The night Barack Obama was elected President I was super-tired (I'd been poll-working all day on the busiest day I've ever seen), but when he got up to speak I cried for joy. And I kept crying at random times for the next week, because I was so happy. I thought that the Civil War was finally over, you see, that a great weight had at last rolled off America's shoulders.
I felt that we had *made* history, created it, built it with our own hands. That it had taken a solid year of work by thousands and then millions of people, plus a billion dollars or so, but we had, all together, pushed this monumental change up the hill and into reality. Barack Obama didn't win the election, we all did -- because the change was too great, the inertia of American history too heavy, for one person to change it himself.
Thinking things over that week, the benefits of democracy hit me hard. I could even seem some benefit to the messy, exhausting, hideously expensive American campaign season -- because I don't know if Obama could have won without all those months to change tens of millions of minds.
And now, once more, we're making history. That's why the Hillary Campaign made this video:
This has been, if anything, a longer road. To the point where I can imagine, at last, that the question, "Can a woman be President of the United States?" -- is no longer a question.
We made this, this history. We built it, together.
Why Trump Was Inevitable in The NY Review of [each other's] Books is a report by Ronald B. Rapoport, Alan I. Abramowitz, and Walter J. Stone of the results of a survey they commissioned on GOP primary voters back in February, around the time of the Iowa caucuses when there were still 11 candidates in the race.
They found that, even then, 36% of GOP voters favored Trump -- and *none* of the other candidates beat Trump in a one-to-one matchup. This is what Sam Wang and other data-driven analysts said all along: Trump has been ahead from the start, he was always the clear favorite for the Republican nomination.
What surprised me was this:
GOP primary voters -- who are the most politically engaged and aware segment of the party -- thought Trump was the one candidate with a good shot at defeating Hillary Clinton in November. But among Democrats, the candidates we were actually afraid of, the ones we thought had the greatest chances of defeating Hillary, are all at the right side of this graph: Kasich, Bush, Christie; maybe Rubio.
This is truly baffling to me, so I went out to look for explanations. Ross Douthat is an anti-Trump conservative who's thought about how GOP voters got this idea. He wrote a column about it:
the party's voters are choosing electability — as they see it — over ideology; they're just in the grip of a strong delusion about Trump's actual chances against Hillary Clinton.
The reason for this delusion might be the key unresolved question of Trump's strange ascent. Is it the fruit of Trump's unparalleled media domination — does he seem more electable than all his rivals because he's always on TV? Is it a case of his victor's image carrying all before it — if you win enough primary contests, even with 35 percent of the vote, people assume that your winning streak can be extended into November? Is this just how a personality cult rooted in identity politics works — people believe in the Great Leader's capacity to crush their tribe's enemies and disregard all contrary evidence?
Or is it somehow the pundits' doing? Did the misplaced certainty that Trump couldn't win the nomination create an impression that all projections are bunk, that he'll always prove his doubters wrong?
they imagine that Trump is more electable than his more ideologically conservative rivals. And if the pundits are all proven wrong one more time and Trump makes a real race of it, this will be the reason why.
But we won't be, because this logic lacks the cultural imagination required to see that Trump's positions won't get a hearing with groups that might find them appealing otherwise, precisely because they're associated with, well, Donald Trump himself ....
Hence his essential unelectability, which no centrist positioning is likely to much change. And the fact that so many Republican voters can't seem to see this, haven't been able to see this, may be a sign of cultural isolation above all. They can see how Trump might be able to win on the issues if he hadn't alienated so many millions of Americans on the basis of their race or sex … but they can't quite grasp how powerful that alienation is for the people who experience it, and how impossible it will be for Trump to overcome.
I think Douthat must be onto something, there. Somehow, deeply engaged GOP voters hadn't realized that many, many other people think Trump is temperamentally unsuited for the Presidency -- especially the part about being Commander-in-Chief.
I can see what Douthat is talking about, that GOP primary voters might not realize how deep-seated (and reality-based) an aversion people of color and women have to Trump, due to cultural isolation and epistemic closure. But I don't see how they've managed to miss the issue of Trump's temperament and personality in general, and how frighteningly unsuited he is to the Presidency.
Is this because they *do* think Trump is suited to be President? Or because they don't think temperament is important? On what grounds do they think it's a good idea to give him nuclear launch codes? ... or maybe they think he won't be allowed to make horrific decisions, that there will be people around him who will stop him from going too far. Really, I have no clue; what do you guys think, especially those of you who are more R-leaning?
I went looking for a picture of a giant talking yam, but instead I found this glorious painting of Anaty (Desert Yam) Story, by Aboriginal artist Jeannie Mills Pwerle.
I read no books this past week and precious little fanfic. Memorial Day Weekend for me was dominated by driving Sprog the Younger back up to New England for her summer jobs. This takes 3 days: one day to get to my parents' house, one day to get Sprog where she needs to go and then back to my folks', and then a day to drive back.
I last did this trip only two weeks ago, picking Sprog up at the end of the semester, but I'm much less worn out than I used to get. The difference is that I've figured out how to use the Adaptive Cruise Control on my Subaru Legacy. This is a new-fangled system combining the speed-regulating functions of standard cruise control with a radar-based sensor to keep you at a steady distance behind the car ahead of you, so you can use it in much heavier traffic than traditional cruise control.
ACC makes long drives much less stressful for me -- I spend my time steering and looking out for other vehicles, but not worrying about speed. My right leg doesn't cramp up the way it used to. Most impressively, I get a solid and important boost in gas mileage: with ACC I can go from central NJ to Boston and back on a single 18-gal tank of gas, even though I'm not going the absolutely shortest way: it's about 580 miles round-trip. When I did the trip without ACC, I always needed more gas in northern Jersey, coming back.
The last time I did this trip I listened to the radio during the parts where I was alone in the car, which means a lot of channel-switching (we don't want to pay for Sirius). This time I decided to take matters into my own hands, so I stopped at a Barnes & Noble to pick up Hamilton on CD. The trouble was, I couldn't find the music section -- I wandered all over and finally asked a worker where it was. He asked what I was looking for, then went to this little rack and took out Hamilton. But that was it: all the music CDs they had fit on one small rack. There was a larger and better-marked display for *vinyl* than for music CDs! I hadn't realized how dominant downloading has become as a way to get music. Meanwhile, I've become more suspicious about whether I can truly be said to "own" music I DL from Amazon or Apple, even if they're not deliberately deleting music from my hard disk. When I have a CD, I really do own that copy of the music: I can play it at home or in the car, and lend it if I want. I might feel differently if I had a smartphone, but mine is pretty dumb.
Sprog prefers to get CDs, too, because of the "own the music" thing, but then she has to rip the CD to her laptop, put it into iTunes and get it onto her iPhone -- "with struggles," she reports: "there are so many things to click and none of them do what you think they will." I kind of hate Apple.
But I continue to love "Hamilton". My big dilemma of the moment: do I go to the show at scalpers' prices, for my s*xt*eth birthday and so the librarian who's a huge Hamilton fan won't have to go by herself? Or is that horribly self-indulgent?