Clinton and the Convention and Where We Go From Here

Original photo ABC/Ida Mae Astute. Used under Creative Commons license.

As I did last week with the Republican National Convention and Trump, some thoughts today on the Democratic National Convention and Clinton:

1. At the beginning the DNC certainly looked like it had all the fixin’s for an RNC-level shitshow, what with the Dead-End Berners and e-mails and DNC Chair Debbie Wasserman-Schultz’s career imploding in real time. But then a funny thing happened on the way to the shitshow: it all got managed. Wasserman-Schultz was ridden out of town on the nicest, most face-saving rail that could be found, Bernie Sanders and the majority of his delegates were publicly honored and catered to, and the ones that wouldn’t be mollified were first put in their place (via the good graces of Sarah Silverman) and then on later nights generally counteracted and out-chanted on the floor.

Meanwhile, up on stage, the A-list of Democratic politics and of Celebrityland went out, hit their marks, gave their speeches that ranged from dully competent to oh, wow, and without exception endorsed Hillary Clinton, as they were supposed to. All of which is to say, this convention went off about as well as it possibly could, especially considering the potential for chaos that had unloaded itself earlier in the week.

Remember how last week I asked how Trump could be trusted to manage an entire country if he couldn’t even handle a four-day self-advertisement? To flip it around, the competent running of this particular four-day self-advertisement does not imply the Clinton and the Democrats will also run the country well, but, Jesus, the mere, simple competence of it, even with its concomitant drama, is like a cool glass of water after a hard wander in the desert.

This year a major difference between the Democrats and the Republicans is simply this: They both had their shitshows, but only the Republicans put theirs up on a stage and called it a convention.

2. During President Obama’s speech on the third night, I started seeing tweets and comments from GOP operatives that were, bluntly, a little shell-shocked at how much better and, honestly, more adult Obama and the other DNCs speakers’ speeches were than what transpired at the RNC the week before. The general gist of the tweets was “Waaaaaaah the Democrats are stealing our stuff” — meaning the themes of patriotism, military honor and, yes, “real American-ness” had found their way into the DNC speeches when they should have been at the RNC.

It’s certainly true the Democrats swept up all that iconography, gave it the slightest of twists to the left, and held it up for all to see. But two things here. One, it never was the GOPs to own exclusively in the first place, particularly when the rhetoric of the GOP rarely jibed with the policies of the GOP. The Democrats have as much right to them as the GOP does. Two, well, what the hell did the GOP expect? You left all that iconography just lying around because you’re off nominating a self-interested blowhard who is trying to scare the shit out of enough old white people to get into the White House. What did you think was going to happen? The Democrats were just going to leave it in the yard for you to come back to in 2020? Rumor is, the Democrats would like to win the presidency.

As others elsewhere have noted, the problem with the Democrats using these themes previously is not that they couldn’t use them, but that given the high-volume co-option of the themes by the GOP, it seems like the Democrats were saying, “hey, us too,” which is not a good look. This year, they don’t have to worry about that, and of course that’s no one’s fault but the GOP’s. The other thing about that is that now that these themes are in the Democrats’ hands, the GOP’s attempt to use them later is likely to have that “hey, us too” feel to it, which will not be a good look for them, either.

3. In my lifetime, there have been contentious conventions on both sides of the US political aisles, blockbuster speeches and speeches that have left craters of careers, lots of drama and excitement (and lots of oh lord why are we even running this in prime time it’s sooooo boring). But I don’t think there’s ever been a convention season where the contrast between candidates and parties has been so sharp. Right now, the Democrats are the party of the grown-ups: They have detailed policies and a plan and a system in place and a presidential candidate who has the resume and experience for gig. The GOP has a candidate who retweets white supremacists and “jokes” about asking the Russians to hack his opponent, and whose policy stances are “Trust me, it’ll be great,” and “You’re all doomed without me.”

This should not be a close contest. That it is a close contest (right now) is a testament first to the twenty-five years that the GOP and conservatives have spent demonizing Hillary Clinton, and second to the effectiveness of the GOP and conservatives in creating an epistemic bubble inside which millions of (largely white, largely older, largely less educated) people live, trained to be suspicious of facts, trained to see political opponents as traitors, trained to be afraid first and anything else after that.

And yes! When you say those things in sequence out loud, it sounds ridiculous! But yet here we are in 2016 with Donald Trump, ignorant, hateful, horribly afraid Donald Trump, as the Republican candidate for president. He didn’t appear out of nowhere. The way was prepared for him over decades, by people who couldn’t see that they’d laid the way for an incipient demagogue who would have no loyalty to them or their political goals, such as they were. They didn’t see that the person who would be tasked to stand in his way is the person they’d spent a quarter century convincing those in bubble land is one of the gravest threats to America that had ever put on a sensible pantsuit ensemble.

Again, someone elsewhere said it first, and I’m just repeating it because it’s true: This year is not about Democrat versus Republican, or conservative versus liberal, it’s about normal versus highly fucking abnormal. The conventions were just the easiest compare-and-contrast manifestation of that schism. You may not like the Democrats, but they’re coloring inside the lines. The GOP isn’t coloring inside the lines; they’re not even coloring inside the book or using crayons. What they’re doing is splashing pig’s blood on a wall and scrawling ALL HAIL THE ANGRY CHEETO with the gore. This is where we are in 2016, and it does us no good to pretend otherwise.

So yeah, all you GOP operatives moping about how much better the Democratic convention was than yours: This is on you and your party. You built this over the course of a quarter century. And if you have anything left in your brain other than a Pavlovian revulsion response to Hillary Clinton, you know what you should be doing between now and November.

4. Certainly Hillary Clinton didn’t waste any time trying to pull in the folks who have not gone entirely around the bend; her speech, which started slow but picked up steam, was an open invitation to anyone horrified by the concept of Trump to get on the Clinton bandwagon. This year the Democrats are dragging their nets wide, as they should; here’s a chance for them to flip the “Reagan Democrats” script that was played out three and a half decades ago, and bring in the right-leaning folks who are sensibly concerned about the current state of things. This is your campaign, she said, over and again, to the people who in a year not written by a speed-addled hack novelist would be voting for a Republican. She’s not wrong.

(This is, incidentally, why at this point she can blow off any remaining Dead-End Berners. She’s made her obeisance to her left flank and put their goals into the platform, and now she’s moving to haul in the many more millions in the middle. If the few remaining DEBs can’t get with the program, fuck ’em. Let ’em vote Jill Stein, then.)

Clinton is not and is never likely to be the orator either her husband or President Obama are. Her cadence in the first several minutes of her speech was a cross between Christopher Walken and a junior high assistant principal droning through the morning announcements. But she picked up when she got to the meat of the speech which consisted of a) lots of policy wonkiness, and b) punching Trump square in the nose. Her speech included a lot of applause lines that shouldn’t have had to be in there; as much as I loved her saying “AND, I believe in science!” it’s goddamn 2016. The idea that a candidate for the President of the United States has to use that line to differentiate herself from an opponent who even in the worst case scenario will garner tens of millions of votes is a tragedy for everyone involved.

The speech, and Clinton, did what needed to be done: Show Clinton as a reasonable human being with reasonable goals and a reasonable plan to implement them, and stand as a contrast to the ambulatory tire fire that is Donald Trump. Both of these are relatively low bars, so it’s not at all surprising she cleared them, and probably with some margin. We’ll see what happens in terms of polls from here. My suspicion is that Clinton gets some air between her and Trump, no doubt aided by Trump’s Russian adventures in the last week.

Clinton particularly got Trump’s number when she said that a man who can be taunted by a tweet shouldn’t be given nuclear launch codes. Trump’s response — of course — has been to embark on a furiously pissy tweetstorm, which makes her point. She did a pretty good job of messing with his toys.

5. There are three months between now and Election Day, and anything can happen, but I’ll go ahead and make a prediction now, which is essentially the same prediction I’ve been making all along, which is: Hillary Clinton is going to win this election, and in the end I don’t suspect that electorally speaking it’s going to be all that close. Trump is betting on older, less-educated white people and the built-up hatred of Clinton to get him in. That leaves Clinton literally everyone else in the country. With literally everyone else in the country, Trump’s trend lines don’t look all that great. I think literally everyone else in the country is going to be motivated to vote against him. I think he’s going to lose.

