“She was brave enough to talk with me on tape, & I respect her for that”
October 23, 2015 11:12 AM   Subscribe

Welcome to Home of the Brave. I’m [Peabody-winning journalist and sometime This American Life and NPR correspondent] Scott Carrier. A couple weeks ago I was watching Donald Trump on television wondering how and why anyone would want him to be President of the United States. He’s a rude, arrogant condescending, chauvanistic egomaniac. What if he were president and got angry and had a fit? But then I realized I don’t actually know any Trump supporters, so I decided I should drive around Nevada and find some. (He also drives around a little bit of California.)
posted by Going To Maine (72 comments total) 23 users marked this as a favorite
 
Scott Carrier is a national treasure, but the end of The Test made me wonder if he and his wife ever reconciled. Does anyone know?
posted by infinitewindow at 11:21 AM on October 23, 2015 [1 favorite]


Required background reading: Low-information rationality, Low-information voter
posted by 0xFCAF at 11:31 AM on October 23, 2015 [7 favorites]


Scott Carrier is a national treasure, but the end of The Test made me wonder if he and his wife ever reconciled. Does anyone know?

"The Test" was originally broadcast in 1996, and in Running After Antelope (2002), there are several references to his subsequent divorce.
posted by ryanshepard at 11:31 AM on October 23, 2015 [1 favorite]


Could someone give me the executive summary for the hearing impaired?
posted by Soliloquy at 11:34 AM on October 23, 2015 [2 favorites]


Spoiler for those who don't want to listen to a woman compare people to cockroaches: it's about racism.
posted by Nerd of the North at 11:34 AM on October 23, 2015 [22 favorites]


Yeah, that passage was a bit awful, and quite turned me off of listening to the rest.
posted by Kikujiro's Summer at 11:37 AM on October 23, 2015


Required background reading: Low-information rationality, Low-information voter

While I think that “low-information voter” could be legitimately applied to some of these folks, that gets into a difficult: many of them are drawing on their own learned perceptions of the government and their immediate surroundings. That is to say, they might well be receiving a lot of information that happens to be highly biased.

Spoiler for those who don't want to listen to a woman compare people to cockroaches: it's about racism.

Although the Native American Carrier interviews at the end would disagree.
posted by Going To Maine at 11:39 AM on October 23, 2015 [2 favorites]


"Can I say this? It's... terrible...but..."

It's called an internal censor lady, maybe you should use it. Clearly you KNOW what you're saying is wrong. You have a moral compass - or *some* sense of social mores, but clearly your shit's all outta-whack.
posted by symbioid at 12:01 PM on October 23, 2015 [12 favorites]


That is to say, they might well be receiving a lot of information that happens to be highly biased.

Gee, I wonder where from.
posted by Gelatin at 12:12 PM on October 23, 2015 [2 favorites]


i'm doing my darndest to be as impartial as i can possibly be but while listening to this all i am is angry
posted by nogoodverybad at 12:19 PM on October 23, 2015


Although the Native American Carrier interviews at the end would disagree.

Well, if the Native American man Carrier interviewed at the end of the segment wants to wear a t-shirt that says "Immigrants are the worst" then I think he's got a better moral high ground to stand on than the other people in the piece.

I listened to the whole piece because I want to know how any otherwise functional person can admire Trump. What I heard, in addition to the immigrant-phobia was the yearning for change, for the economy to be better and a belief that being verbally forceful is an admirable way to be a leader. (Yikes!)

I would still like to understand why some people are viscerally pro-Trump the way that I am viscerally anti-Trump.

I was faintly a tiny bit reassured because the first woman said she wanted to know *how* Trump is going to deliver on the things that he promises, and that is a question that she and all voters deserve an answer to. (Because he is not only promising the wrong policies, he is also promising impossible policies.)

I guess I want to know why the people who aren't as overtly racist as Trump when I interact with them can tolerate his blatant racism. (Part of the answer IS racism, but I think it's racism plus some other factors.)
posted by puddledork at 12:26 PM on October 23, 2015 [8 favorites]


For some people to feel like they're winning other people have to be seen to be losing.
I think that explains a lot of support for Trump.
posted by Wretch729 at 12:30 PM on October 23, 2015 [16 favorites]


“Can I say this? It's… terrible… but…”

It's called an internal censor lady, maybe you should use it. Clearly you KNOW what you're saying is wrong. You have a moral compass - or some sense of social mores, but clearly your shit's all outta-whack.

This could be me, or an ask v. guess culture thing, but I’m inclined to read that particular kind of question as an actual question. As in, yes, the person thinks that they’re feeling or about to say something problematic but they actually want to have the issues with it explained for them. It’s a kind of groping in the dark. It doesn’t work in an interview because you’re probably not going to get that feedback. It doesn’t work in comments on the internet because that kind of questioning can be read as trolling just as easily as it can be read as honest inquiry. But, at least in conversation, it seems kind of plaintive.
posted by Going To Maine at 12:36 PM on October 23, 2015 [7 favorites]


I agree that the racist stuff is bad, but I don't find it shocking. It's not at all uncommon to hear those kinds of opinions here in Canada.

