/ Politics

Hubris and Moving Forward

If you take a look at every other blog post I've ever thrown together, you'll be hard-pressed to find one that isn't coding related: this isn't an accident. I'm bad at expressing myself, and this post is more for catharsis than anything else.

With a country forged in the fires of insurrection against the ruling class, who's agrarian roots run broad and deep, I would argue it's impossible deny America's anti-intellectual tendencies. Rationalism and experientialism are opposing ideologies, and while our country's lofty founding ideals may have been born of the former, her following two hundred years were dominated by the latter.

Area Liberal No Longer Recognizes Fanciful, Wildly Inaccurate Mental Picture Of Country He Lives In

- The Onion

In the wake of the electoral rout last Tuesday I, like many of my friends and family, have had my preconceptions challenged like never before. I fundamentally believed the core issue of this election was the economics, and even after my candidate was rebuked at the polls in the "Blue Wall" states, I still believe this. What changed then?

As the narrative of the Rust Belt's decline enters its third decade of serialization most Americans, liberal or conservative, can re-tell it well enough, with the same common elements: stagnant wages, poor job outlooks, roads and bridges originally laid down in the optimism of the post-war boom economy now consigned to rot. Where the story differs is in the federal governments roll in it all.

No matter how many NYTimes op-ed pieces on the success of the 2009 stimulus are published, or how many satisfactory job reports are released, it doesn't change the experiences of those in America's heartlands. To them, the Democratic party is the party of NAFTA and false promises of solutions to economic stagnation.

I'm sure as hell not going to quantify the suffering of a chronically-underemployed middle-aged white man in Pottsville, Pennsylvania to the second generation daughter of a Mexican immigrant in Arvin, California, and those who try to are missing the point. The majority of Americans don't feel their party's represent them, and this election it was the white working class that didn't turn up in support of the democrats.

It's easy for the liberal, coastal cities who benefitted the most from the economic recovery to say "let's come together in the face of bigotry", but with two wholly un-liked candidates running, Hillary's ill-received message of unity wasn't convincing enough to overcome Trump's promises of an end of the status quo.

Did those promises feed into latent bigotry, xenophobia, and misogyny? Absolutely. Roughly half of our fellow Americans elected a rapist (there has never been a more convincing argument for rape culture than Trump's election to the presidency) who supports the deportation of our neighbors, and who's batshit economic policy fits on the back of a napkin, with about as much substance.

However, this shouldn't surprise us – anyone who declared racism was dead when we elected a black man to the presidency needs a lesson in context. It took 8 years of an unpopular Bush presidency, the collapse of the US economy, and one of the best-run campaigns of all time to get him into the White House. When the midwest voted overwhelming for Obama, it was on a promise of hope and change, and 8 years later when Hillary ran on a campaign that many saw as "4 more years", those same Americans turned out to say "I'd risk Trump presidency if it means 4 years of something else".

People can change. They can learn to not act on ingrained racism and misogyny. But when backed into a corner, it becomes harder to push down those thoughts, and it becomes easier to support the narrative being sold; "before America let our jobs pour out, and the immigrants pour in, I had a good job and could support my family" is much easier to understand than a lofty explanation of globalization, and efficiency of production.

I refuse to believe this election was a validation of Trump's platform; instead it was a rejection of the Democratic platform. My fellow Americans are the same people they were last Monday, and last year. We were all flawed then, just as we are flawed now.

What's next? We need to fight like hell. Damage control and planning for the future. We need to start now to make sure the events of last Tuesday don't repeat themselves, while protecting liberal gains over the past eight years. I don't think anyone can predict how the relationship between Trump and the senate and house will play out, but that's not something we can affect, so I'm ignoring it for the moment.

Hate crimes are on the rise, even in the liberal bastion of the bay area, and to the fascists, misogynists, and bigots in this country, Trump's election was a declaration of open season. White Americans, liberal and conservative, need to step up to the plate and defend the rights and security of minority groups.

The Democratic party's off-year performance is a perennial joke, and 2018 already looks terrifying, with 11 Democrat-held seats realistically up for grabs. The national party needs to give more support than ever, and encourage candidates and incumbents to deviate from the party line to better match their constituents' interests. The increasing polarization of parties and entrenching of party lines benefits no one, and the Democratic party needs to be able to earnestly call itself the party of the people.

The polling industry will undoubtedly be on fire for the next few months trying to interpret the gross failures of their models: some will blame psychology, poorly chosen demographics, and whatever other happy uncertainties to explain-away any doubts that human behavior is 100% quantifiable. Moving forward I plan to limit my daily intake of the Facts and Figures™, and work harder to avoid false narratives. When in doubt, ask "why do I believe this to be true".