Trump’s turnout turnaround?

With the polls being as good as they have been of late, Trump’s commentariat has been out in force, declaring that either the polls are all rigged (with literally dozens of different firms all saying the same thing, that’s unlikely), or they’re somehow not weighting their demographics right–insisting that Trump is electrifying white people, particularly white men, so much that turnout among those groups is going to be a lot higher than it was four years ago. Leaving aside the fact that non-white voters are probably equally motivated this year–fighting for your very life will do that–let’s take a look and see if it really is possible for a higher percentage of white turnout to make a difference. Continue reading

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Caged Expectations

As of this writing, I’m nine episodes in on the first season of Luke Cage, the latest installment in Netflix’s Defenders corner of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. I’m loving it so far. It has the same kind of ground-level, realistic tone as the previous two (Daredevil and Jessica Jones), and to me feels even more intense than its predecessors.

The intensity, however, is of a different flavor this time. Daredevil, with its Catholic protagonist, wrestled with questions of faith, morality, and self-sacrifice, and Jessica Jones, with its nearly all-female cast, dug into issues of women’s relationships with each other and gendered violence. Now we have Luke Cage, an unapologetic examination of racism and its pervasive effects on urban Black communities, including the experiences of Black women (which is a major point in its favor, especially because it has so many older women. How refreshing!)

Predictably, this has led to some hand-wringing. As some male viewers groused about Jessica Jones being too much about women, some white viewers are now complaining about Luke Cage being supposedly too Black.

Oh, dear. Where to start?  Continue reading

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Earth’s Mightiest Heroine

There’s a great little opinion piece in the Seattle Times today, illustrated with an even better–and hilarious–image of Trump as a rampaging supervillain and Hillary as the hero fighting him off.

This got me to thinking, so if you’ll indulge me, I’m going to put on my writer hat and go metaphor diving.

There are two basic hero/villain narratives in Western fiction: The rag-tag group of rebels sabotaging The System to end oppression of the downtrodden (Star Wars, Hunger Games, etc.); and the valiant leader(s)/chosen ones fighting to protect a peaceful civilization from being destroyed by insurgents bent on violence and anarchy (most superhero stories, plus Harry Potter, to a degree.)

About half of Trump’s supporters and virtually all of Stein’s and Johnson’s supporters think they’re the heroes of the first narrative. The other half of Trump’s supporters think he’s the hero of the second.

Let’s look at that latter group first. Continue reading

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An immigrant on every corner

The political buzz this week has been about Trump’s trip to Mexico and the subsequent IMMIGRANTS ARE EVUL speech in Arizona. Five Thirty Eight’s Nate Silver–who has apparently lost every possible verbal filter of late, the dear–has been referring to this as Team Shitshow, and I totally agree. The dingleberry on top of the sundae was one of Trump’s surrogates (a real estate mogul hilariously dubbed Tio Tomás by Latinxs on Twitter) telling Joy Ann Reid yesterday that unchecked immigration would lead to a taco truck on every corner.

Quelle horreur!

(That’s French for “what horror,” for all y’all who insist that English was good enough for Jesus, so it’s good enough for you.)

Of course, all the reasonable people have been laughing about this because holy crap, who wouldn’t want street tacos and churros for lunch every day? But there’s more to it, of course. The dude in question was obviously speaking to the fear and discomfort felt by folks who are seeing their formerly 85%-white communities seemingly becoming browner by the moment. When you’ve spent your whole life surrounded almost entirely by people like you, what seems like a sudden influx of “foreigners” may be disconcerting. You grew up trusting that your neighbors were people you could become friends with because you shared the same culture: People you could borrow a lawnmower from or who could watch your kids while you ran to the store for milk and hot dogs. People who would put lights up on their houses on the day after Thanksgiving and not get cranky if you said Merry Christmas instead of Happy Holidays. Now there are all these new and different people, and you have to actually work to get to know them instead of just assuming they’ll like you because they look and talk and dress and worship like you. It’s hard and confusing. I get it.

