This is a good piece of reporting, that makes clear that it was economics, and not racism, that drove a lot of the voting behavior of working-class whites (some of them, among other things, voted for Obama previously). It makes a useful contrast with this dismissive comment by Justin Weinberg (South Carolina).
A useful summary. He's still an ignoramus, but he's toning his act down a bit. Note his statement about same-sex marriage (settled law, he's fine with it)--alas, he's surrounded by anti-gay bigots like Mike Pence, Ben Carson, and Ken Blackwell (handling domestic policy for the transition), who are not fine with it. We'll see if he pays attention closely enough to blunt their wickedness on that front. He throws a bone to the religious right on abortion, though as I've noted before overturning Roe v. Wade would create a real crisis for Republicans at the state level, since they'd have to outlaw it altogether, a position that is unpopular even with most Republicans! He now only wants to deport illegal immigrants who have committed crimes--note that Obama has deported some two million of them during his tenure.
ADDENDUM: The appointment of Stephen Bannon, the vile white nationalist from Breitbart who managed the campaign, to a senior advisory position (albeit not Chief of Staff), is, of course, very ominous.
Reader Roger Albin (a professor of medicine at the University of Michigan) writes:
One of the things we’re likely to lose with the accession of Trump is competent governance aimed at producing incremental, but significant, improvements in American life. A very good example is tobacco control. While not widely known, improved tobacco control was a major accomplishment of the Obama administration. Smoking prevalence among American adults has been declining since the 1960s. From the early 1990s to 2008, the rate of decline was approximately 0.3% per year. During the Obama presidency, the rate of decline approximately doubled (http://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMp1607850). At present, approximately 15% of American adults smoke. Extrapolating the pre-Obama administration rate of decline predicts a 17-18% prevalence of smoking among adult Americans. Converted to absolute numbers, this is a large effect. A difference of 2% is > 5 million people. The rule of thumb is that tobacco abuse leads to premature death in one third to one half of smokers. Using the conservative one third parameter, a 2% reduction in smoking prevalence translates to approximately 1.5 million avoided premature deaths.
I am confident that in many countries right now, high government officials are compiling psychological profiles of the President-elect of the most dangerous nation on earth. It will be to their advantage to understand him and how to manipulate him, since he is probably more obviously manipulable than any President in memory.
I've been commenting on his psychology and its disturbance for some time, but I think it can be summed up in terms of two personality traits that we've seen again and again during the campaign, and that mark the man going back to the 1980s, when he was merely the "short-fingered vulgarian" laughing-stock of New York City.
First, he is a textbook case of what DSM calls Narcissistic Personality Disorder. Earlier on, I had described him as a sociopath, but after talking with some clinicians and reading more, it seems to me this is a mistake. Like a sociopath, he is lacking in empathy, but that is true of extreme narcissists too: they are too busy with themselves to notice or care about how others feel. The crucial fact is that sociopaths tend to "fly below the radar," they do not want to attract attention, so that they can proceed with their malign behaviors without detection. Trump always wants to be the center of attention and adulation. Extreme narcissists require adulation because they have no actual confidence in their worth or value: they are entirely dependent on others confirming their grandiose self-image. But the flipside is that when they do not get the external confirmation they seek, they react with irrational rage, that knows very few limits. This is what makes Trump very dangerous: irrational rage on twitter is one thing, irrational rage with U.S. military might at your disposal is another.
Philosopher Taylor Carman (Barnard) kindly gave me permission to share this apt observation he made on Facebook:
I am astonished that people on the left are bickering with one another about whether Trump’s victory (or more precisely, Hillary’s defeat) was “really” due to working-class resentment toward elite culture OR racism, sexism & xenophobia. Is it not perfectly obvious that it’s both & that the one breeds the other? Have we forgotten everything we learned about the rise of fascism a century ago? Chalking this latest disaster up entirely to the unaccountably crude prejudices of Trump supporters is the height of liberal hypocrisy. Let’s get serious.
He also posted a link to this piece about a sadly prescient observation by Chomsky.
UPDATE: This analysis is also relevant. White working-class men and union members moved in significant numbers from the Democrats to the Republicans compared to 2012. As the author notes: "More poor and lower-middle-class people voted Republican in this election than the last. More upper-middle-class and rich people voted Democrat. And union voters abandoned the Democrats dramatically."
