A Preliminary Strategic Cultural Assessment of the US 2020 Political and Election Operating Environment

My bread and butter, in terms of analytical work, for the Army was doing cultural assessments. First at the tactical level and then at the theater and national strategic levels of operation. Much of the formats for these assessments were my creation because they largely didn’t exist in a formal sense until I was assigned to USAWC and then temporarily assigned out to assist III Corps in 2012, US Army Europe in 2013 and 2014, and to provide assistance and support to a variety of Divisions, Army Service Component Commands, and Geographic Combatant Commands beginning in 2010. I tried to broadly root what I was doing in the closest thing the US military has to a doctrinal definition of culture, which can be found in CJCSI 1800.01E/The Officers Professional Military Education Policy. It is a very broad definition of culture:

The distinctive and deeply rooted beliefs, values, ideology, historic traditions, social forms and behavioral patterns of a group, organization or society that evolves, is learned, and transmitted to succeeding generations.

In many ways a lot of what I do is what the British refer to as cultural intelligence, which is basically looking at the human geography of the problem set, the people, places, and things within the operating environment, and trying to assess how they all interact in regard to opportunities, challenges, and threats the US is facing within that operating environment.

For a while now I’ve been thinking about the US as an operating environment, specifically in regard to the politics of and around the looming 2020 election. Here’s some preliminary thoughts, as a preliminary assessment, on this operating environment.

The Context Within Which the 2020 Elections Will be Contested

It is exceedingly important to understand the American operating environment in 2019 and going into 2020, especially for those planning on running for office or working on their campaigns, and to place their campaign strategies and planning, and, perhaps, their campaigns themselves within the context that the US is at war. Putin has made it very clear since 2014 that as far as he was concerned Russia was, at least, in a new cold war with the US and the US was the aggressor. And 2014 is around when he started to really ramp up his active measures and cyberwarfare campaign of information and psychological warfare against the US, the EU, and NATO. At the same time the US is also enmeshed in a low intensity internal war between revanchists who seek to establish a white Christian herrenvolk state and society and those that don’t. This is largely breaking along party lines. The Republicans, especially the base that supports the President, fighting for herrenvolkism. The Democratic Parties broad multi-ethnic, multi-cultural, and multi-religious coalition fighting against it. And Putin’s active measures campaign, his war against the US, is stoking the Republicans and seeking to demoralize and deactivate the Democrats. This is the theater of operations in which everything – from the primaries to the general election to senatorial and congressional elections to state and local elections – will take place over the next two years.

The Human Geography: A Tale of Two Tribes

A lot of the discussion of American politics has lapsed into the shorthand of discussing the two major parties as tribes. This isn’t really accurate, but it makes for a convenient shorthand. As has been documented by many scholars and analysts, the political parties began to resort themselves during and after the Civil Rights era of the 1960s, largely finishing their internal realignments in the 1990s, and finished consolidating in the early 00s. This has left us with two very distinct political parties.

Right now the Democratic Party is going through some generational changes. A lot of which were reflected in the 2018 midterm elections. The Democratic Party is changing to better reflect the demographics of its members. This observation isn’t rocket science. A lot of it is generational turnover that has accelerated and been moved to the foreground in response to Trump and a long overdue realization, from the Democratic/Democratic leaning side, of what the base of the GOP/the President’s base within the GOP and the conservative movement actually have been consolidating into as a result of the partisan realignment begun in the late 1960s. It has become an insurgent, revanchist party and movement promoting a herrenvolk democracy for white, largely evangelical Christians. These ideas and identity components that have been very heavily foregrounded, for a variety of reasons, within the GOP and the conservative movement over the past two and a 1/2 years has been remade to better support and reflect the President, his views, and his agenda such as it is. As a result, these ideas of nativism, xenophobia, anti-Semitism paired with Christian Zionist support for Israel, homophobia, and Islamophobia appear to be ascendant within the GOP in 2019. Should the GOP, as it has been presenting itself over the past three years or so, ever get its way, the traditionalist Catholics, Mormons, and Orthodox Jews that are along for the ride will be first to be purged. And then the various evangelical denominations and sects will turn on themselves until they achieve purity. Think the 30 years war with Mitch McConnell presiding over the Senate.

The Democratic Party is in many ways the mirror opposite of the Republican Party. Rather than shrinking itself, it has broadened itself into a sort of tribal confederation – a tribe of tribes. It’s strength, that it is far more diverse, may ultimately become a weakness if that diversity can’t be channeled in a way that provides enough for each of those diverse tribes and sub-tribes to feel as if their interests are being met within the coalition and by the coalition’s leadership. The Republican Party, especially the President’s base, after what we’ve observed over the past three years or so, should be seen as a coherent, solid tribe with a couple of caveats. It is clear that some Republicans are just going through the motions because, unlike the NeverTrumpers, they can’t bring themselves to make the partisan break with their long held political affiliations and identities. Other Republicans, especially the professional ones, are simply being opportunistic and expect, when the President’s term of office eventually ends, to be able to reinvent themselves and try to get everyone to ignore what they’ve done since 2015. Some are simply trying to ride the tiger without getting mauled and eaten. However, the base of the Republican Party, which is the President’s base, is becoming a hardened white, largely evangelical Christian ethno-party. And this dynamic is being promoted and consolidated, often for profit, by Fox News, conservative talk radio, many conservative publications online and dead tree, and conservative social media.


I hope that I’m wrong, but I’m very concerned that when Senator Sanders does not get the Democratic nomination, and I think that will become very clear very early on in the primaries next year because the US in 2019 is a very different world than the US in 2015 and 2016, that his supporters and his monomaniacal focus on economics issues, coupled with his ego, will drive him to run as an independent. And if he doesn’t, Nina Turner will shiv him and do it herself. I’m actually quite surprised that she hasn’t done this already. I honestly didn’t think she had this much restraint. Sanders won’t get the nomination because of the internal evolution and generational changes within the multi-ethnic and multi-religious coalitions that comprise the Democratic Party. A lot of his platform was incorporated into the broader Democratic platform in 2016 when Secretary Clinton was the nominee and more of it has been incorporated since then. At this point he should declare victory for his ideas and try to function as a senior mentor/the grand old sage. Unfortunately, I don’t think he’s wired that way. He also won’t get the nomination because his trusted lieutenants, for lack of a better term, are even more abrasive than he is. No one paying attention to the Democratic Party’s internal politics has forgotten that neither he, nor his most senior and vocal agents, will take yes for an answer. The behavior of Turner, Konst, and several others at the various DNC events and meetings over the past 18 months or so was unprofessional, unpleasant to watch, hear, and read about, and, frankly, way out of line. What little welcome they had, they’ve worn it out. Sanders, no matter what he does, has the potential to function as a super spoiler for the Democrats in 2020. Think Jill Stein’s effect on the electoral college on steroids. And if he decides he’s going to be a team player and not do so, his trusted agents won’t play ball and you’ll have the same problem regardless. And we can now add Congresswoman Gabbard to the potential spoilers category emanating from Sanders orbit.

I expect an effort will be made, most likely by Rick Wilson again (as he detailed in his book), to draft Gen (ret) Mattis into running for President as an independent. The remarks by Mattis’s brother in an interview he gave in December shortly after Mattis resigned in protest, suggest that Mattis may be thinking about it. The question will be whether how Mattis served as Secretary of Defense, and how he resigned, would be enough to overcome the anger of Democratic leaning independents/no party affiliation and actual Democrats for anyone who accepted a position in the Trump administration no matter how noble that person’s intentions may have been.

It is also likely that one or more Republicans will try to primary the President. Though this has gotten harder now that the Republican National Committee has passed a resolution of support for the President and his effective presidency ahead of the 2020 election. The resolution basically locks the party into supporting the President’s reelection. So if Governors Hogan, Weld, and/or Kasich or Senator Flake decide to primary the President, they’ll be doing it in opposition to the Republican Party.

I think it is entirely likely that at least one, if not more, individually wealthy elite and/or notables will attempt an independent run. Some of these may be Democrats, some Republicans, some long term independents/no party affiliations that lean one way or the other. They will be driven by one or both of two things. The first is a desire to remove Trump from office and end this nightmarish farce before it leads to tragedy that cannot be fixed. The second is that they, and the people advising them, will have decided that running within one of the two major parties does not provide them with the flexibility or the support that it will for the traditional politicians. This seems to ignore the well documented within political science empirical reality that there is not a plurality of Americans who are actually really independents. Rather these self declared or described independents are actually hidden partisans who almost always lean to one of the two major political parties or the other and vote that way as well.

The belief that an independent run for the presidency can be successful also fails to account for a major structural impediment: the electoral college. Regardless of its original purposes, the electoral college largely serves to force and keep US politics divided into two major parties. As a result, candidates trying to run outside the two parties, especially given that we know the Russians and others are going to continue their active measures and cyberwarfare campaigns against the US, have the potential to serve as spoilers on steroids. These potential independent candidacies are far more likely to peel off just enough support from the Democratic nominee to allow for a rerun of the 2016 election where the Democrat wins the popular vote, but Trump once again wins a narrow majority in the electoral college. Democratic candidates and campaigns will begin to develop strong and proactive strategies and plans to counter this dynamic.

Larry Sabatow, the Director of the University of Virginia’s Center for Politics and one of the best political pollsters in academia, has already had this reaction to Howard Schultz’s 60 Minutes interview earlier this evening.

It’s also what American political historian Kevin Kruse, who just coauthored a history of the development of the modern and contemporary American partisan political divide, thinks too:

And it is what Howard Wolfson, who is a long time senior advisor to Michael Bloomberg, has concluded, which helps explain why Bloomberg is planning to run as a Democrat, not an independent, if he runs:

The 21st Century American Resource War: An Ideological and Partisan Dispute Over Who Gets to be an American

The most divisive political dispute, for lack of a better or less incendiary term, that is going on in the US right now and will continue into and through the 2020 election is one over resources. This is not a dispute over physical resources; and it is not really over even political and economic power in the sense that we’re used to understanding those types of disputes in the post WW II United States. Rather, the actual resource in dispute is Americanness itself. As in who actually is, or may make a claim to be, an American. This is not a new fight within and between Americans. It goes back to the origins of the country. And it, as it is doing right now, usually flares back up immediately after there has been an extension of civil liberties and rights to groups that were not previously considered, whether for political, social, religious, and/or ethnic/racial reasons, to be entitled to the full rights, protections, and liberties of other Americans. We are, unfortunately, currently in one of these periods. And the fight is over two very different visions of what it means to be an American and who gets to be an American

The President, his senior policy advisor Stephen Miller, fellow travelers like Congressman Steve King, many of his outside advisors like Anne Coulter and Ginni Thomas, and his base are committed to a very narrow, crimped, and small minded vision of what it means to be American and who gets to be an American. Those in opposition to this have a far broader, expansive, open minded, and welcoming understanding of Americanness. This is the real core political, social, and religious dispute in the US today. It is an ideational, ideological, and in some cases theological and dogmatic war over the resource of Americanness. And, for the time being, it is fortunately and largely non-violent. Though the acts of domestic terrorism that are being driven by the most extreme adherents of the narrow, crimped, small minded understanding of Americanness and who is an American are accelerating as we saw in Pittsburgh.

One final thought, for now, on what the human geography in the theater of operations in the 2020 elections looks like. If we use the military doctrinal term “center of gravity” meaning a key constituency, or social, political, economic, religious, or physical structure or institution, there is an additional one to the Republican Party/the President’s base and the Democrats. This third center of gravity is the part of the electorate that doesn’t vote. It too is subdivided. Some of these voters don’t vote because they don’t believe they know and understand enough about what is going on to vote. As a result the idea of voting makes them uncomfortable as an exercise in decision making. Some don’t vote because they see politics as so messy and unsettled that it turns them off. These are Americans who don’t vote because they’ve bought into the propaganda and influence operations that tells them that their vote must only be given to the ideologically pure. For these voters the good or very good electoral choice is always the enemy of the perfect one! A final group within this third portion of the electorate just don’t have the time and the resources to vote. They feel overwhelmed in their daily lives; their existence as Americans is a struggle to get by from day to day. As a result they choose to focus their limited resources and energy on trying to survive to the next day, rather than pay attention to politics. Whichever candidate can make inroads into this large pool of potential voters will be able to tap an electoral resource that is waiting to be mined.

Open thread!

193 replies
  1. 1
    MisterForkbeard says:

    Holy crap, wall of text. Needs some paragraph breaks.

