Wednesday, November 16, 2016

When The Shouting Stops

I've been trying for some time now to understand the reaction of Hillary Clinton’s supporters to her defeat in last week’s election. At first, I simply dismissed it as another round of the amateur theatrics both parties indulge in whenever they lose the White House. Back in 2008, as most of my readers will doubtless recall, Barack Obama’s victory was followed by months of shrieking from Republicans, who insisted—just as a good many Democrats are insisting today—that the election of the other guy meant that democracy had failed, the United States and the world were doomed, and the supporters of the losing party would be rounded up and sent to concentration camps any day now.

That sort of histrionic nonsense has been going on for decades. In 2000, Democrats chewed the scenery in the grand style when George W. Bush was elected president. In 1992, it was the GOP’s turn—I still have somewhere a pamphlet that was circulated by Republicans after the election containing helpful phrases in Russian, so that American citizens would have at least a little preparation when Bill Clinton ran the country into the ground and handed the remains over to the Soviet Union. American politics and popular culture being what it is, this kind of collective hissy fit is probably unavoidable.

Fans of irony have much to savor. You’ve got people who were talking eagerly about how to game the electoral college two weeks ago, who now are denouncing the electoral college root and branch; you’ve got people who insisted that Trump, once he lost, should concede and shut up, who are demonstrating a distinct unwillingness to follow their own advice. You’ve got people in the bluest of blue left coast cities marching in protest as though that’s going to change a single blessed thing—as I’ve pointed out in previous posts here, protest marches that aren’t backed up with effective grassroots political organization are simply a somewhat noisy form of aerobic exercise.

Still, there’s more going on here than that. I know some fairly thoughtful people whose reaction to the election’s outcome wasn’t histrionic at all—it consisted of various degrees of shock, disorientation, and fear. They felt, if the ones I read are typical, that the people who voted for Trump were deliberately rejecting and threatening them personally. That’s something we ought to talk about.

To some extent, to be sure, this was a reflection of the political culture of personal demonization I discussed in last week’s post. Many of Clinton’s supporters convinced themselves, with the help of a great deal of propaganda from the Democratic Party and its bedfellows in the mainstream media, that Donald Trump is a monster of depravity thirsting for their destruction, and anyone who supports him must hate everything good. Now they’re cringing before the bogeyman they imagined, certain that it’s going to act out the role they assigned it and gobble them up.

Another factor at work here is the very strong tendency of people on the leftward end of American politics to believe in what I’ve elsewhere called the religion of progress—the faith that history has an inherent tilt toward improvement, and more to the point, toward the particular kinds of improvement they prefer. Hillary Clinton, in an impromptu response to a heckler at one of her campaign appearances, phrased the central tenet of that religion concisely: “We’re not going to go back. We’re going to go forward.” Like Clinton herself, a great many of her followers saw their cause as another step forward in the direction of progress, and to find themselves “going back” is profoundly disorienting—even though those labels “forward” and “back” are entirely arbitrary when they aren’t the most crassly manipulative sort of propaganda.

That said, there’s another factor driving the reaction of Clinton’s supporters, and the best way I can find to approach it is to consider one of the more thoughtful responses from that side of the political landscape, an incisive essay posted to Livejournal last week by someone who goes by the nom de Web “Ferrett Steinmetz.” The essay’s titled The Cold, Cold Math We’ll Need to Survive the Next Twenty Years, and it comes so close to understanding what happened last Tuesday that the remaining gap offers an unsparing glimpse straight to the heart of the failure of the Left to make its case to the rest of the American people.

At the heart of the essay are two indisputable points. The first is that the core constituencies of the Democratic Party are not large enough by themselves to decide who gets to be president. That’s just as true of the Republican party, by the way, and with few exceptions it’s true in every democratic society.  Each party large enough to matter has a set of core constituencies who can be counted on to vote for it under most circumstances, and then has to figure out how to appeal to enough people outside its own base to win elections. That’s something that both parties in the US tend to forget from time to time, and when they do so, they lose.

The second indisputable point is that if Democrats want to win an election in today’s America, they have to find ways to reach out to people who don’t share the values and interests of the Left. It’s the way that Ferrett Steinmetz frames that second point, though, that shows why the Democratic Party failed to accomplish that necessary task this time. “We have to reach out to people who hate us,” Steinmetz says, and admits that he has no idea at all how to do that.

Let’s take those two assertions one at a time. First, do the people who voted for Donald Trump in this election actually hate Ferrett Steinmetz and his readers—or for that matter, women, people of color, sexual minorities, and so on? Second, how can Steinmetz and his readers reach out to these supposedly hateful people and get them to vote for Democratic candidates?

I have no idea whether Ferrett Steinmetz knows anybody who voted for Donald Trump.  I suspect he doesn’t—or at least, given the number of people I’ve heard from who’ve privately admitted that they voted for Trump but would never let their friends know this, I suspect he doesn’t know anyone who he knows voted for Trump. Here I have a certain advantage. Living in a down-at-the-heels mill town in the north central Appalachians, I know quite a few people who supported Trump; I’ve also heard from a very large number of Trump supporters by way of this blog, and through a variety of other sources.

Are there people among the pro-Trump crowd who are in fact racists, sexists, homophobes, and so on? Of course. I know a couple of thoroughly bigoted racists who cast their votes for him, for example, including at least one bona fide member of the Ku Klux Klan. The point I think the Left tends to miss is that not everyone in flyover country is like that. A few years back, in fact, a bunch of Klansmen came to the town where I live to hold a recruitment rally, and the churches in town—white as well as black—held a counter-rally, stood on the other side of the street, and drowned the Klansmen out, singing hymns at the top of their lungs until the guys in the white robes got back in their cars and drove away.  Surprising? Not at all; in a great deal of middle America, that’s par for the course these days.

To understand why a town that ran off the Klan was a forest of Trump signs in the recent election, it’s necessary to get past the stereotypes and ask a simple question: why did people vote for Trump? I don’t claim to have done a scientific survey, but these are the things I heard Trump voters talking about in the months and weeks leading up to the election:

1. The Risk of War. This was the most common point at issue, especially among women—nearly all the women I know who voted for Trump, in fact, cited it as either the decisive reason for their vote or one of the top two or three. They listened to Hillary Clinton talk about imposing a no-fly zone over Syria in the face of a heavily armed and determined Russian military presence, and looked at the reckless enthusiasm for overthrowing governments she’d displayed during her time as Secretary of State. They compared this to Donald Trump’s advocacy of a less confrontational relationship with Russia, and they decided that Trump was less likely to get the United States into a shooting war.

War isn’t an abstraction here in flyover country. Joining the military is very nearly the only option young people here have if they want a decent income, job training, and the prospect of a college education, and so most families have at least one relative or close friend on active duty.  People here respect the military, but the last two decades of wars of choice in the Middle East have done a remarkably good job of curing middle America of any fondness for military adventurism it might have had.  While affluent feminists swooned over the prospect of a woman taking on another traditionally masculine role, and didn’t seem to care in the least that the role in question was “warmonger,” a great many people in flyover country weighed the other issues against the prospect of having a family member come home in a body bag. Since the Clinton campaign did precisely nothing to reassure them on this point, they voted for Trump.

2. The Obamacare Disaster. This was nearly as influential as Clinton’s reckless militarism. Most of the people I know who voted for Trump make too much money to qualify for a significant federal subsidy, and too little to be able to cover the endlessly rising cost of insurance under the absurdly misnamed “Affordable Care Act.” They recalled, rather too clearly for the electoral prospects of the Democrats, how Obama assured them that the price of health insurance would go down, that they would be able to keep their existing plans and doctors, and so on through all the other broken promises that surrounded Obamacare before it took effect.

It was bad enough that so few of those promises were kept. The real deal-breaker, though, was the last round of double- or triple-digit annual increase in premiums announced this November, on top of increases nearly as drastic a year previously. Even among those who could still afford the new premiums, the writing was on the wall: sooner or later, unless something changed, a lot of people were going to have to choose between losing their health care and being driven into destitution—and then there were the pundits who insisted that everything would be fine, if only the penalties for not getting insurance were raised to equal the cost of insurance! Faced with that, it’s not surprising that a great many people went out and voted for the one candidate who said he’d get rid of Obamacare.

3. Bringing Back Jobs. This is the most difficult one for a lot of people on the Left to grasp, but that’s a measure of the gap between the bicoastal enclaves where the Left’s policies are formed and the hard realities of flyover country. Globalization and open borders sound great when you don’t have to grapple with the economic consequences of shipping tens of millions of manufacturing jobs overseas, on the one hand, and federal policies that flood the labor market with illegal immigrants to drive down wages, on the other. Those two policies, backed by both parties and surrounded by a smokescreen of empty rhetoric about new jobs that somehow never managed to show up, brought about the economic collapse of rural and small town America, driving a vast number of Americans into destitution and misery.

Clinton’s campaign did a really inspired job of rehashing every detail of the empty rhetoric just mentioned, and so gave people out here in flyover country no reason to expect anything but more of the same downward pressure on their incomes, their access to jobs, and the survival of their communities. Trump, by contrast, promised to scrap or renegotiate the trade agreements that played so large a role in encouraging offshoring of jobs, and also promised to put an end to the tacit Federal encouragement of mass illegal immigration that’s driven down wages. That was enough to get a good many voters whose economic survival was on the line to cast their votes for Trump.

4. Punishing the Democratic Party. This one is a bit of an outlier, because the people I know who cast votes for Trump for this reason mostly represented a different demographic from the norm out here: young, politically liberal, and incensed by the way that the Democratic National Committee rigged the nomination process to favor Clinton and shut out Bernie Sanders. They believed that if the campaign for the Democratic nomination had been conducted fairly, Sanders would have been the nominee, and they also believe that Sanders would have stomped Trump in the general election.  For what it’s worth, I think they’re right on both counts.

These voters pointed out to me, often with some heat, that the policies Hillary Clinton supported in her time as senator and secretary of state were all but indistinguishable from those of George W. Bush—you know, the policies Democrats denounced so forcefully a little more than eight years ago.  They argued that voting for Clinton in the general election when she’d been rammed down the throats of the Democratic rank and file by the party’s oligarchy would have signaled the final collapse of the party’s progressive wing into irrelevance. They were willing to accept four years of a Republican in the White House to make it brutally clear to the party hierarchy that the shenanigans that handed the nomination to Clinton were more than they were willing to tolerate.

Those were the reasons I heard people mention when they talked in my hearing about why they were voting for Donald Trump. They didn’t talk about the issues that the media considered important—the email server business, the on-again-off-again FBI investigation, and so on. Again, this isn’t a scientific survey, but I found it interesting that not one Trump voter I knew mentioned those.

What’s more, hatred toward women, people of color, sexual minorities, and the like weren’t among the reasons that people cited for voting for Trump, either. Do a fair number of the people I’m discussing hold attitudes that the Left considers racist, sexist, homophobic, or what have you? No doubt—but the mere fact that such attitudes exist does not prove that those attitudes, rather than the issues just listed, guided their votes.

When I’ve pointed this out to people on the leftward side of the political spectrum, the usual response has been to insist that, well, yes, maybe Trump did address the issues that matter to people in flyover country, but even so, it was utterly wrong of them to vote for a racist, sexist homophobe! We’ll set aside for the moment the question of how far these labels actually apply to Trump, and how much they’re the product of demonizing rhetoric on the part of his political enemies on both sides of the partisan divide. Even accepting the truth of these accusations, what the line of argument just cited claims is that people in the flyover states should have ignored the issues that affect their own lives, and should have voted instead for the issues that liberals think are important.

In some idyllic Utopian world, maybe.  In the real world, that’s not going to happen. People are not going to embrace the current agenda of the American Left if doing so means that they can expect their medical insurance to double in price every couple of years, their wages to continue lurching downward, their communities to sink further in a death spiral of economic collapse, and their kids to come home in body bags from yet another pointless war in the Middle East.

Thus there’s a straightforward answer to both of Ferrett Steinmetz’ baffled questions. Do the people who voted for Trump hate Steinmetz, his readers, or the various groups—women, people of color, sexual minorities—whose concerns are central to the politics of today’s American Left? In many cases, not at all, and in most others, not to any degree that matters politically. They simply don’t care that much about the concerns that the Left considers central—especially when those are weighed against the issues that directly affect their own lives.

As for what Ferrett Steinmetz’s side of the political landscape can offer the people who voted for Trump, that’s at least as simple to answer: listen to those voters, and they’ll tell you. To judge by what I’ve heard them say, they want a less monomaniacally interventionist foreign policy and an end to the endless spiral of wars of choice in the Middle East; they want health insurance that provides reasonable benefits at a price they can afford; they want an end to trade agreements that ship American jobs overseas, and changes to immigration policy that stop the systematic importation of illegal immigrants by big corporate interests to drive down wages and benefits; and they want a means of choosing candidates that actually reflects the will of the people.

The fascinating thing is, of course, that these are things the Democratic Party used to offer. It wasn’t that long ago, in fact, that the Democratic Party made exactly these issues—opposition to reckless military adventurism, government programs that improved the standard of living of working class Americans, and a politics of transparency and integrity—central not only to its platform but to the legislation its congresspeople fought to get passed and its presidents signed into law. Back when that was the case, by the way, the Democratic Party was the majority party in this country, not only in Congress but also in terms of state governorships and legislatures. As the party backed away from offering those things, it lost its majority position. While correlation doesn’t prove causation, I think that in this case a definite case can be made.

More generally, if the Left wants to get the people who voted for Trump to vote for them instead, they’re going to have to address the issues that convinced those voters to cast their ballots the way they did. Oh, and by the way, listening to what the voters in question have to say, rather than loudly insisting that they can only be motivated by hatred, would also help quite a bit. That may be a lot to ask, but once the shouting stops, I hope it’s a possibility.


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Isaac Hill said...

What a clear and focused analysis of the situation. A lot of my friends were shocked by Trump winning, most didn't vote for Clinton, but still expected her to win. Many of my queer and poc friends are very scared.

In other news, my band just put out our new album. The writing is definitely inspired in part by my dreading of this blog. It's called "Apocalyptic Dreams" and can be downloaded at

Wes Loder said...

An early and excellent essay, I think. Good points, but I know people who voted for Trump that insisted that Clinton was a Criminal, that we needed a "Change," and that Climate change is not real.
So some of the tar smeared on Clinton did stick. I also believe that the strange words from Comey DID have a last-minute effect on some people—maybe even enough people.
I would agree that had Sanders won the nomination he would have buried Trump. His personal integrity was never in question, he had no e-mail issues. But more important, his message appealed to many of the same groups of people that Trump's message did. He did not like Obamacare as it exists, he was against the endless wars, and definitely against the constant removal of taxes on the wealthier classes and pandering to large corporations. So I believe that his message would have appealed to both the coastal elites and the interior have-nots.
But we have a lot of politicians who care only for their own jobs and they control the parties.
Open primaries, elimination of gerrymandering and term limitations would go a long way to open up the political landscape of this country. But what do I know? I vote and no one I talk to wants to hear what I say anyway. Cheers, WES

RAnderson said...

Totally agree, and let us hope that Elizabeth Warren or whoever is anointed by the DNC next time will actually listen to the people. Even Howard Dean, in his bid to regain the chairmanship, seems to agree in a recent interview by NPR. After 4 years of DT failing to bring back the promised jobs and deliver truly affordable healthcare, the people will once again be looking for REAL change next time. They better be ready to deliver, and do so soon, or there will be hell to be paid.

JWN+ said...

Under normal circumstances, Archdruid, I'd be agreeing with you wholeheartedly. These aren't normal circumstances, however, and I speak as a confirmed Sanders supporter who only reluctantly filled in the dot for HRC. At the risk of invoking Godwin's Law, I would point out that most of those who voted for He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named in 1932 liked his promises to bring back jobs, strengthen the military, roll back immigration, and so on. (He lost the popular vote anyway, and was "appointed" Chancellor the next spring, if you recall.) If I read history correctly, HWMNBN didn't beat the anti-Semitic drum loudly until 1939, and by that time the deal was sealed. Those German voters weren't monsters either, but they got a heckuva lot more than they--or the world--bargained for. [] Marx bores me to tears, but that line about "first as tragedy, second as farce" seems prescient now. I hope we're all still laughing in four years.

drhooves said...

Indeed, the irony is plentiful with this election, results, and aftermath. And while I agree with your analysis of the hows and whys, I can't help but feel this past election, the candidates, the platforms and the results haven't been some sort of mad scientist's psychological experiment to see how far the voters can be stressed before they shrug and become non-participants.

Due to the ongoing Long Descent in which Trump and the rest of us are mostly helpless, I fully expect the Dems to be motivated and organized for the 2020 election, which should see the Left/Socialists crush the opposition and usher in a new age of wealth redistribution. As a positive net taxpayer and "producer", it's motivating me to retire/collapse early.

Five8Charlie said...

Greetings- I believe you give the Ferrett blog too much credit. Trump had significantly less votes than Romney in 2012; it was the collapse in Democrats voting that put Trump in power.

You explain - correctly, I believe - why rural American voted for Trump, but Democrat have to look at why their own party members just didn't bother to vote. Ferrett doesn't talk about that. Outsiders can point at Clinton's failures, but the DNC needs to wake up and take a hard look at how it made the decision to run a candidate that lost to Obama in 2008 and would have lost to Sanders in a fair fight in 2012. I suspect the decision was made because the Clinton's effectively run the DNC, but that's also a party failure. The DNC needs to get its own house in order first. My advice would be to start by actually trying democracy.

And congratulations on calling the election!


Mr. Bystander said...

JMG - Thanks for keeping the clarity going. I voted for Trump for the exact reason that I dislike Hillary Clinton, her track record, and what she stands for - as you've pointed out. I live in Massachusetts, a very blue state indeed. I am a college educated white male and my best friend is black. I have none of the tendencies that Clinton supporters have described people like me as having. I chose a different candidate and they're appalled that I "support" his racist, homophobic, and mysoginistic tendencies. I don't. Not at all. I just don't believe they matter as much as the other ideas he has for the country. That and he's 70 years old. If his life was that bad we'd have heard a lot more about it in years past, wouldn't we?

For what it's worth, I'd like to offer another perspective that certainly aligns with what you are saying here. The creator of the Dilbert cartoon, Scott Adams, has done much work to frame this as a case of persuasion and hypnosis by both sides. He offers an entertaining and thoughtful analysis from that school of thought. We just have to wake the country up from it's cognitive dissonance.

Larry N said...


There appear to be indications this round of "shouting" is more organized and funded than the last round in 2008...

Sort of a Twilight's Last Gleaming scenario.

Thanks for the great, thought-provoking analyses over the last years.
Larry N.

M Smith said...

Another deft and dazzling piece.

One of the things I love about your essays is your habit of presenting both sides. It's much easier for me to be still and listen thoughtfully to "the other side" when I feel that "my side" is given airtime too. I can't think of a time when you didn't present the merits of a point of view with which you happen to disagree. Besides, I derive a degree of calmness and peace from reading well-written thoughts.

Marcu said...

The next meeting of the Green Wizard's Association of Melbourne will be a bit different than our normal format. For our last meeting of the year we will be going on a field trip. Fellow Green Wizard, Chris, has invited all interested parties to visit his off-grid homestead. If you want to learn more about the realities of off-grid living and permaculture gardening you are invited to join us. 
If you want to come along, let me know via the e-mail below and make a note in your diary for Saturday the 26th of November 2016. Please make sure that you are registered on the mailing list, I will be sending out further details from there.

Send queries and comments to limitstogrowth1972[at]

P.S. I have created a webpage where I will post the details of the next meeting and any further details for those who don't frequent the comments here. The webpage can be found at

Cortes said...

Stimulating as ever. Thank you.

On Ferrett Steinmetz:

The type is common. I had a run-in with just such a "liberal" in a dispute with my then employer about 5 years ago. Will spare you details.

David, by the lake said...


One interesting experience I had, which I thought also provided commentary on the election generally, occurred on Election Day. I had voted weeks earlier, as soon as the Wisconsin early voting window had opened (no new data was going to alter the fundamental decision I'd come to and I wanted to get on with my life) -- in fact, I was told by the clerk at city hall that mine was the first ballot cast int he city -- but my wife had decided to vote in person as was her habit. She texted me that morning to say that she had decided not to vote. My manager swung by my office in the early afternoon, having gone to vote during lunch, and commented on the lack of any line at his polling station. Then, he offhandedly remarked that his wife had decided that morning to not vote. I looked at him and said, "Interesting, because that is exactly what my wife said as well." Anecdotal, but a fascinating synchronicity.

Your points are well-made. The left appears to me to be bewildered, disoriented, and confused by the "impossible" outcome. Is it enough to re-establish a working class focus and jettison the neoliberal axioms they'd adopted? I don't know. If they do not, then the party of Jefferson will run out of lives and a new coalition will take its place. (The claim of continuity is tenuous at best, but it is there.) Will Trump actually be able to govern in any substantial way contrary to core Republican philosophy? I don't know there, either. I hope he is able to put some of his better ideas into action. If both of the major parties maintain the same old patterns, we are priming ourselves for some serious unpleasantness.

O. Douglas Jennings said...

This is the first analysis of the 2016 election that has made sense to me. Thanks.

Eric S. said...

Lately, my experience has been that trying to make these arguments is likely to get me labeled with all the preferred epithets being directed at the Trump supporters themselves. Basically the idea seems to be that if you're not denouncing Trump supporters with all your might, you must share their views. Interestingly enough, the arguments you've been making have finally started to work their way into the mainstream conversation, but they don't last very long once they're there, getting quickly shot down with pieces like this one that reads like a parody of of itself: Choice quote: "The real problem isn’t east coast elites don’t understand or care about rural America. The real problem is rural America doesn’t understand the causes of their own situations and fears and they have shown no interest in finding out. They don’t want to know why they feel the way they do or why they are struggling because the don’t want to admit it is in large part because of choices they’ve made and horrible things they’ve allowed themselves to believe." (I'm surprised the phrase "evilly evil for evil's sake" didn't show up in there completely unironically at some point). And of course, if the narrative of the left can't be salvaged and turned into something that can actually speak to the people outside its bubble, then Trump will be the voice of the future for a very long time.

Eric S. said...

I hear what you're saying... I am seeing how off base most of the reactions against Trump have been, and have been trying to speak out in defense of the policies I think Trump has put forward that could actually push things in a positive direction, and I considered Trump several times over the course of this election before finally voting third party (and thanking my lucky stars that Maryland is not a state where my presidential vote was ever going to weigh that heavily). However, some things that I am distinctly concerned about with Trump's America and what it could become, I keep wanting to think that it is just the bubble of shouting that's saying it, but I just can't completely let go of them.

The first is the possibility of some sort of internment, ID programs, and tracking of American Muslims, which rankles me on a deep and visceral level for a variety of reasons. I have yet to see Trump say anything that has assured me that such possibilities are off the table, and what I've seen from him regarding Muslims has mostly been extreme statements that he's quickly backed down from. It wouldn't have to be a holocaust to be a dark period in American history, and America has done things like that plenty of times over the years.

The second is the specific nature of his rhetoric surrounding immigration... my views on immigration completely shifted when I saw how the agricultural industry treated migrant workers (between employing child labor, skirting basic workplace safety laws, and cramming workers into inhumane working conditions)... but at the same time, Trump seems to be placing most of the blame on the migrant workers themselves and making them the targets, rather than targeting an agricultural industry that uses illegal immigration as an excuse to cut costs by getting away with slave labor while the political establishment looks the other way. It really seems to me that the target should be companies like Phillip Morris that depend on illegal immigration to cut costs, rather than on innocent people and their families, and by targeting Mexican immigrants specifically, I am definitely worried about what is going to happen (especially having grown up in Texas as the son of a bilingual teacher and therefore having spent a huge part of my childhood around those very communities.)

The other is the things that have been done in Trump's name since he's been elected (Trump may have come out in support of the LGBT community, but there are definitely Trump fans who haven't gotten that message yet)... I was heartened to see Trump speak out against those behaviors, but it could still easily get out of his hands... and the political violence from the other side points towards an America that has the potential of becoming extremely unsafe without any regard for the policies Trump actually puts forward.

So I am still concerned about the near future. I think Trump can get some helpful things done, but there are possibilities lurking in the corner of my mind that feel a little more tangible than the panic that comes out of the media circus… the biggest question I’ve been asking, and trying to figure out especially in the midst of all the shouting is: if you’re wrong… if Trump is the exact push towards American totalitarianism that you’ve warned about in the past (and in some cases such as the character profile in Strange Bright Banners even in ways that sound almost exactly like him)… what is the line he’d have to cross before you’d shift your attitudes? I’m watching him closely… but what would be the thing he’d have to do or say that would call for a reassessment of both his place in history, and the appropriate responses to him?

Mark Mikituk said...

Well that was a bull's eye, John! Or, as they would say in my neck of the woods; "carton plein!" ...believe it or not, the French do not have a word for the bull's eye, they just call it the centre of the taget.

Helix said...


Thanks as usual for a thoughtful article.

My sense here is that this election was the Democrats' to lose -- and they did. The final nail in the coffin was Hillary's now-notorious "deplorables" comment. What an imbecilic thing to say! Insulting your opponent in a political campaign is par for the course, but insulting your opponent's supporters just guarantees that they will turn out in droves to vote against you.

Furthermore, it indicates that you're unfit to serve as president. One thing the rank-and-file of whatever stripe wants when the dust settles is a government that is fair, just, and weighs everyone's interests when pursuing its policies. Making comments that indicate contempt for half the population can alienate even your own now-erstwhile supporters.

Not to mention creating backlash among the insulted. These folks are now looking for payback. Your "fairly thoughtful" acquaintances who felt that "the people who voted for Trump were deliberately rejecting and threatening them personally" may not be that far off the mark. From (once a conservative yet insightful -- but now an overtly right-wing -- financial and social blog) in an article the day after the election: "[P]ut on a happy face my special snow flakes because regardless of whoever/whatever you are and regardless of what nation it is you reside in, we, the deplorables, are coming for you." In case there was any doubt about what "coming for you" might mean, the article was headed by a picture of a phalanx of warriors with the caption "Deplorables Regrouping For The Next Attack", and concluded with another warrior picture with the inscription "Give then NOTHING. Take from them EVERYTHING."

