All is Lost

This election, for many Democrats, wasn’t only about a candidate.

Hillary Clinton was not just a candidate but their candidate. Not just a Democratic candidate but the Democratic Party itself. The Clinton New Democrats have defined and controlled the party for decades. And Hillary Clinton has become the face and voice of the party establishment, of the Democratic worldview. Many Democrats, especially women, have looked to her as a leader long before she ran for the presidency.

What ended was an era. It felt like a stake to the heart of what was left of the progressive vision. It was a loss of a promise, a loss of the guarantee that no matter how bad it could feel at times the United States was fundamentally good and getting better. Democrats didn’t just lose an election. Their entire sense of reality was demolished and their vision torn out by the roots.

How could someone like Donald Trump win? It is incomprehensible to these good liberals. Trump stands for everything they fear and hate, the type of old school bigotry-spewing demagogue and misogynist that this country supposedly left behind when we entered this new century. These Democrats see themselves on the side of good. How could they lose? It was supposed to be impossible for someone like Trump to come to power. All the mainstream media, all the experts, all the polling said it couldn’t happen.

Now, having put all their faith in Hillary Clinton, they’ve been profoundly demoralized and publicly shamed. Their entire sense of the world has been shaken. They are asking themselves, what country is this that I live in? Simply put, they are shocked, maybe traumatized even, and they find themselves in a state of mourning. Nothing will ever be the same again. In their anguish and despair, they’ve gathered in public places to comfort one another, to protest, to have the opportunity to speak and be heard. They want to be reassured that they are not alone, that there are others who understand and share their sadness, their fears, a jumble of emotions and doubts.

Those on the outside see it as a strange response. It’s an election, like many elections before. There are always losing candidates and bad feelings among those who supported those candidates. Also, this isn’t the first time a party has been so severely challenged. In fact, this country has faced many periods of worse conditions than this. Objectively, the stolen election of 2000 was a far more important failure, and yet most partisan Democrats were oblivious of its significance at the time (and most remain oblivious). Nor is this as bad as the Whig Party losing power in being replaced by the Republican Party, Republicans losing to Franklin Delano Roosevelt for three elections in a row, Richard Nixon’s presidency ending with the Watergate scandal, etc.

We haven’t experienced an assassination, civil war, revolution, coup d’etat, or societal collapse. It was just another election, nothing particularly shocking about that. Elections happen on a regular basis. That misses the point, though. It’s easy to be dismissive. This wasn’t a normal election, in so many ways.

It’s slowly dawned on me how this has impacted partisan Democrats and why that impact has been so powerful. When they look upon someone like Trump and his ‘deplorables’, the good liberals feel disgust, an unmoderated and overwhelming disgust. To be fair, Pew found that 55% of voters in general state that they feel disgust about the campaign. But Pew also found a clear difference in Democrats taking it more personally: “Clinton backers – particularly highly educated ones – have more difficulty respecting Trump supporters than the other way around.”

This disgust response is not a rational assessment of the problems we face but a visceral reaction that knocks their legs out from under them, hits them in the gut, hurts their heart, etc. For many of them, it makes them physically ill, in the way that smelling puke can make you puke. And I wouldn’t be surprised if many Clinton supporters took a sick day after the election.

Why is that?

J. Scott Wagner, in his new book The Liberal’s Guide to Conservatives, offers an explanation that seems to fit. In differentiating the two main ideological predispositions, he explains the disgust response (Kindle Locations 4767-4778):

“I think conservative disgust ties in with the strange, strong evidence of conservative strength in the sense of smell, where the disgust response long ago originated in humans. They seem to have a way of “sniffing out” situations, and then use appropriate, mild levels of disgust to set a boundary that doesn’t just max out all at once, like liberal disgust. The emotional reaction is muted. Some research has shown conservatives with broadly higher levels of specific types of brain activity than liberals when disgusted, yet reporting the same perceived level of disgust: this may mean that they’re used to interpreting and dealing with greater impacts from disgusting events without being as emotionally affected.[ 145] It feels to me as if mild levels of disgust are so common for them that they learn to live with it, so that it doesn’t overwhelm them unless there’s a strong reason to be disgusted.

“When I’m around liberals who are disgusted, it’s hard to miss. With conservatives, in situations like business or casual social situations, it can be hard to detect, yet the effects can be dramatic, at least over time. Their politeness often takes the form of being reserved, after all, so what they’re thinking and feeling doesn’t spill out as readily or clearly, even if they’re experiencing disgust.”

Wagner is right about his assessment. And he is right that this fits into the issue of boundaries and boundary types, a topic I’ve discussed with him before in this blog. Liberals can’t simply shut off disgust or compartmentalize it, at least not to the extent that conservatives are so easily able to do. About emotional unpleasantness, liberals “can leave the experience with a much worse feeling than the conservative does; more emotionally affected” (Kindle Locations 3267-3268).

This is because liberals tend toward being thin boundary types. There is less division and distance between aspects of a liberal’s life and experience. This applies as well to perception of time, as the past is never entirely past for the thin boundary type. As such, an election doesn’t just end. Also, the results aren’t limited to the boundaries of politics. Thin boundaried liberals take it personally. I could hear this in the words that liberals spoke after Trump’s election. They immediately jumped to the personal effect they imagined this would have on people they personally know and care about. The potential harm that could follow from bigotry let loose is real to them, as if it has already happened to them personally.

So, it wasn’t a mere lost election. The world they know, feel, and experience is threatened. And the worldview they held no longer makes sense, no longer applies to what this election has shown the world to be. It may not be the literal end of the world, but it is the end of their world, that is to say the world that they have become personally invested in and fought for. It doesn’t matter that, as someone like myself might argue, that the good liberal dream has never been a reality. Nor does it matter that Hillary Clinton was never actually the person they believed her to be. What has been destroyed is a hope and a promise, the sense that the world was moving toward something better.

