Politics postsMonday June 13, 2016
Louis C.K. Endorses Hillary by Analogy
“Sometimes I think the system is so deeply fucked up that somebody as disruptive as Bernie — maybe he doesn't even do a good job as president but he jars something loose in our system and something exciting happens. I mean, Hillary is better at this than any of these people. The American government is a very volatile, dangerous mechanism, and Hillary has the most experience with it.
It's like if you were on a plane and you wanted to choose a pilot. You have one person, Hillary, who says, 'Here's my license. Here's all the thousands of flights that I've flown. Here's planes I've flown in really difficult situations. I've had some good flights and some bad flights, but I've been flying for a very long time, and I know exactly how this plane works.' Then you've got Bernie, who says, 'Everyone should get a ride right to their house with this plane.' 'Well, how are you going to do that?' 'I just think we should. It's only fair that everyone gets to use the plane equally.' And then Trump says, 'I'm going to fly so well. You're not going to believe how good I'm going to fly this plane, and by the way, Hillary never flew a plane in her life.' 'She did, and we have pictures.' 'No, she never did it.' It's insane.”
-- Louis C.K., in conversation with David Marchese, on the Vulture website. The conversation is long-ranging and worth it, with one glaring (to me) contradiction from Louie. I'll write about that later. Still need to see “Horace and Pete.”
And Love is Love is Love is Love is Love is Love
When Lin-Manuel Miranda won best score at the 70th Annual Tony Awards last night, he addressed the Orlando shooting massacre that occurred 15 hours earlier.
“Hamilton” was nominated for a record 16 Tonys and won 11. It was its night—although the Tonys also made me want to see: 1) The Humans, 2) The Color Purple, 3) She Loves Me. Hell, I'll take 'em all. After I finally see “Hamilton,” of course. In 2019 or so.
The best thing I've read that explains the rise of Donald Trump—a cottage industry now—comes from George Packer in The New Yorker, who doesn't pull punches (calling Trump, among other things, “a celebrity proto-fascist with no impulse control”) but is measured while discussing how we got here; how Trump is both the same and different:
Republican Presidential candidates received majorities of the white vote in every election after 1964. In 2012, Barack Obama won about forty per cent of it, average for Democrats in the past half century. But no Republican candidate—not even Richard Nixon or Ronald Reagan—made as specific an appeal to the economic anxieties and social resentments of white Americans as Trump has. When he vows to “make America great again,” he is talking about and to white America, especially the less well off.
More, Packer doesn't dismiss these Trump supporters:
White male privilege remains alive in America, but the phrase would seem odd, if not infuriating, to a sixty-year-old man working as a Walmart greeter in southern Ohio. The growing strain of identity politics on the left is pushing working-class whites, chastised for various types of bigotry (and sometimes justifiably), all the more decisively toward Trump.
This is probably the key line:
Trump has seized the Republican nomination by finding scapegoats for the economic hardships and disintegrating lives of working-class whites, while giving these voters a reassuring but false promise of their restoration to the center of American life.
I keep going back to these four words:
During my lifetime (b. 1963), we've had social progress (Civil Rights Act, Voting Rights, Title IX, Lawrence, Obergefell) but economic regress (rich richer, etc.). More groups of people now have the chance to be part of the dwindling middle class.
Worse, GOP candidates have appealed to those suffering from economic regress by blaming social progress. It's mostly veiled—Goldwater's states' rights, Nixon's law and order, Reagan welfare queen, H.W.'s prison turnstiles—but it's there. And once in power, their policies wind up increasing economic regress while continuing to blame social progress.
Trump, as Packer says, is simply more blatant in his scapegoating. It's a formula will keep working until Americans wise up.
The Reality TV Candidate
Again, from Gabriel Sherman's New York Magazine piece, “Operation Trump: Inside the most unorthodox campaign in political history”:
One factor that's been particularly crucial to Trump's rise may be the way that reality television, cable news, and talk radio have shaped the culture's sense of “reality” — in other words, its relationship to truth. If Ronald Reagan showed us that Hollywood was good training for politics, Trump is proving that the performance skills one learns in the more modern entertainment arenas are even more useful. Talk and reality shows are improvised operations, mastered by larger-than-life personalities expert at distorting and provoking, shifting and commandeering attention.
Even before this, I kept thinking of Reagan: how often Trump, like Reagan, gets it wrong, and how much, as with Reagan, it doesn't matter. Carl Icahn will be Trump's Sec. of Treasury; well, that's news to Icahn. Paul Ryan keeps calling; news to Ryan. Sherman adds the following almost as an aside, knowing it should be devastating, knowing it isn't at all:
“I don't spend much money,” [Trump] told me. “In New Hampshire, I spent $2 million” — actually $3.7 million — “Bush spent $48 million” — actually $36.1 million — “I came in first in a landslide, he came in sixth” — actually fourth. “Who do you want as your president?”
Reagan was the first to master this type of “big picture”/“wrong facts” successful political campaign: trees causing more pollution than cars; praising events that only happened in movies; trickle-down economics; ketchup as a vegetable. Like in a movie, facts didn't matter; feeling did. He also played the white race card over and over again. (See: “welfare queen.”)
Trump, of course, is expanding upon all of these—but with reality-TV loutishness rather than “B”-movie Hollywood glamour.
Interestingly, Sherman sees a Trump almost wistful about his reality-TV days: wishing he could go back to them, wishing he could stop this crazy thing. He's still in the game, though; and if he's in the game, he has to play to win. It's as if Trump, too, is hoping to wake from the nightmare he's created.
Feeling the Bern Out
Last night, a friend on Facebook posted a link to an article in which the author suggested if all else fails Bernie Sanders should run as a third party candidate in November. I didn't click through to the article, just saw the quote pasted above the post. It was late, on a Friday, I'd had some drinks, and I got angry. The three comments below the post pissed me off even more:
- I'm in.
- Whatever it takes for positive change.
- Jill Stein Bernie Sanders ticket? Yes please.
So I added this:
- Please see 2000, Naderites. Jesus Christ.
The “I'm in” responder then responded to that, saying because Bernie won primaries and Nader didn't, mine was “a straw man argument.” Which totally misunderstands “straw man argument.” But I responded anyway. In part:
If Hillary supporters were suggesting a third-party run I would say “Fuck you” to them, and I say it to anyone on Bernie's side as well.
Then I got away from the Internet because who needs that shit.
I woke up this morning still thinking about it. Then I realized what day yesterday was. Of course. April Fools! And I'd been fooled! I kind of laughed and shook my head. I thought, “How could I have fallen for that?” I anticipated all the shit I would get, and what I would say in response.
So I went back on Facebook and ... found out it wasn't an April Fools joke. It was a real article, a real sentiment. People had since added to the post. Thankfully, most were reasonable and on my side. One woman, the “I'm in” woman, was the outlier, with a visceral hatred for Hillary.
All of which is simply lead-in to the quote below from my man Paul Krugman. His post this morning, “Feel the Math,” essentially says, “Nice run, Bernie. Now behave. And get your people to behave, too.” Quote:
Second, it's time for Sanders to engage in some citizenship. The presidency isn't the only office on the line; down-ballot races for the Senate and even the House are going to be crucial. Clinton has been raising money for other races; Sanders hasn't, and is still being evasive on whether he will ever do so. Not acceptable.
Indeed. I know who “them” is. I just hope most of us know who's us.