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Charting ways forward from the events earlier this month November 24, 2016

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Uncategorized.

This is quite a good piece, I think, by William Saletan in Slate. It’s too kind to Clnton – he notes her ‘basket of deplorables’ comment wasn’t what it was made out to be, but he doesn’t critique or criticise her for not following through on what it actually was in her campaign. But in relation to support for Trump he takes the idea of a basket and breaks down the support and I think he makes some extremely solid points as regards how to engage with those who can be engaged – the vast majority of Trump support as he sees it.

When we talk about Trump’s voters, we’re really talking about five baskets. The first basket is the deplorables: people who love to hate. These are the folks who paint swastikas and write racial slurs on Twitter. The second basket is people who liked Trump’s vilification of immigrants or agreed with him that Clinton didn’t “look like a president.” They’re easily manipulated. The third basket is people who don’t see racism or sexism anywhere. The fourth basket is people who don’t think it’s a big deal. They shrug off Trump’s taped comments about grabbing women as “locker room talk.” And the fifth basket is people who were genuinely troubled by the way Trump treated women, or the way he talked about a Mexican American judge or the mother of a Muslim American soldier, but who voted for him anyway, or stayed home, because they couldn’t stand Clinton.

This is particularly important:

If you talk about all these people as though they’re the same thing—if you call them all racists or sexists or bigots or haters—you’ll lose more elections. And you’ll deserve to lose, because by lumping them all together and dismissing them, you’re doing to them what the worst of them have done to you.

Absolutely correct. As is this:

Instead, separate the baskets. Ignore the first one. You’re not going to win over these people, and you shouldn’t try to be the kind of party that would.

That cannot be stressed sufficiently. Remember directly after the Brexit referendum, all those Blairites suddenly pitching towards immigration ‘control’ positions? Sure, part of that was expedience and calculation and no better for it being so. But it also betrays the very fundamentals that the left is about.

He continues:

Set the second basket aside and come back to those folks later. They’re educable, but it’ll take a while. Focus on the last three baskets. Try to help these people recognize bias and structural inequality and why those problems matter. If the issue moves them, great. But if it doesn’t, connect with them in other ways. Inspire them with a vision of opportunity. Explain how you can improve their lives. Appeal to values that transcend identity.

I don’t agree with him on the next…

That’s what Clinton wanted to do. It’s what Barack Obama did. It’s careful, respectful, and politically smart.

Or at the least the jury is well out on Clinton. I’m not sure she simply wasn’t too detached from those she claimed to represent to be able to represent them in any meaningful way let alone make inroads into those who were shifting towards Trump.

And Saletan is spot on in the following:

Everything Clinton talked about in the first paragraph of her “deplorables” speech—racism, sexism, homophobia, xenophobia, Islamaphobia—is real. Trump exploited these prejudices, and I spent most of the election writing about them. As a country, we have a lot of work to do on them. But they can’t be the central message of the Democratic Party. And they can’t be the guiding explanation of why we lost.

Though I would remove the word Democrat and leave some placeholder there, perhaps a new formation, perhaps a neo-Sanders-like insurgency in the Democratic Party from the left. Who knows? And this too is correct:

That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t talk about race, gender, religion, or homophobia. We should. But we’ve just seen, in the cruelest way, that these issues aren’t enough. Even when the Republican nominee exploits bigotry of all kinds, and even when his opponent would be the first woman president, they aren’t enough. Too many voters—white, male, Christian, or otherwise—don’t care enough about those issues. We can’t afford to lose all these people. We certainly can’t afford to alienate them.

I’ve read some stuff, on Slate too, arguing that – for example, white woman should be written off, or this group or that group, as if the 53% who voted for Trump define all white women or as if that 53% didn’t contain within it people who – as Saletan notes, would hold a range of opinions, some terrible, some not great, some misguided, others simply unable to vote for Clinton. And to react to generalisations with generalisations, to see everyone as beyond the pale is to make a grievous error. Bill Clinton once said it… it’s the economy, stupid. That’s the basis.

Now, as to the vehicle and means by which we start out. Well many of us would see the Democratic Party as hardly the one we’d want to go near, let alone get into. That’s another discussion entirely.


1. dublinstreams - November 24, 2016

Jon Stewart Calls Liberals Hypocrites For Saying Trump Voters Are Racist
“In the liberal community, you hate this idea of creating people as a monolith. Don’t look at Muslims as a monolith. They are individuals. It would be ignorance. But everybody who voted for Trump is a monolith, is a racist. That hypocrisy is also real.”

but don’t liberals think we’re all racist?


2. Gewerkschaftler - November 24, 2016

I’m heartily sick of the kind of analysis that Slate is offering here. It smacks of ‘new’ (now so old that they’ve gone septic) Labour/Democrats and their triangulation strategies. Their post-mortems are as off as their predictions were.

It’s (mainly) the political economy, stupids.

As Varoufakis notes here in an interview:

Why did Hillary Clinton’s campaign end in failure?

Clinton’s loss was caused by her failure to address the collapse of the economic status quo. A global epoch has ended. The period which began with the 1944 Bretton Woods conference, [convened to regulate the post Second World War monetary order], ended with the 2008 financial crash. US hegemony expanded in this era but it was the first time that a superpower got stronger by getting more into debt. The US resembled a huge vacuum cleaner sucking up the net exports of Germany, Holland, Japan and later China. It was increasing its deficit to those economies while, in a Keynesian way, aggregating demand for the global economy. The majority of profits from these Dutch, Japanese and Chinese companies were invested back into Wall Street. In 2008, this system collapsed and with it went the myth of globalisation. Obama promised to address this but he failed miserably in part because he lost control of congress. Today, 81% of US families are worse off than they were in 2004 — the median wages of most US workers has not peaked since 1973. Trump said this couldn’t go on, while Clinton offered continuity — that’s why she failed.

How much was it Obama’s fault?

He should take a huge amount of responsibility for this defeat. Obama had a window of opportunity when he was first elected in 2008. He was a highly popular president, with control of the senate, who came to power when Wall Street had collapsed and the banking community was in tatters. He had a real chance to establish a New Deal programme just as Franklin D. Roosevelt did in the Thirties. Instead, he employed Larry Summers and Tim Geithner as his economic advisers — the gravediggers of the New Deal institutions. They both served in the Clinton administration which dismantled the last checks and balances on Wall Street, including rendering the Glass-Steagall Act obsolete in 1996. So, those responsible for allowing Wall Street to run riot were brought in to fix the mess. Predictably, all they did was reinstate the privilege of the financial class.

Elsewhere he characterises Obama, as (IMO correctly) a ‘social climber’.


WorldbyStorm - November 24, 2016

Yes, that would be my reason why I simply don’t think Saletan is right about Clinton or the Democrats. But I do think he’s correct to avoid simply painting Trump supporters with the same brush, and to shift things at least some way closer to the economy and economic issues. Agree pretty much entirely with V. Obama albeit granted in the teeth of massive opposition did have an opportunity to do much better and as he says went to the same old same old neoliberals.


CL - November 25, 2016

” It is surely no coincidence that the two biggest political shocks of the year – Brexit and the election of Trump – have come in the two countries that most fervently embraced neoliberal economics.”-
Robert Skidelsky.


CL - November 25, 2016

“If the left and the center-left don’t get their act together, then we’re looking at a period of very unstable right-wing hegemony….
“The merger of traditional social democracy with neoliberalism and globalized free-market policies has fallen apart in fairly disastrous fashion,”-Alex Callinicos.


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