One the many weird things about the 2016 election was that the working class voter embraced a guy whose brand was wealth, who announced his presidency with a trip down a gold plated escalator in a New York City building with his name on the top, who got out of serving the country with a bogus doctor’s note about bone spurs.
But it happened. In part, these voters turned to him, because Hillary was a terrible politician, who offended them with talk of being deplorable. But they also just liked the guy.
Around the time when Trump first announced his candidacy in June 2015, I took Jonah to the dentist. When Trump came on the TV in the waiting room, a college kid who was setting up his next appointment with the secretary said, “that guy is going to get it.” He explained that he had a summer job working in the garage in Trump Tower and that random people, desperate to express their support for him, would end up on the garage phone line, after taking a wrong turn on the phone tree. Scores of fans were telling the garage workers how much they loved their boss.
Guys working in factories and fields supported this strange dude, and we didn’t pay attention. Do we discount those folks as deplorables, racists, stupid? That’s a bad move politically and morally. I just can’t write off 60 million people.
But then Trump got sick. He got sick, because he didn’t follow the same rules as they rest of us. Everybody – PhDs, immigrants, religious communities, those Pennsylvania miners — are suffering on some level from COVID. Our kids are uneducated, our old folks are isolated, businesses are shut. Everybody is suffering, except our president, who laughed at the rules saying that they didn’t pertain to him. The guy, who claimed to speak for the common guy, didn’t walk the populist walk, because he NEVER did.
Trump not only got sick, but he infected everyone around him. Now, he has lost his ability to talk to supporters on TV shots and rallies. The polls are not in his favor, though Biden has not yet locked down the Electoral College. Old people, in particular, who have been faithfully following the rules are walking away from him.
Biden will be our next president, barring some unforeseen event. I do hope that we will be able to find some commonalities between the guy in the plastics factory and the guy on the BLM march in Oakland. I think Obama could have done that, but can Biden?
21 thoughts on “Populism in a Gold-Covered Penthouse”
Laura wrote, “Guys working in factories and fields supported this strange dude, and we didn’t pay attention.”
Trump starred on The Apprentice for something like 14 seasons, starting in 2004. You can’t buy that kind of publicity.
Also, in the run-up to the 2016 election, Trump got literally billions of dollars in free media–and we’re not just talking about FOX.
The Wikipedia article on “Media coverage of the 2016 election” says this:
“Studies have shown that all 2016 candidates received vastly less media coverage than Donald Trump. Trump received more extensive media coverage than Ted Cruz, John Kasich, Hillary Clinton, and Bernie Sanders combined during a time when those were the only primary candidates left in the race.”
“From the beginning of his campaign through February 2016, Trump received almost $2 billion in free media attention, twice the amount that Clinton received. According to data from the Tyndall Report, which tracks nightly news content, through February 2016, Trump alone accounted for more than a quarter of all 2016 election coverage on the evening newscasts of NBC, CBS and ABC, more than all the Democratic campaigns combined.”
I think that the covid diagonisis, the infectiousness, the unwillingness to see rules as applying to him have no affect on the cult of trump (i.e. the people who would support him if he shot someone on fifth avenue). As you say, it can’t be that there are 60 million Americans in the cult of rump. So, it’s always been about people who are adjacent and what they are willing to do (well, those who are adjacent and live in the states where small margins can tip the scales).
I still don’t know what those people will do and I don’t know how any of the various cycles of news about Trump affect them. ILiberals in my neck of the woods think Democrats should just say they hate fracking. Friend thinks it makes a difference in Pennsylvania, where individual voters are getting checks from fracking companies. But will those people prioritize fracking over the xenophobia, racism, right-wing violence supporting, anti-science, voter-suppression, anti-democracy president (and the party that supports him)? Will white catholics support the trump (to abolish the protections for abortion, or whatever other priorities drive them)? Will they do it when trump doesn’t appear to care about whether they get COVID and falsely promises monoclonal antibody cocktails for them?
bj said, “But will those people prioritize fracking over the xenophobia, racism, right-wing violence supporting, anti-science, voter-suppression, anti-democracy president (and the party that supports him)? Will white catholics support the trump (to abolish the protections for abortion, or whatever other priorities drive them)?”