But folks? You need to calm down. White people are still 70% of the U.S. population and you can still go to your Baptist churches and listen to country music all you want. You just also have to deal with the fact that your neighbors might be going to a mosque or listening to Tejano instead of doing things the way you do them. Trust me, you’ll live. I have.

Within a two-mile radius of my house there are:

Continue reading

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Turning of the Tides

Much of the post-DNC buzz today has been about how the convention managed to wrest back control of a lot of ideas and concepts that once belonged only to the GOP: Patriotism, a strong (but non-aggressive) military, civic duty, etc. In particular, the noise on the right has been downright apoplectic in some places. Some are angry about this, feeling their turf has been peed on; some are lamenting their party’s imminent demise under a noxious, orange mushroom cloud. Some, however, have been resigned to this for a while, now, and have officially left their party. The DNC featured not just well-known party agnostics like Michael Bloomberg, but some actual Republicans, standing up for a qualified, sensible candidate in the face of the chaos on the other side.

Color me entirely unsurprised. Pleased, absolutely, but unsurprised.

I don’t remember exactly when I started saying this, but for at least five years now, I’ve been predicting that the GOP was going to collapse completely very soon, with moderates fleeing the party and either taking up refuge among Libertarians or joining the non-radical contingent of the Democrats. I think we’re starting to see exactly that.

This has been brewing for decades, though. This latest exodus is just the end result of the Southern Strategy (and the Red Scare before it.) Getting the working class to vote against their own interests meant that the GOP had to prey on their fears instead. Commies were a good target for a while, then the Civil Rights movement flared up big, and they moved in to capture the Dixiecrats. They won that round, decisively. Had it not been for the unpopularity of the Vietnam war and Nixon imploding, they probably would have had a long, unbroken string of GOP dominance throughout the entire ’70s and ’80s. Our four years of Carter and a relatively healthy Dem-majority Congress keeping Reagan in check for a while were the only islands in what was otherwise a sea of Republicans. White men were a dominant, reliable voting bloc, and appealing to their fears and prejudices was a winning plan.

Thing is, though, they didn’t really look far enough ahead to see whether this was a sustainable strategy. What started off as just fanning the flames of racism soon became a fight against women’s rights, against the growing LGBT movement, against a drop in religious adherence. Their economic policies certainly didn’t help: the drop in family-wage jobs guaranteed that women were going to have to join the workforce, even if they weren’t otherwise active in feminism. More and more, a coalition was building on the left among people who were tired of being demonized. Add in the continuing slow rise in the immigrant population, and it was inevitable that the GOP wasn’t going to be able to keep winning elections merely by promising poor white men that they were their champions, rather than their exploiters.

Then came the monster of their own making: some of those poor white folks whose cultural fears had been stoked to earn their votes started thinking that maybe they themselves needed to get involved more directly, instead of just serving the business-oriented party leadership. The Moral Majority wing morphed into the Tea Party, and they began winning primaries against moderates and fiscal conservatives, some of whom had been in office for decades. The anti-establishment fervor that had sprung up around the Vietnam war evolved into a more generic anti-government sentiment, and things like strong civic leadership and a safety net–things that had been accepted since the New Deal–became perceived as elements of oppression. The right went radical, and I think it’s never going to come back from it now.

Over here on the left, we have our own anti-establishment radicals, but we do have an advantage: the very nature of this particular flavor of philosophy means less participation in “the system” overall. The radical right tend to be reliable voters because they’re aiming for a homogeneous America that has never existed. They’re older, they’re insular, and many live in suburbs and small communities where everyone’s a patriotic boy scout, and voting is part of the culture. Not so on the left. We instead have people convinced that voting at all is somehow giving in to tyranny, or if not that, they want to dispense with political parties entirely. They’re not actually interested in taking over the Democrats the way the Tea Party wanted to take over the Republicans–they’re trying to tear down the party from the outside, and not doing a very good job of it. Moreover, their most-fervent wing is very young, and even though Millennials are a large generation, they’re starting to age out of youthful idealism. As they settle down and get steady jobs and start having kids, they retain their social and cultural ideals, but become far more pragmatic about achieving them. It’s hard to be all that interested in radical revolution when your biggest concerns are keeping diapers in stock and taking the dog to the vet because she ate a LEGO. The increased pragmatism with a left-leaning aim has resulted in a strong progressive wing of the party that is undoubtedly the party’s future, but which doesn’t have the same tear-it-all-down nihilism of the radical right. For the most part, left-of-center people are rallying behind Elizabeth Warren, not Jill Stein.