Naive as it may seem, good liberals genuinely believed in the good liberal vision, no matter how many inconvenient facts critics and doubters pointed out. It wasn’t that the good liberal vision always succeeded and perfectly matched reality. The point was they had good intentions and that, however slow it took, real progress was being made. They saw themselves on the right side of history, a moral arc that bent toward justice. But now they feel as if they’ve been abandoned and all is lost.

84 thoughts on “All is Lost

  1. IMO, Clinton lost because she and her sycophants went out their way to alienate supporters of Bernie Sanders and working class whites. Their ideology after all calls for treating them as dumb in the case of working class whites, and for those on the left, as well, ignorant.

    There was a mood of almost authoritarian censorship where criticism of Clinton was viewed as support for Trump.

    Now their fears have been realized. I doubt we will see many mea culpas here.

    • I agree. But that isn’t how the Democratic partisans see it.

      Even though they’ve lacked sympathy and understanding for others, they now expect that from those they so arrogantly dismissed and ignored. When Sanders’ supporters complained, when poor whites complained, when the working class complained, there was always excuses and rationalizations.

      They wouldn’t acknowledge the hypocrisy of Democrats like Clinton supporting mass incarceration and endless wars, like Obama supporting mass deportation and drone strikes. They didn’t want to see. It didn’t fit the narrative of the good liberal.

      It’s beyond them to be able to grasp that they brought this failure onto themselves, that they deserve the consequences of their own actions. These are people who believed or wanted to believe what the Democratic establishment told them. They just wanted to be told a compelling story and be given plausible deniability, in order to protect their view of themselves as good liberals.

      Living within this reality tunnel, they feel like innocent victims. In reality, they are victims of their own delusion and bad faith. Now that their world has come crashing down around them, they realize too late that they’ve betrayed and alienated so many people who once were on their side.

      It’s a tragedy of their own making. It’s an interesting case study to consider. It’s like they were playing out a storyline that inevitably would end badly. But even in ending badly, the narrative gives their lives meaning. The good liberal dream always comes crashing down, as maybe that is what it is designed to do, because if it didn’t come crashing down good liberals would have to take their own values and ideals seriously.

      Trump and his ‘deplorables’ get to be the villains in the story. They wear black hats so that you know they’re evil. When all else fails, the story itself must be defended. People cling to their stories like nothing else. They’d rather suffer than give up the consolation of meaning it offers.

  2. Now the fight for the future of the Democrats begins:

    An interesting perspective from the right:

    On the opposing side, here is the worst example of someone that doesn’t get it:
    View at

    Yeah this “political scientist” and his ilk are why the Democrats lost. They believed people like him.

    I just hope that the left wing faction can gain control and clean house. It’s desperately needed.

    Oh, and Obama’s “legacy” will be the continuation of the Bush administration’s policies most resented by the populace. He will have managed to lose the House, Senate, many state governorships, and leave the people so angry at the Democrats that they voted for an orange haired caveman.

    • Good interview. I liked what he said here:

      “The other point that I think is really worth making is that Sanders—that statement from Senator Sanders is actually quite remarkable, because he isn’t coming out and saying everybody who voted for Donald Trump is a racist troglodyte. He’s not saying that everyone who voted for Donald Trump is a misogynist who hates women and cast their vote for that reason. He’s saying that there are a huge number of people who voted for Donald Trump, and not for Hillary Clinton, who have very valid grievances. And those grievances are grounded in a system of policies that both political parties have played an equal role in creating.”

    • Here is my response to that author:

      I supported Sanders campaign for reform and didn’t vote for Clinton who has spent her career creating the problems requiring reform because I’m not an ignorant, stupid, clueless, blind, and masochistic partisan.

      I understand the power of fear. And I don’t feel like blaming people for being so easily manipulated by fear, no matter how sad it is. But I have no desire to be a slave to fear.

      Any other questions?

    • That is what I fear. There likely will be many people who’d rather not do any soul-searching. They’d prefer to double down. But I hope these people will become irrelevant over time and that a mandate for change has already been established.

    • So now Democrats are victims when they lose an election? If losing elections to evil assholes makes one a victim, then I’ve been a victim every time a warmongering corporatist like the Clintons is elected. Where is my safe space?

    • A decent article. The author brings up some good points and interesting info.

      What makes it hard to talk about is that most of it is unconscious. Numerous studies have shown that blacks also carry racial biases against blacks and that those biases are worse the darker the skin. But could you imagine trying to start a conversation between dark-skinned blacks and light-skinned blacks about shade prejudice?

      Few people are racist as a conscious intention and identity. It’s just there in the background.

      Even racial resentment isn’t always overt racism. If you have been fucked over by neoliberalism that promotes undocumented immigration, it is easier to see the problem of immigration than to see the larger issue of neoliberalism itself. It is hard to talk about those larger issues, not even liberals want to talk about it, which forces the issue to get discussed as about immigration.

      Scapegoating poor whites is no more rational and moral than scapegoating immigrants.

      • “I think that approach works for making people come around to issues that are not perceived as threats. Partly why the LGBT rights movement made such quick progress is because they’re a pretty consistent minority population. So it was easy to frame the conversation in terms of equality – that LGBT people want the same rights, and not at straight people’s expense.

        I think racial bias is a different animal that requires different strategies to tackle. For starters, racial minorities aren’t a constant share of the population, but have been steadily increasing since the 60s. This makes some white people nervous. Worse, racial minorities are automatically visible and don’t have the option of being “in the closet.” They look different. Now, this wouldn’t be a problem for a country that didn’t have the racially-charged history that America has. But in America, it was the case for hundreds of years that your race was the prime marker of where you belonged in society. If you were Native American, you belonged on a reservation (or six feet under). If you were Black, you belonged on a plantation doing slave labor. If you were Yellow, you belonged on the railroad tracks or in a laundry doing cheap labor. Obviously these are all in the past, but the framework of assigning roles based on race has persisted. The one thing that hasn’t changed is many/most white people still expect to be the majority and to lay the ground rules. And they feel threatened both by the growing minority population and also growing numbers of minorities stepping out of their assigned “roles” to assume leadership positions.

