Does Donald Trump own the “white working class”?

UMA 1989 from People's World

West Virginia miners on strike against Pittston Coal in 1989. | Scott Marshall / PW

Source: People’s World

Author: Roberta Wood

Emphasis Mine

Defeating the Trump agenda is going to require winning a section of working class voters who supported him – mostly white – undoubtedly influenced by racism. To get there, it’s going to take more than just rejecting that divisive influence; it’s going to take strengthening working class identity.

The election made me remember back to 1989. My husband Scott and I decided to make that year’s family vacation a trip to the mountains of West Virginia, to Camp Solidarity set up by 2,000 striking coal miners. Their employer, the Pittston Company, had eliminated health benefits for retirees and widows, blaming decreasing coal prices. The miners were occupying the mine’s tipple, its coal-loading platform. Camp Solidarity rallied supporters and donations from around the country and around the world. We wanted our kids to see for themselves what solidarity looked like.

As our old van made its way to the top of the mountain, I was struck by how different this work location was from the urban factories and mills Scott and I spent our work lives in. The giant Freeway Flyer buses with New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania license plates that kept passing us looked out of place on a switch-backed, two-lane road. At Camp Solidarity, we found a well-organized operation directing traffic and parking.

“Welcome folks,” said a tall, wiry, middle-aged miner. He leaned into the open driver’s side window and introduced himself as Jim. Taking note of our license plate, he went on, “I see you folks have come a long way, from Illinois. I used to live near there, near Burns Harbor in Indiana. Know it?”

Seeing a connection, I jumped in, “Did you work at Bethlehem Steel?”

“Yup, seven years!” Then why did you leave, we asked. “Well, I came back here when they began to move in, all these…” He paused; nearby hundreds of stiff-kneed travelers were tumbling out of the buses: AFSCME, SEIU, steelworkers, mostly African American. He looked at us; he knew we knew what he had been getting ready to say. “But,” he drew himself up and a little pride entered his voice, “I don’t feel that way anymore.”

picket line in 1989

On the picket line against Pittston Coal in West Virginia, 1989. | Scott Marshall / PW

I wondered about Jim after the Donald Trump election. Did he remember the experience of solidarity? Or was his vote motivated by fear and hate?

Why Trump?

We know that a majority of white voters – in all categories – voted for Trump. Men, women, young, old, and yes, working class. Who are these folks and why did they vote for a conniving billionaire?

Well, it’s undeniable that there is a consistent, hardcore right-wing racist movement with a deep historical base in our country. The liars. The bullies. These haters made up the core of the Trump supporters; they were the rally-goers.  But these hardcore supporters were only a fraction of the Trump voters.

So what about the others? The ones who voted for Barack Obama in 2008 and 2012. The ones who really take to heart their Sunday school lessons, “Red and yellow, black and white, we are precious in His sight.” The ones who want their daughters to have full equality. The ones who will be warmly welcoming the LGBTQ members of their families at their tables this holiday. The ones who remember their own grandparents were themselves immigrants.

Racial isolation

Statistics show the white voters who supported Trump are concentrated in racially-isolated zip codes. They don’t have day-to-day contact with black people, with immigrants, with people from the Middle East.

They don’t listen to NPR either. Instead, they’re inundated with Fox News, hateful talk radio, and fake online news. “Black Lives Matter thugs attack homeless veteran in Charlotte” was the headline of one such fake “news” video that got over a million views. In it, an elderly white man is kicked by a group of black teens. The footage had nothing to do with BLM; it was years old, filmed in London. But to those who viewed it, those made vulnerable by a culture of racial stereotypes, this horrible image became a fact that influenced their choices.

These Trump voters live in areas where there is little social structure that supports progressive thinking. Churches, with a few heroic exceptions, by and large don’t play a positive role. Often the moral guidance from right-wing evangelical churches is limited to one issue when it comes to voting: abortion. When candidate Trump evoked the mental image of babies being ripped out of their mothers’ wombs, it resonated.

Unions don’t have much of a presence in these racially isolated areas. Nor do other social movements like the Fight for $15. People here – whether in factories or fast food restaurants or call centers – don’t work side-by-side with immigrants or people of other races. Yet the people there face the same anxieties all American families face. What kind of jobs are their kids going to get? The drug scourge. Their health, their retirement. They care about the climate too, and their kids’ education.

A tolerance for the intolerable

Millions made a bad, ill-informed choice in this election. We have to deal forthrightly with the fact that a significant percentage of our working class voted for Donald Trump despite his hateful rhetoric toward African Americans, Latinos, Muslims, and women. Trump got more votes than Romney did in 2012, roughly proportional to the increase in the overall number of voters. This is disturbing, given Trump’s much more extreme, direct, racist, anti-immigrant, and misogynist appeal. The increased vote for Trump is evidence of a troubling tolerance of what should be intolerable.

(N.B.: it has bee observed that education was a bigger factor than income, and in general those with college degrees are less like likely to be prejudice… see https://charlog.blog/2016/11/27/education-not-income-predicted-who-would-vote-for-trump/)

We are repelled by the failure to reject hate, but we can only reverse the Trump agenda by reaching out to these same voters in racially-isolated communities. There’s not four years or even two years to wait.

When the shit hits the fan with Social Security, Medicare, and VA privatization, lost health care, and declining standards of living, the same lying manipulators who worked the media for Trump in the 2016 election will attempt to direct folks’ anger toward the same scapegoats: African Americans, Muslims, and immigrants. They will use the same narrative to take the Trump agenda out of the line of fire. More on that in a bit.

Half a million missing votes

Trump won the electoral college vote in five Midwest (N.B.: these are actually Great Lakes states, which includes Western PA) battleground states – Wisconsin, Ohio, Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Iowa. A combined total of one million voters who had previously voted Democratic, for Pres. Obama, did not vote Democratic for Hillary Clinton. Half of them added their votes to the Trump total this time. But what about the other half? What did that half million do?

Countless Midwestern (Great Lakes) voters – it’s hard to say how many – who were Democratic voters in 2012 were knocked off the rolls by a methodical GOP suppression campaign in these battleground states.

Of the remainder, there were others too who couldn’t bring themselves to vote for Trump but didn’t come out for Clinton either. Some of the former Democratic voters chose third party candidates – either Libertarian Gary Johnson or the Green Party’s Jill Stein. They chose not to vote for Clinton, but nevertheless these former Democratic votes cannot be counted as a vote for racism or xenophobia.

Some may have been driven away by the venom of the campaign and not voted at all. No exit polls are taken of people who don’t vote. It’s important not to exaggerate the Trump vote, especially among the working class.

“Backlash”?

And I find no evidence of a phenomenon cited by other commentators, that Trump’s appeal was primarily based on a backlash to a black president or an increasingly multi-cultural society.

Our challenge is to win the unity of the working class. How do we reach out to these people?

I think first, we have to know that ALL of us, like our coal miner friend Jim, are of two minds about many things. People like him believe in humanity, in being generous, in the brotherhood of man and woman, in peace, in neighborliness. (N.B.: biconceptuals, as Lakoff maintains).

Many embrace the beautiful image of the Statue of Liberty welcoming refugees from poverty and oppression. They are troubled by news reports and videos of unarmed black youth shot in the back by out-of-control police or vigilantes. But they are also influenced by the awful stereotypes they’re inundated with – Islamic terrorists, crime-ridden “inner cities,” dangerous immigrants.

Only working class consciousness – embracing one’s primary identity as a member of that 99 percent majority of Americans who own nothing but their ability to work – fully addresses this challenge. This means identifying with a working class that covers diversity from one end of the beautiful rainbow of humanity to the other.

This is the only foundation that can fundamentally challenge the influence of racism and other ideological influences that undermine working class unity. This kind of consciousness is the protective vaccine needed to resist the poisons of racism, misogyny, and xenophobia.

Lessons from what worked

The working class movement in the U.S. is not starting from scratch in taking on the duality in thinking on matters of class and race. In fact, alongside being the source of the sharpest racist ideology, our country also has a heritage of developing a fight against racism, one that includes winning white Americans, especially white workers, away from that poisonous and suicidal ideology. We also have a long history of fighting for the rights of immigrants and for women’s equality.

There are lessons from our people’s struggle, be it against the 19th century slavocracy or the 20th century Jim Crow, that held the key not only to equality, but to improving of condition of white workers:

  1.  Resist. Don’t sit back and wait to see what happens.
  1.  Defend all targets. Every hate crime and act that goes unchallenged strengthens the base for fascism. On the other hand, engaging folks in the democratic and humanistic struggles against this disunity changes the thinking of the people themselves. Just as a person who has walked a picket line is never the same, a person who has signed a petition, gone to a public hearing, or spoken out against injustice is changed.

Let’s look at the case of the nine African American youth who were being railroaded to a death on a fake rape charge in Scottsboro, Alabama in 1931. Our predecessors, up to their necks in building the CIO industrial unions of steel, auto, and packing house also spent the decade of the 1930s making the case to their co-workers that unionization could not succeed without unity – and their banners read: “Black and white unite and fight.” In the same demonstrations, white and black workers carried placards calling for freedom for the “Scottsboro boys.” For those white workers, fighting racism against the Scottsboro youth helped cement the unity of those workers.

  1.  We need to pay special attention to mass movements that can resonate in racially-isolated areas. For example, the Fight for $15. The majority of those who make less than $15 per hour are white workers. They are fast food workers, Walmart workers, nursing home and, yes, factory workers in towns, suburbs, and rural America. Planned Parenthood has a loyal following and is represented in every state and D.C. Public education is under assault everywhere. There is a basis for national unity there.
  1.  We have to take the initiative in the fights to defend Social Security and Medicare – and Obamacare – to the communities in these areas that are politically vulnerable.
  1. We can’t wait for elections. During elections, tactics demand that efforts be concentrated on getting votes where they are most plentiful, so little door-knocking is done in more challenging areas. Working America has done pioneering work in initiating year-round doorstep conversations.

This is not an easy fight, but look what’s at stake. It’s not enough to analyze and reject the racism, xenophobia, and misogyny of members of our class. Our job is to figure out how to turn it around. But there is no path to unity that doesn’t go through that process. We need all the Jims of the world on our side.