These kind of sentiments are the wages of the politics of division. Both sides indulged in it, and as far as I can tell, they still are. But Hillary made it personal. Not good when you're running for President.

Phil Knight said...

I think the narrative that Democrats seem to be favouring now is "Hillary Won The Popular Vote." This seems to be the equivalent of the narrative that "Leave voters were lied to" after the EU referendum here in the UK.

So I think that there won't be any serious reflection in the Democratic party. I think they believe that they only lost because Donald Trump won a narrow majority in a handful of states, and this itself was because of the Democrats' own complacency in believing the polls, voter suppression through voter ID laws, insufficient effort to get the Democrat vote out, and the late intervention by Comey. Which means that I'm pretty sure that the DNC will come to the conclusion that they only lost due to tactics, and not to strategy.

In turn, I think such a conclusion is essentially comforting. Like the liberals who backed the Remain campaign in the UK, I think US liberals are now so used to getting their own way, and feel they are so advanced in promulgating their programme, that even a small step back, or a slight change of tack, is unacceptable to them. Just as the Leave vote has not been accepted, nor will the Trump presidency. After the initial shock and panic, and the consequent apocalyptic ramblings, US liberals, like their British equivalents, will start to regroup, and see Trump, like Brexit, as a temporary aberration in the long march of progress. The psychology of previous investment plays a big part here.

So I expect the Democrats to pursue exactly the same strategy during the next election, only with more scepticism towards the polls, greater energy in getting their voters out, and they might select a candidate with a bit less baggage. Here in the UK, liberals will continue to attempt to stretch out the process of leaving the EU, in the hope that it might be permanently postponed or mired in constitutional wrangling.

All of this I consider to be terrifically dangerous, but the last three decades of continual liberal/centre-left success has habituated them to getting their own way, and they are no longer capable of displaying the slightest humility or learning the most elementary political lessons.

Peter Kalmus said...

Thanks JMG. The surge of hot air from the liberal pundits, who are baffled by how this could have happened, claiming the result was due to "inchoate" bigoted hatred and desire for change, for example, could lift a fleet of airships. it reminds me of nothing so much as how it felt to be an Occupier in Los Angeles back in the day, with the media reporting that we had no idea what we wanted. Well, we actually did know what we wanted, and were ready to set the record straight as soon as the media and pundits stopped bloviating for half a second to listen to us. Which, of course, they never did.

I don't think racism / sexism / other isms are binary things, they exist on a spectrum. Liberals (of which I am one) have their own isms to greater or lesser degrees. You make a good point that a lot of Trump supporters may have had some degrees of one or more isms, but that they also had valid reasons for voting how they did, which were in most cases likely much more relevant. I sincerely hope that both sides can start listening to each other a bit and working together to make a better America and better world, although I'm not holding my breath on that. I think that there are mostly mostly-good people on both sides, though perhaps not a single perfect person on either side. I just wish humans were a bit better at empathizing and communicating than we apparently are.

I do feel compelled to point out, though, that W. was not "elected president" in 2000. Or did I miss something? Seems unlike you to make a mistake like that.

Eric said...

As always, nail meet the hammer known as JMG. You, of course, were joined by Dave Wong, Michael Moore, Ferrett, Gleen Greenwald and many others that "saw this coming."

As far as the protests, they will die down once those that wanted anyone but Trump have had their cathartic moment. They may get stuck in the 2nd stage (Anger) of grieving for a couple of weeks but eventually, they will move on through to stage 4, Depression (Stage 3, Bargaining, being skipped over). At some point, acceptance will sink in and they will have to pick themselves up off the floor and get on with their life. It doesn't mean that

That all said, and all that you said, it's not going to matter if lefties swallow their pride and humbly prostrate before the flyover leftovers in this country that voted for DT, and ask for their forgiveness and offer their help. Setting aside the war issue, growth is never, ever, EVER coming back. Jobs and growth are not coming back.

This is what bothers me the most about all the hand wringing over DT being the president. We are so focused on the moment and our "feelings" that we forget about the Dark Age America, Long Emergency and Long Descent that still heading towards and will not stop!

We can shut the borders and deport all we want. We can slap massive tariffs on products coming into this country. We can spend like there is no tomorrow and rebuild all kinds of infrastructure in this country. But, as you have and many others have pointed out, without growth in energy (aka fossil fuels), there is no growth in the economy (aka GDP or whatever metric you want to measure growth by).

In 1972, when we were "temporarily" taken off the gold standard, why did that really happen? Look at the historical charts for US fossil fuel production and the increase in debt/credit from that time to now and it is clear that our cheap and easy to extract domestic oil (conventional) had peaked and we needed the "freedom" from the tether of the gold standard so we could print, print, print and buy, buy, buy, not only oil from overseas, but also "growth."

Now that the Fed is stepping back from monetary policy - why do you think they have hemmed and hawed about raising rates, because they don't have any tools left in their toolbox that doesn't bring it all down - and letting government initiate plan B - aka fiscal stimulus (btw - both candidates want to unleash the fiscal printing press) - they will try to make America into the 1950's - 60's economic powerhouse we once were (aka great again), but it won't work.

By the time 2020 rolls around, it won't matter who is running for president, the slide will be gaining terminal velocity and everyone - left, right, center - will be as destitute and poor as the forgotten flyovers were. We will all feel their pain and we will all wish we had listened to each other and cared for each other.

Isaac Vars said...

This election was... something else. :) As a non straight, non Christian, I understand the fear. If I lived in the Bible belt, I would probably be worried, too, as any changes in federal laws protecting my minority set would, I imagine, revert the power to the state. Where I live, that's not a problem. Elsewhere, I don't know how deserved worrying would be. I probably need to get out more. I don't think that to-be-President Trump will actually care one way or another about who I'm married to, or my non-Abrahamic religion, but I can see that members of his cabinet are a little more... scary. As for the protests, I fully agree with you. It is hypocritical, and a little desperate. The rules of the game were already laid out, they don't change because you lost. The vote is over. Trump will be president in 2017.
For any of the social issues that may come with this president, I am hopeful he pulls through with some of the things he's promising. Some kind of reform for Obamacare (my family falls into that space of not enough money to rationalize spending that much for healthcare, but too much to get any assistance). Pulling back from meddling in the affairs of other countries. Focusing on strengthening our country. Bringing jobs back. In these, I am skeptical, but hopeful. May these things come about, with out minorities paying the price.
And if he builds a wall, he better have a good idea about how it's going to be funded. I don't see Mexico saying "Yeah, you're right. We should pay for it."

One thing I do cherish in his victory is watching the smug faces of the media talking heads that proclaimed Hillary the winner early on wondering, dismayed, "What happened?" Wednesday morning. It is a symptom of the echo chamber that many people of both sides create, walling out opinions other than their own. I have friends who were zealous for their chosen candidate on both sides. I would watch them unfriend people over who they were voting for. Most just complained about both options. In their bubble of chosen opinions, they had no sympathy for the thoughts of others. In their failure to try and understand the opposition, staunch Democrats heavily underestimated the strength of the support for Trump.

The DNC messed up on so many levels.

Moshe Braner said...

Wow, an early and a powerful installment. Here in Vermont 6% wrote Bernie in, even though he was not officially on the ballot. That's another way that Bernie supporters expressed their displeasure with the Democrats' process and nominee. I don't know how many did that in other states, but it may have helped Trump win in some.

FiftyNiner said...

As usual, this is a good an analysis of current events as one is likely to find. It is amazing to me the number of women (and men) who have told me their number one fear of Clinton was her endless warmongering.
As to the Bernie Sanders phenomenon, however, I have a different view of it now than I had at the beginning of the primaries. As I have said here, I voted for Sanders in the primary, because I had decided long ago--I don't remember just when--that I would never cast a vote for Hillary Clinton. The point is that there had to at least be the appearance of a contest on the Democrat side to balance the enormous attention that the Republicans were destined to get.
Hillary could not have sat there all those months and then presented herself for her coronation without being at a huge disadvantage vis a vis the Republican nominee, whoever that turned out to be. Bernie was in on the fix of rounding out the message that Clinton wanted to present to the voters. The enormous effort that Sanders put into the campaign is not balanced by the speed with which he threw in the towel and endorsed Clinton.
If Trump has any success at all, he will be reelected. I just do not believe that the Democrats can "right" themselves in four years.
I am relieved that I already live on the edge of Retrotopia!

Nancy Sutton said...

I agree with most of it, except the starting equivalency... not a good read of history, I think.

But, yes, I voted for Trump, because Hillary was the same plutocratic rule continued. And I agree on your points... they were my points. And, Trump has flip-flopped so often, who knows where he'll eventually land. And the histrionics over his caddish behavior were an insult to women in general, I think, and to the victims of real rape.

Also, I think it is supposed to be a 'free' country.. freedom to hate and despise and denigrate anyone you dislike ... barring personal injury. So we have to quite DEMANDING that they stop hating. Who the heck do we think we are!?

I don't think there's one member of a minority group, nor a single mother, nor a debt-burdened grad, etc. who wouldn't gladly 'give' the haters their 'freedom' in return for increasing economic security. We may have been 'played' by the Dem/Rep plutocracy...perhaps starting with the Dem swing away from economic justice to 'identity politics' in the 60's?

BTW, I don't think there IS a 'left' anymore ... the first Clinton killed it. The only shred I see is Bernie's three priorities: 1) rigged economy 2) Wall Street criminals 3 Washington corruption. Let's make these the rallying cry of 'our' party ... and see what kind of 'cross over' appeal it has :)

Mark Hines said...

I have thought for a long time that 18 months of campaigning is just too long. It wears the voters out after awhile hearing the same old accusations from each candidate about the others. This campaign wasnt really about the issues, it was a boxing match of character assassination.
I think maybe 3 or 4 months would be plenty sufficient for the candidates to express publicly what their understanding of the issues are and what they propose to do about it. There wouldnt be time to drag everyone through the mud. There would be plenty of time for the issues and maybe a couple of debates devoid of "he said, she said." Maybe along with term limits we should also consider campaign time limits.
Great post. Keep up the good work.

Varun Bhaskar said...


As a Wisconsinite this speaks to me. I live in flyover country, even though Madison doesn't consider itself flyover, we're a small enclave in a sea of forgotten misery. That misery is edging into our bubble, we've lost our biggest factory and are now wholly supported by the government, university, epic systems, and a smattering of smaller companies. I don't know where we will be when the economic bubble bursts, but it won't be any place good.

The Dems don't speak to me anymore, and the left-wing seems totally lost in it’s identity politics. The left-wing cannot succeed when it’s dominated by the coastal cities who don’t understand the economic realities of flyover country. We need a leftist ideology rooted in class identity, a left leg instead of a left-wing. We’re not going to get it if we don’t build it ourselves.



Little Al said...

I really love your take on things. I was horrified when I found out Trump was elected because I thought that Hillary was by far the better debater. Her take on world affairs was so much more sophisticated, but it also reminded me of the Ross Perot days when the election cycle was disrupted by non-professionals who seemed to nevertheless have a hand on the pulse of true american sentiment. I don't agree however that many of those voting for Trump did so for less than savory reasons, and that they were a negligible percentage of the population. Trump does come out as hateful with the wall rhetoric. On the other hand, I completely agree that smart people in flyover country were tired of idle promises and that a long-shot would be better than no shot at all.

Raymond R said...

Hi John

Great post - it will be difficult for left-wingers to adapt to actually listening to potential voters instead of lecturing them on what they should believe. Perhaps the experience of defeat will make some of them teachable

Revere T said...

Well, things are heating up on Left Coast social media. A broad coalition of socialists, Berniecrats, freethinkers, and conservatives is attempting to point out all of the things you mention here to establishment liberals. The latter seem to be, for the most part, covering their ears and screaming the same five or six talking points that were endlessly recycled during the campaign. I've seen people I respect post some really stupid things, and that's been much more of an unpleasant surprise to me than the election itself.
I think you hit the nail on the head when you mentioned the Religion of Progress. This is nothing less than a crisis of faith for many, especially my fellow millennials, who came to political consciousness during the Bush years and have seen a lot of social progress under Obama. They're definitely disoriented, but most remain unaware of the economic and thermodynamic forces eating away at the system from the bottom up.
Finding a way to decouple liberal social values from runaway technotopian fantasties seems like the essential project here, but I'm not sure where to find the people who would be willing to put together a Use Less Party. I think my problem is that they're already out there using less, and here I am on my smartphone...

John Zelnicker said...

Wait, what, people voting for their own interests? Quelle horreur!

Your analysis is spot on. The number of pundits flailing around trying to explain the vote is quite hilarious. I've even seen some trying to deny that one of the main reasons people voted for Trump was economic, i.e., jobs. The economy is doing so well, don't ya know. Average wages went up by 5.2% last month and the unemployment rate is down to 4.8%. HA! Ignoring that wages have been stagnant for the past 40 years, and the unemployment rate is down because of the number of people who have dropped out of the labor force and, therefore aren't counted. The almost willful blindness of these supposed experts is just sad.

By the way, I wouldn't consider the Democratic Party to be left-wing in any sense of the word. Ever since Bill Clinton and the DLC, at least, they have been as corporatist and Wall Street oriented as the Republican Party, just a bit more egalitarian on the surface.

will said...

Brit TV personality "Jonathan Pie" sums it up rather neatly in this rant. Bottom line: HRC lost because the Left eschewed the art of persuasion, opting instead for insult. Caution: there's a lot of profanity.

Repent said...

I think also fascinating is the reaction by interested parties outside of the US. I am a Canadian and I did not get a vote, neither did my baby-boomer mother, however she debated me sending me e-mail after e-mail, trying to change my mind because I thought Trump is a change for the better. Yes, I agree that Trump suffers from narcissistic personality disorder, but this is preferable to the other candidate who was quite probably a sociopath. Yes he is a womanizer, and part of the 1%, however at least he is open about it; that makes him authentic, and so forth.

I went to the bookstore a couple of days later and bought his 1987 book, the art of the deal, and the people at this bookstore looked at me like I was weird or something. I said to the staff that I would have thought they would have had a 100 copies of the book on hand after the election result; instead the book was buried at the back of the store on the bottom shelf of the business section and I needed their help to find it. My daughter, also a Canadian who could not vote, came home going on about how 11/9 was the worst thing that happened to the world since 9/11. (She was 3 when 9/11 happened and I am sure she has no recollection of the event. The Alex Jones crowd was out immediately ridiculing anyone feeling this way, which is also an inappropriate reaction.

Scott Adams had the most reasoned response saying that Trump was made out to be a monster, but as soon as he has a saving a cat in a tree moment, and acts in a way that a monster would not act, all the fuss will start to end.

Great essay

Keith Huddleston said...

I've been puzzled a bit by the flip side of the post-election fervor.

I see a lot of people who make cogent arguments about the macro-level decline and fall, and our near inevitable financial melt-down dancing in the end-zone the entirety of this week.

Any prepping any one was doing should continue, if not be increased.

1. I don't think Trump has any real answer on banks.
2. Trump's transition team and policy statements makes it clear that it will be full-steam ahead on using the planet as an open sewer (pun accepted). Fracking will also intensify.
3. Is there any indication that the infrastructure Trump proposes will be for anything other than car culture?
4. The national debt. It's a fair score-board. Any doubt that it will dramatically increase under Trump?

And, no, Hilary was no good on any of these. But that's my point: if all of this stuff is going to be screwed up still, what is the point in acting like there is a triumph?

I don't think 2016 was going to buy us much time, either way. We, on an individual and community level, have a lot of work to do.

Tom Mole said...

It is interesting how casually Ferrett makes the accusation of hate. Ironically the last time I remember hearing this was from the Republicans after the 9/11 attacks. They said in various forms that the terrorists hate us and our way of life. It was certainly an atrocity and fully radicalized terrorists perhaps do feel that way, but you have to think that decades of the US screwing around in their homeland might be more of a contributing factor than "they hate us because they're racist and hate our culture" -- which is essentially the accusation we see this week, except within the US.

I expect that if you asked Ferrett whether he hates his political opponents he would say no. Hate is a dirty word on the Left and in general I think they fancy themselves as being above that kind of judgement by emotion. That's well and good but they then project that shadow on their conservative opponents where it's really not warranted. Still, his heart's in the right place and it's resonating with his readers so I am cautiously optimistic that useful reform of the Democrats may eventually occur.

Brian Kaller said...


Thank you! You'll be happy to know that I was on Irish television on election night, making some of the same points you did. The other panelists seemed like nice people, but were all political science experts, all predicted a Clinton win, and none offered much reason why anyone was voting for him. "I guess a lot more Americans than we thought are racist," one told me afterwards.

Also, I have written a piece saying many of these same things, hopefully to appear in a national magazine in the next few days. I'll send you a link when it's up, and I promise I wrote it before I read this. :-)

Bluebird said...

Interesting analysis, as usual. Although a Bernie backer from the beginning, I followed your analysis of Trump with interest, and even shared some of your political columns on social media with my politically mixed friends (no one listened until after the election).

I came to the election a liberal, in most ways. I genuinely appreciated your analysis of Clinton's (and Obama's) flaws, and those posts changed me. I saw how my party had failed me. I voted for Clinton (Trump didn't reassure me on war, and he ignored the environment, my pet issue) - but I did so mentally composing my first of many planned letters to her giving her hell. I didn't give up on what I consider to be liberal values. Maybe, as you suggest, values like inclusiveness, tolerance, fairness and sharing responsibility for each other are part of the myth of progress and are doomed. I don't know, I guess I wouldn't want to live with the alternatives.

I sat with my neighbor, watching the election results come in and saw the writing on the wall by 9PM. The next day, I couldn't look my kids in the eye while telling them Trump won. You see, they are little, and I am trying hard to raise them to be loving, kind and upright, not to bully others, you know. Clinton may not have been those things, but she praised them. And Trump didn't, really. My kids got that and they were pretty sad. Then I walked into work, glancing around knowing that pretty much everyone I worked with had voted Trump, mostly because these wealthy folks (we're physicians) wanted to save a buck on taxes. I got a lot of Mansplaining (?whitesplaining) that day, and in the days that followed, about how it would all be fine, what was I worried about?

And yet of course it isn't necessarily fine. You've said yourself it will be a bumpy road ahead. You've opened my eyes to the genuine potential for the country to fracture along cultural lines, with civil war as things fall apart after peak oil. Remembering your tendency to look back at history, how could I overlook the parallels with the rise of Fascism in Europe? If not Trump, then maybe from those he has emboldened (wouldn't it be ironic if Trump avoided an international war but somehow provoked a civil one?). And of course, the people I find add so much to our conversation in America, immigrants (fascinating people!), women, minorities, LGTBQ, feel under threat. While I hear your comments about flyover country, please also remember that many of my kind of people were actively pushed out of it, to the coastal cities, by intolerance. In the past week, I've seen so much anger from the right, people are really vicious. I posted something on Facebook telling people not to panic, to take a deep breath, and go out and make the world a kinder place. And I got roasted for it, accused of ignorance of Clinton's flaws and the usual ad hominem attacks.

So yeah, I'm pretty discouraged. I am more than ready to march in the streets for the rights of poor whites (and others) to better jobs, a fairer economy and a reformed political system. By all means, let's drain the swamp. I want a better system, jobs that aren't green-washing but are sustainable (not coal mining), Retrotopia. I think a lot of people are like me and are going to double down on their committments. What we don't have much use for are intolerance, anti-intellectualism and anger.

I'd be interested to hear how you think we can work with Trump to achieve Retrotopia. You seem to think he will improve things, and listen. What exactly would you say to him?

Paul said...

You mention illegal immigration driving down wages as one reason many turned to Trump. Do you think that the cultural and demographic changes from massive immigration, both legal and illegal, are also a factor in Trump's win? How large a factor?

rapier said...

What is this Left you speak of? Do you mean the Left of minority identity politics? Well that aint left. I'm surprised you have fallen into this rhetorical habit of calling what the Democratic party is doing "Left".

Not that anyone is doing Left anymore. If you can find the Left in the Communist Party run China do tell.

I know I am doing JMG a little disservice here but these things need to be fleshed out.

Joel Caris said...


Yep. I've been trying to have calm conversations with whomever I can in the aftermath of this election. Living now in, uh, Portland, let's just say that I'm speaking primarily with Clinton supporters; if I've spoken with any Trump ones, they haven't been forthright about it.

It is a little bit crazy what a tightrope it feels like to talk about some of the issues you laid out here that I believe are behind Trump's win in a city that has to a certain degree plunged into fury, outrage, and disbelief. That's a bit of an exaggeration, mind you; the city is still moving right along, despite the protests, and I think people are slowly starting to get over it. But yeah, I can't bring myself to keep my mouth shut or to just go along with the "Well, they're all just a bunch of racists, etc" party line, and I've been stepping very carefully in seeking out those who are willing to listen to a different, more honest narrative versus those who just want to lash out and rage against the world.

The one thing I'll say, from here in the heart of a liberal city, is that I've been able to find a surprising number of people who I've been able to talk to honestly about this, and who are open to hearing the thought that voters were motivated more by honest and legitimate interests than outright hate. It's interesting, because in a number of conversations I feel like it bounces back and forth--there will be tentative agreement on class issues, but then a "deplorables" talking point (without actual use of that word) will pop right back in. I generally don't push too hard, but ease back into the alternate narrative, trying to coax out some alternate and less comfortable ways of viewing the world.

I like to think I've helped a tiny bit. There's a lot of fury out there, but I think there's a lot of hopeful receptivity. As the protests have gone on downtown, I've opted to instead have conversations I hope are helpful and to survey the political landscape in the hopes of finding small openings for me to push the Democratic party toward a recognition of its failures and a willingness to fight for everyone with legitimate grievances, even when they're white or male or live in a rural area or say crass things, the way so many do. I hope maybe I'm helping bridge the divide just a little.

I don't want to see what happens otherwise.

Thank you for this essay. I'll look for people I can share it with, and I hope it catches on just as much, if not more, as the other essays you've written about Trump and this election.

Oh, and a double P.S. First of all, I've been unveiling a deindustrial science fiction story on my Litterfall blog in recent weeks (amongst a bit of chatter on the election) and would encourage anyone who's interested to check out the first and second installments. (Interestingly enough, it's set in Portland and features civil unrest.) Also, the third issue of Into the Ruins is now shipping to subscribers and is available for order. I just had a friend on Facebook comment that this is basically now nonfiction. Not yet, of course, but onward we slide down the slope of decline.

Armata said...

John Michael,

Thank you for being a voice of reason and sanity in these crazy times. I have been forwarding your blog's recent posts to a lot of people I know to help them gain a better understanding of what is going on behind all the shouting, propaganda and vilification.

I voted for Donald Trump because I saw him as being a better bet than Hillary Clinton. A major factor in that was Hillary's role as a shill for Wall Street and the rest of the status quo. I was disgusted in the extreme that the Obama administration did not prosecute a single Wall Street bankster for their outrageously and brazenly corrupt criminal conduct, conduct that very nearly brought about another global depression in 2008. As we all know, Hillary played a key role in President Obama's first turn, even if she wasn't directly involved in economic policy. She was certainly his designated successor and the last thing we needed was Obama's third term, which is what we would have gotten. I saw a vote for Hillary as a vote for the same ruinous status quo that is leading this country over a cliff. At least with Trump we have the possibility of reform, although I have no illusions about whether or not we will see enough changes in the right direction to matter. We will just have to wait and see. But at least the possibility of positive change and bringing American jobs back home is better than no hope at all.

The disaster that is the Unaffordable Care Act was another issue that influenced my decision. I am currently insured through my employer, but as we all know, the predatory bipartisan consensus of the Republicrat and Dempublican parties has devastated the American labor market and who knows if I will continue to have a job that provides health insurance? I also have friends and relatives who have seen their insurance premiums skyrocket thanks to Obamacare, so that was another factor. The prospect of having to buy my own health insurance through the Obamacare system and either pay ridiculous and escalating rates with sky-high deductibles and co-pays or pay the fine and take my chances with no health insurance is a scary one, especially given the labor market that wage class Americans face these days.

Finally, Hillary's incessant warmongering frankly scared me, as did the warmongering of her neocon buddies. Dmitry Orlov once wrote that the two scariest words in the English language are "Victoria Nuland" and I agree wholeheartedly, knowing about her track record with regards to Ukraine and Russia. As someone who comes from a military background and has friends and family who are still in the military, I am very much relieved we probably won't be going to war with Syria and/or Russia.

I have friends and relatives who are still in uniform who breathed a sigh of relief when Trump won. Now they won't have to go fight in Syria or find out first-hand just how effective the anti-missile defenses and electronic countermeasures on our warships are against the latest Russian anti-ship missiles. I suspect a sizeable percentage of those missiles would get through and we would have a lot of good men and women going to meet Davy Jones in a hurry if that happened. All it would take is one or two P-270 Moskit, P-700 Granit or P-800 Oniks supersonic cruise missiles getting through to sink most warships. Anyone who doubts just how deadly these missiles are should watch this video footage from the Russian Navy of two P-800's being test fired.

The revelations about Hillary's emails and the Clinton Foundation didn't play a very big role in my decision. For me, they just confirmed something I think most of us knew all along, that Trump's nickname for Hillary Clinton, Crooked Hillary, was very aptly chosen.

Howard Skillington said...

Steinmetz not only has no clue what the legitimate grievances of Trump voters are, he finds the very question imponderable. Worse, he doesn’t seem to care; the point is simply to get a few of them to vote for his side - by fooling them, if necessary.

Then there is the Democratic establishment, who made it very clear today that they have no intention of learning a lesson from last week’s debacle, by doubling down with the biggest Wall Street tool in the Senate, Chuck Schumer, for minority leader.