What I want to know is what happens then. I mean, I know what I think is going to happen with the GOP — confronted yet again with demographics and the general horribleness of their current philosophy of obstructing for political purity, they will of course double down once more on whiteness and truculence. It’s what it’s trained its base to demand, and inasmuch as it will (probably) keep the House after November, there’s another couple of years to ride this out at least.

But I genuinely want to know what the plan is from there. Trump is a racist and bigot and he is the GOP’s candidate for president because GOP primary voters put him there. The party’s not dog-whistling anymore. The party can’t pretend it stands for all Americans with him as its standard bearer. The GOP can’t hide any longer that it is, flatly, a white nationalist party. Whatever else it stands for, that’s front and center. Trump put that there, and the GOP primary voters put him there.

How does the GOP come back from that? After election day they can all look at each other and agree to never speak of 2016 again, but here’s the thing: There’s still literally everyone else in the county. They are not going to forget 2016, or that Trump was the GOP standard-bearer, or that the GOP went along with him. They are going to remember. They are going to remember for decades.

The Democrats have their own issues — the Dead-End Berners are a sideshow but a hard left is there and real and it’ll be interesting to see how the Democrats handle them, especially if this election gifts them a wide swath of center and center-right voters — but they pale in comparison to the GOP’s issues right now. And the thing is, again, it’ll just be easier for the GOPs not to deal with them and to, again, double down on whiteness and obstructionism. I think it’s going to kill them over time. The last one in the GOP room won’t have to turn out the light; the power will have been cut long before.

(Of course, Trump could win, in which case the GOP’s short-term problems are solved, at the expense of literally everything else that will be affected by boosting an ignorant racist nihilist into the White House. I don’t see this being a great option either, certainly not for the rest of us, nor in the long run for the GOP.)

6. I think Clinton will win the presidency, and I think her speech last night went a long way to helping with that. She made the argument that she was worthy of the job, not simply that she was last anchor post before the abyss. Likewise the DNC, especially contrasted with the RNC, showed who are the competent folks in this election cycle. Both mattered, and I think both will help seal with deal with a number of possibly reluctant voters. This was a good convention for Hillary Clinton, and for Democrats.

With that said, don’t forget that Hillary Clinton really is the last anchor post before the abyss. I said it months ago and I will say it again now: No one should be voting for Donald Trump for president. If you are historically a Republican voter, consider your other options. Clinton is there, but if that’s a bridge too far, there’s Gary Johnson, who, I say again, has an actual platform and policies that are probably closer in line with what your values are than Trump.

Likewise, no one should be complacent about this election. Register to vote. If your state is making it difficult for you to vote, know now so that well ahead of election day you can jump through all the stupid, intentionally-placed hoops preventing you from registering. Know what you need in terms of IDs, etc to vote (yes, it sucks. Do it anyway). Bother everyone you know who is eligible to vote to do the same. Do it today. Hell, do it now.

Then, when the time comes, vote. This one is different. This one you shouldn’t sit through. This one really, truly, matters.

Three months to go, people. Get on it.

105 Comments on “Clinton and the Convention and Where We Go From Here”

  1. Mallet is out, folks. You know the drill. Be polite to each other.

    Also, holy shit, this speech last night.

    I don’t know that I’ve seen a more effective political speech against Trump than this one.

    Also also, also a link to the piece I reference about this election being normal vs. abnormal (the “highly fucking” part is mine).

    Also also also, be aware I’ll be turning off this comment thread early this evening because I’m going to go to a concert tonight and I don’t want to have to be checking in to see if you kids have gone entirely off the rails whilst I am watching the current iteration of Journey be the best damn Journey cover band ever.

  2. I think that we’re going to see what happened to the anti-vaccine crowd happen to the pro-Trump crowd, with vigorish. They start spouting the non-think lines they’ve been handed by the orangeman, and they’re going to draw fire from a dozen directions at once.

  3. I am accustomed to the party I tend to support, the Democrats, being more disorganized, less patriotic (overtly), more scattered.

    This was a nice change, and I hope it sticks.

    Also, Donald Trump is abhorrent, and yes, I WILL hold it against anyone who votes for him, personally.

  4. I think this comment on an article in the The Atlantic says it best:
    “The GOP has the nerve to say that liberals have lost their moral compass. Apparently Republicans didn’t lose theirs, they actually tied a boulder to it and heaved it overboard, then set their boat on fire.”

  5. Can I move that we all just stop chanting “U-S-A!” in any context? Ever? Maaaaaaaybe the Olympics. Maybe.

  6. I grew up in Boston. I will cheer the Celtics, Patriots, Red Sox no matter what.

    But I am incredibly dismayed at how many people view voting in the same way. I understand being a Republican, but the amount of people voting for the worst major party candidate of my lifetime because he has an (R) next to his name? Depressing.

  7. As a Canadian I have been watching this election with growing alarm. Your post was reassuring because, really, you can’t all move up here after November. A couple of observations: Fox news didn’t show the Khan speech, which says a lot about Fox news and an appeals court just struck down North Carolina’s voter-ID law.

  8. @John – I read that the Khans’ speech wasn’t shown on Fox News. I made a point to share it on Facebook.

    @Katherine Olson – I’m pretty sure that the “U.S.A.” chants were to drown out the protesters chanting during the speeches.

  9. What terrifies me? The idea that hackers (Russian or otherwise) might get access to voting machines.

    And they don’t even have to do anything. Giving the election to Trump would be bad on its own, obviously, but just the hint that they’re capable, or even that they might, would be enough to Trump’s supporters to go ballistic with fury because obviously Clinton could never have won on her merits. Think Rabid Puppies times a zillion.

  10. What Becca said! And damn, you are one hell of a writer! As many have said before me, to state exactly how I feel, so succinctly, is a real talent and I honor that in you.

  11. Also, if he doesn’t win we are still guaranteed to see and hear Trump on a regular basis, forever. One of the world-class narcissists has found his audience and the fact that he can call into cable news or call a press conference whenever he wants is, to use Spider Robinson’s classic phrase, like taking an addict and dumping him into a barrel of the stuff.He will be a loud and mindless blowhard in our lives for years.

  12. I just got online and learned how to update my voter’s registration with my current address (still in the same town). I haven’t had an issue with it before, but I don’t want to risk not being able to vote this year. It’s too important.

  13. My usual doomspeaker posturing aside, I consider myself fairly liberal, and I was horrified by the behavior of many of these so called “progressives” during the course of the convention. The optics of constantly shouting over women and people of color was bad enough, but then Our Esteemed Host retweeted yesterday morning that some of these protesters had gathered in a hallway ion an effort to waylay John Lewis and prevent him from voting.

    John. Lewis.

    That goes beyond the pale. That is an active betrayal of progressivism and liberal ideals. The sheer bloody-minded ignorance of it actually boggles the imagination.

    If there were any doubts left in my mind at that point about the true nature of these “progressives,” they vanished in a puff of UGH. Just as modern conservatism shows a complete ignorance of actual conservative ideals, it is impossible to espouse progressive ideals when one clearly doesn’t know what they even are.

    I wish Mrs. Clinton a successful election campaign.

  14. I’ve been saying this for a while, that having this many people willing to vote against their own self-interests (there is no way that Trump will be good for the working class or well, anybody really) is not an accident. That we have this many people who believe the garbage they hear on Faux News is not an accident.
    The Right Wing deliberately effed up public education, made it so that we have generations of people who don’t know how to think critically, who believe whatever those in “authority” tell them (and “authority” has become “whoever is the loudest with the simplest explanations).
    What we are seeing now is the fruition.

  15. I remember saying that Trump was a GOP kwisatz haderach, come a generation too early. Yeah, they made that, but they can’t control it and never will.

