@drvox ‘s Review of Trump’s Rise: Part Good Take, Part Shitty Take

Here’s the piece:


What @drvox gets right:

I still think the primary problem in American politics today is the intersection of three trends: 1) Rural and suburban white men resent recent economic and demographic changes; 2) their rebellion against those changes, combined with political institutions distorted to favor rural and suburban voters, has created a dangerously radical major party mixing xenophobic authoritarianism and libertarianism; and 3) trust in American institutions, from media to political parties to academia, has declined for decades and is now in the dirt.

Note, though, he’s only condemning the symptoms of the problems as problems. Not the actual problems, which is the economic and demographic changes and institutions spending all their political capital in pursuit of self-destruction.


What I haven’t seen are nearly as many tender profiles of working-class black families in cities. I didn’t read as much about second-generation Latinos struggling to pay for college. There weren’t a ton of thumbsuckers on single mothers in the Atlanta suburbs, Muslim families in Dearborn, Michigan, or seasonal farm workers in California. (This stellar New York Times piece on Latina hotel workers was a welcome exception.)

-There really needed to be more profiles of Clinton voters during the primary, especially so that those White voters residing in the northern U.S. born after 1980 (like me) can understand why anyone voted for HRC in 2016’s primary. I. Still. Don’t.


It’s called “priming” — when you remind white people that they are white people, by drawing attention to other groups, their racial consciousness rises. They become more sensitive to in-group/out-group dynamics.

-True. Being a cuck is hard.

4. “And whatever else you can name. The Electoral College turned on a 107,000-vote margin. All of it mattered. If you’re prone to haunting, crippling regret (luckily I don’t know anyone like that), that’s where you should focus your energy.”


5. “But America today is still the America we all knew on November 7: a nation almost evenly divided, with a slight popular vote lean toward Democrats and a somewhat heavier geographic lean toward Republicans.”


6. “Clinton got the second-highest number of votes of any presidential candidate in history. Trump, who got 2.4 million fewer votes, won the 44th biggest Electoral College victory in history (out of 54 elections).

But he’s president. Life is funny.”

-Yup. Hillary Clinton won Her constituency. So did David Duke in Louisiana’s gubernatorial election.

7. “To begin, I should acknowledge just how wrong I was about this election. I never once questioned my confident prediction that Donald Trump would never become president. “Just because Trump makes no sense doesn’t mean common sense has become worthless,” I wrote after Trump won some early primaries. “One black swan does not foretell a flock of black swans.” (Yeah. About that.)

I was overconfident, even more so than most in media. US political and media institutions were just as unprepared for this result as UK elites were for the Brexit vote — but at least UK elites hadn’t already witnessed the Brexit vote. Almost no one really thought it could happen here, even after we watched it happen there.”

-Three cheers.

8. “In one sense, that’s legitimate. I didn’t think my country would elect a crass, xenophobic accused sexual abuser and scam artist for president either.”


9. “Trump will almost certainly attempt to govern as though he has a “mandate” (one of the more meaningless notions in politics). Governing institutions and policy are sure to make a sharp turn to the right.”

-This is undeniable.

10. “In broad strokes, over some time horizon, this story is probably true. But the road to that victory is a lot longer and rougher than the left has been telling itself, and the vaunted “blue wall” is a fairy tale. In the short term, demographic shifts are actually screwing the Dems at the presidential level.

As Liam Donovan explains, according to exit polls, Trump only got 1 percent more of the white vote than Romney got. But there was a big shift in which whites he got. Relative to Romney, Trump was down 10 points among whites with college degrees, but up 14 points among non-college whites (the stand-in for the myth-encrusted white working class, or WWC).”


11. “As political scientist John Sides notes, the outcome of the election was, after all the Sturm und Drang, roughly what the pre-election models predicted. Those models are based on the much-bruited “fundamentals” — things like the rate of economic growth, the president’s approval rating, and the generally grim prospects of a party that’s been in office for two terms (“desire for change”).

It was based on models like these that Vox built its “Trump tax calculator,” which purported to show how far Trump was trailing what would be expected of a generic Republican.”


12. “The more the country urbanizes and the white share of the vote shrinks, the more non-urban white becomes a distinct identity. And all evidence points to the fact that voters do not make decisions based on “issues” or ideology, but on identity. We are tribal creatures.”

-The evidence seems consistent with this.

13. “In retrospect, the 2016 election has rendered every venal, norm-breaking move by Republicans under Obama — from obstructionism during the economic recovery to government shutdowns to refusing to confirm Merrick Garland — politically astute. It turns out Mitch McConnell and Paul Ryan played it exactly right by hiding in a bunker while Trump insulted Gold Star families.”


14. “But that feeling? That gut sense that “it’s going to be okay”? I no longer trust that feeling. At all.”

