Tag Archives: election

Avoid the Media Circus. Focus on Policy and Voting.

If Trump succumbs to COVID-19, his administration can still win the election. His ideas may still pervade and damage this country, impact and cost real people, real rights, real safety.

If Trump loses the election, it really won’t matter what the disease does or doesn’t do to him. It will matter that he lost, and we can start putting things back together again, start making real progress on reversing damages and protecting the future.

I don’t care if the announcement was timed or not. I don’t care if Trump’s on a drug cocktail that makes him loopy or not. I don’t care how serious his case is or isn’t.

All of those are plot developments, twists, and cliffhangers on the reality show he wants us to buy into, and the information we’re provided isn’t always reliable or consistent from one day to the next. I’m supposed to believe people who lie all the time that he’s on this or that drug, so I can conjecture that he’s doing this badly or that well, and then analyze how we feel, our response, how we think this month will go…based off of that? What a god damn waste of our time and energy.

None of those changes the real things that are before us that we can impact: the calls we make, the votes we re-enable, the civil rights we remind people are maintained by their votes. Trump can be severely ill for the rest of the month or flying through the air on a pony tomorrow; it should not change our work.

Resist the temptation to allow your feelings to exist in the circus of chaos they want to make of this. Like in everything else, the reality they present will change day by day, and so will our reactions. If they dictate the reality every day, then they dictate the reality the election takes place within. How are we supposed to win an election where the reality of what even matters…stops mattering?

Trump will be the picture of health and a miracle cure one day, on his last legs and needing prayer in the form of donations the next, refusing drugs because he prays it away one minute, then “surprisingly cogent” despite all the drugs a minute later. COVID will be like the common cold one minute, and then a terrible disease only a warrior like him could beat the next. Get too deep into that mountain of bullshit and you’ll be looking at the election, wondering where all that time went, and going, “Why am I so deep in all this shit and sputtering even more of it?” as they dictate the day’s message every morning.

This is an election about civil rights. Keep it about that. Remind people of that, of their role in keeping those rights. What’s the day’s message? Policy. Civil rights. Our message.

The message doesn’t change day by day if you wake up every day in the same reality, with the same set of provable truths, and the verifiable effort and impact you can make before you.

I don’t care what happens to Trump. I care that he loses this election, and that we do what we can together to ensure it. That’s it. There’s not a lot of drama to it. There aren’t constant updates about it. There’s just continuing step by step, keeping the work in front of us that we know makes a difference.

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Is Sanders or Warren Holding the Other Back?

One line of thinking about the Democratic primary follows a peculiar logic. It goes like this: if Sen. Bernie Sanders or Sen. Elizabeth Warren drops out, you can just add the polling numbers of one to the other. They’re splitting the progressive voting bloc! Either would be winning against former V.P. Joe Biden if the other just dropped out! Right? Except this isn’t the way voting blocs and demographics work.

Voting Blocs Intersect

Yes, there is a progressive voting bloc that favors Sanders and Warren. However, the argument above assumes that voting bloc isn’t intersected by a variety of other voting blocs. Yet it does intersect with both demographic and issue-driven voting blocs:

There’s a voting bloc of white men that favors Biden and Sanders. There’s a voting bloc of white women that favors Warren. There’s a voting bloc of Black voters that favors Biden. There’s a voting bloc of LGBTQ voters that favors Warren. Hispanic voters are generally split fairly evenly between the three top candidates, with Biden and Sanders enjoying a very slight advantage.

People tend to be very comfortable with the perception that there’s a Black voting bloc that’s likely to vote for Black candidates, that women are more likely to vote for women, etc. What’s not discussed or acknowledged nearly as often is that there’s also a white male voting bloc that tends to vote for white, male candidates.

That voting bloc in the 2020 primary largely favors Biden and Sanders. Go back to 2016, and the only demographic split of race and gender that Sanders won in the primary was white men.

Let’s look at second-choice polls in 2020 to see how voting blocs tend to split. Second-choice polls describe who respondents’ second choices in an election are. They’re grouped by first-choice. They do have a margin for error. They’re just like any other poll. However, the fragmentation that’s displayed in them is consistent in nature. Let’s see what happens if Sanders bowed out, and then Warren (just going alphabetically here).