    Content looks super interesting, though. ;)

  2. 2
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @MisterForkbeard: WordPress did it’s usually formatting number, I’ve just fixed it.

  3. 3
    Adam L Silverman says:

    And we’re back!

  4. 4
    MisterForkbeard says:

    @Adam L Silverman: Thanks! Much more readable.

    Also appreciate the section on spoiler candidates. It’s a lesson that large parts of America need to learn too – splitting your vote is basically a vote for Trump.

  5. 5
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @MisterForkbeard: You’re welcome. I really do hope I’m wrong about Sanders.

  6. 6
    Suzanne says:

    The President, his senior policy advisor Stephen Miller, fellow travelers like Congressman Steve King, many of his outside advisors like Anne Coulter and Ginni Thomas, and his base are committed to a very narrow, crimped, and small minded vision of what it means to be American and who gets to be an American. Those in opposition to this have a far broader, expansive, open minded, and welcoming understanding of Americanness. This is the real core political, social, and religious dispute in the US today. It is an ideational, ideological, and in some cases theological and dogmatic war over the resource of Americanness.

    This echoes Joan Williams’ observation in her book White Working Class that the only high-status identity that many of these people have is being American, which is why they guard it so fiercely from those they consider interlopers. If anyone can be American, then they aren’t special.

    This also aligns with my theory, which is that Trumpism is all about restoring the relative social status of white dudes who didn’t go to college.

  7. 7

    It’s hard to overstate how important this is. Thank you for writing this. Example 495 of why this is the best blog in America.

  8. 8
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @Suzanne: Great minds and all that…//

  9. 9
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @Smedley Darlington Prunebanks (formerly Mumphrey, et al.): Since I don’t have a Patreon, if you can, hit up Jacy’s GoFundMe as way of gratuity!

  10. 10
    dmsilev says:

    @Adam L Silverman: You might well be right about Sanders (hope not), but I think you’re wrong about Turner in that I don’t think the support for Sanders would transfer over to her in any real way. There really does seem to be a strong element of a cult of personality associated with Sanders’ support, and that really ties a lot of his supporters to him personally.

    As for Daddy WarStarbucks, Josh Marshall made the prediction that his potential run is sufficiently stupid that we’ll find out that Mark Penn was behind it.

  11. 11
    hilts says:

    @Adam L Silverman:

    I look forward to reading an amended version of this post if, by some miracle Sanders and Schultz, stay out of this race.

  12. 12
    NotMax says:

    Putting aside loonies (LaRouche, etc.) recent history – that is to say post-WW2 – shows independent candidates strong or attractive enough to get on all 51 ballots in all 50 states siphoning votes roughly equally from both major parties. Their real negative effect seems to be on downticket races, resulting in a greater than would be expected number of blank votes for those.

  13. 13
    different-church-lady says:


  14. 14
    Steve in the ATL says:

    In many ways a lot of what I do is what the British refer to as cultural intelligence, which is basically looking at the human geography of the problem set, the people, places, and things within the operating environment, and trying to assess how they all interact in regard to opportunities, challenges, and threats the US is facing within that operating environment.

    Sounds a lot like what Kim Philby did for the Russians for a couple of decades after he moved there. Rat bastard.

  15. 15
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Steve in the ATL: Is Kim the rat bastard or is Adam?

  16. 16
    sdhays says:

    @dmsilev: If Sanders isn’t getting the raving crowds he was getting in 2015, I just don’t see him running as an independent. And I don’t see him getting big crowds this time around. His supporters are vocal, but dwindling, and people who might be interested in his message will have A LOT of (better) options this time around.

    Of course, Russian money is the wildcard here…

  17. 17
    Sab says:

    @dmsilev: There is also a lot of race involved, and Turner ain’t white. There are a lot of POC Sanders supporters that haven’t figured this out. Turner herself has. She is just grifting.

  18. 18
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @Steve in the ATL: Actually my professional forebears are Moe Berg, Sylvanus Morley, Tom Harrison, and Bernard Fall. Fall is the closest professional analogue.

  19. 19
    jl says:

    Thanks for informative and thoughtful post. No problem here with wall of text. I jump in it!

    I thought Schultz’ on 60 minutes was very weak sauce. Vague policy platitudes and pabulum, and ignorant conventional wisdom dithering over macroeconomic non-issues like the nominal value of the debt, and debt-GDP ratio (which are neither a short nor a medium term threat over next few election cycles, and no one cares about).

    He’s going up against experienced politicians like Warren, Harris, Sanders, Gillibrand, maybe Brown, who are outly and loudly pounding very specific policies that resonate with the vast majority of voters.

    I think and hope it will evaporate like the mirage.that it is, or should be. You need a minimum critical level of support to get an independent on enough states in US to potentially make a difference. Will Schultz get it. I don’t think so from what I heard tonight.

    If Mattis runs, let’s see what he has to say.

  20. 20
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @dmsilev: I don’t think the support would translate, but I also don’t get the impression that would stop her.

  21. 21
    Steve in the ATL says:

    @Omnes Omnibus: por que no los dos?

  22. 22
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @jl: I think Mattis would more likely pull support from the President, pulling Republicans and Republican leaning independents who don’t/won’t vote for the Democratic candidate, but want an alternative to the President.

  23. 23
    MisterForkbeard says:

    @Adam L Silverman: As another important question deserving of your other expertise: How do you feel about the upcoming Doom Patrol show? Apparently Brendan Fraser is Robotman, which I’m totally on board for.

    More seriously, I’ve been thinking about some points you’ve made here with regards to my Trumpist in-laws. The way you’ve phrased “Americanness” and the battle for it is useful in explaining how these otherwise good but racist people have bought in so hard. I’m going to let my wife take a look and see what she thinks.

  24. 24
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @Steve in the ATL: Because I take my oath to the Constitution very seriously. To the point of, as you know well, being willing to risk legal jeopardy if I think it is necessary to protect national security.

  25. 25
    Ruckus says:


    If anyone can be American, then they aren’t special.

    And of course they aren’t special at all. None of us are. That’s what makes this place supposed to work, that we are equal. The republican party and supporters are like the school yard bully, they have to be special or they are nothing. They can’t conceive a third position. Their church or their color or their money make them special. This country has been living with this since before it was one. Humans have been living with this since the first of us walked upright. The concept that people are equal is, in many ways not popular at all. Because it doesn’t place anyone above the rest. Look at our culture. Sports, movies, religion, money. All of these place people in our culture higher than those who don’t participate or who don’t have wealth. There must be something wrong with you if you can’t buy the Sonics. Or star in a movie. Or throw a 50 yard touchdown pass. Or…..
    Equality is the bane of politics while at the same time being the one thing that might just keep us going over the next 100 yrs.

  26. 26
    Another Scott says:

    I honestly don’t think that Bernie is going to have much impact this time, either way.

    I’m trying to think of unsuccessful runner-up Democratic presidential candidates that were successful after losing the nomination. Let’s see, since the 1980 campaign:

    1) Carter/Kennedy
    2) Mondale/Hart
    3) Dukakis/Jackson
    4) Clinton/Brown
    5) Clinton/LaRouche
    6) Gore/Bradley
    7) Kerry/Edwards
    8) Obama/Clinton
    9) Clinton/Sanders

    One out of 9 in the last 40+ years.

    Democrats are not very forgiving of runners-up – apparently except in special circumstances (Hillary). Since Bernie isn’t even a Democrat, it’s hard to imagine him having much of an impact if history is any guide.

    My J is still a big Bernie fan, and I’ve not heard her mention anyone else as piquing her interest (though it is still very early). I don’t think she’s interested in Tulsi.

    We’ll see.



  27. 27
    eemom says:


    The Zuckerberg of the beverage world, amirite?

  28. 28
    jl says:

    I’m concerned about Bernie Sanders too. I think whether he does well in primaries depends on whether his unexpected success in 2016 was a function of his political acumen in understanding what a lot of voters wanted to hear and the kind of policies they needed, or just that he is an old crank to blundered into national politics at the right time by accident.

    We’ll see if he can adjust or continues repeating the same things like a tape loop. I’m not so concerned that Sanders would run as an independent out of sheer ego. I think he is enough of a practical politician and who understands the varieties of historical significance that are available for him to weigh what his chances of winning are against what kind of bigshot he can be in a 2020 administration or as majority in the Senate.

    If Warren is nominee, for example, I think Sanders would be very tempted to deal with her for maximum influence in her administration, in executive branch or Senate. If someone like Biden or Booker wins, who Sanders thinks are too centrist, then I worry what he’ll do.

    But as I have explained before, I think that early on, a bigger more diverse Democratic primary field, with a variety of progressive voices represented, is better than a smaller one. And assuming that Harris’ and Gillibrand’s move to more forthright and solid progressive stands are genuine, we are getting a great range of candidates so far.

  29. 29
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @MisterForkbeard: Regarding Doom Patrol: From what I’ve read so far, and the trailers I’ve seen, it looks like they’re doing a good job. And it’s good to see Brendan Fraser doing something again even if it is just voice and motion capture. Being sexually assaulted really did a number on him. I need to sign up for the DC streaming service since the next season of Young Justice is out. I’ve heard some promising things about the Teen Titans show as well, though apparently some of the first season was uneven. Not that that isn’t the norm.

    As to your in laws, I can’t help you there.

  30. 30
    🇺🇸🌎 Goku (aka Amerikan Baka) 🗳🌷 says:

    These potential independent candidacies are far more likely to peel off just enough support from the Democratic nominee to allow for a rerun of the 2016 election where the Democrat wins the popular vote, but Trump once again wins a narrow majority in the electoral college.

    My god. Three times in under 20 years, an unpopular candidate would have won via the Electoral College, twice in 4 years. That would be so destabilizing.

  31. 31
    NotMax says:

    OT for people with a Steam account.

    Free demo of Werewolves: Haven Rising available. Totally text game of the choose your own path sort. Clever premise and a lot of serious effort obviously went into polishing the writing, although would say the prologue is a bit too boggy and adjective heavy. As it is only text, free demo takes maybe 30 seconds to download with a decent internet connection.

  32. 32
    Suzanne says:


    And of course they aren’t special at all. None of us are. That’s what makes this place supposed to work, that we are equal.

    In the eyes of the law, we should all be equal, of course.

    But social status is a real thing. We all know it, and we all feel it. We all know what it is, and what the semiotics are around it. We know how to discern it in people, and how to express it in ourselves. The bigger question, I think, is why so many people feel (probably correctly) that their social status has eroded over the last 40-50 years or so, and yet why they seek to diminish others’ status rather than raise their own.

  33. 33
    Steve in the ATL says:

    @Adam L Silverman: apparently my post came off as suggesting something that I did not mean to suggest, to wit: that Adam is a Kim Philbyesque traitor. I didn’t mean that, and would never say such a thing about a BJ front pager and dog lover.

    My only point was that this type of information is quite useful. The Russians, for example, had stolen many British secrets (such as how to boil mutton) courtesy of their spies, but had no idea how to behave around British people or how to speak to them or how to influence them. Philby provided this expertise to them, hence my calling him a rat bastard.

    I’m sure many other people have performed similar functions over the years (and are probably equally valuable to operators of call centers in Bangalore); I mentioned Philby only because his name, and this specific role he played, came up in a conversation over the weekend (and now you no longer wonder why I have no friends!).

  34. 34
    MisterForkbeard says:

    @Adam L Silverman: Its more like, my wife has had a hard time figuring out her parents basically went nuts and some of this explains it. Partially.

    It’d probably do her good to read it – she’s interested in the subject matter anyway, even without the personal stakes.

  35. 35
    eddie blake says:

    @Adam L Silverman:

    oooh, season three of young justice is GOOOOOOOD.

  36. 36
    Mart says:

    Whichever candidate can make inroads into this large pool of potential voters will be able to tap an electoral resource that is waiting to be mined.

    Thanks for this Adam. The Trump Horror Show seemed to be a decent motivator to get many a non-voter to the polls this mid-term. I expect it will grow.

  37. 37

    @NotMax: Collectively, and since WWII, what you say may be true- but in more modern times, the Right just ain’t running their share of independents, and they vote in lockstep. It’s a much bigger problem for our side now.

  38. 38
    lamh36 says:

    1. Who is the person advising former Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz to run for president as an independent?

    It’s Steve Schmidt, John McCain’s campaign manager in 2008

    Schultz can’t win but Schmidt can certainly make a lot of money

    8:06 PM – Jan 27, 2019

  39. 39
    Suzanne says:

    @Mart: The challenge I see with counting on activating non-voters is that many people like progressive policies but do not like progressives. Probably in large part due to cultural factors that Adam describes above.

