Attitude Adjustment

I’m some varying combination of sad and horrified at the election results.

At present I have only one vaguely productive thing to say: if the best account people can come up with is that maybe Trump is such a pathological liar, or has so few fixed ideas and principles, that the administration will begin a reboot, jettisoning everything it ran on, then we are totally screwed.

Because that’s just stupid.

Slightly less implausible is the theory that the Czar is to be surrounded by advisors drawn from the right fringe of the GOP establishment, and that they will enact most of their fevered dream policies. I suppose that is possible, but substantial parts of that agenda would be a monumental and visible sellout of the hope-starved groups who elected Trump in the first place. It won’t look good in four years. While there will likely be some of that, particularly in the less visible ways (tax credits! pollution! privatization!), as a general matter I don’t see why we should think they’re that dumb. Sure, reward your insiders, but do it in ways that look good to the base: cut safety, environment, anti-discrimination regulations, stuff they blame for their woes.

That is why I commend to you this very fine essay Autocracy: Rules for Survival by Masha Gessen. Perhaps it is a little bleak, but better to start from a position of realism than self-delusion. It might be the first thoroughly sensible thing I’ve read since the election.

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12 Responses to Attitude Adjustment

  1. Eva Saks says:

    I too have been reading and sharing Masha’s piece, which I heard about from Rachel Maddow. I found it inspiring actually. Onwards!

  2. Vic says:

    It has been obvious for a long time that Trump was far more popular than Clinton and was almost assuredly going to win. I raised some points with you a while back that you poo-pooed and assigned me wing nut status on. As it turns out, I was right on this and plenty of people DID care about those issues.

    I think you, and the rest of the liberal right-thinkers need to stop dwelling on the minor details of political positions only people who think about this 24/7 think about and realize, as I’ve told you for years, most voters are disinterested in politics and don’t know or care about the nuances of positions. Clinton was destined to lose and you will never understand why Trump won, until you can understand why she couldn’t.

    If Trump rallies with 20k people who wait 5 or 6 hours to get in, versus Tim Kaine rallies that attract less than 100, means nothing to you in all this, you need to reorder your political thinking. Anyone around you that tells you the rallies signified nothing needs to be banished from your political input. The article you linked is just more of the same: people who live and breath politics assigning bad political ideas to those that couldn’t care less most of the time. You need to face up to the fact that you really have no grasp at all of what the average conservative thinks, much less the average regular person thinks. KKK indeed…

    • Kerry had terrific rallies before he lost. Rallies don’t tell you much that is reliable in this age of mass (and now micro) media.

      AFAIK even the Trump people were surprised by their win.

      I’m not entirely clear how the KKK got into this thread. But for the record, if we have a candidate endorsed by the KKK who then appoints a notorious enabler of racists and anti-Semites to one of the first two jobs he announces, I think I have grounds to be complaining. And those grounds seem to me to be equally valid whether or not “the average conservative” agrees with me about that. I think they do, I would hope they do, but since you want to hear it, I’ll admit it’s certainly possible I’m wrong about that.

  3. Vic says:

    Steve Bannon, I assume that’s who you mean, is not remotely anti-Semitic. He is a huge supporter of Israel. You can choose to believe this, or not. I don’t care. This is all just an extension of the same misinformation campaign that lost the election for Hillary, it had become so unhinged and aimed at the uninformed. Thanks for demonstrating my point.

    As for KKK, I think we just saw how that came into this.

    And we are not talking about Kerry here, we are talking Clinton versus Trump, the only relevant point now. Nobody that looked honestly at what was going on OUTSIDE of the political class could be at all surprised by what happened. It was clear weeks ago.

    And do you think that Clinton would have avoided stocking her advisers with left wing, even in some cases firing or extreme people? We know Obama did it. We know Bush did it before him. That’s what happens with a President. Get up off your vapors couch and start thinking about this a little more honestly and you might actually be able to come to terms with it sooner. (Or you can keep thinking everyone looks at the world as you do)

    • Michael says:

      I did not call Bannon a racist, since the evidence is only very suggestive but not perhaps conclusive on that (spouses say all sorts of things in divorce cases). I called him a “a notorious enabler of racists and anti-Semites” — carefully chosen words — which is plenty bad enough, and well supported by copious evidence.

      There was indisputably a great deal of racist and anti-Semitic content on Breitbart when he ran it. Even the National Review agrees this is a fact. To point this out is not “unhinged”. It is factual. What do you have against facts?

      On one of your other points: Did Presidents Clinton or Obama appoint crazy people, or wild leftists to office, much less as their closest advisors in the White House? I don’t remember who they were — got facts? Why would we expect HRC to be much different? Your argument might be stronger if you named GWB as your example: he appointed some crazy people to the Justice Department, and John Bolton to the UN. And no doubt some others. But Karl Rove, for all his quirks, was AFAIK no Steve Bannon.

      I have no intention of ‘coming to terms’ with this Administration if it puts such people in high office, much less if it then governs as one would expect given their track records. This opinion of mine has nothing to do with whether it is popular or insular, shared by the working class, the professoriate, a majority, a minority, or indeed any one else. It’s a case of talking about what I understand to be true, and what I understand to be just. You are free to assert facts are different, but until you offer some evidence you won’t get much traction here.

      PS. Lots of anti-Semites are ‘huge supporters of Israel’ either because they hope all the Jews will go there, or because they think the gathering of Jews into Israel or its return to some shape, size, or state is a precondition for the Rapture, or because they hate Arabs worse. Conversely, some Jews are not supporters of Israel, or at least not of the policies of its current government. I conclude from this that I can conclude nothing about a person’s Semitism, philo-Semitism, or anti-Semitism from their position on ‘Israel’.

      • Vic says:

        Yeah, whatever. You thought not that long ago that Clinton would undoubtedly get elected and that the things she was being accused of were “nothingburgers” that wouldn’t matter to voters, so your political understanding of America clearly is atrophied anyway. So you just keep reading The NY Times and acting all indignant, superior, and confused about how racist everyone must be to have elected Hitler.

        You have exactly nothing to say about any of this that should be given a grain of weight, since you couldn’t even predict the obvious self-destruction of your candidate. Every so often I get the crazy idea that it would be interesting to talk politics over a beer with you, then you go proving how shallow and media-fed your thinking actually is and I realize it’d be a real snooze fest. Are you capable of saying something that hasn’t been said by the NYT first?

        So go ahead and have your way. The Bush and future Trump admins were and will be full of crazy racist neocons, or whatever, and the Obama and hypothetical Clinton team are unassailable political perfection and brilliance. Keep thinking that way while you continue to wonder why you lost…

        Do your students even read this blog?

        • Aha! Now I understand the problem: you think I’m trying to be a TV pundit and do things like make predictions when I say that Clinton’s email’s are a “nothingburger”. You read that as a claim that it will not in fact matter in the election — a horse-race analysis. While not above such things from time to time, the bulk of my posts are not horse race oriented. Instead they are assertions about what is or ought to be. Hence, the ‘nothingburger’ stuff (a reply to a comment on a post) was my take, based on what I could ascertain about the facts, on what the import of the emails should be to a well-informed person seeking the truth, not an analysis of what voters average or otherwise would make of it. As an analysis of what the emails actually were; by implicit extension you could say it was a claim about what voters should make of them. But that should is a long way from would.

          This may explain why you find these comments so enraging: you are expecting the same kind of analysis you get on TV, and of course they don’t work that way, at least most of the time.

          As to the other stuff: No one who has read this blog could think I was uncritical of Presidents Clinton or Obama, or indeed a big supporter of them in the relevant primaries. Not that it’s relevant.

          And re your last point, I doubt many of my students read this blog given that hardly any ever comment here. I certainly make no effort to advertise it to them; thus, I’d be surprised if very many of them even knew about it. I don’t think professors should be making an attempt to push political opinions, not to mention random commentary about other things, on their students. They are of course welcome to come to the nuisance if they choose to.

          • Vic says:

            “Nothinburger” was NOT your analysis at all. It was you parroting a bunch of other people, who in turn were probably parroting each other, or someone else (hence the cloned use of that unusual word). At least tell your OWN story correctly.

            As I said, you generally don’t make original thoughts, so you were and are confused as to how Trump could possibly have won, since the NYT, or whatever hasn’t told you anything that makes sense yet. It’s actually a common problem with lawyers. They spend their entire lives being told how smart they are, yet paradoxically have a profession that is almost entirely based on citing the thoughts of others as their own argument.

            I’m not asking you to be a TV pundit at all (you have a very binary way of looking at the world). I’m simply suggesting that you break out of your mentally crippling lawyer mode of thinking and actually try to understand the world. If you won’t make the mental effort, why should anyone care how you think things “ought to be?” Seriously. Maybe repeating the thoughts of others as your own deep thinking is the norm in achedemia, as it is in lawyering in general, but there a whole big world of real people out there of whole you are fully incapable of having any understanding. This is why Trump was so mysteriously popular. Instead of blaming various -ists for it, maybe you might actually consider that the world may work in ways you don’t understand.

            • I endorsed the nothingburger and still do – the emails were just not anywhere nearly as big a deal as they treated.

              But at this point I’m wondering if maybe you have a friend or someone you could talk to about your need to gratuitously insult people online?

              Is this really your idea of civilized discourse? if not, why do it?

              • Vic says:

                Don’t be childish, Michel. I know to probably never get challenged by your students, but this is the real world where adults can completely disagree with echother. I wasn’t being insulting, I was pointing out that all you ever seem to do here is repeat what the media you respect says. So to me, it’s not really all that mysterious that you found this election surprising. It was also surprising to the people of almost all media you would have readily consulted for your political views. Even much of the conservative media got it completely wrong.

                • Honestly, really, you should find a friend, maybe even a non-lawyer?, show him or her this thread, and ask your friend if you are being insulting or ad hominem.

                  You could start with the word “childish,” for example.

  4. Vic says:

    You ARE being childish when you think that disagreeing with you, or pointing out that your points have not been defended, is somehow insulting.

    Well, that’s fine, you can keep posting your desert island of a blog that nobody reads, make sure nobody else ever wants to engage you in “discourse,” and spill your tears of self-pity on your new therapy dog no-doubt provided by your university when you had to cope with the tragic aftermath of the election. For the record, now I AM being a bit insulting, because at THIS point, you deserve it for acting like you are five. Let me know if my mom needs to call up yours to straighten this out.

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