...this is pretty ugly stuff. It will be imperative for civilized people to confront the bigots directly, so that that responsibility does not fall simply to their victims. If you witness such abuse, do not remain silent!
UPDATE: More grim details about incidents in schools. I hope Obama can prevail on Trump to make a statement making clear that he intends to represent all Americans. It won't be true, but his saying it is what matters right now.
AND ANOTHER: Speaking of ugliness, StormFront for philosophers offers up this. If anyone knows who this pathetic, vile person is, let me know.
There's now an actual website that features some concrete (some less concrete) policy proposals that, I assume, the Trump Administration will put forward. (Scroll to the bottom of the page: under the "Making American Great Again" section, you can click on various topics, though not all are filled in.) A lot of the sections are, at this point, just fluff. But here are a few highlights that are more specific:
The section on "Immigration" includes the idiotic "build the wall" proposal, and many other harsh measures, but there's no mention of mass deportations. There is the suggestion that that issue will be revisited after the borders are "secure," which is to say he will never revisit it.
The section on "Energy Independence" makes clear that environmental concerns, including about climate change, are going out the window, in favor of letting oil companies, and coal companies, do what they want, where they want.
The section on "Transportation and Infrastructure" reaffirms a commitment to spend $550 billion on public infrastructure, which Trump mentioned in his acceptance speech. This is really quite remarkable, both for being so explicit and so dramatic an expenditure. It is sorely needed in America. This is likely to be a first point of conflict with the Tea Party lunatics in the House of Representatives.
As one would expect from a representative of the ruling class, Trump proposes to deregulate "financial services," specifically by gutting Dodd-Frank.
The Affordable Care Act will go first to the chopping block, that seems clear. An unknown is whether they will target the two provisions that are popular with well-to-do people who vote Republican: namely, the bar on insurers rejecting people with pre-existing conditions; and the ability to keep children on parents' health plans until they reach the age of 26. Previously Republican attempts to repeal the ACA have, tellingly, preserved those two. There are no meaningful details of Trump's alleged alternative.
Trump commits to the "original public meaning" view of constitutional interpretation. What, if anything, this really means we will not know until we see which judges he puts forth. (Amusingly, the folks who wrote this do not realize that the first written constitution still in force is in Sweden, not the United States!)
Nothing meaningful about Social Security or Medicare here (fluff about "modernizing" Medicare is it), which is actually a good sign. All of the actual policy is bad, except the "Transportation and Infrastructure" commitment. An unknown is how the rhetoric about tax cuts--standard fare for the imprudent wing of the ruling class--will be squared with spending $550 billion on public infrastructure, which is the only hopeful proposal.
Notice there is also nothing about LGBT rights, same-sex marriage or the like. Silence on this is also hopeful, but consistent with my hypothesis about the New Yorker Trump: he's not scared of LGBT people (Ivanka, Eric, and Donald Jr. probably are close friends with lots of them!), unlike Mike Pence and the Christian bigots.
Maybe focus on the states, at least the civilized ones? This is, of course, to give up on millions of other people living in the more benighted states, so I'm not sure this counts as "doing something," as opposed to fleeing.
* I am surprised by how many people will, in one breath, note that Trump is an inveterate liar (which he is), and, in the next breath, lament all the awful things he has said he would do. But most of those, I suspect, were lies too. Again, putting aside the issue about his mental disturbance (which is the really serious and alarming issue in all this), he's a lifelong New Yorker, not a "movement conservative." While Trump isn't going to turn out to be a liberal, I will be astonished if he turns out to be Paul Ryan. His two closest "advisers" are his basically liberal, cosmopolitan daughter, Ivanka, and her husband, Jared Kushner, a lifelong Jewish Democrat, and also a product of the New York metro area his whole life. (This is one reason why Trump has never conformed to the ugly Mike Pence line on gay and transgender people.) The Republican Party has been taken over from the inside, but it hasn't yet figured out for what ends. Nor have we. (See this NYT piece, which gives a good representation of his differing views at different times.)
*Trump lost the popular vote nationally. That is not quite as meaningful as it seems: because of the electoral college system, campaigns devote divergent efforts to rallying the vote accordingly, so we have no way of knowing what the outcome would have been in a pure popular vote system. But that is also irrelevant: the simple fact is that while nearly sixty million people voted for Trump, a couple hundred thousand more voted for Clinton.
