Category Archives: Politics

thinking about Trump

From what I have read, Trump didn’t really expect to win any more than we expected him to win.  Now he is scrambling.  The man is simply unprepared to be president.  Let us hope he gets his act together quickly.  I have been avoiding the news, but the headlines about his advisor-choosing process are stressing me out a little.  I do believe the debacle of the W presidency had a lot to do with bad advisors and bad influence, and I fear a repeat.  I would guess at this point, despite all his rhetoric, that Trump doesn’t really have a clue what he actually wants to accomplish and how he would go about it.  That means he’s going to be figuring it out over the next few months, and things could really go in any number of directions.

I went on Facebook shortly after the election seeking to find other like-minded individuals who were similarly disheartened by Trump’s election.  I did find this, but what I also found that I didn’t expect was an incredible amount of hate and vitriol directed at Trump voters.  Honestly, I was taken aback and disgusted.  I’m not talking about the posts expressing sadness that people who would vote for someone who speaks as Trump does and expressing concern over our country’s future.  I’m talking about the ones who insist anyone who votes for Trump is a racist asshole.  It seems too much to hope for that the liberal establishment will look in the mirror and ask how it is flawed and how they can improve so that someone like Trump isn’t an appealing alternative to their candidate.  I see a divide between my friends who grew up in affluent, urban areas and those from rural areas, particularly the rural south.  While nearly all my friends and colleagues are liberal, those who came from areas where there is widespread rural poverty and unemployment due to factory shutdowns are much  more likely to be sympathetic to the plight of the Trump voter whereas the former are more likely to dismiss them as stupid and bigoted.

I do feel anger, but I honestly don’t feel it towards Trump voters.  I know plenty of people who voted for Trump.  The people I know who voted for Trump are mainly single issue voters who vote pro-life no matter what.  (I know a lot of people think pro-lifers are inherently evil, and I obviously don’t agree with this point of view either.)  There are two groups I feel anger towards.  1: Democrats and Liberals who stayed home.  Voter turnout was very low.  My understanding is that more than Trump receiving a lot of votes, he won because Hillary won so few.  2: Hold your nose and vote Hillary voters.  Yes, these people voted, but their rhetoric dissuaded others from voting.  Needless to say, anyone who didn’t vote or who voted third party gets no sympathy from me if they complain about Trump.

Four years.  I want to say to the Democrats, Let’s get it together people!  Much as I love Hillary (and hate Bernie), the Democratic candidate slate for 2016 was weak and limited.  The Republicans sort of dissolved into Trump disarray, but they had a large group of diverse candidates, similar to the Democrats in 2008.  Let us hope some new liberal leaders will emerge in the next four years.

Trump

Holy shit.  I cannot believe Trump might actually win this thing.  Maybe it’s naivete caused by living out here in liberal-land – I know a grand total of ONE Trump supporter that I’m aware of in WA and dozens on the other side – but I felt it was a slam dunk for Clinton.  The NyTimes said she had a 90% chance of winning yesterday.  Now they’re saying 70% for Trump (which I guess goes to show how much they know.)  Honestly I’m furious.  H says it’s sexism.  Is he right?  I’ve been blown away by the vitriol directed at Clinton by some liberals around here and the ridiculous support for Sanders.  If not sexism, what is the problem?  What leads people to think that having Trump in charge is going to lead to a better outcome?

I was told by a colleague that I was sheltered recently.  He wasn’t directing his comment specifically at me, but more generally at all of us well-paid, over-educated, liberal engineers so far separated from the people who feel they’re losing their path to well-being.  At the time, I thought, yes, we are sheltered, but still . . . Trump will not win.

I am honestly afraid for our country if he wins.  I’m not worried about the wall between here and Mexico or his sexism, though these things are obviously troubling.  I’m worried about the vast amount of military power he will wield if he wins, and the incredibly difficult tightrope our president will have to walk in dealing with ISIS and Iran and Russia and so on.  The world is a perilous place and Obama, in a way, has kept us safe for eight years, as well as averting a general meltdown.  I’m not confident Trump can do the same.  And please spare me the talk about moving to Canada.  If things go south in the great USA, of the whole Western world will suffer.