If four or more years of a Trump administration results in the utter annihilation of the Democratic Party, and the creation of a new party dedicated to the constituency which it has betrayed, then liberals will have much to thank The Donald for, whether they will ever admit that or not.

marxmarv said...


I've been privileged to be in the same (large) room with Ferrett once or twice, and if a little intel helps you understand anything, he is a white male sci-fi author and househusband of a white female corporate lawyer, both in Hillary's favored 40-65 "apres ma 401(k)" constituency, and therefore his class interests are 200% in with bourgeois liberalism. As such, it's deemed an exclusive right of his class to judge others as deserving or undeserving and to distribute the proceeds (ostensibly) accordingly.

Ferrett is NO leftist. Leftists want to unite the working class. Liberals want to divide it. He is as near as I have seen to the whole of neoliberalism in one sentient carbon-based life form.

That said, there's a good case to be made from the Podesta Papers that the Democratic Party's primary was nothing more than a highly stage-managed reality show, with a predestined outcome. Even Trump's free "Pied Piper" media blitz was a Democratic campaign strategy. The Party's anti-Sanders "socialist Jew" strategy was drawn up by Democratic PR hack Mandy Grunwald. There are also plenty of ads for protesters on Craigslist in major markets. This whole election smells factory, not organic -- and people were voting against the source of the stench.

Finally, I seem to recall in some comment on a thread long ago that you predicted a color revolution in the US right around now. You predicted it would be Russia, but in fact, it's our perma-jilted Ukrainian friend Mr. Soros working on the homeland. I'm giving you full credit anyway; Anti-Russia is as good as when money's at stake.

Justin said...

JMG, interesting. To echo someone else's comments, I would be interested in your perspective on why so many - despite all the sound and fury of this election season, less than 60% of eligible voters turned out. Of course, some of that has to do with the blue/red state issue - although I would have voted for Trump if I were an American I don't care about his mandate - so for example I would have stayed home or voted 3rd party if I were in a blue state.

Last weekend, I ate dinner with my family and another very salary-class family. The attendant two-hours hate was... unpleasant. The criticism of whatever rednecks are and their anger that white women somehow violated the sisterhood by voting for someone who at least promised to keep their fathers, husbands, brothers and sons home from war and employed in some sort of dignified capacity was repulsive. I hate the culture I belong to and am incredibly pleased to see them finally experiencing cognitive dissonance.

DaShui said...


Here is a fb post by a guy in Texas that teaches foraging. As far as I know he does not read your blog, but he sounds exactly like u.

"Yarrow has been used around the world throughout time as a strong medicine used for everything from sword wounds to helping babies sleep. It's all over Texas right now so if your health insurance costs have skyrocketed like mine have you should probably harvest some for self-treatment. Learn more here: #freemedicine #foragingtexas #merriwetherforager"

canon fodder said...


Excellent post as usual

Thanks for the reference to Ferrett Steinmetz’s article. As you say, he had some good points, but missed the real issues behind the election results. Part of the problem is illustrated by the quote you used: “We have to reach out to people who hate us.” How do you have a conversation with someone you think hates you? They’ll soon pick up on the underlying assumption and the discussion will probably sour. This will only provide confirmation to the bias that these are “people who hate us.” Until this fundamental perception of half of America changes, I don’t see them making much headway on convincing that half to vote the “proper” way.

I am inclined to believe that this year’s amateur theatrics are on the surface similar to the prior quadrennial hissy fits but different under the surface. There are several things going on behind the mob in the streets.

First, many of the protests are seeded by non-profits providing ideology, manpower, funding, and logistics to whatever crowd is willing to be herded in the appropriate direction. Want $15/hr? Come protest the election with us. While not a grassroots movement since it’s directed by the liberal elites, the protests can give the appearance of a grassroots movement that can be leveraged for both legitimacy and grounds for further social unrest. This is similar to the playbook used in other nations for undermining and/or overthrowing governments.

Second, none of the Democratic leadership is speaking out against the protests. Clinton certainly hasn’t, for many reasons. If she and the Clinton Foundation want to remain a clearinghouse for party access and favors, she needs the Democratic base to see that the monster Trump stole the election, not that she lost it. President Obama is electing to stay quiet even though he’s in the best spot to calm the waters without harming the Democratic Party. Perhaps it’s his passive aggressive way of de-legitimizing the Trump Presidency, or maybe because he’s in on the liberal elite’s plan for further social unrest. Their silence gives a certain tacit legitimacy to the protests and the underlying causes they represent.

Third, the mainstream media are doing their best to legitimize the protests as something more than a pity party. Before this election, I would have passed it off as their normal underwhelming reporting. However, the obvious bias and leading narratives displayed this last year are in the fore here as well. Just watching the coverage made me believe they were given a sheet by the paid organizers as to which people to watch out for and what narratives to push. No dissent or analytical thought allowed.

These things point towards a future with more antagonistic partisanship, where public discourse is reduced to labels and expletives, and differences are manipulated to increase discord. Very similar to what you said about a democracy in crisis.

I’m finding many similarities to the late ‘60s social protests, though they were truer grassroots movements than we have now. Buffalo Springfield captured it in their song “For What Its Worth.” One line I especially like: “A thousand people in the street/ Singing songs and carrying signs/ Mostly say, hooray for our side.”

One last thing to ponder. As president, Trump has no more power than Obama had. Millions are afraid of what Trump will do, but none protested what Obama could do. If the power in a position is only acceptable when the person who holds it is of like mind, then perhaps that position has too much power.

Eric S. said...

@Keith: re: Trump on banks: Trump -did- manage to make Glass-Steagall part of the Republican platform this administration so there is that.

tolkienguy said...

Is it just me, or are the histrionics a bit worse this year? While I remember the apocalyptic muttering JMG talked about, I think this is the first time its escalated into protests and (arguably) mini-riots. Likewise, the sheer intensity of the anger against not only Trump, but everyone who voted for him ("your vote was a hate crime"? Good grief) and even people who voted 3rd party feels new. And I haven't even gotten to the BLM protests/riots, and the new trend of BLM motivated killings of police officers (two were shot in Des Moines a couple days before the election, but them Trump drowned the story out). Honestly, I think race relations have gotten worse since the 90's-00's-back them we managed to discuss race without rioting in the streets, and the SJW-style identity politics wasn't nearly as common. For America-or any society-to continue to exist as a whole, all its components have to have common values, common dreams, common history, common something to bind them together. Today, some parts of the right and large sections of the left seem to be trying to destroy that as much as possible. Sometimes, I wonder if my grandchildren will grow up under a red, white, and blue striped flag, and be able to drive to California without crossing an international border. I hope so.

LL Pete said...

JMG, when you called the election for Trump way back in January I shared it with the comment that I hoped you were wrong but your consistent record of clear and sober analysis could not be ignored. But you were right on election Tuesday and I took it pretty hard. But again, your clear and sober analysis (special thanks for the Ferret link) in the last two posts has helped me to back off and look at the whole thing from a more detached and more informed perspective. I think I'm going to get over it way faster than my recovery from the Cleveland Indians loss in the World Series. Thanks.

Juandonjuan said...

I have to ask as well- Did the 16 years between Bill Clinton's administration and this election(including , of course, the GFC) shed any light on the fruits of offshore outsourcing and the mistaken belief that profits and prosperity are synonymous? In my travels over a fairly fixed set of routes over the last 25 years from western piedmont NC north thru central/eastern PA I have watched the step by step descent into distress. From my University days in the heyday of Bethlehem Steel, watching a 37000 man operation degenerate into the Sands Casino on the site of the Basic Oxygen Furnace, all I can say is that the air is a little cleaner, and the blue collar jobs that provided a launch pad for the middle class are much thinner on the ground. OTOH, the Amish and Mennonites are still keeping up appearances- or being the real preppers, just a few years early.
In the NW NC agricultural scene, the new spin on sustainable agriculture is still too heavily dependent on being the market garden for the nearest metro area. Asheville is probably the best example of a successful model, but they've been at it for a long time.

W. B. Jorgenson said...

New theory for why Clinton lost: fake news.

Both Facebook and Google are now taking steps to combat "fake" news. I wonder what else will be caught by this...

siliconguy said...

Hillary's e-mail mattered some to me, but more as a symptom of her "inconvenient laws must not apply to me" attitude. And that seems to generalize to the larger Democratic party. Not one banker in jail. Eric Holder sells guns to Mexican drug lords and gets to keep his job. John Corzine steals $1.6 billion from his own customers to cover euro-bond gambling losses, and isn't even indicted. It's all part of the pattern. Say what you will about W, when Ken Lay called the White House while Enron was crumbling, W did not take the call, or intervene. Lay was indicted and convicted.

The war-mongering was a big issue for me; I do wish the Republicans would throw McCain out of the party. I'm tired of him too.

And the Clinton's history on gun control isn't on your list, but it is most certainly on mine.

Otherwise I don't see much to argue about. Interestingly, a comic named Jonathan Pie has a great (but very profane) video out on the election and makes basically the same points. Traditionally, part of a Jester's job description was to remind the King of unpleasant facts. The rant certainly fits in that category.

ganv said...

Of the people I know, you should add another reason: they can't tolerate another liberal justice on the Supreme Court and thought it better to elect Trump with his rough edges than to make our highest court dominated by people who think their values are unconstitutional. The left has paid an extremely high price to enforce progressive values and keep states from enforcing majority values on social issues.

While people may believe that Trump would be less militarily adventurous and bring back jobs, the reality is that these are both pretty unlikely. Leaders with his authoritarian and anti-dialog streak usually end up in armed conflicts. And his ignorance about actual trade economics makes it pretty likely we will have fewer jobs in America, at least in the short run.

You are absolutely right that the left has an irrational tendency to see everything in the lens of sexism and racism when people are really just looking for someone who will fight for their interests. When the academic and media elites tell rural America about 'white privilege', they reinforce Trump's message: "only I will fight for you". You can call it racist if you want, but the "cold math" as the blog notes ensures that you won't get elected telling people they need to set aside their own interests and vote for the interests of people who have it worse than they do.

Candace said...

Thank you for the quiet analysis, I sent links to my friends and family.

I read somewhere that Bill Clinton told Hillary's team that they should give more consideration to rural voters and they laughed at the suggestion. I think he should have repeated the mantra he had when he was running (It's the economy, stupid.). It's not like there wasn't evidence (

I feel like the Democrats couldn't admit/see that doctoring statistics doesn't actually fix the problem.

I think the old wisdom used to be that if the economy was going well, the encumbrant party would win,...if not the other party would win.

The main difference I see between Fred Haliot and Trump is party structure. Fred had Brown Shirts in place when he took power, Trump does not have a parallel group at his disposal. Are some police/military figures sympathetic to Trump, I'm sure there are some, but there would also be many who are not. Trump is having to fish around for his team, let alone recruiting jack boots. It's the guy with the civic group that can replace current police/government systems that will start to pose the real threat. He might be able to develop a group, but it doesn't exist now. I think that is one of the hallmarks to look for.

Leo Santilli said...

A political parties primary job is not to change the electorate to focus on the issues it wants (minority rights, social issues or differing economic policies) but focus on the issues its voters care about.

A post of interest to this: You Are Still Crying Wolf

I like this bit
"Stop saying that being against crime is a dog whistle for racism. Have you ever met a crime victim? They don’t like crime. I work with people from a poor area, and a lot of them have been raped, or permanently disfigured, or had people close to them murdered. You know what these people have in common? They don’t like crime When you say “the only reason someone could talk about law and order is that they secretly hate black people, because, y’know, all criminals are black”, not only are you an idiot, you’re a racist."

Blind Webster said...

It's a strange world where every day I find myself having more in common with fly over country conservatives than I do with "open minded" liberals. I've lived in the North East my whole life, voted Nader a couple times, Taoist, cut my energy consumption and carbon foot print to maybe 25% the average American, grew up on all of the counter culture elements like punk and metal. I Voted for Stein for her deep understanding of our imperial foreign policy, a green new deal, and for living in a deep blue state. But I have to worry if liberals will vandalize my property for supporting a conservative candidate in the future. I find the decadence and lack of common sense education here disturbing. So much talk and so little lifestyle changing, with as you've pointed out Gore being the poster child. The inability to form cogent arguments from the recent college graduates. The inability to apply and contrast multiple models/world views to an observation.

Besides the myth of progress many liberal young folk only seem to be able to model human groups by sex or race. Listen carefully to an interview and you find them trying to stretch legit observations of class struggle,culture clash, or immigration questions into a race or sexism paradigm. Reading the attacks on Stephen Bannon today they're now trying to stretch him into being a white nationalist. Many of the authors are in their 20s and seem to not be propagandists but true believers that Trump is a Racist. This is one of the big reasons the old internet culture supported Trump.

The general population doesn't realize that Reddit - the_donald, 295k people strong now, and 4chan /pol/ were doing heavy grassroots lifting for Trump: reading and analyzing massive wikileak dumps, debunking the mainstream media, making memes like no others. (The joke is its weaponized-autism, i.e., masses of people that will sit on the internet 16 hours a day reading documents like its an obsession) Trump allies, including the semi-ally Fox, clearly started to pull stories straight from the_donald the last few months.

Tying right in with your myth of progress theme the "internet-right" has a very good concept of the future not being linear. The running joke on the forum was "because its Current Year". There's numerous clips of people including Trudeau, Clinton, and John Oliver saying "because its 2015/2016" as an answer to policy questions. The other joke (joke on the internet, serious in real life) response being "because you're a white male" to shut down discussion. The social media I follow seems to be doubling down on all that type of rhetoric.

I've seen almost zero racism at the_donald. Most of the people there voted Trump and spents hours every day supporting him because of his stand against the corrupt media, corrupt government, PC culture, and the PCing and liberal take over of the internet. It's hard to remember how i found the Archdruidreport 8 or 9 years ago. Something like Digg->Reddit->Zerohedge->Kunster->JMG. There were so many diverse opinions present a decade ago. Nowadays it would be something like Facebook->Elon Musk is the greatest and the patriarchy is the root of all problems. It'll be interesting to see if 4 years of Trump will break this trend. I suspect the money will move more towards physical goods producers and that will give them power in the information realm.

Ben Johnson said...

JMG - I noticed Eric from upthread already touched on this, but I will reiterate the point; Trump could have attacked the immigration system by approaching the issue in much the same way you did in this post. He could have gone full populist, said "they're letting the immigrants in to drive down your wages!" and left out the racism. Instead, he went full racist is his very first campaign speech, vilifying and entire people as rapists and murders, and tacking on some populism.
In short, while half of the response to this election by the left has been hysterical, I think the fears of minority communities here are more than justified. In my view, it does a disservice to those communities who harbor legitimate concerns to draw a false equivalence between fears of forced deportation (which Trump has essentially promised) and affluent liberals throwing a fit.

Justin said...

Amusing wikileaks:

Lawrence Bohler said...

I agree with most of your posts, but I must differ on this one. A the things you faulted the Democrats for failing on would most likely have been enacted if the Republicans had provided even a small bit of support. They couldn't because of Republican truculence.

The things you say Trump promised to change - trade agreements, war drum beating, immigration taking American jobs, elimination of health insurance, etc, are the core objectives of the Republican party. They (Republicans) are going to play clueless Trump like a Patsy to get their objectives accomplished.

Bryan L. Allen said...

Most esteemed Druid, many thanks for your ongoing essays. I'm thinking that one major root of "what's going on here" is the almost-complete domination of thought in the intelligencia by Ideals, to the exclusion of Reason or even (shudder) Self-Interest, concepts which you've discussed previously in this forum. It seems a particularly-sticky trap to fall into thinking that Ideals are the ONLY thing worth considering, in any and all contexts. To me, ideals are an often-attractive frosting on the cake of life, but it strikes me that numerous folks on what we refer to as the Left in the USA and Western Europe have been increasingly insisting that the cake of Society, and even of existence, MUST consist solely of frosting! I'm not at all optimistic that people who have absorbed such ideology can adapt themselves back into a world where Ideals are given their due but are not the dominant, or indeed only, way of interacting with the world and our society. It has certainly been an interesting and slow path to awakening that I've followed over the years by reading your blog and questioning my personal assumptions via various means. My personal experience with others who are less 'fortunate' in their exposures to the gritty underbelly of human existence does not make me optimistic that the Left will have any sort of "Aha!" moment that frees them from their delusion of Ideals. Within that Left, the seeds of something ominous appear to be germinating. I can only hope that the soil of Reality that those seeds are in will be dry and rocky enough to not nourish those baleful seeds. Best regards.

Mark Luterra said...


Thanks for another collection of clear thoughts. If nothing else, this election has forced me to do some hard thinking politically to reconcile my distaste for Trump as a personality with the fact that many of the people supporting him did so for reasons that I can agree with.

There are two points I would like to address. The first is the racism, homophobia, Islamophobia, and general minority-bashing exhibited by an angry, vocal minority of Trump supporters. At times Trump seemed to condone this behavior, or at least to be glad of their passionate support. To my friends, this is the greatest barrier to accepting a Trump presidency and even being willing to engage in dialogue with his supporters. I had a conversation yesterday with a coworker who felt that any conversation discussing the negative effects of illegal immigration had to be motivated by covert racism - the assumption being that it is simply easier to target immigrants as job-stealers than it is to target them directly for the color of their skin.

I think that there is a responsibility on the left to accept that many - the vast majority perhaps - of Trump's supporters are not supporting him because they are racist or hateful toward one group or another. I also think there is a responsibility on the right to call out such behavior within their ranks - such as you describe in your own community when the KKK came visiting, but on a larger scale. I could draw a parallel to the feminist argument that men have a responsibility to call out body-shaming, cat-calling and other such callous male behavior when they see it. In short, if you find yourself in the same group as people who are doing unacceptable things, and you agree that those things are unacceptable, then you ought to speak out about them to avoid being tarred by a too-broad brush (which in this case is being directed against anyone who voted for Trump).

The second point, which I suspect you will address in the future, is that while Trump may have won the election by mentioning a problem that has been carefully avoided by politicians to date (the ongoing economic immiseration of a majority of Americans), the "solutions" that he offers are not going to make any meaningful difference. In short, the salary class and elite are benefiting from the current state of affairs. Their current strategy of "distraction at all costs" has reached its pull date, and in its place we are getting Trump's vision of "call out the problem and offer solutions that appease the masses but won't affect the elite." My exasperation is not so much with voters who identified with Trump's message; it is with the observation that so many of them believed it. Rather than targeting policies that allow corporations to pay below minimum wage to undocumented immigrants - an anti-corporate message - he chose to target the immigrants themselves as "rapists and criminals." This perpetuates the strategy of redirecting the anger of the lower and middle classes from the logical target of the folks at the top toward the folks at the very bottom who are somehow getting more than they deserve.

Trump has already chosen a Goldman Sachs alumnus as chief strategist, and he is expected to select another as his treasury secretary. In doing so he will follow in the footsteps of Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, and Obama. This may have been a historic election in many ways, but when it comes to the intimate ties between big money and government, nothing is changing at all. If Trump can't make the economy grow (and I'm sure he can't), then his policies only stand to exacerbate wealth inequality in this country.

If you're interested, I wrote about this in more length on my blog last night:

Marinhomelander said...

For all the reasons you state and more, our family voted for Trump after fervently supporting Bernie.
This country is of course marching into a full blown recession. That will be blamed on Trump by the people that helped create it back when Bill Clinton was president, who kept heaping the debt on us, destroying jobs, hoodwinking us into thinking that we could borrow our way to prosperity.

A group of us that meet once a week to drink beer and talk about things, sort of a bookclub for guys, without the books, have decided to go on strike to support Trump.

We are going to avoid all discretionary purchases until he's sworn in. Then it'll be time to buy things we've been doing without.

John Michael Greer said...

Isaac, your "dreading" of this blog? I appreciate the Freudian slip! ;-)

Wes, exactly. Many of the Trump voters I know spoke favorably of Sanders; they didn't like the label "socialist," but they liked a lot of his policy stances. I'm pretty sure that if the Dems had nominated him, he would have won with a very solid mandate.

RAnderson, no question -- if Trump pulls an Obama and ditches all his campaign promises the moment he's inaugurated, to quote a certain political figure of the not too distant past, "this sucker's going down." And I don't mean that in a good way.

JWN+, not so. Hitler was pounding the antisemitic drums long before he became Chancellor -- the difference, of course, was that antisemitism was socially acceptable in Germany, and indeed throughout the western world, at that time. One of the reasons why Godwin's Law is so good a tool for ferreting out sloppy thinking is that "Hitler" and "fascist" so often serve as catchall labels meaning next to nothing, other than dislike for whatever's labeled with them.

Drhooves, nah, the Democrats aren't going to favor wealth distribution. Far too much of the party's base consists of affluent liberals who have no desire to see their wealth distributed!

Five8Charlie, I only know one person who admits she stayed home rather than voting, so I don't even have a useful sample. I wonder if it would be possible to find out why so many people sat this one out.

Mr. Bystander, yes, I've read Scott Adams on that; he definitely gets kudos for being one of the few who called it, but I'm less than convinced by his NLP-centric argument.

Larry, yes, I'd heard that. It wouldn't surprise me at all if someone on the Democratic side of things (cough, cough, George Soros, cough, cough) had fantasies of pulling off a color revolution. I wonder if anybody's thought about what would happen if all those well-armed people in flyover country decided that they had to rally to Trump's defense...

M Smith, thank you. I try to wallop both sides more or less equally; it helps that in most cases, they both richly deserve it. ;-)

Cortes, I have to say I'm baffled by the link you cite. Why shouldn't a parent hope that their child has a happy sex life, and find the notion of parental ownership of their children rather creepy?

David, fascinating. As for the parties, I think both of them are arguably in rigor mortis. What will take their place is another question.

O. Douglas, you're welcome and thank you.

Eric, that's exactly my point. If the Democratic Party remains stuck in their current politics of exclusion and blame, the most likely outcome of the 2020 election will be Trump's reelection by the kind of landslide that will leave the Democratic Party in the wilderness for a generation. If they're to have the chance to defend their constituencies, they've got to learn to drop the vilification and figure out how to speak to middle America.

Gabby Zdrazilova said...

HI JMG and all,

Looking from the outside, it is an interesting spectacle. People on the "left" are not synonymous with the Clintons and the Democratic party which is Neoliberal, unless left now equals Wall Street and Silicon Valley money + identity politics. The U.S. and most other democracies today are not left/right but up/down - those in the "up" category have to set it up as if there is a left/right (hence identity politics. Imagine if the people were fully aware that there the "up" serves only itself (see Bush's support of Hillary as an example that busted the left/right open). Even Americans are starting to see through that. People are disoriented and interestingly, Trump is uniquely positioned to shake things up. That is why he was so demonized and frankly, I was shocked he was allowed to win - some cock up somewhere - it took hours for Clinton to concede. Can't imagine it was fun to get to her to accept that, given how entitled she's felt all along.

One thing I most noticed as I was raised in a dictatorship that maybe some others may not have noticed. Trump's acceptance speech. He went out of his way to signal that the army is behind him - lists number of generals plus many decorated soldiers. Then he singles out the CIA (who ever mentions the CIA during acceptance speech?)and then the cops. The thing is, North Americans I talked to about this attribute this to law and order agenda. I am not at all convinced. The establishment he went against is extremely powerful - but perhaps Trump has the men with guns. Given the humiliation the various patriots who serve not greed but country, would it be surprising they were behind a strongman who promises to bring a semblance of honour back to the country? Watch him and not for the reasons everyone is discussing.

John Michael Greer said...

Eric S., one way or another, Trump promises to be a pivotal figure in American history. If he can consolidate his position by attracting allies from the populist wing of the GOP, and encouraging other populists to run for office, it'll be his influence that endures; if not -- if his administration turns into one big flustered cluck, or if he crumples and abandons his promises -- it'll be the reaction to him that becomes the enduring force. Like all such pivotal figures, he is (and will continue to be) a figure of contradictions and ambiguities -- and no matter what happens, there will be people who adore him and people who loathe him, many generations after he's gone.

Please note that I never said he was a plaster saint; his role in American history, like that of all pivotal figures, has nothing to do with moral goodness or with making choices that I like, and everything to do with the resolution, one way or another, of a rising spiral of conflict that has rendered the previous political arrangements unworkable. At best, a lot of people are going to get hurt; at worst, well, my prediction of domestic insurgency and/or civil war here in the US in the next decade or two still stands. It's possible that a Trump presidency, if he keeps his promises and his policies actually work, will head that off -- but we'll see.

Mark, hmm! I didn't happen to know that. Merci!

Helix, I know. I hope that Trump has the common sense to try to put a brake to that. If not, things could get very ugly indeed.

Phil, if the Democrats do that, they're making the same mistake that the GOP made after Roosevelt's election in 1932. In 1936, they basically ran on the same platform as before, and convinced themselves they were going to win; with the advantages of incumbency, and millions of voters at his back convinced that he'd made their lives at least a little better, FDR won one of the most spectacular landslide victories in American history, taking every state but Maine and Vermont. It's unlikely that Trump will do that well, but if the Democrats run another political insider on a platform that consists solely of their idea of business as usual, they're going to be shellacked.

Peter, if you want to insert a different verb in place of "elected," be my guest.

Eric, in the long run, of course, you're quite correct -- the Long Descent waits for nobody. In the short run -- and 2020 is the short run -- be prepared to be surprised. So much of the economic collapse in flyover country is the product of deliberate policies that benefit the affluent at the expense of everyone else that if Trump manages to get even a good fraction of his proposed policies enacted, things may well get noticeably better for a lot of people in middle America, for a while. Just for a while, but in politics, that's enough...

Isaac, understood. Trump is a crapshoot, and the interesting thing is that a lot of his voters realize that. They voted for him because a vote for Clinton guaranteed the perpetuation of an intolerable status quo. Now we get to see what he actually does. If he backs away from war with Russia, scraps a bunch of trade agreements, and reenacts Glass-Steagall, he'll have done more good than any of the last four presidents -- but I'm aware that he may also do a lot of harm to a lot of people, and that also has to be weighed in the balance.

