What Do Harry Styles and Ted Nugent Have in Common?

Rebecca:

I was going to let you have the last word on Harry Styles, class and gender.

But this happened.

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Yes. That’s Ted Nugent, Sarah Palin and Kid Rock flanking President Trump.

And the reaction was about what you’d expect.

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Now. I’m no fan of Nugent, who’s a racist, or Sarah Palin, who’s a dimwit. Kid Rock? Not really, though I’ve grooved to “I’m a Cowboy, Baby” once or twice in my time.

But man, the reactions went there in a hurry, didn’t they?

You wrote:

What constitutes “good taste”—which is definitely not boybands!—is defined by those with the most cultural capital, those who have not just the money but the education, leisure time, and access to difficult-to-access content. “Poor taste” isn’t just bad taste; it’s the taste of those with lower levels of cultural capital. This doesn’t align perfectly with economic class—Donald Trump eats his steaks well-done, with ketchup, proving that money can’t always buy good taste—but economic class opens up opportunities for cultural capital.

So here’s the thing about Donald Trump, as well as the Establishment that seems to disdain him so: I’m convinced that (with some exceptions) the Establishment disdains him not because of the godawful things he (seems to) believe and advocate, but because he’s a reality TV-starring, WWE-wrasslin’, KFC-eatin’ yokel.

He’s Jed Clampett. He’s Rodney Dangerfield in “Caddyshack.” He’s nouveu riche even though his riches aren’t all that nouveau.

This isn’t to discount all the ways Trump is genuinely awful. But his genius is seizing on the snobbery the Establishment has for the Stuff That Belongs to the Commoners and embracing it wholeheartedly, and not in a “who’s he kidding with his love of pork rinds?” attempts to appear in touch.

If Trump watched less TV — or simply the right kind of TV — and talked about books more, a lot of the powerful people who profess to oppose him would roll over like puppy dogs for him.

This makes the task of defeating Trump more difficult. Democratic policies may help the poor more than Trump’s proposals to massively cut taxes on the rich, but all it takes is Keith Olbermann screaming “white trash” and you’ve lost the war. Our snobbery, ultimately, is going to kill us.

— Joel

 

If Loving Harry Styles is Wrong, I Don’t Want to be Right

Joel:

You asked, kind of jokingly, if it’s okay for a grown-up man to like Harry Styles—hitting on the larger, perhaps more important question: if your love of Radiohead is about Radiohead or about gender.

I can say an enthusiastic “yes” to the first question. The second one is between you, Thom Yorke, and the sold out crowd at the Greek Theatre in Berkley last night.

You posed the question in a lighthearted way, but—I can’t seem to help myself!—it raises serious questions about gender, class, and misogyny. And you are not the only one asking this kind of question. Styles’ performance on Saturday Night Live may be a career-making one. (SNL gave Styles the same kind of love it often shows to that other former boyband star, Justin Timberlake.) His performance was excellent. The fact that we doubted that it would be is because we doubt girls—as young people but particularly as young women.

What constitutes “good taste”—which is definitely not boybands!—is defined by those with the most cultural capital, those who have not just the money but the education, leisure time, and access to difficult-to-access content. “Poor taste” isn’t just bad taste; it’s the taste of those with lower levels of cultural capital. This doesn’t align perfectly with economic class—Donald Trump eats his steaks well-done, with ketchup, proving that money can’t always buy good taste—but economic class opens up opportunities for cultural capital. Kids in poor schools don’t learn to order their food in French for a reason.

Above, $14 Tater Tots at Bar Boulud in NYC. You can order these without laughing if you’ve never had to rely on frozen potatoes as an actual source of nutrients. 

Taste protects the powerful and commits symbolic violence upon the poor. We laugh at the leisure activities of the poor—demolition derbies, MMA, tractor pulls. Sometimes the artifacts of the lower classes get “re-classified,” but it’s with a wink and the assurance that even if you drink PBR or eat tater tots, if you do it ironically, your cultural capital is preserved, like Marie Antoinette playing in the little Peasantville she had built in Versailles.

