Sunday, December 31, 2017

Last Call For 2017

I'll leave you this year with a pretty solid article from Politico Magazine editor and author Joshua Zeitz, who delves into the age old question of whether working class white voters rallied for Trump agaist their own self-interests.  Before you roll you eyes and say "But white supremacy is in their self-interest" not only does Zeitz agree, but he cites W.E.B. Du Bois asking this same question decades previously.

The same dynamic that Du Bois grappled with is on display today
. In breaking for Donald Trump and the GOP, working-class white voters are manifestly undercutting their economic self-interest. To be sure, Trump didn’t campaign like an archetypal GOP plutocrat. He railed against free trade and immigration, policies that many white working-class citizens believe, with some justification, have hurt their communities. He promised to bring back manufacturing and coal mining jobs, eliminate generous tax loopholes for wealthy families like his own, and—like Andrew Jackson, after whom he has patterned his presidency—privilege the many over the few. 
But Democrats and Never Trump Republicans shouted at the top of their lungs that Trump’s campaign promises either weren’t possible or that they wouldn’t help working-class voters as much as he pledged. And they appear to have been right. The president recently signed into law a tax bill whose benefits, according to the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center and the Congressional Budget Office, accrue principally to corporations and super-rich individuals; many middle-class and working-class families will ultimately face a tax hike. The administraton and its congressional supporters have also taken steps to make health care less affordable or altogether inaccessible, destabilize retirement security for working-class families, and allow industrial polluters to despoil the air they breathe and the water they drink. Despite what Trump said on the campaign trail, his agenda does little to help and much to hurt struggling white families. 
Of course, whiteness still delivers other dividends—as it always has. It makes one less likely to be killed by a police officer during a traffic stop. It enables white men to carry assault weapons (including long guns) in places of public accommodation, while a black man might be shot and killed by law enforcement officials merely for picking up a BB gun displayed on a sales rack at Walmart. It affords working-class white families the peace of mind that the government won’t invade homes or hospitals in pursuit of undocumented children or grandparents. Whiteness, in other words, continues to pay tangible benefits, and for right or wrong, it makes some sense that its primary beneficiaries are loathe to support candidates who expressely promise to disrupt this privileged status. 
Yet Trump has also, arguably more than any other candidate for president in the last hundred years (excepting third-party outliers like Strom Thurmond and George Wallace), played to the purely psychological benefits of being white. From his racially-laden exhortations about black crime in Chicago and Latino gangs seemingly everywhere, to his attacks on an American-born federal judge of Mexican parentage and Muslim gold star parents, he has paid the white majority with redemption and revanchism. Trump might be increasing economic inequality, but at least the working-class whites feel like they belong in Trump’s America. He urged them to privilege race over class when they entered their polling stations. 
And it didn’t just stop there. As Ta-Nehisi Coates argues, Trump swept almost every white demographic group, forging a “broad white coalition that ran the gamut from Joe the Dishwasher to Joe the Plumber to Joe the Banker.” It’s not just blue-collar white people who seem blithely willing to sacrifice economic rationality for racial solidarity. After all, it arguably took a special kind of stupid for upper-middle class suburbanites in high-tax states to support a party that just raised their taxes. (No, this wasn’t a bait-and-switch. The GOP leadership has talked openly about eliminating deductions for state and local taxes since 2014.) Unless, that is, you account for the wages of whiteness.

If there's a sentence that sums up 2017 politically, it's "It’s not just blue-collar white people who seem blithely willing to sacrifice economic rationality for racial solidarity."

This is why "Democrats must push the class argument" will never work and it's the best argument that I've heard this year as to why Democrats need to stick with voters of color and stop chasing blue-collar whites at the expense of voters of color. It hasn't worked in the past, it won't work now. Class arguments, pocketbook politics, dinner-table finance discussions, these don't work in 2017 as long as a majority of white voters ignore them in favor of racial solidarity.

And as you've seen so many times, I end with this from Lyndon Johnson, who knew what was up almost 60 years ago when he spoke to a young staffer by the name of Bill Moyers in 1960 during a motorcade in Tennessee:

“I’ll tell you what’s at the bottom of it,” he said. “If you can convince the lowest white man he’s better than the best colored man, he won’t notice you’re picking his pocket. Hell, give him somebody to look down on, and he’ll empty his pockets for you.”

Onward to 2018.

Zandar's 2018 Predictions

Welp, another year and we head into Year Ten of ZVTS: 2018.  I never imagined I'd still be writing at this date, let alone having regular readers like yourselves.  So, without further ado, it's time for my ten predictions for news events in 2018, and I'm going to go big:

1) Robert Muller recommends impeachable offenses for Donald Trump.  I know, this is a huge bet: that Trump won't fire Mueller, that Mueller will complete his investigation this year, and that he will find something that warrants an official recommendation to Congress that articles of impeachment be voted on.  But I see it happening.  There's just too much self-reinforcing evidence at this point to ignore, unless you're a Republican in Congress, in which case...

2) Trump will wait until after Mueller's report is delivered in order to issue pardons.  More indictments in 2018 by Mueller are as close to a guarantee as you can get at this point.  There are so many targets, too.  But Trump will wait until the investigation ends in order to start dishing out pardons.  Furthermore...

