I was all set this morning to do some fun number crunching on electoral-vote issues, but as I dug into it, I actually got considerably more horrified. However, there’s another set of numbers that also gave me some hope. More on those in a moment. For now, the frustrating bit of the numbers game:
As I posted about a couple of months ago, one of the reasons our EV system is messed up is that it doesn’t catch the rapid population shifts that happen now that migration is so easy in the modern world. The system, based on decennial Census tallies, was devised 200+ years ago when people didn’t move all that much or that far. It can’t keep up with things like California gaining three million people in five years, or the Upper Midwest states stagnating in population growth as their industries die out.
Much has been made of the drop in the percentage of the white population, particularly in the South and Southwest. Based on polls, we flirted with the possibility of flipping Georgia, Arizona and even Texas, and felt certain we’d pick up Florida this year, too. Texas was actually considerably closer than it has been in a long time: Hillary picked up the same percentage of the vote that Obama did in 2008, and Trump dropped a couple of points compared to previous GOP candidates. A very slight shift in voting habits or population could well switch things next time, which would, given the huge number of EVs in Texas, hand us a win even without the Upper Midwest and Rust Belt. And this isn’t entirely unrealistic: After all, the 2004 map, while giving the Upper Midwest and PA to Kerry, didn’t give him Nevada, Colorado or New Mexico, and those are considered solidly blue states now, thanks to their high Latinx populations. (This of course assumes no major voter-suppression efforts that would eat into those totals.)
We ran into an unforeseen disadvantage this year, however: While the influx of non-white residents in the South and Southwest definitely swelled their populations, they didn’t grow enough to offset the thoroughly racist and sexist voting habits of those states’ white residents. What they did do, however, was grow those populations enough to give those states more House seats, and therefore more electoral votes, after the 2010 Census. Make an already-red state bigger, but don’t change its demographics enough to flip it, and that’s a pretty big blow. It’s certainly possible this could still bite us in the ass in four years, and possibly even beyond that, if the growing red states get even more seats/EVs after the 2020 Census.
Moreover, we have another factor in migration patterns also pushing us toward risking that bite: Age. As Boomers retire, they’re moving out of the cold blue states in the Northeast and heading South. Add in the necessity of having enough money to do such a move, and those states are seeing an influx not just of Latinxs moving North, but old, conservative, rich white people moving South. If, as is likely, Trump’s bloody crackdown on immigration curbs that growth, whatever gains we’ve seen in the past decade will probably be offset in white retirees. Meanwhile, blue states will be losing electoral votes. Even if they’re also losing older conservatives, it doesn’t change how blue they are, just how much of an impact those remaining deep-blue voters can have. New York will be blue for the foreseeable future, but if it keeps dropping three EVs every Census, its power to shape elections is going to fade.
All that to say: 2020 could be even uglier than this year was unless we somehow manage to get white guys in the Upper Midwest and Rust Belt to vote for a Democrat again, because we just don’t have the electoral votes otherwise.
There is, however, one numbers thing to note that may give us all some hope.
They can’t kill us all
Looking back at genocide and mass-incarceration efforts of the past century or so, one thing becomes clear: Most of the time, it’s targeted at groups that are a tiny minority of the overall population of the country or region. Yes, Hitler managed to murder 10 million people in Northern Europe, and even one of those murders would have been too much, but those people were only about 1.5% of the region’s entire population. It was easy to target Jewish, Roma, queer folk, etc. because there simply weren’t that many of them, making it easier for the majority to pretend it wasn’t happening (even if they weren’t expressly in favor of it, as many of course were.)
There are also two other big factors in mass genocide and oppression attempts: They usually happen over small geographic regions and in places/eras where either the government/military already has tight control over the economy, or most of the people targeted aren’t deeply embedded in it: independent shop owners, subsistence farmers, etc. It was very easy for the U.S. government to round up Japanese-Americans during WWII because most of them lived on the West Coast and were self-employed.
There are several advantages we marginalized/dissidents here in the 21st-century U.S. have not enjoyed by other groups elsewhere or throughout history:
- There are TONS of us
- Even if you only count those who voted for Hillary, that’s almost 66 million people. Chances are good at least half of the third-party voters would throw in, too, so that’s a few more. Add in those who couldn’t vote for some reason–non-naturalized immigrants, our children, our elders, the suppressed and those with disabilities–and there’s at least another 30 million on top of that. And once the PoCs who backed Trump come to realize that doing so won’t make them exempt from being targeted, they’ll come along too. All in all, people that Trump would potentially consider enemies of the state for being the wrong sort of person or not genuflecting total at least 100 million–about a third of the population. It’s simply not physically possible to deport, jail or murder all of us.
