Archive

November 17th, 2016

Identity politics couldn't clinch a Clinton win

    Many Democrats have believed that a coalition of minorities, millennials and single women would help create a new Democratic majority for years to come. Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign was counting on it.

    But the "rising American electorate," as it's called, failed to carry Clinton across the finish line. It didn't even come close. According to national exit polls, among Latino voters she fell six points from President Barack Obama's numbers in 2012; she dropped five points each among 18-to-29-year-olds, unmarried women and African Americans. Together, these groups made up the same percentage of the electorate in 2016 as they had in 2012. Some of the battleground-state figures are even more striking. In Ohio, Clinton was 13 points behind Obama among 18-to-29-year-olds. In New Mexico, she fell 11 points among Latinos.

    Why did the Democrats' strategy fail so miserably? Ultimately, because they overestimated the strength of a coalition based on identity politics.

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I said Clinton was in trouble with Michigan voters. My fellow Democrats didn't listen.

    I was the crazy one. I predicted that Hillary Clinton was in trouble in Michigan during the Democratic primary. I observed that Donald Trump could win the Republican nomination for president. And at Rotary clubs, local chambers of commerce, union halls and mosques, I noted that we could see a Trump presidency. "That's Debbie, it's hyperbole, she is nuts."

    It's now our reality, and as Americans we need to understand why. My district reflects much of this country's diversity. Ann Arbor is a university- and start-up town. Ypsilanti is urban, and its issues mirror those of larger cities such as Detroit and Chicago. Dearborn is headquarters to Ford Motor Co. and has the largest Muslim population in the country. The "Downrivers" - a collection of communities south of Detroit - mean auto plants and manufacturing with strong union membership.

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Five myths about democracy

    Democracy is one of the most cherished features of our nation. But we have many misconceptions about what it is, how much of it we have, how it works and what place it occupies in history. Perhaps more than at any time in recent American history, democracy is now a subject of debate , as populist movements abroad and at home cause many to question the nature of the rule of the many. The United States has just finished one of the most divisive elections in recent history, and there is no sign yet that consensus is on the way. While we ponder last week's election, there are certain facts about democracies at large that are worth considering.

 

Myth No. 1: Voters are selfish.

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Dumb elites face the revenge of the deplorables

   President Trump. A handful of syllables still hard to get one's mind around. How on earth did this happen?

    There's no single reason. Any number of factors were involved, and it wouldn't have taken much for things to have turned out differently. If the Republican Party had been slightly less willing to be stolen by a populist demagogue; if James Comey and the Federal Bureau of Investigation hadn't waded in (twice) so clumsily; if Wikileaks hadn't supplied a constant stream of reminders about the hypocrisy and venality of the professional political class; if the professional political class had been a bit less hypocritical and venal in the first place; if any of these things and who knows what else had been different, then Trump the outrageous outsider might have lost.

    Still, two things seem to loom large. First, that Hillary Clinton was an objectively bad candidate. Second, that having chosen so poorly, Democrats came up with yet more ways to repel a large segment of the electorate. If I'd been asked to advise them on how to lose an election to a manifestly unqualified opponent, I'm not sure I could have been much help: They had it covered.

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Donald Trump, taste and the cultural elite

    It's said that taste defines us. The music I like lets you know, to some degree, what kind of person I am. Yet though this year's presidential election has raised issues of racism, sexism and classism, not much has been said about taste, and the role it may or may not have played in getting Donald Trump to the White House.

    There's a vast and obvious disparity between Trump and many of the people who most passionately supported him. Trump somehow became the candidate of the working man - the good ol' boys, the gun lobby, the Rust Belt worker, the downtrodden - even though he is patently none of these things. Indeed, with his slick penthouse and expensive suits and private jets with gold-plated seatbelt buckles, he is the very opposite.

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November 16th

Someone must speak truth to power

    Dear Republican national security expert:

    Like dozens of other prominent GOP national security leaders, you may have publicly opposed Donald Trump's presidential campaign in harsh terms. (Or perhaps you found him appalling but kept your views to yourself.) Now that he will be moving into the White House, however, you must serve in a Trump administration if given the opportunity.

    A president as seriously deficient in knowledge, experience and temperament as Trump is going to need a lot of help, and he will need it from the A-Team. Most national political figures have established ideas about policy and also know many individuals who are qualified and prepared to people their administrations. Given his demagoguery, inconsistency and changeability, Trump lacks a fixed agenda. He's all style, no substance - a tabula rasa.

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Democrats, it's time to engage the dealmaker in Trump

    Okay, Democrats. You can sit around complaining about pollsters and the electoral college and blue-collar voters who've been duped into voting against their own economic interests. You can sit back for two years and let Trump and the Tea Party play out their fantasies and let the world see how badly that turns out. Or you can turn lemons into lemonade by moving quickly to give Trump the chance to do the one thing he loves most: make a deal.

    The deal I have in mind takes a page from both Jack Kemp and President Barack Obama as well as Trump's own agenda - corporate tax breaks in exchange for job creation and infrastructure investment. It might unfold this way:

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America Elects a Bigot

    Donald J. Trump is president-elect of the United States. Now there’s a sentence I never thought I’d write.

    Against all odds and against all forms of the establishment, he prevailed. He won, legitimately, including in many states that were thought to be safely blue. The pundits and the polls were wrong. There was more pent-up hunger for change — and also racial, ethnic and economic angst — than many models considered.

    Trump will become this country’s 45th president. For me, it is a truly shocking fact, a bitter pill to swallow. I remain convinced that this is one of the worst possible people who could be elected president. I remain convinced that Trump has a fundamentally flawed character and is literally dangerous for world stability and injurious to America’s standing in that world.

    There is so much that I can’t fully comprehend.

    It is hard to know specifically how to position yourself in a country that can elect a man with such staggering ineptitude and open animus. It makes you doubt whatever faith you had in the country itself.

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What Trump's victory tells boys everywhere

    Donald Trump's victory speech, loosely paraphrased:

    Barron, my boy, this is quite expected.

    There was never going to be any other outcome. I knew: All I had to do was want it.

    Son, never let anyone tell you that your dream is impossible. Never let them tell you that the white Christian son of a millionaire cannot grow up to be the next president of the United States! In fact, we are practically the only ones who ever have! (Legitimately, that is.)

    Listen, this is America. This is a land of dreamers, and you can dream big.

    People always tell you that all you have to do is work hard and believe in yourself, and you can accomplish anything. That's a lie. You don't have to work hard.

    You don't need to study or prepare or even read a single book. If you want to, you can read "All Quiet on the Western Front," but you don't even have to do that! It's not important. All you have to do is BELIEVE! This also makes a great substitute for vaccines.

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U.S. liberals should take comfort from the rest of us

    Welcome, American liberals. Welcome to the special torment of discovering that you do not know your country.

    You thought, no doubt, you were exempt -- immune from the shocks that liberals throughout the world have felt in recent years. And I can understand why: Because while you have suffered defeats at the hands of Reagan and the Bushes, and it seemed at times like your country would bend back the arc of history, it never really did.

    But this time, you know, is different. This is a different sort of defeat, and a different sort of victor. You, too, have lost to an authoritarian populist, a man who sees himself as the only answer. And you can find no handle with which to criticize him, for the weapons of reason and ridicule and horror that have always worked before seem to have been rendered useless and impotent.

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