Thank you, Trump voters, for this wonderful joke

we sit and watch in disbelief as the victor drops one piece of china after another, spits in the soup, sticks his fist through a painting and gobbles up the chocolates.



Emphasis Mine

Garrison Keillor is an author and radio personality.

He promised the swamp would be drained,

Was elected, said “Rain!” and it rained

And the old crocodiles

Wore flesh-eating smiles

And the turtles were well entertained.

It’s a wonderful satire right out of Twain or Thurber. A minority of the electorate goes for the loosest and least knowledgeable candidate, certain that he will lose and their votes will be only harmless protest, a middle finger to Washington, and then — whoa. The joke comes true. You put a whoopee cushion on your father’s chair and he sits down and it barks and he has a massive coronary. You wanted to get a rise out of him and instead he falls down dead. Very funny.

Thank you, Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania for this wonderful joke. Voters in high dudgeon against Wall Street manipulators and the Washington aristocracy vote for the billionaire populist who puts tycoons in power and the Republican hierarchy who owned the logjam that the voters voted against. If Billy the Kid had been smart, he’d’ve run for sheriff.

And now we sit and watch in disbelief as the victor drops one piece of china after another, spits in the soup, sticks his fist through a painting and gobbles up the chocolates. Not satisfied with the usual election night victory speech, he stages a post-election victory tour and gloatfest, a series of rallies in arenas where he can waggle his thumbs and smirk and holler and point out the journalists in their pen for the mob to boo and shake their fists at. He puts the Secret Service through their paces, highways are closed, planes diverted, cities disrupted, just so the man can say how much fun it was to defeat Hillary Clinton and confound the experts. I stood in an airport last Thursday and watched live cable news coverage of his first stop in Indiana where he toured a factory whose owner had been promised a $7 million tax break in return for not laying off 800 workers. In November, 178,000 jobs were created and unemployment fell, and here was a platoon of journalists in Indiana trailing a big galoot with a red tie who offered a corporation $7 million not to lose 800 workers. No gain, simply a non-loss. It was a classic TV moment, extensive live coverage of essentially nothing whatsoever and we all stood in a stupor and watched, like people mesmerized by drops of rain sliding down a windowpane.

Eighty thousand Trump voters in three states gave us this man, which goes to show you how much damage a few people can do. It takes 12 million to provide health care, 3 million to run the public schools, but 19 men with box cutters can turn the country upside down and empower the paranoid right and create the pretense for wars that will cost billions and kill a million people and give us a permanent army of blue uniforms yelling at us to take off our shoes and put our laptops into plastic trays.

He is a showman, and oddity has paid off for him, as it did for Lady Gaga and Gorgeous George and Liberace. But the public demands new tricks. Today, railing at the journalists who slavishly cover him is, like bear-baiting or lion-taming, entertainment enough, but by next fall he will need to pull canaries out of his ears, and by 2018 he’ll be diving on horseback from a high tower into a pool of water while playing “Malagueña” on a trumpet. Meanwhile, the Democrats wander in the woods, walking into trees. A wealthy San Francisco liberal is reelected as minority leader in the House, having flung millions into the wind and gotten skunked in 2014 and drubbed this fall, and a lackluster black Muslim congressman from Minneapolis is a leading candidate for chair of the Democratic National Committee, the person who will need to connect with disaffected workers in Youngstown and Pittsburgh. Why not a ballet dancer or a Buddhist monk?

Meanwhile, the emperor-elect parades in the nude while his congressional courtiers admire him and the nation drifts toward the rapids. The one bright spot is the old draft-dodger’s newfound fondness for generals, including the one who talked him out of the idea of torturing prisoners of war. Military experience does encourage a certain respect for reality. There is hope that if the showman should decide late one night to incinerate Iran or North Korea and get it over with, someone might say, “Hold on. Let’s think this through.”


Moyers ; Winship: The Speech Hillary Should Give Before Trump Takes Office

America needs a watchdog, and Hillary needs to make the sales pitch.

Source: AlterNet

Authors: Moyers/Winship:

emphasis mine

Imagine that a day or two before Donald Trump’s inauguration, Hillary Clinton, as the candidate who received the greatest number of votes — and after a period of personal reflection and evaluation — addresses the nation.

My Fellow Americans:

On Friday, January 20th, Donald Trump will be inaugurated as the 45th president of the United States. As mandated by our Constitution, he received a majority of the votes in the Electoral College and thus for the next four years will be given the powers and responsibilities of our nation’s chief executive.

But I believe that I, too, have a mandate, one given to me by the 65 million of you who supported me over Donald Trump in the popular vote, some 2.6 million votes more than he received.

If we are to continue as a democracy, for the next four years and beyond, those voices cannot stay silent.

I urge every one of you who voted for me to help express that mandate and make sure our voices are heard. As each of them comes up for re-election, we will field candidates to run against Donald Trump and his friends in Congress and the statehouses, and we will run against them hard. But until then, let us prepare by joining together as a movement and creating the constituency of what will be, in effect, a shadow government — one that will serve to track and respond to every single bad action undertaken by the Trump administration and its monolithic Congress.

This shadow government will forthrightly express its opposition to such actions and not only call them out as the damaging policy they are, but also offer constructive alternatives that we believe will serve and advance the proper agenda for our nation. No proposal or executive action will go unanswered. We’ll even voice support if it’s warranted — but I fear so far there is little evidence that will be the case.

Historically, this follows the British tradition of a shadow government created by the party in opposition that monitors the ruling party and creates greater transparency, encouraging an honest dialogue based on facts and a thorough knowledge of history and policy. Our shadow government will reflect the experience and knowledge of a core group of men and women who understand how policy is made in Washington, but it will also call on the wisdom and experience of elected mayors, state legislators, public servants, activists and organizers who know the needs of our municipalities, counties and states across the country.

I propose that for every Cabinet officer named by Donald Trump and confirmed by the United States Senate, we in the opposition will have a shadow cabinet member who will monitor the work of that department and comment as needed.

Consider one example: President-elect Trump has named Tom Price, a US Representative from Georgia, to be secretary of health and human services. He wants to repeal the Affordable Care Act, which now offers health coverage to more than 20 million Americans who have never had it before. Whomever we select as our shadow secretary of health and human services will speak out against repeal — but should Secretary Price recognize reality once he is confirmed and offer changes or alternatives that make sense and do the most good for the people, the shadow secretary will voice support.

What’s more, our opposition will be vocal against any attempt to privatize Medicare, which some leaders of Donald Trump’s party have announced as a major and immediate goal. As a general principle, the shadow secretary would urge that the United States move closer to a single-payer system, a Medicare-for-all health care like those in so many other countries that would be more equitable, save lives and create a healthier, more prosperous society. Does this run contradictory to what I supported during my campaign? Yes, it does. I was on the wrong side of the issue. Most of us are familiar with St. Augustine’s observation that it is human to err; few are aware that he went on to say: “It is devilish to remain willfully in error.”

Our shadow secretary of state and secretary of defense will support America’s interests abroad, remain true to our long-term relationships with NATO members and other allies, and constantly work toward peace. While protecting ourselves from terror, we will continue to be a nation of immigrants that welcomes those who come to us in genuine pursuit of liberty and a fresh start.

Nor will the dog whistles of hatred and prejudice that haunted the campaign and the weeks after go unchallenged. Our shadow department of justice will continue the fight for civil rights and voting rights that the incoming administration threatens to suspend. We will not let discrimination destroy our country.

We will have a shadow secretary of the treasury, a shadow secretary of health and human services, secretary of education and secretary of veterans’ affairs. Each and every Cabinet-level post will have its equivalent, as will the heads of many of the top regulatory agencies, including the Environmental Protection Agency, the Securities and Exchange Commission and the Federal Communications Commission.

A shadow version of the Securities and Exchange Commission will speak out against attempts to return Wall Street to the reckless days of speculation and behavior that led up to the terrible financial crash of 2007-08 and the recession that followed. President Obama inherited both and worked hard to lead the recovery. Thanks to the policies of the last several years, President-elect Trump will inherit a thriving economy very different from the one the Republicans left behind in 2004 — and very different from the one he described during his presidential campaign. But I have said to my own friends on Wall Street, whom I came to know as constituents and donors when I served two terms in the Senate, that I now firmly believe that “business as usual” will no longer do. A United States of Goldman Sachs and JPMorgan Chase is untenable if prosperity is to reach Main Street instead of hitting a dead end on Wall Street.

The Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal is DOA. As candidates, Donald Trump and I agreed on that. Our shadow US trade representative will favor international agreements that continue the flow of goods and services among nations but preserve jobs while generating new ones and protecting our interests. Further, we will monitor transactions like the recent Trump-Pence deal with Carrier, which keeps several hundred jobs in Indiana while still losing hundreds of others to Mexico in exchange for the kind of tax breaks that Donald Trump denounced during his campaign. We’ll tell the truth behind the propaganda and the optics, and work instead toward a healthy, thriving atmosphere for economic growth.

