‘You’re all black now’

White people are astounded by Birmingham. Black people aren’t.”
-James Baldwin, on the 1963 church bombing in Birmingham

Tens of millions of Americans woke up on the morning of November 9th in a nation they no longer recognized. All their lives they had taken for granted the security, freedom and virtue of their country. Their pride in being American was largely carefree and unconsidered, a birthright. They were oblivious to politics until one day, politics reached out and touched them.

An op-ed in the Washington Post in February captured this mindset. Submitted by an “ordinary American” who had taken little interest in politics, it is a capsule of the outrage of the broken-bubble class. The author explained that she never voted in midterm elections, couldn’t name more than one or two of Obama’s cabinet secretaries, and didn’t know anyone who was meaningfully engaged in the system. Her rationale is the biography of a generation:

I simply didn’t think I needed to know. Why? Because I always had a sense that things would be okay, regardless of who was in charge; if Mitt Romney had won instead of Obama, things would have been fine.

This was the first time I felt like things could not be okay. And I have found a political voice I didn’t know that I had — or that I even wanted to have.

Millions of Americans are shocked to see the darkest impulses of their country on display. But not everyone is surprised. Not everyone has enjoyed the privilege of oblivion. Some recognize in Trump a chance to wake America’s most powerful voters from their comfortable complacency. Out of this maelstrom, they see a twinkling of hope for real, meaningful social justice.

I had an opportunity a few weeks ago to visit with a friend during her layover at O’Hare. The atmosphere around the airport was tense. Protests over Trump’s fumbled Muslim ban were just coming to an end. An unusually robust police presence was augmented by heavily-armed federal agents roaming the terminal.

As a black Republican woman who had been active in politics, she had seen her share of bigotry and discrimination in and out of politics. Given the circumstances, her mood was strangely serene. While I vented my worries, she nodded politely, an odd smile on her face. Finally she interrupted me, “I need to tell you something you’re not going to like and may not understand.”

After voting twice for Obama she had voted for Donald Trump. She didn’t do it because she liked him. She didn’t do it because she thought he would be a great President. Donald Trump offered the only available means to break the complacency that was strangling our politics on both sides.

She explained, “I am truly sorry that all you can see is fear for you and your family but too many people are too comfortable in a system that is destroying a lot of lives. This was our only chance to create a real opportunity for change.”

In a pre-Trump world, white voters in both parties that considered themselves friendly to African-American causes were still oblivious to the realities they faced. That oblivion had consequences. In a line that still leaves a lump in my stomach she explained the core rationale behind her vote for Trump, “Guess what. You’re all black now.” Conditions under Trump are already wearing down that distance, eroding the sense of numbed safety that blunted white political activism.

Life under a black President was empowering at a psychological level, but in some ways conditions on the ground may have grown worse. White complacency settled like a fog while a backlash from racists gained steam. White people remained comfortably disengaged from politics while black families tried to train their children to survive interactions with police. The black community’s strongest apparent allies were largely disconnected from their concerns.

While I sputtered through a litany of consequences for the black community, she just smiled and nodded. As I listened to my words hanging in the air I could already hear how ridiculous I sounded. Yes, a Justice Department led by an Alabama Senator would be bad for African-Americans, but would life on the ground really be much worse than before?

Places like Baltimore and Hartford and Newark and Chicago had been governed by Democrats for almost a century. How many black teenagers died at the hands of police officers for no reason during the Obama years? What has a Democratic mayor and Democratic city council and a black Democratic President done to clean up the police force in Chicago?

Conditions in the still-segregated black neighborhoods and still-segregated black schools of Newark, Trenton and Milwaukee were bad under Bush. They were bad under Obama. They will be bad under Trump. At least under Trump, white people may finally start to share the pain. And by sharing the pain, maybe they will understand what African-Americans have been trying to tell them about America for generations.

I also got a chance to talk with James Taylor. Almost fifty years ago he founded the City News, the largest black-owned publication in Kankakee, Illinois. Taylor has been an active Republican politics since he was 18, but explained that “there’s no difference between the parties once you get above a certain level.” After endorsing Obama in previous elections, Taylor earned heavy criticism for an editorial supporting Trump.

Taylor knew Obama from his Chicago days and expressed an often-heard frustration, “The façade is disappearing. Obama didn’t help us any more than anyone else.” He saw his vote for Trump as a chance to “free people from the idea that there is a savior out there in either party.”

White liberals have been saying all the right things about race for generations while the bodies pile up on Chicago’s Southside. White liberals stopped using the n-word, started watching movies with black actors, learned to appreciate the literature of Maya Angelou and political writings of Malcolm X. Meanwhile in cities that Democrats govern from top to bottom, schools are a disaster. Policing is lethally reckless. Opportunities for young minorities to move up and improve their lives are stunted. Black votes for Democrats have consistently handed power to a white left typified by Chicago’s Rahm Emanuel. Lots of happy talk. No representation.

For fifty years black voters have given 90% support to one political party. They have been rewarded by watching that party throw its power behind institutions like police and teacher unions with interests diametrically at odds to their own. Black voters ask for school choice, opportunities for minority-owned businesses, desegregation of trade unions, greater access to college, and fair treatment by police. Black voters express concerns about the economic impact of illegal immigration and find those concerns ignored. Black voters express ambivalence about Democratic enthusiasm for culture war issues and are disregarded.

Many black voters, especially in areas dominated by the Democratic Party, feel trapped. On one side they face an openly hostile GOP. On the other they face a Democratic Party that is happy to take their votes while offering nothing in return but patronizing rhetoric and welfare. Something has to break.

Taylor became emotional in describing the film, Hidden Figures. He spoke of his childhood love of all things related to space and technology. As a young man he received a clear message that these realms were not available to people like him. “Do you know what it would have meant to us to know that this happened? All we saw in those control rooms on TV were white faces. They told us we weren’t smart enough to do that.” Seizing opportunities opened by political liberalization requires more than sympathetic rhetoric. Eight years with a black President seemed to accomplish very little on the ground.