If Sen. Sanders Left the Primary

If Sanders bowed out, Morning Consult’s second-choice poll suggests his voters would split more or less evenly between Warren (31%) and Biden (26%). On the surface, that might not make sense. This is because Sanders’s progressive voters would gravitate to Warren, but white male voters make up the largest segment of his bloc – many would gravitate to Biden. Those who are both would split. There’s a slight edge to Warren, but not markedly so – not to the extent that it would boost her much more than it would boost Biden.

Not all progressive voters are alike. Some would be comfortable shifting their vote to a woman, some less so. Some would be comfortable shifting their vote to a more moderate candidate, some less so.

If Sen. Warren Left the Primary

What if Warren bowed out? A decent amount of her voters go to Buttigieg, possibly because Warren is first by a solid margin among LGBTQ voters. Sanders would get the highest share (30%), but Biden (19%) and Buttigieg (15%) would be close behind.

Sanders’s minor advantage as a second-choice (30-to-19 over Biden, vs. Warren’s 31-to-26) isn’t created by having more appeal. Note that she picks up 31% of Sanders’s voters if he leaves; he picks up 30% of her voters if she leaves. The difference is statistically meaningless. Sanders’s advantage in this poll is that her voters are more likely to chiefly split to three candidates (including him) instead of just two.

Minimizing this advantage isn’t a selective reading. If we use the Quinnipiac instead of Morning Consult second-choice poll, Warren holds a much bigger advantage over Sanders. Here, if Sanders dropped out, she’d be the second choice 35-to-17% over Biden. Whereas if Warren dropped out, Sanders would be second choice 33-to-21% over Biden.

Neither demonstrates a real advantage for one or the other. That’s because the difference is pretty minimal by the time we’re splitting up small numbers into even smaller numbers.

Why the Difference is Slight

By the time you’re splitting up 15-20% of national polling into thirds, the difference between getting 20 and 30% of those voters is a matter of closing a losing margin by one or two percent.

Think about it this way: Biden is polling at 27%, Warren at 16% at the time of this article. Let’s say Sanders drops out. She’s down by a margin of 11% in the polls, but now Sanders’s 20% in national polls is up for grabs.

Warren gains 31% of Sanders’s 20% of voters. That translates to an additional 6.2% in national polls for Warren.

Biden would gain 26% of Sanders’s 20% of voters. That translates to an additional 5.2% in national polls for Biden.

In other words, Biden improves by about 5 points to 32%, and Warren improves by about 6 points to 22%. She’s gone from being down 11 to down 10. That helps, but what we’re really talking about is closing the margin by a whopping 1% in polling averages.

Best Case Scenarios

The very best case scenario for Sanders or Warren getting near Biden would be Warren exiting under the Morning Consult poll. Her current polling average is 16%. Sanders would gain 4.8% in the polls. Biden would gain 3% in the polls. Buttigieg would gain 2.4% in the polls. In other words, Warren dropping out means Sanders would have closed his margin by an astonishing 1.8% in polling averages. Biden’s advantage over Sanders would have started at 27-to-20, and ended at about 30-to-25. I’m sure Sanders would gladly take being down about 5 instead of down 7, but he’d still be down to Biden in the polls.

Let’s take the absolute best case scenario for shifting total number of votes, from the Quinnipiac poll where Warren gets 35% of Sanders’s voters, and Biden gets 17%. That still nets Warren an additional 7%, and Biden an additional 3.4%. She closes the margin by 3.6%. She goes from being down 27-to-16 to being down by a little over 30-to-23.

The point is that neither Sanders nor Warren exiting would put the other over the top. It would come nowhere close. They’d both still be down at the end of the day.

Both historical data and polling data has heavily suggested for the last year of this primary (this has been going on a long time already, hasn’t it?) that one or the other of Sanders and Warren bowing out doesn’t really give the other any major boost.

Voting Blocs Do Not Order by Hierarchy

These are the kind of situations that are likely. Neither Sanders’s nor Warren’s entire number would transfer over. Those voters would split according to a range of priorities and tendencies. You’re not talking about adding Sanders’s 20% in polls to Warren’s 16%. That’s not the way it works. You’re talking about splitting up their voters according to a range of intersecting voting blocs and priorities.