Moshe, how did Bernie's write-in vote compare to the minor parties?

American Herstory X said...

Just some anecdotal stuff here. I'm lower middle class in the Midwest. I own my own successful small business but find it nearly impossible to get ahead despite doing everything "right". My insurance premium on the cheapest form of Obamacare, after subsidies, is shooting from $200 to $1000 per month in 2017. I am 43, in perfect health, whole foods vegan, no allergies, no pre-existing conditions physical or mental, opted to be sterilized 10 years ago so no biological kids ever, non-drinking, non-smoking, no drugs except for the occasional ibuprofen pill, BMI of 21, regular exerciser including lifting weights, can walk ten miles and barely feel it, and I don't even get severe colds and flus, total putz, no extreme sports or crazy driving, wear a helmet when biking. In other words, the ideal insured, paying into a system I never use. So yeah, I'm angry that of all people, I'm being gouged and will be going insurance-free in 2017 because I just can't manage it financially and also afford food.

That said, I voted against that genocidal maniac who just happens to be another female because I didn't feel like staring down the barrel of potential nuclear destruction for the next four to eight years.

rharper said...

Hi John Michael. Wondered where you had gotten off to. Fine article. I agree completely.
Rudy Harper

John Michael Greer said...

FiftyNiner, maybe so, but Sanders seems to have come out of all this as the effective leader of the Democratic Party, whoever gets the official label. We'll see what he does with it.

Nancy, er, how is it inaccurate to compare the tantrums of the GOP with those of the Dems? Having lived through several of both, I find them more or less interchangeable.

Mark, I think you'll like the constitutional amendment I'll be proposing a few posts from now!

Varun, that last sentence of yours earns you tonight's gold star. Exactly; if you want an option that isn't being offered you by the status quo, you need to get out there and create it.

Little Al, of course the wall comment comes across as "hateful," when you've been told by the media over and over again that it can only be taken in that way. That there might be good reasons for a nation to have control of its own borders isn't a concept the media likes to talk about, you know.

Raymond, in the words of Wowbagger the Indefinitely Prolonged, "a being can dream!"

Revere, good. It might be enough to pry loose social liberalism from economic neoliberalism, you know.

John, the reason I use the term "left" is that it's the term that a lot of people who support the Democratic Party use for themselves. It's an abstract label, after all.

Will, many thanks for the link, and your memorable summary!

Repent, I'm not at all sure Trump will follow Adams' advice! Having a bunch of Portland activists screaming, throwing bricks, and lighting fires to protest his election solidifies his standing in the eyes of the GOP and his own core constituencies, you know. If he simply lets them throw their hissy fit, and goes about the business of getting ready for the inauguration, they're going to end up looking foolish and he's going to look calm and statesmanlike. (His restaurant visit last night was more of the same -- a deft way of signaling to his supporters that he despises the press as much as they do.)

Keith, if you're prepping, you should certainly keep doing so; as I noted above, the Long Descent waits for nobody. I do think that if Trump can get Glass-Steagall reenacted, that will help considerably with the banking problem -- you'll notice that the banking industry was much more stable while that was in place than at any time before or afterwards. Other than that, no argument.

Tom, one of the things I find most fascinating about the American left today is that they're such a case study in the return of the repressed. They think hate is awful, and so of course they label other people as "hateful" and hate them with all their hearts -- all the while insisting that they're doing no such thing. Jung would have had a field day; talk about projecting those things you can't stand about yourself onto others...

Ares Olympus said...

Thank you John for expanding a compelling case.

The worst lesson the democrats might find in this election is that Trump's presidency will be a disaster over the next 4 years and so they might choose to just let the pendulum swing too far, and trust it'll swing back, and 2020 we can go back to forgetting about middle America.

And even my state of Minnesota only held a weak Democratic vote on a large metro area, but with way too many rural counties going 70%+ Trump, and they had to add an 80% category! And more interestingly Trump barely got more votes here than Romney, but it was Hillary who couldn't get the votes that Obama did.

On your list of issues, I most see #4, "Punishing the Democratic Party." myself, whether that punishing was done through voting for Trump or not voting at all. And Michael Moore's TrumpLand, and the bootleg copies explaining the reasoning of the "Rustbelt" a desire to blow up the system, democratic suicide.

But whatever degree Clinton was a hawk, no one can seriously consider a Trump presidency will be dovish or isolationist. When Trump says "Make America Great Again", seeing how he sees Muslims and Mexicans, being great to him means finding scapegoats to punish, and even if he doesn't do any major invasions, bombing will always be popular, like Ted Cruz's desire to use laser-focused carpet bombing of until the sand glows.

And with the Dakota pipeline standoff, you can be nearly sure that a President Trump will be very happy to do some native-bashing, and help the pipeline companies get their way. And its easy to imagine Clinton's "Deplorables" will be cheering President Trump all the way.

And that's what I really fear. Since President Trump will not be able to "Fix everything" as he claims, the alternative is to identify sequential scapegoats to punish, no matter how unlikely they are the source of any real trouble.

One voice I've listened to recently is Jonathan Haidt, who first came to attention by observing value systems and seeing Conservatives as having a more balanced set of values, while Liberals too easily got pulled into fairness, and oppression narratives on otherwise ordinary competition. And he sees Social media as a part of our new divide, where no one needs to be isolated, and whatever your grievances, you can find others who will validate them.

The Right has seemed excited to claim that President Obama has increased racial strife, via movements like BLM, while it is clear that social media is the uniting factor in that. And now White Power movements have been given their light in the sun, and however much Trump says "Stop it", he set the tone on how to treat people who you disagree with, and that Political Correctness is the enemy and direct expressions of anger and rage are how you get a voice and get power.

So you have to think all of this is going to multiply, and each sides transgressions will embolden the other side, and justify further police power to restore "Law and order" and everyone will be painted by their worst behaviors, just like George W. Bush reflected that the Dallas funerals.

And we are a country of guns, and many vulnerable people who feel safer with a gun in hand. This can't end well.

Genevieve Hawkins said...

Well written I did not vote for Trump actually voted for none of the above since Jill Stein was not on the ballot here, but war was my number one issue with voting for Clinton. Obama ran on an anti-war platform in 2008, rolled things back, then rescinded, and then quietly expanded war powers. I was pretty much horrified that during the debates both candidates seemed in lockstep support with more endless war and that this stance is not even questioned anymore. But I found Clinton more scary than Trump on this issue she has a clear history of aggression and talked to more failed policies. I have a few liberal friends who have really tried to guilt me about how I've failed them personally for not sucking it up and voting for war. Their reaction is making me hope the party self destructs the cognitive dissonance is too much to handle...

John Michael Greer said...

Brian, delighted to hear it. I'm not surprised your article covers a lot of the same ground as mine; it's not actually that hard to read the writing on the wall.

Bluebird, of course there's plenty of intolerance from the right. There's just as much of it from the left, and just as much hate speech. As I noted in last week's post, the politics of personal demonization is a problem straight across the political spectrum, and all sides need to stop and think about what they've been saying and doing. As for Trump, we'll see what he actually does; as I noted earlier, if he backs away from confrontation with Russia, tears up some trade agreements, and reenacts some form of Glass-Steagall, he'll have done more good than any of the last four presidents -- though admittedly that's a pretty low bar. I'd like to see him begin the process of extracting the US from its imperial entanglements; for reasons I'll discuss soon in a post, that could spare all of us a lot of grief.

Paul, based on what I've heard from Trump voters, it's not a factor at all. Their core concern about mass illegal immigration is that it's been used to drive down wages and benefits.

Rapier, you're talking as though this abstract label "left" has some inherent meaning. It doesn't; look into its history, and you'll find that it's meant a galaxy of things. I use it because most of the people I'm talking about use it of themselves.

Joel, glad to hear that you're trying to talk to people. The thing is, as a moderate Burkean conservative, I've got no stake in either party; the GOP's stances on most issues are as alien to me as the Democrats' -- but it's important that neither party has a permanent stranglehold on power, and for that reason I'd like to see the Dems extract their heads from their backsides and stand up for the things that used to win them the support of so many working people of all colors and ethnicities. That was the point of this week's post, after all! I'm also delighted to hear that the latest issue is out; once I get my copy, I'll put something at the bottom of the following week's post.

Armata, you're welcome and thank you. You speak for a lot of people I know in flyover country.

Howard, if the Dems double down on a failed strategy, they're going to get hammered in four years. I've been looking over the history of comparable cases in the past, and there are very clear patterns to follow. I wonder if they have anybody who bothers to learn from history...

Marxmarv, if Soros et al. think they can drum up a color revolution with the current crop of professional protesters, based on the fairly large sample of the type I knew in Seattle and Ashland, he's got another think coming. Do you recall what happened in Romania when activists tried to destabilize the Iliescu government in 1990? Iliescu called in the coal miners from the countryside, and there were some very ugly scenes as the activists were beaten and driven out of Bucharest. Think of how many well-armed men and women in the flyover states are Trump supporters, and imagine what would happen if Trump called on loyal American citizens to stop an attempted coup...

Justin, I suspect a lot of people stayed home to protest the wretched selection of candidates. As I noted several times before the election, there were easily ten thousand Americans better fitted to be president than Donald Trump, but Hillary Clinton was not one of them.

DaShui, it's not an accident that I've got plenty of yarrow growing in the back yard.

Canon Fodder, no argument at all.

Frank & Jessica said...

I've been absolutely enthralled reading both this fine post and the many incisive, intelligent comments made in response to it!

Nancy Sutton said...

Re: equivalency, recent anyway, I don't remember McCain/Romney's natural constituents being shot down in the street; nor either Republican being defeated while getting a majority of the popular vote. And the complaints about the undemocratic character of the Electoral College have been raised for a loooong time. (As you know, it was enacted to empower the slave states, who had too few voters (i.e., white folks) vis a vis the northern states, and had to be bribed to sign onto the constitution.) Equivalency may be fair in some areas, but it is, I think, deadly when asserted in other areas, and far too easy.

Plus, when our attention is so skillfully 'contained' in a particular arena, other ideas and possibilities are relegated to the shadows. This works to the advantage of ... who? We could be discussing the ingenious National Popular Vote campaign (B Boxer's bill is a sop); the Chicago Plan (google it); how the 'growth imperative' = the inscrutable money creation reality; how modern capitalism would not exist without it's roots in 'wealth creation' via chattel/wage slavery etc... and how our abysmal ignorance of these, and many other, absolutely critical facts makes us easy prey for the plutocrats. While they fan the emotional flames on both sides.

As long as 'dramatization' passes for analysis these days, maybe you could write another superb narrative that explicates the economic and monetary reality (and history) as wonderfully as you've done with technological possibility in Retrotopia. :)

Roberta said...

I also supported Sanders and believe he would have won easily. I continuously pointed out that Trump was running to Clinton's left on critically important issues of imperialism, globalism, and economic stagnation. My critique was not well-received in most cases.

There is one factor in "support" for Clinton which I don't think has been given adequate acknowledgement. This is anecdotal, but of three women who detested Clinton but voted for her anyway, all had experienced a "grab her by the" incident. They are uneasy about whether there will be increasing social acceptance of random groping of young women. This behavior is all too common in the U.S., but extremely common in some other countries, so it seems like a realistic fear. I suspect that quite a few Clinton voters were people who could not bring themselves to vote for the Donald for this most visceral reason.

barry_NZ said...

People in most of the world are rather amused when you describe the Democratic party as "left".

John Michael Greer said...

Tolkienguy, I wish I could disagree. One of the reasons I discussed federalism in last week's post is that I suspect it's the only viable alternative to the breakup of the Union, with or without civil war.

LL Pete, sorry I couldn't help you with the World Series; I know squat about baseball!

Juandonjuan, exactly. We've had twenty-four years of neoliberal, globalist, open-borders economics, and the results are in: they produce obscene profits for the already rich and misery for the working class. Now let's draw the logical conclusions and try something else.

WB, maybe we should start a meme that zombies were responsible for Clinton's loss. They've already tried just about everything else...

Siliconguy, so noted! You've been added to my unscientific data base.

Ganv, maybe so, but I think there's actually a fair chance Trump may actually back away from confrontation with the Russians and improve the job market at least a little. He's already been on the phone with Putin, and has reiterated that he intends to pursue a less hostile line over Syria -- and so much of the job losses in middle America have been caused by offshoring that terminating the trade agreements that facilitate that, and slapping penalties on companies that do so, might reverse the trend at least a little. But we'll see.

Candace, Bill Clinton could have won this election. I don't like the man, but he's a brilliant campaigner and politician, and Hillary is neither.

Leo, those first two sentences of yours ought to be put on the business end of a branding iron and applied to some very sensitive backsides. Thank you!

Webster, interesting. I've had very little direct contact with the internet-right, other than a few people who've commented here and flagged their presence by saying "praise Kek" or what have you; by and large, they've been more polite, more willing to engage in dialogue, and less prone to spew out thoughtstoppers than their opposite numbers from the left. If you're right and they aren't into racism, that's another plus in their column.

Ben, as I've said rather more than once -- starting in January -- I'm convinced that Trump's use of language that the left considers unacceptable was a deliberate choice intended to signal to his main constituencies that he wasn't a "suit." His entire strategy was based on distancing himself from the political mainstream, in which politically correct language policing is de rigueur. So no, he couldn't have done other than he did -- not if he wanted to get the enthusiasm of the abandoned working class voters that he needed to seize the GOP nomination. The lesson I'd suggest you take from that is not that US is awash with racists; it's that the US is awash with people who have no time for the language policing just mentioned, which is not the same thing.

Justin, thanks for the link.

Lawrence, um, I think you're letting partisan loyalty get in the way of reality testing. No, the Democrats weren't interested in doing the things I listed -- I dare you, for example, to find me any significant number of Democratic politicians who showed the least interest in enforcing the immigration laws. As for your characterization of the GOP, sure -- but Trump does not represent the mainstream of the GOP, which is why so many of them fought him tooth and nail. Look at what the man himself has said, and what he's still saying he's going to do, rather than insisting that all Republicans qua Republicans have to fit your stereotype.

Joel said...

One reason people on the Left have felt threatened by Trump supporters is that there have been actual threats directed at them, explicitly linked to the recent sea change in public opinion over whether bigotry is shameful.

At least one member of my family has been targeted for this type of harassment. While this wasn't the beer bottle to the face or the swastika painted on a church that some people had to endure (a partial list here, it was explicitly about her race and was tied to an expected change in Federal policy in addition to an unraveling of norms.

People I know from Ireland (including those who have occasionally allowed their visas to lapse for one reason or another) do not receive the same treatment as people who look Mexican but were born in the USA, which makes me think the response would, in fact, be different if the immigration were from Canada.

What's especially sad to me is that the attackers, in general, seem to feel they are breaking free of oppression: that violence, property damage, and threats of violence against groups that seem different were some basic right that they had been denied for decades.

I realize an elected official's policies matter more than their persona, but much of Trump's portrayal as racist (and Steve Bannon's flirtation with white nationalist ideology) has helped make this presidential race double as a referendum on political correctness. People are taking liberties with each other on that basis.

Rob Rhodes said...

I hope also that after the shouting stops some more people will have learned that the unthinkable can happen.

patriciaormsby said...

I've been informed under no uncertain terms that a pogrom is currently underway in America and that because I have not condemned Mr. Trump in the harshest tones, I am personally to blame for massive suffering. :-)

A brief rundown on Japan's reaction to the surprise (note I'm reporting this indirectly, as it is my husband's chore to keep an eye on the TV, in case it tries anything, so this is filtered via two human beings with their own biases):

When it became apparent Trump would win, a few newscasters came out suddenly and started criticizing Clinton on air for her corruption and violence. They'd been holding back because she was the presumed winner. It seemed to be mostly women opening up like this, and I've seen a lot of dislike for Clinton among women aware of international affairs, with one commentator a couple months ago saying she disliked Clinton for forgiving her husband's philandering.

The news has subsequently focused on the TPP, which the ruling class and media have highly favored (but a short trip through the countryside, where anti-TPP placards are plastered every which way reveals Japan's own rural/urban divide). As of yesterday, there was a split among commentators as to whether Japan's economy would improve or worsen without the TPP. Today there is some talk of Asia going forward with the TPP minus the US.

For the first few days after the election they carried some news about violent demonstrations in America, but they are not interested in liberal Americans' reactions to the defeat. They present a generally positive impression of Trump, with a certain amount of dissent, and discuss the ongoing bias in America's media.

None of my students brought up the election results. I taught them Ogden Nash's "Invocation" (Senator Smoot, Republican, Ut., Is planning a ban on smut). They enjoyed it.

A nice sunny day today with a shining Fuji. I went out and shook the kiwi jungle gym to get the ripe ones to fall, and moved the avocado tree up close to our house.

Durians are impossible anywhere outside of the tropics, but I am trying to nurse a couple back to health in the greenhouse.

Still no frost. Used to occur about a month earlier.

Roberta said...

It's also been interesting to see how quickly the incoming administration got larded up with banking lobbyists, MIC prostitutes, and ridiculous characters like Giuliani and Gingrich. It looks to me like Rust Belt voters are in for a most unpleasant betrayal. I also doubt that the Dems will have enough sense to take advantage of it, since they are likely going to continue with "misogyny and racism lalalala I don't hear you" to anyone who points out that getting a quarter million from Goldman for a speech is problematic if you claim to represent regular folks.

John Michael Greer said...

Bryan, yes, I think that's an important part of it. I'd also point out, though, that the ideals are being used pretty transparently as camouflage for specific interests; these days, social justice is joined at the hip with predatory neoliberal economics, and the one is used to advance the other -- as when open borders are promoted for humanitarian reasons, but used to drive down wages and benefits.

Mark, the problem of the violent minority is present in every corner of American (and not only American) society. Should American conservatives call out the violent minority in their midst? Of course. So should American Muslims, and every other subset of our society that has a violent minority within it. It's when partisan passions lead various groups to insist that their violent minorities have to be given a free pass while calling for the other side's to be punished that we get into the kind of mess we're in today. As for Trump's solutions, there I disagree, because tearing up the trade treaties that have facilitated offshoring jobs, and enforcing our immigration laws, will very likely improve job prospects for people in the flyover states at least to a modest extent. But we'll see, of course.

Marinhomelander, hmm! I wonder how much impact such a buyers' strike might have, if it spreads beyond your circle of friends.

Gabby, some of my readers have noted the number of generals and admirals that supported Trump in the election campaign, and suggested that the military may have backed him as a way to stop Clinton from picking a fight with Russia that the US is arguably far from certain to win. Thus you may be on to something.

Herstory, thank you for the data point. I've noticed that women especially tended to vote for Trump because of Clinton's reckless militarism, so you're far from alone.

Rharper, thank you.

Ares, there's a middle ground between empire and isolationism, you know, and I find it entirely plausible that Trump intends to move into that middle ground, away from the current empire-at-all-costs mentality. The insistence that he can't possibly do so, it seems to me, says more about the way that the Democrats turned him into a cartoon bogeyman than anything else. More generally, I'd encourage you to think about the origins of the scenario you've laid out, and compare it to the equivalent scenarios that so many Republicans were waving around to console themselves after their drubbing in 2008.

Genevieve, that may just happen.

Frank & Jessica, thank you.

Nancy, if you go back and reread my post, you might happen to notice that the only equivalency I talked about was the fact that both parties are sore losers, and whiny about it to boot, when they lose the White House. I'm not sure how you leapt from there to the things you've talked about in this comment of yours.

Roberta, understood. I'm not telling people how to vote, you know -- I'm talking about why a lot of people I know voted the way they did.

Barry, it's as left as we've got here!

Joel, and of course that's a valid point. Both candidates helped turn it into a referendum on political correctness, and I think the Clinton campaign wasn't at all aware of how that part of the vote would go.

John Michael Greer said...

Rob, yes, that would also be helpful.

Patricia, I loved that Nash poem when I was a child -- it made a splendid chant. "Smite, Smoot, smite for Ut.!" Thanks for the data points.

Roberta, granted. To some extent, Trump has to hand out favors to the Republicans who supported him, and to hand out other posts to potential allies within the party, so that he can count on legislative backing for at least some of his agenda. Still, we'll see. As noted above, if he pulls an Obama and abandons his constituency the moment he gets into office, things may get very ugly very quickly.

goedeck said...

To be brief, I'll just add that I saw one Bay Area affluent middle-aged female comment on Facebook that those that support Trump simply do not have the educational background to know why this is in error, as if edumacation makes you more intelligent.

OT: I wanted to report that I have successfully tested and achieved my ARRL Technician privileges, (got 35/35). Do you have a General, Mr. Greer?

Maria Rigel said...

That post is based on the assumption that there will be presidential elections in the USA in four years' time. Considering that you elected Trump, I think that assumption is premature.

Also, it's based on the assumption that people really vote based on policies, by comparing candidates side by side. All the evidence suggests otherwise. People don't usually think about their president like you'd think about the question: "Is this the right mechanic to fix my car?" It's much more like: "Is this the right deity to worship?" It's a lot easier to have disagreements with your friends and neighbors about mechanics than it is about deities. That's why people are much more willing to overlook the evidence, twist facts, and avoid doing their due diligence to check if their beliefs about what this deity stands for are correct, in order to arrive at the "correct" answer.

I don't vote. I've never voted. Since the whole thing was explained to me as a teenager, it was clear to me that the current system was, at best, doubtful in its ability to give people the best government possible. But I accepted that, pragmatically, generally speaking modern democracy was producing acceptable governments. That's, of course, because the times weren't too bad. Modern democracies can be terrible at giving you acceptable governments when times get difficult. That's why the Nazis got voted in Germany, many years ago. I'm not going to describe here what I think would be a better government, I could be wrong and it's another discussion. I just want to make it plain that I don't think that Trump is a terrible idea because I'm being partisan. I have, like everyone else, my ideas about what policies are right and wrong. But I don't have, and never had, pledge my allegiance and promised to worship any particular party, or even modern democracy itself.

Scotlyn said...

@Varun re: "we need a left leg, not a left wing" Thanks! wonderful.

I am drawn to reflect upon the fact that, as a body needs two fully functioning legs to be balanced, so a society needs fully functioning bodies of engaged citizens to balance each other out in the pursuit of "left" goals of redistribution and shaking things up*, and "right" goals of order and conservation of the good. The truth is, we all need tongue and heart and service to be given to both, though for most of us, we will feel drawn more to one or the other side in terms of our personal inclination, giving us the prospect of a society with a left and a right leg. Phew!

(Of course, the two legs need to be in continuous communication and interaction in order to get anywhere they want to go)...

Or one could consider a model of homeostasis - for a body to maintain a desired state it needs to have mechanisms that ckeck its tendency to go too far in either direction... The left mechanism should check a society's tendency to accumulate too much in too few hands and to get fixated or stuck in the customs and habits that reinforce that, while the right mechanism should check a society's tendency to forget lessons learned and to disregard the wisdom of the ancestors. And if both checks are working, the society will be able both to know itself, and to renew itself.

Avery said...

JMG, your blog is always a breath of fresh air. My corner of the woods has been particularly hysterical in writing open letters and manifestos directed towards Trump supporters and Americans in general. Your attitude is cool as always.

It's interesting to think about what people are actually trying to accomplish with this kind of writing. I'm of the opinion that they previously took the silence of the world as a narcissistic cosmic assent that they had total control over the next page of world history. Now that silence is no longer good enough, thanks to the ballot box, so there's a sort of frantic feeling to their writing, as if they hoped that with enough eyeballs, likes, and shares, their egos can be returned to something like their pre-election state.

Rather than taking all of this personally, I hope that your readers will stand back and see this as part of a slow but massive breakdown of urban political rhetoric, which did not start with this election but stretches decades into the past, and will continue to go on for decades into the future. The myth of progress, which you've discussed for several years now, will have revelations for all of us as it unravels. Spengler says that what comes next is the Second Religiousness.

Indian Blogger said...

well, good post. The liberals should address the concerns of the US working class. And for what its worth, liberals need not be despondent, Hillary did after all win the popular vote and secured a significant majority among young voters. So this is no knock-out blow to the liberals. World is getting more liberal, not less. But please address the concerns of the working class.

Ares Olympus said...

JMG said: More generally, I'd encourage you to think about the origins of the scenario you've laid out, and compare it to the equivalent scenarios that so many Republicans were waving around to console themselves after their drubbing in 2008.

I 100% agree there is partial equivalency in any surprise shift of political power when one major party rise and another falls, and over the top rhetoric during any campaign by the losing side creates self-terror when their boogieman is elected.

And in some ways we can be glad that Trump may be a relative figurehead populist president, while a half-capable republican leadership is actually in charge, and under traditional VP politician Mike Pence, and basically we're headed more for a traditional Right "borrow and spend" leadership that economists hate, while acknowledging it is the only path left for imaginary economic growth.

James Howard Kunstler this week imagined Trump's task isn't to MAGA, but instead to created a managed contraction, and perhaps "States rights" is the next stage of this process, and now the Left is going to see the new virtue of state power, when they have no federal power left.

And we're going to slowly divide and sort ourselves out, and white supremacy can win in the south, and drive out the minorities, while the southwest will become a bigger battleground between the white and latino influences.

But President Trump doesn't look at all to be neutral in these shifts, and there will surely be demands that he follow through with his boasts of expanding deportations, starting with what Obama is already doing, but when he needs scapegoats, when the economy is not going well, surely those times are the best times to demand "law and order" however much it discriminates.

Anyway, whatever fears the Republicans had i 2008, and I guess bathroom wars were declared, and threatened innocent white girls everywhere from perverts. And now its minorities who have to be afraid, and us safe white people don't have to care, as long as things don't bother our neighborhoods.

Juandonjuan said...

