Archive

November 11th, 2016

Now it's Trump's America, but can he deliver?

    President-elect Trump?

    Well, whaddaya know. There really was a "hidden Trump vote" after all.

    For months almost every opinion poll had Democrat Hillary Clinton firmly holding onto her No. 1 position in the presidential race. No problem, said Republican Donald Trump's team, which claimed a "hidden vote": Trump voters who didn't want to admit their choice to pollsters.

    Preposterous thought. Numerous pollsters with sophisticated computers constantly belching out data, there was no way a hidden block of voters was eluding their scrutiny.

    Until President-elect Trump.

    Somewhere, I imagine, Mike Royko is smiling.

    The late Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist and champion of working stiffs in his beloved Chicago and elsewhere used to be so annoyed by political pollsters that in the early 1980s he urged his people to lie to them.

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No, Trump voters were not irrational

    Hillary Clinton's use of the word "deplorables" to refer to half of Trump's supporters has taken a familiar tone when it comes to election contests. Partisans often view the other side's voters as immoral, ignorant and irrational.

    While research tells us that humans are subject to any number of biases, shortcomings and prejudices, support for Trump - or Clinton - need not, and probably should not, be attributed to these sources. Instead, the patterns of support for the two major candidates reveal a public that tends, on average, to match their votes to a range of rational, competing interests.

    Some commentators, for example, wondered why white evangelical Christians supported Donald Trump despite his marital record and his remarks and alleged sexual assaults against women. Yet Trump nonetheless was clearly more likely than Clinton to advance the objectives typical of white evangelicals, including the appointment of pro-life federal judges.

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In Arizona, a Cautionary Tale for Trump

    He was Donald Trump before Trump — his political godfather. The racial profiling, the authoritarian streak, the robust defense of easily refutable lies — all are part of the repertoire of Sheriff Joe Arpaio of Maricopa County, Arizona.

    On Tuesday, the man who was emblematic — at least in the Southwest — of Trump’s attempt to hold back the demographic tide of the new America was resoundingly defeated. It was a vote for decency, for common sense, and no small amount of revenge from many of the victims of his strong-arm policies.

    After six terms as the chief lawman of the most populous county in Arizona, Arpaio was defeated by a former Phoenix police officer, Paul Penzone, a Democrat.

    “There’s a new sheriff in town,” Penzone said. You could say that time, and federal law, finally caught up with the 84-year-old sheriff. He’s been under court order to stop targeting Latinos. Last month, federal prosecutors charged him with criminal contempt for allegedly defying that court order.

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November 10th

Apocalypse now?

    In 1777, when Britain received words of the drubbing its forces had suffered at Saratoga to the American rebels, a friend of Adam Smith's exclaimed that "the nation was ruined." The wise philosopher calmly replied: "There is a great deal of ruin in a nation." That proposition is about to be put to the test by President-elect Donald Trump.

    Yes, I can barely believe that I am actually writing those words: "President Trump." I never thought he was remotely qualified for the highest office, and I never thought he would win. I was obviously wrong about the latter. Now I have to pray that I was wrong about the former.

    Nov. 9, 2016, is a dark, depressing day for me and for the slim popular majority of Americans who voted for Hillary Clinton. It is easy on a day like this to fall prey to one's worst fears. Is this the dark night of fascism descending on America? Maybe. Is this the triumph of white supremacists? Could be. Is this the end of NATO and the triumph of Vladimir Putin? Quite possibly. I admit that I am deeply worried that these cataclysmic scenarios could actually come to pass. This really could be Apocalypse Now.

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How Hillary Handles Pain

    Women, as Hillary Clinton showed Wednesday morning, know how to absorb pain. And Clinton has had plenty of practice about how to stand before the cameras after public humiliation.

    Clearly, she needed time to compose herself. She made no appearances overnight, instead calling Donald Trump to concede. But when she strode onstage in purple and gray, Bill Clinton behind her in a purple tie, her voice did not waver.

    Women seldom have the luxury of giving in to pain. Many have children or grandchildren or aging parents to tend, whether they themselves are sick or in emotional turmoil.

    So Clinton faced her despondent campaign staff and her despondent half of the country and tried to rally them. She spoke most directly to young people, and to women and girls. She had hoped to stand before them as a symbol of all that women could achieve. Now she had to demonstrate once again what women can endure.

    “I’ve had successes and setbacks, sometimes really painful ones,” she told them.

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Homeless in America

    I began election night writing a column that started with words from an immigrant, my friend Lesley Goldwasser, who came to America from Zimbabwe in the 1980s. Surveying our political scene a few years ago, Lesley remarked to me: “You Americans kick around your country like it’s a football. But it’s not a football. It’s a Fabergé egg. You can break it.”

    With Donald Trump now elected president, I have more fear than I’ve ever had in my 63 years that we could do just that — break our country, that we could become so irreparably divided that our national government will not function.

    From the moment Trump emerged as a candidate, I’ve taken seriously the possibility that he could win; this column never predicted otherwise, although it certainly wished for it. That doesn’t mean the reality of it is not shocking to me.

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Gritting Our Teeth and Giving President Trump a Chance

    Sure, if you’re in the approximately 52 percent majority of voters who supported someone other than Donald Trump, go ahead and mourn. When a former Ku Klux Klan leader like David Duke is giddily celebrating a political triumph for his values, how can we not ache for our own?

    Yet, like it or not, we Americans have a new president-elect, and it’s time to buck up. I’ve seen past elections that were regarded as the end of the world — including, in many Democratic circles, the Reagan triumph of 1980 — and the republic survived. This time as well, our institutions are stronger than any one man. We are not Weimar Germany.

    It was disgraceful that many Republicans eight years ago tried to make President Barack Obama fail. That’s not the path to emulate. Today, having lost, we owe it to our nation to grit our teeth and give President-elect Trump a chance.

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Done. Over. He's here. Goodbye.

    So he won. The nation takes a deep breath. Raw ego and proud illiteracy have won out and a severely learning-disabled man with a real character problem will be president. We are so exhausted from thinking about this election, millions of people will take up leaf-raking and garage cleaning with intense pleasure. We liberal elitists are wrecks. The Trumpers had a whale of a good time, waving their signs, jeering at the media, beating up protesters, chanting "Lock her up" -- we elitists just stood and clapped. Nobody chanted "Stronger Together." It just doesn't chant.

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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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