Anyway, great post. I just discovered Scott Carrier through the plus they gave him at This American Life and I love every episode of Home of the Brave.
posted by beau jackson at 12:39 PM on October 23, 2015 [1 favorite]


The other aspect of the racist, cockroach sentiment is, I think, that -at least for this woman- this is her lived experience. The unfortunate reality is that this is how she has experienced seeing immigrants coming into the country, and that has pushed her to where she is. That doesn’t make her right, but it’s still real.
posted by Going To Maine at 12:48 PM on October 23, 2015 [4 favorites]


also "trump is a self-made man" lol ok

"i think trump supports the native americans" sure alright

"i think trump treats women pretty well" i don't even know how to respond to this

i just don't know what to do anymore honestly
posted by nogoodverybad at 12:49 PM on October 23, 2015 [10 favorites]


Ugh...every time I hear someone use the term "illegal" or "illegals" to refer to undocumented immigrants my skin crawls.
posted by noneuclidean at 12:50 PM on October 23, 2015 [14 favorites]


There's a guy on one of my regular drives with a whole bunch of giant Trump signs out front.

I've seen him out front of his house once or twice. He is really, really old. He will never have to actually live with the consequences of his vote. When I hit that age, I plan to skip the half-measures and straight-up vote for Palpatine.
posted by Dr.Enormous at 12:57 PM on October 23, 2015 [15 favorites]


I had an epiphany one day while driving down Lake Street in Minneapolis a couple of years ago. I looked at it through the eyes of a rural dweller whose environment still looked pretty much like it did back in the late '50s. That person's concept of our country is still rooted in those images, and seeing the wild, chaotic display of all sorts of cultures in people on the street, storefronts with unfamiliar names and languages, and an ambience quite apart from what you would see downtown or uptown would be extremely upsetting, as though the world they knew was already disappearing and beyond their control.

I know it's an ignorant and fearful view of things, but it is very real to many (mostly white) people and not just those from rural areas. They expect an unchanging America that will always look like their memories of growing up, when segregation was not only de facto but even de jure. They reflexively attribute the current ills of society to this change, while nostalgically suppressing the bad aspects of those bygone days. It is exactly this fear and nostalgia that Trump and the rest of the GOP are exploiting, either knowingly or because they share the same emotions.

That they believe it can be reversed or halted is the biggest disconnect from reality. I only hope that their fanned fears do not lead to such extremes that it results in violence.
posted by Mental Wimp at 12:59 PM on October 23, 2015 [34 favorites]


There's a real overwhelming belief in just world philosophies throughout. He has money, so he must be good. He seems confident, so he must be smart (and I was a little saddened by the lady saying that she couldn't understand smart people), and the belief that immigration is some kind of merit based system or something that works just fine as long as you follow the rules.

I get that your first reaction seeing dirty diapers lying on the ground is "Gross, dirty diapers!" but why isn't your second thought, "Someone was out here late at night with a baby"? Can you even gloss over something like that in your mind if you don't somehow believe, at some level, that life is fair and that people in danger or trouble have done something to deserve it?

But I know these people's lives can't have been fair. What I don't get is how people reconcile their own experiences with an overriding belief that the world is some kind of meritocracy.
posted by ernielundquist at 1:01 PM on October 23, 2015 [11 favorites]


I get that your first reaction seeing dirty diapers lying on the ground is "Gross, dirty diapers!" but why isn't your second thought, "Someone was out here late at night with a baby"?

Personally, I never have this second thought. If I see a beer can on a hiking trail, or a piece of detritus in the street, I tend to automatically ascribe terrible, litterbug motivations to those who have done so. If I saw a dirty diaper in the bushes, my reaction would be less likely to be sympathetic and more likely to want to know why someone didn't clean up after their baby. Or to not wonder at all, and to just think “huh, a dirty diaper.” It’s not a very sympathetic way of seeing things, but it’s not a form of sympathy I need on a daily basis. And if you fundamentally believe that someone shouldn’t be in the country, how sympathetic will you be to the messes they create on the way in?
posted by Going To Maine at 1:11 PM on October 23, 2015 [1 favorite]


What I heard, in addition to the immigrant-phobia was the yearning for change, for the economy to be better and a belief that being verbally forceful is an admirable way to be a leader. (Yikes!)

Also, he's a businessman! That's what this country needs on the heels of the great recession, a businessman!

I get that your first reaction seeing dirty diapers lying on the ground is "Gross, dirty diapers!" but why isn't your second thought, "Someone was out here late at night with a baby"? Can you even gloss over something like that in your mind if you don't somehow believe, at some level, that life is fair and that people in danger or trouble have done something to deserve it?

Having to clean up dirty diapers everyday in your yard would certainly color a lot of people's opinions. Doesn't mean their right, but it helps to understand where they are coming from.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 1:12 PM on October 23, 2015 [1 favorite]


But I know these people's lives can't have been fair. What I don't get is how people reconcile their own experiences with an overriding belief that the world is some kind of meritocracy.

I think there’s a big difference between the idea that Donald Trump must know something if he’s managed to get rich and believing that the world is a meritocracy.
posted by Going To Maine at 1:13 PM on October 23, 2015


I get that your first reaction seeing dirty diapers lying on the ground is "Gross, dirty diapers!" but why isn't your second thought, "Someone was out here late at night with a baby"? Can you even gloss over something like that in your mind if you don't somehow believe, at some level, that life is fair and that people in danger or trouble have done something to deserve it?