For Taylor, a choice between one party offering friendly, permanent patronage and another one offering little more than disdain is no choice at all. He explained that “I’m not angry anymore.” In hope of obtaining some authentic empowerment, he is willing to set the present system on fire. He is not alone.

Very few African-Americans voted for Donald Trump. However, almost 2 million black voters who supported Obama in 2012 sat out this election. Their non-vote in places like Philadelphia, Detroit and Milwaukee tipped this race toward an American electoral apocalypse. Atlas Shrugged. Minority voters will not continue to carry the burden of keeping this country sane so that affluent white suburbanites can continue their blissful complacency. As Taylor explained of his vote for Trump, “This system will clean itself, or something else will happen.”

For at least a few black voters, a uniquely terrible candidate offered an opportunity to vote for the wrecking ball. White voters are now stripped of our careless ease. Our thoughtless optimism and unconsidered national pride is shredded. America’s complacent white majority will now find the empathy and courage it takes to build a more just system, or Taylor’s “something else” will happen.

In a democracy, you always have the government that you deserve.

SNL’s Election Night skit with Dave Chappelle and Chris Rock

 

101 Comments

  1. This is an appropriate post to link this review (with podcast) to a new book on policing. The title is: “Unwarranted: Policing without Permission”, by Barry Friedman. Listen to the podcast if you have time. Given what we know will happen with the expansion of ICE and the many problems inherent in that organization over the years, this is a story worth knowing about.

    https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/volokh-conspiracy/wp/2017/03/16/podcast-on-barry-friedmans-new-book-unwarranted/?utm_term=.147f2b9ca44e&wpisrc=nl_volokh&wpmm=1

  2. So, just to sum up the GOP’s terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day…

    1.) Trump, once again, escalates a war with the IC, openly refusing to honor Comey’s request to withdraw his nonsensical wiretapping allegations.

    2.) Fallout from the aforementioned wiretapping nonsense was swift and remorseless, with even Trump’s supposed defenders seeming to do their damnedest to avoid openly endorsing it.

    3.) Ben Carson gave a speech in which he referred to slaves as “immigrants”. Care to guess how well that went over?

    4.) And, of course, House Republicans finally, FINALLY unveiled their long-awaited healthcare reform bill (which really just amounts to one big tax cut for rich people), which was quickly panned on both the right and left. Whether it can even pass the House remains to be seen.

    Something tells me Republicans are missing Obama a little more each day.

  3. Apparently, i was taught incorrectly at school about slavery. According to Ben Carson they were simply immigrants at the bottom of slave ships.

    “That’s what America is about. A land of dreams and opportunity. There were other immigrants who came here in the bottom of slave ships, worked even longer, even harder for less,” he said. “But they too had a dream that one day their sons, daughters, grandsons, granddaughters, great-grandsons, great-granddaughters might pursue prosperity and happiness in this land.”

    He may be a great brain surgeon, but i have a feeling he cannot put his pants on without help in the morning.

    https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/post-politics/wp/2017/03/06/carson-emphasizes-fairness-in-first-remarks-to-hud-staff-warning-there-will-be-no-favorites-for-anybody-no-extra/?utm_term=.a605b57b2b1a

    I cannot wait for the whitesplaining on slavery. objv???

    1. Hmmm … my ears were burning. Good I checked recent comments. Turtles I can’t pretend to whitesplain being black to Dr. Carson anymore than I can teach him anything about brain surgery. After all, I haven’t known about being black since Chris posted this fact on March 3. 🙂

      Turtles, you’ve mentioned being a member of a minority group. Do you really have any question about Dr. Carson knowing what it feels like to be African-American? He grew up in Detroit, was raised by a single mother in extreme poverty and experienced prejudice even when he became a neurosurgeon. Not only was he a competent surgeon, he developed new and innovative techniques that saved and improved many lives. Give the guy a break. He deserves it.

      1. Give the guy a break. He deserves it.

        I did not realize we were giving people a pass on saying ignorant comments. You pointed out his past obstacles that he endured to become a world renowned surgeon and that simply tells me he truly has no excuse for his comment(s).

  4. Just hold on to your seats when the budget process kicks in publicly. That, my friends, is when the rubber is going to meet the road. All those who voted for potus expecting he would save their jobs and protect their health care? Drain the swamp? Stop currying to the top 1%?

    “According to the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center, Trump’s campaign proposal would amount to a $6.2 trillion tax cut over the next decade, of which 47.3 percent would go to the top 1 percent of households. Ryan’s, meanwhile, would be a $3.1 trillion tax cut, of which 99.6 percent would go to the top 1 percent. So they agree that the rich should get about a $3 trillion tax cut, but disagree whether anyone else should get anything else. ”

    https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/wonk/wp/2017/03/02/donald-trump-is-just-another-republican-when-it-comes-to-the-budget/?utm_term=.02a6481b08a4&wpisrc=nl_wonk&wpmm=1

      1. Well, Tutt, I must confess, that I’m more flaky than most. 🙂

        Yes, let’s trade places. You can be the stuffy, staid, formal and punctilious German; and I’ll be the spirited and flamboyant Mexican-American. (I’m assuming that we’re in to stereotypes right now.)

        I will use my ex-Spanish teacher as my muse for being a Latina woman. I love life being dramatic. Lo siento muchísimo , we may have to make the change permanent. I can not go back to being German! 🙁

  5. “For Taylor, a choice between one party offering friendly, permanent patronage and another one offering little more than disdain is no choice at all. He explained that “I’m not angry anymore.” In hope of obtaining some authentic empowerment, he is willing to set the present system on fire. He is not alone.”