See:http://www.peoplesworld.org/article/does-donald-trump-own-the-white-working-class/

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 – https://charlog.blog/2016/11/27/education-not-income-predicted-who-would-vote-for-trump/ – 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 – https://charlog.blog/2016/11/27/the-rise-and-fall-of-the-american-working-class-exactly-parallels-the-rise-and-fall-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…

The Rise and Fall of the American Working Class Exactly Parallels the Rise and Fall of Labor Unions

Source: RSN

Author: Robert Reich – his FaceBook Page

Emphasis Mine

The rise and fall of the American working class exactly parallels the rise and fall of American labor unions. Here are 5 reasons why Trump’s victory could be the death knell for labor unions, and therefore the end of the working class:

1. Since the 2010 elections, Indiana, Michigan and Wisconsin — all previously strong union states — have all effectively eliminated collective bargaining rights for public employees. Under Trump and Republican governors and legislatures, more states will follow.

2. These three states have also subjected private-sector unions to “right-to-work” laws that enable workers to benefit from union contracts and representation without having to pay their union any dues – a back-door way to kill off unions. With Trump as president, and Republicans in charge of more states, expect more such laws.

3. Trump will almost certainly repeal Obama’s Labor Department rules extending eligibility for overtime pay to millions of salaried employees making more than $22,000 a year, and compelling federal contractors to offer paid sick leave to their employees.

4. Ditto for National Labor Relations Board rulings that employers cannot indefinitely delay union representation elections once their employees have petitioned for a vote, and that university graduate students who work as teaching and research assistants are employees who can elect to unionize, will probably be undone.

5. Once a Trump-appointed conservative wins confirmation to the Supreme Court, the Court is likely to do what it was poised to do before Antonin Scalia’s death — ruling that public employee unions no longer have the right to collect partial dues payments from the nonmembers they represent in disputes with employers and for whom they bargain contracts. This will help destroy public employee unions.

Trump campaigned as the savior of the American working class. He will be its final undoing.

What do you think?

See: http://readersupportednews.org/opinion2/277-75/40488-the-rise-and-fall-of-the-american-working-class-exactly-parallels-the-rise-and-fall-of-labor-unions

Understanding Trump

Source: George Lakoff.com

Author: George.com

Emphasis Mine

There is a lot being written and spoken about Trump by intelligent and articulate commentators whose insights I respect. But as a longtime researcher in cognitive science and linguistics, I bring a perspective from these sciences to an understanding of the Trump phenomenon. This perspective is hardly unknown. More than half a million people have read my books, and Google Scholar reports that scholars writing in scholarly journals have cited my works well over 100,000 times.

Yet you will probably not read what I have to say in the NY Times, nor hear it from your favorite political commentators. You will also not hear it from Democratic candidates or party strategists. There are reasons, and we will discuss them later I this piece. I am writing it because I think it is right and it is needed, even though it comes from the cognitive and brain sciences, not from the normal political sources. I think it is imperative to bring these considerations into public political discourse. But it cannot be done in a 650-word op-ed. My apologies. It is untweetable.

I will begin with an updated version of an earlier piece on who is supporting Trump and why — and why policy details are irrelevant to them. I then move to a section on how Trump uses your brain against you. I finish up discussing how Democratic campaigns could do better, and why they need to do better if we are to avert a Trump presidency.

Who Supports Trump and Why

Donald J. Trump has managed to become the Republican nominee for president, Why? How? There are various theories: People are angry and he speaks to their anger. People don’t think much of Congress and want a non-politician. Both may be true. But why? What are the details? And Why Trump?

He seems to have come out of nowhere. His positions on issues don’t fit a common mold.

He has said nice things about LGBTQ folks, which is not standard Republican talk. Republicans hate eminent domain (the taking of private property by the government) and support corporate outsourcing for the sake of profit, but he has the opposite views on both. He is not religious and scorns religious practices, yet the Evangelicals (that is, the white Evangelicals) love him. He thinks health insurance and pharmaceutical companies, as well as military contractors, are making too much profit and wants to change that. He insults major voting groups, e.g., Latinos, when most Republicans are trying to court them. He wants to deport 11 million immigrants without papers and thinks he can. He wants to stop Muslims from entering the country. What is going on?

The answer requires a bit of background.

In the 1900’s, as part of my research in the cognitive and brain sciences, I undertook to answer a question in my field: How do the various policy positions of conservatives and progressives hang together? Take conservatism: What does being against abortion have to do with being for owning guns? What does owning guns have to do with denying the reality of global warming? How does being anti-government fit with wanting a stronger military? How can you be pro-life and for the death penalty? Progressives have the opposite views. How do their views hang together?

The answer came from a realization that we tend to understand the nation metaphorically in family terms: We have founding fathers. We send our sons and daughters to war. We havehomeland security. The conservative and progressive worldviews dividing our country can most readily be understood in terms of moral worldviews that are encapsulated in two very different common forms of family life: The Nurturant Parent family (progressive) and the Strict Father family (conservative).

What do social issues and the politics have to do with the family? We are first governed in our families, and so we grow up understanding governing institutions in terms of the governing systems of families.

In the strict father family, father knows best. He knows right from wrong and has the ultimate authority to make sure his children and his spouse do what he says, which is taken to be what is right. Many conservative spouses accept this worldview, uphold the father’s authority, and are strict in those realms of family life that they are in charge of. When his children disobey, it is his moral duty to punish them painfully enough so that, to avoid punishment, they will obey him (do what is right) and not just do what feels good. Through physical discipline they are supposed to become disciplined, internally strong, and able to prosper in the external world. What if they don’t prosper? That means they are not disciplined, and therefore cannot be moral, and so deserve their poverty. This reasoning shows up in conservative politics in which the poor are seen as lazy and undeserving, and the rich as deserving their wealth. Responsibility is thus taken to be personal responsibility not social responsibility. What you become is only up to you; society has nothing to do with it. You are responsible for yourself, not for others — who are responsible for themselves.

Winning and Insulting

As the legendary Green Bay Packers coach, Vince Lombardi, said,

“Winning isn’t everything. It’s the only thing.” In a world governed by personal responsibility and discipline, those who win deserve to win. Why does Donald Trump publicly insult other candidates and political leaders mercilessly? Quite simply, because he knows he can win an onstage TV insult game. In strict conservative eyes, that makes him a formidable winning candidate who deserves to be a winning candidate. Electoral competition is seen as a battle. Insults that stick are seen as victories — deserved victories.

Consider Trump’s statement that John McCain is not a war hero. The reasoning: McCain got shot down. Heroes are winners. They defeat big bad guys. They don’t get shot down. People who get shot down, beaten up, and stuck in a cage are losers, not winners.

The Moral Hierarchy

The strict father logic extends further. The basic idea is that authority is justified by morality (the strict father version), and that, in a well-ordered world, there should be (and traditionally has been) a moral hierarchy in which those who have traditionally dominated should dominate. The hierarchy is: God above Man, Man above Nature, The Disciplined (Strong) above the Undisciplined (Weak), The Rich above the Poor, Employers above Employees, Adults above Children, Western culture above other cultures, America above other countries. The hierarchy extends to: Men above women, Whites above Nonwhites, Christians above nonChristians, Straights above Gays.

We see these tendencies in most of the Republican presidential candidates, as well as in Trump, and on the whole, conservative policies flow from the strict father worldview and this hierarchy.

Family-based moral worldviews run deep. Since people want to see themselves as doing right not wrong, moral worldviews tend to be part of self-definition — who you most deeply are. And thus your moral worldview defines for you what the world should be like. When it isn’t that way, one can become frustrated and angry.

There is a certain amount of wiggle room in the strict father worldview and there are important variations. A major split is among (1) white Evangelical Christians, (2) laissez-fair free market conservatives, and (3) pragmatic conservatives who are not bound by evangelical beliefs.

White Evangelicals

Those whites who have a strict father personal worldview and who are religious tend toward Evangelical Christianity, since God, in Evangelical Christianity, is the Ultimate Strict Father: You follow His commandments and you go to heaven; you defy His commandments and you burn in hell for all eternity. If you are a sinner and want to go to heaven, you can be ‘born again” by declaring your fealty by choosing His son, Jesus Christ, as your personal Savior.

Such a version of religion is natural for those with strict father morality. Evangelical Christians join the church because they are conservative; they are not conservative because they happen to be in an evangelical church, though they may grow up with both together.

Evangelical Christianity is centered around family life. Hence, there are organizations like Focus on the Family and constant reference to “family values,” which are to take to be evangelical strict father values. In strict father morality, it is the father who controls sexuality and reproduction. Where the church has political control, there are laws that require parental and spousal notification in the case of proposed abortions.

Evangelicals are highly organized politically and exert control over a great many local political races. Thus Republican candidates mostly have to go along with the evangelicals if they want to be nominated and win local elections.

Pragmatic Conservatives

Pragmatic conservatives, on the other hand, may not have a religious orientation at all. Instead, they may care primarily about their own personal authority, not the authority of the church or Christ, or God. They want to be strict fathers in their own domains, with authority primarily over their own lives. Thus, a young, unmarried conservative — male or female —may want to have sex without worrying about marriage. They may need access to contraception, advice about sexually transmitted diseases, information about cervical cancer, and so on. And if a girl or woman becomes pregnant and there is no possibility or desire for marriage, abortion may be necessary.

Trump is a pragmatic conservative, par excellence. And he knows that there are a lot of Republican voters who are like him in their pragmatism. There is a reason that he likes Planned Parenthood. There are plenty of young, unmarried (or even married) pragmatic conservatives, who may need what Planned Parenthood has to offer — cheaply and confidentially by way of contraception, cervical cancer prevention, and sex ed.

Similarly, young or middle-aged pragmatic conservatives want to maximize their own wealth. They don’t want to be saddled with the financial burden of caring for their parents. Social Security and Medicare relieve them of most of those responsibilities. That is why Trump wants to keep Social Security and Medicare.

Laissez-faire Free Marketeers

Establishment conservative policies have not only been shaped by the political power of white evangelical churches, but also by the political power of those who seek maximally laissez-faire free markets, where wealthy people and corporations set market rules in their favor with minimal government regulation and enforcement. They see taxation not as investment in publicly provided resources for all citizens, but as government taking their earnings (their private property) and giving the money through government programs to those who don’t deserve it. This is the source of establishment Republicans’ anti-tax and shrinking government views. This version of conservatism is quite happy with outsourcing to increase profits by sending manufacturing and many services abroad where labor is cheap, with the consequence that well-paying jobs leave America and wages are driven down here. Since they depend on cheap imports, they would not be in favor of imposing high tariffs.