        To the extent empathetic, deliberate conversations help them feel less threatened, that’s great. But we can’t rely on their sympathy alone, because we’re essentially asking them to give us more seats at the decision-making table, which dilutes their power. They won’t just give up power if we ask nicely.”

  3. to be honest, I’m scared. I feel like the planet is entering another uncertain crisis phase and that the relative peacetime of the last 50 years is over and that everything we knew is going to shit

    • You feel that way because it is probably true. From my perspective, a Trump presidency is the least of our worries. It’s for the reason the world is changing that it became possible for someone like Trump to be elected.

    • That confirms my view in this post. Clinton’s loss wasn’t just the loss of an election but of a world, Clintonworld.

      “This week, the Clintonworld train went off the rails — this time, seemingly for good.

      “In interviews with more than a dozen former Clinton aides, they expressed a grief and pain akin to losing a member of the family. […]

      ““For many people Clintonworld is life,” said one former aide.

      “They don’t know anything else. There was a lot of measuring the drapes and not just now, it’s been that way for a long time,” another former aide said.

      “Those in her orbit didn’t just expect Clinton to win. They expected her to win big with the campaign telegraphing that states like Arizona were in play.

      ““And people thought she was going to win with 300 electoral votes. Everyone was thinking about their own lives in another Clinton administration. It seemed like it was finally happening.” […]

      ““Looking out from the Clinton bubble, the outcome always looked good for Hillary,” said one Clinton surrogate. “Inside that bubble, she’s infallible. Many in that bubble have also privately admitted being there was the ticket to a gilded future.”

      “Now, just three days after the loss they never saw coming, they’re still trying to figure out what happened. They tune into daily calls held by the campaign that have turned into post-mortem sessions.”


    This may come as a shock to the political left, but not everyone who opposed Donald Trump is as angry or despondent as the demonstrators who grabbed headlines nationwide over the past week or the pundits who intellectualized the Democratic hissy fit.

    On Monday I took a stroll around New York City’s Harlem neighborhood and asked a couple of dozen black residents to respond to the election and subsequent protests. I didn’t come across any Trump voters—or at least any who admitted it—but many told me they had expected Hillary Clinton’s defeat. No one thought it was the end of the world.

    “Hillary wasn’t strong enough. She didn’t fight enough,” said a gentleman leaving a drugstore, who introduced himself as Pace. “People saw her as weak and thought she’d be weak in the White House.” He also faulted Mrs. Clinton’s message. “She was talking about what she did in other countries as secretary of state. I can understand the situation around the world, but we live here.” Mr. Trump, in contrast, “was talking about the people who live here—the poor, the veterans.”

    When I asked Pace, who retired from a job in dress manufacturing several years ago, if he thought Mr. Trump would ever win him over, he responded: “He said he’d protect Medicare. I can go along with that. He said he’d get rid of the Bloods and the Crips and the gangs—get them out of here. I like that. If he does those two things, he’s my man.”

    At a nearby hair salon, the proprietor, a 30-something West African woman who asked me not to use her name, said Mrs. Clinton lost because the country “didn’t want a female president, wasn’t ready for it.” Still, she’s optimistic about a Trump administration. “I think things will be different in a good way. He might surprise us. I don’t think he’s a bad person. It’s just the way he talks. He was real and people like that. I don’t think he’ll do the really crazy things like deporting everybody.”

    Derrick, an off-duty police officer, told me that he considers Mr. Trump a con artist who tricked people into voting for him and won’t come through, especially on his promise to bring back manufacturing jobs. “But I’ll give him this,” he said. “She was not talking about securing this country, and that’s what he was talking about. People are watching people get blown up by these terrorists, and they’re scared, and she was talking about an open border. She didn’t emphasize scrutinizing the people who are coming in, and he did.”

    Outside a storefront church on Frederick Douglass Boulevard, Bishop Gibson sat staring at his smartphone. He was eager to get some things off his chest when I approached. “First, it doesn’t bother me a bit if Trump is in there or not,” he said. “I don’t lose a minute’s sleep. My president is Jesus.” The bishop told me that some of his congregants were concerned about what the new president would do, but not enough to be demonstrating in the streets. “I don’t understand. You’re protesting, you’re rioting, but did you vote? Some did, but a lot didn’t.”

    Bishop Gibson said Mr. Trump’s “law and order” message resonated with Harlemites but that ultimately “the president can’t do much about crime.” It has to start with the communities—churches, families and fathers in particular, he said.

    This is a message heard often in black neighborhoods by people who aren’t professional agitators with political agendas. “These protesters,” he said, “tearing up stores and businesses and apartments, won’t solve nothing.”

    Then the bishop chuckled. “Do you remember that video of the woman who saw her son protesting and went and hit him upside the head?” he asked, referring to the viral clip of Toya Graham, the Baltimore mother who caught her son participating in last year’s riots. “I really admire that woman.”

    The anti-Trump demonstrations are in many cases organized and supported by people who make a living manufacturing outrage: Al Sharpton’s National Action Network,, Showing Up for Racial Justice, the Equity Coalition. And the protests are likely to continue, off and on, at least until the president-elect’s inauguration.

    But Mr. Trump should understand that some of the minority voters who opposed him are open-minded, even swayable. They are more tolerant than the Democratic partisans and professional protesters would have him believe. The people I spoke with want to see their president succeed, not to deny his legitimacy because their preferred candidate didn’t win.

    They’re keeping things in perspective. They haven’t written him off. As Pace put it, “If Trump can go in there and shake things up a little—he ain’t got to complete everything—but shake things up and make things a little better, I’d like that.”

  5. IMO this is like Germany in the 1920s and 1930s.

    The Establishment is hated for good reason, but the real good alternatives have been suppressed by said Establishment, leaving us with a demagogue.

    Trump’s nominating right wing types for his cabinet. `

    • Yeah. I’ve heard the comparison made. I know Chomsky is worried about the similarities.

      You never know about these kinds of things, what might trigger the collapse of democracy. The conditions don’t seem quite right at the moment for such a dramatic shift.

