Friday, November 18, 2016

Today's Political Reading List

From one of those disgusting coastal elitists.  What else can you possibly call a goddess, though a little more respect is expected.  After all, it might rain snakes next week if I feel so inclined, and I do.

More seriously, I am gathering here articles which enhance our understanding of some aspects of the 2016 elections and which might point out areas where action is beneficial.

 Zeynep Tufekci writes about the role of fake political news on Facebook.  Social media is now the most important source for news in the United States, but not all those news are real ones.  Two examples:

Donald J. Trump’s supporters were probably heartened in September, when, according to an article shared nearly a million times on Facebook, the candidate received an endorsement from Pope Francis. Their opinions on Hillary Clinton may have soured even further after reading a Denver Guardian article that also spread widely on Facebook, which reported days before the election that an F.B.I. agent suspected of involvement in leaking Mrs. Clinton’s emails was found dead in an apparent murder-suicide.

There is just one problem with these articles: They were completely fake.

The Denver Guardian doesn't even exist.  It turns out that teenagers in Macedonia were behind many of the false right-wing news, because they could make money out of them.  I recommend the entire Tufekci article.

We must demand that Facebook does better than this.

Several articles have recently surfaced on rural white resentment, sometimes on rural white Christian resentment.  I recommend this view of what took place in the rural areas of Wisconsin, and this very opposite view concerning what the problem really might be.

The above overlaps with white working class resentments, whether they are economic, racist or sexist or (as is most likely to be the case) a knotted mess of all of those things*.  This is one take on some roots of that resentment.  It also mentions the traditional views about gender roles in that population.  Some argue that the women among the white working class didn't mind Trump's grab-them-by-the-pussy utterances, because that kind of stuff is just everyday life for them, just the way they believe men are.

The recent treatment of white working class voters as the possible-to-swing-voter-group that Democrats lost in this election is extensive all over the media**, even though most of those who voted for Donald Trump were your usual suspects:  Registered Republican voters, many quite affluent.  The white working class voters got prominence because of their role of defeating Hillary Clinton in the swing states.

What should be done about the white working class deserting the Democratic Party?***  Should anything be done to lure them back?  Or should we just wait for them/us to die out?

Most of what I've read on the latter topic veers into the distasteful category.  For instance, to write, with hope,  that the demographic decline of whites in the United States will take care of the problem the Democratic  Party has amounts to saying that we'll just wait until you guys die out, taking your cultures**** to extinction with you.

That is pretty insulting. Try replacing "whites" in such statements with any other racial or ethnic group and you will see what I mean.  And so do those white working class members who voted for Trump.

On the other hand, those who urge the Democratic Party to focus on the resentments of white working class voters will have to explain to me how the Party would cope with the fact that many of those resentments are not purely about economics but also about race and gender roles.

An increased focus on jobs, pay, vacations and combating rapidly rising economic inequality gets my strong recommendation.

But what compromises would that entail, given the intertwined nature of economic, racial and sexual resentment?  Would women's issues (affecting more than half of the population) once again be labeled "special interests," something to be put on the back burner?  I have recently met that old argument again.


*  As described in this article:

What they want is what they used to have: predictable jobs and long-standing social networks in stable communities. As liberals note, the social networks in which they were embedded reflected strict racial and gender hierarchies and enforced a conformity to community norms that was very painful for gays and lesbians, political dissidents and women who dreamed of doing something in the world outside the home. But they provided a stability that has since disappeared.

More on all that, especially the role of women voters (of all races and ethnic groups) and issues affecting women will be served to you in the near future.  On this here blog.

**  See here for a critique of the white working class focus.  Possible links to the white working class topic are so many that I cannot pick among them.  They are easily found, however.

In reading them remember a couple of important caveats:  First, the voting data we have now is from exit polls, which have their problems, and, second, the working class doesn't consist of only white workers, and despite the election-linked focus on white working class men, the economic plight of both working class women and minority men is greater, on average, than that of white working class men.

*** Note that the desertion of the party by the white working class began a long time ago.  Remember the Reagan Democrats?

****  It's crucial to stress that many in the white working class, both men and women, voted for Hillary Clinton.  We must not create a bogeyman out of one group, when most of those who voted for Trump were long-term Republican voters.  And yes, it's "cultures" in plural, because the working class cultures are place-specific.