I was clueless…so was Paul Krugman who now admits it…

Yes, I know, I read the warnings. I knew that there was a very real possibility that we might see a decent sized popular vote victory/Electoral College loss by Hillary Clinton. But I chose to mostly focus on the betting line leads and the fact that most models had her somewhere between a 70-90 percent favorite.

And to be honest, Trump’s message and strategy didn’t make a whole lot of sense to me.

There was this: America, on the whole, is not the GOP. I really thought that Trump’s crudeness and vulgar rhetoric would turn many people off.

Yes, some of Trump’s statements, mannerisms and the like were seen as, well, not good, but not disqualifying either. I had forgotten that for the past 25 years, I have worked in a college environment along with snowflake students and even snowflakier faculty. In such an environment, getting offended can be seen as a virtue, and there was a culture to see just how sensitive one could be. The more easily offended one was, the more virtuous one is.

I had forgotten about the more socially conservative environment in which I grew up (Air Force bases, Texas high school, football, the Naval Academy then the Navy) and in such places, people did tell racist and sexist jokes, “in private”. I figured “that was long ago; the country has moved on”…but maybe not?

Now one might say: “hey wait a minute; aren’t conservatives themselves a super sensitive lot?” Of course they are; notice how they lost their minds over the “basket of deplorables” remark. But they are sensitive if they feel that you are looking down ON THEM. Looking down on others? Well, “suck it up, buttercup”. On the other hand, liberals are quick to bleed over slights to people who aren’t like them (e. g. gays, transgendered people, Muslims, etc.). Remember that in 2008, the Clinton campaign attacked us all over the place.

Ironically, the very voters that voted for Hillary Clinton in the 2008 primary are the ones that deserted her in 2016.

But still, I was fooled by something else. I read the following by Paul Krugman:

But when Mr. Trump portrays America’s cities as hellholes of runaway crime and social collapse, what on earth is he talking about? Urban life is one of the things that has gone right with America. In fact, it has gone so right that those of us who remember the bad old days still find it hard to believe.

Let’s talk specifically about violent crime. Consider, in particular, the murder rate, arguably the most solid indicator for long-run comparisons because there’s no ambiguity about definitions. Homicides did shoot up between the early 1960s and the 1980s, and images of a future dystopia — think “Escape From New York” (1981) or Blade Runner (1982) — became a staple of popular culture. Conservative writers assured us that soaring crime was the inevitable result of a collapse in traditional values and that things would get even worse unless those values were restored.

But then a funny thing happened: The murder rate began falling, and falling, and falling. By 2014 it was all the way back down to where it was half a century earlier. There was some rise in 2015, but so far, at least, it’s barely a blip in the long-run picture.

Basically, American cities are as safe as they’ve ever been. Nobody is completely sure why crime has plunged, but the point is that the nightmare landscape of the Republican candidate’s rhetoric — call it Trump’s hellhole? — bears no resemblance to reality.

And we’re not just talking about statistics here; we’re also talking about lived experience. Fear of crime hasn’t disappeared from American life — today’s New York is incredibly safe by historical standards, yet I still wouldn’t walk around some areas at 3 a.m. But fear clearly plays a much diminished role now in daily life.

So what is all of this about? The same thing everything in the Trump campaign is about: race.

And he went on:

If you want to feel good about the state of America, you could do a lot worse than what I did this morning: take a run in Riverside Park. There are people of all ages, and, yes, all races exercising, strolling hand in hand, playing with their dogs, kicking soccer balls and throwing Frisbees. There are a few homeless people, but the overall atmosphere is friendly – New Yorkers tend to be rushed, but they’re not nasty – and, well, nice.

Yes, the Upper West Side is affluent. But still, I’ve seen New York over the decades, and it has never been as pleasant, as safe in feel, as it is now. And this is the big bad city!

The point is that lived experience confirms what the statistics say: crime hasn’t been lower, society hasn’t been safer, in generations. Which, of course, leads us to the Trump gambit from last night. Can he raise 1968-type fears in a country that looks, feels, and is nothing like it was back then?

I wish I were sure that he can’t. A lot of Republican-leaning voters apparently believe that the economy is terrible in the teeth of their own experience – that the pretty good job market they see is a local aberration. And “crime” may not really mean “crime” – it may just be code for “brown people.”