Obviously, this election has been contentious on our side, but we have an advantage in that we’ve been building coalitions for generations, now. We listen to their concerns and adapt them to our overall platform, but we can’t easily be taken over by a radical wing because we’re used to working together for common goals, rather than abandoning people to focus on a single issue. We will undoubtedly still have some fights over economic issues (among others) between our Blue Dog and progressive wings, but we agree on so much else that we’re leaving the radical right behind, and building a new two-party system within a single party. It may yet split us eventually, but for now, we have a pretty dang strong network of allies. Our tent isn’t so big that we’re going to let in people who want to burn it down, but it definitely has room for most everyone else–including working-class white people, once more of them they realize that queer folk and people of color are not their enemies.

We are, as was been frequently noted throughout the convention, stronger together, and so long as we come out of this year without electing an actual fascist, I think the future looks pretty bright for my party. The fervor of the far right is scary right now, definitely, and I think we cannot discount it. Trump’s still getting 40% in polls, and that’s horrifying. But the comforting thing is that he can’t seem to get much beyond that, when third parties are included. He may win, of course–we cannot get complacent–and if he does so, there will be some serious, long-range damage done, particularly with potentially three SCOTUS justices to replace. But on a demographic level, appeals to bigotry just aren’t going to fly anymore as a strategy for an entire party. The future is diverse; parties that don’t embrace that reality will be left behind.


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Sick, Sad World

It’s been a month since the Pulse massacre. I haven’t been right since.

Well, to be honest, I haven’t been right all year. Or even since last summer.

If I’m going to be technical about it, it goes back well beyond then, but as far as the most recent dive into the abyss, it does date back about a year.

A fair amount of this is personal-life stuff, primarily related to our three-year-old son more or less getting kicked out of day care and subsequently diagnosed as being on the autism spectrum. Working through that and trying to find qualified, reliable child care has been, to be frank, a bit of a horror show. I love him dearly, and 85% of the time he’s one of the most wonderful kids I’ve ever met, but he is definitely a handful, and takes an incredible amount of physical and emotional energy to manage some days. That’s left me with very little gumption to do much of anything else, especially writing, which takes a great deal of mental focus that I just don’t have these days.

There’s also been some other personal stuff: physical problems (among them, a fucked-up back that’s made it hard to sit at my desk for more than an hour or two at a time), the financial pyrotechnics necessary to afford child care and treatment; our beloved roomie finally moving out (no drama, just a lot of hassle to do the domestic Tetrising necessary); and some odd friend-circle nebulousness that’s made me feel a bit less grounded than I need to be. Plus all the usual family drama, which is far too complicated to get into here.

All this of course is enough to stress out anyone. Then add in the fact that the world seems to have graduated from an ever-burning dumpster fire to a landfill inferno. Yikes. Continue reading

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Romney/Ryan 2.0? Nope.

Over on HuffPo, that bastion of We Refuse to Pay Our Writers Because Something Something Ethics, some dude has decided this year’s POTUS election, already a spectacular mess, is going to get even messier because Mitt’s going to come back like a bad casserole and spoil the whole thing for both Hillary and Trump. How this will work, he argues, is that Mitt will steal independents from Hillary, denying her the 270 electoral votes that qualify as a win, and thus kicking the election over to Congress, where Speaker Paul Ryan will supposedly swoop in like Dudebro Superman and make everything right again.

