Video of the day

Lightning at 7000 frames per second.  So cool.

Trump is the logical conclusion of the Republican Party

This Ezra Klein post is pretty short.  And so spot-on.  So here’s (almost) the whole thing:

Want to know how Republicans ended up with Donald Trump? This is how Republicans ended up with Donald Trump:

Sen. Perdue tells Faith and Freedom attendees to pray for Obama. “We should pray like Psalm 109:8 says: Let his days be few”

Sen. David Perdue is the junior senator from Georgia. He’s known in the Senate as a nice, modest guy — not one of the bomb throwers, by any means.

Here is how the prayer he encouraged the audience to make for Obama continues:

Let his days be few; and let another take his office.

Let his children be fatherless, and his wife a widow.

Let his children be continually vagabonds, and beg: let them seek their bread also out of their desolate places.

Let the extortioner catch all that he hath; and let the strangers spoil his labour.

Let there be none to extend mercy unto him: neither let there be any to favour his fatherless children.

Let his posterity be cut off; and in the generation following let their name be blotted out.

Let the iniquity of his fathers be remembered with the Lord; and let not the sin of his mother be blotted out.

You don’t have to believe Perdue literally wants Michelle Obama to be a widow to think that invoking this psalm toward the president of the United States is, perhaps, a bit inappropriate. (Perdue isn’t the first to suggest Psalm 109:8 is an appropriate prayer for Obama; it’s become a meme in hard-right circles, where you can buy bumper stickers and shirts that say the same thing.)

The Republican Party acts shocked by Trump — like he is some alien parasite who has taken over their party without warning or precedent. They shouldn’t be so shocked.

Comments like Perdue’s are the context in which Trump ran. For years, Republican voters have been told that the president is a Muslim, a Kenyan, a socialist. They have heard Newt Gingrich fret over his “Kenyan anti-colonial mindset,” Mitt Romney worry that the United States is “inches away from no longer being a free economy,” and, yes, Donald Trump argue that he’s hiding the true circumstances of his birth. They were thrilled when Ben Carson called Obamacare “the worst thing that has happened in this nation since slavery” and pleased when Ted Cruz agreed to look into whether Obama was planning an armed takeover of Texas.

And those examples are limited to national leaders in the Republican Party. The rhetoric coming from state senators, talk radio hosts, and local Tea Party chairs is much worse. Grassroots Republicans have been told for years that the struggle with Obama is existential and civilizational, that the disagreements are fundamental and scary, that the future of the country they love dearly is in doubt.

Republican leaders are not responsible for all of this rhetoric, but they have consistently indulged it and rarely challenged it. Rather than fighting the hysteria, they have sought to harness it for their own ends.

In some ways, the strategy has worked. Republicans control the House and the Senate. But they face a base continually angry over their inability to stop Obama, and one that punishes them severely when they try to compromise. And now the base has lost faith in their quisling leaders and turned to a guy who seems like he really won’t give up, who seems like he really isn’t cowed by the media or Washington elites, who seems like he believes what they believe and recognizes the stakes are high enough that something needs to be done about it.

Or, as Jamelle Bouie wrote:

Willingness to vote for a Woman president

538 has a post pulling up decades of Gallup data on the matter.  Progress!


Of course, there are probably some people who really wouldn’t but are not saying so due to social desirability bias.  Still, I’ll take it where we have it least reached the point where it is entirely socially inappropriate not to vote for a woman just because she’s a woman.

This also reminded me of a chart I routinely use in my Gender & Politics class.


As you can see, the American public has become a lot more tolerant of all sorts of different people becoming president.  Except the poor atheists– a student asked me recently about atheists in politics.  My response: I’m sure there are plenty, they just lie about it.  Anyway, interesting to have a little context on this.

Photo of the day

From In Focus photos of the week:

A baby panda is pictured at the Pairi Daiza wildlife park in Brugelette, Belgium, on June 2, 2016.

Benoit Bouchez / Pairi Daiza / Reuters

On leaving the Republican Party

A former student of mine who was canvassing for Thom Tillis just two years ago can’t take it anymore.  This is not his post, but he did share it on social media.  Some good stuff:

I’m writing this letter to explain why and encourage others to think about their own voting and party membership decisions.

Most people reading will have guessed the reason by now. It’s simply this: the Donald Trumpmovement in the party has been given equal footing, equal opportunity, and equal respect as any other faction in the party. Why is this a problem? Because of what it represents.

Donald Trump openly demagogues race issues around immigration and crime. He has even demurred to repudiate the KKK and David Duke when asked. He repeatedly gives voice to white supremacist accounts on his Twitter feed, in one instance retweeting fake statistics on black-on-white crime. In the debates, Mr. Trump has called for ordering our military to commit war crimes by the use of torture and targeting the wives and children of suspected terrorists.

A big tent party will have many factions and disagreements, but certain views should be regarded as basic tests of fellowship. The party leadership and GOP officials across the country have repeatedly failed to repudiate Mr. Trump’s odious views on the issues outlined above. Mr. Trump continues to receive standing, respect, and access that the party in the past has not given to candidates with similar views. The GOP voters, to their lasting shame, have given Mr. Trump wins in several states, further legitimizing him.