    I’ve been reflecting on this as I’ve going about various tasks. You can look at different groups of Americans and acknowledge that they have various grievances with the status quo, and of course you can wander off into many a debate about whose grievances are bigger, should have priority, etc. But to rif off of a sentiment of contrarian philosopher Bertrand Russell, the true amount of moral high ground that any person, or group of people, can rightly claim is determined not by what others do to you, but what you choose to do to others. Now we may get through this Administration with no major moral damage. Trump is not competent for this job, there is resistance, and he’s leaving a lot of openings for his downfall. But there is a risk that this country does go down a dark path- that there is a Muslim registry or worse, that there is mass violence against immigrants and/or LGBT people, that there is a major ecomonic calamity fueled by misguided policy, that many do die because of lack of access to healthcare. My point is that a Black voter who took the Trump gamble will be just as morally responsible as a White voter who did.

    1. I am not a believer in setting the village on fire to save it mentality. Do Democrats take minority votes for granted especially Black votes? I believe that can be credibly argued but the way to fix that is to work to improve your voice. Democrats still offer minorities the best opportunity to participate in the political system. Republicans do not care about the minority vote and are content to find their one Black friend in the Ben Carsons of the world.

      If minorities want a voice in politics and not have politicians ignore them then we need to get off the coach and get to work.

      To those that voted for Trump, well fark you. When your vote is attacked and police are allowed greater freedom to profile you look in the mirror and say Thank you sir, can I have another”. I do not need to smash my car into a brick wall to get a new one. I simply trade in the old for the new.

  6. I pose a hypothetical: If, just what if, Trump’s election was not based primarily on racism, or wealth inequality, or whatever the narrative de jour happens to be? We’d all best consider those possibilities, lest we as pitifully wrong as we have been lately.

    1. It’s a black swan event.

      I’m going to say this as many times as I need to: his marginal win needed literally everything that happened to happen. Everything mattered.

      So like the racism bit: much of his early excitement and support came from racists. Much of his continued support and grudging votes came from people who decided to ignore racism. But that’s not enough.

      Wealth inequality: absolutely plays a role. Not enough.

      Hillary’s historically low levels of approval. Comey’s last minute e-mail. 30 years of character assassination by Republicans. 6 years of Republican dissonance over the Tea Party. Democratic moving to the right. Millennial checking out. Arguments over bathrooms versus overreach; arguments over political correctness over racism. The algorithmic bubbling of online communities. The rise of anger inducing factually flippant blogs for extremists on either side. The open global movement reducing civic pride in younger people and increasing resentment in older people. The lack of the public option in the ACA; the lack of the mortgage bailout for regular people in the TARP; European austerity measures. The slow decline of geographically based neighborhood communities, the quick advancement of automation. Silicon Valley style libertarianism creating a parallel legal apparatus and disengaging from both government and the liabilities and consequences. Increased partisanship, decreased institutions. Bernie undermining Hillary’s advancement; nobody coalescing around a Trump alternative. Lack of infrastructure investment. Climate change, endless Middle Eastern wars, and third world instability leading to a global refugee crisis. Russia getting uppity. America getting arrogant. Our first black President. Our first woman on a major ticket. Public and private debt. Brexit. 12 years of No Child Left Behind.

      I had a longer post like this that but I’ve forgotten all the ‘little things’ that have added up. It’s deeply unfortunate but it’s not irrational. People still don’t understand statistics, and that that unlikely things do happen. And, 45’s win wasn’t far out of normal measurements: 538 not only clarified that his ~35-45% chance of winning was predicated on the margins of the very states that he won, but he won exactly as any generic Republican v. Democrat would from a ‘fundamentals’ perspective (economy and stability and the fatigue of a two-term president).

      Nothing about this election teaches anybody anything in the short term. It’s just a reminder that in the long term, complacency chips away at democracy until you get a major seismic event. We’ll see if we survive it.

      1. Good analysis. Low probabilities given enough time will happen. I really have trouble with Trump being smart enough to pull his win off. Like being born in a bed of money it was dumb luck.

      2. Aaron – I take some issue with the label Back Swan. A fundamental requirement of the definition is extreme rarity. There were those who referred to Truman’s win over Dewey as one. There have been fewer than 50 presidents. 4% or so doesn’t make the bar. Your own referral to Nate Silver’s numbers bears this out.

        The assertion “Black Swan” cuts off retrospection. The classical Black Swan event is inherently unpredictable. I submit this catastrophy was not.

      1. I keep seeing the vote for Mr. Trump as a gamble, a roll of the dice, on the part of many. One Uber driver said it to me this way — “Trump could be the worst president ever. Or he could end up being our best president ever. There’s only one way to find out.”

        As I posted on the previous thread, for about 5 minutes I was tempted to roll the dice myself, kind of like the kid who says, let’s mix these 2 substances together, light a match to it, and see what happens. Maybe it will fizzle out, or maybe it will burn down the house.

        I came to my senses and decided I couldn’t risk causing irreparable harm to my country, “just to see what would happen.”

      2. So, for all his negative baggage, there obviously had to be something appealing in Mr. Trump to make some people who
        acknowledged his negative bagagge, to take such a major risk and vote for him anway. It was like a love/hate thing, or some people were living vicariously through him, using him to make a statement to the rest of the country.

      3. EJ

        Tuttabella:
        The American poet John Dolan described it as:

        “Trump’s win is only a surprise to people who forgot what it was like to be in tenth-grade gym class. Clinton was the good girl who did her homework every day, and the electorate were the rest of us, who stuffed her into her locker to make ourselves feel better about our mediocrity.”

        (I can’t remember his exact words, which is a shame since he’s a poet and I’m not, even if he was writing prose at the time.)

      4. EJ, the problem was that Hillary wasn’t considered the “good girl” by most of the electorate.

        She was corrupt, she was greedy and could never be counted on to tell the truth.