But Donald Trump is not in a business that makes products abroad to import here and mark up at a profit. As a developer, he builds hotels, casinos, office buildings, golf courses. He may build them abroad with cheap labor but he doesn’t import them. Moreover, he recognizes that most small business owners in America are more like him — American businesses like dry cleaners, pizzerias, diners, plumbers, hardware stores, gardeners, contractors, car washers, and professionals like architects, lawyers, doctors, and nurses. High tariffs don’t look like a problem.

Many business people are pragmatic conservatives. They like government power when it works for them. Take eminent domain. Establishment Republicans see it as an abuse by government — government taking of private property. But conservative real estate developers like Trump depend on eminent domain so that homes and small businesses in areas they want to develop can be taken by eminent domain for the sake of their development plans. All they have to do is get local government officials to go along, with campaign contributions and the promise of an increase in local tax dollars helping to acquire eminent domain rights. Trump points to Atlantic City, where he built his casino using eminent domain to get the property.

If businesses have to pay for their employees’ health care benefits, Trump would want them to have to pay as little as possible to maximize profits for businesses in general. He would therefore want health insurance and pharmaceutical companies to charge as little as possible. To increase competition, he would want insurance companies to offer plans nationally, avoiding the state-run exchanges under the Affordable Care Act. The exchanges are there to maximize citizen health coverage, and help low-income people get coverage, rather than to increase business profits. Trump does however want to keep the mandatory feature of ACA, which establishment conservatives hate since they see it as government overreach, forcing people to buy a product. For Trump, however, the mandatory feature for individuals increases the insurance pool and brings down costs for businesses.

Direct vs. Systemic Causation

Direct causation is dealing with a problem via direct action. Systemic causation recognizes that many problems arise from the system they are in and must be dealt with via systemic causation. Systemic causation has four versions: A chain of direct causes. Interacting direct causes (or chains of direct causes). Feedback loops. And probabilistic causes. Systemic causation in global warming explains why global warming over the Pacific can produce huge snowstorms in Washington DC: masses of highly energized water molecules evaporate over the Pacific, blow to the Northeast and over the North Pole and come down in winter over the East coast and parts of the Midwest as masses of snow. Systemic causation has chains of direct causes, interacting causes, feedback loops, and probabilistic causes — often combined.

Direct causation is easy to understand, and appears to be represented in the grammars of all languages around the world. Systemic causation is more complex and is not represented in the grammar of any language. It just has to be learned.

Empirical research has shown that conservatives tend to reason with direct causation and that progressives have a much easier time reasoning with systemic causation. The reason is thought to be that, in the strict father model, the father expects the child or spouse to respond directly to an order and that refusal should be punished as swiftly and directly as possible.

Many of Trump’s policy proposals are framed in terms of direct causation.

Immigrants are flooding in from Mexico — build a wall to stop them. For all the immigrants who have entered illegally, just deport them — even if there are 11 million of them working throughout the economy and living throughout the country. The cure for gun violence is to have a gun ready to directly shoot the shooter. To stop jobs from going to Asia where labor costs are lower and cheaper goods flood the market here, the solution is direct: put a huge tariff on those goods so they are more expensive than goods made here. To save money on pharmaceuticals, have the largest consumer — the government — take bids for the lowest prices. If Isis is making money on Iraqi oil, send US troops to Iraq to take control of the oil. Threaten Isis leaders by assassinating their family members (even if this is a war crime). To get information from terrorist suspects, use water-boarding, or even worse torture methods. If a few terrorists might be coming with Muslim refugees, just stop allowing all Muslims into the country. All this makes sense to direct causation thinkers, but not those who see the immense difficulties and dire consequences of such actions due to the complexities of systemic causation.

Political Correctness

There are at least tens of millions of conservatives in America who share strict father morality and its moral hierarchy. Many of them are poor or middle class and many are white men who see themselves as superior to immigrants, nonwhites, women, nonChristians, gays — and people who rely on public assistance. In other words, they are what liberals would call “bigots.” For many years, such bigotry has not been publicly acceptable, especially as more immigrants have arrived, as the country has become less white, as more women have become educated and moved into the workplace, and as gays have become more visible and gay marriage acceptable. As liberal anti-bigotry organizations have loudly pointed out and made a public issue of the un American nature of such bigotry, those conservatives have felt more and more oppressed by what they call “political correctness” public pressure against their views and against what they see as “free speech.” This has become exaggerated since 911, when anti-Muslim feelings became strong. The election of President Barack Hussein Obama created outrage among those conservatives, and they refused to see him as a legitimate American (as in the birther movement), much less as a legitimate authority, especially as his liberal views contradicted almost everything else they believe as conservatives.

Donald Trump expresses out loud everything they feel — with force, aggression, anger, and no shame. All they have to do is support and vote for Trump and they don’t even have to express their ‘politically incorrect’ views, since he does it for them and his victories make those views respectable. He is their champion. He gives them a sense of self-respect, authority, and the possibility of power.

Whenever you hear the words “political correctness” remember this.

Biconceptuals

There is no middle in American politics. There are moderates, but there is no ideology of the moderate, no single ideology that all moderates agree on. A moderate conservative has some progressive positions on issues, though they vary from person to person. Similarly, a moderate progressive has some conservative positions on issues, again varying from person to person. In short, moderates have both political moral worldviews, but mostly use one of them. Those two moral worldviews in general contradict each other. How can they reside in the same brain at the same time?

Both are characterized in the brain by neural circuitry. They are linked by a commonplace circuit: mutual inhibition. When one is turned on the other is turned off; when one is strengthened, the other is weakened. What turns them on or off? Language that fits that worldview activates that worldview, strengthening it, while turning off the other worldview and weakening it. The more Trump’s views are discussed in the media, the more they are activated and the stronger they get, both in the minds of hardcore conservatives and in the minds of moderate progressives.

This is true even if you are attacking Trump’s views. The reason is that negating a frame activates that frame, as I pointed out in the book Don’t Think of an Elephant! It doesn’t matter if you are promoting Trump or attacking Trump, you are helping Trump.

A good example of Trump winning with progressive biconceptuals includes certain unionized workers. Many union members are strict fathers at home or in their private life. They believe in “traditional family values” — a conservative code word — and they may identify with winners.

Why Has Trump won the Republican nomination? Look at all the conservative groups he appeals to!

Why His Lack of Policy Detail Doesn’t Matter

I recently heard a brilliant and articulate Clinton surrogate argue against a group of Trump supporters that Trump has presented no policy plans for increasing jobs, increasing economics growth, improving education, gaining international respect, etc. This is the basic Clinton campaign argument. Hillary has the experience, the policy know-how, she can get things done, it’s all on her website. Trump has none of this. What Hillary’s campaign says is true. And it is irrelevant.

Trump supporters and other radical Republican extremists could not care less, and for a good reason. Their job is to impose their view of strict father morality in all areas of life. If they have the Congress, and the Presidency and the Supreme Court, they could achieve this. They don’t need to name policies, because the Republicans already have hundreds of policies ready to go. They just need to be in complete power.

How Trump Uses Your Brain to His Advantage

Any unscrupulous, effective salesman knows how to use you brain against you, to get you to buy what he is selling. How can someone “use your brain against you?” What does it mean?

All thought uses neural circuitry. Every idea is constituted by neural circuitry. But we have no conscious access to that circuitry. As a result, most of thought — an estimated 98 percent of thought is unconscious. Conscious thought is the tip of the iceberg.

Unconscious thought works by certain basic mechanisms. Trump uses them instinctively to turn people’s brains toward what he wants: Absolute authority, money, power, celebrity.

The mechanisms are:

1. Repetition. Words are neurally linked to the circuits that determine their meaning. The more a word is heard, the more the circuit is activated and the stronger it gets, and so the easier it is to fire again. Trump repeats. Win. Win, Win. We’re gonna win so much you’ll get tired of winning.

2. Framing: Crooked Hillary. Framing Hillary as purposely and knowingly committing crimes for her own benefit, which is what a crook does. Repeating makes many people unconsciously think of her that way, even though she has been found to have been honest and legal by thorough studies by the right-wing Bengazi committee (which found nothing) and the FBI (which found nothing to charge her with, except missing the mark ‘(C)’ in the body of 3 out of 110,000 emails). Yet the framing is working.

There is a common metaphor that Immorality Is Illegality, and that acting against Strict Father Morality (the only kind off morality recognized) is being immoral. Since virtually everything Hillary Clinton has ever done has violated Strict Father Morality, that makes her immoral. The metaphor thus makes her actions immoral, and hence she is a crook. The chant “Lock her up!” activates this whole line of reasoning.

3. Well-known examples: When a well-publicized disaster happens, the coverage activates the framing of it over and over, strengthening it, and increasing the probability that the framing will occur easily with high probability. Repeating examples of shootings by Muslims, African-Americans, and Latinos raises fears that it could happen to you and your community — despite the miniscule actual probability. Trump uses this to create fear. Fear tends to activate desire for a strong strict father — namely, Trump.

4. Grammar: Radical Islamic terrorists: “Radical” puts Muslims on a linear scale and “terrorists” imposes a frame on the scale, suggesting that terrorism is built into the religion itself. The grammar suggests that there is something about Islam that has terrorism inherent in it. Imagine calling the Charleston gunman a “radical Republican terrorist.”

Trump is aware of this to at least some extent. As he said to Tony Schwartz, the ghost-writer who wrote The Art of the Deal for him, “I call it truthful hyperbole. It’s an innocent form of exaggeration — and it’s a very effective form of promotion.”

5. Conventional metaphorical thought is inherent in our largely unconscious thought. Such normal modes of metaphorical thinking are not noticed as such.

Consider Brexit, which used the metaphor of “entering” and “leaving” the EU. There is a universal metaphor that states are locations in space: you can enter a state, be deep in some state, and come out that state. If you enter a café and then leave the café , you will be in the same location as before you entered. But that need not be true of states of being. But that was the metaphor used with Brexit; Britons believed that after leaving the EU, things would be as before when the entered the EU. They were wrong. Things changed radically while they were in the EU. That same metaphor is being used by Trump: Make America Great Again. Make America Safe Again. And so on. As if there was some past ideal state that we can go back to just by electing Trump.

6. There is also a metaphor that A Country Is a Person and a metonymy of the President Standing For the Country. Thus, Obama, via both metaphor and metonymy, can stand conceptually for America. Therefore, by saying that Obama is weak and not respected, it is communicated that America, with Obama as president, is weak and disrespected. The inference is that it is because of Obama.

