Facebook apparently knew quite early on that Russian agents were manipulating Facebook feeds and Facebook users in order to influence the American election, favoring Trump and working against Clinton.
But they publicly denied that they had any of this information, and went so far as to delete information about this in a report. The report contained details about Russia that Facebook legal and marketing teams removed before the report’s release.
Then, as you may know, they eventually admitted it.
The result of this long and inexplicable delay may have set back by months our understanding of the whole Trump-Russian scandal.
Donald Trump won the 2016 election with 306 votes to Hillary Clinton’s 232 votes. That is a spread of 74 votes.
Clinton was likely to win in several states in which she lost, including Wisconsin, Michigan, Pennsylvania, maybe Ohio, etc. In three states that could have gone either way, Jill Stein’s vote count was larger than the difference between Clinton and Trump. In Michigan, Trump won by 10,704 votes, Stein got 51,463 votes. In Pennsylvania, Trump won by 46,765 votes, Stein got 49,678 votes. In Wisconsin, Trump won by 22,177 votes, Stein got 31,006 votes.
If every Jill Stein vote would have been a Clinton Vote, it is likely that Clinton would have had 49 electoral votes more than she did have.
That alone would have put Clinton in the white house.
We now know that Russian hackers worked hard on getting people to vote for Stein. They spread around the idea that it was “safe” to vote for a third party candidate in states where the outcome was obvious anyway.
I told people this many times. I said, again and again, the logic that you can vote “safely” in a general election for a third party candidate in certain states is flawed for several reasons. One of those reasons, I said, is that you might only think the state is safe, and perhaps it is not.
Using Stein, who is known to have hobnobbed with Putin (which may or may not be relevant here), and I’m sure a few other trick here and there, the Russians may have given their guy Trump the three electoral college wins that put him in the White House.
We’ve learned this as part of the recent expose of Facebook’s blind cooperation with the Russians in the 2016 election. (Or maybe not all blind? We just don’t know yet. How hard might it have been for the Russians to play Zuckerberg?) We are about to find out if Twitter played a similar role.
It is valid, as well as lazy, to argue that, “but but it was other things too you can’t say this etc.” but the truth is that Stein hardly even ran in most states, got overall less than 1% of the vote.
So yes, it is possible to erase the Stein votes in three key states, and manage for Clinton to still lose in those states, but highly unlikely. It is very likely that the Stein vote was a significant contributor to what ultimately happened.
Putin would not be able to control US elections if two things were true. 1) Americans actually showed up to vote and 2) The percentage of gullible special snowflake ignorant voters was about half of what it apparently is.
Putin probably owns Trump. In the past, Trump has spent enough high profile time traveling in and out of Russia, that any smart intelligence agency would have long ago gotten the goods on such a sloppy self absorbed person. Assume there are movies. Young girls. Whatever. Putin probably owns Trump. The ex KGB officer probably owns a lot of people, a lot of foreign rich or influential individuals. That’s how these things work.
Trump is a man that relies on the image of great personal wealth. But, if he has great personal wealth it is a mere couple of billion or so. Alternatively, he may have mostly debt and a few hundred million handy. Nobody knows, and he’s not releasing that information. The point is, he views himself as righteously rich, but he may not be as rich as he considered his right. There are a lot of hungry people in this world, and he is not one of them. But he probably thinks he is.
Putin is the richest person on the planet now or ever. He beats second place Bill Gates by several billion. Putin has gotten this rich by exploiting his position as the permanent leader of Russia (despite a democracy there).
Did I mention that Putin probably owns Trump?
Trump is going to separate his business interests from his activities as president using the following procedure:
1) Put the offspring in charge of the business.
2) Place the offspring in the room at all important presidential meetings.
3) Claim that he is keeping his business holdings and his job as president separate.
Did I mention that Putin probably owns Trump? And that Trump wants to garner great wealth?
Dots, connect thyselves:
Trump is driven to become more wealthy than he is. This is his personality, and it may even be financially necessary for him. Putin has owned Trump for a long time. One question we have now is this: How long ago did Putin approach Trump with the idea that, with Russian help, Trump could become president, piles of money could flow into the Trump coffers, and all Trump had to do is to allow Putin carry out certain geopolitical acts that, after all, might even be good for business?
Do American intelligence agencies have a record of Trump-Putin communication, direct or indirect, over a long period of time? Have they been talking? For how long? About what?
It would make sense to Trump to help Putin carry out one of Russia’s greatest long term goals, a goal held since the 17th century, assuming Trump comes out of the deal rich, not in debt. Russia has always had a landlocked problem. Sure, Russia has vast coastal regions but they are mostly in the Arctic or nearly so. Russia has always lusted for a route to the Indian Ocean, a route to the Mediterranean, and a better route to the Atlantic. And, breadbaskets and buffer zones and mining resources and all of that. What has kept Russia from doing this?
Well, initially, not much, and that is why the Soviet Union was so big. But the expansion of the Soviet Union was hampered by the Americans who, for example, carried out a proxy war with the USSR in Afghanistan. NATO has kept Russia from re-expanding its direct influence across Europe. Various coalitions have kept Russia from invading West Asian territories such as Iran, Iraq, and Syria. The United States is a, if not the, prime mover behind all of that.
And where I say “is” I think we will soon be saying “was.” Why?
Did I mention that Putin probably owns Trump?
With Trump in Putin’s pocket, Russia will take territory in the Middle East and Europe. Russia and the United States together, under Putin and Trump, will try to destabilize the sleeping dragon, China. We may be looking at new places to have proxy wars, but the proxy wars will not be between the US and Russia. They will be between Russia and NATO or others, with the US interfering on Russia’s behalf, maybe pulling out of Nato, and maybe even joining Russian troops in places like the Middle East or Africa. Perhaps they will be between the US as a Russian proxy and China in Africa where China has been exerting influence for a long time now, or Russia and various European forces in West Asia, or between Russia and some combination of powerful South Asian countries in Afghanistan.
(Note to Trump: Do pull out of Afghanistan as soon as possible so Vlad can get in there. Thanks.)
