And What About Pennsylvania?

I find myself puzzled/fascinated by people who see what I see, hear what I hear, but their brains sort that exact same information into an entirely different folder than myself. It’s like I see an apple, but they see a tractor trailer truck. How can that be?

I have spent the past five years watching a fraud campaign for president, accidentally get elected, and then bluster his way through four years of running one of the most powerful countries on earth. My brain sorts that information into folders with various labels including incompetent, huckster, Elmer Gantry, faker, grifter, and so on.

I know some of you have sorted him into folders marked racist, sexist, white supremacist. I could be wrong, but I think those labels involve some sort of a commitment to principles, which I don’t think he possesses. Still, I think we can all agree on one master folder labeled, “guy that absolutely should not be running our country.”

While I look at Trump and see a dangerous idiot, his followers look at Trump and see a savior, a champion for the common people. When I look at that absurd video of Trump leaving the hospital and whipping of his mask, how can I howl with laughter, when another guy watching the exact same thing on Fox News salutes? How can that be?


On Friday night, I canceled a BBQ for disabled teens at my house, because too many people couldn’t make it. But one teen was terribly disappointed, so his mother and I took the boys out for burgers in town. We picked a place that also had nice grown up drinks. With the other teen scripting to himself and Ian emerged in his video games, we settled down to a few drinks and some political chat.

This mom grew up in Southeastern Pennsylvania — coal country, Hillbilly Elegy country. She said that her town was divided up into various ethnicities — Italians, Slovaks, Poles, Blacks, and so on. When one guy edged his way into a good union job or a managerial position in the mines, he fired the old guys and brought in his cousins. Because there weren’t many jobs even back then, the tight ethnic groups protected their own and hated others.

She despised those people. She hated them for their closed mindedness, and for their treatment of women and anybody outside their closed ethnic communities. She said she was only valued by whatever guy she was dating at the time, and nobody cared or cares that ultimately she went to an Ivy League college and is a big shot lawyer in New York City now. She said these are Trump’s voters. (Check out the excellent The Daily podcast on Trump’s voters in Pennsylvania. And thanks to Y81 for suggesting this great article from 2016 on the white working class by Joan Williams. )


The polls are in our favor. Even Nate Silver says that this is probably going to work out, though I think everyone is afraid of calling it too soon after getting burned in 2016.

So, what should the Democrats do with a big win? It would be tempting to plow salt into their fields. And we could. We could make changes that would ensure that our country was essentially a one-party state for the next fifty years. I would rather not do that. Maybe because I’m the parent of a kid with a disability, so I have a weakness for the underdogs. I do think that people must be pretty miserable to vote for a guy like Trump.

Jonah went to a job fair at his school last week. Soon he’ll have to decide whether he should take an interesting job that doesn’t pay much money or a boring job that pays a lot of money. But we have no doubt that he’ll have a good job that will enable him to live in our general area, and that someday he’ll have a house, a family, a car, health insurance and so on. Ian I am more worried about, but I’ll talk about his situation another day.

Maybe those guys in coal country Pennsylvania would make better political decisions, if they had the same options as my college kid. Check out the debate on Twitter whether poverty helps explain what those dudes wanted to kidnap Michigan’s Governor. What do you think?

Warning: I’m going to be obsessed with politics for the next three weeks.

37 thoughts on “And What About Pennsylvania?

  1. Their kids, especial least the ones who were interested in schooling, are filling the city. I’ll help them.


  2. “racist, sexist, white supremacist” don’t require a commitment to principles because they can just be a selfish, un-examined beliefs, if you are a white man, especially for a narcissist one who doesn’t want or need a principled philosophical approach to the world.


  3. Laura said, “My brain sorts that information into folders with various labels including incompetent, huckster, Elmer Gantry, faker, grifter, and so on. I know some of you have sorted him into folders marked racist, sexist, white supremacist. I could be wrong, but I think those labels involve some sort of a commitment to principles, which I don’t think he possesses.”

