2016 U.S. Presidential election

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An Affirming Flame
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Nov 18 2016 21:19

These personal posts have all been really cool and it sounds like there is an interesting mood developing in parts of the country. I don't want to throw cold water on anyone, but I think I should share my experience, as it is quite different.

I'm in a small college town in the middle of rural Appalachia, not in school myself, just working at a restaurant. Here, the past 10 days since the election have felt pretty much the same as any other 10 days in the years I've been living here. Sure, people have talked a bit about Trump and Hillary, but there's always been occasional political conversations.

Two of the bosses, both young women of color, have had brief conversations with me about being shocked and dismayed by Trump's victory. Most of the white workers, young and old, barely care as they have expressed belief that we're (the "we" roughly meaning the common people, but I'd be too hopeful if I called that class consciousness) fucked no matter who is president. A few talked for a while the day after the election, mainly about being surprised that he won from a horserace perspective. One guy was concerned that Trump would make a mess of foreign policy.

Some latino college guys i work with were talking yesterday about how there's just too many protests lately. One guy said, "Granted, protests used to do something back in the day. But now everyone protests all the time about every little thing." They were completely dismissive of Black Lives Matter. Another said that people need to calm down and give Trump a chance.

And that's really been the full extent of any remotely political expression that I've seen in 10 days. I may go ahead and hazard a guess that things in huge swathes of the country outside the cities have probably been more like my experience, rather than that agitated mood other posters have described. But of course I may be wrong.

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jesuithitsquad
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Nov 18 2016 21:44
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I may go ahead and hazard a guess that things in huge swathes of the country outside the cities have probably been more like my experience, rather than that agitated mood other posters have described.

I'm just guessing on this too, but I think you're probably right. I haven't spoken to my parents about political stuff since the election because I'm worried it will get too emtional, but a co-worker's mom is a teacher in rural southern Illinois and her reports match yours. Her impression is that in their small town, only her fellow teachers didn't vote for Trump.

Which brings us right back to the question of the rural-urban divide . . .

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Chilli Sauce
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Nov 18 2016 23:19

Just to say that - for a few obvious exceptions - the posts on this thread have been great.

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jesuithitsquad
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Nov 19 2016 09:53

If there was still any question about whether or not Trump might govern as a generic Republican, I think the Jeff Sessions pick as Attorney General should probably tell us everything we needed to know.

I'll try to write more on this tomorrow, but for those unaware, in 1986 Session was a nominee for a circuit judgeship (midlevel federal judge). The Senate refused to confirm his nomination due to several sketchy racist incidents. At the time, he was only the 2nd federal judicial nominee to be rejected in 48 years.

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Steven.
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Nov 19 2016 12:47

Just to say briefly thanks everyone for your contributions here. I've spent a couple of hours over the last few days trying to get through the last dozen pages or so of this thread. Apart from a bit of a personal spat overall loss of it has been really informative, particularly the personal accounts.

I did have quite a lot to say in response to various comments people made, but now some of them were so many pages ago it doesn't really seem worth bringing them back, also I fear it may reignite the worst bits of this thread, so I'll leave it… (Also I will find where the discussion post-Trump victory began to add a link to the OP so people can skip straight to that bit of the discussion when they get here)

el psy congroo
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Nov 19 2016 15:36

going back to household size. even $72,000/2.5 is very modest means.

i think bsuok's right about there being overall progress in US race relations since the jim crow era. but the USA also seems to be experiencing a racist/nationalist backlash against immigrants and poc since around after 9/11. similar trends happening all over the world.

another thing that could be highlighted more is Trumps misogyny, the patriarchy and nepotism, and his blatant hostility against women in general. if he had been caught on tape bragging about immigrants or a poc in the same inflammatory and bigoted terms, perhaps dropping a racial slur of some kind, would the response be as lukewarm? what happened to the women claiming they were assaulted by Trump post-election? these questions seem to have largely been overshadowed in recent weeks.

finally theres also the question of climate change. the parts of the USA responsible for most of the commodity manufacturing and food production just made one of the worlds biggest climate denialists the POTUS. does this also reflect their views? four years of non-action or regressive policy by the Trump admin on these issues will have literal catastrophic consequences on the planet. And Trump is personally invested in the big pipelines and fracking operations.

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jura
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Nov 19 2016 16:16
el psy congroo wrote:
going back to household size. even $72,000/2.5 is very modest means.

I still can't wrap my head around these figures. Say that the figure for an average Trump supporter is correct (although people have pointed out it's based on primaries' data, which tend to be higher). If that's "very modest" for a household, then what do we make of the $56,000 median? Are more than half of US households living with even worse than "very modest means"?

jaycee
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Nov 19 2016 16:23

One thing I think that hasn't been touched on yet is how the global rise in populist and nationalist movements/governments around the world expresses the declining position of 'western' power in the world. Not only are governments like China, Russia and India becoming more and more confidently nationalist and 'independent' but smaller powers around the world (Turkey, Saudi, the Phillipines etc) too are sensing that the power is shifting. The West is loosing its grip on the world and they are certainly looking to make the most of it.

