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.Continue reading “Trump and the new version of identity politics”
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.Continue reading “A hopeful read of some polls”
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.
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.
Politics has always had an ugly side. Although we often feel like we are living through the worst of it, it has clearly been really awful at other times also. CNN had a great piece during the Trump-Clinton election showing some of the awful things candidates said about each other. The current climate includes some of this, and plenty of name calling (our President excels in this artform), but what bothers me the most isn’t the attacks between those individuals, but the blanket demonization of people who vote a certain way or another. Both sides get blame for this, but circumstances seem to be having an impact on republicans (at this moment) more than democrats. I’m not saying that things couldn’t be reversed, and democrats would be the ones to talk about here, but right now, in current politics, the republicans are worthy of some attention. Specifically, I’m talking about what’s happening in Alabama and the continued support of the GOP candidate for Senate. For the party leaders, and many of their voters, democrats are so awful, and so evil, and so wrong for the country, that they would prefer to side with Moore, in spite of all the dirt that’s been unearthed about him, than let a democrat win the seat.
I think this is going to be another long, winding road. My thoughts are coming together in waves, and not all that organized. I may delete this opening before posting…or may just leave it here so I can watch the winding road and maybe enjoy the ride. I have a Facebook friend who I do not know in real life, and I don’t think I’ve ever met in real life. He became a Facebook friend because he maintains a pretty sizable following of Trump loyalists, and after going back and forth a few times, he asked me to join the fun. I don’t participate in the banter all that much since the start, mostly because it’s not my style (the typical response from the Trump loyalists is a meme about Hillary being ugly or something like that), and I get bored with the lack of real discussion. The folks over there seem more about winning, when I’m not there to compete. But this group has given me a window into Trump loyalists that I might not otherwise have, and I’ve made some generalizations. I know generalizations are often unwise, and I’m sure there are individuals who support Trump and do not fit this mold. Indeed, I’m not sure at all that these loyalists are representative of Trump supporters at all, so in truth I see this more as a focus group than a survey, but I’ve still seen some interesting things. Let’s start the ride.
My wife has some strong opinions about things, and some of them she raises over and over again. One (of the many) with which I agree is that trust plays a fundamental role in how we feel about our leaders. We trust some leaders, and we don’t trust others. If we trust a leader, we assume that some action is legitimately justified. If we don’t trust a leader, that same action can be nefarious or a sign of incompetence. I’ll come back to something more contemporary in a minute, but let’s start with Obama and Bush.
I don’t know why, but I’m still trying to view the Trump administration through rational eyes. Perhaps there are several versions of rational. There really shouldn’t be, but maybe what I think is rational isn’t actually rational. I am saddened by what I see as missed opportunities (see here and here), but I’m starting to accept the fact that it’s never going to happen. I’m starting to accept the fact that we all have things that motivate us, and I think what motivates Trump has more to do with celebrity than anything else. That’s not inconsistent with doing good things for the country, but I’m not convinced that it’s what drives him. I can imagine that he can convince himself that it’s driving him, but I think deep down the things that he embraces are things that feed his celebrity status. I should be clear that I’m not saying that there’s no concern for others in that. I think he enjoys entertaining people. I think he likes it when they’re excited to see him. I think he thrives on that. There’s a level of admirable selflessness in that. Like the comic who stands on stage making fun of himself to make you laugh. On the other hand, it leads to some pretty strange moments when the President of the United States acts that way.
“The economy, stupid!” The phrase made famous by James Carville, campaign strategist for Bill Clinton. Amazingly effective, and at a time when the US was in a recession. The past election cycle used the sentiment in some ways. The Trump campaign and his inauguration speech painted a very dystopian view of America. There was talk about our crumbling factories and our crime-infested cities. Couple that with prevailing views that our economy is doing poorly (something I touched on before, when I wrote about the disconnect between the way the public perceived us to be in a recession, when were actually weren’t in a recession), and it was almost a “the economy, stupid” election.
This all depended on how we saw the world, and likely which media outlets we viewed (something else I wrote about before).
But let’s look at some numbers, and think about what could come next. To do this, I’m going to steal some text from something I posted on Facebook this morning.
Elections like this, and like the election in 2000, when the popular vote winner is not the same as the electoral vote winner, make people stop and think about the system we have. I have had quite a few discussions about this over the past month, and I am moved by the arguments in favor of the electoral college. Some say it’s antiquated, and that it was a system designed to give more power to states with high slave populations, but without giving slaves the right to vote. True or not, I accept the premise of why the electoral college is important today: it gives a voice to the small states, and helps make sure they are heard. This has been spun as a benefit to republicans, but the evidence supporting that isn’t very strong.