    I think that’s fair. I’m also thinking “shady salesman, self-promoter, multiply-bankrupt, party-switcher, Clinton golf buddy,” etc. If you want X and you have something he wants, he’ll tell you that he can deliver X. And that’s true, no matter who you are–neo-Nazis, Orthodox Jews, Kim Jong-un, rural whites, you name it. But, as we’ve seen on many occasions, Donald J. Trump has a lot of problems with follow-through. (Although, to be fair, he has delivered on criminal justice reform and Mid-East peace.)

    Also, if he really is a big, committed, flagrant white supremacist, that would be quite a mark against all of the major NE liberal media and political establishment figures who played golf with him, went to his wedding(s), had him on their TV shows, gave him billions in free media, got photographed with him at events for decades, pushed him as being a preferable Republican candidate to more conventional figures, etc.

    “We could make changes that would ensure that our country was essentially a one-party state for the next fifty years.”

    The FDR-Truman era “only” lasted 1933-1953. How would you guys beat that with no Great Depression, no WWII, and with a two-term limit and a 78-year-old president during a pandemic? FDR was 51 when he became president. It’s very likely that Joe Biden is going to have health issues that cause him to have a more muted than normal first (and perhaps only) term. This summer he’s been kept locked away like great-grandma’s china. It’s going to be very hard to do anything very political ambitious under pandemic conditions with a near-octogenarian president. And if there’s a VP switcheroo, I think we’re all about to rediscover exactly how popular Kamala Harris is on her own account.

    I think y81 was correct to predict that there is going to be a very nasty 2022 mid-term election for Democrats.


    1. “..folders marked racist, sexist, white supremacist. I could be wrong, but I think those labels involve some sort of a commitment to principles, which I don’t think he possesses..” Seems to me that the only color Trump cares about is green. That he stokes racial and class divisions is not because he wants to advantage one group over the other – except if one of those groups is the Trump family.


  4. There’s a paper that appeared in my radar (for a sad reason — a main author just died after a 2 year journey with glioblastoma): “Us and Them: Intergroup Failures of Empathy”. A quote:

    “People are often motivated to increase others’ positive experiences and to alleviate others’
    suffering. These tendencies to care about and help one another form the foundation of human
    society. When the target is an outgroup member, however, people may have powerful
    motivations not to care about or help ‘the other’.”

    fits with your description of competing ethnicity in coal country. Even while deploring the misogyny and racism in those communities, I can see that the finite pie infighting is at least in some ways connected to the company town/power,

    “The mass and majesty of this world, all
    That carries weight and always weighs the same
    Lay in the hands of others; they were small
    And could not hope for help and no help came:”


    1. The coal country anecdote is interesting to me because the exact same situation prevented my father from becoming an electrician after WW2. The guilds in the Cleveland area were closed to his ethnicity. He even moved to Detroit for a while to try his luck there but it was the same situation. He worked as a turret lathe operator and really wasn’t happy but had little choice. At least we had good benefits but man, the shutdown of his plant when I was in 10th grade was partly a blessing because his whole disposition improved.
      I’m in the Cleveland airport wearing an n95. My niece was supposed to have confirmation this past weekend but there was a boy who tested positive for COVID at band practice and all kids who were there are required to quarantine for 2weeks. Even though it was outdoors and everyone was 10 yards apart on the football field, she’s not allowed to attend any events. She has been excelling at golf and will miss end of season competition. At least she’s in 10th grade and has more chances. I decided to come since Southwest is still flying empty middle seats till end of October.


  5. The trouble I have with saying that Trump should be in the master folder of “Guys that absolutely should not be running our country” is that I think Biden should be put in that folder too.

    Biden spent his decades in Congress working to promote segregation, give banks more power over bankrupt and poor people, he gave speeches to Congress asking for Social Security and Medicare cuts, he is the person most directly responsible for the confirmation of our most conservative Supreme Court Justice, he holds a large share of the blame for college student debt problem. He says he doesn’t support de-militarizing our police. He said he would not sign a Medicare for all bill if it was passed by Congress.

