Trump and the new version of identity politics

There are many things I don’t feel like I fully understand. The concept of identity politics is one of them. Perhaps it’s not that I don’t understand it as much as it confuses me because it seems thrown around so much that it’s kind of meaningless to me. But for many years I’ve thought of identity politics as a term used to describe the way that politicians try to attract voters of specific identities. The way that democrats have tried to appeal to LGBTQ voters or African-American voters, and the way that republicans have tried to appeal to military members and people who are very religious. When I think of identity politics, it’s about appealing to people with these specific labels being part of their identity. But I think the idea can also be thought of in the converse: that support for a specific politician becomes part of a person’s identity. A shorthand for what’s important to them and where they stand on issues.

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First- vs third-person view of the world and how COVID fits in

The partisan divide in attitudes about COVID makes me very sad. It didn’t need to be this way, and it seems like it never would have been this way if not for the self-centeredness of the president. But maybe that’s not true. Maybe it would have been that way regardless of who is in office. Maybe it’s revealing some fundamental differences in how folks on the left and folks on the right see the world. It seems like it comes down to what I think of as a first person vs a third person perspective of the world. Let’s parse that first and then see how it applies to COVID.

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A hopeful read of some polls

It’s pretty obvious to anybody who knows me, has read anything I’ve ever written, or heard anything I’ve said, that I’m hoping Biden will win the upcoming election. The polls all seem to predict that outcome, which is nice, but the polls predicted a solid win by Clinton in 2016, and that didn’t happen. That’s likely why some polls show a lead for Biden, but among the same sample, the prediction that Trump will win. How fascinating is that? Although a majority of those sampled prefer Biden, a majority believes Trump will win. To be fair, I might have been in the majority opinion on both questions, but I’m feeling more and more confident that the polls will predict the outcome. Here’s why.

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Florida man…oh man

Florida has announced that all efforts to prevent the spread of COVID are over. Mask mandates cannot be enforced statewide, and restrictions are being lifted. This is so unfortunate. Again, as I’ve been saying, let’s compare this to Israel, then let’s think about how hard we work to stop people from dying from car accidents.

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Right track or wrong direction?

Is the country on the right track or going in the wrong direction? A question that has been popular in political polls since it was introduced by pollsters working for Reagan in the late 1970s. It’s an odd question, because it lacks parallelism (perhaps should be right direction vs wrong direction), but it’s an interesting way to track voter behavior. This was, as are so many important things, alluded to in the opening of an episode of the West Wing. Unfortunately, I couldn’t find the clip on YouTube, but it was some pretty typical Sorkin writing that gives the characters an opportunity to teach the viewer about something.

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Is Trumpism a third party in the making?

As the election season gets closer to being over, and as the GOP convention finished its final night, I’m left watching the disdain for Trump come from all sides. There really isn’t a single group left (other than “Trump supporters”) that isn’t upset with him. In some ways, it almost seems like the makings of a third party, but probably not.

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Delight in suffering

Trump supporters like to talk about Trump Derangement Syndrome, in spite of having no idea where that phrase originated and what its originator thinks about Trump. Although I think the phrase is a bit over- and mis-used, the visceral disgust that many of us feel about Trump is real. I wouldn’t call it derangement, but there’s a real difference between how I feel about Trump and how I feel and have felt about politicians and pundits who haven’t shared my views in the past. I don’t think that’s because I’ve changed. I think it’s because there’s something vastly different about Trump and his supporters: they seem to place a higher value on upsetting their opponents than on achieving some policy goal.

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The never ending culture war

It’s been a while since I posted anything here. I’ve been pretty active on social media still, but haven’t found the motivation to write anything more extensive like I usually write for this place. But my recent sadness has moved me to jot these thoughts down and put them here. My sadness is because of the turn that the culture war has taken. We used to argue about taxes and about whether companies should be regulated and if we should allow kids to pray in schools. The last argument I remember having with one side of my family (a side that has pretty much banned political discussions since Obama was elected) was about private vs public control of health insurance. It’s memorable to me as one of those conversations that runs in my mind because it should have gone so differently. I had made the case that the private sector couldn’t operate in the business of insuring the elderly because there’s simply no way to do it and turn a profit. The guy I was talking to pointed to Medicare advantage programs that are administered by private companies as evidence that they could. I don’t remember what happened next, or what I said, but I want to rewind and make the point that none of those programs work if the public sector isn’t paying the bill, or at least a big part of the bill. But I digress. My point here is that these are the things we used to argue about, sometimes getting hot about them. We talked about things and had strong opinions, but it all just felt different. Continue reading “The never ending culture war”

Modern Mob Mentality

The nation is on fire, or at least it was after looting erupted near and intermingled with protests over the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis. I haven’t written anything in a while, but have been pretty much consumed with these events, so I have plenty to say about them. In my less-than-typical manner, I’m going to get some bullet points out of the way without going into detail or nuance, just to get these ideas out here before I get to the real topic of this post, the mob mentality that is alive and well in the United States.

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What do the COVID protesters want?

The COVID pandemic is causing pain all over. There’s no question about that. The United States and many other countries have been responding with orders to shut down non-essential businesses, and this has put many people out of work. But the efforts to flatten the curve seem to be working, and the projections for the total number of people expected to die are looking much better than before. They’re still projecting a tragic number of deaths, but not nearly as many as we could have. That’s good. At least I think it’s good. In several states, however, there are protests springing up about efforts to keep us safe.

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