  16. I loved the “redefinition” of patriotism by the Dems this year. I have *always* felt that way. And, especially as the daughter of a deceased Navy man, have always been dismayed at the way the Republicans have felt that their brand of hatred can own the concept of love of country. Khan had one of the most powerful speeches I’ve ever seen. And, despite the fact that I’m an atheist, the minister also had a moving call to service.

  17. It took me a while to find this quote. It is centuries old, and the ultra right fundamentalists who want to “Make America Great Again,” basically looking to revert to what is perceived as golden years, might want to listen carefully.

    “Say not thou, ‘What is the cause that the former days were better than these?’ for thou dost not enquire wisely concerning this.” – Ecclesiastes 7:10, KJV (which might explain why it isn’t spelled ‘inquire’.)

    You shouldn’t listen to me, nor to Mr. Scalzi, nor to any other human. But, you should listen to God and wisely not wish for the past. It wasn’t all that great. If you want greatness, than behave like it.

  18. I cannot wait until “retail politics, ” the stuff of Trumps and Rob Fords is laughed away without a second’s thought. Until that happens, and I think there’s a lot that needs to happen until then, the political shitshow will be an ongoing possibility. People laughed at Rob Ford, but it’s the exact same phenomenon… only on a larger scale.

  19. I think you’re forgetting though that in all the other races, such as in the House, the state seats, and local government, the GOP positions have worked really well because they managed to gerrymander the districts so effectively and get their supporters out. I can’t remember if it was the 2014 race but the democrats managed to have 1.7 million more votes than the GOP and STILL lost the House.

    What’s needed is for more people to realize that elections have consequences. Yes the economy hasn’t been that great, but with the GOP in charge of the Senate and House its amazing its done as well as it has.

    Its also an example of how corrosive money has become in politics. If we didn’t have so many nutty billionaires backing the Tea Party there would be no way they could have corrupted the political process as much as they have, so that a republican who believes in climate change suddenly finds he loses his seat by 50% of the vote.

  20. Re: Khizr Khan’s speech. OMG that was so powerful… I still tear up a bit.

  21. Here’s hoping that the Dems have learned from a quarter century of incompetent marketing and take off the gloves. They need to harp on Trump’s cozy relationship with the Russians the way the Republicans harped on Willy Horton and thereby torpedoed Dukakis. They need to harp on Trump’s at best checkered record as a businessman, the way nobody bothered doing before two Bush presidencies. “Do you really want someone this incompetent running your country?”

    Also, they should hire the finest Internet trolls to harass Trump et al. by goading them into displays of infuriated idiocy that will make even the staunchest Trump supporters think twice. In my experience, there’s nothing so satisfying as pointing out inconvenient truths until your foe loses the capacity for rational thought (assuming Trump possesses this capacity in the first place) and publicly humiliates himself.

    In short, run this election like it really matters. It does, more so than any election in recent memory.

    I loathe the notion that to win, it’s sometimes necessary to debase oneself to the same level as one’s opponents. But you can’t fight by the Marquess of Queensbury rules when your opponent plans to do kick-boxing or krav maga. Stick to the truth, but repeat it ruthlessly until even the most willfully ear-plugged Trumpiste starts to question their commitment. If you want to take the higher ground, hire massive great tour buses to drive Black, Hispanic, and other disadvantaged communities (including students) to the polls in droves, and protect them until they have a chance to vote.

    In short, bury the bastards so deep it’ll take decades for them to climb out of the hole they’ve created for themselves. This should be a defeat for the history books, and it can be.

  22. Sanders gave a great speech about how we should all support Clinton. Many of his people wrote the best platform we’ve had in years. Combine that with Trump, and the people who are hard left on the issues are likely with us for this election.

    The dead enders are ignoring Sanders, ignoring the platform, ignoring the issues at stake – I think they’re three seconds away from saying that it’s all really been about ethics in Presidential primaries…

  23. My mother was a lifelong Democrat, worked at the grass-roots level for many years, attended our state’s caucus once, back when we still had one, worked as an election judge for many years, was well educated and thoughtful, and deeply, deeply interested in politics to the end of her life. She died a couple of years ago at the age of 91, still in good cognitive health, and we had many conversations in which she expressed concern about what the Republicans have done to this country. I have spent a lot of the past six months being thankful that she did not have to witness the rise of Donald Trump. It would have distressed her every day and worried her, as someone who had seen firsthand what demagogues can do. Last night, though, I wished she could have been alive to see Hillary Clinton on that stage accepting the nomination. Her political differences with Mrs. Clinton notwithstanding, she would have been proud of Mrs. Clinton and proud of the Democratic Party and would, I think, have seen a light of hope.

  24. John, your commentary, both on the Revolting National Convulsion and the Democratic National Convention, has been right on the mark. Bravo!

    I don’t think I need to tell you whom I won’t be voting for. I also find science a useful and enlightening study, and still have at least a minor percentage of my brain functioning… :-)

  25. It was a really well-run convention, for sure.

    Bernie showed some real class with the speech and during the roll call, and Obama is as usual an outstanding orator. That man can make me forget that he hasn’t closed Gitmo yet and keeps drone-striking kids in Pakistan with just two paragraphs in that rich, deep voice of his.

    Clinton’s speech was good, which is outstanding by her standards. I am very confident that she can beat the shit out of Trump in a debate.

    Oh, man. I’m scared, but at least I have hope.

  26. Registering is good. Voting is better. Volunteering is the best of all. Call the party of your choice, and they will be happy to tell you that the most important thing in getting people out to vote is calls and visits from humans. NOTHING MATTERS MORE. You don’t have to be Scalzi – eloquent, Obama – statesmanlike or Clinton – determined. Every little bit helps, and while you will never agree with everyone in the party you can still put your shoulder to the wheel. There is nothing more valuable you can do to make Donald J. Trump the next president of the Untied States then to call your local Republican Party H.Q. and ask what you can do for The Donald. And vice versa, obviously.

    As the old labor movement slogan puts it “Which side are you on?” More to the point, how far are you on that side? Far enough to go all the way to a polling place and tick a box? Farther? As Ben Parker put it. (as best as I can remember) “These are the years where a man changes into the man he is going to be for the rest of his life.” What you do now will mark you, to yourself at least, for the rest of your life. Most elections don’t pose that choice. This one does.

  27. As a Canadian I have no real dog in this race, apart from the fact that I think a Trump presidency would be a political and economic disaster on an international level, which would affect me.

    That said, I can only hope, for all my online friends and acquaintances who are US citizens, that your GOP manages to shoot itself in the foot (with their own constitutionally protected guns, of course) as spectacularly as our own Conservative party managed to do under Brian Mulroney, and suffer a similar level of meltdown on the national level. That political party (once the oldest in the country) literally doesn’t exist here any more; they went from a second majority government in a row, with 151 seats, to holding only 2 seats, lost official party status (you need to hold a minimum of 12 seats for that), and basically ended up getting folded in with other lesser parties (who did much better than them in that same election) to reform into what is now called the Progressive Conservatives.

    I don’t know how bad a loss it would take for the GOP to do similarly unwell, or if it’s even possible, given that your system of elections and government is wildly different than ours, but I think if anyone can pull it off, it’d be The Donald. I mean, look at how successful he is at doing it in the business arena…

  28. At least as important as the presidential races are the U.S. Senate, House.. As long as the Mad Dogs control Congress, Clinton won’t be able to do all that much.

    The state-level races are also vital: the reason the Mad Dogs have managed to gerrymander the election districts is that we’ve let the Mad Dogs control the state legislatures.

    For the past few decades, progressives have mostly ignored races other than the presidential election, so the Mad Dogs have had free rein to do what they wanted. It’s going to take us a few decades of hard work to reverse that.

  29. “During President Obama’s speech on the third night, I started seeing tweets and comments from GOP operatives that were, bluntly, a little shell-shocked…”

    I totally believe that you saw this! I did not, as I was offline that day, and I would like to take a look. Any chance you can provide links or hashtags for the interested reader?

  30. Cabridges:

    “Also, if he doesn’t win we are still guaranteed to see and hear Trump on a regular basis, forever.”

