Author Topic: US Politics & Presidential Election 2020  (Read 4358 times)

dubsartur

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Re: US Politics & Presidential Election 2020
« Reply #60 on: November 08, 2020, 03:43:39 AM »
I would say that a 51 to 48%, high-turnout election where one candidate is a generic older politician and the other is a pathological liar and narcissist with a history of fraud and failed businesses who just spent 4 years governing according to his nature is pretty sanginuary close!  Especially if he hints on live TV that he will ignore the results if he loses and toys with private militias engaged in political violence.  I do not know where the United States goes from here, after Sulla comes Marius and Caesar.

The most common interpretation of the 2016 US federal election across different political perspectives focused on individuals and circumstances: "there was an anti-establishment mood, and one big party's candidate had some weaknesses facing the other big party's candidate."  That interpretation has been falsified.
« Last Edit: November 08, 2020, 03:53:28 AM by dubsartur »

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Re: US Politics & Presidential Election 2020
« Reply #61 on: November 08, 2020, 08:42:19 AM »
I hate to be impartial but I was surprised at how happy I felt about the result.

Apparently both candidates were the two most voted for US candidates in history, which is commendable.
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Jubal

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Re: US Politics & Presidential Election 2020
« Reply #62 on: November 08, 2020, 11:16:12 AM »
It will in fairness probably not be 51-48: that's still probably got some widening to do.

But yes, "close" of course is relative, and it's simultaneously, I think, valid to say "this should never have been within ten points, one candidate was essentially a proto-fascist and we should be scared of the fact that so many millions voted for him", and also valid to say "this is the first time an incumbent president has been unseated in nearly thirty years, by a chunky margin both of popular and electoral votes, and despite overall good economic performance in the last half decade, and as such represents a notable electoral achievement for the challengers". Both of those takes are true.

I don't think we'll be able to get good theses on what drove politics in the Trump era on the Republican side until we have some more elections without Trump at the helm. I genuinely don't know to what extent Trump's particular coalition of voters holds together without him, or how internally fractious the GOP will get now. And I don't think we'll have much chance of understanding 2016 and 2020 until we see that because the "how much of Trump's support is specific to Trump" question is still an unanswered behemoth.
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dubsartur

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Re: US Politics & Presidential Election 2020
« Reply #63 on: November 09, 2020, 04:24:26 AM »
I thought they were more or less done counting?  Apparently the USA has nothing like Elections Canada and its provincial equivalents so the poor chaps have to rely on news agencies (sigh) deciding who is ahead enough that they will probably win.

Any idea why Naomi Klein is still writing conspiratorial things like "even if the Democratic party base was much more politically aligned with Bernie Sanders, or Elizabeth Warren, in their support for Medicare for All, a Green New Deal, for racial justice, the party was sure that Bernie Sanders was too risky. And so, as we all remember, they banded together and gave us Biden."?  My impression is that Biden won the internal party election for candidacy fair and square, and that one reason for that is that Sanders appeals to educated Democrats in big cities and young people but is not so popular with other demographics.  And Ceglowski seems to be saying that this time he picked new candidates, raised as much money as he thought they could usefully spend, and saw the vast majority lose- so he tried people pushing old-school early 20th century social democratic policies and they still lost.

I hate that political speech is so dishonest and such epistemological cotton candy and drives otherwise rational and evidence-based people mad.

Jubal

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Re: US Politics & Presidential Election 2020
« Reply #64 on: November 09, 2020, 10:59:41 AM »
Oh, no, they won't be done counting for a fortnight or so yet - largely this is due to some late arriving ballots in a lot of states, either mail-ins that were postmarked but not recieved by election day, or some states have a late window for overseas votes, and then there's the US practice of provisional ballots, where voters who can't prove their identity or right to vote can cast a ballot provisionally and then have a week or two to supply the state with the relevant data to make their ballot allowable. This slow process is partly why the practice of "calling" races where the count isn't actually finished happens - once the result is obvious, people want to know it rather than waiting days for the last 5% of the votes when those aren't enough to change the result anyway. So even now we know most of the results (but by no means all), we will be getting ballots coming in for ages yet, and most of those later/provisional ballots historically lean Democrat, since Republican voters tend to be older and more middle-class and go and vote on election day. Nate Silver said recently that he thinks Biden's current vote lead over Trump could shift up from 4% to 5% or even 6% by the time all the results are finally certified.