      But the conditions quickly change, if there was another maybe even larger recession. When enough people start feeling seriously uncertain, then a demagogue would have real power.

    • I don’t see how a warmongering corporatist like Clinton was going to help us avoid the threat of authoritarianism. It’s because of politicians like her that where in this situation in the first place. More of the same would lead to ever greater worsening.

      I’m also (sort of) glad for Trump. As demagogues go, he is fairly weak sauce. But any demagogue can be dangerous. Still, I’d rather we try to get this out of our system before conditions do get worse, when we could simply get overwhelmed and not have the collective will to fight back.

    • “The DNC’s alleged collusion with the Hillary Clinton campaign to quash Bernie Sanders in the primary concerned the protesters, but it is only a piece of a larger picture of corruption, according to many of the protesters. “The DNC sold us out in the first place when they ran over Bernie,” said Peter Weston of Seattle-based Backbone Campaign. “The DNC is not serving people, it is serving corporatocracy.””

    • The problem with that article is that it implies that, if not for Trump, we wouldn’t be dealing with major problems. Trump is not an exception to the system. He simply shows the system for what it is and what it has been for longer than I’ve been alive.

      Trump isn’t an autocrat because the Deep State is immensely larger, more powerful, and more entrenched than any president. Unless the military generals all conspire to give Trump that power, we won’t have an autocracy. But even if the military generals did so conspire, how many soldiers would follow commands blindly?

      It wouldn’t be an autocracy. What it would be is an all out civil war.

  6. mong the many things that disgust me about the alt-right, perhaps the least outright evil, but most irritating, is their slimy prevarication and double-talk.

    • There is something fundamentally dishonest about the alt-right. They aren’t interested in fair debate, democratic process, etc. Nothing they say can be taken at face value. There only purpose is to create provocation. They are master trolls.

    • If you take her at her word, you’d have to assume that she is disconnected from reality. But I don’t take her at her word. Now that she probably is permanently out of power, I don’t care what she is. She should simply go away.

    • It’s odd that they end by citing the study on self-control. But that leaves open what causes self-control to develop. Considering self-control is the result of general psychological and cognitive development, self-control would also be effected by wealth and poverty, such as lead toxicity rates, nutrition, stress, etc. The correlations are endless, which doesn’t really explain anything without putting all the factors into context.

  7. Education wouldx make anyone do better on those questions. Cultura background

    I mean, if i didn’t know earth was round and basic earth and planetary science I’d not get teh first question right. Also if i never heard of a polar bear!

    And the clock one. As a millennial I didn’t even know what a wind up clock is, lol. I only know digital clocks :/

  8. About the only good part from this whole mess is that the Democrats are now forced to at least give much more thought to the left.

    They treated the left as if they were intellectual (due to their opposition to neoliberal economics) and moral (due to the left pointing out the moral bankruptcy of using identity politics while covering for a pro-war, pro Wall Street platform), inferiors then ended up losing badly to people they tried to brand as buffoons.

    Then they go around complaining that people won’t get behind them. Gee I wonder why. They were extremely patronizing and dismissive of the warning signs.

    • I liked that article. It clears up much of what has been on my mind.

      But I’m more of the opinion that open racism is ultimately better. Bring it to the surface like pus from a wound. It’s the only way to clean the wound. If you put a band-aid over a wound before cleaning it, the wound could turn to gangrene and become a far worse problem. It was festering racism that only ever could be temporarily suppressed that made someone like Trump inevitable. It wasn’t a situation that could last or that we would want to last.

      Now the racism is out in the open and we are forced to deal with it. There is no more pretending, by either side. In particular, there is no pretending that racism is merely coming from one side, as liberals have shown how they play a role in the continuation of racism, trying to keep minorities in line and dismissing those who won’t stay in line.

    • Paul Street often has nice commentary.

      It’s interesting that he brings up the possibility of the election being rigged, separate from the primaries being rigged. It seems people were so obsessed with the results of the election that there was little discussion about rigging.

      Maybe it’s because the Clintonian New Democrats are so mired in corruption that they’re afraid to challenge possible wrongdoing with the voting machines. Maybe both parties are always trying to rig the voting machines and generally rig the results that it simply becomes a competition about which party is better at rigging.

      That could explain why the Democrats never demanded a full recount in Florida back in 2000. The political establishment might fear anyone digging too deeply and the public scrutiny that would follow. Both parties may have a lot to keep hidden.

    • Yeah I agree that the Clinton family won’t challenge any election results because that would invite scrutiny to their decision to rig the primary against Bernie Sanders and their connections with companies that making voting machines.

      This is getting ugly. I hope that if the left wins the Democratic Civil War, they will come clean.

    • I can no longer pretend to care about the Democratic Party. I’ve written them off as beyond redemption. I wish progressives the best of luck in trying to take over. But the left-wingers and left-liberals need to look elsewhere.

  9. Clinton will never be a role model to me. She is not a example of a “strong women”
    She is pampered, can’t take responsibility ever, blaming everyone but herself, shitty judgement, these are not leadership qualities
    say what you want about Bernie, and I question many of his choices, but in the aftermath of the election at least he’s actually stepped up and showed leadership. Hillary didn’t even give a concession speech and left her traumatized supporters in the dark that night (very poor taste) and now where is she? Some leadership.

    • I don’t know if I can forgive Sanders for throwing his support behind Clinton. He shares some of the blame for the corrupt Democratic Party. He should have backed away from the party and continued organizing. That would have been serious leadership. Leaders like MLK and Malcolm X didn’t need no stinkin Democratic Party telling them what to do. Real leaders simply lead and force the parties to follow.