In January the United States is going to be taken over by a coalition of two oligarchs: Putin and Trump (but Putin probably owns Trump).
So, that’s the America the Free part gone. What about the America the Brave part?
Starting in a few days, we will be led by a coalition of cowards and morons. They are known collectively as the Republicans.
The Republican Party has spent the last few decades training itself to be the most ignorant group of know nothings that ever held power anywhere, beyond the level that could be parodied by the most extreme Monty Python script.
The American GOP will be the ironic hobgoblin of the Russian Patriarch, after decades of consolidating power as the “national security” party. The Party of Reagan will be the Party of Putin. We are already seeing Putin love among Republicans in polls. Republicans like Putin more than they like members of the Democratic Party.
This will be achieved mainly because the core of that party consists of angry anti-intellectual anti-liberal anti-environment hippie punchers, and as long as hippies are being punched, and gays bashed, and people of color intimidated through regular state sponsored or allowed executions, they’re fine with this.
America the Brave is now America the Spiteful Idiot.
Monday, the Electors meet. Is it possible that every single one of the Trump Republican Electors is a blind Trump supporter? No. Many electors were actually elevated to that position earlier in the process, and were supporters of other Republican candidates. It it the case that every single Republican is a Putin Pushing no know-nothing? No, not all of them. Just a large majority of them. Among the Electors there must be some who are not. There must be some Republicans among the electors who understand that Russia is a nice country and all, and that we love the Russian people and all, but that the Putin government is not our friend.
Today, Friday, the Obama administration will do what it should have done months ago, but elected not to for what seemed like good reasons at the time. The President will, essentially, give that CIA briefing that some people got on Friday, to the rest of the country, about Putin’s involvement in the US election.
There will be people who become outraged, a lot of them. Some of them may be influential Republicans. A friend of mine pointed out the ideal scenario: One or more members of the presumed Trump cadre of Cabinet appointees walks off the job, forsakes the Trump administration, in outrage. Imagine Marine General James Mattis publicly noting that he has sworn an oath to protect the United States from all enemies domestic and foreign. Indeed, General Mattis has to do this. He is known to be a very smart guy, one of the more intellectual generals. At the same time, he is known to be fiercely patriotic. He must have figured this out by now. He must have figured out by now that he will be dumping his career of patriotic service to America right into the crapper if he serves in the Trump administration. I assume that he initially figured he should be in there doing what needs to be done with competence. But hopefully he will now, and maybe others proposed for the cabinet as well, realize that this day, this weekend, is the only opportunity to ask the electors to not vote for Trump, to do anything but vote for Trump, in order to stop a Russian takeover of the United States.
Only about 10% of the electors have to do this.
If Trump is not elected, and if the highly unlikely event of the electors simply electing Clinton does not happen, then the US House has a shot at deciding who will be President of the United States. They must choose among the top vote getting three names that the Electors consider. Thusly, the Electors can hand the US house a list of three people, including Clinton, Trump, and one other person, probably a Republicans, for them to chose among.
If that third name is a reasonable individual (for a Republican) or, at least, an established Republican, then perhaps the House will have the bravery, and the love of freedom, to chose that person as the next president.
Half this country is ready to go to the mat to keep Trump, and thus the Russians and who knows who or what else, in power. The other half of this country is willing to go to the mat to stop Trump from doing all that he has promised to do for months. The third half seems to have no interest in any of this. No matter what happens, there is going to be a fight.
People in the middle and on the left are brave, and ready to take on whatever happens. People on the Right are Putin loving Russia-symps who just want to punch some hippies and piss in the lake. And now, we get to find out which of those themes best represents our country. Now, this weekend, Monday.
As you know, there is interest in doing a recount for the presidential balloting in three key states. The chance that a recount in these three states would change Trump’s win (290 to 232 electoral votes) is small. But, it is possible that a recount could demonstrate irregularities that should be addressed.
Also, there is the possibility again small, of so-called “faithless electors” giving Trump a pass. If something like that happens, from Clinton’s perspective, it would be nice if even one of these states flipped (most likely Wisconsin).
So, to keep track of the numbers, here are the current vote values prior to any recount. I’m not too sure about Wisconsin because the Wisconsin Secretary of State does not actually provide the numbers to the general public, which I’m guessing is a violation of their state’s statute or constitution, but hell, that’s Wisconsin for you. The Louisiana of the North, they call it these days.
On the electors: Some will claim that an elector is somehow rigging, violating, or otherwise besmirching the process by not voting for the candidate that won their state’s popular vote. Nothing could be farther from the truth. The electors are carrying out a duty in service of the United States Constitution, and and the Constitution does not stipulate that they vote for the majority in their state.
There have been so-called “faithless electors” — those that do not follow that state mandated rule — in the past, and they were never fined or otherwise prosecuted for violating state statute. There is, as I understand it, a reason for that. The state laws that tell an elector how to vote are so blatantly unconstitutional that even a right wing judge whose corrupt brother in law was the candidate harmed by the elector could not possibly uphold the law under an appeal. If a faithless elector was taken to court, and that case was challenged (which it would be), the entire edifice would instantly crumble and the electoral college would have to start to function like it did in the old days.
And, how is that, you ask?
Well, in their Enlightened wisdom, the Founding Fathers, who are today revered, even fetishized, by the likes of the Tea Party and the Sage Brush Rebellion and all the other yahoos, deemed the unwashed masses — the yahoos — unfit to vote for President (or Senator for that matter). The Electors are supposed to be your betters, who will make the decision for you. And, soon, possibly by the time of the next election, this is how we shall start to do things.
Or maybe not the next presidential election, but if the electoral system is tossed aside this year (Wisconsin shifts so the vote becomes 280-242 and 11 electors dump Trump so the vote becomes 269-253) and the election goes to the House of Reprehensible to decide, you can bet on change happening over the next few years, though it will probably come in the form of a bunch of state laws that continue to fly under the Constitutional radar screen.
Trump’s anti-Semitism, racism, sexism, was not so genuine or violent as it sounded, and he was merely using this language as bait to catch masses of followers, and keep them aroused, enthusiastic, and in line for the time when his organization is ready to make a political move.
