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@krrp @John Seavey I don’t think either of you are wrong. Your ideas don’t have to be mutually exclusive. krrp is right- lots of members of the white working class felt ostracized because of the entrenched partisan nature of modern day politics. Trump made them feel like they had a dog in the race. He didn’t just attack Democrats and “PC Culture”, he went after the Republican establishment and trounced them handily. (Seriously go back and watch those debates. It was mostly all nonsense, but that nonsense sounded good to his ever growing base.) Suicide rates in the white demographic are increasing. Correlation to a slowly improving economy, at least from their standpoint. This isn’t a call to pander to racists, it’s a call to empathize with the people who voted for Trump in hopes of putting food on their tables.

Let me take a moment to address the racism that’s readily apparent in part of his base- how much of that base is up to smarter people then myself to figure out- and how we can combat that. We aren’t going to win anyone over by dehumanizing them like they dehumanize us. That tit-for-tat thinking is what’s causing this entrenched tribalism to further divide us. We can’t expect empathy from outsiders if we aren’t willing to extend that gift as well. You can argue about the fairness of having to extend an olive branch to them but – and this is the important part- it would be tactically unsound and unpragmatic to do so. Not unless you want the election every four years to be decided on narrower and narrower margins.

Secondly, what is racism in it’s essence? We say it’s fear of the other and a feeling of superiority. It’s US vs Them. What it really is class warfare masked literally by color. The haves convinced the have-nots, which in this case is the white workforce, that everyone that looks different wants to take their stuff- their jobs, their land, their money, their country. Racism is in the resources. You can’t hate on a full stomach. Snickers was on to something.

John Seavey you are correct- minorities did not show up in force like with Obama. Hillary did however lose minority votes to Trump. Just look at the Latino vote. White women are a minority too. Their vote was split between Trump and Hillary. We can’t afford to assume will just pull all of our base and not need to draw in votes from other political bases. It’s simple math; every vote for your team is a vote that every other team didn’t get. The candidate can focus on the base but that’s just preaching to the choir. At the very least, there needs to be grass-roots emphasis on attracting voters. Go door-to-door. Engage. Empathize.

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Christian Hansen said on November 13th, 2016 at 2:32 pm

@Darin

Moviebob put it better than I could as to how I feel about that. I recommend reading the full thing for more context.

“Here’s the thing: Regardless of whether Trump follows through on anything he’s proposed, he proposed it and “Flyover Country” voted for him. They voted for taking marriage rights away from gays. They voted for mass-deportation of immigrants. They voted for a Muslim ban. They voted for the wall. They voted for “gay conversion therapy” (that one’s on Pence – who is, explicitly or implicitly, your actual President in terms of the work. Just watch.) They voted for abortion restrictions. They voted for breaking bread with Putin. They voted for white nationalism. They voted for isolationism. They voted for America to back out of NATO. They voted to tank the economy by trying to force an unviable manufacturing-sector revival that can’t be accomplished and an “America first” trade policy that corporations will weasel out of easily while passing any actual costs onto consumers.

Even if that wasn’t why they voted for him (or why they THOUGHT they voted for him) …they knew it about it and voted anyway. Which can only means two things: They wanted to inflict deliberate harm on their fellow countrymen, or they wanted something else and figured that getting it was worth inflicting that same deliberate harm. No matter what’s to be gained… how can ANYONE from the “harmed” part of that equation be reasonably asked to build bridges and heal rifts? How do you get there?

Oh, I can imagine the Democrat PARTY getting there: Gearing up a gaggle of their best “relatable white guy” stable (“On Bernie! On Biden! On Kaine and O’Malley!”) and “Blue Dog” Senate candidates and dispatching them to the rusted-out hinterlands on the pretext of “Okay, when the Union lunchpail vote was a thing, it was OUR thing – let’s get it back!” Sure. That’s probably Strategy #1 for the 2018 midterms. What I can’t imagine is the ACTUAL power-base coalition of 21st Century liberalism – Blue State/Blue State-aspirant Millennials, LGBTQ people, people of color, immigrants, religious and cultural minorities, women, people with disabilities, etc – going along with it. Why should they? How can that be reasonably expected of them?