I currently live in a neighborhood where there are dirty diapers on the ground regularly. I got the city to clean up an empty lot nearby, and within a week it was back to being a dumping ground. I have a flowerbed that I have kind of given up on keeping nice because I'll pick up the trash at 8:00pm and by 9:00am someone has dumped their trash back on it (not exaggerating).

At a certain point maintaining sympathy in the face of this gets exhausting. It's one thing if it happens once. But then it happens every day. Then it happens for years. You get sick of it. You think "Why can't you at least get a plastic bag from the corner grocer for the diaper and take it with you until you find a trash can?" You think "The city picks up the trash every Monday, can't you put it out then instead of in the lot?" You think "OK, this is the third day in the row of cleaning up trash in the evening only to find more trash in the flowerbeds the next morning, this is not an accident."

In no way do I excuse the bigotry espoused by the people here. But I understand the death of goodwill that leads up to it.
posted by Anonymous at 1:31 PM on October 23, 2015


In no way do I excuse the bigotry espoused by the people here. But I understand the death of goodwill that leads up to it.

I’d be curious to know if people have made cases for supporting undocumented immigrants less on the idea of sympathy for their suffering and more on the idea of preserving our own systems. “You don’t want trash in your yard? We need a better system for getting these people services so that trash doesn’t show up.”
posted by Going To Maine at 1:39 PM on October 23, 2015 [2 favorites]


The thing that has been perplexing me about Trump's campaign is the dearth of any sort of "behind the scenes" stories of his business dealings. He's almost certainly screwed-over countless people throughout his career. There must be someone out there who is willing to go on the record about how the guy runs his empire. I mean, just listen to the guy. I have a hard believing the man making those stump speeches is very far removed from the guy making business deals. There must be skeletons somewhere.

And yet...nothing.
posted by Thorzdad at 1:54 PM on October 23, 2015 [3 favorites]


I’d be curious to know if people have made cases for supporting undocumented immigrants less on the idea of sympathy for their suffering and more on the idea of preserving our own systems.

I've wondered about this myself. I think it requires a serious commitment from an outside party to provide the support for implementing the changes. For example, with both my flowerbed and the lot the simplest solution I can think of is to put trash cans nearby in hopes dumpers will use that instead. Here are a list of considerations:
  • The lot will require a big, durable trash can. How do I ensure it doesn't get stolen? I can chain it up, but it will have to be unlocked for trash day.
  • How will I transport these things to my street without a car?
  • Will people start using the big, durable trash can for furniture and other large items that currently don't get left in the lot, thus leaving no space for lot trash?
  • Will my neighbors complain about a trash can directly next to my stoop?
And so on. Meanwhile I'm in grad school and my hours are erratic and money is not infinite, so these problems remain unresolved. For people who feel more animosity to the offenders expecting them to do this by themselves is not realistic. Their argument will be "Why should I have to do all this work and spend money to make sure they pick up their trash?"

Then when you consider that throwing trash on the ground is symptomatic of larger social issues affecting the community it becomes even less manageable by community members.
posted by Anonymous at 2:03 PM on October 23, 2015


> What I don't get is how people reconcile their own experiences with an overriding belief that the world is some kind of meritocracy.

Many people just aren't challenged or encouraged to think critically about society and the world around them. But there's still a strong urge to comprehend the world as systematic and predictable, as you indicated.

It's easy to come to the wrong conclusions (e.g., "the world is a meritocracy") when you're lead to them with false or lacking information. [RE: meritocracy in the USA, think about how many messages people are exposed to regarding the political realities and controversies surrounding entitlement, welfare systems, socialized healthcare, etc.] Coming to the right conclusions often requires some resources (as implied by 0xFCAF and schroedinger), or else you'll probably wind up with a cognitive dissonance that makes the wrong conclusion the "easy way out."

The scapegoats for lived experience can really get skewed when sources of information are limited and/or biased. Most people don't deal with inheritance, business ownership, or the financing of millions and billions of dollars. They just input effort and receive a little money as the output, so the assumption is probably that Trump did something similar (albeit on a larger or more abstract scale). By the same token, people aren't likely to support immigration services from the perspective of "let's help them so they don't inconvenience you" because they're still stuck on "where was the help when I needed it?"
posted by Johann Georg Faust at 2:28 PM on October 23, 2015 [3 favorites]


My 20-year-old cousin supports Trump.

He thinks that Trump "cuts through the BS" and "gets things done" without being beholden to the regular political establishment.

He's a white guy who didn't go to college working a menial pest control job in some Chicago suburbs, which reinforces a lot of the racist beliefs his idiot Republican father inculcated him with. He means well and considers himself a libertarian, and trying to get him to actually consider the things he parrots is an ongoing struggle. Sometimes I win, sometimes I'm just that old bleeding heart who doesn't know what it's like in the real world.
posted by klangklangston at 2:29 PM on October 23, 2015 [2 favorites]


Ugh...every time I hear someone use the term "illegal" or "illegals" to refer to undocumented immigrants my skin crawls.