Above, the video for Randy Travis’ 1991 “Better Class of Losers.” He sings: “I’m going back to a better class of loser/ This up-town living’s really got me down/ I need friends who don’t pay their bills on home computers/ And who buy their coffee beans already ground/ You think it’s disgraceful that they drink three-dollar wine/ But a better class of loser suits me fine.” I haven’t done Bourdieu-style analysis, but I’d put Randy Travis below Dwight Yoakam, on par with Alan Jackson, and many, many degrees above Travis Tritt and Garth Brooks. 

This is the argument (minus the tater tots) of Pierre Bourdieu’s 1979 Distinction: A Social Critique of the Judgement of Taste. The French sociologist makes his argument using survey research to quantify how “taste”—both tastes for and aversions to—is taught across classes. It’s a kind of sophisticated version of a Buzzfeed quiz: Buy Some Random Shit From Etsy And We’ll Tell You Your Moral Alignment. Only instead of helping you figure out if you are  “lawful good” or “chaotic evil,” he can tell you your class.

Bourdieu focuses on class, but you raise the question of gender. Is pop music bad because it’s intrinsically bad? (I am generally on board with Bourdieu, but I think that a well-done steak with ketchup is an act of ingratitude toward God.)  Or is it bad because we associate it with girls? And what does that tell us about ourselves and how we value girls?

The short version of it is that we don’t value girls, not much at all. As a culture, we are awful to children. At best, we see them as a problem to be solved. At worst, we abuse them and deny them the legal right to be protected from that abuse.

The other part of this—the Radiohead question—is that the symbolic violence of taste doesn’t just tell us what should disgust us (things girls like) but also what we should like.

And this is where I feel rather bad for American men, who are told, depending on their class, that they should like classic rock, heavy metal, commercial country, or the obnoxiousness that is Radiohead. (Full disclosure: As an adolescent, I seemed to give off a pheromone that attracted boys into prog rock. Or maybe it wasn’t a pheromone but an intermingling of my class, gender, race, and…I don’t know. Don’t tell me as I’d prefer not to face this truth about myself. So many young hearts broken over my distaste for King Crimson, Pink Floyd, and Rush!) And it tells you which automobiles are appropriate for you, which kind of beer you should drink, which kind of women you should feel attracted to, and a host of other details of life.

When Reddit (not my usual source of information) asked men what they would do if gender weren’t an issue, the answers are so sweet and sad: they would quilt and knit and sew. They would wear yoga pants and do home facials and “smell good.”  They wouldn’t have stopped teaching preschool or sitting with their legs crossed one over the other. They would be the “little spoon.” You can’t help but think: They are missing so much.

Don’t miss Harry Styles.

Hateful Campus Visitors and the Challenges of Empathy

Joel:

For a good portion of most of my days, I listen to hate speech, transcribing and analyzing it. I wouldn’t encourage anyone else to this kind of work; there is a risk of harm involved, of losing faith in humanity, of becoming too familiar with the basest language, of numbing out and forgetting that these words kill people’s spirits and contribute to violence.

But there is value in listening, too. We need to know—not merely so we never forget history but also so that we don’t deny the present state of things, which, right now in particular, is pretty hateful.

So you are right—when Heather MacDonald is invited to campus, she should speak and those who can learn from her should listen. Not merely because of the First Amendment but because we can learn from even very poor thinkers—not to mimic their thinking but to understand it. And, perhaps we can sometimes even appreciate the good work that often-hateful people do, as Tablet does in its “My Favorite Anti-Semite” column. Their stories remind us that good people can do bad things—a larger reminder to be on guard against our sense of our own goodness.

As a college educator, I want to be sure that my students are critically-minded enough to listen to MacDonald, if they chose to. If I’ve done my job well, they will be skeptical of her process and reject her conclusions, not because, as Betsy DeVos says, I’ve” indoctrinated” them but because they can listen across lines of difference with compassion and still see the weaknesses in her argument. And I hope that, when they do that, they respond by, first caring for those who are being harmed by her arguments, then by building better ones.

