My observations from the U.S. election and a search for wider meanings

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Sean in Ottawa
My observations from the U.S. election and a search for wider meanings

There are multiple observations from the US election and many good reasons for progressive people to be despondent. Assuming the fetal position may be tempting but there are some things to observe first.

It is worth noting that it was unionized workers in the end that allowed Trump the win. Without specific data, we presume that a majority backed Clinton but just enough supported Trump that his victory was possible across the states where unionized voters could and should have made the difference. Forget advocacy to the wider population, working people could not, as a block, find a way to reject the messages Trump was delivering. It is a little late in an election for labour to discover that there is nobody worth voting for such that people may want to vote for the worst because the best just is not good enough.  The US demonstrated that its need for voting reform outstrips Canada’s. In politics it should be obvious that you have to counter the idea of voting for awful change just because it is change. Labour has to learn how to speak to itself before it can be successful advocating for unionized workers to a wider population. One person here observed that working people are giving up access to healthcare in order to have permission to be bigoted (I paraphrase).

Empires are not democratic and the US is an empire. We saw people in the US territories angry that they are governed by the United States yet have no vote. The fact is the US has enough power globally that it can destroy the possibility of any global action. The entire world will now pay dearly for the US decision to elect a person who denies climate science and to do so with no checks and balances (Republicans now control the Presidency, the House and the Senate. Tragic as it is, they have rolled the clock on their domestic equality and freedoms back, they are set to impose their environmental lack of vision on the world. The trouble is the planet cannot wait for a Trump Presidency to end. This time the US going retrograde is not reversible. It is not this generation of Americans that will pay the price but all future generations of every country. I know we can say that the Democrats were not doing enough but at least they admitted the problem and within their party was at least a few wanting calling for change. There was a starting point in that party. Now that, for the next few years at least, is gone.

We can say that Trump did not win because of sexism and racism. That it is more complicated than that. In a way it is. However, if it were not for the foothold of racism and sexism, he would have been rejected. In other words, a sexist and racist USA was a requirement for Trump to win, even if it is not the sole cause or driving factor. Attacking political correctness may be a cheap excuse to be racist, sexist and bigoted but it is more than that. Political correctness did not erase bigotry, sexism and racism – it created a code whereby they would persist while the symbols rather than the realities are attended to. If political correctness actually did the job sufficiently, made us really equal, it would be fair to assume it would have been defended at the ballot box by more than it was in the US election. The targets of Trump had collectively the power to stop him but did not. Political correctness alone does not provide the motivation and hope to rally stronger support than it did. Only true equality can even hope to do that. Symbols matter, we know, but this election has proven that they are not alone in themselves. Barriers need to be broken down and real equality established and this is more important than the symbols alone even if those symbols are essential.

The world is more disunited than ever. In an era of globalization, where countries are presumably in close contact, society and culture has fractured. A generation ago many of us watched the same news and had very different views about it. However there was little disagreement with the public most basic facts. What the volume of the internet has done is personalize the ability to choose facts. The Trump group railed against the main stream media but they were barking at traffic that had already long gone by. Today there is no stream – rather there is a marketplace of realities (and I choose marketplace to acknowledge that reality is bought and sold) creating individual realities that barely touch. Each person picks the sets of facts they wish to ignore and the facts they wish to adopt. They build their own reality. Clinton supporters did not just disagree with the Trump supporters, they had no idea the election was close enough that they could win. In this internet age, nobody has near universal credibility. Each choir sings to itself unheard by anyone else. Each side accuses the other of lying totally believing their own side. There are no universal facts or single universe. Collective action is even more impossible when you no longer have a collective reality acknowledged. Climate change is an example of a debate not about what to do about a problem but a debate to get everyone to admit that it is real – long after science has been very, very, clear. So as the world got smaller due to technology, the march to technology fractured social realities into alternative universes that have little to no contact with each other. You choose your reality like a sitcom to watch.