  40. 40
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @MisterForkbeard: Have you considered setting the parental controls on their TVs to lock out Fox News and Fox Business, not telling them, and when they ask just saying you don’t know anything about it, but it is possible they got dropped from their package by their cable provider?

  41. 41
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @eddie blake: So I’ve heard. I’m probably going to sign up tonight. Been a busy week or so.

  42. 42
    JR says:

    @Steve in the ATL: like John Travolta and that other guy from the Experts?

  43. 43
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @lamh36: Exactly. A lifelong Democrat, whose name was being floated for Secretary of Commerce had Hillary Clinton won in 2016, is going to run as an independent by a career long Republican campaign strategist. That’s going to have broad appeal.

  44. 44
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Steve in the ATL: I actually wrote a paper on Philby for a Soviet Foreign Policy course in undergrad.

  45. 45
    Steve in the ATL says:

    @JR: exactly! Blast from the past…had forgotten that movie.

  46. 46
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @Suzanne: That’s the rub. The official terms are operational versus subjective ideology. Specifically when you poll and survey without any of the partisan identifiers and with properly written questions, we find that the vast cross-section of Americans are in agreement on most of the major political, social, and economic issues. However, when the partisan identifiers are left in, then Americans snap back into their partisan (tribal) affiliations. The really hard thing is to find away to activate people on their operational ideology, not their partisan identities.

    Moreover, what we know from the anthropology literature, I use Swidler as the source on this, is that when societies are under stress, weak identities suddenly become very salient as part of a socially learned survival mechanism. One of the things that kept puzzling people about what was going on in Iraq, until people like me were brought in, was why Iraqis – highly educated, privately religious/publicly secular, quite modern – had suddenly reverted to tribalism and religious sectarianism. The answer is what Swidler’s research tells us: Iraqi society, as a result of the embargoes and sanctions we imposed post 1991 and then from the invasion in 2003 and the ongoing occupation, was very, very stressed. So Iraqis fell back on their traditional primary identities – kinship and sectarianism. And since Iraqi religion, both Sunni and Shi’a, is very interconnected and interwoven with kinship among Iraqi Arabs, these reinforced each other.

    Right now American society is very, very, very stressed. So subjective identities, some of which are primary like religion and political affiliations, become much more important, and therefore much stronger, as survival mechanisms.

  47. 47
    Steve in the ATL says:

    @Omnes Omnibus: did you cover this aspect of his work? Seems like most people just remember the spying.

  48. 48
    BobS says:

    Isn’t Schmidt the guy who gave us Palin?
    Fuck him.

  49. 49
    Jay says:

    @Adam L Silverman:

    Bernard Fall, RIP.

  50. 50
    Steve in the ATL says:

    @Adam L Silverman:

    One of the things that kept puzzling people about what was going on in Iraq, until people like me were brought in, was why Iraqis – highly educated, privately religious/publicly secular, quite modern – had suddenly reverted to tribalism and religious sectarianism. The answer is what Swidler’s research tells us: Iraqi society, as a result of the embargoes and sanctions we imposed post 1991 and then from the invasion in 2003 and the ongoing occupation, was very, very stressed. So Iraqis fell back on their traditional primary identities – kinship and sectarianism.

    As usual, we screwed up the endgame. Much easier to co-opt them with McDonalds, Levis, and now Facebook.

  51. 51
    Yarrow says:

    @Another Scott:

    I honestly don’t think that Bernie is going to have much impact this time, either way.

    Agreed. And I don’t think if he drops out that his support switches to Nina Turner.

  52. 52
    Ruckus says:


    The bigger question, I think, is why so many people feel (probably correctly) that their social status has eroded over the last 40-50 years or so, and yet why they seek to diminish others’ status rather than raise their own.

    Money. Money has always had status. With it one has more freedom, more time to contemplate one’s navel. Not having it has almost always meant not getting a lot more – ergo the selling point of the lottery. Not having it means that one has to work physical jobs, blue collar, work that is beneath those with money. A hundred years ago that was 95% of the population. Fifty – sixty years ago that started to change, with better free education, with the growth of the middle class after WWII. My parents never got that chance, all of their kids did. You are younger and just about the last of the group that while you likely have school debt you can/do make a decent living as a professional. But that has been changed over the last 30 years to make money the key to lack of equality. And racism to hold back as many minorities as possible so that the white class will at least feel equal to each other and ahead of someone and won’t go French Revolution on the wealth class. And of course so the wealth class can feel superior to everyone else. And boy don’t they.

  53. 53
    BobS says:

    @Adam L Silverman:
    It doesn’t say much for us that we’re “very, very, very stressed”, relative to Iraqis being merely “very, very stressed” after a decade of war in the 1980’s, a decade of embargoes, sanctions, and near-constant bombing in the 1990’s, and the subsequent invasion and occupation of the 2000’s.

  54. 54
    MisterForkbeard says:

    @Adam L Silverman: Unfortunately they’re fairly techie people. One is an ex-principal who just retired a couple years ago. The other was an officer in the military and has recently made news for doing some cool stuff – you might have even heard of him.

    Can’t fix it by restricting media access, but appreciate the suggestion. Her dad has been a Limbaugh listener for a couple decades inany case, but it didnt really start the crazy train until the last three years or so.

  55. 55
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Steve in the ATL: No, it was about the recruitment of the five.

  56. 56
    jl says:

    RE my claim above that Schultz’ obsession with US federal debt as the nation’s most serious domestic threat is incompetent and ignorant, I see Krugman has a good column on it. And an internet search to verify Schultz’ incompetent and ignorant, but very savvy and corporate media CW opinion about the threat of debt, also reminded me that he is running around the country side saying that the Democrats are ‘radicals’ on health care. No one is interested in this mindless glop, except political operators like Schmidt who think they can make bank off it (thanks lamh36 for that info), and savvy corporate hacks on corporate news media outlets.

    Melting Snowballs and the Winter of Debt
    The policy obsession that took over Washington now looks even worse.
    Paul Krugman, NYT
    ” debt looks like a hugely overblown issue, and the way debt displaced unemployment at the heart of public debate in 2010-2011 just keeps looking worse.”

    Edit: and I think/hope after GW and Trump, the public will be much more skeptical of the ‘let a successful bidnessman work the gummint like a bidness’ BS. I mean, how many times do you hit yourself in the head with a hammer before you figure out that by itself is not a good way to go.

  57. 57
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @Jay: Yep.

  58. 58
    Suzanne says:

    @Adam L Silverman:

    Right now American society is very, very, very stressed.

    I am interested in this, though. Like…..why? What the hell stressed everyone out so bad that 2016 happened? By any objective measure, things were pretty damn good. The marketer in me had definitely observed shifts in the “aspirational identity”, which is related to what I was saying above about relative social status. But I can’t put my finger on the thing that flipped everyone out so bad.

    I know some people on this blog will say “the black man in the White House” is the thing that freaked out much of America, but I find that to be only a part of the larger answer. I just wish I had a better sense of what kind of cultural virus suddenly activated in 2016.

  59. 59
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @Steve in the ATL: We didn’t screw up the endgame. Wolfowitz, Feith, Wurmser, Bremmer, Diamond, Kristol, Mylroie, Judith Miller, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Rice, and a whole bunch of other neo-Cons and fellow travelers did.

  60. 60
    Mike in NC says:

    How much less racist and mysoginistic will be the America of 2020 compared to that of 2016? Oh, why not a goddamn bit at all. What a surprise!

    I declined the opportunity to go to a birthday party down the street this past week because I knew that the 75 year old asshole was a bigot and it would probably turn into a mini Trump rally.

  61. 61
    Elizabelle says:

    I did not know about Bernard Fall. NY Times article on him, from 2017. Bernard Fall: The Man Who Knew the War

    Fifty years ago today, on Feb. 21, 1967, the journalist Bernard Fall stepped on a land mine while accompanying Marines on a mission near Hue, in South Vietnam. He died instantly. He was 40 years old.

    The literature on the Vietnam War is enormous and growing, but Fall’s work still stands out for its insight and sagacity. He remains our greatest writer on the struggle, despite the fact that he died before the period of heavy American military involvement had reached its halfway point.

    … Born in Vienna in 1926, Fall moved to Paris after Germany annexed Austria, and as a teenager he fought for the French resistance. (His father, who also fought for the resistance, was executed by the Germans; his mother died at Auschwitz.) He came to the United States for graduate school in international relations and eventually became a professor at Howard University. He also began traveling to Vietnam in the 1950s and writing about what he saw. Passionate, tireless, intensely ambitious, Fall set out to become, as he put it, “the foremost military writer of my generation.”

  62. 62
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @BobS: The Iraqis were way more stressed than us. The number of verys was not intended to demonstrate one being better or worse than the other. I will say that the Iraqis had been living with it, enduring it, navigating it, and negotiating for a lot longer than we have. This included a large amount of low intensity political violence.

  63. 63
    Jay says:


    The economy. Bankers were made whole, Corporations were made whole, Morgagee’s lost their homes, often through out right theft, and graduates entered the Gig economy.

  64. 64
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @MisterForkbeard: Tracking. I’m now out of suggestions.

  65. 65
    Suzanne says:

    @Ruckus: Money is only part of it. And I think actually a fairly small part of it. Many commenters on this blog frequently point out that Trump voters were of a higher economic strata than many Clinton voters. HRC actually won the working class, not Trump. But Trump is very, very appealing to white people without a college degree, and those in rural areas, even if they make more money. And why would a dude who inherited a stack of money from his dad appeal to people who have to work for a living? I think the answer is that it isn’t really about money, but about the social markers of status. Shit, even that fucken fast food on silver platters was a huge marker of status.

  66. 66
    BR says:

    I have been leaning, among the current or likely candidates towards Warren and Klobuchar, with Harris as a maybe. But I wonder whether Beto should get a second look after what you wrote. I think he had what it takes from a campaigning standpoint, but wasn’t sure whether he had the policy chops yet. But given the need to fire up a grassroots campaign that brings in large numbers of unlikely voters and is able to create geographically-widespread enthusiasm, I think among the choices he’s the only one, other than Stacey Abrams, who has shown the ability to pull it off.

  67. 67
    BR says:


    What about setting up some sort of device that automatically creates audio distortions any time Fox is on? (There are a few ways that come to mind.) Then it’ll subtly create an unpleasant feeling to be watching it.

  68. 68
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @Suzanne: I think there are three different things at play. The first is that anyone who isn’t comfortably upper middle class to wealthy with some significant resources, has been economically disadvantaged by the economic policies put in place over the past 30 to 40 years, which has stressed out significant numbers of Americans. The second is that white evangelical Christians and white rural Americans even if they’re not evangelicals, have been propagandized to believe, and have then propagandized themselves for reinforcement, that they are the real victims in the US. That they get the short end of every political and policy decision. That everything is out of their control. And for the evangelicals, that they are specifically being targeted for their religious beliefs and values. These contributed to setting the conditions that made 2016 possible.

    The third component is that since 2016, because of the President and his administration, the rest of us are now stressed.

  69. 69
    David Fud says:

    Does anyone have a good psychological profile of Putin? Obviously, he is trying to build a new empire and feels it important to revive a multi-lateral world where the Great Game allows him the maximum room to maneuver. But aside from that vision of empire, is there anything? Is he psychologically imbalanced or have a malformed personality? Why did he decide the best way to accomplish his goal would be to turn Russia into a mafia state? Why didn’t the oligarchs just off him before he became too strong? Is there any weakness of his that we could exploit, or is he simply the modern world’s version of Stalin? Seem like stupid questions in a way, but I feel like he is some sort of enigma in the West and we need to understand him better.

  70. 70
    jl says:

    @Jay: Real asset asset holdings, real wealth, of middle and working class, and poor (to the extent that they had any at all) severely damaged. Much more than decimated, since the loss in wealth for them from pre Great Recession levels, was far more than 10 percent, more like a third. Rich got richer.

    Residential construction and housing market never really recovered. Mild oversupply during bubble turned into large and sustained lower than average post-WWII real investment in any kind of housing, So, rental and housing price problems, spreading over more of the country.

    The economy is still messed up, just in a much quieter way, with the pain more chronic, the economic damage working its way through lower 90 percent much more slowly.

  71. 71
    Suzanne says:

    @Jay: No way. First of all, the worst years for that were the Obama years. And yet we elected Obama twice. And, as many people on this blog accurately point out, working-class people went for Clinton, not Trump. Education, race, and urbanity tracked far more partisan than income level or homeownership status.