@Candace RE the WSJ piece- So, the lesson from this for the DNC is that in an echo chamber, realities (and others' perceptions) are unwelcome guests. WSJ- not much more establishment than that. Well, maybe the NYT or Pravda on the Potomac, but still....
I mean we're not talking about out here on the fringes where Archdruids lurk. Maybe they should look?

David, by the lake said...

I've seen a number of comments in various fora discussing the historical origins of the electoral college as a concession to slave states and questioning its validity (or moral validity, anyway). One, it is the mechanism embedded in the Constitution, so if you want to change it, change the mechanism, either by amendment or state compact, don't go about insinuating that the rules should be ignored b/c you don't like the result. Two, the purpose (or one of the purposes) of the College -- whatever its historical bases -- is to limit the ability of more populous states to dominate less populous states at the federal level. As one who supports the construct of a federal republic of states with clearly delineated jurisdictional boundaries between the two levels, I for one am all for that. Attempting to de-legitimize the College by linking it with the moral taint of slavery is poor logic and a badly constructed argument.

gregorach said...

It seems to me, observing from the other side of the Atlantic ocean, that there's a similar phenomenon happening to what we experienced after the Brexit vote: a relatively small number of assorted bigots of various persuasions taking the result as validation, and using it as an excuse to engage in all sorts of violent and abusive behaviour. For those who don't personally know anybody on the winning side, these extremists then become representative by virtue of their visibility. Sure, not all Brexit / Trump voters are racist, but if the only Brexit / Trump voters you personally encounter are the ones shouting racist abuse at you in the street, or exist only in the media reports of their hate crimes, you're going to end up thinking they're representative.

There's also the fact that being told that they're not representative isn't particularly reassuring when you're the one on the sharp end, or at risk of ending up there... Hearing "most Trump voters aren't Nazis" is no great help when you find a swastika along with the words "Heil Trump" graffitied on your church, or a fake deportation notice stapled to your door, or you're being beaten up in a parking lot by a bunch of thugs in Trump t-shirts with lighting bolt tattoos.

Here in Britain, it was said that "not all Brexiteers are racist, but all racists are Brexiteers"... The US does unfortunately have something of a problem with far-right hate groups, and they're all overjoyed and energised by Trump's victory. If they see it as an endorsement, is it unreasonable for their opponents to agree?

Phil Harris said...

It would be interesting but probably impossible to know if the anti-KKK hymn singers (good aerobic exercise) voted roughly 50:50 in the recent election. It would be good to know that the same singers would have the nerve to do it again if the Klu Klux Klan turns up again next year.

In UK we have had a lot of immigration for work – mostly since EU enlargement post-2000.

A quote from official ONS numbers:
Looking at the employment estimates by nationality, between July to September 2015 and July to September 2016:

"UK nationals working in the UK increased by 213,000 to 28.39 million.
non-UK nationals working in the UK increased by 241,000 to 3.49 million.”

UK has not done well since the financial crash 2008/2009 but I emphasise that we do not seem these days in 2016 to have any shortage of badly paid jobs, even though many areas have never recovered from de-industrialisation that was deliberately fostered after 1979. The social catastrophe has been ongoing. We are highly urbanised especially in traditional industrial areas and too many towns and cities are no longer centres of net prosperity.

I would be interested if your view is similar to the one reported by Gary Younge yesterday from Muncie, USA, (the classic ‘Middletown’) after a month staying there.

Thanks again for your insights and alerts.
Phil H

Renaissance Man said...

For what it's worth, all the discussions I've had break down into one of four categories:
- They would vote for Mr. Trump because of his economic policies. However, when pressed, they cannot explain those policies (which I find to be a collection of incoherent and fragmentary complaints). These same people are also turning out to be anti-muslim or anti-gay or sexist bigots. It's very depressing.
- They would vote for Ms. Clinton because they fear a crypto-fascist and bigoted Trump administration. In this case, they are not using fascist as a snarl-word, but really speaking in terms of genuine fascism. They compare Mr. Trump and his supporters behaviour and statements as uncomfortably according with the characteristics of a fascist state.
- They despise Mr. Trump because of his encouragement of bigotry, misogyny, and because they seriously doubt the economic competence of someone with a long string of bankruptcies.
- They despise Ms. Clinton because she has no consistent voting record that supports any ideological position. Because she has become the puppet of the establishment who benefit from the economic and political status quo. Because people blame U.S. foreign policy over the past 30 years for the chaos around the globe and because people are tired of having neo-liberal economic policies and asymmetric trade deals foisted upon them. She represents all this. Plus she is seen as more corrupt than average (probably due to 20+ years of Republican propaganda).
One interesting and consistent point is whenever I say something like "the American Empire is about to fall" there is complete agreement across the board. And none of us like feeling like being next door to a falling structure that our political leaders have tied is tightly to over the past decades.

fudoshindotcom said...

Kudos on a wonderfully insightful analysis JMG!

Since the election my vote for Trump has earned me the titles of; racist, sexist, homophobe, and moron. As, in fact, I am none of those things, I know people in those communities and consider them friends. One thing I noticed while being berated was that none of them appeared to believe that there were any legitimate reasons to support Trump. When I mentioned idiotic foreign policy, immigration policies that hurt the working class, or decades of needless overreach by the federal government these concerns got flatly ignored. When I responded to accusations that I supported rape by pointing out that allowing adult men who self-identify as women to share restrooms with young girls does actually enable sexual predators, I was accused of bigotry.

When I brought up Clinton's career long record of unethical behavior, her admitted intent to continue attacking the U.S. Constitution, or her likely criminal acts these things were quickly brushed aside.

As a non-affiliated voter my perception is that the Democratic party did a spectacular job of disenfranchising me during the campaign and now feels they have every right to condemn my lack of allegiance.

Having a capricious streak in my nature, I admit I somewhat enjoy watching their antics as they work around to the realization that their viewpoint is not the only valid one.

I look forward to an interesting four years and answer all the accusations leveled by way of a quote from the character Quai-Chang Caine, "Whatever you think I am, I am".

Kevin Price said...

I've heard many times the Soros funds Black Lives Matter and is currently funding the Trump protests. I don't doubt it, but I've had a hard time finding solid documentation. Most of the sites that appear when I try to research it are pretty deep into the David Icke territory. JMG, or anyone else, could you please point me in a useful direction? Thanks!

Iuval Clejan said...

You nailed it. My main concern with Trump (but Clinton probably would not have been better), is environmental issues (like fracking, mountain top removal, etc) and corporate vs local interests (like NDAPL). What are your thoughts on that?

paularbair said...

Another great post, thank you. Once again you lay out the reasons behind Trump’s success very clearly and convincingly. You had actually already done that and correctly called the result of the election months ago. You have even correctly and consistently analyzed and explained over the last decade why ‘something like Trump’ was probably always meant to happen in America. Hats off to you.
I’m however a bit surprised by the tone of your last two posts, which seem to be a bit more hopeful than what I would have expected.
In your 2014 book ‘Decline and Fall’, you pointed out that “As the decline accelerates, anyone who offers Americans a narrative that allows them to pretend they’ll get the shiny new future that our national mythology promises them will be able to count on a large and enthusiastic audience. The narratives being marketed for this purpose need not be convincing; they need not even be sane. So long as they make it possible for Americans to maintain the fiction of a brighter future in the teeth of the facts, they’ll be popular.” I believe that this is exactly what happened with Trump. What he promised is the fiction of a brighter future in the form of a return to a mythical past – “Make America Great Again”. It seems to me that his narratives have proved popular even as they have been far from being convincing nor coherent or even sane. Yet it looks like you now somehow consider that he has actually proposed a set of coherent policy proposals during his campaign. I can only agree that he has perfectly diagnosed the resentment that was brewing across the country and masterfully instrumentalised it - but I believe he hasn’t laid out any kind of coherent proposal that would really have even a remote chance of really benefiting the common people that he has pretended to champion during the campaign.
In your 2009 book ‘The Ecotechnic Future', you wrote that: “Too many Americans have fallen into the seductive but disastrous habit of blaming their political adversaries for their own feelings of shame and resentment. Even the briefest glance at history shows where that sort of scapegoat logic leads and it’s no place any sane human being would want to go. A good deal of what happened during Germany’s ordeal between 1933 and 1945, as Jung pointed out in a prescient essay, can best be understood as the end result of this sort of projection, with a grand Wagnerian Götterdammerung as finale. It’s entirely possible that some similar madness could grip America in the years to come.” I tend to believe that the rise of Donald Trump signals that this kind of madness may in fact be approaching in America. Yet you now seem to imply that his election could potentially open a path to some form of “renewal of the traditions of American federalism” (last week’s post), or of the national dialogue (this week’s post).
I personally believe that the Trump phenomenon is a symptom of America - as the epicenter of industrial civilization - reaching the ‘Limits to Growth’ and entering a new phase of what you call ‘catabolic collapse’. But I don’t think that his victory will in any way make it possible to move towards solving or even easing the problems faced by America and the American people. On the contrary, I believe that his policies are likely to make these problems worse rather quickly.
What I think is the fundamental issue is that, as the Western world reaches the Limits to Growth, it also seems to be reaching the Limits to Democracy. Absent economic growth, democracy is losing its edge over other political regimes in terms of its capacity to peacefully arbitrate and mediate between conflicting or opposing interests or values, and thus tends to degenerate and break down. Trump is the most important sign of this evolution so far, but far from the only one. I have tried to explain this in more details here:
And I would of course very much like to hear or rather read your views on this.
Thank you.

Fred the First said...

How many Trump = Hitler comments did you have to delete? That is all I've seen for 18 months in my Facebook feed with pleads to please read this article or watch this video to see how the people of Germany were duped. I so wanted to reply "your ignorance of history is showing" but I know that when you confront someone who holds extreme views, arguing with them just strengthens their views, they double down.

And this is what I couldn't figure out the whole 18 months Trump ran - everything the left hit him with, he just grew stronger. Things that took down candidates every other election cycle, just bounced off him and emboldened his supporters, even if quietly. You were the only writer to point out why that was, so it was amazing to watch the entire time.

My leftist friends have moved from shock (public crying), anger (not my President!), bargaining (electoral college must go!), denial (not my President! said louder this time), but they haven't gotten to asking for help, the final stage of grief. It's like they don't want to agree and don't want to work with everyone else.

I did hear one person say that if we aren't publicly denouncing Trump, then its as good as supporting him. The left is requiring allegiance to their cause? And I'm thinking, who is the Nazi now?

I'm at a loss as to what to do. Ignore them? I was mostly doing that. Apparently if one says "relax" or "calm down", the response is "don't tell me how to feel!", so I avoided those words. They seem to be encouraging each other to stay in this emotional state. To stop being against Trump will let the hate in or something like that. But all they are doing is shouting hateful things about Trump????

I'm thinking back to your rescue game post and it seems like ignoring them all is the best solution? They want to be the victim and no matter what is said and done will choose to remain the victim, right?

sillybill said...


I hesitate to call you a liar, maybe you have just mistakenly absorbed propaganda from violent racists, but your comment is a good example of why lefties and non-whites are nervous these days:

"BLM motivated killings of police officers (two were shot in Des Moines a couple days before the election)"

BLM has not killed any police officers, they have not called for any killings of police officers, they have asked repeatedly for peace and non-violent protest while remaining firm in their conviction that black people have as much worth as white people and should be treated the same by police.

The police in Des Moines were killed by a white man - you should really do a little research before you accuse someone of murder. If you want to see examples of instigation of murder and torture you should wander around right wing websites like Stormfront or the comment section at Breitbart.

JMG - The Klan is marching in support of Trump in North Carolina December 3rd. I'll be there in opposition.
I enjoy your writing, am fully on board with the idea of progress reaching a point of diminishing returns, but think we must try to keep all the legal rights others have won. I don't think Trump will keep many of his promises. Time will tell.

Lei said...

It might be useful in the discussion to ponder the possibility, which is certainty for me, who has been keeping track of Russia's activities for some while as an inhabitant of a Central European country, that it is Russia who is presently implementing the polictics of conflict.

Its politics has become overly assertive, agressive and risky, which is after all the behaviour of each revisionist power. Also, unlike practically all NATO countries, it has adopted war-time budgeting, with offical military funding of ca. 4 per cent, but actually maybe even 8 percet, with the military budget rising by many many per cents each year, although there seems to be nobody anywhere near that would be interested in invading Russia, as the Russian propaganda keeps claiming.

One thing is that we Europeans should take care of our own security, but on the other hand, I do not think that it is the USA (or Obama or Clinton) who incites the conflicts with Russia. Moreover, precisely because the Obama administration has been so weak in the eyes of Russians, Russia has escalated its military operations. Finally, the role and hehaviour of Russia in Syria is ugly and should be designated as such.

If you read Russian strategic material or even mainstream newspapars, you would find out that they are full of plans for a war with the NATO and USA.

You know, looking at those unanounced gigantic military excercises near the eastern boundaries of the EU, during which nuclear attacks on Warsaw and Berlin are simulated, I do not feel quite like that it is the USA who risk the war.

Of course, if might be easier for you Americans to simply hand over Europe to Russia (which is what Putin has been working on for some time, wishing for a new Yalta conference). But not only that would be a sad end of a long-lasting alliance, but also I think that in the end Americans would regret it badly - with all the economical and technological resources of Europe in the hands of a new tsar.

Look at WWII - isolation is not a solution - it only enables your competitors to get much more ground and than to destroy you (in fact, the PRC is following now a very similar parth to that of Russia - that of confrontation and ruthlessness).

Fred the First said...

Why aren't my fellow citizen's who voted for Clinton more angry at the media who lied to them for 18 months? I'm confused as to why the rage isn't directed there. Not a single firing of a journalist who colluded with the Clinton campaign either.

And I'm also surprised that I have not seen one comment of "Hillary for President" rally being organized anywhere. I knew the left didn't like her, the number of votes she received shows that, but wow, even after the fact, she gets zero support.

W. B. Jorgenson said...

I've been having discussions with Clinton supporters about what Google and Facebook should do to combat "fake news", (it may be an actual problem, but the "solution" seems dangerous) and one thing surprises me. It may have to do with something worth discussing on the other blog (not sure what yet), but more than a few have used the Archdruid Report as an example of what they want to see removed. Not restricted, but altogether removed from the internet. Things may be about to get very interesting online....

J. Gamer said...

I know innuendo and otherwise impossible-to-substantiate claims are discouraged on this blog but I'm going to throw this out here anyways....From a globalist perspective you couldn't find a more apt fall guy than Donald Trump, especially now when the country and the rest of the world are primed for a deflationary collapse.

Greg Belvedere said...

I have a lot of random observations this week. I'm surprised you have not had to deal with any comments along the lines of, "Of course Trump does not scare you. You are a straight white man." A favorite thought stopper on the left these days some other commenters have brought up.

Your blog has prepared me for these election results, so I have found it entertaining watching the reaction of my fellow leftists over Trump's election. Though it has been less amusing than I thought it would be. Frankly, it is kind of pathetic the way people can't think about the checks and balances preventing him from doing some of the scarier things he has talked about.

I have some first hand experience with the freakout. My gay younger brother who voted for Clinton berated my older brother because he voted for Trump. Accusing him of not caring about his rights which might be taken away. It got so bad he is not coming to Thanksgiving.

I find it interesting that the media can't talk about class without reframing the discussion to include race and gender. Working class turns into white working class, or working class white males.

I have noticed some people trying to understand things you have been saying for a while about the electorate. This has been a pleasant surprise, but a lot of people are doubling down on "they are a bunch of racists and I have no empathy for them". I think this election represents an inability of different groups to see their own privilege. "I don't care if you can get married, or what happens to this group if I can't get a decent job" vs. "I don't care if you can find a job if I my Muslim friends have to register and women's reproductive rights get taken away".

Ben Johnson said...

JMG - I guess I should clarify my point. Word policing does not interest me. I doubt that America is any more or less awash in racists than most other large, ethnically diverse nations. What I think concerns many communities of color (as distinct form the political left) is that Trump's racist language is not just political theater, but an open statement about how he plans to treat them.
To my point about use of language; Sanders made the same anti-trade argument, clearly distanced himself from the political establishment, and nearly won a rigged primary, mostly on the strength of populist rhetoric. Assuming that the political right is no more or less racist than the left, I think Trump could have done the same thing during the Republican primaries. Which leads me back to my main concern, that his language is a statement of intent rather than political theater. I hope I am wrong.

On a related note, I predicted in March that Trump had a better than even chance of winning the general:!/2016/03/another-tuesday-in-march.html

Mister Roboto said...

More Pravda journalism: The Atlantic magazine is now trying to tell people that it's not because of Obamacare that health insurance premiums have been going through the roof. The media establishment has really thrown all shame to the wind, hasn't it?

donalfagan said...

I'm sure the other three aspects you cited figured in, but I'd say Bringing Back Jobs was the main engine. Also, I think Trump's electoral college victory was helped along some by voter suppression in the form of fewer polling places, voter ID and random voter misdirection. I saw reports of minority voters being told outside that there were no more ballots only to go inside and find that the people outside were trying to con them.

Right now, Trump seems to be sinking in the swamp he had promised to drain. Perhaps Mike Pence or Jared Kushner will end up being the real power behind the throne. Hard to say.

Also, with the election of Chuck Schumer, the Dems seem to be doubling down on being the loser party. Bernie Sanders may have an effect, but I don't expect them to give up corporate money.

Bob said...

I think it is notable that 3 of the 4 reasons you list are explicitly anti-Hillary/Democrat, and have literally nothing to do with Trump (It's possible that his administration will improve on the ACA, but I doubt it), while the fourth reason - job creation - is largely due to a leap of faith that 1) Trump ran for president because he actually cares about people, and 2) his immigration and tax policies will actually benefit working class Americans. He is surely less likely to lead us to war with Russia, but we are already at war in several other parts of the world, and his reshuffling the deck of geopolitics may well create as many new enemies as friends. I say this not to dismiss those reasons, but rather, to acknowledge the amount of nose-holding that took place on both sides. I voted for Bernie and then Hillary with similar motives. That is, I voted against Hillary, and then against Trump, rather than truly believing my candidate is a wonderful person with great ideas about America. Furthermore, the stereotyping cuts both ways: some of us Hillary voters do not sit in coffee shops discussing Hamilton and the latest Wes Anderson movie while mocking people from flyover country. Some of us heard about the fear from our friends who are not straight, white males, and saw the "Trump that Bitch" t-shirts (and worse) at rallies (how many instances of hate speech or physical assault were captured on video at Democratic rallies?), and simply couldn't imagine ourselves voting for Trump. We could easily justify this choice by looking to his complete lack of experience, his refusal to disavow his most extreme fans (David Duke, etc.), and his occasionally disgusting statements and actions (I happen to think a man who - among other things - mocks a person with a disability when he knows the cameras are rolling is, in fact, temperamentally unfit to be POTUS). Moreover, the media's role in elections cannot be understated. Just as people in Trump country only see Hillary supporters who attend rallies, the reverse is true. The cameras capture people on both sides wearing Uncle Sam hats and cheering; I hope those people represent a minority of voters, but I have no way of knowing. I would see and hear people interviewing Trump supporters at rallies, asking what they liked about Trump. The responses were disturbingly vague half-slogans about freedom, liberty, and greatness, even when the questions would ask for specifity about policies. Hitler comparisons are both absurd and legitimate. Absurd because of the differences in the men; legitimate because of the similarities of many of their fans. Get the trains to run on time, and never mind who is on them, or where they are going. I realize that Hillary voters can be described as classists, throwing their blue collar neighbors under the bus so that white collar jobs still pay well, but then criticisms of the other side need to acknowledge the same practice: dismissing concerns about human rights and hostile rhetoric (to say nothing of actual White Supremacists cheering for him and receiving high level appointments) in order to keep food in the fridge and so forth. I also realize that a word like RACISM is probably inadequate to cover the KKK on one side of the spectrum, and people who tolerate/overlook Trump's comments about Mexicans on the other, but those of us in liberal, elite, urban America also recall the rapid rise of the Tea Party, and knew then that it was largely motivated by the recent inauguration of our first non-white president. I think our politics are simply becoming more reactive, with each side primarily motivated by trying to weaken/destroy the values and beliefs of the other side. More to say, but character limits.

Ursachi Alexandru said...

JMG, regarding the 1990 Mineriad here in Romania,

The protesters were not necessarily driven out of Bucharest since most of them were from Bucharest, unlike the miners themselves. As for Trump, hopefully he won't be your country's version of Iliescu, because he wasn't exactly fond of democratic institutions and free speech.

Elderwoman said...

80+ comments and so far scarcely a mention of what seems to me the most important aspect of the whole election disaster. Which is that the American people (well around 26% of them anyway) have successfully elected a man who intends to put a climate change denier and totally non-green person in charge of the EPA and in probably many other ways set back any progress that might have been made on environmental issues in this next four years.

JMG, as always I appreciate your commentary and the balance you always bring to the debate. But it is the setback to the green agenda that has had me in tears for the past week and hardly anybody here is talking about that. Why not? Sure, I am sorry for the unemployed, the economically disadvantaged, the racially oppressed and all other suffering members of my species, whether in the USA or Africa or anywhere. But there are seven billion of us humans and only a handful of orang utans, Bengal tigers, pygmy elephants...and all those other dramatically declining life forms who have just as much right to live on this Earth as we have. Including the bees, on whom we literally depend for our food, and who are still getting hit with the neocotinoids that the US was just about to ban and now almost certainly won't. It is this aspect I care about the most. For me, everything else about politics pales into insignificance beside that.

Yes, I can understand why some people voted for DT. You have made a good case for them. As Abe Maslow pointed out long ago, it is human nature that personal survival needs take precedence in the human mind. But since we are part and parcel of a living Earth, then whatever harms the planet can only harm us as individuals. If Earth's ecosystems can't survive intact and in proper balance, then neither can our own species. So focusing on personal survival needs rather than planetary ones is selfish and short-term thinking of a dangerous kind. Why are so few people here remarking on this?

Thomas Mazanec said...

To you and Ferrett Steinmetz:
I voted for Trump for one reason.
Right to Life endorsement.
Imagine living in an America where, each year, over a million African Americans were killed by a Caucasian because that African American was an inconvenience to that Caucasian.
That is how I feel about over a million preborn babies a year being killed by abortion.

onething said...


I applaud anyone who is able to open their minds up a bit and that you have learned from JMG's posts. I'd like to suggest, though, that some of the things you mention coming from the right are also coming from the left, if not more so. A lot of intolerance, contempt and worst of all, shutting down discussion. You got roasted for what you posted on facebook, but so do Trump supporters get roasted and in fact dare not even admit their vote.

I voted for Trump for every single one of the reasons that JMG listed plus a couple more, like the corruption and grifting, emails, and as to the environment, I'm not in favor of Monsanto.

The rant posted by Will at 11/16/16, 4:16 PM is worth watching as he lays out some of the unskillful tendencies of the left that have gone unchecked.

I like immigrants a lot myself. I'm almost embarrassed to admit how much, as in my work environment (hospitals) I've been exposed to all sorts of nationalities plus Mexicans. I tend to more or less prefer all of them to American culture and find them so much easier to get to know than Americans. Nonetheless, I'm not for a borderless world. Did you know Mexico maintains a very strict southern border?

onething said...

Oh, and another thing. Perhaps the real reason that the left is now mostly about minority identity politics is precisely because they have abandoned their true calling and reason for existence and so are filling the gap withe emotional button issues.

Leo Knight said...

Your conversations about Mr. Trump are far more informative and civil than the ones I've had. To be honest, I didn't try to talk with any Trump supporters, but some felt compelled to talk to me. The most cogent was with a manager at work, who admired Mr. Trump's business skill, and felt his pragmatism would keep him from doing anything rash. He mentioned being concerned about regulations, and hoped Mr. Trump would reform them.

All of my other conversations, in person and online, consisted mainly of his supporters repeating pat slogans: 1. Make America great again, 2. Take our country back, 3. I'm sick of politics as usual, 4. He's not politically correct/ he says what he thinks. When I asked for more specifics, they either said nothing, or repeated the slogans more emphatically. One friend hoped Trump would "reform the system." Again, nothing more specific.

A few people were quite angry. Two people liked Trump because of their hatred for liberals. They kept sending me such vile messages that I blocked them on social media. Two in person conversations got very heated. Both expressed their hate for particular women: Hillary Clinton, Elizabeth Warren, and, strangely, Rosie O'Donnell.

None were as specific and informative as your neighbors.

Moshe Braner said...

JMG asked: "how did Bernie's write-in vote compare to the minor parties?"
- in Vermont, where Bernie got 6% of the votes (as write-in), the established minor parties, Green & Libertarian, got about 2% and 3% of the vote respectively. Trump and Clinton got about 35% and 55% respectively. It may be that some people in Vermont felt it was "safe" to vote for somebody other than the two major-party candidates since the predictions were for a landslide state-level victory for Clinton.

To quote from
"Only about 12 states even allowed voters to write in Sanders for president and have that vote potentially count. These were Alabama, California, Iowa, Mississippi, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Washington, and Wyoming. ... Other states might have received write-in votes for Bernie, but most won’t be counting them."
- that article then goes on to say that:
"In New Hampshire, Sanders got 4,493 write-in votes, according to the state’s official tally. Clinton beat Trump in New Hampshire by only 2,573 votes."

Donald Hargraves said...

From what I can see on Facebook, the left has locked on Racism as the sole explanation for Hillary's loss (and the sole value to vote on from here on in).
Women voting against Hillary's warmongering? The women had to live with racists, or were racists in the first place.
Obamacare? They hate (the black) people on welfare. (never mind that I smell price fixing by the Health Insurance companies to fix the election).
Jobs disappearing, and becoming crappier to boot? They believe blacks and hispanics stole their jobs (so they deserve to become the unemployable underbelly of the nation).
Emails? Obvious rigging of the Democratic Primaries? "Bronies" turning into their "alt-reich" racist selves.
Trump overcoming the Republican Leadership? Republicans are racists, Trump just made it obvious.
Have you even ASKED any Trump voter why they voted for him? They lie about their motives.

