I mentioned in a previous post that MetaFilter was my island of sanity in the craziness of the US election.
But the reality is that MetaFilter was its own little bubble, in many ways more homogenous in its left wing, liberal orthodoxy than any other site was biased towards the left *or* the right.
Anyhow, on the one week anniversary of the election result (note: not of the election – it wasn’t until after midnight and really, the following morning, that the election *result* was confirmed that Hillary Clinton had lost the election) I thought I’d share some comments I Favourited in the Election Results thread (mostly from the second one that was quickly posted after the site crashed – something I’d never seen before):
Loss For Women/(White) Women Helped Elect Trump
No one should be surprised that it was men, especially white men, who handed Trump this election…But many people hoped that women who typically vote Republican — enough of them, anyway — would see Mr. Grab Them by the Pussy as a wake-up call about how the men in their lives really feel about women and would, if only this once, quietly vote against hate and for their own dignity and that of their daughters…That did not happen. Instead, as CNN exit polling has shown, 53 percent of white women, compared with 63 percent of white men, voted for Trump…Make no mistake, there are women in this country who don’t care if Trump eschews the Bible and instead is sworn in with his hand on the pussy of an unwilling woman, so long as he does so while threatening to screw over Mexicans and Muslims. As the essays about benevolent sexism have warned, women can be just as vile and hateful as men.
Women’s Stories Were Missed
Great twitter thread from @leahmcelrath regarding PN [PantSuit Nation – a Secret Facebook group for Hillary supporters that went viral near the election, growing to 3 million+ members], “enthusiasm,” and how the male-dominated journalism industry missed the mark. Some excerpts:
It turns out – as I’ve said repeatedly for a year – you don’t measure women’s “enthusiasm” via impersonal polls or rally attendance.
You measure women’s “enthusiasm” by creating a safe space and asking them what something means to them.
And then listening.
They missed the story by underestimating the presence of violence of many kinds in the lives of women and the impact of that violence.
When women DO come together, we are treated with derision, mockery, threats, and abuse by others.
But create a safe space (another term subjected to mockery) for women, and, within days, the space is receiving close to 300K POSTS PER DAY.
First woman candidate for POTUS nominated by a major party in 240 years and women’s stories were not told.
2012 Obama: 65.9m
2016 Clinton: 59.1m = -6.8m
2012 Romney: 60.9m
2016 Trump: 59m = -1.9m
You tell me what happened
It is really important we draw the right conclusion from this race:
Obama 08 69,498,516
Obama 12 65,915,795
Hillary 16 59,458,773
Bush 04 62,040,610
McCain 08 59,948,323
Romney 12 60,933,504
Trump 16 59,265,360
Yea, the 2016 numbers will inch up a bit, but the important point is, the media is being really misleading. Trump wasn’t carried to victory by a white wave, Hillary Clinton lost. What happened to the ten million missing Obama 08 voters and why didn’t they want to vote for Clinton?
Hillary’s Out-of-Touch Elitism
It’s worth noting Trump’s surprisingly good showing among both female and Hispanic voters. Beating Romney’s numbers, with 30% of Hispanic voters choosing an orange buffoon promising the ethnic cleansing of their own people over Hillary Clinton. Why? Because she offers nothing but tinkering around the edges and too many people, even if outwardly doing okay, are teetering on the precipice. Life expectancy is going down among the people who went most strongly for Trump. “What have you got to lose?” resonates with these people because the alternative is tinkering with the parameters of a system that has already sucked the hope out of them.
At my old job, I got to watch while my company did the work of this system. I saw lives, too many to count, ruined perhaps forever because of one unpaid Visa, one lost job, one illness. I would listen to people living in a trailer without water or electricity sobbing while they arranged to wire us cash from a predatory loan on their only means of transportation. Listening to the recording to confirm that yes, our collectors stayed within the law while we perpetrated this moral obscenity. Recently foreclosed people living in places with tarps for roofs, who used to have a good job that paid the bills, and now find themselves living in squalor with ten garnishments on their paycheque. This system elevated people like Clinton into the stratosphere of wealth and privilege, and it’s this system that Clinton has been defending as better for all of us when for so many that is simply risible. Every day, more and more, as Steinbeck said, “in the eyes of the people there is the failure; and in the eyes of the hungry there is a growing wrath.” I saw that anger festering, worried about where it would be channeled, and I guess now we know. For years the GOP had the nascent makings of a fascist movement waiting for that anger, and on the left there was nowhere for that anger to go, just a meek acquiescence to the wisdom of the liberal establishment.
Trump was selling a bill of brazen, disgusting lies, but at least he was selling something.
Those of us in the professional class, the same class that since McGovern has made up the liberal base of the Democratic Party, have once again failed completely while remaining safely ensconced in a bubble of upper-middle class comfort that allows us the privilege to cheer on a representationalist version of social justice promising that you too can throw the loaded dice, and if you’re lucky join us here on top of the heap, it doesn’t matter if you’re a woman, or black or Hispanic or queer.
Respect For Trump/The Office of President?
Don’t put up with Trump voters lecturing you today on civility or respect for our nation’s longstanding institutions.
This, this, this.
I have zero fucks to give about Trump voters’ feelings, and if I even hear them utter “respect the office, not the man”, I’m going to tell them to go fuck themselves. They’ve spent the last 8 years disrespecting Obama, and the last few decades disrespecting every possible longstanding institution of civility in our political process. Literally the only time they claim to care about mutual respect or longstanding tradition is when it is in their favor. Giving even the tiniest shit about civility is a losing game with them, because they will never reciprocate.
Hypocrisy of Evangelicals
Looking at the exit polls, certainly white men contributed a lot to Trump’s victory. They are 34% of the electorate and 58% voted for Trump.