A sophisticated commenter credited Trump with peculiar political cleverness for laying emphasis and over-emphasis on racist and sexist rhetoric, saying “You can’t expect the masses to understand or appreciate your finer real aims. You must feed the masses with cruder morsels and ideas like this. It would be politically all wrong to tell them the truth about where you really are leading them.”
Secretary Hillary Clinton won the popular vote. The way the current Electoral College works, Trump won the Electoral Vote.
However, from the point of view of Federal Law, he didn’t win anything yet. The Electors who gather in each state, with each state’s Secretary of State, to vote on the first Monday after the second Wednesday in December are not bound by Federal rule to vote for Trump. They could cast their vote for Clinton.
Those organizing protests may want to consider having some of those protests at the Secretary of State’s office, with the idea of having a very large protest on the First Monday after the Second Wednesday in December, at the time of the casting of the electoral votes.
State laws that govern the way voting works require, in various and sundry manners, those electors to vote en masse (in most states) for the winner of that state’s popular vote. But these are state laws, not federal laws. So called “Faithless Electors” who do not do what the state law specifies may be subject to fines or other punishment. But, their vote, the vote that might get them in trouble in their own states, will still be valid votes that will help determine who wins.
If faithless electors vote for third party candidates or other random individuals, and enough do that, and the Electoral College fails to achieve the 270 or higher majority for any one candidate, then the Electoral College’s results are thrown out and the names of the top three Electoral Vote getters are sent to the House of Representatives, who then have the opportunity to pick a candidate.
They would pick Trump, and we would be back to the situation where the person who won the vote, Hillary Clinton, would not be the president elect.
#TheFirstMonday movement calls on the electors in all states to cast their vote for the person who won the national popular vote, Hillary Clinton. Every elector votes independently, though perhaps on pain of punishment from their state.
Twenty-one electors need to do this, given the current Electoral Vote count of 228 – 290.
There are a few possible unfaithful electors in Washington and elsewhere who may vote for a third party, who were otherwise going to vote for Clinton, so in order to avoid that situation making the Electoral College vote irrelevant, more than twenty-one electors must be unfaithful.
I call for the initiation of fund raising, perhaps through “go fund me” pages and such (I am not experienced with this, I hope others will do this) to pay for the legal fees and perhaps to take care of the families of faithless electors who are punished by their states, and for petitions in those states to insist that the legal authorities there do not take legal action against any faithless electors that may emerge.
Here is some interesting commentary on the Electoral College by Lawrence O’Donnell:
Donald Trump is the president elect of the United States. Why?
Trump did not win because he is widely liked. He is NOT widely liked.
A very small number of Americans voted for Trump, and this number was magnified by the conservative-state-favoring electoral college, and most of those who did not vote for him not only don’t prefer him, but find him truly abhorrent. During the campaign, and over his 70 year long life, Donald trump has done or said myriad things each of which is fully disqualifying to be a candidate for president. These deplorable things are, of course, the reason he won this election. Those who voted for him felt that a deplorable man represented them better than established politicians, because they related to that deplorableness.
A word about the Deplorables
Men like me claim (and I believe us) that we do not encounter conversations like the famous Trump Bus conversation released to the public in the latter weeks of the 2016 presidential campaign. But, those conversations are out there. I attended a social event recently, and I had my kindergartener with me. It was a socially required event, or I probably would not have gone. It was attended by men and women ranging in age from their late 20s through their late 60s, along with a couple of younger kids. This was a small number of individuals in one family, their spouses, and on out for a few levels of marriage and consanguineal relation. A clan, if you will.
I did not know people talked like that. I felt like I was in a porn movie except everybody had their clothes on. I’ve seen conversations roughly like this, in terms of risqué-osoty, among younger folks on the convention circuit, but this was different from that in being fully misogynistic and disrespectful, and not jut risqué.
It was bad enough that I endeavored to distract the kindergartener, remove the kindergartener from the environment, sending him out, and getting myself out of there as soon as it was socially acceptable. Well, sooner, actually.
These are the folks, men and women, who find no fault with Donald Trump’s salacio-sexist banter. It is not that they want a profligate leader in the White House, a man who treats women and subcontractors with deep disdain. It is, rather that they don’t mind it, because they are it, and at the same time, they know that electing a Trump is a slap in the face for the elitist, over educated, judgmental, liberal scum over there by the door holding his hands over his son’s ears and trying to get away from the real people. And, they are right. Indeed, it was more than a slap in the face, it was a punch in the gut.
Did deplorable sexists keep Clinton out of the White House?
You might think so, but no.
There is a long list of reasons one might consider to explain why Hillary Clinton lost or that Donald Trump won. It is possible to point to some of these reasons, on their own, and legitimately claim that if this one reason was not in play, Trump would have lost or Clinton would have won. I want to briefly point them out, and then move on to the actual reason.
In reading through this list, note that “Sexism/Hillary is a woman” is actually part of each and every item. Sexism is so pervasive in this election that sometimes you don’t even see it.
1) If only nobody voted for this or that third party.
This may be worth about 1% of the vote overall, possibly 2%, so if there were no third party candidates in the race at all, perhaps Trump would have lost. Or not. Third party voters may have simply written in The Lizard People. Libertarian third party voters could have split among Trump and Clinton, or been mainly for Trump. I don’t think enough people voted for Jill Stein to matter.
( I quickly add that those who voted for Jill Stein demonstrated with their decision something else that is not especially admirable. I wouldn’t be bragging about it. But I digress.)
Note, by the way, that the third party candidate that got most often picked by those casting protest votes was Gary, not Jill. The boy, not the girl. Significant? You decide.
2) If only the Bernie Bots, the former Sanders supporters, had not …
[voted third party/stayed home/constantly whined about Clinton/made the political process so painful that many simply walked away and never came back/whatever whatever]
This was probably worth a couple percent of the vote, and I think it really mattered. One part of this that mattered the most was the sexist attacks on Hillary, because this gave a lot of people permission to more openly hate the idea of a female president.