My guess is that it won’t work,

And though I am anything but affluent, this is what I saw. I frequently run in a very pleasant partk, regularly attend minor league baseball games in a sparkling stadium, walk along the river and sometimes use a nice public health club (which has subsidies for the poor). Often I find myself thinking “hey, this is pretty nice”. I’ve seen similar things in other locations. So I found myself agreeing with Paul Krugman, though others accused him (and me?) of “living in a bubble“.

And yet Trump won the Electoral College, though he will lose the popular vote by around 2 million votes (two frigging MILLION votes) and by about 1.5 percent (CNN has it at 1.8 million and 1.4 percent…and the gap is growing)

And so I wonder about the models and about the does Krugman:

Consider eastern Kentucky, a very white area which has benefited enormously from Obama-era initiatives. Take, in particular, the case of Clay County, which the Times declared a few years ago to be the hardest place in America to live. It’s still very hard, but at least most of its residents now have health insurance: Independent estimates say that the uninsured rate fell from 27 percent in 2013 to 10 percent in 2016. That’s the effect of the Affordable Care Act, which Mrs. Clinton promised to preserve and extend but Mr. Trump promised to kill.

Mr. Trump received 87 percent of Clay County’s vote.

Now, you might say that health insurance is one thing, but what people want are good jobs. Eastern Kentucky used to be coal country, and Mr. Trump, unlike Mrs. Clinton, promised to bring the coal jobs back. (So much for the idea that Democrats need a candidate who will stand up to the fossil fuels industry.) But it’s a nonsensical promise.

Where did Appalachia’s coal mining jobs go? They weren’t lost to unfair competition from China or Mexico. What happened instead was, first, a decades-long erosion as U.S. coal production shifted from underground mining to strip mining and mountaintop removal, which require many fewer workers: Coal employment peaked in 1979, fell rapidly during the Reagan years, and was down more than half by 2007. A further plunge came in recent years thanks to fracking. None of this is reversible.

Is the case of former coal country exceptional? Not really. Unlike the decline in coal, some of the long-term decline in manufacturing employment can be attributed to rising trade deficits, but even there it’s a fairly small fraction of the story. Nobody can credibly promise to bring the old jobs back; what you can promise — and Mrs. Clinton did — are things like guaranteed health care and higher minimum wages. But working-class whites overwhelmingly voted for politicians who promise to destroy those gains.

So what happened here? Part of the answer may be that Mr. Trump had no problems with telling lies about what he could accomplish. If so, there may be a backlash when the coal and manufacturing jobs don’t come back, while health insurance disappears.

But maybe not. Maybe a Trump administration can keep its supporters on board, not by improving their lives, but by feeding their sense of resentment.

For let’s be serious here: You can’t explain the votes of places like Clay County as a response to disagreements about trade policy. The only way to make sense of what happened is to see the vote as an expression of, well, identity politics — some combination of white resentment at what voters see as favoritism toward nonwhites (even though it isn’t) and anger on the part of the less educated at liberal elites whom they imagine look down on them.

To be honest, I don’t fully understand this resentment. In particular, I don’t know why imagined liberal disdain inspires so much more anger than the very real disdain of conservatives who see the poverty of places like eastern Kentucky as a sign of the personal and moral inadequacy of their residents.

(emphasis: mine).

My guess is that people really need someone to feel superior to. I remember in the military, many enlisted saw officers, especially the younger ones, as privileged sissy college boys who wouldn’t last in their world. So, you might, deep down, realize that your life will never change for the better, no matter who you vote for (and this sentiment is not unique to one class of people). But hey, you can always give “the middle finger” to those limp wristed morons who lack common sense…who tell you that you are a bigot because you don’t want women to share a locker room with people with male genitalia among other irrelevant stuff.

Add to that: many working class voters are NOT poor; things like minimum wage and other issues championed by the populist wing of the Democratic party really aren’t relevant to you.

Now Trump doesn’t have solutions to these issues; in fact, it is entirely possible that no solution exists.

But that doesn’t matter; that is what Trump ran on in enough key areas to tip a few formerly Democratic states his way. Hence we lost Wisconsin for the first time since 1984 and Pennsylvania for the first time since 1988, albeit by agonizingly small margins.

I really don’t know jack, do I?


November 25, 2016 - Posted by | political/social, politics, politics/social | ,

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