7. The country as person metaphor and the metaphor that war or conflict between countries is a fistfight between people, leads to the inference that just having a strong president will guarantee that America will win conflicts and wars. Trump will just throw knockout punches. In his acceptance speech at the convention, Trump repeatedly said that he would accomplish things that can only be done by the people acting with their government. After one such statement, there was a chant from the floor, “He will do it.”

8. The metaphor that The nation Is a Family was used throughout the GOP convention. We heard that strong military sons are produced by strong military fathers and that “defense of country is a family affair.” From Trump’s love of family and commitment to their success, we are to conclude that, as president he will love America’s citizens and be committed to the success of all.

9. There is a common metaphor that Identifying with Your Family’s National Heritage Makes You a Member of That Nationality. Suppose your grandparents came from Italy and you identify with your Italian ancestors, you may proudly state that you are Italian. The metaphor is natural. Literally, you have been American for two generations. Trump made use of this commonplace metaphor in attacking US District Court Judge Gonzalo Curiel, who is American, born and raised in the United States. Trump said he was a Mexican, and therefore would hate him and tend to rule against him in a case brought against Trump University for fraud.

10. Then there is the metaphor system used in the phrase “to call someone out.” First the word “out.” There is a general metaphor that Knowing Is Seeing as in “I see what you mean.” Things that are hidden inside something cannot be seen and hence not known, while things are not hidden but out in public can be seen and hence known. To “out” someone is to made their private knowledge public. To “call someone out” is to publicly name someone’s hidden misdeeds, thus allowing for public knowledge and appropriate consequences.

This is the basis for the Trumpian metaphor that Naming is Identifying. Thus naming your enemies will allow you to identify correctly who they are, get to them, and so allow you to defeat them. Hence, just saying “radical Islamic terrorists” allows you to pick them out, get at them, and annihilate them. And conversely, if you don’t say it, you won’t be able to pick them out and annihilate them. Thus a failure to use those words means that you are protecting those enemies — in this case Muslims, that is, potential terrorists because of their religion.

I’ll stop here, though I could go on. Here are ten uses of people’s unconscious normal brain mechanisms that are manipulated by Trump and his followers for his overriding purpose: to be elected president, to be given absolute authority with a Congress and Supreme Court, and so to have his version of Strict Father Morality govern America into the indefinite future.

These ten forms of using people’s everyday brain mechanisms for his own purposes have gotten Trump the Republican nomination. But millions more people have seen and heard Trump and company on tv and heard them on the radio. The media pundits have not described those ten mechanisms, or other brain mechanisms, that surreptitiously work on the unconscious minds of the public, even though the result is that Big Lies repeated over and over are being believed by a growing number of people.

Even if he loses the election, Trump will have changed the brains of millions of Americans, with future consequences. It is vitally important people know the mechanisms used to transmit Big Lies and to stick them into people’s brains without their awareness. It is a form of mind control.

People in the media have a duty to report it when the see it. But there are constraints on the media.

Certain things have not been allowed in public political discourse in the media. Reporters and commentators are supposed to stick to what is conscious and with literal meaning. But most real political discourse makes use of unconscious thought, which shapes conscious thought via unconscious framing and commonplace conceptual metaphors. It is crucial, for the history of the country and the world, as well as the planet, that all of this be made public.

And it is not just the media. Such responsibility rests with ordinary citizens who become aware of unconscious brain mechanisms like the ten we have just discussed. This responsibility also rests with the Democratic Party and their campaigns at all levels.

Is the use of the public’s brain mechanisms for communication necessarily immoral? Understanding how people really think can be used to communicate truths, not Big Lies or ads for products.

This knowledge is not just known to cognitive linguists. It is taught in Marketing courses in business schools, and the mechanisms are used in advertising, to get you to buy what advertisers are selling. We have learned to recognize ads; they are set off by themselves. Even manipulative corporate advertising with political intent (like ads for fracking) is not as dangerous as Big Lies leading to authoritarian government determining the future of our country.

How Can Democrats Do Better?

First, don’t think of an elephant. Remember not to repeat false conservative claims and then rebut them with the facts. Instead, go positive. Give a positive truthful framing to undermine claims to the contrary. Use the facts to support positively-framed truth. Use repetition.

Second, start with values, not policies and facts and numbers. Say what you believe, but haven’t been saying. For example, progressive thought is built on empathy, on citizens caring about other citizens and working through our government to provide public resources for all, both businesses and individuals. Use history. That’s how America started. The public resources used by businesses were not only roads and bridges, but public education, a national bank, a patent office, courts for business cases, interstate commerce support, and of course the criminal justice system. From the beginning, the Private Depended on Public Resources, both private lives and private enterprise.

Over time those resources have included sewers, water and electricity, research universities and research support: computer science (via the NSF), the internet (ARPA), pharmaceuticals and modern medicine (the NIH), satellite communication (NASA and NOA), and GPS systems and cell phones (the Defense Department). Private enterprise and private life utterly depend on public resources. Have you ever said this? Elizabeth Warren has. Almost no other public figures. And stop defending “the government.” Talk about the public, the people, Americans, the American people, public servants, and good government. And take back freedom. Public resources provide for freedom in private enterprise and private life.

The conservatives are committed to privatizing just about everything and to eliminating funding for most public resources. The contribution of public resources to our freedoms cannot be overstated. Start saying it.

And don’t forget the police. Effective respectful policing is a public resource. Chief David O. Brown of the Dallas Police got it right. Training, community policing, knowing the people you protect. And don’t ask too much of the police: citizens have a responsibility to provide funding so that police don’t have to do jobs that should be done by others.

Unions need to go on the offensive. Unions are instruments of freedom — freedom from corporate servitude. Employers call themselves job creators. Working people are profit creators for the employers, and as such they deserve a fair share of the profits and respect and acknowledgement. Say it. Can the public create jobs. Of course. Fixing infrastructure will create jobs by providing more public resources that private lives and businesses depend on. Public resources to create more public resources. Freedom creates opportunity that creates more freedom.

Third, keep out of nasty exchanges and attacks. Keep out of shouting matches. One can speak powerfully without shouting. Obama sets the pace: Civility, values, positivity, good humor, and real empathy are powerful. Calmness and empathy in the face of fury are powerful. Bill Clinton won because he oozed empathy, with his voice, his eye contact, and his body. It wasn’t his superb ability as a policy wonk, but the empathy he projected and inspired.

Values come first, facts and policies follow in the service of values. They matter, but they always support values.

Give up identity politics. No more women’s issues, black issues, Latino issues. Their issues are all real, and need public discussion. But they all fall under freedom issues, human issues. And address poor whites! Appalachian and rust belt whites deserve your attention as much as anyone else. Don’t surrender their fate to Trump, who will just increase their suffering.

And remember JFK’s immortal, “Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country.” Empathy, devotion, love, pride in our country’s values, public resources to create freedoms. And adulthood.

Be prepared. You have to understand Trump to stand calmly up to him and those running with him all over the country.

___

George Lakoff is Distinguished Professor of Cognitive Science and Linguistics Emeritus at the University of California at Berkeley. His most recent book is The ALL NEW Don’t Think of an Elephant! His previous books on politics and social issues are Moral Politics (1996, 2002), Don’t Think of an Elephant! (2004), Whose Freedom? (2008), The Political Mind (2008), and The Little Blue Book, with Elisabeth Wehling (2012). The third edition of Moral Politics will be published in September in time for the 2016 election. His website is georgelakoff.com.

See: https://georgelakoff.com/2016/07/23/understanding-trump-2/

And just which chord was struck, Maestro?

Donald, Donald, he’s our man! If he can’t do it, the Ku Klux Klan!

Donald, Donald, he’s our man!  If he can’t do it, the Ku Klux Klan!

Multiple time Republican Presidential hopeful Rick Santorum – appearing on Realtime with Bill Maher on August 5th – rather superciliously noted that Donald Trump has ‘struck a cord with voters’.  True that, but the questions to be asked are: which ‘chord’, and what voters?

Santorum – as have many Trump apologists – echoed the GOP wishful thinking that the voters to whom Trump appeals are lower income working class (traditionally Democrat voters),  that the chord which was struck was economic populism, and that Trump recognizes their plight and will address their concerns if elected.

In fact Trump supporters have a higher median income than the national average –  see http://fivethirtyeight.com/features/the-mythology-of-trumps-working-class-support/  – which means his supporters are not lower income.  Which ‘chord’?

The ‘chord’ which has been struck is in fact not economic populism but rather racism, and its bedfellows misogyny and xenophobia: the deportment of his supporters at rallies confirm that these are their primary concerns.

“At the end of the day”, elections are won with voter turnout, and to defeat him, then,  we must register and turnout people of color, women, and those citizens who were born in ( and whose parents were born in) another country.  Despite his nodding toward working Americans, he has a historically anti-labor record, and labor must get out the vote as well.

N.B.: Trump read an economic speech in Detroit on August 8, and in summary: “I don’t know if Trump has tiny hands or not. But when it comes to the economy, he definitely has tiny plans. We were promised a bold new vision. What we got instead was, with one or two notable exceptions, a warmed-over version of the House Republicans’ standard-issue voodoo economics.”   Richard Eskow – http://www.alternet.org/election-2016/trump-small-economic-vision?akid=14525.123424.w6yQX4&rd=1&src=newsletter1061756&t=18

N.B.:The first Presidential election in which I voted was 1964, and an unpopular person at the top of the GOP ticket  helped facilitate a Democratic landside: let’s do that again!  That candidate was Barry Goldwater: he carried his home state of Arizona, and the five states of the original Confederacy.

Donald, Donald, he’s our man!  If he can’t do it, the Ku Klux Klan!

(In 1964 it was Barry, Barry…)

 

 

Understanding Trump

U.S. Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump speaks at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, Ohio, U.S. July 21, 2016. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
U.S. Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump speaks at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, Ohio, U.S. July 21, 2016. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

Source: Huff Post

Author: George Lakoff

Emphasis Mine

(N.B.:The nomination of Trump has provided an incredible vindication for George Lakoff’s insights into American politics.  This is a very informative and valuable essay, which should be read and understood by all progressives – one might recall the Donald’s acceptance speech while reading.  At the “end of the day”, we must work hard to win, and the harder we work, the more we will win.)