This isn’t that fucking Black Jeopardy sketch. This isn’t a matter of differences of opinion about regional economic priorities and mutual pop-culture acumen. Asking current loyal, active liberals to shake hands and find common ground with theoretically-persuadable Trump voters is not asking Hank Hill and Cleveland Brown to agree on a movie night pick. It’s asking them to “make nice” with people who just proved that they AT BEST were willing to see them suffer and possibly die in exchange for the vague possibility that someone MIGHT turn “The Plant” or The Old Steel Mill back on at some point in the near future. And it won’t be The Democrats trying to mediate common ground between the two: It will be The Democrats shoving marginalized, imperiled people with actual problems in front newly-emboldened white people with largely imagined/exaggerated problems and asking the marginalized people to swallow not just their pride but their basic sense of self worth and convincingly ask: “What can I do to make my life worth protecting to you?”

Forget not knowing how anyone summons the will to do that – I don’t even know how you ASK someone to so much as TRY to do that.

Someone, please.

Explain that to me.”

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mygif

“White people with largely imagined/exaggerated problems.” When whites have the highest suicide rates in the USA. When ‘flyover state’ Midwesterners have the highest suicide rate of any region in the USA. If they’re exaggerating, it’s a really good act.

“White people with largely imagined/exaggerated problems.” That right there is why we have to put up with 4 (probably 8) years of President Trump.

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mygif

@Kirala: Officially, yes, but functionally the Legislature is seperate from the President and is even supposed to be a check on his power (and vice versa).

You are right, though, that it is a pipe dream. But why not dream big? If Trump is as bad as people are thinking he may be, major changes could be coming. No crisis without opportunity, right?

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The Unstoppable Gravy Express said on November 14th, 2016 at 10:15 am

@krrp: Please note that I never said “all Trump supporters are racist”. I said that people who voted for a candidate, are the most directly responsible for the election of that candidate. And yet people seem to be in a rush to hold everyone accountable except for them.

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mygif

@Gravy: Holding Trump voters “accountable” is pointless. They already know they’re accountable, they voted for the guy. Denouncing them achieves jack shit.

But if you want to prevent Trumpalikes being elected in perpetuity, you have to change your tactics, which means taking a good hard look at what was wrong with those tactics, which will inevitably involve (hopefully constructive) finger-pointing on the Democratic side.

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mygif

Darin said: “At the very least, there needs to be grass-roots emphasis on attracting voters. Go door-to-door. Engage. Empathize.”

And I’m happy to do that. Heck, I’m happy to have a conversation with anyone who’s willing to engage and be friendly, and I don’t see that changing. The thing is, though, while it’s really nice to believe that we can fix this problem just by going out and talking to white Trump voters and convincing them through kindness and rational engagement that they have more in common with progressive causes than they think…

In practice, it’s electoral suicide to actually treat that as a viable strategy for winning in 2020. Progressives are not going to be able to swim upstream against the constant tide of Breitbart, Fox News and right-wing talk radio in any kind of meaningful numbers. Yes, after long hours of patient discussion you might get your elderly father or mother to turn off the stream of bullshit and listen to rational human beings for a while, but the Right has put together the single most pervasive propaganda machine in the history of the human race, and you’re not going to just make that go away through the power of positive discourse. Even those people who aren’t actively and hatefully racist themselves are being fed a view of the world that treats the danger presented by minorities as a given, and they’re going to come away with a skewed viewpoint that you can’t unskew quickly or easily, if at all. Because the power of cognitive dissonance means that once you start confronting them with uncomfortable truths, they’re far more likely to shut you out and return to the conservative media teat than they are to continue engaging. And all they’re going to hear from that is hate.

And as long as that’s the case, even if progressives do keep the lines of communication open, it can only be in the sense of a “come to Jesus” discussion, because the things we are arguing about are not fucking negotiable. Progressives aren’t going to agree that the Black Lives Matter movement are dangerous terrorists. We’re not going to agree that Planned Parenthood clinics are baby abattoirs. We’re not going to agree that “boys will be boys” and enthusiastic consent is too stringent of a standard for sexual assault. We’re not going to agree that gay marriage or gender-neutral bathrooms are “going too far”. This is both a moral and a practical stance–not only are these things unconscionable and racist to ask for, but giving in on these issues will lose progressives the votes of their core constituency due to apathy, while not gaining any meaningful amount of white rural voters because these people have been convinced that Democrats are criminals and tyrants.

Basically, even if any given individual Trump supporter can be reasoned with, engaged with, and is not an overt and vicious bigot themselves, the aggregate mass of Republican voters right now is motivated by racism and the progressive strategy has to take that into account. Engage all you want, but to win elections, Democrats have to hold true to their beliefs and trust that they fundamentally have more supporters than the other guy. It’s just a matter of getting them out to the polls.