Never mind that there ARE people who DID vote for Trump for racist (and sexist) issues (and trust me, I will do my part in fighting against THEM), this is a nation that elected Obama President twice. That a lot of the Trump voters I've come across expressed positive views of Sanders (or at least showed great interest) tells me that they wanted to be heard – and that the Left had no interest in hearing them speak.

(Which leads to a second, secondary thread I've seen – the joy they will feel when Trump makes a point of turning against those who voted for him. I enjoy my fair share of Schadenfreude, but I make a point of not seeking it out.)

Honestly, to me this has been a great lesson on Sophistry – what it is (the tailoring of philosophic thought to personal belief, never mind reality) and why it has long been looked down upon. All my years studying (and working on) philosophical concepts, and a great lesson plops itself on my lap.

Stu from New Jersey said...

First, congratulations on the correct prediction and thanks for the past two essays. There were many silver linings in this election, not even including TPP being dead.
Citizens across the country debated and voted on many important referenda and passed a lot of important legislation. (I'm personally happy with many of the results). For the naysayers: Please compare the record of the voters on these referenda with the results we get from the major parties. Citizens win, hands down.

Mary said...

This Berner's protest vote was going to go Stein unless it looked close in Maine. Then the creepy Dem Party started inundating me with phone calls and mailers the last 2 weeks. On election day alone, I had no fewer than 5 direct contacts: 3 phone calls and at least 2 knocking at my door(and who knows how many came knocking when I was working down back). Annoyed the daylights out of me and smacked of desperation, so I voted Trump fully expected the HRC Titanic to eke out a win; slept soundly and was pleasantly surprised the next morning.

Trump has already kept a couple key promises that had me leaning his way: TPP is dead (for the time being), he's already paving the way to detente w/Russia, and as of this morning has banned lobbyists from his admin (which is putting the media into a tizzy). So war with Russia has been averted, that Sky Dawg.

Bernie continues to disappoint. He appears to have been assimilated and the grand bargain he struck for himself is to be in charge of trying to lure defectors back into the Dem swamp. Good luck with that.

The creepiest thing they've pulled on me is to track down my "secondary" email. When I was notified my University account was to be closed, I moved critical accounts to my backup email that I used for junk stuff. Weeks before the closing took place, his "Our Revolution" org somehow tracked me down over there. Having never subscribed to begin with, I had already unsubscribed from my university account and now have had to twice from the new account. The third time around I left them a pretty clear message and finished it with "I voted for Trump."

Mary said...

Eric S. -- we already have a registry for Muslims. It's called the "No Fly List" and I didn't hear the democratic party screaming about it when it was instituted, nor did they kill it when they controlled all 3 branches of government. I'd forgotten totally about it; it took a Muslim Trump-supporter tweeting it out to remind me.

Fred the First said...

The Ferrett article you linked has a faulty conclusion. Here it is "What I want you to do is to recognize that one central fact:
We gotta get people who hate us to like us.
That’s never been easy. But it’s even easier to give into satisfying anger at the expense of effectiveness."

In other words, "We (Democrats) have to be better at manipulating people."

How about this conclusion instead "We gotta love all people, and not just love them, but like them and spend time with them."

Its been painfully clear in the reaction to the election that the left loathes rural America with a seething hatred. They keep posting it again and again on their social media. They don't have that kind of hatred for ISIS. No one is going to support someone who hates them. And we can all see that robotic Hillary and her data driven campaign sees it as below their status to deal with the people of this country and their real issues. Its like we all have cooties or something.

William McGillis said...

@tolkienguy said...

Is it just me, or are the histrionics a bit worse this year? While I remember the apocalyptic muttering JMG talked about, I think this is the first time its escalated into protests and (arguably) mini-riots. Likewise, the sheer intensity of the anger against not only Trump, but everyone who voted for him ("your vote was a hate crime"? Good grief) and even people who voted 3rd party feels new. And I haven't even gotten to the BLM protests/riots, and the new trend of BLM motivated killings of police officers (two were shot in Des Moines a couple days before the election, but them Trump drowned the story out).

I am wondering where you got your information about the killing of police officers in Des Moines having anything to do with BLM. News reports suggest that the suspect had in the past brandished a confederate flag and expressed displeasure at African-American people protesting by not standing during the national anthem. Hardly sounds like he has anything to do with BLC.

The BLM supporters I know absolutely do not advocate violence; they advocate that black people’s lives be treated as if they, well, matter. I think it pays to be careful when making unfounded/thoughtstopper speculations about activist groups.

Izzy said...

Why shouldn't a parent hope that their child has a happy sex life, and find the notion of parental ownership of their children rather creepy?

This, and thank you. I was reading Ferrett long before that post came out, but that one really cemented it for me.

Also agreed with Joel. I find this post comforting, both because having significant numbers of people hate me and my friends is not wildly comfortable and because it means that if the left wants to address a lot of Trump voters, it can do so without having to back off on social issues. (I'm with Neil Gaiman, in that ninety percent of the time you can substitute "having to treat other people with respect" for "political correctness" whenever anyone complains about that.) Because...yes, people are free to hate whoever they want, and nobody has ever said they shouldn't be, but the rest of us are free to respond to expressed hatred by deciding said people aren't the sort we want to hang out with.

Mary said...

Sorry to come back again, but somebody just referred to "the wall" rhetoric. Most people didn't notice, but Obama not too long ago gave Mexico $75M in aid to build a wall on their *southern* border. That's to keep out the central American refugees from catastrophic results of the Clinton-backed Honduras coup. Also not noticed by many Americans is that European countries are starting to build walls to try to control the influx of refugees from the Mideast. As to Trump's "hate rhetoric" he never said he wanted to keep out *all* Mexicans. Only those who are "rapists." He initially just wanted to "pause" immigration to ensure background checks were sufficient. The media twisted his words and he let them run with that because they inadvertently served his purpose. Now their lies don't suit his purpose, and he is confronting and correcting.

Richard Green said...

JMG, thanks for all that you write and share. A much needed beacon in these dark times.

I've been struggling with this idea that Trump is the racist/fascist in this election while Clinton (and by extension the Obama administration) is not. While I hear the words Trump speaks, and he is obviously a very disturbed and scary figure (as are some of those he is surrounding himself with), I want to take a moment to look at the actual record of the current administration. To do this, I'd like to quote some passages from the recent posts of two writers, The Rancid Honeytrap and Doroles Vek, to provide what I think is some much needed perspective on the USA as it actually exists today.

"It seems like every dire warning about the Trump administration starts with a bit about the millions of immigrant families that might be torn apart. Many Trump voters would salivate over the prospect of deporting 2.5 million people, as Obama has done—more than every 20th century president combined. Along the way, the Obama administration has created countless millions of refugees by destroying Honduras and Libya, towards whom the president has shown a remarkable callousness that doesn’t seem to trouble these Democrats suddenly frightened on behalf of immigrants."

"The Obama Administration is now cracking down on immigrants coming from Central America, including those fleeing the hell created in Honduras, when Clinton’s State Department handed Honduras off to fascists and US-trained death squads because the president there wanted to block a dam project and raise the minimum wage. By 2012, more than 300 people, mostly activists, journalists and members of opposition parties had been murdered"

"In three years, her State Department approved $165 billion worth of commercial arms sales to 20 nations whose governments had given money to the Clinton Foundation. Recipients of Clinton-brokered weapons include Saudi Arabia, which funds ISIL and wages asymmetric war on Yemen. This amount is double arm sales approved by George W. Bush’s State Department during his second term. Clinton did all this under the auspices of an administration that has expanded the War on Terror into Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia, and more than doubled the number of Special Ops deployments to 134 countries, with Africa being the continent of greatest expansion."

"Hillary is part of a political dynasty that practically invented the mass caging of African-American men; that murdered more than a half million Iraqi children through sanctions; that gutted the social safety net; and that runs a foundation that in addition to taking cash for state favors as in the Saudi weapons deal, extracts personal gain from misery as in Haiti."

"Barack Obama was the President who expanded the White House’s power to kill anyone, anywhere, including American citizens. If wielding power like a führer is the mark of fascism, then Obama qualified as of the 2012 passage of the NDAA."

"Trump will, apparently unlike every president in AmeriKKKan history, be uniquely bad for African-Americans. Will his administration steal the wealth from black homes, the way Obama helped Wall Street loot black America? Will black Americans have to rise up in the streets and declare that black lives matter, to protest the black person murdered every 28 hours in the USA?"

And the take away on racism and fascism...

"That she is widely regarded as the non-racist, non-fascist in this hideous, degrading election cycle is the pr coup of this century so far. Partisan anti-racism is not anti-racism. It’s a whitewash."

So JMG, these ideas that you raise, that actual issues drove the decision-making of Trump voters, combined with what I see as a whitewash of the actual policy record of the current administration makes me suspect of this hysterical outcry I see all around me (in NYC). A little perspective seems critical to begin to bridge this yawning gap and start to gain a touch of understanding.

Izzy said...

The other thing is that--while I admit that a stopped clock can be right once a day and all that--I kind of stopped taking Scott Adams seriously around the time his writings started including a high percentage of, basically, "waaah, I never got laid in high school."

Owen said...

The -isms are what I like to call "luxury issues". That also includes things like gay marriage and abortion and cake baking too.

If you don't have a job and are being mandated to pay a poll tax (which is what the Supremem Court said PPACA was more or less) that precludes you from being able to afford things like shelter and food - who is baking cakes for who, DOES NOT MATTER.

And I guess with Trump they more or less told the people who are still able to afford those luxury issues that they are sick and tired of it and to stop it and fix some of these more important things first.

They're not going to learn though. These city dwellers who think these luxury issues are the most important things in the world, they're just going to double down. You're seeing it right now.

Nancy Sutton said...

I was hoping to show that one side may have more legitimate reasons to be 'sore', than the other. As a non-TV watcher, you probably don't see this false comparison presented, side by side, over and over and over again. Being married to a TV watcher, I see it non-stop. I think it is rationalized as 'presenting both sides', and implying an equivalency that is false.

Also, as this is not my blog, I probably should stick tightly to your topic, i.e., not use it as a point from which to shine a spotlight on (possibly more) critical election issues that are kept in the dark by most MSM ... for a deliberate reason.

Jamie Mason said...

As a homosexual, I tend to vote for the most socially liberal candidate that I think could win--usually that is the democrat. I didn't vote for Clinton ( why does everyone call her by her first name and Trump by his last name?) this time for several reasons. The main one is that I despise corruption, and the email scandal disgusted me. As an active-duty servicemember with a security clrearance, I know exactly what would happen to me if I did anything like what Clinton did – hint it's not nothing. If there is indeed support from admirals and generals's for Donald Trump this may be the reason. None of the people I work with, including the admirals, seem to worry about conflict with Russia but virtually all of them are furious over the email scandal.

Owen said...

In many ways, I have a rather jaded cynical view of "democracy" in this country. Most of policy is out of the control of even the candidates and their promises are mostly empty.

But one of the biggies is WW3 and it is the first question I ask myself when I'm in the voting booth - "Which of the two is least likely to start WW3?"

When it was Romney vs. Obama, I thought "Obama, for sure"

This time around, I thought "Trump, for sure"

And next election, you can be sure I'll be asking that same question in the voting booth, provided things hold together for there to be elections in 4 years from now...

Fred the First said...

The Southern Poverty Law Center has been collecting incidents of hateful harassment since the election and is up to 437 incidents. They are not all verified yet, as many have been posted as photos on social media and shockingly to most people, that really isn't proof that it happened.

You've mentioned possible interference by other countries in our country given our history of trying to influence and manipulate elections for the past 50 years. What do you think of some of these hate crimes being that? I'm really surprised that I have yet to see one reported that has any accompanying camera footage from a surveillance camera. Given the number of cameras we have it doesn't make sense. So the individuals who these crimes all managed to avoid cameras? That's weird.

And 437 isn't a lot. I'm not trying to downplay it, but put it in perspective. SPLC says there are 892 hate groups, so that's not even one crime per group. And one person could have done multiple crimes. 318 million people in country...61 million voted for .0007% of Trump voters committed a hate crime? Meanwhile thousands of people (can't find a total anywhere) are protesting against Trump.

And what's the average amount of hate crime usually? This type of crime does go on all the time unfortunately.

I know people aren't rational, but the data just isn't there that Trump voters are violent racists and attacking people in droves. There has been a lot of amplification on social media of each incident though making it look like a massive wave.

Roger said...

JMG, the Liberal-left has this tendency to trumpet its intellectual superiority over its political opposites and especially over the supporters of its political opposites.

So what you saw in the Cold, Cold Math essay was more of the same in the reference to the "uneducated" rural, white voters. Given that this same Liberal-left tells everyone that they are all about facts and evidence, I wonder (from my perch north of the border) is there any basis for such an assertion?

Assuming that a majority of these "uneducated" voters have a high school diploma, how does it scan that 13 years of instruction results in a condition of being "uneducated"?

Thirteen years is a long time to sit in classrooms, it represents a large expenditure of public funds and if what you get out of all this money and time are a vast number of "uneducated" people, then I would say that American edu-crats and the teaching profession have a great deal to answer for.

If after thirteen years of schooling you're uneducated, how can it be that a student is able to tackle the demands of supposed "higher" education in colleges? Either a college education isn't "higher" or high school grads aren't uneducated. Tell me, do American colleges have remedial reading and writing and arithmetic for "uneducated" freshmen? Or are high schools in coastal states so superior to high schools in fly-over states?

In any case, using the term "uneducated" sounds to me like dog-whistle politics. If it isn't that, then what is it? The Liberal-left talks a lot about the "dog whistle" politics of the Right, but in my opinion, the Liberal-left, with their highly attuned ears, are the masters. Nobody does it better.

Edward Kerr said...

Just to add a data point to this issue. I live a short drive north from you and we met and spoke briefly at the Ago of Limits conference three years ago. Anyway to my point. I voted for Jill knowing that it was at best a protest vote that would have no discernible impact on the outcome. (though some mouths filled with sour grapes seem to want to blame third party voters) As noted Hillary's public motivational complicity in fomenting an illegal war to support a private agenda made her a person that I could not, in good conscience, vote for (not to mention the countless deaths that followed) Trump's obvious mendacity and just as obvious ignorance of why jobs are vanishing coupled with his intention to waste, profligately, the fossil fuels that would be better spent for other uses that generating electricity made voting for him an impossibility.

What I see happening is that our species has finally hit the resource wall and are at a total loss as to what is happening and why. Consequently, they have allowed themselves to grasp at the mirage of a straw that Trump promised. He will not be physically or politically able to deliver on most of his "promises" and well will all pay the piper.

If he's able to being more fossil energy to a shrinking market it will only depress prices further causing greater loss later on. The cooler heads who are working toward a much lower carbon energy economy will not be stopped and will insure Trumps failure.

The Clintons are free to go home and spend whatever years they have remaining in obscurity.

As always sending the best personal regards,
Edward Kerr
Claysburg, PA

Dammerung said...

Well, /pol/ has gone out of its way to deliberately agree and amplify the wildest accusations the loony left has sought to levy against us; somewhere along the line the hivemind subconsciously and collectively agreed that the only way to dismiss accusations of Nazism was to become actual Nazis. I can't say I don't delight in tweeting pictures of Smug Pepe standing in front of a forced labor camp with a big dumb grin on his face to all the journalists who insisted that we have no voice and no influence over the political process. One of our boys showed up to the Portland protest and actually dismantled the whole thing live on Periscope. He spread a rumor that an open carry Trump counter-protest was on its way, and the whole thing collapsed in a matter of ten minutes as the organizers didn't know whether to fertilize their drawers or go blind. (He also blew out one of the vigil candles - absolute madman!)

I hope that the self-mockery quotient of a power like Kek keeps this thing from getting too out of hand. We should, I suppose, stop short of actually rounding degenerates into cattle cars, so long as we can establish a new deal for the American working class. It's hard to take anything with a true excess of authoritarian zeal when five posts later you're bound to see Pepe, sneaky grin on his big green mug, wearing a piss-soaked track suit on a public thoroughfare.

zaphod42 said...

You keep calling these people "the Left" as if they stand for leftist ideals.

I don't think that means what you think it means.

SamuraiArtGuy said...

You raise points that people need to hear, and ... if they can get out of their own echo chambers and cherished assumptions and mythologies, eventually GROK.

This one IGNITED my timeline in partisan squabbling. At least the commentary has been
for the most part thoughtful, but seems to indicate considerable difficulty to get outside a number of orthodox cultural political mythologies. There was a lot of focus on the mendacity of the GOP while not holding the Democrats to account for their incompetency, and their disdain and criticism of the flyover folk for being duped and uninformed - and yes, for giving into racism, sexism, isolationist nationalism, bigotry, and proto-fascism.

But they often still don't give Trump voters credit for voting for Trump DESPITE the racism, sexism, isolationist nationalism, bigotry, and proto-fascism that his campaign exploited. Their rage and misery and rejection of the Washington establishment on both sides of the aisle... um... "Trumped" those concerns. However unfortunately, due to the tone of the campaign, racists, misogynists, isolationist nationalists, bigots, and proto-fascists have been to a degree normalized, and that contingent overwhelmingly fell in behind Trump - even if it was all a big con. And we'll have to with with that cancer as a Nation - which would require separating that hideous hate from the economic injustice.

However, if the majority of the Wage Class voted for a populist outsider in rejection and protest of the Washington establishment and dismissive Liberal Leftism - they may have chosen a poor champion in Donald Trump. This is a man without any discernible ideology other than "winning." His election represents the loudest, most audacious, most shameless, most successful Long Con since we were sold "trickle down" back in the 80s. And on that occasion they actually said, "we're going to give all the money to the rich people."

The transition so far has not been reassuring. Steve Bannon? Rudy Gulianni? Odin's beard... I have every expectation of an Administration that could be egregiously self- serving, headed by a man with little concern with the ten thousand details of governance. We're seriously in Undiscovered Country, folks, So much of what's coming is an uttter crapshoot. The only thing I can count on is that the GOP, while a mess, is going to congeal around the heady smell of power emanating from the Trump White House. The Democratic party, unless they can reboot themselves will continue to crash and burn. Of course Wealthy and Corporate Interests will not have the least motivation to back off their continuing ascendancy and their position of power, influence and privilege. If Trump is unable to manifest some of his grandiose campaign promises, the 2018 midterms will be utter chaos, and the rage and anger will continue to rise. The potential for unrest is high, and perhaps is unavoidable. Global Market forces and the stress fractures of the Age of Limits are a formidable obstacle to business as usual. So good luck with that, Donald.

I noted the four topics of the essay and generally agree with your assessment, but there is a big hairy fly in the ointment.

...they want a less monomaniacally interventionist foreign policy and an end to the endless spiral of wars of choice in the Middle East; they want health insurance that provides reasonable benefits at a price they can afford; they want an end to trade agreements that ship American jobs overseas, and changes to immigration policy that stop the systematic importation of illegal immigrants by big corporate interests to drive down wages and benefits; and they want a means of choosing candidates that actually reflects the will of the people.

This is pretty much stuff that most sane thinking folk want. Of course these are exactly the things that the überwealthy elites and megacorps that OWN our political leadership have absolutely zero interest in giving us.

Granny Greensleeves said...

This is quite valuable input. As a member of the Green Party looking to gain supporters, I believe we must acknowledge all of the issues you have addressed and establish a platform that Americans can believe and most importantly, trust.

Seaweed Shark said...

This essay is so well-written and cogent that it took me a while to realize that you aren't actually describing Trump. You're describing those who voted for him, and the things he asserted or promised, which motivated them to do so. You haven't said whether you believe Trump will carry out, or even attempt to carry out, his promises. You haven't discussed his long and richly documented history of lies, deceitful and irrational behavior, and personal and business dealings that could only with charity be called sketchy. You haven't discussed whether he has the experience, the self-discipline, or the intelligence to actually run the executive branch of the government, and (sort of the elephant in the room), you haven't mentioned his obviously high ability to employ repetition of incantatory and manichaean rhetoric, and emotionally compelling narrative, to sway the minds of his hearers -- something that you, in other contexts, have called thaumaturgy -- the dark side of magic that smothers and debases human thinking.

Roberta said...

First, zaphod42, LOL, you hit that on the head!

Second, the most frustrating response of Clinton's supporters is the claim that this was all about rural people being racist and sexist and nothing else. I completely agree with you, that yes, some are, some are not, but this was not the key to Trump's win. I've met way too many Trump voters who are themselves non-white, have non-white spouses, in-laws or what have you. A lot of them even think that he's a bad actor in this respect. They seem to view it as if he were the boss down at the hardware store "yeah, he's a redneck, but never had any problem with him when I worked there." To them, the continuation of neo-liberalism - even if they don't know the word - is a lot scarier than being around a guy like that.

onething said...

Wow, some great posts here Armata, Howard Skillington, Marxmarv, Justin.

I'm afraid I've got to add one more thing. To all the disgust at the Trump voters let me add and explain my disgust at voting for Her. I want to say, "At long hast, have you no decency?"
Most people I know who voted for her really wanted Bernie and voted for him in the primary. There were very good reasons for that. But in the wake of the rear-end reaming that was delivered to them by the DNC who undemocratically took him away, somehow there was a bizarre mental about-face in which suddenly she became uber desirable. Where is their anger? If they accept this from the DNC, why shouldn't they do it again? And are they impervious to her track record or what? What happened to their values? Are their 401K's invested in Monsanto and Big Pharma?

Or maybe they just couldn't accept that there was no one to vote for this time around, so by default decided she was great after all.

Professor Diabolical said...

Similar article, but speaking of Klansmen:

"The KKK is really small. They could all stay in the same hotel with a bunch of free rooms left over...if they’re inflating the numbers by 1000x, and there were only about 14,000 news articles about the supposed Trump-KKK connection this election, there are still two to three articles about a Trump-KKK connection for every single Klansman in the world.

Clay Dennis said...

JMG, like you I dislike the right wing or left wing ( cough cough george soros) boogie man narrative. But as I have been at ground central for the anti-trump protests in Portland I have the feeling something seems amiss. These protest are very different than the normal occupy, blm, climate, etc protests that go on regularly here. None of the usual folks were involved, in fact from what I have seen at ground level most of the participants are not even old enough to have been around for the occupy protests. They are organized very quickly on a very limited span of social media. They did not seem to be on the radar of any of the normal left ( social justice, etc) organizations in town. They also shown very advanced tactics to outwit the police. They demonstrate during the night time commute giving the police limited opportunities to cordon off streets then move very quickly once the group is established. The cops in heavy gear are not able to keep up, and rely on riding in vehicles to keep up with the protesters but are then foiled by the traffic jams the protest create. Then no matter how many are arrested they keep coming back night after night, not regrouping or anything. I have no real proof but it does seem to be orchastrated from somewhere.

Stephanie Ladd said...


Varun, I met you a few years ago at a Permaculture festival, although you may not remember me. But, you introduced me to ADR and I'm grateful for that. What are ways that I can keep in touch with you besides seeing your commentary here?

Bill Pulliam said...

I just suddenly had a realization about another 20th Century election that actually has some interesting parallels to 2016, but about which I have not heard anyone else making the comparison.

In 1976, in the aftermath of the Watergate scandal, Jimmy Carter defeated the incumbent (though never elected) Gerald Ford. Carter almost certainly won this election because of his outsider status, being an unknown on the national scale ("Jimmy who?" was the common expresion in the primary season). He was the governor of an obscure southern State known then in the pre-cable-TV-days only for peanuts, Scarlet O'Hara, and 360 miles of boring interstate that had to be traversed to get to Florida. Of course the parallels to Trump are not strong in the details here, but Carter was the biggest reach for a Washington Outsider the presidential electorate had ever made in my lifetime before this year. Reagan, in contrast, had been prominent on the National scale for many years, had run for president previously, and had been the highly famous governor of oen of the largest and most culturally dominant States.

Carter campaigned on Love and Trust, and was very short on specifics of policy or how "Love and Trust" could be turned into governing principles. He came into office with House and Senate also controlled by his party, but controlled by established party elites and their deeply entrenched structures. His advisers were derisively dubbed the Georgia Mafia. Congress would not work with him. In 1980 he faced a strong primary challenge to his reelection by uber-Insider Ted Kennedy, who lost the nomination at an angry and divisive convention, leaving the party split, the candidate weak, and the White House ripe for the pickings of Reagan and the nascient Neocons.

Again, the parallels are not strong, but the history of the established party structure failing to work with an outsider president from their own party rings like something that we may well be about to experience a second round of.

And before I post this, a note... some other readers here seem to be in the habit of assuming that because I present a scenario interpretation analysis etc. then I must actually personally support and approve of this scenario, and tag me with dismissive labels based on this. Get over it. If one cannot foresee possibilities or understand events of which s/he personally may DISapprove, s/he is poorly equipped to understand the past, present, or future. I did not vote for Trump or Clinton, in the primaries or the general election. In recent decades I rarely have voted for either of the major party presidential candidates. My dogs never even make it to the final fight.

onething said...

30% of Hispanic men and 25% of Hispanic women voted for Trump. They are traditional democrats, so not too shabby. He gained in minority votes as compared to McCain and Romney. His smallest gains were among whites.

Trump said his campaign is "a movement comprised of Americans from all races, religions, backgrounds and beliefs who want and expect our government to serve the people, and serve the people it will."

There's a whole lot o' lyin' going on.

ebartlett said...