    And if the economy was really the thing that freaked everyone out, they would not have then gone for the fucker who promised to repeal banking regulations and give rich people tax cuts.

    Nope. It is something cultural. There is a reason that Wall is so fucking potent for the Trumpy. It is beyond a policy proposal,for those who believe in it.

  72. 72

    Thanks, Adam. A lot to think about, and now is the worst time of day for my thinking. Just a couple of notes.

    – We are at war. The concept “at war” is changing mightily. But the fact that the phrase is used indicates that the cultural sense may remain the same. Another example is the big article on Huawei in today’s NYT. (I am too lazy at this point to find the link.) I think it’s different, though, and both the change and the actions contribute to the stress on American society.

    – The resource is Americanness. That’s an interesting frame. I’m not convinced it’s the whole issue but need to think about it.

  73. 73
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    The interpretation of what it means to be “American” that King, Donald, and the rest of the fascists have is classic Blut und Boden. It is profoundly anti-American in and of itself, as the Founders established unmistakably at the beginning.

  74. 74
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @Elizabelle: I’ve referenced him in several posts. His work has played a major role in my professional development. I recommend you start here.

  75. 75
    BobS says:

    @Adam L Silverman: Would it be accurate to say the only thing keeping Iraq intact throughout that period was the leadership of a psychopathic strongman (who himself was responsible for much of the stress on the country, e.g. the war with Iran)?

  76. 76
    bluehill says:

    Lot of stuff in here to digest. Thanks! It’s interesting that the Rs are burning the boats and going all-in on Trump. I guess part of the thinking is to stop any momentum of other Rs that are thinking about primarying. However, given a wide-open D field and prospect of bruising primary, and the potential for several well-known, well-funded independents who could peel off votes and a little from help Vlad, it makes a little bit of sense. With all of the people declaring or thinking about declaring, it gives the Russians a lot of options on how to muck up the whole process to get the outcome they want.

  77. 77
    MisterForkbeard says:

    @BR: Sadly, they live out of state.

    We’re not in “fix it” territory. We’re in “we’ve accepted they’ve gone nuts but kind of want to know why” mode. ;)

    Thanks all for the suggestions.

    @BR: I’m liking Beto, but I think he’s got to wait awhile or go for Veep. Dont think he can quite sustain a presidential campaign yet when he’s most well known for almost beating Ted Cruz (and generally being awesome)

  78. 78
    🇺🇸🌎 Goku (aka Amerikan Baka) 🗳🌷 says:

    @Adam L Silverman:

    I’ve heard some promising things about the Teen Titans show as well, though apparently some of the first season was uneven. Not that that isn’t the norm.

    I have fond memories of that show. It’s very animesque, which was a popular design aesthetic at the time (early to mid-2000s) for whatever reason. In fact, a lot of French cartoons around that time that made it to the US drawn in that art style.

    Anyway, Teen Titans was alright from what I remember. It was definitely a comedy show that had action sequences, but it could get pretty deep, particularly with Raven’s father, Trigon, trying to destroy the world and the drama surrounding Terra (sp?) and Beastboy. I do know it adapts the Doom Patrol. And they call Deathstroke “Slade”, which is his real name, but is still sort of odd. He’s a major antagonist throughout much of the show and is Robin’s arch nemesis, to the point of mutual obsession. Each character has their own arc over the course of the series. My memories are pretty spotty and I wouldn’t want to spoil anything anyway.

    None of the major DC characters like Superman make an appearance; not so surprising given the DCAU shows were running contemporaneously with Teen Titans. In addition JL/JLU and TT were tonally as well as stylistically different.

    Whatever you do, don’t watch Teen Titans Go. It’s a complete mockery of the original show and teaches really bad morals. It’s not particularly funny either. For example: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8HOlXJ2EJxw

    It’s also oversaturated on CN and is preventing new shows from gaining a foothold.

  79. 79
    Ben Cisco says:

    @Suzanne: Black guy, re-elected no less, about to be followed by THAT woman. It’s really not that complicated.

  80. 80
  81. 81
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @BR: A Klobuchar campaign would be something like this:

  82. 82
    Jay says:


    You need to read “Street without Joy” for a start.

    When he thought that the French understated Viet Mihn dominance in the Red River Delta, he looked at tax records, and figured out that 80% of the villages were sending their tax money and rice crops to the Viet Mihn. At that time the French had created a ring of defences around the edge of the Delta to protect Hanoi and Haiphong, and the massive rice crop and yet the Viet Mihn had already surrounded them on all sides.

    After the US took over, during one of the “Light at the End of the Tunnel” 5’O’clock follies PR campaigns, he combed through thousands of obituaries to “prove” that the Viet Cong controlled 90% of the villages outside Saigon and in the Mekong Delta.

  83. 83
    Adam L Silverman says:

    I rest my case!

  84. 84
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Adam L Silverman: Hell in a Very Small Place and Street without Joy both really made an impression on me when I was a baby officer.

  85. 85
    jl says:

    @Suzanne: I think it is both cultural and economic.
    I do think you underestimate the amount of sustained economic damage the Great Recession did to population in the lower 90 percent of the income and wealth distribution.

    And, research shows that voters tend to go with party that is ID’d with the recent improvement (the change) in their circumstances, more than their absolute level of their economic circumstances. Obama did well in improving things for most people, while the recovery from Great Recession qualified as a post-90s ‘jobless’ recovery, it was less ‘jobless’ than after the 1990s and 2001 recessions.

    I think one thing that is overlooked and hurt Democrats badly in 2016 is that the recovery stalled from mid-2015 to mid-2016 for a number of reasons. We were on the edge of a ‘growth recession’; where the economy is still growing but not fast enough to keep unemployment rate dropping. In fact, if you look at international agency data, that uses a broader definition of a recession than the NBER does, the US did have a short recession from mid-2015 to mid 2016.

  86. 86
    Yarrow says:

    @Suzanne: I don’t think I’ve seen someone in this thread mention the desire to “shake things up” that led to both Trump and Wilmer doing so well. You heard that sort of comment a lot from both of their supporters. People were “tired of Washington insiders/the establishment.” It was “drain the swamp” from Trump and “millionaires and billionaires” from Wilmer. Catch phrases like that focused on how the people in charge, who’ve been in charge a long time, aren’t doing a good job and you’re getting screwed.

  87. 87
    Suzanne says:

    @Adam L Silverman:

    And for the evangelicals, that they are specifically being targeted for their religious beliefs and values.

    I think this is a huge, HUGE part of it. I know evangelicals who literally say that Christians are discriminated against and cite the fact that Christians were used as gladiators and human sacrifices during the Roman Empire as evidence.

    I also think that there has been a steady erosion of esteem (not respect) for rural life, which is majority WASP. The aspirational lifestyle as depicted in media changed a great deal in my lifetime. I am a huge believer in the power of images and I don’t think we discuss it enough here. It is difficult to measure, but that shouldn’t be interpreted as thinking it’s unimportant.

    I almost wonder if Instagram and Tinder, the two most image-focused digital platforms of this century so far, might have something to do with this sudden buildup of widespread social stress. Suddenly, images are everywhere—EVERYWHERE, ALL THE TIME—and the attendant social judgment and stratification are inescapable.

  88. 88
    🇺🇸🌎 Goku (aka Amerikan Baka) 🗳🌷 says:

    @Adam L Silverman:

    I’m only looking to hear from his 35% base so liberals please don’t respond.

    I like how they awknowledge that he doesn’t have majority support. Or am I misinterpreting this?

  89. 89
    Elizabelle says:

    @Adam L Silverman: That looks accessible to a general interest reader. Thank you.

    ETA: Slightly avoiding the topic of your blogpost because thinking about BS and Nina Turner and other miscreants will keep me up. So I will read rather than skim it tomorrow.

  90. 90
    hilts says:


    Isn’t Schmidt the guy who gave us Palin?

    Him and Nicole Wallace.

  91. 91
    David Fud says:

    @jl: I have become convinced that the major mistake of the Obama administration was backstopping the banks instead of homeowners. It is very possible that helping homeowners out was not possible due to the sheer number of them. The optics of helping the banks and the rapaciousness of the banks in their foreclosures, which permanently damaged the wealth, confidence, and family life of untold numbers of Americans, was atrocious. I think if you looked at folks who were dispossessed of their homes, that you would find a hell of a lot of Trump voters. And, I think their anger and bitterness would be consistent with some of the behavior we have seen.

  92. 92
    Viva BrisVegas says:


    What the hell stressed everyone out so bad that 2016 happened?

    If you look around the world, you’ll find that this is occurring in all Western democracies.

    The middle and working classes are competing for less and less resources. As a result the groups and subgroups that an individual doesn’t belong to, become competitors and hence the enemy. Once the enemy is defined, it is easy to get an individual to vote against anything that benefits that enemy. Even if it benefits them. Sparrows on curtain rods etc.

    Those resources now go to the 0.1% at an ever increasing rate. That rate will continue to increase because conservative parties are in the process of eliminating the redistributive functions of government. The result is a shrinking pie for the middle and working classes to fight over. There is no longer any political restraint on the very rich in using their wealth to suborn government to follow a relentlessly anti-union, anti-tax agenda.

    Money = Power. Or as in Trump’s case, the perception of money creates power.

    Now, where did I put my tinfoil hat?

  93. 93
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @Cheryl Rofer: The concept of war is, as it has always done, adapting and being adapted to the time period we live in. It will change again in 50 years. And 100. And so on. The real question, which we always used to hammer our students with in Seminar 12 at USAWC, is whether the nature, character, and characteristics of war are timeless and unchanging even as war itself changes to reflect the time.

  94. 94
    Suzanne says:

    @Ben Cisco:

    Black guy, re-elected no less, about to be followed by THAT woman. It’s really not that complicated.

    That answer is facile AF. Look deeper. A decisive number of voters went for Obama and then Trump. If racism was the only factor, that would not be the case. I agree that many white dudes have Fear of a Black (and female) Planet, but the only thing they actually have to lose is relative status. It’s not like there’s going to be a fixed underclass of white men, and on some level they know this.

  95. 95
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @Villago Delenda Est: Yep, hence my constant hammering the herrenvolk stuff here for the past three years.

  96. 96
    hilts says:

    @Adam L Silverman:

    Evangelicals who support @realDonaldTrump say he did not cave. They’re sticking with him and trust that he’ll get money for the wall/barrier somehow someway.

    These people are the ultimate deadenders. They’re a fucking disgrace and it’s an outrage that we have to inhabit the same planet with them.

  97. 97
    H.E.Wolf says:

    A physically and mentally vigorous late-40s to mid-50s Obama has been followed by a physically and mentally unhealthy man in his 70s.

    I don’t think the campaigns of elderly white men in 2020 will have the oomph that they expect to have.

    Howard Schultz will be 67 in 2020.
    Joseph Biden will be 78 in 2020.
    Bernard Sanders will be 79 in 2020.

    This will be an issue for Republican candidates also.

  98. 98
    BobS says:

    @jl: I think too much time has been spent trying to understand why (mostly white) people voted for Trump. For the most part, they’re the same (mostly white) people who voted for Romney in 2012, the same (mostly white) people who voted for McCain in 2008, the same (mostly white) people who voted for Bush…Republicans vote for Republicans, and they’re Republicans because of guns, abortion, and race.

  99. 99
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @BobS: I think it was a major contribution. I think it was also the case in what was Yugoslavia. The historic grievances and sectarian differences had to be suppressed so that everyone could survive the totalitarian state and society. And this is the case in a number of other places. I’ve long argued that if the Israelis and the Palestinians ever actually get into neutral corners and stop hurting each other, regardless of who imposed the first pain, they will fall on each other to sort out their own internal Israeli/Jewish and Palestinian issues pertaining to religion and religiosity, in the case of the Israelis what we in the US call race (Ashkenazi versus Sephardi versus Mizrahi versus African/Ethiopian Jewish Israelis), and in the case of the Palestinians West Bankers versus Gazans versus refugees within the Middle East versus Palestinians in the diaspora.

  100. 100
    Jay says:


    As others have pointed out, there is a fiscal component to racism, resentment, victimhood and anger.

    The trickle down shit show started in the 1970’s has burned through the Poor, Lower Middle Class, the Middle Class and is now edging up on the Wealthy.

    A major difference between “liberals” and “conservatives” is that “liberals” use fact and logic, “conservatives” use “lived experience” and personal narratives. So, “we” can look at a political/economic/legal change and say, “that’s gonna be a shit show”, where “conservatives” don’t see it until it has arrived, spread and is everywhere.