- This is a big fucking country
- OK, yes, there have been bigger chunks of land subject to totalitarian rule–the USSR comes to mind–but even so, it would be damned hard for Trump to somehow manage to root us all out over such a wide and varied territory. Know that bit about never getting involved in a land war in Asia? You don’t want to get involved in one here, either. Sure, he can use drones or planes or whatever, but if he wants to just jail us instead of killing us all en masse, he’ll have to use ground troops. Good luck getting those folks past the Rockies or the Cascades or the Sierra. Good luck getting them across vast deserts and lakes. Good luck tracking us through dense forests. We exist in all 50 states. He’d have to invade all 50 states to find us all. Might be easy to do in Oklahoma. But Minnesota in the middle of winter or New Mexico in August? Sure, give it a try, dude!
- We’re not pre-conditioned to be obedient to dictators
- Most of the countries that succumbed to dictators had had them before, or were at least used to the obedience of being in a monarchy. Not so here. We’re used to having citizens have a big say in our government. In order to physically control us, he’d have to employ a military that, while undoubtedly heavy on asshats, still has a lot of good, moral people in it who would refuse to carry out orders to mass-murder American citizens on American soil. He wouldn’t be able to drop a bomb in the middle of Seattle because the other people he needs to push those buttons would completely refuse to do so. Yes, yes, Milgram experiment and all that, and he does have a lot of supporters who already think we should be exterminated, but there are also a hell of a lot of people with the good ol’ American independent spirit who aren’t going to back down when faced with those kinds of orders. Park rangers, for instance. Those people can manage bears and wolves and could probably survive four months in the wilderness with a pocketknife and a spool of thread. You don’t mess with them. Moreover, the entirety of the West Coast and Northeast is controlled by governments who aren’t going to play those games. Maybe it’ll be Civil War II–with the anti-slave states being the rebels this time–but it certainly won’t end up the same way. Trump thinks being POTUS means he’s king. He’s getting told otherwise.
- We have a crapload of economic control
- One of the statistics often trotted out to point out the fallacy in the “lazy liberals” assertion is that blue states have considerably better economies and considerably fewer people on public assistance than red states do. While red states do have a fair number of key industries and people who work in them, the 21st-century economy would, quite frankly, utterly collapse if Trump started attacking the tech and agricultural centers in the West that the rest of the world depends on. Think the US could survive without Apple, Google, Microsoft, Amazon, most of Boeing and a full quarter of the country’s agriculture? Think the country could survive without the literally billions in circulated income and tax revenue from the entertainment and tourism industries we have? Think again. Given our wide range of climate/growing zones, natural resources (including self-generated power) and incredibly rich brain trust, if the entire left coast were a country of its own, with the ability to negotiate trade with other nations (oil from Canada, for instance), we’d be perfectly fine without having to import a single thing from the rest of the US. We don’t need fossil fuels–we use less of them in the first place and can import or mine what we don’t already have. We don’t need grain fields or herds of livestock–we have our own. Tourists would still come flocking to our beautiful beaches and mountains and vibrant cities. If he also took out the financial and research centers of the blue states of New England and the Mid-Atlantic, he’d bankrupt the rest of the country inside of a month. Sure, Florida and Texas have quite a bit of industry on their own, and there’s no discounting the importance of the vast grain fields of the Bread Basket, but the country absolutely needs its coasts or it would collapse.
- Even if he didn’t actually start bombing these places–only started rounding up the dissidents, immigrants and other undesirables–he’d still collapse major industries. You’d have no agriculture, science, engineering, medical or tech industries without immigrants and the educated folks who voted against him in droves. Given how much market dominance and therefore financial power these industries hold, there’s zero way they’d let him get away with tanking them. Gates and Allen may be retired, but even just between the two of them they have enough money to buy everything Trump has, including his debts, several times over. Add in Buffet, Bloomberg, Musk, Bezos and all the other tech billionaires and they’d literally send him packing off to a private island before they’d let him destroy the millions of Americans who are holding the 21st century together.
- Everyone else loves us
- Yes, the US is the world’s biggest dog. And despite being down from its heights, Russia’s still a big player, too. China could take or leave us, probably, and the asshats currently controlling the UK and Australia probably wouldn’t bother getting involved. But if Trump started getting ugly with innocents, you can bet the majority of the UN would start throwing every resource they have at trying to unseat him. They may not have the same-size military arsenals we do, but if half of our own soldiers go AWOL rather than committing war crimes, they won’t need to be bigger than us. They’d politely help us stage a coup, shake our hands and get back to watching Eurovision in the space of maybe a few weeks. It took the Allies six years to take down the Axis. It would take far less time to take down Trump, considering he wouldn’t have the cooperation of a huge chunk of his own citizens. Hell, it’d be as easy as the NYPD standing down from their expensive jobs guarding Trump tower while a cheery-faced squadron of Candians marched up to the penthouse to serve him with eviction papers. Bye bye!
Bottom line: No, this isn’t going to be another Holocaust or Killing Fields. There are too many of us and we’re too important to the rest of the world for one self-obsessed autocrat-wannabe to take us all down. There’s no doubt that many of us are going to suffer and die under this administration. We may even lose millions. And I wish there were a way to stop that before it starts. But we will not be exterminated. There WILL be a future with us in it, and without his orange ass in the Oval Office desk chair. Keep yourself and your loved ones as safe as you can. Fight as much as you can while you can. This won’t last forever.