This is often spoke of as the collapse/retreat of the 'Neo-Liberal' consensus/system. The international, free-trade/ 'democratic' form of globalization which was always a cover for Western Power seems to be running out of the West's control and has inadvertently brought a whole host of new competitors to the world stage. American dominance is seriously in question now; something which has been unthinkable for the last 30 years at least. This is leading to a lot more countries flexing their strength and using ideologies of ant-west/anti-'establishment' rhetoric.

This is true in America and the West more generally.trumps' whole ideology of 'Making America Great Again' is fundamentally the same as all fascistic movements in that it attempts to fight against the tide of history and against decline through 'force of will'. It is interesting how this connects with the conspiracy theorist view which sees 'globalism' as the enemy and the 'Liberal establishment' as selling out the country to 'global' organisations leading to the weakening of America/The West.

I also think any analysis of the use of blatant patriarchal, racist etc views from Trump and his ilk are also an expression of this sense of decline.

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Chilli Sauce
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Nov 19 2016 17:08
jura wrote:
el psy congroo wrote:
going back to household size. even $72,000/2.5 is very modest means.

I still can't wrap my head around these figures. Say that the figure for an average Trump supporter is correct (although people have pointed out it's based on primaries' data, which tend to be higher). If that's "very modest" for a household, then what do we make of the $56,000 median? Are more than half of US households living with even worse than "very modest means"?

So, I think a lot of it is geographical. $72,000 for a double-income family in New York or Los Angeles is very different from a single-income of $72,000 in Indiana or whatever.

That said, the official poverty figures in America are totally fucked. I don't have it in front of me, but it's calculated by taking the cost of food for a family of 4 and then multiplying that number by 3 or some utter nonsense like that. Accommodation, healthcare, transportation - that shit doesn't even make the calculation. So whatever the official poverty figures are, an honest assessment would place at least double the amount of people below the poverty line.

petey
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Nov 19 2016 17:15
Chilli Sauce wrote:
That said, the official poverty figures in America are totally fucked. I don't have it in front of me

*ahem*

https://libcom.org/forums/north-america/2016-us-presidential-election-05...

petey
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Nov 19 2016 17:18
jura wrote:
el psy congroo wrote:
going back to household size. even $72,000/2.5 is very modest means.

I still can't wrap my head around these figures.

i wouldn't call it "very modest" anywhere. in some parts of the country a family of 2.5 could live like princes on it. in other parts (like where I live) it would be sufficient but no more.

petey
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Nov 19 2016 17:38
el psy congroo wrote:
another thing that could be highlighted more is Trumps misogyny

absolutely.

Quote:
Donald Trump Jr. says women who “can’t handle” sexual harassment “don’t belong in the workforce”: “Go teach kindergarten”

https://www.salon.com/2016/10/14/donald-trump-jr-says-women-who-cant-han...

Quote:
“It will be so refreshing to have a classy, beautiful, dignified First Lady back in the White House,” she wrote. “I’m tired of seeing a [sic] Ape in heels.”

Clay’s mayor, Beverly Whaling, reportedly commented on the post, “Just made my day Pam.”

http://nymag.com/thecut/2016/11/west-virginia-officials-called-michelle-...

i've beat this drum upthread so once more and i'll leave it. the gender image presented by the trumps was a tremendous selling point. the idea of a woman who is an ivy graduate twice - you know, an elitist - and had an independent career, and is black besides, in the white house, has been intolerable to a large swath of americans who now had the opportunity to vote for a "classy" and "dignified" woman instead, one whose actions appear to conform to reactionary expectations.

S. Artesian
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Jul 15 2017 04:48

Removed in protest of Libcom policies allowing posting of texts by racists

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jura
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Nov 19 2016 17:53

Petey, Chilli, thanks for the responses. So if Trump's support was mostly rural, and if we stick to the $72k figure (or make it $62k to account for the primaries's bias), this would suggest most of his voters (workers or not) are doing rather fine in terms of income (and that not many are uemployed or on disability pay), right?

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Nov 19 2016 19:24

Artesian, thanks for keeping the discussion on task; much like in the U.S. Civil War thread (now locked), I appreciate your honesty.

Yesterday I hung out with one of my younger comrades who lives around the corner from me. He's a pedicab driver and being that one of San Francisco's largest industries is tourism, he can seasonally make lots of money (and like pre-Uber taxis, much of it in cash and hence no taxes). We got to talking about the massive tent encampments locally, and since he is more mobile than me he told me the massive extent of them throughout the city. They are clearly growing. I don't know about elsewhere, but as I mentioned before, they exist all over the deindustrialized California, from the suburbs of Los Angeles and the Inland Empire in Southern California, all along the agribusiness heartland of the Central Valley, and in the Bay Area metropolises too.

