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How “Class Not Race” Becomes Normalized

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I agree with nearly every point of this Cathy Kunkel piece in Jacobin about the decline of the Democratic Party in West Virginia. Kunkel is a West Virginia energy activist and has great knowledge about what is going on there. She details the disturbing collapse of the Democratic in West Virginia. She traces the close history between the Democrats and the coal miners, in particular the United Mine Workers of America (although she oddly doesn’t discuss the union by name). She rightfully notes the complete lack of a Democratic Party job plan for dislocated coal miners. She correctly discusses the lack of an economic diversification plan for the state, although to be fair, no one has one because there really isn’t any good alternatives. She notes that the Party has been too close to the coal industry at the state level. And she states that Bernie Sanders was a lot more popular among West Virginia Democrats than Hillary Clinton, winning every county in the state. I certainly do not disagree with her that Democrats running as economic populists in West Virginia might do a lot to rejuvenate the party at the state level. Certainly what the party is doing now isn’t working, even if it might mean that Joe Manchin and Jim Justice can still win there and even though I don’t think there’s much evidence that running away from the coal industry is going to suddenly attract the West Virginia masses to liberalism. Certainly, the fact that Sanders was more popular than Clinton in West Virginia does not then mean he would win the state in the general election. That’s not real tight reasoning. Whatever.

But this article has a huge yawning chasm and that is race. Kunkel literally does not mention race once in this article except a passing reference in the middle of one paragraph. That is amazing too me and it is indicative of an all-too common problem at Jacobin. You simply cannot understand the decline of the Democratic Party in West Virginia without placing race right smack dab in the center of your analysis. West Virginia is a state where open racism is largely accepted. In 2012, a convicted felon won 41 percent of Democratic primary vote. That was not because Barack Obama is too close to the coal companies. It was because of a combination of Obama being seen as pro-environmentalist and Obama being black. This was well-established at the time and nothing in the succeeding 5 years has led to any meaningful revision of these conclusions. He lost to Hillary Clinton by 41 percent in 2008. Why? Because he is black.

And yet Jacobin is fine publishing articles that completely erase race from the equation. Moreover, it isn’t just race–it’s homophobia, it’s misogyny, it’s Islamophobia, it’s environmentalism. West Virginia voters rejected Hillary Clinton and are turning hard right for a number of reasons. Some are those that Kunkel correctly enunciates. But some are racial, religious, anti-environmental. We simply cannot understand the decline of the Democratic Party in West Virginia without looking at racial divisions, Christian supremacism, anti-abortion politics, as well as the indifference of Democratic Party elites to the white working class in that state. All of these factors are important.

To be clear, people, as we too often see in the comments of this blog, that are Race Not Class are just as useless as Class Not Race people. Issues are complex and multi-faceted, including the election of Donald Trump. We need to understand clusters of issues, not try to isolate the reasons for Democratic Party failures to blame a bad candidate, to deny the impact of neoliberalism upon working-class communities because liberals don’t want to take responsibility for the collapse of working-class security and the return of virulent racism, or to ignore the religious, racial, and gender bias of voters because you don’t like Democratic Party centrists. Each of these approaches is more damaging than enlightening. Unfortunately, there’s an entire magazine dedicated to the last that has come to define socialism in 2017. That’s a big problem because if socialism is going to downplay non-economic factors to our problems, it isn’t going to go far in solving them.

But hey, there is a place in Jacobin for discussions of race. It’s accusing liberals of racism in this instant classic entry of the timeless “cringe-worthy review of art in a leftist magazine” genre, in this case of Get Out. Read at your peril with such classic parts as:

Still, this is a feature length film, not an agitational pamphlet. Like all artistic mediums, it is quite difficult to get nuance to adhere to 35mm stock, not least because movie-going audiences tend to want whatever it is they’re watching to entertain before all else. Attempting to use film in the service of complex political arguments has produced more than a few horribly boring failures.

As socialists, we shouldn’t be surprised that Get Out doesn’t articulate a political perspective aimed at mobilizing a mass, class-based, anti-racist struggle against capitalism. The best that we can hope for from mass popular culture is that it will on occasion provoke conversations that we can participate in with the goal of pointing people toward practical activity of some kind.

Oh, OK.

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  • cleek

    And she states that Bernie Sanders was a lot more popular among West Virginia Democrats than Hillary Clinton, winning every county in the state.

    easy to do when nearly half of his votes came from Republicans who said they were going to vote Trump in the fall.

    • FlipYrWhig

      Yeah, that was a highly unconvincing riff.

    • Murc

      You got a cite on that?

      Christ, this is the same goddamn talking point from 2008; “sure, Clinton buried Obama in WV, but that’s coz of Republican support!”

      It was equally as plausible then.

      • aab84

        Link here

        Relevant section: “39 percent of Sanders voters said they would vote for Trump over Sanders in the fall. For Clinton, nine percent of her voters say they plan to come out for Trump in the general election.”

        • Alex.S

          A convicted felon (Keith Judd) serving jail time in Texas got 41% of the vote in the 2012 West Virginia Democratic primary.

          Not comparing the two, but comparing the voters — about 35% or so of the Democratic presidential primary voters in West Virginia are going to vote against the Democratic party’s presidential candidate.

        • Murc

          That link is about racist WV Democrats whose preferences was Sanders then Trump.

          It speculates about Republican crossover votes but gives no numbers or proof.

          • aab84

            If you want to quibble about Cleek’s use of “Republicans” . . . well, fair enough I guess. I fail to see how that in any way undercuts Cleek’s point that Sanders won because of Trump voters. It’s literally true (if you subtract those 39% from Sanders’ tally and the 9% from Clinton’s she gets more votes).

            I’d just say that anyone who intends to vote for Donald fricking Trump in a general election is in no way, shape, or form, an actual Democrat, regardless of what they call themselves for historical reasons.

          • Murc

            I fail to see how that in any way undercuts Cleek’s point that Sanders won because of Trump voters.

            Whell, it implies that his level of support in WV isn’t legitimate even among WV Democrats, and is therefore completely ignorable as an element of analysis.

            I’m not sure I believe that now anymore than I did in 2008 re: Clinton. They both won the Democratic Primary for different reasons relating to both who they are, who their opponent was, hat message they brought to the state, and the states political history. The fact that a lot of WV Democrats voted Trump is part of Erik’s analysis, not a reason for dismissing it.

            • aab84

              But they’re not actual Democrats. Many of them almost certainly have not voted for a Democrat for President since Clinton (and more likely, since Reagan). Their identification as Democrats is just a relic of the one-party South. Their voting behavior changed, but the label hasn’t caught up.

              If we recognize that many West Virginia Democrats are not, in fact, Democrats, then the relevant question looks a lot more like “how do Democrats win in Oklahoma?” And the answer there is, “You don’t. Not unless you’re willing to concede on a bunch of non-negotiable positions.”

              • Murc

                Except that Erik’s analysis was less “how can we win in 2020?” and more “how did we get into the position of not being able to do so, and what might be done about that in the much longer term.”

      • Abbey Bartlet
      • Rob in CT

        Equally plausible, yeah. As in… plausible!

    • wengler

      Ah this old circlejerk again. Time to skip most of the comments here.

  • Arla

    Any thoughts on this? On the one hand it makes some sense to me intuitively, but on the other I’m not sure what it accomplishes other than a redefinition of what class is. I thought it was worth sharing, though.

    • Srsly Dad Y

      So here’s two cents from nobody. That post uses a (Max) Weber-ian definition of “class,” as something like “position in the societal matrix,” as against Marx’s definition, “relationship to the means of production.” Ultimately, though, if you say your race is part of your class, both terms become much less useful IMHO.

      • Arla

        Thanks! It does seem like this is a way of skirting around the fact that so many leftists treat social division of labor (and attendant access to capital) as the primary social structure, but I thought I might be missing something.

        • Redwood Rhiadra

          so many leftists treat social division of labor (and attendant access to capital) as the primary social structure

          Marx is the Way, and the Truth, and the Life, and no one comes to the Workers' Paradise except through Him.

    • gmack

      It is worth sharing, thanks. My first take on it, however, is that I’m not sure what use this redefinition of class has. The point of all of these analyses, after all, is to understand various structures of domination with an eye toward challenging/transforming them. So the question one always asks (if one is a Marxist, anyway) is whether a particular mode of conceptualizing something actually picks out a mode of domination in a way that helps transform it (as opposed to, say, naturalizing it, ignoring it, or whatever). That’s my question for this piece, and perhaps I’m just not creative enough to answer it: if we accept this different way of thinking about “class struggle,” what does that get us? Do we have a new/better way of approaching the practice of organizing, or what goals should be pursued?

      • Arla

        Yeah, it almost seems like redefining “class” to mean “power” and “social division of labor and capital” to mean “class” (in the colloquial sense). Like you, I’m not sure what that gets us in terms of political organizing, but it seemed like something worth thinking about. (Shrug)

        • gmack

          I should also add, “what Srsly Dad Y said.” I’m mildly embarrassed that I didn’t note the overlap between the post and Weber.

    • William Berry

      Really inmteresting piece.

      Class as fundamentally the solution of an equation the terms of which are all the quantized qualia that attach to the individual as a social-political animal.

      Borrowed for future reference.

      ETA: Also, too, great OP by EL. Can’t say I disagree with a word of it. Which is unusual for me as I have been known to be (on occasion– once, at least!) of being a disagreeable person.

      • William Berry

        Forgive typo on the ETA; what I get for making a dumb joke.

  • DamnYankees

    I’ve never understood the desire some people have to try to understand the politics of Southern and Border states as anything other than through the lens of race.

    It seems that people sees a movement of a voting base over a couple generations from Democrats to Republicans and are searching for some deep, meaningful changes. But it just seems obvious to me that the answer here is that the change was only in label, and not in substance. Southern white people used to be members of the racist party. They are currently members of the racist party. They just switched the labels. The substance didn’t change.

    The story of these voting patters is one of consistency, not change.

    • Abbey Bartlet

      I’ve never understood the desire some people have to try to understand the politics of Southern and Border states as anything other than through the lens of race.

      QFT.

    • JMP

      The only reason I can think of is to reinforce the pipe dream a lot of self-described leftists (mostly white, straight and male) love; that if liberals were to just stop caring about equal rights for all, and throw those minorities, women and LGBT people under the bus, then surely all those white bigots would suddenly vote for liberal socialists forever.

      • FlipYrWhig

        I don’t think that’s entirely fair — I think it’s more of a utopian longing for intersectional solidarity. But the whole thing runs aground when it comes to how to handle adamantly racist/sexist/homophobic/etc. members of the actual working class, whose consciousness may be false in Marxist terms but who nonetheless believe it pretty wholeheartedly.

        • ap77

          Right. The issue is not, as Loomis puts it, “the indifference of Democratic Party elites to the white working class in that state.” It’s that a lot of what that segment wants are terrible things. And on things that would actually improve the lives of the white working class – e.g., healthcare, minimum wage, etc. – the Democrats are vastly better than the GOP.

          But that doesn’t matter. What matters is the racism/sexism/homophobia/etc.

        • fatvalkilmer

          I don’t think that’s entirely fair — I think it’s more of a utopian longing for intersectional solidarity.

          Agreed. This longing, and the self-image that can come from it, allows people who are economically very far left to avoid deeper introspection about their complicity in other pernicious social issues. “I’m very concerned about economic equality, therefore I’m very concerned about all equality.”

          Similarly, when all you have is the hammer of socialism, everything looks like the same class struggle.

          • Abbey Bartlet

            when all you have is the hammer of socialism, everything looks like the same class struggle.

            That’s quite catchy.

            • “When all you have is the hammer of socialism, everything looks like the sickle of class struggle” would be even catchier.

              Harder to make sense of, but definitely catchier.

          • CP

            when all you have is the hammer of socialism, everything looks like the same class struggle.

            Nailed it.

            • elm

              Logged in just to say, Bravo! Literally laughed out loud in my office on that.

        • Origami Isopod

          Having seen how a lot of those straight, cis, white male leftists actually behave? I think you’re giving those ones, at least, far too much benefit of the doubt.

          • fatvalkilmer

            Sorry–it wasn’t my intention to paint a sympathetic picture of this phenomenon. I truly believe that it stems from a righteousness that they assume makes them righteous in all endeavors. But I don’t think that unexamined and careless malevolence is really any better than the alternative.

            • Origami Isopod

              I was replying to FlipYrWig, but no worries anyway. I do realize that in many cases it’s obliviousness, not overt hostility, and you’re right that there’s not really an appreciable difference in outcome.

              • FlipYrWhig

                Whoops, sorry to have missed the threading, but point taken.

      • NYD3030

        I do not know a single straight, white male leftist who thinks this. Not one. No leftist, not even the most disgusting, straightest, whitest, cisest bro, thinks that we should stop caring about equal rights for all.

        They might think economic populism would be a more effective political program. I’m not sure on that count. But I do know that the Obama era Democratic program and message has resulted in a complete and total wipeout of the party.

        • fatvalkilmer

          I do not know a single straight, white male leftist who thinks this. Not one. No leftist, not even the most disgusting, straightest, whitest, cisest bro, thinks that we should stop caring about equal rights for all.

          I don’t think that’s the argument.

          The argument, to me, is that many leftists refuse to acknowledge that the class struggle is different for people of different races. These people blunder over the nuances of other peoples’ needs an experiences because they see addressing class as a panacea.

          No one is saying that class-only leftists are explicitly anti-equality, but people ARE saying that many leftists are too wrapped up in their own shit to recognize the ways that they might be complicit in a fucked-up power dynamic that’s based on race or sex.

          In other words: white dudes being white dudes.

        • Origami Isopod

          No leftist, not even the most disgusting, straightest, whitest, cisest bro, thinks that we should stop caring about equal rights for all.

          May I introduce you to one M. Tracey?

          • Phil Perspective

            He’s not a leftist.

            • Origami Isopod

              #NoTrueLeftist

        • JMP

          You don’t see the constant stream of straight, white male “leftists” constantly screeching “liberals need to stop caring about identity politics!”? Because I hear that one all the fucking time. Hell, some even take up meaningless phrases from the bigots used as insults against non-bigots like “social justice warriors” and “virtue signalling”.

          • kped

            The amount of Leftists on Twitter who yell “Virtue signalling” is striking to me. “They don’t actually believe this, it’s virtue signalling”. Like…isn’t that what the right says? Shouldn’t you try to…not be like the right?

            • libarbarian

              The amount of Leftists on Twitter who yell “Virtue signalling” is striking to me. “They don’t actually believe this, it’s virtue signalling”. Like…isn’t that what the right says? Shouldn’t you try to…not be like the right?

              Well, “Hypocritical Grandstanding” is a little clumsier.

              Regardless of what you call it, the actual behavior in question is a real fucking thing. Many People DO engage in ostentatious denouncements of other people for behaviors that they willfully commit themselves and they do it for the direct purpose of fooling other people. There is nothing wrong with calling out blatant self-serving hypocrisy.

              • JMP

                No it is not a real thing at all. It’s a completely bullshit accusation made up by defenders of bigotry in order to accuse decent people of acting in bad faith, of claiming that no one is really offended by outrageous racism or misogyny but we’re just pretending to to look good. No, actually, the problem is with bigotry, not those of us who are offended by it.

                It is, however, like “SJW”, “politically correct”, “white knighting”, “playing the race card”, etc. etc. a nice marker that the person using the phrase has nothing to say worth listening to, and if they claim to be liberal that they’re full of shit.

                • Mrs Tilton

                  Yep. Can’t be emphasized often enough.

                  I’m partial to Roy Edroso‘s definition of “Social Justice Warrior”: someone who’s less of a dick than the conservative calling him that.

                • Origami Isopod

                  Eh. There are assholes on our side, as there are everywhere, and some of them do indeed cynically use the language of social justice for their own ends. “SJW” used to refer strictly to those types. The far-right has poisoned the term, however. Also, those types are pretty minuscule in number and haven’t much in the way of political power.

        • FlipYrWhig

          But I do know that the Obama era Democratic program and message has resulted in a complete and total wipeout of the party.

          Because the last remaining Democratic-voting conservatives left, most likely because they gave credence to the idea that the national party had become _too_ liberal and that their local Democrats were part of the problem.

          • NYD3030

            I don’t think that story really works outside the South. Certainly here in Wisconsin the problem wasn’t that our large contingent of conservative Democrats finally gave up the ghost and went Trump.

            • FlipYrWhig

              Fair enough, but the only way to substantiate the claim of a “complete and total wipeout of the party” is to include a lot of data from the South and Plains. If the crisis is in the Upper Midwest, let’s talk about that, not the “complete and total wipeout,” whose scale is increased by a lot of data points from places like Arkansas and Oklahoma.

        • IS

          But I do know that the Obama era Democratic program and message has resulted in a complete and total wipeout of the party.

          Ah yes, exactly how I’d describe small gains in House and Senate seats, and netting two governor’s mansions, and a significant popular vote victory for the presidency undermined in the Electoral College by narrow losses in three states.

          So what was the result for the Republican Party in 2008? DOUBLE GENOCIDEDEDED 5EVERRRR!!!!1!!11 ? How did that turn out for them over the following decade again?

          • kped

            Lol, following decade? Try following 2 years when they re-captured the House. People have this weird tendency to think everything is a permanent change, and it’s like they forgot that people said that in 2004…and in 2009…and those were the complete opposite “changed forever!!!”…and then it changed again in 2010…but not enough to matter in 2012, and then in 2016 this new permanent change relied on 70K votes in 3 states and the FBI and Russia and lefty bros all shitting on the Democratic nominee.

            But yes, the Democratic party is certainly destroyed forever. Take that to the bank.

            • NYD3030

              It’s obviously not destroyed forever, but it is in the worst shape in living memory, and I’m skeptical that it can recover bigly without some changes in direction and leadership.

            • IS

              Re decade: I was being a bit generous.