    Presuming/praying* that Clinton wins, I am actually looking forward to that. It will be so embarrassing for the GOP – and him spouting his usual shit might well cost the Republicans elections further down the road. Which may be important for the House & Senate elections as well.

    *Okay, I’m an unbeliever but I may make an exception in this case

  31. If, in a moment of suicidal stupidity, the masses elect Trump, he will serve about two years, then get bored, impeached or simply razzed out of office. Which will leave Pence in charge.

    I dislike Hillary, the Democrats’ position on gun control and their love of bigger government. But Trump exemplifies the old saw – ‘With friends like this…’

  32. I wish I could vote. But wrong country and nationality, by a whole ocean. I think this may be the first US presidential election that I stay up for … there is so much at stake.

  33. I’m sure Hillary’s sudden burst of patriotism is as genuine as the rest of her career has been.

  34. “it’ll be interesting to see how the Democrats handle them, especially if this election gifts them a wide swath of center and center-right voters”

    Maaaaybe, but here’s what I think is going to happen

    See, I’m pretty sure that of the hard-line Republicans, a not-insignificant portion of them are mortified by Trump’s nomination, and most of these will be center-right. The only people on the hard-right who are against Trump are those who think his (presumed, since he never says the same thing twice) policies are too populist but would likely vote for him anyway for the sake of the party.

    Even so, having grown up with the center-right, there is a FREAKTON of suspicion built up about the Democrats in the years since Regan. It’s almost certainly too high of a hurdle for most of them to jump the fence when their presumption is that Democrats are, to a T, consummate liars and demagogues. If they say anything that sounds good or wholesome they’re lying about it. If they say anything that benefits people not of the center-right’s class they’re pandering. Etc. Of course, the right never does this since it’s filled with Trustworthy People who have no need to pander.

    Trump does throw a wrench into the perception that the right is always Wholesome. Much of the center-right isn’t going to want to face down the hard choice of abandoning the Republican party because just because Trump is a blatant huckster who obviously doesn’t care a whit for religion doesn’t mean those Democrats are suddenly the good guys–obviously THEIR focus on filling their platform with faith is just another cynical ruse to trick people.

    (IMO nowadays, I’m inclined to believe it’s always showmanship, because that’s what politics is. You can only judge people by what they do, because how they REALLY feel isn’t going to be up for public consumption. In many ways there’s no such thing as a True Believer in politics. You might as well go with the side that’s pandering best (not “the most”, the BEST, real quality pandering) because that’s the closest to truth or representation you’re going to get.)

    So I’m of the notion that the center-right is going to split three ways. The ones that didn’t buy into the Democrats Are Always The Devil rhetoric will go to ANY other party. The ones who did buy into that but cannot stomach Trump at all will go with Gary Johnson–which is just as good as a vote for Hillary, but is NOT a vote for Democrats in general. Despite this, they would KNOW they’re basically giving the presidency to Hillary, they just aren’t voting directly for her because they can’t bring themselves to vote Democrat.

    The others have to convince themselves that Trump can’t be THAT evil and vote Republican because that’s what they’ve always done and Obama was in the white house too long and such. On the whole that still gives more votes to Hillary, or indirectly to Hillary, but it’ll take a lot more than this election, insane as it is, to start breaking that veil of perception that life-long kinda-centrist republicans have about the DNC.

    But regardless, the presidency obviously goes to Clinton because the right has been hemorrhaging their hardcore voters ever since GWB. Even back in the halcyon days of post-9/11 fervor, GW only barely squeaked by on his re-election despite being the incumbent, while Obama ended up sweeping what was promised to be a close race both times. While there is a lot of overt fervor for Trump, if he can’t get his own base to unite then he has no hope of getting the center to hand him the lion’s share of the votes either.

  35. Cabridges said: “Also, if he doesn’t win we are still guaranteed to see and hear Trump on a regular basis, forever. One of the world-class narcissists has found his audience and the fact that he can call into cable news or call a press conference whenever he wants is, to use Spider Robinson’s classic phrase, like taking an addict and dumping him into a barrel of the stuff.He will be a loud and mindless blowhard in our lives for years.”

    I’m sure H. Ross Perot thought the same thing, but a truth of politics is that people pay less attention to you once you lose. I think that if (and hopefully when) Trump fails, he’ll find that there’s a much smaller audience for a racist who’s not running for President than there was for a racist who was running for President.

  36. @Billy Quiets So in other words less genuine than we might have hoped for in an ideal world, but significantly more genuine than a quarter century of concentrated anti-Clinton propaganda from the right wing has made her out to be?

    I expect you’re right.

  37. @SR

    This fellow Canadian would like to point out that you got it exactly backwards: The party *was* the Progressive Conservatives and is *now* the Conservative Party. Also, when the former got their sound arse-whipping in 1993, Mulroney was no longer PM (sinking ships and all that). Kim Campbell was at the helm, the poor thing.

  38. My husband surprised me last night by telling me that his widowed mother is considering voting for Clinton. This is a HUGE deal and is indicative of how scared she is of Trump becoming president. This is a woman who, last Thanksgiving, when we visited her in her Bay area California home, mentioned seeing Obama pardon the turkeys on TV. I was determined not to discuss politics with her because she is such a staunch Republican and I’m a staunch Democrat, and we have enough bad blood between us already. I responded that no, I hadn’t seen it. We discussed a bit more (one of his daughters doing an eye-roll at the ceremony, etc.) and I mentioned how much I loved seeing Obama laugh, because he has such a big, wonderful smile. She responded with “Now, if he only had a brain.” (Her daughter, also a Democrat, chastised her and made her apologize to me.) This woman and her late husband also put McCain/Palin signs in their yard in 2008, and bought replacements when they were stolen. So for her to even consider voting Democrat is amazing, and very encouraging.

  39. John Scalzi said:

    But I genuinely want to know what the plan is from there. Trump is a racist and bigot and he is the GOP’s candidate for president because GOP primary voters put him there.

    Thank you for so explicitly saying what needs to be said. Trump is not the problem; he’s a symptom. Trump is the nosebleed of the GOP. Unless and until the GOP recognizes that this is related to their high blood pressure (an analogy which I think plays on several levels) and they deal with that, they’ll continue their death spiral towards irrelevancy.

  40. @Billy Quiets

    I find Hillary Clinton more genuine than most politicians. This is the lady who spent considerable effort and political capital trying to shepherd health care reform when she “should have” been a good first lady and mother and stayed out of things. Nobody who didn’t genuinely care would ever have fought so hard for such a difficult and losing cause.

    Perhaps Bernie is more genuine than Hillary. But I still think she’s more genuine than most.

  41. Prior to the GOP’s ‘convention bump’, Princeton Election Consortium was showing the House likely to return to Dem control (i.e., more than 6 points above the GOP in the ‘generic preference’ poll, enough to overcome GOP gerrymanders).

    This is before any Dem ‘bump’, and before Circuit Courts starting tossing GOP voter suppression laws out.

    PEC also has the Senate at 50:50, mostly due to Evan Bayh’s decision to seek the office once more.

    *OUTSIDE SHOTS* to be sure, but there is a small-but-realistic chance of the GOP being shut out of all branches of the Federal gov’t this cycle.

  42. I’ll never vote for Trump. I’m still having a problem voting for HRC. Her record shows that she (& her husband) are entitled, self-righteous & and not nearly as clever as they think themselves. The email foul-up is symptomatic. The Greens, my other choice aren’t any better, but they are at least the devil I don’t know.

    Jack Tingle

  43. Right now, the Democrats are the party of the grown-ups: They have detailed policies and a plan and a system in place and a presidential candidate who has the resume and experience for gig.

    Quite literally “the party of the grown-ups”. The use of the “cool dad” jokes to crystallize public perception of Tim Kaine at the moment most of the nation first learned of him was brilliant – its a public image any politician would kill for, and he could well run it into the White House in nine years. All he has to do is ride with it in attacking Trump, and Trump is automatically positioned as a petulant child if he responds.