I sometimes combat this by referring to everyone who breaks any law as an illegal.

"Rough morning. I was driving to work and was nearly hit by an illegal."

"How do you know it was an illegal?"

"I was going through an intersection when they ran a red light. That's illegal as hell."

I don't know if it does much good, but people have pretty much stopped referring to "illegals" around me.
posted by Pater Aletheias at 2:34 PM on October 23, 2015 [73 favorites]


The thing that has been perplexing me about Trump's campaign is the dearth of any sort of "behind the scenes" stories of his business dealings.

They are there, but Trumpeteers don't want to think about them.
Top 10 Donald Trump Failures (Time.com)
* Trump Airlines
* Trump Vodka
* The Bankruptcies
* The Hair
* The Marriages
* Trump Mortgage
* Trump: The Game
* The China Connection
* Trump Casinos
* The Middle East 'Policy'
The Many Business Failures of Donald Trump (Rolling Stone)
He's running for president... on his business record. One problem: that record sucks
posted by Kirth Gerson at 2:41 PM on October 23, 2015 [2 favorites]


I believe the Just-World Hypothesis is the formal name for why people believe in the existence of a fully fledged meritocracy.
The just-world hypothesis or just-world fallacy is the cognitive bias (or assumption) that a person's actions are inherently inclined to bring morally fair and fitting consequences to that person, to the end of all noble actions being eventually rewarded and all evil actions eventually punished. [...]

This belief [...] has high potential to result in fallacy, especially when used to rationalize people's misfortune on the grounds that they "deserve" it.
posted by tychotesla at 2:50 PM on October 23, 2015


The thing that has been perplexing me about Trump's campaign is the dearth of any sort of "behind the scenes" stories of his business dealings.

They are there, but Trumpeteers don't want to think about them.

“Don’t want to think about them” feels like such an insufficient explanation, though. People don’t support candidates passively; they opt to back them. It’s not that they don’t want to think of them, it’s that his appeal seems to be overpowering them.
posted by Going To Maine at 2:50 PM on October 23, 2015


What if he were president and got angry and had a fit?

Isn't that exactly the appeal? He can be angry and get away with it. That's what superpowers do, and isn't America supposed to be a superpower?

From the interview: "I don't think he's going to allow Putin to use him as a doormat." He gets angry at the Mexican "cockroaches" and doesn't apologize.

America is great, and "old stock" Americans (to steal a phrase from the Canadian election) are the greatest, and if you're the greatest you should be able to tell people what you think and they should say, "Sir, yes sir." Trump supporters are "tired of apologizing all the time", etc.
posted by clawsoon at 2:55 PM on October 23, 2015 [1 favorite]


What if he were president and got angry and had a fit?

Um...nuke Iran? Nuke Mexico?
posted by Thorzdad at 3:04 PM on October 23, 2015


every time I hear someone use the term "illegal" or "illegals" to refer to undocumented immigrants my skin crawls.

It's funny, I hadn't realized it until I read your comment, but that's exactly how I feel now - the term itself never bothered me on its face, but over the past few years it's gotten to the point where only Those People use That Phrase and so now it might as well be a straight-up slur.

It's just like those MRA/PUA threads we had a while back - now, nearly every time I read the word 'female', I hear it spoken in my mind with a Ferengi sneer.
posted by Rat Spatula at 3:14 PM on October 23, 2015 [7 favorites]


Talking to the Native American guy: "How do you feel about immigration, illegal or otherwise?"

"We should have stopped it from Day 1."

Okay, you've got a point there.
posted by clawsoon at 3:20 PM on October 23, 2015 [19 favorites]


But then I realized I don’t actually know any Trump supporters

I feel very sorry for the author -- it must be hard to be estranged from your extended family.
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 3:46 PM on October 23, 2015 [2 favorites]


This was gold:

"I ran into a scraggly old miner outside the Hotel Nevada, and asked him what he thought of Donald Trump, and he said 'Donald Trump is a cornhole licker' - which I assumed was an insult, so I didn't talk to him, because I was looking for Trump supporters"
posted by eclectist at 3:48 PM on October 23, 2015 [14 favorites]


"They're tribes out there, we're not gonna make them into us".
posted by Carillon at 3:49 PM on October 23, 2015


I'm not sure if I know any Trump supporters. But that's one of those, no one I know voted for Nixon, kind of things.
posted by octothorpe at 3:52 PM on October 23, 2015


Let's go into fantasy land and Trump is elected. What if Trump decides the best course of action to fight the drug war is tactical nukes in the narco areas? The brass of course thinks this is fucking stupid.

Who wins that showdown with the president obviously being the commander in chief.
posted by Talez at 4:15 PM on October 23, 2015


Trump isn't an idiot. Anyone paying attention to the ebb and flow of his pandering knows he's not crazy, he's just playing the rubes.