  10. Actually, if you see my earlier posts, I called out the “pains of the working class” rationale for Trump’s election that everyone is dutifully mouthing as reductionist. Dammit- I just spent 20 minutes trying to find the post I made on that but couldn’t. It was a long screed on how dissatisfaction of the “working class” was not born out by the numbers and any “hunt” for the metric that would explain that dissatisfaction was reductionism / confirmation bias. There are always suspicious ‘pain metrics’ if you look hard enough. You’ll just have to take my word for it that it was an awesome argument because I don’t want to research it again 🙂
    The real reason people are dissatisfied is that in an increasingly politically polarized world where the election cycle never ends, at least half the country thinks the world is ending because the out of power political party ensures they think this way through their media networks so they vote for “change”. This notion that the people are dissatisfied is a laugh. I mean it’s hilarious. The metric of people disagreeing with the “direction of the country” was something Gallup and others used for decades and once was predictive. Now? Meaningless. America disagreed with the direction of the country in 2004 (when they re-elected Bush), 2008, 2012 (when they re-elected Obama) and 2016. In other words, all the time.
    See this article for more on what I mean (I didn’t read it before I wrote the above, but scanning it now, it sums up with data both the constant state of Dissatisfation of the people and talks about political polarization)
    You can see the ’04-’16 numbers on “dissatisfaction” here –
    You cannot deduce anything from what people say as their problems; since they are coached non-stop to train their attention on the things that happen to be wrong.
    But whether that’s true or not, doesn’t have to do with the nature of the racial contract between whites and non-whites.
    As for whether you doubt the agreement was there or not, the fact simply was that it was impolitic for whites to organize on race and it was acceptable for minorities to do so. Things have changed. I’ve talked about the overreach of the left and the inevitable blowback for months.
    This election was not about policy; it was using policy as a trojan horse to play on racial animosity.

    • The polling report shows that satisfaction was extremely high in the late 1990s into the early 2000s. Satisfaction in 1999 was as high as it was at its highest after 9/11.

      Then it unsurprisingly dropped in the last years of Bush’s presidency, with wars that weren’t going well and with the Great Recession. It picked up ever so slightly with Obama’s presidency, but it never since got close to what it was earlier. That is strong evidence of how dissatisfied are Americans. In fact, it shows a majority has been continuously dissatisfied since 2004.

      None of that is surprising. Both the 9/11 terrorist attack and the Great Recession were demoralizing. The economy still hasn’t improved for many people and the unemployment rate (including permanent unemployment rate) remains high, especially in many rural areas and post-industrial cities.

      Wages have been stagnating for decades, buying power is weak as certain costs have increased (housing, healthcare, college, etc), the middle class has been shrinking, unions have been losing power for along time, economic mobility is down, the mortality rates of middle aged whites is worsening, rural communities are dying (downtowns being boarded up, local schools closed, populations aging, etc), small family farms have almost entirely disappeared, starting a small business has become increasingly difficult because of regulations and tax laws, and on and on.

      Those are real problems people are facing. And objectively speaking, there is much that is worse now than in the past. That is particularly true if you are an older American who remembers what the country and economy was like a half century ago. It’s simply a fact that the American Dream ain’t what it used to be. Even for minorities, economic mobility used to be higher in the past.

      It is a state of immense privilege to be oblivious to all these problems.

  11. “Whatever the origins of the term ‘White Privilege’ (I did read Peggy’s book when it came out- it is very laborious and sterile with some exceptions) and however it was meant originally (that whites have certain advantages that are worth them examining and questioning), a number of minority commenters went too far essentially lambasting whites for being “racists” for being white. I do agree with you that white liberals stir the pot and use minorities as a battering ram against their political rivals. But too many minorities take the bait- esp. true in other communities.
    I was watching some local govt. channel and it was of a school board meeting. A black woman got up to speak and just started calling the school adminstrators “racist-a*s” and on and on. She wasn’t making any sense; wasn’t being logical or giving real examples. This wasn’t anything highlighted on Breitbart; it was just me flipping on the TV and watching some stupid local TV channel where they show live footage of city hall meetings. I mean you can’t just keep doing stuff like this and people not reacting.”

    • Many people rant in public. You can flip on the tv and hear rants about reverse racism against whites, Cadillac-driving welfare queens, immigrants taking our jobs, FEMA detainment/death camps, chem trails, teachers indoctrinating children into liberals, Democrats coming to take our guns, Obama is a Muslim, and a thousand other forms of nonsense.

      I’m not sure why we should focus on certain rants and ignore all the others. And I’m not sure why we should take some random person ranting as somehow representative of anything other than that one person.

  12. Honestly I started losing faith in modern social-justice identity politics, at least in its current form, a while ago, but it became pretty acute when I saw the way it was used against Bernie. I have plenty of issues with his policies and he has plenty of problems, but it was gross how his old white guy-ness, was being used against him. Everything he said was sexist, racist, etc. “Excuse me, I’m talking” was sexist, his comments that people need to stop shouting at each other was taken out of context by the Clinton campaign as a sexist slight on women, etc. Him stepping aside for the two BLM protesters (sacrificing his speaking time to allow them to speak) was somehow racist, even though Hillary removing the #whichhillary woman and condescending to the BLM protestors in her midst wasn’t? It was just plain cringey. And I think Clinton running on her gender so much was unwise. Even Obama didn’t run on his blackness. I mean, she even sold a “woman card” at her campaign store (looks like a pink NYC metrocard. Which I actually would not mind having, haha!) It was weird because Clinton marketed herself as this strong woman, yet even a nice-guy pushover like Bernie Sanders is a sexist meaniehead? Not to mention her inability to take responsibility for any of her actions. Not very female-empowerment to me. I thought it was about treating equally and fairly, not like a special snowflake.

    tl;dr I don’t think emphasizing identity politics so much (on the left) can lead to much good in the end because it just ends up exacerbating tribalism. It’s foolish to think that shaming and “confession” realistically makes anyone more “apologetic.” Realistically it just makes the group being shamed and asked to confess-privilege resentful and more likely to co-opt your rhetoric for themselves, which is basically what the alt-right is.

    Regardless of what “group” we are, we all suffer from pride, blind-spots, tribalism, and selective empathy in which we more easily empathize with those we perceive as closer to ourselves because we can better see it happening to us.. Future efforts need to work on mitigating tribalism and honing empathy. Expanding peoples’ “in groups”

    • I basically agree. I’ve been complaining about this for years now. It’s not that I’m against identity politics on principle. I still think they have their place. And when used well and wisely, identity politics can be highly effective. But it’s also a dangerous strategy for liberals.