Nationally, this is one of the many ways the working class has been decomposed. While there are many things I appreciate about Loren Goldner, he completely misses the mark when he says:

Goldner wrote:
Trump, for his part, when able to stay “on message,” has made disarmingly lucid speeches about what has happened to workers in the decimated former heartland of mass industry, the key “swing states” of the Midwest.

"Lucid"? I've watched my share of Trump speeches on YouTube and the last thing I'd say about his analysis of deindustrialization, global production, and class decomposition is "lucid." If we take him at his word that he really thinks he's going to undo 50 years of dispersed global production networks and commodity chains, not to mention automation, robotics and multiple tiers of subcontracting, we all have to admit that he's extremely ignorant. As in a complete fool when it comes to how capitalism works. Sure, he was born with a silver spoon, often failed to parlay it into anything much bigger, but hustled his way to remaining a ruling class celebrity of considerable wealth. He might know how to be a racist slumlord and scam and bully his way to staying afloat (think Trump University here), but he's not only stupid, but contradictory. All I can ask is: "What was Goldner smoking when he wrote that?" He's as stuck as Trump in debating the decline of Fordism, when its death is already a fait accompli.

As much as I'm loath to broach this topic, these convulsions are expressions of the culture wars that have been fought out in this current form since the 1960s, but actually go back to the origins of capitalism. Here I'll borrow definitions of culture and society from Herbert Gutman's introductory essay of the same title from his book Work, Culture, and Society in Industrializing America (p. 16)

Gutman wrote:
. . . culture is 'a kind of resource' and society 'a kind of arena,' the distinction being 'between sets of historically available alternatives or forms on the one hand, and the societal circumstances or setting within which these forms may be employed on the other.'

Why I quote Gutman is because I see him as an American E.P. Thompson, never losing sight of working class agency and historical contingency. The late left communist Will Barnes took a similar approach -- and applied it to the historical situation we're living through today, class-wise, in the U.S.

Here's what he said in 2011 about class composition in the present era and how casualization is the direction it's taking in the absence of class struggle. Which is what I see every day as I watch the streets outside my window becoming more and more jammed with Uber/Lyft drivers, FedEx/UPS trucks, and all the other app-based task-oriented services of the "sharing economy." At the end of this passage, he also accurately presaged the black revolt catalyzed by the killing of black and brown youth by the cops:

Will Barnes wrote:
Casualization is, on the other hand [as contrasted with lumpenization], a strictly objective process. No one chooses to be casualized, and the proof lies in the fact that the casualized exhibit a willingness to work, and do work often very, very hard (i.e., long hours with little in the way of “compensation”) in often unpleasant, licit activities that are necessary to the reproduction of capital in its current historical form.

Who are the casualized, or what is casualization? This phenomenon is best understood in terms of historical contrast.

In the era following the end of the last imperialist world war, American firms developed a system of hiring and promotion from within the firm that emphasized the internal development of the workforce. Characterized by promotion ladders and relatively clear rules and procedures governing workplace behavior and management expectations, the result was a relatively stable, "full-time" workforce, including wage earners, which could more or less take for granted job security and had guaranteed access to the firm's benefits programs, who in this context achieved a norm of a 8-hour day, 40-hour workweek (often among highly unionized industrial workers honored only in the breach).

Casualized labor, on the other hand, presupposing the end of the post-war boom and the unfolding decline of U.S. capitalism, is characterized by the absence of full-time, benefited and stable work. Casualized labor is neither stable nor benefited. It is not organized (unionized). It is paid low wages, and is part-time, seasonal or temporary. (Already by 1995, a new workforce structure had developed and characterized the contemporary firm, made up of a shrinking core of full-time workers and a periphery of contingent employees.) Casualized workers regularly labor at two and sometimes three jobs.

Now casualization has become a generalized, nay a ubiquitous, societal phenomenon. Immediately below, I’ll describe the casualized U.S. proletariat’s most recently formed layers. But here, reflect for a moment on whom first constituted the casualized: This was youth, particularly since the eighties when within the capitalist State a sub-minimum wage was first legislated, legalizing the payment of a wage below reproductive costs to young workers in the new mass entertainment “industries” (restaurants, hotels, amusement parks, game houses and similar venues of consumption, etc.). Most notable among these, the earliest of the casualized were black youth in fast food kitchens and white women employed as waitresses in restaurants. In the case of activities of the former type, however, wherever casualization has penetrated and new layers have been formed, black youth, especially males, were the first to be found. This is not fortuitous, but rooted in the racism that is a central, endemic feature of American capitalism through its history, and a premise of that very history. This history of racism, a history of oppression, both objective (structural deprivation, inaccessibility of work, homes, forms of consumption) and subjective (daily diet of humiliation, abuse and personal offenses), has found among this black layer of the casualized an entirely distinct feature, a form of awareness characterizing large numbers of casualized black youth (especially those who have not subjectively gone over fully to lumpen activities), an awareness that oscillates between a defeatist individualism and personalism assiduously cultivated by capital’s spectacle and angry revolt that can, in the right conditions, be immediately linked to open struggle against and confrontation with capital. Unlike all other casualized layers, black youth is not inherently conservative.