    The “conservatives” are reacting to the economic changes of 2008.

  101. 101
    H.E.Wolf says:

    The next elected president after the disgraced and deteriorated Nixon: Carter, who was 11 years younger.

  102. 102
    jl says:

    @David Fud: The proposal to revive the Great Depression Home Owner’s Loan Corporation (HOLC) that would have put ordinary homeowners first in line for a bailout was entertained on all political sides during 2008 elections: McCain, and at times both HRC and Obama in the Dem primaries. But vicious opposition to that from financial industry nipped it out every time. Excellent economists from progressives like Stiglitz, to mainstream Keynesians like Brad DeLong and Krugman, to convervative/libertarian leaning ones like Vernon L Smith were in favor of it.

  103. 103
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Suzanne: Poujadisme.

  104. 104
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @bluehill: The Trump Doctrine at work. The President and his people demanded it of Roma (no longer allowed to include the) Romney McDaniel at the RNC. She’d already rolled over for him by removing her maiden name as part of the President’s desire to humiliate her uncle Senator Romney. He owns her now.

  105. 105
    Ben Cisco says:


    I agree that many white dudes have Fear of a Black (and female) Planet, but the only thing they actually have to lose is relative status. It’s not like there’s going to be a fixed underclass of white men,

    Except that’s EXACTLY what they’ve been told, particularly and especially the evangelicals. You and I may well realize that it’s crap – they clearly disagreed.

  106. 106
    bmoak says:

    @🇺🇸🌎 Goku (aka Amerikan Baka) 🗳🌷: @🇺🇸🌎 Goku (aka Amerikan Baka) 🗳🌷:

    Adam is talking about the new live action Teen Titans show that is only on the DC streaming service, and is not talking about the animated CN show.

  107. 107
    Jay says:

    @Viva BrisVegas:


  108. 108
    Suzanne says:

    @jl: The Great Recession absolutely fucked my family over, so I’m not ignoring it as a factor in decision-making. But if it were really the most potent factor in the cultural hatred we are seeing right now, it makes zero sense that Americans would elect a dude who shits in a gold toilet and who fucks over contractors and who wants to repeal every policy that made their lives easier.

    Look….. Americans hate each other, more now than I have ever seen. As Adam Serwer says, Trump’s cruelty is the point for his base. The crazy lady who said that Trump “wasn’t hurting the people he’s supposed to be hurting”…..these people voted for Trump literally because they hate half of America. And they don’t hate the rich half. I get that people, when they are economically stressed out, get irrational. But economics do not explain this sufficiently.

    This is why I am interested in Adam’s cultural analysis here. I feel it has more truth to reveal than an economic analysis does.

  109. 109
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @🇺🇸🌎 Goku (aka Amerikan Baka) 🗳🌷: This isn’t the cartoon from the CW, this is a new live action show done, like The Doom Patrol, only for DC’s new streaming platform. The show is called Titans. A lot of the complaints have to do with the fact that they cast an African American actress to play Starfire, who in the comics is clearly a woman of color as everyone from her planet Tamaran are orange colored.

  110. 110
    jl says:

    @BobS: @Suzanne: I agree. But I don’t see how your comments is relevant. Where did I talk about whites or most whites who voted for Trump.

    I think two very separate issues are conflated in these discussions. There is an attribution problem of what proportion of different economic classes and race-ethnicities and cultural communities voted for Trump or HRC and why. That involves millions of people. That includes general discussions and worry worting about most of the white Trump voters.

    Then there is the distinct problem of what we have to do to defeat Trump, Trumpsters and GOP in elections. Trump was elected by less than 100,000 voters in three swing states, while losing the popular vote by almost 3 million votes. What do we need to do in order to prevent that from happening again? That issue doesn’t have much to do with most white Trump voters. We don’t need to worry about them.

    So, IMHO, even if looking at turnout, and votes cast, cultural issues explain 2/3s of the vote, and economic issues only 1/3, both are worth studying if you only need to change a few hundred thousand votes out of almost 130 million votes cast.

    Edit: Suzanne, it is not a ‘truth’ problem, it is a decision problem for how to gain a critical, if small, proportion of votes to win elections, as far as I am concerned. Adam’s analysis may well be more relevant for thinking about general trends in the country, likelihood or extremist violence, or extremist social media trends, etc.

  111. 111
    Redshift says:


    If Warren is nominee, for example, I think Sanders would be very tempted to deal with her for maximum influence in her administration, in executive branch or Senate.

    I’m not so certain about that. There was a phrase that a guest on Preet Bharara’s podcast used, that some politicians spend all their time in office being a salesman for their ideas instead of working with get them enacted, which seems to me to fit Sanders to a T. Having influence in an administration seems more on the “getting things done” side than the salesman side.

  112. 112
    Yarrow says:


    We’re in “we’ve accepted they’ve gone nuts but kind of want to know why” mode. ;)

    I don’t know how old they are, but you might also consider it could be a very early sign of dementia or other similar issue. I wish I were kidding but I’m not. Not saying that’s the reason but it’s something to keep in mind as you consider reasons. I’ve seen it happen before.

    I think it’s something about those kinds of beliefs play into fear that people have when they know or even sense their brain isn’t working like it used to and they aren’t in control. According to a neurologist friend of mine who works with lots of dementia patients, signs of it can start up to a decade before we really think we see signs.

  113. 113
    🇺🇸🌎 Goku (aka Amerikan Baka) 🗳🌷 says:

    @Adam L Silverman:
    Whoops. I spent a solid five minutes typing that up.

    Did they at least make the actress look orange?

  114. 114
    BobS says:

    @Jay: Another major difference between liberals and conservatives is that liberals punch up while conservatives get a lot of enjoyment from punching down.

  115. 115
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @Jay: He did the same thing to figure out that the strategic hamlet, which you’ve referenced above, concept was garbage. By reviewing obituaries for obits of mayors, local tax officials, teachers and principals, he was able to determine that what the strategic hamlet concept had done was to create a fortified set of lines within which the VietMinh was free to move around within.

    When General Dempsey proposed a strategic lily pad concept adapted from this as part of the theater strategy in Iraq, I submitted a counter analysis, citing Fall’s work, as to why this wouldn’t work in Iraq. Fall also explains, in the article I posted in reply to Elizabell’s comment, the spreading ink spot concept of counterinsurgency was specific to Algeria and couldn’t be transplanted elsewhere. I’ve used that in professional writing and briefing for the Army as well.

  116. 116
    Ruckus says:

    @Adam L Silverman:
    Suzanne, Adam has it. It’s not that someone has more money than them it’s that someone they see as inferior has some. I made it sound like an accounting class but it’s much more a concept that someone is getting something that I’m not. And that something is recognition, the call for equality, the concept of this country, that we wouldn’t be beholding to a class that perpetuates itself by keeping tight tabs on the bloodline and the limited money. We graduated from that but we didn’t teach each other what that really meant because we’ve never really meant it as the word implies. So while the country got wealthier by both hard work and spreading the money around for education and stuff like housing, we as a country never really came to grips with the reality of equality, we kept all the old markers – cash and property. Add in the inherent racism of slave owners and there you go. Whites are superior, more equal, blacks are less, and we ran off a lot of the Mexicans. But that all changed, starting in the fifties, with school, which allowed a lot of people to work in the new technologies that came along with the increased education and general professionalism. How many females worked as architects in the 60s, but there you are. Money made that possible and that money came from taxes used to pay off the debt from WWII and build an educational system that gave so many an opportunity. Our growth in the 50s-70s was from that and continued into the 80s. Just as the technology made manufacturing and building less labor intensive and more brain intensive. The rapid growth also came about because of the birth of the boomers, people like me, who could take advantage of the education that most of our parents didn’t get and the technology that came out of a lot of things from WWII. But in the 80s we’d had a war, which a lot of our young died in and TV and better radios, which insured that we wouldn’t all be rural farmers for ever. Money was the key to that. But of course we are all human (some more than others) and we hadn’t had any concept of this change. We’d been taught it somewhat in that education system but didn’t see it in real life. Minorities saw even less. And money was the key to that. And then the politics and the concept that many have that equality is bullshit, that no – choose your group of choice here – would ever be equal to whomever. And the money people saw this as well and used that money to buy politicians who wanted to keep that equality out of life, those people known as republicans. And it’s still going on today.
    It’s not the amount of money an individual has it’s the money that some class of people have and how they use it to keep others down. It’s nonsensical bullshit is why you are saying that it doesn’t make sense, there has to be some other thing, it doesn’t make logical sense, it’s racism, it’s misogyny, it’s wealthism. You can’t logic it out, there is none. It’s emotional, which is why it works as a subtle political strategy. Except for people like Steve King, who say all the bad parts out loud. Even drumpf doesn’t do that, he uses code, just not the subtle code republicans have used for decades.

  117. 117
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @Omnes Omnibus: One of the best pieces of advice and mentorship I ever got from the retired Green Beret colonel who partially trained me was to read Fall.

  118. 118
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @🇺🇸🌎 Goku (aka Amerikan Baka) 🗳🌷: You’re not. A lot of five point Calvinism built into that tweet.

  119. 119
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @Elizabelle: You’re welcome and no worries.

  120. 120
    Suzanne says:

    @Ben Cisco: From what I have observed, it’s a bit more complicated. I am seeing, among my age cohort and the one below, a lot of very successful minorities and women. Almost all of these people with whom I interact seem to be intensely driven, and many of them have told me that they were raised with very high expectations. As a result, white dudes are a smaller percentage (though probably not in absolute number). And so many of the white dudes I interact with and grew up with do not seem to have that hunger, that striving. And as a result, they’re not achieving as much.

    I realize that this is anecdotal and that I am only observing the people I know, so a specific slice of humanity. But I have more of a sense that white dudes are being overtaken in the race that is life, and that they weren’t entirely expecting it, but they sure are aware of it. I think this is more of a factor than “black president, lady president”. Those gender and race shifts play out in a thousand different ways every day.

    I honestly think that one of the reasons that Trump hates Obama SO MUCH is that Obama is really, really cool. Obama is looked up to, and he is accepted effortlessly by the social class of people who think Trump is déclassé and vulgar and gross.

  121. 121
    Redshift says:


    A decisive number of voters went for Obama and then Trump. If racism was the only factor, that would not be the case.

    But racism is more complicated than that. From what I’ve read, there are people who supported Obama until he talked about Trayvon Martin, how if he’d had a son, he might have looked like him. That is, they liked to think of themselves as not being racist, and liked him as long as he acted like he wasn’t really black.

    That’s not to say there was no factor other than racism, just that the existence of Obama/Trump voters doesn’t prove it wasn’t racism.

  122. 122
    Jay says:


    AP had a study up. Amongst a panel of 1500 Trumpists, he had 90% approval ratings when they believed he was a self made man.

    It fell to 30% when they learned he was born on Third base and lived off his Father.

    It fell to less than 27%, ( the crazyfication factor) when it was made clear that his business model was ripping off workers, lenders, suppliers, partners.

    Keep in mind how many Americans think Duck Dynasty is real.

  123. 123
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @hilts: The below pretty much sums them up. And they’re a lost cause, in every sense of that phrase.

  124. 124
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @🇺🇸🌎 Goku (aka Amerikan Baka) 🗳🌷: No, she’s African American. The red wig isn’t quite right from the stills I’ve seen and they only got her towards a proper costume towards the final episode from what I read.

  125. 125
    🇺🇸🌎 Goku (aka Amerikan Baka) 🗳🌷 says:

    @Adam L Silverman:
    That’s so pathetic. Of evangelicals. Did Brody just poll people in his twitter feed to get these results?

    So much for my theory that his supporters would abandon him if they saw he was a loser.

  126. 126
    Suzanne says:


    it is not a ‘truth’ problem, it is a decision problem for how to gain a critical, if small, proportion of votes to win elections, as far as I am concerned. Adam’s analysis may well be more relevant for thinking about general trends in the country, likelihood or extremist violence, or extremist social media trends, etc.

    I am interested in winning the next election, of course, and in some respects I suppose that we on,y need to win a few people back. But I am also interested in the broader cultural trends that Adam is talking about here. The idea of widespread social stresses, which does not necessarily correlate with stresses on an individual, is something that I have encountered before, and I find it really intriguing. In Adam’s example, the stressor is sudden and identifiable and widespread.

    This is why I find the explanation that the economy is hard for middle-class people and that gave rise to the fucking prion disease that is Trumpism to be insufficient. The economy has been increasingly shitty for middle-class people for decades (literally my entire lifetime), but all of a sudden people shat the bed in 2016? I think there is a lot more to that story.