        Faced by two candidates with serious moral failings, people voted for the one who they felt could address the issues that concerned them most.

        I voted for Trump primarily because I didn’t want another liberal judge on the supreme court.

        Many voted for Trump, because they didn’t feel that Hillary would bring any meaningful change. In all honesty, I believe that if Bernie Sanders or Elizabeth Warren would have run, they would have won, because so many people were unhappy with the present way government was not meeting their needs and lack of opportunities.

      5. She was corrupt, she was greedy and could never be counted on to tell the truth.

        First let me say that to be thought of as a liar is one of the most shameful things that could happen to me. Maybe it’s that Scotch-Irish false pride thing. To be called a liar would be an tremendous insult. Fighting words.

        So I’ll say this as tenderly as I can. The above statement about Hillary is the major reason trump won, I agree. And why those not in the conservative, republican, nra, koch, murdoch bubble, could not imagine a corrupt, greedy, lying, hateful, ignoramus would be elected. We didn’t believe the lie and could not imagine anyone really believed it. I’m not sure if those who speak it are trying to rationalize the scary choice they made or truly believe it.

        But it is a lie. Those who spout it are liars also. Even if they believe it. Sorry.

      6. “She was corrupt, she was greedy and could never be counted on to tell the truth.”

        You should have stuck with wanting a conservative SCOTUS pick, and left it at that. Trump is far, far worse than Clinton in those 3 complaints on character, and you have zero credibility when you use that failed excuse. More and beam.

      7. “She was corrupt, she was greedy and could never be counted on to tell the truth.”

        Corrupt – Yet in the decades…..

        Forget it it. Anyone that believes that Trump is less of a liar and corrupt than Hillary is a person incapable of reason.

      8. Unarmed, Turtles, Mary and Fly:

        In no way do I think that Trump is morally superior to Hillary. My point was that both candidates bent the truth and were known for making statements that were not factual. Many voters chose to vote for the person who they felt could change their lives for the better or at least shake things up in Washington.

        I have no problem saying that Trump would not have been my first choice and that there were many things he did that bothered and disgusted me. Why do you all continue to defend Hillary? She has lied over and over again.

        From the beginning of her career in politics, there has been scandal after scandal … and that’s not even including Bill into the mix.

        http://www.nytimes.com/1996/01/08/opinion/essay-blizzard-of-lies.html

        Fess up. Hillary and her actions have been a train wreck for Democrats. It takes awhile to stop a train, but when it crashes the damage is incredible.

      9. “In no way do I think that Trump is morally superior to Hillary. My point was that both candidates bent the truth and were known for making statements that were not factual. Many voters chose to vote for the person who they felt could change their lives for the better or at least shake things up in Washington.

        I have no problem saying that Trump would not have been my first choice and that there were many things he did that bothered and disgusted me. Why do you all continue to defend Hillary? She has lied over and over again.”

        Cut out this goddam lying crap. Stop insulting everyone’s intelligence. There is no modern politician who has lied as often, or as egregiously, as Trump has. No one here has claimed that Hillary never told a lie. But it is quantifiable that she’s not even close to Trump’s level. If lying and greed and corruption truly bothered you, Trump would be the LAST candidate you would vote for. Anyone who voted for Trump has forfeited the right to complain about lies or greed or corruption and be taken seriously by any rational person until and unless you can find an example of someone who EXCEEDS Trump in these failings. Hillary ain’t it. So far there’s no one who fits that bill. It’s also laughable that you complain about Hillary’s scandals when your boy is currently on a record pace to implode dramatically.

        Where is your line in the sand? What does Trump have to do to knock the blinders from your eyes and force you to see how unfit he is? Actually shoot someone?

      10. objv – The difference in how trump is doing what he is doing and how Hillary would have governed is obvious to me and everyone else in the world. I think to you also. The question is are you still ok with your vote? Getting a little nervous? Are you surprised?

        As you say, you made a decision because of the Supreme Court. That is at least reasonable. But really, being critical of Hillary just doesn’t make sense considering what we’ve gone though already and what is on the horizon.

        So you made a bargain, a Supreme Court judge for a whole lot of craziness and loss of respect in the worlds eyes and possibly nuclear winter.

        And if you didn’t see it coming, you’re not a good judge of character. In that case, you should lay off Hillary.

  7. Maybe the takeaway here is lines in the sand. I know where mine is. I didn’t three months ago. Maybe she didn’t either.

    The best thing, the very best, that I’ve seen on twitter recently:
    “Trump: turning consumers into citizens.”

    In all humility, I think trump or the trumpian GOP has changed me for the better. I registered two voters last weekend. Of all my sound and fury online, all of my self-assessed deep incision and hyperperceptive wit, registering those two voters may be the most significant thing I’ve ever done.

    Cheers Chris. Nicely done with the 3rd party analysis BTW. Sent lots of folks here to read it.

    1. I’ve commented about the grassroots protests that I am watching emerge. The commitment, energy and clarity of vision is striking. It remains to be seen how effective and long-term this group will be, but in the here and now, it is an amazing force to be part of. People who have NEVER been actively engaged in the political process are. Like you, Dave, they are committed to making change happen. That’s a very good thing. I just wish there wasn’t going to be so much blood on the street in the interim.

  8. What Chris says about his Black Republican lady friend and Mr. Taylor voting for Mr. Trump makes me think more and more that the victory of Mr. Trump was due more to anti-elitism than anything. Not just lower and middle income Whites but even many Blacks and Hispanics chose to stick it to all those nice but clueless White people who think they’re better than everyone else.

    I’ve heard more than one Black person complain that Whites are marching and protesting against Mr. Trump’s election, not because they are truly opposed to him or fear his policies, but because they “didn’t get their way.”

    1. Especially considering that Chris’s lady friend was “strangely serene” and “smiling oddly” as she listened to him vent his frustration over Mr. Trump’s victory.

