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How white supremacy works in American culture and media

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This is a follow-on from my post this morning about how the corrupt nature of contemporary American presidential elections, and in particular the thoroughgoing corruption of the contemporary Republican party, gives Donald a very real chance of getting re-elected, in the face of all reason and decency.

One of the main reasons he has a chance is because the fact — and it’s for all practical purposes a fact — that millions more people are going to vote for Biden than for Trump in itself guarantees nothing.

Here are Nate Silver’s estimates:

“Points” is such a vague word in this context. Let’s see what it means in terms of actual human beings. I estimate that a total of around 140 million people will cast ballots for Biden and Trump over the next few weeks. This is based on the fact that 129 million voted for Clinton and Trump in 2016, but that was with a big third party vote effect, that certainly won’t be present this time.

Looking at what happened between 2000 and 2004, the proportion of the vote that went to the wank candidates, primarily of course St. Ralph Nader, fell from about 3.5% to less than one percent. A similar percentage decline between 2016 and 2020 (5% of the 2016 vote went to minor party candidates), plus some modest population growth plus an extremely engaged electorate, given that semi-permanent fascism is on the ballot, suggests that 140 million is a realistic estimate.

According to Silver’s calculations, Biden has not much better than a coin flip chance of winning the Electoral College if he wins by three percentage points. Three percentage points is likely to be more than four million votes! He is likely to lose if he wins the actual vote by “just” three million votes.

Trump has, essentially, no chance of winning the actual vote, and he’s an extreme long shot to lose it by less than two million ballots.

The fact that the mainstream media, and the public that they prime (let alone the right wing scream machine), treat this situation with pretty much total insouciance is yet another example of how the baseline assumption of the dominant culture in America, very much including many, many people who consider themselves Democrats and even progressives or leftists, is that the opinions and votes of white people count more than than those of non-whites.

This of course is rarely articulated openly, but I guarantee you that if a black female presidential candidate was going to lose the actual vote by millions of voters, but still had an excellent chance of winning the election, this would be considered an absolute travesty — indeed definitive proof that the system was broken and had to be changed.

But because a white man — even the very worst white man in the world — is in precisely that position, the mainstream cultural reaction is basically shrugged shoulders and mumbles about the intentions of the framers whaddaya gonna do, along with plenty of brain-dead defenses of the EC because we’re a republic not a democracy etc.

A footnote: the fact that Trump is going to get millions of votes less than Biden has exactly nothing to do with the existence of the Electoral College. Campaign strategy and spending has only very limited effects on the margin, and in any case if we had a popular vote Trump’s increased efforts in deep blue states would of course be matched by Biden’s efforts in deep red states. Trump is going to lose the vote by millions of voters because millions more Americans prefer Biden to Trump, and the existence of the EC is quite irrelevant to that fact.

And none of this even takes into account the massive fraud and suppression the Republicans engage in as a matter of course. Biden is going to win the vote by millions of ballots despite all that — yet he may still lose the election, because the system is both corrupt and broken. If somebody other than a white man were benefiting from that fact, this would be the most obvious thing in the world.

But because white supremacy is so deeply encoded in our national DNA, this remains a controversial and indeed very shrill sort of thing to say.

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