Monday, January 30, 2017

appeal to white voters - or change their minds?

It wasn't voter turnout that gave Trump more elector votes than Clinton. As has been widely reported, it was all the white people that voted for Trump. But I fear how this fact is being interpreted. I'm already seeing people saying that Democrats need to abandon emphasis on social justice issues, to have a harder line about Muslims, to back off support for gay rights, and on and on, all in a quest to court more white voters.

This New York Times article points out that, while Hispanic voters are often credited with President Obama's victories, the reality is that President Obama would have won re-election without the Hispanic vote, because President Obama won the white vote. And Hillary Clinton didn't win that white vote. By contrast, in 2016, Trump made huge gains among white voters - working-class white voters.

Mr. Trump owned Mr. Obama’s winning message to autoworkers and Mr. Romney’s message to coal country. He didn’t merely run to protect the remnants of the industrial economy; he promised to restore it and “make America great again...”

Taken together, Mr. Trump’s views on immigration, trade, China, crime, guns and Islam all had considerable appeal to white working-class Democratic voters, according to Pew Research data. 

But the article misses the mark in saying that that the issues of abortion and same-sex marriage didn't play a role in Trump's, as well as his "law and order" diatribes - thinly disguised fear-based rhetoric that fuels fears of black and Latino Americans. One look at the newsfeeds of my many Facebook friends and family back in Kentucky and throughout the South and mid-West shows those positions on abortion, same-sex marriage and "law and order" were hugely important factors in decision-making regarding voting, along with those unrealistic comments about the coal industry and trade with China and policies about Muslims.

I've given up watching CNN, because during the election, CNN rarely called out Trump, or his supporters, on their lies. CNN was all about commentary by pundits, but not about journalism. But even a broken clock is right twice a day, and CNN's John Blake gets it right in this article, which notes:

Trump's triumph is now being roundly described as a revolt by white working-class voters; racism, sexism and religious bigotry had little, if anything, to do with it. People making this argument are following a script first honed by another group of Americans who made history disappear. After the Civil War, "Lost Cause" propagandists from the Confederacy argued the war wasn't fought over slavery -- it was a constitutional clash over state's rights, they said; hatred toward blacks had nothing to do with it.

It was an audacious historical cover-up -- to convince millions of Americans that what they'd just seen and heard hadn't really happened. It worked then, and some historians say it could work again with Trump.

I fear that Democratic Party leaders will encourage Democratic candidates to backtrack on social justice issues in a misguided effort to appeal to white voters... unless we get involved in our local Democratic Party committees, and pressure them to stay true to our values.

And here's news from another source: Trump lost every income bracket below $48,000 - including white people - and won every group above it.

I still don't know how to reach middle class whites who voted Trump - facts don't matter to them. BuzzFeed reported that fake news stories about the USA Presidential election this year generated more engagement on Facebook than the top election stories from 19 major news outlets COMBINED – that included major news outlets such as The New York Times, The Washington Post, CNN, and NBC News, and on and on. And then there's Pizzagate.

But if the Democratic Party abandons our values just to reach middle class white people that voted for Trump then, most certainly, millions of us will abandon that party.

Also see:

  • No, it wasn't about the economy
  • 2017 & beyond
  • silence means approval
  • What does it mean to be "white" in the USA?
  • Monday, January 16, 2017

    Dr. King confronted, was not passive, did not make people comfortable

    Before it was an official holiday on the 3rd Monday of January, a lot of calendar companies put Martin Luther King Jr.'s name on January15, his actual birthday, and before I could read well, I could see words on my birthday on most calendars, and so I asked my mother what that was. I got an answer that made me realize that she, and the rest of my family, did not like this person very much, whoever this person was. Comments over the years let me know just how much family members did not like him.

    Years later, I went to the school library and found out for myself who he was. And I learned about MLK, and Gandhi, and how pacifism is NOT passive, and that these were men who did NOT make people comfortable.

    Dr. King criticized his country and paralyzed USA cities with campaigns of civil disobedience. And I love him for it. 

    To watch white conservatives now use MLK for their own purposes, to try to say his legacy was about being passive and cooperative and patient, that his comments about "peace" and "love" were about not ever making people uncomfortable and not about confronting people, is insulting to his legacy. It's infuriating.