      I’d say she was like the Cheshire Cat. She was smug and satisfied over having knocked Chris down a couple of notches. That’s my impression.

    2. “I’ve heard more than one Black person complain that Whites are marching and protesting against Mr. Trump’s election, not because they are truly opposed to him or fear his policies, but because they “didn’t get their way.” ”

      Here’s a question I would love to pose to them- do you really think there would be the same intensity of backlash if any of the other GOP candidates were in the White House right now (even that two-faced weasel Ted Cruz)?

  9. I don’t buy it. If she voted in the democratic primary, did you ask your friend if she voted for Bernie? There was a way to send a message to the Democratic establishment, and it wasn’t to vote for Trump. As you’ve stated yourself, Bernie offered much of the same appeal as Trump (economic justice, Washington outsider, shake up the system, etc.), without the racism. The only way her explanation is possibly true is if she voted for Bernie in the primaries. Otherwise, I suspect she’s not telling you the truth, which is that plenty of upper middle class African Americans share the “I’ve got mine” attitude we generally attribute to whites.

    Furthermore, I take issue with the blanket idea that the Dem establishment has been unresponsive to African American concerns. Could they do more? Absolutely. Do they take the AA vote for granted? Yes. But inner cities are significantly better off now than they were in the 80s and 90s, when half were run by Republicans. Cities as a whole are creating much more opportunity than the rest of the country. Does your friend really think African Americans in rural areas are doing better under Republican rule?

    Let’s take the specifics of Chicago and Rahm, since it seems to have become the Republican bogeyman of city hellholes ever since Detroit was found to be recovering. Even in “Chi-raq”, less people are being killed than in the peak of the 90s. Rahm supports school choice and charter schools have opened. He rebuilt the southern part of the Red line, and has proposed extending it further south to provide better transit to south side communities. I will give you the complaint about the police, but even there, Rahm has indicated he’s willing to implement most of the Justice dept’s recommendations even if he’s not “forced” to by a consent decree (that consent decree unlikely to be coming since Jeff Sessions thinks the Chicago PD is A-Okay! Please thank your friend for that one)

    Part of the reason any complaint about cities automatically becomes a complaint against democrats is because *no* city of significant size is run by Republicans. Which means you have to go back in history to compare Dems and Repubs. Did black people in the Bronx face less oppressive policing under Guiliani than they do now? Did LA have better schools under Richard Riordan than it does now?

    As a Bernie supporter, I am well aware of the frustration that can cause people to want to blow up a system and start from the beginning. But if you don’t consider what comes after the explosion, you’ll end up in a much worse position. Which is where we are now. Or does your friend think that all those Trump supporters now energized and legitimized in their racist beliefs are just going to go away in 2018 and 2020?

    1. So between this and the stiggin it posts from OBJV and like, what I’m hearing is that it’s all white liberal’s fault for being comfortable, not the white conservative’s fault for making people uncomfortable.

      White liberals should have never wasted their time trying to bring everyone else up to their standard of living; rather, they really should have just suffered like working class whites and people of color. That would shake things up.

      And you know what brings people together? Authoritarian regimes. Ever. In the history of any nation.

      Got it. Totally productive.

  10. Black Americans and white Americans are both citizens.

    But their experience of ‘citizenship’ can vary widely and wildly.

    If there is a valid reason to vote for Trump, it is the complete upset of the system. I do not fault Chris’ friend.

    Many nominal Democrats would like to combat inequality and to see a better balance between individuals and corporations, but that does not — perhaps did not — stop elected Democrats from acting like Republicans lite.

    But maybe the nominal Democrats are in reality Democrats lite, not really willing to upset everything in order achieve more for all.

    Outcome of the current upset, of course, is unknown.

    On good days, I think the increased political participation will be good for our liberal democracy.

    On bad days, I feel weak and powerless.

    I do think that political rallies and demonstrations are placed in danger by a small number of anarchists. Read about masked demonstrators in this story. Similar demonstrators were in NYC for the women’s march.

    https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/grade-point/wp/2017/03/04/a-conservative-author-tried-to-speak-at-a-liberal-college-he-left-fleeing-an-angry-mob/?tid=pm_pop&utm_term=.9d1bb3926586

    1. It wasn’t clear from the article how much of the trouble came from the students themselves, and how much from outside agitators. Anything past the standing up and turning your back (which registers your opinion without disrupting speech) are things I do not approve of.

      1. I agree. However, what is unfolding in the unraveling of our country’s institutions and social balance is unprecedented. Does this justify the comments coming from MoC who are pillorying town halls when they bother to attend them?

        I’m afraid protests are going to get much louder and more violent as the public begins to grasp the enormity of the changes that are happening. We have never had a situation like this.

      1. How about single payer when Obamacare was being designed? It is said that Obama look around and realized single payer couldn’t be politically accomplished.

        And who were those politicians in office in both houses then? Democrats.

        That’s 1 for insurance corporations and a big ol’ 0 for ordinary people.

        And it wasn’t the Dems who organized Indivisible or any other protesting force.

        And the current minority leader’s primary donors seem to be all Wall Street corporations.

        Now Repubs own the court when it comes to mean and venal, and I shall never ever support a one of them, but I am not blind to the shortcomings I see in the Dems.

      2. Single payer would have been a real stretch, Bobo, as we found out in Hillarycare. You know my position on universal care, so I’m with you, but I don’t know that I think this should make the list. Voting against drug reimporation, absolutely.

        Every single piece of information I have read/heard about Indivisible is that it was created by former Obama WH staffers….I am assuming they are Dems….who do you think Indivisible was formed by?

        http://www.newyorker.com/news/news-desk/the-crowd-sourced-guide-to-fighting-trumps-agenda

        Assume the Minority Senate Leader you refer to is Chuck Schumer. Here’s his list of top donors. https://www.opensecrets.org/politicians/industries.php?cycle=2016&cid=N00001093&type=I&newmem=N

        And by name: https://www.opensecrets.org/politicians/contrib.php?cycle=2016&cid=N00001093&type=I

        Schumer has been there a long time. I am not saying he isn’t influenced by his donors but his positions have been pretty clearly democratic as far as I recall.