But this issue is only peripherally about MacDonald.  It’s perhaps more about universities—students, faculty, and administrators—who bring such figures to campus. As an African American student, how do you go to class the next day and sit by peers who cheer on someone who makes racist arguments? How do you entrust your education to professors who cheer on that position? (It’s very much akin to how I feel about Donald Trump voters. He’s bad enough. The fact that 60 million + people voted for him, in large part because they are racist, is what is really upsetting. That would be disheartening if he’d won or lost. And remember, from paragraph 1, that I study hate all day long. So it’s not like I’m not prepared for people to be awful.)

How do we ask black students or international students to learn alongside those who invited Richard “peaceful ethnic cleansing” Spencer to Auburn University? (Spencer’s invitation was rescinded after the university decided it could not insure the safety of campus. A federal court has weighed in, saying that Spencer has the right to speak on campus. Spencer plans on speaking on campus tonight and has said that he is prepared for potential violence.)

*********************************************************************************

A different story: Last week at Washington State University, students who were part of an anti-abortion group staked 300 pink crosses in the ground in a “Cemetery for the Unborn,” a display drawing attention to the 3000 abortion performed in the US each day, according to the WHO. Later in the day, a student passing by grew agitated by the display and began to dismantle it, and others joined in. Eventually, campus police were called to address the dispute. My gut response (as with the call to destroy Dana Schultz’s painting of Emmett Till) was a big “No, nope, nope.” The student who led the attempt to dismantle the display said his concern was for women who have had abortions who walked by it and were harmed by it. Another student who participated in vandalism of the display said, ““If I were a person that had an abortion and I saw this, I would be heartbroken.”

Their concern for their peers is real. Their empathy is admirable.

But empathy is at the heart of a lot of hateful activity, too. It’s why the content of speech would be a very bad way to decide if it deserves the protections of the First Amendment, as the Supreme Court, in Snyder v. Phelps and elsewhere, has noted. What one person hears as speakers advocating for inclusivity, respect, and kindness another will hear as an assault on religious freedom and the foundations of Western Civilization.To paraphrase the scholar Janice Radway, “listening is not eating“; we get to choose what we do with what we hear.

Our Authoritarian America: A Dreamer is Deported

Rebecca:

My heart is heavy tonight. I am angry and I am sad and I am trying to address the ensuing issue in a civil way. But I’m finding it difficult.

Let USA Today explain:

Federal agents ignored President Trump’s pledge to protect from deportation undocumented immigrants brought to the United States as children by sending a young man back to his native Mexico, the first such documented case, a USA TODAY examination of the new administration’s immigration policies shows.

After spending an evening with his girlfriend in Calexico, Calif., on Feb. 17, Juan Manuel Montes, 23, who has lived in the U.S. since age 9, grabbed a bite and was waiting for a ride when a U.S. Customs and Border Protection officer approached and started asking questions.

Montes was twice granted deportation protections under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program created by President Barack Obama and left intact by President Trump.

Montes had left his wallet in a friend’s car, so he couldn’t produce his ID or proof of his DACA status and was told by agents he couldn’t retrieve them. Within three hours, he was back in Mexico, becoming the first undocumented immigrant with active DACA status deported by the Trump administration’s stepped-up deportation policy.

Let’s be clear about a couple of things: This event proves that the Trump Administration is both racist and authoritarian.

Why racist?

First, we don’t know why the Border Protection officer approached Montes in the first place, but on the face of it — and this could change with more information being made public — it appears that he was simply brown at the wrong place at the wrong time. If you’re a Latino citizen of America and you live in Calexico, your citizenship probably won’t prevent you from being approached, with suspicion, by federal agents. It is a layer of oppression only brown people will have to experience.

Second: Advocates of the “deport ’em all” stripe maintain, often, that race isn’t the reason they favor restrictive immigration, but culture. This was expressed most forthrightly in the now-infamous “The Flight 93 Election” essay by Michael Anton, now a Trump Administration official. He wrote:

“The ceaseless importation of Third World foreigners with no tradition of, taste for, or experience in liberty means that the electorate grows more left, more Democratic, less Republican, less republican, and less traditionally American with every cycle.”