And he's how he treats the shape of the decomposed working class:

Will Barnes wrote:
De-industrialization has transmogrified whole layers of the American working class and the changes in class composition have been startling, since this proletariat has undergone radical changes in makeup with a view to gender, class and local geography. Among the casualized (whom may form in excess of seventy million workers in the United States), the vast majority of the class has been recently proletarianized i.e., these workers have become proletarian within their own lifetimes (and, this assessment is, mutatis mutandis, valid for the balance of what once was the core of the class).

In other words, the majority, perhaps the vast bulk, of today’s working class is not hereditarily proletarian, and among these layers the vast overwhelming majority are, as I indicated, casualized. These layers are composed largely of the following: Formerly middle stratum youth forced to work in contingent laboring capacities (the cook, janitor, the adult paper “boy”); divorced women, most often mothers who, prior to proletarianization raised families of modest means and have sometime in the past been forced to work to support themselves (and their children); small town men and women (and here I include sons of disappearing rural farming families that have sold off to their land to make way for far, far out suburban growth) who have been attracted to the big cities (Atlanta, Nashville, Minneapolis, Denver, etc.) that, set down in large tracts of the contemporary capitalist countryside, are gigantic magnets whose higher wages, relatively speaking, and standards of living attract the rural petty bourgeoisie, the proletariat of the small towns, and rural tenant labor; and, low level managers, supervisors and foremen who have been thrown out of work by the various cyclical downturns (1981-1982, 1991-1992, 2001, and the present crisis in global capitalism beginning in 2007) since the peak of the post world war expansion. These groups have never breathed the free air of the city. They are profoundly conservative: It is here that we find a generation whose icon is Ronald Reagan, whose inclinations are individualistic and anti-union, and who identify themselves, not as workers but as Christians, Republicans, and part of the struggling “middle class.”

Significant numbers making up these new, largely “white” proletarian layers (e.g., re-situated small town casualized labor, divorced working women) have returned to the working class after a long absence (one that transcends their lifetimes): In the middle stratum expansion predicated on the boom following the last imperialist world war, their grandparents or parents, as the case may have been, “climbed out’” of the working class. While in the middle stratum contraction that has occurred in America following capital’s response, the global shift of industry to the capitalist periphery, to the last worldwide proletarian upsurge (circa 1963-1978), they have “fallen” back into a working class (i.e., their existence is again determined by the wage relation) that has at once been vastly expanded and seriously fragmented.

And finally, how this class decomposition has affected consciousness:

Will Barnes wrote:
In the absence of a clear alternative to actually existing capitalism, mutual penetration of various proletarian layers has been accompanied by the peculation upward of the forms of awareness characterizing the most backward layers of unorganized labor. This is most clearly visible in mass culture, in the diffusion of the spectacularized interests of backward, unorganized labor (in, e.g., NASCAR, country music, the “manly” romance with the pick-up truck, etc.) throughout the American proletariat. This upward peculation affects the very speech of those various layers in their forms of address (e.g., the use of term “buddy” as a verbal expression of male bonding, the ubiquitous use of its diminutive “bud” with reference to very young males by working mothers); or, again, it is expressed in the choice for provision of spectacular “information” (e.g., the immense popularity of right-wing, radio talk show hosts such as Rush Limbaugh among workers. Walk the streets, and listen to whom the UPS or Fed Ex driver has tuned his or her vehicle’s radio into while making deliveries.)

This upward seepage, a movement in working class awareness, is basically rooted in shared, societal assumptions of different layers of the proletariat, none of which constitute elements of a fundamentally proletarian culture, and the most important of which are the absolute unassailability of the structure of work and the refusal to mount challenges to any of capital’s prerogatives. This upward seepage is further rooted in self-defensive anti-intellectualism; in the affinity for the violent spectacle (i.e., the psychologically shared structure of repressive desublimation); and, in a psychological-emotional makeup that is authoritarian-submissive. In a “positive” sense, awareness centers on monetary conditions, on the daily struggle to make a living; and, always co-present “in” consciousness, on family concerns, and the immediate network of friendly (and hostile), often workplace-based acquaintances. It is awareness appallingly ignorant and cognitively incapable of grasping any (especially, productive or political) event, structure or locale (in its relation to the social totality) that transcends this immediacy. Simply stated, the very concept of society or totality has disappeared. Tacitly racist, largely xenophobic, often religiously fundamentalist, and openly jingoist, the conceptual mediations that permit transcendence of immediacy are spectacularly generated, provided by the likes of Fox News or based upon contemporary adaptations of biblically bastardized fantasies.

More prosaically, much of the contents and structure of awareness are consequences of having been beaten to the ground by, economically, the depression conditions in which wage earners, especially the casualized, live.