      3. Then we disagree about single payer. It was a stretch because Dems wouldn’t couldn’t didn’t support it when they they had the opportunity to do so.

        Indivisible was not initiated by any official Dem elected anywhere. Official Demistan was still in shock mode when some former WH and congressional aides kicked the whole thing off. I say good on them.

        So go ahead. Support the Dems. I do. But they could do better.

      4. Bobo,

        In regard to health care, yes single payer would have been Ideal. But as I recall having read OBama’s book, “Change, We Can Believe In”, he considered single payer and concluded that politically it could not be enacted in the US at that time. I believe he even looked at the public option and reached the same conclusion. Accordingly, he opted for the heavily regulated private insurance approach with public subsidies. That is the approach the ACA represents. You will recall that during the debate over the ACA, many liberal democrats pushed for the public option and it was seriously considered. However, sufficient votes could not be obtained to even include that option. I know that was the case in the Senate and it may have been the case in the House as well. The Democrats had a bare 60 supermajority in the Senate. When Kennedy died and Scott Brown was elected, they lost that majority. Both Pelosi and Reid were pretty clever legislative tacticians and if they could not get it though, I do not think either option was possible. The private approach is what made and makes the ACA so complicated. The Republicans have used that to devastating advantage.

        In the future, if the Republicans plans are fully implemented and health care insurance collapses, then there may be an opportunity to reconsider things. At that time the legislative climate may be totally different. Unfortunately, there will be a lot of suffering and unnecessary deaths in the meantime. And the nation and our democracy will be damaged, hopefully not irrevocably.

        I have just started reading The Healing of America, by TR Reid, which was strongly recommended by Mary. Though I am still early in the book, it does seem to more or less confirm what Mary and many of us have been writing. We need Universal Health Care and there are several ways of getting there. The question is how do we get there given the political climate in the US. That is precisely the question that Obama confronted in 2008.

  11. So the puppet tyrant tweets that Obama had him wiretapped.

    Two questions I would like answered:

    1. If this is complete crap, can Obama sue for libel or slander? He is a private citizen now.
    2. If this is not complete crap, and has some modicum of truth (FBI possibly tapping trump and his crew over Russian links), did Trump break some law by disclosing this information?

  12. This one did make me think too; several times I started a post then erased it. I see a parallel with some of the working class Whites frustrated by economic changes- take that gamble because what have you got to lose? Thing is, as bad as many people have it (and I’m not pretending that I feel their pain, because I haven’t been in their shoes) it’s still not the absolute rock bottom. There is a real risk that Trump makes things even worse- starts a trade war, or an actual shooting war (like with Iran), or encourages the police to “crack down” in the name of “law and order” (and the DOJ does nothing against any abuse), or we have another financial crisis because of relaxed regulation, or they kill the ACA outright/ let it death spiral through inaction and people start dying because they can’t afford treatment, or ( fill in your choice of bad policy/ major blunder).

    1. I’m chairing a committee to study the ACA replacement plan(s). I can assure you, those who are poor, sick, and elderly are going to get screwed. The changes will even impact workplace plans. That “cadillac” plan Chris talked about? Capped. They’re also exploring elimination of tax credits for health care premiums for wealthy (that has not been quantified) . Medicaid is going to be savaged – choked off from funding – ending expansion and shifting costs of caring for the poor onto the shoulders of the state….which means, you and me. They’ll “cloak” the changes in fancy rhetoric but the net affect is fewer people will be covered, with fewer benefits, higher premiums and higher deductibles. The promise Trump made about not cutting SS and Medicare? Republicans have these programs in their sights but are willing to wait for the dust to settle on everything already in motion.

      And that doesn’t even touch what is going to happen in the jobs arena in order to “offset” the $54B increase for the military. When you cut a functioning agency’s budget by 17% or more, the only way you get there is to lay people off.

      No, potus and the Republicans are going all in. Nothing will be as it used to be except for those at the top and their net worth will just get better.

  13. I have debated a black friend who made exactly the same argument while defending his choice to vote for none of the above.

    Still, I wonder if my friend would have voted differently had Hilary been a man.

    For all the wonderful and insightful things that get discussed on this blog, the unelectability of a liberal woman gets short shrift.

    A conservative woman could win (SEE, we’re not misogynistic, you leftists are!), but a progressive woman apparently cannot.

    I hope Elizabeth Warren doesn’t run in 2020.

    1. Let’s say that Obama could have run for a 3rd term and decided to. What then to the Black voters who sat this one out?

      Listening to 1A on the drive to work yesterday -one of the panelists said that she had always assumed that the 1st female would be from the GOP. She really didn’t explain why but I think it’s some traditional prejudice against women in play- too soft and not tough enough, especially if a liberal, but being conservative means you’re tough, so a GOP woman might overcome that bias. The context of the discussion was Oprah Winfrey running (or not) in 2020, a topic we’ve chewed here.

  14. I posted personal comments ;of an EPA staffer on one of Chris’ prior posts. It was disheartening, to say the least. Tonight I’ll post this report from the State Department, courtesy The Atlantic. If we think we have morale problems, consider how career civil servants are feeling. These are people who are used to being ultra busy. Now, everything is – still. These are just two departments of government. Multiply that across the breadth of our nation’s corridors and it’s pretty easy to see how Bannon’s plan of deconstruction is being implemented. You rob smart people of their work, then their dignity, then their careers. It’s done from the inside out, from giving them no work and cutting their budgets so that work can’t be done efficiently. No one knows who’s “next” on the cut list. Morale, purpose, confidence – gone. As bad as we have it out in the public, these people are truly suffering and they can’t march.

    https://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2017/03/state-department-trump/517965/?utm_source=nl-atlantic-weekly-030317

    1. Department of Education – you’re up next. H.R. 610 introduced on 1/23/17:

      “Choices in Education Act of 2017”

      This bill repeals the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 and limits the authority of the Department of Education (ED) such that ED is authorized only to award block grants to qualified states.

