Thursday, November 10, 2016

"It's Still the Same United States," Says Derek Thompson at The Atlantic

I saw this article on Google + so I went to read it, because it sure doesn't feel like the same United States to me. It does not even feel like my country, a place where my values and beliefs can be at least tolerated if not accepted or shared. The actual minority (fuck the Electoral College) who elected Trump are shouting down anyone who is concerned that Trump might actually, you know, do what he has promised.

And I know there are many who share my values, because we have talked and cried together over the last 36 hours. But we feel like such a small minority at this point....

The article is brief, so I am sharing all of it here.

It's Still the Same United States

What did Americans really learn about their country on Tuesday night? 

Kevin Lamarque / Reuters

By Derek Thompson

In the aftermath of Donald Trump’s shocking victory, many liberals woke up Wednesday morning feeling like strangers in their own country, or perhaps, as if they were the familiar ones and it was the country itself that had become the stranger. I heard it in the voices of friends. I read it in texts from family. I found it in newspaper headlines from some of my favorite writers and in tweets and Facebook messages. What kind of a country do I live in? they asked. Something important has changed. This is not the nation I thought I knew.

But America is what we thought it was. It is still a 50-50 nation, dominated by negative partisanship, in which about half of the country will reliably vote to defeat the other half for the foreseeable future. It is still a nation of propositional pluralism—“send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me”—crossed with ineradicable xenophobia—“go back to where you came from.” It is still a country teetering on the razor’s edge of both a social-democratic revolution and 1950s-era conservatism. That’s the country Americans knew we had at midnight Tuesday morning. And it’s the nation reflected in the votes tallied on Tuesday night.

Here is what happened 36 hours ago. Hillary Clinton seems to have narrowly won the popular vote, yet narrowly lost the election, because of the geographical distribution of her support. Donald Trump won the electoral vote due to a margin of about 100,000 votes spread across Wisconsin, Michigan, and Pennsylvania. This critical difference represents about 0.04 percent of registered voters, a statistical speck. One vote in 2,500 was the difference between electing a liberal Democrat and rewarding a candidate for the most openly racist campaign in generations.

On its own, this dramatic precarity is not an inspirational thing. But it is so much more inspiring than the prevailing idea that Trump’s victory is statistical evidence that the country Clinton-voters thought they lived in has disappeared, or utterly abandoned them, or never existed in the first place.

In some ways, the current liberal mood is the mirror image of how many conservatives felt after Obama’s win in 2008. While Democrats were triumphant, convinced that the cause of modern liberalism had finally achieved escape velocity, many conservatives were despondent, convinced that the country they thought they knew had left them behind. But the future was not an extrapolation of these hopes and fears, but rather a reversion to 50-50 divisions. Eight years later, the nation is as divided as it had been eight years before in 2000, when, after another popular two-term Democratic president left office during an economic expansion, the electorate delivered a statistical tie that surprisingly handed the White House to a Republican.

It is not self-indulgent for liberals to despair about Tuesday night’s outcome. They have many reasons to fear the near future of public policy. But it’s too early for them to despair about America. In a two-party system, the binary outcome of a vote will always be a simplified expression of the complex characteristics of the electorate. The arc of history is long, with many wobbles, and nothing about Tuesday’s vote suggests that the arrow will point in any one direction for very long.
I felt compelled to comment on the article as an antidote to the prevalent anti-liberal, anti-progressive comments that had been posted (and continue to be posted).

While there is merit to the idea that the country has not changed in any significant way, the outcome of this election was about the future of the nation--not merely the next 4-8 years, but the next 50-100 years.

It is in that sense that progressives are weeping . . . for their children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren.

The winner of this election has been given the power to shape the nation far beyond his or her lifetime. That power comes through the ability to shape the Supreme Court.

Here is my comment, which has already been labeled hysterical by one troll.
Trump will have a GOP majority in the House and the Senate, will get between 1-4 nominations to the Supreme Court, and those justices will be there for the next 30-50 years. Add those justices to Alito and Roberts, both younger, ultra-conservative ideologues, and we will effectively be witness to the dismantling of most civil, environmental, and educational reforms enacted over the last 75-100 years, including Roe v. Wade.

With Trump and the GOP controlling Congress, we are likely to see the end of minimum wage laws, the destruction of the social safety net, and the demise of nearly every other government program serving the poorest of our citizens. The GOP seems unfamiliar with the notion that a nation is judged by how it treats the weakest of its citizens. Even conservative NYT editorial writer David Brooks gets that poverty is not a condition most people can escape, no matter how hard they try.

At the same time, corporate welfare likely will increase even more, while any and all regulation of Wall Street will end or be severely curtailed (Dodd-Frank will be gone), and most regulations protecting clean air, clean water, and preserving wilderness areas will be eliminated. Renewable energy investments will end so that the Arctic tundra can be drilled for oil. If you don't believe this, look at the people Trump is choosing to lead the transition at the EPA, FTC, etc.

Trump represents the end of American progress. If it were not for the damage he can do with appointments to the Supreme Court, it would only be a 4-8 year set-back. But he can shape the Court so drastically that it could take generations to undo the damage.

On ending progress, Trump's campaign slogan announced as much: Make America Great Again. I'm sorry, when WAS America great? Prior to the admittedly awful Affordable Care Act when millions of  people had NO health care? Prior to Roe v. Wade when women got abortions from unqualified providers, and often died from the procedures? Prior to the Civil Rights Act, when minorities could be denied service, prevented from using the same schools and restrooms, and prevented from voting? Prior to the New Deal when old people died in extreme poverty and workers had no protections from unreasonable work hours and unsafe conditions?

So WHEN was America great? When higher education was only open to the wealthy, when women could not vote, when minorities were not "full" people, when slavery was legal?

Anyone who proposes that the key to dealing with change is returning to the "good old days" has no idea HOW to change, what change is, and how change becomes successful. Trump is one of those people.

So progressives weep for the loss and wasting of American potential. For possible futures that are lost with a Trump presidency.

And just so you actually get it, Clinton was NOT the answer. She was only the slightly lesser of two evils.

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