters getting in exchange for their loyalty? For starters, there’s Ryan-Trumpcare, which, on top of its other indignities, eliminates the requirement that Medicaid offer addiction treatment, which over the past two years has increased exponentially in opioid-decimated communities where it is desperately needed. Meanwhile, Trump’s White House circle of billionaires is busily catering to its own constituency, prioritizing tax cuts for the fabulously wealthy while pushing to eliminate rural-development agencies that aid Trump voters.

The go-to explanation for the steadfastness of Trump’s base was formulated by the conservative pundit Salena Zito during the campaign: The press takes Trump “literally but not seriously” while “his supporters take him seriously but not literally.” If this is true, then presumably his base will remain onboard when he fails to deliver literally on his most alluring promises: “insurance for everybody” providing “great health care for a fraction of the price”; the revival of coal mining; a trillion-dollar infrastructure mobilization producing “millions of new jobs” and accompanied by “massive tax relief” for all; and the wall that will shield America from both illegal immigration and the lethal Mexican heroin that has joined OxyContin as the working-class drugs of choice.

There’s no way liberals can counter these voters’ blind faith in a huckster who’s sold them this snake oil. The notion that they can be won over by some sort of new New Deal-- “domestic programs that would benefit everyone (like national health insurance),” as Mark Lilla puts it-- is wishful thinking. These voters are so adamantly opposed to government programs that in some cases they refuse to accept the fact that aid they already receive comes from Washington-- witness the “Keep Government Out of My Medicare!” placards at the early tea-party protests.

Perhaps it’s a smarter idea to just let the GOP own these intractable voters. Liberals looking for a way to empathize with conservatives should endorse the core conservative belief in the importance of personal responsibility. Let Trump’s white working-class base take responsibility for its own votes-- or in some cases failure to vote-- and live with the election’s consequences. If, as polls tell us, many voters who vilify Obamacare haven’t yet figured out that it’s another name for the Affordable Care Act that’s benefiting them-- or if they do know and still want the Trump alternative-- then let them reap the consequences for voting against their own interests. That they will sabotage other needy Americans along with them is unavoidable in any case now-- at least until voters stage an intervention in an election to come.

Trump voters should also be reminded that the elite of the party they’ve put in power is as dismissive of them as Democratic elites can be condescending. “Forget your cheap theatrical Bruce Springsteen crap,” Kevin Williamson wrote of the white working class in National Review. “The truth about these dysfunctional, downscale communities is that they deserve to die. Economically, they are negative assets. Morally, they are indefensible.” He was only saying in public what other Republicans like Mitt Romney say about the “47 percent” in private when they think only well-heeled donors are listening. Besides, if National Review says that their towns deserve to die, who are Democrats to stand in the way of Trump voters who used their ballots to commit assisted suicide?

So hold the empathy and hold on to the anger. If Trump delivers on his promises to the “poorly educated” despite all indications to the contrary, then good for them. Once again, all the Trump naysayers will be proved wrong. But if his administration crashes into an iceberg, leaving his base trapped in America’s steerage with no lifeboats, those who survive may at last be ready to burst out of their own bubble and listen to an alternative. Or not: Maybe, like Hochschild’s new friends in Louisiana’s oil country, they’ll keep voting against their own interests until the industrial poisons left unregulated by their favored politicians finish them off altogether. Either way, the best course for Democrats may be to respect their right to choose.
I'll pass on--like in refrain from participating in-- Rich's orgy of guilty pleasure. Iowa's first congressional district-- Dubuque, Cedar Rapids, Waterloo-- went for Obama 56.2% to 42.5% in 2012. Last year it flipped to Trump 48.7% to 45.2%. If TrumpCare passes 44,991 people will lose their health insurance in the district, and their far right multimillionaire congressman, Rod Blum is waving the TrumpCare flag-- but only if Ryan makes it even more restrictive and harmful. This is the last kind of district in the country I would want to abandon to the Republicans, let alone the Trumpists. Of the 20 counties in the district, the population base is in 4 and this 4 decide the elections. Here's how they voted in last year's Iowa Caucuses
Black Hawk Co.- Bernie- 3,647 (52.9%), Trump- 1,360 (23.0%)
Dubuque Co.- Bernie- 2,276 (47.4%), Trump- 1,087 (27.3%)
Linn Co.- Bernie- 6,331 (52.3%), Trump- 2,344 (20.2%)
Marshall Co.- Bernie- 960 (53.4%), Trump- 608 (26.1%)
Yep... Bernie would have won. His message would have won. Hillary was the wrong candidate for this district. And to make it worse, the DCCC forced a sack of garbage on the district as the nominee, a rich, clueless "ex"-Republican named Monica Vernon who, of course, EMILY's List was pushing. And Schumer and the DSCC insisted on another crap corporate pile of shit candidate, Patty Judge. There was no reason for any Democrat-- except a blue zombie-- to vote for either one of them. Sure plenty of people went dot vote against Blum and against Grassley, but the DCCC and DSCC lesser of two evils strategy failed and failed miserably. Judge got wiped out completely, losing the bluest counties in the district. In fact, she only won one small county in the entire state. She was the worst Democratic Senate candidate in a plausible race anywhere in the country and Schumer wouldn't hear of anyone else being the candidate but her. Judge got 23.7% of the vote statewide. She did't even break 40% in Dubuque or Marshall counties. She offered absolutely nothing to any voters other than she an unconvincing assertion that she wasn't as bad as Grassely. Vernon got her ass kicked as well. The wretched GOP extremist was reelected 206,273 (53.9%) to 175,447 (46.1%) primarily because Vernon had nothing to offer anyone in this D+5 district but an EMILY's List cookie. No, I'm not giving up on these people; I'd give up on the Democratic Party first.