Bush caused a lot of harm in his eight years.  I fundamentally believe Bush was a good guy, but incompetent.  I think Trump is both a bad guy and also a loose cannon.

And if only Hillary had won over Obama eight years ago, she would have taken the general election, I’m guessing Obama could have won in 2016.

reflecting on politics

I saw an interesting suggestion to check your Facebook and see how many supporters the various candidates have in terms of likes for their pages among your friends.  I had to change to the mobile version.  In my case:

9: Hillary Clinton

0: Donald Trump

4: Gary Johnson (Libertarian)

6: Bernie Sanders

0: Ted Cruz

Now, obviously, this is only a small fraction of my FB friends, so it’s probably not very representative.  Nevertheless, I find it interesting that not a one of my FB friends like Trump enough to like his page.  Supposedly, 39% of Americans support Trump, at least to the extent of planning to vote for him.  I have never personally met a Trump supporter.  Not a one!  Have you?  I’ve written on here before that I can understand why some people might like Trump, even if I disagree with them, but I guess I don’t really have any friends that would or do.  (Who might like Trump?  Someone who has lost their job to globalization and otherwise feels left behind in our new global economy and ignored by the Democrats with their focus on social issues and series of trade agreements.)  There are some very conservative folks at work, not surprisingly, but certainly none of them have given any indication of actively liking Trump, though I imagine some of them will vote for him.

Of course, many people who don’t particularly like Trump will hold their nose and vote for him anyway, exposing our country to great peril.  For example, a passionate pro-lifer who really feels that abortion is state-sanctioned baby-murder, may feel compelled to vote for Trump, despite the fact I believe he is really pro-choice at heart.  Why?  The Supreme Court.  There will be a lot of Supreme Court voters on both sides, I would guess, people who dislike both candidates but recognize the stakes.

Really, I feel Hillary cannot lose as long as she keeps her health and avoids major scandal.  Demographics and the mood of the day are in her favor.  But she is not young.  Her VP pick is not perfect, but overall, I think he’s a good choice, and I suppose he would probably be able to step in if she had a heart attack before the election.  Let’s hope that doesn’t happen.

Assuming all goes as expected and Hillary wins in a landslide, what happens next?  I vaguely remember Democrats getting trounced in elections, but I don’t remember them completely reinventing themselves.  They may have done so, and I was just too young to notice.  Remember Dukakis?  He lost badly.  Trump may lose even more badly.  But what is the right path for the Republicans?  I’d suggest that the party might collapse, but again, both parties have gone through hard times before, and they seem to be able to evolve and become successful again.

 

the ignorance of Brexit voters

Since I wrote my last blog entry, I’ve been shocked and unimpressed by the media coverage of Brexit.  The two major newspapers I read, WaPo and the NYT, have seemed to delight in mocking the apparent stupidity of the voters who voted to leave.  This article captures my thoughts perfectly, and much more intelligently than I can.

WaPo has had a series of headlines like the following:

1.) The British are frantically Googling what the E.U. is, hours after voting to leave it

Are you kidding me?  While there was an uptick in googling “What is the EU?”, if you read the article, you’ll note that this is one of the top five search topics about the EU.  I would expect this is true all of the time and for most topics.  In other words, it’s a red herring and pure mockery of Britons, and in particular those who voted to leave.  Condescension much?

2.) Voters in one fading port town wonder if they were misled

In addition to being too stupid to know what the EU is, impoverished Brexiters apparently also can easily be swayed by wily politicians.

3.) Brexit is a reminder that some things shouldn’t be decided by the people

Demoracy is only good as long as those pesky voters vote the way you want.  Don’t let them get too uppity!  (I know, I myself argued that it was sketchy to decide this by referendum – and I stand by that.)