There is a lot being written spoken about Trump by intelligent and articulate commentators whose insights I respect. But as a longtime researcher in cognitive science and linguistics, I bring a perspective from these sciences to an understanding of the Trump phenomenon. This perspective is hardly unknown. More that half a million people have read my books, and Google Scholar reports that scholars writing in scholarly journals have cited my works well over 100,000 times.

As a longtime researcher in cognitive science and linguistics, I bring a perspective from these sciences to an understanding of the Trump phenomenon.

Yet you will probably not read what I have to say in the New York Times, nor hear it from your favorite political commentators. You will also not hear it from Democratic candidates or party strategists. There are reasons, and we will discuss them later this piece. I am writing it because I think it is right and it is needed, even though it comes from the cognitive and brain sciences, not from the normal political sources. I think it is imperative to bring these considerations into public political discourse. But it cannot be done in a 650-word op-ed. My apologies. It is untweetable.

I will begin with an updated version of an earlier piece on who is supporting Trump and why — and why policy details are irrelevant to them. I then move to a section on how Trump uses your brain against you. I finish up discussing how Democratic campaigns could do better, and why they need to do better if we are to avert a Trump presidency.

Who Supports Trump and Why

Donald J. Trump has managed to become the Republican nominee for president, Why? How? There are various theories: People are angry and he speaks to their anger. People don’t think much of Congress and want a non-politician. Both may be true. But why? What are the details? And Why Trump?

He seems to have come out of nowhere. His positions on issues don’t fit a common mold.

He has said nice things about LGBTQ folks, which is not standard Republican talk. Republicans hate eminent domain (the taking of private property by the government) and support corporate outsourcing for the sake of profit, but he has the opposite views on both. He is not religious and scorns religious practices, yet the Evangelicals (that is, the white Evangelicals) love him. He thinks health insurance and pharmaceutical companies, as well as military contractors, are making too much profit and wants to change that. He insults major voting groups, e.g., Latinos, when most Republicans are trying to court them. He wants to deport 11 million immigrants without papers and thinks he can. He wants to stop Muslims from entering the country. What is going on?

The answer requires a bit of background.

In the 1900s, as part of my research in the cognitive and brain sciences, I undertook to answer a question in my field: How do the various policy positions of conservatives and progressives hang together? Take conservatism: What does being against abortion have to do with being for owning guns? What does owning guns have to do with denying the reality of global warming? How does being anti-government fit with wanting a stronger military? How can you be pro-life and for the death penalty? Progressives have the opposite views. How do their views hang together?

The answer came from a realization that we tend to understand the nation metaphorically in family terms: We have founding fathers. We send our sons and daughters to war. We have homeland security. The conservative and progressive worldviews dividing our country can most readily be understood in terms of moral worldviews that are encapsulated in two very different common forms of family life: The Nurturant Parent family (progressive) and the Strict Father family (conservative).

(N.B.: it has been noted that the most common characteristic of Trump supporters is that they support an authoritarian outlook.)

What do social issues and the politics have to do with the family? We are first governed in our families, and so we grow up understanding governing institutions in terms of the governing systems of families.

In the strict father family, father knows best. He knows right from wrong and has the ultimate authority to make sure his children and his spouse do what he says, which is taken to be what is right. Many conservative spouses accept this worldview, uphold the father’s authority, and are strict in those realms of family life that they are in charge of. When his children disobey, it is his moral duty to punish them painfully enough so that, to avoid punishment, they will obey him (do what is right) and not just do what feels good. Through physical discipline they are supposed to become disciplined, internally strong, and able to prosper in the external world. What if they don’t prosper? That means they are not disciplined, and therefore cannot be moral, and so deserve their poverty. This reasoning shows up in conservative politics in which the poor are seen as lazy and undeserving, and the rich as deserving their wealth. Responsibility is thus taken to be personal responsibility not social responsibility. What you become is only up to you; society has nothing to do with it. You are responsible for yourself, not for others — who are responsible for themselves.

Winning and Insulting

As the legendary Green Bay Packers coach, Vince Lombardi, said, “Winning isn’t everything. It’s the only thing.” In a world governed by personal responsibility and discipline, those who win deserve to win. Why does Donald Trump publicly insult other candidates and political leaders mercilessly? Quite simply, because he knows he can win an onstage TV insult game. In strict conservative eyes, that makes him a formidable winning candidate who deserves to be a winning candidate. Electoral competition is seen as a battle. Insults that stick are seen as victories — deserved victories.

Electoral competition is seen as a battle. Insults that stick are seen as victories — deserved victories.

Consider Trump’s statement that John McCain is not a war hero. The reasoning: McCain got shot down. Heroes are winners. They defeat big bad guys. They don’t get shot down. People who get shot down, beaten up, and stuck in a cage are losers, not winners.

The Moral Hierarchy

The strict father logic extends further. The basic idea is that authority is justified by morality (the strict father version), and that, in a well-ordered world, there should be (and traditionally has been) a moral hierarchy in which those who have traditionally dominated should dominate. The hierarchy is: God above Man, Man above Nature, The Disciplined (Strong) above the Undisciplined (Weak), The Rich above the Poor, Employers above Employees, Adults above Children, Western culture above other cultures, America above other countries. The hierarchy extends to: Men above women, Whites above Nonwhites, Christians above nonChristians, Straights above Gays.

We see these tendencies in most of the Republican presidential candidates, as well as in Trump, and on the whole, conservative policies flow from the strict father worldview and this hierarchy

Family-based moral worldviews run deep. Since people want to see themselves as doing right not wrong, moral worldviews tend to be part of self-definition — who you most deeply are. And thus your moral worldview defines for you what the world should be like. When it isn’t that way, one can become frustrated and angry.

There is a certain amount of wiggle room in the strict father worldview and there are important variations. A major split is among (1) white Evangelical Christians, (2) laissez-fair free market conservatives, and (3) pragmatic conservatives who are not bound by evangelical beliefs.

White Evangelicals

Those whites who have a strict father personal worldview and who are religious tend toward Evangelical Christianity, since God, in Evangelical Christianity, is the Ultimate Strict Father: You follow His commandments and you go to heaven; you defy His commandments and you burn in hell for all eternity. If you are a sinner and want to go to heaven, you can be ‘born again” by declaring your fealty by choosing His son, Jesus Christ, as your personal Savior.

Such a version of religion is natural for those with strict father morality. Evangelical Christians join the church because they are conservative; they are not conservative because they happen to be in an evangelical church, though they may grow up with both together.

Evangelical Christianity is centered around family life. Hence, there are organizations like Focus on the Family and constant reference to “family values,” which are to take to be evangelical strict father values. In strict father morality, it is the father who controls sexuality and reproduction. Where the church has political control, there are laws that require parental and spousal notification in the case of proposed abortions.

Evangelicals are highly organized politically and exert control over a great many local political races. Thus Republican candidates mostly have to go along with the evangelicals if they want to be nominated and win local elections.

Pragmatic Conservatives

Pragmatic conservatives, on the other hand, may not have a religious orientation at all. Instead, they may care primarily about their own personal authority, not the authority of the church or Christ, or God. They want to be strict fathers in their own domains, with authority primarily over their own lives. Thus, a young, unmarried conservative — male or female —may want to have sex without worrying about marriage. They may need access to contraception, advice about sexually transmitted diseases, information about cervical cancer, and so on. And if a girl or woman becomes pregnant and there is no possibility or desire for marriage, abortion may be necessary.

Trump is a pragmatic conservative, par excellence. And he knows that there are a lot of Republican voters who are like him in their pragmatism. There is a reason that he likes Planned Parenthood. There are plenty of young, unmarried (or even married) pragmatic conservatives, who may need what Planned Parenthood has to offer — cheaply and confidentially by way of contraception, cervical cancer prevention, and sex ed.

Young or middle-aged pragmatic conservatives want to maximize their own wealth… That is why Trump wants to keep Social Security and Medicare.

Similarly, young or middle-aged pragmatic conservatives want to maximize their own wealth. They don’t want to be saddled with the financial burden of caring for their parents. Social Security and Medicare relieve them of most of those responsibilities. That is why Trump wants to keep Social Security and Medicare.

Laissez-faire Free Marketeers

Establishment conservative policies have not only been shaped by the political power of white evangelical churches, but also by the political power of those who seek maximally laissez-faire free markets, where wealthy people and corporations set market rules in their favor with minimal government regulation and enforcement. They see taxation not as investment in publicly provided resources for all citizens, but as government taking their earnings (their private property) and giving the money through government programs to those who don’t deserve it. This is the source of establishment Republicans’ anti-tax and shrinking government views. This version of conservatism is quite happy with outsourcing to increase profits by sending manufacturing and many services abroad where labor is cheap, with the consequence that well-paying jobs leave America and wages are driven down here. Since they depend on cheap imports, they would not be in favor of imposing high tariffs.

But Donald Trump is not in a business that makes products abroad to import here and mark up at a profit. As a developer, he builds hotels, casinos, office buildings, golf courses. He may build them abroad with cheap labor but he doesn’t import them. Moreover, he recognizes that most small business owners in America are more like him — American businesses like dry cleaners, pizzerias, diners, plumbers, hardware stores, gardeners, contractors, car washers, and professionals like architects, lawyers, doctors, and nurses. High tariffs don’t look like a problem.

Many business people are pragmatic conservatives. They like government power when it works for them. Take eminent domain. Establishment Republicans see it as an abuse by government — government taking of private property. But conservative real estate developers like Trump depend on eminent domain so that homes and small businesses in areas they want to develop can be taken by eminent domain for the sake of their development plans. All they have to do is get local government officials to go along, with campaign contributions and the promise of an increase in local tax dollars helping to acquire eminent domain rights. Trump points to Atlantic City, where he build his casino using eminent domain to get the property.

If businesses have to pay for their employees’ health care benefits, Trump would want them to have to pay as little as possible to maximize profits for businesses in general. He would therefore want health insurance and pharmaceutical companies to charge as little as possible. To increase competition, he would want insurance companies to offer plans nationally, avoiding the state-run exchanges under the Affordable Care Act. The exchanges are there to maximize citizen health coverage, and help low-income people get coverage, rather than to increase business profits. Trump does however want to keep the mandatory feature of ACA, which establishment conservatives hate since they see it as government overreach, forcing people to buy a product. For Trump, however, the mandatory feature for individuals increases the insurance pool and brings down costs for businesses.