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mygif

“We failed to reach them, therefore they must be unreachable, and evil to boot.”

Wonderful.

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@John Seavey: I don’t think they’re solely or even mostly motivated by racism. There are serious problems in rural and small town America, and they are not being addressed. Admittedly, this is because those same people continue to elect people who won’t address those problems, and in fact take pride in not doing so.

What the right needs is a Pope Francis. Someone who is willing to say “Look. The culture war and fiscal conservatism is important. But there are massive poverty issues that need to be addressed, and we have to figure out how before we start tearing each other apart. If that means increasing taxes in the short term and spending our political capital on places other than values issues, so be it.”

But as it stands, the Republicans can’t or won’t promise anything concrete (or to put it another way, anything that will cost money). It’s easier to scapegoat minorities, immigrants, the Democrats, and the like. In fact, I’m sure most of the establishment Republicans are sad that Clinton isn’t elected. I’m sure most of their plans revolved around using her as a punching bag, and now they have to actually govern, and take the consequences if they fail.

Not to mention, not all Trump voters really like Trump. Over half were only voting against Clinton as opposed to for Trump (that stat is from Pew in early September, couldn’t find anything more recent). Whether that was because of policy differences, sexism, sheer desperation, antiestablishment sentiment, or the Republican smear campaign, these people aren’t necessarily voting because they hate progressives or agree with Trump’s policies.

These people are drowning and you either have to help save them, isolate yourselves somehow, or go under with them. I don’t envy the American people right now.

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mygif

@Grazzt: I realize it sounds like slicing the salami a little thin, but there is a difference between “these voters are racist” and “these voters are motivated by racism”. Fox News showed a clip of two black guys hanging out in front of a polling place 95 times in two weeks as part of a narrative that Scary Black People were intimidating white voters out of participating in democracy, which is why Obama won. If you are a Fox News viewer, whether or not you are actively racist, your feelings on the legitimacy of the Obama presidency are motivated by racism because all your information comes from racists.

Now, my honest and personal feeling is that you don’t just accidentally gravitate to racist sources of news, and I think that there’s a certain amount of unexamined racial animus in even the most moderate Republican voter that leads them to have a confirmation bias in favor of racist commentators, but that’s really a debate for the philosophers. The point is that whether or not they are racist, they are being fed a stream of propaganda that promotes a narrative that is functionally indistinguishable from racism, and that is not something that can be changed in the short-term through discourse. Because you’re not going to be able to out-shout Fox News, and you’re probably not even going to be able to get conservatives to turn it off because in a struggle between someone who tells you what you want to hear and someone who tells you what you need to know, “want to hear” wins 99.99999% of the time.

Arguing about whether Trump voters are really racist or just got tricked into supporting a racist is a meaningless distinction, because either way, they’re not crossing over to vote Democrat even when Democratic policies benefit them. There just isn’t any meaningful way that Democrats can court these votes right now. This does not mean ” they must be unreachable, and evil to boot” (thank you, Robin, for demonstrating how civil discourse can sometimes be impossible when someone is determined not to hear your message) but it does mean that Democrats would be making a mistake by weakening their commitment to equality in order to court those voters.

Basically, you can engage with Trump voters all you want, but not at the expense of your core values and the people who do support you. And if that means offering a very small and tiny olive branch, well…they still have the option to take it if they want.

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mygif

@John Seavey: No disagreement there. That’s why I used drowning as my metaphor: the victim might be able to help himself, but you can’t rely on it and they’re just as likely to make it worse and drag down would be saviors.

And I’m not advocating any sort of peeling back of Democrat core values. I just think you can’t dismiss these people. If Trump just turns out to be a business as usual Republican, or a spectacular failure, they might turn elsewhere during midterms. But they won’t if there’s a narrative of of snooty liberals thinking their problems aren’t important.

Edit: And I am sure there will be such a narrative whether or not we’re snooty, but I am damned if I will contribute to it any more than I can help.

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mygif

Apologies, I thought we were basing things on facts, not our “honest and personal feeling”. How’s this for a fact: 33% of white Democrats believe black people are less evolved than white people (link above). They still vote Democrat.

You can absolutely “court” racists, you just offer them something that’s more valuable to them than racism. Milquetoast Third Way-ism isn’t going to cut it, and as long as Democrats keep doubling down on it they’re fucked (although there are signs of hope in that regard, Ellison getting the DNC chair would be a HUGE step forward).

