Sunday, November 27, 2016


The Reality of Our National Divide

Out of the shock, confusion and anger over the Trump win, the stages of mourning progress from anger, through bargaining to denial toward acceptance. 

President Obama, typically, was the most insightful, when he observed the way he had won was going to every fish fry in Iowa, a trenchant criticism of Hillary Clinton's failure to do that. She relied on outspending Trump 5 to 1, sometimes 9 to 1 on TV ads, on organizations for her "ground game" while Trump kept flying to rural areas, suburban areas, holding rallies for 40,000 people and then appearing constantly on CNN, Fox, MSNBC, everywhere on TV and radio and Twitter.

He and his team came up with a more 21st century campaign strategy, which bypassed traditional media, ignored debate preparation (which few of his voter's minded) and focused on the "forgotten."

Just look at the map of where his voters were and where Hillary's voters were.  While 62% of the population lives in urban areas along the coasts, the vast majority of the geography of the nation is occupied by the losers in our capitalistic game.His appeal went beyond the yokels of  "Deliverance," to a lot of people whose prospects are pretty dim for the rewards of "The American Dream" which is a stupid way of saying, "Acquiring wealth."

What It Meant for Clinton to Win Illinois

Visiting Cleveland once, I was struck by what my cab driver said about selections for the All Star baseball team, and how few Cleveland baseball players would be selected and how the New York Yankees always have lots of All Star selections: "Well, nobody notices Cleveland."
When the Chicago Cubs beat Cleveland in the World Series, I thought, "Uh-oh, there goes Ohio for Trump. Now the resentment is going to boil over."

When I left New York City, after 8 years of schooling there, I moved to South County, Rhode Island, a land of farmers and lobsterman and I looked around at the people living there and thought, "This is where the ragged people go," to quote Paul Simon. Look at that map. That is where the ragged people are. 

And yes, we well educated city folk do look with a certain contempt at these rubes, and that is not lost on the rubes. In some ways, the losers in this economic competition seem to embrace their status. I see twenty-five year old men every day, dressed in a football jersey or a hockey jersey, wearing blue jeans and a Red Sox baseball cap, and unlaced athletic shoes, looking like over grown eight year olds, and right next to them are a few kids dressed exactly as they are. It's hard to pick out the overgrown child who is the father, as they walk down the street. He's usually the one with the most facial hair. The wife, typically, looks like the only adult in the family.  She looks her age. Often, the wife accompanies this man/child to his doctor's appointments as she would be there for the visit to the pediatrician, because everyone knows the father/man/child won't be able to comprehend what the educated professional tells him. 

It's pathetic. It's prevalent. And it's a symptom of dysfunction. It's not that these men are stupid; they're defeated. They've given up. They've been told from grade school they'll never make it and they have become a self fulfilling prophecy.

And along comes Donald, a clear winner in his slick suit and his ties, and he tells them he knows how to make them winners. Just sign up for Trump U. Just vote for me. Notice he did not do the Mitt Romney dungarees and open neck shirt thing.  It would have looked like pandering. He is a billionaire and proud of it and he's gonna tell you how you can be a winner cause he's a winner and knows how. 

The slick part of the story is it took the ultimate city slicker to appeal to the dispossessed masses, the forgotten men and women. This is nothing new: Just watch day time Evangelical preachers who flaunt their wealth and tell their audiences:  Send me money and God will reward you with wealth. 
Yup, and that Red Slice Is Where Trump Focused

Much talk about whether or not we would be better off without the electoral college. It sure would change the number of people who actually vote--people in safe states would matter again. But, right now, people in Idaho have roughly 30 times the voting power people in New York have.  Of course, that's a rigged system. But isn't that the bone we tossed?  If we had a straight popular vote, then the government would not have to listen at all to people occupying the rest of the country, and when you drove from New York to Seattle, you would be passing through hostile territory, much as the wagon trains once did when those parts were occupied by Comanches. 

Well, maybe we haven't progress all that far, but occupying territory must count for something. 

Anyway, I'm pulling into the station of acceptance. Trump figure out how to disrupt the system and none of the smart guys at Harvard or 538 really saw it coming. In a capitalist, free wheeling society, that guy wins.


  1. Mad Dog,
    You're lucky you have moved into the acceptance phase-I guess..I no longer feel the fury, nor am I welling up with tears every time the words "President-elect Trump" are uttered..Yet it remains as unreal as it did on election night..a big gag that will be ending shortly..only it doesn't end..

    All of this Trump talk tends to obscure the sad reality of President Obama exiting the world stage..That doesn't seem possible, it's as if he was first inaugurated just a short time ago.. Now he's done-end of an era..The acutely intelligent, witty, eloquent, caring, admirable history maker replaced by a loudmouthed, greedy, ill-informed egomaniac..ta-da..

    I guess I need to work on embracing the crazy-maybe start focusing on the Trumpian attire for Inauguration day..who knows, we could possibly have Donald and Melania dressed like George and Martha Washington..hmmm....and remember how he emerged from a cloud of smoke at the might he arrive on the big day in January- possibly astride a great white steed-yup, done up as Washington, with that orange nest on his head covered by a white wig..So maybe four years in hell will go by quicker than we think..or not..

  2. Maud,
    One thing I did not previously fully appreciate is that it's not the office which invests the man with splendor, but vice versa. Again, President Obama had the most trenchant observation: The office doesn't change you; it simply magnifies what you brought to it in the first place.
    Trump is still just a stupid frat boy, no matter what you call him--"Mr. President" or Donnie John. Very much as the Nobel Prize did not invest Dylan with any more significance than he had before.
    Trump is still Prince Joffrey and his silliness is not transformed by a metal crown or a seat on that iron throne.
    What has changed, for me at least, is not how I see Trump but how I see at least some of those who voted for him: These people are the ones who did not believe much of what he said or promised but they said, "If he can just keep that factory open, keep it from moving to Mexico, well I don't care about any of that other bull."
    Mad Dog