I have said this to howls here but when you get to the point where the planet is full and can no longer sustain growth, the rising tide concept is obsolete. No longer can you improve the lives of the desperate by creating more when growth is not possible from this position. The inconvenient truth that even that book and movie of the same name could not articulate is that for those who have less to have more, those who have more have to have less. I used the word sacrifice and I will not let it go because the word sacrifice is the term for giving up one thing to have another. We have to learn to sacrifice our excesses for there to even be a future. The world is unequal enough that North Americans, even those below median incomes and wealth levels here are very much the have’s of the world. The consumption, in particular here is the highest in the world even when compared to others with greater wealth and income than ours. United States in saying they will not participate, which surely is the message of Trump’s victory, makes a balancing of consumption, waste, pollution and carbon use impossible. Without that balancing it is hard to image global progress.

I know Clinton is a war hawk. I have not spoken much about this because I don’t realistically see a Republican being any less of a hawk – That party is very much connected to that complex no matter what Trump may say now.

But being glum is not the only take-away because it cannot be. A Clinton presidency would have been a challenge. With a Republican House and Senate it is debatable what could be accomplished, even assuming she would be interested. Opposition to her would have been a challenge (as some choose to protect her fearing the alternative) whereas public opposition to Trump will be easier to bring together.

The challenge will be to identify the most urgent things, identify the advocacy strategies that can make a difference and try to achieve reachable specific objectives in the US and outside. In this I have the same feelings as here. The left has to learn to pick its battles. It has to go after things with evidence. This is one reason why I am resistant to go along with partisan noise that is not solidly based. It is also why I hold our side to the highest standards, even to the point that I would rather participate less in places like this when shouted down, as I was a month ago, merely for asking that we have standards for our own accusations and that we seek to examine them critically.

 

 

*****

Note: I stepped away from this place a month ago as I have several times in the past, not out of spite or to send a message but because I do not want to waste time arguing with people on the left that they, to succeed, have to focus on what we have evidence for and what is really important rather than trying to make mountains out of every petty scandal good enough to get a minute of headlines. As usual when I approach a statement from an NDP source critically, I am called a traitor working for the other side. This silencing tactic diminishes whatever we could have in common. I do not place the partisan above the inquiry and if that makes me a traitor then so be it. I never claimed to support any party above principle, truth and real social progress so I am not a traitor for refusing to do so. My unbroken three decades of support for the NDP is from a series of individual choices rather than partisan loyalty. I am not a traitor for simply disagreeing as I will not surrender my thought to religion political or otherwise. If this is what is required then hang me in effigy and call me the names you reserve for those who refuse blind adherence to party loyalty over everything else. Partisan politics, for me, should never come ahead of individual, personal standards for evidence, or priorities for progress and principles. The Trump victory, only makes this message more important to me. This place has potential for people to engage in thought and ideas but insofar as it is a partisan echo chamber it has no value. I can only hope that there are at least some people here for whom the former is more important than the latter. I write to communicate with them. I do not want to make my presence or absence here a message in itself and I rather like coming to a place like this to bounce ideas and engage. But I surely will want to do something more productive with my time when a discussion about something has to presume that any failure to agree to a party line is betrayal and a debate must ensue over whether I had a right to a particular opinion or line of inquiry.

My post is long, I know, so I have put it in a thread that those who dislike such posts can ignore. Cheers.

Issues Pages: 
ikosmos ikosmos's picture

Not a bad piece. A few modest points, if you will:

1. Foreign policy. While I don't think this was the key reason why Trump won, as Americans, like Canadians, are not as voters "wise" enough to make this a priority, I do think that Trump represents a completely, anti-establishment approach here. For the nonce, he should take US foreign policy in a completely different direction. His isolationist ranting about walls, NATO states not paying their fair share, etc., point to a positive, despite the odious and racist wrapping; I think the global hot spots in Ukraine, Syria, South China Sea, etc., have a better chance of being resolved now with President Trump than it would have been with President H. Clinton.

That's a positive.

 

2. "One person here observed that working people are giving up access to healthcare in order to have permission to be bigoted (I paraphrase)."

The compulsory, ever-increasing-fees of Obamacare had a lot of problems. There's some serious debate here about how beneficial it was, is or can be.

3. Thanks for sharing. Cheers.

Sean in Ottawa

ikosmos wrote:

Not a bad piece. A few modest points, if you will:

1. Foreign policy. While I don't think this was the key reason why Trump won, as Americans, like Canadians, are not as voters "wise" enough to make this a priority, I do think that Trump represents a completely, anti-establishment approach here. For the nonce, he should take US foreign policy in a completely different direction. His isolationist ranting about walls, NATO states not paying their fair share, etc., point to a positive, despite the odious and racist wrapping; I think the global hot spots in Ukraine, Syria, South China Sea, etc., have a better chance of being resolved now with President Trump than it would have been with President H. Clinton.