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mygif

I think to some degree everyone is overthinking things. – large part of this problem is that Clinton is a horriblely flawed candidate with enough political baggage to fill a train. Bernie gave her everything she could handle despite taking the high road (a favor which she most certainly did not return). Had he got into the mud he would have exposed her much earlier. You get a progressive democrat in their with some actual personality and ideas that doesn’t act like their going through the motions because their annointed to be president and trump is back to hawking steaks and Chinese ties this week.

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mygif

@Robin: You are continuing to prove my point that good-faith efforts to engage with someone who’s not willing to engage with you back in a similar good faith are doomed, because they will disregard everything you say except the one sentence that fits their narrative. Good job with that!

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mygif

@Sly: Yeah, and also the fundamentals were essentially in the Republicans’ favour. Economy was only milquetoast (and I am sure most of the economic good news was in places that would have voted Dem anyway), long stretch of Dem presidential control, Dem candidate had a longer political career than her opponent (which is a negative in Presidential elections)…had this been anyone other than Trump, no one would be surprised if he had won.

Here’s another question: is Trump actually prepared to govern? People are talking about how shocked liberals are that Trump won, but it seems to have taken most conservatives by surprise, too. Apparently, he didn’t even have a White House transition plan prepared (“because I didn’t want to jinx it”). At the end of the day, is he going to actively pursue his agenda, or sit back and break Bush II’s vacation record while fighting off all his legal problems and engaging in horrible cronyism?

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mygif

Were I to guess (and I am) your going to see him push only the broadest strokes of his campaign promises (repeal Obamacare, build a wall) followed up by a healthy does of whatever the hell mike pence wants for 4 years.

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mygif

Goddamnit when is MGK going to get tired of his twitter tantrum and post about the Dr Strange movie

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mygif

John Seavey: “These were not people Obama got. He did not “also appeal to the white majority”. He won by recognizing that the majority in America is no longer white, even if they’re the largest single ethnic group, and as long as you can build a coalition of minorities you can actually cut white voters out of the process who aren’t willing to join that coalition so long as you get everyone else on board.”
“majority in America is no longer white”

Wait, what?
US Census 2015:
– White 61%
– Black 12%
– Hispanic 18%
– Asian 6%
– Native 1%
– Islander 0% (rounds to zero)
– Mixed 2%

Care to point out what I’m missing?

Also I hope I don’t need to point out that if you’re actually aiming to “cut white voters out of the [democratic] process”, that very much makes you the villain of the story, and is by itself a valid reason for them to oppose you forever to the point of armed rebellion.

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Christian Hansen said on November 30th, 2016 at 2:15 pm

@John Seavey

I wanted to ask you this in the “So Now What?” comment section, but they’re closed now (not that I blame you, it was getting bad). Still, I think this is a question worth asking.

I agree with you that Hillary would have made a good President, but she was not a good enough candidate to beat Trump, a walking political cartoon parody. Given that you seem to think Bernie would not have fared much better, and given the fact that you have said the problem is with promoting sympathetic white people over actually diverse candidates, my question is two-fold: Was there anyone the Democrats could have realistically gone with to win, or were we doomed to lose as soon as the Orange-Haired One opened his mouth-anus?

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mygif

Honestly, I don’t know. I mean, with the election being as close as it was, you can play woulda coulda shoulda for a long time and you’ll never get a real answer. I suspect that scholars will be playing counterfactual games with this one for ages.

I know that next time out, I’d love to see Cory Booker or Keith Ellison run. I don’t want Liz Warren putting her name out there, because I think she’s one of the best Senators we’ve ever had and I don’t want to lose her. (Ditto with Amy Klobuchar.) I’m also open to the idea of a newcomer–four years is a long time in politics, and nobody had heard of Barack Obama in 2004. And I think youth and novelty helped Obama a lot.

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mygif

“And I think youth and novelty helped Obama a lot.”

This one really concerns me–Obama was a jackpot, but it seems like you have to be a novel candidate without a record to have a chance, so we are getting increasingly inexperienced Presidents.

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mygif

Well, I’m not sure anyone is an “experienced” President. Hillary would have been the closest we’ve come in a long while, having been in the White House for eight years as First Lady and four as Secretary of State. But realistically speaking, I don’t think that anything can truly prepare you for the job. (As Trump is finding out.)

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