I think that the recent White House COVID episode has been very bad for Trump. But, going through your list:
–Is it such a bad time for xenophobia? One of the US’s COVID mistakes was not having stronger, broader travel restrictions earlier.
–Regarding racism, at least up until the White House COVID outbreak, Trump was doing really well with Hispanics in Florida.
“Yet recent polls show Biden has lost ground among Florida’s Latino voters compared to his predecessors Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, both of whom outperformed their Republican rivals among this key voting bloc in the last three presidential elections. Trump and Biden are virtually tied in Florida…”
–Regarding “right-wing violence,” people have a lot of recent examples of left-wing violence to at least balance it out.
–Regarding “anti-science,” a lot of COVID measures don’t make much sense. See, for example, DC’s requirement that everybody 3 and over wear a mask outside under almost all circumstances–even when more than 6 feet from others.
DC has also blocked masked, outdoor church services…while allowing mass outdoor masked protests. The question of who is and isn’t “anti-science” is pretty debatable. (It looks like the DC church has prevailed in court.)
–The mailbox voter-suppression thing was a conspiracy theory. “Voter suppression” is for Democrats what “voter fraud” is to Republicans–an excuse for losing.
–Regarding “anti-democracy”–there has been an effort to run the states by fiat. At some point, this has to stop, and normal democratic processes have to take over again. As David French wrote in an article, “It’s Time for ‘Pandemic Law’ to End.”
–Red areas of the US largely have their schools open. This is a big deal for poor and middle income families with children.
–Trump has (as we all know) made a lot of unfortunate decisions regarding COVID. However, Biden has really nothing substantive to offer, and by the time he’s inaugurated in Jan. (if that happens), the COVID cake will already be baked. There’s nothing that Biden can do on January 20 that is going to substantially affect the course of the pandemic–although the anti-vaccine talk that he and Harris have been guilty of may well cost tens of thousands of lives. Say what you will about Trump, he hasn’t been scaring people about the vaccine.
–I’ve been a bit on the fence about voting. My choices have been “vote for nobody/third party” or “vote for Trump.” I had initially planned to not vote for Trump, as my presidential vote normally doesn’t matter in my state. However, the months of uncontrolled chaos and violence of BLM/antifa/anarchists and the ACB nomination have pushed me toward being reasonably happy about voting for Trump. But then the White House thing (a completely unforced error) happened…On the other hand, if my vote actually mattered in TX, Trump would be losing massively across the country, so again, my vote wouldn’t really matter. So, probably third party?
–Yay, Amy Coney Barrett!
“Is it such a bad time for xenophobia? One of the US’s COVID mistakes was not having stronger, broader travel restrictions earlier.”
Restricting travel is not xenophobia. I live in a state that banned people traveling here from Rhode Island. While I often find RIers strange and off-putting with their “Drive more than 15 minutes somewhere? I’ll have to pack a suitcase for that” and the fact that you can put any 2 RIers together and they will find at least one person in common that they know, and their habit of giving directions like “Make a left where the Outlet used to be, then drive 3 blocks and turn left where that shoe store used to be,” that’s not xenophobia.
Abbott voter suppression: 1 drop off ballot box for Harris county, population 4,713,325 and for Loving county, population 169.
Democrats still more likely to take a vaccine, though their trust is declining (not more than Republicans).
–Biden is refusing to say if he will pack the court and Harris is also dodging the question, which is very bad, and it’s even worse of the press to . Hopefully, Biden wouldn’t do it, but if he does, we’re going to get to experience a series of tit-for-tat Supreme Court appointments, until SCOTUS is the size of the US Senate. It’s going to be farcical. The only way court-packing makes sense as a move is if the Democratic party control the presidency and Senate indefinitely–which is very unlikely to happen.
bj said, “Democrats still more likely to take a vaccine, though their trust is declining (not more than Republicans).”
To be fair to everybody, people who have already had COVID may not feel that they need the vaccine, so the more time goes by and the more people get COVID, the fewer people are going to be left who are in a rush to be vaccinated.