A shadow Federal Communications Commission will oppose media consolidation and resist attempts by a Trump-era FCC to overturn the net neutrality rulings that protect a free and open internet. And a shadow Environmental Protection Agency will make sure that any attempts to pollute clean air and water, to pay off industry with deregulation, will be unable to hide in the shadows away from the public eye.

You get the idea. In doing all of this, we hope to bolster the system of checks and balances essential to our republic — a system that already is being battered by an onslaught of irrational, authoritarian impulses. In the face of the fake news epidemic that infects social media, we’ll make freely available to the press and the public facts and data essential to the functioning of a representative government in which all viewpoints are fairly heard.

We will call out the continuing scourge of money in politics.  Every one of us in politics knows that even as we seek the votes of everyday Americans during our campaigns, once elected it is the big donors who get our ear. I am especially disturbed that President-elect Trump has named as his White House counsel Donald McGahn, a man who has eviscerated campaign finance reform in our nation. We also note that many of his Cabinet choices, including Secretary of the Treasury-designate Steve Mnuchin and Secretary of Education-designate Betsy DeVos have donated or bundled millions for Donald Trump and the Republican PartyAs the Center for Responsive Politics has noted, Ms. De Vos and her family have  given “at least $20.2 million to Republican candidates, party committees, PACs and super PACs” — some of it to senators, including Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who will vote on her confirmation.

Our shadow government will support the reversal of Citizens United and other court decisions that have flooded politics with rich people’s money. During the recent campaign, I called over and again for reversing Citizens United, and I realize now that my own fundraising among the wealthy compromised my position. Again, I was on the wrong side. Sen. Bernie Sanders was on the right side. He showed all of us that you can mount an effective national campaign with small donations from millions of American citizens. That’s the way we must go. Our shadow government will be dedicated to ending the buying of America by the superrich.

The Washington swamp that Donald Trump has pledged to empty obviously will not be “drained,” given his myriad conflicts of interest, the “kitchen cabinet” of corporate CEOs he has chosen to advise him, and his support of the same old revolving door between corporate America and government. Our shadow government will call out those who spin through that door — including members of Congress from both parties, who pass through it at dizzying speeds to join lobby and legal firms that use their influence to line their pockets and swell the profits of the corporations that hire them.

It’s time to end the crony capitalism that backslaps and pays off its pals as it kicks the working class to the curb. No more bribes in the form of tax cuts for big business. No more backdoor deals — or threats — that briefly generate jobs or only temporarily keep them in America.

Again, I know that some of you are saying that Hillary Clinton has been guilty of many of these things, too. And again I say, to a great degree, yes, it’s true. You know the words of the great American poet Walt Whitman: “Do I contradict myself? Very well, then I contradict myself.” But I want to go deeper than that, and say that when you lose a campaign for the presidency, despite receiving millions more votes than your opponent, you ask yourself: “Where did I go wrong? How was I tone deaf? Why couldn’t I reach the people who doubted me and convince them I was on their side?” I see clearly now that I simply didn’t understand or appreciate the full extent of people’s frustration with how lopsided our political system is in favor of privilege, or how the inequality in our economy has devastated their own lives and their children’s futures. It is the greatest mistake of my political career.

I’d like to think I have learned from this last campaign how and why my party and our nation have gone wrong. It’s the painful lesson of my long career in public service, and I now take to heart the words of historian Mark Mazower, who has said: “The political class has a very impoverished historical memory and as a result it has a very limited imagination. It is by and large made up of people who do not see themselves in politics in order to effect sweeping change and so they tend to operate very incrementally and very technocratically. They’re very suspicious of vision and as a result what fills their brains is party calculation – which of course always occupies politicians but in the past coexisted with bigger things.”

This must end. Our shadow government will be devoted to the vision of bigger things and a better America for all. All of you will be able check our progress. And we will regularly hold hearings around the country to listen to what you have to say, especially in the regions where so much economic hardship and personal loss have resulted in millions of voters sending up a cry for change, no matter the messenger.

In the immediate days to come, we will hammer out the details on how best to choose and organize this watchdog government. I hope you will join with me and offer your thoughts as we identify those who carefully will watch the Donald Trump presidency and report to you his missteps, excesses — and when called for, his successes.

Our eyes are upon you, Donald Trump. As we work to protect and better our country, you will hear from us, loud and clear. We will not be complacent and we will not allow the trampling of our republic to go unchallenged.

Thank you. May God bless — and save — America.

(N.B.: no supernatural powers are in play: we must save ourselves!)

Bill Moyers is the managing editor of Moyers & Company and

Michael Winship is the president of the Writers Guild of America, East and senior writer of Follow him on Twitter at @MichaelWinship.


An Insider’s View: The Dark Rigidity of Fundamentalist Rural America

In deep-red white America, the white Christian God is king.


Author:Forsetti’s Justice / AlterNet

Emphasis Mine

(N.B.: at the end of the day, belief in a White Christian God is the problem…)

As the aftermath of the election of Donald Trump is being sorted out, a common theme keeps cropping up from all sides: “Democrats failed to understand white, working-class, fly-over America.”

Trump supporters are saying this. Progressive pundits are saying this. Talking heads across all forms of the media are saying this. Even some Democratic leaders are saying this. It doesn’t matter how many people say it, it is complete bullshit. It is an intellectual/linguistic sleight of hand meant to throw attention away from the real problem. The real problem isn’t east coast elites who don’t understand or care about rural America. The real problem is rural America doesn’t understand the causes of their own situations and fears and they have shown no interest in finding out. They don’t want to know why they feel the way they do or why they are struggling because they don’t want to admit it is in large part because of choices they’ve made and horrible things they’ve allowed themselves to believe.

I grew up in rural, Christian, white America. You’d be hard-pressed to find an area in the country that has a higher percentage of Christians or whites. I spent most of the first 24 years of my life deeply embedded in this culture. I religiously (pun intended) attended their Christian services. I worked off and on, on their rural farms. I dated their calico skirted daughters. I camped, hunted, and fished with their sons. I listened to their political rants at the local diner and truck stop. I winced at their racist/bigoted jokes and epithets that were said more out of ignorance than animosity. I have also watched the town I grew up in go from a robust economy with well-kept homes and infrastructure turn into a struggling economy with shuttered businesses, dilapidated homes, and a broken down infrastructure over the past 30 years. The problem isn’t that I don’t understand these people. The problem is they don’t understand themselves, the reasons for their anger/frustrations, and don’t seem to care to know why.

In deep-red white America, the white Christian God is king, figuratively and literally. Religious fundamentalism is what has shaped most of their belief systems. Systems built on a fundamentalist framework are not conducive to introspection, questioning, learning, change. When you have a belief system that is built on fundamentalism, it isn’t open to outside criticism, especially by anyone not a member of your tribe and in a position of power. The problem isn’t “coastal elites don’t understand rural Americans.” The problem is rural America doesn’t understand itself and will NEVER listen to anyone outside their bubble. It doesn’t matter how “understanding” you are, how well you listen, what language you use…if you are viewed as an outsider, your views are automatically discounted. I’ve had hundreds of discussions with rural white Americans and whenever I present them any information that contradicts their entrenched beliefs, no matter how sound, how unquestionable, how obvious, they WILL NOT even entertain the possibility it might be true. Their refusal is a result of the nature of their fundamentalist belief system and the fact I’m the enemy because I’m an educated liberal.

At some point during the discussion, “That’s your education talking,” will be said, derogatorily, as a general dismissal of everything I said. They truly believe this is a legitimate response because to them education is not to be trusted. Education is the enemy of fundamentalism because fundamentalism, by its very nature, is not built on facts. The fundamentalists I grew up around aren’t anti-education. They want their kids to know how to read and write. They are anti-quality, in-depth, broad, specialized education. Learning is only valued up to the certain point. Once it reaches the level where what you learn contradicts doctrine and fundamentalist arguments, it becomes dangerous. I watched a lot of my fellow students who were smart, stop their education the day they graduated high school. For most of the young ladies, getting married and having kids was more important than continuing their learning. For many of the young men, getting a college education was seen as unnecessary and a waste of time. For the few who did go to college, what they learned was still filtered through their fundamentalist belief system. If something they were taught didn’t support a preconception, it would be ignored and forgotten the second it was no longer needed to pass an exam.

Knowing this about their belief system and their view of outside information that doesn’t support it, telling me that the problem is coastal elites not understanding them completely misses the point.

Another problem with rural, Christian, white Americans is they are racists. I’m not talking about white hood-wearing, cross-burning, lynching racists (though some are). I’m talking about people who deep down in their heart of hearts truly believe they are superior because they are white. Their white God made them in his image and everyone else is a less-than-perfect version, flawed and cursed.