      Identity politics are inherently conservative in nature. In the end, conservatives will always win a fight based on identity politics or else, in winning, liberals stop acting like liberals. It brings the tribalistic conservative-mindedness out even in liberals.

      During the Enlightenment, liberal values and principles developed in opposition to identity politics. Liberalism took form through the ideals of a common humanity, universal rights, etc. Liberalism came to dominate by emphasizing what unites people rather than what separates them.

      That liberalism was always imperfect. But the aspiration was worthy. It seems that liberals have given up on the aspiration itself and, in the process, grown cynical. In such a fear of losing ground, liberals have shut down their own liberal vision.

    • Something about an article like that still seems to miss the point. The author is stuck in a mainstream mentality. My sense is that almost no one in the US wants or is able to really deal with the race issue. It’s not just whites being racist against everyone else but the whole friggin society.

      Light-skinned blacks are racist against dark-skinned blacks, and it often is mixed up with class as light-skinned blacks are on average wealthier. For similar reasons, wealthier and more well educated African immigrants are racist against poor native-born black Americans and often choose to live away from majority black communities. Blacks are racist against Hispanics and often show the same bigotry as whites against immigrants. Hispanics are racist against blacks because, well, everyone gets to be racist against blacks.

      Then there is the weird racism of how Asians get treated, portrayed as model minorities by whites and as potential enemies by blacks. Meanwhile, almost everyone including other minorites ignore Native Americans, which has deep racist roots, such as the first generation of free blacks being more than happy to become proud Indian fighters in the genocide of the last remaining free Native Americans.

      As for non-Hispanic whites, they’re even racist against other whites who are HIspanics. Just as their grandparents were often racist against whites who were ethnic immigrants and Catholics. The shifting nature of whiteness is part of the most fucked up part of it all. Hispanics will quickly be assimilated into whiteness and they’ll be as racist as other whites.

      A racialized society like this fucks with your head. No one escapes unscathed. It digs down deep into your psyche. In a racist society, pretty much everyone is racist one way or another.

      Do you think that joker who wrote the article is going to discuss how fucked up our society actually is? Not in a million years. She is just telling herself a nice story about how she gets it and no one else does. But it’s just more typical liberal bullshit. The country is still racist. Really!?! Sometimes I think people like that in the MSM are utter morons.

    • Also, the fact of the matter is the Clintons are as racist as Trump. They are just less out in the open about it. But is dog whistle politics and racialized tough-on-crime policies that fuck over minorities better than the blatherings of someone like Trump? One of the reasons Haitian-Americans voted for Trump in Florida is because they knew how Clinton and the Democrats had repeatedly fucked over Haitians, and for damn sure that has everything to do with race.

  13. It was tasteless for Clinton not to address the people gathered at the javits center that night and at least tried to reassure traumatized supporters. To not give a concession speech, to send out Podesta instead

    And “recovering from emotion etc” is not a valid excuse. Hillbots are all about strong women and female empowerment yet ironically they baby the shit outta Hillary

    Chat Conversation Start
    SAT 5:00PM

    For real
    SAT 7:34PM
    “He was always asking for one. Same goes for a sizable chunk of his supporters. Seems like 9 times out of 10, people pissing and moaning about ‘PC librul culture’ is just them being uncomfortable with being called out for holding questionable or antiquated opinions about other groups of people. They want a safe space so they never have to deal with or acknowledge feedback from the world they live in.

    SAT 11:07PM
    “Reading through this thread I see that perhaps there are different definitions of what identity politics is. For me, it is when there is an appeal to or a targeting of whole persons based on singular features of their identity such as race, gender, age, religion, location, class. So if you are a woman vote for me I am a woman. If you are a woman and he is a man dont vote for him. It’s not a good thing. Identity politics is what white men have been doing for centuries. It was wrong then and is wrong now – though revenge for the formerly disenfranchised groups can be momentarily sweet. Trouble is that people of color and women are human beings that are also capable of being cravenly ambitious, warlike and deceptive. A candidate that uses identity politics is asking the voter to not consider their record and to just assume. By focusing on identity specifics, the voters ‘ focus is narrowed and they become unwilling to consider how issues intersect and impact in the real world.”
    “One thing I saw here and there on Sanders’s failure to reach African Americans was that he didn’t make the connection between the implosion of the housing market (which was felt most harshly by the AA community) and the Wall Street bailouts. The way forward is to make explicit the ways in which class, race, and sex especially (but not exclusively–religion, heritage, etc.) intersect–eg the Wall Street bailout supported by corporate democrats hurt your community in this way. The specifics matter (as you say). But identity politics is meaningless if it’s not also tied to class politics and economics.”
    “There is some truth here worth considering. Most of what is wrong with identity politics was pointed out by Arthur Schlesinger half a century ago.

    But there is still a big lie at the center of the argument here – that Trump won because he appealed to ‘whiteness’.

    Trump did not win; the left lost. The people who did not vote were far more significant than those who did. And the reason they didn’t vote is that Clinton was a terrible candidate, and because the media shattered their credibility trying to drag her over the finish line.

    And this pattern isn’t new. Democrats have control of statehouses and governorships around the country over the last 8 years. It’s not all identity politics; it’s bad policy, like Obamacare, and feckless leadership.

    Sure, ditch the oppresion-mongering and trigger-warnings. It’s a start. But don’t fool yourself that those are your only problems.

    Good post
    Yeah there is so many people out there who just get it you know and over the past year the identity politics of the all right and the SJWs
    Really just made a lot of people sick especially those who are privy to Reddit

    I think we got a face with the majority of the country is white and doing OK financially and a trump presidency is kind a like whatever to them.