But the real group that pushed Trump over the top was white born-again/evangelicals. They represent 24% of Americans but went 81% for Trump, an even larger factor than white men.
America is now run by evangelicals, men and women, who voted for the “grab them by the pussy” guy. Sorry, but I can’t abide any more talk about tolerance for evangelicals. These people are awful hypocrites that promote racism and misogyny.
Hypocrisy of Evangelicals (Part II)
Some of my takeaways from the NYT exit polling data:
* Trump doesn’t win on policy (surprise surprise): large majority of voters support legalization of illegal immigrants already here, majority of people oppose a border wall, voters close to evenly split on benefits/drawbacks of trade
* Hillary would have crushed Trump 59-35 without the white evangelical/born again vote. This is pretty different from Obama 2012, who won non-(white-evangelical)/born again by only 1% 49-48.
* Hillary won 52-42 on those with economic concerns listed as most important issue (which was by far the most important issue listed); lost on immigration and terrorism
Mentally I’m zeroing in on the white evangelical bit. It’s a nice tidy explanation for authoritarianism and brinkmanship and general faith in bullshit. Oh and I guess the Supreme Court issue fits with that as well.
The Role of Celebrity in Trump’s Victory
I think celebrity is an under-analyzed factor here. Look at the last time Wisconsin went red—it was for Reagan, another screen personality. There used to be a critical view of celebrity culture on the left; recently it seems that this has shifted and this culture is viewed as harmless at worst, and potentially even empowering when it makes space for token members of oppressed groups. I think we/they are wrong. People conceive of the people on television as surrogate friends, even though the interaction is only ever one-way, and allow those celebrities unearned and unexamined influence over their thoughts and beliefs. It’s toxic and dangerous.
Understanding Trump Voters/Supporters?
All this talk of understanding. If we only understood them more. If we could just understand a little harder. Understand what? There’s this persistent belief that if we just listen to them more and more that there will be some grand pull-back reveal where: hey, they aren’t racist or misogynist or just plain fucking stupid and ignorant but we just need to fix x and y for them and they’ll totally be reasonable! It’s not going to happen!
I said this on the Brexit threads too, but there’s a lot of suggestion that liberals don’t know these people. Some/lots of us do. We hear them in private where they make the racist/misogynist comments, we heard them as children, we’ve heard them our entire lives.
Understanding Trump Voters/Supporters (Part II)
Trump must have been pretty spot-on with his rhetoric and advertising, so let’s look at the sort of things a plurality of American voters believe:
Mexicans are rapists and thieves, who steal American jobs.
Muslims are terrorists.
Refugees are very possibly terrorists, whether they’re Muslim or not.
African-Americans are uneducated people who live in bad areas that are filled with crime.
There is an global banking conspiracy aimed at keeping Americans poor, and it is headed by Jews.This is downright terrifying.
The Role of Facebook in Creating Echo Chambers
I have more than a creeping suspicion that events like Brexit and this election are fuelled more than we think by Facebook’s algorithms that present people with echo chamber views of what others are supposedly thinking & saying.
By presenting mainly only posts that validate the Facebook users’ preexisting values & allegiances, it creates spaces where facts are irrelevant compared with opinions and even deliberate lies.
Once it was that mainstream media could sway electorates towards whichever candidate or party the media’s owners preferred. Over here (and elsewhere), moguls like Murdoch still hold an incredible amount of undemocratic power, but I suspect it will become more clear over time that a lot of what is going on in the world is driven less by intent than by the clustering and siloing of opinions and interests by faceless algorithms.
Facts and verifiable truth or journalistic integrity don’t seem to be able to match up to these echo chambers, and for some reason it’s the xenophobic and hate-filled populists that appear to be either playing the systems better, or else inadvertently gaining the most advantage from the new media.
The Path to Fascism
From Richard Rorty’s Achieving Our Country: (1998)
Many writers on socioeconomic policy have warned that the old industrialized democracies are heading into a Weimar-like period, one in which populist movements are likely to overturn constitutional governments. Edward Luttwak, for example, has suggested that fascism may be the American future. The point of his book The Endangered American Dream is that members of labor unions, and unorganized unskilled workers, will sooner or later realize that their government is not even trying to prevent wages from sinking or to prevent jobs from being exported. Around the same time, they will realize that suburban white-collar workers—themselves desperately afraid of being downsized—are not going to let themselves be taxed to provide social benefits for anyone else.
At that point, something will crack. The nonsuburban electorate will decide that the system has failed and start looking around for a strongman to vote for—someone willing to assure them that, once he is elected, the smug bureaucrats, tricky lawyers, overpaid bond salesmen, and postmodernist professors will no longer be calling the shots. A scenario like that of Sinclair Lewis’ novel It Can’t Happen Here may then be played out. For once a strongman takes office, nobody can predict what will happen. In 1932, most of the predictions made about what would happen if Hindenburg named Hitler chancellor were wildly overoptimistic.
One thing that is very likely to happen is that the gains made in the past forty years by black and brown Americans, and by homosexuals, will be wiped out. Jocular contempt for women will come back into fashion. The words “nigger” and “kike” will once again be heard in the workplace. All the sadism which the academic Left has tried to make unacceptable to its students will come flooding back. All the resentment which badly educated Americans feel about having their manners dictated to them by college graduates will find an outlet.
How Democrats Need To Respond To Trump’s Victory
I am starting to think that the Democrats cannot run as moderate centrists anymore–the only thing that can challenge authoritarian populism is a very robust leftist populism. Medicare for all. Free public colleges. Universal basic income. Offer a bold vision. I think the Trump phenomenon is mainly a racist, xenophobic, sexist backlash, but there might be enough genuine economic anxiety to put together a winning platform if the Dems can convince people that they have their backs in the struggle against insane corporate greed and power.