Republican men out here spreading Covid

Gallup’s latest with all sorts of demographic breakdowns.  I wish they had done PIDxGender, but I think we can pretty well figure out what’s going on there.  Anyway:

That’s right– over a quarter of Republicans out here never wearing mask.  And check out that 37 point gap in the “always”!  Meanwhile 34% of men (mostly Democrats, I’m sure) wearing masks, as compared to 54% of women.  This country– ugh!

Only a Sith deals in absolutes

Love this from Conor Friedersdorf comparing cancel culture to the Bush/Cheney narrow-minded/absolutist response to 9/11.  Of course, racism is bad.  Of course, Al Qaeda and 9/11 are bad.  But the problem comes from then relying on un-nuanced, absolutists takes on virtually everything related to the topic.  It did not serve us well in the “war on terror” and it is not serving us well as we seem to be having our much overdue reckoning with systemic racism:

When I was 21, the United States experienced a national trauma: the planes crashing into the World Trade Center, the nearly 3,000 people killed in that day’s terrorist attacks, the ruins left smoldering for months at Ground Zero, and the unnerving knowledge that sooner or later, al-Qaeda would almost certainly strike again. Thoughtful deliberation is never so difficult as in such moments. Like tens of millions of other Americans, I felt fear, anger, anxiety, flashes of moral righteousness, and a desire to fight and vanquish evil as I thought about what had just happened and how America ought to respond. With hindsight, though, I can see that thoughtful deliberation is never so vital as in the aftermath of national traumas. The country would have been well served then by a better debate with less aversion to dispassion and dissent and fewer appeals to moral clarity at the expense of analytic rigor.

Recall the national determination to punish not only Osama bin Laden and al-Qaeda, who carried out the thousands of murders, but also the regime in Afghanistan, which harbored the terrorist organization; the dictator of Iraq, who had nothing to do with the attacks; and more abstractly, the tactic of terrorism, the ideology of Islamofascism, violent extremism in general, and terror itself. Eventually, President George W. Bush asserted that the ultimate goal was “ending tyranny in our world.” The utopian zeal he stoked portended avoidable catastrophes. But anyone who raised prudential concerns at the time was suspected of being disloyal or insensitive, or of lacking moral clarity…

As a hearteningly broad coalition embraces policing reforms, a distinct, separable struggle is unfolding in the realm of ideas: a many-front crusade aimed at vanquishing white supremacy, hazily defined.

That crusade is as vulnerable to mistakes and excesses as any other struggle against abstract evils. Some of the most zealous crusaders are demanding affirmations of solidarity and punishing mild dissent. Institutions are imposing draconian punishments for minor transgressions. Individuals are scapegoated for structural ills. There are efforts to get people fired, including even some who share the desire for racial justice. There are countless differences between the Bush and Donald Trump eras, including the way our politics is shaped by Trump’s incompetent brand of authoritarian cruelty. But in the stifling, anti-intellectual cultural climate of 2020, where solidarity is preferred to dissent, I hear echoes of a familiar Manichaean logic: Choose a side. You are either an anti-racist or an ally of white supremacy. Are you with us or against us? [italics in original; bold is mine]…

A group of policing-reform advocates identified eight use-of-force policies that are statistically associated with fewer police killings. Then they successfully lobbied dozens of cities to adopt their “8 Can’t Wait” measures, such as banning chokeholds, mandating de-escalation, and requiring cops to intervene to stop excessive force. In a sign of the times, their website now leads with a mea culpa. “Even with the best of intentions, the #8CANTWAIT campaign unintentionally detracted from efforts of fellow organizers invested in paradigmatic shifts that are newly possible,” they wrote. “For this we apologize wholeheartedly, and without reservation.”

Because even insufficient radicalism from allies draws ire, many may feel tempted to keep quiet and observe. But “silence is violence,” some insist. That phrase is chanted on the streets, and its logic is being applied to individuals and institutions. In The New York Times, the author Chad Sanders urged shunning of the silent, advising his white friends to text their relatives and loved ones “telling them you will not be visiting them or answering phone calls until they take significant action in supporting black lives either through protest or financial contributions.” Those are cult tactics.

And I just have to highlight how much I love this paragraph:

Unanimity is neither possible nor necessary to fight racism. On the contrary, attempts to secure unanimity can undermine the fight: They needlessly divide anti-racists and weaken everyone’s ability to grasp reality. When demands for consensus are intense, people may clam up or falsify their own beliefs. When truth-seeking can get you fired, some people stop seeking the truth. Granted, unfettered liberal deliberation is not sufficient to solve problems as difficult as reining in police abuses or ending systemic racism. But it is necessary no matter how just or urgent the cause. America can achieve more good and harm fewer people with more frank debate, less aversion to dissent, and fewer appeals to moral clarity at the expense of analytic rigor…

Street protests don’t need to stop. Pressure for reforms and accountability should continue. But demands for conformity may permanently damage institutions that can enrich society with their diverse missions and priorities. Short-circuiting debate may deprive Americans of insights on what sorts of protests are effective; how to reform police departments without a spike in murders or other violent crime; how to distinguish between and combat ideological racism versus authoritarianism; how to educate children more equitably; how to determine the potential costs and benefits of race-based reparations; how to determine the relationship among journalistic institutions, their missions, and their readers; how to assess the protections that capitalism can afford to ethnic and religious minorities; and much more.

