Thursday, November 10, 2016


Not ready yet to say anything very coherent about either the election or our future. So this will consist of tidbits I've run across since the vote.
  • The labor historian Erik Loomis writing at Lawyers, Guns and Money had a couple of insights I found cogent.

    I do think the left will be OK in terms of being relatively ready to organize resistance.

    Without going deeply into it, he's concurring with an observation I might also make: unlike under Reagan or even Bush II, there's quite a lot leftish agitation that is alive and well. Fight for $15, for example. And by and large, after decades of internecine bullshit, a lot of forces have finally figured out what old Ben Franklin intoned: "If we don't hang together, we'll all hang separately."

    Loomis also opines, I think accurately, that

    I also think it’s pretty clear that presidential candidates need to be inspiring leaders more than any other quality. No one cares about policy. ...But in order to actually win a presidential election, the single most important skill is charisma.

    Insofar as we have a democracy, it exists within a consumer culture that demands sizzle. Loomis points out that this weighs against many women politicians who have crashed the arena by effort and smarts. Political charisma is currently gendered male. When some woman does crash through the ultimate glass ceiling, we'll learn what charisma in a woman pol looks like.
  • There are hints in the electoral map of a new and different pattern to our regional splits. Benjamin Wallace-Wells offers glimpse of this.

    The South has long been the conservative heartland. And, because the line of division between North and South traces the nation’s original fracture, we assume that between liberals and conservatives there is a profound historical cleavage, hard to repair. But the emerging conservatism of the Midwest and the growing progressivism of the southeast reflect much more recent changes. Maybe the regional cast of the country is not as fixed as we think.

    I know, that seems crazy on this awful day when Clinton could not win North Carolina or Florida -- or even make meaningful inroads in Georgia or Arizona. But, as a veteran of California's electoral wars through a racial transition, I remain convinced that demographic change can help. The coastal South and the Southwest may be more fruitful territory for progressive change at present than that wintry white Midwestern dead zone from which I migrated. We just got "schlonged" in President Trump's colorful phrase. It's time for some loose-brained reflections.
  • John Cassidy points out that journalistic conventions mean we have no idea who is really a member of our "working class."

    ... the relatively well-to-do went for Trump. According to the exit-poll figures, people who earn less than fifty thousand dollars a year—who make up a bit more than a third of the population—voted for Clinton over Trump by a margin of about eleven points, fifty-two per cent to forty-one per cent. The roughly two-thirds of the population who earn more than fifty thousand dollars a year voted for Trump. ... a lot of white voters without college degrees earn more than fifty thousand dollars a year. The lowest-paid voters tend to be younger people and minorities, and they went for Clinton. In that sense, she won the working-class vote.

    Our "professional" media seem incapable of accurately naming who the workers are -- nowadays, the working class consists of the people of color who serve their meals, clean their houses and care for their elderly relatives.
  • I'll give the last word here to Jamelle Bouie whose commentary has been searingly clear throughout this long election:

    White won.
    Here’s what we need to understand: This has happened before. For 10 brief years after the Civil War, a coalition of ex-slaves and white farmers worked to forge democracy in the former Confederacy. With the help of the federal government, they scored real victories and made significant gains. But their success spurred a backlash of angry whites, furious at sharing power with blacks and their Northern allies, murderous at the very idea of social equality. Those whites fought a war against Reconstruction governments, and when they won, they declared the South redeemed.

    ... After years of [mid-20th century] struggle, we had come to some agreement: We believed in equality. And when a black man won the presidency—the symbolic pinnacle of white power and white prerogative—we celebrated as a nation.

    Fifty years after the black freedom movement forced the United States to honor its ideals, at least on paper, it’s clear this was premature. Like clockwork, white Americans embraced a man who promised a kind of supremacy. We haven’t left our long cycle of progress and backlash. We are still the country that produced George Wallace. We are still the country that killed Emmett Till.


Anonymous said...

"[T]hat wintry white Midwestern dead zone"

I thought you were from Buffalo.

janinsanfran said...

Dear Anon: I am from Buffalo. Buffalo is economically and culturally not that different from Cleveland or Detroit, unless something has changed enormously. It just happens to be 420 miles by the Thruway from NYC. I was most recently there about 8 years ago -- sure seemed the same. Of course I could be wrong ...

Anonymous said...

Last I checked Buffalo is also GEOGRAPHICALLY closer to Cleveland than New York City.

Anonymous said...

Or less ambiguously, the distance from Buffalo to Cleveland is less than the distance from Buffalo to NYC.

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