The religion in which I was raised taught this. Even though they’ve backtracked on some of their more racist declarations, many still believe the original claims. Non-whites are the color they are because of their sins, or at least the sins of their ancestors. Blacks don’t have dark skin because of where they lived and evolution; they have dark skin because they are cursed. God cursed them for a reason. If God cursed them, treating them as equals would be going against God’s will. It is really easy to justify treating people differently if they are cursed by God and will never be as good as you no matter what they do because of some predetermined status.

Once you have this view, it is easy to lower the outside group’s standing and acceptable level of treatment. Again, there are varying levels of racism at play in rural, Christian, white America. I know people who are ardent racists. I know a lot more whose racism is much more subtle but nonetheless racist. It wouldn’t take sodium pentothal to get most of these people to admit they believe they are fundamentally better and superior to minorities. They are white supremacists who dress up in white dress shirts, ties, and gingham dresses. They carry a Bible and tell you, “everyone’s a child of God” but forget to mention that some of God’s children are more favored than others and skin tone is the criterion by which we know who is and who isn’t at the top of God’s list of most favored children.

For us “coastal elites” who understand evolution, genetics, science…nothing we say to those in fly-over country is going to be listened to because not only are we fighting against an anti-education belief system, we are arguing against God. You aren’t winning a battle of beliefs with these people if you are on one side of the argument and God is on the other. No degree of understanding this is going to suddenly make them less racist, more open to reason and facts. Telling “urban elites” they need to understand rural Americans isn’t going to lead to a damn thing because it misses the causes of the problem.

Because rural, Christian, white Americans will not listen to educated arguments, supported by facts that go against their fundamentalist belief systems from “outsiders,” any change must come from within. Internal change in these systems does happen, but it happens infrequently and it always lags far behind reality. This is why they fear change so much. They aren’t used to it. Of course, it really doesn’t matter whether they like it or not, it, like the evolution and climate change even though they don’t believe it, it is going to happen whether they believe in it or not.

Another major problem with closed-off, fundamentalist belief systems is they are very susceptible to propaganda. All belief systems are to some extent, but fundamentalist systems even more so because there are no checks and balances. If bad information gets in, it doesn’t get out and because there are no internal mechanisms to guard against it, it usually ends up very damaging to the whole. A closed-off belief system is like your spinal fluid—it is great as long as nothing infectious gets into it. If bacteria gets into your spinal fluid, it causes unbelievable damage because there are no white blood cells in it whose job is to fend off invaders and protect the system. This is why things like meningitis are so horrible. Without the protective services of white blood cells in the spinal column, meningitis spreads like wildfire once it’s in and does significant damage in a very short period of time. Once inside the closed-off spinal system, bacteria are free to destroy whatever they want.

The very same is true with closed-off belief systems. Without built-in protective functions like critical analysis, self-reflection, openness to counter-evidence, willingness to re-evaluate any and all beliefs, etc., bad information in a closed-off system ends up doing massive damage in short period of time. What has happened to too many fundamentalist belief systems is damaging information has been allowed in from people who have been granted “expert status.” If someone is allowed into a closed-off system and their information is deemed acceptable, anything they say will readily be accepted and become gospel.

Rural, Christian, white Americans have let in anti-intellectual, anti-science, bigoted, racists into their system as experts like Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Bill O’Reilly, any of the blonde Stepford Wives on Fox, every evangelical preacher on television because they tell them what they want to hear and because they sell themselves as being “one of them.” The truth is none of these people give a rat’s ass about rural, Christian, white Americans except how can they exploit them for attention and money. None of them have anything in common with the people who have let them into their belief systems with the exception they are white and they “speak the same language” of white superiority, God’s will must be obeyed, and how, even though they are the Chosen Ones, they are the ones being screwed by all the people and groups they believe they are superior to.

Gays being allowed to marry are a threat. Blacks protesting the killing of their unarmed friends and family are a threat. Hispanics doing the cheap labor on their farms are somehow viewed a threat. The black president is a threat. Two billion Muslims are a threat. The Chinese are a threat. Women wanting to be autonomous are a threat. The college educated are a threat. Godless scientists are a threat. Everyone who isn’t just like them has been sold to them as a threat and they’ve bought it hook, line, and grifting sinker. Since there are no self-regulating mechanisms in their belief systems, these threats only grow over time. Since facts and reality don’t matter, nothing you say to them will alter their beliefs. “President Obama was born in Kenya, is a secret member of the Muslim Brotherhood who hates white Americans and is going to take away their guns.” I feel ridiculous even writing this, it is so absurd, but it is gospel across large swaths of rural America. Are rural, Christian, white Americans scared? You’re damn right they are. Are their fears rational and justified? Hell no. The problem isn’t understanding their fears. The problem is how to assuage fears based on lies in closed-off fundamentalist belief systems that don’t have the necessary tools for properly evaluating the fears.

I don’t have a good answer to this question. When a child has an irrational fear, you can deal with it because they trust you and are open to possibilities. When someone doesn’t trust you and isn’t open to anything not already accepted as true in their belief system, there really isn’t much, if anything you can do. This is why I think the whole, “Democrats have to understand and find common ground with rural America,” is misguided and a complete waste of time. When a 3,000-year-old book that was written by uneducated, pre-scientific people, subject to translation innumerable times, edited with political and economic pressures from popes and kings, is given higher intellectual authority than facts arrived at from a rigorous, self-critical, constantly re-evaluating system that can and does correct mistakes, no amount of understanding, no amount of respect, no amount of evidence is going to change their minds, assuage their fears.

Do you know what does change the beliefs of fundamentalists, sometimes? When something becomes personal. Many a fundamentalist has changed his mind about the LGBT community once his loved ones started coming out of the closet. Many have not. But those who did, did so because their personal experience came in direct conflict with what they believe. My own father is a good example of this. For years I had long, sometimes heated discussions with him about gay rights. Being the good religious fundamentalist he is, he could not even entertain the possibility he was wrong. The Church said it was wrong, so therefore it was wrong. No questions asked. No analysis needed. This changed when one of his adored stepchildren came out of the closet. He didn’t do a complete 180. He has a view that tries to accept gay rights while at the same time viewing being gay as a mortal sin because his need to have his belief system be right outweighs everything else.

This isn’t uncommon. Deeply held beliefs are usually only altered, replaced under catastrophic circumstances that are personal. This belief system alteration works both ways. I know die-hard, open-minded progressives who became ardent fundamentalists due to a traumatic event in their lives.

A really good example of this is the comedian Dennis Miller. I’ve seen Miller in concert four different times during the 1990s. His humor was complex, riddled with references, and leaned pretty left on almost all issues. Then 9/11 happened. For whatever reasons, the trauma of 9/11 caused a seismic shift in Miller’s belief system. Now he is a mainstay on conservative talk radio. His humor was replaced with anger and frustration. 9/11 changed his belief system because it was a catastrophic event that was personal to him.

The catastrophe of the Great Depression along with the progressive remedies by FDR helped create a generation of Democrats from previously die-hard Republicans. People who had, up until that point, deeply believed the government couldn’t help the economy only the free market could change their minds when the brutal reality of the Great Depression affected them directly, personally.

I thought the financial crisis in 2008 would have a similar, though lesser, impact on many Republicans. It didn’t. The systems that were put in place after the Great Recession to deal with economic crises, the quick, smart response by Congress and the administration helped make what could have been a catastrophic event into merely a really bad one. People suffered, but they didn’t suffer enough to where they were open to questioning their deeply held beliefs. Because this questioning didn’t take place, the Great Recession didn’t lead to any meaningful political shift away from poorly regulated markets, supply side economics, or how to respond to a financial crisis. This is why, even though rural Christian white Americans were hit hard by the Great Recession, they not only didn’t blame the political party they’ve aligned themselves with for years, they rewarded them two years later by voting them into a record number of state legislatures and taking over the U.S. House.

Of course, it didn’t help matters there were scapegoats available they could direct their fears, anger, and white supremacy towards. A significant number of rural Americans believe President Obama was in charge when the financial crisis started. An even higher number believe the mortgage crisis was the result of the government forcing banks to give loans to unqualified minorities. It doesn’t matter how untrue both of these are, they are gospel in rural America. Why reevaluate your beliefs and voting patterns when scapegoats are available?

How do you make climate change personal to someone who believes only God can alter the weather? How do you make racial equality personal to someone who believes whites are naturally superior to non-whites? How do you make gender equality personal to someone who believes women are supposed to be subservient to men by God’s command? How do you get someone to view minorities as not threatening personal to people who don’t live around and never interact with them? How do you make personal the fact massive tax cuts and cutting back government hurts their economic situation when they’ve voted for these for decades? I don’t think you can without some catastrophic events. And maybe not even then. The Civil War was pretty damn catastrophic yet a large swath of the South believed and still believes they were right, had the moral high ground. They were/are also mostly Christian fundamentalists who believe they are superior because of the color of their skin and the religion they profess to follow. There is a pattern here for anyone willing to connect the dots.

