Premium cable packages, Trump, and racism

I really liked this analogy from a John Scalzi post shortly after the election:

Let’s say you want HBO. So you go to your local cable provider to get HBO and the only way they’ll let you get HBO is to sign up for a premium channel package, which includes HBO but also includes Cinemax. Now, maybe you don’t want Cinemax, and you don’t care about Cinemax, and maybe never personally plan to ever watch Cinemax, but the deal is: If you want HBO, you have to sign on to Cinemax too. You have to be a Cinemax subscriber to get HBO. And you go ahead and sign up for the premium channel package.

Pop quiz: In this scenario, did you just subscribe to Cinemax?

And you may say, no, I subscribed to HBO, but I couldn’t get it without Cinemax. I’m an HBO subscriber, not a Cinemax subscriber.

And then someone points out to you, well, in point of fact, you are a Cinemax subscriber, look, there it is on your TV channel guide. Some of the money you pay in for your premium channel package goes to Cinemax and funds its plans and strategies.

And you say, but I never watch Cinemax or ever plan to.

And they say, okay, but you still subscribe to it, and you knew that in order to get HBO you had to get Cinemax, and you signed on anyway. You’re a Cinemax subscriber whether you ever watch it or not.

And you say, well, look, I really wanted HBO.

And they say, sure, enough that you were fine with accepting Cinemax to get it. Just don’t pretend you’re not currently subscribing to Cinemax, too. You clearly are. Look, it’s right there on your cable bill. You’re a Cinemax subscriber.

Now, to bring that analogy back to the point at hand. This election, you had two major Presidential providers. One offered you the Stronger Together plan, and the other offered you the Make America Great Again plan. You chose the Make America Great Again plan. The thing is, the Make America Great Again has in its package active, institutionalized racism (also active, institutionalized sexism. And as it happens, active, institutionalized homophobia). And you know it does, because the people who bundled up the Make America Great Again package not only told you it was there, they made it one of the plan’s big selling points.

And you voted for it anyway.

So did you vote for racism?

You sure did.

And you say, but I’m not racist, and I would never treat people in a racist fashion, and I don’t like being called out as having done a racist thing.

And others say to you, okay, but you knew that when you signed up for the Make America Great Again plan that active, institutionalized racism was part of the package. Your vote supports racism. By voting, you endorsed a racist plan.

And you say, but I didn’t want that part. I wanted the other parts.

And others say to you, that’s fine, but you knew that to get the other parts, you had to sign on for the racism, too. And evidently you were okay with that.

And you say, no I’m not, I hate racism.

And others say to you, but apparently you like these other things more than you hate racism, because you agreed to the racism in order to get these other things.

And you say, well, the Stronger Together plan had horrible things in it too.

And others say to you, yes, and you didn’t vote for that, you voted for this. Which has racism in it. You voted for racism.

And you say, stop saying that.

And the others ask, why.

I think Scalzi is basically right here, I’m just not comfortable going so far as “racism” which is a very loaded term.  The MAGA plan surely had ad it’s heart, white ethnocentrism, but that’s not quite the same thing as racism.  Or , at least, a less obvious form.  There’s surely many voters who happily voted for Trump’s MAGA plan who would not have done so had Trump said, “I want a return to Jim Crow.  If you don’t want N******s in your place of business or your swimming pool, that’s fine with me.  Let them have their own schools.” Etc.  Trump really would have been stuck (hopefully well) below 40% if he said thinks like that that code as obvious racism to even racially resentful rural whites.

Anyway, Trump voters really did embrace a plan based on white ethnocentrism and racial resentment.  And that’s disturbing and depressing as hell.