            • Phil Perspective

              … but not enough to matter in 2012, and then in 2016 this new permanent change relied on 70K votes in 3 states and the FBI and Russia and lefty bros all shitting on the Democratic nominee.

              I notice what you don’t mention here. No mention of Scott Walker, Rick Snyder or Pat McCrory. No mention of the corruption of the NC Democratic Party that led to their implosion and impotence. I could spend all day pointing stuff out to you but what’s the point? If Lefty bros, Susan Sarandon, had the power you think they do we wouldn’t be in this mess.

              • Abbey Bartlet

                No mention of the corruption of the NC Democratic Party that led to their implosion and impotence.

                https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Governor_of_North_Carolina

              • Matty

                You’re going to mention Pat McCrory but not Art Pope when talking about the GOP attempt to gain permanent control of NC?

          • NYD3030

            The Obama era encompasses more than the 2016 election, and the party is at near historic lows in terms of control of any branch of any government in the country. I don’t know how you can view this as anything but a total wipeout?

            Obviously the Democrats aren’t done as a political party, and I never claimed they were. I think they need to do something differently to try and win elections. I don’t know what that is – do you think more of the same will turn this ship around?

            • FlipYrWhig

              I tend to think a Bill Clinton clone would win a lot of elections despite being “more of the same” by leftish standards.

            • Anna in PDX

              #1 is for them to have more party organization at lower levels of government and not just in their stronghold states. GOP has been doing this long term and it’s paid off, it is a long-term project not an instant fix.

          • Scott Lemieux

            Ah yes, exactly how I’d describe small gains in House and Senate seats, and netting two governor’s mansions, and a significant popular vote victory for the presidency undermined in the Electoral College by narrow losses in three states.

            So what was the result for the Republican Party in 2008? DOUBLE GENOCIDEDEDED 5EVERRRR!!!!1!!11 ? How did that turn out for them over the following decade again?

            Exactly.

            It’s obviously not destroyed forever, but it is in the worst shape in living memory,

            Nah, nah, nah, this is silly. Under Reagan/Bush 1 they got slaughtered in 3 straight presidential elections, and they hold Congress only because of conservative Southern Dems who voted to enact much of Reagan’s agenda.

            and I’m skeptical that it can recover bigly without some changes in direction and leadership.

            What was the change in direction and leadership that caused the GOP to win in the 2010 midterms?

        • Donna Gratehouse

          No leftist, not even the most disgusting, straightest, whitest, cisest bro, thinks that we should stop caring about equal rights for all.

          Sneering about “identity politics” all the time is a big clue they really think that.

    • FlipYrWhig

      I just wrote something similar down-thread. It just took a surprisingly long time for some of these patterns to shift — like Kim Davis’s still being a Democrat in 2015.

    • J. Otto Pohl

      This seems very problematic to me because race gets tied into class in all kinds of ways. I’ll note that some of the most class orientated in a Marxist sense movements have been those like the Black Panther Party in the US and ANC and its ally the SACP in the RSA. I have a lot of intellectual disagreements with both. But, unlike the modern US liberals that completely deny any role to class I have to respect them. The modern US leftists that left Marx on the coffee table unread and think everything is 100% white on black racism are not intellectually respectable.

      • Abbey Bartlet

        the modern US liberals that completely deny any role to class

        Who definitely exist outside your imagination.

        • J. Otto Pohl

          Damned Yankees wrote on this very thread.

          I’ve never understood the desire some people have to try to understand the politics of Southern and Border states as anything other than through the lens of race.

          The phrase “anything other than through the lens of race” means no class element in English.

          • IS

            You realize that lenses are transparent, and you can apply more than one of them at a time, right? Just because someone says you can’t understand something without considering race doesn’t mean they think if you consider race you’ve done everything you need to understand it.

            • J. Otto Pohl

              Not what he said. He said, “anything other than race.” The phrase “anything other than” means nothing other than.

              • IS

                “anything other than … race” =/= “anything other than race”

                Granted, what he actually said is something I’d consider borderline ungrammatical (and this is the comments section of a blog, not somewhere with professional editors), so some interpretation is needed. It doesn’t look to me like “race and nothing else” so much as “whatever else, you need race.”

                • DamnYankees

                  In case you folks are still reading, what I meant was that these people are desparate to avoid looking at the situation through race. That’s what “anything other than race” means – they want to look at it through every means they can, other than through a lens of race.

                  I did not mean race is the only relevant lens.

                • Abbey Bartlet

                  That’s what I thought, DY.

          • Aaron Morrow

            The phrase “Southern and Border states” implies that the US is different outside those areas.

        • Origami Isopod

          Yeah, no, they exist. Trust me.

          • Abbey Bartlet

            You I do trust. And ick.

            • Origami Isopod

              If I never again see a thread full of liberals using trailer residence or missing teeth as reasons to mock people, it’ll be too soon.

              That said, my sense is that it’s gotten somewhat better in recent years, thanks to Occupy, and to younger generations of progressives in general. But the classism is still out there, and it’s especially bad in the urban Northeast.

              • Abbey Bartlet

                If I never again see a thread full of liberals using trailer residence or missing teeth as reasons to mock people, it’ll be too soon.

                Oh, that’s *absolutely* out there, and gross as shit. But not what I took JOP to be referencing.

                That said, my sense is that it’s gotten somewhat better in recent years, thanks to Occupy, and to younger generations of progressives in general. But the classism is still out there, and it’s especially bad in the urban Northeast.

                Perhaps encouragingly, I consistently see classism called out–it’s still there, but it’s not unchallenged.

          • J. Otto Pohl

            You are now probably going to be expelled from the “progressive” movement for agreeing with me and dissenting from one of its keepers of the orthodox line. ;-)

            • Hob

              I know a lot of people missed your comments here and find your overall presence charming, but this kind of crap isn’t charming in the least. It’s actually very insulting to constantly refer to all the other people in a forum you enjoy hanging out in as being hive-minded herd-followers. Adding a smiley face doesn’t make it funny.

              It also makes it sound like you don’t really pay attention to anyone else’s comments, because people express agreement with some things you say here pretty often. Just not the completely ridiculous things.

        • rhino

          Oh, they exist.

          But more common are those who will not countenance any view that does not explicitly state that race is far more important than class, to the extent that class should be ignored as there are bigger fish to fry.

          • Abbey Bartlet

            But more common are those who will not countenance any view that does not explicitly state that race is far more important than class, to the extent that class should be ignored as there are bigger fish to fry.

            You *can’t* fry class unless you’re frying race. You just can’t.

            • Same is true the other way around

              • To mangle Mr. Franklin’s apothegm, they must be fried together for assuredly they can not be fried separately.

                (Yum, fried apothegm, with thweet potatoeth!)

            • rhino

              For me, class means, fundamentally, economic power and wealth. If you’re poor, you are automatically lower class. Nobody is calling Ben Carson lower class, because he has money, despite being black. I am white, but have never been more than lower class, or for a brief period, working class. I have far more in common with the immigrants in my city living 4 to a room than I ever will with the rich fuckers who sign my paycheques. I understand that, and see no reason why the rest of the working and lower classes can’t be taught that as well.

              The real problem is getting people, black and white, to understand that the powerful are using race to keep them divided. In some ways, when we refuse to concentrate on class divisions, I think we actually make things worse, because we are reinforcing those divisions.

              Of course it doesn’t help that, if you concentrate on courting the lower classes, you have to do the hard job of leading a bunch of white trash bigots away from their racism. That’s not easy, and it’s also kind of disgusting to even have to interact with them. Problem is we need those people. We cannot let their votes by pandering to their racism, which only leaves convincing them not to be racist fuckheads.

              Class war would be much easier if class were the only division, no doubt bout that.

              • Abbey Bartlet

                white trash

                lol

                • rhino

                  Glad to see someone noticed.

                • MDrew

                  I like your comment.

    • John F

      It seems that people sees a movement of a voting base over a couple generations from Democrats to Republicans and are searching for some deep, meaningful changes.

      No, it’s pretty much taken for granted that “Southern white people used to be members of the racist party. They are currently members of the racist party.”

      No one here is really disputing that, what folks are trying to grapple with now is something different, why did some people who voted for OBAMA 2008/2012 turn around and vote for Trump in 2016.

      • DamnYankees

        No, it’s pretty much taken for granted that “Southern white people used to be members of the racist party. They are currently members of the racist party.”

        I don’t think this idea is taken for granted at all outside of liberals.

      • ap77

        No one here is really disputing that, what folks are trying to grapple with now is something different, why did some people who voted for OBAMA 2008/2012 turn around and vote for Trump in 2016.

        Well, that question assumes that actually happened to any significant degree.

        • DamnYankees

          Also, WV is not the place to focus on if this is your actual point of inquiry.

          • FlipYrWhig

            In 2016 Trump won WV 68.6%-26.5%.
            In 2012 Romney won WV 62.3%-35.5%.
            In 2008 McCain won WV 55.6%-42.5%.
            In 2004 Bush won WV 56.1%-43.2%.

            That’s a pretty bad trendline, but it does look to have been exacerbated by the first term of Obama — which I tend to think was the moment when the orthodoxy hardened that the Democratic Party was little more than an engine for taking hardworking white people’s money and using it to bail out Those People. That’s, I think, the prevailing racist memory of the events of 2008-09-10.

          • xq

            There hasn’t been much analysis of WV in the general election because it wasn’t a swing state, but there was a shift of 15 points against Clinton relative to Obama in 2012. It is very much part of the Obama-Trump voter phenomenon.

            • Redwood Rhiadra

              Except, that, as noted right above you, the trend has been going since 2004 and therefore had FUCK ALL to do with Clinton, Obama, or Trump.

              • xq

                You seem to think that’s a contradiction to something I said, but it’s not.

            • ASV

              WV had a contested Senate election in 2012, which the Democrat won; it had no Senate election in 2016. That means turnout patterns were almost certainly different.

              • xq

                Looks like turnout was up ~2% in WV. Yes, you can tell a story where there was a drop in turnout among Democrats compensated by increases among Republicans. Seems very unlikely to explain a 15 point swing.

          • John F

            Obama got 42.5, then 35.5 and HRC got 26.5- W.Va is in fact one of the very few places where appreciable #s of people who voted for Obama later voted for Trump.

            • Rob in CT

              That looks like a pretty steady decline to me. And as always, I think it makes sense to treat 2008 as a bit of an outlier. I have to think that if the GOP hadn’t just fucked up everything it had touched and the economy was going into freefall, McCain does better than he did.

        • John F

          Personally I don’t think it happened to any great degree, to the extent it did happen it was unfortunately concentrated in handful of “swing” states

      • Abbey Bartlet

        No one here is really disputing that, what folks are trying to grapple with now is something different, why did some people who voted for OBAMA 2008/2012 turn around and vote for Trump in 2016.

        Because McCain and Romney weren’t offering white supremacy. It’s not that complicated.

        • DamnYankees

          People desperately want to avoid this conclusion because it requires making a moral decision about the voters.

          • Abbey Bartlet

            People desperately want to avoid this conclusion because it requires making a moral decision about the voters.

            Boo hoo.

            They’re racist fucks. The sooner we come to terms with that, the better.

          • Murc

            No, we want to avoid this conclusion because it means there’s no path forward. If white supremacy can reliably beat non-white supremacy in MI, WI, PA, FL, and NC, it means we don’t have a path forward that doesn’t mean selling our souls.

            Now, that might very well be the position we’re in. But we kinda have to assume it isn’t, because if it is our only two options are “lose every election” or “embrace white supremacy ourselves” and I think I’d like to do neither.

            • John F

              No, we want to avoid this conclusion because it means there’s no path forward. If white supremacy can reliably beat non-white supremacy in MI, WI, PA, FL, and NC

              Obama WON those states- twice-, it doesn’t matter that “McCain and Romney weren’t offering white supremacy”- if Obama could win those states then white supremacy cannot reliably beat non-white supremacy in those states.

              • Abbey Bartlet

                if Obama could win those states then white supremacy cannot reliably beat non-white supremacy in those states.

                THERE WAS NO WHITE SUPREMACY ON OFFER.

                • John F

                  People attracted to white supremacy would never have voted for Obama under any circumstances (unless his opponent had darker skin)- it doesn’t matter that open white supremacy wasn’t on offer

                • xq

                  That’s not true. People can be attracted to white supremacy and also angry at Bush for destroying the economy. Some of those people voted for Obama.

                • FlipYrWhig

                  @John, I think you may be discounting the extent to which white people turned on Obama for betraying his status as One Of The Good Ones, Transcending Race, etc. I think it was a very significant factor. A black woman coworker said about the police and vigilante shootings of Obama’s second term that it sure felt like people were finding ways to kill Obama by proxy.

                • Murc

                  People attracted to white supremacy would never have voted for Obama under any circumstances

                  The theory I’ve been going with is that there are a lot of folks who are sort of “soft” racists in that they don’t give a shit about race.

                  That is, they didn’t care that Barack Obama was black, but they also didn’t care that Trump is howlingly racist. It’s irrelevant to their political worldview.

                  This might just be wishful thinking on my part tho.

                • Origami Isopod

                  John F.: You’ve never heard the anecdote of the door-to-door canvasser in 2008 who was told, “Yeah, we’re voting for the n——“? And I think there was more than one such anecdote.

                • Aaron Morrow

                  In addition to the relative weights placed on their racism, never count out how many bigots want to be able to say that they have a Token ____ Friend.

                • John F

                  John F.: You’ve never heard the anecdote of the door-to-door canvasser in 2008 who was told, “Yeah, we’re voting for the n——“?

                  Yes I’ve heard the anecdote, I’m also a guy that folks who are attracted to white supremacy have a disturbing habit of being open with (I LOOK like one of them)- they DID NOT VOTE FOR OBAMA, ever, period, full stop, they voted for McCain, they voted for Romney, or they did not vote, but they did not vote for Obama- Obama was not one of the “good ones” to these people (If there are “good ones to these people they are in the Clarence Thomas mode).

                  You want to look for Obama voters who voted Trump? I’d look at MRA types before I’d look at any white supremacist curious types.

                • efgoldman

                  THERE WAS NO WHITE SUPREMACY ON OFFER

                  Sorry, Abbey. Have to disagree.
                  There was no open racism from the candidates prior to this cycle. But the Republiklowns have been the party of racism (and therefore white supremacy) at least since Reagan’s “young bucks buying t-bones” or whatever the hell he said.

                • TVTray

                  OTHER REPUBLICANS MUST HAVE STARTED OFFERING WHITE SUPREMACY A BIT AHEAD OF TRUMP’S SCHEDULE BECAUSE DEMS HAVE BEEN LOSING FOR A WHILE.

                • Abbey Bartlet

                  @John, I think you may be discounting the extent to which white people turned on Obama for betraying his status as One Of The Good Ones, Transcending Race, etc. I think it was a very significant factor. A black woman coworker said about the police and vigilante shootings of Obama’s second term that it sure felt like people were finding ways to kill Obama by proxy.

                  I’ve heard quite a few (black) people question if Obama would have won now, post-BLM. It’s a very different landscape re race. White people are scared.

                • Abbey Bartlet

                  Sorry, Abbey. Have to disagree.
                  There was no open racism from the candidates prior to this cycle. But the Republiklowns have been the party of racism (and therefore white supremacy) at least since Reagan’s “young bucks buying t-bones” or whatever the hell he said.

                  I don’t dispute that–I’m sure you can find me on the interwebs in 2008 pointing out McCain’s white supremacy–but I think it was a very different kind of white supremacy.

                  If you’re a racist-but-not-Klan-racist white guy and your options are “black guy with policies you like” or “white guy with policies you don’t love and the blahs get a kick”, you may pick black guy.

                  If your options are “white woman with policies you like” or “white guy with policies you don’t like and the blahs and the browns and the Muslims and the illegals get curb-stomped and put back in their goddamn place”, you pick the stomping.

              • djw

                Obama WON those states- twice-, it doesn’t matter that “McCain and Romney weren’t offering white supremacy”-

                But you can’t know that with any confidence. This is what I thought with some confidence until November 8th–that White Supremacy-based voting couldn’t really increase much because Obama would have negatively motivated it as well as anyone could positively motivate it. That made sense to me. But the results really do raise the possibility that voting for white supremacy was a draw for some marginal voters in a way that voting against its opposite was not. Perhaps that’s not quite right, but the results don’t allow for such a breezy rejection of that hypothesis.

            • veleda_k

              No, we want to avoid this conclusion because it means there’s no path forward

              What I don’t like about this argument, is that you’re making an argument about what you want to true. “It’s horribly depressing if X is the case, so let’s assume X isn’t the case.” It’s not that your conclusion is necessarily incorrect, but the reasoning is faulty.

              • Murc

                Well, here’s my reasoning: if one possibility is no-win, and the other possibility is might-win, you have two choices, right? One is “give up” and the other is “act like the might-win possibility is true and pursue it.”

                Or am I missing a third option?

                • John F

                  There was a James Bond film (Brosnan one) where a nuke was gonna go off in five minutes, Bond had to swim underwater (in a sub if my memory is correct?) some distance to reach the nuke and hopefully shut it down… he starts to go, the Bind girl says, “don’t James its too dangerous”

                  All I could think was WTF- too dangerous as compared to WHAT?

                  There’s literally no point in acting as if White Supremacy can’t be beaten in swing states- even if true- none at all.

                • Patick Spens

                  Go full FDR and throw minorities under the bus again? Secession?

              • djw

                It’s also flatly wrong that if it’s true there’s no path forward. This was a very narrow victory; there are other paths to reversing it. The same demographic voting patterns and turnout might not work for the Republicans in 2020, I don’t think.

                • John F

                  The same demographic voting patterns and turnout might not work for the Republicans in 2020

                  Not without increased voter suppression it wouldn’t.