-Good. It was never true in the first place.

15. “Second, it’s clear Democrats need to focus on doing identity politics right, rather than waiting for demographics to do the work for them. That means developing identities that cut across demographic barriers, sensitive to difference but rooted in inclusive values and broad-based economic prosperity. (Again, read Bouie.)”


16. “What the fuck just happened? Things got very, very real. It’s time for everyone to do better.”


What he gets wrong:


It’s possible that white nationalism is an ineradicable element of American life.

Bullshit. “White nationalism” is not a force in American politics, and has never been an especially powerful one. Trump’s final two-minute ad had three non-Whites in it right from the beginning.

Frankly, that offended me, since I’m tired of seeing members of groups the vast majority of individuals in which will never vote Republican being vastly overrepresented among Republican messaging, while the GOP base is ignored. Southern racists have been consistently Republican in their presidential voting patterns since Reagan, due to Democratic racial nuttiness in the 1980s. Goldwater lost in a landslide. The U.S. elected only two Democratic presidents between the Civil War and Great Depression. And so on.

Note the “White working-class” Obama-Trump areas and “elite” Romney-Hillary areas. These absolute scum among the elite liked Goldwater, who openly welcomed segregationists into the Republican party, more than Trump. I wonder why.

@drvox neglects these facts: more Blacks voted for Trump than for Romney. More Hispanics voted for Trump than for Romney. Fewer Muslims voted for Clinton than for Obama (Indians, Native Americans, and Muslims, unlike Blacks and Hispanics, went for Bernie in the primary). Trump’s message was, unlike Senator Goldwater’s, cross-racial.

2. “The way to do that is not primarily with “messaging” but with institution building”.

-Just the opposite. Trump had no institutions behind him, other than the GOPe (and even here, there was the greatest amount of party disunity since Goldwater). He won by messaging.

3. @drvox ‘s ideology blinds him to this simple fact: Blacks have never built a first-world country when acting on their own devices. They never will. Race, in America and throughout the world, is real. Racism in America is mostly (not entirely) pure fiction. Disparate mean racial outcomes are mostly products of innate ability.


Meanwhile, studies show that “implicit bias” — subconscious negative stereotypes about particular races and genders — is ubiquitous, even among people who would never consciously espouse discrimination.

-Studies also show that “implicit bias” vastly overpredicts actual discrminatory behavior.


It’s pretty silly to say that the WWC chose Trump over Clinton on policy grounds when they never heard a thing about her policies (and very little about his). The source of his appeal lay elsewhere. Hmm …

-Mostly bullshit. Her policies were basically irrelevant if she couldn’t get any of them through Paul Ryan. So one would have to concentrate on foreign policy and the Supreme Court, where Trump doubtlessly excelled.


As Michelle Goldberg wrote in a righteous piece on this subject, “We should pay Trump voters the courtesy of assuming that at least some of them knew what they were doing when they opted for the politics of cultural revenge delivered by a billionaire in a gold-plated airplane.”

-All voters were White in 1828. John Q. Adams still lost.

7. “(Fun fact: White people in the US used to identify as Poles, Germans, Russians, etc., not “white people.”)”

-Fun fact: they still do. Poles, Italians, Irish, and Russians were especially likely to be Obama/Trump voters. Jews (especially those whose ancestors arrived before 1920) were especially likely to be Romney/Clinton voters.

8. “So Trump did not appeal to “the working class.” Even among the white working class, he only really dominated in the South. His appeal was to low-education whites, not to any particular economic class.”

-This is looking at the average Republican voter in this election when the marginal one should be looked at.

9. “On that subject, I recommend this piece from Zack Beauchamp and this tweetstorm from T.R. Ramachandran:”

-This is why you lose.

10. “There isn’t a ton of evidence that an economically populist message — divorced of appeals to xenophobia or white resentment — moves the WWC.”

-LBJ. Bill Clinton.

11. “In two of those crucial Midwestern states that flipped to Trump, Democratic Senate candidates [Russ Feingold and Ted Strickland] campaigned on economically populist platforms — but they did notably worse than Hillary Clinton.”

-Their greatest underperformance relative to Hillary Clinton was in the most elite regions of these states. As the non-college White percentage of the vote increased, the more the Dem Senate vote converged with and (sometimes) surpassed HRC.

12. “It has never, in my memory, led to more social democratic welfare policies.”

-That’s right, folks: Medicare, Food Stamps, and Medicaid don’t exist. There is no entitlements crisis. The War on Poverty never happened. After all, Goldwater won, and won easily among the White Working Class. How shockingly stupid is this guy?

13. “Partisanship has been revealed as the strongest force in US public life — stronger than any norms, independent of any facts.”

