On Trump and what yesterday’s election means

Some people wonder why Trump gets so much devotion and why his party has been forced to follow him. He has done something very simple and very effective: He has listened to what makes his constituents angriest, validated them issue by issue, and tried to mold policy to addressing those issues. No one else has done this, so no one else gets the kind of devotion Trump gets. That’s why he could shoot someone in Times Square at noon and get away with it. That’s why his constituents will ignore his every fault, including his incessant lying and his ignoring of law. The guy with a reputation for not listening listened to the right people, listened way more comprehensively than anyone else, and has been unprecedentedly consistent about keeping his focus on those issues.  That’s what makes him look like he’s not a politician. 

The problem is in what makes his constituents angriest. So much of it is myths. “Terrorists are coming over the border from Mexico.” No they’re not. Terrorists take the far easier route of flying in on student visas. So far, none have come from Mexico. All that illegal immigration and no terrorism. “Minorities have so many advantages that the majority is under terrible attack.” Bullshit. Anyone who is threatened by “Happy Holidays” is a complete fucking cretin, that’s just a courtesy to include everyone. There isn’t a shred of evidence that anyone will ever keep Christians from worshipping, being employed, being elected to public office (who’s our Vice President again?) or dominating December retail. No, White people are not being threatened. When Whites are finally a plurality rather than the majority, nothing will happen. No one outside of demographers will even notice. No legislation up to this point has resulted in the White population being worse off than any other population and if you think I’m wrong, ask yourself who you’d trade places with. “Democrats are going to take all your guns.” How many Democrats in positions of power have you heard suggest a repeal of the Second Amendment? “We’re at risk of being ruled by Sharia law.” Please. The Muslim population is relatively tiny and I have never seen any data indicating that a majority of Muslims in America want Sharia to become civil law here. “Spanish will replace English in the United States.” No it won’t, any more than Yiddish did in New York. Use of foreign languages is a function of how recent immigration is and because Spanish speaking immigrants keep coming in large numbers, we tend not to notice the amount of assimilation that has happened to Spanish speaking populations that have been here longer. No one who grows up here isn’t fluent in English. “The Chinese are taking advantage of us.” Actually, that one’s true. 

Not only is so much of it myths, so much of it demonizes populations of Americans, and when the White House indicates in a bunch of ways that demonization is OK, that has consequences. Like a major rise in hate crimes, the most recent big one being Squirrel Hill. 

What yesterday’s election proved (among other things) is that a lot of the American population either approves of demonization or doesn’t care enough to think stopping it is a major enough issue to sway a vote. And that, more than anything, is what will make minorities hate Republicans. Not all minorities, but a lot. If you’re still asking yourself why Black people vote Democratic, you might as well stop asking. If you have Black neighbors or coworkers and you voted Republican, what you’re likely to hear is some version of “We are now less safe. Black boys have to be taught to be extra careful around the police because we are actively afraid of getting killed. Hate crimes are increasing and, at the same time, pressure on the police to clean up their act when it comes to Black suspects is decreasing, both of which are a consequence of Republicans in power. What you just did was show that my life isn’t important enough to affect your vote and you have the nerve to ask why I have a problem with you. Yes, I understand that your vote wasn’t due to race in a conventional sense, race wasn’t on your mind at all, but your vote says that as far as you’re concerned, Black Lives Don’t Matter. And then you wonder why BLM exists. You’re why.” 

Views: 135

Comment by Maui Surfer on November 7, 2018 at 6:28pm

of loser, jealous, scumbag fucking haoles

Comment by Ron Powell on November 7, 2018 at 7:33pm

Kosh, you couldn't be More wrong here...You' trying to "sell" ...

Protecting racism gives the "protector" an easy escape from accountability for  his/her own racist thoughts and behaviors.

Enabling racism implicates the enabler in a manner which is inescapable...

The prosecutors at Nuremberg would never allow those incriminated and on trial to escape criminal liability with a rationale as faulty as you are presenting here... 

"I was just doing my job". Or "I was just following orders." Were flimsy and considered  impermissible as an affirmative defenses to perpetrating and perpetuating the Holocaust...

Just as, "I'm protecting racism but, I'm not a racist." would and should be deemed impermissible as a mitigating factor or functionally viable distinction......

Any lawyer or advocate worth his or her salt would chew that up and spit it back at you without so much as a flutter of an eyelash...

The simple fact is, the Nuremberg prosecutors would see absolutely no distinction between a protector of Nazism, an enabler of Nazism and an avowed Nazi with the stain of Jewish blood still on his hands...

Accuse me of splitting hairs or being overly technical if you will but my guess is you'd rather have me in court on your side than trying argue your case pro se...

Comment by koshersalaami on November 7, 2018 at 8:08pm

You can just as quickly say “I’m enabling racism but I’m not a racist” as “I’m protecting racism but I’m not a racist.” You can enable racism by doing nothing. Protecting implies a more active role, and a more active role is more damning. I don’t mind splitting hairs but I think these are being split in the wrong direction. Don’t think that because “enable” doesn’t resonate as well as “protect” with our target audience that “enable” is intrinsically a stronger term. It isn’t. 