                  But folks keep forgetting something- this was in fact a VERY narrow victory for Trump- his strongest demos are the ones decreasing in size over time- he didn’t get more young people or minorities to vote for him – he got more whites- whites without college degrees- to vote for him- that’s a shrinking demo within a shrinking demo, and it got him 46% of the popular vote and very narrow plurality wins in several swing states.

                  If you break down his voters by year of birth you see that his support was virtually identical to Dubya in 2004- but Dubya didn’t get 46% of the popular vote he got 51%.

                  Trump has absolutely no margin of error, he loses any level of support he’s done for-
                  Voter suppression is a far bigger concern than trying to figure out how to appease Appalachian rednecks

                • Rubychan228

                  I remember reading somewhere that if you factor in how little of the population actually votes (for one reason of another), Hillary’s votes, and third party votes, only a little over 19% of Americans actually, actively, voted for Trump.

                  So the path forward is to do everything we can to get as much of the anti-Trump 81% of the nation as we can on board with taking him and his allies down and in the voting booth to do it.

            • kped

              You are wrong. Even with white supremacy on offer, Hillary won by 3M votes. Her problem came due to a variety of circumstances eroding a small number of votes in certain swing states. There is a path forward, don’t be a nhilist.

              There are other paths then “become racist, or lose forever”

              Christ…you are smarter than that…if it was sloptrop I’d get it.

              • Abbey Bartlet

                You are wrong. Even with white supremacy on offer, Hillary won by 3M votes. Her problem came due to a variety of circumstances eroding a small number of votes in certain swing states. There is a path forward, don’t be a nhilist.

                There are other paths then “become racist, or lose forever”

                Christ…you are smarter than that…if it was sloptrop I’d get it.

                I’m not clear if you’re addressing this to Murc or me?

              • Murc

                You are wrong. Even with white supremacy on offer, Hillary won by 3M votes.

                No, she didn’t. She lost by 33 votes, the only ones that matter.

                There is a path forward, don’t be a nhilist.

                There are other paths then “become racist, or lose forever”

                We don’t know this. I believe it is true! But we don’t know. If open white nationalism really, truly is a reliably vote-winner in MI, WI, and PA, we are, in fact, super fucked.

            • njorl

              No. We can make electoral bigotry a bigger negative. We have to erase the middle ground. If only white-supremacists vote for the white supremacist candidate, we’ll win. It’s the people who currently don’t mind the white supremacy we need to target. Make them mind. Make the choice clearer. Pulling the lever for the GOP means calling yourself a racist.

              That means targeting the mealy mouthed press which shudders at the thought of honestly calling a bigot a bigot.

              • Abbey Bartlet

                No. We can make electoral bigotry a bigger negative. We have to erase the middle ground. If only white-supremacists vote for the white supremacist candidate, we’ll win. It’s the people who currently don’t mind the white supremacy we need to target. Make them mind. Make the choice clearer. Pulling the lever for the GOP means calling yourself a racist.

                I’ve heard some say it will never work because of abortion, but I’ve seen enough people who are vehemently antichoice but voted for Hillary because of his bigotry to disagree. If we make the bigotry clear enough, people will come to us.

                • rhino

                  I also believe this. Most people are not willing to believe themselves to be racists. If you can clearly paint Trump as racist, you peel away a lot of votes.

                  There are not that many horrible people, but there are a lot of people who are apathetic. We need to find ways to make them give a shit.

                • Murc

                  If we make the bigotry clear enough, people will come to us.

                  This is, in fact, the strategy that was used during the great pushes for civil rights in the 50s and 60s, back when white people were a hell of a lot more politically dominant than they are now. The gamble was that given a choice between King and Connor, enough white people would be decent enough to choose King (even if they really didn’t want to) and it turned out that worked.

        • Murc

          I hope once more that you’re wrong about this, because if you’re right it means we’re fucked.

          I have a high degree of confidence that this isn’t true in the three relevant states, tho. Admittedly I can’t prove it any more than anyone else can.

          Sidebar, not addressed to Abbey specifically: have we gotten some really granular numbers breakdowns out of PA, WI, and Mi yet? Those would seem to be VERY IMPORTANT, because “a bunch of Obama voters flipped to Trump” is a much, much worse outcome than “Trump got a lot of disengaged people politically engaged, and they’re bad people” which is in turn a much worse outcome than “a lot of Obama voters stayed home.”

          We REALLY NEED to know which of those three was the dominant driver.

          • Rob in CT

            Agreed with this, though I’m not sure that “a bunch of Obama voters flipped to Trump” is a much, much worse outcome than “Trump got a lot of disengaged people politically engaged, and they’re bad people.” It depends on which is more reversible.

          • xq

            “A bunch of Obama voters flipped to Trump” is the best outcome. People who are used to voting Democrat and have done so in the past can probably be convinced to come back in the right circumstances, particularly because Trump isn’t actually going to give them most of what they want.

            “Trump got a lot of disengaged people politically engaged” is the worst outcome, because it means that the secret to getting white nonvoters to vote is racism. That’s the “we’re doomed” scenario.

            • Rob in CT

              Yeah, this is what I was thinking too.

            • Murc

              “A bunch of Obama voters flipped to Trump” is the best outcome. People who are used to voting Democrat and have done so in the past can probably be convinced to come back in the right circumstances,

              Here’s the thing, tho. If a statistically significant number of Obama voters actually flipped, it is almost certainly because Trump was offering open white nationalism. Which means that if the Republican Party keeps offering open white nationalism, which they almost certainly will, those voters will probably happily keep voting for Trump and we can’t get them back because we can’t also offer white nationalism.

              particularly because Trump isn’t actually going to give them most of what they want.

              Yeah, but that doesn’t mean they’ll stop wanting it.

              “Trump got a lot of disengaged people politically engaged” is the worst outcome, because it means that the secret to getting white nonvoters to vote is racism. That’s the “we’re doomed” scenario.

              I don’t necessarily agree that this is worse than “Trump actually peeled off a lot of Democrats” but you are correct at least that the gap is much narrower than I suggested it to be. That’s my bad.

              • xq

                Trump didn’t only run on white nationalism. He also ran (in contrast to most Republicans) on faux economic populism. And he’s not governing as any sort of economic populist.

                Obama-Trump voters prefer typical Democrats to typical Republicans on economic issues. If he governs like a typical Republican on economics, I think that leaves a good opportunity for Democrats to gain some of the Obama-Trump voters back. This is especially true if Trump policies leads to economic disaster.

              • Abbey Bartlet

                Which means that if the Republican Party keeps offering open white nationalism, which they almost certainly will, those voters will probably happily keep voting for Trump and we can’t get them back because we can’t also offer white nationalism.

                As I said above, even some hardline antichoicers were put off by the white nationalism. It just needs to be more explicit. We need to make it damn clear what these people are.

            • kped

              …yeah, totally doomed…

              or, the party can try to engage their own voters who stayed home and reverse the mere 70K voter block in 3 fucking states.

              Why are people so fucking fatalistic?

              • TVTray

                Dems have lost a lot more than the Presidency!

                • kped

                  So? What did the Republican party look like in 2008? Democrats had the majority. Democrats had the Senate with a veto proof majority. Democrats held the house with a huge margin.

                  My point isn’t that things aren’t bad. Only that it’s stupid and fatalistic to think that this is the new permanent thing. Nothing is permanent.

              • PJ

                Based on looking at these threads, white leftists lowkey feel that losing white moderates to the right means the total collapse of all left and/or Democratic policy.

                Like it hasn’t already been happening gradually since 1965.

                The only way you’re gonna bring these voters back to solid Dem voting is through FDR-style policies that make race and gender invisible. That’s the common denominator between the libertarians and the rust belt voters that Obama won and which HRC supposedly lost.

                Anyone who responds to this point with “But Obama was black!” is a damn fool.

          • Alex.S

            Haven’t seen anything serious yet (and haven’t been looking), but the early analysis was a combination of disengaged voters voting for Trump (finally someone saying what they mean!) and marginal Obama voters not voting for some mysterious reason.

            • Aexia

              Like, I dunno, the large number of voter suppression laws in various states?

          • John F

            A. “a bunch of Obama voters flipped to Trump”

            B. “Trump got a lot of disengaged people politically engaged, and they’re bad people”

            C. “a lot of Obama voters stayed home.”

            I think what happened was in this order: B, gap A, small gap C

            B: I think this is largely what happened- HRC got virtually the same number of votes in 2016 as Obama in 2012, Trump got more than Romney.

            A: Some voters flipped- but I think they off-set, the number of Obama voters who flipped to Trump roughly equaled the number of Never Trump GOP voters who held their noses and voted HRC (which is how HRC matched Obama’s 2012 vote total)- They didn’t off-set in every state unfortunately

            “C” was a HUGE factor, in 2014, I don’t think it was much of one in 2016, but it probably happened a little.

            You also have to deal with the increase in Gary Johnson’s vote total- which I think was primarily from Never Trump Repubs- so again Trump’s increase over Romney had to come from somewhere.

            I think, given that HRC won among 18-24 year olds and “first time” voters that Trump got a lot of 30+ year old “inconsistent voters” to get out and vote- that dovetails with how his core demo were those without college degrees- that demo tends to vote infrequently- but they got up and voted Trump in 2016

            • Murc

              Not saying you’re wrong, but christ, if you’re right that’s a hell of a row to hoe.

              • Alex.S

                One of the biggest issues with analysis is that “swing” voters tend to vote against the President. The President’s party tends to lose in the midterm, which has been true for a while now.

                The fundamentals analysis of the 2016 election was that the Democrat would probably lose because of this — a generic Democrat would lose to a generic Republican.

                There’s also the side note that they were voting for Trump because he was literally promising them everything they could hope for and dream of. Trump made a ton of outlandish promises going into the election — who knows what people actually believed they’d be getting. But if, for example, he doesn’t build a wall. Or ban Muslims. Or there’s a recession. Or people lose health care.

                • JMP

                  Trump’s insane campaign reminds me in a lot of ways of Homer Simpson’s campaign for Garbage Commissioner against Ray Patterson, as does his current ineptitude in the job.

                  All right. Fine. If you want an experienced public servant, vote for me. But if you want to believe a bunch of crazy promises… about garbagemen cleaning your gutters and waxing your car… then by all means vote for this sleazy lunatic.

                  Newspaper headline: SIMPSON WINS IN LANDSLIDE. Says “crazy promises” key to victor

              • John F

                Not really, if he got a bunch of disengaged voters to get up and vote, and does nothing for them (and he won’t), most are gonna go back to not voting in 2018/2020. Hell even if they’re still happy with Trump in 2018 most won’t vote because he won’t be on the ballot.

                He lost the popular vote by more than 2 million, he won the EC because he pulled out 1% margin wins in virtually every swing state- he can’t lose any voter support whatsoever and be re-elected.

                Do you see any scenario where people who voted against him in 2016 are gonna switch given what we’ve seen so far?

                • FlipYrWhig

                  My best guess is that there are a significant number of Only Trump voters, who peaked in 2016 and will decline in 2020; they’re conservative and Republican in mentality but they mostly like Trump and want to stick it to the world by standing with him. They won’t become regulars after Trump.

                  Similarly — and to our everlasting regret — there were Only Obama voters, who peaked in 2008, declined in 2012, and disappeared in 2016.

            • numbers

              WI, MI, and PA seem to all be a little different

              Change in turnout 2012 to 2016:

              MN: D -5.6, R -0.9
              WI: D -6.3, R -0.7
              NH: D -3.0, R +0.7
              MI: D -4.5, R +1.8
              PA: D -0.9, R +2.7
              FL: D -0.5, R +0.8

              There’s little evidence that there was much switching from Obama to Trump in MN, WI, NH, or MI. The story there was pretty much Obama voters not voting.

              On the other hand, it looks like it might have been relevant in PA.

              WV is a major outlier because it had the largest increase in R turnout of all (ME, KY, PA, RI, IA, and ND were next).

              • xq

                Let’s take WI as an example.

                2012: Obama 52.83, Romney 45.89, Other 1.19
                2016: Clinton 46.45, Trump 47.22, Other 6.63

                You seem to be saying: Trump did only 1.33 points better than Romney, so there couldn’t be many Obama-Trump voters. But if “other”–mostly Gary Johnson votes–took relatively equally from Clinton and Trump, this doesn’t hold. Trump lost voters to third parties relative to Romney, then gained it back and more from other sources.

                You could say his gains came from 2012 nonvoters. But the evidence goes mostly against the idea that Trump attracted lots of former nonvoters, as detailed in this article: https://www.nytimes.com/2016/12/23/upshot/how-the-obama-coalition-crumbled-leaving-an-opening-for-trump.html

                So, yes, there probably was a fairly large swing in Obama voters to Trump in the closest states.

                • numbers

                  I think it’s important to normalize to turnout. 3000 fewer people voted for Trump than for Romney. But the population increased, so this is a drop of 0.7% of the population.

                  In WI

                  D turnout decreased from 38.5 to 32.2%
                  R turnout decreased from 33.4 to 32.7%
                  All other turnout increased from 0.9 to 4.4%
                  Total turnout decreased from 72.0 to 69.3%

                  Let’s assume the 3.4% new other voters came equally from D and R (this is too generous I think, but I’ll go with it). This means that:

                  1.7% went D to other
                  1.7% went R to other
                  and net 1.0% went D to R.
                  If this were the only thing that happened, Clinton wins WI easily (35.8 to 32.7).

                  But additionally,

                  3.6% went D to staying home. This utterly dwarfs the effect of those switching from Obama to Trump.

                • FlipYrWhig

                  3.6% went D to staying home.

                  I’d like to know how many of these were

                  (1) non-ideological Hillary-haters (think she’s corrupt, think she’s boring, think she’s old news, etc.);
                  (2) Obama-specific fans who melted away with no Obama on the ballot;
                  (3) Sandersites chagrined that a more liberal candidate wasn’t available.

                  A lot of analysis about how to move forward seems to think that (3) was the biggest component. But my hypothesis would be that (2) outweighed (3).

                • xq

                  numbers: I think you’re making the same mistake in regards to the “stay home” numbers as I accused you of making in regards to the third party vote. You’re assuming that no Romney voters stayed home in 2016. The same forces that led to an increase in third party vote would also lead to an increase in 2012 voters staying home, on both sides.

                  If some Romney voters stayed home, you need more Obama-Trump voters to explain Trump’s vote count.

                • numbers

                  xq,

                  So your story is that large numbers of Romney voters voted for Johnson and others or stayed home, but that they were all replaced by Obama voters defecting to Trump?

                  It’s certainly possible, but that’s much less parsimonious than deciding that it was the Obama voters who actually stayed home, and if you want to tell the former story, I personally would need some evidence for it.

                • xq

                  The evidence is that there was a large swing in whites without college degrees. This is evident in both county-level data and pre-election polls. This could be explained by Obama voters in this demographic switching or by changes in turnout. But, as I said, the evidence is against Trump bringing new voters to the polls.

                  We know uneducated voters preferred Trump to Romney while educated whites disliked him relative to Romney, so it makes sense that there was a substantial anti-Trump Republican demographic that switched to Clinton/Johnson/nonvoting.

                • numbers

                  xq,

                  That’s not evidence for exactly the reason you outline.

                  Explaining Trump’s win requires neither that Obama voters switch to Trump nor that Trump attract first-time voters, since Trump basically attracted the same percentage of voters as Romney did. It only requires that Obama voters stayed home or voted third party, which is consistent with the evidence.

                • xq

                  My point is that there were large swings in uneducated whites and not large shifts in turnout in counties mostly composed of uneducated whites–it’s not explained by white Obama voters without college degrees staying home. Similar swings in some counties with large numbers of educated voters in the other direction.

                • numbers

                  xq,

                  Right, so the net shift from D to R was small. Why does it matter if uneducated whites went Obama to Trump, if a roughly equal number went Romney to Clinton?

                • xq

                  It wasn’t an even trade. There are many more uneducated whites in the swing states.

                • numbers

                  It’s either a nearly even trade and a lot of educated Obama voters stayed home, or it’s an uneven trade and large numbers of educated Romney voters stayed home. The numbers don’t work out any other way.

                • xq

                  I think substantial numbers of educated Romney voters staying home is part of the story, at least in WI. This site has some interesting information on WI (http://www.wiscontext.org/how-and-where-trump-won-wisconsin-2016). Turnout was down in Democratic Milwaukee and among Republicans in the suburbs.

                  I’m not sure why none of the election analysis sites seem to have tried to answer this question decisively yet. The closest I’ve come is the Nate Cohn article I posted above.

                  That article claims:

                  1. We have voter-file data in NC and FL already; turnout among white Democrats and Republicans increased the same amount. Note that overall turnout stayed nearly the same in NC and went up in FL, so we don’t have the issue we have in WI of needing to apportion the turnout drop.
                  2. “Nationally, there is no relationship between the decline in Democratic strength and the change in turnout. Mr. Trump made gains in white working-class areas, whether turnout surged or dropped.” All evidence I’ve seen is consistent with this. Compare county-level vote shifts with changes in county level turnout; it’s not the change in turnout that matters, it’s how many uneducated whites live there.
                  3. “Mr. Trump won 19 percent of white voters without a degree who approved of Mr. Obama’s performance, including 8 percent of those who “strongly” approved of Mr. Obama’s performance and 10 percent of white working-class voters who wanted to continue Mr. Obama’s policies”

                  This seems like pretty strong evidence to me, taken as a whole, that the shift in uneducated whites was mostly a shift of Obama voters to Trump rather than a turnout change. There are more complete analyses you could do, especially with voter file data, and I’m sure someone will eventually do it. But the evidence we have now points mostly in one direction.

              • brewmn

                This is my gut take on 2016. Of course, that presents perhaps the most daunting problem of all: how do we get the turnout we need without an Obama on the ballot?