4.) After residents voted for Brexit, this British county realized the E.U. might stop sending them money

Could this headline possibly be more condescending?

ALL of the above headlines are from WaPo, which essentially has been reeling at the thought that the stupid, xenophobic, racist, don’t-know-what’s-good-for-them voters of the UK have rejected almighty globalism.  Globalism allowed me to buy a lovely outdoor sectional for $500 instead of $1500, but what about the people in SW Virginia who used to build the sectional, had healthcare and regular hours and a pension, and now work in food service if they work at all?

I love some of the quotes from the article I linked:

Media reaction to the Brexit vote falls into two general categories: (1) earnest, candid attempts to understand what motivated voters to make this choice, even if that means indicting one’s own establishment circles, and (2) petulant, self-serving, simple-minded attacks on disobedient pro-leave voters for being primitive, xenophobic bigots (and stupid to boot), all to evade any reckoning with their own responsibility.

It’s not just media reaction – many people’s reactions can also be classified as above.  Don’t fall in category #2!

Gary Younge similarly denounced “a section of the London-based commentariat [that] anthropologized the British working class as though they were a lesser evolved breed from distant parts, all too often portraying them as bigots who did not know what was good for them.” Ian Jack’s article was headlined “In this Brexit vote, the poor turned on an elite who ignored them,” and he described how “gradually the sight of empty towns and shuttered shops became normalized or forgotten.”

The American media, at least WaPo and NYT are doing the same to the “working class.”  (They’re only the working class when they’re voting for Trump – when they vote for Clinton, we call them the middle class and talk about how tough they have it.)

It’s natural — and inevitable — that malignant figures will try to exploit this vacuum of authority. All sorts of demagogues and extremists will try to re-direct mass anger for their own ends. Revolts against corrupt elite institutions can usher in reform and progress, but they can also create a space for the ugliest tribal impulses: xenophobia, authoritarianism, racism, fascism. One sees all of that, both good and bad, manifesting in the anti-establishment movements throughout the U.S., Europe, and the U.K. — including Brexit.

The point shouldn’t be to rail against Brexiters or Trump supporters for being racist and/or stupid, but perhaps to ask why they might have voted differently than we would prefer them to.  I am frightened at the thought of a Trump presidency, and we are one major Clinton health event away from having it.  But we deserve what we get.

As Bevins put it, supporters of Trump, Brexit, and other anti-establishment movements “are motivated not so much by whether they think the projects will actually work, but more by their desire to say FUCK YOU” to those they believe (with very good reason) have failed them.

INDEED, MEDIA REACTION to the Brexit vote — filled with unreflective rage, condescension, and contempt toward those who voted wrong — perfectly illustrates the dynamics that caused all of this in the first place.

The same is true of academic elites, financial elites, and political elites. Elites love the status quo that has given them, and then protected, their elite position.

I freely admit to loving the status quo.  It’s why I like Hillary.  But unlike some other liberals, I can comprehend why some people who are not doing as well as I am might want a change.  And voting for the Democrats is not voting for a change – and please don’t blame the Republicans for that.

In general, the Democrats talk a lot about inequality – but their drumbeat solution is to raise taxes.  How much does that help my former sofa-maker food service worker in SW Virginia?  Not bloody much, I’d warrant.  This person needs a job, and the fact that Trump is actually talking about jobs is shockingly novel.  In some lights, Obama has done well with regard to employment, but in other lights not so much.

Something is rotten in the U.S. economy. Poor men without a college degree are disappearing from the labor force. The share of prime-age men (ages 25-54) who are neither working nor looking for work has doubled since the 1970s.