“Rural, white America needs to be better understood,” is not one of the dots. “Rural, white America needs to be better understood,” is a dodge, meant to avoid the real problems because talking about the real problems is viewed as “too upsetting,” “too mean,” “too arrogant,” “too elite,” “too snobbish.” Pointing out Aunt Bee’s views of Mexicans, blacks, gays…is bigoted isn’t the thing one does in polite society. Too bad more people don’t think the same about the views Aunt Bee has. It’s the classic, “You’re a racist for calling me a racist,” ploy. Or, as it is more commonly known, “I know you are but what am I?”

I do think rational arguments are needed, even if they go mostly ignored and ridiculed. I believe in treating people with the respect they’ve earned but the key point here is “earned.” I’ll gladly sit down with Aunt Bee and have a nice, polite conversation about her beliefs about “the gays,” “the blacks,” “illegals,”…and do so without calling her a bigot or a racist. But, this doesn’t mean she isn’t a bigot and a racist and if I’m asked to describe her beliefs these are the only words that honestly fit. No one with cancer wants to be told they have cancer, but just because no one uses the word, “cancer,” it doesn’t mean they don’t have it. Just because the media, pundits on all sides, some Democratic leaders don’t want to call the actions of many rural, Christian, white Americans, “racist/bigoted” doesn’t make them not so.

Avoiding the obvious only prolongs getting the necessary treatment. America has always had a race problem. It was built on racism and bigotry. This didn’t miraculously go away in 1964 with the passage of the Civil Rights Act. It didn’t go away with the election of Barack Obama. If anything, these events pulled back the curtain exposing the dark, racist underbelly of America that white America likes to pretend doesn’t exist because we are the reason it exists. From the white nationalists to the white, suburban soccer moms who voted for Donald Trump, to the far left progressives who didn’t vote at all, racism exists and has once again been legitimized and normalized by white America.

The honest truths that rural, Christian, white Americans don’t want to accept and until they do nothing is going to change, are:

-Their economic situation is largely the result of voting for supply-side economic policies that have been the largest redistribution of wealth from the bottom/middle to the top in U.S. history.

Immigrants haven’t taken their jobs. If all immigrants, legal or otherwise, were removed from the U.S., our economy would come to a screeching halt and prices on food would soar.

Immigrants are not responsible for companies moving their plants overseas. Almost exclusively white business owners are the ones responsible because they care more about their share holders who are also mostly white than they do American workers.

No one is coming for their guns. All that has been proposed during the entire Obama administration is having better background checks.

Gay people getting married is not a threat to their freedom to believe in whatever white God you want to. No one is going to make their church marry gays, make gays your pastor, accept gays for membership.

Women having access to birth control doesn’t affect their life either, especially women who they complain about being teenage, single mothers.

-Blacks are not “lazy moochers living off their hard earned tax dollars” anymore than many of your fellow rural neighbors. People in need are people in need. People who can’t find jobs because of their circumstances, a changing economy, outsourcing overseas, etc. belong to all races.

They get a tremendous amount of help from the government they complain does nothing for them. From the roads and utility grids they use to the farm subsidies, crop insurance, commodities protections…they benefit greatly from government assistance. The Farm Bill is one of the largest financial expenditures by the U.S. government. Without government assistance, their lives would be considerably worse.

-They get the largest share of Food Stamps, Medicaid, Medicare, and Social Security.

-They complain about globalization but line up like everyone else to get the latest Apple product. They have no problem buying foreign-made guns, scopes, and hunting equipment. They don’t think twice about driving trucks whose engine was made in Canada, tires made in Japan, radio made in Korea, computer parts made in Malaysia.

-They use illicit drugs as much as any other group. But, when other people do it is a “moral failing” and they should be severely punished, legally. When they do it, it is a “health crisis” that needs sympathy and attention.

-When jobs dry up for whatever reasons, they refuse to relocate but lecture the poor in places like Flint for staying in towns that are failing.

-They are quick to judge minorities for being “welfare moochers” but don’t think twice about cashing their welfare check every month.

-They complain about coastal liberals, but the taxes from California and New York are what covers their farm subsidies, helps maintain their highways, and keeps their hospitals in their sparsely populated areas open for business.

-They complain about “the little man being run out of business” then turn around and shop at big box stores.

-They make sure outsiders are not welcome, deny businesses permits to build, then complain about businesses, plants opening up in less rural areas.

Government has not done enough to help them in many cases but their local and state governments are almost completely Republican and so too are their representatives and senators. Instead of holding them accountable, they vote them in over and over and over again.

All the economic policies and ideas that could help rural America belong to the Democratic Party: raising the minimum wage, strengthening unions, infrastructure spending, reusable energy growth, slowing down the damage done by climate change, healthcare reform…all of these and more would really help a lot of rural Americans.

What I understand is that rural, Christian, white Americans are entrenched in fundamentalist belief systems; don’t trust people outside their tribe; have been force-fed a diet of misinformation and lies for decades; are unwilling to understand their own situations; and truly believe whites are superior to all races. No amount of understanding is going to change these things or what they believe. No amount of niceties will get them to be introspective. No economic policy put forth by someone outside their tribe is going to be listened to no matter how beneficial it would be for them. I understand rural, Christian, white America all too well. I understand their fears are based on myths and lies. I understand they feel left behind by a world they don’t understand and don’t really care to. They are willing to vote against their own interest if they can be convinced it will make sure minorities are harmed more. Their Christian beliefs and morals are truly only extended to fellow white Christians. They are the problem with progress and always will be, because their belief systems are constructed against it.

The problem isn’t a lack of understanding by coastal elites. The problem is a lack of understanding of why rural, Christian, white America believes, votes, behaves the ways it does by rural, Christian, white America.


The frame is the name of the game

Why is the Republican candidate leading in the electoral college vote?  Because he won four states in the Great Lakes region: Pennsylvania; Ohio;  Michigan; and Wisconsin, all of which voted for Obama in 2008 and 2012.  How did DJT win those states?  By better framing his messages.  In a previous post – – it was shown that voters without college degrees – regardless of income levels – supported Trump more than they had supported Romney – and that voters with college degrees – regardless of income levels – supported HRC more than they had supported Obama.  Why?

Trump’s messaging was clear, concise, and well framed (if disingenuous) : you have lost your good paying jobs to undocumented immigrants, people of color, women, and foreigners ( appealing to lower income voters); and your security is threatened by people of color and immigrants (appealing to those with higher incomes).  ” I will take charge and fix these issues”, he said.   While education level and knowledge don’t always correspond, they did here, in the majority: his appeal was effectively anti-elite.  That his frames were racist, misogynist,  and xenophobic makes them despicable, but not ineffective.

I am not clear what Clinton’s message was, except that she was Not DJT, and while she appealed to elites, she did not even get a majority of white women’s votes.  She failed in those states because she failed to frame her messages to appeal to voters who feel they have lost ground.

An earlier post is this blog tracks the decline of the middle class to the decline of labor unions – – and we must frame our messages moving forward that to rebuild the middle class, we must organize and rebuild on the strength of organized labor, and attract the voters HRC lost…

Messaging is a key to winning over voters, and framing is a key to effective messaging – see, for example, “Don’t Think of an Elephant”, by George Lakoff.

N.B.: one of the few positive results of this election has been the exposure of the weakness of the term “midwest”.  More than 30 years ago, I said to a young colleague that we lived in the Great Lakes region, not the ‘midwest’.  He thought and replied: “The midwest consists of the Great Lakes and the Great Plains.”  “And why would you group those two together?”, I replied.

Some pundits are now calling the Great Lakes  the industrial midwest…

Fidel Castro Showed Latin America How to Resist American Imperialism

The failed invasion of the Bay of Pigs was widely celebrated as the first defeat of imperialism in the Americas.


Author:Amy Goodman/Democracy Now

Emphasis Mine

As we revisit the life and legacy of former Cuban President Fidel Castro, we examine how Cuba’s revolutionary ideals spread throughout Latin America. The failed invasion of the Bay of Pigs was widely celebrated as the first defeat of imperialism in the Americas, notes Lou Pérez, professor of history at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He says, “that victory just reverberated across Latin America and, perhaps more than anything else, suggested that a people resolved, with a leader resolved, with a capacity to resist intervention, perhaps it was indeed possible.”

AMY GOODMAN: This is Democracy Now!,, The War and Peace Report. I’m Amy Goodman. We’re hosting a roundtable discussion on Fidel Castro, who died Friday at the age of 90. We’re speaking with Bill Fletcher, who is the founder of the Black Radical Congress, Peter Kornbluh of the Cuba Documentation Project and Professor Lou Pérez Jr., author of Cuba in the American Imagination: Metaphor and the Imperial Ethos. Professor Lou Pérez Jr., talk about the effect of Fidel Castro in Latin America. We just left this conversation about Che Guevara, his death. Talk about what Che Guevara was doing there, what he was doing for Fidel, and what Fidel—overall, Fidel Castro was doing in Latin America beyond Cuba.

LOUIS A. PÉREZ JR.: The power of Fidel Castro and the Cuban revolution stands as a phenomenon of resisting the American pushback against the Cuban revolution. That is, in a region that had been—that had been repeatedly intervened militarily, in Mexico and the Central America—in Central America, political intermeddling, economic intervention in South America. The example of Cuba, especially, I think—especially with the failed invasion of the Bay of Pigs, (N.B.: aka inlet of swine) which contributed powerfully to the consolidation and then centralization of power, and the Cubans celebrated the Bay of Pigs as the first defeat of imperialism in the Americas. And that projection, that boast, that victory, just reverberated across Latin America and, perhaps any—more than anything else, suggested that a people resolved, with a leader resolved, with a capacity to resist intervention, perhaps it was indeed possible. And when the Cubans exhort Latin America to make the Andes the Sierra Maestra of the New World, that idea—that idea of being able to affirm autonomy, agency, self-determination, national sovereignty, just resonated across the Western—across Latin America. And Che Guevara takes the model of the Cuban guerrilla war, the foco theory, the idea that a small handful of people who inter themselves in the interior, the hinterland, of a Latin American country can create what we call the subjective conditions of revolution, and from that guerrilla foco would expand a revolutionary movement that would eventually prevail and proclaim victory. The Che Guevara model of revolution essentially is the replication of the Cuban guerrilla war during the—’57 and ’58.

(N.B.:”The foco theory of revolution by way of guerrilla warfare, also known as focalism (foquismo [foˈkizmo]), was formulated by French intellectual and government official Régis Debray, whose main source of inspiration was Marxist revolutionary Ernesto “Che” Guevara‘s experiences surrounding his rebel army’s victory in the 1959 Cuban Revolution.” –  from wikipedia)

Its central principle is that vanguardism by cadres of small, fast-moving paramilitary groups can provide a focus (in Spanish, foco) for popular discontent against a sitting regime, and thereby lead a general insurrection. Although the original approach was to mobilize and launch attacks from rural areas, many foco ideas were adapted into urban guerrilla warfare movements by the late 1960s.

AMY GOODMAN: And talk about what happened with Che Guevara in Bolivia and what that meant to Fidel Castro and the Cuban revolution.

LOUIS A. PÉREZ JR.: Well, the defeat of the guerrilla foco in Bolivia, the capture and the execution of Che Guevara really dealt a body blow to the whole idea of armed struggle in Latin America. It would not be until the Sandinista victory in 1979 where you do have, indeed, a triumph of a guerrilla movement. But after 19—the defeat of the guerrilla foco and the death of Che Guevara, the Cubans turned more toward domestic issues. These are the years of the big push for the economy. This is the year of the disastrous 10 million ton crop. And between the death of Che Guevara and the 10 million ton crop of 1970, it’s possible to take a look at those set of years as really determining moments that altered the trajectory of the Cuban revolution.

Amy Goodman is the host of Democracy Now!, a daily international TV/radio news hour airing on more than 1,200 stations in North America. She is the co-author of The Silenced Majority, a New York Times best-seller.


Electoral College Must Reject Trump Unless He Sells His Business, Top Lawyers for Bush and Obama Say

Electoral College Must Reject Trump Unless He Sells His Business, Top Lawyers for Bush and Obama Say – Ethics lawyers for the last two presidents are in agreement.



Author: Judd Legum, ThinkProgress

Emphasis Mine



Members of the Electoral College should not make Donald Trump the next president unless he sells his companies and puts the proceeds in a blind trust, according to the top ethics lawyers for the last two presidents.

Richard Painter, Chief Ethics Counsel for George W. Bush, and Norman Eisen, Chief Ethics Counsel for Barack Obama, believe that if Trump continues to retain ownership over his sprawling business interests by the time the electors meet on December 19, they should reject Trump.

In an email to ThinkProgress, Eisen explained that “the founders did not want any foreign payments to the president. Period.” This principle is enshrined in Article 1, Section 9 of the Constitution, which bars office holders from accepting “any present, emolument, office, or title, of any kind whatever, from any king, prince, or foreign state.”

This provision was specifically created to prevent the President, most of all, from being corrupted by foreign influences.

Virginia Governor Edmund Jennings Randolph addressed the issue directly during a Constitutional debate in June 1788, noting that a violation of the provision by the President would be grounds for impeachment. (Randolph was also a delegate to the Constitutional Convention.)

There is another provision against the danger mentioned by the honorable member, of the president receiving emoluments from foreign powers. If discovered he may be impeached. If he be not impeached he may be displaced at the end of the four years. By the ninth section, of the first article, “No person holding an office of profit or trust, shall accept of any present or emolument whatever, from any foreign power, without the consent of the representatives of the people” … I consider, therefore, that he is restrained from receiving any present or emoluments whatever. It is impossible to guard better against corruption.”

Eisen said that Trump’s businesses, foreign and domestic, “are receiving a stream of such payments.” A prime example is Trump’s new hotel in Washington DC which, according to Eisen, is “actively seeking emoluments to Trump: payments from foreign governments for use of the hotel.”

“The notion that his (through his agents) solicitation of those payments, and the foreign governments making of those payments, is unrelated to his office is laughable,” Eisen added.

This problem will be repeated “over and over” again with Trump’s other properties and business interests. The only way to cure this Constitutional violation is for Trump to sell his companies and set up a blind trust before he takes office.

Electors should insist that Trump set up a blind trust as a condition of their vote, Eisen said.

Another option, however unlikely, is for “Republicans in Congress [to] admit that they endorse Trump’s exploitation of public office for private gain and authorize his emoluments as the Constitution allows.”

Eisen’s conclusions are shared by Harvard Law Professor Larry Tribe, one of the nation’s preeminent constitutional scholars. Tribe told ThinkProgress that, after extensive research, he concluded that “Trump’s ongoing business dealings around the world would make him the recipient of constitutionally prohibited ‘Emoluments’ from ‘any King, Prince, or foreign State’ — in the original sense of payments and not necessarily presents or gifts — from the very moment he takes the oath.”

The only solution would be to divest completely from his businesses. Failing that, Tribe elaborated on the consequences:

Trump would be knowingly breaking his oath of exclusive fealty (under Art. II, Sec.1) to a Constitution whose very first Article (Art. I, Sec. 9) — an Article deliberately designed to prevent any U.S. official,especially the Chief Executive, from being indebted to, or otherwise the recipient of financial remuneration from, any foreign power or entity answerable to such a power — he would be violating as he repeated the words recited by the Chief Justice.

Tribe said the violation would qualify as one of the “high Crimes and Misdemeanors” that would require Trump to be “removed from Office.”

This is where the Electoral College comes in. Tribe notes that the Electoral College was “originally conceived by Framers like Alexander Hamilton as a vital safeguard against the assumption of the Presidency by an ‘unfit character’ or one incapable of serving faithfully to ‘execute the Office of President of the United States [and] preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States.’”

“[T]o vote for Trump in the absence of such complete divestment… would represent an abdication of the solemn duties of the 538 Electors,” Tribe said.

This view is not a position of disgruntled liberals. Richard Painter, Bush’s Chief Ethics Counsel, was in complete agreement with Tribe and Eisen during a recent appearance on CNN.

“I don’t think the electoral college can vote for someone to become president if he’s going to be in violation of the Constitution on day one and hasn’t assured us he’s not in violation,” Painter said.

Painter also suggested a cure for the constitutional problem short of total divestment. Trump could agree to have his businesses audited and any payment from a foreign government be turned over to the United States. (Tribe does not think this would actually cure the Constitutional violation.)

Thus far, Trump has not shown a willingness to do anything. Trump told the New York Times that he is under no obligation to set up a trust and he “could run my business perfectly, and then run the country perfectly.” Instead, he plans on having his adult children run the company while he retains ownership.

Trump told a room full of reporters that “the law is totally on my side, meaning, the president can’t have a conflict of interest.”

Painter told CNN that his attempts to warn the Trump transition of the legal consequences of their approach, including emails to adviser Kellyanne Conway, are being ignored.

Meanwhile, Trump has already sought to leverage the office of the presidency to pressure foreign governments to take actions that would improve his bottom line. Trump admitted that he asked a group of British politicians to kill a proposed wind farm he believed would mar the views at a golf course he owns in Scotland. He reportedly asked the president of Argentina to approve permits for a high-rise in Buenos Aires. (Trump denied the allegation, although his local partner announced the project was moving forward the next day.) Trump has also had his daughter Ivanka, who is supposedly managing his day-to-day business interests, sit in on meetings with heads of state.

Eisen views the current situation as dire. If Trump is permitted to be sworn in as president without selling his companies, he says, the country is facing a “wholesale oligarchic kleptocracy of a kind that we have never seen before in our history.”



Education, Not Income, Predicted Who Would Vote For Trump

Source: 538

Author: Nate Silver

Emphasis Mine

Sometimes statistical analysis is tricky, and sometimes a finding just jumps off the page. Here’s one example of the latter.

I took a list of all 981 U.S. counties1 with 50,000 or more people2 and sorted it by the share of the population3 that had completed at least a four-year college degree. Hillary Clinton improved on President Obama’s 2012 performance in 48 of the country’s 50 most-well-educated counties. And on average, she improved on Obama’s margin of victory in these countries by almost 9 percentage points, even though Obama had done pretty well in them to begin with.

Average 51.4% $77,768k +17.3 +25.9 +8.5
Arlington, VA 72.0 105,120 +39.8 +60.1 +20.3
Alexandria, VA 61.5 87,319 +43.5 +59.0 +15.5
Howard, MD 60.4 110,133 +22.0 +33.5 +11.5
New York, NY 59.3 71,656 +68.8 +77.2 +8.4
Fairfax, VA 59.2 112,102 +20.5 +36.2 +15.7
Boulder, CO 58.2 69,407 +41.8 +48.7 +6.9
Loudoun, VA 58.0 123,966 +4.5 +16.8 +12.3
Montgomery, MD 57.4 98,704 +43.9 +55.6 +11.7
Orange, NC 56.2 57,261 +42.2 +51.0 +8.8
Douglas, CO 55.9 102,626 -25.8 -18.1 +7.7
Hamilton, IN 55.6 84,635 -34.3 -19.6 +14.7
Marin, CA 54.8 91,529 +51.3 +62.8 +11.5
Williamson, TN 54.1 91,743 -46.5 -35.5 +11.0
District of Columbia 53.4 69,235 +83.6 +88.7 +5.1
San Francisco, CA 52.9 78,378 +70.5 +75.7 +5.2
Johnson, KS 52.1 75,017 -17.4 -2.7 +14.7
Albemarle, VA 52.1 67,958 +12.0 +25.0 +13.0
Somerset, NJ 52.0 100,903 +5.6 +12.5 +6.9
Washtenaw, MI 51.8 60,805 +35.9 +41.5 +5.6
Johnson, IA 51.7 54,985 +35.5 +38.2 +2.7
Benton, OR 51.4 49,338 +28.5 +33.8 +5.3
Middlesex, MA 51.3 83,488 +27.1 +38.9 +11.8
Delaware, OH 51.1 91,936 -23.2 -16.1 +7.1
Morris, NJ 50.6 99,142 -10.8 -4.4 +6.4
Tompkins, NY 50.3 52,836 +40.6 +42.1 +1.5
Norfolk, MA 49.9 86,469 +15.2 +31.6 +16.4
Broomfield, CO 49.5 80,430 +6.0 +14.1 +8.1
Douglas, KS 49.4 50,732 +24.6 +32.7 +8.1
Collin, TX 49.4 84,233 -31.5 -17.0 +14.5
Chester, PA 48.8 86,093 -0.2 +9.3 +9.5
Fulton, GA 48.6 56,642 +29.8 +42.1 +12.3
Story, IA 48.5 51,270 +13.8 +12.2 -1.6
Hunterdon, NJ 48.3 106,519 -17.8 -13.8 +4.0
Wake, NC 48.3 66,579 +11.4 +20.5 +9.1
Chittenden, VT 48.0 64,243 +41.6 +47.4 +5.8
Boone, MO 47.7 49,059 +3.1 +5.9 +2.8
Dane, WI 47.6 62,303 +43.5 +48.0 +4.5
Santa Clara, CA 47.3 93,854 +42.9 +52.3 +9.4
Eagle, CO 47.3 73,774 +14.9 +19.9 +5.0
King, WA 47.1 73,035 +40.6 +50.5 +9.9
DuPage, IL 46.7 79,016 +1.1 +14.1 +13.0
Gallatin, MT 46.7 54,298 -5.0 +1.0 +6.0
Ozaukee, WI 46.4 75,643 -30.3 -19.3 +11.0
Hennepin, MN 46.4 65,033 +27.0 +35.3 +8.3
Madison, MS 46.3 63,156 -15.7 -16.0 -0.3
Montgomery, PA 46.2 79,926 +14.3 +21.1 +6.8
James City, VA 46.1 76,705 -12.0 -5.1 +6.9
Bergen, NJ 46.1 83,686 +11.3 +12.0 +0.7
Westchester, NY 46.0 83,422 +25.1 +32.8 +7.7
Durham, NC 45.6 52,038 +52.8 +60.4 +7.6
Clinton’s margin surged in the 50 most-educated counties

Sources: American Community Survey, U.S. Election Atlas, ABC News

Although they all have highly educated populations, these counties are otherwise reasonably diverse. The list includes major cities, like San Francisco, and counties that host college towns, like Washtenaw, Michigan, where the University of Michigan is located. It also includes some upper-middle-class, professional counties such as Johnson County, Kansas, which is in the western suburbs of Kansas City. It includes counties in states where Clinton did poorly: She improved over Obama in Delaware County, Ohio, for example — a traditionally Republican stronghold outside Columbus — despite her numbers crashing in Ohio overall. It includes extremely white counties like Chittenden County, Vermont (90 percent non-Hispanic white), and more diverse ones like Fulton County, Georgia, where African-Americans form the plurality of the population. If a county had high education levels, Clinton was almost certain to improve there regardless of the area’s other characteristics.

Now here’s the opposite list: The 50 counties (minimum population of 50,000) where the smallest share of the population has bachelor’s degrees:

Average 13.3% $41,108 -19.3 -30.5 -11.3
Liberty, TX 8.8 47,722 -53.3 -58.0 -4.7
Starr, TX 9.6 25,906 +73.3 +60.1 -13.2
Acadia, LA 9.9 37,684 -49.8 -56.7 -6.9
Apache, AZ 10.1 32,396 +34.3 +36.9 +2.6
Duplin, NC 10.4 34,787 -11.6 -19.2 -7.6
Walker, AL 10.7 36,712 -52.8 -67.5 -14.7
Edgecombe, NC 10.7 33,892 +36.2 +32.2 -4.0
St. Mary, LA 11.1 41,956 -18.8 -27.6 -8.8
DeKalb, AL 11.3 37,977 -54.7 -69.4 -14.7
Anderson, TX 11.3 42,511 -52.1 -58.1 -6.0
McKinley, NM 11.4 29,812 +46.9 +39.5 -7.4
Henry, VA 11.5 34,344 -14.7 -29.2 -14.5
Putnam, FL 11.6 32,714 -24.5 -36.6 -12.2
Darke, OH 11.6 43,323 -44.4 -61.2 -16.8
Halifax, NC 11.9 32,834 +32.3 +26.9 -5.4
Laurel, KY 11.9 35,746 -63.6 -69.1 -5.5
Sampson, NC 12.1 35,731 -10.9 -16.7 -5.8
Maverick, TX 12.1 32,536 +58.1 +55.8 -2.3
Mohave, AZ 12.2 38,456 -42.1 -51.5 -9.4
Blount, AL 12.3 44,409 -73.9 -81.4 -7.5
Robeson, NC 12.4 30,581 +17.4 -4.8 -22.2
Kings, CA 12.5 47,341 -14.9 -17.4 -2.5
Talladega, AL 12.5 35,896 -16.0 -25.5 -9.5
Pike, KY 12.5 32,571 -50.5 -62.7 -12.2
Marion, OH 12.5 42,904 -6.4 -34.4 -28.0
Lea, NM 12.6 55,248 -49.8 -48.3 +1.5
Columbus, NC 12.7 34,597 -7.8 -22.1 -14.3
Terrebonne, LA 12.9 49,932 -41.2 -48.4 -7.2
Wilkes, NC 12.9 32,157 -42.4 -55.2 -12.8
Jackson, AL 12.9 36,874 -41.8 -62.5 -20.7
Le Flore, OK 12.9 35,970 -41.1 -58.7 -17.6
Merced, CA 13.0 43,066 +8.7 +7.9 -0.8
Hawkins, TN 13.0 37,432 -46.9 -63.4 -16.5
Vermilion, LA 13.0 47,344 -52.8 -59.6 -6.8
St. Landry, LA 13.1 33,928 -4.3 -11.9 -7.6
Rockingham, NC 13.1 38,946 -21.1 -30.0 -8.9
Huron, OH 13.1 49,315 -8.3 -36.4 -28.1
Clearfield, PA 13.2 41,510 -28.9 -49.5 -20.6
Tulare, CA 13.3 42,863 -15.0 -16.2 -1.2
Rusk, TX 13.3 46,924 -51.1 -56.6 -5.5
Ashtabula, OH 13.4 40,304 +12.8 -19.0 -31.8
Imperial, CA 13.4 41,772 +32.0 +41.8 +9.7
Bullitt, KY 13.4 56,199 -35.7 -49.8 -14.1
Caldwell, NC 13.4 34,853 -35.5 -50.6 -15.1
Montcalm, MI 13.4 40,739 -8.6 -34.0 -25.4
Madera, CA 13.5 45,490 -17.1 -17.3 -0.2
Dickson, TN 13.5 45,056 -28.4 -45.7 -17.3
Tuscola, MI 13.5 44,017 -10.8 -38.0 -27.2
Pearl River, MS 13.5 40,997 -59.3 -66.7 -7.4
Columbiana, OH 13.6 43,707 -11.8 -41.6 -29.8
Clinton collapsed in the 50 least-educated counties

Sources: American Community Survey, U.S. Election Atlas, ABC News, Alaska Division of Elections

These results are every bit as striking: Clinton lost ground relative to Obama in 47 of the 50 counties — she did an average of 11 percentage points worse, in fact. These are really the places that won Donald Trump the presidency, especially given that a fair number of them are in swing states such as Ohio and North Carolina. He improved on Mitt Romney’s margin by more than 30 points (!) in Ashtabula County, Ohio, for example, an industrial county along Lake Erie that hadn’t voted Republican since 1984.

And this is also a reasonably diverse list of counties. While some of them are poor, a few others — such as Bullitt County, Kentucky, and Terrebonne Parish, Louisiana — have average incomes. There’s also some racial diversity on the list: Starr County, Texas, is 96 percent Hispanic, for example, and Clinton underperformed Obama there (although she still won it by a large margin). Edgecombe County, North Carolina, is 57 percent black and saw a shift toward Trump.

How do we know that education levels drove changes in support — as opposed to income levels, for example? It’s tricky because there’s a fairly strong correlation between income and education.4 Nonetheless, with the whole country to pick from, we can find some places where education levels are high but incomes are average or below average. If education is the key driver of changes in the electorate, we’d expect Clinton to hold steady or gain in these counties. If income matters more, we might see her numbers decline.

As it happens, I grew up in one of these places: Ingham County, Michigan, which is home to Michigan State University and the state capital of Lansing, along with a lot of auto manufacturing jobs (though fewer than there used to be). The university and government jobs attract an educated workforce, but there aren’t a lot of rich people in Ingham County. How did Clinton do there? Just fine. She won it by 28 percentage points, the same as Obama did four years ago, despite her overall decline in Michigan.

And in most places that fit this description, Clinton improved on Obama’s performance. I identified 22 counties5 where at least 35 percent of the population has bachelor’s degrees but the median household income is less than $50,0006 and at least 50 percent of the population is non-Hispanic white (we’ll look at what happened with majority-minority counties in a moment, so hang tight). Clinton improved on Obama’s performance in 18 of the 22 counties, by an average of about 4 percentage points:

Average 40.2% $43,862 +4.8 +8.8 +4.0
Brazos, TX 38.3 39,060 -35.3 -23.6 +11.7
Champaign, IL 42.5 46,680 +7.0 +18.4 +11.4
Clarke, GA 39.3 33,430 +28.8 +38.0 +9.2
Harrisonburg, VA 35.6 38,807 +13.4 +21.9 +8.5
Fayette, KY 40.2 48,667 +1.0 +9.4 +8.4
Riley, KS 45.5 44,522 -12.0 -4.5 +7.5
Davidson, TN 36.5 47,434 +18.6 +26.0 +7.4
Benton, OR 51.4 49,338 +28.5 +33.8 +5.3
Alachua, FL 40.8 42,045 +17.4 +22.6 +5.2
Watauga, NC 38.0 35,491 -3.1 +1.5 +4.6
Monroe, IN 44.2 41,857 +19.1 +23.7 +4.6
Boone, MO 47.7 49,059 +3.1 +5.9 +2.8
Buncombe, NC 35.1 45,642 +12.5 +14.6 +2.1
Montgomery, VA 44.3 44,810 -0.3 +1.3 +1.6
Leon, FL 44.3 46,620 +23.6 +25.1 +1.5
Lafayette, MS 36.9 41,343 -15.3 -14.8 +0.5
New Hanover, NC 37.2 49,582 -4.6 -4.1 +0.5
Payne, OK 36.4 37,637 -28.4 -28.3 +0.1
Ingham, MI 36.5 45,278 +27.8 +27.7 -0.1
Monongalia, WV 38.8 46,166 -9.5 -10.4 -0.9
Tippecanoe, IN 35.2 44,474 -3.6 -5.7 -2.1
Missoula, MT 40.2 47,029 +17.8 +15.7 -2.1
High-education, medium-income white counties shifted to Clinton

Counties shown have a population of at least 50,000. At least 50 percent of residents are non-Hispanic whites, at least 35 percent of the age-25-and-older population has a bachelor’s degree or higher, and the median household income is below $50,000.

Sources: American Community Survey, U.S. Election Atlas, ABC News

Are these so-called “white working-class” counties? You could argue for it: They’re mostly white, and they have average or below-average incomes. But, of course, “class” is a slippery term, and definitions vary. It is worth noting that many of the counties on the list are home to major colleges or universities, although there are some exceptions. Clinton made substantial gains in Nashville, Tennessee (Davidson County), and modest gains in Asheville, North Carolina (Buncombe County), for instance, and both places have reputations as intellectual and cultural havens but aren’t really college towns.7

There are also some counties where incomes are high but residents aren’t particularly well-educated. Take Suffolk County, New York, for instance, which comprises the eastern three-quarters of Long Island. The median household income there is around $88,000, but only about a third of the population has college degrees (as compared to a national average of around 30 percent). Suffolk County turned into Trump Territory, voting for him by 8 percentage points after Obama had won it by 4 points in 2012. Trump made even larger gains in Staten Island, New York (Richmond County), winning it by 17 points after Obama won it by 3 points in 2012.

Long Island and Staten Island might be peculiar cases because voters there may have a cultural affinity with Trump, who grew up in Queens. Even so, they reveal something about how cultural and educational fault lines can mean more than economic circumstances. Clinton improved over Obama’s performance in suburban Westchester County, New York, for instance, which has broadly similar income levels to Long Island and Staten Island but higher education levels and a different mix of occupations.8 (Staten Island is famous for its large population of police and firefighters, but you’ll meet a lot more journalists who have homes in Westchester.9)

Trump improved on Romney’s performance in 23 of 30 counties where median incomes are $70,000 or higher but less than 35 percent of the population have college degrees and the majority of the population is white. For example, Trump won by a much larger margin than Romney in Calvert County, Maryland, which has some commonalities with Long Island.10 And he substantially improved on Romney’s performance in Chisago County, Sherburne County and Wright County in the Minneapolis exurbs, even though Clinton made major gains in Minneapolis’ Hennepin County. There’s probably some degree of cultural self-sorting at play here. These communities have plenty of nice homes and good schools — they’re not cheap to live in — but they have fewer cultural amenities or pretensions (think big-box retail as opposed to boutiques) than you usually find in nearer-in suburbs and small towns such as those in Westchester County.