Neither Sanders nor Warren is particularly hamstringing the other. Progressive voters act as a bloc, but that bloc doesn’t exist in a vacuum. White voters, Black voters, LGBTQ voters: all of them have their tendencies and priorities, and those blocs are just as important and functional as a progressive voting bloc is. That’s just dealing with demographic blocs, before even getting to voting blocs that favor single issues.

Looking at politics in a monolithic way, where your voting bloc must magically supersede all others and make them irrelevant and inapplicable, will only teach you to look at electoral histories and polling information inaccurately. Acknowledge and recognize that other demographics exists, and that their priorities can be just as legitimate. When talking about voting blocs, don’t assume they’ll all follow a certain action. They intersect with other priorities that mix their tendencies. Don’t expect other demographic or voting blocs to follow yours. Understand why they might not.

In no world would Sanders’s and Warren’s entire voting blocs combine, even if they were hunky-dory and the best of friends. The best you might hope for in a field with a number of candidates like this is a breakdown where you might get about 40% of a dropped candidate’s voters, and another major candidate gets 20% of them. That closes margins of loss, but it doesn’t come close to evening them out – let alone changing the leader.

Neither Sanders nor Warren is holding the other back from swallowing up the other’s entire group of supporters. Those supporters would split pretty widely and somewhat evenly across the other major candidates because more voting blocs exist than “progressive” alone.

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Yes, It’s Realistic that Roseanne Voted for Trump

by Gabriel Valdez

In the 2018 re-launch of “Roseanne”, it turns out that white, feminist, Boomer icon Roseanne Conner voted for Trump. Many feel that this is a betrayal of the character. Is it?

No. It’s deeply accurate.

If you think it’s unrealistic and a betrayal of the character that a white feminist Boomer icon like Roseanne Conner would vote for Trump, I don’t think you yet have a realistic idea of what happened in 2016.

Boomers voted for Trump by a 9-point margin.

That means white Boomers voted for Trump by a double-digit margin.

White Boomers who were women voted for Trump by a slightly lesser margin…but they still voted for Trump.

This was especially true of white Boomers without a college education, such as Roseanne.

The show is set in Fulton County, IL, on the western side of the state near Iowa. That county voted for Trump by a margin of 15 points.

Roseanne Conner is at a demographic intersection where she would have been extremely likely to vote for Trump.

Trump won white voters by a greater margin than any in our history outside Reagan ’84.

This includes a lot of people who would have been ostensibly liberal in the 80s and 90s.

During the original run of “Roseanne” from 1988-97, Fulton County was one of the most liberal in the state. In fact, it hasn’t gone Republican since 1984.

You should feel betrayed – but not by the show. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t critique it or its messages. But if you think Roseanne Conner would never have voted for Trump, you’re still not looking at 2016 with a realistic eye for what happened.

There are results where racism overbears other progressive leanings. We need to understand that.

A lot of Roseanne Conners voted for Trump, and if you can’t recognize that, you’re harming your ability to understand why and to work against it.

The feature image of the “Roseanne” cast is from Biography here.

Silent All These Years — The Accounting of a Woman

by Vanessa Tottle

She had a personality once. It cost her dearly because it didn’t include baking cookies. It cost her dearly because it didn’t include choosing drapery.

It included being a lawyer, going undercover to investigate racial integration in schools, offering legal aid to those who couldn’t afford it, having a career.

And the 1990s asked us how we could trust her if she wasn’t baking cookies.

So she baked you some fucking cookies in between declaring my rights are human rights, and getting health insurance for 11 million previously uninsured children through S-CHIP.

You don’t remember S-CHIP. You aren’t a child who lived because of it, or who avoided pain because of it. You proclaim her 1990s health care drive a failure.

You don’t remember when women’s rights weren’t human rights, or live where they still aren’t, or suffer because they closed your Planned Parenthood down. You proclaim Hillary Clinton a failure.

Then there are those who need her. There are the marginalized communities who supported her. Latinx voters like myself. Women voters like myself. And Black voters. And LGBTQ voters. And more. We all asked for your help. We all asked for your vote.

Did you give it?

She is the victim of a philandering husband, yet Bill is her fault. From the Right, she couldn’t satisfy him. From the Left, she couldn’t keep him leashed. Why didn’t she divorce him, you ask. Your news feed answers with Angelina Jolie and Amber Heard and Gwyneth Paltrow, a parade of men’s voices screaming hate and vitriol and threats for the simple act of leaving their men.