Bernie bots ruined politics for a lot of people this year. But, at the same time, Bernie excitement brought new people in to politics,and that is good. Also, I strongly suspect that had Hillary been behind the whole time like Bernie was, and had lost the nomination, there would be a reverse effect. There would be Hillar Bots. There were Hillary Bots in 2008.
I can make a strong argument that the Hillary Bot effect is NOT parallel to the Bernie Bot effect, and would not have been as bad. But if we see the Bernie Bot effect as moving 3% of the vote, enough to have easily elected Clinton, we also need to recognize that the Hillary Bot effect, had it happened, would have been worth about 1.5% of the vote, diluting the imagined no-Bernie-Bot effect enough that it may not matter.
3) The Silent Majority elected Trump.
The number of deplorable, unprincipled, vile, racist, and sexist people in the United States who are of voting age is huge.
Among these, many don’t vote. Most are white, male, older, and less educated. This has led to a proliferation of comments on social media like, “So, I’m an uneducated white guy, sue me” which makes me think, “can I do that?”
A subset of these dudes don’t vote, and proudly don’t vote. I’ve known guys in this category who will stuff the “I don’t vote, their all crooks” line (and yes, that is how they spell it) down anyone’s throat who will listen, and even won’t listen, as part of almost every conversation they have. It is pretty disgusting. But, sometimes those dudes do vote, and when they do, they are called the Silent Majority.
They are worth 1%–3% of the population, depending on how many get riled up. Oh, and by the way, these dudes don’t talk to pollsters, so in years when they don’t vote, they don’t matter. In years when they do vote, their effect is a surprise. I think they mattered this year, but there isn’t much one can do about them but to wait until they get old and die, and to try to work against the replacement demographic being like them as they grow up by increasing education and awareness.
4) The Bradley Effect.
In 1982, Los Angeles Mayor Tom Bradley ran for governor of California. Bradley showed a significant lead in the polls, and the exit polls backed this up. Then, he lost. One theory is that many white voters claimed to support Bradley in order to not appear racist, but once in the voting booth, voted for the white guy. This then became known as the Bradley Effect.
Further consideration of that race, and subsequent analyses, seem to show that the Bradley Effect as described did not happen then, and does not really happen in general. But it is certainly possible for such a thing, either with respect to race or sex, to occur, so it should always be considered.
Personally, I think the Bradley Effect (a gendered version of it) does not explain anything here, but see #3 above for a related (but different) effect. There was lots of sexism here, but it was not altering the polling results. So, I include Bradley here to be more comprehensive, but I think it counts for 0% of the effect.
5) The Democrats put up the wrong candidate.
I think this mattered, but not for the reasons you may think, and it is not the main thing we need to fix. For that, you’ll have to keep reading.
I love Hillary, and I am certain that the long list of reasons some other people hate her are made up by the vast right wing conspiracy led for many years by Newt Gingrich (look for Gingrich to take his power-place in the Trump administration), Karl Rove, and others. Ironically, the anti-Hillary rhetoric, which killed this election, was created by a corrupt political establishment (the Republican Party) and in so doing convinced may anti-corruption anti political establishment voters to vote for Trump.
I am not suggesting that Sanders would have been a better candidate. He would have lacked the negative baggage, but he would have brought to the table some other problems that may have hurt him. Yes, I know head to head polls put Sanders higher than Clinton against Trump, but those early polls, while interesting, should not be the main basis for a decision as to what to do.
Bernie is a boy, and Hillary is a girl. Putting up a female candidate is roughly like putting up a black candidate. You are asking for trouble, asking for racists/sexist votes to come out in huge numbers against you, etc. You could never win with that strategy, could you?
Well, of course you can, and that is what Obama did. But, realistically, a candidate that has inherent negatives with much of the population is potentially at a disadvantage, so one must carefully consider these things. In thinking about this, about the basic question of whether or not the Democrats screwed themselves (and by themselves I mean ourselves because I’m a Democrat) by putting up a woman before the country was ready, several important and often conflicting truths come to the fore.
The people who would vote against a black man because he is black are not going to vote for very many Democrats. So, Obama did not lose very many votes because of the color of his skin. Meanwhile, the prospect of the first African-American president was so exciting to so many people, that Barack Obama brought people out to the polls in such large numbers that fire marshals around the country freaked out about the crowds.
Is it true that the people who wold vote against a woman because she is a woman are also not going to vote for very many Democrats? In other words, is racism very compartmentalized across party lines, while sexism is not as compartmentalized? I think that might be true, but I’m not sure by how much or if it matters. I would have thought that the excitement of having a woman president would have brought more people to the polls to vote for Hillary, but that is not what happened.
I think that the Democrats needed to run a woman this year, and we need to elect a woman to the presidency, and that there is really nothing stopping us from doing that. Sexism played a role this year, but sexism can be dealt with if we fix the actual problem we have in getting people elected. You’ll have to read down tot he bottom to find out what that is.
But first, look at these numbers and consider what conclusions we might draw from them.
There are 219 million eligible voters in the US, of which about 146 million are registered to vote. About 27% of the adult eligible population, or about 18% of the total population, voted for Trump.
Democrats are more popular than Republicans.
Obama is wildly popular.
Trump is the least popular.
Clinton is very unpopular for a Democrat.
Voting turnout was biggest in the Election of the Century (2008) and smallest in the “Most Important Election Of Our Time.”
The “This is the most important election of our time” memo did not get out, apparently.
Those who show up make the decisions. But if only a few people show up, they’ll make the wrong decision.
This brings us to the real reason that we elected Trump as well as a clear indication of what to do about this.
Trump was elected president because of the failure of the Democratic Party to get Clinton elected. “He’s begging the question,” you are saying to yourself right now. Or, “that’s a tautology.” Well, yes, I’m begging the question by stating a tautology. But tautologies are not logical fallacies. They are logical realities that sometimes lead to explanations. Trump could have won this race by being the winner, but instead, he lost it because the other candidate was the loser. There should have been ten million more people voting than their were, a large proportion of which would have voted for Hillary (or against Trump) but they did not show up. If they did show up, we would not be looking at a Trump presidency.
So we can blame the voters for voting like they did, and especially, a subset of the voters for not voting at all.