Always a pleasure to read your insights. This week's essay was spot on as usual. One thing I've noticed though is that in my area here in rural northwestern NJ the majority of people here voted for Trump (they still haven't even taken their signs down!), but most of them are anything but poor or uneducated. I work at a local feed store and I see these people drive up every day in their brand new shiny F350's and spend loads of money on their horses. Most of them are avid hunters too, so I know they must have plenty of leisure time. Most of them own a lot of high-value land. The majority of this land is either made up of horse farms (which cost a LOT of money to run) or is planted in GMO corn and soybeans (I find this ironic considering that their arch-enemy Obama just signed the Monsanto Protection Act into law last week). This is largely due to the fact that these land owners receive a huge tax break from the government for keeping their land in agricultural use. Not only that, but most of them have put their land under farmland preservation which means that it has to be farmed and can never be sold to a developer, something no self-respecting believer in American capitalism would do. For all of the political rhetoric about the dangers of big government, wasteful spending, and welfare entitlements, these folks seem to have benefited greatly from liberal tax policies and subsidies. Poor and uneducated? No. Hypocritical? Perhaps.

Mary said...

Lei, Syria/Assad asked Russia/Putin for assistance. Their presence is legal, their atrocities no worse than the US, and Assad would not need help if the US (and specifically Clinton as SOS) had not helped to create and fund Daesh. (And yes, Hillary admitted that Saudi Arabia and Qatar fund Daesh in her emails, yet accepted "donations" from them to her foundation and granted them favors in the form of significantly increased arms sales, in classic influence peddling).

Europe would have a lot less to fear from Russia had the US not violated a promise made by Reagan/Bush to not move bases any closer to their border. Instead, we spent the last 25 or so years completely encircling Russia and China with military installations. Had Russia put such installations into central America and Canada, we'd be in total meltdown hysteria.

Moshe, Maine's ballot had a space for write-in votes, so either we were being deliberately misled or Maine does allow writeins.

To the poster who's friends have "been grabbed" (sorry, can't remember who now!) I have been grabbed as well. I chased the "grabber," in my dress and sandals, for a good mile, cornered him and beat him over the head with my Boston Globe. There are things a lot worse than being grabbed. Being bombed into oblivion comes to mind...

Myriad said...

I have some so far only imperfectly formed thoughts on another aspect of the recent presidential campaigns that might be relevant. It starts from the old question of how much power is in ones individual vote (which in turn comes up whenever the Electoral College system is debated).

One measure of that power that's commonly cited is the probability that ones individual vote swings the outcome. With or without the Electoral College, that probability is vanishingly tiny (though it's more so without the EC, by an enormous and yet for all practical purposes irrelevant factor).

Intuitively, those probabilities, being nearly impossible to distinguish from zero, don't seem a very useful measure. Yet the validity of the measure is difficult to argue with. Because if your vote didn't swing the outcome then it, well, had no effect on the outcome, so what power did it have?

To escape from this paradox I think one has to conclude that the mere act of voting itself actually doesn't have significant power and was never supposed to. Voting is not a gathering or exercise of power (though it's heretical to say so), but a measurement of power. You, individually, can't change things by voting, any more than you can charge a battery by pushing the needle of its charge meter toward the right. What matters is the thing that voting is measuring: society's support for the candidates and the parties and positions they represent. Democracy doesn't happen by voting; it happens by the social interactions that precede and prepare for voting. The power's in the voter's voice not the voter's vote. And you don't exercise that power by voting, but by social engagement in the numerous other quaint rituals of politics.

Why might this fine point of distinction matter? Because the long-term trend toward professional electioneering has whittled that social power away (hence the "quaintness"). Caucuses and conventions that used to be deliberative and sometimes raucous consensus-building social events have, in my lifetime, turned into scripted media performances. Stump appearances are now managed so as to exclude the merely curious or undecided (by, for example, making the audience queue for hours before and past the announced time) so that only ardent supporters appear in the TV news clips. The mass media, in particular, want elections to be a process where the voters passively absorb the narratives offered by each party or candidate (e.g. through the profitable business of political advertising), and then make a purely individual (and thereby nearly purely ineffectual) choice. Note the slogans emphasizing only that part: "Decision 2016!" ("We talk, you decide!") And while social media might seem to go against that trend by giving everyone new ways to participate, it also fragments the potential participating communities into echo chambers. The captive audience that used to exist at the barber shop, or when the public debate or the whistle stop was the only thing going on in town that day, or when the national party convention was the only thing on TV all week, has escaped.

Myriad said...


Against this general background, the two campaigns just concluded appear to have taken different approaches to public participation, whether or not intentionally. The Clinton campaign was clearly designed for a socially passive (consumer) audience. It emphasized that we knew what she stood for: just read the lengthy collection of position papers online. If you agree, click "like," but if you disagree with something, don't bother to call or write. Just consider whether there's more you agree with than disagree, and cast your vote accordingly. (The obvious next sentence is, "and that's what people did!" but I don't think that's true. I strongly suspect that most voters on all sides reading through the list would find more to agree with than disagree, but many voted based on other assessments instead.)

In my area at least (in Pennsylvania, which turned out to have some importance in the outcome), Clinton volunteers were not sent door to door to speak in favor of their candidate or discuss issues (they might say something off-message or offensive) but to distribute literature (i.e. deliver junk mail by hand) and urge people already in the database as supporters to remember to vote. The lack of outreach to people with different or disaffected points of view has been commented on ad nauseam (the only such effort I noticed was a late push on the "importance of stopping Trump"). The lack of any trace of invitation for anyone to "reach in" is more subtle but might be more important. People can sense that the same vote, cast and counted the same way, doesn't seem to have the same social power it used to, even if they can't quite sort out the reasons why. Why expect a candidate with 41 position papers to listen to your ideas or concerns?

Early on, I commented here that I thought Clinton's evidently better-organized "ground game" would be a big advantage. It didn't turn out that way. It failed to be engaging, in any sense of that word. Besides raise money, what was there for it to do? It seems as though every word was already scripted and rehearsed by then.

Trump's campaign, while I suspect being nearly as stage-managed as Clinton's, had several elements that created at least the appearance of lively public political involvement. Off-the-cuff comments (retracted later), acceptance of "unacceptable" public personages as allies, spontaneous-looking tweets including responses to critical media comments, the lack of clear positions on most issues, and even the incidents of disruption at public appearances early on, all contributed to making it seem possible that Trump would actually pay attention to voters. (Granted, it also made it seem possible that Trump would be a Hitler in a poke, especially to those accustomed to their vote being a passive purchase of a set of positions clearly listed on the box. Even though everyone knows what's actually inside the box usually bears little resemblance to the label in any case.)

It appears from numerous accounts that Trump supporters, in turn, reached out to their relatives and communities, building that "silent" consensus. I don't think many of them worried about whether they might harm their cause by accidentally saying something off-message or offensive in the process. Despite such details as Twitter and alt-right blogs, some features of Trump's campaign were retro, in ways that might have reminded many people, including those "older white voters," of how public politics and the power of the voter used to work.

The Somewhat Intoxicated Mr. Drunken Pundit said...

I think it's all just another step in catabolic collapse right? As conditions get worse, people turn to more authoritarian and autocratic leaders who can get things done. Those leaders (Trump) will not be able to stop the ongoing slide towards less. Less of everything, so they'll eventually be overthrown and, well... you wrote the book, you know.

I didn't vote for either one of them, the buffoon or the bloodthirsty warmonger. I'll guess that just about everyone can figure out which is which.

Loved your last book, I read it on Kindle. LOL Isn't that ironic? Keep up the good work.

M Smith said...

Helix: " "Give then NOTHING. Take from them EVERYTHING."

That's almost exactly what the "advocates" at La Raza say about of nonbrown people.

My donkey said...

I bet the ruling class is smiling at how divided the US populace is right now.

The aim of Divide & Conquer is to keep the masses so busy/exhausted fighting among themselves, they have no time/energy remaining to fight the ruling class, and it's still working like a charm after thousands of years. All they need to do is maintain focus on binary thinking (good/evil, republican/democrat, liberal/conservative, us/them, right/left, bluecollar/whitecollar, etc.) and the Average Joes/Janes apparently can't help but beat each other up.

Every US election for the past 150 years has been won by the Republican or Democratic party. Nowadays they may as well be two branches of a single MoneyPower party, to the extent that money and corporate power determines what gets done in US domestic and foreign affairs. But what can be done about it? For starters, banning money from federal politics (including ending that form of legalized bribery known as lobbying) would be a great accomplishment.

RUKidding said...

By August I figured Clinton would be beaten by Trump. She did a turn-around from her husband's campaign strategy, which was her undoing. Trump went out to Rust Belt and talked to "those people." I could see that the insufferable media was focusing on the worst aspects of his campaigning, like the racism, sexism, xenophobia, homophobia, etc. Not that any of that is insignificant. But they mostly ignored the class and economic issues. Divide and conquer.

Trump promised to bring jobs back. These people have really suffered, and neither party has done bupkiss to address the real issues facing quite a large portion of our populace. I was so annoyed when the propaganda wurltizer kept spewing about "white working class men." How about working class people of color? How about working class women?

I still keep hearing how Clinton ran this well organized campaign. More propagand. She ran a crap campaign by ignoring the very people - in the rust belt - whom she should have focused. I did hear snippets from Trump's rallies, where he said "where's Hillary? why isn't she here? I'm here. I'm the one who's flying all over the country. why isn't Clinton?" Good questions!

Progressive voters need to start grasping the issues facing rural areas, and that, if the Democratic party wishes to remain at all relevant and vital, they need to stop being such sops for Wall St, the MIC and other corporate/banking interests. Voting in Chuck Schumer as Minority Leader leads me to doubt anything will change.

I have serious concerns about Donald Trump. I foresee another tax cut for the superrich and corporations. The middle class will see our taxes go up, not down. I'm skeptical that Trump can bring jobs back, at least not the type of jobs that he's spoken about. I hope that Trump can "fix" ACA, but I'm skeptical.
I regret Trump's demonizing of "illegals." Anyone who's seriously investigated the issues with illegal immigation know full well the big corporations routinely go to central America to recruit, hire and fly in undocumented workers to work in massively unsafe working conditions for pennies on the dollar. When ICE comes a-knocking, the undocumented workers get shipped back to their home countries, often losing their last paltry paychecks. But the business owners rarely ever even get a tap on the wrist. They just turn around and do the same over and over again. Trump never ever talked about this because he, himself, is guilty of hiring undocumented workers to build and work in his properties.

I find the whole kit and caboodle rather depressing, but I do agree that possibly we've averted a war with Russia. I'm not so convinced, however, that Trump won't be willing to become a war hawk, himself, if he's properly "incentivised." He's already talking about building up naval ships to be a bulwark against China, which I think is a massive, and costly, mistake.

pygmycory said...

The people Trump is picking for his government doesn't reassure me that he intends to deal decently with women and assorted minorities. I would rather not see women dying from illegal abortions because they can't get a legal one. And that happens quite regularly in countries where abortion is illegal.

But one way or another, we are going to find out what he's going to do. At least the TPP looks dead. I must admit, living in Canada means I'm not as worried as I might be if I lived in the USA. Things like trade agreements, and war mongering or lack of same, potentially affect me, but I'm not in danger of being denied an abortion if I were to get raped, or of being deported, or harassed for my election choices in either direction.

By the way, why do women get labelled as minorities? They're approx. 50% of the population.

Rich Brereton said...


I guess you and I are tuning into different segments of liberal and/or Clinton-supporting sentiment post-election. I'm hearing mostly grasping for some constructive action to take in the face of what they view as a disastrous result. It's a process of triage, and the actions that seem to be rising to highest priority are:
- to unify in opposition to Trump's campaign promises to build a wall, to pull out of free trade agreements, to pursue aggressive trade policy against China, to accede to the Syrian government and its Russian ally in their slaughter of their citizens, to roll back regulations on coal and oil & gas production, to deport millions of undocumented immigrants, to impose a ban on Muslim immigrants, to give our intelligence security forces free reign to carry out torture, etc. etc.
- to defend vulnerable people from the wave of public hate speech and hate crimes they suspect will arrive on the heels of Trump's hateful campaign rhetoric (and there are instances already in the news).
- to reject his ongoing demonization of the free press that began when he was offended by their negative coverage of his campaign, especially now that this demagogue who refuses to be held accountable for numerous lies, half-truths, misrepresentations and innuendos is the head of the executive branch.

In short, they want to hold Trump accountable for what he has said and done in the last year and a half and to resist his agenda for the next four on all fronts. If you deem that these motivations among people on the left and/or Clinton supporters (and I check both boxes) are simply the result of an ongoing demonization of Trump, then I respectfully disagree. I look forward to your thoughts as we proceed.


Bill Pulliam said...

More directly to the point this week, out here in th Tennessee hinterlands the purebred hillbillies I talk to have mixed feelings about Obamacare. For some it has finally provided them with health insurance. For others it has forced them to pay money they could not afford, either in fines or premiums, or compelled them to flat out lie or cheat. But many many of them are fully in favor of a single payer system. The tax hikes would be small for them compared to what they face now. This is a wide open doorway for a 2020 presidential candidate.

Cottage Crone said...

What a wonderfully clear and clearly-thought-out analysis! Thank you, thank you, John Michael Greer.

onething said...

Gabby, you said,

“One thing I most noticed as I was raised in a dictatorship that maybe some others may not have noticed. Trump's acceptance speech. He went out of his way to signal that the army is behind him - lists number of generals plus many decorated soldiers. Then he singles out the CIA (who ever mentions the CIA during acceptance speech?)and then the cops. The thing is, North Americans I talked to about this attribute this to law and order agenda. I am not at all convinced. The establishment he went against is extremely powerful - but perhaps Trump has the men with guns. Given the humiliation the various patriots who serve not greed but country, would it be surprising they were behind a strongman who promises to bring a semblance of honour back to the country? Watch him and not for the reasons everyone is discussing. “

I think I understand what you are implying, that he is letting the deep state know that he will rally the firepower to his side if need be.
Check out this brief video to see him speaking truth to power. The power to which I refer is not that of a mere billionaire, next to them he is nothing.

And this one:

Noah said...

A great many of the post-Trump protests were called for an organization called Socialist Alternative (SA) that mostly agrees with your political analysis, both now, and before the election. They see that the Democratic Party has been corrupted by the 1% and gives lip service to social justice to derail legitimate criticism.

SA is a grassroots organization, but it probably should be building stronger ties with other community organizations, though there is a cold-start problem: If you do not have sufficient power, other orgs are not likely to give you the time of day.

Here is another perspective on the usefulness of peaceful protests:
I've seen some people dismissing peaceful protests in my feed. I think this is fundamentally incorrect, for two reasons:

1) Chanting in large groups builds collective meaning/identity/solidarity, which is a resource you can then use for other things. Don't ask me why humans work this way. But it works for religion, it works for sports, it works for music, it works for politics. Celebrating the Eucharist "doesn't do anything" except it totally, totally does.

2) Even if you believe that all politics is fundamentally about violence and coercion. Hostile actors frequently resort to proxies (however rough) for who would win in an unlimited conflict to determine the balance of power - you can see this from arms races to elections themselves to sparring bucks. No peaceful protest that shows off its numbers, discipline, youth, and enthusiasm is actually peaceful, insofar as those are proxies for winning an actual confrontation.

This applies even to protests that are explicitly mobilized according to religious pacifism. Remember that scene in "Gandhi" where everyone lines up in a polite little row to get clobbered half to death by police? That's actually a pretty incredible show of potential force. It is, indeed, "virtue signalling," which is a fine and a real and a good thing.

The criticality points (which are fuzzy so it looks more like a gradient in practice) are:

1) Can you show that you would win in a street confrontation with a counter-movement? If so, you can dissuade them from enacting extralegal violence that the police might otherwise allow.
2) Can you show that you would win a street confrontation with the police? If this is the case then the state basically has to fold or at least incorporate you, although for that exact reason it's very very difficult to reach. (Katharine Chorley's "Armies and the Art of Revolution" should be sobering reading if your Plan A is to storm the barricades.)

Classical fascism relies upon extralegal but legally tolerated violence from rightist activists, so it's crucial that the trend of the last several decades of racist demonstrations being consistently met with larger counter-demonstrations (ideally with a contingent of fit punk kids boasting about their eagerness to fight, even if police prevent anything from actually happening) continue. Proving the power to assemble in large crowds independently serves the same purpose.

unirealist said...

I'd suggest that the reasons cited by Trump supporters are underlain by one that doesn't get expressed, which is the sense that the rich and powerful are immune to the rule of law.

That, I think, is the well-spring of the emotions behind support for Trump: resentment, bitterness, and silent rage.

When people wonder why I voted for Trump, I offer the #1 reason you cited in your essay -- I want to avoid a nuclear war with Russia, which I suspect Hillary would precipitate.

But that's my rational mind justifying an emotional decision. Emotionally-speaking, I am incensed at what has happened to the rule of law in this country. Not only the free pass given to Hillary, and Lois Lerner and John Clapper and Jon Corzine, but also the stay-out-of-prison cards every banker and CEO carries in his wallet like a talisman. There are now two classes of people in our society, the ones to whom the law will fall in full force, and the ones to whom the law doesn't apply.

And honestly, it doesn't matter if Trump fixes everything else on his agenda. If he doesn't restore a common faith in the law, this country is headed for collapse, because government has lost its legitimacy in the eyes of too many of its citizens.

Ben Johnson said...

Great example of learning the wrong lesson:

jj said...

thx, very good essay. One point only, the democratic party is no longer "liberal", and certainly not "leftist". Conflating them is confusing.

PeterE said...

Ever since Bill Clinton defactorially repealed the Glass-Steagal Act, I have come to realize that the forces for deregulation [greed] have been in control and finding someone to vote for was extremely difficult. In addition to that, William Black, the attorney who prosecute the S&L cases back in the late 80’s and early 90’s was saying there is approximately $4 trillion of fraud out on the Federal Books. Since Obama’s last budget proposal was $4.1 trillion, that’s $1 of fraud for every tax dollar needed to go to Washington to pay for that spending. In my state, by law, fraud is any amount over $500. Anyone paying $250 in Federal Income Tax has tacitly been defrauded because income tax is roughly a little less than half of the revenue collected with the other half being Social Security, Medicare, Excise and Corporate taxes. Mr. Black’s tag line is that “… and no one has gone to jail.” I’ll add that the States’ Attorney Generals and Consumer Protection officials have not stepped up to the plate. Of course, prosecuting under the RICO laws is something no one wanted take up and I have the letters from my Congressmen (and women) saying so. Ms. Clinton was being well supposed during her campaign by financial institutions and made mention in her speeches to let Wall Street regulate itself. There have been proposals to let “Wall Street manage our Social Security fund” for a “modest” fee. Yeah, right…

To illustrate another point, there are two guys, each on their own proverbial desert island. One has a trillion dollar coin and the other guy is hoping he has enough change for bus fare when he gets back home. If these guys were corporations with stock, Wall Street would give a high assessment to the guy with the trillion dollar coin and write off the guy with chump change. The guy with the chump change knows how to distill sea water and the guy with the trillion dollar change doesn’t have a clue. A “week” from now, the guy with the trillion dollar coin will likely be dead. You, Martenson, Foss, Kunstler, and even Mish Shedlock, Karl Denninger, etc. are pointing out the dangers ahead to BAU from various perspectives.

“Distilleries” and shoe factories don’t get built in nanoseconds. The stock exchanges could trade a stock from once a day to once a week and I think we would better off.

My neighbor who voted for Trump (he wears a “Make America Great Again” ball cap) says he is tired of all the “Politically Correct” rhetoric. He wants every one to be treated equally with none of the sugar coating or kid glove treatment. He’s part of “fly over” America even though he lives in a fairly affluent area. He works the night shift.

Hillary won Los Angeles County by ~1.1 million votes and won the overall election by ~400K votes. In other words, outside Los Angeles County, Trump won the popular vote by about ~700K votes. Maybe the Electoral College got it right; not by overall vote count but by discounting highly concentrated “blue” [or “red”] political areas of the country.

I wrote in Bernie Sanders as the one who I “hope”ed would have “change”d the course of this nation. I voted my conscience. I’ll give Trump a chance until proven otherwise.

Grebulocities said...

I have a question for you. What would you consider to be your most accessible essay (anything less than book-length) on magic? By accessible, I mean the sort of thing that might convince a truly open-minded skeptic, inclined to read you as charitably as possible, i.e. the opposite of Richard Dawkins. You could also recommend something by another author.

I ask for a couple of reasons. First, the election results have finally provided an opportunity for me to break through and explain that the non-rational factors behind voting matter a great deal. This has provided me with a useful tool: when I stay purely on the plane of rationality, I can't convince Clinton supporters that Trump's working-class supporters were actually making a rational choice by choosing to roll the dice rather than tolerate the intolerable, but explaining how consciousness can be changed according to will might be a better approach. The other reason is that you managed to convince me that there's something to it; four years ago, I would have laughed off the whole notion that magic is anything but nonsensical superstition.

I've actually heard the notion that magic is the art of changing consciousness according to will from a couple of Bay Area types, so the idea is out there in a few upper-middle-class liberal circles, but I can't seem to pin down a source that explains it very well.

Justin said...

A couple interesting pieces. The first article, especially. The racist-until-proven-otherwise thing is pretty frustrating. I'll once again mention the all-black gang in my town which is involved in prostitution and human trafficking that is frequently defended by "journalists" on the basis that the police investigating these crimes must be racist.

Another good article on Trump, and the state of serious racism and anti-semitism.

In my mind the only serious argument against Trump that is evidence-based is the environmental arguments - and Clinton, really, is not much better even if she stuck to whatever she said she'd stick to.

Jasmine said...

Dear Mr Greer

I have a question for you. It is very possible that we might have another economic crash in the next few years and it is likely that the incumbent of the White House will get the blame for this. I have heard it argued that it would be better if Hillary had won, because at least the right people would get the blame. However if it happens on Trumps watch then he will get the blame and the Democrats will use this as an argument to get the neoliberals back in power. Now much as I dislike Trump, I don't think he would be responsible for any economic crash as the causes of it would date back to the decisions that were made when Reagan entered the Whitehouse and have continued to be made by every president since then. However if Trump is the man on watch then he will carry the can for it. I would like to know what you think about this.

PS over here in London lots of people are very depressed about Trumps victory. Many muslims I know are very worried about it and I think thats understandable. Personally I disliked both candidates. I have to say that if I lived your side of the pond I might have voted Hillary, but I would probably have needed to carry a bucket into the voting booth so that I could vomit after doing it. But then looking at her rhetoric about intervening in Syria maybe I wouldn’t have voted for her. Much as I dislike some of Trumps racist rhetoric, I would prefer that to a third world war. I some times get the impression that some on the left would be quite happy to have a president who would lead them into a third world war as long as that president was politically correct

aNanyMouse said...

To add to Helix’s point about special snowflakes, I propose that these voters also went Trump to flip the bird to not only Hillary, but to so much of the upper-middle class Left, for their general strutting around like Special Snowflakes. I, too, hope that Trump steps up to corral his most rabid allies’ payback tendencies.

You’ve referred to how so many Lefties diss Trump voters as racist etc., but I’ll add that this is just one manifestation of the degree to which so many of these Lefties wear their general upper-middle class snobbery (esp. toward working-class folks) on their sleeves.

I suspect that much of this snobbery owes to their having been raised on the Self-Esteem school of psychology, which holds that “Every human being, with no exception, for the mere fact to be it, is worthy of UNconditional respect of everybody else.” (See this school’s Wiki entry.) While those raised with this doctrine ought to have applied it to THEIR dealings with others, they mostly forgot about that part, and concentrated on expecting others to extend this respect to THEM, regardless of their (self-absorbed) conduct, thus widely earning the label Special Snowflakes.

On its face, this self-esteem Doctrine is revolting to many working class folk, and it was implicit but clear that Trump had no respect for it. I don’t recall you ever making clear reference to it; if my memory is correct, you may want to write a post on your view of its role in today’s US.

Justin said...


Agree and amplify is an incredibly effective way to induce cognitive dissonance and goad people into overreaction.

$85 million in diversity funding after a racist flyering campaign that cost $85?

I don't support the flyer-posters but I imagine they're laughing.

Armata said...

Dammerung said

One of our boys showed up to the Portland protest and actually dismantled the whole thing live on Periscope. He spread a rumor that an open carry Trump counter-protest was on its way, and the whole thing collapsed in a matter of ten minutes as the organizers didn't know whether to fertilize their drawers or go blind. (He also blew out one of the vigil candles - absolute madman!)

That was fracking awesome! Sounds like we don't even need a "whiff of grapeshot" to disperse this unruly mob. Just a carefully planted rumor and the SJW's start running for cover like startled rabbits. Thanks for the TACINTEL.

Kheris said...

I think you did a nice job evaluating the issues for the Trump voters. The short version is that they voted their pocket book. In my opinion, their willingness to bet on Trump, despite his obvious lack of qualifications and mercurial temperment (3 AM tweets?) makes them complicit in what ever happens next, good, bad or indifferent. They gave us this guy.

The activities of the transition team and the short list of possible Cabinet nominees are troubling. Trump is not an ideologue but he does have a thin skin, values loyalty, yet seems willing to put people in a position just to shake stuff up. There is little evidence of any forethought. Nikki Haley for SoS? Why? The appointment of Bannon to a significant position is not good news in my opinion. My guess is that Bannon will outlast Priebus.

Keep in mind the Paul Manafort interview in which he made it crystal clear that Trump saw himself as becoming "Chairman of the Board" not the CEO or COO. The VP was going to be responsible for foreign and domestic policy on an operational basis because, as I am sure you know, Board chairs do not do operational work. Kasich, in describing the call he got offering him the job, described the foregoing. I found the interview later. My guess is that Pence will get the 3 AM calls and Trump will validate Pence's decisions.

I think it likely that Ryan and McConnell, in league with Pence, will have far more impact than Trump on the ship of state. In which case I suspect the Trump voters will encounter significant buyer's remorse when Medicare is reduced to vouchers next year, Medicaid becomes a block grant, they find themselves paying even more for healthcare or health insurance, and discover that the automated jobs really won't come back and the rest aren't either. There is more I am sure that will come up in the process, including those things Trump can't undo as quickly as he'd like. In a year we'll know what can be done now as it will be done, and in two years we'll know if he has a chance at a second term.