Now you tell her she has no personality, she’s cold, she can’t be trusted.

Let me tell you something: I have no personality. I am cold. I cannot be trusted.

When I was the best student in class and I was told my grade would be held down unless I sucked my professor’s dick, I took the lesser grade and brought it up to the administration. He kept his job. Nothing changed, except I lost a piece of what makes me a person.

When my passport was held at bay in a foreign country unless I slept with my host, I became warm and gracious and cloying, but that was all a lie. Inside, I was as cold as I have ever been. He didn’t get a thing, but I left behind the warmth of trust.

When I’ve been at a bar, and I’ve lied that I have a boyfriend, or that I’m married, or that I have an STD, or I spilled a hot toddy to get a hand off my arm but called it an accident, I couldn’t be trusted. There are a hundred environments where a woman is prepared to be untrustworthy just to survive, just to be listened to, just to be legitimate.

You contemplated your vote and saw that she has no personality, that she’s cold, that she can’t be trusted.

If your career is under threat, your goals are under threat, your legitimacy is under threat, you look back across your life and see the history that combination covers, the evolution from there to here of self-protection: the loss of personality, of warmth, of trust.

Many turn to us and tell us the act of voting for Hillary Clinton proved how little we know. But we look upon our experiences, and the pieces of us those experiences have wrought: the personality, and warmth, and trust it’s cost.

We wonder what a privilege it is to not recognize these losses in another because you have never lost them. You think these are simply traits of a woman’s personality, instead of badges women earn through time. They are marks of survival. They are deep scars. They are how I understood a warrior who held onto herself through it all; they are how you understood a whore, a nasty woman, a lack of character.

I saw a woman who offered me freedom from the scars I earn; you chanted, “Lock her up.”

The costs for a woman’s place at the table vary, but those costs are asked of us everywhere.

We finally saw a woman who could become president. She had paid some of these costs and refused to pay others, and she threatened to rewrite all of this ugly accounting that asks women to pay in the currency of our personalities, and warmth, and trust.

Your response was to tell us she lacked personality, and warmth, and trust.

How do we reply to you? With anger, with laughter, with tears? Or with a straight face because that is the practice this accounting asks of us? With ledgers in our eyes? With all the numbers in the red that we’ve accrued? With a history of costs and a map of the pieces left behind?

She just wasn’t trustworthy, you’ll explain. In the back of your mind, you’ll wonder why I don’t smile more. Shall I for you, after what you’ve done?

Yes. I think I’ll bare these teeth at last.

Dear Men: This is How Trump and Sexual Abusers Weaponize Our Silence

Donald Trump, Billy Bush, Arianne Zucker

by Gabriel Valdez

I see a lot of people wondering why Donald Trump bragging about groping women is the instance that breaks his presidential campaign. Republicans already knew who he was. The recording of Trump bragging to Billy Bush about sexually assaulting women is just as violent and misogynist as other things he’s said. So why are Conservatives only backing away from him now? Why not earlier?

A few weeks ago, before the first presidential debate, I was incredibly apprehensive about how it would go. I wrote this to a friend:

“I think Clinton may just win not because she acts human or suddenly becomes likeable to the masses, but because America will be deeply uncomfortable with a man beating up on a woman in that way…and not because America objects to the idea, but because America objects to acknowledging that it accepts the idea.”

Now, I already think Clinton acts human and is likeable, but I don’t think America perceives her that way. More to the point, the U.S….and much more to the point, men are too comfortable with the idea of other men boasting about assault.

The Republican party, the middle independents, the evangelical Right…they already knew who Trump was. This isn’t the objection of a Right wing that can’t accept what Trump said. This is the objection of a Right wing that doesn’t want to acknowledge how much it accepts every day what Trump said. Its Achilles heel is being forced to look in a mirror in front of the voting public.

But that’s how this operates. Billy Bush nervously laughed and added another few jokes for Trump to guffaw at. If Billy Bush had gotten off that bus with Trump and warned actress Arianne Zucker that Trump was contemplating sexually assaulting her, and done so in front of Trump, for all of his braggadocio, Trump might’ve thought twice the next time.

