Why Trump Won And How To Fix That For Future Elections

Donald Trump is the president elect of the United States. Why?

Trump did not win because he is widely liked. He is NOT widely liked.

A very small number of Americans voted for Trump, and this number was magnified by the conservative-state-favoring electoral college, and most of those who did not vote for him not only don’t prefer him, but find him truly abhorrent. During the campaign, and over his 70 year long life, Donald trump has done or said myriad things each of which is fully disqualifying to be a candidate for president. These deplorable things are, of course, the reason he won this election. Those who voted for him felt that a deplorable man represented them better than established politicians, because they related to that deplorableness.

A word about the Deplorables

Men like me claim (and I believe us) that we do not encounter conversations like the famous Trump Bus conversation released to the public in the latter weeks of the 2016 presidential campaign. But, those conversations are out there. I attended a social event recently, and I had my kindergartener with me. It was a socially required event, or I probably would not have gone. It was attended by men and women ranging in age from their late 20s through their late 60s, along with a couple of younger kids. This was a small number of individuals in one family, their spouses, and on out for a few levels of marriage and consanguineal relation. A clan, if you will.


I did not know people talked like that. I felt like I was in a porn movie except everybody had their clothes on. I’ve seen conversations roughly like this, in terms of risqué-osoty, among younger folks on the convention circuit, but this was different from that in being fully misogynistic and disrespectful, and not jut risqué.

It was bad enough that I endeavored to distract the kindergartener, remove the kindergartener from the environment, sending him out, and getting myself out of there as soon as it was socially acceptable. Well, sooner, actually.

These are the folks, men and women, who find no fault with Donald Trump’s salacio-sexist banter. It is not that they want a profligate leader in the White House, a man who treats women and subcontractors with deep disdain. It is, rather that they don’t mind it, because they are it, and at the same time, they know that electing a Trump is a slap in the face for the elitist, over educated, judgmental, liberal scum over there by the door holding his hands over his son’s ears and trying to get away from the real people. And, they are right. Indeed, it was more than a slap in the face, it was a punch in the gut.

Did deplorable sexists keep Clinton out of the White House?

You might think so, but no.


There is a long list of reasons one might consider to explain why Hillary Clinton lost or that Donald Trump won. It is possible to point to some of these reasons, on their own, and legitimately claim that if this one reason was not in play, Trump would have lost or Clinton would have won. I want to briefly point them out, and then move on to the actual reason.

In reading through this list, note that “Sexism/Hillary is a woman” is actually part of each and every item. Sexism is so pervasive in this election that sometimes you don’t even see it.

1) If only nobody voted for this or that third party.

This may be worth about 1% of the vote overall, possibly 2%, so if there were no third party candidates in the race at all, perhaps Trump would have lost. Or not. Third party voters may have simply written in The Lizard People. Libertarian third party voters could have split among Trump and Clinton, or been mainly for Trump. I don’t think enough people voted for Jill Stein to matter.

( I quickly add that those who voted for Jill Stein demonstrated with their decision something else that is not especially admirable. I wouldn’t be bragging about it. But I digress.)

Note, by the way, that the third party candidate that got most often picked by those casting protest votes was Gary, not Jill. The boy, not the girl. Significant? You decide.

2) If only the Bernie Bots, the former Sanders supporters, had not …

[voted third party/stayed home/constantly whined about Clinton/made the political process so painful that many simply walked away and never came back/whatever whatever]

This was probably worth a couple percent of the vote, and I think it really mattered. One part of this that mattered the most was the sexist attacks on Hillary, because this gave a lot of people permission to more openly hate the idea of a female president.

Bernie bots ruined politics for a lot of people this year. But, at the same time, Bernie excitement brought new people in to politics,and that is good. Also, I strongly suspect that had Hillary been behind the whole time like Bernie was, and had lost the nomination, there would be a reverse effect. There would be Hillar Bots. There were Hillary Bots in 2008.

I can make a strong argument that the Hillary Bot effect is NOT parallel to the Bernie Bot effect, and would not have been as bad. But if we see the Bernie Bot effect as moving 3% of the vote, enough to have easily elected Clinton, we also need to recognize that the Hillary Bot effect, had it happened, would have been worth about 1.5% of the vote, diluting the imagined no-Bernie-Bot effect enough that it may not matter.

3) The Silent Majority elected Trump.

The number of deplorable, unprincipled, vile, racist, and sexist people in the United States who are of voting age is huge.


Among these, many don’t vote. Most are white, male, older, and less educated. This has led to a proliferation of comments on social media like, “So, I’m an uneducated white guy, sue me” which makes me think, “can I do that?”

A subset of these dudes don’t vote, and proudly don’t vote. I’ve known guys in this category who will stuff the “I don’t vote, their all crooks” line (and yes, that is how they spell it) down anyone’s throat who will listen, and even won’t listen, as part of almost every conversation they have. It is pretty disgusting. But, sometimes those dudes do vote, and when they do, they are called the Silent Majority.

They are worth 1%–3% of the population, depending on how many get riled up. Oh, and by the way, these dudes don’t talk to pollsters, so in years when they don’t vote, they don’t matter. In years when they do vote, their effect is a surprise. I think they mattered this year, but there isn’t much one can do about them but to wait until they get old and die, and to try to work against the replacement demographic being like them as they grow up by increasing education and awareness.

4) The Bradley Effect.

In 1982, Los Angeles Mayor Tom Bradley ran for governor of California. Bradley showed a significant lead in the polls, and the exit polls backed this up. Then, he lost. One theory is that many white voters claimed to support Bradley in order to not appear racist, but once in the voting booth, voted for the white guy. This then became known as the Bradley Effect.

Further consideration of that race, and subsequent analyses, seem to show that the Bradley Effect as described did not happen then, and does not really happen in general. But it is certainly possible for such a thing, either with respect to race or sex, to occur, so it should always be considered.

Personally, I think the Bradley Effect (a gendered version of it) does not explain anything here, but see #3 above for a related (but different) effect. There was lots of sexism here, but it was not altering the polling results. So, I include Bradley here to be more comprehensive, but I think it counts for 0% of the effect.

5) The Democrats put up the wrong candidate.

I think this mattered, but not for the reasons you may think, and it is not the main thing we need to fix. For that, you’ll have to keep reading.

I love Hillary, and I am certain that the long list of reasons some other people hate her are made up by the vast right wing conspiracy led for many years by Newt Gingrich (look for Gingrich to take his power-place in the Trump administration), Karl Rove, and others. Ironically, the anti-Hillary rhetoric, which killed this election, was created by a corrupt political establishment (the Republican Party) and in so doing convinced may anti-corruption anti political establishment voters to vote for Trump.

I am not suggesting that Sanders would have been a better candidate. He would have lacked the negative baggage, but he would have brought to the table some other problems that may have hurt him. Yes, I know head to head polls put Sanders higher than Clinton against Trump, but those early polls, while interesting, should not be the main basis for a decision as to what to do.

Bernie is a boy, and Hillary is a girl. Putting up a female candidate is roughly like putting up a black candidate. You are asking for trouble, asking for racists/sexist votes to come out in huge numbers against you, etc. You could never win with that strategy, could you?

Well, of course you can, and that is what Obama did. But, realistically, a candidate that has inherent negatives with much of the population is potentially at a disadvantage, so one must carefully consider these things. In thinking about this, about the basic question of whether or not the Democrats screwed themselves (and by themselves I mean ourselves because I’m a Democrat) by putting up a woman before the country was ready, several important and often conflicting truths come to the fore.