While this scenario is of course possible, as is the ghost of Eisenhower appearing at the GOP convention and raining ectoplasm and stern glares on everyone there, it’s incredibly unlikely, and here’s why:

  • Running Mitt again would be a defacto admission that the GOP in its current state has been bombed into its component molecules by the Tea Party and their modern Messiah, Beavis Hitler. While yes, that IS the current state of that party, I don’t think they’re willing to admit that just yet.
  • Sure, Mitt might take some votes from Hillary just because some people, for reasons of Not Paying Attention, think she’s evil incarnate or just deeply uncool. But will he take enough to deny her that 270? No.
  • Hillary is billing herself as Obama’s natural successor, and in many ways, she is exactly that: An economic and foreign-policy centrist with a fair amount of well-established progressive social-policy cred. Undoubtedly, some people, particularly the wannabe anarchists in the Bernie or Bust crowd, will vote against her or sit things out no matter who else is running, so she’ll maybe lose some people who once supported Obama. However, she’s going to gain some people, too.
  • Obama won over Mitt in 2012 with 332 electoral votes. Even without counting the continuing demographic shift of the past four years–old white folks are an ever-shrinking percentage of the population, and young voters are pretty darned politically engaged–it’s preposterous to think that Hillary could lose more than a state or two off of that total. People of Color and queer folks already know how awful both Mitt and Trump would be for them. They’re not going to vote for either one of those guys under any circumstances. Those votes are already sewn up, no matter what.
  • And guess who else is going to vote for her? White women. Romney won them in 2012, but in the 2008 Dem primaries, they broke for Hillary over Obama as much as 2-1 in some cases. Obviously that tally doesn’t count Republican and Independent white women, but chances are pretty good Hillary’s going to pick up quite a few more of them than Obama did four years ago.
  • To recap, this means Hillary will get virtually every queer and PoC voter, and will probably break about even, or at least improve on the 2012 results, with cishet white women. It’s also even possible she’ll pick up some working-class white men, given her strength with unions and veterans.
  • Who, therefore, will be left to vote for Trump OR Romney? That’s right, the same people who would be voting for a single right-wing candidate anyway: Jerkass cishet white dudes and their racist wives and girlfriends. They will split that vote–the slightly-less-racist crowd going for Mitt–and end up handing Hillary even more states than she’d have gotten otherwise.

While they’re still annoyingly in control of big chunks of Congress (thanks mostly to gerrymandering), demographically, it’s more or less impossible for the asshat-white-folks voting bloc to win any POTUS election from now on, unless voter-suppression and ballot-tampering efforts pay off. Though they’re being replenished somewhat on the younger side by baby Randians, G*mergaters and a handful of young women who don’t yet realize the Libertarian party wants to outlaw abortion, by and large, the TP demographic skews very old. Baby Boomers have always been a big voting bloc since they came of age, but they’re now starting to die off and are being supplanted by Millennials, the second-largest voting generation. TPers also, of course, skew very white, and that percentage of the population continues to shrink, losing more than five percentage points between the 2000 and 2010 Census, to now sit at about 63%. Assuming at least 10% of that number is queer or loves someone who is, and at least a third of it is liberal-leaning cishet women, that means only 35-40% of the population is left to vote for the racist, sexist shitwits who now run the GOP. That’s simply not enough to win elections unless everyone else simply doesn’t show up. There’s a reason racists are terrified right now, enough to back Trump’s horrific immigration ideas. They know they’re nearly outnumbered, and they’re looking to regain their unearned dominance by any means necessary.

Bottom line: Running Mitt isn’t going to change the overall demographics of the voting population, and Hillary isn’t hated enough by people who would otherwise vote D to lose enough states to go below 270. The only way that would happen is if she was challenged from the left, not the right, and I honestly can’t see Bernie doing that, even if some of his supporters would want him to. November’s vote will undoubtedly be closer than any of us non-awful people would want, and I admit to being downright petrified by the thought of what these gun-humping racists are going to do when their dude loses, but unless there’s enough underhandedness with the vote count to cause the UN to step in and clean things up, a Mitt candidacy–or even a brokered convention leading to Trump going indie–is not going to change who will be inaugurated next January.

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