I’m getting off topic here, but please WaPo, no more articles about the low IQ of Brexit voters.

brexit

I find the furor over the Brexit really interesting.  I think a lot of the uproar is due to the fact that the so-called elite clearly did not want this, but the “common man” spoke.  The elite have turned to FB and other outlooks to release their scathing commentary about the pain the Brexiters will suffer as a result of their so-called ignorance, racism and xenophobia.  (I am really tired of these epithets being used as political arguments.)  The media has covered Brexit with a decidedly negative slant, but it seems the Brits were unswayed.  What’s crazy to me is that this is decided by referendum.  Whose bright idea was that?  Shouldn’t this be a decision made by Parliament?  It seems crazy to me that 51% of the population can hold sway and enact a change that 49% is opposed to.  They say it will take years for Brexit to actually occur, by which time demographic change due to immigration and ageing might actually tip the balance the other way.

The implication I didn’t consider was Northern Ireland.  That country has had a fragile peace for nearly 20 years.  Many people are irresponsibly, in my opinion, speculating about NI joining Ireland.  My opinion is that will absolutely not occur in the next 20 years.  It’s foolish to predict anything about anything much farther in advance than that, but for many of the Protestants in NI, they’d rather become part of Pakistan or Poland than part of Ireland.   As far as I could tell by looking at the map, it seemed like traditional Catholic areas voted to stay in the EU and traditional Protestant areas voted to leave.  Hopefully the outcome won’t disrupt the peace.

I think the UK will do just fine on its own, provided it stays the UK.  If it cannot stay united – if Scotland were to leave, for example – that could be very problematic.  The EU to me is more of a concern.  From a world stability perspective, it seems very desirable to me that the EU is united.  There are a few great powers in the world – the US, the EU, Russia, and some rising powers, China in particular.  I am concerned about the future in terms of Russia and China, and if the EU is dissolved,  I think it’s a great risk for the US.  It seems like the Eu hasn’t been particularly well run.  A lot of countries, no doubt including the UK, resent being bossed around by Germany.  The elder Brits, among other things, decided they would not allow the Germans to take over on their fourth attempt.  The countries just can’t seem to get along.  It reminds me of the Federation of States that preceded the Constitution in our country.  But the countries are so different in Europe – they don’t even share a language.  Their recent history is widely varied.  Is it really possible for them to maintain a viable union?   I hope so.

a wonderful day

I am so happy that we have a woman running for president.  It just makes me feel happy in a way that I find hard to articulate.  I’ve read about a lot of mothers telling their daughters about Hillary being the first woman to run.  I haven’t told L that.  Instead, I just casually showed her a picture of Hillary and told her she was running for president.  She doesn’t need to know that having a woman candidate is extraordinary and groundbreaking.

Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton gestures to the crowd at the start of her remarks during a primary night rally at the Duggal Greenhouse in the Brooklyn Navy Yard, June 7, 2016 in the Brooklyn borough of New York City. Clinton  has secured enough delegates and commitments from superdelegates to become the Democratic Party's presumptive presidential nominee. She will become the first woman in U.S. history to secure the presidential nomination of one of the country's two major political parties.

If you don’t like Hillary, I suggest reading her autobiography.  I grew up in a Clinton-hating household, and reading this was a revelation for me. I suddenly had to ask myself how, as an ardent feminist since early childhood, I could not support Hillary?

There is a long way to go between today and the presidency, but for now, I’ll take this major step and celebrate it.  Finally, 50% of the population can see someone in their likeness running for the highest office in the land.

socialist emigrants on socialism

Interesting article on Bernie.  Apparently he is exceedingly unpopular among Russians and Ukrainian immigrants – you know, people who have actually lived under Socialism.  He gave a speech near the apartment where he grew up which is now primarily inhabited by Russians.  Some quotes from those living there:

Asked what she thought of him, Ms. Lazareva laughed with delight. “Oh, I hate him!” she said.

Ms. Lazareva, who hails from Moscow, recalled waiting in line for three hours each morning to get a jug of milk as a little girl living under communism. “If you lived under socialists, you’d hate them too,” she said. “They make everyone poor.”

And:

She was unmoved. “Everyone will be hungry, everyone will be poor,” she said. “If it will be Sanders, we will have the same here. Everybody who comes from a communist country, Russians, Eastern Europeans, even Latinos from Cuba, feel this way. When you know what will happen, when you see it — you’re Republican.”