These assumptions and these psychological dispositions lead, especially under these conditions to diversions of every sort, to resentment of the wealth, consumption and perceived “relaxed” “lifestyles” of well-to-do middling groups invariably identified as “liberals”; to resentment over objections to enthusiastic commitments to the violent spectacular in every conceivable form (filmic entertainment, so-called sporting activities, jingoistic support for U.S. wars abroad, etc.), perceived as guilt tripping; similarly, to living for, as it were, spectacular enjoyments outside work and the corresponding refusal to give consideration to anything beyond entertainment as “heavy,” “depressing,” “politics” and a distraction; and, to resentment of intellectuals and cultural vanguards expressing a societally induced low self-esteem (and, more likely than not, not just societally, but also familially, induced). They lead to open support for homophobic solutions for the gay “problem,” and, to a faux humility that is inconsolably aggrieved and constantly expressed in victim’s fantasies – all of which make this personality type and its variants prime material for recruitment into the vortex of social movements of the neo-Right.

I firmly believe that Will's lucid analysis is excellent fodder for further discussion about where the Trump phenomenon arose from.

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Nov 19 2016 19:26
S. Artesian wrote:
These attacks were "blooded" first in the attacks against African-Americans. To say that because now because the deprivation reaches deeply into the working classes, impacting working class whites, there is no racist backlash is just blindness.

word

el psy congroo
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Nov 19 2016 19:36

wanna start out by saying we should all remember capitalism dictates the actions of the politicians and not vice versa.

my mistake about the timeline i provided. agree with Artesian, the racist backlash from workers against their own class goes back much further than 15 years in the USA. i don't see anyone here trying to flatly deny its existence, it's here and that's obvious to us at the present.

what's not so obvious is how the amount of racist backlash, the material support for racist and nationalist groups, the growth of it all on the "mainstream stage", correlates with the the developments of global imperialism and the economic and ecological crises. "are we more or less racist now?", etc.

so there is a need to test this hypothesis, the idea that increasing nationalism and racism is antithetical to the development of working class identity.

one thing that's been shown to be true since at least the late 60s in the USA is the lack of "social mobility". it's estimated that less than one in ten americans change income tax brackets in their lifetime.

also i'm really not following the numbers talk. the income tax rate for $72k is 25%. puts you at $4,500 a month after tax. after rent or mortgage, transportation, child care, health and dental care (not including visits to the doctor), insurance, food, mobile phones, TV, Internet, heating and electricity...you miss just a few paychecks and you're faced with some serious setbacks. there is barely any disposable income there. the point is that $72k is firmly within what would be considered working class in the USA. nobody is stashing money in the Caymans with that kind of income.

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Nov 19 2016 19:59

Hieronymus, I think that stuff Barnes wrote was good, but in terms of determining where the Trump phenomenon has come from, TBH I think some people are overanalysing it.

Okbus or whatever his name was unfortunately got sidetracked with some personal slagging and some weird hangup about "safer spaces"*, but I think the bulk of what he said in his initial posts was pretty accurate.

I know huge amounts has been written about how Trump connected so well with the white working class, and his victory was a backlash against BLM etc but looking at the actual vote numbers basically the picture seems to be that people who generally vote Republican voted Republican (although fewer of them did than previously, presumably because some were put off by Trump's sexism - and maybe a smaller number by his blatant racism), and people who generally vote Democrat, voted Democrat, but the number of Democratic voters plummeted, because Hillary Clinton was so shit, and because of incumbency.

That's not to say that it doesn't look like there has been a big increase in public racism, and that many racists have been emboldened by the campaign. And that racism simmering below the surface has always been around and has been exacerbated since 911 and the financial crisis - and by the backlash against BLM. Exactly the same thing happened here with the EU referendum.

Although I must say Artesian has done some great posts here on this thread, particularly early on about the racism related to Trump's campaign. But I did find this very strange as he seemed to be arguing the completely opposite point he was arguing during the UK EU referendum.

Over here, the Leave vote for the referendum was pretty much entirely led by racists arguing that all the problems were due to immigration, Muslims and "regulation". Just like Trump. And the Leave vote was supported by all of Britain's right-wing extremists and neo-Nazis (although Artesian thought it was outrageous and unfair when I pointed this out on the EU referendum thread). Just like Trump.

But of course the EU is also a massive free trade area. So Artesian supported a vote to Leave. So the anti-globalisation element of the Leave vote more than outweighed the racist, anti-migrant element in Artesian's book. Whereas the anti-globalisation of Trump (saying he will get rid of NAFTA, TPP, TIPP - which would be far more damaging to world capitalism than the UK leaving the EU) is trumped (if you'll forgive the pun) by his racism.

So I must admit I do not understand the logic at all.

*Going back to "safer spaces" the hysteria around this is complete bullshit on many levels. Apart from anything else, any union meeting or event I have ever been to has had the rule that there should be no racist/sexist/homophobic/discriminatory etc language or behaviour in it, and pretty much all UK unions have the same rule and have had it for years. But that wasn't specifically referred to as a "safer spaces" policy, so no one, especially no self-proclaimed anarchist or communist seemed to start having a go at unions for being overly PC or retreating into some sort of self absorbed identity politics. Because those rules are there to prevent members of the unions (and thus the working class) from attacking and turning on each other, rather than the bosses.