The time is well past for men and women of good conscience to make a stand. I was happy to see Governor Mitt Romney, Senator Ben Sasse, and several others voice emphatic opposition to the Trump movement. Unfortunately most of the party’s leadership have been silent or circumspect. Many have been altogether silent. Still others, such as Reince Priebus and the several Republican politicians who have had the poor sense to endorse Mr. Trump, have done much to fan the flames and encourage his supporters. This is not acceptable. This is not my party…

To my fellow conservatives: expect better. No, demand better. We stand for things that are important and that are bigger than any one political party. Important things we need to stand for include human dignity, racial equality, and opportunity for all. The GOP has lost its way. I’d encourage you to leave the party with me and look for opportunities to be a part of building something new.

Hillary Clinton would make a great prime minister

Nothing to make me feel smart to have some ideas floating around in my head and then have Ezra Klein come out and right a whole piece about them (far more effectively than I ever could, of course).  Anyway, I had been thinking that Hillary Clinton’s great skill as a politician is the “inside game.”  That is working on building relationships and alliances within the political party in a way that is typically how someone gets to become Prime Minister (PM’s get elected by becoming leader of their party and then having their party win a national election, not through a national campaign on their own merits as a national candidate).  In fact, when one looks at women heads-of-state in recent history, the vast majority have been Prime Ministers and not Presidents.  Anyway, Ezra’s post-California post on Hillary gets at a lot of this and nicely brings in the role of gender stereotypes.  Pretty sure this will make the next Gender & Politics syllabus:

Whether you like Clinton or hate her — and plenty of Americans hate her — it’s time to admit that the reason Clinton was the one to break it is because Clinton is actually really good at politics.

She’s just good at politics in a way we haven’t learned to appreciate.

How presidential campaigns favor male traits

Hillary Clinton has her flaws, of course. The email server. The speeches to Goldman Sachs. And just look at her unfavorable numbers! But what really defines coverage of Clinton is confusion over how she’s gotten so far without the animal charisma typical of politicians at her level.

There is something Rebecca Traister wrote in her terrific profile of Clinton that I have been thinking about for weeks. She began by admitting what everyone admits. Clinton is not a great campaigner. She does not give great speeches. She does not inspire. And she knows it. “I am not a natural politician, in case you haven’t noticed, like my husband or President Obama,” Clinton has said…

It is not that no women possess a public magnetism; Sarah Palin could rock a room, and Elizabeth Warren can work a crowd. But the quality we adore in presidential candidates — the ability to stand up and speak loudly, confidently, and fluently on topics you may know nothing about — is gendered.

Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders are both excellent yellers, and we love them for it.Nobody likes it when Hillary Clinton yells. As my colleague Emily Crockett has written, research shows people don’t like it when women yell in general:…

It may not be impossible for a woman to win the presidency the way we are used to men doing it, but it is unlikely. The way a woman is likeliest to win will defy our expectations.

Perhaps that’s why we don’t appreciate Clinton’s strengths as a candidate. She’s winning a process that evolved to showcase stereotypically male traits using a stereotypically female strategy.

And it’s working…

But another way to look at the primary is that Clinton employed a less masculine strategy to win. She won the Democratic primary by spending years slowly, assiduously, building relationships with the entire Democratic Party. She relied on a more traditionally female approach to leadership: creating coalitions, finding common ground, and winning over allies. Today, 208 members of Congress have endorsed Clinton; only eight have endorsed Sanders.

This work is a grind — it’s not big speeches, it doesn’t come with wide applause, and it requires an emotional toughness most human beings can’t summon…

In this telling, in order to do something as hard as becoming the first female presidential nominee of a major political party, she had to do something extraordinarily difficult: She had to build a coalition, supported by a web of relationships, that dwarfed in both breadth and depth anything a non-incumbent had created before. It was a plan that played to her strengths, as opposed to her (entirely male) challengers’ strengths. And she did it.

Hillary Clinton is a generationally talented politician — albeit across a different set of dimensions than men tend to be talented politicians. [emphasis mine]

Meanwhile, Vox’s Zach Beauchamp with a great piece (also into the next syllabus) that sums up the research on how women are much more likely to be elected PM than president:

Study after study has found that women are more likely to 1) become prime minister rather than president, and 2) more likely to gain either a presidency OR a premiership when it shares power with another office.

“I analyzed pretty much all the women who have ever run for president around the world,” Jalalzai says, referring to a 2013 book. “One of the most striking findings was that almost never do women actually win their election contest when they’re running for presidencies.”

The problem here has to do with gender stereotypes. Prime ministers are only rarely elected by a direct popular vote; in parliamentary systems, people usually vote for parties rather than individuals.

That means a woman who wants to become prime minister takes power by cooperating with members of her party and convincing them to put her in the top job, rather than through grueling national elections. Presidential contests, as Ezra Klein writes, emphasize allegedly “masculine” virtues like oratorical skill and toughness over “feminine” ones like cooperation and consensus building…

Presidential elections, then, activate gendered stereotypes in the electorate. Consciously or subconsciously, voters tend to think that presidents should be men in a way that they don’t when it comes to prime ministers.

This helps explain why women have led advanced democracies like the UK, Germany, Israel, and Canada, but not presidential countries like the US and France.

Lots, lots more good stuff in this Beauchamp post on the importance inyriad ways of having a woman nominated for the US Presidency.  Despite a really thorough review of literature, he did not hit one that’s a favorite of mine where in a hypothetical election respondents “vote” for either “Brian” or “Karen” with identical resumes.  For a Senate election, it doesn’t seem to matter.  But in a presidential election, it’s a lot worse to be “Karen.”  Oh, and “Terry” is right between the two :-).

Anyway, to end I want to reiterate Ezra’s main point because I do think he is spot-on.  Hillary Clinton truly is a very skilled politician.  It is just a different set of skills than we typically think about in a presidential nominee.

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