TagDonald Trump

Voting for a Racist is the New Normal

“America is already great because America is good”
– Hillary Clinton

Two weeks ago, that statement was dealt a severe blow as Donald Trump became President-Elect of the United States. Just like many others in my circle, it landed like a hard blow and made me question my beliefs and assumptions about this country. I’ve lived here for little over 16 years now or rather in two Bush terms and two Obama terms and never have I felt more despair in terms of this country’s future and ideals. To be honest, I’ve not yet completely recovered much less heed to any advice of being open to the “other side”. It’s almost like America woke up suddenly and said, it’s a white country and you just live in it.

The more I read about this election especially after a grueling and anger-inducing 16 months of campaigning, the more I believe that white America stood up and stamped its authority over this country of immigrants. We often ask each other that how could anyone vote for Trump after what he said and has done throughout the course of his campaign and his earlier life? He and his supporters offended Mexicans and other immigrants, African Americans and other minorities, Jews, disabled people, and even women. He was caught on tape bragging about sexually assaulting women and a dozen women came forward confirming that he indeed had. He called Mexicans rapists and criminals and implied black neighborhoods have an infestation of crime. He mocked disabled reporters.

Well, maybe…just maybe they voted for him just because of those things and not in spite of them. Perhaps he was so generous in his hatred of various sections of the society that people focused on the things they hated too and ignored the rest. This may just be a form of cognitive deafness if you may. A Muslim woman who hates Mexicans, or a feminist who hates Muslim, or a Latino who is sexist, or, well, you get the picture.

Pundits are already spinning narratives on why Clinton lost but don’t pay heed to those. The race angle only makes sense. I don’t say this lightly since I do (still) believe America tries the most in attempting to address the scourge of supremacy of one race or religion over the other. Except in this election, Republicans actively sought to support the candidate who dispensed with the dog whistle and actively courted white supremacists and anti-Semites.

The Republican base had been clamoring for a more overtly radical and less politically-correct candidate since the GOP chose to nominate moderates like McCain and Romney. Instead this time when the base won out and they got the brash loud-mouthed lout, they came out in droves to support the nominee. Data shows Trump won a lot more Romney voters in red counties or at least enough to counter the increased Latino voters in Democratic counties. In my opinion, Clinton’s only electoral folly was that she appealed to the better angels of the GOP’s nature only to find out that there were none. The moderate and #NeverTrump-ers either went back to the Republican fold or simply were too few to matter. A majority of whites, whether they were college educated or not, voted for Trump.

The Rust Belt is not evolving as rapidly as the other parts of the country in coming to terms with the new economy. Resentment against declining job opportunities and resistance to training for the newer jobs [1] was redirected to the presence of immigrants. Fear in those parts worked much better than hope. People did not vote for Trump in spite of his despicable views but because of it. He forced them to dig up their primal fears and baser instincts of resentment and victimhood based on a false sense of racial superiority. Other moderates hadn’t made those fears explicit yet.

Subtle hints didn’t work, obvious hints didn’t work; ultimately you just had to say it out loud and repeatedly for those people to get it. No amount of talking to them about ‘economic anxieties’ is going to matter. I’ve lived for 8 years in one of the more conservative towns in the country where college-educated white conservatives consider a space space under a Republican administration and a Democrat administration. The fear is real. No one was talking about reaching across to the liberals once Obama got elected in a far bigger mandate. They just got down to work and decided to beat liberals and in 2010, they laid the groundwork of doing just that.

However, to end on a slightly positive note, it turns out that just over 100,000 voters in three Rust Belt states (Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin) decided the election in which 130 million people voted in a country that has more than 320 million people. Of course, it was the Democrats much vaunted blue wall that cracked; however the signs have been there for a while now. So if there’s any reason to hope it’s that the majority of this country doesn’t subscribe to those views. As votes are still being counted, Clinton continues to increase her lead in the popular vote and may end up with at least 2 million votes or around a 2% margin. That’s a point and a half over Al Gore who also won the popular vote while losing the presidency. That’s progress; rest is just electoral college reality.

Footnotes:
  1. We see this as part of our professional jobs []

A Zero Sum Voting Game

I love Glenn Greenwald and his work. He is one of the more honest journalists out there and heck, I even agree with most of his Clinton criticisms although these days he’s a tad too obsessed. In the tweet above, he’s correct, criticism of Clinton doesn’t equate support for Trump but when it comes down to voting, if you don’t vote for Clinton, it’s effectively a vote for Trump. In most multi-party democracies, that wouldn’t be true but in a republic like America where there’s effectively a duopoly, that’s an unfortunate side effect.