  44. “You may not like the Democrats, but they’re coloring inside the lines. The GOP isn’t coloring inside the lines; they’re not even coloring inside the book or using crayons. What they’re doing is splashing pig’s blood on a wall and scrawling ALL HAIL THE ANGRY CHEETO with the gore.”

    I did not think anything about this election had the ability to make me laugh, it’s been so terrifying. Thank you for making me laugh!

  45. There are a significant number of Orthodox Jews who are going to be voting for Trump (not me, but I’m sure plenty of my relatives) because the only thing that matters to them is a president who will not oppose Israel’s occupation and settlement building. They hate the Democrats because Obama refused to kowtow to Netanyahu and start a war with Iran and because Hillary Clinton kissed Suha Arafat after she said nasty things about Israel (16 years ago). And there is literally nothing you could say to them that would change their minds. (It doesn’t help that less-than-wise leftists burned an Israeli flag outside the DNC this week.)

    So I imagine that if you poke any Trump voters, there is something of this sort making them that way, something that is impervious to reason or logic or discussion, because it’s hard to imagine someone thoughtfully deciding to vote for Trump.

  46. Nice and all, but Trump will still win – fear loathing and raw emotion will overcome logic and appeals to reason. The Ttump supporters are mad as hell and want to see Washington burn, and see this as an opportunity to stick their thumb in the eye of the political classes. The DNC completely missed the anger in the country that drives Trump, and basically said “there there, we know better” which will infuriate them even further. Fear and hatred will drive the Trump voters out in droves, a “meh, Hillary, I suppose” on the other side will lead to defeat.

  47. In the most recent Canadian election, we installed as prime minister a bit of a rock star (and who is either not quite living up to the promise, policy-wise, or is having as much trouble shoving the tiller over as Obama did). He replaced a horrifying creature made of corporate sock puppets bound together with sticky distillate of Bush/Cheney policies, whose party had been gaming the ridiculous Westminster system we use here for ten years through application of GOP-brand dog whistles, and who used those ten years in power to hammer at every brake Canada owned which might slow the creation of a laissez-faire/Randian/Ferengi-style neoliberal state.

    That decade of reshaping of our nation under uncaring hands gave a sense of what the US would feel under Trump, which is something I wouldn’t wish on any nation. Also, it looks like Trump would be even more in a “drive it like you stole it” mode than our previous PM, and as wilted as the things that really make Canada a great country are now, it’s plainly nothing to what would happen to the same aspects of the US under Trump stewardship.

    Hillary may not be a rock star, but you’ve laid out a wonderful raft of reasons why she’s still worthy of office, even without the unspeakable alternative at hand (oh, the utopia where ALL candidates for high office are just as qualified). I think it’s safe to say that a lot of prayers, religious and secular, are being muttered around the world that people who can vote in the US election do the right thing.

    Also– holy shit, that speech (and yet, imagination presents Trump making fun of the accent in which it was given, to thunderous applause from his supporters).

  48. I really agree with most of your opinion posts. I am a 71 year old white woman and DJT has never appealed to me so could you find a more pertinent and appropriate icon for him to appeal to than ” old white people” we are not stupid, kid.

  49. What Rabscuttle said. (I didn’t know this–I always figured that people felt the same way about election calls or visits as they did all other unsolicited phone contact. q.v. that they hate them and want the person making them to die in a fire. I’m glad the evidence is otherwise, since I could actually do something there.)

    Other possibilities: a number of cities let volunteers stand outside the courthouse and offer to help new citizens register. Or, time allowing, you could offer (post on CL or local bulletin boards, talk to your friends, etc) to help people in states with bullshit voter ID laws get the documents together for their IDs, volunteer to run errands or watch kids so that people can vote, and so forth.

    @Billy Quiets: Why should I care whether or not she’s “genuine”? I’m not Holden Caufield.

  50. I’m disappointed that Khizr Khan’s speech wasn’t earlier in the convention, so I could have sent that as a rebuttal to my father-in-law’s second forwarding of an email purporting to be Ben Carson’s reasons why a Muslim can’t be a good American on Wednesday.

    The big question for me is whether the Democrats can convince enough of the people who have been voting Republican for Congress that 6 years of gridlock, lack of compromise, and in general, just not doing their damn job is enough. If Clinton gets elected, but we have another 4 years of idiot Republicans whose only goal is to make her a one term President by refusing to pass anything that she won’t veto, it’s almost as bad as Trump getting elected.

  51. “…the ambulatory tire fire that is Donald Trump.” Mr. Scalzi, your spot-on descriptions are the silver lining (albeit very thin and faint) to the dark cloud that is the Republican nominee.

  52. I’m sure Hillary’s sudden burst of patriotism is as genuine as the rest of her career has been.

    Remind us again what you’ve done in the way of public service?

  53. On the “where do the Republicans go from here” issue, my hope was that they’d nominate someone like Cruz, get shellacked, then realize, like the Dems in 68 and 72, that they can’t go all the way after their most rabid base and ignore everyone else. However, Trump’s success opens the door for them to say “Well, that was an aberration, it’s because of his celebrity, he’s not REALLY us… ” etc. and we’ll have to way a bit longer for them to become adults again.

    I really wonder if there’s a chance that the moderate, ‘establishment Rs simply form another party, get a bunch of Congresscritters to move to that party and try to reclaim the center-right and economic conservatives, leaving the white nationalists, social conservatives and religious right to fester in obscurity.

  54. Not the Reddit Chris, there is also the possibility that the expressions of fear and hatred on the part of Trump and his supporters will scare the pants off enough people who will come out and vote against him. The more he puts on grand display his un-pivoted ignorance, impulsivity, arrogance, and absolute need to win whatever DSW he thinks he’s involved in, even when it makes him look unhinged and like a sore winner, the more people who haven’t been paying such close attention are likely to find themselves alarmed at the prospect of what he could do if elected. The anger you speak of is definitely there. But I don’t believe at this point that enough people are driven by that anger to put him in office, especially if well-designed and funded outreach efforts can be made to get people who feel threatened by his rhetoric to register and vote, if they weren’t already planning to.

  55. Comments off because I’m heading out to a concert. They’ll be back on in the morning, probably. Catch you then. Have a good Friday night.

    Update: Comments back on.

  56. I keep noticing that Russia is hacking computers belonging to the Democratic Party, for the purpose of helping Trump–and Russian oligarch money is apparently keeping Trump businesses afloat now that no reputable bank will lend to him (six bankruptcies will do that, I guess)–and Trump has promised Russian-friendly changes in US policy (and has already removed protecting Ukraine from the Republican Party Platform.)

    In the meanwhile Trump’s campaign is shouting that his political opponent should be thrown in jail, and Trump is publicly requesting Russian help in defeating her…

    I mean, what the hell? Did I wake up in Turkey this morning? Or Iran or Cuba? This is not normal American political discourse… is it?

  57. One curious datapoint I can’t explain that a poll (quoted by The Economist)
    shows that 30% of people think that Clinton is honest, and 42% that Trump
    is honest. I really can’t get my mind around those figures; are people
    just not watching the news? From afar (Britain) Clinton is reasonably
    honest, that is, as honest as a politician can be, and Trump is generally
    dishonest, far less honest than any politician needs to be.

    A similar problem has recently played out in Britain with the EU Referendum;
    my view is that the EU has problems, but that there are (other) problems
    which only the EU can solve; and a free trade area is very nice to have.
    Various politicians disagreed, and promised everyone in sight everything
    that they had ever wanted, and ice-cream every day, and a pony! And that
    argument, daft as it seems, carried the day.

    The politicians who had put forward this egregious nonsense then rapidly
    disappeared from the scene; Farage said that removing Britain from the
    EU was his life’s work completed, and he didn’t intend to stick around
    and fix the problems leaving the EU had caused. The others just left,
    not divulging any cunning plans they may have had to sort things out,
    and Theresa May, who’d voted for Remain, became the Prime Minister on the
    grounds that she was the last competent politician left standing.

    I wonder how daft the American electorate are? Unlike Britain America
    is a significant player, and a loony President would be a bad idea.
    (Go see Dr. Strangelove, if you doubt this.)