*The crucial fact of the election appears to be low voter turnout among Democrats. This diagram makes it vivid. (Even Latinos did not surge to the polls, despite Trump's provocations: voter suppression laws passed by Republicans probably played some role, but I fear that it may just be that most Latinos, like most voters, weren't really paying that much attention.) Clinton should have chosen an African-American or Latino running mate. Indeed, she should have stepped aside for Bernie Sanders, who would have captured many of the white voters who went for Trump. Clinton's narcissism, though not rising to the level of psychological disorder as with Trump, played a mighty role in this catastrophe. In any case, what the relatively low turnout means is that the Democrats, if they nominate more competitive candidates, can easily reverse things (assuming there are future elections).
I've noticed you had a couple of good quotes sent in on the Trump global catastrophe. Much of WB Yeats' explicitly political stuff has something applicable and insightful in this case, but I thought I'd share a few:
"Things fall apart, the centre cannot hold; mere anarchy is loosed upon the world."
"And what rough beast,
its hour come round at last,
slouches towards [Washington] to be born?"
(both from The Second Coming)
"They must to keep their certainty
accuse all that are different of a base intent; pull down established honour, hawk for news whatever their loose phantasy invent"
(from The Leaders of the Crowd)
And my own favourite:
"We have fed the heart on fantasies,
the heart's grown brutal from the fare, more substance in our enmities than in our love"
The FTSE 250 (Britain) is actually up today, and the Dow Jones industrial average is fairly calm, even up slightly at the start, now down slightly. What's going on, pundits are wondering? Here's what: A Republican President and Congress means giveaways to the rich and to corporations, and stock markets like that. Who would have guessed? Will the markets price in the global uncertainty involved in a Trump Presidency? Maybe not until it happens.
*21st-century polling is meaningless. (The good news: we will be spared endless polling going forward and, in any case, no one will pay attention. Why did the polls fail so badly at the state level? I suspect it has to do with the fact that suspicion of the media has become so widespread that the voters who put Trump over the top simply don't respond--and with response rates of 10% to most polls, that was fatal.)
*Trump is not a Republican in any meaningful ideological sense, though it's hard to know what he really believes. But the Republicans that control the Senate and the House have an ideological agenda that, as far as one can tell, he does not share, except with regard to making the rich richer through tax cuts.
*Trump ran as a "populist" against the elites and a "rigged" system. Now the system, of course, is "rigged" in all kinds of ways, and the pathologies of global capitalism have made that vivid to tens of millions of people. While Senator Sanders would have been a rational voter response to that fact, Trump plainly is not. And still, if he moves, as he said he would, to repudiate existing trade agreements, and strengthen Social Security and Medicare, he will be on a collision course with the actual Republicans in Congress. Those folks would surely prefer Mike Pence, the Christian conservative from Indiana, in charge (and, of course, he may be in charge de facto). Will the Republican House move to impeach Trump? It is not at all inconceivable, since he is likely to give them grounds one way or another.
*Putting aside his dubious psychological stability, and the enormous risk that poses, he is less likely to start wars than Hillary Clinton or any recent Republican Administrations. Recall John Mearsheimer's commentary.
...about Trump and the Repugs. I am confident, per Sam Wang the Princeton scientist whose data analysis was the best in 2012, that Clinton will win on Tuesday (he puts the odds at greater than 99%). But we won't be done with Trump, or the racist reactionaries he has unleashed, or the dysfunctional Republican Party, all of which will do their best to undermine democracy, thus paving the way for a more skilled fascist than Trump to try to take the reigns of power down the line. Until the Republican Party is destroyed as a viable political force, there really is little reason to be hopeful about America's future. Fortunately, the country's demographics make that destruction a real possibility.
ADDENDUM: And for those in a state of anxiety, see also this.
The dramatis personae of the liberal class are all present in this amazing body of work: financial innovators. High-achieving colleagues attempting to get jobs for their high-achieving children. Foundation executives doing fine and noble things. Prizes, of course, and high academic achievement.