    Comatose, by Ayreon
    From the Ayreon’s last album, 01011001 Lyrics: No need to feel the pain No need to feel betrayed No need to feel inane No need to feel be afraid Chorus: Wake…

    It was tasteless for Clinton not to address the people gathered at the javits center that night and at least tried to reassure traumatized supporters
    To not give a concession speech, to send out Podesta instead
    And “recovering from emotion etc” is not a valid excuse. Hillbots are all about strong women and female empowerment yet ironically they baby the shit outta Hillary

    If she’s a “strong female role model” then she needs to act like one
    “strong women” don’t wimp out of concession speeches because of emotional disappointment (likely putting it lightly since this was literally her life dream shattered.) You know what leaders do when they lose? They suck up their disappointment and reassure their followers

    And now she’s no where to be found. Which gives the impression that she’s been in it for herself all this time, rather than to serve the people, given the turmoil many are now in. That’s where Bernie is doing better than her. Although he makes some questionable choices and I have issues with him, at least he’s actually fucking STEPPING UP

    • This:

      “Trump did not win; the left lost. The people who did not vote were far more significant than those who did. And the reason they didn’t vote is that Clinton was a terrible candidate, and because the media shattered their credibility trying to drag her over the finish line.”

  14. For a “strong woman” Hillary Clinton supporters and clinton herself are absolutely incapable of taking any responsibility

    • This loss hit them hard. It’s going to be a long, slow, grueling process of mourning. They aren’t going to give up easily on the blaming and scapegoating. It will take much more despair before some of them begin to entertain doubts and questions. But I suppose many will never take responsibility.

  15. I was talking more to a Clinton supporter. She is still distraught. She thinks the world has ended, that everything good will be destroyed and that all progress will be undone. She said that, if she had a choice now, she never would have had her daughter.

    This made me think of the problems of liberalism. It’s not as if Clinton was going to make the world better. It was almost guaranteed to get worse under a Clinton administration, the slow growth of authoritarianism and the police state, of neoliberalism and neoconservatism. But white liberals like this person I spoke to have lived relatively protected lives.

    It’s not that there aren’t plenty of white liberals who are basically working class or not far above it. But they’ve never lived in a poor inner city or poor rural area, never experienced severe poverty and long term unemployment, never been the victim of tough-on-crime laws and pointless wars. They have no fucking clue what is going on in the world and has been going on for longer than they’ve been alive.

    What has come crashing down is a happy dream, a bubble they’ve been protected within. They are being forced to face a reality that was already there. But to their minds it’s as if this reality is entirely new, as if it came out of nowhere.

    I wonder if liberals like this support politicians like Clinton for the very reason that Democrats are part of the problem. It’s a worldview of melodrama. If Clinton had won, they could have hidden away in stupefying rhetoric as the world got worse. And as Trump won, the world will also get worse. The important point is the near cosmic level of a battle of good vs evil. They don’t actually want the world to get better, in some sense, because if a politician ever took the good liberal dream seriously all of a sudden liberals would have to be responsible. It’s easier to accept failure. And Clinton would have been as much a failure of liberal claims as will Trump.

    Liberals fear success more than they fear failure. That is a strange thing. I don’t know how else to make sense of this. I could simply call liberals hypocrites and dismiss them, but I think that lets them off too easily. This result is as much a product of liberalism as of reactionary politics. Trump is the near inevitable result of what liberalism has become. And if Clinton had won, it would have simply delayed for a time someone like Trump coming to power and the next demagogue would likely be far worse.

    How can we get liberals to see their complicity? If they want the rest of us to take them seriously, they need to take their own liberal claims seriously. The melodrama of the world ending is unconvincing. The world has been ending for decades, no matter which party was in power. The world is always ending, as it becomes something else. If liberals wanted liberalism and if supposedly liberal politicians were actually liberal, then maybe it would be different. But maybe liberalism as it is needs a world that is constantly ending, a demon to scapegoat.

    Maybe liberalism is more of a story than anything else.

    • There were some other things about the Clinton supporter I talked to. She is a partisan Democrat, along with her husband and parents. Her mother really went off the deep end with Clinton’s loss, but she also didn’t respond well.

      She said that she had unfriended about 60 people because she disagreed with their opinions about the election. When I asked her about Clinton’s lying, deceit, and flip-flopping, she said that everyone does that. I told her about all the harm that has been done by Clinton’s neocon and neoliberal positions, but she wouldn’t believe me. This Democrat would never rationalize bad behavior in this way if it came from a politician she didn’t support, especially a Republican. Yet, in her mind, Clinton is simply a good person, no matter what evidence to the contrary.

      She thought it horrible that some Trump supporters make racist statements, implying in her mind that all Trump supporters must be racists, and therefore racism should disqualify Trump. But if all the wrongdoing and actual harm of Clinton didn’t disqualify her, why should racism and potential harm disqualify Trump?

        • She is an older white lady. Even though she is basically working class, I get the sense that she had strongly identified with Hillary Clinton. So, the lost election felt personal to her.

          I’m not sure how far off the deep end she has gone.

          She has been posting obsessively on Facebook since the election. She can’t let it go. At one moment, she seems like she wants to look for the positive. But that rarely lasts long. She quickly attacks anyone who disagrees with her opinions and support of Clinton. She is very angry. I suspect she has also been unfriending people.

          Her daughter told me that she has been less emotionally stable in recent years. This includes growing paranoia. That led to a divorce and now she lives alone. So she generally isn’t in a good place right now. The Clinton loss was the metaphorical last straw.

          This lady is getting older. There probably is the fear many older people have of becoming irrelevant to the larger world. Clinton was the last chance for many older (white) feminists to feel like what they had committed their whole lives to mattered. It was their last chance to make a difference, as they see it. Their entire lives are now a failure.

          This particularly lady and her daughter are definitely in an irritable mood. The mother could be falling into depression. And it is hard to pull oneself out of depression as one ages. It’s likely that she’ll never let this election go and it will replay endlessly until her dying day. My sense is that she might never be the same again.

  16. Yeah my moms so protective of hillary. And the only perso I know who trusts TV news lol.

    I wonder if she’s slightly autistic. Maybe she’s just expressive. She can melt down like the worlds ending one minute and chill the next. When I was a kid it was weird as fuck.