  58. John Scalzi said:

    Hillary Clinton is going to win this election, and in the end I don’t suspect that electorally speaking it’s going to be all that close. Trump is betting on older, less-educated white people and the built-up hatred of Clinton to get him in. That leaves Clinton literally everyone else in the country. With literally everyone else in the country, Trump’s trend lines don’t look all that great. I think literally everyone else in the country is going to be motivated to vote against him. I think he’s going to lose.

    The surest way to throw the election to your opponent is to assume that your candidate is going to win. (NB: This is a general statement; I am not accusing anyone of making that assumption. This is a cautionary tale not a morality play.)

    Come November, get your ass to the polls. Organize your friends and your family to go vote together. Make a party of it. Whatever it takes to get you to the ballot box, do it. Because this is, no foolin’, one of the most important elections that we’ve had in the past century.

    Vote, dammit!

  59. The conventionally wise said Trump was not supposed to get a bounce after the RNC. Because dark and scary and hateful. Yet he did.

    The conventionally wise now say HRC will get a bounce after the DNC. Maybe the conventionally wise are correct. But I’ll believe the bounce when I see the bounce.

    Strange cycle 2016 is.

  60. The GOP candidates in the primary could not defeat Trump because the could not disagree with what Trump said, it would have killed them with the GOP base. They tried to disagree with the WAY he said it but that didn’t work because 40 years of listening to the dog whistles with no solution provided makes the base believe that “political correctness” is the real enemy. Clinton will not be so constrained & the majority of Americans are appalled not just at the way he says it but what he says. The GOP will try mightily to deny Trump was a Republican after he gets his butt kicked badly but the truth is Trump represents todays GOP, a very sad reflection on the people who got them to this point. Having an one insane party in a two party system is bad for everyone, worse when they are in control. The GOP needs to spend 40 years in the wilderness so they can find a sense of morality and decency as well as actual plans beyond denying basic human rights to many groups of people

  61. BTW – on Hillary’s speaking ‘problem’. I am a nerd, a guy with lots of plans and ideas who has always struggled to convince people that there might be a better way. Listen to WHAT she is saying & stop worrying about HOW WELL she says it. I feel a kindred spirit, except there is no massive media and grifting battalion set out for 25 years trying to make me look bad.

  62. @C W Rose: I think you are assuming here that “honest” means “tells the factual truth”. For Trump supporters, I suspect if you asked them what they meant when they said he was honest, they’d reply that he “tells is like it is” and “isn’t politically correct”. They aren’t concerned with factual honesty, either in what he says or in his business dealings. The things he says make them feel listened to, and more importantly, empowered.

    You can see the same thing in any community (online or off) where people rally around a bully. They themselves don’t feel articulate or socially powerful enough to behave badly and act out; here is someone who will do it for them, and welcome them into his orbit.

  63. @mythago: I seriously blame Holden Caufield, or at least that mindset. The “if you speak articulately, know what you’re doing, and accept compromises to get some of what you want, you’re a phony and a sellout, maaaaaaaaaan!” is like the norovrius to adult thought’s GI system. On both sides, alas.

  64. Re John’s prediction that Hillary’s going to win by a lot.

    Do not be complacent.

    I’m a 55 year old who’s never voted Dem for President in my life. I’ve been laughing at Trump for decades. A year ago, no one I know would have given him a snowflake’s chance of lasting two primaries. Yet here we are, horrified.

    Let this be a lesson to you customary Democrat voters–Don’t take anything for granted! We did, over in here in conservative land. But the “impossible” actually happened, and now we’re standing around the smoldering ruins of our (already-faltering) party, embarrassed, ashamed, and grieving.

    Culture watchers have bemoaned the way our newsfeeds lock us in to our own echo chambers so we just aren’t hearing/reading ideas from different viewpoints. “There’s no way in hell The Donald will be the nominee,” we’d think. “He’s a buffoon, a comic sideshow.”

    The echo chamber point couldn’t be illustrated any better.

    So it’s not enough to just *not* vote. I’m sadly convinced that for the future of the Republic, we sane conservatives have to join to deny Trump the Presidency, and that can only mean voting through our tears for HRC.

  65. This has been the best comment I’ve seen anywhere on the internet as to why the Republicans have nominated Donald Trump as their candidate for president. It was written by Michael Reynolds another award winning professional writer, what is it about writers and their ability to write things.

    Racism and Sexism

    Answers: Race and sex. Support for Trump is racism and sexism. Cover it up however you like, it comes down to the fact that there is not a single logical, defensible answer that does not ultimately come back to white people’s racism and men’s sexism.

    I’ve only posted a part of his comment, please read the whole thing. Its the most cohesive, well though out and devastating answer I’ve seen as to why the Republicans nominated Donald Trump.

  66. @mythago – Following up on something I said a couple of threads back, where I said Hillary was too old to be President. It wasn’t my intent to handwave away Bernie or the Vulgar Talking Yam’s age – Bernie isn’t the nominee, Hillary is, so the discussion is about her age. If Bernie was the nominee, he’d be way too old, in my view, and on the list of things that disqualify Trump, his age is a footnote on the bottom of page 2 in small font as to why he shouldn’t be a candidate – there’s a couple of pages of other reasons he’s not presidential. It’s almost at the top for Hillary.

    If anything, a woman candidate can be a little bit older than a man, as women tend to live longer – however, I think 70 is too old for anyone to take on the role, as it is extremely taxing, both mentally and physically. I think 55 is the upper end of the range for anyone being elected as a first term president. If you look at the big law and accounting firms, they tend to have mandated retirement at 60 – the Presidents job is much more stressful than that.

  67. I’m glad Rev. Barber is getting some attention. I’ve seen several pieces mentioning that he’s the leader of North Carolina’s Moral Monday movement. What a lot of folks don’t realize is that this means regularly getting thousands of people to stand outside in full sun for a couple of hours in late afternoon, in North Carolina, in the summer. The heat index here the other day was 108 degrees, thanks to temperatures over 95 and humidity over 80%.

    Now you understand why we do it.

    Also, I want to point out that, while he fumbled the order of “LGBTQ,” his record is impressive. The NC NAACP, under his leadership, supported marriage equality before the national NAACP did, and he’s been campaigning hard against HB 2. He’s also the first evangelical preacher I ever heard explicitly framing fighting for LGBTQ rights as a moral and religious issue. The first time I heard him preach about “our LGBTQ brothers and sisters” brought tears to my eyes, because it wasn’t a love-the-sinner-hate-the-sin show of “compassionate” support, it was a full-throated call to action.

  68. As an Israeli I find Hilary to be too pro-Israel; she is not different in this respect for any other major part nominee in recent memory. I think most American Jews will vote D, as they usually do. (As for the rest, I’d gladly vote for her if I was a US citizen).

  69. @Lovitar, I agree that it is sex and race to a degree. But it is also the religious right who is convinced that the Republican Party is the party of God. I listened to James Robinson discuss on right wing radio the meeting of the Evangelical Council with Trump. They say Trump is now spirit led. This is a man who whose comments about dating his daughter and discussion about her body seems perverse to say the least; A man who engaged Howard Stern about his wives bathroom habits and smells; has had multiple wives and children by different marriages, says his sex life was risky enough that it was his personal Vietnam, thinks Roger Ailes is a good guy, and swings back on forth on the abortion topic like a hanging sign.

    One of the things I am encouraged about is that this further tarnishes that movement which has sought to legislate their weird ideology into law and into public education. The fastest growing religious group is the Nones and that’s a good thing. But the other group are the evangelicals and that is not. That evangelical leadership endorses and evangelical voters support Trump of all people, I think weakens them and their influence.

  70. Floored by Scalzi’s awesomeness said: “Clinton’s speech was good, which is outstanding by her standards. I am very confident that she can beat the shit out of Trump in a debate.”

    I am not sure there will be a debate. The debate was set by an independent group back in September of 2015. It was done before Hillary was the candidate or before the NFL announced there game schedule.

    Yet today, Trump is tweeting that Hillary and the Democrats are trying to schedule the debates during important NFL games. In other words, he is looking for an excuse to weasel out.