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Nov 19 2016 20:59

Interesting thread despite some appaling behaviour. The safer spaces outrage is clearly absurd but I do think "we" underestimate or fail to understand what the outrage is about. It's clearly very powerful and not only a right wing thing.

My mother a lefty, feministy person comes out with comments about what you are "not supposed to say anymore". She does immigration solidarity work and hangs out with LGBTQ people so it's never about that sort of thing. But nurseries have been renamed to pre-schools and various jobtitles have changed to sound more important whithout changing he actual job or conditions. These things come down from management and probably originate in some recuperation of lefty academic stuff.

Something about the social situation makes people very annoyed about that sort of thing. It's surprisingly explosive. I dont think it can be dismissed as a diver of votes.

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Nov 19 2016 22:18
Steven. wrote:
Hieronymu[o]s, I think that stuff Barnes wrote was good, but in terms of determining where the Trump phenomenon has come from, TBH I think some people are overanalysing it.

As I mentioned in an earlier post, this right-wing populist switch in white working class loyalties has its roots in things like Nixon's "New Majority" and George Wallace's overtly racist presidential campaigns in 1968 and 1972. But the Republican rebound started even earlier. Republican presidential candidate from Arizona Barry Goldwater lost by a landslide in the 1964 election, where incumbent Johnson garnered 61% of the popular vote -- still the all time highest. But the party began shifting of its center of gravity from Eastern liberal Republicans to those proto-neo-cons from the South and West, like Nixon and Reagan who embodied the latter.

In the Goldwater campaign, he and his supporters were likened to "Nazis, madmen, and warmongers." The cover of Fact magazine stated “1,189 Psychiatrists Say Goldwater is Unfit to be President!” Sound familiar? We have to see this trajectory in the whole post-war epoch: from Taft-Hartley to McCarthy and the Cold War, and from the rise of Civil Rights and Black Power to the racist reaction to it, we can't understand any of this historical sweep without looking at class relations in a systemic way. Steven., I respectfully disagree: many people are either under-analyzing this, or approaching it with anti-intellectual simplifications.

Steven. wrote:
Okbus [bsuok] or whatever his name was unfortunately got sidetracked with some personal slagging and some weird hangup about "safer spaces"*, but I think the bulk of what he said in his initial posts was pretty accurate.

Again time to respectfully disagree. From his first post, many of us who live in the U.S. could easily peg him for someone who either doesn't live here or hasn't lived here in years. Which turned out to be an accurate assessment.

Case in point: in the last week before the election, the news media -- online, social media, print, radio, and TV -- were abuzz with stories about 2017 health care premiums rising. At my workplace lunchroom everyone was talking about it. I caught conversations on the street and on the bus. I had medical appointments and everyone was talking -- and pissed off -- about it. My partner and I got an announcement from our insurance carrier that week spelling out the increases in explicit details. Anyone who has the audacity to say this situation was "unreported" doesn't live in the U.S.

jesuithitsquad did an excellent job of refuting many of bsuok's other flagrant inaccuracies.

Steven., care to articulate what you found accurate with bsuok? I'm interested where your opinion diverges from that of Artesian, jesuithitsquad or myself.

Steven. wrote:
I know huge amounts has been written about how Trump connected so well with the white working class, and his victory was a backlash against BLM etc but looking at the actual vote numbers basically the picture seems to be that people who generally vote Republican voted Republican (although fewer of them did than previously, presumably because some were put off by Trump's sexism - and maybe a smaller number by his blatant racism), and people who generally vote Democrat, voted Democrat, but the number of Democratic voters plummeted, because Hillary Clinton was so shit, and because of incumbency.

No argument here.

Steven. wrote:
That's not to say that it doesn't look like there has been a big increase in public racism, and that many racists have been emboldened by the campaign. And that racism simmering below the surface has always been around and has been exacerbated since 911 and the financial crisis - and by the backlash against BLM. Exactly the same thing happened here with the EU referendum.

Although I must say Artesian has done some great posts here on this thread, particularly early on about the racism related to Trump's campaign. But I did find this very strange as he seemed to be arguing the completely opposite point he was arguing during the UK EU referendum.

Over here, the Leave vote for the referendum was pretty much entirely led by racists arguing that all the problems were due to immigration, Muslims and "regulation". Just like Trump. And the Leave vote was supported by all of Britain's right-wing extremists and neo-Nazis (although Artesian thought it was outrageous and unfair when I pointed this out on the EU referendum thread). Just like Trump.

But of course the EU is also a massive free trade area. So Artesian supported a vote to Leave. So the anti-globalisation element of the Leave vote more than outweighed the racist, anti-migrant element in Artesian's book. Whereas the anti-globalisation of Trump (saying he will get rid of NAFTA, TPP, TIPP - which would be far more damaging to world capitalism than the UK leaving the EU) is trumped (if you'll forgive the pun) by his racism.

So I must admit I do not understand the logic at all.

