I've got a couple of sets of links that I want to talk a bit about, and then the usual garden variety links... so let's just get to it.
First up, I forgot to link to Jess Zimmerman's wonderful essay Hunger Makes Me earlier. In a way, that's fortuitous, because I think that reading it in conjunction with Kristi Coulter's essay Enjoli is particularly useful. The common thread I noticed in these two essays is how much this world makes us women learn to hide our desires and even our own identities, and how much damage that does. I've written before about how unmooring I found it to realize that I'd changed myself so much to fit in to my male-dominated work environment that I didn't even really know who the real me was anymore. One of the things I've been doing since going out on my own is trying to reconnect with who I am and what I want. This has been surprisingly hard.
I'm not sure what, if anything, I'd do differently from my earlier career. I was just doing what I needed to do to build a career in my chosen field. One thing I would perhaps try to differently, though, would be to be more aware of the compromises I was making. I think those compromises were worth making, but I wish I'd noticed them more at the time. Maybe that would have helped me build a stronger core, that could have carried me through the tough times better, and left me still feeling like "me."
The more I think about it, the more I think I'd have to go back earlier, though. I'd need to go back to the little girl who first starting getting the messages that our culture sends about what is worthy of respect, what makes you smart, what makes you "cool," and all that. I can see some of those messages more clearly now, and I see my own daughters receiving them. I am starting to think that the most important, useful thing I can do for them is to teach them how to recognize their own wishes, and help them learn to be aware of when they're compromising one of those wishes. I want to help them see the obstacles they face more clearly both so that they can develop strategies for overcoming them and so that perhaps the process of overcoming them won't come with such a high cost.
Also, it would be nice to spare them some of the angst I went through.
I think that figuring out what you really want from life and who you really are is work everyone has to do. But I also think that our culture teaches girls from a very early age that these aren't even questions they have a right to ask themselves, and that this makes it harder for women to eventually find their answers. THAT is what I want to help my girls avoid. I don't know how to go about doing that, but I'm going to try.
OK, moving on....
Next, we have politics. This Brian Beutler piece about the structural issues the GOP would be facing in this election, regardless of who they had nominated, is a good.
But my Twitter feed was mostly full of people talking about this story from the Washington Post about what a new poll says about Trump voters.
Ross Douthat makes a good case for why this doesn't mean that there is economic uncertainty involved in the rise of Trump. Start with this tweet and read his whole thread:
1. New study shows Trump voters concentrated in distressed blue collar areas but better off than their neighbors:https://t.co/f3nLyjwd06— Ross Douthat (@DouthatNYT) August 12, 2016
BUT... he doesn't address why not all working class white people feeling this uncertainty are going for Trump. Even the relative he mentions is probably voting Democrat.
And here is a thread from Matt Yglesias expressing the counterpoint:
1. One reason I mock "economic anxiety" theories of Trumpism is I think we should interpret voter behavior as making some kind of sense.— Matthew Yglesias (@mattyglesias) August 12, 2016
I don't think we should ignore the economic stress a lot of Trump voters are experiencing. But I also don't think that gives them a pass for the ugly, racist way in which they are expressing that stress, or at least are comfortable with other people expressing it.
To argue that the Trump phenomenon is solely down to economics is to do a huge disservice to the many economically stressed people who have looked at the hatred and racism Trump is spewing and decided that is NOT the answer.
It feels like this election is setting us up to finally reckon with the fall out from the Civil Rights era. The Republican's "Southern strategy" has been faltering for awhile, but Republicans continued to subtly (and sometimes not so subtly) use race-based scaremongering to get the votes they needed to win. Trump has gone all in on this approach. As Josh Marshall points out, "mainstream" Republicans' unwillingness to distance themselves from him indicates that at a minimum, they believe that maintaining the support of these racially motivated voters is essential to win.
If this is true, then I'm afraid we're about to start having a lot of elections about white nationalism, and I'm afraid it is going to get even uglier than it already has.
This country does not have a good track record of being able to make progress on racial equality peacefully. Whether or not we break that bad record is going to be determined by what all of us do next. Do the Republicans finally learn that they need to build a different sort of coalition if they want to win? Or do the double down on the racial scaremongering? And how do the rest of us respond?
I've tried several times to express my thoughts on what the rest of us can do, and I don't think I have succeeded. Luckily for me, Anand Giridharadas put together a series of tweets that captures a lot of what I have been trying to say.
In the end, it doesn't matter how much I think that our current mess is the result of a narrow-minded, short-sighted political strategy used by the Republicans after the Civil Rights Act. I could be right, I could be wrong. Either way, I've got to live with what is happening now. This country isn't some trinket in a shop with a "you break it, you bought it" sign. It doesn't matter who broke it, we all own it now.
Sometimes, being an adult is cleaning up a mess you didn't make. I think we all benefit from cleaning up this mess. I'll be a lot happier if the Republican party decides to help clean up this mess. Hell, I'd be happy if they'd just stop making more of the damn mess. But I'm not going to sit here and stew in the mess just to prove a point. There is too much to lose from letting this fester, and too much to gain from cleaning it up. So I say, let's all get to work.
I think Giridharadas is right that those of us who are happy with the diversity in our country need to try to help the people made anxious by it see that there will be a place for them in the more diverse America. I think that white people who are happy with the diversity in our country in particular need to work on this. We take on less risk in doing so, and we've benefited from the privilege whose decline is making our fellow white people anxious.
How do we go about showing the anxious people that they'll be OK in future America? I don't really know. It probably starts by not referring derisively to "flyover country" and not sneering at "red states." It would help to visit some of those states and try to really understand how life there differs from life in our coastal cities. Here's one small example: I have exactly zero desire to own a gun living where I live now, but when we drove across southern Colorado on our vacation two years ago, I found myself thinking that I'd want a gun if I lived out there. It is empty, empty country, and that sort of country forces a certain self-reliance on you.
We could question why the "good jobs" have to cluster so fiercely. Why can't companies whose product is a bunch of code open some offices in places outside of the usual locales? Why can't venture capital fund a software start up in West Virginia? The honest answers to those questions would not reflect well on us.
I certainly don't have the answers. But I want to try to find them. I want to try to bring more white people over to my way of viewing our future.
OK, so that's the verbose part. Here are the garden variety links:
Another judge worried more about the effect of punishment on a rapist than the effect of the rape on the victim, and another powerful victim statement.
Palo Alto has an affordable housing problem. And here's some more analysis of it, which is relevant to all of us who live in expensive places.
Here's some really good news about peanut allergies in children.
Programs that provide cash to people facing imminent homelessness are very effective.
I meant to link to this NYT piece about the history of home pregnancy tests last week, but forgot because: MIGRAINE. (h/t to Bad Mom Good Mom for that one)
Reminder! I'm running a GoodReads giveaway for The Lilies of Dawn and it ends TODAY.
And here's your funny thing at the end (click through and read the full thread and don't miss the pictures):
Having a good laugh at Eugene Spreicher, who went to art school with Georgia O'Keeffe. He kept bugging her to pose for him.— Captain Awkward (@CAwkward) August 11, 2016
Happy weekend, everyone!