  71. @iamzenu: Yet today, Trump is tweeting that Hillary and the Democrats are trying to schedule the debates during important NFL games. In other words, he is looking for an excuse to weasel out.

    As Homer Simpson said, the ability to weasel out of things is what separates us from the animals. Except the weasel.

  72. @iamzenu:

    But it is also the religious right who is convinced that the Republican Party is the party of God. I listened to James Robinson discuss on right wing radio the meeting of the Evangelical Council with Trump. They say Trump is now spirit led.

    I regret not posting the whole comment as it address your concern about the religious right in its first paragraph. It calls them out for their hypocrisy and asks why are they willing go against their beliefs in a way that I found rhetorically fascinating and effective. I’ve posted the whole comment below.

    Racism and Sexism

    So, here’s where we are.

    1) A bunch of die-hard Evangelicals who never think anyone is quite Christian enough, suddenly back Trump who is actually less Christian than most atheists. Why?

    2) A bunch of people who solemnly profess their abhorrence of dishonesty (She said it was about a video and it wasn’t, waaaah! Benghazi!) suddenly embrace the man who is clearly the biggest liar in the history of American politics. Why?

    3) A bunch of people who love to go all square-jawed and tough-talkin’ on foreign policy embrace a man who has pre-emptively surrendered NATO and is clearly in bed with the Russian Thug-in-Chief. Why?

    4) A bunch of working class white men who are disappointed at their job prospects embrace a notorious fraud who has left a long, long trail of ripping off people just like them. Why?

    Answers: Race and sex. Support for Trump is racism and sexism. Cover it up however you like, it comes down to the fact that there is not a single logical, defensible answer that does not ultimately come back to white people’s racism and men’s sexism.

  73. Did anyone else catch the Khans on Lawrence O’Donnell last night? Normally, I don’t watch LO’D, but I wanted to hear what they had to say.

    First, they made a point of stressing that Mrs. Khan did not speak because she was afraid she’d lose her composure. She said in the interview that she can’t even look at pictures of her son after his death, and there he was on a huge screen. If anyone says she wasn’t allowed to speak (especially if they say it is because they’re Muslim and anti-woman and so forth), please do invite them to watch the interview and see for themselves why he did the talking.

    Second, they were both in tears during the interview at the state of the country, and continued to make an impassioned plea to vote, to repudiate the racism and sexism they are seeing.

    Third, Mr. Khan called out Ryan and McConnell as complicit in all of this, and begged them to repudiate the racism and sexism Trump is spewing all over the airwaves.

    There was a lot more – that was in the first fifteen minutes! Here’s a link to part of it:

  74. @Loviatar: no, it’s not simply white men’s racism and sexism. It’s also classism and economic despair. There is, of course, a lot of overlap in there, but the reason for rebellion against GOP establishment candidates was not “Ted Cruz isn’t racist or sexist enough”; it’s fueled by a white poor and working class that has sunk deeper and deeper into poverty and sees that the GOP elite simply doesn’t give a shit about them.

    @Not the Reddit Chris S: 55 is too old for your ‘generation or two younger’ that you thought appropriate for a Presidential candidate. And no, the majority of BigLaw firms do not mandate retirement at age 60 (about half do have mandatory retirement policies, but those tend to be around the mid-60s and may mean shifting a partner into a counsel role rather than kicking them out entirely). Some of those retired partners go on to practice law elsewhere, become arbitrators, or join the judiciary, where mandatory retirement ages may extend into the 70s where they do exist. That all aside, do we really want to be determining the fitness of a presidential candidate by “Could this person remain an equity partner at Nixon Peabody?”

  75. Re: presidential ages–look. I firmly and flatly believe that there is such a thing as “too old” to run for president. We just don’t have a good record on noticing that our presidents have become incapacitated, frankly, and it is a demanding job. However, 55? No. That would mean (I assume) 56 at inauguration, and of our first ten presidents, only two make that cutoff. Given that people are currently living longer, and healthier, than they did in the early 1800s, I think that anything up to the late sixties is okay–and anything after that is something I personally intend to judge on a case-by-case basis. (And just as an aside–if either of the two current candidates were TWO generations younger than they are now, they’d neither of them be old enough to run for president. Clinton would be 29, and Trump would be 30, and the lower-age cutoff is 35, I believe. One generation younger, and they’d both be among our youngest presidents ever elected–though not the very youngest, obviously.)

    The numbers get more in line in the last half of the 19th century, but by the 20th–well, Eisenhower was 62, Ford was 61, George H.W. Bush was 64, and I honestly don’t think any of the three were too old to run for president. I can maybe see a requirement–formal or unofficial–that all presidential candidates have the results of their latest medical exams published, in the same way that most of them do publish their tax returns. But that is a different issue.

  76. I can’t even read about the Khans without being on the verge of losing it.

    Trump’s comments are vile, absolutely vile, even for all the other things he’s said.

  77. I just wish I could convince my mom to vote for Hillary. She’s a diehard Republican pretty much based on (a) it’s betraying her dead parents to not be Republican (which I sadly can’t argue with because logic gets me nowhere compared to DEAD PARENTS) and (b) she works in a money field and spends all day listening to Republican men bitching. Now, she won’t vote for Trump, and I consider that a freaking miracle there, but she won’t vote for Hillary either because “I want a politician I can trust.” This is the same woman who said in all seriousness, “But I thought George Bush was FOR stem cell research.” I could sit there and cite things at her, but they will fly in one ear and out the other because she votes on her emotions.

    So if she wastes her vote by not voting at all, it’s probably the best I can hope for. I wish I could be persuasive, but I don’t get anywhere arguing with her 98% of the time. I tried telling her what Gene Weingarten said in his Washington Post chat the other day, i.e. “vote for whoever’s the most qualified to do the job, regardless of anything else,” and got dead silence.

    Sigh. And this is what we all have to deal with.

  78. @mythago:

    I’m repeating a lot of what I said in the thread I linked above, because the excuse makers, the enablers enabler no matter what site always come up with the same excuses. In your case you’re claiming economic despair and classism are the reason for Trump voters, well I leave it up to President Obama to ask the question.

    President Obama:

    Does anyone really believe that a guy who’s spent his 70 years on this Earth showing no regard for working people is suddenly going to be your champion? Your voice?

    Additionally, this working white poor you’re describing as emotionally despaired, they’re not new, we’ve had them around since the mid 60s. First we called them Dixiecrats, then the silent majority, then Reagan Democrats, then real Americans, now they’re working class whites. They’ve been with us since 1964 and everytime they see another minority class of American’s achieve the things they feel is their by birthright of being white and male they scream and throw a tantrum. Its almost time to stop pandering to their tantrums, soon they will be one minority group among many, I just hope it happens in my lifetime.


    The fence sitters, the undecideds, the pox on both houses are not much better. The American house is on fire, the Democratic party has grabbed a water bucket; a dented, beat up, leaking water bucket. The Republican party have grabbed a gasoline can, a bright orange colored can labeled GASOLINE.

    Make a choice, this is one election where you don’t have the luxury of your principles.

  79. My mom has passed but would piss off my Republican sister that she would vote Democrat. Sister would always try to scare her with Gay people getting married. What is amazing is my wife’s elderly Mom watched the Democratic Convention and is now saying she is voting for Hillary – much to the chagrin of some of her other kids – again the god fearing bunch.

    You know when one watch evangelicals fall in line with Trump, it allows one to understand Jim Jones. The religious right – still drinking the Kool-aid.

  80. I’m so impressed by the hopefulness of the Dem convention, I was scared that they were going to go full Trump scare but instead they went full patriotic while at the same time giving a voice and a platform to so many of the demographics that the Republicans have demonized, scorned or simply patronized.

    I would have (angrily) understood the temptation to glide over issue like trans representation and abortion in favour of attracting Trump repulsed republicans and I am so glad they did not. Nobody got thrown under the bus!

    Well done to the organizers and the planners and the speakers.

  81. Here’s a viewpoint from a Brit. At the equivalent stage of the Brexit referendum campaign I might easily have written Scalzi thoughts 5 and 6 with a few (ok— many) word substitutions: Clinton for Remain etc. It reflected conventional wisdom at the time.