The people who would vote against a black man because he is black are not going to vote for very many Democrats. So, Obama did not lose very many votes because of the color of his skin. Meanwhile, the prospect of the first African-American president was so exciting to so many people, that Barack Obama brought people out to the polls in such large numbers that fire marshals around the country freaked out about the crowds.

Is it true that the people who wold vote against a woman because she is a woman are also not going to vote for very many Democrats? In other words, is racism very compartmentalized across party lines, while sexism is not as compartmentalized? I think that might be true, but I’m not sure by how much or if it matters. I would have thought that the excitement of having a woman president would have brought more people to the polls to vote for Hillary, but that is not what happened.

I think that the Democrats needed to run a woman this year, and we need to elect a woman to the presidency, and that there is really nothing stopping us from doing that. Sexism played a role this year, but sexism can be dealt with if we fix the actual problem we have in getting people elected. You’ll have to read down tot he bottom to find out what that is.

But first, look at these numbers and consider what conclusions we might draw from them.


There are 219 million eligible voters in the US, of which about 146 million are registered to vote. About 27% of the adult eligible population, or about 18% of the total population, voted for Trump.

  • Democrats are more popular than Republicans.

  • Obama is wildly popular.

  • Trump is the least popular.

  • Clinton is very unpopular for a Democrat.

  • Voting turnout was biggest in the Election of the Century (2008) and smallest in the “Most Important Election Of Our Time.”

  • The “This is the most important election of our time” memo did not get out, apparently.

Those who show up make the decisions. But if only a few people show up, they’ll make the wrong decision.

This brings us to the real reason that we elected Trump as well as a clear indication of what to do about this.

Trump was elected president because of the failure of the Democratic Party to get Clinton elected. “He’s begging the question,” you are saying to yourself right now. Or, “that’s a tautology.” Well, yes, I’m begging the question by stating a tautology. But tautologies are not logical fallacies. They are logical realities that sometimes lead to explanations. Trump could have won this race by being the winner, but instead, he lost it because the other candidate was the loser. There should have been ten million more people voting than their were, a large proportion of which would have voted for Hillary (or against Trump) but they did not show up. If they did show up, we would not be looking at a Trump presidency.

So we can blame the voters for voting like they did, and especially, a subset of the voters for not voting at all.

The actual number of people in this country who can vote if they wanted to is roughly double the number that showed up. So, about 100,000,000 million people failed Democracy this time around, slightly more than usual. Most importantly, 5% o 10% of those non-voters should have been energized to appear at the voting booth based on prior years’ data. I’d reckon that nearly ALL of voters who would actually prefer Trump showed up, and about 5% of usual voters who would prefer Clinton did NOT show up, giving us Trump.

Minnesota Congressional races as object lessons

Now, I’d like to expand on this from the point of view of what happened in some of the congressional races in Minnesota.

I want to compare three races in Minnesota, CD2, CD5, and CD8.

I am using CD5 to calibrate. Here we re in the upper midwest, the beginning of the plains. East of us is increasingly red Can’t-Even-Get-Rid-Of-Scott-Walker Wisconsin. West of us are North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska, Montana, Idaho, western Washington, etc, all very red. South of us (next to Nebraska) is reddish Iowa. Minnesota is farms and factories, white, pretty conservative overall.

And right there in the middle of it all is MN CD5, wherefrom the most densely populated part of Minnesota is represented by the only Muslim in Congress. Who is black. And who is politically radically left.

All, or at least most, of the DFLers (thats what we Democrats call ourselves round these parts) in Minnesota look at Congressman Keith Ellison with awe, and see him, as a parson, his policies, and his representation of a Congressional District, as about the best thing we’ve got going in the state. Few Minnesota DFLers may be to the left of Ellison, and few are very far right of him either. We’d be happy to have someone with Kieth Ellison’s politics and policy positions representing all of the districts of the state, and it would be especially helpful to our overall social and cultural mission if most of those representatives were in one or more ways not christian-white-male-normative. Not that Christian white male democrats are bad, but we want a good amount of diversity so we can truly represent a diverse, and increasingly diverse, nation.

So that’s the calibration.

Now lets look at the 8th district. This is the Iron Range. Have you seen the movie, “North country”? Maybe we don’t want to use popular culture depictions to represent congressional districts, but if you don’t mind, you could watch this:

White, conservative, industrial, miners, sexist, hockey. This should be a Republican district. But it is also worker, working class, union. And, DFL means “Democrat, Farmer, Labor,” This, the 8th district, is one of those places that actually gave birth to the modern American labor movement. (And played a big role in the environmental movement, by the way.) Democrats are pro union. Republicans are anti union. The workers of the Iron Range know which side of their toast has the butter on it.

So, now, calibrate and contrast. The modal DFL activist is pro environment, and does not want to see copper mining, now being proposed in the Iron Range/8th district. Ask Congressman Ellison, who represents Minneapolis and environs, if he thinks there should be widespread copper mining in the Iron Range, and I’ll bet he’d say no. Ask Congressman Ellison’s constituents in Minneapolis. They’d say no.

MN CD8 Choice (that's Paul Wellstone's picture in the background). MN CD8 Choice (that's Paul Wellstone's picture in the background).

But Democratic Congressman Nolan, who represents the district and just won a tough race with a Frat Boy Libertarian (but Republican) Beer Guzzling Party Boy Yahoo who also happens to be very wealthy, i.e., Donald Trump with a different haircut, and he will tell you different. He’ll tell you that we need to have mining in the 8th district because we need jobs there. When push comes to shove, I’d bet Congressman Nolan will also want to protect the environment, and he’ll be the perfect person in there to insist on working out future mining in a way that makes sense. But he supports it, and his support of it allows him to be a Congressman.

Putting a finer point on this, in case you’ve not already grokked it, the ideal modal democrat can’t be the candidate you run in every district. Republicans CAN do that. They run on ideological issues that play perfectly well everywhere. Every Republican is interchangeable with every other Republican. Not true with Democrats. Think about that for a minute.

This is the reason this country is more likely to elect a Republican president over a Democratic president all else being equal. It is the reason that when Democrats hold a slim majority, they actually don’t hold a majority with respect to most issues, because they fight, they are diverse, they represent a varied landscape of constituency and preference. The Democratic Party is the very definition of a big tent. We have the bigliest tent. Fabulous, yuge tent.

This is also the reason that, in order for Democrats to win at the Congressional level and above, and often at State Senate or lower levels, they have to start out with 60% or more of the population more or less on their side, so that when 5% break off and become radically inflamed or disenfranchised-depressed, the candidates still hold at least a slim majority.

Hillary Clinton had certain characteristics that made her the ideal Democratic candidate, but among those characteristics, she also had serious negatives. I do not think that Clinton lost because she is a woman, though sexism supercharged most of the smaller effects working against her campaign, as enumerated above. Sexism that happened because she was a woman candidate for president, combined with the false but effective “crooked Hillary” trope, may have brought out the “silent majority,” and sharpened the misogynist Bernie-bot effect.

Now lets’ look briefly at CD2 in Minnesota. This was an open seat this year, and I think it should be looked at very closely. The district may be thought of as roughly equivalent to the 8th district in levels of conservatism, but with two important differences. First, the union-labor part is not very strong there, so that natural avenue of support for Democrats is gone. This is mostly farmers, rural conservatives. By rights, CD2 should always be Republican, were it not for the general like of the DFL even by conservative individuals across the state.

Angie Craig Angie Craig

The second difference is the presence of academic, medical science-linked, relatively liberal Rochester in the district. That allows for a clump of progressive that liberal ice can freeze to and build up over time.