                A note that perhaps slagging the Dem nominee as corrupt, unfit and/or just too lame (“establishment”) to even consider voting for long after the primaries have been decided might not be the best way to combat low enthusiasm/turnout in the general election.

              • pseudalicious

                We should really not run a white candidate ever again.

          • mds

            For it to look like the first is significant when it isn’t, you’d need the second and third to both be true, and for there to be a large pool of non-voters (which there is).

            So the categories we’d be looking at are:

            (a) Obama –> Clinton
            (b) Obama –> Trump
            (c) Obama –> Non-voter
            (d) GOP voter –> Trump
            (e) GOP voter –> Clinton
            (f) GOP voter –> Non-voter
            (g) Non-voter –> Clinton
            (h) Non-voter –> Trump
            (i) Non-voter –> Non-voter

            (c) + (f) + (i) was, what, 40% of the vote this time around? And (i) alone is usually pretty high. My bet is that focusing on (c) + (i) is more than sufficient to overcome the tiny margins on which the presidency was decided. We’re only inevitably fucked if (b) + (h) is really big.

          • djw

            The initial data IIRC seemed to suggest lower D turnout was more of an issue in Wisconsin/Michigan, where Pennsylvania looked to be more about Obama–>Trump voters and new voters. But that was first reactions to county/precinct data, not the kind of data analysis you’re looking for.

            • Abbey Bartlet

              A note that perhaps slagging the Dem nominee as corrupt, unfit and/or just too lame (“establishment”) to even consider voting for long after the primaries have been decided might not be the best way to combat low enthusiasm/turnout in the general election.

              *mutters darkly*

              The initial data IIRC seemed to suggest lower D turnout was more of an issue in Wisconsin/Michigan

              So weird, nothing happened in Wisconsin that might have affected that at all.

        • Actually, they were. They were just more subtle about it. I mean, it’s not exactly a mystery why Romney got 60 per cent of the white vote and 5 per cent of the African American vote. I guess Trump captured those who are tired of people having to be subtle about it, among others.

          • mds

            Yeah, apparently a lot of the GOP’s dogwhistles couldn’t be heard by a lot of their own natural base, either. Or they heard it, but were tired of hearing that they are the Real True American Majority, and that they nevertheless must continue to tiptoe around the racism, sexism, general “political incorrectness,” and bullying cruelty.

      • msmarjoribanks

        I wish this was not true, but I am increasingly cynical about the ability of people to recognize the value/harm of most of what Congress does. Had this thought due to the post above about gutting the Obama era workplace regulations, have had it about the EOs about financial regs, of course about health care (although that one I am more hopeful about). If there’s no real ability to know or care what Congress does that helps you — in the absence of media that is trusted, publication by unions, etc. (and the decline of the unions is a huge problem here), then the natural reaction if you think things are bad is the party in power sucks and an outsider is better than an insider. That helped Obama (much more in ’08 than ’12, but Romney played as insider and one of them) and of course helped Trump even more.

        Unlike economic arguments and the limited things Congress can really do on those issues (and yes I think a real strong infrastructure program or the like and better, closer to Medicare for all health care bill could have helped, but they weren’t passable), people see the arguments on race, so called social issues, et al. as much more clear. So you get “they understand us” or “care about people like us” for the Republicans despite all of the horrible things they do.

        Blaming other Dems for this, which is what I think a certain segment of the left is doing, is not helpful.

      • Rubychan228

        You’re making the unsubstantiated claim that the shift in numbers is a result of one person voting for Obama in 2008 and then turning around and voting for Trump in 2016.

        But that could just as easily result from Person A voting for Obama in 2008 but not voting or voting 3rd party in 2016 and Person B not voting or voting 3rd party in 2008 but showing up to vote for Trump in 2016.

        Without more evidence than you have here, you could only make claim that people SWITCHED from Obama to Trump if, between 2008 and 2016, there was 100% voter registration and turnout in the areas in question AND no one or came of age to vote.

        There are any number of things that could of lost us votes in the last 8 years, but given the gains by the other side during the same time period, the idea that increased radicalization, and mobilization, of the Right is a primary culprit is highly plausible.

        And bigotry if FAR more likely to have been and continue to be a primary factor in enacting that radicalization.

        • Rubychan228

          Hit submit prematurely.

          I’m also going to throw out the other obvious thing here, about the potential phenomenon of Obama –> Trump voters.

          Obama and Trump (and Johnson) have dicks, Hillary does not.

          And whether we want to admit it or not, there is non-zero amount of the populous for whom that is not irrelevant.

          So if there was a Obama –> Trump or Obama –> Johnson swing, that’s something that needs to be addressed.

    • xq

      West Virginians spent decades in between being members of the less racist party, though. This suggests that there’s at least some complexity to the question.

      • Murc

        Does it?

        Or does it suggest that politics is largely tribal and there can be enormous lag time in shifts in policy working themselves out through the tribe?

        It took like thirty or forty years for the realignment triggered in the sixties to finally work itself fully through. The ship of politics turns even more slowly than the ship of state.

        • FlipYrWhig

          This is where I am. It seems like a Lewis Namier kind of situation where the people being elected were in office on the basis of family connections and other kinds of trusted affiliations, not on the basis of anything ideological. When it ceased to be possible to vote for the _individuals_ who had been there doing various decent things in the 1980s and 1990s, it became a clash of big nationwide presumed ideologies, and the Democrats started to take a beating, except for the Democrats who could distance themselves from the national party — like Joe Manchin does as a matter of course.

          • Davis X. Machina

            the people being elected were in office on the basis of family connections and other kinds of trusted affiliations

            Manchin’s a political-family-known-quantity as well. Uncles were in the state legislature and served as Sec of State/State treasurer.

            • FlipYrWhig

              Ah, missed that… then he belongs in the same bag as Mollahan…

      • Origami Isopod

        West Virginians spent decades in between being members of the less racist party, though.

        Were Democrats less racist than Republicans up until 1964, though? I’m asking honestly, not rhetorically. Because my sense is no, but maybe someone else has better background knowledge here.

        • FlipYrWhig

          My guess would be that the Kennedys’ commitment to Appalachia, added to the reign of Byrd, set the partisan identity of WV for a long time. But that’s certainly no bar to the persistence of racism there.

        • djw

          Were Democrats less racist than Republicans up until 1964, though? I’m asking honestly, not rhetorically.

          I assumed the decades referred to were 64-96.

      • Sly

        Well into the 1990s, there were still a lot of registered Democrats in the South who, nevertheless, voted for Republicans. A lot of this had to do with the institutional legacy of the Democratic Party in their particular locale, and a lot of this had to do with people not joining the party founded by that son of a bitch Abraham Lincoln.

        The political history of West Virginia is such that it would have unique institutional legacies that persisted well beyond 1964. Legacies that can’t be explained completely through the broader lens of Southern white revanchism, though that lens still can explain quite a bit.

        • rea

          It is hard to see how Southern white revanchism plays a big role in a state that was on the Union side of the war

          • West Virginia did not secede from Virginia because they were pro-black. They seceded because they hated the plantation owners. And 150 years is a long time to develop white revanchism.

    • Sly

      I’ve never understood the desire some people have to try to understand the politics of Southern and Border states as anything other than through the lens of race.

      1) The racism is angle is easy to gloss over because the politics of whiteness demands it be glossed over, and that politics saturates everything.

      2) I don’t think the effort is one of understanding, but one of provincialism. Contempt begins at home.

      This type of analysis always ends at the same place: the Democrats in places where the left has institutional power are out of touch, and that’s why they can’t win in the places where the left has no institutional power. This makes sense if you don’t examine it too closely, because then you have to ask why the left doesn’t have institutional power in certain places, and then it becomes a problem much bigger than our own individual voting preferences.

      Put another way, it’s rooted in the Pundit’s Fallacy. It’s someone who always votes for Democrats saying that the Democratic Party would get more votes if they more emphatically pushed for that person’s particular preferred policies. Their argument doesn’t make sense because the Democrats already got that person’s vote.

      • FlipYrWhig

        Spot on.

      • PJ

        Yep yep yep.

        EDIT: To that end, why aren’t pundits devoting endless analysis to the people the people who didn’t come out at all instead of the Obama-to-Trump people?

        Someone else here already said that it would be nice if we got endless profiles of Latino voting issues and African American voting issues rather than disgusted white person all the time.

        • Rob in CT

          Yeah, those are the people we need to hear from. In a number of the crucial states, turnout was down.

          • FlipYrWhig

            According to 2016 National Popular Vote Tracker, affiliated with Cook Political Report, votes cast were up 6% from 2012, and the only states with fewer votes cast in ’16 vs. ’12 were Mississippi (-6%), Wisconsin (-3), Ohio (-1.5), Hawaii (-1.3), and Iowa (-1). Maybe you mean turnout as a percentage of the eligible population? That’s a set of numbers I don’t have.

            • Rob in CT

              I was thinking mostly of WI, and apparently my memory took that and extended it to cover MI as well… and Ohio probably still triggers my “swing state” reflex even though it’s not really anymore.

              But yes, I also think we have to adjust for pop growth. Turnout % of eligible voters is what matters.

              The MI raw vote total was up 1.4%.

              From what I can tell from googling, pop growth in MI between 2010 and 2016 was .45% and, thus, 1.4% is a real increase. Huh.

              Anyway, we’d have to go state by state and adjust for population growth.

            • PJ

              Maybe you mean turnout as a percentage of the eligible population? That’s a set of numbers I don’t have.

              This is probably the more significant long-term problem to deal with re Dem voters.

              White people on the left cannot seem to contend with the reality that the base of leftist and Democratic politics is NON-WHITE. In order for the Democrats to gain any kind of power back, they need to make a conscious decision to empower and protect these voters. If they cannot, they might as well kiss their progressive policies goodbye, because the politics that comes out of half-assing your committments is precisely the milquetoast/DLC politics that have lost them elections over the years. Which is the exact same result as they would have if they gave up on white moderates completely, so they might as well go whole hog on reforming the party focus now.

              • FlipYrWhig

                I think we need to clarify that the coalition politics of the industrial or post-industrial Midwest may well be different than they are in Virginia, North Carolina, or Georgia, let alone Louisiana or Kentucky.

                And I further think what keeps happening is the mistaken assumption that the Democratic Party is anchored by guys with names ending in “-owski” working on assembly lines, and that Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren are their heroes.

                • PJ

                  My point isn’t necessarily in disagreement.

                  Like, if I’m to believe all these profiles, the deindustrialized Midwest is mostly white.

                  If I’m to believe the pictures I saw during the election, vote suppression was most visible in places where legislatures that were traditionally conservative were facing massive population changes that were/are threatening to turn the state permanently purple.

                  Moral Mondays in NC is something to study here.

                  But aside from MM, the narratives that come out of these dynamics are massively undercovered such that our primarily white upper middle class commentariat and political class do not find them salient. This is how we keep the narratives about the voting and policy about white people. Because everyone else is literally invisible.

              • Abbey Bartlet

                In order for the Democrats to gain any kind of power back, they need to make a conscious decision to empower and protect these voters.

                Which a whole lot of black people* say happened this year. It happened this year more than any other year bar 2008 and 2012 (when, and, again, I get this argument from black people, there was somewhat less *said* about empowering and protecting POC, for obvious reasons).

                And the white “leftists” pushed back and whined about identity politics in numbers not seen in a very long time.

                ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

                *My slow wifi does not allow me to find links right now; I can if people really want.

                • PJ

                  Really? Joy Reid and Jamil Smith have tweeted out analyses that the Clinton campaign didn’t place as much emphasis on Black voters as they should have.

                  There’s also a strong tendency for immigration activists to cite Obama’s deportation policy as a source of immediate discontent with the D party.

                  I HAVE NO IDEA WHO’S RIGHT HERE.

                • Abbey Bartlet

                  Really? Joy Reid and Jamil Smith have tweeted out analyses that the Clinton campaign didn’t place as much emphasis on Black voters as they should have.

                  That doesn’t contradict what I said though?

                  There’s also a strong tendency for immigration activists to cite Obama’s deportation policy as a source of immediate discontent with the D party.

                  I bet if non-citizen immigrants could vote they would have been HRC by 50 points.

            • Abbey Bartlet

              Nb re: eligible population–most estimates (and definitely the Census Bureau’s; I asked them) don’t seem to take into account felon disenfranchisement, which disenfranchises absurd numbers of disproportionately Democratic black and Hispanic voters.

              The effect may be marginal, but elections these days are decided on the margins.

    • jml1990

      Also, when Obama won in 2008 without a victory in Appalachia or the Deep South (not counting Florida), it proved to many in the party that the Democrats don’t need the South to win the presidency. This was reinforced further in 2012, when he won without North Carolina. As a result, the notion that winning back the “Solid South” was the only path to presidential victory lost currency in the Democratic imagination. This fixation on recapturing the South, of course, helped fuel the candidacies of Carter and Clinton, whose victories delivered on their promises of shepherding the South back to the Democrats. The fact that Carter and Clinton were the only Democrats to win the presidency between LBJ and Obama reinforced the idea that the road to the highest office ran through the South, and, moreover, that white, Protestant Southern men like Carter and Clinton were key to that goal. As a result, there was a Southerner on the Democratic ticket every time, save 1984, between McGovern’s loss in 1972 and Obama’s win in 2008.

      However, as we found out with the loss of Mark Pryor, Kay Hagen, and Mary Landrieu’s seats in 2014, we probably can’t hold the Senate without at least a few Southern members.

  • Tom in BK

    Are you really going to make me read Jacobin’s review of Get Out? Goddamnit.

    • John F

      Parts of the review are so wrongheaded it’s truly a piece of performance art in and of itself:

      If Night of the Living Dead was about the festering, more-often-than-not open racist paranoia of the late sixties, Get Out is about the well-meaning and often grudgingly excused liberal racism of the Obama era


      ok... then it goes on to describe the stereotypical behavior of white non-liberals pretending to be liberals thusly:

      These early interactions are all easily over looked as the well-intentioned, if miscalibrated, attempts by two very white people to convey their open mindedness about their daughter’s new boyfriend.

    • AlanInSF

      At the showing I went to, people were chanting for the lead character to articulate a political perspective aimed at mobilizing a mass, class-based, anti-racist struggle against capitalism, and there was loud hissing and booing when he didn’t. So depends on your audience, I guess.

      More seriously, polemics says “We’ve got to do something for that guy over there” and art puts you in that guy’s shoes.

    • Sly

      No. No no no no no no no. Noooooo.

    • PJ

      Ugh, they don’t have a review for Moonlight, do they?

  • Nick never Nick

    I’ve never understood this:

    She correctly discusses the lack of an economic diversification plan for the state, although to be fair, no one has one because there really isn’t any good alternatives.

    Singapore is wealthy; Switzerland is wealthy; Japan is wealthy; Los Angeles is wealthy; South Korea is wealthy. None of these places have stunning advantages of natural resources or human capital, several of them have recent histories far more fraught than West Virginia. Why would West Virginia be naturally poor, a place where the economy will never diversify because it can’t?

    • All of those places have ample ports except for Switzerland. West Virginia’s geography is highly disadvantageous for anything else other than tourism. It’s not deterministic, true. But when you are also looking at the lack of any cities modern people want to live in and one of the nation’s worst education systems with highly polluted water and the lack of a skilled workforce on top of the mountain and hollow geography and there’s a lot of strikes against WV.

      • gmack

        Just to add to this, there is also a long, long history of alternately ignoring (and therefore marginalizing) the peoples of Appalachia and exploiting them and their lands. That history has tended to impoverish the area, and so also to economic diversification a much more difficult project.

      • Rob in CT

        Agree with this (I typed up something pretty similar re: coastal locations having advantages but didn’t post it). The other points matter two, but could be changed with time & effort.

        • John F

          Human population centers have historically tended to be near navigable water, oceans, rivers, seas, lakes…

          • sonamib

            But not always. Consider São Paulo (located next to a crappy little river, which flows the wrong way, away from the ocean), Milan, and my very own Brussels. Looks like the important thing is to get a group of humans to stick around in some place, for whatever reason. And then wealth can maybe be built on there, if the conditions are right…

            • John F

              Consider São Paulo

              That’s an odd counter example

              I’d have gone with Brasilia…

              And Brussels is connected to Antwerp via a navigable waterway…

              Milan’s a better example

      • Nick never Nick

        Fair enough — but at the same time, Switzerland used to be the Appalachia of Europe. Ireland changed VERY fast from sclerotic backwater to dynamic economy (and perhaps back again). Finland used to be such a mess, nothing but lumberjacks and gruel, that Finns weren’t considered ‘white’.

        Nothing you’ve said is wrong — but at the same time, a lot of these stories are post-hoc. We can identify why Singapore did well, and why the Philippines didn’t, but if you ask yourself in 1950, you’d probably get it wrong. In 1890, who would have predicted that Utah would become a successful state?

        • kped

          Switzerland can be a model…WV can start taking deposits from Nazis and helping rich people hide their money from taxes!

      • John F

        West Virginia’s geography is highly disadvantageous

        If you look at a map of the US, W.Va shouldn’t be a standalone state, it’s as landlocked as they come, no major lakes or rivers, no large stretches of good agricultural land.

        Kentucky has some of the same issues, but has access to more waterways connecting its hubs with other states, ditto Tennessee.

        States with similarly “bad” geography tend to have far fewer people, like the Dakotas, Wyoming, Montana.

        W. Va is a state that should have fewer people than it does if you just look at the land itself

        • Nick never Nick

          You could say the exact same thing about Utah.

          And Montana is a successful state — it’s quite well off, and was before the fracking boom.

          • kped

            But his point on Montana was that it would have fewer people. And it does, even fewer than W.Va (1.8M vs 1M in Montana). People don’t want to live there.

            • John F

              Yes, Montana’s population is pretty optimal for the land/resources there, W. Va’s is most decidedly not.