Don't get me wrong, I think he'd be a horrible president, but all these who-would-Trump-nuke scenarios are ridiculous liberal fever dreams.
posted by echocollate at 4:50 PM on October 23, 2015 [2 favorites]


The joint chiefs of staff would probably resign en masse before they went along with a nuke strike on Mexico, but my guess is that Pres. Trump would be deemed mentally incompetent by the White House physician and then the 25th amendment process would kick in and the VP would take over. The US military would never countenance a nuclear strike on anything other than a threat they agree is existential and they have plenty of ways of torpedoing a president without resigning (remember what happened with Obama and Afghanistan).

I agree with everything Echocollate says about Trump though. He's not crazy, he's just playing to his audience (they are crazy but they're not running for president).
posted by longdaysjourney at 5:02 PM on October 23, 2015 [1 favorite]


It’s not that they don’t want to think of them, it’s that his appeal seems to be overpowering them.

Well, I can't imagine what that appeal is. My wife forced me to help her watch a couple of seasons of "You're Fired," and that is one of the most unappealing, unlikeable, thoroughly appalling human beings I've ever seen. I would be hard-pressed to choose between him and Cheney for person I'd least like to meet.

My near neighbor has a Trump sign on his lawn. I'm not going to ask him about it.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 5:06 PM on October 23, 2015 [2 favorites]


Back on topic: I'm starting to wonder if Trump isn't just doing this all for fun.

I mean, put yourself in his shoes. You have a ton of money. You can afford any toy you want. You can go anywhere you want. You can buy any place you want.

What do you do for fun? After the inevitable "escorts and blow" phase, what do you do to keep yourself entertained and satisfied?

What if you're disillusioned with the political process?

You make a joke out of it.

You announce candidacy despite having no real applicable experience. And then you go to town.

You turn up to debates sounding crazy, saying all sorts of shit that would get you laughed out of a first-world nation's government. You go off on random tangents about trivial issues. You comment on everything, including stuff that you'd have no reason to mouth off about. You run campaign ads that seem like parodies of right-wing ones. You say the craziest satire of the far-right that you can think of at every turn. Have fun with it! You remove your mental "oh shit, don't say that" filter and replace it with the Bill Burr-style "eh, fuck it, say it. See what happens!" one. You get to have some fun, and maybe get an ego stroke out of it. (Hey, seeing all those signs with your name on it's gotta feel good, right?)

But what happens when the far right doesn't cotton on to the fact that you're just doing it for a laugh?

---

I'm not saying for sure that's what's happening, but the thought has crossed my mind.
posted by -1 at 5:08 PM on October 23, 2015 [4 favorites]


Mod note: One comment deleted. Let's not get into a debate over the term "illegal immigrant", there's really nowhere productive for that to go, and it'll run the thread off the tracks completely.
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 6:00 PM on October 23, 2015


"“Don’t want to think about them” feels like such an insufficient explanation, though. People don’t support candidates passively; they opt to back them. It’s not that they don’t want to think of them, it’s that his appeal seems to be overpowering them."

It's not that they don't want to think about them, it's that they don't count — he's still rich. The thinking goes that even if he has some failures, he's gotta be doing something right to be making all the money he has.
posted by klangklangston at 6:40 PM on October 23, 2015


But I know these people's lives can't have been fair. What I don't get is how people reconcile their own experiences with an overriding belief that the world is some kind of meritocracy.

In my experience growing up in a part of the country populated with people who hold a lot of those kinds of crazy, incoherent-on-closer-inspection kinds of beliefs, they have complicated self-esteem issues and a more than generous side order of self-loathing that manifests as social resentment. A culture of aggressively judging, sabotaging, and harassing their peers and gravitating toward relationships with people who actively undermine and humiliate them in turn. Think nasty, small town, cutting the tall poppies down type culture.
posted by saulgoodman at 7:16 PM on October 23, 2015 [14 favorites]


The problem that progressivism has, at least since the French Revolution if not earlier, is an empathy problem. "Why are these people so ignorant? How can they be so uneducated? Why do they have such bad taste?" Frankly, I doubt that Trump supporters are any more angry, vitriolic, or prejudiced than liberals or progressives- well, other than that libs/progs are likely to be of a higher income bracket and thus do not have all the same pain points that conservative Americans have- they just have concerns that are framed in a way by the media, by the conservative establishment, to be directed in prejudiced ways. And a lot of this handwringing betrays a lack of willingness to engage the political opposition's mindset.

The petit bourgeois and the lumpenproletariat you will always have with you. Better to try to understand them and empathize with them, no matter how repugnant their views may seem to you, than sit in urban enclaves, pooh-poohing at how outrageous and crazy these people think. In the end, it's not Trump you have to worry about, but whoever follows him- whomever out trumps Trump in the elections to come. Remember Weimar.

Sometimes, progressives have to check their own privilege.
posted by Apocryphon at 7:19 PM on October 23, 2015 [8 favorites]


It's possible to have empathy for people but still recognize when they're having psychological issues. Everybody goes a little crazy now and then.

That said, echollette's right. Trump is cynically working his target audience, the way people from his sphere of society do every day, in the name of doing business.
posted by saulgoodman at 7:27 PM on October 23, 2015 [2 favorites]


"In no way do I excuse the bigotry espoused by the people here. But I understand the death of goodwill that leads up to it."