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Good news– debt and deficits don’t matter anymore

This post from Chait is ostensibly about what Democratic strategy should be in opposition (I’m still not fully convinced by the competing arguments out there).  But what there is absolutely no doubt about is the Republican cycle on debt being bad during Democratic presidencies and just fine during Republican ones.  He lays it out here:

Republicans blew up the deficit under Ronald Reagan, then fomented hysterical warnings of insolvency under Bill Clinton. When Clinton’s policies structurally balanced the budget, they unbalanced it with massive tax cuts, a military and security buildup, and a prescription drug benefit, all entirely debt-financed. When the first signs of recession appeared in early 2008, Republicans did support a Keynesian stimulus bill. As Obama entered office, the seeming mild recession that had spurred both parties to action a year before had spiraled into a bottomless crisis unlike any in memory. But at the moment the justification for Keynesian stimulus had become stronger than at any time in the previous 80 years, Republicans embraced austerity, insisting temporary deficit spending would worsen the economy. They held to that stance — with the exception of tax cuts for the rich, which they support regardless of circumstance — throughout Obama’s presidency, which is why they blocked infrastructure spending despite its appeal to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and other business groups.

The cycle has been repeated enough times that careful observers simply assume that the GOP will immediately flip from debt hysteria to debt mania. House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy told reporters today he still “cares” about the debt, but has realized that economic growth is a priority that will help resolve it — a realization that somehow dawned in the immediate aftermath of the election after eluding him throughout Obama’s two terms. This is a major reason the stock market has taken Trump’s election with such equanimity: The government is no longer held hostage by an opposition party committed to tight fiscal policy. Steven Blitz, chief economist at Pangea Market Advisory, told The Wall Street Journal that he had previously worried the economy would tip into recession, but that new debt-financed tax cuts and spending would allay such a scenario: “Now that Republicans are in control, there’s no concern about debt and deficits,” said Steven Blitz, chief economist at Pangea Market Advisory.

Again, this reversal has no relation to actual economic conditions. The unemployment rate is now half the level it was at the outset of Obama’s presidency, when Republicans opposed fiscal stimulus. For Democrats to cooperate unconditionally with this strategy is to institutionalize a political order in which Democratic presidents must be punished with contractionary policy while Republicans are rewarded with expansionary policy. Reasonable people can disagree about what level of national debt can be sustained, but the figure is finite. The political system seems to passively accept that America’s long-term debt should be allocated toward the goal of maximizing growth exclusively during Republican administrations. Why Democrats would find this system good for their country, let alone their party, is difficult to understand.

Of course because of existing asymmetries in the approach to government, Democrats will probably let Republicans get away with this.  And, yes, I’ve said there’s not much to be gained by emphasizing hypocrisy in politics– it’s just part and parcel.  But this goes far beyond run-of-the-mill hypocrisy and has huge implications for public policy under both Republican and Democratic presidents.

Quick hits part II

1) This call to action for Political Scientists from Jennifer Victor is great:

EDITORIAL: It’s time for political science to update its disciplinary norms about public engagement. We can value neutrality, science, and objectivity while passing judgment against actions and proposals that jeopardize democratic institutions. These are not in conflict if we agree on basic values…

For example, threats to lock up a political opponent violate the due process clause in the Fifth and 14th amendments; encouraging voter suppression and intimidation violates the democratic standard of universal suffrage; questioning the independence of the judiciarythreatens the legitimacy of separation of powers and checks and balances; intimidating journalists violates the free speech and free press provisions of the First Amendment; calling for the proliferation of nuclear weapons threatens national security and our position in international treaties.

2) David Leonhardt on the Democrats real turnout problem.

3) Yeah, of course parents matter most, but some good evidence from a study comparing US and UK that public policy helping out kids helps cognitive outcomes.  (Obviously, it’s the UK with public policy benefiting kids).

4) Do Working Class Whites really vote against their interests?  No, says Kirk Noden (I still say they do, no matter how much Democrats love corporate America).  That is, unless their interests are expressing white identity.

5) Paul Waldman makes the case for the do not cooperate with Trump camp:

It’s important that Democrats keep reminding the American public, every day for the next four years, of who’s sitting in the White House and what that means. Trump ran one of most vile presidential campaigns in American history, one based on racial and religious hatred, resentment and fear. He sought to normalize toxic misogyny. He celebrated violence. He mainstreamed white supremacy. His election has spurred a wave of racist intimidation and hate crimes, as bigots across the country have become emboldened by his victory to act out their most despicable impulses. He’s a demagogue and a dangerous fool, and while Democrats aren’t going to question the legitimacy of his presidency the way Republicans did with Obama, he shouldn’t ever be treated like an ordinary president with whom Democrats just have some substantive disagreements.