Certain industries loom large and virtuous here. Hillary’s ingratiating speeches to Wall Street are well known of course, but what is remarkable is that, in the party of Jackson and Bryan and Roosevelt, smiling financiers now seem to stand on every corner, constantly proffering advice about this and that. In one now-famous email chain, for example, the reader can watch current US trade representative Michael Froman, writing from a Citibank email address in 2008, appear to name President Obama’s cabinet even before the great hope-and-change election was decided (incidentally, an important clue to understanding why that greatest of zombie banks was never put out of its misery).
The far-sighted innovators of Silicon Valley are also here in force, interacting all the time with the leaders of the party of the people. We watch as Podesta appears to email Sheryl Sandberg. He makes plans to visit Mark Zuckerberg (who, according to one missive, wants to “learn more about next steps for his philanthropy and social action”). Podesta exchanges emails with an entrepreneur about an ugly race now unfolding for Silicon Valley’s seat in Congress; this man, in turn, appears to forward to Podesta the remarks of yet another Silicon Valley grandee, who complains that one of the Democratic combatants in that fight was criticizing billionaires who give to Democrats. Specifically, the miscreant Dem in question was said to be:
“… spinning (and attacking) donors who have supported Democrats. John Arnold and Marc Leder have both given to Cory Booker, Joe Kennedy, and others. He is also attacking every billionaire that donates to [Congressional candidate] Ro [Khanna], many whom support other Democrats as well.”
Attacking billionaires! In the year 2015! It was, one of the correspondents appears to write, “madness and political malpractice of the party to allow this to continue”.
DeNiro remarked (with remarkable New York restraint) that Trump is a "mutt," a "dog," who should be "punched in the face." Please watch around 21:00 this video about the effect of Trump's rhetoric on human beings (here children). "Mutts" deserve a lot better than Trump.
(Thanks to Daniel Buk for pointer to the video, which is worth watching in its entirety.)
A propos this earlier discussion, Professor Bonevac has explained his reasons in detail. Some dubious factual claims are involved, and some even more dubious implicit claims about cause-and-effect. But the basic mistake is in thinking that Trump means what he says, and so is an instrumentally rational choice given Professor Bonevac's stated objectives.
...we won't be done with him, since he's psychologically incapable of losing gracefully, and will without a doubt do his best to incite violence and disruption after the election. My prediction, however, is that once he has officially lost, Republican leaders will move quickly to repudiate and discredit him in full. One fortunate aspect of his latest insane rhetoric about election fraud is that it may depress turnout among his supporters, which will have ramifications for other Republican candidates. In the happiest scenario, Trump's craziness will hand the House (as well as the Senate) to the Democrats.
AND A MORE REPUTABLE pollster (NBC/Wall Street Journal), consistent with the preceding, shows Clinton up by 11 points. The really happy scenario is that this magnitude of a loss at the top of the ticket will throw both the Senate and the House to the Democrats, and then the liberals and 1970s Republicans who make up that party can actually govern!
Most readers have probably heard by now about an interview in which Trump jokes about various acts of sexual assault and how he can get away with them, which now is leading to speculation that he'll withdraw (he won't) or, perhaps a bit more likely, that the Republican Party will instruct the electors to choose someone else when they vote in December, probably Mike Pence, the extremely conservative Indiana Governor who is Trump's usually invisible VP candidate. That would be a risky gambit for the Republicans, since it's not clear whether the message would get out in time to affect the election, and it's also not clear what the effect would actually be, given the cult-like loyalty Trump enjoys among an alarmingly large segment of the electorate. I'll add links if I see any intelligent analyses of these possible scenarios (please e-mail me, readers, if you see any). As things stand now, we are looking at a huge win for the Democrats, and Trump still has another month of gaffes and outbursts to come (plus two more debates, starting tomorrow)!
He has touched—embraced!—every third rail in American politics. He has offended (and I apologize if I’ve left some group out): African-Americans, Native Americans, Mexicans, Jews, Muslims, war heroes—war heroes!—families of war heroes, the disabled, women, and babies. Babies! Through word or action, Trump has promoted gun violence, bigotry, ignorance, intolerance, lying, and just about everything else that can be wrong with a society. And yet he marches on, playing to a constituency that just doesn’t seem to care. The thing is, this ramshackle campaign, following a ramshackle business career, has exposed his flaws and failures to the world and, more importantly, to the people he will brush up against for the rest of his life. To them he is now officially a joke. I suspect he knows this. And if his thin skin on minor matters is any indication, he will be lashing out with even more vitriol. He is a mad jumble of a man, with a slapdash of a campaign and talking points dredged from the dark corners at the bottom of the Internet. I don’t think he will get to the White House, but just the fact that his carny act has gotten so far along the road will leave the path with a permanent orange stain. Trump, more than even the most craven politicians or entertainers, is a bottomless reservoir of need and desire for attention. He lives off crowd approval. And at a certain point that will dim, as it always does to people like him, and the cameras will turn to some other American novelty. When that attention wanes, he will be left with his press clippings, his dyed hair, his fake tan, and those tiny, tiny fingers.