-Wrong. Straight-ticket voting was unusually strong in this election. Consistent partisanship from election to election, not so much, especially for this party system. #NeverTrump Republicans and #NeverHillary Berniecrats were in abundance in every state in the Union. Chester County, PA swang away from the GOP on all levels. Luzerne swung toward it on all levels.

14. “That’s one way of looking at it. Another is that the American chattering classes have once again underestimated the sheer tidal force of polarization — or more accurately, “negative partisanship,” a loathing of the other side — in American life.”

-As though the candidates don’t shape partisanship. Fact: Bernie would not have been seen as a Goldman stooge, and the county-by-county swing would have been quite different had he ran both up and down the ballot.

15. “The GOP came home.”

-Orange fucking County in fucking California went for fucking Crooked Hillary by seven fucking points (while re-electing all their GOP representatives, though by a smaller margin than in 2012!). Fact is, people’s opinions about the candidates on November 8 were almost entirely the same as they were in May 2016. There wasn’t as great party disunity as in 1964 or 1972. But that’s a statement that can be made about any election of this GOP-always-wins-majority-of-counties party system. And this bad take badly contradicts the correct point above (True Point #10), that there were large changes in partisanship within the White vote this election cycle.

16. “One thing is clear: America’s archaic, unjust, racist Electoral College belongs on the ash heap of history.”

-This is a bad take.

17. “With Trump at the helm of foreign policy — temperamental and easily provoked, the only world leader who denies the threat of climate change — there are long-tail risks almost too terrible to contemplate.”

-This is a ridiculous take, given the candidates’ statements.

18. “This Vogue profile of Michelle Obama — the most decent human being in American public life, someone who’s done much to inspire young women with her example — is the one thing I’ve been physically unable to finish.)”


19. “Not the election of a xenophobic klepto-fascist. Not the surge of race-based hate crimes after the election. Not the appointment of Steve Bannon, who has spent years mainstreaming white nationalism, to a key position in the next administration.”

-This is a stupid take.

20. “My basic political Weltanschauung has not changed. I still think the American ideal of multiethnic social democracy is worth pursuing, and worth defending from illiberalism in all its guises.”

-This is isn’t so. And, even if it was so, it oughtn’t be.

21. “(It’s only us white guys who got to feel it anyway.)”

-The polls say Blacks and Hispanics have, on average, less self-reported economic anxiety about the future than Whites.


Party Registration Dies Hard

Oklahoma has historically had a super-closed Republican primary, and has been as safe a Republican state as one could get since 1952. Yet, Republicans only exceeded Democrats in party registration there at some point in 2014. In 1960, 82% of its voters were registered Democrats. Not even FDR in 1932 ever got over 75% of Oklahoma’s vote. Only one Democratic House candidate in 1932 got higher than 82% of the vote (and the district he represented almost certainly had an even higher proportion of registered Democrats). So far as I can tell, the lopsided Democratic registration advantage was due to the primary once being tantamount to election for many local offices, thus resulting in the Oklahoma Democrats not being an organized political party until after the Gingrich revolution.

Lesson: elections are one thing. Party registration is quite another.

Saturday Assorted Links

1. Fake news

2. Australian government stops donating to the Clinton Foundation

3. Jane’s Law: Devotees of the party in power get smug. Devotees of the party out of power go nuts.

4. Connecticut’s swing (by town)

5. Raw vote swing by county

6. DeVos uses a bit of (true) Israeli archeological trivia as an analogy for MI public schools. Note: Amash favors DeVos, so she’s probably OK. I was not impressed by the pick originally, though.

7. 1946 gives us three presidents

8. Over 70% of Clinton’s ads were about Trump’s character

9. The guys behind Carl Diggler explain how Clinton lost and they got it wrong

10. How is Mitt Romney a politician? #NeverMitt

Minnesota Was Such a Missed Opportunity

The GOP lost Minnesota’s first congressional district by 2549 votes, Minnesota’s eighth congressional district by 2011 votes, and Minnesota’s seventh district by 16621 votes. Very small margins, given that there are typically about three to four hundred thousand votes in a congressional district.

Had the RNC spent just a bit more money in Minnesota, or had Trump campaigned there a bit more with some representatives, Minnesota’s GOP could easily have gained at least two house seats.

The George W. Bush Revolution


I’m telling you, the 2000 election, the election which began Sailer’s famous marriage gap, led Whites without bachelor’s degrees to vote for the GOP nominee to a greater degree than ones with them while the GOP nominee lost the popular vote, and introduced the red state-blue state paradigm, was the beginning of the Seventh Party System, which continues to this day. And George W. Bush, despite the derision heaped against him, whether fairly or unfairly, was undoubtedly great at politics, at least, in the early years.