Friday, November 25, 2016

Weekend Reading: The Looking Ahead Edition

I hope everyone who celebrates it had a Happy Thanksgiving. And I hope those of you who don't had a nice Thursday!

We had a very nice Thanksgiving here. We hosted it, and my parents, my sister, and two of our best friends came over. We decided not to talk politics. None of us voted for Trump, so that wasn't a peace-keeping decision. More of a mood-boosting decision. And it worked. We had a very nice day, with entertainment that included a gymnastics show organized by Petunia and a raucous (and long!) game of Uno organized by Pumpkin.

So that was nice. Whether prompted by my last post about what I am thankful for or just the passing of time, my own mental fog about this election had lifted a bit in time for me to focus on enjoying Thanksgiving.

I wish I had only warm and fuzzy links for you, but that is not the world we're in right now. Here's what I do have:

The Washington Post has a write up about the way Russian propaganda influenced this election. I had understood this in real time, mostly because I was reading Talking Points Memo and they were reporting on it.

Speaking of Talking Points Memo, here's a short post about the topic, which points out that the Germans are apparently now trying to figure out how to prevent the same shenanigans in their election.

As much as I enjoy Twitter (and know that many people enjoy Facebook), I think the engineers who run those companies need to do some introspection. The "move fast and break things" ethos of Silicon Valley may very well be in the process of breaking democracy, at least in the short term. There are smart people in non-engineering fields who have been warning about some of the Twitter troll and Facebook bubble problems for awhile, but they were mostly ignored. Both Facebook and Twitter are now taking steps to address their respective weaknesses, but I think they should also commit to hiring people to be on the look out for the next exploit. To do so, though, they need to change their self-conception and basically grow up as businesses. I do not know if they can do this.

So anyway, our election happened. I would support an audit, because I think all elections should be audited (that is different from a full recount), because humans and machines make errors. I doubt an audit or a recount would change the outcome, though.

And one thing we need to remember is that Trump and the Republicans won this election, but they do not represent a majority viewpoint. The majority of Americans who voted, voted for Hillary Clinton. This is not a one time thing, either. The Republican candidate has lost the popular vote in 4 of the last 5 elections. As Ezra Klein argues, Democrats are the opposition party right now, but they are not really the minority party, and perhaps they should act like that.

And if people who favor Democratic ideas for running this country want to see those ideas actually enacted, we need to change our behavior. We focus too much on the presidency and not enough on down ballot elections. We underrate our chances of winning seats in "red states." In fact, there aren't really red states and blue states. All of our states are purple.  If we believe that Republican policies are hurting the states in which they hold power (and I do: look at what happened in Kansas and Louisiana), then the right thing to do is to field strong candidates in those states to make the case to those voters.

By the way, there's a Senate race going on in Louisiana right now. Here's the Democratic candidate's web site.

As Greg Sargent argues, there are several good reasons for Democrats to focus on the upcoming governor's races.

So, if you're a Democrat fired up to try to do something, those are a couple of ideas.

I also think we need to learn how to hold true to our values and beliefs while also recognizing that people with different values and beliefs feel strongly, too. We need to do it for strategic reasons, but also because it is the right thing to do. There's a lot of talk about people "voting against their self-interest" but I find that condescending. People's self-interest does not just include economic matters. If you look on purely economic matters, I routinely vote against my own self-interest. I vote to give myself higher taxes all the time. I do that because I don't see that as actually being against my self-interest, because my self-interest includes more than just short term financial concerns.

I assume the rural voters who vote for people whose economic policies do not actually help them have concerns beyond the financial ones, too. We can respect those concerns and look for areas in which we can address them. I do not mean we should give up on our commitment to our ideals. I mean we should look for instances where we can honor our ideals and also find common ground with people who see the world differently than we do.

Anyway, for all the focus on the white working class, there is a case to be made it was actually college-educated white people who decided this election. So maybe it is all about financial policy. We're the ones getting that tax cut, after all. But I suspect a lot of these people voted for reasons that weren't purely financial.

Finally, if you read only one link today, make it this one from Rebecca Traister, which gets at how insulting all of this talk about Democrats focusing too much on "identity politics" is. It is telling that this argument is coming almost exclusively from people who have the option to forget about "identity" if they want. I rarely get to forget about the ways in which being a woman influence how my life is lived. And I am aware I get off easy in this regard. It is insulting to tell Black people that the reason we lost this election is that they cared too much about their friends and family being shot by police officers. It is insulting to tell Muslims that they need to care less about the harassment they face.

I have not patience for those arguments. We should not stop pushing for more equal treatment for everyone, because that is a core ideal.

But we also need to think strategically. And if you're wanting to think about what we can realistically hope to achieve right now, this piece from Josh Barro is short and to the point.

And here's an interesting, well-informed look at Trump's conflict of interest problems, and what remedies are available.

That was a lot of politics. Apologies to my readers whose interests lie elsewhere. I do plan to write about other things more in the coming weeks. But I will also be writing about politics, because I care deeply about what is about to happen in my country. I will try to avoid fear-mongering and demonizing people who voted differently than me, because that doing so is not consistent with my beliefs. And I am always open to respectful discussion with people with opposing views. If you don't want to do it in my comments section, feel free to email me.

And now, I'm going to log off and go get ready to enjoy a beautiful San Diego day with my family.

But first, have a couple of bunnes:

1 comment:

  1. I know I am renewing/getting passports for all my kids ASAP. 'Tis all.


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