That's a positive.

 

2. "One person here observed that working people are giving up access to healthcare in order to have permission to be bigoted (I paraphrase)."

The compulsory, ever-increasing-fees of Obamacare had a lot of problems. There's some serious debate here about how beneficial it was, is or can be.

3. Thanks for sharing. Cheers.

Good points -- It is important to remember that contributions to benefits are for the longer term and if people are very tight they may resent being forced to contribute to something that is actually important for them.

I have been in a situation and had to turn down a pension and other benefits due to the fact I could not afford the contributions.

I understand your point here.

I agree that environment and foreign policy is not something that catches on with voters (beyond those who just like a "strong-man" figure. I raised them becuase of the impact but I get why they were not bigger issues.

Cody87

Nice post Sean. I don't necessarily agree too much about what motivated the "surprising" turnout for Trump, but as I'll explain below I'm also not too interested in discussing it further.

With respect to the later portion, if I was to paraphrase it to my own words, I hear you speaking to the fact that it is difficult to express dissenting opinions, even if there is no personal values attached to said opinions, because of the vitrol that you attract as a result.

As an example of this, I have been saying here for well over a month that:

the polls are clearly biased and every other indicator points to a Trump victory.

And what people were hearing was:

I want Trump to win

Even though those two statements have nothing to do with each other.

Lately I've been saying:

Most Trump supporters are actually decent people that could be persuaded to change their opinion if presented with different information in a positive way, but they've been treated very unfairly which alienates them

And what people were hearing was:

White supremacy doesn't exist, white men are more oppressed than anyone else, I like Nazis, why are you all so mean to the bigots?

The point I'm getting at - in the context of searching for wider meanings - is that many assumptions are being immediately made about a person based on a position they hold. If a Toronto Maple Leafs fan says they don't think the Leafs will win the next Stanley Cup - they're not a traitor, they're just being honest and realistic.

As an example, I can argue very well against affirmative action. This doesn't mean I don't want women or minorities to have equal opportunities or be treated fairly. It just means I don't believe affirmative action, as it's applied, is the best way to address these inequalities. It's a topic I could discuss with friends for hours with many specific examples and intellectual rigor, but I'm pretty sure that - even though my intentions would be to better help minorities - having that debate here, if anyone would even engage in the first place, would literally be a bannable offense.

Perhaps an even better example, and not wholly unrelated, would be to point out the damage that dishonest wage gap rhetoric does to the brand of feminism. It is deliberately misconstrued as outright discrimination which not only harms the integrity of those who push it but also prevents solution of the real causes. When I say such - it's a value-free statement. I'm not saying I don't support feminism and I'm certainly not saying I don't support gender equality. All I'm saying is lying to people about the causes of a real phenomenon causes more harm than good and prevents people from solving the problem.

And there are probably a dozen other issues I'm "offside" with the left on (despite having the same goals), but every time I try to suggest the left is barking up the wrong tree to solve an issue that there's mutual interest in fixing I get not-so subtle jabs about how I've "outed" myself and my thread is offensive and should be closed.

So anyway, enough explanation. I agree that it is very difficult to be honest about many potential problems and the possible solutions to those problems when you are not able to criticize or even discuss the ideological line.

ikosmos ikosmos's picture

Well, we babblers could learn from this divisive, brutal, nasty campaign in the US. To be more respectful to each other here.

hah. I know I could stand some improvement in that regard. [Waits for the pile on.]

josh

The national polls were not biased. Clinton will end up winning the popular vote by at least 1 while the average of the final polls was 3. That's closer to the mark than 2012 when the final,average was 1 and Obama won by 4. So much for pollster bias. The problem was that some of the states in the Midwest were either underpolled or poorly polled.

Cody87

josh wrote:
The national polls were not biased. Clinton will end up winning the popular vote by at least 1 while the average of the final polls was 3. That's closer to the mark than 2012 when the final,average was 1 and Obama won by 4. So much for pollster bias. The problem was that some of the states in the Midwest were either underpolled or poorly polled.