Now, lets look at the candidates. Think Rush Limbaugh vs. Ellen. Sort of. Republican Jason Lewis is a right wing radio shock jock who makes Trump look like an alter boy, and I’m only exaggerating a little. He, like Trump, is temperamentally disqualified to hold major public office. Angie Craig is a first time candidate who hails from the medical insurance industry, so she has experience in an important issue area, is an “outsider,” and all that. She is also a lesbian and is married to a woman, making her one of the handful of same-sex-married candidates that stepped into the political limelight this year.

So, unlike Nolan, one might argue that Angie Craig is more of an ideal modal DFLer, more akin to Congressman Ellison than to an old timey out state labor-loving democrat like Congressman Nolan. And, I can tell you right now, if I want, that it might have been a bad idea to run her in that district, because she is female, gay, and flaunts her female gayosity by going out and marrying a girl. And, yes, she lost the race. The Democrats should have run a straight white farmer in the 2nd district, right?

In retrospect, running Angie Craig in that district was not a bad idea. The fact is, she almost won. This was a nail biter. She was a far superior candidate, and everyone could see that. She should have won and almost did.

So, why didn’t she win? The Democrats would have taken this district had they run, as I noted, an old white farmer or something. A Lutheran Batchelor Farmer preferably. But Democrats strive to do something different. The Minnesota DFL runs plenty of Lutheran Batchelor Farmers all across the state. The calculation that Angie Craig could win this district was made before Trump was recognized as a factor. The right wing radio shock jock won on Trump’s feces covered coattails. And, only barely.

At this point, I can make an argument that we need to do a better job at picking candidates based on their match with the voters, sometimes taking the chance and running individuals who are non-white, non-straight, etc. but otherwise sticking with the candidate that “most resembles” the district at hand, in terms of gender, age, color of skin, and policy. And, yes, that is actually correct, one must consider these things all the time. However, we are the Big Tent people, the Democrats, so naturally we are not going to do that all the time. We will, should, and do, accept the occasional loss because in this or that race we could not fit our giant tent into the local voting booth. In fact, it is only by overreaching and losing that we know where that line is, so we can cross it frequently and therefor move it in the right direction. Losing a race in a place like Minnesota’s Second Congressional District is what we need to do now and then. In two years, we’ll take it back.

But we also need to win races, and that means making good choices. But, although I can make an argument that we need to do a better job at that, that is not the argument I want to make.

The real reason Angie and Hillary lost

The reason that Angie Craig lost in MN CD2 is not because she was female, lesbian, or married to a woman. The reason that Angie Craig lost in MN CD2 is because the National Democratic Party screwed up and a number of people, just a few thousand, that would have voted for Angie, stayed home or didn’t volunteer or otherwise get involved.

We did have high voter turnout in MN, apparently, as we usually do. But in CD2, about 20,000 people didn’t show up. During the last presidential election, 357 thousand voters voted in that district, in contrast to about 337 thousand this year. This perfectly mirrors the national numbers. In the national election, about 6% fewer people voted this year than in 2012. In Minnesota CD2, about 6% fewer people voted this year than last year.

Lack of voter turnout caused both Hillary Clinton and Angie Craig and countless other Democrats to lose to Republicans in 2016.

There is plenty of room in that six percent to work with, to have elected Hillary Clinton as President and Angie Craig to Congress.

(“Hey, but what about the 8th district, was there a similar drop there? Cuz your DFL guy won there. If you’re right, there wasn’t a drop there. Cough up the numbers, Greg.” Answer: There was virtually no difference in that district between 2012 and 2016. Hypothesis survives.)

It is all about voter turnout. The second and third reasons why Democrats lose are: Not enough voter turnout, and voter turnout is too low. Also … voter turnout.

But, why was voter turnout low? Here, we could go back to the other reasons a candidate might win or lose. Hillary was a woman. The Great Right Wing Conspiracy against Hillary. Trump was a TV star. Whatever. And we would still be missing the point.

Since half of the population are women, about 60% of them, apparently, care that a woman is elected president enough go get really excited (the remainder are repressed Republicans or hopelessly sexist), and that should readily offset anti-woman voting from sexist men. Hillary did not lose because she is a woman, but it mattered that a relatively high percentage of sexist people (mostly men, some women) voted in lower population states. In fact, that probably would have killed Hillary’s chances in even more states were she not rescued by the Black and Hispanic communities. Hillary’s negatives mattered a lot, I suspect. If anything, Trump’s very existence, and the entire GOP circus, turned voters off to the entire process, and not just Republican voters. The Bernie Bot’s themselves, with their special snowflake votes, probably didn’t matter much in their voting habits, but their unceasing yammering probably turned some people away. Doesn’t matter. Only one thing matters, because all these things feed into that one thing: Depressed turnout.

How To Win The Elections

In Minnesota, we expected to turn one of our houses Democratic and keep the other Democratic, and to maintain or increase our Democratic delegation to Congress. This did not happen, and our state got redder because the national election sent people away from the polls. There were a lot of things we were going to do over the next two years in this state, and that is over now.

The way to fix this is not to fix the candidates, or to deal with this or that particular problem that emerges in this or that national level election. It is not to forego women candidates, or to avoid men and women in same sex marriages, or to compromise in any other way. It is to make national elections matter less, and local elections matter more, so that every year, on election day, a large part of the population bothers to show up at the voting booth. Twice (primary and main election day).

Instead of the outcome of, and interest in, local elections being determined by the ebb and flow of national elections, so some years we all take it in the neck because the national party is outdone by the other party, or some other effect, killing us all with deadly coattails, by down ticket effects, by all that, the opposite should be true. Local political activity should be broad, wide, and intense, and that activity should determine up ticket effects.

Instead of coattails jerking around state house races, state house races should be the solid foundation for national races. As it stands now, the public face of people we will never really meet, even if we may once shake their hand on a rope line, determines the nature and character of the electoral process every four years, and leaves hanging and ignored, that process in all other years. What should happen is this. The public servants that live next door and who’s houses we can, I don’t know, cover with toilet paper if we want to, and who’s kids go to school with our kids, and all that, should collectively and en masse shape the nature and character of all elections, all the time, every single year, and then of course determine the outcome of that singular and occasional election for President.

I am not the first person to say this. This approach underlies all grassroots activism. Tip O’Neil said it. Marx said it. Everybody said it. But we don’t do it.

We need to do it.

The Democratic Party Party

Consider the amount of money that the Democratic Party or a major Superpac spends on an hour of presidential election season ads in a major market. Take some of that money. Or, maybe just take the total cost of a presidential campaign, about a billion dollars, and put aside a chunk of it.

A Macon County Democratic candidate wining the hearts and minds of the people. A Macon County Democratic candidate wining the hearts and minds of the people.

Those funds, widely distributed, can pay for clambakes and brat bbqs in state house or senate districts. A Democratic Party Party for all the neighbors, two or three times a year prior to the primaries and again prior to the election. Every year.

Imagine if it was normal for the Democratic Party to have a gathering, a feast, a night-out-thing, a few times a year, EVERY year, regardless of the election cycle, with all invited, not by what party you are in or by what politics you hold, but simply because you are in the neighborhood.

Perhaps the Republicans would start doing it to. If they do, then we really win, because there would be twice as many public, welcoming events without us paying for it, but this technique mainly benefits Democrats. Why? Because a party has tents! Actual tents for our big tent thinking, making the political process a local, regular, normal, social process, embedded in our culture, with clam rolls or brats or crab cakes or whatever your local thing is. And the chicken dance, if you must. And a bounce house.