  127. 127
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @Jay: And when Rick Wilson, the NeverTrumper GOP strategist focused grouped this in 2015 he couldn’t get the Republican respondents who supported Trump to believe that it was all a fiction created for The Apprentice.

  128. 128
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @🇺🇸🌎 Goku (aka Amerikan Baka) 🗳🌷: I didn’t dive to deeply into it so I don’t know.

  129. 129
    Redshift says:


    I don’t know how old they are, but you might also consider it could be a very early sign of dementia or other similar issue. I wish I were kidding but I’m not. Not saying that’s the reason but it’s something to keep in mind as you consider reasons. I’ve seen it happen before.

    That happened to a relative of mine. Never watched Fox until (as we figured out later) she started to develop significant dementia.

    I don’t think it’s just the feeling of loss of control and the appeals to fear. I think it’s also that Fox is very repetitive and full of short, simple ideas. If you’re having cognitive difficulty, you can’t follow complex ideas and conversations, so it’s less uncomfortable watching nothing but soundbites, even if they’re contrary to your previous beliefs.

  130. 130
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @Suzanne: Remember one of the major effects the Russians wanted to achieve was to enflame these stresses and grievances. To make them more salient. To use them to cause chaos and disruption.

  131. 131
    Suzanne says:

    @Ruckus: I agree with you 110% that this is an emotional story. Arlie Hochschild wrote in one of her books about the “deep stories” that people construct for themselves to make sense of social change and their lives. Not surprising, those stories are almost entirely emotion-driven, and based on a very primal, almost childlike sense of right and wrong.

  132. 132
    Ruckus says:

    It’s always the economic issues that bring about the societal issues. And this was a huge issue. You had problems, I ended up with literally $200 and no place to live, no job, no prospects, everyone had issues, massive amounts of people lost their homes and jobs. I owned a small bicycle shop when the recession hit, a customer was a loan officer at a local bank that went under and he has 2 kids. He got a job with Wells Fargo, who bought up his bank with money they got to do so. He hated his new job but he liked to be able to feed his kids. And that was in the wealthiest county in CA. It was far worse other places. The number of people sleeping on an unused RR line was staggering. I could go on like this for quite a while. But every time there is a huge financial upheaval in an economy the societal issues always come front and center and the politics become about class warfare. You aren’t wrong that there are issues that aren’t economic but they were keyed off the economic issues. As they always are.

  133. 133
    BobS says:

    @jl: I read your comment as focusing on economics as the driving force behind Trump’s election. While it may have been responsible for some of his votes- and, like you point out, a few thousand here, a few thousand there- I think you’re wrong that cultural differences are only responsible for 2/3 of his (or any Republican’s) votes. And while you may not have specifically mentioned white voters, it’s implicit when you’re talking about who predictably votes for Republicans election after election, and why they do.
    I’ve probably read at least a dozen MSM articles about the economic anxieties of white working-class voters since 2016, and approximately zero about the economic problems faced by other communities (that weren’t anxious enough to vote for Trump).

  134. 134
    oatler. says:

    “Look at the Americans. They have invented some quality called un-Americanism just as though Americanism were a concept of an individual instead of a government’s concept. There are strong resemblances between Americanism, Communism and Aryanism; all are government ideas and therefore will naturally describe characteristics of the easily governed; other differences are minor.”

    Len Deighton, Funeral In Berlin 1964

  135. 135
    jl says:

    @Suzanne: to summarize, I think the story depends on what question you are asking.
    What explains the absolute proportions of the population that will support different parts of the ideological spectrum of the Democratic party primary, will there be critical mass to get a lefty independent candidate off the ground, what proportion of the population will sympathize with right or left civil disobedience, how will absolute levels of sympathy for reactionary ideology in the population affect levels of right wing white nationalist violence? For those question, probably best to focus on cultural issues. They are influenced by factors that change slowly, like generational and other demographic trends, and substantial parts of the population are stuck where they are and won’t ever change no matter what you, or the politicians you support, do.

    Then, there is how to shift between 0.1% to 2.5% of the vote to win elections, then I think economic issues just or more important.

  136. 136
    Suzanne says:

    @Adam L Silverman: For sure. And I think that it’s is absolutely no accident that the Russians used these very image-saturated platforms to enflame these hatreds.

    Visual culture has upended a lot of the old social hierarchy. Even people that don’t participate are surrounded by countless messages all day long. I thought it was hard enough when companies were constantly advertising products at us. I wasn’t prepared for each of us advertising ourselves at one another. It’s essentially constant propaganda that knits together into this bizarre (and probably completely false) idea of what the world is like and where each of us fits into it.

  137. 137
    Ruckus says:

    @Adam L Silverman:
    It’s not like Russia doesn’t have a history of this, it’s just easier to do to others now, they used to do this to their own people. And I imagine bet they still do.

  138. 138
    jl says:

    @BobS:” I’ve probably read at least a dozen MSM articles about the economic ”
    They are worthless and you know less after you read them than before. I’d advise to stop reading that nonsense and not worry much about what they decide to cover and not to cover. I think many of those stories are to get desired shares of views and reads from demographics favored by advertisers, and for social engineering favorable to their big corporate ad buyers.

  139. 139
    Repatriated says:

    @Suzanne: One problem is that people view “the economy” through a partisan lens (encouraged by partisan media). This effect is vastly more pronounced in Republicans, who mistakenly believed, for example, that the stock market had actually declined since the beginning of the Obama administration. Getting unemployment rates wrong (they did that too) could be a matter of overgeneralization from local conditions, but the Dow/NASDAQ involves actual, well-reported numbers. They could check! But their “gut feeling” (from partisan media) told them otherwise.

  140. 140
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @Ruckus: They did and still do. Honestly, a lot of this is just the old disinformation manual updated for 21st century communications technology.

  141. 141
    Jay says:


    Yup, the strivers are more sucessfull, in part because of striving. White Males are barely a statistical cohort in post Graduate Degrees.

    But then it get’s “weird”. I didn’t become VP of Materials Management at the Fortune 100 that can’t be named, because for 6 years I commuted 3 weeks on, one week in Vancouver, to our failing Divisions in Milwaukee and Boston, to act as Master Production Scheduler, etc.

    The guy who did, was junior to me, and spent half his time at work, working on his Master’s and crashing production lines. He had also married money, hosted catered events for VP’s at “their” home on the Lake. I had bbq’s at my house for my coworkers and people who worked for me.

    There’s a “crapload” of jobs, that people got into that arn’t jobs anymore. My Dad, not even a High School Graduate, retired after 2 jobs, 40 years, with two fully indexed pensions, one Government, one Retail, on $150k a year in 1984.

  142. 142
    Ruckus says:

    And this is a big part of this. Think about who pays for all this. It’s money people. Wealth. Why would they do this if not to protect what they think they will lose if we are all equal? Are they constantly thinking about racism or misogyny? Probably not, they are thinking about having more, about losing some of what they’ve got. And really people of all economic strata are thinking the same things, how to I keep what I’ve got, how do I get more, be it status or money/stuff or sexual partners. We all do those things. All humans. Most of us have very little way to get more or hold on to what we have, that’s just the nature of it.

  143. 143
    haveyouboofedyet says:

    Thank you for this excellent assessment. Bernie running as an Independent is my main worry this cycle, since he’s the only plausible third-party candidate who enjoys widespread support in the Democratic party already. I’m less concerned about Schultz, who will appeal largely to high-information voters who won’t want to throw away their votes.

    There is substantial historical support for your assessment of third-party candidacies as a major vulnerability. From the Civil War until 1932, the more diverse Republican coalition would have won 15 out of 16 elections were it not for their majority getting split by the Populist (1892) and Progressive (1912 and 1916) parties.

    One solace (knock on wood) is that it does seem like Trump needs a curveball like a strong third-party bid or voting machine hacking in order to win. The way things are shaping up, I don’t see Trump beating *any* of the likely Democratic candidates in a two-person race. I think a “folksy” candidate like Warren or Biden would absolutely steamroll the Republicans by taking the edge off their herrenvolk brand (which appeals to low-information populist fellow travelers as well as the committed white supremacist majority). But barring spoilers, I think any Democrat who can capture the nomination can also beat Trump. His approval ratings are so much worse than anyone who has even come close to winning.

  144. 144
    jl says:

    Crap MSM says (on a regular basis):

    Brokaw: “The Hispanics should be working harder on assimilation.”

  145. 145
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @jl: Tom Brokaw: The Man Who Invented World War II!

  146. 146
    Chetan Murthy says:

    @Cheryl Rofer:

    The resource is Americanness.

    I think this is really piercing. Look at BLM: what’s it about? “We want to be just as American as you white folk”. Look at #MeToo: what’s that about? “We want to be just as American as you men.” Ditto gay marriage. And if we look at our history, these groups were NOT treated as just as American. They *were* (and, ugh, *are*) treated as less American, as less worthy. As “shut up and take what we give you, b/c it’s the best you’ll get”. And now, those people aren’t shutting up for it.

    Yeah, I can see how that’d be pretty threatening. Esp. for a guy whose entire world-view is based on being better than those people.

  147. 147
    Ruckus says:

    @Adam L Silverman:
    I know. I had friends from when it was the USSR and since the fall. Russia, the most successful concept of selling shit to an entire country without the perfume to cover for the smell or any means to clean it up. Germany in the 30s may be second in that contest. Not sure where we fall in that.

  148. 148
    Suzanne says:

    @Ruckus: I had a good reply to you that got eated, but it was essentially that I think the social factors precede the economic ones. I had some blah blah blah about historical evidence, but essentially it’s that when the economy was really in the shit, sanity mostly prevailed, but once things got somewhat better, there seems to be a sense that the gains went to the wrong people. The idea that there was a right people and a wrong people is a total social construction.

    In so many ways, there has never been a better time to be alive. There has probably never been a better time to be an American. And yet it doesn’t feel that way. Those feelings interest me.

  149. 149
    jl says:

    @Suzanne: I agree that that there are important interactions and feedbacks between economic and cultural issues at the margins of different ideological camps. Might or might not change the absolute levels of support for sane versus insane ideological positions much (I’ll leave that issue to Adam), but might be very important for margins that determine elections.

  150. 150
    Ruckus says:

    @Cheryl Rofer:

    – The resource is Americanness. That’s an interesting frame. I’m not convinced it’s the whole issue but need to think about it.

    It’s a simplified view and IMHO it is the whole issue for the US, what I think might be your question is that it’s really a question of all of humanity. Study history from the viewpoint of what caused the big issues of any time, the underlying cause of the majority of people.

  151. 151
    rikyrah says:

    Silverman…you had time today.👏👏👏

  152. 152
    Jay says:


    Another way of framing it, is my Tech Bro Millionaire Brother. We are a year apart and yet that one year difference was huge. He went to University, I didn’t, simply because the Reagan Recession cut 40,000 University spots and tripled the tuition.

    He ”interened” at a Star Wars company during his summer semesters and made enough cash and bonuses to buy a condo and a new Prelude, I hauled concrete, plaster and stucco for Construction crews to pay for a slot at BCIT and a bus pass.

    Now, my Brother has started to realize that there is no place in Vancouver for his kids. They will never earn in their first years, no matter their degrees, what he earned as an intern. They will never have the $1million needed to buy a house. They will never get the stock options, bonus’s and pensions he had. They won’t even have a Family Doctor. Now, after 40 years, he realizes that the economic system he touted, and profited from, is going to cripple his kids.

  153. 153
    Suzanne says:

    @Chetan Murthy: Yea, for sure. The resource, the high-status identity is Americanness. If everyone and anyone can be American, then a whole bunch of people who aren’t special are going to realize that they aren’t special.

    Much of why I find economic factors to be unconvincing as an explanation for Trumpism and half of the country going fucking batshit is because they’re hating on poor people, not rich people.

    I really settle on this: people are inherently pretty nasty to one another, and they want to feel superior to one another. (The world is high school.). The cultural markers (and some of these are those economic factors) that used to make people feel superior are changing or are no longer concentrated in the same hands. This threatens the people who expected to have that superior status. Visual culture (advertising, cultural products, news media, social media, etc.) has created a shared semiotic language for these cultural markers that has changed rapidly and is far more immersive than it was even ten years ago, and this fosters an all-consuming sense of low-level dread in people who are more susceptible due to personality factors (fearful, authoritarian) and their expectation of cultural status.

    I don’t know what about the cultural moment of 2016 really activated this. Probably a confluence of factors, in all likelihood.