M Smith said...


"Tell me, do American colleges have remedial reading and writing and arithmetic for "uneducated" freshmen?"

Yes, shamefully, they do. They also have specially designed courses of study where the professor may or may not show up and the TA will do your work for you - IF you can make the school lots of money by throwing a cylindrical object. See the Af-Am scandal at UNC-CH.

Yes, we taxpayers of NC pay for this. We also pay for illegal aliens and their children to get "free" educations.

Yupped said...

I agree with your categories. I will add a fifth category that some people just can't stand Hillary personally and that one or more of the various things she's said or done over the last many years still stick in their craw. She's got more baggage than American Airlines, after all. My dear wife, for example, has never been able to to forgive her for her 1992 comments about stay at home Moms.

It seems unlikely, to me, that the Demos will take much notice or learn fundamental lessons from this defeat. They seem to be significantly ahead in the popular vote and will more likely stick to their mix of affluenza and identity politics than get back to their very-aged blue collar roots. They'll play along with Trump for a bit and assume he's going to provide them with a come back opening in 2018, just as the Republicans did in 2010.

It looks like Trump is going to try to party like it's 1981, which I don't think is going to work now, although it might improve things at the margins for some. I have a contact (my last remaining work contact in my old life of business consulting) who is closely connected to NY hedge fund money people. He is completely aware of the class dynamic running through all this and simply shrugged when I talked to him today, observing that the same already wealthy people are going to get as rich from Trump as the would have from Clinton. His rather cynical 2c, fwiw. It was ever thus, I suppose, at least until things get really serious.

So, overall, my guess is that neither the billionaires nor the Democratic Party are really shaken up by this election. Either way, I am beginning to wonder if Trump is going to be a bookend to the era of debt-fueled growth that started with Reagan. Maybe Trump tries to restart that fire with infrastructure investments/tax-cuts/deregulation but can't achieve take-off (because demographics, existing debt, various sources of depletion/blowback, etc) and then we find ourselves back in front of the choices we were beginning to contemplate in the late 70s. I know this is a romantic and highly unlikely outcome, but it would certainly show the principle of balance at work!

Thanks again for all that you do.

Jerome Purtzer said...

The Donald's chief strategist is Stephen Bannon-founder,creator of Brietbart. An auspicious start to a fact free presidency. Who says a perfect vacuum does not exist. I thought it did with Bush II but I think new frontiers are upon us. I don't know if you recall the recoil from serious republicans when Reagan was running for president and how scandalous it was that a divorced person could hope to be a republican, much less the president. I think it just proves the point that there aren't republicans or democrats anymore-just a few percent who can't make up their minds. The Donald and Newt and Mr. 9/11 (Rudy G.) armed with intelligence from Brietbart will be perfect to lead the Lemming charge over the cliff.

Patricia Mathews said...

Two rereads of importance: From your book "Collapse Now...", the 2009 column "The Pornography of Political Fear." And from a meditation to the one goddess (Greco/Roman pantheon) who is needed right now, Mary Renault's LAST OF THE WINE. Talk about echos.

cat said...

Thank you, Bob. You said my thoughts much better than I could.

Revere T said...

JMG, I just decided to look into the origins of "Kek", and the answer I found was much more interesting than I had anticipated:
There are some obvious parallels with Discordianism. I suppose Kek could be considered a representation of the Eristic Principle.

I had no idea that this stuff linked up to many of the topics you discuss on The Other Blog.
Maybe this question belongs over there, but what do you think of seemingly chaotic internet spaces being used as divinatory tools?



Janet D said...

I remember 4 years ago, when Republicans lost big and a lot of people were talking about the end of the Republican Party, how they needed to learn to reach out to urban voters, how it was All Over for Them. Now the same things (in reverse) are being said about the Democrats, even though the incoming President won with only 47.something% of the vote (in an election where more than 40% of the electorate didn't vote at all). Yes, there are things to be learned for the Democrats, but what I see is a desperate populace ping-ponging, hoping the magic answer is out there somewhere. The Democrats will bounce back just as the Republicans did.

I don't mind the protest marches. If Hillary had won, you'd be seeing double the protests and 10x the smoke. Complaining about people marching is silly. It's what people do when they are upset and, other than Portland, the protests have been peaceful.

I live in an area where 2/3 of the people voted Trump. I know many who voted for him. They are not racist or misogynist, not one of them. But just as it is inaccurate to paint Trump's supporters as racist, it is just as inaccurate to pretend racism isn't at least tacitly overlooked. Trump signaled this with the selection of Bannon. The Breitbart site and FB pages have so many hate posts*, including racist ones, that selecting the head of that organization as Senior Counselor (or whatever) pretty much indicates that he (Trump) is A-OK with it. See the Dallas News article this week, "For White Nationalists, Trump Win a Dream Come True". (google). Life just ain't feeling fun these days.....

*just hung out on both this morning, just to be sure.

Justin said...

Armata/Dammerung, it's funny to think of how these 'revolutionaries' were total statists when 'their guy' was in office, and would have kept on that way if 'their girl' got in.

Pygmycory, I have no idea why women are often spoken of as minorities - in the seats of power, sure, but they're half the population and are over-represented in some really important places - like public school teachers. I guess for a while the idea was they'd join the grand coalition against the White Whale - er white male - and usher in a bold new era of unlimited free trade and open borders?

Personally I think minorities who are in the USA legally, are not part of activist groups like La Raza or BLM and do not commit crimes will be fine. Similarly, I think the worst-case scenario for women's rights would be going back to state's rights on abortion and funding of birth control devices like IUDs. Obviously this isn't cool, but it is a move that will cost Trump a lot to no particular gain. So unless there is a fundamentalist revival and Americans decide to become pro-life and anti-abortion en masse and collectively choose these things, I do not think that women's rights will be significantly curtailed.


I worry about that too. If the narrative becomes 'white people crashed the country', then things could get extremely ugly. Based on present evidence, I'm glad Trump won, but on the other hand it might be better for the ball to be in the other court.

Regarding Muslims who live in Western countries: The single best thing for them would be an immigration shutdown, at least for a few years. That'll let things cool off, and the government will already have the 'right' policies in place when the next 100+ casualty event happens in Europe (or North America). I don't expect Muslims to agree, because they nearly all demonstrate an admirable solidarity amongst themselves, which is nice, but it doesn't serve to ingratiate them with their new host societies.

Noah, the reason Ghandi used nonviolent methods is because that was his only choice. He has said that he would have no problem with a violent uprising, but a disarmed and untrained Indian populace wasn't going to be able to do it. So instead, he attacked the British self-image as benign colonists. The rest is history.

cat said...

“So no, he couldn't have done other than he did -- not if he wanted to get the enthusiasm of the abandoned working class voters that he needed to seize the GOP nomination. The lesson I'd suggest you take from that is not that US is awash with racists; it's that the US is awash with people who have no time for the language policing just mentioned, which is not the same thing.”

This echoes what I have been hearing from people who supported Trump – that his employment of sexist, racist rhetoric was simply a political and rhetorical strategy and he would of course never implement policies that infringed people’s civil and human rights. This seems an entirely unwarranted assumption. Words matter. They matter especially when civil liberties have been at risk generally since 9/11. I agree with the critiques of the policies of Clinton and Obama and I do not think that “the US is awash with racists” (although there seem to be more of them than I had thought, judging from the uptake in hate crimes since the election). But Trump’s rhetoric is dangerous and his use of it to gain power is even more dangerous. His choice of close advisors is not reassuring. And it is very depressing if it is true, as you say, that insulting and reviling women and minority groups, and making veiled threats against them, is the way to “get the enthusiasm of the abandoned working class voters.”

Shane W said...

BLM--Bureau of Land Management? Didn't know that was a big part of the election, maybe for the Bundys...

Kevin Warner said...

Your essay this week was clear, concise and very informative. Unfortunately, it will be as welcome as a pork chop in Jerusalem on a Friday night to all too many people. W. B. Jorgenson's report that some want to see this website removed from the net is as bizarre as it is troubling about the present times. The thing is that your essay was logical whereas Ferrett's essay was nothing short of delusional. When your starting point is that your opponent is dumb, racist, sexist and hateful that kinda restricts your negotiating room. The disturbing thing is that tolerance seems to no longer be much valued as a cultural trait around the world. I am given to understand that in America, for example, parts of the population move house to communities that share their political belief leading to Republican and Democrat bastions. Seriously?
I've had to think about the attributes of tolerance without it being used as a blank cheque and can only think of the following scenarios as descriptive.
If you have an openly gay couple move into a small town and they then ask the locals how they feel about gays and the standard answer is "Don't know. Don't care!" then that is probably a tolerant culture.
If you have someone giving an unwelcome opinion only to be 'tone-silenced', 'dog-piled' and being told to 'check their privilege!' then that would have to be an intolerant culture.
If you have a town in the deep south a century ago where the whites and blacks were vigorously segregated in their activities all week long but on a weekend after nightfall the whites headed on over to 'darktown' to party and have a good time, then that may be called a pragmatically tolerant culture.
I realize that this is only a miserably brief list of scenarios but the subject of tolerance would be an essay in itself and I wonder if tolerance and manners may not be thought of the social glue that helps people get along. When you devalue it, that is when the trouble really starts as we are now seeing.

blue sun said...

I came across this article which I think resonates with your post this week:

It posits that the civil religion of Progress has taken the place of the traditional religions among many young “Millenial” age people. Many have placed their faith in the federal government instead of in a deity. Hence, the existential disappointment following this election.

I think there’s a kernel of truth to the idea.

Wizzrobes said...

Not sure if entirely on topic but the media seems to be on the race to curtail Trump's central promise to renegotiate trade deals and "bring the jobs back home", by claiming he can't, because it isn't free trade that has cost us jobs, but automation. This is running off the backs of an Oxford study (since disputed by a number of other studies) that claim in 20 years, 47% of all jobs currently in operation will be automated. I'm not sure how many manufacturing jobs have actually been automated, and how many have actually just been outsourced (I suspect less in the former and more in the latter than the MSM is claiming) but I do find it interesting they're running hard with that narrative right after Trump won.

Some examples :

ABC News had a similar story right before the election, which they seemed to have taken down now. Hmm.

Don't really have much more to say than I find this interesting. Guess we'll see how it plays out.

CJ DeWitt said...

Trump supporters / enablers are today tainted by the flip side of the "one drop" rule: Anyone with any connection to, who associates with, fails to loudly repudiate, or who have even a hint of the stink of white supremacy on them is on "their" team. See, white supremacy denies equality between citizens, so no respectful dialogue is possible. Either we're all intrinsically equal under the law or we're not, one or the other, no compromise accepted. Being on the same side of white supremacists is a deal breaker, something americans shouldn't be able to get past, and no wonder non whites can't. My father went to war to stop white supremacists, how are we allowing them near the white house? What excuse suffices?

Janet D said...

In other news (related to this blog, but not this post), temperatures over most of the Arctic ocean are 34 degrees above normal, with water temperatures about 25 degrees aboove normal (keep in mind, this is the time of near-24-hour darkness there) both caused by persistent odd "kinks" in the jet stream. Been abnormally warm for a month now.

Clinton? Trump? Honestly, maybe Mother Nature has her own gigantic *&(**-slap primed and waiting for us in the next four years and the last thing we'll have to worry about is what knucklehead is leading this country.

Chevaliermalfait said...

I forget if I offered this essay before
think it's apropos to the situation.
I think folks tend to over estimate the power of the office of president, perhaps a messianic complex? As a poll worker for about 2 decades, there's a large group of voters, probably 30%, give or take, that I call the four year'ers. They support a candidate for pres. but don't come out for what is probably a more crucial election, that of the mid term.
That's where the 'real juice' is. senate and house.

Armata said...

John Michael wrote

“Gabby, some of my readers have noted the number of generals and admirals that supported Trump in the election campaign, and suggested that the military may have backed him as a way to stop Clinton from picking a fight with Russia that the US is arguably far from certain to win. Thus you may be on to something.”

I can tell you that a war with Russia would be a disaster for both sides and even if the war didn’t go nuclear, the US would suffer heavy losses even if it theoretically “won’. Russia and China are much tougher opponents than the third rate military powers the US has gotten used to beating up on. Moreover, the Russians and the Chinese have shown a willingness and capacity to take horrific losses and keep fighting. Just look at the casualties and devastation both countries suffered in World War II. Neither Russia nor China ever seriously considered surrendering during the war in spite of that. And Russia has specifically warned that open US military intervention against Syria would be considered an act of war. After the “accidental” air strike against Syrian Army forces in Deir Ezzor a couple of months ago that killed 83 Syrian soldiers and wounded more than 100, the Russians warned that any further attacks against Syrian government forces would be considered an act of war and that if there were further air strikes against Syrian military forces, the attacking aircraft would be shot down without warning by Russian air defense forces.

We have talked in the past about how vulnerable aircraft carriers would be in a shooting war against another major military power. Naval and air power would play a major role in any war between the US and Russia. The US Navy is much larger, has more firepower and has an overall advantage in quality compared to the Russian Navy. But the Russians have been working on asymmetric warfare strategies and technologies since the early days of the Cold War in order to counter the USN’s advantages. They would also have some important advantages, including fighting close to home, a formidable air force and submarine fleet and torpedoes and missiles that are downright scary. The Russians have a number of weapons systems that were specifically developed to kill aircraft carriers and other large warships.

Part 1 of 2

Armata said...

Part 2 of 2, continued from above

For example, every Russian cruise missile and fast attack submarine carries a half a dozen Type 65 “carrier killer” torpedoes in addition to conventional torpedoes and cruise missiles. The Type 65 is a nightmare weapon to counter. It’s fast, it has a very long range, it has a huge warhead and it’s what is known as a “keel breaker”. Instead of hitting the side of the target like a World War II torpedo, it dives under the target and detonates a few meters under the keel, aiming for the center of the ship. The resulting explosion not only generates a powerful shockwave (water is for all practical purposes an incompressible liquid, so the shock wave hits full force), but also generates a fast expanding, rapidly rising gas bubble that slams into the underside of the ship. A keel breaker can literally snap a ship’s hull in half with one hit. The whiplash effect is devastating. Any member of the crew not killed outright will probably be badly injured, so you probably won’t see many survivors. The Type 65 was specifically designed to kill aircraft carriers, battleships, super tankers and other large, damage resistant ships with a single hit. The Type 65 also uses a unique “wake homing” guidance system that is very hard to countermeasure. It’s worth noting that all of the newer Russian warships have “hard kill” anti-torpedo defenses that can attempt to intercept an incoming torpedo. We still don’t have anything like that in our fleet. The USN has been working on something similar, but it’s all just experimental prototypes and design studies and nothing is expected to be in service for several more years.

Another is the Kh-32 hypersonic cruise missile. This beast of a missile has a maximum range of over 600 miles, cruises at an altitude of 131,000 feet and has a cruising speed of Mach 4.7! When it’s almost over the target, it makes a steep, high angle dive onto the target. It was designed primarily as an anti-ship missile but can also be used against land targets. When it hits the target, its doing Mach 6 and will punch right through the deck (probably several decks) of an enemy ship before the 2200 pound high explosive warhead goes off deep inside the hull, causing massive internal damage. A single Kh-32 is more than enough to sink a cruiser or destroyer, while one hit would be enough to put an aircraft carrier out of action. Two or three hits would be probably be enough to sink a carrier. It’s normally carried by the Tu-22M3 Backfire heavy bomber, which can carry up to three of these monsters apiece. Bear in mind the Backfires will be attacking in squadrons or even entire regiments in order to saturate the enemy defenses and the attack will coordinated with cruise missiles from other sources like submarines in order to overwhelm the enemy air defenses. The combination of very high speed, very high cruising altitude, a steep terminal dive, an advanced radar guidance system and a built in jammer makes this a very difficult weapon to defend against. Again, the US has nothing even remotely comparable.

It’s for that reason that I agree with you about aircraft carriers. We should instead focus on submarines, small, fast missile armed warships and long-range land based aircraft armed with anti-ship missiles.

tolkienguy said...

To the two posters who called me out ob the Des Moines thing-my bad. I should have done more research in that particular case, and I apologize. I could have mentioned Dallas or Baton Rouge, though, and my point would have stood. And no, just because one opposes a movement that marches through the streets yelling "Pigs in a blanket, fry em like bacon", (source and makes white people stand at the back of protests (source ) doesn't mean one is a "violent racist." I will even admit BLM had a bit of a point to start with, though it vanished when they started mainstreaming Farrakhan rhetoric. And yes, portions of the alt-right are just as bad. And I will also grant that Trump has been more tolerant of those people than he should be, one of the reasons I didn't vote for him. But, the vast majority of Trump supporters, as JMG mentioned, aren't racist and aren't particularly sympathetic to it. I've lived pretty much my whole life in the South, so I speak from experience here. (And the same thing about undue tolerance could be said of Hillary and BLM)

Thing is, even 10 years ago, the national promenance of groups like the alt-right or BLM would have been almost unimaginable. It really does feel like race relations have gone sharply downhill recently, and it doesn't have to be this way. Furthermore, as JMG has discussed, the left and right in this country have completely lost the ability to talk to one another-being a grad-school alum in a very right wing area, and thus having contact with liberals and conservatives, I routinely get to hear both sides' fist-pounding denunciations of their opponents-or rather, the strawman caricatures they imagine their opponents to be. Both have about the same relationship to reality, and both need to stop, because I really can't see how America can go on like this.

Robert McGahey said...

Am I missing something? How can a true Druid ignore the earth? If there is one area that Trump's presidency will insure disaster, it is climate change, by pulling out of the Paris Accord. I have read several of your books, and I don't see you as a denier. How can you ignore the mastodon in the room?

Chris Houston said...

We voted for Trump on:

Non interventionist foreign policy
War on whites
political correctness aka censorship
internet freedom
affirmative action which is anti-white
leftist lunatics in colleges
disaster Obamacare and fines paid to IRS
No banker went to prison, no hedgefund left behind
Supreme Court

Candace said...

I forwarded links to the post to several of my friends. One friend liked it so much she wanted to forward it using a gmail account and post a link to it on Facebook. Her friends have told her the links don't work. It could be a technical failure on her/our part, but I'm worried this is part of the website censorship mentioned above. So perhaps someone more technically savvy than I an could check it out?

@ Robert McGahey,
So you actually think the Paris accords are more than hand waving? I thought most of the stuff governments were doing pretty much fell into the category of Kabuki Theater. If people aren't willing to stop driving cars, why would this make a difference?

John Michael Greer said...

Goedeck, and as if how much education you have isn't an indicator of how rich your parents were! I have an Amateur Extra class license, actually -- worth getting, so you've got every band to choose from.

Maria, I thought you said you were stomping off in a huff! No, my post isn't based on assumptions; as I said rather more than once, it's based on what I heard Trump voters actually saying about why they cast their votes the way they did -- and if your assumptions don't fit that, you may want to rethink those assumptions.

Avery, true enough. I've come to think, watching the spittle fly, that the failure of the Great God Progress to deliver the goods in this election has a lot of people in deep cognitive dissonance.

Indian Blogger, nicely summarized.

Ares, maybe you're a safe white person. Most of the people I know in flyover country, white and otherwise, don't feel safe at all, and it's not, as you insist, a matter of bathrooms et al. It's a matter of not knowing if they're going to lose their jobs, be unable to afford necessary healthcare, or watch their kids come home in body bags from another Middle Eastern war. If those concerns seem unreal to you, then maybe, to borrow a phrase from the left, you should check your privilege.

David, the only reason they're denouncing the electoral college is that it didn't give them the present they wanted. Not that many weeks ago Democrats were gleefully talking about how the electoral college meant that Trump couldn't possibly get in. There's a word for that, and it sounds rather like "hippogriff."

Gregorach, it's unreasonable -- though very convenient -- for their opponents to use the actions of a few to dismiss the real concerns of the many.

Phil, the county I lived in voted for Trump 72% to 24% Clinton, so I suspect it wasn't a 50/50 split among the congregations!

Renaissance, I'm delighted to hear that your friends and neighbors realize that the US is getting out of the empire business. That's a level of clarity I wish I saw more often here.

Fudoshin, excellent! Any relevant quote from the original Kung Fu series -- the last TV series I watched regularly, btw -- is welcome here. ;-)

Kevin, I haven't kept links. Can anyone else provide factual links to Soros' involvement in paid protests?

Iuval, it was a choice between four more years of green tokenism that wouldn't actually change anything, but would convince people that they didn't have to take action, and four years of obvious neglect of the environment that might actually spur people to action. No major party candidate in decades has offered more than lip service to environmental causes.

Paul, as I've noted more than once, if Trump backs away from confrontation with Russia, tears up a few trade agreements, and reinstates the Glass-Steagall Act, he'll have done more good than any of the previous four presidents -- though that's a very low bar. Is his election going to change things over the long term? Of course not -- but the long term isn't the only one that matters. If this election shocks enough Democrats out of their echo chambers and gets them to pay attention to their former constituents in middle America, it could actually do some good; I'll talk later on about how that could play out.

Justin said...

Regarding Soros and anti-Trump protests, here's some (slightly dubious) links. From my point of view, it's a situation where there's gigatons of smoke, so denying that there's fire is kind of hard to do.

There's no gold-standard evidence here. However, I think there's enough to justify the belief that something is up, and that someone much like Soros is probably involved.

Justin said...

Indian Blogger, I would point out that a lot of young people are "temporarily embarrassed salary class", who actually believe that their degree(s) will eventually deliver them to some office somewhere where they will collect a large salary.

onething said...

Jorgenson said,

"I've been having discussions with Clinton supporters about what Google and Facebook should do to combat "fake news", (it may be an actual problem, but the "solution" seems dangerous) and one thing surprises me... more than a few have used the Archdruid Report as an example of what they want to see removed. Not restricted, but altogether removed from the internet."

I've noticed for years that the concept of free speech is beyond large numbers of people and that often the biggest offenders are the leftward or liberal end of the spectrum.

Justin said...

Fudoshin/JMG, Kung Fu was great! There's a reason it cameo'd in Office Space.

Renaissance, if Trump actually does succeed in imperial disentanglement, I would imagine a lot of the left will think they did it. Either way, I'd be more than happy to blow smoke up various orifices of lefties if Trump manages to roll back empire without too much bloodshed.

onething said...

Now, THIS is interesting.

Kevin Warner said...

John Michael Greer said...
"Can anyone else provide factual links to Soros' involvement in paid protests?"

Not sure if the following links are of any help. There is a story at called "Soros bands with donors to resist Trump, 'take back power'"

The second link does not connect Soros directly so I cannot verify the authenticity of the article (including its creepy photo) but is of interest in itself if true. It is at and is called "BREAKING : Less than a Day Into Trump’s Epic Victory, Soros Already Caught Orchestrating Chaos"

Third link is at and is called "Who's Behind The Portland Riots? 60% Of Arrested Anti-Trump Protesters Were From Out Of State, Didn't Vote"

Lastly there is a story at called "HERE’S PROOF=> That Soros Money is FUNDING the Anti-Trump Leftist Protest-Riots"

If this is all true, then I would imagine that this would be a case for your F.B.I. as they would have jurisdiction and I believe that the U.S. has laws on their books about outside entities trying to influence American politics.

Jen said...

Bill Pulliam, I am surprised to hear that your hillbillies are Willing to entertain single payer. My rednecks here in rural Texas would die and go somewhere even hotter before they signed off on single payer. We are probably relatively prosperous compared to that part of TN though (I am assuming), so that may be why. The opposition is partly ideological here (socialism) and partly based on concerns over quality, access, taxation, innovation, and attracting enough medical personnel (and those with talent and brains).

onething said...

Greg Belvedere,

Send your younger brother the above linked article

Keeping in mind that the guy who wrote it seems to loathe Trump but oh boy does he demolish the fiction that Trump is anti gay and racist.
And then ask him how he feels about the lies he has been told.

John Michael Greer said...

Fred, I didn't get many attempts at Godwining -- I think anyone who reads this blog knows that I'll just delete those. Mostly it's attempts to drag the conversation back to the standard canned talking points.

Sillybill, it's your indefeasible right as a citizen of this country to get out there and counterprotest the Klan, so go ye forth and do that thing. Do you know if the anti-Klan people who are organizing this have talked to the local churches? It was really impressive to see what a couple of thousand people singing together can do to the morale of a small group of angry men in bedsheets.

Lei, the United States has bankrupted itself playing global policeman. Have you been to this country? If not, and you go outside the well-off coastal areas, I promise you you'll be astonished and appalled by how rundown and dilapidated everything is. We currently pay nearly 70% of NATO's expenses, and many billions more every year in indirect costs, and sorry, but we can't afford it any more. The nations of Europe have a choice to make; either they can pay for their own defense out of their own budgets, or they can keep their mininature military budgets and make whatever deals they can with the Russians and the Chinese. Take your pick...

Fred, good heavens, nobody in America objects to being lied to if the lie is something they want to hear. It's the people who disprove the lie who come in for all the hostility.

WB, they're so threatened by unfamiliar ideas, and so incapable of coming up with arguments to defend their own opinions, that they're ready to throw away the last of their principles and embrace censorship? In that case, being included in their list of books (or blogs) for burning is really quite a compliment -- and yes, you can tell them I said that.

J. Gamer, I'm not sure that will wash, given the frantic efforts to stop him -- it's quite something, for example, when every single newspaper in the country gives its nod to somebody else!

Greg, I suspect people who read this blog know perfectly well that I'd simply delete any comment to that effect. Dismissing somebody's views on the basis of their race, gender, or sexual orientation is a bad idea, whatever race, gender, or orientation we're talking about.

Ben, as already noted, I think you and they are wrong. I understand that a lot of people are nervous, but we'll have to wait and see what happens.

Mister R., that's really impressively mendacious. Thanks for the heads up!

Donalfagan, and yet the risk of war was the one that was most often cited to me, and other people have reported the same thing. I think that deserves attention.

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