Besides, there IS the RedNeckRevolt, which we should all be tuned into: "The history of the white working class is one full of resistance, collectively and individually, against the rich elite that hold power over all of our lives. From massive armed uprisings like the Battle of Blair Mountain in 1921, to the resistance to coal mining in predominately white rural Appalachia today, white working people have been in conflict with those that uphold predatory economic, political, and social systems. The history of the white working class is also one filled with collaboration with those same rich elite power holders. White working people have played the role of foot soldiers for the political and economic elite, participating in genocide and the enslavement of other peoples, and overall protectors of the ruling class. White working class participation in state and paramilitary organizations and formations like the Ku Klux Klan, the Minutemen, the U.S. Armed Forces, and the Council of Conservative Citizens has undermined the struggle for freedom among all people. It is with these conflicting histories in mind that we hope to incite a movement amongst white working people that works toward the total liberation of all working people, regardless of skin color, religious background, sexual orientation, gender identity, nationality, or any other division that bosses and politicians have used to fragment movements for social, political, and economic freedom."

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At 7:05 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

You're wasting your efforts. The vast majority of those voters have been voting for racists, fascists and Nazis for decades and won't change now. Their pavlovian hatred for anyone with a shred of empathy cannot be fixed. They're lost.

The only thing one can do, just as in '32, is to somehow hope the alternative "party" recognizes their duty and acts to reverse this 37 year luge ride to the bottom. Their last, best opportunity was in 2008 but the capture of the democraps by the money proved to be total. obamanation put corporations and goldman-sachs in charge of everything, did nothing to remedy anything and made many things notably worse... continuing the luge ride instead of putting on the brakes.

After the drumpf/$hillbillary moment of clarity, the democraps doubled down on their capture with their leadershit "elections" and capitulation in confirmation hearings.

So now, with the lost 60 million Nazi voters, there still exists something like 160 million eligible voters who could, if given an opportunity, provide a permanent majority on which to pivot this rocket sled and start the long ascent back to where Jimmy Carter left us in 1980. But as long as the democraps are felt to be the ONLY alternative to the Nazis, this cannot happen because fewer than 60 million will bother to participate in the charade of elections (when the money determines all outcomes).

That means killing the democrap "party", starving them of votes to make them irrelevant and go away. That means 160m coalescing around true leftist part(ies) and defeating forever the 60m Nazis. Or we could just let the Nazis have TX, OK and KS and we keep the rest. Something.

But the point is we have to get rid of the democraps and keep money from corrupting everything.

I know. It's nearly impossible. But if it doesn't happen, we're all in for a crash or a war.

At 8:55 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Re: "The toughest critics of white blue-collar Trump voters are conservatives. Witness Kevin D. Williamson, who skewered 'the white working class’s descent into dysfunction' in National Review ... "

There is no argument that conservatives are indisputably color-blind ... when it comes to trashing of the working class whether in words or, preferably, actions.

HRC called Herr Hair's working-class supporters "deplorables" and essentially ignored her own. We know where that got her.

John Puma

At 9:38 AM, Blogger Unknown said...

Clinton didn't lose because of "white working class" voters. She lost because the voters the Democrats, in their elitist arrogance, took for granted stayed home. They refused to vote for the candidate crammed down their throats, or voted for a third party. That's the little tidbit that somehow never manages to make it into any narrative from self-appointed experts like Mr. Rich.

Nor do those who, like him, embrace their entitlement grasp it either. As far as they're concerned, anyone who voted third-party or didn't vote at all are traitors who, like the "white working class" deserve Trump for daring to exercise their Constitutional right to have a candidate they could support, and to refuse to vote for one that clearly offers nothing they need or shows any sign of caring.

The establishment has perverted our elections into a real-life video game, in which the only thing that matters is who wins. Once that happens, too many people for too long have allowed the game to be turned off in favor of some other distraction because the disconnect between what happens in the voting booth and what happens in the council rooms, state houses and the Capitol is total.

At 10:10 AM, Anonymous SadOldProgressiveVet said...

Among the stupidest things that 'democrats' can do is to lump all 'white working class voters' together as if they are a monolithic homogeneous group that is completely unreachable. Did not anyone learn from Bernie's Townhall Meeting in West Virginia that those 'white working class voters' can be reached with a message that includes them if seen as being the 'real' beliefs of the person reaching out to them?

At 5:39 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

SOPV, you spake truth... but also missed the bull's-ear at the end.

White working-caste racists and dumbfucktards are the biggest reason the orange-utang and his proxy presidents (pence, bannon, etc.) are plowing government under.

White working caste leftys had nobody to vote for. Lots stayed home. The most easily terrified did vote for $hillbillary... but not enough to overcome caging and fraud and the racists/imbeciles.

The spectacle in WVA is merely a curiosity. Sure, when you asks them if they'd like health care and SSI and Medicaid and UI and disability and mine safety and clean air/water and healthy food... they all will heartily say "ayup". But when it is time to vote for R or D... they can only do the former... it's a pavlovian thing... or some kind of deeper pathology. Or they just have no clue which party wants them dead and which just wants to exploit them for the benefit of corporations. Or all of the above.


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