The transgender moment

So, I’ve been getting a little annoyed for a while at how much coverage transgender issues have been getting in the liberal places I hang out in on-line.  Yes, I absolutely believe in tolerance, equity, fairness, justice– you name it– for transgender people, but this seems to be soaking up a huge amount of liberal oxygen for something that affects a really, really small part of the population.  It’s really hard to estimate, but less than 1% is probably pretty safe.  So, what do I have against people focusing on this?  Honestly, there is only so much political oxygen out there and liberals who want to be active on things have only so much bandwidth.  And there are a lot of issues which I think have a dramatic impact on a lot more people.

I’ve been teaching Gender & Politics for years and this was the first semster ever where a decent number of students seemed to be primarily focused on the rights of transgender people as the key political struggle.  Okay, well and good, I suppose.  But, really?!  There’s still soooo much to be down for women’s equality and women are, you know, half the damn population.  So, again nothing against transgender rights, but if your focus is there, that’s a lot of important issues affecting half the population that will get short shrift.

So, what do I think is going on?  For a while, the way to signify you were a really cutting-edge cultural liberal was to be gay rights.  Well, that’s won and done.  What’s left/next?  Transgender rights.  I really don’t want to denigrate a cause, but I’d love to see this energy focused on issues that affect way more people.  In the end, I’m with Mr. Spock.

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Politics ain’t business

Love this Chait post on Trump (what a perfect match between writer and subject).  It’s got some really nice analysis on the populist niche in the Republican Party that is totally unfilled, but that Trump is so adeptly stepping into (maybe another post from me, but really, just read Chait).  But since I’m feeling lazy, I’m just going to paste this nicely quotable portion about Trump’s business versus political acumen:

In the short run, this can work. Trump is a polarizer. His grotesque, bombastic arrogance has worked very well as a business strategy. Everybody has an opinion about Trump, positive or negative. From a commercial standpoint, it doesn’t matter much which is which. Trump-haters will tune in to his show just as Trump-lovers will. Even if three-quarters of the public wants nothing to do with him, the quarter that admires Trump forms a massive customer base. That is how he has built a lucrative brand for golf courses, hotels, restaurants, beauty pageants, and so on.

But politics does not work like business. [emphasis mine] You can get rich being loved by a quarter of the country and hated by the rest, but you can’t get elected president that way. Trump has a brilliant strategy for winning the loyalty of a quarter of the primary electorate, or perhaps a third. He has no strategy for winning a majority, which is what you need to get the nomination. Indeed, the things Trump has done to elevate his profile have pushed that majority further from his reach. If the campaign gets to the point where there is one candidate left standing against Trump, that candidate will enjoy the unified support of the party’s financial, media, and organizational strength. Trump has the power to destroy, but not to conquer.

Yes, Hilary will be the Democratic nominee

The media can talk about Joe Biden all they want, but he’s not going to be the nominee if he runs and even if he does, he will not be a serious obstacle to Hilary (spare me the emailgate).  Of course, that’s no fun for journalists to write about.  Better to make something out of polls that’s not even really there.  So long as we don’t find that smoking gun email where Hilary says “hey, why don’t we not defend Benghazi after it’s already attack!” or something else totally unforeseen at this point, Hilary’s got it locked up.  It’s all about the invisible primary and on the Democratic side, it’s pretty much over.  And, no, this is not 2008 and Bernie Sanders (or Biden) is most definitely not Barack Obama.  Jamelle Bouie with a nice article summing it up.

Moreover, because primaries aren’t popularity contests, the most important measure of success is party support. Barack Obama wasn’t an upstart; behind his run was the party machinery, or at least the part that didn’t want Clinton. Today, where do Democratic fundraisers stand? What do Democratic interests groups think? How will Democratic lawmakers act?

On each score, Clinton isn’t just winning—she dominates. Most fundraisers are in her corner; it’s why Biden will have a hard time raising money if he decides to run. Interest groups are still quiet, but Democratic lawmakers are overwhelmingly pro-Hillary. Clinton has more than 100 endorsements from sitting Democrats, including seven governors and 29 senators. Biden, who doesn’t appear to have decided whether to run yet, has two. Former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley has one. Bernie Sanders has none. This is unprecedented. Not only is Clinton ahead of her previous endorsement total, according to analysis by FiveThirtyEight, but she’s racked up more endorsements of significance at this stage of the race than any nonincumbent Democratic presidential candidate, ever. At this point in 1999, for instance, Al Gore had two-thirds as many endorsement points (a measure that weights senators and governors more than House representatives) as Clinton does now; at this point in 2003, John Kerry had less than one-tenth Clinton’s current support; at this point in 2007, Obama had less than one-sixth. The closest analogue to Clinton isn’t anyone in the Democratic Party—it’s George W. Bush, who had much greater endorsement support than Clinton at this stage of the 2000 Republican presidential primary and ultimately won easily, despite an early challenge from John McCain.

Sure, it’s no fun to write all this.  So just ignore the Democrats– we’ve got Donald Trump!

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