  154. 154
    Suzanne says:

    @jl: Honestly, I’m less concerned with the issue of elections than I am with just having to live in a society in which so many people hate one another. That’s terrible. It’s incredibly damaging.

  155. 155
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @rikyrah: You don’t know the half of it. And thanks. And you’re welcome.

  156. 156
    Ruckus says:

    I’ll go from a different tack here.
    You design big things. I build small things to tolerances that would never even be discussed in your line of work, +/-0.0001 or even less sometimes. But my small parts are of or tooling for much bigger projects, such as airplanes. Your big project has a lot of smaller parts to get the whole thing to work, same as that airplane. In the same sense we are tonight both part of a bigger picture just coming at it from different angles. You design that big building and the small parts that make it up. I make the small parts that others use to build a design. Stay with me here….
    We are attacking that same kind of project from opposite directions. Your design has to be finished before I can start the building process of the little pieces. If we switch gears to the political/societal issues we’ve been discussing, something has to happen first, to get people working. What is that? From my standpoint it’s money, too much, not enough money. From your standpoint it’s racism, misogyny, hate. But why would people go there first, without any shove in that direction? How many things do you or anyone do without thinking about the cost to themselves, be it social or say buying food. Money is always the subject. Do I have money to eat? Do I have money to go out tonight? Do I have money to replace the car that just died? Is my job worth a shit or do I have to find another? Will it pay more? Can I pay the rent?
    Yes we are sometimes motivated by more than just money but most of the times any motivation is tempered by economic factors – money. And most of us not named Ann Coulter are not motivated by pure hate, we are motivated by money. Is Alex Jones motivated by hate? Or is he motivated to hate because of money?

  157. 157
    PJ says:

    @Suzanne: Why do you think this is a particularly good period to be alive? I say that, well aware of my privilege as a white man, because while things have definitely gotten better in many ways for women, people of color, and LGBT folks, the economic quality of life in the country as a whole (outside of the 1%) has been going downwards since Reagan became President. People work much more and get much less. My father, who had only a high school diploma, could support a wife and four children decently in a middle class job of 40 hours/wk. One person cannot do that anymore. It’s difficult now for two people to do that. Being able to have a house and support a family on 40/hrs wk is now a quaint notion.

    And if you think things are good now, better buckle up. Because the next 20-30 years are going to bring rising waters, failing crops, and northward migration of hundreds of millions of people. We are not prepared for any of it.

  158. 158
    Sebastian says:


    Correct. Evidence A: Obamaphones.

  159. 159
    Ruckus says:

    I’m sure you’ve read this post from Friday.
    Not everyone hates everyone else. There is an issue and I think that’s what’s really bothering you, how do we get over this. I don’t know, and I don’t hear about anyone who does. But this post from Friday brought some idea that we don’t hate each other just for the pure thrill of it. There is something else out there that is causing this. My boss has a couple who are friends, they work in the public sector and make decent money. His back was giving him issues and he thought he’d have to retire early and she is about ready to retire so they looked at their retirement income and were horrified to see that they would have to live on $80,000 a year in pensions. They own their home, a second home and from what I’ve been told are out of debt. And have no idea how to live on that. They aren’t drunks or live extravagantly but they are used to making over twice that much and it’s just a shock to them that they will have to suffer and live like paupers. My boss was just in stunned amazement that they think that’s subsistence living.

  160. 160
    Suzanne says:


    Why do you think this is a particularly good period to be alive?

    Here’s a nice chart with lots of reasons why. (I like infographics. I’m visual.) In short: more money relative to costs of stuff (net disposable income), more education, lower rates of maternal death, less crime, fewer social barriers to success. I also read Factfulness, which I wholeheartedly recommend. Essentially, the country and the world have never been better for the average person….especially considering that women are over half of all people. Which is not to say that there is not plenty of room for improvement or that there are not other issues on the horizon.

  161. 161
    Suzanne says:

    @Ruckus: Cultural factors go beyond hate, though. I’ll put it more like this…..almost every human society, including those with next to no resources, have a hierarchy. Also, it seems to be innate in humans to create cultural products that don’t have any specific purpose, per se. Humans are social animals, who seem (across cultures and history) to express feeling and bonds and hopes and fears and to create things of beauty (let the aestheticians parse what that means), even when there doesn’t appear to be a direct economic gain (and in fact, there may be a sacrifice) to doing so. One of the more interesting questions I have seen posed recently is “why do poor people create art?”. The answer seems to be that poor people create art for the same reason that rich people create art: it is self-actualizing in a deep way. Psychologists will say that the three basic needs of humans are autonomy, connectedness, and competence. Culture is essentially the creation of all of those things,

    So where am I going with this? Essentially that the need to create an identity for a society (via language, ritual, art, shared behavior) seems to be intrinsic to humans. It also appears to be necessary for the establishment of economic systems, because there has to be a sense of shared value, cooperation, trust, and then increasingly specialization for any economy to function. Essentially, the economy that we build is a cultural product. It is the result of countless little value decisions that people within the culture make. It could be different….if we were different.

    Our culture seems to lack connectedness right now. That manifests in the economic harms we do to one another, certainly. Jacy is currently in dire financial straits because of a culture that we (the royal we) have built, and we built that culture because our values got fucked up. We could have and should have done that differently.

  162. 162
    Jay says:


    Bill Gates walks into a small Bellingham bar,

    On average, the bar contains 35 billionaires.

    Bill Gates walks out and 34 people are one paycheck away from losing their house.

  163. 163
    Suzanne says:

    @Jay: And that doesn’t change the fact that most people are still doing better than they would have been doing had they been born fifty years previously.

  164. 164
    Ruckus says:

    I don’t disagree that it may be better for a lot of people. But that’s not how a lot of people see it. A viewpoint is arbitrary, it depends on where you stand and what your vision shows you. Between you and me we probably have a pretty big difference of that vision. I’ll be 70 shortly, my livelihood is physical work and my body is fairly well worn out and I have health issues. You are younger and have a not quite as physical a job that probably pays better and health issues. I see that the MOU screwed the pouch about 11-12 yrs ago and were made whole, while I lost everything. I’ve bounced back a bit but have almost nothing for retirement, that went for food and shelter. If my landlord at the time wasn’t a good guy and let me slide on the last six months of my rent, I’d have starved and been homeless and broke. Turned out just to have to be broke. And I got lucky, my birthday came and made me old enough to start SS. And I hate the people who caused all of that, I take it personal. How’d you do? And yet what can I do about it? I know that you didn’t cause it, the black guy down the street didn’t cause it, the Mexican guy that makes my lunch once or twice a week didn’t cause it, the Mexican guy who took me in for a year didn’t cause it. But republican bullshit parade has been telling everyone who would listen that they did cause them to be in economic distress, all those people who made more then than me, who will always make more than me, conservative politicians around the world told their followers that all of their economic issues are with the people who had nothing to do with that recession happening because they didn’t want to be found out. They’ve been told that President Obama caused that recession, which of course is bullshit, just like Hillary’s emails.
    Societal ills are always to blame for political bullshit. As it ever was for conservatives. They want to be magicians and misdirect your attention. It works on a lot of people because they always need someone else to be at fault for their issues.

  165. 165
    Suzanne says:


    I don’t disagree that it may be better for a lot of people. But that’s not how a lot of people see it.

    Agreed 100%. The perception is of loss, that America needs to be made great again. That’s my point. Their feelings are activated and that is wholly separate from evidence. Americans born today have a better chance of living long, healthy lives than they ever had, but that is not what it feels like. I am interested in those feelings, why and how they came to be. My answer above is the best I have come up with.

    I have to go to bed. Ergh.

  166. 166
    Jay says:


    It depends where and who you are.

    In my community, average income 20 years ago was $55k, full pension, full benifits. Median income was $45k.

    Now, in my community, average income is $155k, full pension, full benifits. Median income is $21k.

    When I can’t do heavy physical labour anymore, I’ll die, it’s as simple as that. Half my work is on multi million dollar estates, who’s owners live off the compounded interest of massive wealth. The other half comes from assorted Government subsidy programs to keep the old, disabled and poor, in housing.

    Barring winning the lottery, I’m gone in less than 5 years. I already have health issues I can’t afford to fix, and that’s in Canada.

  167. 167
    Ruckus says:

    A rising tide raises all boats. Doesn’t mean they are all floating and seaworthy.
    Notice I’ve written a bunch of times that I’m no longer living like I have the nothing I had a few years ago. Yes I’m doing a lot better in that regard. But the balance is once again gone, as it gets for lots of people after recessions. In the 81 recession my company had overtime work for all but the last 3 months or so. I paid everyone to clean, paint, repair, build tools because I didn’t want to lose the workers. I had to cut back hours and 2 guys left. Those two guys saved my business, I would have run out of money. They were angry at me for not providing them with a paycheck for 50 hrs a week that we normally worked, when we had zero paying work in the shop and all of our customers were in worse shape. I’ve been here before, the wrong people always get the blame for recessions.
    And where I work? We’ve been so busy that I started last week on a project that is over 70 job numbers old. And it’s only been in the shop for about 2 months. I’ve seen years where we did maybe 100 jobs and work was good. Life seems good but it isn’t that way for everyone and it isn’t that way for people who believe every lie they get told. Hillary’s emails, Hillary’s pizza parlor, birther bullshit was news 10 yrs ago, it’s back for KH. John Kerry was a slacker, drumpf is a great businessman……… It’s an onslaught and some people buy the bullshit.

  168. 168
    Jay says:


    My Brother swallowed it for years. Now that his kid’s future ain’t what he had, he’s finally changed his tune.

    Funny that.

  169. 169
    sgrAstar says:

    Adam, thank you. I really enjoyed your post and the ensuing discussion. It’s heartening to see how much people care.

  170. 170
    NotMax says:


    A rising tide raises all boats.

    Always had problems with that phrase. Also means there’s more water underneath in which to drown.

    FWIW, I lost my 26-year-old retail business, my livelihood, my meager savings and nearly everything else courtesy of the economic meltdown.

  171. 171
    Jay says:


    It’s hard for people not effected to understand. It’s only when the effects trickle into their lives, that “some people” buy a clue.

    My brother still doesn’t understand the Reagan Recession.

    I do, my sister does.

  172. 172
    PJ says:

    @Suzanne: As Jay pointed out, the chart you linked to doesn’t show that – it shows averages, which is not a measure of how “most people” are doing. I don’t have a link, and I can’t be bothered at this hour to find one, but wages have been stagnant for most people over the last 30 odd years, even as hours worked have risen, and the cost of living has risen, and the cost of housing and higher education has gone up at a greater rate than inflation.

    The benefits of the current economy have not been “shared”, as you put it in another post. As Ruckus and Jay point out, conservatives are adept at blaming everyone but the people who benefit most from the economy and the political system. It is designed to make the rich richer, and let the rest fight amongst themselves. The only thing that Trump accomplished legislatively was to give the rich a big tax break. If there’s one thing the Republican Party can pull together to do, it’s to help the wealthy out.

  173. 173
    Jay says:



    And the “mine the poor” economy for the 1%, has moved on, gutted the Middle Class, and is now starting to devour the 5%.

    Thus “economic anxiety” amongst the movers and shakers class.

  174. 174
    Ruckus says:

    Feels good doesn’t it, work all that time and lose a business that you managed to build and work for a long time, have it all go down because some morons are greedy for money or power or are just fucking morons. And 8-10 yrs later other morons elect a massive fucking asshole moron for president so we can go through shit all over again.

  175. 175
    NotMax says:


    Memo to self: Buy 101 Ways to Cook Sparrow NOW.


  176. 176
    Aleta says:

    @NotMax: A rising tide raises all boats.

    Always had problems with that phrase. Also means there’s more water underneath in which to drown.

    It doesn’t say what happens to the individual boats … If they had run aground when the tide went out, they do get lifted off the rocks as it comes in, but it’s very tricky. They’re at risk for being washed ashore. The wind matters a lot. It’s always luck with boats, even though competitive types act like it’s only about the sailor.

    Also the tide inevitably goes out again.

  177. 177
    Chris Johnson says:


    I am interested in this, though. Like…..why? What the hell stressed everyone out so bad that 2016 happened? By any objective measure, things were pretty damn good. The marketer in me had definitely observed shifts in the “aspirational identity”, which is related to what I was saying above about relative social status. But I can’t put my finger on the thing that flipped everyone out so bad.

    I know some people on this blog will say “the black man in the White House” is the thing that freaked out much of America, but I find that to be only a part of the larger answer. I just wish I had a better sense of what kind of cultural virus suddenly activated in 2016.

