What Must Be Done After the Election

I came across a tweetstorm by Noah Smith, a Bloomberg writer, and sparked some ideas that I wanted to address (emphasis added):

1/In the wake of the 2012 election, there was an internal debate about how the GOP should deal with a diversifying electorate.
2/One faction said the GOP should aggressively court Hispanics and compromise on immigration.
3/The other factor said the GOP should try to A) radicalize whites against minorities, and B) suppress minority voter turnout by any means.
4/At the time, most people assumed the first faction would win – HAD to win – this internal GOP debate. But nope.
5/The total GOP embrace of Trump means there’s no going back. The GOP will win with racist radicalization/vote suppression, or not at all.
6/This is the death knell for our democracy. A slow move toward minority disenfranchisement will kill nonwhites’ faith in elections.
7/Whereas successful radicalization of white GOP voters means they view any election where minorities *do* get to vote as illegitimate.
8/The result: No presidential election in the U.S. will be viewed as legitimate by the losers, ever again.
9/The result won’t necessarily be civil war, but it will be Venezuela-style dysfunction. Mass protests, scattered increasing violence…

I can’t bring myself to believing that the GOP, as a party, would actually embrace the second strategy–riling up whites against minorities and suppressing minority votes. I suspect Trump has brought them to this point–with the GOP leadership’s tacit consent.

In any event, I read #3 and #4 and thought: We need a new conservative party. There needs to be a line drawn in the sand, separating conservatives who embrace Trump and his authoritarian, anti-Constitutional ways from those who respect important democratic norms and institutions, including the U.S. Constitution. The latter will attempt to create a new–legitimate–political party. This may seem far-fetched, but it feels necessary.

Here’s something even more far-fetched: these new conservatives should align themselves with Democrats and independents to fight against Trump and everything he stands for, while rebuilding and fortifying civic norms and democratic institutions. I think this also requires a reformation of the American press–including a serious critique of the press and how it can be made to better serve the republic.

(I sort of think Smith goes a little overboard with his descriptions of how whites will react after elections. I don’t doubt that some of them will feel that way, but my guess is that their numbers won’t be so large. At least I hope that’s the case.)

8 Responses to “What Must Be Done After the Election”

  1. Reid

    Sorry, I didn’t see the entire tweetstorm:

    10/Security services taking sides, rumblings of military coups, corrupt charismatic leaders…win or lose, Trump is just the beginning.
    11/Nor do I hold out much hope that GOP elites can reassert control over their party. They tried that this season and failed utterly.
    12/Radicalization of whites against minorities has now snowballed beyond GOP elites’ ability to control it at all.
    13/Meanwhile, increasingly disenfranchised Dem voters will lose faith in the electoral process, and might stop even trying to vote.
    14/But since demographic changes are baked in, this means we’ll soon have a disenfranchised majority ruled by a radicalized minority.
    15/In any case, I don’t see a path forward for American democracy in the short term.
    16/In the long term the solution is for whites and nonwhites to learn to live with each other, accept each other, etc. This IS happening.
    17/But I am pessimistic that it will happen in time to save our democracy from Latin American style dysfunction. The die is cast. (end)

  2. Reid

    My thoughts about this are a-scramble. The following is an attempt to unscramble them. Brainstorm:

    • We need a discussion, making explicit certain principles and ideas that we largely take for granted as being true and important–for example, that facts and reason should be the basis for opinions. This sounds crazy, but I feel this notion is under attack (whether intentional or not). Think of these principles as what we have inherited from the Enlightenment;
    • Similarly, some things need to be strongly repudiated, such as making wild conspiracy theories or excessive lying. When both become accepted in our political discourse, I agree with others who believe that this makes both meaningful public discourse and action possible as well as making meaningful journalism impossible. The press has to become more nuanced and sophisticated in thinking about lies–and they must find ways to protect themselves and their profession from those who attack these principles;
    • The discussion should involve prominent individuals from various parts of the political spectrum. Individuals should include politicians, academics, celebrities, business people, athletes, etc. My feeling is that we need a very strong public affirmation of these type of principles. Doing so will allow us to clearly reveal those who violate these principles. It’ll make clear those who support leaders that violate these principles as well, which will hopefully make supporters fully aware of what it is they are supporting;
    • The press has to find way to draw a line in the sand for situations when politicians or spokespeople wantonly violate these principles. This will enable the press to signal to citizens that something unacceptable is happening–some violation of essential ground rules for public discourse and journalism. Press must be very careful on how they make these judgments, but they cannot shy away from this because it is controversial or challenging. To not do this, opens a door for normalizing and establishing modes of talk that can destroy meaningful public discourse and journalism;
    • We also need to discuss and reaffirm Constitutional principles and civic norms. I, myself, shamefully far too ignorant of these things. As a result, people like me aren’t well-equipped to notice when these principles and norms are under threat, and we may not be able to defend them.

    That’s it for now.

  3. Reid

    Brian Stetler of CNN talks about “anti-media,” which is touching on what I’m getting at. Anti-media are sites that pose opinion and wild conspiracy theories as facts and truths. Here’s something that he said that resonated with me:

    …it is not elitist to value the truth. The truth is not in a bubble. It is not elitist to reject conspiracy theories or fact-check obvious falsehoods. It should be done equally, but truth is the word we can keep coming back to. Don’t cower before the truth. Don’t tell half-truths, don’t shade the truth. Don’t fear the truth. And then we can focus on the other “t” word — trust. Winning back the trust of people who right now prefer anti-media.

    It is not elitist to value truth. It’s strange that someone has to say this, right? And, yet, I think saying this is important–which suggests something really strange and troubling is going on: namely, that valuing truth is no longer automatically accepted.