I never did more than skim that thread, so from what you say I don't agree with Artesian's position on Brexit.

Steven. wrote:
*Going back to "safer spaces" the hysteria around this is complete bullshit on many levels. Apart from anything else, any union meeting or event I have ever been to has had the rule that there should be no racist/sexist/homophobic/discriminatory etc language or behaviour in it, and pretty much all UK unions have the same rule and have had it for years. But that wasn't specifically referred to as a "safer spaces" policy, so no one, especially no self-proclaimed anarchist or communist seemed to start having a go at unions for being overly PC or retreating into some sort of self absorbed identity politics. Because those rules are there to prevent members of the unions (and thus the working class) from attacking and turning on each other, rather than the bosses.

The working class is not divided because it's weak, it's weak because it's divided. The bitter defeat that ended the last phase of working class shopfloor offensives in the mid-1970s, in my opinion at least, gave rise to Post Modernism, identity politics, positivism in the social sciences, a rejection of the Hegelian-Marxist tradition, dismissal of historical analysis à la E.P. Thompson in the academy, class denial, etc., etc. ad nauseam. Working class defeat is a fertile breeding ground for reactionary ideas like these.

And yes, it ran rife in college towns across the U.S., but seems to be less prevalent than it once was. But safe space policies cooked up by students at universities in Burlington, Vermont, or Boulder, Colorado, or Berkeley, California impacting the white working class in deindustrialized towns like Monessen, Pennsylvania or Gary, Indiana, or Akron, Ohio is really, really spurious. If the safe space bashers are so convinced that the machinations of college undergrads drove legions of the desperate white working class into the arms of Trump, they've done a piss poor job of being convincing. In my opinion, this is a red herring. Although there was a modicum of truth to this in the 1980s and 1990s.

As for the unions in the U.S. being ineffective because of safer spaces and identity politics, this is pure unadulterated bullshit. Unions like the CIO never abandoned class struggle because they were class collaborators from their inception (the AFL even more so). The national CIO leadership always worked to prevent working class-based independent political activity and during World War II got in bed with Democratic Party, a position they remain in today -- although right now leaders like Trumka want the opportunity to jump in bed with Trump.

Sharkfinn
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Nov 19 2016 22:00
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Petey, Chilli, thanks for the responses. So if Trump's support was mostly rural, and if we stick to the $72k figure (or make it $62k to account for the primaries's bias), this would suggest most of his voters (workers or not) are doing rather fine in terms of income (and that not many are uemployed or on disability pay), right?

If I understand the definition of household income correctly, we can't say anything from those figures. Having more young people (who typically have smaller income than older people) voting Hillary or having more single people voting Hillary might skew the average household income downwards. In the post-2008 housing crisis US, the 72k figure might as well mean just bigger households, a combined income of several adults sharing the same home, like two working age adults and one pensioner or a family member on benefits/disability pay. And then there's the regional difference. We just don't know.

This is exactly the kind of detail that gets lost in the media speculation. Its really hard to say anything, especially without seeing the raw data. Exit polls in general should not be taken as very accurate representations of the voter population. They are intended to calculate swing and turnout, not for analysing the respondents' social background accurately.

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Steven.
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Nov 19 2016 22:17
Cooked wrote:
… safer spaces…

But nurseries have been renamed to pre-schools and various jobtitles have changed to sound more important whithout changing he actual job or conditions. These things come down from management and probably originate in some recuperation of lefty academic stuff.

On nurseries, don't really know what you mean but in the UK they are still called nurseries. Job title is changing is just job title inflation: it is nothing to do with safer spaces or political correctness. It is a thing employers can do to make their employees happier without paying any more money. For example recently lots of senior managers, who were either called senior managers or assistant directors have now been renamed as "directors". If they're not going to get any more money, then you can sometimes buy workers off by offering them a better job title, which will help them get promotions/get better paid jobs elsewhere as it looks better on their CV. But as some employers do this, it pressures others to do the same as it makes it harder to recruit to roles if they don't.

The ideology of "political correctness gone mad" is pretty strong, and affects people across the political spectrum, although mostly on the right, as it has been pushed heavily by the right-wing media since the 80s. The hysteria about "safer spaces" is the latest incarnation of that, which seems to bother more people on the left/ultraleft, I believe just because it's newer (although I'm sure back in the 80s many workerist types thought it was "identity politics" to not refer to women/ethnic minorities etc in derogatory ways)

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Jul 15 2017 13:52

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jura
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Nov 19 2016 23:53

Sharkfinn, thanks for that, those are good points.

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Tarwater
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Nov 20 2016 00:22
Hieronymous wrote:
Again time to respectfully disagree. From his first post, many of us who live in the U.S. could easily peg him for someone who either doesn't live here or hasn't lived here in years. Which turned out to be an accurate assessment.

Case in point: in the last week before the election, the news media -- online, social media, print, radio, and TV -- were abuzz with stories about 2017 health care premiums rising. At my workplace lunchroom everyone was talking about it. I caught conversations on the street and on the bus. I had medical appointments and everyone was talking -- and pissed off -- about it. My partner and I got an announcement from our insurance carrier that week spelling out the increases in explicit details. Anyone who has the audacity to say this situation was "unreported" doesn't live in the U.S.