The “ceaseless importation” is a disturbing phrase in and of itself, reducing immigrants to subhuman widgets meant to be packed into a cargo hold for use later by Walmart shoppers. And let’s just forget that Anton believes “more Democratic” is equivalent with “less American.” (Note to Anton: (Bleep) you.)  But fine: The idea is that a free nation can only be preserved by people who have learned, love, and will work to preserve liberty.

So why deport Dreamers then? Yes, they came to the United States against our rules, but they did so when young and malleable — they’ve been immersed in our culture, in our schools, and consider themselves, for all intents and purposes, American.  If there’s a group of immigrants who can be considered to have a “tradition of, taste for, or experience in liberty,” it’s the Dreamers.

Deporting them doesn’t get rid of people who share American values. It does reduce the number of brown people in America. Draw your own conclusions.

As for “authoritarian”: We now live in a country where, if you left your ID in the car, you can be swept off on the street — and deposited in another country three hours later. I’ve been around bureaucracies; you can barely get a driver’s license in three hours. The feds were able to establish Montes’ citizenship in that time? Or was his failure to prove himself immediately the fault line?

Note to Latino citizens of America: Keep ALL your papers and IDs handy at all times.

What this tells me: Manuel Montes probably has more of a “taste for liberty” than all the self-styled patriots who find his deportation a reason to cheer. “Liberty for me, but not for thee” isn’t liberty at all — it’s a caste system. It’s ugly and — I would’ve thought until now — un-American.

I guess I was wrong. A great evil is being done in our names.

Repenting.

— Joel

Is It Manly to Like Harry Styles?

Rebecca:

How about a change of pace? Harry Styles — the former One Direction standout — gave a solo performance on SNL this weekend, and it was kind of great.

I feel like I shouldn’t mention this, except today I caught this excerpt from Styles’ interview with Rolling Stone:

“Who’s to say that young girls who like pop music – short for popular, right? – have worse musical taste than a 30-year-old hipster guy? That’s not up to you to say. Music is something that’s always changing. There’s no goal posts. Young girls like the Beatles. You gonna tell me they’re not serious? How can you say young girls don’t get it? They’re our future. Our future doctors, lawyers, mothers, presidents, they kind of keep the world going. Teenage-girl fans – they don’t lie. If they like you, they’re there. They don’t act ‘too cool.’ They like you, and they tell you. Which is sick.

Which made me wonder: How much of my music tastes have been shaped by a desire to avoid pop music? And how much of the whole rockist hipster aesthetic is shaped by, well, sexism?

Am I a Radiohead listener for really bad reasons?

Contemplating.

— Joel

On the Usefulness of (Heather Mac Donald’s) Bad Ideas

Rebecca:

I went to a conservative Mennonite Brethren college where the dominant theology was — and officially remains — that homosexual activity is a sin. Despite the official view, a Bible professor of mine brought to campus a pair of gay men, Christians if I recall correctly, to talk about how they squared their lives with scripture.

It was an interesting hour, and in retrospect I admire those two men for braving what they knew would be a deeply hostile audience. (Particularly at the time, in the early 1990s, when the fear of AIDS added an additional layer of anger and terror to the topic.) I don’t remember specifics of the discussion that day, though I’m sure I can guess what the arguments were. I do remember, though, that it was a highly emotional day.

One more thing I remember: A sense that day that many of my classmates (and, to be honest, probably myself) regarded the encounter as a debate to be won, rather than contemplating this possibility: That beyond who could best cite and wield scriptures, there were actual, real lives to be contended with. It was one of a series of events in college that shaped me into who I am today: Quasi-agnostic, firmly liberal, and ardently gay-loving.

I don’t want to suggest that hearing gay men express the truth of their lives is the same as letting racists come to campus to spew ugly ideas. But I do want to suggest that a good education can and does occasionally include exposure to ideas that we regard as utterly incorrect. Not just because our minds will be changed, as happened in my case. There are several reasons.

Let me back up and preface those reasons with this: We agree that Heather Mac Donald is the purveyor of bad ideas that promote the glorification and empowerment of cops and often, nearly always, do so at the expense of minorities. We differ a little bit, though, in one aspect: I’m very frustrated with campus leftists who have tried to shut down her talks at colleges; you wonder why a college would invite Mac Donald to speak in the first place.