    Three thoughts come to mind:

    1. GOP attack on MSM–invalidating their reporting because of liberal bias;

    2. The internet, particularly it’s democratizing effects and the shift in notions of what it’s important, meaningful, and true. The internet has destroyed the gate–and therefore made gatekeepers largely superfluous. The gatekeepers role was to determine what was important and what was not important–at least as an initial attempt at filtering information. If this is true, a natural consequence is that each individual can determine what is important, true, and meaningful. They can look at the gatekeepers–i.e., the elite–with contempt.

    3. The press and everyone who value and believe that some things are true and even meaningful, independently of the individual–that is, objective truth or intersubjetive (collective) meaning–has weight and value–these individuals must actively fight against this; they have to actively work to re-establish the value in facts, truth, and meaning in the way I’m talking about.

    More notes

    I’m not sure how this will be done, but a starting point is to explicitly talk about this–explain and reaffirm why these values are important.

    My guess is that some institution and/or process(?) has to be created to help bolster these values as well as provide individuals with this sort of fact-based information.

    Maybe the existing news agencies can be reformed to serve as this institution, but without changing the pay model or dramatically expanding the demand for quality journalism–I’m not sure this can be done.

    One thought: I always think back to groups of people discussing the news. Why? Politicians-as-entertainers wouldn’t be as successful if these citizens had these discussion groups. If the groups were comprised of individuals with different political views–but everyone was committed to be as clear-eyed and as accurate as possible–then I think people in this group could process information and news–filtering out the junk–and leaving behind only the good stuff.

    More later.

  4. Reid

    To win trust, must counter liberal bias accusation.

    One way: work with conservatives and identify areas of consensus on facts and sound opinions.

  5. Reid

    Thoughts on What Democrats and Liberals Must and Must Not Do

    1. Refrain ridiculing white working class/rural Americans. Prominent Dems/liberals who are on TV should especially resist the temptation to do this. It is not only mean, but it is, more importantly, counterproductive. In fact, if a Democrat/liberal sees this sort of thing going on, they should try to stop this;

    2. Resist the temptation to label all Trump supporters as racist. Democrats/liberals should seek a more nuanced understanding of Trump supporters. (Start with this article.)

    3. Reach and build alliances with NeverTrump conservatives and Republicans. Specifically, this group can work together to protect our Constitutional norms and civic norms;

    4. Consider shifting toward a greater emphasis on the interests of all lower-middle classes and moving away from serving upper/business class.

    5. To reach Independents, be a smart opposition party that respects our democratic processes; versus blatantly obstructing everything by the GO. Prioritize.

  6. Reid

    Thoughts on Jill Stein (Green Party) Initiating a Recount in Wisconsin

    I’m confused by this, and I want to log down the first thought (admittedly a little nutty) that came to mind: she’s doing this to help Putin. How? The recount keeps HRC supporters hopeful and prevents them from accepting the results. If the recount raises serious doubts about Trump winning Wisconsin, that would actually be really bad for our country–and Putin would benefit from that. The only way a recount would be good is if the results on indisputable–even by the GOP. Even then, Trump would undoubtedly cry foul and not going quietly in the night. It would be chaos.

    Whatever Stein’s motives, I don’t think this is a good direction we’re headed in. (In some ways, it is better for the Republic to accept the results–even if there is serious doubt that Trump actually won.)

  7. Reid

    A Possible Stance That Congressional Democrats and Republicans Could Take Toward Trump Right Now

    I’m not 100% sure if this is sound idea, but I’m going to throw it out there for discussion. Some politicians, including Democrats (I think) are taking a wait-and-see attitude–i.e., let’s wait until Trump gets in office and let’s see how he behaves, and until then, we’ll give him the benefit of the doubt. That approach makes me uneasy as it feels like sweeping everything we know about Trump, up until this point, under the rug. That feels like a mistake to me. So what should be done instead?

    In my opinion, there are several major concerns that Trump either has failed to, or his actions after the election have made the concerns more alarming. Here’s how I sum up my concerns in one sentence:

    He’s behaving like an authoritarian, kleptocratic ruler, not a normal U.S. president that actually respects a constitutional democracy and actually has the best interests of the nation at heart.

    Here is some evidence for this:

    1. refused release tax forms or even an IRS letter verifying that he’s under audit;
    2. won’t divest from his business, and suggest that his kids running his business is a “blind trust”–which is a scam;
    3. constantly lies, making outrageous baseless claims, promoting wild conspiracy theories;
    4. attacked the integrity of key democratic institutions like the press, election, debate–without any evidence.
    5. selecting a someone who build a web platform for white nationalism as his chief strategic advisor (Steve Bannon);

    I could go on but I’ll stop there. My feeling is that these issues must be resolved–Trump has to do things to reassure Congressional politicians that these things are untrue. If he doesn’t–and if he does the opposite–then my sense is that the Congressional politicians should make these things the primary issue; they should keep bringing this up, pressuring Trump and Republicans that support him to adequately address these concerns. Giving him the benefit of the doubt isn’t justified unless he takes meaningful steps to address these concerns. How he’s behaved so far suggests that he isn’t operating under good faith; his behavior suggests he’s more interested in enriching himself and his family than serving the country.

    If this is wrong, then he needs to sever ties from his business. He needs to release his tax forms. He needs lying in outrageous ways, attacking key democratic institutions. He needs to remove Steve Bannon and others like him from his transition team. These are a few concrete steps that he could do to prove his good faith. If he doesn’t–if he ignores this, or tries to pull a fast one over people–then Congressional politicians and the American public are justified in viewing him more like an autocrat/kleptocrat who shouldn’t be trusted.

  8. Reid

    Advice from former Progressive Congessional staffers on how to organize to limit Trump.

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