So, absent an incredibly powerful reason to cooperate with him on any particular bill, the last thing Trump should get from Democrats is a clean slate and a hand extended in cooperation.

6) And Josh Chafetz on why even a Republican Congress might block some of Trump’s agenda.

7) And Drum on the difficulty of doing something about NAFTA.

8) Harry Enten makes the best case that shy Trump voters really weren’t a thing:

The second reason to be skeptical of the “shy” theory is that Republican Senate candidates outperformed their polls too. The theory behind the “shy” phenomenon is that voters are reluctant to admit support for particularly controversial or politically incorrect candidates. Yet mainstream Republican Senate candidates such as Ron Johnson, Marco Rubio and Pat Toomey — hardly examples of bomb-throwers like Trump — all did better than the polls indicated they would. They weren’t alone. A look across Senate races reveals that most Republican Senate candidates bested their polls.

9) Tim Noah’s nice takedown of the contemporary horribleness of the electoral college.

10) Blame Trump’s victory on college-educated whites.  Yeah, I’m actually pretty sympathetic to this argument.

Perhaps, then, these Trump voters are the most deplorable of them all. They’re not suffering or desperate, and have no concrete reason to hate the status quo or to feel like they are in decline. They understand that Trump is manifestly unprepared to be president, have heard his many lies and insults, yet voted for him anyway. And without them, Trump wouldn’t have won. The media ought to focus on their motivations, too—and reporters won’t even have to fly to Youngstown to find them.

11) Late-deciding voters seemed to have broken pretty strongly for Trump.

12) Sadly, one of Trump’s most important flaws, is that he does not get the best people, but the worst.  Or as Chait puts it, “building a team of racists.”

13) Trump is a really, really unpopular President-Elect.  Yglesias.

 

14) Trump’s policies are a disaster for the environment and he will be able to enact most of these.

15) Donald Trump settled for over $20 million for using his name, Trump University, to defraud people.  And what is the media totally focused on?  A tweet about Hamilton.  Ugh.  There’s your damn media bias.  Yglesias:

The Hamilton blow-up — because it’s easy to understand, bizarre, and connects with a pop culture phenomenon — has naturally ended up getting the bulk of the news pickup. One potential reason is that Trump’s tweets are public, whereas it took diligent reporting by the Washington Post to get the hotel story. The idea is that other prestigious outlets may be disinclined to pay attention to a story the Post “owns” and to give due credit to its significance.

Meanwhile, a second-order controversy even broke out among the people I follow on Twitter as to whether the Hamilton audience booing Mike Pence in some sense played into Trump’s hands.

But the truth is that nothing about the Hamilton story — not Pence’s decision to attend, not the crowd booing him, not the cast of the musical directing some respectful criticism in the direction of I his boss, not Trump’s tweets about what happened, and not the subsequent second-order controversy — is in any way important to how he runs the country.

By contrast, foreign governments directly putting money into Donald Trump’s pocket is very important. The fact that these attempted bribes are being paid to a man who is also paying out millions of dollars to avoid standing trial for his corrupt business practices is very important. The fact that citizens are calling members of congress to ask them to do something about this is also very important.

16) Interesting and not-at-all sympathetic review of Pope Emeritus Benedict’s new book.

17) Get used to the term Emoluments.  Trump will quite likely be in violation of the Constitution the day he is inaugurated.  Seriously.

The Constitution’s “Emoluments Clause,” provides that “no person holding any office of profit or trust under” the United States “shall, without the consent of the Congress, accept of any present, emolument, office, or title, of any kind whatever, from any king, prince, or foreign state.”

The diplomats’ efforts in seek Trump’s favor by staying in his hotel “looks like a gift,” Painter told ThinkProgress in an email, and thus is the very kind of favor the Constitution seeks to prevent.

18) Interesting essay on what to do about Trump:

The first, and most obvious, is this: Treat every poisoned word as a promise. When a bigoted blusterer tells you he intends to force members of a religious minority to register with the authorities—much like those friends and family of Siegfried’s who stayed behind were forced to do before their horizon grew darker—believe him. Don’t try to be clever. Don’t lean on political intricacies or legislative minutia or historical precedents for comfort. Don’t write it off as propaganda, or explain it away as just an empty proclamation meant simply to pave the path to power. Take the haters at their word, and assume the worst is imminent.