Of course I’m trying to sell. I’m always trying to sell because sales is exactly how we make political progress. Do you want to tell people who are enabling/protecting racism “fuck you” or ”what you’re doing hurts people for racial reasons and you will be responsible for it”? “Fuck you” just gets them to the polls voting Republican. 

You keep looking for me to want to talk about the scope of racism. What I want to talk about is concrete ways to reduce the consequences of racism. The first approach will probably work for mobilizing the base to outvote racists. The second approach aims at those who are at the border of racism but would probably rather not think that about themselves. That’s trickier. I’m after the audience we wrote the book for. 

We don’t get the Nuremberg prosecutors because we haven’t gotten anywhere close to winning the war. That’s fine if you’re in a position of power, but we’re not. We have to get there. One look at last night’s results show that we’re not there. Turnout was really high yesterday. My polling place ran out of I Voted stickers about noon and was open until 9:00 PM. If we lose close ones with high turnout, particularly if part of our base is kept from the polls by artificial means, we may be forced to pick up voters from the center. Shift a few of those and win. That’s where language becomes important. 

Comment by Ron Powell on November 8, 2018 at 5:41am

I'm not saying that enable is a stronger term than protecting...

I'm saying that there should not be any attempt to distinguish the two re accountability...

As I said, the term enable carries a specific meaning in professions such as social work or psychology and social workers and psychologists place a burden of responsibility and accountability on enablers of aberrant behaviors...Using another label to identify or describe those who would acquiesce or encourage aberrant behavior has not reached the level of a term of science, but may be considered a term of art..

I don't believe that making those who perpetrate and perpetuate racism comfortable about doing so achieves the desired result...

By the way, the Judges at Nuremberg believed in varying degrees of punishment, not varying degrees of guilt..

Comment by koshersalaami on November 8, 2018 at 6:29am

I’m not worried about making the people I’m accusing comfortable. I’m worried about making them get it in their terms. A lot of the people we’re trying to reach don’t talk to psychologists or social workers and they just view this as jargon. They view it as language that comes from a world they don’t respect. 

You told me earlier that if we were in a courtroom I’d want you beside me. If the trial was by judge, yes, but if by jury, no. Juries are full of people like Terry McMillan (I think that’s his name, the guy from NJ who used to blog here). Reaching them is an entirely different skill. I don’t know whether or not you have that skill but I do know that you don’t value it. Maybe it just galls you too much that you need something from those people. It’s galling, no question, but it’s also fact. Maybe you don’t think they can be reached. I’m reasonably sure some of them can. So was Dr. King. But to get them there you have to speak their language, address their concerns, show them the inconsistencies in their morality, because what will bother them most is inconsistencies in their morality. 

Did you ever notice that when I write about economics and the concentration of wealth that I talk about how bad it is for business? Did it ever occur to you to wonder why I do when such concentration of wealth has obvious moral issues? Why talk about business? Because conservatives don’t view extreme concentration of wealth as immoral; they view it as letting people who earned their wealth keep their wealth, regardless of the consequences to the general population. But while they value non-interference in the economy to the maximum extent possible, they also tend to be patriotic, there are respects in which they care about their country, and so I frame the issue by playing one of their values against another of their values. Now they have to either figure out a way to deny that widespread poverty and a damaged customer and tax base are bad for the country or to say outright that they don’t care that much about the good of the country. Whether or not I persuade them that another course of action is necessary, I’ve put a crack in the wall. I’ve created an internal conflict that sooner or later can bear fruit. 

The secret is to internalize the conflict. If you allow the conflict to remain strictly external, it’s just them against you. If that’s the case, don’t bother talking to them at all; all you’ll do is increase the probability that they’ll vote just in order to counter your vote. But that’s a formula for perpetual conflict. You don’t end up changing assumptions, you just keep your numbers up for as long as you can. That’s a lousy way to effect change. America is different from how it was when we were children because people changed assumptions. That’s why Jim Crow doesn’t exist any more and why most jobs are available to women and at equivalent pay. (Women don’t make as much as men on average more because they occupy different jobs than because they get paid less for identical work, which presumably still happens but on nothing like the scale it used to.) Women’s equality didn’ happen primarily because people insisted on gender neutral terminology like mail carrier instead of mailman, it happened primarily because people were made to understand that a lack of equal access and equal pay was obviously not fair and was based on assumptions that didn’t hold water. Men who continued to deny equal access had to view themselves as unfair people, and people don’t like to think that about themselves. 

That’s why I care about what language I think will reach them and what language I think will make them tune us out. I don’t think we can afford to make it any easier for them to tune us out. 

Comment by Dicky Neely on November 8, 2018 at 7:45am

Very good and provocative piece. You touched on many accurate points concerning the state of our country.

Comment by koshersalaami on November 8, 2018 at 10:12am

Dicky, thank you


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