      The bill establishes an education voucher program, through which each state shall distribute block grant funds among local educational agencies (LEAs) based on the number of eligible children within each LEA’s geographical area. From these amounts, each LEA shall: (1) distribute a portion of funds to parents who elect to enroll their child in a private school or to home-school their child, and (2) do so in a manner that ensures that such payments will be used for appropriate educational expenses.

      To be eligible to receive a block grant, a state must: (1) comply with education voucher program requirements, and (2) make it lawful for parents of an eligible child to elect to enroll their child in any public or private elementary or secondary school in the state or to home-school their child.

      No Hungry Kids Act

      The bill repeals a specified rule that established certain nutrition standards for the national school lunch and breakfast programs. (In general, the rule requires schools to increase the availability of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and low-fat or fat free milk in school meals; reduce the levels of sodium, saturated fat, and trans fat in school meals; and meet children’s nutritional needs within their caloric requirements.)

      1. Whole thing. It’s what potus said on the trail and repeated when he nominated DeVos. It is significant that his first school visit was to a voucher program (Catholic) in FL….not a public school. And, since potus was private school educated, you know his kids were as well, so –

  15. Dunno Chris. Sounds like maybe we’re all white now. Or at least some are comfy enough to feel insulated from the consequences of casting their vote for a sociopath in a party of sociopaths so they can watch them burn it all down. Thousands of families will be torn apart by ICE. Tens of thousands will die if the republicans destroy affordable healthcare. Women’s health care and reproductive self determination set back to the ’50s–or the bronze age. When they decided to go after the LGBTs, they started with the kids. And, always, as always, the Jews are targeted. It’s on your friend and the others who voted for trump. All of it. Bigots…or just folks with enough privilege to enjoy the luxury of casting a tantrum vote. Same result. Ultimately, those bearing the consequences won’t give a crap about your friend’s motivation.

    But, she sure showed me. Yes, indeed.

    1. I’m not defending their choice and I don’t support it. It was, however, the first time in my history of hearing from Trump supporters that I recognized an argument for voting for him that actually made sense. And worse, it stung. I found it chilling.

      Particularly when placed against that op-ed from the nice white lady in the Washington Post, you realize just how checked out white suburbia has been. They aren’t anymore. For some people in some circumstances, that’s an achievement they’ve been trying to accomplish for decades.

      Nobody needs to wonder what I think about Trump. I just though this this perspective was sufficiently counter-intuitive to be worth sharing.

      1. It was certainly provocative–second time I’ve commented here, I think. 🙂 I found the privilege inherent in what she said disconcerting, especially since I spent last weekend with white male family members, trump voters all, with deep grievances about affirmative action, brown hordes, and squandered tax dollars. They have no concerns that trump’s actions will affect them in any way. Even the one working for the EPA.

        Not sure if you follow @docrocktex26–she’s been giving some insight into the same issues, from a similar perspective, although with somewhat different conclusions. As a white male it has been a distinctly uncomfortable enlightenment.

      2. No, I don’t think it makes sense. Do I think that black people have been living with oppression all their lives? Yes. Has progress been made? Yes. But the progress that has come for them has been through their effort, first, but through opportunities that Democrats fought for.

        What I do agree with is that for the first time, many white people are learning about feeling powerless. While white people were out marching (and me with them as I could), black people were protesting in ways that they knew would get them arrested. And, it did. So, to the extent that we are sharing some of their pain for being part of a system where our views and needs were disregarded, yes, many white people are feeling that for the first time.

        Relative to the protest movement being fomented largely by white people, I thought Ron Johnson’s outrageous comments offered a clear lesson to all that power is in the Republican hands and even peaceful protests are not going to be tolerated. All of the disdain and superiority that has been kept within small conservative circles of power, are now front and center. And it doesn’t matter what color you are – if you aren’t for the Republican agenda, you’re all the same to them. Trash.

        http://www.attn.com/stories/15328/letter-reveals-problem-direct-democracy

      3. Even as white people seem to be waking up now, there’s no comparing what some are feeling now to what African-Americans have struggled with. There’s no way they could. There’s no way I could. They’re a minority in the country and always have been. It’s by far easier to march and organize when you recognize that we are the majority. We already have all the power we need. We only need to exercise it. You cannot say that about African-Americans.

      4. The number of Americans in the middle class is now equivalent to the wage earners above and below their pay grade. We have lost almost 11% of the middle class population (though not all to the down side). Not everyone is participating in the new economy and many more scared to death of slipping downwards. Who was talking to them in 2016? They heard little in this election cycle about their challenges except bogus claims to bring back jobs and industries already on life support or their employment threatened by scary non-white non-christian immigrants.

        This cycle the Democratic message boiled down to “we ain’t him” delivered by someone who is nothing if not establishment. I think those who feel “others” have no skin in the game decided to engage us “others” into their world. They are anxious and scared and don’t know what comes next…now so are we. By and large minority communities voted the way we always have though turn out (excepting Latinos) was down a bit and further diminished by an uptick in third party votes.

        Chris, I think you piece is aptly named. I can understand her rationale, though I did not take her path. I am sharing a link to Pew Research where I saw the economic data I shared. http://www.pewsocialtrends.org/2015/12/09/the-american-middle-class-is-losing-ground/

      5. So, for many reasons, people voted for potus. He is now working his magic in concert with a Republican Party that is thrilled beyond belief to be within spitting range of having their entire conservative agenda adopted.