Yeah, I can kind of get how one gets to that point when it seems like a certain group of people are causing you problems on a fairly regular basis, i.e. here's where bad stereotypes come from.
posted by jenfullmoon at 9:37 PM on October 23, 2015 [1 favorite]


Better to try to understand them and empathize with them, no matter how repugnant their views may seem to you, than sit in urban enclaves, pooh-poohing at how outrageous and crazy these people think

I'm sorry but the "base" and their idiot representatives in the House Freedom Caucus and all the other fellow travelers on the GOP side of the House are threatening the full faith and credit of the United States and for what, to defund Planned Parenthood? That's madness, plain and simple. It needs to be called out for what it is. There's no point in reaching out a hand to them, when they're just going to slap it away.
posted by longdaysjourney at 11:01 PM on October 23, 2015 [3 favorites]


It may be madness, but every madness has a method.
posted by Apocryphon at 2:16 AM on October 24, 2015


They expect an unchanging America that will always look like their memories of growing up, when segregation was not only de facto but even de jure. They reflexively attribute the current ills of society to this change, while nostalgically suppressing the bad aspects of those bygone days. It is exactly this fear and nostalgia that Trump and the rest of the GOP are exploiting, either knowingly or because they share the same emotions.

Fighting the Good Fight: Fundamentalism and Religious Revival
This myth links a supposed Golden Age in the past with a Utopian future. The past Golden Age is seen as a time when the members of the movement or those they identify with were strong, vital, and in control of the world. The Utopian future presages a time when movement members will return to that sense of group strength and wholeness. In seeking to do this, they adhere to a clearly specifiable orthodoxy, but no easily predictable political ideology. They are as likely to be liberal as conservative in their solution to the problem. Religious belief is the most frequent motivating and organizing principle, although purely secular concerns may also dominate. Most cultures have seen a number of fundamentalist revival movements throughout their history, and all such movements appear to have common features which bear a resemblance to general human ritual practice.
That they believe it can be reversed or halted is the biggest disconnect from reality. I only hope that their fanned fears do not lead to such extremes that it results in violence.

as for the basis of that change...
Land, Capital, Attention: This Time it Is the Same
Only 1% of the global population now controls about 50% of all capital. And in another critical historical parallel, the ruling elites everywhere directly or indirectly represent the interests of capital. Capital has replaced land as the factor against which policies are measured. Take quantitative easing for example, which is aimed at reducing the cost of capital on the belief that this will continue to create jobs.

But the new technological disruption has already arrived and it is digital technology. This is a new set of machines and networks. Unlike their earlier predecessors they are universal machines which as they get better can eventually do anything. And the results are that capital and labor are no longer long-term complements which has been driving down labor’s share of the economy and depressing wages. Digital technology even means that less and less capital is required for most endeavors (see for instance how much cheaper it is to start a new company today than it was even a decade ago). Capital is no longer scarce and labor even less so.

Where is the new scarcity? It is human attention. With birth rates thankfully decelerating almost everywhere, peak population is finally a possibility. We all have only 24 hours in the day and we need to work, eat and sleep. That puts a hard limit on how much human attention exists. At the same time digital technologies are producing unprecedented amounts of information that we could pay attention to. On Youtube alone 100 hours of video is uploaded every minute. Increasingly you can measure how valuable something is by how much attention it controls (e.g., Google, Facebook, etc).

And just like previous scarcities one of the reasons that attention is scarce is that we are bad at this new technology. As society we have lots of information locked up through copyright and patents instead of making it available to everyone. As individuals we too often lack a purpose other than making money and we will happily watch another cat video in our limited free time than read a challenging book. Over time we will get better at all of this and it will let us achieve amazing things as humanity, including free education and healthcare for everyone and cleaning up the mess we have made of the planet. But none of that will happen as long as we keep ourselves trapped in a belief that capital is scarce and that everyone needs a job.

So yes, this time is the same. Once again technology is fundamentally shifting scarcity and the ruling elites are controlled by the prior scarcity, this time capital, which is trying hard to maintain its power. The sooner we all begin to understand this, the better our chances of a peaceful transition. The longer we wait, the more we will be like the land owners who didn’t get industrialization and led us down a path of violent change.
so like trump has been doing a pretty good job of monopolizing attention, pitting the poor against the poor thru tribal identity politics:
The basic structure of politics is that the median voter's income is below the national average income, so redistribution is popular. The job of the anti-redistribution party is to stand up for popular positions on other issues. Ronald Reagan was against Communism and "welfare queens" and George W Bush "kept us safe" and defended traditional marriage.
so the task at hand is keep the focus on inequality and more for all...
Discovering why we are not technologically doomed to inequality
The overarching theme in all this work, however, is profound: it is that inefficiency and rent (whether it’s increased or is simply being divided differently) are important causes of inequality, and that power in some form or other is central to these mechanisms. The important lesson to draw is that policies can be developed that at the same time create greater prosperity and distribute the fruits more equally — though they may be policies it will take brave politicians to put in place as they will challenge current power structures.
also btw...
-Former IMF chief economist backs 'people's QE'
-The difference between social democratic and liberal intuition
-Data shows that welfare doesn't have a corrupting influence on poor people
-Negative interest rates and helicopter money could be a marriage made in heaven
posted by kliuless at 3:00 AM on October 24, 2015 [14 favorites]