A propos my observation last week that academic law has more conservatives and libertarians than academic philosophy, along comes this study, which doesn't cover philosophy (but one can infer the likely result):
We investigate the voter registration of faculty at 40 leading U.S. universities in the fields of Economics, History, Journalism/Communications, Law, and Psychology. We looked up 7,243 professors and found 3,623 to be registered Democratic and 314 Republican, for an overall D:R ratio of 11.5:1. The D:R ratios for the five fields were: Economics 4.5:1, History 33.5:1, Journalism/Communications 20.0:1, Law 8.6:1, and Psychology 17.4:1. The results indicate that D:R ratios have increased since 2004, and the age profile suggests that in the future they will be even higher. We provide a breakdown by department at each university. The data support the established finding that D:R ratios are highest at the apex of disciplinary pyramids, that is, at the most prestigious departments.
These results are not surprising, given that the Republican Party is now nothing more than a FOX-created freak show. But the variation by field is telling: economists have many more Republicans because they are in the grips of a theoretically coherent but false world view about markets and regulation that make support of Republicans instrumentally rational against that background worldview (academic law is parasitic on this). "Journalism/communication" is not a Wissenschaft, so put that to one side. Most parts of current academic psychology mimic and sometimes live up to wissenschaftlich standards, but nothing about the field's self-conception as a scientific discipline would lead anyone to think Republicans are anything other than a fringe party. My guess would be that academic philosophy is closer to Psychology than Law, but if anyone looks at the facts about party registration let me know. Unnoted in studies like this is that the Republican Party in the U.S. is now a radical outlier, a "freak show" as I've put it. The old Republican Party now occupies the Democratic Party, which still also has its liberal, FDR wing. The current official Republican Party is, as Donald Trump has made finally clear, a deranged amalgamation of the pathologies of capitalism in America in the early 21st-century.
This may be significant, since USA Today, America's news-lite national paper, has never before endorsed or dis-endorsed any candidate for the Presidency. That, together with their ordinary right-leaning "even-handedness," gives them credibility with an ill-informed segment of the electorate who might have entertained voting for Trump. Trump is clearly "unfit" for the Presidency; he's "unfit" for any actual job, but it will suffice if he is deflected from the Presidency.
Obviously, it is embarrassing that educated people would vote for Trump, but it isn't that hard to explain. Dan Bonevac and Rob Koons--my former colleagues at Texas (with whom I had a very enjoyable reading group back in the 1990s)--are both conservative Christians, though of different denominations. Trump's invisible running mate, Mike Pence, the former Indiana Governor, is a very conservative Christian, and many people suspect that given that Trump is a narcissist with a short attention span, that his VP would really govern. I am hardly surprised my former colleagues are supporting Trump under those circumstances.
USC's Scott Soames, whom I do not know except through his work, is a more puzzling case, though I had long heard that he was on the political right (now that is confirmed!). My guess is that his "reasons" are not unlike the reasons proferred by the handful of right-wing law professors supporting Trump, like Stephen Presser (emeritus, Northwestern) and Ronald Rotunda (Chapman). This is perhaps worth emphasizing: there are a lot of conservative and libertarian law professors (whereas there are few philosophy professors, proportionally, in those camps). Most are not supporting Trump: some are voting for Gary Johnson, the libertarian candidate; most seem to be sitting out the election; and another large group are voting for Clinton, for a simple reason, that reflects their legal knowledge: domestically, the President operates under various constraints, but in terms of foreign policy, there are almost no meaningful limits to what the President can do. Entrusting that power to a psychologically unbalanced narcissist isn't a good bet, obviously.
Continental Philosophy Farhang Erfani, a philosopher at American University, provides a useful set of links to news, events, interviews, reviews, videos, etc. related to "Continental philosophy" (broadly construed)