Direct vs. Systemic Causation

Direct causation is dealing with a problem via direct action. Systemic causation recognizes that many problems arise from the system they are in and must be dealt with via systemic causation. Systemic causation has four versions: A chain of direct causes. Interacting direct causes (or chains of direct causes). Feedback loops. And probabilistic causes. Systemic causation in global warming explains why global warming over the Pacific can produce huge snowstorms in Washington DC: masses of highly energized water molecules evaporate over the Pacific, blow to the Northeast and over the North Pole and come down in winter over the East coast and parts of the Midwest as masses of snow. Systemic causation has chains of direct causes, interacting causes, feedback loops, and probabilistic causes — often combined.

Direct causation is easy to understand, and appears to be represented in the grammars of all languages around the world. Systemic causation is more complex and is not represented in the grammar of any language. It just has to be learned.

Empirical research has shown that conservatives tend to reason with direct causation and that progressives have a much easier time reasoning with systemic causation. The reason is thought to be that, in the strict father model, the father expects the child or spouse to respond directly to an order and that refusal should be punished as swiftly and directly as possible.

Many of Trump’s policy proposals are framed in terms of direct causation.

Immigrants are flooding in from Mexico — build a wall to stop them. For all the immigrants who have entered illegally, just deport them — even if there are 11 million of them working throughout the economy and living throughout the country. The cure for gun violence is to have a gun ready to directly shoot the shooter. To stop jobs from going to Asia where labor costs are lower and cheaper goods flood the market here, the solution is direct: put a huge tariff on those goods so they are more expensive than goods made here. To save money on pharmaceuticals, have the largest consumer — the government — take bids for the lowest prices. If Isis is making money on Iraqi oil, send US troops to Iraq to take control of the oil. Threaten Isis leaders by assassinating their family members (even if this is a war crime). To get information from terrorist suspects, use water-boarding, or even worse torture methods. If a few terrorists might be coming with Muslim refugees, just stop allowing all Muslims into the country. All this makes sense to direct causation thinkers, but not those who see the immense difficulties and dire consequences of such actions due to the complexities of systemic causation.

Political Correctness

There are at least tens of millions of conservatives in America who share strict father morality and its moral hierarchy. Many of them are poor or middle class and many are white men who see themselves as superior to immigrants, nonwhites, women, nonChristians, gays — and people who rely on public assistance. In other words, they are what liberals would call “bigots.” For many years, such bigotry has not been publicly acceptable, especially as more immigrants have arrived, as the country has become less white, as more women have become educated and moved into the workplace, and as gays have become more visible and gay marriage acceptable.

As liberal anti-bigotry organizations have loudly pointed out… bigotry, those conservatives have felt more and more oppressed by what they call ‘political correctness.’

As liberal anti-bigotry organizations have loudly pointed out and made a public issue of the unAmerican nature of such bigotry, those conservatives have felt more and more oppressed by what they call “political correctness” — public pressure against their views and against what they see as “free speech.” This has become exaggerated since 911, when anti-Muslim feelings became strong. The election of President Barack Hussein Obama created outrage among those conservatives, and they refused to see him as a legitimate American (as in the birther movement), much less as a legitimate authority, especially as his liberal views contradicted almost everything else they believe as conservatives.

Donald Trump expresses out loud everything they feel — with force, aggression, anger, and no shame. All they have to do is support and vote for Trump and they don’t even have to express their ‘politically incorrect’ views, since he does it for them and his victories make those views respectable. He is their champion. He gives them a sense of self-respect, authority, and the possibility of power.

Whenever you hear the words “political correctness” remember this.

Biconceptuals

There is no middle in American politics. There are moderates, but there is no ideology of the moderate, no single ideology that all moderates agree on. A moderate conservative has some progressive positions on issues, though they vary from person to person. Similarly, a moderate progressive has some conservative positions on issues, again varying from person to person. In short, moderates have both political moral worldviews, but mostly use one of them. Those two moral worldviews in general contradict each other. How can they reside in the same brain at the same time?

Both are characterized in the brain by neural circuitry. They are linked by a commonplace circuit: mutual inhibition. When one is turned on the other is turned off; when one is strengthened, the other is weakened. What turns them on or off? Language that fits that worldview activates that worldview, strengthening it, while turning off the other worldview and weakening it. The more Trump’s views are discussed in the media, the more they are activated and the stronger they get, both in the minds of hardcore conservatives and in the minds of moderate progressives.

This is true even if you are attacking Trump’s views. The reason is that negating a frame activates that frame, as I pointed out in the book Don’t Think of an Elephant!It doesn’t matter if you are promoting Trump or attacking Trump, you are helping Trump.

A good example of Trump winning with progressive biconceptuals includes certain unionized workers. Many union members are strict fathers at home or in their private life. They believe in “traditional family values” — a conservative code word — and they may identify with winners.

Why Has Trump won the Republican nomination? Look at all the conservative groups he appeals to!

Why His Lack of Policy Detail Doesn’t Matter

I recently heard a brilliant and articulate Clinton surrogate argue against a group of Trump supporters that Trump has presented no policy plans for increasing jobs, increasing economics growth, improving education, gaining international respect, etc. This is the basic Clinton campaign argument. Hillary has the experience, the policy know-how, she can get things done, it’s all on her website. Trump has none of this. What Hillary’s campaign says is true. And it is irrelevant.

Trump supporters and other radical Republican extremists could not care less, and for a good reason. Their job is to impose their view of strict father morality in all areas of life. If they have the Congress, and the Presidency and the Supreme Court, they could achieve this. They don’t need to name policies, because the Republicans already of hundreds of policies ready to go. They just need to be in complete power.

How Trump Uses Your Brain to His Advantage

Any unscrupulous, effective salesman knows how to use you brain against you, to get you to buy what he is selling. How can someone “use your brain against you?” What does it mean?

All thought uses neural circuitry. Every idea is constituted by neural circuitry. But we have no conscious access to that circuitry. As a result, most of thought — an estimated 98 percent of thought is unconscious. Conscious thought is the tip of the iceberg.

Unconscious thought works by certain basic mechanisms. Trump uses them instinctively to turn people’s brains toward what he wants: Absolute authority, money, power, celebrity.

The mechanisms are:

1. Repetition. Words are neurally linked to the circuits the determine their meaning. The more a word is heard, the more the circuit is activated and the stronger it gets, and so the easier it is to fire again. Trump repeats. Win. Win, Win. We’re gonna win so much you’ll get tired of winning.

2. Framing: Crooked Hillary. Framing Hillary as purposely and knowingly committing crimes for her own benefit, which is what a crook does. Repeating makes many people unconsciously think of her that way, even though she has been found to have been honest and legal by thorough studies by the right-wing Bengazi committee (which found nothing) and the FBI (which found nothing to charge her with, except missing the mark ‘(C)’ in the body of 3 out of 110,000 emails). Yet the framing is working.

There is a common metaphor that Immorality Is Illegality, and that acting against Strict Father Morality (the only kind off morality recognized) is being immoral. Since virtually everything Hillary Clinton has ever done has violated Strict Father Morality, that makes her immoral. The metaphor thus makes her actions immoral, and hence she is a crook. The chant “Lock her up!” activates this whole line of reasoning.

3. Well-known examples: When a well-publicized disaster happens, the coverage activates the framing of it over and over, strengthening it, and increasing the probability that the framing will occur easily with high probability. Repeating examples of shootings by Muslims, African-Americans, and Latinos raises fears that it could happen to you and your community — despite the miniscule actual probability. Trump uses this to create fear. Fear tends to activate desire for a strong strict father — namely, Trump.

4. Grammar: Radical Islamic terrorists: “Radical” puts Muslims on a linear scale and “terrorists” imposes a frame on the scale, suggesting that terrorism is built into the religion itself. The grammar suggests that there is something about Islam that has terrorism inherent in it. Imagine calling the Charleston gunman a “radical Republican terrorist.”

Trump is aware this to at least some extent. As he said to Tony Schwartz, the ghost-writer who wrote The Art of the Deal for him, “I call it truthful hyperbole. It’s an innocent form of exaggeration — and it’s a very effective form of promotion.”

5. Conventional metaphorical thought is inherent in our largely unconscious thought. Such normal modes of metaphorical thinking that are not noticed as such.

Consider Brexit, which used the metaphor of “entering” and “leaving” the EU. There is a universal metaphor that states are locations in space: you can enter a state, be deep in some state, and come out that state. If you enter a café and then leave the café , you will be in the same location as before you entered. But that need not be true of states of being. But that was the metaphor used with Brexist; Britons believe that after leaving the EU, things would be as before when the entered the EU. They were wrong. Things changed radically while they were in the EU. That same metaphor is being used by Trump: Make America Great Again. Make America Safe Again. And so on. As if there was some past ideal state that we can go back to just by electing Trump.

6. There is also a metaphor that A Country Is a Person and a metonymy of the President Standing For the Country. Thus, Obama, via both metaphor and metonymy, can stand conceptually for America. Therefore, by saying that Obama is weak and not respected, it is communicated that America, with Obama as president, is weak and disrespected. The inference is that it is because of Obama.

7. The country as person metaphor and the metaphor that war or conflict between countries is a fistfight between people, leads the inference that just having a strong president will guarantee that America will win conflicts and wars. Trump will just throw knockout punches. In his acceptance speech at the convention, Trump repeatedly said that he would accomplish things that can only be done by the people acting with their government. After one such statement, there was a chant from the floor, “He will do it.”

8. The metaphor that The nation Is a Family was used throughout the GOP convention. We heard that strong military sons are produced by strong military fathers and that “defense of country is a family affair.” From Trump’s love of family and commitment to their success, we are to conclude that, as president he will love America’s citizens and be committed to the success of all.

9. There is a common metaphor that Identifying with your family’s national heritage makes you a member of that nationality. Suppose your grandparents came from Italy and you identify with your Italian ancestors, you may proud state that you are Italian. The metaphor is natural. Literally, you have been American for two generations. Trump made use of this commonplace metaphor in attacking US District Court Judge Gonzalo Curiel, who is American, born and raised in the United States. Trump said he was a Mexican, and therefore would hate him and tend to rule against him in a case brought against Trump University for fraud.

10. Then there is the metaphor system used in the phrase “to call someone out.” First the word “out.” There is a general metaphor that Knowing Is Seeing as in “I see what you mean.” Things that are hidden inside something cannot be seen and hence not known, while things are not hidden but out in public can be seen and hence known. To “out” someone is to made their private knowledge public. To “call someone out” is to publicly name someone’s hidden misdeeds, thus allowing for public knowledge and appropriate consequences.