 
Bloomberg Clinton 44, Trump 41, Johnson 4, Stein 2 Clinton +3

IBD/TIPP Tracking Clinton 41, Trump 43, Johnson 6, Stein 2 Trump +2

CBS News Clinton 45, Trump 41, Johnson 5, Stein 2 Clinton +4

FOX News Clinton 48, Trump 44, Johnson 3, Stein 2 Clinton +4 

Reuters/Ipsos Clinton 42, Trump 39, Johnson 6, Stein 3 Clinton +3 

ABC/Wash Post Tracking Clinton 47, Trump 43, Johnson 4, Stein 1 Clinton +4 

Monmouth Clinton 50, Trump 44, Johnson 4, Stein 1 Clinton +6 

Economist/YouGov Clinton 45, Trump 41, Johnson 5, Stein 2 Clinton +4

Rasmussen Reports Clinton 45, Trump 43, Johnson 4, Stein 2 Clinton +2 

NBC News/SM Clinton 47, Trump 41, Johnson 6, Stein 3 Clinton +6

Look how far they are off. Even IBD, the closest at Trump+2 had Trump at 43% of the vote. Reuters had Trump at only 39%. And if you remove IBD and Rasmussen, which everybody tended to ignore as biased for republicans, all the other polls were at LEAST Clinton +3 and often much more off. Clinton's numbers were pretty accurate but they were way off on Trump because Trump's demographics were deliberately under sampled. Whether they undersampled to influence political opinion knowing it was incorrect or they genuinely believed Trump's had a ceiling of ~42% is a different quetion, but they definitely kept him there on purpose.

Mr. Magoo

Personally, I'm strangely glad that the race wasn't even close.

Doesn't mean that Americans (or the rest of us) will necessarily make a genuine effort to talk, or a genuine effort to understand what really happened, but at least everyone can move on to the postmortem immediately, instead of digging in for months of acrimonious bickering about some poll in Florida that stayed open late.  Nor, for that matter, whether Stein and Johnson were the spoilers, whether the FBI torpedoed Clinton, etc. 

ikosmos ikosmos's picture

That leaves plenty of space and time for the tin foil hat crowd to blame the Russians for '16 until it becomes a meme like the Viet Nam memes about "having to fight with one arm tied around our balls" meme.

Happy trails.

6079_Smith_W

Hey ikosmos, I thought you said you were going to wait for the pile on, not start it.

 

ikosmos ikosmos's picture

Sometimes I just get excited and can't wait to start the fun.

swallow

x

josh

Cody87 wrote:

josh wrote:
The national polls were not biased. Clinton will end up winning the popular vote by at least 1 while the average of the final polls was 3. That's closer to the mark than 2012 when the final,average was 1 and Obama won by 4. So much for pollster bias. The problem was that some of the states in the Midwest were either underpolled or poorly polled.

 
Bloomberg Clinton 44, Trump 41, Johnson 4, Stein 2 Clinton +3

IBD/TIPP Tracking Clinton 41, Trump 43, Johnson 6, Stein 2 Trump +2

CBS News Clinton 45, Trump 41, Johnson 5, Stein 2 Clinton +4

FOX News Clinton 48, Trump 44, Johnson 3, Stein 2 Clinton +4 

Reuters/Ipsos Clinton 42, Trump 39, Johnson 6, Stein 3 Clinton +3 

ABC/Wash Post Tracking Clinton 47, Trump 43, Johnson 4, Stein 1 Clinton +4 

Monmouth Clinton 50, Trump 44, Johnson 4, Stein 1 Clinton +6 

Economist/YouGov Clinton 45, Trump 41, Johnson 5, Stein 2 Clinton +4

Rasmussen Reports Clinton 45, Trump 43, Johnson 4, Stein 2 Clinton +2 

NBC News/SM Clinton 47, Trump 41, Johnson 6, Stein 3 Clinton +6

Look how far they are off. Even IBD, the closest at Trump+2 had Trump at 43% of the vote. Reuters had Trump at only 39%. And if you remove IBD and Rasmussen, which everybody tended to ignore as biased for republicans, all the other polls were at LEAST Clinton +3 and often much more off. Clinton's numbers were pretty accurate but they were way off on Trump because Trump's demographics were deliberately under sampled. Whether they undersampled to influence political opinion knowing it was incorrect or they genuinely believed Trump's had a ceiling of ~42% is a different quetion, but they definitely kept him there on purpose.