The actual number of people in this country who can vote if they wanted to is roughly double the number that showed up. So, about 100,000,000 million people failed Democracy this time around, slightly more than usual. Most importantly, 5% o 10% of those non-voters should have been energized to appear at the voting booth based on prior years’ data. I’d reckon that nearly ALL of voters who would actually prefer Trump showed up, and about 5% of usual voters who would prefer Clinton did NOT show up, giving us Trump.
Minnesota Congressional races as object lessons
Now, I’d like to expand on this from the point of view of what happened in some of the congressional races in Minnesota.
I want to compare three races in Minnesota, CD2, CD5, and CD8.
I am using CD5 to calibrate. Here we re in the upper midwest, the beginning of the plains. East of us is increasingly red Can’t-Even-Get-Rid-Of-Scott-Walker Wisconsin. West of us are North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska, Montana, Idaho, western Washington, etc, all very red. South of us (next to Nebraska) is reddish Iowa. Minnesota is farms and factories, white, pretty conservative overall.
And right there in the middle of it all is MN CD5, wherefrom the most densely populated part of Minnesota is represented by the only Muslim in Congress. Who is black. And who is politically radically left.
All, or at least most, of the DFLers (thats what we Democrats call ourselves round these parts) in Minnesota look at Congressman Keith Ellison with awe, and see him, as a parson, his policies, and his representation of a Congressional District, as about the best thing we’ve got going in the state. Few Minnesota DFLers may be to the left of Ellison, and few are very far right of him either. We’d be happy to have someone with Kieth Ellison’s politics and policy positions representing all of the districts of the state, and it would be especially helpful to our overall social and cultural mission if most of those representatives were in one or more ways not christian-white-male-normative. Not that Christian white male democrats are bad, but we want a good amount of diversity so we can truly represent a diverse, and increasingly diverse, nation.
So that’s the calibration.
Now lets look at the 8th district. This is the Iron Range. Have you seen the movie, “North country”? Maybe we don’t want to use popular culture depictions to represent congressional districts, but if you don’t mind, you could watch this:
White, conservative, industrial, miners, sexist, hockey. This should be a Republican district. But it is also worker, working class, union. And, DFL means “Democrat, Farmer, Labor,” This, the 8th district, is one of those places that actually gave birth to the modern American labor movement. (And played a big role in the environmental movement, by the way.) Democrats are pro union. Republicans are anti union. The workers of the Iron Range know which side of their toast has the butter on it.
So, now, calibrate and contrast. The modal DFL activist is pro environment, and does not want to see copper mining, now being proposed in the Iron Range/8th district. Ask Congressman Ellison, who represents Minneapolis and environs, if he thinks there should be widespread copper mining in the Iron Range, and I’ll bet he’d say no. Ask Congressman Ellison’s constituents in Minneapolis. They’d say no.
But Democratic Congressman Nolan, who represents the district and just won a tough race with a Frat Boy Libertarian (but Republican) Beer Guzzling Party Boy Yahoo who also happens to be very wealthy, i.e., Donald Trump with a different haircut, and he will tell you different. He’ll tell you that we need to have mining in the 8th district because we need jobs there. When push comes to shove, I’d bet Congressman Nolan will also want to protect the environment, and he’ll be the perfect person in there to insist on working out future mining in a way that makes sense. But he supports it, and his support of it allows him to be a Congressman.
Putting a finer point on this, in case you’ve not already grokked it, the ideal modal democrat can’t be the candidate you run in every district. Republicans CAN do that. They run on ideological issues that play perfectly well everywhere. Every Republican is interchangeable with every other Republican. Not true with Democrats. Think about that for a minute.
This is the reason this country is more likely to elect a Republican president over a Democratic president all else being equal. It is the reason that when Democrats hold a slim majority, they actually don’t hold a majority with respect to most issues, because they fight, they are diverse, they represent a varied landscape of constituency and preference. The Democratic Party is the very definition of a big tent. We have the bigliest tent. Fabulous, yuge tent.
This is also the reason that, in order for Democrats to win at the Congressional level and above, and often at State Senate or lower levels, they have to start out with 60% or more of the population more or less on their side, so that when 5% break off and become radically inflamed or disenfranchised-depressed, the candidates still hold at least a slim majority.
Hillary Clinton had certain characteristics that made her the ideal Democratic candidate, but among those characteristics, she also had serious negatives. I do not think that Clinton lost because she is a woman, though sexism supercharged most of the smaller effects working against her campaign, as enumerated above. Sexism that happened because she was a woman candidate for president, combined with the false but effective “crooked Hillary” trope, may have brought out the “silent majority,” and sharpened the misogynist Bernie-bot effect.
Now lets’ look briefly at CD2 in Minnesota. This was an open seat this year, and I think it should be looked at very closely. The district may be thought of as roughly equivalent to the 8th district in levels of conservatism, but with two important differences. First, the union-labor part is not very strong there, so that natural avenue of support for Democrats is gone. This is mostly farmers, rural conservatives. By rights, CD2 should always be Republican, were it not for the general like of the DFL even by conservative individuals across the state.
The second difference is the presence of academic, medical science-linked, relatively liberal Rochester in the district. That allows for a clump of progressive that liberal ice can freeze to and build up over time.
Now, lets look at the candidates. Think Rush Limbaugh vs. Ellen. Sort of. Republican Jason Lewis is a right wing radio shock jock who makes Trump look like an alter boy, and I’m only exaggerating a little. He, like Trump, is temperamentally disqualified to hold major public office. Angie Craig is a first time candidate who hails from the medical insurance industry, so she has experience in an important issue area, is an “outsider,” and all that. She is also a lesbian and is married to a woman, making her one of the handful of same-sex-married candidates that stepped into the political limelight this year.
So, unlike Nolan, one might argue that Angie Craig is more of an ideal modal DFLer, more akin to Congressman Ellison than to an old timey out state labor-loving democrat like Congressman Nolan. And, I can tell you right now, if I want, that it might have been a bad idea to run her in that district, because she is female, gay, and flaunts her female gayosity by going out and marrying a girl. And, yes, she lost the race. The Democrats should have run a straight white farmer in the 2nd district, right?
