Archive

November 12th, 2016

What does President Trump mean for feminists?

    I'm a feminist writer. I am inundated with sexist harassment and political ugliness more or less constantly; I know that the history of women's progress in the United States has been uneven, and often marked with big setbacks just as we were on the precipice of real change.

    This, though, I did not predict.

    I'm writing from my current, and I assumed temporary, home in Nairobi, but now I wonder whether the United States - this United States, the one that just elected Donald Trump - is one to which I want to return. That sounds melodramatic. But what a clear statement of what so many of my countrymen (and the people who put Trump in power are mostly men) value: white male supremacy above all, especially over female ambition, intelligence and basic competence.

    Still, abandoning the playing field is not an option. It's hard to think about tomorrow when today is so crushingly awful. Take a day: hug your kids, drink your wine, punch a pillow, go for a run. Then let's get to work.

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What a President Trump means for foreign policy

    Donald Trump is the president-elect of the United States. Among many other things, this means he will take charge of U.S. foreign policy. Trump will not manage foreign policy alone, but presidents have a lot of power nonetheless. Here are three things we know about leaders, advisers and foreign policy.

    Leaders' beliefs matter, and they tend not to change

    It is now well-established in research on international relations and foreign policy that leaders' beliefs matter. My own book found that leaders' beliefs about the nature of threats had important implications for when and how they decide to use military force. I also found that leaders' beliefs are very stable over time. They tend to be formed before presidents take office and then leaders view the events and crises of their tenure through the lens of these beliefs. This is consistent with a long tradition of research on how beliefs and ideas matter.

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We’re Near the Breaking Point

    I think it’s appropriate that the last words on this campaign and the first words for our new president go to an immigrant. They’re from my friend Lesley Goldwasser, who came 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.”

    I’ve thought of Lesley’s remark often in recent weeks, because for the last decades we’ve seen people deliberately trashing our institutions and eroding the foundations of trust that are the bedrock of American democracy. They did so with the seeming assumption that the American system is indeed a football we can kick around endlessly to advance one’s political career or, worse, make money, and it will always bounce back.

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November 11th

Reflections from a progressive on what just happened and what it means

    Some of us woke up to an America that was hard for us to recognize. That's surely because we are an even more divided country than I thought, but it's also because we, or at least I, don't adequately understand what motivates so many people to make what I see as such a reckless choice.

    Though there are many numbers still to be parsed, a few early observations suggest how the upset occurred.

    First, while the polls broadly failed to pick up the extent of Trump's support, the result also reminds one how important it is to understand basic probability, something we humans are not hard-wired to do. My take from the poll aggregators, such as the Upshot or 538, was that going into Tuesday night, Trump had something between a 15 and 30 percent chance of winning. Well, occurrences with those odds happen not infrequently.

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U.S. Constitution is built to protect the losers

    It's all about the Constitution now. Republicans will control the White House and both chambers of Congress. They will be able to pass -- or repeal -- their preferred laws, because that's democracy. But to the Donald Trump opponents worried about what his presidency will bring, know this: There will still be limits to congressional or executive action, limits dictated by the Constitution and enforceable by the courts. The Constitution is designed to resist the tyranny of the majority. James Madison's machine of constitutional protection is about to kick into gear.

    The Bill of Rights and the principle of equal protection give the main limits on government action, but the list of enumerated rights alone doesn't capture the purpose of the system. Most crucially, free speech and equal protection are supposed to preserve the capacity of electoral losers -- Democrats this time around -- to continue to participate in government.

    That means Trump and the Republican Party can't stop their political opponents from expressing their views. They can't jail opponents in violation of habeas corpus. And they can't adopt laws that discriminate on the basis of race or sex or religion or national origin.

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Trump's guide to team building is his instinct

    Most new Republican administrations are filled with experienced hands from a previous government -- a few governors and members of Congress, a prominent corporate chief executive or two. That's not likely with Donald Trump; look instead for fellow deal-makers, political pals and fervent early supporters.

    More than any modern president, Trump doesn't come from the party establishment and owes it nothing. Some conservative think tanks will rush to fill the void, but with limited interest in policy, Trump is likely to continue to rely on instinct.

    That's what led to his upset victory and is likely to be the model for assembling an administration.

    Trump has already signaled his intention to name Steve Mnuchin, his chief fundraiser and a former Goldman Sachs executive, as Treasury secretary. He was one of a smattering of Wall Streeters to support Trump; he has no Washington background.

    The New York billionaire has talked openly about tapping fellow deal-makers Carl Icahn and Wilbur Ross for prominent roles in his administration.

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Trump’s Alarming Success

    Just days ago I was in Ohio. I was talking to Republicans, and this was the refrain I kept hearing: Donald Trump is throwing this election away. He has no real campaign here. No get-out-the-vote operation. No ground game. Nothing that signifies or befits a truly serious presidential candidate.

    These Republicans thought that he’d win the state — barely. But they didn’t think that he could snatch victories in some of the other places that he did on Tuesday, or draw so close to Hillary Clinton elsewhere, or compete so tightly in the election overall. It was done, over, finished.

    She had the best experts that money could buy, the most sophisticated data operation that the smartest wonks could put together and the dutiful troops who went door to door, handing out “Stronger Together” literature and pleading her case.

    He had his hair and his ego.

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Trump won because college-educated Americans are out of touch

    As the reality of President-elect Donald Trump settled in very early Wednesday morning, MSNBC's Chris Hayes summed up an explanation common to many on the left: The Republican nominee pulled ahead thanks to old-fashioned American racism.

    But the attempt to make Trump's victory about racism appears to be at odds with what actually happened on Election Day. Consider the following facts.

    Twenty-nine percent of Latinos voted for Trump , per exit polls. Remarkably, despite the near-ubiquitous narrative that Trump would have deep problems with this demographic given his comments and position on immigration, this was a higher percentage of those who voted for GOP nominee Mitt Romney in 2012. Meanwhile, African Americans did not turn out to vote against Trump . In fact, Trump received a higher percentage of African American votes than Romney did.

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Trump delivers a shock heard round the world

    It was like a rerun of the scene in the movie "Network" when television newscaster Howard Beale called on viewers to go to their windows, open them and shout, "I'm mad as hell and I'm not going to take this anymore!"

    For Democrats, it also was like what Democratic Congressman Morris Udall said in 1976 upon losing his party's presidential nomination: "The people have spoken -- the bastards!"

    Donald Trump's capture of the presidency, along with the Republican Party's majority retention of both houses of Congress, is a resounding protest against a federal government perceived as dysfunctional and irresponsive to an angry and frustrated American citizenry.

    It was a cry of antagonism and rancor so strong that collectively it overcame Trump's personal crudity, brutality, boorishness and, yes, demonstrable unfitness for leading the nation in a time of domestic and global turmoil.

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The world as we know it 'is crumbling before our eyes'

    Even before the final votes were counted Tuesday night, the United States' closest allies struggled to come to terms with an American election that delivered the presidency to Donald Trump, a political outlier who challenged the global political order that has defined the era after the Second World War.

    The world as we know it "is crumbling before our eyes," Gerard Araud, France's ambassador to the United States, wrote Tuesday night on Twitter, citing the double whammy of Britain's exit from the European Union and America's sharp turn toward isolationist populism.

    "It is an end of an era, that of neoliberalism. It remains to be seen what will succeed it," Araud tweeted in the first flush of the shock results. He later deleted the tweets.

    In the immediate aftermath, leaders of friendly countries from Canada to South Korea issued formal congratulations to the winner and highlighted their hopes of continuing their traditional alliances, many of which Trump called into question during the campaign.

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