And I recognize that your objections are grounded in rigor, compassion, and a deadly low tolerance for bullshit. You ask: How many times do Black Lives Activists and their supporters have to say “Black Lives Matter… They matter here!”—as was chanted during the Q & A after MacDonald presented her thesis that the criminal justice system isn’t racist and that “America does not have an incarceration problem; it has a crime problem”—before Claremont McKenna decides that its students don’t have to put up with such stupidity on their campus?” I love the concern, the love for students, and the love of high academic standards that are all mixed up in that question.

And it’s a good question. Let me parse my answer carefully. I don’t think a good education requires a college to invite Heather Mac Donald to speak. But if a college — or a student-led club therein, which is often the case in these matters — chooses to bring her to campus, I believe it can be of some use.

Three reasons:

Even bad ideas are worthy of scrutiny. Here’s my best example of this, Rebecca: Your own career.

Your book, “God Hates: Westboro Baptist Church, American Nationalism, and the Religious Right,” examines Westboro Baptist Church and its place in American theological traditions. Westboro’s ideas are awful and ugly and disreputable — even churches that can be honestly described as “anti-gay” want no part of the Phelps clan. You examined the ideas closely, and you spent a fair amount of time with the Phelpses to boot. That was painful, I’m guessing. But the work is valuable. It wasn’t accomplished by turning away.

So one way to respond to Heather Mac Donald is to protest. Another is to treat her as an opportunity to study. What does she believe? What are the antecedents for the belief? Put her in context. That context, I think, reveals how small and shallow her ideas are.

Because we too easily believe in our own righteousness. All of us are prone to confirmation bias, “the tendency people have to embrace information that supports their beliefs and reject information that contradicts them.” Sometimes the best way to test our own ideas is to temper them against the hard edge of contrary belief, even beliefs that — at first blush — we might consider foolish. Where better to do such testing than in college?

Understand: I don’t think I’m suddenly going to find Heather Mac Donald persuasive. But the exercise of testing my beliefs against hers can be a valuable one. They can sharpen my ideas and arguments, or at least help me anticipate the objections to my own ideas and be ready with an answer.

The first two reasons are too light and ephemeral, admittedly. Mac Donald’s ideas have real-world consequences, cause real-world pain. Why burden our students with that pain? The real-world answer?

The spread of bad ideas doesn’t stop at campus borders. Heather Mac Donald earns a living doing what she does because A) there’s enough of an audience for it and B) a portion of that audience is willing to pay for it. And judging by the November 2016 voting results, there are plenty of Americans who believe the kinds of things she believes to shift the balance of power in this country. The ideas that count don’t always stand up to peer review, but they must be contended with nonetheless.

I’m sorry for students of color who have to put up with this bullshit. I can’t imagine what it’s like to have to argue for your rights, your very being as a human. It’s unfair. And it’s easy for me, because I’m a white guy, to talk about good and bad ideas when mostly it’s theory to me — I’m unlikely to endure a stop-and-frisking anytime soon.

But the bullshit is out there. It is widespread. It is powerful. How many times do BLM supporters have to say “Black Lives Matter?” There’s no limit. There probably never will be. There will always be people who subscribe to notions we believe are mistaken, and so the work of pushing back never, ever ends. That’s not fair, but that’s the way it is. So our colleges and universities might as well equip students to do that work.

I wrote elsewhere recently: “Free speech requires forbearance from us, as well as persistence. It means we must counter bad speech with more speech, then do it again, then again and again, long after it seems to us the argument has been settled. And we do it because we want the same forbearance extended to us.”

Again, I don’t think it’s necessary that colleges and universities welcome bad ideas into their midst. But I can see the use of it. And in any case, I still think the proper response when Mac Donald ventures onto your campus is not to try and prevent her voice from being heard. Instead, make your own heard. And be ready to prove your ideas are better. Drowning out the voice of our opponents does not furnish such proof. It looks, in fact, like weakness.

I’ll let you have the last word in this thread. Thanks for hearing me out.

