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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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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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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Thursday reflections on Super Tuesday

Super Tuesday was this week and the results were a bit of a shock to the system. Biden’s momentum is strong and his win in South Carolina over the weekend and the new endorsements from his former opponents gave him a big boost in some key states. It was a bit of a tide change, and I’m not sure this shows up better than if we look at the betting odds for the nomination.

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Does the whistleblower matter?

I’m not being sarcastic or facetious with that title. I’m seriously debating, in my head, if the whistleblower matters at this point. Republicans are saying that the process is illegitimate if the whistleblower isn’t deposed/interviewed/questioned, and Democrats seem to be saying that it’s a risk to his/her safety and that it doesn’t matter at this point anyway. I’m finding myself torn, sort of.

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GOP impeachment logic (or lack thereof)

 

I’m watching with a bit of awe as members of the GOP engage in amazing contortion to continue to support the president in the ongoing impeachment inquiry by the House. I felt the need to create a running list of some of the things I’m hearing. Some are paraphrased, but I’ll throw in some quoted stuff as needed. If I use this like I want, I’ll keep editing this post to add new an interesting twists and turns in the logic (or lack thereof) I keep hearing.

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Blaming the Media and other low-hanging fruit

The past week has been an interesting time in US politics. Attorney General William Barr was given what I assume to be the final report from Robert Mueller’s investigation of the 2016 election. Barr wrote and released a four-page summary of the report, indicating that Mueller did not establish that members of the campaign conspired or coordinated with the Russian government in its election interference activities. The memo also indicates that the question of obstruction of justice was considered and investigated, but explicitly decided against making a prosecutorial judgement. In the absence of that, the Attorney General made the decision that there was no obstruction of justice. The Trump team ran with this as a win, and has now started a full-throated attack on the media.

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How far from Bartlet we’ve fallen…

I know Josiah (“Jed”) Bartlet is a fictional character, but that doesn’t mean it’s a bad idea to use him as a role model, as an ideal version of what we could have. I am a Bartlet Democrat (not to be confused with anybody who idolizes the real Josiah Bartlett, with three t’s in his last name — a member of the New Hampshire delegation to the Congressional Congress and signer of the Declaration of Independence). In the same way that kids use superheros as role models, I think it’s healthy to imagine what Barlet would do under real-life situations. Of course, this isn’t always possible and the situations we (or a president) encounter will be vastly different from those Bartlet would have faced. And, of course, this is all up for interpretation because nobody (except maybe the writers of the show) would know for sure what Bartlet would do. But there are some scenarios that are easier to imagine than others. His reaction to President Trump’s tweets fall into that category. Let’s play.

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Dueling Perspectives: thoughts on Russia, Trump, and Climate Change

I got a new car a few months ago and it came with a subscription to Sirius XM. I had never had it before, except in a rental, and never appreciated it. Now I have it, and it’s fueling my news addiction. That only matters because it’s directly responsible for me writing something this morning, for the first time this month. A former Congresswoman, a republican, was on CNN. I was listening in the car, and didn’t recognize her voice, nor was I listening when they introduced her and told us who she was. Without the chyron below, showing her name, the piece ended and I was left not knowing who she was. She was asked about the difficulty being a republican in Congress in the time of Trump. She spoke, more frankly than most republicans do these days, about the clear evidence that there was bad behavior by the Trump campaign. She said something like, “honestly, we have to be concerned about the people surrounding the President who were involved with the Russians.” But, in the end, she drew the line and differentiated between what the President (then candidate) knew and did. It’s a funny line to draw, and leaves me with some competing narratives: dueling perspectives…which in my head quickly pivoted to Climate Change. Follow me for the ride.

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Trump and Russia: my best guess

There are conflicting narratives in the political world. This has likely always been true, but the separation of the narratives feels more palpable than any other time in my life. Sure, we’ve had conflicting narratives before: Reagan painted a picture of a world where the poor were living large on the handouts of the rich, and the counter-narrative was that nobody is “living large” and that people need help. There has been the belief that deregulation is good for us because regulations provide a costly burden, and this is countered by the cost is worth the protection that regulations provide. But these were issues of perspective, not issues of mutually exclusive views of the world. That feels quite different from what we have now, especially when it comes to Trump and Russia.

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