I can see some advantages in the US' system here - it is both very secure and has a lot of features like provisional balloting to allow reasonable turnout despite that - but personally I'd probably reduce the excessive security measures, make election day a holiday, and set an earlier mail-in deadline to keep turnout high and count faster. That said I'm relatively relaxed about voter fraud because the rate of it is utterly minuscule and relatively concerned about voter suppression which I think is a big deal, and clearly a lot of Americans don't share my priorities there.



The Sanders base seems to have a big "Sanders was cheated" mentality, which has unfortunately included some of them amplifying Trumpian type accusations (like that he's senile, which he very clearly is not). There also seems to be a strong conspiracy theory that the DNC somehow forced or paid off Elizabeth Warren to run in order to split Sanders' vote. It is true of course that after the South Carolina primary all the moderates in the race jumped behind Biden and propelled him rapidly to victory, but, well, that's politics. It shouldn't be a surprise or a sign of anything untoward if a Buttigeig or a Klobuchar gets behind a Biden-type candidate, that's just logical in the Democrats' system. So yeah, I don't know Klein specifically but this seems very much in tune with Sanders-hardliner discourse.

The other thing about Sanders which his biggest fans haven't faced is that he did much worse against Biden than against Clinton with white working-class Democrats, so he wasn't able to repeat e.g. winning Michigan's primary this year. I'm not sure what this tells us - partly I suspect that Biden as a middle-class man from Scranton has a reasonably good appeal shot across the midwest, partly that Sanders probably benefited from sexism among voters in 2016.

Do you have a link to the Ceglowski piece mentioned?



One good story in local races was that this was a really good election for some minority groups. LGBT candidates got elected in record numbers (largely as Democrats at state level), including the US' first trans woman to become a state senator (in New Hampshire), and the US' first non-binary person to get elected office (in Oklahoma). There are also now six Native Americans in congress, oddly enough half of them are Republicans which is curious considering the hugely Democrat lean of Native Americans generally. Indeed Biden's probable win in Arizona will almost certainly be lower than the margin of victory he had among Navajo voters there, some of whom reportedly rode ten miles on horseback in order to cast their votes.

Relatedly, I noticed that there were two states in which no counties went for Biden (Oklahoma, West Virginia) and three where no counties went for Trump (Rhode Island, Hawaii, Massachusetts). I'd actually expected some of the plains states to be block red as they are some of the reddest states, but just about all of them have at least one Native American dominated county and those are pretty much always solid blue.
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dubsartur

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Re: US Politics & Presidential Election 2020
« Reply #65 on: November 10, 2020, 12:44:54 AM »
Do you have a link to the Ceglowski piece mentioned?
He seems to be mostly posting on twitter and his mailing list for potential donors.  Its a little weird, towards the end of the campaign he was alternatively begging for money and musing whether any of it matters or it is just a donation to Google and Facebook with the various parties and campaigns as an intermediary.  The most sense I could make of his twitter posts was "donations to underfunded candidates matter, because they know how to reach voters where they are and get them to the polls where they will tend to vote a party ticket, donations to big political advocacy groups and parties and presidential campaigns will just be eaten by parasites."

I liked when he was writing essays and talks better because it was easier to tell the serious thought apart from the blowing steam and the killing time.  It was valuable to hear from someone who is actually engaged in the US political process, not just writing and talking and feeling about it, but I'm not willing to distill it out of his twitter feed.

Edit: And yes, my impression from outside the country and the party was that people in smoke-filled rooms wanted Hillary Clinton to be the Democrats' candidate for president in 2016 and were upset to get such a fight from Saunders, but 2016 is not 2020, this year there were many candidates for candidate and the party seemed divided behind different ones, as far as I can tell from outside the country.


Wikipedia gives 46% Trump, 48% Clinton in 2016 which is about what I remembered.  So we're talking about a shift in vote share of 1-2% which is probably about what we would see if the election were two days earlier or two days later or the weather was different on election day.
« Last Edit: November 10, 2020, 10:25:10 PM by dubsartur »

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Re: US Politics & Presidential Election 2020
« Reply #66 on: November 11, 2020, 08:42:36 PM »
Even in 2016, the simple fact is that Sanders couldn't actually have won without far better support from some key demographics within the Democrats.