Of course, the COVID vaccine may wind up being a routine, repeated thing like the flu shot.
bj wrote, “Abbott voter suppression: 1 drop off ballot box for Harris county, population 4,713,325 and for Loving county, population 169.”
It wasn’t great to start restricting drop-off locations so close to the election, but your description ignores the fact that Texas has extended early general election voting by nearly an extra week.
“Gov. Greg Abbott on Monday extended the early voting period for the November election by six days, citing continued challenges posed by the coronavirus pandemic.
Early voting for the Nov. 3 election will now begin Oct. 13 instead of Oct. 19. The end date remains Oct. 30.”
“For the runoffs, Abbott doubled the early voting period, shifting the start date from July 6 to June 29. The end date was July 10.”
The “anti-vaccine talk” by Biden/Harris is focused on the wacky ideas Trump had put forward that a vaccine would miraculously be ready before the election – something that no reputable epidemiologist believed (and yes, I know both an infectious disease specialist and someone who heads up a public health organization, plus several other doctors who have been tracking this). The manipulation of the CDC by this administration has been horrifying. I absolutely believe that he would push a vaccine through without adequate testing to win the election. If the doctors including Fauci lined up in support, I’d take it without hesitation, which is exactly what Harris said in the debate. But if it’s his own doctor and no one else, no.
Suddenly, the right wing cares about the lives of ordinary Black people in urban areas, which I guess is nice except that it’s now somehow the fault of peaceful protestors if someone loots a building on a street where they protested four hours before – even if that person is a white supremacist in blackface. (Yes, I know that only happened once. But given the amount of energy the right put into infiltrating antiwar and civil rights groups in the 1960s and 1970s, I would not be at all surprised if some of the violence came from that quarter.)
bj wrote, “Abbott voter suppression: 1 drop off ballot box for Harris county, population 4,713,325 and for Loving county, population 169.”
and AmyP responded: “It wasn’t great to start restricting drop-off locations so close to the election, but your description ignores the fact that Texas has extended early general election voting by nearly an extra week.”
Yeah, that is not an answer to the drop-off location problem. I suspect if a Democratic governor said 1 ballot box was enough for 4.7 million Republicans – looks like that is about twice the population of North Dakota, South Dakota, and Montana combined – you might be complaining. If there’s an explanation of why only one box is appropriate, I’d like to hear it.
I hope that the president will be unpleasantly surprised by the fact the ACB will be ethical and try to follow the law if there are disputes over voting. I won’t agree with her on many things but I think he is mistaken that she will “pay him back” however he wants.
There’s no question who is more anti-science. Trump and his administration has undermined practically every government science agency: the CDC, with back-pedaling statements, unclear advice, lack of mask wearing; the FDA with a political operative pulling/editing/limiting scientists statements, politically motivated opposition to vaccine safety measures; he National Weather Service, with the head of the organization disavowing his own scientists because of Trump vanity; his personal doctors, with refusals to state the time course of his infectiousness, and his own personal belief that he understands immunology better than everyone else.
Xenophobia is always bad and it is particularly bad in the way that Trump implements it, when brown congresspeople are told to “go back” because they disagree with him, that judges are deemed biased because they are brown and their grandparents were not born in this country, that immigrants from countries where the people’s skin is brown are undesirable. Shutting one’s borders does not have to be xenophobic (I’m not calling Canada’s closing its southern border xenophobic), but it is when it is done based on race or skin color (the emphasis on China in our management of the early pandemic was one of our failures).
And then there’s the support of the Proud Boys and the militias. Voting for Trump is sitting alongside racists, misogynists, voter suppression and the goal of minority rule, rampant hypocrisy and incompetence, including Trump.
White supremacist, Alt-right terrorist have killed more than 300 people since 1994. How many on the left?
Trump’s undermining of the scientific integrity of the CDC and FDA will have profound consequences for the acceptance of a vaccine (on which there is plenty of distrust across the political spectrum, with Republicans being less likely to take a vaccine (36% v 58%). A biggest effect of a non-Trump presidency will be the science of the vaccine roll out and whether people will believe it).