3) The GOP-led Congress will take no action on Mueller's recommendations.  Not in 2018, at least.  They will wait for midterm elections, hoping that either Mueller spares them by continuing the investigation into 2019, or that Trump ends it for them.  But Paul Ryan, as Speaker of the House, will never let impeachment articles come to a floor vote, which leads me to...

4) Democrats will take control of the House in 2018 midterms.  Yes, I know all this is dependent on a media that is already attacking Democrats for their sure-to-be failures on getting anything signed into law by Trump and the Senate remains a tough road...but I think it will happen. I'll even go one step further, because I need a serious goal to help shoot for...

5)  Dems will take the Senate back in 2018 too.  They would have to hold their Trump state incumbents and win Nevada and Arizona, but it's not impossible.  And if it's truly a 2018 blue wave year, I think there are a lot fewer safe red states than the GOP is willing to even think about.

6) A Trump miscalculation leads to a military incident with North Korea.  I don't mean war, but I do mean a US ship or airplane is destroyed, or US soldiers captured, something along those lines.  I don't believe it will lead to a larger exchange yet, otherwise all bets are off for everyone.  Trump needs something he can rally his base around ahead of midterm elections, especially as Mueller closes in.

7) America will fall victim to a significant cyber-attack.  I don't want to be right about this one either, because I don't know how Trump would react to it.  But I'm betting that something along the lines of a major computer virus or infrastructure blackout will affect a major portion of the US for some time.  Frankly, we're long overdue for this one.

8)  Trump's complete failure in Puerto Rico helps turn Florida blue.  I think Rick Scott will be succeeded by a Democrat in November 2018 at the minimum.  I don't know how feasible it is for the state's heave GOP majority in Tallahassee to flip, but the Dems will at least make major gains. In lighter news...

9)  Marvel's 2018 films will make $250 million at the US box office.  Black Panther, Avengers 3, Ant-Man and The Wasp and Deadpool 2 are easily going to hit that, and there's a good chance that Venom will too, but I'll put a marker down on the first four, no contest.

and finally 10) ZVTS will make it through its tenth year and into 2019.  Here's hoping.  I've basically spent my entire 30's blogging, so we'll see how it works out now that I'm older and wiser.

Thanks for staying with me on this ride.

Zandar's 2017 Scorecard

It's the final day of 2018, so that means it's time to review my 2017 predictions to see how I did.

1) President Trump's average approval rating as of the end of 2016 according to Real Clear Politics's average is 44% favorable, 48% unfavorable, and 43% favorable-48% unfavorable according to Huffpost Pollster average. My prediction is that he's at or below 44% favorable by this date next year.
Correct: FiveThirtyEight has Trump's average at 37.7% approval, Real Clear Politics has him at 39.8% as of 12/31.
2) At least one of Trump's cabinet selections will be rejected by the Senate. My money's on Rex Tillerson, but the Senate will not confirm all of Trump's picks. It will be a move by Republicans to let off the growing pressure on them to rein Trump in, but in the end somebody just as bad as Tillerson will be confirmed. I'd love for Democrats to make this a nasty mess however.
Correct: The Senate made it clear that Trump's initial choice for Labor Secretary, Carl's Jr/Hardee's CEO Andrew Puzder, was never going to be confirmed so Puzder withdrew in February.
3) Republicans are already fleeing from repealing Obamacare. I'll go out on a limb and predict that no repeal bill will pass in 2017. Republicans are just too far apart on a solution. I'll take the split here if a repeal bill passes but the actual repeal part doesn't happen until after the 2018 election. I'll take full credit though if that repeal date should be after the 2020 election, which is definitely possible.
Correct: The tax bill may have sunk the individual mandate, but ObamaCare lives on.
4) Harry Reid left the Dems the option to Bork a Trump Supreme Court pick. I expect that will happen at least once(remember Harriet Miers?) I'll take the split if a second pick is confirmed before the end of the year, but Trump won't get his first pick.
Incorrect: Never underestimate Mitch McConnell's evil. Not only did Trump's first pick,  Neil Gorsuch sail through, but he did because McConnell eliminated the filibuster for Supreme Court nominees, meaning the Bork maneuver is officially dead going forward.
5) All this shouting about the United Nations won't change anything: the US will continue to fund the UN as normal. I could see a symbolic cut, but nothing about ending funding to the UN, it's simply too important.
Partial: Trump did indeed announce cuts to UN funding in 2018.
6) Likewise, all of Trump's bankster choices for his cabinet and advisors means the debt ceiling will be raised on time. That will happen quickly.
Correct: The debt ceiling was raised earlier this month as part of the continuing budget resolution.
I expect plenty of new GOP legislation out before the end of the year:
7) A national 20-week ban on abortions will make it through the House.
Correct: The House passed this in October, so far the Senate has no acted on it.
8) National Voter ID will make it through the House at least.
Incorrect: Indiana GOP Rep. Luke Messer introduced the Election Integrity Act of 2017 in April, but it has yet to go anywhere. 
9) Medicare and Social Security "reform" will also make it through the House. I expect all of these to die in the Senate.
Partial: Medicare and Social Security cuts were rolled into the GOP tax bill.
10) And as always, ZVTS will make it too. It wasn't a gimme as it has been in the past, I've considered hanging it up, but decided that Trump was just too much of a threat to stop this place.

Correct: And that remains true.

Final score:  6 correct, 2 partial, 2 incorrect, for 7/10.  Better than I did in 2016 at least, by a hair.
I'll have my 2018 predictions up tonight.
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