Absolutely, Black lives matter, which is part of why everyone should encourage constructive dissent, even when it seems frustratingly out of touch with the trauma and emotion of the moment. Identifying changes that will achieve equality is hard. Avoiding unintended consequences is harder. Without a healthy deliberative process, avoidable catastrophes are more likely.

You think racism is bad.  I think racism is bad.  We all think we need to take actions to make our country less racist.  But it’s okay not to agree on what those actions should be.  It’s complicated.  And there is no universal, obvious answer.  It’s complicated!  And the last thing we need is people imputing bad motives and bad faith to other people who disagree on the best ways to make our country less racist.  That’s cancel culture and it’s real.

[Also, after writing this, but before posting, came across this in the Atlantic, “A Deeply Provincial View of Free Speech: Many prominent writers and thinkers seem invested in the notion that simply facing strong public criticism is a threat to free speech.”  Like a lot of defenses of cancel culture, it ignores the fact that we’re talking cancel culture and thus argues that a culture that overly chills speech is unhealthy and rather sets up a straw man that cancel culture concerns are about the first amendment under attack]

Only a sith deals in absolutes - Set Phasers to LOL - sci fi fantasy

Trump’s America is disappearing

Great stuff from Ron Brownstein last week:

Donald Trump is running for the presidency of an America that no longer exists.

Trump in recent weeks has repeatedly reprised two of Richard Nixon’s most memorable rallying cries, promising to deliver “law and order” for the “silent majority.” But in almost every meaningful way, America today is a radically different country than it was when Nixon rode those arguments to win the presidency in 1968 amid widespread anti-war protests, massive civil unrest following the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr., white flight from major cities, and rising crime rates. Trump’s attempt to emulate that strategy may only prove how much the country has changed since it succeeded.

Americans today are far more racially diverse, less Christian, better educated, more urbanized, and less likely to be married. In polls, they are more tolerant of interracial and same-sex relationships, more likely to acknowledge the existence of racial discrimination, and less concerned about crime.

Almost all of these changes complicate Trump’s task in trying to rally a winning electoral coalition behind his alarms against marauding “angry mobs,” “far-left fascism,” and “the violent mayhem we have seen in the streets of cities that are run by liberal Democrats.” The Americans he is targeting with his messages of racial resentment and cultural backlash are uniformly a smaller share of American society now than they were then…

From the 2016 GOP primaries forward, white voters without a college education have provided Trump’s largest group of loyalists. In the 1968 presidential election, that group comprised nearly 80 percent of all voters, according to post-election surveys by both the Census Bureau and the University of Michigan’s American National Election Studies. White Americans holding at least a four-year college degree represented about 15 percent of voters, with nonwhite Americans, almost all of them Black, comprising the remainder, at just under 10 percent. (The Emory University political scientist Alan Abramowitz analyzed the ANES data for me.)

That electorate is unrecognizable now. The nonpartisan States of Change project has forecast that non-college-educated white Americans will likely constitute 42 percent of voters in November, slightly more than half their share in 1968. States of Change anticipates that both college-educated white voters and voters of color will represent about 30 percent of voters in 2020. For the former group, that’s about twice their share in 1968; for the latter, that’s somewhere between a three- and fourfold increase…

Across all of these dimensions, the consistent pattern is this: The groups Trump hopes to mobilize—non-college-educated, nonurban, married, and Christian white voters—have significantly shrunk as a share of the overall society in the past 50 years. The groups most alienated from him include many of the ones that have grown over those decades: college-educated white people, people of color, seculars, singles, and residents of the large metro areas…

Those numbers won’t become any more favorable for Republicans in the years ahead: Although white Americans accounted for four-fifths of the nation’s total population growth from 1960 through 1968, the demographer William Frey noted in a recent report that all of the nation’s population growth since 2010 has been among people of color; the final 2020 Census, he concludes, will likely find that this has been the first decade ever when the absolute number of white people in the country declines. The shift in the nation’s religious composition is as unrelenting: Jones says that the share of adults in their 20s who identify as secular grew from 10 percent in 1986 to 20 percent in 1996 to nearly 40 percent in PRRI’s latest study. Only one-fourth of adults younger than 30 now identify as white Christians.

Trump hopes that reprising Nixon-style messages about disorder will allow him to mobilize massive margins and turnout among the white voters who feel threatened by these changes. But the country’s underlying evolution shows how narrow a path Trump has chosen. He is betting the Republican future on resurrecting a past that is dissolving before his eyes.

Trump has quadrupled down on white-resentment politics.  That pulled off a razor-thin win due to the absurdity of the electoral college (and a little help from James Comey) in 2016, but this will, hopefully, prove a disastrous strategy for the GOP in 2020 and beyond.  

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