      • Domino

        To add to this – Japan is very mountainous. It makes a good chunk of the land uninhabitable, though like West Virginia, there is a lot of natural beauty. Japan’s 3 largest, flattest areas for crops are around:

        1. Kyoto (the old capital)

        2. Osaka (60 miles from Kyoto)

        3. Tokyo (by far the biggest area for crops)

        Notice a pattern? It also helps that Osaka and Tokyo are on the coast (granted, in Japan you’re never very far from a coast.)

    • Aaron Morrow

      Los Angeles is an urban area and not analogous to comparisons across rural and exurban eras.

      Another obvious answer is in the relative ease of movement from West Virginia to other states; not just in terms of capital, but also the shrinking size of the state’s population can be .

    • sonamib

      You’re forgetting the human factors, which nowadays are a lot more important than natural resources. By human factors I don’t mean the *specific people* who live there, rather it’s the whole ecosystem of local knowledge, professional networks and business culture which makes a specific city/region wealthy. Those kinds of things take decades to build, it’s not something the government can just parachute in a place to make it wealthy.

      Look at the Germans, they’ve been investing very hard in East Germany, trying to bring their economy up to the Western level, but they just can’t do it. I don’t mean to badmouth their investment into East Germany, it’s been a very good program for all the people who live there. But they couldn’t find a way to kickstart the local economy. They’ve helped East Germans with social programs but the actual jobs there are not as good as in the West. So people emigrate.

      Edit : I mean, being located at a transportation node (like, being a port) helps, but this is not good enough by itself. Malmö, Brest, Belfast, Halifax and Baltimore aren’t particularly wealthy places. And São Paulo is quite far from the coast, but it’s the richest city in Brazil.

    • TVTray

      Oh my God.

    • agorabum

      Those other places all have stunning advantages of natural resources. Singapore has a coveted position at the Malacca Straits. Japan is oil poor, but has abundant fish, rice, timber, and other natural resources, and has used those resources to support a dense population for a very long time. Los Angeles had oil – and still does have oil. Plus sunshine. Plus the busiest port in the US and the 9th busiest in the world.

      Also, aside from LA, you were listing countries rather than small mountainous units within countries.

      West Virginia can diversify with lots of lots of federal intervention. Which is what Singapore, Korea, and Japan did. And what the feds helped LA do with aerospace. But the people of West Virginia reject federal government intervention. So…

  • sigaba

    Not many people try to get anything to adhere to “35mm filmstock” these days, let alone nuance.

    I assume the review of the Purge films is more appreciative of the material dialectic (or am I confusing my Marxist/ICFI talking points with my DSA/progressive poseur ones?)

  • whetstone

    Highly recommended: Ronald D Eller’s “Uneven Ground,” a postwar economic history of Appalachia, which focuses on government programs in the region. Damn near every page will have you thinking “this thing from [1960, 1970, 1980] sounds like 2017.”

    I can’t help but wonder: WVA was Dem-dominated at state and local levels for decades, and that governance was famously corrupt, kleptocratic, obedient to moneyed interests, and responsible for a lot of mineral wealth escaping the state or otherwise ending up in the pockets of management. That power structure is obviously *very different* from federal-level Democratic leadership, which genuinely did try to aid development in Appalachia (more than I think people think from the “abandoned” stereotype, and which did more good than I think people think). But still, same ticket. Not a West Virginian (grew up not far from the border in VA), but get the sense that that’s a headwind.

  • FlipYrWhig

    The state Democratic Party acknowledges no contradiction in its cozy relationship with coal, arguing that what’s good for the industry is good for jobs.

    It sure seems like West Virginia Democrats and until-recently-Democrats agree with this statement. And that the West Virginia Democrats who still win elections there have all embraced it.

    This is a state whose patron saint is Robert Byrd. Has the current Democratic state party strayed significantly from where it stood on important issues in the time of Byrd?

    My theory is, in essence, that what happened at the beginning of the 21st century was that conservative voters who used to vote for conservative Democrats definitively migrated to voting for conservative Republicans. What’s going extinct is the local conservative Democrat who kept his seat through patronage, dynasticism, and tribal patterns dating back to before the Civil Rights Act.

    • Abbey Bartlet

      Has the current Democratic state party strayed significantly from where it stood on important issues in the time of Byrd?

      Wasn’t “the time of Byrd” like 150 years?

      My theory is, in essence, that what happened at the beginning of the 21st century was that conservative voters who used to vote for conservative Democrats definitively migrated to voting for conservative Republicans. What’s going extinct is the local conservative Democrat who kept his seat through patronage, dynasticism, and tribal patterns dating back to before the Civil Rights Act.

      This makes sense to me. Seems to track with the Manchin thing I keep hearing about.

      • FlipYrWhig

        I strongly suspect that the thing that was keeping WV voting for Democrats was the individuals they were electing, including the _sui generis_ Byrd and the even more anomalous Jay Rockefeller, not the ideas for which they stood. Even in Congressional races they were basically electing people who were sons of the people they elected a generation before.

        Maybe it’s time for Bob Wise to make a comeback.

  • Matt

    She correctly discusses the lack of an economic diversification plan for the state, although to be fair, no one has one because there really isn’t any good alternatives.

    I spend a fair amount of time in West Virginia (and close-by areas of MD and PA) and there is one alternative that should be pursued much harder than it is – outdoor recreation. West Virginia is an absolute top spot for whitewater kayaking and rafting, for example, and has some great places for rock climbing and hiking. Some companies have done well building themselves into year-round (or close to it) resorts. Some close-by cities have built up some complementary services (hotels, restaurants, etc.) There is a lot more that can be done, but it will involve closing and repairing mines and rivers, and building new recreational facilities and supporting infrastructure. It obviously won’t support everyone, but there is a significant potential for growth in adventure tourism in WV for people with the spirit to work on it. Some help from the state could make it all happen, and it would be a way to tie environmental improvement to jobs.

    • I don’t disagree. Blowing up all the mountains makes the feasibility of that much harder.

    • Rob in CT

      Hell, I’ve only been to WV once and was just driving through and that was my first thought. The place is pretty!

    • NewishLawyer

      Isn’t there already a really famous resort in West Virginia?

      I wonder if people resist tourism because it is “service work” and this requires being nice to “elites” and such. Plus it is not manly work like coal mining.

      • FlipYrWhig

        Greenbrier. The guy who owns it is the governor.

      • Linnaeus

        There are also questions of how many people could be supported in such an economy and if the wages would be decent.

        • Murc

          Tourism is also an extremely volatile industry.

          I have a very good friend who lives in Vegas (excellent guy, worked on Titus’ campaigns, wrote for the LVRH a bit, one of the guys Paul Ryan is trying to murder) and according to him the 2008 crash hit Vegas like a ten-ton hammer; if they didn’t have some diversification in the remains of the chemical industry and the military they’d have been even more fucked.

          • Domino

            Related – anything on how much of a giant hit Hawaii took re: the crash? Since so much of their budget (like Vegas) is based on tourism.

            • Juicy_Joel

              Visitor expenditures were down approximately 23% in 2009 vs 2007 and had almost entirely recovered by 2011, visitor count was only down 14% in 2011 vs 2007 (again recovering almost entirely by 2011). Unemployment rate went from less than 3 to 7%. I couldn’t find how this directly translated to state tax revenue, but overall it wasn’t terrible.

            • Just_Dropping_By

              I don’t know for sure, but I’d think the impact in Hawaii might have been somewhat mitigated by the fact that foreigners make up a larger share of the tourist traffic there, AIUI.

              • Juicy_Joel

                This is basically true- international visitors generally comprise 25-33% of total visitors to Hawaii while in Vegas it’s less than 15%.

            • ColBatGuano

              But how many people live within a days drive of WV? I’m guessing they might be less susceptible to those sorts of swings.

      • Karen24

        Never underestimate the power of thinking girls stuff sucks, and tourism is girly.

        FWIW, I think Clinton lost because lots of people really hate women and especially women in power. How much criticism of Obama’s policies were because they were ‘effeminate?’ Remember ‘pajama boy?’ I am not going to see a woman president and I doubt my sons ever will.

      • rhino

        If you had ever worked in tourism, you would understand there is no more soul crushing or servile sector.

        Tourism is fucking awful. Almost invariably low paying, seasonal, and you get treated like shit by your customers.

        People resist it because its fucking miserable.

        • agorabum

          Not like working in a coal mine, which is universally beloved.

        • Jackov

          IDK. Poor wages and working conditions play a role but –
          I am fairly certain unemployed coal miners avoid jobs associated with with running whitewater, peak bagging, free climbing, strenuous hiking, rappelling and hunting/fishing mainly because these activities have historically been viewed as very unmanly pursuits.

  • Rob in CT

    Could it be as simple as WV is a conservative state, the Democratic Party used to have conservatives (most obviously re: race) in it but no longer does, and the proper home for conservative/reactionary voters in the 21st century is the GOP?

  • In the microcosm of WV where many communities are white only, the issue is about class because race is not an issue locally when everyone is white, although sexism still is. Once you get beyond the local level, however, race becomes an issue because these white communities are also little hotbeds of racism. So how do Dems get around that assuming they want to run non-white and female candidates at the national level? Sadly, I’m not sure they can. WV racism is probably a nut that cannot be cracked.

  • NewishLawyer

    There seems to be a never-ending debate about whether Sanders would have beat Trump in the general or done better than HRC.

    I always go back and forth on this one. I still think a general election campaign against Sanders, the Brooklyn-Vermont Jewish-Atheist-Socialist-Former Hippie would be brutal but I don’t see any states that HRC won turning red. So at the worst, he would have done as well as HRC. Would Sanders be able to increase votes in states like MI, PA, and WI? I don’t know. I don’t see him getting Florida for some reason.

    • FlipYrWhig

      I question whether Sanders would have been able to hold Virginia. I don’t think he plays as well in affluent Northern Virginia OR in military-oriented Tidewater. And I think he’d’ve done worse in some of the states where Hillary closed the gap but didn’t win, like GA, AZ, and TX, not that that would have affected the EV.

      • NewishLawyer

        VA is an interesting state because HRC barely held on.

        • ap77

          5% is barely holding on? That’s more than Obama’s margin of victory there in 2012.

        • FlipYrWhig

          She actually did fine there: she won by 5, where Obama had won by 4 in 2012.

          • DamnYankees

            I think people have memories of the early part of the returns where she was barely winning, which while better than Obama at that point still didn’t feel good, and they forgot that NoVa always comes in late. And by the time NoVa came in, the apocalypse was upon us already.

        • aab84

          I mean, she won by 5 points, which is better than Obama did against Romney. She underperformed pre-election polls showing a double digitish win, but 5 points isn’t really all that close.

      • Rob in CT

        Agree on VA being wobbly with Bernie (who also presumably wouldn’t have picked Kaine as his running mate?).

        But I do think he had a better shot at WI/MI/PA.

        I don’t have any particular confidence in either of these things, though.

        • Aexia

          Feingold ran behind Clinton in WI and there are other Bernie backed candidates and measures that ran behind her as well.

      • msmarjoribanks

        It’s a hard question because the people I think Sanders does worse than Hillary with are also probably people quite adverse to voting for Trump. During the primary I was convinced Hillary had a much stronger chance (against a normal R candidate I thought Sanders would have been toast, although I thought either of them could probably beat Trump or Cruz — I clearly was wrong here).

        Now I kind of think Sanders could have won, but in part because the people who like him less than Hillary tend to be people more likely to vote, and people more likely to vote Dem anyway.

        Hillary did much better with white college educated people and suburbanites in my state (IL) than the various swing states, and my completely anecdotal evidence is that a lot of these people were quite enthusiastic about Hillary and would have been unenthusiastic about Sanders (who was among other things seen as attacking Obama and too far left), but they also had immense distaste for Trump. I know some Republicans who voted Hillary, who wouldn’t have voted Sanders, but clearly that wasn’t such a big thing nationally at all, and definitely not in the swing states.

    • King Goat

      Does Nevada and New Mexico go blue with Sanders?

    • A lot of this is based on whether the establishment Democrats would have come out for Bernie in the same strength they demanded from Bernie’s supporters after Hillary won the primary. But, assuming they did, then it comes down to if Bernie could have won the extra few thousand votes needed in the battleground states to win the EC. No way to tell except to rerun the election, so what’s done is done. IMHO, the important thing is a resurgence of leftie viewpoints in the Democratic party, which may not have happened if Bernie had been selected and lost.

      • FlipYrWhig

        Christ almighty with this “establishment Democrats” thing. Yes, there is no more formidable counterrevolutionary “establishment” than 50-year-old black women stuffing envelopes.

        • Yes, there is no more formidable counterrevolutionary “establishment” than 50-year-old black women stuffing envelopes.

          This was Clinton’s base? Who knew!

          • FlipYrWhig

            Are you honestly mocking the idea that Clinton’s base, or Democrats’ base, is 40-plus women of color? Because it actually is. And when you start harrumphing about “establishment” this and that, try putting it in terms of actual people and the (supposedly terrible) things they believe.

            • I think establishment Democrats covers a lot more than 40 year old women of color, but whatever.

              The point that seems to be lost is would the Clinton supporters have been as eager to support Bernie if he had won the primary as they demanded the Bernie supporters to be?

              • FlipYrWhig

                I don’t think there is such a thing as an “establishment Democrat.” Politician, maybe, but voter, no. I think it’s a cryptozoological species that’s been conjectured by a mistaken parallel with the “establishment Republican,” which means Thurston Howell-ish WASP.

                Even when it comes to politicians there’s IMHO no there there — does it mean person who caters to the interests of the wealthy? How much influence does such a person have? Does it mean person who’s been in office a long time? Is Maxine Waters an “establishment Democrat”? Barbara Lee? I think it’s a useless term.

              • FlipYrWhig

                As far as the second part of the question, I think that Bernie Sanders would have lost some votes from women of color, just like Hillary Clinton lost some votes from young self-identified progressives.

              • Abbey Bartlet

                The point that seems to be lost is would the Clinton supporters have been as eager to support Bernie if he had won the primary as they demanded the Bernie supporters to be?

                I’m probably the most vocal Clinton supporter here. I worked my fucking ass off for her. I was at HFA nonstop. I also rather vocally hate Bernie Sanders.

                And yet, as I said in a post that made Murc get Very Upset, I would have worked my fucking ass off for him.

                IME, and I know a lot of equally passionate Clinton supporters, we would all have done the same damn thing. Because we get the importance of electing even a nominal Democrat.

                • Yes. And I know many vocal Sanders supporters who fucking hated Hillary Clinton, and they put aside their hatred to work their asses off for her. Exactly. Which is why the real question is could he have swung to battleground states that Hillary lost. But who cares? It’s done! Nobody will ever know if Spiderman could kick Batman’s ass. And who cares? We got other fish to fry.

                • Abbey Bartlet

                  But who cares? It’s done! Nobody will ever know if Spiderman could kick Batman’s ass. And who cares? We got other fish to fry.

                  I agree. Please tell your comrades who keep screaming BERNIE WOULD HAVE WON.

                • Murc

                  And yet, as I said in a post that made Murc get Very Upset, I would have worked my fucking ass off for him.

                  Yeah. THAT was the reason I was “Very Upset.” Sure.

                • Abbey Bartlet

                  Yeah. THAT was the reason I was “Very Upset.” Sure.

                  I didn’t say that was *why* you were very upset. I was just identifying the post.

            • Murc

              Are you honestly mocking the idea that Clinton’s base, or Democrats’ base, is 40-plus women of color? Because it actually is.

              What are you basing this on? The modal Democrat is a white woman.

              • Abbey Bartlet

                The modal Democrat is a white woman.

                Based on what? RCP in 2009:

                By 1996, Bill Clinton won a majority of women — but still not a majority of white women. Clinton’s reelection marks the only year Democrats have won a plurality of the white female vote since 1980. In 1992 and 2000, white women broke evenly between the two major parties.

                We lost white women in 2012 and 2016, too.

                • Murc

                  Uh. Based on the breakdown of people who vote and are Democrats?

                  You linked to, and quoted, breakdowns among women as a whole. That’s a very, very different thing than women who are Democrats, and the context of this specific subthread is the Democratic base, yes?

                  Like… these two things are simultaneously true:

                  Barack Obama lost the white vote enormously in both 2008 and 2016.

                  60% of total Obama voters were white.

                  Those look contradictory but they aren’t, just because there’s so many white people.

                  Now, granted, my logic might be flawed. But it runs thuswise: most Democrats and Democratic voters are white. (Easily verified.) More white people are Democrats than any other ethnic group. (Again, easily verified.) Women vote and are Democratic in higher proportions then men do and are, so logically speaking the modal Democrat is almost certainly a white woman. (Not easily verifiable, but logically deduced.)

                  Have I made an error here somewhere?

                • Abbey Bartlet

                  You linked to, and quoted, breakdowns among women as a whole. That’s a very, very different thing than women who are Democrats, and the context of this specific subthread is the Democratic base, yes?

                  Like… these two things are simultaneously true:

                  Barack Obama lost the white vote enormously in both 2008 and 2016.

                  60% of total Obama voters were white.

                  Those look contradictory but they aren’t, just because there’s so many white people.

                  Now, granted, my logic might be flawed. But it runs thuswise: most Democrats and Democratic voters are white. (Easily verified.) More white people are Democrats than any other ethnic group. (Again, easily verified.) Women vote and are Democratic in higher proportions then men do and are, so logically speaking the modal Democrat is almost certainly a white woman. (Not easily verifiable, but logically deduced.)

                  Have I made an error here somewhere?

                  No, you’re not wrong; I misunderstood the point you were making. I was reading it as somehow being relative to the electorate as a whole. Ignore previous!

          • Origami Isopod

            Um. Yes.

        • agorabum

          Seriously. Also, the ‘establishment dems’ had loads of programs on their platform and wish list that would help the working class.
          Democrats had all the levers of government from 1993-1994 and 2009-2010. That’s it since 1981. 4 years out of 37. Yet the constant refrain is why isn’t that establishment doing anything for the working person? The answer inevitably blames the Dems for being ‘establishment’ rather than the accurate assessment that they don’t have the power to push through major change.