I have some sympathy with the thesis that donations to underfunded down-ballot candidates can matter, though I don't think it's very applicable outside the US for the most part as parties both raise and spend less in most places. I wonder if I should write more posts on my blog - I agree that twitter isn't good for engaging in any sort of serious thought, and I probably use it too much.
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dubsartur

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Re: US Politics & Presidential Election 2020
« Reply #67 on: November 12, 2020, 02:43:01 AM »
Even in 2016, the simple fact is that Sanders couldn't actually have won without far better support from some key demographics within the Democrats.

I have some sympathy with the thesis that donations to underfunded down-ballot candidates can matter, though I don't think it's very applicable outside the US for the most part as parties both raise and spend less in most places. I wonder if I should write more posts on my blog - I agree that twitter isn't good for engaging in any sort of serious thought, and I probably use it too much.
It may be more important in the USA than in many countries because of all the factors that make it harder for workers, poorer people, and urban people to vote.  If voting day is a holiday (like in Australia) or you can vote pretty much anywhere with a cheap common kind of ID, or voting is just checking a box on a scrap of paper and dropping it in a box (like in Canada) turnout is probably more evenly distributed across the population.  The way Ceglowski describes it, many of his candidates have to ask people to go out in the dark and the freezing cold after a shift at a meat packing plant to cast their ballot, or reach people with a high-school education who are really really interested in antitrust in the beef industry or some other topic that the New York Times might talk about once in five years.

Now that he has more or less won, apparently the Joe Biden team has explained that when he said he would be a "transitional president" to make room for new blood, that did not mean that he would not run again in 2024 at the age of 82.  After three years in the hot seat he may have changed his mind.

The single biggest thing that saved American democracy these past four years is that the current president is too lazy to want to be a Duerte, a Bolsonaro, an Erdoğan, a Putin, or a Xi.  As Tacitus would have put it, he is not capax imperii.  His secret dream seems to be a mafia boss and he was happy to pretend to be a wheeler and dealer on TV, and he'd rather humiliate capable subordinates than build a team of people who can all do something better than him (Xenophon, Sallust, and Ada Palmer could all explain in short words why that is a terrible idea).  The reason the people with political science training are talking about norm-breaking is that a lot of things in society work because people don't think they can get away with breaking them.  It is easier to banish a habit of thought than a piece of knowledge: a lot of ambitious disciplined awful people are going to keep trying to pull the same levers he pulled, and there is no way to know whether any will work.  This election did not hurt the Republican party much (having the presidency was nice but Trump was not a team player and they got their Supreme Court justices).



Assuming they get the current president out of the White House on 20 January, I expect a Biden / Harris administration will make most Americans' lives slightly better, but in the longer term I honestly do not know where the United States can go.  This is a very very bad situation and I honestly can't see any parallels that ended well.
« Last Edit: November 12, 2020, 07:15:27 AM by dubsartur »

Pentagathusosaurus rex

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Re: US Politics & Presidential Election 2020
« Reply #68 on: November 15, 2020, 01:24:53 PM »
It's nice to see Trump reacting to the election loss with his characteristic grace and humility.

Huehue.

Jubal

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Re: US Politics & Presidential Election 2020
« Reply #69 on: November 15, 2020, 09:15:50 PM »
@Dubs: I think it's not just the factors you mention re difficulty to vote but also far far more downballot races over much wider areas and a more money and less manpower dependent system. In most UK seats, when we campaign, on election day there will indeed be no campaigning in a downballot council race, but that's because we've moved the candidate and everyone they've got to a target constituency. Within a given 40,000 to 60,000 person parliamentary constituency there simply isn't the space for downballot candidates to be organising that separately to the top-banner race, and we don't have many geographically wider races to fight most of the time.