    Whether the president or congress member is a republican or democrat hasn’t made a difference. We have a country where there are very few winners who can afford a family and a house to live in and a whole lot of losers that are barely getting by. Right this moment, the bottom 50% Americans own 1.5% of the wealth.

    It seems that some of those people in the bottom half still vote. In a democracy, they have just as much right to their choice of leaders.

    And yes, Trump is truly obnoxious, plus he hands the very rich money hand-over-fist through contracts and tax policy. And also Biden is bland and he also hands the very rich money hand-over-fist through bank legislation and TARP deals. I find one of those guys worse than the other but I don’t know if the end result for our country is going to be that much better.

    From an article in “Time” about a RAND corporation paper:

    “Of course, America’s chronic case of extreme inequality is old news. Many other studies have documented this trend, chronicled its impact, and analyzed its causes. But where others have painted the picture in terms of aggregate shares of GDP, productivity growth, or other cold, hard statistics, the RAND report brings the inequality price tag directly home by denominating it in dollars—not just the aggregate $50 trillion figure, but in granular demographic detail. For example, are you a typical Black man earning $35,000 a year? You are being paid at least $26,000 a year less than you would have had income distributions held constant. Are you a college-educated, prime-aged, full-time worker earning $72,000? Depending on the inflation index used (PCE or CPI, respectively), rising inequality is costing you between $48,000 and $63,000 a year. But whatever your race, gender, educational attainment, urbanicity, or income, the data show, if you earn below the 90th percentile, the relentlessly upward redistribution of income since 1975 is coming out of your pocket.”


  6. I’m curious what the Democrats could possibly do to make America a one-party state. I’m pretty sure if either party knew a way to cement its position, they would have done it already. The projections I have seen indicate that after the election the Republicans will control sixty-odd of the 99 state legislatures and maybe 27 of the nation’s governorships, and the Senate will be very evenly divided (likely no more than 51 senators from either party). Each state will have two senators, and the aforesaid state legislatures will control apportionment of House seats. How would one party achieve permanent control under this sort of system?


  7. Laura wrote, “Maybe those guys in coal country Pennsylvania would make better political decisions, if they had the same options as my college kid.”

    I was just looking at this page, which has info on internal US migration patterns:

    Interestingly, Pennsylvania has gained 13,590 residents via migration from 2010-2019.

    NJ has lost 190,747 residents via out-migration while New York State has lost an astonishing 677,433.

    So, maybe NJ and NY aren’t really the land of opportunity vis a vis Pennsylvania?


    1. Greater New York is in deep trouble. The two questions in my mind are: why do Laura and her husband remain in a high tax jurisdiction like New Jersey when they could work from anywhere? and why much longer will they do so?


      1. y81 said, “The two questions in my mind are: why do Laura and her husband remain in a high tax jurisdiction like New Jersey when they could work from anywhere? and why much longer will they do so?”

        Family and friends and community connections, presumably.

        Here’s why NY/NJ is unappealing to potential blue collar transplants:

        –It’s expensive.
        –The quality of life is bad for mid-income people.
        –Their family/friends/community are not there.
        –The schools are largely closed.
        –They have other options.

        It’s one thing to tough it out when your whole life is there or when your industry requires living there–it’s quite another to move there on purpose when you have other options.


      2. Absolutely true. The New York metro area is in deep shit. Seeing the writing on the wall, Steve and I had a serious talk about whether or not we should sell our house now, before the property values tank.

        Our town is in trouble now, for lots of reasons. 1. People like Steve will be working permanently from home, so it is no longer necessary to live within a two hour commute of New York City. 2. Entertainment in New York city is dead. 3. Public schools are in deep shit. People move here for the excellent public schools. Instead of paying tuition, people pay taxes. But enrollment in kindergarten is way down. People sent their kids to private schools this year, so they could have in-person education. They aren’t coming back. 4. There is an anti-tax movement in town that will destroy schools further.