Do that, and a second principle follows closely: You should treat people like adults, which means respecting them enough to demand that they understand the consequences of their actions.

19) Michael Tomasky on another reason Bernie would not have won the general election– Michael Bloomberg would have likely run as an independent.

20) A Yale History professor with 20 lessons from the 20th century.  Good stuff.

21) I really like this take on Trump and the party system from Dan Balz:

Trump took the elements of an independent candidacy — the lack of clear ideology, the name recognition of a national celebrity and the personal fortune needed to fund a presidential campaign — and then did what no one seemed to have thought of before. He staged a hostile takeover of an existing major party. He had the best of both worlds, an outsider candidacy with crosscutting ideological appeal and the platform of a major party to wage the general election.

22) Pat McCrory has so lost the NC election.  Every day he trails by more votes.  That’s fine that he doesn’t want to concede yet, but, hey, why not try and undermine faith in democracy and elections while you are at (with utterly baseless allegations), Pat?  Pathetic:

McCrory campaign spokesman Ricky Diaz disagreed.

“More than 80 counties have postponed their canvas meetings until next week, so let’s be clear: The counting is not complete and there is still no certified outcome. Roy Cooper is making presumptuous statements based on piecemeal results from a handful of Democrat-leaning counties in order to deflect attention away from serious voter fraud concerns that are emerging across the state.

“The real question people should be asking is, why is Roy Cooper fighting to count the votes of dead people and felons?” [emphasis mine]

23) Harry Enten uses actual voting data to make a pretty compelling case that (somehow!), Trump really did out-perform Romney with Latino voters.

24) Mark Lilla on “the end of identity liberalism”

It is a truism that America has become a more diverse country. It is also a beautiful thing to watch. Visitors from other countries, particularly those having trouble incorporating different ethnic groups and faiths, are amazed that we manage to pull it off. Not perfectly, of course, but certainly better than any European or Asian nation today. It’s an extraordinary success story.

But how should this diversity shape our politics? The standard liberal answer for nearly a generation now has been that we should become aware of and “celebrate” our differences. Which is a splendid principle of moral pedagogy — but disastrous as a foundation for democratic politics in our ideological age. In recent years American liberalism has slipped into a kind of moral panic about racial, gender and sexual identity that has distorted liberalism’s message and prevented it from becoming a unifying force capable of governing.

One of the many lessons of the recent presidential election campaign and its repugnant outcome is that the age of identity liberalism must be brought to an end. Hillary Clinton was at her best and most uplifting when she spoke about American interests in world affairs and how they relate to our understanding of democracy. But when it came to life at home, she tended on the campaign trail to lose that large vision and slip into the rhetoric of diversity, calling out explicitly to African-American, Latino, L.G.B.T. and women voters at every stop. This was a strategic mistake. If you are going to mention groups in America, you had better mention all of them. If you don’t, those left out will notice and feel excluded. Which, as the data show, was exactly what happened with the white working class and those with strong religious convictions. Fully two-thirds of white voters without college degrees voted for Donald Trump, as did over 80 percent of white evangelicals.

The moral energy surrounding identity has, of course, had many good effects. Affirmative action has reshaped and improved corporate life. Black Lives Matter has delivered a wake-up call to every American with a conscience. Hollywood’s efforts to normalize homosexuality in our popular culture helped to normalize it in American families and public life.

But the fixation on diversity in our schools and in the press has produced a generation of liberals and progressives narcissistically unaware of conditions outside their self-defined groups, and indifferent to the task of reaching out to Americans in every walk of life. At a very young age our children are being encouraged to talk about their individual identities, even before they have them. By the time they reach college many assume that diversity discourse exhausts political discourse, and have shockingly little to say about such perennial questions as class, war, the economy and the common good…

We need a post-identity liberalism, and it should draw from the past successes of pre-identity liberalism. Such a liberalism would concentrate on widening its base by appealing to Americans as Americans and emphasizing the issues that affect a vast majority of them. It would speak to the nation as a nation of citizens who are in this together and must help one another.

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