Pink Ears

I didn’t join my friends at the march in New York City or DC this weekend, because we had a weekend getaway planned. I did monitor everyone’s progress on Facebook though, while sitting with a mound of disguarded snow gear at the lodge in the Poconos. It was easier for me to the guardian of the crap than venture out on the slopes. It’s been 25 years since I was last on skis, and it was too much trouble to take lessons, while everyone else was going in different directions. When I got home, I got more feedback on the event.

Everyone said it was remarkably positive and inclusive. Everybody had their own reasons for being there. Some were there for the environment, others for women’s issues, others for immigration. I wonder if anyone has crunched the numbers to find out what the biggest issues were.

It was also freed from the usual activist crap that turns off average people. There wasn’t any of theory/jargon/self-hatred/ naval-gazing that has weighed down other protests. There was any one group of professionals looking to score points and congratulate themselves.

It was a beginner’s protest. A whole lot of attendees  never attended a protest before. That’s great. It was a different kind of populism from Trump’s brand of populism.

At one point during the weekend, Steve and I left the boys in the room and went down to the bar for a drink. The large TV over the bar was showing the protests on FOX. Our bartender started complaining about all the violence. (There wasn’t any, but whatever.) She said, all those people should just give Trump a chance. We just smiled. We were in rural Pennsylvania afterall.

32 thoughts on “Pink Ears

  1. I’m irritated by the complaints about violence and about, of all things, “leaving a mess.” Sheesh, Worse messes are left after a 4th of July event.

    No violence. Just occasional irritation and pushing in the crowded areas.

    Re inclusiveness: I was in NYC, and everything looked pretty diverse.


  2. A weekend in rural Pennsylvania probably gives one a better knowledge of America than a weekend at a protest in a big city. So I think Laura made the right choice, because it is written: “With all your getting, get understanding.”

    (Some will respond, “The various philosophers have only interpreted the world; the point, however, is to change it,” but that’s not my motto.)


    1. We do have a serious urban-rural divide here. Yes, Laura was in Trump Territory, and it’s good to hear from folks who you don’t hear from at home. My own town was more than 4-to-one for Clinton, and we get kinda blinkered.


    2. I’ve spent maybe three or four weeks total in rural Pennsylvania over the past two years. And probably six weeks in not-rural-but-still-very-red Nebraska. I’m very confident that my often stated “plenty of these people are just hella racist/sexist” is still accurate.


      1. Unfortunately, I try hard to listen where I can and am not seeing anything to significantly change the opinion that ultimately, a return to the the benefits they think they enjoyed when women and non-whites were discriminated against in employment and opportunity is what folks are wanting in the Trump camp.

        And, that means that “smiling” is not an option for me.

        My FB feed contains a link to Trump’s draft executive order on imigration and refugees (one over which he has control as an executive).

        After the sheer insanity of the Spicer press conference on the size of the inaugural crowds and the statement on the radio that Trump plans an investigation of voting in “the large states that he lost” to search for the 4-5 million americans he thinks voted illegally, I am feeling sincerely fearful about the fundamentals of our democracy.


  3. “A weekend in rural Pennsylvania probably gives one a better knowledge of America than a weekend at a protest in a big city. ”

    Yes, because there are many more Americans in rural PA than there are in NYC.

    I am so fucking sick of not counting as a “real” American because I live in the same place as a lot of other people.


  4. Democrats (and anti-Trump voters) can’t ignore the math described in those articles. The issue isn’t just “self-gerrymandering” as McCardle points out — North Carolina has been effectively gerrymandered to compress votes, as have some other congressional districts. In addition, the electoral college and the balance of the Senate is indeed heavily stacked against populous states. Changing either of those things is going to be nearly impossible without changing them first (i.e. a catch 22 of sorts).

    Unfortunately, though, collaborating with those who want a pre-civil rights America isn’t going to work, either. So, as long as the main goals of the rural folks are anti-mexican, anti-chinese, anti-muslim, anti-refugee, anti-immigrant, the Democrats can’t get the extra votes by collaborating with them (in addition to the immorality of that collaboration, there’s the impossibility when the substantial and reliable base of the Democrats isn’t white).

    So, what next? First, to use the power of the majority whenever possible. That could include marches, but, it can also include boycotts, money, and any other tool where the distribution of votes doesn’t matter but the numbers do. Trump couldn’t find any major artists to perform at his inauguration not just because the artists are generally not pro-Trump, but because national artists saw that they would lose more supporters by performing than they would gain. The effect of those actions won’t have direct political effects, on the whole (except to the extent that it drives Trump nutso and causes him to do stupid things, and immediately those consequences could be more negative than positive).