Choices and chance at the national level turn the turnout dial up or down, unpredictably, every four years, and otherwise not much happens. When turnout is high, Democrats win. This is why Democrats lose in the house race every midterm. The dial is turned down because there is no national election. This is a situation we will never, ever get out of if we leave it be. It is a situation caused by the top to bottom flow of energy, money, and decision making. It is, if you will, a situation caused by the very nature of the Democratic Party establishment of which we hear so many complaints these days.

I propose that we turn a good chunk of that national level money flow to the local level. Put up that tent, have the block party, rent the VFW, the Union Hall, now and then the local church.

A voter registration table, some local candidates, a couple of VERY SHORT speeches. In Minnesota, Al Franken gets up on a chair and draws a map of all 50 states from memory because he can do that. Maybe there is some raising of funds, a money jar, to off set the cost, but this is not a fundraiser but rather, a fun raiser. Did I mention that there will be a bounce house?


After election day, we feast. No particular reason it is done in this order, but every year, the first Tuesday after the first Monday in November comes just a few days before the fourth Thursday in November. I propose that we reverse that. Leave Thanksgiving where it is, of course, but add a feast before election day, and another one before that, and two before primary day, or caucus day, or in Minnesota, both. Not political events, but social events that emphasize civic engagement and voting, run by our party, because we have to get the ball rolling. If the other party wants to do it to, fine. They can borrow our Weber.

Obviously, spending the money and resources on a big party is not the actual suggestion I’m making here. It is just one way to do it. Civic engagement at the local level to encourage and expand voting, to raise the turnout rate by double digits. That’s the ticket to turnout.

Minnesota is surrounded by red, and it probably should be red, by comparison. But we are not. Why? Look at this map of the 2012 general election (selected to show a presidential race but not a great outlier i.e. 2008):


Look at the higher turnout zones. Iowa, Minnesota and Wisconsin are rural farm states that should be pure red, but they are either blue, or trend blue many years, and they have high voter turnout. New Hampshire and Maine should be very conservative, given the demographics, but they trend blue, and have high voter turnout. Virginia is a blue southern state. There is a long list of reasons Virginia is blue and not red,but on that list must be voter turnout. Texas has piles of urban, lost of immigrants from blue states, and a relatively diverse population. Why is it red and not blue? Oh look, Texas has low voter turnout. Colorado, outside of certain areas, is very conservative but tents to vote blue among a sea of red. Look at the voter turnout.

The causal arrow is probably a bit more complex than a simple Turnout—> Blue relationship. But the relationship is known to be real. Hell, if the supports of Democratic Candidates just spent a pile of time and money on voter turnout in general, they would win more. But if the person handing you the free brat and plastic cup of beer happens to be wearing a blue shirt with the name of a Democratic candidate on it …


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What am I, a Hillary supporter, missing?

I think he's right. And all of us who are very unhappy about the current state of affairs, but have been too busy/lazy to get involved in local politics, should start looking into what we could do.

Dan Owen,

Out of the total eligible voter population. I believe his point (a little fuzzy, Greg) would be that the actual voting is not a representative sample of the whole.

An interesting question, actually. I forget what countries have compulsory voting, and I wonder what would happen here if we did. I suspect the popular vote numbers at least would strongly favor the Dems.

Okay, I give up: *WHY* should anyone work to "fix the problem," Mr Laden. Please explain to us, logically and with a compelling argument, *WHY* we should care about human civilization surviving; *WHY* should be we care about the suffering of the weak, the disenfranchised, the poor, the persecuted, the oppressed, and the hungry.

I am 56 years old. I have been fighting people like Trump and Pence for over 40 years, in the streets with my body (to keep reproductive health care access available for girls and women) and in the political arena (dozens and dozens of venues including voter drives and local campaigns). I have spent thousands of hours and hundreds of thousands of dollars fighting for and defending the disenfranchised and the unwanted.


I spent my childhood under the thumb of people like Trump and Pence when I lived and worked in Central America. The USA military, and the CIA, used to bomb and / or assassinate people like Trump and Pence. Now we see the FBI and the KKK on the same side.

*DECADES* of weary toil and labor trying to improve the country, and I see almost no actual improvement.

Well, fuck all that shit. Fuck the USA. Fuck the planet. Fuck poor people. Fuck girls and women who will now be forced to reproduce against their wishes. I am FUCKING DONE fighting for no reason.

By Desertphile (not verified) on 10 Nov 2016 #permalink

Wesley Dodson,

Oh please. Still with "the revolution" that doesn't exist.

I wish one of the fantasists who think "if only Bernie" would explain a couple of things (out of many).

The first order of business that I've heard from interviews with Trump supporters is that "Obamacare must be destroyed".

So, those people would defect to Bernie, who is suggesting an even more "Socialist" approach? It's not racism against President Obama and racism against the people who have benefited most from Obamacare, it's that they want a system like the Frenchie Surrender Monkeys have, right?

Well, actually, I'll wait to hear the answer to that one before going on. Any takers?

Wesley Dodson, Naomi Klein, et al:

This is a science blog. There is a great deal of solid, serious science that tells us about human behavior. And it is articulated in a very simple folksy way by someone who was an expert, LBJ:

"I'll tell you what's at the bottom of it," he said. "If you can convince the lowest white man he's better than the best colored man, he won't notice you're picking his pocket. Hell, give him somebody to look down on, and he'll empty his pockets for you."

And yes, decades of social and psychological research supports this, in more formal and even mathematical ways. Status (and identity) is perceived in relation to those closest to the subject.

Take away half the wealth of Davos-wealthy, and they will be just as happy, as long as their near-peers are equally diminished. And for the poor rural whites who benefit greatly from Obamacare, they would rather do without than to no longer able to think that their African-American neighbors are worse off.

It's the science. Denying it in favor of moralizing and slogans and "righteousness" is exactly the same as what the right-wingers do.


Well, for one thing there are a lot of innocent plants and critters who just want to go about their business without having a bunch of stupid apes destroy their planet....

By Obstreperous A… (not verified) on 10 Nov 2016 #permalink

Zebra - I heard hat one differently

“The salient fact of American politics is that there are fifty to seventy million voters each of who will volunteer to live, with his family, in a cardboard box under an overpass, and cook sparrows on an old curtain rod, if someone would only guarantee that the black, gay, Hispanic, liberal, whatever, in the next box over doesn’t even have a curtain rod, or a sparrow to put on it.” (https://www.balloon-juice.com/2009/10/07/open-thread-lagging-lexicon-in…)

By Doug Alder (not verified) on 10 Nov 2016 #permalink

Wes, I don't watch much TV.

I did not see or hear a single Trump supporter say " rein in capitalist exploitation, and don’t start wars overseas"

In my essay, I don't rule out Hillary's flaws, and I say that Trump won instead of the more popular Democrats because the put up the wrong candidate.

Dan Owen, don't look only at the table and bullet points, but also the words and stuff. And also, know things. There are over 324,000,000 Americans.

Dersertphile, give it a bit of time you'll feel better.

Meanwhile, my first grade son and 21 year old daughter are not 56 yet!


I see you credited every vote for Obama in 2008 (69,448,516) to the Democratic party.

I know that is wrong.

I am a republican (usually) and I voted for Obama in 2008.

I am sure that millions of those votes for Obama in 2008 were Republicans (or Independents) who wanted to vote for the first black president (among other reasons).

I think that may impact your analysis, at least a little.

Greg - so hopefully your daughter will run when she's 35 (isn't that the min age?) if there is still something to manage.

By Doug Alder (not verified) on 10 Nov 2016 #permalink

RickA, if I did that, I was generalizing, rounding off, approximating, and also, presuming that if you voted for Obama, then you are a Democrat.

Which means you are a Democrat. Welcome to the big tent!

It does not impact my analysis. Remember, I'm used to working in a state where no one is registered in any party. You are a Democrat the moment you sign the form that says you uphold the principles of the Democratic party, at a particular event (which you only have to do if you are going to do something official) and the moment you walk out the door you are just a regular Minnesotan.

Doug, I hope she runs for something sooner! But to be a successful politician you have to be somewhat soulless, I think. Also, constantly nice.

She's run campaigns. I expect her to be a state or national level senior official on a winning presidential campaign within the next 12 years.

And if not, I'll be terribly disappointed, unless she revives her singing career and makes big bucks.

Greg - I hope she does. The world needs some intelligent, caring people in power positions in your country. Gotta tell you though Trump's choices for things like the EPA etc. scare the bejesus out of me for the future of climate change and for that of people like your son. Like it or not the less developed world will follow the lead of the US on mitigating the disaster - Trump is going to push for more carbon intensive power sources and make the Kochs and other billionaires happy.

By Douglas Alder (not verified) on 10 Nov 2016 #permalink

Zebra, you report: The first order of business that I’ve heard from interviews with Trump supporters is that “Obamacare must be destroyed”.

Weirdly, that reminds me of the cry made several times in the late Roger Zelazny's Amber Chronicles that "Amber must be destroyed!". The people raising that cry were from (wait for it...) The Courts of Chaos.

As I say, it's a weird association. But I think it makes some sense.

By Christopher Winter (not verified) on 10 Nov 2016 #permalink

I think Greg missed a lot of points. All the words Greg uses cannot hide that he miscalculated the outcome of the US elections in 2016. What he didn't mention is the fact that both Obama as well as Trump are both authentic. They speak out loud and without reserves what they think in their election campaigns. The heart of the matter that they both understand very well is that there is nothing so hurting as being neglected and disrespected that brings people to anger and through that to consciousness and (re)action. There is a difference though between Obama and Trump. Obama fights for dignity, respect, togetherness and safety for all people with all people and by all people, (this is mutual respect and mutual safety for everybody by everybody), and Trump wants this only for certain groups. That's why Obama is real statesman for everybody, and Trump is a fascist leader for his favorites. There might be a chance though that Trump turns out to be a better President than he has promised to be in his election campaign. Trump likes to be liked and he also knows that the American people will not take it if he starts to play the fascist drum. Unwanted behavior as fascism doesn’t help America and doesn’t help the word.
Mrs. Hillary Clinton has a better track record than Trump, she is not fascist, she works hard, she knows domestic and foreign policies, but she has a characteristic people don't like. In the opinion of many people she is high hearted and she gives people the feeling that they are minor. In the way that a queen speaks to, not with, her subordinates.
She is also contradictory. She says she is for the people, but she prove to backs banks and institutions that collectively had corrupted the whole economic system.
Mrs. Rodham Clinton in the eyes of many people made herself to be the perfect scapegoat to blame for everything hurting since the bankruptcy of Lehman brothers.
People have a point. America brought it self and the world to the brink of a financial disaster, people seldom experienced.
As far as I can see it, America lost control after having cut Bretton Woods and several other laws that kept the financial system in place. See further more the later trick of the State that created the housing bubble and the fall of it, and the for closures.
Watch today´s worldwide casino of derivates, a bigger bubble than before, under the guidance and protection of States and their banks, c.a.
People experience that they are being screwed by the negative aspects of international trade treaties.
Hillary Clinton was not the right candidate to make an end to this. Neither is Trump, and we will find that out in the near future.
Why did Trump win? By his ability to speak to the hearts and minds of people who have been neglected by the government and may not be neglected anymore. Trump made that a promise. Whether I believe Trump or not is not important. Fact the matter is that his voters did. It also explains why he got so many votes of people who haven´t realized that they voted for the wolf in sheepskin. Afro Americans, Latin-Americans, Mexicans, women, people voted for Trump the least expected, but in depth very comprehensible. They felt betrayed and left by generations of successive politicians, administration, judiciary, business men, economists, banks, scientists and so forth.
I can understand them.
This blog of Greg misses lots of crucial important elements. Till so far Greg has not expressed the truth that he missed several essential incentives that trigger people socially.
It is not true that people want to believe that they are better of than their neighbor, and that that is the reason why they voted for Trump.
No, the real thing that trigger people to despair and anger is that they are neglected, not respected, not treated with dignity and not protected.
America is in fact very uncivilized. There is no solid social contract. Everybody for himself is no contract. It’s loveless. That is what hurts till the bone. It’s a basis for social borders, for apartheid (discrimination and segregation) instead of geborgenheid (mutual respect, safety and togetherness). Note.
I'm very curious what Mr. Trump will make of his government.
His promises that he puts America number one, his goal to double production and economic growth, his denial of climate change and the negative effects of his goals for global climate, planet earth and life, his narcisme and a few other essentials more, make him the least suited President for this era.
I fear that Mr Trump as President will only make things worse.
I wished Mrs. Clinton had won, but she hasn't for all the known reasons, of which Greg mentioned none. Nothing of the above was expressed by her, at least insufficiently. What about social and economic structures keeping up poverty, racism, promoting climate change, read planet change?
Would she have exposed herself as a feeling person with empathy, she would have won the hearts and minds of far more people than voted for her.
Unfortunately (but not made by chance but by choice of topics Mrs. Hillary Rodham Clinton and her staff have made) that didn't happen.
Now we all run a bigger risk of accelerating processes, of which I name: war and terrorism, more refugees, a financial and world economic system collapsing, a more rapid climate change read earth change. We are before the flood, and Mr. Trump runs a big risk of contributing to that.
To answer the question `What next?’ I would make the call for a worldwide movement of people willing to promote politics based upon the principles of mutual respect, safety and togetherness for all, with all and by all, without discrimination in the sense of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, UNO, December 10th 1948., and of protecting planet earth, life and of social justice
I'm a lawyer in Private and Administrative law. I studied strikes and labor protest and the causes of this as off the eighteen century, the history and psychology of labor relations and trade unions, and social action. I made an in depth study of running developments of the things I wrote above.
Both words are Dutch. The language of people with the same name that founded New York.
The world knows the meaning of apartheid of South Africa. It is time that we all learn the meaning of the words ‘mutual respect and geborgenheid’, without discrimination in the sense of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, UNO, December 10th. 1948.

Laren NH, Friday 11 November 2016, 2.10 AM Dutch time

By Gerit Bogaers (not verified) on 10 Nov 2016 #permalink

As Orac might say, the one thing that all the pollsters missed was the anti-vaccine vote; the anti-vaccine vote sunk Hillary Clinton.

(However, although some of the polls had a fairly lengthy list of questions for the poll-ees, I don’t recall seeing any questions about vaccines.)

By See Noevo (not verified) on 10 Nov 2016 #permalink

So our prez elect is assembling a cunning array of villains, enough to keep us in batman movies for a century..... for his cabinet! There they are! Our next administration.. If it were a movie, you wouldn't believe it. You would have a difficult time suspending disbelief. But my oh my, here we are! We have somehow found our way to a very grim but almost Hillarious [see what I did there?] alternate reality and there is apparently no way out. Nightmare city!

I can see how it happened. I can now see how the planners and pollsters and pundits totally missed the suffering middle America that Trump nurtured. Wesley, you are an offensive ass of doubtful alignment, but you do seem at least to realize what so many privileged elites don't. The wonderful little academic bubble of knowledge and success that we protect ourselves in is not the same as empathy. The mid-landers who chose the authoritarian father figure had little real choice given the toxic mix of religio-political-media swill they have been imbibing all their lives, coupled with the sorry reality they are living in. Welcome to the world of your fellow Murkans. Its about time you got to know them!.

So here we are. About to embark on the next four years of our national voyage with another science-free authoritarian at the helm. And he is in a position to chose some real science-free thugs;simpletons, and sociopaths to be in his cabinet. This is like the Adams Family come to life! I don't know how this can end well. I don't know how those of us with science and art in our veins are going to live through a Trump presidency. His cabinet choices will say a lot. Maybe he will grow up really quickly in the next three months. But maybe not. Maybe the Washington glob will envelope him and dissolve everything that is not presidential and spit out another Reagan or something less repellent. Either way, life goes on, within you and without you.

Look, how about some real talk regarding why he lost?

I will absolutely guarantee you the dems will lose again in 2020 unless they take off the PC glasses and start facing reality as it is, and not how they wish it was.

We are stuck with trump which will probably be CATASTROPHIC in terms of climate change.

"Progressives" and the dems are very much to blame. Michael Moore at least warned you in terms of working class whites and the economy, but he didn't go nearly far enough..

I'll just pick a few things. They are EXAMPLES. Before you have a politically correct kneejerk reaction, ask yourself if being PC is more important than saving the planet.

Do you think focusing on bathrooms was a smart idea? Yes, it was in response to a law by the repubs, but still. Was it smart in an election year? Do you know how the reagan dems in wisconsin reacted to that?

Do you think it was smart for Hillary to make a big deal about Machado being insulted? And bringing her for one of her final rallies?

Do you think it was brilliant for Hillary to defend trade deals in the debates?

Do you think calling trump supporters racists racists racists was smart? Of course, a good number of them are. BUT here's a little secret- even some semi-racist whites voted for Obama.

Some whites who might have voted for dems were very turned off by Black Lives Matter. Does that mean police violence isnt a problem and shouldnt be addressed? No, of course not. But the tactics of BLM helped elect trump. Deny it at your own peril, but I know for a fact it was a factor that turned some people, from conversations with them.

Do you think Jay Z being onstage with Hillary won her votes in white working class neighborhoods in PA WI and MI?

Do you think hillary spending so much time away from the campaign trail helped? Do you think maybe her and her team were complete morons not even going to Wisconsin once?

Hillary was an awful candidate (everything from her personality, to trade, to iraq, to yes, her server). You might brag about her winning the pop vote, but she spent a pretty penny to do so.
Against a buffoon like trump she should have won 400 electoral votes. I don't know if bernie would have won, but he would have won Michigan and Wisconsin.

Dean or another idiot will be made head of the DNC, and the republicans will win again in 2020.

The dems and progressive chose identity politics (which solidified the support of white identity politics on the right) over saving the planet.

This might be too real for you so feel free not to post it.

By SorryButItsTrue (not verified) on 10 Nov 2016 #permalink

First: I am convinced the Cubs did indeed open the Seventh Seal of the Apocalypse ....
Second: The Dems may have decided that with Obama's approvals at an historic high they needed only run a Barack Clone campaign. Defensible enough. But there were real differences between he and HRC....My feeling- non metric based [and do we dare trust the polling algorithms in the future?] — is that Obama’s success had something to do with A] his non wealth, B] his obvious racial “outsider-ness", C] his Iraq bona fides and D ]his speech making skills that ignited real visions of passion and change. I would submit that HRC had non of these assets. We can debate all we want to as to the fairness of that perception filtered through a male dominated media. I’m only reporting my sense of my feelings.
A recent Stoller article in the Atlantic chronicled the post Viet Nam history as the Dems moved away from the working class To throw up their hands and to announce that “those factory jobs are never coming back” or to say college is the only way to success [and then legislate predatory loans to those students] is to dismiss all the carpenters, plumbers, mechanics, farmers, truck drivers, etc who currently feel that American political cultural respect has passed them by.
Long ago, I implored my friends at the Sierra Club and at Trout Unlimited to somehow understand that their overall interests had more in common than they could admit. It was decades before they began [barely!] to get it. It still pains me when a clog wearing xurbanite gets out of his Prius to talk to a 3rd generation rancher about creating a conservation easement …. the “high road” Michelle talked about might just include the notion of empathy.

By curtis goodnight (not verified) on 10 Nov 2016 #permalink

Christopher Winter #21,

I was channeling "Carthage must be destroyed", which I suspect was the reference Zelazny intended. I had quite forgotten those books, which I read more years ago than I like to think about.

You know, I just can't see whatever rationality or humanity that might be left in the Republican party being strong enough to be able to contain this monster. He tore through their primary process like a hot knife through butter. Red Murka has compromised their KKristianity by forgiving this psychopath all his past indiscretions and now look what we have. Geez this looks bad. Perhaps the military will be able to stop Donzilla, but right now they are on his side, so probably not.

So here we are conducting an in-process national experiment in Murkan fascism. We've squandered our freedom to be able to build and create on a demented consumer paradise, free of cares, free of reflection, free of thought, and now, its ideal leader has taken root! A silver spoon fed monster who is OK with torture, misogyny, and bullying. So how do we prevent him from starting up an internment camp industry to employ his white male supporters? We were asleep at the switch and we are waking up to a very grim morning.

Note to future Democratic campaigns: Please try to not end up with another candidate whose public persona swings between insane manic bug eyed finger pointing and scolding. It is not an appealing mix for those of us who have already endured grammar school thank you.

I'm trying to believe that America, the land of the free, is not over. Is this a two year fight or the two millennium fight? I'm thinking that we have to focus on the 2018 election, and be ready to sacrifice all that we have left in us to make sure that he does not have a compliant Congress. I think that we are going to have to do everything in our power to contain what has not yet been contained. The media that he has excoriated should mostly be on our side, at least in the beginning of the fight.

@ Gerit Bogaers

thank you for saving me have to write that - 100% agree

unfortunaly America received the wrong answer (Trump) to a valid question

A question over the direction the US has taken over the last 40 years

In the UK we asked the same question and got an equally wrong answer (Brexit) imo

The number of deplorable, unprincipled, vile, racist, and sexist people in the United States who are of voting age is huge.

I'm going to leave the comfort zone of my normal posting hangout, Respectful Insolence, to take you to task on this. I'm a physician (pediatrician) and I'm also a scientist (neuroscience). FWIW, I didn't (and still don't) think either Clinton or Trump were anywhere near the best candidates either party could have run--but in politics it's not about anything other than vote counts and (for the office of the President) how many electors cast their ballot for you. And yes, I voted. And no, I'm not happy with how this election resulted.

My beef is that you talk about this "yuge tent" of the Democratic party, but then you turn around and call people you don't like (who may be offensive but aren't breaking any laws (if they were they wouldn't be able to vote)) "deplorables". I am guessing you are not expecting, hoping or wanting these "deplorables" entering your tent anytime soon. That's fine--it's what you believe and you clearly do not want them near you. But I will note that when those on the Democrat side are calling Mr. Trump things like "F*ckface Von Clownstick" all over TV and the internet--well you are only angering your opponents to levels you have never seen before and those "deplorables" then really didn't care a whit what else was revealed about Trump, including his behavior regarding women. They stopped listening to whatever valid points you had to say.