        Right now, we’ll stay. We have a large extended family and long roots in the area. This is still where Jonah will be able to find a job. Possibly Ian, too. We still don’t know if he’s going to be reliant on state programs for the rest of his life, or if he will be able to find a job site that overlooks his quirks. Either way, we need to stay here, because there are zero supports for disabled people in other parts of the country. And there are tech firms here.

        We could downsize to an apartment here, so we have a foot in the community and can support the kids as they start families and adulthood. And then get a bigger home in Vermont or upstate New York. That is still a possibility.

        Other families with less complicated children are moving from the area. It’s going to take some time for this shift to happen.

        That said, we’re packing up for an afternoon in Manhattan. We’re going to the Met for the first time since last winter. Really looking forward to it.


  8. “But we have no doubt that he’ll have a good job that will enable him to live in our general area, and that someday he’ll have a house, a family, a car, health insurance and so on.”

    You are interestingly more optimistic than me. A good reality check. I found myself shocked by the gallop poll that said that 55%! of Americans think they are better off now than 4 years ago. But it probably matters how better off is defined.


    1. bj said, “You are interestingly more optimistic than me.”

      I was wondering about that, too. How much would the kid need to earn to afford his parents’ lifestyle in suburban NJ or NYC or suburban NY? A whole bunch.

      Laura wrote, “But we have no doubt that he’ll have a good job that will enable him to live in our general area, and that someday he’ll have a house, a family, a car, health insurance and so on.”

      I’m quite optimistic about one of our kids doing very well in that respect, because that kid’s interests and talents are potentially very lucrative. We have another kid that is social and energetic, and I imagine that that kid is also going to do fine work-wise. However, we have one kid where I’m struggling to connect the dots between “really good at school but unsocial” and “job with health insurance.” I’ve given this kid a bunch of talks on the subject of: you’ve got to either be a) more sociable or b) more engaged with technical subjects or c) both. But my concerns regarding that kid have relatively little to do with the state of the economy.

      Median home value in TX is around $216k right now, so it doesn’t take a huge household income to be able to comfortably afford a home.


  9. This is off topic, but I’m going to post it here because it might catch the eye of somebody who can use it:

    We’ve talked about how K-5 is pretty safe to do in-person because elementary school is inherently podded–you can easily have multiple groups of kids who spend all day together without mixing with other groups of kids indoors. This isn’t ideal, but what about temporarily podding middle school as much as possible? Create groups that all have the same basic schedule and keep them together all day when they’re indoors.

    I wouldn’t venture to try this for high school, but high schoolers are easier to teach remotely.


  10. I drive lengthwise across PA every so often, from the wealthy Philadelphia suburb to a rural region about an hour from Ohio. All Biden signs in the PA suburb, in a county that was Republican-run from the Civil War until two years ago. Houses that had signs for Bush and McCain and Romney–I know the exact hourses owned by bigtime Republicans, from decades driving and biking past them–have Back The Blue signs, but no Trump signs. Some have no signs at all. Maybe they’ll vote for him but they won’t admit it publicly. In 2004 as I waited to vote I was standing behind a couple who were arguing amiably–she was trying to get him not to vote for Bush. That won’t be happening this time. Trump has destroyed the Republican party as a predominant force here, at least for the time being. My sister-in-law comes from a Republican family, four kids–all have transferred over. They are deeply disturbed that their parents are still stuck on Trump. They talk about it constantly. These are people who were serious donors to Chris Christie–they are near the NJ border–back when. Something shifted in them bigtime. Doubt any of the four, or their spouses, will ever go back to being Republicans.

    In rural Butler County, TRUMP signs abound. There are a few Biden signs too, but mostly Trump. But at the university there where I’m teaching–the kids come predominantly from the surrounding counties–there is no strongly pro-Trump feeling. It’s a moderate place, and there are out Trump voters, and I’m fairly sure it’s not self-censorship, but there’s no strong feeling about it. No strong left-wing feeling either. The children of the Trump voters in Western PA are less passionate about politics by far then the conservative students I remember back in the 1980s. Their parents may be passionate, but their children’s minds are elsewhere.