      • Rob in CT

        Actually, the worry wouldn’t be squishy Dems so much as D-leaning indies who think the GOP are scary but the Dems are too liberal and, on balance, vote D but not happily. Picking Sanders might’ve driven more of them away.

        Or, perhaps not! It could be that the media wouldn’t have treated him as egregiously as they treated HRC. And/or that he would’ve been more adept at playing the media. And/or that his authenticity quotient was higher and so you’d get votes from people who think he’s too liberal but hey he’s honest/trustworthy/not bought so what the hell.

        We just don’t know.

        • NewishLawyer

          I’m generally not fond of hypotheticals because they tend to prove a person’s priors.

        • We just don’t know.

          Nor will we ever, so best to accept the gift of a more liberal DNC and overall Dem party and see what we can do with it.

      • Abbey Bartlet

        A lot of this is based on whether the establishment Democrats would have come out for Bernie in the same strength they demanded from Bernie’s supporters after Hillary won the primary.

        They would have, as they did in 2008, because they’re not dicks.

    • Murc

      There seems to be a never-ending debate about whether Sanders would have beat Trump in the general or done better than HRC.

      My take on this is thusly:

      I think there’s a strong case to be made that Sanders would have won. However, this case is not actually provable: it is based on logical reasoning and cannot ever be tested empirically. Which means it is inherently very weak. Sanders had strengths Clinton lacked, and I think they might have proven dispositive, but he also had some big weaknesses.

      This isn’t a hugely interesting question for me, tho. The more interesting questions are “why did Clinton lose, why did Trump win (those are two different questions!) and what parts of the answers to those questions are under our control, and what parts aren’t?”

      • NewishLawyer

        And that big negative is what sort of smear campaign would the GOP run against a Brooklyn-Vermont-Jewish-Socialist-Atheist-Former Hippie? I think it would make the campaign against HRC look like a very comfortable bed.

        The only thing I found to look forward to in a Sanders-Trump race is that he would cut through all of Trump’s BS directly and the battle of the NY accents.

        • Murc

          And that big negative is what sort of smear campaign would the GOP run against a Brooklyn-Vermont-Jewish-Socialist-Atheist-Former Hippie? I think it would make the campaign against HRC look like a very comfortable bed.

          I disagree with this just because I think it is harder to make a smear campaign stick in six months than it is to make it stick over thirty years.

          • FlipYrWhig

            John Kerry says hi and asks where his presidency went.

            • EliHawk

              Mike Dukakis too. And Al Gore stops by for a drink!

        • And that big negative is what sort of smear campaign would the GOP run against a Brooklyn-Vermont-Jewish-Socialist-Atheist-Former Hippie? I think it would make the campaign against HRC look like a very comfortable bed.

          Would that have made a difference to Democrats faced with the prospect of a Trump presidency? The question is how it would have played out in the battleground states that Clinton lost. When faced with choosing between two old white guys, would there have been a few thousand who would have chosen Sanders over Trump?

          • FlipYrWhig

            The old white guy who wants to crack down on the world’s brown people vs. the old white guy who wants to raise taxes? I think I have an idea for how this turns out.

          • Redwood Rhiadra

            When faced with choosing between two old white guys, would there have been a few thousand who would have chosen Sanders over Trump?

            After seeing video of Bernie working with Communists in South America constantly for six months?

            No. Cold War nationalism and virulent antipathy towards Communism is still *extremely* strong in those voters.

            • Thom

              They would also have loved hearing about his honeymoon in the Soviet Union. Though I am not sure how many people can distinguish the Soviet Union from Russia, so who knows how this would play out in a 2016 election.

      • John F

        I think there’s a strong case to be made that Sanders would have won. However, this case is not actually provable: it is based on logical reasoning and cannot ever be tested empirically.

        I agree with this, but I’m tired of arguing one way or the other.

        • Yes. This is like arguing if Spider-Man could kick Batman’s ass.

          • John F

            Of course he could :-)

            Or if Star Trek’s Federation could beat the Star Wars Empire…

            Not exactly, I’m sure there were parallel universes where Sanders eeked out a win over Clinton in the Primaries, and then went on to beat Trump… and some where he lost to Trump… and some where HRC beat Trump… I suspect we are in the teeny tiny minority of universes where EVERYTHING broke rightwrong at the rightwrong time to allow Trump to eek out a win.

    • Like many people on this thread I agree we can’t know if Sanders would have won. Fact is, Clinton would have won if not for certain circumstances.

      Some folks think Sanders would have been a slam dunk, because, they say, only a terrible candidate could lose to Trump, and Clinton was almost uniquely terrible because of her high personal unpopularity. They also sometimes mention polls taken in the late spring suggesting that Sanders polled better against Trump than Clinton.

      The problem is that the claim “only a terrible candidate could lose to Trump ” is questionable in retrospect and we don’t know how well a Sanders campaign would have gone or how effective Republican attacks would have been.

      • The problem is that the claim “only a terrible candidate could lose to Trump ” is questionable in retrospect and we don’t know how well a Sanders campaign would have gone or how effective Republican attacks would have been.

        Not to mention the fact that she actually won 3 million more ‘illegal’ votes than Trump.

        • rhino

          To me, that just reinforces how awful Trump was as a candidate. He lost the popular vote by 3 million to an *incredibly* unpopular opponent.

          Clinton was good enough as a candidate to beat Trump handily. The problem wasn’t with her (although I think a mainstream republican with a veneer of civilization like Jeb! wold have creamed her), the problem was with unwise decisions made by her campaign. Of course, whether those decisions were stupid at the time they were made is pretty questionable.

          A lot of things had to go very badly wrong with the Clinton campaign, a lot of things needed to break perfectly for trump, and some criminal acts were committed to savage the dems.

          Something I see as a real goal is preventing a repeat of the Comey bullshit in the future. There needs to be some sort of biblically horrific consequences raining down on that motherfucker, as an example to future potential ratfuckers.

          • The problem is that she had strategists who were playing a majority vote strategy in a game where the majority vote doesn’t determine the winner.

            • Q.E.Dumbass

              The ultimate problem is that she overestimated the intelligence and basic human decency of the American public.

  • thispaceforsale

    To also add: West Virginia is 94% white, under 4% black, under 2% mixed race, last in foreign born residents.
    The largest university, wvu, is 82% white, under 5% black, under 4% mixed race.
    The state’s size of 1.8 million is stagnant. And the largest metropolitan city, charleston is under 50,000.

    In brief, this is a state born out of the secession hellfires of the 1860s and has remained forever after a cauldron of racism, unlikely to change or even boil over in any of our lifetimes.

    • Davis X. Machina

      It’s basically Maine, without the coast, or the proximity to Massachusetts.

    • John F

      No, I’m not entirely sure if I’ve flown over it, but I think I once drove right along the border between Maryland and W.Va once… just once.

  • MikeJake

    My frustration with this whole debate is that I can’t articulate tangible policies that address race-based issues as well as I can articulate policies to address class issues and power imbalances. I’m white, I can’t ever truly feel the pain of those facing racial injustice, but issues of class and power have salience for me, and meaningfully addressing class and power seems more “doable” than fixing ingrained racist attitudes.

    Undoubtedly a failure of imagination on my part, but how intersectional can I reasonably be expected to be?

    • FlipYrWhig

      How much reason is there to think that anyone is voting on the basis of tangible policies to address anything?

  • FlipYrWhig

    Skeptical as I am, I’d love to see a John Fetterman type put a charge into one of these industrial states with a moribund Democratic Party. But is there any reason to think it would work?

  • King Goat

    The Democrats have long been seen as the party that’s more ‘for black people,’ longer than West Virginia has been going GOP. So while I’m sure race is a factor it seems something else happened there, probably the bad blood with the coal industry (which is more recent, isn’t it?).

    • FlipYrWhig

      Robert Byrd died, Jay Rockefeller retired, Bob Wise had an affair, and Alan Mollahan had ethics problems.

      • kvs

        And the little matter of a black president.

  • Ronan

    Well, from a European perspective I agree with political scientist cas mudde

    https://www.opendemocracy.net/can-europe-make-it/cas-mudde/nothing-left-in-search-of-new-social-democracy

    “Class based”* politics(social democracy) is the solution because it builds a broader coalition less prone to identity factionalisation. Class based social democracy in a world where those on lower incomes are disproportionately non white and female explicitly means solving their problems, not only or primarily the concerns of the “white working class”. It means organising people on shared, socio economic interests and egalitarian solutions.
    This doesn’t mean that there aren’t specific problems faced by minorities or women etc that will need specific solutions tailored to their group needs, but it means that poverty and lack of economic opportunity will be the dominant issues (and are also generally the concerns of “the working class” independently of race, ethnicity, gender) It would mean taking class differences in interests within groups seriously, and building a set of priorities around solving problems associated with economic insecurity and lack of opportunity.
    As always with the caveat I’m not telling you what to do in the US yadda yadda just offering a perspective from a different context etc etc and yes I know the new deal was racist !

    * I’m pretty neo liberal and pretty middle class, so I’m not a jacobinista. Just seems to me the most sensible option.

    • FlipYrWhig

      But the actually existing white working class has no interest in sharing and balancing interests with anybody. They think The Other has been ripping them off and it’s time for payback. That’s not fixable by careful priority analysis and solidaristic problem-solving. They vote for Republicans because they like what Republicans have to say — to wit, Those People are screwing you and Democrats are laughing about it. Yours is a proposal designed to woo people who _don’t want to be wooed_. It’s a nonstarter. It’s like shrewdly finding a way of selling steak to vegetarians. If you were beginning American politics from scratch, then, sure. It’s kind of late in the day for that.

      • Ronan

        Maybe they will, maybe they won’t. All the polling I know shows (1) what people like about the dems is they’re the party of the poor, what they don’t like is their liberalism (2) the policy preferences of the working class, across races, are quite similar.
        You won’t get the racists, is it really historically accurate to say you won’t get any of the white working class? Seems you got enough of them for long enough that they aren’t solely in thrall to some primordial, atavistic white identity.

        • FlipYrWhig

          Conservatives used to vote for conservative Democrats, especially locally. Now it’s all been nationalized and tribalized, IMHO by Fox News and the decline of local news media, and conservatives don’t vote for conservative Democrats anymore. I don’t think that toothpaste is going back in the tube.

          • Ronan

            This is where we differ. You don’t think toothpaste can go back in the tube, I think the fact we got it in there in the first place is a wonder the shows anything is possible.

            • FlipYrWhig

              I think we’re talking about people who by and large _enjoy_ wallowing in their hate and ignorance. It is very important to them. As I’ve said before, this is kind of like expecting that comprehensive science education is going to reason Christians out of their Christianity. It’s not. They like what they believe and think it makes them who they are. It doesn’t really matter if someone thinks he has a killer argument for conversion.

          • Scott Lemieux

            Conservatives used to vote for conservative Democrats, especially locally.

            This is the key point. Democrats didn’t used to win in the South and border states because they ran as socialists who didn’t care about race. They ran as conservatives on economics and race. Conservatives controlled Congress for most of the Golden Age of the New Deal. The toothpaste was never in the tube in the first place.

            • Alex.S

              And in addition, a lot of the socialist programs of the New Deal were built around excluding minorities farm workers and domestic laborers from the benefits.

            • FlipYrWhig

              And they also ran on things like education reform, as did Jim Hunt, Zell Miller, and, hey, whaddya know, Bill Clinton.

        • djw

          All the polling I know shows (1) what people like about the dems is they’re the party of the poor, what they don’t like is their liberalism (2) the policy preferences of the working class, across races, are quite similar.

          (2) is somewhat true in the abstract, but is also relatively easily rendered non-salient by pretty standard Republican political tactics. (1) is much less accurate.

        • Redwood Rhiadra

          what people like about the dems is they’re the party of the poor, what they don’t like is their liberalism

          You won’t get the racists, is it really historically accurate to say you won’t get any of the white working class?

          First, WE ALREADY GET THE NON-RACIST WHITE WORKING CLASS. There are no further gains there.

          Secondly, “liberalism” that people don’t like in those polls is our commitment to racial/gender/religious equality. (If they’re in agreement with our economic policies, then it is precisely our commitment to other forms of equality that they don’t like.)

          So the fact that working class whites and non-whites have the same economic policies is IRRELEVANT. You CANNOT form a coalition that includes both working-class white who don’t like “liberalism” and working-class non-whites. Regardless of how compatible their economic policy preferences, their stances on equality are simply not compatible.

          This is why you need to shut the fuck up about American politics. Your European political experience IS WORTHLESS when trying to understand American politics.

          • Ronan

            And what should they know of England they who only England know?

          • Ronan

            I know that’s partly what “liberalism ” meant in those polls. That’s my point.(you don’t have to tell me , I actually read the book it’s from)

          • Ronan

            Experience of other politics is never worthless . This is just extreme American exceptionaliam. I’ve caveated everything I’ve said if you look throughout my comments. I’ve also quoted multiple sources from actual experts . On the other hand you’ve quoted me a lot of boilerplate about how the white working class will never do x etc etc(yes I know all these arguments. I’ve read enough from people who stuff actual voting behaviour to know it’s not that simple. And yes other countries have ethnic politics. They have nativist revivals. They have discriminated against sub populations. )

          • Ronan

            Here are the three points from the initial comment:

            (1)(in most national contexts) a class politics will be a politics led by women and non whites because they are disproportionately low income.

            (2)concentrating on “the white working class” is not a good idea. And the racists will not be won back nor should they be courted.

            (3) in this context, class as an organising group ID is what people most like about the dems.

            Therefore

            (1) would a materialist, economic interest based politics (wherever, these same arguments are occurring throughout the west) be more effective than a more explicitly values and identity based politics? Particularly in the context of significant immigration where the values of new pops are not necessarily liberal.

            (2)would this undermine the cultural and ethnic demogouges on the right?

            It is not an argument to court the bigots. In fact quite the opposite.

            “There are no further gains there.”

            There’s an on going debate up thread about this very issue (did people shift from Obama to trump) So your contention seems debatable.

            “You CANNOT form a coalition that includes both working-class white who don’t like “liberalism” and working-class non-whites”

            Maybe, and maybe not. It seems at least debatable. And you get Plenty of non white votes from people who don’t necessarily like “liberalism”(as do left parties in europe). So yes, people do seem to vote on x even when they don’t like y.

    • Murc

      Class based social democracy in a world where those on lower incomes are disproportionately non white and female explicitly means solving their problems, not only or primarily the concerns of the “white working class”.

      There’s a problem here; solving the economic inequality problems of non-whites and women often requires far different policies than solving those of white men.

      Which means that you’re right back around to race and gender being at the forefront along with class.

      • Ronan

        Why? First port of call is jobs, housing, education, better wages. Better Healthcare, childcare, functioning welfare state.
        Of course there are going to need to be tailored policies once you get into the specifics, but you don’t lead with that, and the heavy lifting is done with the policies that serve the broader constituency.

        • MPAVictoria

          Bingo. I simply refuse to be lectured on racism/feminism by a bunch of centrists who don’t even think poor poc/women should have access to universal healthcare.

          • FlipYrWhig

            What the fuck are you on about? Centrists where thinking what?

            • MPAVictoria

              I am talking about actual US centrists who, on the whole, do not support universal healthcare but like to lecture other people on racism and sexism?

              • fatvalkilmer

                Cool. Then consider me an actual US leftist who supports universal healthcare, and is lecturing other people on racism and sexism.

                • Abbey Bartlet

                  Then consider me an actual US leftist who supports universal healthcare, and is lecturing other people on racism and sexism.

                  Cosigned.

                  Also, too, if we’re listing people who support universal healthcare.

                  “We share the goal of universal health care coverage.”

                  Maybe if she’d flapped her hands around while saying it?

              • Origami Isopod

                None of whom comment here. Unless you mean people who defend the ACA because half a loaf is better than none, in which case you’re still full of shit.

                • Scott Lemieux

                  Another was her primary opponent, who also may well have lost to Donald Trump.

              • Aaron Morrow

                I remember Max Baucus and Ben Nelson de-universalizing the Medicaid expansion, but I fail to remember their lectures on racism and sexism.

          • Origami Isopod

            centrists

            I suppose that’s better than “neoliberals.”

            who don’t even think poor poc/women should have access to universal healthcare.

            Citation, please.

          • veleda_k

            Awesome. I think everyone should have universal healthcare, so I can lecture you all I want.

        • Origami Isopod

          There’d be a squabble over childcare, first of all. That’s something perceived to benefit only women. And it has been demonized by the religious right here for decades, and some of those workers (not all of whom are men) are of the religious right.

          • Ronan

            But dems have already lost the religious right, and workers who prioritise religion over economic interests? So fuck ’em ( serious question. In terms of the dem coalition and those plausibly won over, would it be a divisive policy issue? I’m not saying the “working class” as a homogenous group can be won over, whether in the US or Europe, but that an explicit class politics, with explicitly materialist messaging, can move us all away from the divisiveness of identity and value based politics)

            • FlipYrWhig

              Why wouldn’t “explicit class politics” _also be_ “divisive”? It’s still Us vs. Them. And the one successful thing that Democrats have done since my youth in the 1970s is winning over affluent, educated, professional, cosmopolitan white people. Your proposal is basically saying “all you guys who have been providing money and energy for the Democratic Party, thanks, it’s been great, but we’ve decided to try to replace you with rednecks because we have this theory about how partisan politics _ought_ to work, even though the rednecks have been nursing a deep hatred of us for half a century.”

              • Jackov

                Those lovely cosmopolitan and educated white people would not abandon the Democratic Party if their taxes were raised to pay for universal programs. They are super committed to equality.