    On April 12, King was arrested in Birmingham, Alabama for violating a circuit court judge's blanket injunction against "parading, demonstrating, boycotting, trespassing and picketing." He wrote an open letter written on April 16, 1963 to defend the strategy of nonviolent, active, uncomfortable resistance to racism. In his Letter from a Birmingham Jail, Dr. King wrote, in part:

    I must confess that over the past few years I have been gravely disappointed with the white moderate. I have almost reached the regrettable conclusion that the Negro's great stumbling block in his stride toward freedom is not the White Citizen's Counciler or the Ku Klux Klanner, but the white moderate, who is more devoted to 'order' than to justice; who prefers a negative peace which is the absence of tension to a positive peace which is the presence of justice... Lukewarm acceptance is much more bewildering than outright rejection. I had hoped that the white moderate would understand that law and order exist for the purpose of establishing justice and that when they fail in this purpose they become the dangerously structured dams that block the flow of social progress.

    If you have never read this entire letter, do it today. And do not be passive. Do not think that this struggle now is about waiting for the "right" time, and about making sure everyone is comfortable and not rocking the boat and not confronting. Otherwise, you aren't really following Dr. King.

    Monday, January 9, 2017

    How White People Can Survive The Next Four Years

    Other than pushing the "heart" icon on every tweet by the incoming President, what can white people in the USA - or anyone perceived as white - do to stay safe and happy for the next four years under the new administration? Here are some ideas:
    1. When someone tries to talk about anything political, say things like "whoever is President doesn't really affect most people" and "I don't really care about politics right now" and "I'm not going to read or watch the news anymore." Say you're focused instead on "being positive," and "listening to everyone's point of view."

    2. When your friends express fears about what the incoming President has said he will do, or when he actually does something that frightens them, like asking for the names of US government officials that have attended international conferences on climate change, or the names of US Department of State staff that have worked on gender-related initiatives, tell those friends that they are being "alarmist" and that they need to "take a break from worrying." You may have to stop hanging out with them to keep yourself safe from their worries.

    3. When any friends or neighbors say they are not going to do anything that might be seen as appeasing racists that support Trump, or as appeasement regarding racist or fascist actions by the incoming Presidential administration, chide them for not being inclusive or tolerant or Patriotic, and for making other people "uncomfortable" by being intolerant. Tell them you love your country and that you "respect differences in opinion" no matter what and "want to keep the peace" and that you are committed to learning more about the "other" side's point of view, no matter what the point of view is, because the people that say those racist, fascist things, or the people that say that those who say such things "aren't really bad people," are members of your family, or are your neighbors or co-workers, and that means they aren't really serious about those comments. In fact, don't worry at all about saying anything that's even vaguely racist, let alone overtly, yourself, similar to what the incoming President has said about immigrants, black Americans, people of Mexican heritage and American Indians. Balk when friends try to bring up Nazi Germany.

    4. Keep saying over and over that Trump voters aren't really bad people and that their votes were about the economy. Be in complete denial that data keeps showing, again and again, that Trump voters were NOT voting for the economy - they were voting for racism and sexism. Don't read this paper by political scientists Brian Schaffner, Matthew MacWilliams, and Tatishe Nteta that puts the blame back on the same factors people pointed to before the election: racism and sexism. Don't look at their research-based chart that shows that voters’ measures of sexism and racism correlated much more closely with support for Trump than economic dissatisfaction... a bulk of support for Trump — perhaps what made him a contender to begin with — came from beliefs rooted in racism and sexism. Specifically, the researchers conclude that racism and sexism explain most of Trump’s enormous electoral advantage with non-college-educated white Americans, the group that arguably gave Trump the election."

    5. Don't donate to, volunteer for,or attend any event by any organizations that help immigrants, that advocate for living wages, that say anything about the "working poor" (no such thing!), that advocate for more affordable housing or imply that rents are too expensive for millions of people in the USA, that help women seeking abortion services, that help women access or learn about pregnancy prevention, or that are associated with Muslims in any way. Don't "like" the status updates of any such organizations on Facebook, or show any support for them on any social media.

    6. Don't say anything supportive of "Black Lives Matter." Whenever someone says "Black Lives Matter," Say "All lives matter!" Use the words the incoming President has to talk about black neighborhoods : call them "war zones", and say that black Americans are "living in your poverty, your schools are no good, you have no jobs,", etc., but don't actually visit any black neighborhoods for yourself. Say similar things to what the incoming President has said about Black Americans, like “They didn’t come out to vote for Hillary. They didn’t come out. And that was a big — so thank you to the African-American community.” (citation). Discourage any black Americans from voting.

    7. Do NOT associate with Muslims. Inter-faith events might be okay, to show you don't hate all of them, but don't go to any speeches by Muslims, especially those that express concern about things like a "Muslim registry."

    8. Don't say anything negative about the coal industry, oil drillers, gas pipelines, brokers and financial advisers, real estate speculation, private prisons, Trump hotels, or Trump university. Do say negative things about the solar industry.