Those "deplorables" are human beings. I worry you don't see them as such. I was left with the feeling most of the pro-Clinton media didn't see them as such either. I also feel most of the "deplorables" don't see you or the pro-Clinton media as human beings either. This lack of appreciation for our fellow citizen's humanity in what is arguably the greatest but most polarized nation on planet Earth worries me greatly for the next few years to come.

By Chris Hickie (not verified) on 11 Nov 2016 #permalink

Sorrybutitstrue #25,

I am not offended by your observations, and right or wrong, you are at least trying to think about winning rather than being righteous.

But, I would argue that Joe Biden would have defeated any Republican, and Trump by an insane blowout, following pretty much the same approach. Because he is a White Male, and because he hasn't been witch-hunt demonized for all these years. He never said "I could have stayed home and baked cookies".

But following along something Greg has said, I am conflicted. Would I vote against HRC (against Biden), as I did in the 2008 primary with Obama, because I thought she was the candidate less likely to win? If this isn't the time for a woman, who is very well qualified, who did in fact win the popular vote, then when?

As Greg said, sometimes you have to push the limits even if you lose. I predict that in the next Presidential election, there will be at least one female VP, and her name will not be Palin. That would probably be palatable to many because it is the usual subservient role for women.


I think Joe Biden would have beat Trump.

I think Michelle Obama would have beat Trump.

I think anybody except Hillary Clinton would have beat Trump.

I don't think it was sexism which cost Hillary the election, because she did worse among women than Obama did.

Hillary had to much baggage - and it turns out she was the wrong candidate.

Chris. It is a big tent. Not an indiscriminate tent. Racism and misogyny are not welcome in the tent. Are you suggesting that they should be?

You might need to sully youself a bit and gang out with some American deplorable for a while. It would put an edge on your thinking.

Pretty sure the data says that Trumps support came from as varied groups as whites making over $50K[+2%], white women [53% ]latino [29%] - 54% of male college graduates voted for Trump, as did 45% of female college graduates. IMHO there is something much deeper- and I believe it may well begin with a consumptive culture that teaches us that we are not enough as we are.... the first exposure any american child has to any mass media, they see an ad . And that ad tells then they can only be ok if they obtain whatever product is being pitched. ergo "you are deficient as you are" ....maybe we get lucky and have a family or mentor that overcomes that ....but maybe we don't and we succumb to materialism or chemical substances or food or denigrating-the-other.... but rest assured that void will be filled somehow. After watching decades of education and policies go by the board, methinks there is some , dare I say it, Spiritual element that must be summoned here.

By curtis goodnight (not verified) on 11 Nov 2016 #permalink

To SorryButItsTrue #25:

Pretty good points.

Except maybe for the stuff about climate change.

By See Noevo (not verified) on 11 Nov 2016 #permalink

I completely understand Chris Hickie. Greg misses Hickie's point. Insults and calling another names don't pave the way to mutual understanding. A very simple test for Greg and everybody: What would your reaction be in answer on curses directed to you? The same question if you are constantly being belittled, denied, cursed, called bad names, et cetera? What would be the effect of a constant stream of rotten words directed to you? What is the effect of more of the same? Read Chris Hickie again and again and again. Use your empathic skills. Place yourself in the other person's shoes, who is the receiver of such nasty names? I understand the characterization of Greg who calls people as ´deplorables´, but why not go deeper and practice what Baruch Spinoza advised: human actions, don't laugh, don't cry, don't detest but understand. That would be, I think, the best ground for an anthropologist, a judge, a doctor of medicine, a psychiatrist, a psychologist, a lawyer, a policeman and all other people to research and practice. Don't be judgmental. Don´t follow your personal emotional preferences, you will be entangled in them. Analyze. Greg might answer that he practices this, but why call the persons in question ´deplorables´ in the same article? That is a flaw. Emotion and preference take over from the scientific approach and spoil the analysis. That is a pity. Lesson stop calling each other names. It´s not fruitful but works counterproductive. It confirms and endorses hate. What good does that do? Don’t mix and confuse emotions with science. Emotions can have a place in columns. Laren NH, Friday 11 November 2016, 20.17 PM Dutch time.

By Gerrit Bogaers (not verified) on 11 Nov 2016 #permalink

Gerrit #36:

Wise words - and I totally agree.

I don't name call - as I believe it is not helpful in persuading.

I don't like being called names - and I have been called many by posters on this blog (monster, greedy, liar, and many more I cannot remember now).

None of the name-calling persuades me.

Why? Because I don't accept the characterization. In most instances, it is must some persons opinion - often made with zero facts.

People say things on blogs that they would never say face to face - and I get that.

But it would be nice to elevate the conversation.

Nobody can force another to change their mind or opinion on any subject - especially by calling them names and demanding they change their mind or opinion.

Sometimes we have to just agree to disagree.

Chris. It is a big tent. Not an indiscriminate tent. Racism and misogyny are not welcome in the tent. Are you suggesting that they should be?

You might need to sully youself a bit and gang out with some American deplorable for a while. It would put an edge on your thinking.

I'm a physician. I care for patients. I try my best not to let their beliefs affect my care for them (no one is perfect) and it's not "sullying" myself when I'm with them. Again, the extremes of both sides are dehumanizing the other side. Your side does so out of a sense of intellectual superiority, while they do so out of being looked down upon by your side as "deplorables".

FYI, I don't need the type of "edge" you show in *your* thinking.

By Chris Hickie (not verified) on 11 Nov 2016 #permalink

So Chris, people who are rampantly racist, homophobic, misogynistic, bigoted, etc., aren't "deplorables"? By your standard the trump supporters who have, since the election, told my son that he need to go back "where he came from" so "real Americans" can have his job, aren't terrible people? We adopted him from Korea - he's been here since he was 3 months old. Sorry - the people who behave like that are scum, and should not be associated with by choice by decent people.

If you don't see the difference between treating them as part of your job (which you should be applauded for) and associating with them and ignoring their terrible behavior because you want them on your side, you have a problem.

@Dean. I'm from a very international family, and we continue the tradition. My Dutch Antillean wife and I don't like hatemongers, nor our two kids (28 and 26). Still we have to keep contact with them to convince them that they are wrong. How the other one reacts, always will be his or hers responsibility. We stay. By the way we already passed the color line several times. It feels good and it is great. We didn't let us be chased away. Be happy with all patient people who don't shut the fences, when they are being offended, but who have a sharp and wise reply against discrimination and racism. My friends and I founded the first anti racism and anti discrimination group in the Netherlands, back in 1976. Werkgroep Quarter. It worked. why, because we went for the scientific and human approach, analyzing, visiting, talking, organizing social action. It helped. Some discriminators ended their discrimination and opened their bars for colored people. Two night clubs were cut in their opening times. The history repeated itself when my son's Dutch friend from Egypt was denied entrance on New Years eve although he had bought a ticket of entrée, December 2005. That same night youngsters from Maroccan decent were being access denied, because they had a conflict with the bar owners. Guess what happened, that club has been closed by the Mayor ever since because of racism incidents. So, be defensible. Don't exclude people who fight discrimination in another way than you choose. I dare to say in essence all people have a hidden place where they are more or less discriminators themselves. It is a very old imprint of protection of ones own tribe. Fear for foreigners, et cetera. We all have to overcome that. Realize your own prejudices of race and start working for a better society, to begin with yourself. That’s what you have proven yourself. Congratz. We are brothers. It is a continuous story. Laren NH, Saturday, 12 November 2016, 9.21 AM Dutch time.