I am honestly shocked at the trade off you describe which I fundamentally see as a rejection of my right to the American experiment as a full and equal citizen with the same right to participate in government as any other American.
bj said, “White supremacist, Alt-right terrorist have killed more than 300 people since 1994. How many on the left?”
Where do you get your list?
Assuming you’re right, that’s 300 people over 26 years. Which means that it’s 4X more likely to be killed by lightning.
Or, alternately, over the same period of time, it’s been easily over 10X more likely to be killed on US soil by Islamic extremists (9/11, Nidal Hassan at Fort Hood, the Boston bombers, the Pulse nightclub shooting in Orlando,the 2015 San Bernardino shooting, the 2019 Naval Air Station Pensacola shooting, etc.).
If Islamic terror is not a big deal in the US, then far right violence is even less of a big deal.
“I am honestly shocked at the trade off you describe which I fundamentally see as a rejection of my right to the American experiment as a full and equal citizen with the same right to participate in government as any other American.”
There are always going to be trade-offs. There are no perfect politicians and no perfect policies, and different people are always going to weight the trade-offs differently.
I personally have been horrified by the months of public lawbreaking that we’ve seen in our major cities, by the inequitable enforcement of COVID regulations, and by the decision to sacrifice millions of children’s education and well-being on increasingly flimsy grounds.
There is a very good article at the link. Money quote: “[T]he white working class resents professionals but admires the rich.” Of course, Biden was a very mediocre professional (bad grades at a third tier law school), if that helps. You should read the whole article. https://hbr.org/2016/11/what-so-many-people-dont-get-about-the-u-s-working-class
y81, that is a spectacular article. ” Clinton, by contrast, epitomizes the dorky arrogance and smugness of the professional elite. The dorkiness: the pantsuits. The arrogance: the email server. The smugness: the basket of deplorables. Worse, her mere presence rubs it in that even women from her class can treat working-class men with disrespect. ”
There is some of Clinton in Harris, she is being – so far – a lot smarter about not letting it slip out. I think Biden-Harris will win. I also think a Trump who had done a better and more thoughtful job would be absolutely unassailable and cruising for a second term. It will be interesting to see if the Dems manage to consolidate the support with which they have been gifted more through good luck than competence. If they do, the Reeps may well go the way of the Whigs.
a Trump who had done a better and more thoughtful job would be absolutely unassailable and cruising for a second term
But then he wouldn’t be Trump and he would never have made it out of the Republican primary. December 2015 or February 2016 would have been a really good time for the Rs to have stopped the Trump shitshow.
You know, my plan is that the white working class *will* become a minority in this country and that Democrats will at least somewhat be successful in preventing the effectiveness of voter suppression efforts of the Republicans. Then hopefully the Republicans will double down on the 2012 “election autopsy” (which was rejected in the age of Trump) and appeal to all Americans on the basis of issues rather than rejecting large swathes of the society as not being real Americans.
(but, I appreciate Joan Williams and have bookmarked the article).
Interesting piece by Williams, which mostly ignored gender, in the context of her book on Work/Family balance: “Unbending Gender”. The ideas on changes in divorce law seem particularly designed to inflame men’s rights activist style resentment. But, maybe those ideas are targeted more at the professional class than the working class.
There is a portion of the professional/ upper middle class necessary for the operation of the Trump’s political movement and the mobilization of mass support. We can, and should for both moral and political reasons, count them as deplorable racists and do everything in our power to keep them from positions of public responsibility.
After we get Trump out of office, I think we have to make it a mission to get every single one of his enablers in Congress tossed out on the street. McConnell and crew are the true deplorables.
I’m still working for Biden this weekend. If it works, I’m planning on keeping up at least the donations (not to the same amount) but shifting to PA legislative races.
Assuming that Biden wins the presidency, the Democrats will thereafter lose offices at every level of government throughout his presidency. That is Current Politics 101, which applies to every single president since 1980. Maybe things were different in Roosevelt’s day, but we don’t live in that world.
“Assuming that Biden wins the presidency, the Democrats will thereafter lose offices at every level of government throughout his presidency. That is Current Politics 101, which applies to every single president since 1980. Maybe things were different in Roosevelt’s day, but we don’t live in that world.”
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