This is the basis for the Trumpian metaphor that Naming is Identifying. Thus naming your enemies will allow you to identify correctly who they are, get to them, and so allow you to defeat them. Hence, just saying “radical Islamic terrorists” allows you to pick them out, get at them, and annihilate them. And conversely, if you don’t say it, you won’t be able to pick them out and annihilate them. Thus a failure to use those words means that you are protecting those enemies — in this case Muslims, that is, potential terrorists because of their religion.

I’ll stop here, though I could go on. Here are ten uses of people’s unconscious normal brain mechanisms that are manipulated by Trump and his followers for his overriding purpose: to be elected president, to be given absolute authority with a Congress and Supreme Court, and so to have his version of Strict Famer Morality govern America into the indefinite future.

These ten forms of using with people’s everyday brain mechanisms for his own purposes have gotten Trump the Republican nomination. But millions more people have seen and heard Trump and company on tv and heard them on the radio. The media pundits have not described those ten mechanisms, or other brain mechanisms, that surreptitiously work on the unconscious minds of the public, even though the result is that Big Lies repeated over and over are being believed by a growing number of people.

Even if he loses the election, Trump will have changed the brains of millions of Americans, with future consequences. It is vitally important people know the mechanisms used to transmit Big Lies and to stick them into people’s brains without their awareness. It is a form of mind control.

People in the media have a duty to report it when the see it. But the media comes with constraints.

Certain things have not been allowed in public political discourse in the media. Reporters and commentators are supposed to stick to what is conscious and with literal meaning. But most real political discourse makes use of unconscious thought, which shapes conscious thought via unconscious framing and commonplace conceptual metaphors. It is crucial, for the history of the country and the world, as well as the planet, that all of this be made public.

And it is not just the media, Such responsibility rests with ordinary citizens who become aware of unconscious brain mechanisms like the ten we have just discussed. This responsibility also rests with the Democratic Party and their campaigns at all levels.

Is the use of the public’s brain mechanisms for communication necessarily immoral? Understanding how people really think can be used to communicate truths, not Big Lies or ads for products.

This knowledge is not just known to cognitive linguists. It is taught in Marketing courses in business schools, and the mechanisms are used in advertising, to get you to buy what advertisers are selling. We have learned to recognize ads; they are set off by themselves. Even manipulative corporate advertising with political intent (like ads for fracking) is not as dangerous as Big Lies leading to authoritarian government determining the future of our country.

How Can Democrats Do Better?

First, don’t think of an elephant. Remember not to repeat false conservative claims and then rebut them with the facts. Instead, go positive. Give a positive truthful framing to undermine claims to the contrary. Use the facts to support positively-framed truth. Use repetition.

Second, start with values, not policies and facts and numbers. Say what you believe, but haven’t been saying. For example, progressive thought is built on empathy, on citizens caring about other citizens and working through our government to provide public resources for all, both businesses and individuals. Use history. That’s how America started. The public resources used by businesses were not only roads and bridges, but public education, a national bank, a patent office, courts for business cases, interstate commerce support, and of course the criminal justice system. From the beginning, the Private Depended on Public Resources, both private lives and private enterprise.

Over time those resources have included sewers, water and electricity, research universities and research support: computer science (via the NSF), the internet (ARPA), pharmaceuticals and modern medicine (the NIH), satellite communication (NASA and NOA), and GPS systems and cell phones (the Defense Department). Private enterprise and private life utterly depend on public resources. Have you ever said this? Elizabeth Warren has. Almost no other public figures. And stop defending “the government.” Talk about the public, the people, Americans, the American people, public servants, and good government. And take back freedom. Public resources provide for freedom in private enterprise and private life.

The conservatives are committed to privatizing just about everything and to eliminating funding for most public resources. The contribution of public resources to our freedoms cannot be overstated. Start saying it.

And don’t forget the police. Effective respectful policing is a public resource. Chief David O. Brown of the Dallas Police got it right. Training, community policing, knowing the people you protect. And don’t ask too much of the police: citizens have a responsibility to provide funding so that police don’t have to do jobs that should be done by others.

Unions need to go on the offensive. Unions are instruments of freedom — freedom from corporate servitude. Employers call themselves job creators. Working people are profit creators for the employers, and as such they deserve a fair share of the profits and respect and acknowledgement. Say it. Can the public create jobs. Of course. Fixing infrastructure will create jobs by providing more public resources that private lives and businesses depend on. Public resources to create more public resources. Freedom creates opportunity that creates more freedom.

Third, keep out of nasty exchanges and attacks. Keep out of shouting matches. One can speak powerfully without shouting. Obama sets the pace: Civility, values, positivity, good humor, and real empathy are powerful. Calmness and empathy in the face of fury are powerful. Bill Clinton won because he oozed empathy, with his voice, his eye contact, and his body. It wasn’t his superb ability as a policy wonk, but the empathy he projected and inspired.

Values come first, facts and policies follow in the service of values. They matter, but they always support values.

Give up identity politics. No more women’s issues, black issues, Latino issues. Their issues are all real, and need public discussion. But they all fall under freedom issues, human issues. And address poor whites! Appalachian and rust belt whites deserve your attention as much as anyone else. Don’t surrender their fate to Trump, who will just increase their suffering.

And remember JFK’s immortal, “Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country.” Empathy, devotion, love, pride in our country’s values, public resources to create freedoms. And adulthood.

Be prepared. You have to understand Trump to stand calmly up to him and those running with him all over the country.

___

George Lakoff is Distinguished Professor of Cognitive Science and Linguistics Emeritus at the University of California at Berkeley. His most recent book is The ALL NEW Don’t Think of an Elephant! His previous books on politics and social issues are Moral Politics (1996, 2002), Don’t Think of an Elephant! (2004), Whose Freedom? (2008), The Political Mind (2008), and The Little Blue Book, with Elisabeth Wehling (2012). The third edition of Moral Politics will be published in September in time for the 2016 election.

This Blogger’s Books and Other Items from…

The ALL NEW Don't Think of an Elephant!: Know Your Values and Frame the Debate

The ALL NEW Don’t Think of an Elephant!: Know Your Values and Frame the Debate
by George Lakoff

Moral Politics : How Liberals and Conservatives Think

Moral Politics : How Liberals and Conservatives Think
by George Lakoff

See: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/george-lakoff/understanding-trump_b_11144938.html

Trumpism Can’t Last Forever, Right?

Source: AlterNet

Author: Simon Radford

Emphasis Mine

So what’s The Donald’s plan? He’s donning his camouflage, dusted off his traps and nets, and setting off in search of that rarest of beasts: the white man.

But he can’t win, right? As Donald Trump rolls towards a Republican convention where he will be the overwhelming favourite to take the party’s nod as their general election candidate, the same question repeats in tasteful living rooms, oak-paneled boardrooms, and faculty common rooms. Donald Trump might have been defeating the political gravity of common sense, but it can’t last forever, right? The quiescence underpinned by the conviction that Trump would implode in a hailstorm of bluster and bad hair has turned to an urgency that something this mad can’t actually come to pass. But as the Economist Intelligence Unit now lists the threat of a Trump presidency as a quantifiable possibility to be hedged against, we should dust off a tome from 2002 for reassuranceThe Emerging Democratic Majority argues that a combination of professionals, women, and minority voters give the Democrats a powerful in-built advantage towards winning presidential elections. With the Donald’s approval ratings rivalling Charles Manson’s amongst women and Hispanics, and urban professionals showing no signs of deserting their Democratic home, it’s a coalition that “white men can’t trump”.

In 2002 this emerging Democratic majority was less easy to see. John Judis, a veteran of the world of Washington political magazines, teamed up with Ray Teixeira, a demographer and political scientist, to make the case that America was in the midst of an historic shift in American Political Development (APD). APD is a sub-field of political science that aims to show how shifting constellations of political forces create durable governing coalitions. Judis and Teixeira argued that the era of New Right Reaganism was coming to an end. The 1980s may have seen the Democrats control Congress while Republicans won national elections, but the 1990s saw Newt Gingrich take back the House for the Republicans for the first time in 40 years. Conservatism might never have seemed so strong, but this too would pass and a nascent Democratic permanent revival was in the works. 

For a liberal in the 90s this seemed hard to believe. Three traditional Democratic candidates, each with impressive credentials, were crushed at the polls. To win back the White House, Bill Clinton never had to win 50% of the popular vote, but still felt the necessity to assert his distance from traditional Democratic constituencies by visibly enforcing the death penalty and being “tough on crime”, using an invite from Jesse Jackson to critique hip-hop and violence against the police, and proclaiming that “the era of Big Government is over” while reforming welfare. Clinton’s victories convinced many that it was a Republican world and liberals just lived in it. To win, they needed the votes of the white men who deserted the party for Reagan. A Democratic consultant called “Mudcat” advised candidates on Nascar, grits, and whistling Dixie. A Democrat who compromised with a radical Republican party was still better than having a radical Republican elected.

Even the strong currents of a booming economy, a balanced budget, and a bumbling Republican candidate, hobbled by a last-minute drink driving scandal that may have cost him millions of votes, couldn’t get Al Gore to the White House and the Democrats a third term. Bush’s chief strategist boasted of having createda permanent Republican majority”. So it was with that, Judis and Teixeira’s book resembled a friend’s reassurance after a particularly nasty break-up: things might be rough now but your time will come. Things would get better. Past isn’t destiny, it’s merely prologue.

And lo! It came to pass! And president Obama delivered us from permanent conservatism. But if you had told Al From and William Galston, who pioneered Clinton’s pivot between 80s liberalism and Reaganite orthodoxy, that the Democrats would nominate an African-American candidate, known for opposing a war in the Middle East, with a liberal policy agenda and a funny name – and win! – they would have pegged the odds somewhere around Jerry Springer becoming next Fed Chairman. But Obama was nominated. And he did win. And he won with a coalition that neatly resembled that detailed by Judis and Teixeira. Perhaps 2008 resembled what some political scientists called a “crucial election” and the Democrats could move from being the political brake pedal to the accelerator again.

So why wouldn’t the same coalition power Hillary to victory once more? Three answers get bandied around: firstly, that Hillary is a poor candidate; secondly, that holding the White House for a third time is not the same proposition as winning it for the first or second time; and, relatedly, that turnout for Hillary’s campaign is likely to be down from 2012. Finally, Republicans who refuse to believe that they must adjust their political project due to new demographic realities speak of ‘the missing white voters’. The case that Trump can win hinges on these claims, although Ted Cruz has made a similar claim about missing evangelical voters, and they rely more on hope than cold analysis.