And yes, I feel like the current Trump supporters' flailing about will subside, but I guess we'll see.
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dubsartur

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Re: US Politics & Presidential Election 2020
« Reply #70 on: December 02, 2020, 05:03:43 AM »
My summary of Ceglowski's posts has an implicit "for federal politics in the United States" attached.  For the past few years he only talks about US and Hong Kong politics, but unlike most of the talky universitied people who do that he actually visits Hong Kong and works to get people elected in the United States.  Before that he was trying to organize workers at US ad and personal information companies.

His essays / talks were useful for self-governing people everywhere, but his political actions are just academic for those of us outside those two countries. 



And yes, I feel like the current Trump supporters' flailing about will subside, but I guess we'll see.
It hurts me to talk and think about this or to try to explain, because I have a unique background, but I will try one more time to give my model.

There are the millions of coloured hat types who are edging each other on to commit mass violence for white male supremacy (authoritarian followers).  There are the useful idiots who will apologize for whatever a Republican president does like Victor Davis Hanson.  But then there are a whole crowd of clever, dilligent, terrible people like Gina Haspell who are saying to themselves "we can go harder-core on the authoritarianism than we did under Bush II, we don't need to dog-whistle and observe the proprieties like only murdering and torturing people in distant countries."  These people don't give a hog's turd for Trump or Trumpism, other than that he is a halfway effective authoritarian leader.  And these are the really dangerous ones, because the US state is very good at resisting physical violence (just look at how the domestic terrorism of the 1970s faded away), but so far it is not very effective at resisting fascism from within.

The authoritarian followers can bludgeon, shoot, or drive over one or two people at a time as they have since the 2016 US election and this is terrible and tragic.  It is the wannabe authoritarian leaders and office-holders who can build the re-education camps and turn that tragedy into a statistic.  Americans are very very lucky that Trump was not interested in picking the useful Berias and Goebels out of the crowd of ruthless, greedy, incompetent people who flocked around him in 2016 and 2017.

I am very sorry and it hurts me to talk about this.



Talking about "Trump supporters" is a superficial journalistic way of thinking about problems which are really structural.  David 'Orcinus' Neiwert noticed that the hate crimes and embrace of madness by elected officials and professional sharers-of-opinions increased in 2008 after Obama's election.  The kidnappings, murders, and tortures by federal agencies began in the first administration of Bush Minor.  The deranged online commentators who we talk about this year are just continuing the work bringing increasingly radical ideas together and sharing them which Fox News, bookstores, and radio shows did in the late 20th century and the 2000s.  The conservative movement in the United States has been heading in this direction for at least 40 years, its part of a global network including other national governments and powerful parties, and it won't stop until its publicly humiliated or until the patient sociopath wing decides that the impulsive showmen are no longer useful tools.  Hofstadter's "The Paranoid Style in American Politics" came out in 1964 right?

And in response to all the dehumanizing language from conservatives, many people who see themselves as liberals or progressives have embraced authoritarianism and started using dehumanizing language.  Anyone who says "inevitable" is selling something, but once you descend this many steps into the Pit of Civil Strife its hard to turn around and climb back out.
« Last Edit: December 03, 2020, 07:46:37 PM by dubsartur »

Jubal

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Re: US Politics & Presidential Election 2020
« Reply #71 on: December 06, 2020, 01:55:21 PM »
Firstly - if it's painful for you to talk about a particular issue, you honestly shouldn't feel obliged to do so. Especially at the moment, looking after yourself should come first and above dealing with the relatively inconsequential back and forth we have here!

I do see where your model is coming from - I think you're talking about a different specific issue within US politics to the one I'm addressing though. When I discuss the current issues of Trump supporters, I am using that term in a specific and limited sense. It's not superficial or journalistic to say Trump supporters when that's what one means, and nor I think is it pointless to address the specific social dynamics of that sub-movement. This is for a number of reasons: one is that how those dynamics play out and how die-hard Trump supporters as a voting block shift with the change in status of their current personality cult leader actually could have very real impacts on the future of the GOP and the strength of different forces within it. As you say, there are also real physical dangers of violence, and one shouldn't discount those, even if recognising that their impact may tend to be more individual than structural. Nonetheless I think there are structural issues, or at least sociological ones that intersect and interact with the structures proper, in how hardline authoritarian followers react to changes of circumstance and situation. Those often volatile dynamics are important to how the authoritarian leaders are able to take hold and gain and retain power within their movements. When I discuss Trump supporters, this is where I'm coming from - not to say that this is somehow the core problem, but that it's a specific current dynamic of how encroaching authoritarianism is developing and that one should have an eye on it.