Baloney. If you notice there's about 5 perecent undecided in all these polls. Plus Johnson did 2 or three points worse than expected. Trump obviously got the lion's share these. And he still lost the popular vote.

josh

ikosmos wrote:

Sometimes I just get excited and can't wait to start the fun.


Your fondness for dictators is so endearing.

Cody87

josh wrote:
Baloney. If you notice there's about 5 perecent undecided in all these polls. Plus Johnson did 2 or three points worse than expected. Trump obviously got the lion's share these. And he still lost the popular vote.

What are the odds that all of the undecided and Johnson supporters went to Trump? The Monmouth poll had no undecideds and was way way off.

josh

Cody87 wrote:

josh wrote:
Baloney. If you notice there's about 5 perecent undecided in all these polls. Plus Johnson did 2 or three points worse than expected. Trump obviously got the lion's share these. And he still lost the popular vote.

What are the odds that all of the undecided and Johnson supporters went to Trump? The Monmouth poll had no undecideds and was way way off.


They had Trump at 44. He's going to end up at 47. Maybe with rounding up. That's not way off. And I didn't say he got all of them, but the lion!s share.

Sean in Ottawa

Cody87 wrote:

Nice post Sean. I don't necessarily agree too much about what motivated the "surprising" turnout for Trump, but as I'll explain below I'm also not too interested in discussing it further.

I truly do not understand why anyone would take the trouble to write a long post after saying pretty much "do not reply I am not interested."

So you understand why there is no point in reading this when the person who wrote it entered it not to have a conversation about it.

I don't mean to be mean but this kind of statement suggests that you want to get people to listen to you but warn them in advance that you don't give a fig for what they think and they may as well not reply. Not a conversation starter.

Just out of interest I read a little further and found difficulty even trying to link what you said to my post and  then I just gave up since you made it clear it was not worth figuring out anyway.

Cody87

josh wrote:
Cody87 wrote:

josh wrote:
Baloney. If you notice there's about 5 perecent undecided in all these polls. Plus Johnson did 2 or three points worse than expected. Trump obviously got the lion's share these. And he still lost the popular vote.

What are the odds that all of the undecided and Johnson supporters went to Trump? The Monmouth poll had no undecideds and was way way off.

They had Trump at 44. He's going to end up at 47. Maybe with rounding up. That's not way off. And I didn't say he got all of them, but the lion!s share.

They had Clinton +6. That's way off.

Cody87

Sean in Ottawa wrote:

Cody87 wrote:

Nice post Sean. I don't necessarily agree too much about what motivated the "surprising" turnout for Trump, but as I'll explain below I'm also not too interested in discussing it further.

I truly do not understand why anyone would take the trouble to write a long post after saying pretty much "do not reply I am not interested."

So you understand why there is no point in reading this when the person who wrote it entered it not to have a conversation about it.

I don't mean to be mean but this kind of statement suggests that you want to get people to listen to you but warn them in advance that you don't give a fig for what they think and they may as well not reply. Not a conversation starter.

Just out of interest I read a little further and found difficulty even trying to link what you said to my post and  then I just gave up since you made it clear it was not worth figuring out anyway.

For clarity, what I was saying was I'm not interested in discussing the motivations behind the surprising turnout for Trump. Many of the common complaints I've seen people give for switching to Trump over the last few months are not welcome here because they are critical of specific tenets of the left.

My post was a response to your *note.* I'm happy to discuss that if you have any further thoughts, but essentially I was just saying it's a pain to constantly self-censor despite sharing the same values of equality and inclusiveness and just having some different ideas about how to best go about promoting those values.

josh

Yes, they didn't do a good job. But that doesn't mean they intentionally suppressed Trump's number. They just got it wtongl

Cody87

Cody87 wrote:

Sean in Ottawa wrote:

Cody87 wrote:

Nice post Sean. I don't necessarily agree too much about what motivated the "surprising" turnout for Trump, but as I'll explain below I'm also not too interested in discussing it further.

I truly do not understand why anyone would take the trouble to write a long post after saying pretty much "do not reply I am not interested."

So you understand why there is no point in reading this when the person who wrote it entered it not to have a conversation about it.