    The parties are realigning. I think anyone making predictions at this point is relying on normalcy bias, and assuming things will return to a somewhat familiar state. I doubt it. Where we’re headed is somewhere new.


    1. Great comment! I think you’re right. We’re in unchartered waters. So interesting to be living (and blogging) through these times.


      1. I think the Reeps are going the way of the Whigs in a number of states. May survive as a regional party, not sure. Meanwhile, the Dems are going to have a real influx of former-Reep centrists who will cohabit uneasily with the Bernistas. Interesting times, indeed!


  11. Speaking of realignment!

    This is the most recent poll I’ve seen on willingness to get the COVID vaccine. They ask, “If an FDA-approved vaccine to prevent COVID-19 was able right now at no cost, would you agree to be vaccinated?”

    Overall willingness is down from 66% in July to 50% now.

    “Meanwhile, according to Gallup Panel data from Aug. 17-30, the percentage of Americans who are inclined to delay returning to their normal daily activities until a vaccine is available is at a new high of 26%.

    That 26% needs to talk to the 50% who aren’t willing to get vaccinated right now!

    “After two months of Democrats being more likely than Republicans to say they would be vaccinated, about half of all political party groups now say they would get the vaccine. This marks a new low among Democrats and independents, while Republicans’ interest in getting the vaccine has returned to the levels recorded in July, up from their low point in late August.”

    Independents are down, Democrats are way down, and new Republican willingness to be vaccinated is virtually a mirror image of Democratic decline. Republicans are now more willing than Independents, but slightly less willing than Democrats. The current numbers are:

    Democrats 53
    Republicans 49
    Independents 47.

    “Democrats may be answering Gallup’s question about getting an FDA-approved vaccine “right now” in the context of Trump’s position, not as a hypothetical scenario. However, a recent CNN poll also found a decline in public willingness to get the vaccine, from 56% in August to 51% in early October, without mentioning a timeframe. That question reads, “If a vaccine to prevent coronavirus infection were widely available at a low cost, would you, personally, try to get that vaccine, or not?””

    This is food for thought for everybody who is waiting until “after” the vaccine.


    1. Women are driving drops:

      “Until now, men and women had consistently expressed similar rates of willingness to be vaccinated, but women’s comfort level dropped more than men’s in the latest reading, so there is now a 12-point gap between them: 56% of men versus 44% of women say they would get it.”

      “While the poll did not ask adults with children under 18 whether they would get their child vaccinated, those with minor children at home are less likely than those without to say they would be vaccinated themselves. The figure among parents has now fallen below 50% for the first time, to 44%, while a slight majority of nonparents (52%) still say they would be vaccinated.”

      Gallup concludes that Trump’s association with the vaccine is hurting uptake willingness with Democrats and Independents, while boosting uptake willingness among Republicans.

      Maybe this all flips after a Biden win?

      In any case, I don’t think we’ve yet come to terms with the fact that vaccine availability is not the finish line. It may be necessary to require COVID vaccination for school and college attendance, nursing home residents and workers, health care workers, jails and prisons, and any work places with potential for close contact, to get any kind of decent numbers for uptake.

      This is all very stupid, because the US is not the only major developed country testing vaccines, and it’s very unlikely that the US will approve a vaccine that no other major developed country does and do so faster than anyone else, but we live in stupid times.


      1. 1. “Nancy Pelosi warned that a Covid-19 vaccine should not be authorised for use in the US based on data from British trials, amid fears that the Trump administration is planning to rush out an inoculation before election day.

        The Democratic speaker of the House of Representatives on Friday cast doubt on the British system for testing and approving medicines, further politicising the race to develop a vaccine for Covid-19.

        “We need to be very careful about what happens in the UK. We have very stringent rules in terms of the Food and Drug Administration here, about the number of clinical trials, the timing, the number of people and all the rest,” Ms Pelosi told reporters in Washington.”

        2. Zeke Emanuel: “>> Ezekiel Emanuel: Look, I think we have to be wildly impressed by the vaccine action, you know, the number of shots on goal, as you say, you know, number of potential candidate vaccines, vaccines that rapidly entered human trial that we now got, I think, it’s seven in phase three trial.

