Archive

November 10th, 2016

Demography slays the Democrats here and now

    The Democrats' coalition of the ascendant did not ascend. Hispanic voters did not overwhelm. Black voters did not deliver. Rural and working-class whites abandoned the party in droves.

    The Democratic Party is dependent on the presidency. Without it, the multi-racial, multi-class, water-hugging, tree-hugging party of the 21st century will enter 2017 obliterated, clinging to California as a government in exile as Washington falls to a political opponent that no longer looks like the Republican Party of even 2014, and may prove to be something American democracy has never seen.

    Without the executive branch, or one side of Congress, Democrats are stranded, with no probable path to power before the next presidential race. (Their 2018 Senate prospects are grim.) Who knows what Trumpism will produce by then?

    American institutions, Wall Street and corporations are in a nervous fit now; the markets are revolting. But they can be soothed, part way at least, with the right words, and as president Donald Trump would know enough to murmur them. Business will defend itself, but won't defend Democrats.

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Deciphering Trumponomics, Preface and Chapter One

    What will the Donald Trump presidency look like in economic terms? Here are my best guesses.

    On immigration, the final result might be more sensible than Trump's rhetoric has indicated to date. Trump will have to deliver something to his supporters, and I think he will find mass deportation of some 11 million illegal immigrants to be impractical and unpopular. So he'll start building a wall on the border with Mexico, an expensive and alienating idea.

    But Trump also has signaled that he would consider allowing more high-skilled immigration. Since he is unlikely to finish building the wall, or to make the wall effective, this may be one way of getting to where immigration policy should be, albeit with significant national embarrassment along the way.

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Blame Cable News For Overdramatized Election

    As the national political melodrama drew near its end, a sometime email correspondent in Texas worried about my safety. An uxorious older gentleman with a love of horses and a weakness for conspiracy theories, he was always puzzled and often angered by my apostasy.

    "Being down there in Arkansas," he warned, "you may not like the way Trump's supporters respond if they've been reading your columns."

    I answered that while I've been making my views clear for decades, "I've never even had anybody speak to me rudely about it."

    The rural county I called home for the past nine years has no stoplights, and lots more cows than people. It voted two to one for Mitt Romney in 2008, and doubtless favored Trump too. (Although not the African-American precincts around our place.) But it's considered rude to argue about politics or religion. People just don't do it. I had neighbors and friends I spoke with regularly whose political views I could only guess at.

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Being a Muslim in Trump's America is frightening. Here's what we can do in response.

    In the seismic aftermath of the 2016 presidential election, there is only silver lining for millions of women, African Americans, Hispanics, people with disabilities and 7 million American Muslims like me. Now, every minority demographic group in the United States must now feel a sense of collective urgency to mobilize together for the future of our multicultural society based on what we witnessed during this presidential election.

    In addition to his blatant misogyny and anti-immigrant xenophobia during his presidential campaign, we have also seen Donald Trump's political campaign successfully normalize Islamophobia as part of the current national Republican Party platform as it exists today.

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A prayer for America

    On Saturdays in synagogues across the United States, Jews recite a prayer for our country. In my synagogue, the custom is that the congregation stands, and says the prayer in unison.

    Our God and God of our ancestors: We ask Your blessings for our country -- for its government, for its leaders and advisers, and for all who exercise just and rightful authority. Teach then insights from Your Torah that they may administer all affairs of state fairly, that peace and security, happiness and prosperity, justice and freedom may forever abide in our midst.

    Until Donald Trump's run for the presidency, this moment in the liturgy felt like boilerplate. It was a nice expression of patriotism; certainly, in the edgy days after Sept. 11, our country felt in need of joint and fervent prayer. But its exhortations to justice and tolerance seemed superfluous. No one could disagree with them.

    Until Trump, and Trump's divisive rhetoric, upended the assumption that politicians of both parties share an essential platform of agreement on matters of basic decency, of respect for those of other religions and backgrounds.

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A night of protest and rust

    Oxidation happens when elements cause metals to corrode. The color of oxidation is red.