The problem that progressivism has, at least since the French Revolution if not earlier, is an empathy problem. "Why are these people so ignorant? How can they be so uneducated? Why do they have such bad taste?" Frankly, I doubt that Trump supporters are any more angry, vitriolic, or prejudiced than liberals or progressives- well, other than that libs/progs are likely to be of a higher income bracket and thus do not have all the same pain points that conservative Americans have-

I think this is an exaggeration. Progressivism has historically had strong ties to labor movements and the poor; conservatives were the ones holding their nose as they looked down at the unwashed masses. The "Ivory Tower Progressive" is a pretty damn recent thing and the result of some excellent work on the part of conservatives to turn the discussion of politics away from economics and political power to cultural values.
posted by Anonymous at 5:56 AM on October 24, 2015


Also, using the French Revolution to represent a progressive "empathy problem" is a bit like using Stalin to discredit all of socialism. It's pretty disingenuous.
posted by Anonymous at 6:06 AM on October 24, 2015


The problem that progressivism has, at least since the French Revolution if not earlier, is an empathy problem.

Psychohistory's been debunked.
posted by listen, lady at 6:19 AM on October 24, 2015


Don't get me wrong, I think he'd be a horrible president, but all these who-would-Trump-nuke scenarios are ridiculous liberal fever dreams.

Please, say more that might reassure me about this.
posted by gentian at 10:12 AM on October 24, 2015 [1 favorite]


Well yes, obviously progressivism has undergone many different periods in history, and in the U.S. alone we've seen when the working class itself has been the vanguard of progressive agitation (Populist Revolt) and when pretty much all of society was calling for progressive reform (Progressive Era). However, I'm likening the willingness of modern day progressives to go "those people are insane, full stop" and then fixate endlessly on said insanity, an ideological Grand Guignol of cringing and gawking, to the sort of misunderstanding and failure to collaborate between the French revolutionaries and certain populations that they were ostensibly fighting on behalf of.

Also, using the French Revolution to represent a progressive "empathy problem" is a bit like using Stalin to discredit all of socialism.

Well come to think of it, working class people put in opposition against a progressive movement, is what the Green armies were like during the Bolshevik revolution, when traditionalist peasants revolted- or perhaps counter-revolted- against the Soviets.
posted by Apocryphon at 10:47 AM on October 24, 2015


"In no way do I excuse the bigotry espoused by the people here. But I understand the death of goodwill that leads up to it."

Yeah, I can kind of get how one gets to that point when it seems like a certain group of people are causing you problems on a fairly regular basis, i.e. here's where bad stereotypes come from.

To push back against this language a bit: it’s not clear that this is a case of seems. These people are causing a problem on a regular basis. The fix for that problem might be larger, systemic changes, but that doesn’t make the actual harm caused by individuals less real.
posted by Going To Maine at 11:00 AM on October 24, 2015 [1 favorite]


He’s a rude, arrogant condescending, chauvanistic egomaniac.

Everyone he interviewed admitted this and said they are not dealbreakers.

What would be a dealbreaker? Treason? Violence? Drug smuggling? Necrophilia?

Whatever it is, the Be Powers will figure it out between now and next November cause there ain't no way they let Trump into the White House. If it takes scandal to stop him, there will be a scandal. If it takes the biggest scandal in the history of the country to stop him, then that is what we will get.
posted by bukvich at 11:10 AM on October 24, 2015


Please, say more that might reassure me about this.

Trump seems fairly uninterested in entangling foreign alliances, and seems to have a soft pseudo-isolationist position, wanting to hand over Syria to Russia's sphere of influence (or rather, "let them handle it"), and claiming to pull the U.S. out of various free trade associations such as the TPP and NAFTA. This seems like a common thing for right-wing Americans long shot candidates, from Pat Buchanan to Ron Paul, to do, because they are not beholden to the military-industrial-State Dept. foreign policy apparatus and so they can make wild promises about dismantling it.

Furthermore, just like Trump was critical of Kim Davis, unlike the rest of the GOP field, he's deviated from them in terms of beating the war drums on Iran. He blusters a whole bunch about how bad the six-nation treaty is, but ultimately affirms that the deal is done and is against repudiating it. So somehow, despite his belligerent rhetoric, his stance on Iran is both less aggressive and more practical than the rest of the GOP field besides Bush. This is less praise for him, and more damning of the state of the Republican party. So in terms of Mideast policy, Trump doesn't seem particularly interested in more war.

His main antipathy so far seems to be towards the government of Mexico regarding allowing illegal immigration to happen, and wanting them to build and pay for a border wall. And against China, but in terms of trade. He'd try to lead the U.S. in a trade war with China, which is destructive, but not actual war.

Of course, this just mean that a hypothetical Trump presidency would save most of the bellicoseness for domestic policy. That's not reassuring.
posted by Apocryphon at 11:18 AM on October 24, 2015


The thing that has been perplexing me about Trump's campaign is the dearth of any sort of "behind the scenes" stories of his business dealings.