Average 30.4% $76,701 -11.0 -15.8 -4.8
Richmond, NY 30.6 74,043 +2.6 -16.8 -19.4
Chisago, MN 21.5 70,223 -12.6 -30.6 -18.0
Sherburne, MN 26.2 73,621 -22.0 -37.1 -15.1
Litchfield, CT 33.7 72,068 -3.6 -16.0 -12.3
Orange, NY 28.6 70,794 +5.7 -6.4 -12.1
Suffolk, NY 33.5 88,323 +3.7 -8.2 -11.9
Wright, MN 27.4 73,085 -21.7 -33.2 -11.5
Gloucester, NJ 28.7 76,213 +10.8 -0.5 -11.3
Calvert, MD 29.3 95,425 -7.5 -18.4 -10.9
Warren, NJ 29.5 70,934 -15.5 -25.6 -10.1
St. Mary’s, MD 29.8 88,190 -14.8 -24.6 -9.8
Sussex, NJ 33.1 87,397 -21.4 -30.2 -8.8
Dutchess, NY 33.4 72,471 +7.5 -1.1 -8.6
Anoka, MN 27.3 70,464 -2.6 -9.7 -7.1
Livingston, MI 33.0 73,694 -23.3 -29.6 -6.3
St. Croix, WI 32.4 70,313 -12.1 -18.4 -6.3
Harford, MD 33.4 81,016 -18.4 -24.5 -6.1
Spotsylvania, VA 28.3 78,505 -11.5 -16.8 -5.3
Fauquier, VA 34.3 92,078 -19.9 -24.7 -4.8
Carroll, MD 32.7 85,532 -32.9 -36.9 -4.0
Chesapeake, VA 29.4 70,176 +1.0 -1.3 -2.3
Ascension, LA 25.8 70,207 -34.3 -36.0 -1.7
Elko, NV 17.5 72,280 -53.2 -54.7 -1.5
Will, IL 32.6 76,142 +5.5 +5.6 +0.1
McHenry, IL 32.2 76,345 -8.8 -8.0 +0.8
Kendall, IL 34.3 83,844 -3.3 -1.5 +1.8
Plymouth, MA 34.0 75,816 +4.2 +10.1 +5.9
Napa, CA 31.9 70,925 +28.7 +35.3 +6.6
Kane, IL 31.8 70,514 +1.1 +9.0 +7.9
Davis, UT 34.6 70,388 -61.9 -22.9 +39.0
High-income, medium-education white counties shifted to Trump

Counties shown have a population of at least 50,000. At least 50 percent of residents are non-Hispanic whites, less than 35 percent of the age-25-and-older population has a bachelor’s degree or higher, and the median household income is above $70,000.

Sources: American Community Survey, U.S. Election Atlas, ABC News

Education levels are also increasingly dividing majority-minority communities from one another. For example, let’s look at a set of counties that were a sweet spot for the Obama coalition — those that are both diverse and highly educated. In particular, there are 24 counties (minimum population 50,000) in the U.S. where at least 35 percent of the population has college degrees and less than half the population is non-Hispanic white. Obama did really well in these counties in 2012, winning them by an average of 41 percentage points. But Clinton did even better, winning them by 47 points, on average. The only two such counties that Obama had lost, Clinton won: Fort Bend County, Texas, in suburban Houston, which voted for a Democrat for the first time since 1964, and Orange County, California, which hadn’t voted Democratic since 1936.

Average 42.9% 41.9% +41.2 +47.5 +6.3
Fort Bend, TX 42.3 35.5 -6.8 +6.6 +13.4
Fulton, GA 48.6 40.6 +29.8 +42.1 +12.3
Montgomery, MD 57.4 47.4 +43.9 +55.6 +11.7
Orange, CA 37.3 42.9 -6.2 +5.2 +11.4
San Mateo, CA 45.0 41.2 +46.7 +57.2 +10.5
San Diego, CA 35.1 47.5 +7.6 +17.1 +9.5
Santa Clara, CA 47.3 34.1 +42.9 +52.3 +9.4
New York, NY 59.3 47.4 +68.8 +77.2 +8.4
Yolo, CA 38.3 48.8 +34.0 +42.1 +8.1
DeKalb, GA 40.3 29.7 +56.8 +64.7 +7.9
Suffolk, MA 41.0 47.1 +56.7 +64.6 +7.9
Contra Costa, CA 39.4 46.6 +35.2 +42.9 +7.7
Durham, NC 45.6 42.1 +52.8 +60.4 +7.6
Mecklenburg, NC 41.5 49.6 +22.4 +29.9 +7.5
Richmond, VA 35.4 39.7 +57.3 +63.8 +6.5
San Francisco, CA 52.9 41.4 +70.5 +75.7 +5.2
District of Columbia 53.4 35.4 +83.6 +88.7 +5.1
Prince William, VA 38.1 47.0 +16.0 +20.1 +4.1
Alameda, CA 42.1 33.3 +60.7 +64.4 +3.7
Cook, IL 35.3 43.4 +49.4 +53.0 +3.6
Richland, SC 36.2 44.6 +32.0 +32.9 +0.9
Santa Fe, NM 39.9 43.4 +51.1 +50.8 -0.3
Hudson, NJ 36.8 29.6 +56.1 +51.9 -4.2
Middlesex, NJ 40.7 47.0 +27.6 +19.7 -7.9
Highly educated majority-minority counties shifted toward Clinton

Counties on this list have a population of at least 50,000. Less than 50 percent of residents are non-Hispanic whites and at least 35 percent of the age-25-and-older population has a bachelor’s degree or higher.

Sources: American Community Survey, U.S. Election Atlas, ABC News

By contrast, Clinton struggled (relatively speaking) in majority-minority communities with lower education levels. Among the 19 majority-minority countries where 15 percent or less of the population has a bachelor’s degree, she won by an average of only 7 percentage points, less than Obama’s 10-point average margin of victory in 2012. We need to be slightly careful here because of the potential ecological fallacy — it’s not clear if minority voters shifted away from Clinton in these counties or if the white voters who live there did. Still, Trump probably gained overall among Latino and black voters compared to Romney, and it’s worth investigating divisions within those communities instead of treating their votes as monolithic.

Average 12.8% 30.3% +10.1 +7.0 -3.1
Robeson, NC 12.4 26.7 +17.4 -4.8 -22.2
Cumberland, NJ 13.8 49.0 +24.2 +5.3 -18.9
Starr, TX 9.6 3.4 +73.3 +60.1 -13.2
McKinley, NM 11.4 10.1 +46.9 +39.5 -7.4
Crittenden, AR 14.6 44.7 +14.9 +8.9 -6.0
Halifax, NC 11.9 39.3 32.3 26.9 -5.4
Edgecombe, NC 10.7 37.2 +36.2 +32.2 -4.0
San Patricio, TX 14.8 41.0 -20.7 -24.0 -3.3
Kings, CA 12.5 34.5 -14.9 -17.4 -2.5
Maverick, TX 12.1 3.1 +58.1 +55.8 -2.3
Tulare, CA 13.3 31.3 -15.0 -16.2 -1.2
Merced, CA 13.0 30.5 +8.7 +7.9 -0.8
Madera, CA 13.5 36.8 -17.1 -17.3 -0.2
Navajo, AZ 14.5 43.0 -7.8 -7.9 -0.1
Lea County, NM 12.6 40.6 -49.8 -48.3 +1.5
Apache, AZ 10.1 19.6 +34.3 +36.9 +2.6
Yuma, AZ 14.0 34.0 -12.6 -5.5 7.1
Ector, TX 14.3 38.3 -48.9 -40.6 +8.3
Imperial, CA 13.4 13.0 +32.0 +41.8 +9.7
Low-education majority-minority counties shifted toward Trump

Counties shown have a population of at least 50,000. Less than 50 percent of residents are non-Hispanic whites and less than 15 percent of the age-25-and-older population has a bachelor’s degree or higher.

Sources: American Community Survey, U.S. Election Atlas, ABC News

In short, it appears as though educational levels are the critical factor in predicting shifts in the vote between 2012 and 2016. You can come to that conclusion with a relatively simple analysis, like the one I’ve conducted above, or by using fancier methods. In a regression analysis at the county level, for instance, lower-income counties were no more likely to shift to Trump once you control for education levels.11 And although there’s more work to be done, these conclusions also appear to hold if you examine the data at a more granular level, like by precinct or among individual voters in panel surveys.

But although this finding is clear in a statistical sense, that doesn’t mean the interpretation of it is straightforward. It seems to me that there a number of competing hypotheses that are compatible with this evidence, some of which will be favored by conservatives and some by liberals:

  • Education levels may be a proxy for cultural hegemony. Academia, the news media and the arts and entertainment sectors are increasingly dominated by people with a liberal, multicultural worldview, and jobs in these sectors also almost always require college degrees. Trump’s campaign may have represented a backlash against these cultural elites.
  • Educational attainment may be a better indicator of long-term economic well-being than household incomes. Unionized jobs in the auto industry often pay reasonably well even if they don’t require college degrees, for instance, but they’re also potentially at risk of being shipped overseas or automated.
  • Education levels probably have some relationship with racial resentment, although the causality isn’t clear. The act of having attended college itself may be important, insofar as colleges and universities are often more diverse places than students’ hometowns. There’s more research to be done on how exposure to racial minorities affected white voters. For instance, did white voters who live in counties with large Hispanic populations shift toward Clinton or toward Trump?
  • Education levels have strong relationships with media-consumption habits, which may have been instrumental in deciding people’s votes, especially given the overall decline in trust in the news media.
  • Trump’s approach to the campaign — relying on emotional appeals while glossing over policy details — may have resonated more among people with lower education levels as compared with Clinton’s wonkier and more cerebral approach.

So data like this is really just a starting point for further research into the campaign. Nonetheless, the education gap is carving up the American electorate and toppling political coalitions that had been in place for many years.

Nate Silver is the founder and editor in chief of FiveThirtyEight.