In retrospect, running Angie Craig in that district was not a bad idea. The fact is, she almost won. This was a nail biter. She was a far superior candidate, and everyone could see that. She should have won and almost did.
So, why didn’t she win? The Democrats would have taken this district had they run, as I noted, an old white farmer or something. A Lutheran Batchelor Farmer preferably. But Democrats strive to do something different. The Minnesota DFL runs plenty of Lutheran Batchelor Farmers all across the state. The calculation that Angie Craig could win this district was made before Trump was recognized as a factor. The right wing radio shock jock won on Trump’s feces covered coattails. And, only barely.
At this point, I can make an argument that we need to do a better job at picking candidates based on their match with the voters, sometimes taking the chance and running individuals who are non-white, non-straight, etc. but otherwise sticking with the candidate that “most resembles” the district at hand, in terms of gender, age, color of skin, and policy. And, yes, that is actually correct, one must consider these things all the time. However, we are the Big Tent people, the Democrats, so naturally we are not going to do that all the time. We will, should, and do, accept the occasional loss because in this or that race we could not fit our giant tent into the local voting booth. In fact, it is only by overreaching and losing that we know where that line is, so we can cross it frequently and therefor move it in the right direction. Losing a race in a place like Minnesota’s Second Congressional District is what we need to do now and then. In two years, we’ll take it back.
But we also need to win races, and that means making good choices. But, although I can make an argument that we need to do a better job at that, that is not the argument I want to make.
The real reason Angie and Hillary lost
The reason that Angie Craig lost in MN CD2 is not because she was female, lesbian, or married to a woman. The reason that Angie Craig lost in MN CD2 is because the National Democratic Party screwed up and a number of people, just a few thousand, that would have voted for Angie, stayed home or didn’t volunteer or otherwise get involved.
We did have high voter turnout in MN, apparently, as we usually do. But in CD2, about 20,000 people didn’t show up. During the last presidential election, 357 thousand voters voted in that district, in contrast to about 337 thousand this year. This perfectly mirrors the national numbers. In the national election, about 6% fewer people voted this year than in 2012. In Minnesota CD2, about 6% fewer people voted this year than last year.
Lack of voter turnout caused both Hillary Clinton and Angie Craig and countless other Democrats to lose to Republicans in 2016.
There is plenty of room in that six percent to work with, to have elected Hillary Clinton as President and Angie Craig to Congress.
(“Hey, but what about the 8th district, was there a similar drop there? Cuz your DFL guy won there. If you’re right, there wasn’t a drop there. Cough up the numbers, Greg.” Answer: There was virtually no difference in that district between 2012 and 2016. Hypothesis survives.)
It is all about voter turnout. The second and third reasons why Democrats lose are: Not enough voter turnout, and voter turnout is too low. Also … voter turnout.
But, why was voter turnout low? Here, we could go back to the other reasons a candidate might win or lose. Hillary was a woman. The Great Right Wing Conspiracy against Hillary. Trump was a TV star. Whatever. And we would still be missing the point.
Since half of the population are women, about 60% of them, apparently, care that a woman is elected president enough go get really excited (the remainder are repressed Republicans or hopelessly sexist), and that should readily offset anti-woman voting from sexist men. Hillary did not lose because she is a woman, but it mattered that a relatively high percentage of sexist people (mostly men, some women) voted in lower population states. In fact, that probably would have killed Hillary’s chances in even more states were she not rescued by the Black and Hispanic communities. Hillary’s negatives mattered a lot, I suspect. If anything, Trump’s very existence, and the entire GOP circus, turned voters off to the entire process, and not just Republican voters. The Bernie Bot’s themselves, with their special snowflake votes, probably didn’t matter much in their voting habits, but their unceasing yammering probably turned some people away. Doesn’t matter. Only one thing matters, because all these things feed into that one thing: Depressed turnout.
How To Win The Elections
In Minnesota, we expected to turn one of our houses Democratic and keep the other Democratic, and to maintain or increase our Democratic delegation to Congress. This did not happen, and our state got redder because the national election sent people away from the polls. There were a lot of things we were going to do over the next two years in this state, and that is over now.
The way to fix this is not to fix the candidates, or to deal with this or that particular problem that emerges in this or that national level election. It is not to forego women candidates, or to avoid men and women in same sex marriages, or to compromise in any other way. It is to make national elections matter less, and local elections matter more, so that every year, on election day, a large part of the population bothers to show up at the voting booth. Twice (primary and main election day).
Instead of the outcome of, and interest in, local elections being determined by the ebb and flow of national elections, so some years we all take it in the neck because the national party is outdone by the other party, or some other effect, killing us all with deadly coattails, by down ticket effects, by all that, the opposite should be true. Local political activity should be broad, wide, and intense, and that activity should determine up ticket effects.
Instead of coattails jerking around state house races, state house races should be the solid foundation for national races. As it stands now, the public face of people we will never really meet, even if we may once shake their hand on a rope line, determines the nature and character of the electoral process every four years, and leaves hanging and ignored, that process in all other years. What should happen is this. The public servants that live next door and who’s houses we can, I don’t know, cover with toilet paper if we want to, and who’s kids go to school with our kids, and all that, should collectively and en masse shape the nature and character of all elections, all the time, every single year, and then of course determine the outcome of that singular and occasional election for President.
I am not the first person to say this. This approach underlies all grassroots activism. Tip O’Neil said it. Marx said it. Everybody said it. But we don’t do it.
We need to do it.
The Democratic Party Party
Consider the amount of money that the Democratic Party or a major Superpac spends on an hour of presidential election season ads in a major market. Take some of that money. Or, maybe just take the total cost of a presidential campaign, about a billion dollars, and put aside a chunk of it.
Those funds, widely distributed, can pay for clambakes and brat bbqs in state house or senate districts. A Democratic Party Party for all the neighbors, two or three times a year prior to the primaries and again prior to the election. Every year.
Imagine if it was normal for the Democratic Party to have a gathering, a feast, a night-out-thing, a few times a year, EVERY year, regardless of the election cycle, with all invited, not by what party you are in or by what politics you hold, but simply because you are in the neighborhood.