    Boy, how wrong that turned out to be.

    Just saying ‘you must vote’ may not be enough. Turnout was pretty high in the Brexit vote, as I suspect it will be in the US presidential elections. Plenty of people voted, just not enough of them voted for sanity.

    There are some worrying parallels:
    The assumption that the sane option will win (from voters of both sides);
    Supporters for the sane option being somewhat lukewarm in their support for the sane option;
    A strong yearning among many for a protest option;
    A large number of angry people who feel they have little enough already and are at risk of losing even that, and so believe they have little to lose by gambling with the protest option;
    A protest option championed by a consummate and clever showman who does not feel the need to be constrained by facts.


    Most people in my circle voted for the sane option, but not all of them. There were a few people I could have tried to persuade. I should have tried to persuade them. I was a lukewarm supporter of the sane option, who now wishes they had been, well, hotter.

    Please don’t be complacent.

    Good luck guys. Hope you do better than we did.

  82. “… the Dead-End Berners are a sideshow but a hard left is there and real and it’ll be interesting to see how the Democrats handle them, especially if this election gifts them a wide swath of center and center-right voters …”

    I have a pretty good idea of what happens next, because it’s not like this has never happened before. If nothing else, you can compare it to the Ted Kennedy vs Bill Clinton fight that set up the whole Democratic Party political realignment as a center-right party. I think the Democrats will treat the Sanderistas the same way that the national Republican Party has always treated the religious right … dog-whistle to them during the primaries and then ignore them while in power.

    And arguably, no more support than we Sanderistas have, that’s what they SHOULD do. Sure, we packed hundreds of thousands of people into stadiums. It may have even reached the low millions. But in a country with a third of a billion people, that’s peanuts. As long as the vast majority of the voters continue to believe (wrongly) that tax cuts create jobs and that rich people are job creators and that unions are thuggish and evil and that the environment is something we just have to sacrifice or we’ll starve and that war is the health of the state, the Democratic Party is going to cater to them.

    We didn’t lose because Bernie Sanders didn’t make his case. We lost because we hadn’t made our case before running Bernie Sanders.

  83. This is an funny and interesting take on the situation from the (relative) safety here above the 49th parallel:

    “”There were other moments to savour. At one point, a reporter asked Trump if he thought the Geneva Conventions were out of date. This is a bit like asking a jar of marmalade what it thinks about string theory, but let’s admire the reporter’s willingness to swing for the fences.”

    Make sure you look at the photos and read all the captions as well.

  84. My ex-mother and father-in-law are voting for Hillary, which amazes and heartens me no end. I couldn’t see them pulling the lever for Trump, and I knew they weren’t the type to not vote at all, but I thought they might vote for the libertarian or write in John Kasich or something like that. They don’t want to throw their votes away on a third party, however.

  85. I’m hoping the GOP is pretty well finished as a party after this election. They may twitch for a while, but I’m really hoping they’re never again a serious part of the political conversation.

    Why? They are white supremacists/nationalists, as John pointed out. No white nationalist is EVER worth listening to, and that goes double for parties. They’ve lasted this long because they were able to fool a lot of people into thinking they weren’t as racist as they really are, and have been since the racists deserted the Democrats after the Civil Rights Act.

    Now, in my opinion, no one who votes Republican can claim they didn’t know they were voting for white nationalists. Certainly no one who votes for TRUMP can make that claim: he’s very clearly and unapologetically racist.

    Do I think I’ll get my wish? I don’t know. It will take years to find out. And if the Cheeto actually wins, I may never know unless I survive the camps.

  86. Don’t count on impeachment to rid us of Donald Trump, should he win this election.

    Remember the last President who was impeached. Bill Clinton. He was totally impeached. He was impeached as much as it’s possible to be impeached! You can’t get more impeached. Then what happened? As the Constitution spells out, the impeachment was followed by a trial in the Senate. To be removed from office requires a 2/3 majority of the Senate. So Bill Clinton was fount NOT GUILTY, of the charges for which he was impeached. He served out the remainder of his term.

    It’s actually easy to impeach a President, if you have control of the House of Representatives. You can impeach him (or her) for jaywalking (you just have to get used to saying in front of cameras that jaywalking is “high crimes and misdemeanors”–no big stretch for a politician). It’s just a simple majority to pass articles of impeachment. But if you don’t have 67 votes in the Senate, you won’t be able to remove the President from office.

  87. Xopher Halftongue: “Now, in my opinion, no one who votes Republican can claim they didn’t know they were voting for white nationalists. Certainly no one who votes for TRUMP can make that claim: he’s very clearly and unapologetically racist.”

    They can and have made that claim. A co-worker shared a link on Facebook:

    In the editorial, Trump’s racism is dismissed as an exaggeration by the media, and not based in facts. He’s described as a “good candidate with flaws”.

    Many of those who will vote for Trump in the fall will not do it because they like him, but because they think he’s more likely to help further their own political agenda. (The same goes for many Clinton voters.) And they’re not wrong.

    This election, like every election is about more than the personalities (or sanity) of the two principals. This the link doesn’t make me any more likely to vote for Trump, but it shows why some rational people might.

    Someone is on your side
    Someone else is not
    While we’re seeing our side
    Maybe we forgot: they are not alone.
    No one is alone.
    — Stephen Sondheim

  88. @Loviatar: no, that’s actually not what I said. Please take another look at my comment (hint: “also”).

    And you also seem to be making the error of assuming that if a candidate will not, objectively, do X, then people who want X to happen cannot possibly want to vote for that candidate. This is a charming display of faith that people are rational and objective, rather than voting their feelings and partaking of bad logic in order to do so. “Trump will create jobs, look at all the businesses he’s run” is plainly nonsense, but you’re seeing that as a logical step leading to a conclusion, when really it’s a justification.

  89. @Greg; Walken is amazing. I watched a terrible movie trailer yesterday but still kind of want to see the film because Walken plays a major role in it. But you have to admit that his normal speaking cadence is not exactly the best cadence for a political rally.

  90. @mythago

    I know what you said; you said that Trump’s supporters can also have reasons other than Racism or Sexism for supporting Trump’s racist/sexist candidacy for president.

    No they can’t, because for me once I identify you as a Trump supporter my next question is do you know he is a racist/sexist. If the answer is no, then I walk away because you’re either lying or a moron. If the answer is yes then that tells me you’re a racist/sexist yourself no matter what other reasons you also may claim to have.

    Also, in regards to Racism and Sexism their is no logic involved, its all emotion. The gentleman whose comment I used above believes and has consistently stated that voting is an emotional act. His four points highlighted the hypocrisy of the Republican party in that their logical claims were so quickly abandoned once they decided to go with the emotional feeling of white male aggrievement.


    Also, the justifications in this thread comes from you trying to find any excuse as to why someone would support a racist/sexist. There is no excuse/reason/justification for supporting Trump other than you’re a racist/sexist yourself. Why are you trying to enable the enablers?

  91. @Loviatar: Are you serious? Because I’m finding it hard to believe that you genuinely think it is somehow enabling Trump to discuss whether “they’re all bigots and probably also liars” is the sole reason he has such widespread support.
    I mean, if it’s performance art trying to mock the stereotypical “politically correct” progressive who insists that any dissent from from their rigid position is Xist, I give it a 2.8 out of 5. But if you’re actually, seriously claiming that your personal and possibly theoretical arguments with individual Trump supporters show there is no possible explanation other than bigotry for their votes and anyone who doesn’t agree with you is also a bigot – or possibly just bigot-adjacent – that’s not really a discussion. It’s just you announcing that anyone who isn’t in complete and unwavering agreement with you is ungood.

  92. @Loviatar: I would not be so quick to discount the possibility of cluelessness among Trump supporters (“keep your government hands off my Medicare”) as to his racism and sexism. Nor would I be so quick to discount the blinding effect of hate of Democrats, liberals and Hillary Clinton. Nor the simple attraction of tribal identification.

    People are not as simple as we might want them to be.

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