—Joel

 

Dear DNC: Change or Die.

Joel,

Did you get a survey from the Democratic National Committee lately? The DNC sent me a survey today, and I was so enthusiastic about responding that I filled it out right away and drove it over the the post office for late afternoon pick up. I know my thoughts matter to them (I’m just sure that Debbie Wasserman Shultz and Donna Perez were reading my blog all last summer and fall!) Sure, it’s a push poll and a fundraising attempt, but it’s less crass than that GOP poll circulating a few weeks ago, so that’s something. And since they are paying for the return postage, I felt compelled to fill it out.

At the end, they asked for money (of course), but since I think my money would be better spent in a thousand other ways, including buying cigarettes for a bum or starting a fire in my fireplace this cold March day, I declined. I did, though, offer some specific ways that the DNC could win me back:

Fight like you want to win. It’s politics, not a second grade tetherball championship. Even lifelong Democrats think you are wimps. Yes, Kellyanne Conway is probably demon-possessed and she’s unusually talented and bold at riling up racism, but this isn’t new. Did you think that DT wasn’t going to lie, cheat, and steal his way as far as he could go? Of course Russia was going to interfere, voting machines were going to mysteriously break down, and voting among black and brown people was going to be suppressed. Or, to say it differently, nominees get security details because they are likely to face assassination attempts–don’t ask secret service agents to risk their lives protecting candidates when you won’t even protect Michigan, a state in which the Republican governor allowed his own people to be poisoned.

Need inspiration, dear DNC? Perhaps this scene of gratuitous violence from Road House will help. Yes, I want you to rip out the GOP’s trachea. Okay, not literally. But if you expect me to wear a pussy hat and march in the street, I expect you to go to Congress and throw sand in the gears of Republican efforts every single day. This includes the Neal Gorsuch nomination, you pathetic bunch of Neville Chamberlains. Note: I’m calling you that because you are LITERALLY allowing Nazi sympathizers into our government. 

Stop relying on voters of color without doing anything to serve their interests. Conway was clear about strategy: publicly reject people of color in order to energize white voters ranging from colorblind racists to white nationalist extremists. The GOP has seldom been clearer in its hostility to people of color. Instead of coddling undecided whites, energize the reliable base of people of color by addressing their needs and sharing power with them. Suggestions: districts where their votes matter, access to voting booths, potable water, a public beatdown of the Nazi sympathizers in Trump’s clown car, support from HBCU that turn out so many black professionals, and support for the amazing entrepreneurial activities of people of color, including immigrants. Those are the easy things, the ones that won’t scare off moderate Dems. The party also needs to support radical prison reform, radical changes to policing, the abolishment of the death penalty, and incredible investment in minority-majority public schools. Sure, the GOP has deliberately shut out voters of color, but that doesn’t mean that the Democrats don’t need to earn their vote. And as touching as it is to say that these issues are all our issues (It’s true! Racism hurts us all. We’re stronger together!), Democrats need to be explicit that the point of addressing racism isn’t to make white liberals feel better: it’s because racism hurts people of color and only white people can make that stop.

Support senior leadership’s transition to retirement and cultivate new voices.  Demographically speaking, Baby Boomers are going to hold our society hostage to for another 20 years, so the DNC is going to have to force some folks to step aside. On the one hand, I love that the two major candidates this year were both past the traditional age of retirement; HRC’s nomination was all the sweeter because she experienced the kind of sexist barriers to success that younger women don’t seem to believe existed. And, to be clear, this isn’t an argument about their “stamina” or “health”–just code words for agism and ableism. On the other, the DNC is missing out on the chance to develop and support new talent.

Being a politician of the Baby Boomer cohort doesn’t mean you have to support the neoliberal agenda that has left so much of America in a “sea of despair,” but if you want to move forward, you need to understand how the policies of the late 80s, 90s, and Oughts contributed to our current suffering.