As much as Bernie or Trump supporters would say, it’s not exactly a conspiracy by the Republicans and the Democrats to maintain their stranglehold. The main culprit is the winner-take-all electoral system in the general election. Given this system, voters align themselves strategically and you eventually end up with just two main options. Even if it may seem that the parties themselves have at least two factions, eventually both factions vote for the party nominee and the election boils down to the few battleground states with the small number of undecided swing voters. It’s not easy to change the system since it depends on each individual states to do so. Right now, only Maine & Nebraska divvy up their electoral votes. If any large states especially battleground states like Ohio or Florida choose to do so without others following suit, they would instantly lose their importance. It can only be done if all states do it which seems highly improbable.

The Democratic primary is a proportional system and that’s why Bernie is still in the race because theoretically although highly improbable, he can still win. If the Democratic primaries were also winner-take-all, Hillary would be the nominee after New York. I made the following tweet just before New York primary and New York has 29 electoral votes [1].

The Republicans have a mishmash of proportional allocation, winner-take-most, and winner-take-all. This was done primarily after 2012 when Romney couldn’t lock down the nomination but now it has come back to bite them in the ass coz it’s helping Trump. The race would be wide open if it was proportional allocation.

Getting back to Greenwald’s tweet, this general election, it’s going to come down to Hillary or Trump. Either you vote for one of these candidates or you’re effectively risking seeing the other person winning even if you choose to stay at home. It all boils down to which candidate you do not want to win and how bad and not really about whom you want to see as President. This time the stakes are that high.

This Quora answer makes a great case on whether voting for someone because they’re the lesser of two evils is a good reason and the author says that, “it’s not just “a good reason”. It’s the only reason“; mostly because whether you vote or not, someone among the two is going to be President. So if you along with your purist friends don’t vote while waiting for the perfect candidate, you may end up with a candidate who is the greater of the two evils. In that case, you along with others suffer the consequences for a long time [2]. There is no perfect candidate and even if there is, unless you’ve the majority of people thinking that, you’ve to make hard choices and go with the pragmatic choice. If you don’t show up to vote, you’re part of the problem and would’ve no legitimate reason to complain later.

In this election, it’s more than clear on who is the lesser of the two evils although I don’t think she’s in the same ballpark to even compare. Hillary Clinton would still be better than any generic Republican candidate in today’s era. That said, if you still find faults with here, there is no reason to stop criticizing Clinton even after she is sworn in as President. But vote you must.

Footnotes:
  1. She’s at 315 right now []
  2. The next President may nominate as many as four Supreme Court Justices thus leaving a legacy for more than a generation []

Responding to authoritarianism with segregation

With the rising popularity of Donald Trump; at least within the GOP, I made the following observations on Twitter:

Responding to the tweet, Supremus sent me this link documenting the rise of American authoritarianism. Rooted in political science research, the article makes an effort to understand this recent fondness for Trump. It’s the perfect storm of having just the right bigoted/racist individual running at the time when racial diversity is on the rise.

In an influential 2005 book called The Authoritarian Dynamic, Stenner argued that many authoritarians might be latent — that they might not necessarily support authoritarian leaders or policies until their authoritarianism had been “activated.” This activation could come from feeling threatened by social changes such as evolving social norms or increasing diversity, or any other change that they believe will profoundly alter the social order they want to protect. In response, previously more moderate individuals would come to support leaders and policies we might now call Trump-esque.

Other researchers, like Hetherington, take a slightly different view. They believe that authoritarians aren’t “activated” — they’ve always held their authoritarian preferences — but that they only come to express those preferences once they feel threatened by social change or some kind of threat from outsiders.

But both schools of thought agree on the basic causality of authoritarianism. People do not support extreme policies and strongman leaders just out of an affirmative desire for authoritarianism, but rather as a response to experiencing certain kinds of threats.

I found this interesting because not only does it confirm our fears of what is happening right now in the Presidential race but it also confirms a theory in housing and neighborhood change; something that’s up my alley.

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Sadly, I agree. Even the most optimistic person may pause and think that this is plausible. This is the state of the GOP today.

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