I didn't hear anything about the rise in premiums. None of the people in my circle have health insurance. I live in the U.S.

I don't necessarily think this is very important, and don't want to derail. I just want to make it clear that there is a diversity of experiences in the gigantic country known as the United States of America

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Nov 20 2016 00:57
S. Artesian wrote:
Quote:
Although I must say Artesian has done some great posts here on this thread, particularly early on about the racism related to Trump's campaign. But I did find this very strange as he seemed to be arguing the completely opposite point he was arguing during the UK EU referendum.

I argued that, since the EU was a union of capitalists, "all" ________(fill in the blank) should oppose that the UK remain in it. I argued for a class based opposition to it as the union of capitalists. I did not argue against "free trade" or "the loss of sovereignty" or against unrestricted immigration.

Yes, but isn't NAFTA a "union of capitalists"? Wouldn't TPP and TTIP also be?

Quote:
If a class-based opposition to NAFTA emerged based not on chauvinism, but simply that NAFTA represented a union of the bourgeoisie, I would support that opposition.

Of course, and if there was class-based opposition to the EU I would support it, but there wasn't and there isn't: there is demonisation of foreigners and Muslims (and to a lesser extent "red tape"), as many of us in the UK attempted to explain to you at the time, but you did not accept it.

Quote:

However, without that class based opposition, there is no reason to support Brexit. I am perfectly willing to accept that my advocacy of the leave vote was incorrect precisely because no class-based opposition had been formed-- that the whole thing was a sham in which Cameron thought he could muffle dissent, and the reactionaries thought better-- they knew they could mobilize reaction.

Okay I'm pretty surprised by this. I mean that's cool if you now think the Leave advocacy was incorrect. But I guess I am surprised because you called me all sorts of names (I don't recall specifically but it was things in the ballpark of "liberal capitalist stooge") and were extremely aggressive in your arguments both towards me and to those others who expressed concern for migrant workers in the UK. You specifically said that their worries for migrant workers in the UK was them selfishly being worried about their "mates", rather than the working class, and didn't accept people explaining that migrant workers, our friends, family etc are part of the working class (and sadly there has been a huge spike in racist attacks in the wake of the vote, up to a 59% increase on last year, with at least one murder, in addition to the murder during the campaign, people burnt out of their homes, etc).

But from your posts about Trump it does seem like you think people being concerned for migrant workers in the US is justified. Which of course is a good thing, but I just don't quite understand the massive flip-flop.

Quote:
I still say Marxists or _______________(fill in the blank) oppose entry into the EU, expansion of the EU and the existence of the EU.

Of course, I would agree with that, however that is a different kettle of fish to voting to leave. Just like opposing entry to NAFTA is different to say supporting voting for a political candidate who says they will leave it.

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Hieronymous
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Nov 20 2016 01:25
Tarwater wrote:
I didn't hear anything about the rise in premiums. None of the people in my circle have health insurance. I live in the U.S.

I don't necessarily think this is very important, and don't want to derail. I just want to make it clear that there is a diversity of experiences in the gigantic country known as the United States of America

I just did a random internet search and these stories hit all national wire services in early September, rose throughout October, reaching a saturation point around October 25th. Tarwater, could it be that you don't peruse the mainstream press that often?

My employer complies with a local ordinance mandating a $2.50 per hour contribution, so with that plus the federal subsidy my premiums weren't too bad and the deductible wasn't too unreasonable. Now my partner and feel much more squeezed as it cuts more deeply into our earnings.

For me and my comrades this is part of our "social wage" and is a big deal. For my co-workers too. It's obviously different in different parts of the country. And it is such a hot button issue for right-wingers and Trump supporters, who absurdly called lousy capitalist market-driven health insurance "socialism."

According to the ACA (Obamacare) website, only 11% of adults aren't covered. Tarwater, what do you and others do if you have serious health problems?

EDIT: Tarwater wasn't it you who had an accident and had to rely on relatives to coalesce? Guess that answers the question.

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Jul 15 2017 04:49

Removed in protest of Libcom policies allowing posting of texts by racists

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Nov 20 2016 04:43
Quote:
According to the ACA (Obamacare) website, only 11% of adults aren't covered. Tarwater, what do you and others do if you have serious health problems?

Just, FWIW, one of the problems of Obamacare is the institutionalization of the under-insured. Young people, those on low wages, or those who don't get healthcare from their employer often opt for the lowest monthly premium with the highest deductible - which provides a disincentive for people to seek medical attention.

The upshot is that you get a weird situation where with the least coverage and don't use their coverage end up subsidizing those with better, more expensive plans.

And, even then, in a lot of states (especially those that didn't opt to expand Medicaid), it's cheaper for people to eat the tax penalty than to buy shitty, high-deductible insurance they'll most likely not use. That's what me and my partner did.

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