        >> Howard Bauchner: Yep.

        >> Ezekiel Emanuel: That is pretty impressive. You have to be wowed by the scientific prowess that represents. Second is, you know, I think the British effort with creating large, simple randomized trials to test out therapeutics, I think that’s been impressive. They got it up and running in March and quickly were able to generate thousands upon thousands of people randomized and get evidence right away of what was working, what’s not working.”

        ” I’ve interviewed Steve Hahn, who I was incredibly impressed with, about the mechanism for vaccine approval, whether or not EUA, emergency use authorization will be used, how transparent they will be with the data, will they allow the external advisory board to really drive the final decision by the FDA. How are you thinking about it?

        >> Ezekiel Emanuel: Well, I have great respect for Steve Hahn. I think he is a man who wants to do the right thing. I think he’s under tremendous pressure from everyone, as you might imagine, and I think until you’ve sat in the decision-making chair of a federal bureaucrat who has to make a critical decision, you can’t understand all the political pressures. But, you know, there are literally lives at stake in whether you approve something or not. There’s the trust in the vaccine process. There’s all the political pressure that’s going to be brought to bear on him. I don’t envy him one iota, and I do think he has tried to make clear that his north star is going to be, you know, we need the data, and we need to have, you know, the scientific evaluation be proper and careful. And I think, you know, I’m feeling better about it. Knowing how much pressure there can be, I can’t say that I’m 100 percent confident that there’s going to be no shenanigans here. But, you know, with his hand on the pillar and being forewarned about what might happen if the science doesn’t drive this, I’m very confident.”

        So, you have two possibilities here: one is that Nancy Pelosi is giving greater priority to damaging Trump politically than to the public health, and the other is that Zeke Emanuel is a secret Trumpist. I”m voting for Zeke Emanuel as a secret Trumpist, myself!


      2. ds said, “So, you have two possibilities here: one is that Nancy Pelosi is giving greater priority to damaging Trump politically than to the public health, and the other is that Zeke Emanuel is a secret Trumpist.”

        If people really insist on redoing every bit of European COVID vaccine and therapeutic research in the US before US approval, it’s going to cost literally tens of thousands of lives.


  12. I noticed the signs too. Driving from Pittsburgh to the forest near State College, it was only in the rural areas where Trump signs were unopposed. Even the small cities that were too for away to count as suburbs had about an even mix.

    Everybody volunteering in Pittsburgh who was over 60 spent half the meeting trying to get signs.


  13. There’s been a lot of push back on polisci twitter (which I know you follow) to that original tweet. Lots of people citing this work:

    There’s also a good deal of research showing racial resentment, not economic anxiety, does a better job of predicting Trump voting:

    I had to unfollow one of my well to do friends from high school on FB because she’s started posted picture from the Trump car trains she attends – as the parent of an LGBTQ kid, her standing in front of a “Trump 2020 – Fuck Your Feelings” sign was the end of it for me. She’s not on the Trump train because she’s not doing well – she’s pretty loaded from what I can see on FB. She’s on the Trump train because she thinks it’s funny that people like me are freaked out and upset. N of 1 to be sure, but supports the research above.


    1. It’s that there are people obviously deriving pleasure from upsetting people like me that makes disengagement necessary.

      The economic argument for the hillbilly-people isn’t very good either. They don’t appear to be asking for assistance. They are asking that we do things their way when they are very obviously failing. I’m a key worker in an internationally competitive industry with strong exports.

      Fuck coal. I see people making money and that’s not how they’re doing it.


      1. It’s been pointed out that the genius of Trump is identifying that assholes are a sizable demographic and that there is electoral value in capturing that constituency. All these “Fuck your feelings people” are core members of the Trump/asshole constituency and are his most prized supporters.

        Which is not to say that all Trump supporters are assholes or bigots or racists. But the ones who aren’t have decided that they have no problem being asshole/racist/bigot adjacent and there is a certain moral dimension to that decision that I will certainly judge them for.