And if other men, over the years, had done that as a regular habit, for all his sociopathy and means, even Trump would have considered the environment hostile toward his groping and the multiple sexual assaults of which he’s been accused. It might not have changed who Trump was, but it might’ve changed the environment enough so that he didn’t feel he had others’ tacit approval when assaulting women. Maybe that means fewer women would have been assaulted.

But Billy Bush didn’t do those things because he doesn’t object to the idea or the act. He objects to acknowledging that he accepts the idea or the act. And if no one forces him to acknowledge that he accepts it, then he’s more comfortable endorsing it, and Trump and all the other sexually violent men who feel they are endorsed by the Billy Bushes of the world go on assaulting, knowing that they are protected by others being much more comfortable with endorsement than confrontation.

This thought has already been said elsewhere, but don’t be thankful you’re not Trump. Think of the times that you paused and chuckled nervously and gave tacit endorsement to someone who is like Trump. Because if you’re a man in the United States, there have been times when you’ve been Billy Bush. That’s because male society teaches us from youth to be quiet in those circumstances, to think of it simply as “the way men talk.”

We’ve all had moments in our lives when we’ve been quiet, or laughed, and not stood up. I’ve done it. Every man has done it at some point. Don’t excuse it and don’t say you haven’t, because you have. Look at that as a failure in your life. Don’t excuse it. Don’t say, “Well, I was younger.”

Look at that as a time when you did not rise to the occasion, when you justified in your own head being a coward because it was more comfortable. That’s how I look at those moments in myself. It’s all right to have failed. It’s not all right to keep failing, and as men, on the whole, we keep failing spectacularly.

We cannot teach others that, “No, I never failed in that way,” because that is just passing on the same endorsement. That is just teaching other men how to justify silence within their own minds. We cannot teach, “Here’s how I can still excuse the moments I chose to be silent in the past.” We can’t always have a reason why we didn’t stand up. We can’t always say, “Well, I didn’t know better.” Because it doesn’t change the fact that we know better now and that we can teach out of our mistakes rather than excusing them.

I’m a man. That means there are points in my past where I should have said something, but didn’t. Yes, I was young. That doesn’t matter. That doesn’t change the fact that I was a coward and I failed.

As men, we have to teach out of ourselves, out of our mistakes. We cannot keep translating to other men that we are incapable of mistakes because that is what they will learn, too, that is what we will endorse in them, and that makes silence in the face of those like Trump easy.

There were times in my life when I was a coward and failed. There were times in your life when you were a coward and failed. Acknowledge it, admit it, and recognize the high cost that this kind of failure can have. Admit to other men how painful that failure can be, so they will know not to sit there and nervously chuckle, and tacitly endorse because it feels safe.

Trump isn’t the scariest part of this. The scariest part of this is how many men will look at Billy Bush’s position in this and feel sorry for him, because they’ve been him and they feel sorry for themselves because they’ve never figured out how to stop being him.

If we as men constantly justify and excuse the position he took, rather than looking at it and calling it a failure, then we excuse those moments when we’ve endorsed the violent through our silence, and we teach other men that it is excusable and to keep on doing it.

There are times in our lives when we were cowards and we failed in this exact situation. That is what being a man is. It is still cowardly and it is still a failure if we cannot admit that, if all we can do is justify our past mistakes. If we can’t acknowledge our own silences, our own nervous laughs, our own failures, then we are not the generation with whom it stops, we are not the generation that truly objects to the social endorsement of sexual assault. If we can’t admit our own failures, we are just translating to the next generation of men the best practices to avoid acknowledging that they accept the idea, too.

I am a man, and because of that, there have been moments in my life when I was a coward and I failed. Comments like Trump’s aren’t unique. We’ve all heard them, and we’ve all had moments when we were silent before them, or nervously laughed before them, or even added to them with the thought that others might accept us better. And with our silences, the Trumps of the world have all the permission they need to injure.

We might think our silences were fleeting, our endorsements at most implied, but the injuries they fuel last a lifetime. As men, we need to take ownership of our failures, individually and as a whole. Without doing so, we’re just side-stepping the problem and pretending we’re solving it better than we are. Doing better starts with admitting to ourselves when we have contributed to doing worse. Period.