    One angle to look at it from is left-wing economics. If you ditch the neoliberal GDP-oriented view of ‘everything is FINE, look, everyone is employed and business is booming’ and examine generational indicators like the prospects of millenials and listen to some of the lefties, the message that comes back is ‘this is late stage capitalism, and it’s starting to kill us all VERY aggressively, and it’s a desperate immediate problem’.

    Panic ensues, Russia seizes the opportunity and sticks its oar in as hard as possible, all hell breaks loose.

    If your analysis is that decades of neoliberal reform beginning with Reagan and Thatcher sold out working classes and got us here, where every little human in the USA has to compete with slave states in the far East to get work and every big corporation automatically maximizes profit through whatever globalized labor source they can find, we have the opposite of strike-happy 1970s Britain. Labor is utterly destroyed and gets only the scraps the bosses bother to throw out, and the media is complicit in an Orwellian snow-job where every one is officially employed and happy and productive… except nobody can buy diamonds, houses, food anymore. But we don’t talk about that. Because the official story is that everyone has never been more productive and happy, so the millenials must not WANT diamonds and houses and food.

    Watch Adam Curtis documentaries. Read Mark Blyth’s writings about economics. Study what Reagan and Thatcher did, and what followed. If 2016 seemed to come out of the blue, it means you are not an adherent of the concept ‘late stage capitalism’. It’s NOT surprising at all to anyone who objects to certain economic schools becoming unquestioned dogmas, and if it’s astonishing to you, you may hold these same unquestioned dogmas which are getting reality checks. Consider leftist critiques of market capitalism before calling all this surprising.

  178. 178
    Chris Johnson says:

    I would also add that if you lead off with, GIVEN that on average people have never had it so good and we’re in the most glorious golden age of capitalism showering benefits upon literally everyone and then try to take that as an axiom and continue with so what the heck went wrong? you’ll tend to come up with apparently everyone went TURBO RACIST and just stop there, well satisfied.

    This has the side benefit that you can take everyone who’s distressed and call them EVIL, call even their whole towns evil, and then you have a moral basis for deciding to condemn them to death for how TURBO RACIST and evil they are. If they are starving, you now have the moral basis for thinking they should starve more. If they were robbed by bankers and the ultra-wealthy, which you don’t want to think about anyhow, you now have a moral basis for deciding that the bankers and ultra-wealthy should rob and hurt them MORE because the bankers are good and the turbo racist deplorables are bad and ought to be starved, hurt and killed.

    We don’t have to set up special camps for deplorables if we can starve their flyover-country towns and kill them through attrition.

    Because they’re RACIST and deplorable.

    Or at least, there have been Democrats who say they are, because they’re such a problem in a time when on average everyone is doing SO WELL.

    (people get mad at this stuff: I admit to being one of them. Stop talking neoliberal Reaganite garbage)

  179. 179
    Suzanne says:

    @PJ: Averages of course do not capture every individual situation. But again, in aggregate, most Americans (which someone above noted something like “well yeah, things have gotten better for women and LGBTs and minorities” neglecting to note that these are more than half of all Americans) are going to end up with better outcomes today than they would have some time ago. Even stories here of lost businesses and kids-not-doing-quite-as-well-as-their-parents-who-did-VERY-WELL are written from a place of relative wealth. Fifthy years ago, people with my body parts didn’t have businesses to lose and we didn’t get college educations at all. Okay.

    The reason I find economic factors insufficient as an explanation is essentially because that is not what the data indicates. The people who were “economically anxious” did not vote for Trump. They voted for Clinton. The people who felt “status threat” voted for Trump. I have no doubt that those people feel a sense of loss. But I don’t think those people reacted the way that they did because they are in a widespread reaction to late-stage capitalism. There is plenty of evidence to the contrary. Trump voters seem to want to uphold late-stage capitalism. They seem thrilled with it.

    What I see people doing here is a common fallacy, which is they see the forces that are fucking them around and assume that others who are in ostensibly similar circumstances are feeling the same way. Humans do this in everything—essentially we assume that others feel the same way we do because why would you feel differently ever? But it’s not the case, not typically. And again, evidence indicates that that is not the case,

    This is part of why I have been reading more philosophy lately. I am finding it a much more accurate predictor of human behavior, or at least having more insight into all the weirdness around us right now, than political science and economics. The idea of Economic Man is limited in its utility. Not useless, but limited, because we live in many social environs and the economy is just one.

  180. 180
    Suzanne says:

    One additional thought on this very dead thread: We know from psychology that it is far more painful to have something and to lose that thing (a job, a business, social status, freedom/autonomy, money, whatever) than it is to have never had that thing at all. This is not a rational phenomenon but it is incredibly potent. I do think that the Trumpy people in our lives/country feel an enormous sense of loss, borne out of having had something that many others never had, either individually or in cultural memory. But I think their losses are more core-of-identity than economic factors can describe. Honestly, when the economy was really terrible and people were more insecure, this was less of an issue. It’s almost like this cultural disease could only be acute once economic conditions were at least good enough that most people had their basic needs met.

  181. 181
    O. Felix Culpa says:

    It’s a wonderful thing to wake up in the morning to such a thoughtful and thought-provoking post and thread. Thank you to everyone who contributed to this discussion.

  182. 182
    Matt McIrvin says:

    @Suzanne: I think that more than anything else it was about the return of racial conflict as a salient political issue–not (directly) because of the election of Obama, but because of the string of high-profile incidents of black people getting murdered by cops/wannabe cops/mass shooters and the protests and unrest that followed, starting in 2012 but really ramping up in 2013-14. The new Trump voters were freaking out about Black Lives Matter and pictures of what looked like urban rioting, more than anything else.

    And, note, Obama didn’t stay out of it–he spoke up–which meant he was no longer the “post-racial” figure people were imagining.

  183. 183
    CNY says:

    I hope that I’m wrong, but I’m very concerned that when Senator Sanders does not get the Democratic nomination, and I think that will become very clear very early on in the primaries next year because the US in 2019 is a very different world than the US in 2015 and 2016, that his supporters and his monomaniacal focus on economics issues, coupled with his ego, will drive him to run as an independent.

    JFC, just JFC you people. There is NOTHING and I mean absolutely NOTHING in Sanders’ history that suggests he’ll do this. He campaigned for Hillary after it became clear he wouldn’t win and I’m sure he’ll campaign hard for whoever the democratic candidate is. I voted for him in the 2016 primary and then voted for Hillary. I’ll do the same thing in 2020.

  184. 184
    Chris Johnson says:

    @CNY: If I have to vote for Bernie in the 2020 primary and then vote for Hillary in 2020 I will fucking kill myself o_O


    I would have preferred Warren in 2016 but she wasn’t willing to run at the time. People are seeing ghosts.

  185. 185
    Scotian says:

    CNY: Nothing in his history, absolutely nothing?!?!?!? From mid April 2016 until just before the nomination Sen Sanders was clearly unable to win the nomination yet he and his surrogates ramped UP the bitterness about rigging, about how bad HRC was and so on. So no, there actually is more than enough reason to be suspicious based on behaviour only a few years old at the last opportunity he had to run for a Presidential nomination. He poisoned the well in a heavy handed obvious manner which was being called out by Dem strategists and other political observers IN REAL TIME as it happened. So I think Dems and others have much reason to distrust lying Sen Sanders. BTW, before you object to that characterization, remind me again how good his promise of always staying in the Dem party even if he lost the nomination was…he could not leave it fast enough after helping enable the rise of Trump and Trumpism. So you might want to aim your JFC to your mirror.


    Excellent work here. I was reading along with great interest in the thread last night to the point I fell asleep at the computer while reading the comment threads, which is why I did not participate.

    It is because you present information in such a manner that I like reading all your work, I appreciate a trained thoughtful mind able to communicate well, and you have shown that many times over on multiple fronts. I am both hopeful for and look forward to this becoming similar to your maskirova series as the campaign continues. As well, the comment threads your posts tend to engender are also filled with quality observations and analysis from many here, which is yet another reason why I stay despite having a rather complicated and full personal life these days.

    Simply excellent work!

  186. 186
    Uncle Ebeneezer says:

    I’m very worried about a Sanders Spoiler event where a White Man’s Anti-Establishment Ego once again rat-fucks America (Ralph Nader says Hi.). Here in SoCal we had our ADEM Delegate elections yesterday. We got a bunch of Bernie-Bro delegates now (ugh…). I’ve worked and interacted with many of them and they loathe the Democratic Party. None of them showed any public support of the Democratic Candidate leading up to November 2016. Some I suspect, actually voted for Jill Stein. Ugh…

  187. 187
    Kayla Rudbek says:

    @Suzanne: @Ben Cisco: here’s a good discussion of this from a religious perspective: link

  188. 188
    Suzanne says:

    @Matt McIrvin: I agree with you very strongly that the images of BLM and riots were incredibly potent. I also think images of successful black people have been equally potent and destabilizing to the Trumpy cohort. Both of those things represent a to a long-standing social order. Many young white people look up to successful black people (especially the Obamas) now in a way that wasn’t the case some time ago. That is fucking scary to people who have the cultural memory of supremacy.

  189. 189
    PJ says:

    @Suzanne: I have no idea what kind of body parts you have, but by 1970 (49 years ago), 8.2% of all women had college degrees (vs. 14.1% for men) (so definitely not “no one”), while in 2017 34.6% of all women had degrees (vs. 33.7% of all men). https://nces.ed.gov/programs/digest/d17/tables/dt17_104.10.asp As I stated, things have gotten better both in terms of individual freedom and rights for large portions of the population, but this has not translated into easier financial lives. Basically, where the income of one person could support a working class family in the 1970s, it now requires two incomes.

    I don’t disagree with you that economics is only one factor in people’s lives, and that their vote is based on feelings that are generated both by their financial situation (and of those around them) and their broader cultural experience. As I also stated, since the late 1960s, Republicans have been very skilled at getting their voters’ to focus their anger on the minorities who now have a bigger sliver of the smaller piece of the pie (the bottom 80% of the population owned only 7% of the wealth in 2011: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wealth_inequality_in_the_United_States allotted to the majority); for Republican voters, the problem is always “those” people, never the people who actually call the shots. To quote LBJ, “If you can convince the lowest white man he’s better than the best colored man, he won’t notice you’re picking his pocket. Hell, give him somebody to look down on, and he’ll empty his pockets for you.”

  190. 190
    Suzanne says:


    Basically, where the income of one person could support a working class family in the 1970s, it now requires two incomes.

    That was really only ever the case for white families. Minority families have been two-parent-working for decades. And the entrance of women into the work force en masse has resulted in much more economic security for women of all races, because they could increasingly afford to divorce or remain single or be more selective in their partners. So I think your thesis is correct if you are only looking at a relatively small slice of society in some particular circumstances.

    However, the slice of society you’re looking at overlaps a great deal with the Trumpy. And I agree that they feel culturally destabilized. I have no doubt that the increasing economic power of women is one of those destabilizing factors. But again….something happened in 2016 that activated fucking MADNESS. Women have been getting more financially independent for decades.

    Again, I come back to the power of images/media, and a cultural memory of loss. The gains in society over the last fifty years or so have not gone to everyone equally. Women and minorities and other marginalized classes have made great strides while white dudes have stagnated. And the proof of that is literally everywhere.

    I think Trump made them feel that it was okay to be angry about that.

  191. 191
    PJ says:

    @Suzanne: I don’t disagree that the cultural shift in the country since the ’60s, towards giving more freedom and power to women and minorities, drives a lot of the anger, but the belief that women and minorities should have lesser status and fewer (or no) rights has been with this country since almost its inception. I had a longer, more thoughtful, reply that the website just ate, but I don’t think that 2016 was out of the ordinary in terms of the response of Trump supporters. Those people have always been here, and the GOP has been telling them since 1968, and particularly since Reagan, that things were much better before “those people” (blacks, immigrants, Muslims, Chinese, whatever) were free to participate, and Fox has been telling them that they should be mad as hell about it since the ’90s (and that Hillary is evil incarnate). Trump just said the quiet parts out loud, and gave them permission to act on their anger and hatred (often in violent ways).

  192. 192
    Matt Smith says:

    Loved this post. In your discussion of who doesn’t vote, I missed the bloc that feels our votes don’t matter bc our democracy is corrupt, their one voice can’t make a difference, and voting doesn’t matter.

  193. 193
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @Matt Smith: That one was on me. I left them out because I mentally misplaced them as I was writing the post.

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