    2. It’s worth repeating that while in 2016 the electorally significant Trump voter was an underemployed electrician with a relative who has a pill problem, the median Trump voter is a dentist with a boat.


  14. The other thing is that I take these attempts to override voting in Pennsylvania personally. I don’t see how I could be expected to take it any other way. Someone who is arguing and preparing to preemptively stop counting or having the legislature try to put in its own set of electors is directly attacking me. Someone trying to get armed men standing outside polling places in Pennsylvania cities is threatening me directly.

    That they are doing it with an appeal to whiteness makes me even more inclined to work to develop those portions of my identity that are not in common with the Trump people.


  15. I take any assertion that I am not American (or less American) very personally. References to “real America”, suggestions from Republicans and their supporters (including Trump) that I am less American (and heir to rights of Americans) because I am an immigrant, brown, a liberal, live in a blue state, live in a blue city, . . . . make further discussion on issues impossible.

    I am by no means a centrist, but I would like a variety of solutions offered to problems I see around me. I may prefer higher taxes, for example, but I want a rigorous fact based discussion of what level of taxes we want for the goals we share and the consequences of taxes. I may be excited right now about the British Columbia experiment that showed that giving $7500 to homeless people was a cost effective (it saved $8100) benefit that reduced homelessness. But I want a thorough discussion of both the benefit and for whom it might work (and the cost benefit. I may not need to make a profit, but I do want to know whether we are getting value for our spending). Right now, those discussions are happening within the Democratic party in Democrat dominated states, but it would be nice if we had an alternative party that was not relying on minority rule and exclusion of people like me.

    I keep coming back to the 2012 Republican review. It should be possible for the party to rebuild to build a majority coalition on issues, but that isn’t the path they are on right now.


    1. “.. be nice if we had an alternative party that was not relying on minority rule and exclusion of people like me.

      I keep coming back to the 2012 Republican review. It should be possible for the party to rebuild to build a majority coalition on issues, but that isn’t the path they are on right now.”

      I have very little hope for the Reeps, at least as they are operating currently. They look like lemmings over a cliff. Whigs of 2020. Maybe they will survive in the Deep South and the prairie states, but other than that I think the brand has been too tainted for survival. The Dems also had a kind of moth-to-the-flame attraction to the Bernistas in the last set of primaries. We now face a presidential election where we will choose between mediocre and disastrous… I’m for mediocre! But it’s not a choice which makes me happy.

      I put a lot of the blame on each party’s primary process, and I think a ranked choice system would do each party a lot of good in avoiding nutballs.


  16. “Whether the president or congress member is a republican or democrat hasn’t made a difference. ”

    This sentiment has really never made any sense to me. I could understand “. . . hasn’t made a difference for issues that are important to me”. Or, “hasn’t made a difference on . . . .”.

    But, in the example of “demilitarizing the police.” I don’t know what Biden’s position is specifically, but, I do think that Biden won’t be sending federal forces (they say) to round up “agitators” in Seattle, which is a pretty big difference to me.

    “There is this truth: We are condemned to share the Earth [or America] with people we dislike, even despise. In a democracy, we are condemned to share power with them. A large party — any large party — is a coalition of interests.”

    (Todd Gitlin, before the 2000 election)


    1. I wrote that: “it hasn’t made a difference. We have a country where there are very few winners who can afford a family and a house to live in and a whole lot of losers that are barely getting by.”

      I was trying to say that it hasn’t made a difference in the sense that the rich have gotten much richer and the poor have gotten much poorer in the US for 50 years –it has made no difference if it was a democratic or republican administration.

      Here is a chart to illustrate (which i will try to attach to this post, hopefully it will show up) that shows share of income for the top 1% compared to the bottom 50% from 1970-2014.

      Income has risen steadily for the top 1% and has fallen steadily for bottom 50%–again, it didn’t make a difference who was in office for those past 50 years.