        Those who voted for this man will either be terribly disappointed (they should not be shocked) or ecstatic given the magnitude of change that is happening. I understand people feeling left out, but that does not change my thinking that they made a terrible mistake. I acknowledge that is my opinion and it won’t be the first time I have been wrong.

    2. Don’t judge a man until you have walked a mile in his shoes.

      I hear what you’re saying about the consequences, absolutely, but take a moment to step back and try to tell me what the hell they were supposed to do. Try to imagine what it’s like being stuck in a system where you’ve been fighting and giving it your all for years, decades, against all odds where you’ve been abused and ignored by both political parties, your voice stifled while the status quo reigns supreme and others profit at your expense. How long do you listen to people telling you to keep at it, saying all the right things but doing nothing?

      Thinking of it like that, is so hard to imagine that after President Obama, specifically because of how much hope he inspired, some are resorting to desperate measures? I don’t think so. Everyone has a breaking point.

      And there’s truth in the fact that Middle America (where the real checks and balances in our system is) has been asleep on the job for a long time. We’ve been complacent. I’ve been complacent. I’ve never called my representatives or gone out of my way to donate to organizations before Trump. I never once honestly considered the idea that Clinton would lose. I assumed that everything would work out somehow, and that arrogance turned around and came at me like a sucker punch right to the gut on Election Night.

      I wonder, how does it feel fighting against a system that seems to want to do nothing but crush you while watching others indulge that same arrogance all their lives?

      Like Chris, I’m not defending some Trump supporters’ decision either, but I do think I understand it a little better now.

      1. I can’t say I haven’t been slogging through the political morass for decades. Even if I wasn’t able to change much, I always felt I could make a difference with my efforts. Even now. As hopeless as things appear. Because to give up is to lose any chance. Once people lose their belief that nothing they do will change things, that’s when they resort to either violence or total apathy. Not voting for a man like Trump when you’re black. That will never add up for me even as I understand their frustration to the extent I can as a privileged white person.

        Everyone who voted for Trump got exactly what they saw. Only thing is, he lied. Deep down, they knew better, but it’s too late now.

      2. >] Everyone who voted for Trump got exactly what they saw. Only thing is, he lied. Deep down, they knew better, but it’s too late now.

        I don’t think it’s quite that simple. True, there are plenty of Trump supporters who are straight-up idiots like that, but I think that the ones Chris was talking about had an entirely different idea when they pulled the lever in the voting booth. They know Trump’s a con-man, a liar and all that. They know he’s going to do a lot of stupid, dangerous shit that’s going to hurt people.

        They voted for him in spite of all that because he’s a wake-up call. In a sense, he’s an acknowledgement of both their own personal failures and the failure of the system at large. Decades of effort have been put in, but the people are still apathetic, no one seems to care, corruption looms large with special interests profiting at their expense, too many are still dying needlessly and both political parties are rotten.

        I understand what you’re saying when you talk about Trump voters, but with all respect, you talk like someone who’s never been driven into a corner. After a certain point, you reach a sort of cold calculus in your mind that looks around, resolves itself to the conclusion that the status quo cannot stand and says that something has to be done, crazy though it may well appear to others.

        It’s not a mindset driven by fear or desperation. People like that recognize that their actions will have consequences, but asking them to keep on with the status quo is akin to asking them to give up. Nothing’s working and it feels like you’re asking them to sacrifice themselves on the altar of some grand cause that’s always left them out in the cold. Don’t bother talking anymore. You were ever only going to hear one answer from the start.

        It’s a crapshoot, no doubt about it, full of insanity with no clear idea of what the consequences may entail. It’s not a choice any rationally thinking person should ever make, but humans aren’t rational. Even if it’s just a 1% chance, they’ll walk a path of chaos if there’s a chance to get what they want at the end. There’s no point trying to dissuade them. This was born of people’s weakness and now we have to deal with the consequences.

      3. ” with all respect, you talk like someone who’s never been driven into a corner. ”

        With all respect, you have no right to make that assumption.

        Make your point that being white and coming from a privileged middle class background that I have not experienced the worst problems Black people have. That would be accurate. I’ve spent years working with members of the black community to offer what help I could, and it would never be enough to overcome the array of forces lined up against minorities. But it was not from lack of trying to help, but it does help me empathize far more than many who watch what’s happening and do nothing.

        My point is not to dismiss the legitimate anger and abject frustration of black people but to try to put the argument in perspective. For a black person to vote “for” DJT purely to roil the process was simply the wrong decision. As much frustration as black leadership rightfully have over decades of political abuse, the choice was between “status quo” (or so they thought) with a Democratic candidate, or utter disaster with the Republican candidate, was another election where wisdom should have prevailed. Black people have been pretty smart to align themselves with the best of the worst. Flipping a lever in frustration or nonchalance or revenge (?) in the hope that doing so will send a message to Democrats that they’re not going to accept the status quo was a bad decision.

        Frankly, I don’t think those black voters who either didn’t vote or voted for potus ever felt he would win. Instead of being able to use their votes to make political gains, they’ve helped elect a man and a Republican majority that is going to strip away the few gains they had made.

  16. I understand your friend’s frustration and agree that the problems you and she and Mr. Taylor describe are real; however, this was not the candidate to take a chance on. For all the neglect and abuse, Black people and other minorities will have it much worse under a party that doesn’t just neglect them, they despise them. I would be very interested in what these same people will be saying in just two years from now. When their medicaid is gone, SNAP is hollowed out, jobs are even fewer for minorities, and prejudice instead of hiding, is out in the open.

    No, as much as I respect what these fine people said, I believe they will live to regret their decision to support this man and this party. Whether they did so by overtly voting for him or sitting the race out and thus tipping the scales for Trump. I have been wrong about many things in my life, but I will be proven correct about this.

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