                • Abbey Bartlet

                  Those lovely cosmopolitan and educated white people would not abandon the Democratic Party if their taxes were raised to pay for universal programs. They are super committed to equality.

                  If you don’t think lots of Democrats vote against their economic interests because they are, in fact, super committed to equality, you’re living in moonlight la-la land.

          • epidemiologist

            Yes, and a lot of these identity-specific issues are absolutely critical to our participation and rights as workers and human beings. Child care (and caregiving in general) is very much a gendered issue, whether it should be or not.

            This is implicit in our discussions about health insurance markets too. “Young, healthy people” won’t just forego health care– young, healthy people not capable of getting pregnant will. As a young, healthy female-bodied person I need either regular access to preventive reproductive care now or urgent access to procedural care in 2-9 months. If I go the “9 months from now” route, getting follow-up care for myself and pediatric care for my kid will most likely also be my problem.

            All of these needs for care, many of them time-sensitive, keep me dependent on regular and affordable access to the health care system in order to work, exercise my civil rights, and even to live. Any appeal to equal rights is a lie to me without the guarantee that these needs will be met. And yet they are mostly specific to women.

        • FlipYrWhig

          “Hey, here’s a cool new plan to retrain laid-off coal miners. Whaddya think?”

          “Sounds great. I could use that.”

          “Psst, a black person on welfare just bought a bottle of soda.”

          “Fucking hell, we need to stop that shit from happening, when’s the next election?”

          • Ronan

            This is fair, but (1) welfare politics are pretty vitriolic in most places even without racial divisions (ie the UK) (2)I wouldn’t concentrate on sectional interests in antiquated industries, like coal miners

            • FlipYrWhig

              Call it “antiquated industries” and you’ve already lost at least half of the people you were trying to reach.

            • Origami Isopod

              Thing is, the UK and other places have a much better developed sense of class consciousness than the US. I don’t know how much it’ll ultimately hold together in the face of more-diverse populations, because humans are a bunch of tribal assholes and the powerful know how to exploit that. But still, in the US, you’ve got to surmount a cultural obstacle that you don’t in the UK.

              • Ronan

                I’m not sure. The “welfare sponger” stereotype in the UK is primarily built around the caricature of a white family. (Lazy, workshy, bringing up a load of kids on benefits) Welfare politics in the UK is as vitriolic as in the US (at least afaict) So anti welfare politics seems to be a problem independently of racial or ethnic divisions.
                Politics has been pretty tribal in the UK down the years (the whole political edifice seems to threaten to collapse every 30 years or so) I’m not sure racial heterogeneity is going to lead to a more divisive politics than the historic ethnic divisions (at least hopefully not)

                • Origami Isopod

                  With respect, I would suggest you read/re-read the various replies to you in this subthread, some of which are much more informative than mine, and consider whether you are not overgeneralizing from the UK to the US.

                • Ronan

                  I am taking them on board.(and I’ve got a lot from your responses here aswell so thanks)

                • sonamib

                  Here it’s pretty tied up with ethnic politics, the stereotype is “lazy Walloons”.

                • Ronan

                  Who are the dominant ethnic group (btw the walloons and Flemish?) in Belgium out of curiosity ?

            • sibusisodan

              But the coal miners of WV are the case in point here! You can’t say ‘I wouldn’t start from there’. It’s the particular problem to be solved.

              And welfare politics here in the UK seem to be fairly racialised at the mo, given the whole ‘bloody immigrants, coming over here, taking our jobs while living on benefits’ grumbling. The racial fault lines in the UK are very real.

              • Ronan

                True, foreigners are also often seen as draining the welfare state . But the equivalent of the “welfare queen” stereotype is generally a white family ala shameless, isn’t it ? Ie the “white chav” caricature.
                I’ll concede to your greater local knowledge on this though.

                • sibusisodan

                  I think you’re right that the majority of UK welfare vitriol is class based.* But there would still be a ton of resistance to immigrants and foreigners getting anything from the welfare system if the class stuff went away.

                  * Even by members of that same class. First time I walked in to the sandwich shop round the corner I was treated to a discourse on the occupants of the social housing over the road, and how most of them hadn’t worked a day in their lives.

                • Ronan

                  “Even by members of that same class”

                  Oh yeah, I’ve no doubt about that. Your biggest critic is often your neighbour!

        • Murc

          Why? First port of call is jobs, housing, education, better wages. Better Healthcare, childcare, functioning welfare state.

          All of those things require different policies for non-whites and non-men then white men.

          White men don’t lose jobs because the name on their resume is Santiago Jimenez or D’Angelo Farrel and the HR manager decides no callback. White men don’t lose access to good housing because they show up at the leasing office with a child and no wedding ring, or with an unacceptable amount of melanin in their skin, and are informed that the unit is no longer available. (Or that their bid “wasn’t accepted.”)

          Women’s healthcare requires a ton of coverage men don’t need and, frankly, seem terrified of. Childcare is largely seen as a women’s issue.

          Of course there are going to need to be tailored policies once you get into the specifics, but you don’t lead with that

          And when various marginalized groups, quite rightly, demand you name specifics as a condition of their support, and you’re asked point-blank questions about them?

        • veleda_k

          Women as a whole make 78 cents for every dollar a white man makes. For black women, it’s 64 cents. For Latinas, 56 cents. And we have seen that when women enter fields in large numbers, those fields lose prestige. That’s the sort of problem that remains even after the minimum wage is raised. Or are we just expected not to care about unequal wages as long as we’re all making $15 an hour? Universal healthcare is vital but is going to do nothing to address that resumes with names that we think of female and/or “ethnic” get fewer call backs than resumes with white male names. Better wages will not help trans women who can’t get legal work due to transphobia. Etc.

        • fatvalkilmer

          Because in America, we’ve specifically created laws, precedents, and norms that are designed to singularly impact people of color. Dismantling those systems either does not directly affect the white poor and working class, or will require actual or perceived sacrifice on the part of those people.

          Similarly, there are enough sufficiently racist people who will choose EVERY TIME to hurt themselves if it means that people of color won’t get something they “don’t deserve.”

          Here, at least, all people being raised equally will just allow the racial hierarchy we’ve created to perpetuate, at best, or else that hierarchy will literally prevent the kind of “rising tides raises all ships” policy you’re suggesting, at worst.

          • Ronan

            Murc,valeda_k and fatvalkilmer thanks for the responses. I’m not ignoring you all so much as gathering my thoughts.

            • fatvalkilmer

              It’s all good

        • Snuff curry

          Which jobs in which sectors in which parts of the country, what sort of housing, whose wages? Don’t be obtuse; these are not racially-blind or gender-blind policies but in the abstract. Fill in the blanks, and we’re back where we started.

          • Ronan
            • Snuff curry

              So the exact opposite, in fact, of

              mov[ing] us all away from the divisiveness of identity and value based politics

              Then what’s your point?

              • Ronan

                Okay. There’s a bit of evidence from Europe (which is how I started this) that the movement from a materialist to post materialist politics (ie a politics less concerned with material, economic, issues and more concerned with issues surrounding identity, values and autonomy)coincided with a shift in the party system, from large catch all social democratic parties to a greater array of smaller ones concerned with more specific issues. Out of this came the radical right. Also out of this came policies of multiculturalism, where shared interests and shared egalitarian goals were deemphasised in favour of diversity and ethnic differentiation .

                I’m not sure how well this is going, so am wondering if perhaps we(bear in mind my initial question was not specifically about the US)should try to find a way of developing a new social democratic movement that takes into account the changes(more women, more non whites)in the demographics of any social democratic base,but emphasises more broad economic solutions, and a class politics built around class as a material reality rather than cultural category (ie concerned primarily with fixing broad, more universal issues of economic deprivation)

                This *was* (as is clear from the quote) Wilson’s argument in the US. (He wanted colourblind policies to build a broader movement around more explicitly economic issues)

                So the questions are (1) does a politics based around class as a group identity attract more people (I linked to something above saying it does )
                (2)does it undermine the cultural and racial/ethnic demogouges on the right (I know people have answered this above. I’m not ignoring them, just restating it for you to clarify my position)

                • Ronan

                  I wrote this on my phone so apologies for spelling, grammar etc

                • Snuff curry

                  developing a new social democratic movement that takes into account the changes(more women, more non whites)in the demographics of any social democratic base

                  Women and people of color are not interlopers or recent inventions in US politics, even prior to their being enfranchised, and they both form both the base of the US’s mainstream ‘left’ political party and played historically important roles in the civil rights and labor movements; indeed, there would be no such movements, now or then, without them. The suggestion that “a new social democratic movement” is somehow already taking shape without the contributions of women and people of color is, to put it mildly, divorced from reality.

                • Snuff curry

                  Also out of this came policies of multiculturalism, where shared interests and shared egalitarian goals were deemphasised in favour of diversity and ethnic differentiation.

                  There’s an utterly odd predilection in this post for putting the cart before the horse while citing ahistorical non-facts, and here’s another one, where people of color spoilt egalitarianism, having been offered it in the first place, with their yucky divisive differentiation. Erm, in a word: no.

                • Ronan

                  This is not what I’m saying . Whenever anyone talks about “class politics” the first interjection is “what about women and non white”. The point, as I said in my first comment, is women and non whites are disprortionately more likely to be low income and economically insecure, so a class politics IS definitionally a politics driven by women and non whites.

                • Ronan

                  “There’s an utterly odd predilection in this post for putting the cart before the horse while citing ahistorical non-facts, and here’s another one, where people of color spoilt egalitarianism, having been offered it in the first place, with their yucky divisive differentiation. Erm, in a word: no.”

                  Look, read it any way you please. I’m going to bow out as it’s tedious to type this out on my phone and we’re not going to get anywhere

                • Snuff curry

                  Whenever anyone talks about “class politics” the first interjection is “what about women and non white”.

                  As well it ought to be when people are handwringing about ‘identity politics’ as though class is not an identity.

                  The point, as I said in my first comment, is women and non whites are disprortionately more likely to be low income and economically insecure, so a class politics IS definitionally a politics driven by women and non whites.

                  Yes, we know.

        • Rubychan228

          Jobs for these murdered Trans people?

          Housing for murdered queer people?

          Education for all the black people gunned down in the streets by police?

          Well, at least (for now) women are only almost dying because of abortion bans. OH! And so far Jewish Community Centers are only being threatened with bombs, not actually blown up. So I guess women and Jews can try to get over that and enjoy better wages?

          See, in America, you can’t actually hyper-focus on economics while ignoring all other social justice concerns. Because social justice issues are, very often, literally issues of life and death.

          You need to protect people’s lives first, THEN you can start improving their quality of life.

      • Origami Isopod

        +1

    • “Class based”* politics(social democracy) is the solution because it builds a broader coalition less prone to identity factionalisation.

      Cloass-based politics is a form of identity factionalism.


      Class based social democracy in a world where those on lower incomes are disproportionately non white and female explicitly means solving their problems, not only or primarily the concerns of the “white working class”.

      I think the word is “implicitly”, not “explicitly”, and this appears to suffer from the assumption that the problems faced by women and those who are “not white” are all socio-economic.

      This doesn’t mean that there aren’t specific problems faced by minorities or women etc that will need specific solutions tailored to their group needs,

      OK, perhaps I was mistaken about that

      but it means that poverty and lack of economic opportunity will be the dominant issues

      Hmmm…I guess I wasn’t. WHY will they be dominant?

      (and are also generally the concerns of “the working class” independently of race, ethnicity, gender)

      This assumes that there is a working class identity that exists independently of race, ethnicity, gender, or that pretending that it is so will make it so

      It would mean taking class differences in interests within groups seriously

      But apparently will not take “group” differences within classes seriously. Why not?

      building a set of priorities around solving problems associated with economic insecurity and lack of opportunity.

      Building such a set of priorities would require taking race into account, and this is just as true in relatively social democratic countries as it is here. If systemic racism is denying people access to economic opportunity, a “race-blind” attempt to equalize such access will miss the point.

      • djw

        One rather persistent and pesky-for-Ronan fact about race relations in America is that when black people start to do OK economically, they become ever more juicy targets for white plunder.

        • Ronan

          What do you think of the argument from Julius Wilson’s The Truly Disadvantaged, (I’ll quote at length, because he articulates it more coherently)

          “In The Truly Disadvantaged I argued that a combination of universal and targeted initiatives are needed to improve the life chances of the ghetto poor. However, I also argued that “the latter would be considered an offshoot of and indeed secondary to the universal programs.” In other words, “the important goal is to construct an economic-social reform program in such a way that the universal programs are seen as the dominant and most visible aspects by the general public. As the universal programs draw support from a wider population, the targeted programs would be indirectly supported and protected.”119
          I thought that given American views about poverty and race, a program that appears to have a colorblind agenda would be the most realistic way to generate the broad political support that would be necessary to enact the required legislation. Harvard political scientist Theda Skocpol, who argued that the best way to combat poverty is through targeting within universalism, supported this position.120”

          Ronan – The following is from the updated version where he walks back from the previous quote, though Im interested in the previous para.

          “However, this position drew criticisms from some scholars. For example, Robert Lieberman argued that “targeting within universalism” will not succeed if institutions are not in place to ensure that the right targets, for example poor blacks, receive the benefits.121

          I accept this criticism. Indeed since writing The Truly Disadvantaged my position on framing has changed. In addition to making sure that institutional mechanisms are in place to allow for an equitable distribution of resources, I also feel that in framing public policy we should not shy away from an explicit discussion of the specific issues of race and poverty; on the contrary, we should highlight them in our attempt to convince the nation that these problems should be seriously confronted and that there is an urgent need to address them. The issues of race and poverty should be framed in such a way that not only a sense of fairness and justice to combat inequality is generated, but also people are made aware that our country would be better off if these problems were seriously addressed and eradicated. In other words, I now feel that appeals to America’s sense of fairness and justice will be more effective in the long run than attempting to neutralize the effects of racial biases by highlighting initiatives that seem to benefit all groups. This does not mean that I reject universal programs to combat poverty, such as the stimulus package, which includes programs to address the needs of the poor, including poor people of color. While I no longer support a framing that is specifically and expressly designed to appear race neutral or color blind, I fully support both race-specific and universal programs to address racial inequality, including problems of concentrated poverty in the inner city.”

    • I wonder how much of literature on “social democracy” that you’re citing assumes its class coalition is all one ethnicity, and of dubious relevance.

      • Ronan

        Im not citing any lit (just one person in the article who says it’s gonna be difficult)

  • pianomover

    Curious as to why being a member of a union one would vote the democratic ticket but later after losing ones job and subsequent employment at a truck stop filling station would one then be compelled to vote republican. Seems to be something else at work here.

    • Tancred

      Unions provide a certain educational and ideological framework for seeing the world through a class-based lens. It often does not work as we know many union members vote for Republicans but on average union workers have tended to vote for the Democrats.

      I think the decline of unions is the big issue here because without that class-based ideological framework people are more susceptible to right-wing populism based on racism, sexism, etc.

      The thing about racism, sexism, etc. is that I don’t think we need to make everyone an across-the-board liberal to win elections and make progress. In some cases this might mean running John Bel Edward-type candidates in red states but I don’t know why this would be a problem. The Democratic Party is supposed to be a big tent so why can’t we have, say, more pro-life Democrats in the party?

      I also resent the narrative that somehow working-class whites are uniquely racist and sexist. Affluent people hold nasty racist, sexist views also but somehow they don’t receive the same ire from liberals. I have seen NIMBY-ism in action in supposedly liberal suburbs and it is not pretty.

      • Origami Isopod

        The Democratic Party is supposed to be a big tent so why can’t we have, say, more anti-choice Democrats in the party?

        (leaving the browser replacement phrase in there)

        Gee, I dunno, because neither I nor millions of other American women want to vote for a party that regards our rights to our own bodies as anathema and consistently works to deprive us thereof? Especially considering how vital those rights are to our economic well-being, as well as our health and lives?

      • Snuff curry

        -Isms are bad and both factions do it, so let’s welcome more Democrats who espouse them? These contradictions are delicious.

      • Rubychan228

        Rich people are often bigots too, but they seldom vote Democrat anyway so whatever.

        Working-class people have more to gain economically from voting in Democrats and the Republicans know it, so they try to court them by appealing to and prejudices they might have (i.e. Trump will screw over American steel workers…but also stick it to Muslims, so many Islamophobic working-class American steel workers may vote for him anyway).

        The argument is weather we should, to continue on with this example, either throw Muslims under the bus and ignore the ban (or oppose the ban on strictly economic grounds, thus tacitly agreeing with the underlying bigotry) or do we oppose the ban in the name of equality and thus potentially alienate working-class bigots (because, again, the rich bigots were already lost).

        And assuming that even worked to keep the bigots on our side, it then losses us the votes of Muslim-Americans and their non-Muslim allies (while also being morally repugnant) so what’s even the point?!

  • Mike in DC

    There’s worthwhile discussion to be had about class-within-race. I just watched video of an interview with Aries Spears (which itself included comments by Russell Simmons) in which he more or less questioned the “authenticity” of Key and Peele, because they are biracial and from suburban middle class “white” backgrounds. Now, Jordan Peele just made a brilliant film dealing with race. This is the flip side of “respectability politics”: policing “authenticity”.
    As an outsider (I’m white), neither of these seem productive or constructive to me. There is a parallel in white culture: “real Americans vs cultural elites”, “enlightened progressives vs ignorant rednecks”.

    Of course there is also intersectionality with regionalism, education and other factors too. But these sub-, inter- and intra- conflicts exist and cause problems.

  • MPAVictoria

    I actually subscribe to Jacobin (which was founded by a POC by the way) and read their magazine. They publish a ton of pieces by POC/women leftists. Is all their material perfect or even good? No. Is a lot of it interesting and worth reading? Yes.

    /The success of Jacobin and the explosion in DSA membership are two of the most positive things occurring on the left right now.