      The numbers/chart show that this isn’t something that started with Trump and isn’t going to get better magically when he’s gone. I don’t know that anyone has to have any compassion or understanding of this half of or population, but it’s pretty useful to know that they exist. And they vote. And they vote based on their economic and self interest. And yes, some of them are a**holes, just like every other group of people, including staunch democrats, but I don’t find that is a good argument to ignore the bigger picture.


    2. You’re right, Trump sending in federal forces feels like he is about to end our democracy—but Biden wrote legislation for years that built the prison pipeline and equipped and protected police, It was done one law at a time, slowly and with no crazy tweets, but the actions are as threatening to our democracy. The country we live in is the result of years and years of this kind of legislative action.

      Some laws Biden co-sponsored or wrote:
      -1984 law, the Comprehensive Control Act, (sponsored along which Strom Thurmond) expanded federal drug trafficking penalties and civil asset forfeiture, which allows police to seize and absorb someone’s property without proving the person is guilty of a crime.
      -1986 Anti-Drug Abuse Act– Imposed 100-to-1 sentencing disparity between crack and powder cocaine, with the result that white folks doing powder cocaine got no jail sentences and minority people who used crack got long jail sentences.
      -1988 Anti-Drug Abuse Act–co-sponsored law for increased prison sentences for drug possession, drug transportation

      In 1989 he criticized H.W. Bush’s plan to escalate the war on drugs: “Quite frankly, the president’s plan is not tough enough, bold enough, or imaginative enough to meet the crisis at hand,” and, “doesn’t include enough police officers to catch the violent thugs, not enough prosecutors to convict them, not enough judges to sentence them, and not enough prison cells to put them away for a long time.”

      In a 1993 speech:“It doesn’t matter whether or not they were deprived as a youth. It doesn’t matter whether or not they had no background that enabled them to become socialized into the fabric of society. It doesn’t matter whether or not they’re the victims of society. The end result is they’re about to knock my mother on the head with a lead pipe, shoot my sister, beat up my wife, take on my sons.”

      The 1033 program, which arms police departments with military surplus equipment, started in the late 1980s and has continued through all the administrations after. It is yet one more thing that didn’t start with Trump. When I think of the people and police rioting in the past couple decades, in Washington DC, Baltimore, LA,— I recall police with tanks and assault weapons. Does it seem like police violence has escalated just under Trump or is it now people who are not minorities being effected? At any rate, I just don’t think Biden is going to be our savior here. Obama didn’t manage to stop the profiling and tanks in Ferguson–although afterwards he did sign an Executive Order which limited it somewhat–police couldn’t get some stuff–like grenade launchers(!) and weaponized aircraft(!). That didn’t de-militarize the police.

      Another huge problem that didn’t start with Trump’s election is qualified immunity for police. Courts started routinely using the this (1967 Supreme Court) doctrine in 2005 to find police innocent of excessive/deadly force to the point where it seems impossible to convict police and their victims have lost their constitutional rights. Biden’s “task force” has not come out against this.

      Biden has said he made mistakes and now has plans to, “confront racial and ­income-based disparities in our justice system and eliminate overly harsh sentencing for nonviolent crimes.” Also to eliminate private prisons. This would be great. But for me, his actions speak louder. If you do read up on Biden’s record on police and incarceration I don’t think you will be so hopeful. Also, I think it will show that these threats to democracy did not start with Trump, and will not end when he is out of office, the problem is much bigger and more longstanding.


      1. “But for me, his actions speak louder. If you do read up on Biden’s record on police and incarceration I don’t think you will be so hopeful” I think it’s barely worth paying attention to Biden’s record: he is an enfeebled shadow of what he once was. Has good days and bad days, and the bad days are rapidly becoming more numerous. In voting for Biden, we are voting for a shadowy committee of puppet masters, a SCOP. I wish we knew more about them – with Strom, everybody knew it was Duke Short – but that’s the way it is.
        When Edwin Edwards was on the Democratic line for governor in Louisiana, and the Reeps nominated David Duke, one of the greatest bumper stickers of all time “Vote For The Crook, It’s Important”. Mine today would be “Vote For The SCOP, It’s Important”….


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