Jobs. Yes, Trump was lying when he promised to bring back coal and manufacturing, and you’d have to be dope to believe him. But it was a narrative that worked to win coveted votes in western PA and eastern Ohio. (Odd how the votes of this region are coveted but, since the death of John Murtha, little actually gets done to improve life there.) The reason why the counterevidence–that Obama prevented a Depression, that his masterfully brought us out of the Great Recession, that life is better, economically speaking, than it was 8 years prior–was also kind of a lie. Sure, not technically, but few of us felt it was true, which is what matters in politics. More importantly, lots of voters–the precious white working class but also people of color–saw the big wins go to the top 1% and saw their own economic status continue to slide. When Clinton uttered lies similar to Trump’s–about rebuilding manufacturing, for example–voters had no reason to believe her because Democrats have failed working class and poor voters. It’s time to talk about the wonders, not just the anxieties, of automation and how, if we adapt, we can free people to use their talents in ways that enrich life, not just in ways that produce garbage. Take economic anxieties seriously by providing a vision of the future, not nostalgia about coal mining, for crying out loud.

Support pro-life candidates in states where they will win. As more states enact laws aimed at restricting the right to and access to abortion, Democrats need to be honest with themselves: most people support a woman’s right to terminate a pregnancy under some conditions, but most don’t support it under all conditions--and younger voters oppose abortion in what Democrats might see as surprisingly high numbers and with surprising intensity.  Trump, despite the fact his claims to be prolife are laughable, won some voters who were otherwise repulsed by his candidacy simply on this issue. In lots of states, prolife candidates are the only ones who are going to win. A pro-life Democrat in office is better than a pro-life Republican. (See Fight Like You Want to Winabove.) If pro-life Democrats could win in places like Louisiana, Mississippi, or Kansas, they could then make the case for other Democratic priorities–things voters in these states might want but can’t make happen because they won’t vote for a pro-choice candidate.

Is this throwing women under the bus? Only if you think that women are better off being governed by Republican pro-life politicians than Democratic ones.

rep gov.png

Above, a map of the US illustrating which states are fully controlled by Republicans (25) and which have a Democratic governor facing a veto-proof Republican majority (2). In contrast, just eight states are controlled by Democrats or have a enough Democrats in the state legislature to prevent veto a Republican governor. The map comes from Daily Kos

Give me a candidate without the baggage. Joel supported HRC in the primaries, and I supported Sanders. Sure, Joel was probably making the grown up decision, but maybe that is because he gets to work with grownups who generally see government as a respectable enterprise. I study conservatives, right-wingers, and extremists who see it as a cosmic battle and who vote in very high numbers. They were going to hate any Democrat coming their way, but they actually think that Clinton is Satanic. So I didn’t see much hope of any of them moving to the Democrats–and much opportunity for Trump to rouse them to vote (as he did during the primary). Though Clinton won a near-record number of votes, lots of us were lukewarm about her.

Key here is that some of Trump’s supporters LIKE his misogyny and history of sexual assault. Each time Clinton pressed on these (and they things that outraged decent people and should have, in a world run by grown-ups, disqualified Trump), Deplorables laughed. They want a man who will “grab ’em by the pussy” because they hate women and they like sexism. Trump’s sexually predatory behavior rallied some of his troops and wasn’t enough for others to abandon him (Jason Chaffetz, you buffoon, if your daughter doesn’t abandon you in the worst nursing home she can find in your old age because of your exploitation of her, you should consider yourself lucky)–but it was very hard for many Democrats to argue against such low character while also making the case that Bill Clinton should once again be housed in the White House. No, we weren’t voting on Bill. No, it’s not fair the Hillary is judged on her husband’s behavior. But I’d carry pepper spray around any slime ball with either Trump or Bill Clinton’s history.

dnc letter

 

What do you want Democrats to know? Share your ideas by sending the DNC mail at 430 South Capitol Street SE, PO Box 96585, Washington DC 20077-7242. If you are represented by a Democrat, be sure to contact them at their local offices and attend their town meetings. And make sure you let them know that you’ll be canvassing for and voting for the most progressive primary candidate in the next election. 

Now that we’ve sat with the debacle of the election, the failure of the Electoral College to do its job of preventing unqualified people from achieving office, and the first months of a Trump administration, what do you wish Democratic party leadership would do?