Perhaps the Republicans would start doing it to. If they do, then we really win, because there would be twice as many public, welcoming events without us paying for it, but this technique mainly benefits Democrats. Why? Because a party has tents! Actual tents for our big tent thinking, making the political process a local, regular, normal, social process, embedded in our culture, with clam rolls or brats or crab cakes or whatever your local thing is. And the chicken dance, if you must. And a bounce house.
Choices and chance at the national level turn the turnout dial up or down, unpredictably, every four years, and otherwise not much happens. When turnout is high, Democrats win. This is why Democrats lose in the house race every midterm. The dial is turned down because there is no national election. This is a situation we will never, ever get out of if we leave it be. It is a situation caused by the top to bottom flow of energy, money, and decision making. It is, if you will, a situation caused by the very nature of the Democratic Party establishment of which we hear so many complaints these days.
I propose that we turn a good chunk of that national level money flow to the local level. Put up that tent, have the block party, rent the VFW, the Union Hall, now and then the local church.
A voter registration table, some local candidates, a couple of VERY SHORT speeches. In Minnesota, Al Franken gets up on a chair and draws a map of all 50 states from memory because he can do that. Maybe there is some raising of funds, a money jar, to off set the cost, but this is not a fundraiser but rather, a fun raiser. Did I mention that there will be a bounce house?
After election day, we feast. No particular reason it is done in this order, but every year, the first Tuesday after the first Monday in November comes just a few days before the fourth Thursday in November. I propose that we reverse that. Leave Thanksgiving where it is, of course, but add a feast before election day, and another one before that, and two before primary day, or caucus day, or in Minnesota, both. Not political events, but social events that emphasize civic engagement and voting, run by our party, because we have to get the ball rolling. If the other party wants to do it to, fine. They can borrow our Weber.
Obviously, spending the money and resources on a big party is not the actual suggestion I’m making here. It is just one way to do it. Civic engagement at the local level to encourage and expand voting, to raise the turnout rate by double digits. That’s the ticket to turnout.
Minnesota is surrounded by red, and it probably should be red, by comparison. But we are not. Why? Look at this map of the 2012 general election (selected to show a presidential race but not a great outlier i.e. 2008):
Look at the higher turnout zones. Iowa, Minnesota and Wisconsin are rural farm states that should be pure red, but they are either blue, or trend blue many years, and they have high voter turnout. New Hampshire and Maine should be very conservative, given the demographics, but they trend blue, and have high voter turnout. Virginia is a blue southern state. There is a long list of reasons Virginia is blue and not red,but on that list must be voter turnout. Texas has piles of urban, lost of immigrants from blue states, and a relatively diverse population. Why is it red and not blue? Oh look, Texas has low voter turnout. Colorado, outside of certain areas, is very conservative but tents to vote blue among a sea of red. Look at the voter turnout.
The causal arrow is probably a bit more complex than a simple Turnout—> Blue relationship. But the relationship is known to be real. Hell, if the supports of Democratic Candidates just spent a pile of time and money on voter turnout in general, they would win more. But if the person handing you the free brat and plastic cup of beer happens to be wearing a blue shirt with the name of a Democratic candidate on it …
Remember those clowns a few weeks ago? The scary clowns? I think they were trying to tell us something.
Did you know that 235,248,000 people are eligible to vote in the United States? Fewer than 120,000,000 of those people bothered to show up to vote this year, and turnout was considered high. Of those, about half, or one quarter of the voting population, elected a clown as our leader, because the clown promised to take steps to ensure a continued white majority in the United States.
That’s what happened in my world last night. What happened in your world?
Between the bouts of uncontrollable sobbing, I feel better than I thought I would should this happen. (And, yes, I thought this could happen, though I put the chances of a Trump victory at less than 50% but still significant.) Why do I feel a bit better?
Well, two related reasons. When Plan A fails, go to Plan B. And, we have two Plan B’s, one foisted on us, the other … well, also foisted on us.
The first Plan B was originally the main plan for the few million Americans who did bother to vote but who chose to vote for a third party, or to write in a candidate, or who may not have actually voted, in hopes of a Trump presidency not because they love Trump, but because they wanted to put an end to the American system, or to cause us so much grief and pain that we would have to strip down and rebuild our system. These are the people who tend to wear the racist Guy Fawkes masks, and love Wikileaks. Those born of the unholy union between Napster and #Occupy, though most are unaware of who their own father is (more on that another time, perhaps).
Yes, people did have that strategy, and just about enough of them, by my estimation, that they may have actually caused the Trump presidency to happen. They were nearly to a person privileged, or unaware of differential privilege, mostly young, male, healthy, and in no way a member any already repressed, soon to be more repressed, group. I deeply resent the fact that the special snowflake voters got to be actual special snowflakes in this election, but the fact is that they won. We have Trump, and now, no more patching the leaks or fixing the broken gutter. We have to do the whole tear-off.
So that was a demented, counter productive, unspeakable plan that some people had in mind, and now, it is our Plan, all of ours.
The second reason is a simple observation which I think should guide our activism over the next four years.
The Republicans — and make no mistake about the fact that Donald Trump is their president and we will make sure that the Republican Party and this president are married forever — are now in charge, all around. They have the White House, the Senate, the House of Representatives, and soon, the Supreme Court.
That is a bad thing. But, it is also a new thing. It has been years since the Republicans have owned the ball, and the bat, and the yard we are playing in. For so long, the Republicans have had only one single policy driver: Oppose the uppity black guy no matter what. For a while there, it looked like they were going to have to expand. Oppose the lying bitch no matter what. That would have been an easy transition for them.
But no, that is no longer possible. The Republicans are now in charge, so they have to actually do things. And, of course, that is what we all fear, that they can and will do things. But it is very important to understand how that works, and how to respond to it.
For starters, recognize the fact that a large part of the Republican Congress is relatively young, were put in power by the Tea Party, often displacing members of their own party, and have hardly ever, if ever, had to do anything but engage in the politics of blind opposition.