    9. Talk about the failure of public schools and how you want federal money to go to private schools, which is where you send your children or want to or would want to, if you had school-aged children. Cite as one of your reasons for this that a majority of U.S. public school students come from low-income families (just above 50%); blame public schools for this.

    10. Talk about how Scott Baio is really under-rated as an actor and political commentator. Lamet that Wayne Rogers died before he could vote for Trump. Go to concerts by Ted Nugent, Kid Rock and Azealia Banks, and praise them on social media. Buy lots of Duck Dynasty-related merchandise, and note that you have done so on social media. Disparage the lauded, legendary musical "Hamilton."

    11. Don't go to Cuba, unless it's with a Christian organization that wants to convert people there to an evangelical religion, and if you do visit, then when you come back, talk about how horrible life is there and how pitiful Cubans are compared to people in the USA.

    12. Post on social media with warm words about Vladamir Putin. Say he's a man "highly respected within his own country and beyond," as our incoming President has. Don't say anything about the 21 Russian journalists who have been murdered during Putin's tenure, who had written articles critical of his actions and policies. Don't say anything about the illegal war he's waging in Eastern Ukraine, his illegal annexation of Crimea and expulsion of Muslim Tatars from the peninsula, his illegal annexation of areas of Georgia, his staunch campaigning against what he calls "gay propaganda", or the forced evictions of people from their homes for the Sochi Olympics. Say you are grateful for the Russians illegally hacking into computers in the USA. Even better: travel to Russia and, when you return, no matter what you saw, say how great it was there and how everyone is happy and loves their President.  
    Do even a few of these things and you will stay in the good graces of the Trump administration and all of his supporters. You will have a quiet, peaceful, stress-free life - at least for the next four years.

    How you will sleep at night, however - that's another matter.

    And if you can't tell this is satire, you're probably a Trump voter.

    Also see:

    Tuesday, January 3, 2017

    Resistance is Proper

    The pressure to be polite, to accept, to "agree to disagree", is overwhelming right now. Accept what's happening. Shrug. Don't make anyone uncomfortable.

    In the South, we have a saying for when something is really, really annoying: It burns my ass. And that's how I feel right now. But I'm having a lot of trouble putting the depth of my feelings into words. Yes, it burns my ass. But I have so much more to say to try to help others understand.

    So I'm reading news sites voraciously; all the time I spent watching TV news is now spent reading a diversity of news sites. Not just headlines: I have a personal commitment to read entire articles now, the way I used to, before the Internet. And that reading has often been a solace in the madness descending on my country, and the world.

    One of my favorite authors is Barbara Kingsolver. She's wrote an essay back in November, Trump changed everything. Now everything counts, and it's amazing. You should read it all. But if you read nothing else, just read this:

    Our civic momentum is to trust the famous checks and balances and resist any notion of a new era that will require a new kind of response. Anti-Trump demonstrations have already brought out a parental tone in the media, and Michael Moore is still being labeled a demagogue. Many Democrats look askance at Keith Ellison, the sudden shooting star of the party’s leadership, as too different, too progressive and feisty. Even if we agree with these people in spirit, our herd instinct recoils from extreme tactics and unconventional leaders on the grounds that they’ll never muster any real support.

    That instinct is officially obsolete.

    Wariness of extremism doesn’t seem to trouble anyone young enough to claim Lady Gaga as a folk hero. I’m mostly addressing my generation, the baby boomers. We may have cut our teeth on disrespect for the Man, but now we’ve counted on majority rule for so long we think it’s the air we breathe. In human decency we trust, so our duty is to go quietly when our team loses. It feels wrong to speak ill of the president. We’re not like the bigoted, vulgar bad sports who slandered Obama and spread birther conspiracies, oh, wait. Now we’re to honor a president who made a career of debasing the presidency?

    We’re in new historical territory. A majority of American voters just cast our vote for a candidate who won’t take office. A supreme court seat meant to be filled by our elected president was denied us. Congressional districts are now gerrymandered so most of us are represented by the party we voted against. The FBI and Russia meddled with our election. Our president-elect has no tolerance for disagreement, and a stunningly effective propaganda apparatus. Now we get to send this outfit every dime of our taxes and watch it cement its power. It’s not going to slink away peacefully in the next election.

    It may feel rude, unprofessional and risky to break the habit of respecting our government; we never wanted to be enemies of the state. But when that animosity mounts against us, everything we do becomes political: speaking up or not speaking up. Either one will have difficult consequences. That’s the choice we get...

    With due respect for the colored ribbons we’ve worn for various solidarities, our next step is to wear something on our sleeve that takes actual courage: our hearts.

    Right on, Ms. Kingsolver. Resistance is proper. This matters.


    Also see: