Insecure Males: Trump’s Political Base


                                       Insecure Males: Trump’s Political Base

By Jonathan Donahue, M.A., LMHC

       As President Donald Trump continues to run roughshod over the landscape, the same question that haunted the election season persists: who are the people who support Trump and what do they see in him?

       At its core, the answer is simple: insecure males are Trump’s key political demographic. Trump has labeled them sympathetically as the ‘forgotten Americans’, but the claims that we haven’t listened to these uneducated, unenlightened, highly reactive men, is infuriating. We heard their views loud and clear during the Bush years: creationism, xenophobia, gun worship, homophobia.  

      Trump won them over because he speaks their language. The new president’s whole persona is one of inflated might, a puffed-up ruffling of his orange plumage, a sharpening of his horny antlers against the skyscrapers of America. He promises to be an Anglo Big Brother, and this arouses other males to collective chest-beating.

      Plainly, the world remains a scary and violent place because it is still controlled by alpha males, macho men, good ol’ boys, or whatever one wishes to call them. More accurately, we are talking about an exaggerated form of masculinity, the kind that attempts to conceal all weakness.  It is manhood with one foot still stuck in the animal kingdom, where the biggest tusks and thickest manes get the females.  It is masculinity without reflection, a ‘feminine’ trait. Mostly it is masculinity without self-awareness.         

        The reason we have wars is simply because we have so many war-like people. How do men become like this? Geneticists have suggested that some have a ‘warrior gene’ and are simply born aggressive. But does that account for everything? I don’t think so.

      Many men are emotionally stunted simply because their fathers were that way. Fathers who handle their emotions via alcohol, violence, or –if you’re lucky—a brooding, foreboding distance, have not been fully socialized for the modern world. They have not learned higher level skills, the sophistication to handle nuance, to think deeply, to take their own fears into account when assessing others. Projecting their own shortcomings outward, they walk around in a state of moderate paranoia, ready to come to fisticuffs and bullets in a flash. Except for anger and bravado, they do not discuss or express feelings. They are too scared to.

       Instead they quickly synthesize fear into anger. To make themselves feel safe, they buy the biggest truck or flashiest car they can find, wave the flag, and scapegoat others. And nothing augments penile power better than carrying a gun. This may sound like stereotyping, yet we see these kinds of men around us all the time. That tough guy in leather, strutting down the street flexing his muscles, isn’t a courageous person, but a fearful one. He wants to scare you before you scare him.  The slick narcissist in the sports car speeding by you on the highway needs to feel utterly grand, lest he learn about his true self.

       And as we know, world leaders play ‘chicken’, too. On a psychological level, I doubt that Vladimir Putin is trying to accomplishment anything more than an increased sense of empowerment for himself.  He may cloak his actions in nationalistic concern for his people, but at the end of the day, he simply wants to be the alpha male, with all the spoils that offers.

       In Demonic Males: Apes and the Origins of Human Violence, Richard Wrangham and Dale Peterson deftly describe the evolutionary purpose of male violence. Natural selection dictates that the most physically vigorous animals have the greatest success at mating, because their vigor is seen by females as a desirable trait to pass on to offspring. So, the biggest, toughest, most aggressive male beasts reproduce the most.

       Amongst humans this dynamic still exists, though the rules have changed. Financial prowess is now more important than physical strength, which is why Mr. Trump –with pot belly and ridiculous hair—is married to a stunning model. He can afford her.

       If our species is to carry on, a large segment of the male population needs to crawl out of the slime and evolve. The territoriality that leads to war, the genetic jockeying that fuels racism, and the misogynistic inclination to suppress female freedom, is all rooted in male insecurity. This dates way back to the days when only the biggest, toughest ape got to mate. Insecure men augment the power of their penises by carrying guns.

       Contraception and abortion threatens some males, for they pave the way to female sexual empowerment. Men still fear female promiscuity because being cuckolded is their greatest fear. It damages their sense of status and empowerment amongst other males, whom they ultimately see as competitors. Insecure men, flouting their pseudo-strength, are often overflowing with possessiveness and jealousy. And women of low self-esteem mate with them.

      And then they have children. My belief is that the world’s most pressing problem is child abuse/neglect, because this is where our troubles begin. Angry, emotionally stunted parents raise the same kind of offspring.  Males and females are still socialized very differently, to the detriment of both.

      But until males get their emotional acts together, the world will continue to be a competitive, violent mess. Men must start facing up to their fears, and stop passing them on to their sons. They need to show up in the therapy office, the 12-step group, and start working on themselves. Let’s face it, guys: it’s men that mess up the world.

      Indeed, the battles over oil, territory, and ideology are just excuses for angry males to flex their muscles. We still have much in common with wild animals. Unlike beasts, however, our consciousness, when properly applied, can override primitive drives and lead to a more evolved behavior and a saner, safer world.



Jonathan Donahue, LMHC

Arlington, Ma.

781 454 7496




41 Comments . Leave a comment below.

    ” It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent, but the one most responsive to change.” CHARLES DARWIN

    Fred Rich LaRiccia

  2. So how is it...

    …that some of the rest of us did figure out how to behave? In my experience, we’re taught from a very early age that the way you build yourself us is emphatically NOT by putting others down. Is it that we all have a need for success, but some of us find more socially acceptable ways to manifest that than others?

  3. Give these men good jobs-and run on that

    A big reason for this phenomenon is the lack of employment in traditionally male fields. Part of the way we can solve for this is to end the stigma around ‘pink collar jobs’ that provide the same standard of living ‘blue collar’ jobs did a generation ago with similarly lower educational barriers to entry. My wife’s RN class is a quarter male which is substantially up from a few years ago, and these jobs will provide a low cost entry to the middle class stability these males crave.

    Similarly, there still aren’t as many males as females entering my new profession of teaching. The after school tutoring center I am currently working for is about 60/40 female to male as are some of the teacher training programs I am applying to. And that ratio reflects the national average.

    The Times had a good profile of one of these voters, and it also had a good run down of the difficulty of getting males to enter these professions.

    Where I respectively disagree with Tom, Fred, and Christopher is that a more robust and emphatically liberal economic agenda mixed with some empathy can win *some* of these voters back. That strategy worked really well for Obama and the electorally successful Clinton.

    Where I disagree with John May and agree with Tom, Fred, and Christopher is that a substantial number of these voters are racist, misognyist and homophobic and will never be won back. That doesn’t mean we won’t win back more blue collar non-whites and some blue collar whites by making a more direct Sanders style appeal. His results in the primary prove his message appeals to this same swath of voters in the same parts of the Midwest that defected to Trump.

    I’ve always said its a Venn diagram, and we really can only win over the part of the diagram that overlaps with our own coalition. That doesn’t mean it isn’t worth trying to do so.

    • Interesting self-calibrating proposal

      I agree with this, and also have an observation and prediction.

      Your proposal to create these “pink-collar jobs” is interesting, because it will make it easier to identify the segment of our Venn diagram that really is racist and misogynist (I don’t know about homophobic). Here’s why.

      The jobs you describe are, today, fields that are already attracting women and minorities. An example is qualified elderly care professionals (nurses, hospice workers, etc.). My wife and found that the nursing staff at the high-end rehab facility that cared for my mother in the final weeks of her life was dominated by minority men and women.

      I suggest that the segment of your Venn diagram composed of racist and misogynist voters will resoundingly reject your contemplated effort to remove the stigma of these pink-collar jobs. They will attack the jobs themselves, the men and women performing those jobs today, the training programs these jobs require, and those of us who promote them.

      They will attack this proposal because their racism and misogyny will make them abhor the idea of working with the minorities and women already in these workplaces. They will resent the reality that the minorities and women in these pink-collar jobs today will make more then they because of the greater seniority and experience those current pink-collar job holders have (by construction). They will resent the reality that as pay scales are increase to make these pink-collar jobs more attractive, those increases will apply to minority and women as much as to them.

      I like the self-calibrating, and therefore self-identifying aspects of this proposal. It’s a winner.

      • Yep :)

        I’m mean there are definitely traditional male occupations facing a shortage (welding, engineering, machine tech/support)-but there are far more occupations like that about to be automated in the next decade and a half that will cease to exist. I was impressed with the White males interviewed on NPRs marketplace who went back to community college and regained skills with their old co-workers for a variety of new occupations. They briefly noted it was an integrated factory with an equal number of blacks, whites and Hispanics looking for work (it was near Detroit). And even a white collar guy going back to reorient his skills in a more IT direction.

        White nationalism and Islamism have a surprisingly similar attraction to unemployed males. Both are worldviews that have an extreme form of masculinity that denigrates women and homosexuals. Both have an extreme allegiance to a notion of racial/religious superiority and both reject western liberal values for a more traditional tribalism with a male head of household doing manual tasked. Both are technophobic and hostile to consumerism.

        So I think programs like the CCC that would pay unskilled unemployed males for community service while also forcing them to serve alongside people from different races, orientations and genders would also be a big help. And a cheap way to get our infrastructure reconstituted. Bringing back mandatory national service would also help with this sense of isolation and dislocation. Maybe sending white suburban liberals to Appalachia to build wells and paved roads, rural whites to paint inner city schools, and inner city blacks to white suburbs would do a lot of good to break down barriers and help rebuild the country.

        And obviously reorienting community colleges and vocational high school to teach for the occupations of tomorrow rather than nostalgia for yesterday’s hard hat work.

    • Are you really saying that..

      …Democrats lost the White House, the Senate, the House and a majority of state governments because a majority of Americans are racist, misognyist and homophobic and will never be won back?

      • Just the WH...

        …and just the right number of voters (not even a majority of voters in the last presidential election let alone voters on the rolls) distributed the right way who are way too forgiving of a person demonstrating such qualities.

  4. And your rationale...

    …for the 42% of women who voted for Trump?

    Meat eaters? WNBA players? How to they fit into your hypothesis?

    • stockholm syndrome...?

      I’m not kidding.

      • Not so fast.

        The feminist Democrats assume that they are 100% on point and that all women will eventually agree with them, as soon as those women are properly educated. They read that a majority of “non-college educated” white females voted for Trump and say “A-HA!, they need education!”

        Could it possibly be that many of these women do not want a “career”, are content with their husband being the one who brings in the cash and has that high pressure job?

        I can appreciate that.

        • How about you try again...?

          Could it possibly be that many of these women do not want a “career”, are content with their husband being the one who brings in the cash and has that high pressure job?

          Seriously. Read what I wrote. Think about whom it is we are discussing and get back to me with something not entirely spurious.

          • Okay, I'll try again.

            Stock·holm syn·drome
            feelings of trust or affection felt in certain cases of kidnapping or hostage-taking by a victim toward a captor.

            What makes you think that women who voted for Trump were kidnapped by their husbands?

            • hmm...

              What makes you think that women who voted for Trump were kidnapped by their husbands?

              …You went from the broadest possible interpretation, though not very plausibly, to the narrowest, equally implausibly, and you call that ‘a try’…?

              This is not about a womens opportunity to choose domestic wedded bliss in whatever form she decides is right for her. This is about women voting for a man who would, given the chance, likely hurt them physically and emotionally: Donald Trump is a thrice married serial philander and sexual assaulter. Worse, still, when called out on his behavior he dismissed it as essentially victimless. I invite you to consider, at your leisure, the casual cruelty of his perspective on his own behavior.

              That any man or woman would willingly vote for this suggests a certain trust in a demonstrated malefactor… kidnappper, hostage taker, whatever…. that a woman would deliberately trust such a malefactor who, quite plausibly, would readily harm them if given the chance, suggests, if not “stockholm syndrome’ some formation equally perverse…. I deliberately refrain from using the term ‘battered syndrome,’ because I suspect you’ll dismiss the emotional and mental component that is clearly happening in lieu of the physical component that may or may not be happening. How do you vote for someone with whom you would fear to be alone with, in a room?

              Now, Porcupine (and others) want to turn it around and suggest that the number of women who voted for Trump suggests a diminution of Trumps sins rather than an indication of the womens captivity…

              • And Bill Clinton's wife...

                ….with him in the White House? Please. Trying to play the marriage morality and treatment of women card here is not worth your time.

                • again... you missed the point.

                  And Bill Clinton’s wife…(0+ / 0-) View voters

                  ….with him in the White House? Please. Trying to play the marriage morality and treatment of women card here is not worth your time.

                  Trump treats women cruelly. He does this independent of how anybody else treats women.

                  This is *objectively* true about Trump: it doesn’t rely upon my biases, nor yours. It is not mitigated by anybody else’s behavior. Anybody who wants to see this does not have to look very hard. Those who do not see this are trying very, very hard not to look.

                  Yet, women vote for him. Why? (You remember that, the original question… Why?)

                  When I point out that actions of women in the recent election may have similarities to known psychological and emotional states your first response was to assert that I was making a feminist prophecy sotto voce. When called out on this, you reverted to a puzzled query that I was, somehow, making a statement about women and their husbands (which, for you, is a telling snippet of inherent contextualizing you did there…) when in fact I was making a statement about women and Donald Trump, now their President then a candidate.

                  Now your response is “Look, over there, Bill Clinton and his penis!”

                  Anything but to the point.

                  Donald Trump is an abuser. If Donald Trump was left alone in a room with any women in America, I would fear for the physical and emotional safety of that woman… This, by itself, should disqualify him in the mind of the large majority of all voters and certainly the great majority of women. However, it does not. That’s not rational.

                  Instead, it gets turned around and the number of women who voted for him turns out to be a minimization of his behavior and his attitude when in fact. .. Well, I’ll let you say something else now, probably to illustrate the point.

                  • Point is

                    that to the rust belt voter of the voter in Pennsylvania, Trump’s or Clinton’s treatment of women was not on their radar. Trump and Bill Clinton both abused women. Both of them. Okay, one more than the other….so that makes the other ones abuse acceptable? I have no reason to admire either man for their boorish behavior. I find it unacceptable for both. I never understood why women voted for Bill Clinton, especially the second time. Did you?

                    • Another distortion

                      Sorry, but you are repeating the same right-wing Rush Limbaugh/Ken Starr lie you repeated so often during the campaign.

                      The allegation that Bill Clinton abused women was made repeatedly — by women paid large sums of money to make such claims. Monica Lewinsky explicitly said and says that she was NOT abused by Mr. Clinton. In fact, she has said in multiple forums that the only people who abused her were Ken Starr and his lackeys when they coerced her into testifying against Mr. Clinton.

                      Your attempt to imply that Mr. Clinton’s behavior was remotely comparable to Mr. Trump’s is simply libel (because it is written) against Mr. Clinton.

                      I wish you’d stop.

                    • Why do you keep bringing this back to Clinton...

                      that to the rust belt voter of the voter in Pennsylvania, Trump’s or Clinton’s treatment of women was not on their radar.

                      …??? It seems like a… well.. a fetish, with you. Knock it off.

                      Certainly Bill Clinton wasn’t on their radar… but they didn’t get the news of Trump bragging about sexual assault in Pennsylvania? If they did get the news, and deliberately dropped it off their radar… that’s even worse!!

    • You assume...

      …that there is “rationale” behind anyone voting for somebody so DUMB! Certain voters had a tamper tantrum in the voting booth, and now many of them will pay for it by losing health coverage. It’s really that simple. No, I do not buy or in anyway sympathize with the populist argument. Many of those who voted in the GOP primary could have taken a Dem ballot and voted for Sanders – populism without the DUMB aspects. Maybe enough could or would have to make him the Dem nominee which, while would have been disappointing as a Hillary supporter would not have angered or scared me.

      • Many of them did...

        Substantial overlap in the midwestern swing state counties Trump won that Sanders carried in the primary. Marion County is the famous bellwether county Stan Greenberg studied for the Reagan Democrats. It went 70/30 for Kennedy and then 70/39 for Reagan-with many of the same voters. It then was carried by Clinton narrowly and the runner up was Perot. Trump brought the Perot voters back to the GOP by focusing on trade and immigration. Sanders with his consistent opposition to NAFTA would’ve fared far better than Clinton in those counties. But there wasn’t a left wing populist choice in the general…

        Would he have turned off enough suburban moderates in Virginia and Colorado to lose those states? Maybe against Kasich-I say they hold their nose and vote against their economic interests and for their cultural values in a fight against Trump. Clinton’s gamble was on more Republicans doing this for her and they didn’t-traditional Republicans held their nose for tax cuts, court picks and ACA repeal while the Perot voters who backed Obama twice thought he was giving them a better deal. Including the Sams Clib moms who delivered OH, IA and PA to Obama.

        Both/and. Inclusive populism is the name of the game.

        • But who carried those counties...

          …in the GOP primary? My point is even in the counties Sanders carried not enough voters who had a choice of ballots pulled a Dem ballot to vote for Sanders thus denying Trump the GOP nomination in the first place. In other words, it’s on THESE VOTERS to have created a left-wing populist in the general and they failed. I don’t know why you continue trying to rationalize their actions. No amount of economic insecurity excuses voting for someone so DUMB, especially with hindsight showing that a vote for him wasn’t great from an economic standpoint anyway. The Trump health care plan is mostly likely to shaft HIS base the most.

          • I agree-and?

            People vote with their emotions and they were so angry they made an irrational decision. Plenty more thought “both suck, why bother?”. Either way-let’s agree that Democrats have to focus on economic populism in a clear and simple way that puts families first instead of corporations. Let’s hit Trump
            On his hollow promises on economic fairness-and make him own it.

            • We should also never forget...

              …that only about half the eligible voters turned out at all, so my suggestion is focus on increased turnout thus rendering any assumption that his base will stick with him moot. Remember, John McCain in 2008 and Scott Brown in 2010 got roughly the same raw vote totals in MA, but the former lost the state and the latter won due to huge turnout differences. This is the group that I hope will be outraged enough to realize their votes really do count toward stopping a DUMB President in his tracks.

              • Dumb Trump wasn't enough to mobilize them in 2016

                We can laugh off “make America great again” all we want-it’s a pretty positive and uplifting message on first reading. Ours was “America is already great”-literally in the case of the tone deaf DNC. But it’s not already great for the appalling 30-40% black unemployed males in Milwaukee who stayed home just as much as it’s not working for the laid off Ford workers in Kenosha who pulled for Trump and re-elected their shitty Medicare killing Congressman.

                Ryan’s district is an R+1 and we still haven’t recruited anyone decent to run in it! Kenosha is like Lynn-third split white, black and Latino working class with some young professionals commuting to Milwaukee or Chicago attracted to transit (Chicago commuter rail goes up there and it’s got a working steecar system) and cheap waterfront property. How on earth have we not found someone ready to take the rich kid from Janesville on?

                Without organizing and messaging differently we are condemned to see that district elect Republicans to Congress and the White House alike (Obama carried it twice). I’m a broken record on this-but both/and. Give minorities reason to vote for Democrats-not just the GOP is racist. Give working class whites who don’t care about racism a reason to vote for Democrats

                • I'm not saying don't organize...

                  …and you’ll be hard pressed to find someone more frustrated than I when it comes to not even finding candidates. There was a whole swath of voters who thought they were both awful and thus stayed home. They probably told themselves a combination of HRC was all set so by abstaining they were letting her win without affirmatively voting for her and that even Trump would mello with the responsibility of the office. Heck, even I held out hope for a bit that the last part would be true. Now there is proof of what was previously conjecture and speculation, though people should have just believed him. I don’t see anyone laughing at making America great, and that was hardly anyone’s top objection, though precedent suggests that the most optimistic candidate generally wins.

                  As for what Dems are FOR, I am getting so tired of this idea that we are not for anything. It is so untrue. I posted the following on FB the other day in response to a DFA post which made that argument (which also complained that the party didn’t like Sanders hence the reference to him at the end):

                  I take exception to the premise that people don’t know what Dems are for. We are FOR universal health coverage (maintaining and expanding Obamacare). We are FOR a living wage for all. We are FOR equality of rights and opportunities without regard to race, creed, sexual/gender identities, etc. We are FOR immigration without harassment or exploitation. We are FOR maintaining America’s position as a respected global leader. We are FOR the rights of workers to organize in their interests. We are FOR sensible regulations regarding the ownership and use of firearms. We are FOR reforming campaign finance in a way that will reduce the influence of those same lobbyists you claim control the party. We are FOR all people being allowed to make decisions regarding their bodies and medical care. We are FOR public education available to and working for all, including reducing the burden of public higher education. We are FOR policies that will reduce or ameliorate the effects of climate change (and FOR studying actual science to assist us in that regard). We are FOR a fairer, more progressive tax code which allows this country’s wealth to be shared more equitably. For the record, It’s been a long time since I’ve heard anybody in the party complain about Bernie Sanders.

                  Yes, I know various arguments will resonate more strongly with certain constituencies, but I was trying to be as comprehensive as I could off the cuff. Point is, those with ears to hear know darn well what we are for; what good would it do us to try to keep it a secret?

                  • That's great Christopher

                    You’d be hard pressed to see those arguments made as succinctly or directly as the way you just phrased them by the Clinton campaign in the debates or in her ads which were basically “Trump says mean things don’t vote for him” .

                    And plenty of people here and brought it the party complain about Sanders-almost non stop. We had two threads derailed by a debate asking why he wasn’t a “real Democrat”.

                • Besides, 2016 worked out just fine.

                  HRC lost due to a constitutional fluke aided and abetted by James Comey. The polls the very DAY before the election had her right where she needed to be and she still got 2.8 million votes more than he did. If polls had shown her losing and it seemed she was doing nothing about it (plus she really got fewer votes) your argument would be stronger, but we really can’t wring our hands over 2016 from a what did we do wrong standpoint. Sometimes the stars just do not align.

                  • Im with Mark Bail

                    She ran a terrible campaign and Comey fucked her over. But had Comey not fucked her over she still would’ve lost the EC-maybe not as badly but they really did not have a good ground game in MI, PA and WI. Ohio they gave up in August along with IA to push for GA and AZ which ended up being closer so that’s not their fault. I didn’t expect FL to go to Trump and that failure has been underabakyzed but maybe the Comey thing made a difference.

                    My point is if Dems run the same campaign and claim they are no lessons to be learned than we shouldn’t be surprised if we face the same dire result.

                    • See, I strongly disagree with your second sentence.

                      I think Comey explains exactly why we were surprised by the results of MI, PA, and WI. There was not enough time for the polling to reflect her slipping after he revealed he was looking at emails again, which is why those states had her winning on Monday. Those states would have given her 46 EVs for a total of 278.

                  • In what alternate universe did 2016 work out just fine?

                    2016 was a disaster. We lost the White House, the Senate, and the House. In particular, we lost the White House to Donald Trump, a candidate who should have gone down in flames. Clinton, or her people, ran a campaign most notable for a string of devastating misjudgements, on almost every level, and managed to lose an election that should have been a cakewalk even when you take misogyny, racism, etc. into account.

                    It is irrelevant that she got 2.8 million more votes than Trump. That “constitutional fluke” is a basic, known element of our electoral system; losing because her votes were in the wrong place is not some little oopsie. The campaign —

                    Okay, no, enough ranting. You’ve heard it all anyway, and it hasn’t convinced you; it’s unlikely that the two thousandth iteration will. And we’re all sick of it, including me.

                    It’s just, sick of it or no, I don’t see how you avoid the critical necessity of wringing our hands over 2016 from a what did we do wrong standpoint. Or if not wringing our hands, exactly, at least of doing a solid post-mortem. Unless you really believe that we’ve done that, and the evidence shows that we did everything exactly right, and we just have to wait for a better alignment of the stars?

                    If that’s the case — well, I only wish I agreed. But I don’t; what I saw was a catastrophically awful series of choices, no doubt made in good faith, but based on a profound misreading of where the national electorate was and is. If we won’t accept even the possibility that there was such a misreading, and blame the electoral results on the stars (c.f. Edmund in King Lear: This is the excellent foppery of the world, that, when we are sick in fortune, often the surfeit of our own behaviour, we make guilty of our disasters the sun, the moon, and the stars; as if we were villains on necessity; fools by heavenly compulsion…), we’re all too likely to sail straight into the same kind of disaster next time round. And I’d think we can agree that it’s important not to do that, whatever else we may argue about.

                    • In the universe where we acknowledge...

                      …that no matter how hard we try some things are beyond our control. Look, few people wish more than I do that Trump came in fourth behind even Johnson and Stein or that HE would be the one sweating the 15% threshold for making the debates. Even with my EV scenario he would have still won enough electoral and popular votes to royally tick me off about how many Americans’ attitudes haven’t joined the 21st century. Choices WERE in fact made in good faith based on the information at hand which said HRC was winning comfortably right up to the last day. You really cannot expect any campaign to speculate based on anything else and it would be political malpractice to do so. Yes, it should have been a cakewalk. Not only should pointing out the DUMB candidate’s sins and statements have been enough, but even those should have spoken for themselves. We all learned a very painful lesson about American attitudes in the last election, but that’s on the voters, not the Clinton campaign.

                    • If we really want to know what went 'wrong'...

                      I don’t see how you avoid the critical necessity of wringing our hands over 2016 from a what did we do wrong standpoint.

                      … it’s the simple fact that Hillary Clinton wasn’t prescient enough to dis-trust the overwhelming poll numbers in her favor… or the newspaper endorsements… or the press… or any of the thousands of other public indications that she would win.

                      Seriously. She was winning. She won the debates. Everybody was telling her she was winning. All indications were that she was winning. Her opponent believed she was winning. The GOP believed she was winning. Everybody believed she was winning… and by the time even an inkling of a loss was upon us, the last vote had already been cast.

                      How, then, do you ‘wring your hands’ over the loss that came totally unexpectedly? How do we fault Hillary Clinton for not seeing behind the public reality that all of us believed in and expected? Can you fault her for not jumping in her time machine and looking into the future to see her loss… so that she could come back to our time, do a complete about-face upon a strategy that was, apparently, working but really wasn’t?

                      And even if she could see the coming defeat… what would/could she have done differently? Go more Trump than Trump?

                      Or if not wringing our hands, exactly, at least of doing a solid post-mortem. Unless you really believe that we’ve done that, and the evidence shows that we did everything exactly right, and we just have to wait for a better alignment of the stars?

                      The post mortem isn’t getting done because the only possible answers aren’t palatable: 1) America still has a very lot of racists and sexists and/or b) politics isn’t deterministic. Lot of people here don’t even want to countenance either of those possibilities…. I don’t want to, myself, but I can’t avoid them: but your Lear quote has the answer: “the surfeit of our own behaviour”. It’s why we blame the stars and the moon, et al, because –deep down — we don’t like that the real blame lies within… and the farther away we attempt to put the blame, the deeper and more pernicious our sins…

                      But, just like the stars and the planets couldn’t possibly have affected a different outcome if aligned differently, neither could Hillary Clinton have much changed the outcome even if she knew beforehand it was coming.

                      The key to Donald Trump’s political success (sic) is the oft quoted phrase used by his supporters “He says what he thinks.” Yeah, he does. But what he thinks, stinks. But they agree with it. It mirrors what they think, which also stinks. And after a long run of dog whistles and sub-rosa gestures towards racism an out-and-out racist — and probably more importantly, an old-school sexist — was, for them, refreshing. The rest of us thought it was beyond the pale but were surprised to find, alas, it was not.

                      Without agreeing that ’2016 turned out fine”, I think Christophers point is that, stripping away the constitutional overlay, and simply using the tally to measure us v them, there remains more of us than of them. And that is a comforting thought.

                    • No wringing of hands required. Instead ...

                      No wringing of hands is required. Instead, here’s what we need to acknowledge from 2018 onwards:

                      1. Angry whites will turn out in droves to support any demagogue who panders to their most base prejudices and fears. This is especially true in battleground states.

                      2. Minorities are unlikely to turn out for candidates who are not themselves minorities. This is especially true in battleground states.

                      Neither of these groups will be convinced by ANY rational or factual arguments, because they are not acting from any rational basis.

                      I’m weary of our wringing of hands about 2016 because I see us doing extraordinary feats of political gymnastics in order to avoid admitting these two basic truths about America.

                      Until we accept, confront, and change these facts about America:

                      A. We will continue to lose elections
                      B. Even when we win, the win will be meaningless because we our “victory” will result from becoming those who we oppose.

                      These two realities about racism and sexism in America — not to mention the sheer and wanton ignorance that underlies them — are the dominant forces that we MUST address.

                      I agree that these have their roots in economic despair and dislocation. The two are impossible to separate, though. Solving the economy won’t help if we don’t address racism and sexism. Addressing racism and sexism is impossible without solving the economy.

                      So it seems to me that our agenda is defined for us:

                      1. Solve the wealth concentration issue
                      2. Change our racist culture
                      3. Change our sexist culture

                    • I can agree with those three goals

                      And I thinking solving #1 will go a long way toward solving #2 and #3. And absolutely recruit more minority candidates-I am expecting a big push for more candidates of color and women candidates at all levels of government in 2018. Lord knows that push is direly needed right here in MA.

                      And it would be great if we had a governor or legislative majority that cared about the wealth concentration issue-which has a perverse effect locally of helping right wing candidates like Baker and Brown.

                    • One more goal...

                      …get the half of the country that didn’t turn out to turn out, and thus hopefully overwhelm numerically the two types of voters you mention above (though I’m not convinced there are all that many of the second type).

            • A rational decision....

              Hard to say that the unemployed or underemployed people in the states that voted for Trump made an irrational decision. Their jobs are gone. The factories are closed. They can’t drink the water. Their neighbor’s house was repossessed while the bank was bailed out. Last year they went to four funerals for friends who died of an opiate overdose. All this while Clinton was in office for 8 year, Bush was in office for 8 years and Obama for another 8. 24 years (and longer) of a continued slide of status quo politics….and along comes something completely different. Trump.

              I’d say voting for Trump was the rational decision.

              However, now these poor bastards are getting crapped on again.

              How will Democrats bring them back? What rational argument do we have?

              Education and job training? Equal Pay for Women?

              Seems to me that anything out of the old playbooks has to be scrapped and we need a completely new platform.

              • in no way

                can voting for Trump be deemed a “rational decision”. But he was offering a return to the past. The task is to offer a *plausible* future — one that seems attractive and attainable. We will be working against Stockholm Syndrome in coal country: People want their unsafe, life-curtailing coal jobs in a dying industry back. They don’t know any different.

                • Exactly

                  “America is already pretty great” was a pretty condescending and insulting slogan to run on. “Stronger together” doesn’t mean anything. But “Make America Work For Everybody” is a good slogan. Or just Make America Fairer. Make America Better. The market with some tweaks isn’t what people want. They want a radically different economy that rewards work instead of wealth. That gives everyone a fairness shot and not just the connected. Why is this messaging so hard for the party that invented it?

                • You're ignoring the perspective.

                  It was a rational decision based on where these people live, what government was or was not doing for them, and what Trump promised to do for them.

                  However, it was irrational for them to believe that Trump was telling the truth. I’ll give you that.

                  • Funny

                    Seems the one thing rational to believe about Trump was that he was in fact telling the truth about many of his plans (maybe not health care, but the part that made him and many of his supporters seem deplorable). Bigotry is never rational – that is NOT open for discussion in the 21st century. Besides, when times are tough we should heed Deval Patrick’s mantra of turning TO each other rather than ON each other.

    • You're kidding, right?

      Let me offer two statements, and ask if you agree that the first is racist and the second sexist:

      1. “America wasn’t ready for a black president.”
      2. “I just think that being president is a man’s job”

      I’m not sure what “Meat eaters” or “WNBA players” has to do with anything.

      I can tell you that I’ve heard both (1) and (2) — especially 2 — from women (including minority women). Being black, Hispanic, or female does not create immunity to racism and sexism.

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Fri 28 Apr 11:54 AM