Conservatives Critique Trump On Eminent Domain - "Republicans eager to blunt Donald Trump's front-runner status in the GOP presidential primary think they've found the issue that will finally sink the billionaire's White House hopes: eminent domain."
"This guy's a bully," says David Boaz, executive vice president of the Cato Institute, a libertarian-leaning think tank in Washington, D.C. "Using the power of government to take a widow's property is pretty much the definition of a bully."

The widow in this story is Vera Coking. She had raised her family in a three-story house near the boardwalk in Atlantic City, N.J. Trump wanted the property to build a limousine parking lot for one of his casinos.

But Coking didn't want to leave. "I didn't want to sell because I was so close to the beach, and I love the place," she told ABC's 20/20.

Trump reportedly offered her $1 million. But Coking wouldn't budge. So Trump's allies at the state's casino reinvestment authority tried to seize the property, pay her a fraction of what private developers had offered, and turn it over to Trump.

"I almost had a heart attack," Coking said to ABC. "I almost died. How could anybody say we gonna take your home away from you?"

Donald Trump wasn't shy about defending the effort to oust Coking, whose house he he called ugly.

"Everybody coming into Atlantic City sees that property," Trump said to ABC. "And it's not fair to Atlantic City and the people. They're staring at this terrible house instead of staring at beautiful fountains and beautiful other things that would be good."
this aired a month ago...
posted by kliuless at 7:49 PM on October 24, 2015


Of course, this just mean that a hypothetical Trump presidency would save most of the bellicoseness for domestic policy. That's not reassuring.

Actually, if you take Trump at his word you’ll find his domestic policies would largely be very progressive, at least by Republican standards. And he’s pretty clear that he considers politicians to be bought and sold by their campaign donations.
posted by Going To Maine at 8:44 PM on October 24, 2015


"They're staring at this terrible house instead of staring at beautiful fountains and beautiful other things that would be good."

Beautiful other things like parking lots. Is the casino in question one of those that's gone bankrupt?
posted by Kirth Gerson at 5:55 AM on October 25, 2015


"I know he called all Mexicans rapists, but think about all the good he's done."
posted by Anonymous at 12:49 AM on October 26, 2015


Actually, if you take Trump at his word you’ll find his domestic policies would largely be very progressive, at least by Republican standards.

It seems like racism trumps (sorry) any other policy that he has: "Yeah he's pro-choice and in favor of single payer healthcare but he hates Mexicans so that good enough for us".
posted by octothorpe at 5:00 AM on October 27, 2015


*Actually, if you take Trump at his word you’ll find his domestic policies would largely be very progressive, at least by Republican standards.

It seems like racism trumps (sorry) any other policy that he has: "Yeah he's pro-choice and in favor of single payer healthcare but he hates Mexicans so that good enough for us".*

I tend to assume that his audience wants both. I mean, heck, if you couch anti-immigrant rhetoric as about limiting free trade in order to better support unions and the rights of citizens, Trump could read as a certain kind of hard left. Racism delights many people; if the democrats were in as much disarray as the GOP you could see him in the other primary.
posted by Going To Maine at 8:46 AM on October 27, 2015


Matt Katz, Tiger Beat On The Potomac: The 24 Hours That (Maybe) Sank Chris Christie
I watched this video over and over again. I couldn’t believe this was Trump, not Christie. Here was a smack-talking politician from the New York area using a reporter to mine laughs from the crowd—the very thing Christie did so often and so hilariously.
Trump had taken Christie’s moves. And in the heart of New Jersey, no less. A few weeks earlier, Christie was at a horse race in Monmouth County, which he won with 70 percent of the vote in 2013. He was booed mercilessly.
Perhaps no other candidate suffered more from the Rise of Trump than Christie. A Monmouth University Polling Institute survey of New Hampshire voters showed that Christie was one of the most popular second-choice candidates for Trump voters. And a New York Times analysis of a YouGov survey found that from May to August Christie lost 57 percent of his supporters to Trump. That’s a higher percentage than anyone in the field other than Rick Perry, and we all know how his candidacy turned out.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 4:55 PM on October 27, 2015


Seeking America’s ‘lost’ greatness and finding Trump most appealing
For some supporters, especially those in the second half of life, Trump’s slogan is a tribute to a simpler time. “He could have said, ‘Make America what it was before’ and I would have voted for him,” said Jane Cimbal, 69, who lives in Winchester and signed up to collect signatures to get Trump on the Virginia ballot. “The last time we had good jobs and respect for the military and law enforcement was, oh, probably during Eisenhower.”
posted by the man of twists and turns at 10:02 AM on November 1, 2015 [2 favorites]


David Brin, The Political Circus
The true issue dividing Donald Trump from the rest of the Republican Pack? He has realized something that strikes terror into the hearts of the Kochs and Murdochs and Saudis who have grown accustomed to treating the Republican Party as their private legislature. That the angry white men who make up the GOP's core-base are ready for some populism to mix with their gruel of guns and confederate values.

Hence, Trump has called -- then pulled back -- but will certainly call again for tax increases on the uber-rich, while Jeb Bush and the rest reiterate their wish for ever-lower rates for the skyrocketing oligarchy, long after Supply Side (Voodoo) "Economics" has been proved never to have made one successful outcome prediction.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 7:48 PM on November 7, 2015 [2 favorites]


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