    Second, argue with our friends and family who are “fiscally conservative” Republicans that the party of Trump has moved away from them, that it is now anti-trade, in dangerous collaboration with racists (and, yes, someone will have to come up with a less fighting word for that conversation, but I’m going to use the one I believe, here). Our country will be a worse place to live under a Trump administration: If those rural voters actually want better lives, jobs with dignity and opportunities, and not be collecting disability and having their children and parents dying of drug over doses, I don’t think the Republicans are going to deliver. If our suburban voters want good schools for their children that allow them to compete in the global marketplace, I don’t think Republicans are going to deliver.

    Third, continue to build on the strength of immigrant and non-white communities. Indian-Americans used to vote for Republicans. They are the wealthiest immigrant population in the US, but the Republicans have driven them away with their rhetoric.

    Fourth, hope for some miracles that will let the world move forward (including the miracle in which Trump and the Republicans actually make life better for people).


    1. One thing I’ve noticed is that lots of people out in Nebraska who use the word “liberal” as a swear word are more against the Keystone Pipeline than the liberals who don’t happen to live near where the Keystone Pipeline is supposed to run. And it looks like some of those people are also against the Dakota Access pipeline either because of empathy or a recognition that consistency helps their argument. I think putting more effort into blocking those isn’t just good for environmental reasons.


    2. Another thing that I think would be useful is exempt salary level that Obama tried to raise. Fighting to raise the minimum wage seems to alienate lots of people making $12 or $15 per hour. They seem to unable to think of it as anything that might help them. But whole bunches of those guys are “managers” and not getting time and a half despite making $30,000 a year or whatever.


  5. I know nothing about Venezuela, but thought this article gave an interesting take on dealing with populism. (


    1) “Pro tip: you’re the enemy. Yes, you, with the Starbucks cup. Trump needs you to be the enemy just like all religions need a demon. As a scapegoat. “But facts!”, you’ll say, missing the point entirely.”

    2) Show no contempt: “don’t feed polarization, disarm it…..The Venezuelan Opposition struggled for years to get this. It wouldn’t stop pontificating about how stupid it all is. “Really, this guy? Are you nuts? You must be nuts.” We’d say.

    3) “Don’t try to force him out:” “All non-democratic channels are counter-productive: you lower your message, and give the Populist rhetorical fuel.”

    I would add to this – stop calling him names or talking about his appearance. Michelle was right.

    4) “The problem is tribal. Your challenge is to prove that you belong in the same tribe as them: that you are American in exactly the same way they are. ”

    Yeah. When did I stop being American? I grew up in the midwest, with a stay-at-home mom and a dad who was a military brat and worked his way out of the lower middle class – did I count then? What took away my status – living in a big city, or on a coast, or getting a graduate degree? If I’ve been living in the rural midwest for more than a decade, does that get me back my real American status? And what about all my students from the south side of Chicago – is that real America?

    But maybe y81 was kind of trolling there.

    I also think riling Trump up shouldn’t be a part of the strategy. It will happen, but it shouldn’t be done deliberately. I was trying to figure out what to wish for (secular person here, pulling apart a wishbone of all things!) and realized it was “Please let him come to his senses.”


    1. Just for the record, I did not use the phrase “real America.” I would never say that, except ironically. I live on the Upper West Side of NYC, I don’t own a gun or a car, and I’m a real American. But if you spend all your time where I live, you end up very insular, and have no understanding of your fellow countrymen.


      1. “Real America” is like “not my President”: in both cases, an axiological judgment is expressed in ontological terms. That is, the people who are considered more morally worthy are described as “real” Americans, or the person who is considered morally unworthy to be President is described as not being President. Such rhetoric is probably effective for rallying the faithful, by its implication that their moral judgments are part of the fabric of the universe, but I think it puts off many of the lukewarm, who find it fatuous. I’m no Trump fan, but he is the duly elected American president, and I am an American, so he is my President. And I disagree with many of my Upper West Side neighbors’ political views, but they are just as American as I am, or as anyone who lives in Oklahoma.


    2. I don’t think it’s possible to oppose Trump without riling him.

      Anyone who isn’t horrified and fearful want to offer their thoughts and reaction to the Spicer press conference? and Conway’s subsequent followup?


    3. “The problem is tribal. Your challenge is to prove that you belong in the same tribe as them: that you are American in exactly the same way they are. ”

      But what is that way?


      1. That article has been circulating in my circles, too, and I just wasn’t all that impressed. First of all, exactly what Wendy says; the article promises “how to” from its title and then doesn’t deliver. I mean, Venezuela had to wait until Chavez died. Second, I think Trump is more like a Berlusconi than a Chavez; a rich person (or at least someone with all the trappings of being egregiously wealthy) pretending to look out for the common person rather than a caudillo with Marxist trappings. And it seems like Italy finally got rid of Berlusconi when they compared what he had promised with what he had delivered. Deligitimizing didn’t work, but holding him to account did. (Italy now has Beppo to contend with, but that’s another story.) Third, the article offers a strategy for converting a narrow minority into a majority. People who oppose Trump are already a majority in America. We need to make sure that that majority translates into actual offices and power. I think that’s a different set of tasks than what the article sets out.