I don't mean to be mean but this kind of statement suggests that you want to get people to listen to you but warn them in advance that you don't give a fig for what they think and they may as well not reply. Not a conversation starter.

Just out of interest I read a little further and found difficulty even trying to link what you said to my post and  then I just gave up since you made it clear it was not worth figuring out anyway.

For clarity, what I was saying was I'm not interested in discussing the motivations behind the surprising turnout for Trump. Many of the common complaints I've seen people give for switching to Trump over the last few months are not welcome here because they are critical of specific tenets/actions of the left which are not in harmony with the stated objectives of inclusiveness and equality.

My post was a response to your *note.* I'm happy to discuss that if you have any further thoughts, but essentially I was just saying it's a pain to constantly self-censor despite sharing the same values of equality and inclusiveness and just having some different ideas about how to best go about promoting those values.

Sean in Ottawa

Cody87 wrote:

Clinton's numbers were pretty accurate but they were way off on Trump because Trump's demographics were deliberately under sampled. Whether they undersampled to influence political opinion knowing it was incorrect or they genuinely believed Trump's had a ceiling of ~42% is a different quetion, but they definitely kept him there on purpose.

Wow. What a presumption.

Have you ever heard the comment that you should look for horses rather than zebras? It is meant to first consider the most likely explanation before the more bizarre and conspiratorial.

So, let's look for horses for a moment.

Trump's numbers were below those actually achieved.

There are three horses here:

1) What some had said -- the undecided broke for him.

Possible but not satisfactory. Let's consider that the undecided broke the way the others did and look for more horses than conspiratorial zebras.

Why would a Trump supporter not want to speak to a pollster?

2) Perhaps they feel that they do not want to argue and know that their political opinion is not politically correct.

Possibly a factor. Like a man not wanting to tell a female pollster that he wants to vote for the guy who would want to grab her by the.... Right. I think this could be a factor. Even a small number of men answering female pollsters might feel that discomfort. Or a woman telling a female pollster that she would vote for such a man. It may be that this opinion is one that Trump supporters rather than Hillary supporters would prefer to keep to themselves.

3) Perhaps the Trump supporters who say they hate the media and do not believe in polls actually believe it when they say these things and that disproportioantely they would choose to hang up on the media and pollsters when they call asking questions.

Bingo. There is no doubt that such a mentality DOES exist. It is just a quesiton of how many. Trump vote off by how many? Yes could be explained by this.

No need to presume anything was done intentionally.

I have worked for a pollster. Towards the end of an election campaign they want to be right. This is big money becuase they poll and then the election tests their polling. The result is used for marketing. I would never assume a pollster would get the last poll in an election wrong on purpose.

iyraste1313

¨The national polls were not biased¨

...this to me is unbelievable.....the polls, the MSM including the CBC carried on an election campaign for Hillary Clinton from Day 1...this is a total corruption of the democratic process, coordinated by the 5 oligarchs and their management teams that own and control the media... the managers and owners must  be charged with treason for corrupting the process and put in prison....otherwise they will continue in impunity to do this in future elections...is not a clean and fair election an inherent right of the people? Why aren´t people here outraged about this...just as they must be outraged about our own homegrown corrupt democratic process!

Sean in Ottawa

iyraste1313 wrote:

¨The national polls were not biased¨

...this to me is unbelievable.....the polls, the MSM including the CBC carried on an election campaign for Hillary Clinton from Day 1...this is a total corruption of the democratic process, coordinated by the 5 oligarchs and their management teams that own and control the media... the managers and owners must  be charged with treason for corrupting the process and put in prison....otherwise they will continue in impunity to do this in future elections...is not a clean and fair election an inherent right of the people? Why aren´t people here outraged about this...just as they must be outraged about our own homegrown corrupt democratic process!

Huh? What?

How influential do you think the CBC was on the US election.

Trump was so horrific even the right wing press could not stomach him. Irritating to hear those who think he was not given a fair pass. In reality all-to-often the media created false equivalents to the garbage and outright lies spouted by Trump compared to Clinton. The media that tended to go REpublican knew that their reputations would be sullied among the people they need to sell to if they went along with the stuff he spouted. In the end it was so normalized that the candidate who should ahve been considered disqualified actually won.