Your point, if I understand it rightly, is more to say that this is a smaller problem when it comes to the prospect of encroaching fascism than a) the structuralisation and normalisation of authoritarianism both in the GOP and wider society across the last four decades and b) the presence of more skilled proto-authoritarians who would have the capacity to do far more damage in a smarter hard right government. I agree with both of those things, they just weren't what I was writing about when discussing Trump supporters. Discussing and examining the micro-dynamic of particular movements should be a building block in understanding the wider system - and indeed I'm sceptical of the idea that one can paint really long term pictures of social system developments without considering the blocks that make up the system and how the system would have reacted if things were different. I agree with you that a major problem of journalism is often that it treats these as the core and end point of the issue rather than part of wider and longer term changes and dynamics, but I am not sure it's fair to stipulate the reverse. Or, all people who take superficial takes on how Trumpism works will write about "Trump supporters" as a core issue, but the reverse case that people writing about Trump supporters as a block are necessarily taking a superficial view of the system doesn't necessarily stand I think.
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dubsartur

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Re: US Politics & Presidential Election 2020
« Reply #72 on: December 07, 2020, 04:33:28 AM »
Thank you Jubal!  I find I often misunderstand people right now (and vice versa).  It comes with the neurodiversity.

I am sorry if the last paragraph of my previous post was offensive.  I am scared for my American friends, and because I live in the only one of the six largest countries which is not governed by an authoritarian strongman.

I feel like there is a short-term issue of militias plotting to behead their state governor and senators who won't admit that Biden got a clear majority of electoral votes, and the long-term embrace of violent hate by so many in the United States.  I think that political violence in the United States will probably decline over the next six months, but I'm not sure about the next six years.

One speculation I have seen is that if Trump is alive and out of prison in 2023, he will try to become the Republican presidential candidate again.  If not, it will be someone else who does not see women, brown people, the propertyless, or foreigners as people.
« Last Edit: December 07, 2020, 04:49:15 AM by dubsartur »

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Re: US Politics & Presidential Election 2020
« Reply #73 on: December 08, 2020, 02:12:47 PM »
Has there actually been any violence yet regarding the election results?

dubsartur

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Re: US Politics & Presidential Election 2020
« Reply #74 on: December 09, 2020, 03:22:47 AM »
Has there actually been any violence yet regarding the election results?
My understanding is that there have been a few dead a week since at least November 2016.  There have been a lot of murder and rape threats, plots to kidnap government officials or seize houses of government, and a lot of threatening with weapons (oh, and the Canadian who is charged with mailing ricin-laced packages to the president and other elected officials, and of course trying to block post office service and ban measures to control the pandemic which are very violent if your proscription arrives late, you lose your job, or you get a bad case of COVID from someone who could not be compelled to wear a mask in public). 

Edit: When the governor of Florida had police raid the home of a data scientist (Rebekah Jones) at gunpoint at 8:30 am on 7 December because she criticizes his handling of the pandemic and the numbers public health officials under his authority release, that is partisan and violent (allegedly, she logged in to a public address system which she should have been denied access to after she was fired, but it had a single username and password so the only evidence is an IP address).  Its much less violence than some people expected, but someone armed demanding that you hand over your property is violence. 

I don't know who could say whether there has been an increase in the past month, maybe the Southern Poverty Law Centre.  Trying to separate out tactical partisan violence, various COVID and Q-Anon conspiracy theories, and white supremacist violence feels a bit academic.  Was the guy who burst into a pizza joint with a rifle because he believed it had a Democratic party child rape dungeon in the nonexistent basement conspiratorial, partisan, or misogynist?  Por qué no los dos?

For the last month I saw Americans obsessed that Trump might try to steal the election or organize a coup, and since the middle of November that strikes me as more "weather" than "climate" (its not a zero chance, and the Republican party has not disowned his claims to have won, but I don't see signs that the military or the courts would support him).  So far the people who feared street fighting after the election have been pleasantly surprised.
« Last Edit: December 09, 2020, 04:18:47 AM by dubsartur »