      2. I don’t know that the Berlusconi comparison isn’t too optimistic. I’m not an expert on Italy, but I’m pretty sure Italy does not have race as an issue the same way the U.S. does. I’m not sure Trump failing to bring back jobs will be sufficient to mark him as a failure in the eyes of the people voting for him. I think that many of them only want a tangible demonstration that black people are being treated worse than they are.


      3. I don’t see any other way to explain the continual focus on “voter fraud”, particularly while it seems that half of Trump’s advisors are registered to vote in two states. He’s going to pay off Republican voters not by helping them economically, but by making them the “majority” through disenfranchising blacks. Nobody decent would take this trade, but so far the number of Republicans who have been willing to disassociate themselves from this is only slightly larger than the number of Mexicans sending in donations to build to the wall.


      4. Disenfranchising blacks and mexicans, and potentially with at least some of those asians (especially the more recent immigrants). Some of the disenfranchisement techniques affect poor people (well, or at least poor people you want to disenfranchise), but others affect people who don’t have American paperwork, like immigrants.


      5. * Start by pressuring all major news outlets to place correspondents in red states and USE THEM not only to report but to vet other copy to prevent printing dumbass things that make even this true-blue WAPO and NYT subscribing (but red state born) citizen roll her eyes.

        * Then amplify any liberal voices that acknowledge how screwed the middle class has been (including in my own blue state) by trade agreements and non-enforcement of anti-trust laws, and how we need good jobs that pay a living wage – and pressure action to back it up. The not-inaccurate red state perception that US elites and liberals collectively shrugged at the decimation of middle-America working class economic and cultural lives and said “bummer, can’t be helped, keep on globalizin’ ” elected Trump.

        * Stop calling Trump voters stupid and racist as a class. It’s lazy, destructive, and wrong. There may be individuals that deserve those terms (I can think of several congressmen…) but even then, your time is better spent trying to understand where that part of our citizenry is actually coming from. If you don’t think bigoted, othering language about minorities or immigrants or the LGBT population is cool, stop using it on your fellow citizens.

        * Strike from the liberal vocabulary “THOSE JOBS ARE NEVER COMING BACK” and shout at anyone who utters it – the truth is, we don’t want to create new tariffs because (lots of good reasons) but that doesn’t mean it’s not possible. Our politicians are scared to tax technology (or even force the tech sector in the US to hire Americans) but that doesn’t mean it’s not possible. We made this mess, we need to take responsibility for it and figure out how to get those jobs back or create equivalent jobs before we elect a president that gets us into a trade war (oops, may be too late!)

        * Strike from the liberal vocabulary “open borders”. As talk of open borders has increased on the left and any thought of controlling immigration become the equivalent to racism in liberal circles, notice what’s actually happened – it’s become increasingly impossible to pass immigration reform or even accept refugees. We need to compromise on this one before our borders are closed completely (now that Trump’s in office, it may be too late). It’s not crazy to think that there’s some critical point beyond which additional foreign-born citizens cause social destabilization and that need to be acknowledged and widely and openly discussed.

        * Recognize that while diversity is a legitimate value, it’s not the only value or even a value shared among all Americans. We often speak and write as if it is.

        Ha ha, I guess I’ve had some stuff bottled up.


  6. The protest was enough rope for Bill Kintner, Republican Nebraska State Senator Papillion (pronounce it like you never, ever heard of word of French in your life), to finally hang himself. I don’t know how he lasted this long.


    1. Interesting, that the Nebraskans won’t stand for Kintner’s retweet, but were willing to vote for Trump (though, I guess, the alternative to Kintner will be another Republican).

      Wow, and after he’d survived a sex/blackmail scandal involving use of state computers. I’m guessing it was cumulative?


      1. There was never any chance he would be replaced by anybody who wasn’t a Republican. I think he only lasted that long because the senator’s wife works for the governor and this whole thing is an embarrassment for him.


      2. I think this was just the last straw but the sex scandal would have killed him anyway, eventually. They are just too religious in the legislature. The unicameral isn’t conservative in the same way that the national Republican Party (or Nebraska’s governor) is. It will vote Christian doctrine even against Republican policy positions. For example, they voted to outlaw the death penalty after a debate that was very explicitly religious. The governor used his family’s money to start a successful initiative petition to restore it.


  7. I just emailed both my senators, urging them to continue to vote against Trump’s cabinet picks. They voted against John Kelly, so I hope they’ll keep doing the right thing.


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