  • jeer9

    From the Get Out review:

    The film’s politics can probably best be described as a variety of black nationalism, with the title serving as an annunciation of its view on how black people can overcome the racism of contemporary America.

    While the film is darkly amusing and plays around with the tropes of the horror genre very well (flipping them brilliantly in the opening sequence), the black nationalism as a political subtext is barely explored, even if it is implied by the need to escape. However, I would certainly agree with the critic’s opinion that Peele’s response to the never-ending, ever-exploding fact of American racism is extremely bleak indeed.

    White, apparently sympathetic, liberals are portrayed as really not much better (in the long run) than openly racist conservatives and the horror for blacks consists in recognizing that the liberal’s love and appropriation of their culture is equally and ultimately sinister, though slyer, in its pragmatic, transgenerational method, with full acceptance never more than a polite invite to social gatherings in which empathy for the history of the poverty-stricken becomes a way to hypnotize and control them, while a blandly suppressed hostility and condescension always lurk just beneath the surface. A black man’s sense of autonomy remains an illusion.

    Sort of a “Both Sides Do It” approach to racism and a sad counterpart to 12 Years A Slave. Though Peele’s frustration is understandable, his anger seems misdirected.

    • Mike in DC

      Is that all from the review?

      • Mike in DC

        Incidentally, I would love to have a thread discussing Get Out.

  • liberalpragmatist

    Political punditry always wants to offer “this one neat trick” as a solution to political problems.

    WV, and much of Appalachia and the rural Midwest stayed with Democrats well after the Civil Rights Era, so, no “race” isn’t the only thing going on here. But it does play some role. Along with economic decline. And as Erik pointed out, you absolutely cannot ignore environmentalism and coal’s decline as factors in West Virginia and Kentucky. For a lot of people, views of government have entirely shifted when their chief antagonist seems to be the EPA.

    There’s also a more diffuse racial/cultural story. There are plenty of areas in the country that were fine voting for a party that supported civil rights. And if you canvassed people, they’d say they aren’t racist. But once Democrats came to be seen as a party primarily supported by racial and ethnic minorities, urban liberals, and the coasts, that perceived cultural distance has helped spark more movement away from the Democratic Party.

    • Bri2k

      This. As a resident of the Paris of Appalachia and frequent visitor to the hinter-lands, I can tell you there’s a very strong feeling of anti-cosmopolitanism out in the Wonderful Wilds of West Virginia. Only those from here seem to get the hatred for “city folks” and all that entails. I don’t recall seeing many national pundits catch that.

      • FlipYrWhig

        But the thing that doesn’t compute is how hatred for “city folks” could manifest as love for the most city-identified presidential candidate in history.

  • liberalpragmatist

    BTW, what do people think about this Matt Stoller piece on Hamilton? He makes some interesting observations. (And, yes, Hamilton – like all the founders – is an imperfect guide to modern politics.) But of course Stoller being Stoller he wraps it up in a big critique of modern liberalism and the modern Democratic Party. (Arguing that the party’s embrace of Hamilton echoes its own elitism and coziness with big money.)

    • Murc

      (Arguing that the party’s embrace of Hamilton echoes its own elitism and coziness with big money.)

      This is nuts, and I say that as someone who loves Hamilton but fuckin’ loathes a lot of its fans.

      Hamilton is historical fiction. Fictional Alexander Hamilton and Actual Alexander Hamilton are two very, very different people. People who love Fictional Hamilton are not embracing the politics of Actual Hamilton, even if they think they are.

      Stoller is being intellectually dishonest here. He knows damn well that many if not most of the people who love the musical are entirely ignorant of Actual Hamilton’s politics, but he pretends that isn’t the case.

      • Hamilton is historical fiction. Fictional Alexander Hamilton and Actual Alexander Hamilton are two very, very different people. People who love Fictional Hamilton are not embracing the politics of Actual Hamilton, even if they think they are.

        A whole lotta people do believe that the Hamilton of the play is the actual Hamilton and that he is a progressive hero. It’s maddening.

        • sibusisodan

          I don’t want to believe that cabinet rap battles did not occur. You can’t make me!

        • Murc

          A whole lotta people do believe that the Hamilton of the play is the actual Hamilton and that he is a progressive hero. It’s maddening.

          I was for-real told about six months to stop lying about and smearing Alexander Hamilton and his legacy and works.

          In response to my… quoting extensively from the Federalist Papers.

          Now, admittedly, that’s me nutpicking, but still.

          But Stoller isn’t some guy who got Hamilton tickets and bought the soundtrack and now thinks he’s an expert on the man and his vision. He is, theoretically, a professional writer and is supposed to do, you know, actual research and have a good grasp on his subject matter.

          • liberalpragmatist

            I mean, I understand why finance-friendly guys like Hamilton. But a lot of the newfound Democratic and liberal love for Hamilton stems from the fact that economic interventionism, urbanization, and a strong federal government have stronger roots in the Hamilton/Whig traditions than the Jefferson/Jackson tradition.

            There’s also more awareness that Jefferson and Jackson’s policies were based on white supremacy, rural interests over urban ones, and hostility to the federal government, all things that are deeply antithetical to modern liberalism.

            I think those arguments are totally valid. But of course, accepting Hamilton whole hog means also accepting his authoritarianism, his elitism/proto-social Darwinism, and his economic royalism.

            Of course the larger point is that historical politics never neatly track present ones and that it’s silly to worship any of the Founders as some unique fount of wisdom about the modern US.

        • LeeEsq

          Its how most people approach history regardless of their politics. Liberals and leftists can be just as prone to historical mythology as conservatives and rightists.

        • John F

          Fictional Alexander Hamilton and Actual Alexander Hamilton are two very, very different people.

          Yes, the Actual Alexander Hamilton is buried about 100 yards from where I am now typing. The fictional one is not :-)

          I once had a truly maddening exchange with someone when I pointed his gravesite out-

          “really? I thought he’d be buried in Arlington”

          “No, in New York City, and there was no Arlington Cemetery then”

          “Really? I thought all Presidents were buried there”

          “no, some are, some are not, and he wasn’t a President”

          “Oh… then he’s not the Alexander Hamilton I was thinking of”

    • D.N. Nation

      Stoller’s entire schtick is liberals do this, leftists do that, you know, like the best hack comedians of the 90s.

      • EliHawk

        Yeah, the other day on Twitter he was essentially going “Progressives aren’t progressive enough, but because they keep saying they’re progressive, progressivism is bad, so I’m no longer progressive.”

        • liberalpragmatist

          To be clear, I find Stoller sometimes annoying and often tendentious. He was relatively constructive during the last campaign though, and some of his recent writings on competition policy and antitrust have been quite good.

  • Tsuyoshi

    West Virginia is an interesting case. The rapid, but so far, small, influx of Hispanics that has taken place in small-town Pennsylvania, Michigan, Wisconsin, etc. hasn’t happened in West Virginia. And unlike those states, West Virginia has no meaningful black population in major cities, because it has no major cities.

    So I wonder if there isn’t, along with race, another dimension, that I don’t have a word for, based on whether you identify as a resident of a small town or a resident of a big city. (Or in a very common case that doesn’t have much to do with West Virginia, as a resident of a suburb of a big city that you imagine is a small town.) This dimension is obviously impossible to disentangle from race, but there has to be something to it. After all, there is a strong correlation between residential density and Democratic vote share.

    But another really interesting comparison, to me, is between Vermont and West Virginia. They are both very white and have no large cities (and not to mention, they are both mountainous), but they vote very differently. I have no explanation for the difference.

    • FlipYrWhig

      You don’t have to be around actual black people to dread what they represent. In fact spectral black people in imaginary cities Somewhere Else make for rather convenient scapegoats.

    • I don’t know West Virginia but I do know Vermont. It’s an anomaly even by New England standards (compare it to New Hampshire or upstate New York, for example) and that is seemingly due to an influx of hippies in the last few decades. That’s not to say there’s no racism, but that racism that does exist tends to be of the more “liberal” variety.

  • wengler

    All Trump proves is that white people are easy to scam, and Appalachian whites are easiest to scam of everyone.

  • LeeEsq

    On the issue of “class not race” and Social Justice/Identity Politics, I think both sides have a point. The Social Justice/Identity Politics has the more correct analysis of what problems are besetting society but my observations lead me to believe that Social Justice/Identity Politics doesn’t really make for a viable political party, especially in FPTP electoral systems. The coalition size isn’t big enough usually and in a FPTP/geographic based electoral system, they aren’t strategically placed to win elections. The Labour Party in the United Kingdom seems to suffer from some of the same electoral problems that the United States has with a professional class/Britains of color base.

    The other big elephant in the room with Social Justice/Identity Politics is that when the different minority groups get more assertive in their identity and fighting for their rights, the majority groups also solidifies its identity and pushes to preserve their perceived interests.

    The “class not race” faction misses a lot of the reality on the ground when it comes to the problems faced by minority groups. They might have an overall better electoral strategy, especially in a FPTP/geographic based system and you need to win elections at one point to get your policy goals achieved.

    • Snuff curry

      The other big elephant in the room with Social Justice/Identity Politics is that when the different minority groups get more assertive in their identity and fighting for their rights, the majority groups also solidifies its identity and pushes to preserve their perceived interests.

      Bassackwards.

  • Harkov311

    West Virginia is a state where open racism is largely accepted.

    I feel like this is an appropriate time to tell a little story my dad told me once. He was in WV in 1988 during the presidential election, and noticed a truck with a Confederate flag and a Dukakis sticker on it. He commended the owner for not falling for the Willie Horton nonsense, to which the owner said: “well there aren’t any ni***rs in West Virginia, so what do I care?”

    Even when they were voting for the right people, there were still a lot of racists.

    • John F

      West Virginia is a state where open racism is largely accepted.

      I’ll take your word for it- but it’s both very white and very rural- what’s suprising is how long it took to swing to the GOP.

  • MDrew

    So, her subject is really the disposition of the WV legislature, and pretty much the whole of her analysis involves the interplay of coal (and coal prices), unionism and the WV Democratic Party, and Obama administration environmental policy and national Democrats broader economic policies – and Republican opportunism in that context. That story is very much about the environment. She may not be saying things you like to see being said about all of that, but I’m not sure how you read that and say that environmentalism isn’t addressed.

    Could she have asserted that Obama’s being black may have accelerated the Democrats’ losses in West Virginia compared to if a white Democrat had governed identically (or is there another hypothesis abut how race drove this political change after 80 years of Democrat control)? I suppose. I don’t know what the point of doing that would be, as it’s completely speculative. But I guess she could have.

    I would agree that the article could use a fuller picture of the Republicans, and if abortion politics or other cultural issues (or foreign policy) were key to their ability to take advantage, a line or two on that would have been helpful, if this is indeed an important part of the story. (But then I get the distinct impression that she is deeply steeped in the reality of these politics, and I know that I am not, so I say ‘if’).

    But broadly and openly, this is an article on the political economy of West Virginia state politics in the Obama era. That kind of thing is now “class not race”? Every analysis has to be full-spectrum, or it is de-centering someone?

    Phooey.

    • FlipYrWhig

      But is there any reason to think that West Virginia Democrats are losing votes for being TOO industry-friendly? It seems to me that the only Democrats who win anything in West Virginia have taken pains to demonstrate the antithesis. The writer seems to think that because Democrats haven’t done well by being industry-friendly, what they need to do is be more industry-critical, and then they’ll waltz right in. It seems like that episode of Seinfeld where George Costanza turns his life around by choosing the exact opposite of every one of his instincts. If West Virginians think that a policy of favoring industry is the only way they’ll be able to earn a living, that’s not going to work — that’ll make things much, much worse.

      • John F

        But is there any reason to think that West Virginia Democrats are losing votes for being TOO industry-friendly?

        I think over time yes- short term no-
        West Virginia’s “Industry” controls the narrative in West Va. – They have controlled the narrative for a long time and have been allowed to control the narrative. By parroting and feeding that narrative W. Va Dems have essentially ceased being Dems.

        The coal industry is the worst thing that ever happened to West Virginia- but good luck convincing someone whose livelihood has depended on that industry- they can’t imagine a West Virginia without coal- and even if they could- they can’t imagine a place for them in a West Virginia without coal.

        • FlipYrWhig

          But as with loggers, auto workers, or oil refinery workers, isn’t there indeed a sort of devil’s bargain where the workers’ side needs the industry to stay afloat? Even Sherrod Brown isn’t an angel when it comes to emissions and pollution. I don’t think someone “ceases to be a Democrat” when he or she stands up for local business interests. And that’s what WV Dems (judging by the linked article) have tried to do, even if it flies in the face of what liberals and/or Democrats in other states would like. And it’s not like WV was electing a lot of populist rabble-rousers beforehand but then unaccountably lost their way.

        • Harkov311

          they can’t imagine a West Virginia without coal- and even if they could- they can’t imagine a place for them in a West Virginia without coal.

          And this is the problem. They need to start imagining a WV without coal, because a WV without coal is coming, whether they can imagine it or not. NC and my home state of VA got beyond that whole furniture-and-tobacco thing and brought in new industries. WV desperately needs political leaders who stop kissing big coal’s rearparts and bring in something that’ll actually be there in another decade. But I admit I don’t know how they’d get there. I guess once all the coal is literally gone it’ll happen, but I wish it’d happen before then, if for no other reason than the transition would be less painful if it were less abrupt.

      • MDrew

        An entirely fair response (toward which I lean myself) that is couched entirely in the terms of her argument, rather than saying she should have adopted wholesale an entirely different (or additional) angle of approach. I congratulate you.

        I’m not sure about our friends here, though. I suspect they will find fault with you for “accepting her frame” and thereby “normalizing” the racism of WV voters (in particular of white men without college degrees, as a commenter below notes).

    • John F

      Could she have asserted that Obama’s being black may have accelerated the Democrats’ losses in West Virginia compared to if a white Democrat had governed identically

      I think Dem losses accelerated in West Viginia because there was a Dem POTUS when Fracking really took off.

  • SadOldGuy

    I love all of these high level discussions but I have been talking to a lot of low information voters and for them, for the last thirty years they have been told by the national media tell me that Donald Trump was a rich man of the people loved by Hollywood and Hilary Clinton was a hateful corrupt bitch. That 3 Million more of us voted for her instead of him is a minor miracle.

  • John F

    Trump got 63% of white men and 53% of white women

    Trump got 13% of black men and 4% of black women

    Trump got 33 % of Hispanic men and 26% of Hispanic women

    That’s a bigger gender gap than 2012 (ESPECIALLY AMONG NON-WHITES), I think Trump’s open misogyny helped him- some men are gonna be MRA type assholes irrespective of race, some of them, especially black men may have voted for Obama and then flipped to Trump.

    Whites with no college degrees went for Trump 67:28, all told those without a college degree (any race) went for Trump 52:43,
    In 2012 those without a college degree went for Obama 51:47

    In 2016 those with a college degree (any race) went for Hillary 52:42
    in 2012 those with a college degree (any race) went for Obama 50:48

    Hillary improved among the college educated from what Obama had gotten, but lost a lot of ground among the less educated –

    To the extent Obama voters voted Trump- they were white guys without college degrees.
    To the extent non-voters got up and voted, they were white guys without college degrees.

    That’s the demo that swung.

    • Murc

      I’m gonna be honest, John; I don’t care about the nationwide data. Clinton won nationwide.

      I care about the numbers from three or four very specific states, and only those numbers.

      • John F

        I care about the numbers from three or four very specific states, and only those numbers.

        Trouble is we don’t have real good data from within many individual states like we do nationwide.

        But if you know that nationally what demos shifted where- and we know that nationally whites without college degrees were 34% of the electorate- and that demo swung towards Trump nationally – you can then look at individual states.

        Wisconsin is 86% white, that’s higher than the National average
        Ohio is 85% white, that’s higher than the National average

        Both Wisconsin and Ohio have a higher percentage of non-college whites than the nation at large – the demo that swung Trump.

        • MDrew

          Your argumentation is very heavily tilted toward positive description. Which I like. But it’s so much so that I’m having trouble inferring your normative/rhetorical point.

          That was the demo that swung it to Trump… therefore _________?

          This is 100% not snark or a rhetorical question. I’m interested to know better what your point is.

          • John F

            The main point is that Dems do not have to change or pander to those who flipped from D to Trump-

            1. He didn’t cobble together some new coalition that’ll last many cycles like Reagan did- he wrung added votes out of a shrinking demo- and it was barely enough.

            2. Demographics are on our side- so the real fight is not convincing Joe Sixpack (white version) to vote for Dems – it’s fighting voter suppression and working on Dem turnout.

            3. To the extent we are talking about Obama voters who voted Trump, fickle voters can flip again – these are not the type who will vote Trump if there is a recession in 2020, or if they personally are unemployed in 2020

            4. The sky is not [permanently] falling.

            • MDrew

              Thanks.

              I’d agree that “the real fight” is not going after Joe Lunchpail. But on thing that’s very much at issue is what place that does have in Democratic strategy going forward. Because it should have some place. But it doesn’t on this blog.

              I would also agree that, contra Murc, Obama -> Trump may not be the worst-for-us explanation for the result. Obama -> not voting could be worse. I’m not sure- Murc could be right that Obama -. Trump is worse, because it’s more intractable. Or, you could be right that engaged is better than disengaged, if many of those voters are on the bubble as it were, and could swing back.

              But I have a feeling that Obama -> not voting is more ominous for the party. Essentially, explaining the reporting in that NYT report from Milwaukee shortly after the election – and finding the correct path to reaching those guys again. Perhaps it’s as simple as avoiding another Comey situation, as this blog is at pains to claim. But having that discussion so constricted around that claim isn’t helping us figure it out.

              Those guys didn’t vote. That lost Dems the election. We have to figure out why and how to get them to vote again. Everything should be on the table in that discussion.

  • BethRich52

    It must be so much fun to go to the movies with that critic.

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