By Gerrit Bogaers (not verified) on 11 Nov 2016 #permalink

Chris Hickie,

Being the rational pragmatist anti-moralizing person everyone doesn't want to hear from, I thought about responding to dean earlier. However, I think you are being disingenuous and judgemental yourself in his case.

Dean is expressing a parent's anger, in response to a specific event involving specific individuals. He doesn't think all White Males are irrational bigots because they are White Males-- I'm pretty sure he knows that (most) commenters here would not object to his hard-working, educated son marrying their daughters because of his "Asian" appearance. I would cut him some slack.

(Just to be clear: "Irrational bigots* is not a moral judgement, just an observation.)

I do have a question for you. I know that neuroscientists are sometimes at odds with old-fashioned psychology and sociology, but do you accept the validity of the concept of Authoritarian Personality? Do you acknowledge the research that tells us that status is mostly defined by near-peer relations of various kinds?

So, the question I'm hearing is: where is the line crossed that you determine that simply trying to win people over is a useless exercise?

By Obstreperous A… (not verified) on 12 Nov 2016 #permalink

OA #43,

You win people over by winning.

This is why I get frustrated with the moralizers and those who would rather be righteous than get things done.

For example, if HRC had won (more than the popular vote), she would have pushed forward on renewables. We have already seen lots of acceptance, by Republicans as well, of rooftop solar and wind farms. After a while, enough people would have seen the benefits and lack of negatives and then it becomes "normal" and not something to argue about. There would be lobbying from that industry to counteract the FF boys, and so on.

What's not to like?

Zebra @ 44

Ok, but that wasn't the question I was trying to ask. It's not necessarily about winning, but rather it's based on the back and forth above which I'm interpreting as being about civility. When does it become a useless exercise?

But to try and tie it to what you are saying, I suppose I could ask it as: At what point can you justify winning at all costs and how do you determine that point?

BTW, Trump won the election, but I'm not won over. Nor am I ever likely to be based on what he does. We'll see how it goes.

By Obstreperous A… (not verified) on 12 Nov 2016 #permalink

"He doesn’t think all White Males are irrational bigots because they are White Males– I’m pretty sure he knows that (most) commenters here would not object to his hard-working, educated son marrying their daughters because of his “Asian” appearance."

Of course I don't. My anger is directed at the subset of people who think, act, and speak, the way the people I referenced do. I fully accept that there are a good number of Trump supporters who would be appalled at the statements made to my son. The problem is that that subset who make statements like that made up a significant portion of the nation-wide support for Trump and, rather than disavowing them, he accepted it and urged more of it.

There is not

OA #45,

Got it. My answer is that for those in the Authoritarian Personality Spectrum, civility in itself isn't going to do much to change what they do in the voting booth. They don't care what you think; they care what their identity group thinks. Maybe, there are things you might say to influence some overt behavior for those not too far gone.

But I am thinking in terms of pragmatism and acceptance, as in my example at 44 . Or, for example, there are almost certainly lots of these people who condemn interracial coupling, after all these years, but I don't think they would think it was worth trying to change through the law. But, again, civil discourse might convince them not to overtly express their bigotry in polite company.

(Note again-- "bigotry" is not a moral judgement.)

As to if Trump winning could convince you of something-- we'll see if there is anything that gets done beyond typical Republican take-from-the-poor-give-to-the-rich. But face it, some of the policies starting with Reagan have become "mainstream" for large segments of the population. Consider all the times I've tried to educate you guys about the difference between actual free market economics and laissez-faire capitalism-- the doublespeak has become the norm.

@47 So, if I catch your drift, the line is crossed at intransigence. Where/how is that line determined for individuals? For groups? Subgroups?

I have certain triggers, but I have to admit that sometimes my response is more ad hoc than not.

By Obstreperous A… (not verified) on 13 Nov 2016 #permalink


"the line is crossed at intransigence"

No, it is crossed at the point where you diagnose strong AP.

There is plenty of literature on Authoritarian Personality out there. Read some and get back to me.

When is authoritarian personality "strong"?
Who is qualified to diagnose it?
Are there cures for it?
Do people who are susceptible to it always act in harmful ways?
Are they persuadable in some cases?
Is someone who is just always belligerent suffering from AP?
Do some "Hillbots" have AP?

Perhaps most important:
When is one inadvertently contributing to a climate that fosters that kind of thinking (like perhaps by being threatening)? And when does that matter and when does it not matter?

By Obstreperous A… (not verified) on 13 Nov 2016 #permalink

I appreciate your responding to my questions. Let me just say that I'm drilling down on this because I occasionally take stock of how I approach and think about this issue. As you may know, I am no stranger to speaking aggressively.

For myself, and FWIW, I don't think that AP, as you put it, is either a necessary condition or by itself always a sufficient condition to issue forth a flyting.

By Obstreperous A… (not verified) on 13 Nov 2016 #permalink


I don't disagree with the last sentence. I don't have insults as a default position though; I just stop trying.

So: Sufficient to stop trying. I obviously enjoy a serious argument when there is some indication of flexibility on the other side. But inflexibility does not define AP.

I think you should read some more and form your own answers to your questions at 50, and perhaps we can debate those (politely).

Oh, I form my own opinions, and for now I'm not interested in debating so much as fishing around and taking temperatures.

This was triggered partly by the title of the post which reflects widespread concerns (and reactions) and partly by reactions to the election in broadcast media.

Why Trump won and how to fix... deserves serious, objective attention...

By Obstreperous A… (not verified) on 14 Nov 2016 #permalink


"I form my own opinions" "deserves serious, objective attention".

The science I am talking about is serious and objective, just like climate science. But of course you and everyone else are free to ignore it.

Let's be clear, I was trying to illicit responses on tactics/strategy and maybe do a little soul searching. I was NOT questioning the wisdom of what got included in DSM 5.

By Obstreperous A… (not verified) on 14 Nov 2016 #permalink


That wisdom tells us that winning is the best tactic/strategy.

In the US, there are structural impediments to thus shifting the paradigm, because we don't have a true democratic system of governance.

Give people a reason to turn out. The UK had the problem that voting Labour was pretty much identical to voting Conservative, doubly so in the Blair years.

And, oddly enough, a very low turnout since then.


A great many of progressives could not stomach voting for the person who turned Syria and Lybia into kill-zones. The action in Lybia doubled down by assassinating an elected head of state. So many thousands of people killed.

Particularly galling is the way that the USA played patty-cake with ISIS in Syria for a year, causing god-knows-how-much collateral suffering, and Putin put them down in a couple of days.

The Washington elite simply want to rule the world, because they just do, and they see the way to accomplish that as being military force. Clinton was even talking about low-yield nukes, for Christ's sake.

Trump couldn't be much worse than Clinton, and there's a distinct possibility that he might be quite a bit better. Perhaps he'll leave Israel alone for long enough that they can march their muslims into the gas chambers, which you know is what they really want to do.

By Paul Murray (not verified) on 16 Nov 2016 #permalink

"The Washington elite simply want to rule the world, because they just do"


They think that what they're doing IS THE RIGHT THING.

Why? Because they are surrounded by people who think the same thing. Because it's good for the wealthy, with whom they work with, socialise with, are themselves, and have telling them they're doing well.

So sociopaths and the narcissistic spout random phrases to get adulation and attention by saying what "ordinary people" think, which makes it look as though that sociopath agree with them, and that is how the sociopath or narcissist gets the power and attention they crave. This doesn't mean that the sociopath agrees with them, mind.