    Today she had a meltdown telling me that trump was the devil and Americans are all evil racists and for me to remember that every white guy out there is secretly racist as hates me. While very agitated and yelling. My moms very emotionally intense.

    When I was telling my mom about the voter purging that went on in NY she told me to stop it because if word gets out it hurts hillary, lol.

    • You do have to learn not to react to everything people express. There are plenty of people like your mom. It’s easier, though, when it’s someone you know well because you’re familiar with their shifting moods. But for others it’s harder to tell where a reaction is coming from and what it means to the person in their life situation.

    • I agree with most of the article. But the initial quote is problematic. Here is the last part of it:

      “For multicultural globalists, national boundaries are increasingly obsolete and perhaps even immoral. According to the emerging progressive orthodoxy, the identities that count are subnational (race, gender, orientation) and supranational (citizenship of the world). While not necessarily representative of Democratic voters, progressive pundits and journalists increasingly speak a dialect of ethical cosmopolitanism or globalism — the idea that it is unjust to discriminate in favor of one’s fellow nationals against citizens of foreign countries.”

      A person has to be extremely clueless to think that Democrats, specifically the Democratic establishment, are genuinely against national boundaries and have much concern about for citizens of other countries. They might care about particular individuals of foreign countries with whom they have economic ties and shared interests. Their loyalty is to the wealthy or rather a specific set of the wealthy, involving an alliance of countries in North America, Western Europe, and the Middle East.

      When Bush let the Saudi royal family leave the US on planes immediately after the 9/11 attack, it wasn’t because he cared about foreign citizens as a general principle. The motivation was that the Bush family had a longtime business relationship with the Saudi royal family and that guaranteed they would be treated better than the average US citizen. And Democrats are no different. Under either party, big biz will get special treatment (loopholes, protection from most legal prosecutions, fines that are lower than externalized costs, bailouts, direct and indirect subsidies, etc), and it doesn’t necessarily matter if they are domestic or foreign corporations. Some of the banks that the US government bailed out were not US banks, and that was our US taxpayer money that bailed them out.

      Take the border issue. Neither party really cares about it.

      No Republican president has seriously attempted to close the border. Reagan used an executive order to create one of the largest undocumented immigrant amnesty bills in US history. And here we are now with a Democratic president, Obama, who has deported more undocumented immigrants than any president in history. Presidents do whatever is convenient in the moment, whatever various powerful and influential interests are pushing them to do. Clinton, if we were elected, would follow suit. I think it was in one of the leaked transcripts that she said she isn’t for open borders, but then again I’m sure no professional politician is for open borders.

      It has nothing to do with the politics of parties and ideologies.

      The economic and political elite in the US on all sides are global multiculturalists in relation to the economic and political elite in other countries, excluding countries that are enemy states. But these same elite on all sides are against global multiculturalism when it involves anyone else, other than when relaxation of immigration laws serve big biz interests.

      Let’s get this straight. Of all the failures of the Democratic Party, one of them for damn sure isn’t caring too much for poor brown people in or from other countries. If that was the case, Democratic politicians wouldn’t be as eager as their Republican counterparts to deport undocumented immigrants. Nor would they be so committed to invading, bombing, toppling the governments of, arming paramilitary groups in, implementing covert operations in, and placing trade restrictions on countries filled with poor brown people.

      It’s crazy as fuck to think that the plutocratic establishment. Republican and Democrats, cares even the slightest about anyone who isn’t filthy rich.

    • I’ve been familiar with Lakoff’s theory for years. It’s interesting and worthy of consideration. He does have some useful insights.

      But it seems he is missing the point. Many of the people who voted for Trump didn’t vote Republican in the past. In fact, many of them used to be Democrats, not an insignificant few having been lifelong loyal Democratic partisans. Other typical Democrat voters either went third party or didn’t vote at all.

      Democratic rhetoric didn’t change recently. And so rhetoric can’t explain why voting patterns changed. A large percentage of Democratic voters, both minorities and working class whites, have always been social conservatives and what he calls pragmatic conservatives.

      I stand by my position that this election was lost by Clinton, not won by Trump. Clinton was a pathetic candidate running a clueless campaign. Many other Democratic candidates could have beat Trump, most of all Sanders.

  17. Let’s never forget the DNC asked the media to give Trump such publicity, too, thinking they were helping run the weakest candidate for Hillary to battle against. What happened to Hillary (and to tall of us) is entirely Hillary’s doing (and her cronies, but they’re all in the same boat).

    • It was one small piece of a failed strategy backed by a failed ideology, in terms of the impact that ideology has had on most Americans for decades. This wasn’t an election that went to Trump, as he was just an opportunist in a rare historical moment. Rather, the election went against the status quo of neoliberalism and neoconservatism.

      Even among those who voted for Trump, few of them probably actually like him or agreed with him about much of anything. This wasn’t about Trump in any shape or form. Even in terms of rhetoric, Sanders was far more successful than Trump. It was only weak competition that made Trump look even slightly appealing.

      It’s that simple.

    • “The election is over, and with it, so it is the Clinton’s quarter-century long domination of Democratic politics. And so lately I’ve been thinking about the Clintons’ historical legacy. It’s not a pretty picture. The neoliberal economic policies of Bill Clinton, which Hillary strongly supported–free trade, deregulation, the obsession with deficit reduction–led to soaring levels of economic inequality, flat or declining wages for most Americans, and record low rates of labor participation. The Clinton crime bill ruined countless lives, especially black lives. Welfare “reform” immiserated poor families and led to a dramatic upswing in rates of extreme poverty. Under the watch of Presidents Clinton and Obama, the Democratic party at the state and local level was allowed to slowly die away. Today, the Democratic party as an institution is probably weaker than it’s ever been at any time in its long history. The Democrats now control none of the three branches of government and only 18 governorships and 13 state legislatures. In the weeks leading up to the election, many political observers were confidently predicting an historic Trump defeat followed by a meltdown of the GOP. But–plot twist!–it’s the Democratic party that has collapsed into a smoking heap of rubble.”

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