Those that are older, not members of that first group, include those who have sold their soul to the Tea Party, and are ready to bend over again as necessary, so they can be included in that first group. Others that are older are, well, old, and will be going away soon. A small number of the elder Republicans are those that might remember something of governing, and by today’s standards may be something less than monsters, but they will be set aside by the large central core and made irrelevant.
If the Democrats had won both houses of congress and the White House, then Republicans would have already started, this very morning, demanding to know why they have not fixed this or that problem. Well? What have you done, Democrats, now that you are in charge? Were you just going to stand there and do nothing?
The Republicans have to be asked this question every single day, starting now. And here’s why.
Many of the GOP wet dream policies are actually impossible to carry out, or if they are carried out, would carry with them consequences that would feed back on the party in a negative way.
For example, the members of the right wing hate Obamacare, every one of them, right down to the ones who are taking advantage of it. Republicans have promised to end Obamacare right away. If they do that, a lot of people are going to be unhappy. If they don’t, a lot of people are going to be unhappy.
Let me draw a big thick line under this, add highlighting, and stick a post-it next to it with an arrow. Nobody can restructure our health insurance system without producing results that many will hate. But ..
1) Two parties working in loyal opposition can make progress and indirectly share blame by blaming each other; but
2) Two parties where the minority is not loyal, but only opposes, can only create a lesser system, and the majority carries all the blame for it; but then,
3) One party in charge of everything can’t do better than these options, but will get to take all the blame and credit, but since that party has spent decades stoking the cynicism of the voter, there will be no credit, only blame.
The Republicans, Trump and the Congress, will not be able to make a move, here on out, where they win. This is the system they created. They created a system where the status quo can never, ever win. And now they are the status quo.
It is easy to see how that works with Obamacare, because we can imagine many of those very same individuals who went to the Trump rallies, yelled at reporters, beat up guys with anti-Trump signs, etc. going home one day and finding out that their child, who has some terrible illness from birth, can no longer be covered by health insurance. It will be our jobs over the next several months to also imagine this pattern but in other areas of policy, including addressing climate change, the economy and jobs, and so on.
Starting now. Formulate the questions. Shout the questions from the rooftops. Demand answers.
At the same time, of course, we have to identify the other half of the electorate, the ones who don’t vote, and find out what they are doing, why, and bring them on board with the rest of civilization.
Added: I lived through something like this before indirectly. My father was a senior civil servant, in housing. He had been asked by Jimmy Carter to be his HUD director, but my Dad mad a deal, so he could not take that position during Carter’s first term, but (likely) take that job in Carter’s second term. Then, of course, Reagan got elected President.
So for the next 8 years, my father, a (relatively) liberal democrat running a public housing authority in a Democratic city under the president who promised to remove all the regulations and wipe out public assistance (and did so, in fact, in some areas), ran a housing authority that had started out millions in debt. He converted the debt to millions in surplus, totally overhauled all of the housing, added new housing, and with one notable exception, got every single project he wanted to implement done.
How did he do that? By a) recognizing the nature of politics under Reagan, and b) spending about one out of every four days in DC demanding answers like the ones I allude to above. In the end, he accumulated enough frequent flyer miles that he and my mother didn’t buy a plane ticket for years, won more awards than any other housing director, reshaped how public housing at the medium scale works, and gained widespread appreciation. Things are named after him.
In other words, he mastered political Kung Fu. Not one’s ideal Plan A (that would have been, for him, being HUD Secretary, and much more productive) but not a bad Plan B. My point: this can be done.
I’ll be looking at several SOS web sites, and eventually I’ll find the best on line tracker of results for the whole country. During the primaries, the Washington Post was the best. Let me know if you have any ideas.
So far heavy turnout has been noted in Minnesota, where turnout is always high, and something close to 30% of the usual number of voters had already voted early.
The biggest fear, a among those of us who have felt the pain of defeat at least as often as the thrill of victory, is this: Heavy turnout usually means more Democrats vote, but it can also mean more of the so called “silent majority” votes. The “silent majority” is actually a plurality, consisting of old angry uneducated white men (see illustration). We always worry that we’ll get Nixoned by those bastards. Ever since they figured out that they can do that. When a pollster calls them, they lie, or hang up, then they go and vote for the fascist.
The first polls will close at 6:PM Eastern in some parts of Kentucky and Indiana. An hour later selected polls will close in several key states, including New Hampshire and Florida. Shortly thereafter, some will close in NOrth Carolina and Ohio. So, before 8:00 PM Eastern, we’ll be seeing some interesting results coming in. Remember to watch New Hampshire, Florida, and North Carolina closely.
At 8:PM Eastern, polls will be closed in about 172 electoral votes worth of states, including Maine, the Southern New England states, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland.
I had placed Georgia as the first Red state likely to fall Blue if any such a thing was to happen, and indeed, Georgia is too close to call after polls closed. The reason? More hispanic voters than previously, pushing Georgia towards the Democrats.
Hard to say where this is going yet, but early information indicates that a larger than expected share of white voters are going for Clinton.
MN CD 2 US House District, Angie Craig vs. Jason “single women are non thinking” Lewis
This is a key race. Lewis is a radio shock jock yahoo right winger Limbaugh wannabe. Craig would be one of the few open lesbians in a same sex marriage in the US House, and she’s cool. Piles of outside money.
MN CD 3 House District, Bonoff vs Paulsen.
This is my district. Paulsen is a Bachmann Republican who suported Trump early on. Bonoff is my State Senator (though I just moved into her district) and a Blue Dog who has run for this seat before and never gotten close. The theory is, you put in a Blue Dog or Centrist to run against the Republican, but that has never worked. I have no expectation that it will work this year. I hope Teri Bonoff wins, but she won’t, and maybe we will eventually learn that the only way to win in this district is to be real liberals.
MN CD 8 US House District, Nolan vs. Mills
Mills is a rich frat boy who should be running as a Libertarian but he’s too stupid. (Real libertarians tend be smart, even if they are totally wrong about everything.) This is a close eace, and I hear it is the most expensive, or one of the most expensive, races in the country. The Republicans are apparently frightened of Nolan.