    Tuesday night was a red night, but not the Election-Night red of previous presidential races. It was the orange-ish red of a loud outsider who has a mandate today that nobody knows, most particularly the Electoral College victor.

    It was an evening of protest and rust – the protest against what has been, the rust of a frustrated heartland.

    The hue that won Tuesday night was that of hands rubbed raw from waiting for something to happen in Washington.

    Something has happened, the result of which nobody knows, most particularly the president-elect.

    Here’s what we know: Stagnation is not good politics. The Democrats didn’t offer the solution to stagnation that a plurality of Americans wanted to hear.

    Hillary Clinton has served her country well, and with extreme dignity. But she carried a brand that lost its appeal on the consignment rack.

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A call to action for journalists in covering President Trump

    One thing is certain in the presumptive era of President Trump. Journalists are going to have to be better - stronger, more courageous, stiffer-spined - than they've ever been.

    Donald Trump made hatred of the media the centerpiece of his campaign. Journalists were just cogs in a corporate machine, part of the rigged system. If many Americans distrusted us in the past, they came to actively hate us.

    His threats to change the laws that protect the press resonated with people who felt that the media is a protected class that gets away with far too much - those who cheered at Gawker being put out of business.

    What we can't do is buckle. What we can't do is slink off and hope someone else will take care of it.

    We have to keep doing our jobs of truth-telling, challenging power and holding those in power accountable - as the best journalists did during the campaign itself.

    We have to be willing to fight back.

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The responsibilities of opposition

    All Americans who are alarmed, angry and disheartened that a large minority of our fellow citizens made Donald Trump the president-elect must quickly learn to distinguish between blame and responsibility.

    I freely admit that my own list of those who deserve to be held accountable is long. It includes Vladimir Putin, who intervened shamelessly in our internal affairs, and FBI Director James Comey who, apparently under pressure from politicized bureau agents, changed the trajectory of the campaign and helped accomplish what the former KGB operative could not have achieved on his own.

    I blame Republican leaders who knew better but nonetheless aligned themselves with Trump. I blame a media that created an outlandishly false equivalence between Hillary Clinton's sins and the corruption of her opponent. And then there is our foolish and antiquated Electoral College system: For the second time in 16 years, the candidate for whom a plurality of Americans voted will not become president.

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November 8th

Election Day is a turning point for Supreme Court

    Lots of people who don't otherwise care for Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton say they're going to vote Tuesday based on which presidential candidate will be best for the Supreme Court. With the hours ticking away, it's worth running through the three most plausible scenarios to see what the election outcome will mean for the court.

    Most desirable for liberals will be if Clinton wins the White House and gets a Democratic majority in the U.S. Senate. If that happens, the lame-duck Republican Senate might or might not confirm the relatively moderate Judge Merrick Garland, President Barack Obama's nominee to fill Justice Antonin Scalia's seat. It will depend on what prevails: senators' strategic interests in keeping the court's judicial ideology as conservative as possible, or senators' individual interests in preventing future primary challenges from the right. It's perverse, but a Democratic Senate means Republican senators will know that they can wait until January to vote against any and all Clinton judicial appointees and still lose. That protects them from the criticism that they approved a nominee who will at least sometimes cast liberal votes.

What really makes America great

    As the most frightening election of my lifetime draws to a close, I find myself thinking of a teenager I met many years ago in Siberia who was moved to tears after sitting for an exam to win a U.S.- sponsored study trip to the United States.

    She didn't yet know whether she had won or lost - but it was the first time she had ever felt she was competing for something on her merits, where bribes or connections to people in power would have no effect. That alone made her grateful and admiring of the United States.

    She was seeing what, to me, is the real America.

    I find myself thinking, too, of the many U.S. Foreign Service officers I met during that same phase of my life, when I was working for The Post as a foreign correspondent. They didn't live glamorous lives, these young and not-so-young diplomats, and they didn't get much glory. They became fluent in the local language in Dushanbe or Seoul or Yerevan, and they spent long days and nights meeting local politicians and activists and artists, writing cables that might or might not get read back in Washington, doing their best to understand other cultures and explain ours.