Firstly, Hillary is indeed a poor candidate. Her voice is scratchy and the noise in the room often leads to her seeming to shout to those watching on TV; her pitch tends to be more about her than about those she claims she wants to fight for; and she lacks an overarching diagnosis of what ails America and how best to fix it. The fact that she has been in or close to power for so long and often hob-nobs with the rich and powerful, makes it seem that she has more invested in piecing back together the status quo than trying to fix the underlying problems that see so many fearful for their economic future. Especially to millennials who crave authenticity, tend to be suffering economically and reel under a barrage of student loans and poor job prospects, Hillary can often seem like the ‘let them eat cake’ candidate. Her attempt to use ‘the gender card’ against Bernie caused resentment among the young, female voters who she needed to win over, while her lack of an overarching message turns off those who tend to be left out of identity politics coalition stitching. Hillary’s main weakness – working class male voters – are exactly those who are most pissed off and most open to entertaining a pitch from Donald Trump.

However, while Hillary might be more Al Gore than Bill Clinton when it comes to inspiring or “the vision thing” (as George H.W. Bush called it), she does have a savvy campaign team and the potential to expropriate much of Bernie Sander’s message once he exits the race. Hillary will inherit a sophisticated voter-targeting machine from the Obama campaign – updated with fresh real-world election data thanks to the primaries – while the Koch Brothers and their extensive fundraising network and data provider to Republican candidates might just sit this one out with Trump as the nominee. Hillary also has the opportunity to supplement her campaign by choosing an effective vice-presidential running mate. Her weakness with white, working-class men (especially in key, swing states) might see her plump for someone like senator (and former SNL funnyman) Al FrankenSherrod Brown, or Tom Kaine; if she felt the need to motivate Hispanic voters, labour secretary Tom Perez might prove a savvy outsider choice. As a candidate Hillary Clinton is not RFK, but there is plenty to argue that she will run a competent, if somewhat uninspiring, general election campaign.

Secondly, it is hard for any party to hold the White House for a third term. Grievances accumulate over time and it is only natural that people should blame the party in charge of the most visible part of the government. Indeed, in election prediction models, the length of time a party has held the White House is a powerful variable in predicting the election outcome. The most well known of these models, Alan Abramovitz’s “Time for a Change” model, has an elegant simplicity in how it comes to make its predictions: “The basic Time for Change Model uses three factors– the incumbent president’s net approval rating at the end of June, the change in real GDP in the second quarter of the election year, and a first term incumbency advantage, to predict the winner of the national popular vote.” Hillary will lack any incumbency advantage that Obama could lay claim to in 2012, but the latter’s job approval ratings have hovered around 50%, having climbed over the last year. Economics news has been bumpy but much of voters’ economic assessment is baked into the president’s job approval ratings. A strong Republican candidate would like these numbers when sizing up their chances of taking out Hillary but as headwinds go, the numbers seem like more of a gust than a hurricane.

Thirdly, turnout is indeed a worry. While many fret about turnout during primary season compared to the records of 8 years ago, there is a good argument that this is a data point not worth getting hung up over. However, there is still the question mark over how much the Obama coalition was due to Obama. The infamous Bannock Street project, larded with $60m of donor largesse, promised to activate these voters to keep the Senate in Democratic hands in 2014, with arguable results. Millennials have largely shunned Hillary’s candidacy and will have to be persuaded with difficulty to warm to her; African-Americans don’t have one of their own in the Oval Office to fight for; and Hispanic voters feel let down that Obama did not pursue comprehensive immigration reform with enough vigour. Unions failed to secure card-check legislation under Obama, have further declined in power, and have injected themselves into a Democratic civil war over TPP. Meanwhile Republicans have been pouring money into catching up the Democrats’ technical advantage and overtaking it. Hillary might well struggle to inspire the Obama coalition to the ballot box in the same numbers. A Republican candidate that would reach Hispanic voters or young people, as argued by the GOP’s own 2012 “Autopsy” report, could steal from a fragile Democratic base and win the White House. But so far the party has not tried to find a message that can win over these voters. Still, even with this lack of active competition for their affections, Hillary will have to reach her turnout figures regardless.

So we see a somewhat lukewarm prognosis for Hillary’s general election chances, but Hillary has one secret weapon: Donald Trump. Hispanic voters unsurprisingly loathe the Donald. Professionals who remained in the Republican camp are still trying to steal the Republican nomination from his clammy, short-fingered, grasp. And Trump’s ratings among women are about as healthy as his comments about dating his own daughter. Indeed, just as fellow-conservative Newt Gingrich previewed how the Democrats would define Mitt Romney before he had a chance to create his own image for the voters, Republican SuperPACs have already shown exactly what is coming Trump’s way over the airwaves from now until election day. The Democrats already had a ‘women gap’ in their favour, this is likely to make it grow to record levels. He’s just lucky that kids don’t vote.

With 2016’s electors set to be the most diverse in history, Trump is driving the Obama coalition into Hillary’s hands. While mass defections to Hillary from Republican stalwarts is overblown because of partisan polarisation and reverse-partisanship, Democrats who might have had trouble getting voters enthused enough to vote for Hillary will now have plenty of fuel to stoke their enthusiasm. So what’s Trump’s plan? He’s donning his camouflage, dusted off his traps and nets, and is topping up his liquid sustenance, and setting off in search of that rarest of beasts: the white man. 

The counterweight to the demography-as-destiny argument of the “emerging democratic majority” is themissing white voter” thesis. This argument makes the claim that almost 6 million fewer white voters went to the polls in 2012 than we should have expected based on projections. If this number reverted to the mean or a candidate enthused these voters, then the GOP could get back to the White House without changing its coalition of voters. This missing bloc is crucial because if one looks at the 2012 electorate, then Trump’s path looks extremely narrow, as Bill James points out:

“The math suggests Trump would need a whopping 70% of white male voters to cast their ballots for him. That’s a larger percentage than Republicans have ever won before — more than the GOP won in the landslide victories of Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush, and far more than they won during the racially polarized elections of Barack Obama.“

Of course, all white voters are not the same. There is a striking class difference in the Trump base. Blue-collar voters tend to be much warmer than those who belong to the professional classes. This difference is crucial, as Teixeira himself explained in a recent sit-down with the New Yorker:

“In Ohio in 2012, Mitt Romney won the white working-class vote by a 16% margin: 57% to 41%. According to Teixeira’s projections, Trump, to carry Ohio in November, would need to increase this margin to 22 or 23 points. “That’s a big ask,” Teixeira said. And Trump would also need to retain, or even increase, Romney’s ten-point margin among college-educated white Republicans, even though at least some members of this group may be sufficiently put off by Trump’s extremism to stay at home, or even to switch to the Democrats.”

Teixeira’s baseline there, of course, uses 2012 and treats these missing white voters as permanently gone, even though these missing voters seem to resemble the blue-collar, anti-free trade voters that would most respond to Donald Trump’s economic populist appeal. However, even those analysts most closely associated with the ‘missing white voters’ hypothesis, contend that those missing white voters would not have been enough to have coronated a president Romney in 2012: 

“But while this was the most salient demographic change, it was probably not, standing alone, enough to swing the election to Obama. After all, he won the election by almost exactly 5 million votes. If we assume there were 6.5 million “missing” white voters, than means that Romney would have had to win almost 90% of their votes to win the election. Given that whites overall broke roughly 60-40 for Romney, this seems unlikely. In fact, if these voters had shown up and voted like whites overall voted, the president’s margin would have shrunk, but he still would have won by a healthy 2.7% margin.”

There is an argument that a Republican strategy of targeting ‘missing white voters’ would have a chance at high-tide if the Democratic coalition turned out as if it were at low-tide. However, Trump’s ability to turn out these working class white voters founders on the irony that by doing so he activates the very Democratic coalition he seeks to overpower. Mitt Romney only won 27% of Latinos in 2012, but Donald Trump might struggle to win two-thirds of Romney’s total in a national voting population more Latino than ever and energised to turn out to vote against him. African-American turnout might struggle to reach the levels reached under president Obama, but the president will surely be relied upon again to turn out the vote in key states like North Carolina and Virginia. Trump’s use of a megaphone rather than a dog-whistle might activate these missing white voters, but at the very real risk of seeing defections from normally Republican women in the suburban battlegrounds of previous elections. While reverse-partisanship – the idea that many people vote against a candidate rather than for their own – might see Republicans rediscover their loathing for secretary Clinton and vote for Trump reluctantly, some professional-class Republicans will surely “do a France” and hold their nose to vote against Mr Trump or simply sit this race out.

The Republicans could have stopped a president Hillary Clinton if they had nominated a Republican candidate who would speak to voters in the veterans’ halls and union homes without turning off the country club and Rotary Club regulars. Adding the ‘missing white voters’ to the Romney coalition by discovering a more populist economic message on trade, taking on corporate welfare, and joining in the Democrat populists’ assault on dodgy practices on Wall Street, could have seen a Republican win even without gaining much ground in the short-term with Latinos and other minority groups. While John Kasich hangs around, hoping that Cruz and Trump’s antipathy sees delegates alight upon his inoffensiveness in the latter rounds of convention voting, he might hope to be able to perform this balancing act. But navigating what political scientists call a “two-level gamebetween the Republicans’ primary electorate and the narrow path to beating a large Democratic demographic bias in a changing American electorate might have been a quixotic hope from the get-go.

There was every prospect that Hillary’s weaknesses as a candidate could have allowed the Republicans to squeeze one more victory out of a dying voter profile that had previously served them so well.  Perhaps Trumpism will test Republican optimism to destruction just as Democrats trotted out liberal candidates in the 80s and were confounded by the electorate before realising that they had to accommodate with electoral reality. But both parties have made clear where each party needs to make gains if they are to win the White House in the future: Hillary will need Bernie’s authenticity and appeal to working-class white voters on trade and economics; Republicans will need to learn Spanish.Hasta la Vista, Trumpy.

 

Simon Radford is a Provost’s Fellow at the University of Southern California, a political consultant, and contributes regularly on politics to a variety of magazines and newspapers, both in the US and UK.

See:http://www.alternet.org/election-2016/trumpism-cant-last-forever-right?akid=14191.123424.T6930e&rd=1&src=newsletter1055175&t=8