That new Morning Consult poll for Politico today was full of apparently good news for Democrats. Overwhelmingly large numbers of voters support their policies-- including most independent voters. Look at the two charts and contemplate for a moment whether or not these are factors that will go into the decision-making process of millions of midterm voters next year:
Even the least popular, in our non-racist country-- subsidizing 2 years of tuition at historically black colleges and universities-- has majority support, 56% for it and just 31% willing to admit they oppose it. This all bodes well for... for what? McConnell will filibuster everything with the unwavering help of Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema. They will either block it all regardless of popularity or force the Democrats to cut, cut, cut and make everything less effective and less helpful-- and easier to attack in Facebook ads, 30 second radio spots and on bumper stickers.
Meanwhile, aside from their knee-jerk obstructionism, the Republican Party is busy with a messy, unseemly internal squabble, ousting the only woman on the Republican House leadership team, Liz Cheney, for the unpardonable sin of daring to tell the truth and then sticking by it. Congenital coward Kevin McCarthy-- who even Tucker Carlson admitted is sleazy and corrupt-- has surrendered to pressure from Trump and decided to replace Cheney with another gal, one who knows how to take orders and is notorious for sucking Trump's dick. More than a few Republicans have noted that Cheney's crime is telling the truth about Trump's attempted coup. House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer agreed with them today in a chat with journalist Karen Tumulty: "I think Liz Cheney’s greatest offense apparently is she is principled and she believes in the truth. She’s obviously a very conservative Republican from the state of Wyoming, so it’s not a question of ideology. It’s a question of cult. It's a question of cult of personality-- that if you’re not 1,000 percent for Donald Trump, somehow you’re not a good Republican, you’re not worthy of being in the leadership."
He rubbed it in: "It is a shame that the party has fallen to the place where a Liz Cheney, as I said, principled, committed to the truth and a conservative Republican, is somehow not accepted as a leader in the Republican Party." And so did the super right-wing Wall Street Journal editorial page:
This should be a hopeful moment for House Republicans. While they’re playing defense in the minority for now, their prospects for picking up the five net seats they need to regain the majority in 2022 are excellent. That is, unless they devolve into internal brawling over the 2020 election.
Yet that’s precisely what they seem to be doing as some Members try to oust Wyoming Rep. Liz Cheney from the GOP House leadership. Ms. Cheney easily survived an earlier effort to dump her, 145-61, after she was one of 10 House Republicans to vote to impeach Donald Trump after the events of Jan. 6.
But she continues to rankle some in the GOP House conference by refusing to go along with Trump’s demand that Republicans agree that the 2020 election was stolen. On Monday Trump issued a statement that “The Fraudulent Presidential Election of 2020 will be, from this day forth, known as THE BIG LIE!”
Cheney responded on Twitter: “The 2020 presidential election was not stolen. Anyone who claims it was is spreading THE BIG LIE, turning their back on the rule of law, and poisoning our democratic system.”
This has angered some in the House GOP, and on Tuesday Axios caught House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy on a hot mic saying ‘I’ve had it with her.’ But McCarthy knows Cheney is right. The election wasn't stolen, yet Trump wants an endorsement of his stolen claim to be a litmus test for every Republican candidate. He’s the one who wants to refight his losing campaign.
“The better part of political prudence would be for Cheney to ignore Trump. But Trump won’t ignore her. He issued four statements on Monday and three of the four were attacks on fellow Republicans, including one on Cheney. She may be ousted because she is daring to tell the truth to GOP voters-- and at personal political risk.
In his NY Times column this morning, Tom Edsall took a stab at explaining why a venal and malevolent circus clown like Trump can still hold millions of Americans in his grip. He began with some very unfortunate recent political history: "Beginning in the mid-1960s, the priorities of the Democratic Party began to shift away from white working- and middle-class voters-- many of them socially conservative, Christian and religiously observant-- to a set of emerging constituencies seeking rights and privileges previously reserved for white men: African-Americans; women’s rights activists; proponents of ethnic diversity, sexual freedom and self-expressive individualism. By the 1970s, many white Americans-- who had taken their own centrality for granted-- felt that they were being shouldered aside, left to face alone the brunt of the long process of deindustrialization: a cluster of adverse economic trends including the decline in manufacturing employment, the erosion of wages by foreign competition and the implosion of trade unionism. These voters became the shock troops of the Reagan Revolution; they now dominate Trump’s Republican Party." The undeniable power of resentments and grievance took over from there to rebrand the GOP.
Social conservatives and white Christians-without-Christ have had these resentments and grievances reenforced from every direction so that it now defines them far more acutely than anything in The Bible. Edsall points to four:
“They have a sense of displacement in a country they once dominated. Immigrants, minorities, non-Christians, even atheists have taken center stage, forcing them to the margins of American life.”
“They believe we have a powerful desire for moral coercion. We tell them how to behave-- and, worse, how to think. When they complain, we accuse them of racism and xenophobia. How, they ask, did standing up for the traditional family become racism? When did transgender bathrooms become a civil right?”
“They believe we hold them in contempt.”
“Finally, they think we are hypocrites. We claim to support free speech-- until someone says something we don’t like. We claim to oppose violence-- unless it serves a cause we approve of. We claim to defend the Constitution-- except for the Second Amendment. We support tolerance, inclusion, and social justice-- except for people like them.”
On top of that, the very real risks of automation, foreign-trade-induced job loss and other adverse consequences of technological change are present in the lives of many of these desperate Trumpists and you would have to be a fool to not see it influencing their politics."
In his 2020 paper “Why Does Globalization Fuel Populism? Economics, Culture and the Rise of Right-wing Populism,” Dani Rodrik, an economist at Harvard’s Kennedy School, explored what he called four political channels “through which globalization can stimulate populism.”
The four channels are:
1) “a direct effect from economic dislocation to demands for anti-elite, redistributive policies”
2) “through amplification of cultural and identity divisions”
3) “through political candidates adopting more populist platforms in response to economic shocks”
4) “through adoption of platforms that deliberately inflame cultural and identity tensions.”
In order to get a better sense of what underpinned Trump’s populist appeal, Rodrik focused on a specific bloc of voters-- those who switched from supporting Barack Obama in 2012 to Trump in 2016:
Switchers to Trump are different both from Trump voters and from other Obama voters in identifiable respects related to social identity and views on the economy in particular. They differ from regular Trump voters in that they exhibit greater economic insecurity, do not associate themselves with an upper social class and they look favorably on financial regulation. They differ from others who voted for Obama in 2012 in that they exhibit greater racial hostility, more economic insecurity and more negative attitudes toward trade agreements and immigration.
In an email, Rodrik wrote:
Automation hits the electorate the same way that deindustrialization and globalization have done, hollowing out the middle classes and enlarging the potential vote base of right-wing populists-- especially if corrective policies are not in place. And the overall impact of automation and new technologies is likely to be much larger and more sustained, compared to the China shock. This is something to watch.
...There is no dearth of grim prediction. In “The Impact of Automation on Employment: Just the Usual Structural Change?” Ben Vermeulen of the University of Hohenheim in Germany, writing with three colleagues, puts it this way:
There is literature arguing that the pace at which employment is destroyed by the introduction of productivity-enhancing technology may exceed the pace at which mankind is able to find new uses for those becoming unemployed.
If fully enacted, could Biden’s $6 trillion-plus package of stimulus, infrastructure and social expenditure represent a preliminary step toward providing the social insurance and redistribution necessary to protect American workers from the threat of technological innovation? Can spending on this scale curb the resentment or heal the anguish over wrenching dislocations of race, culture and class?
Is that really why congressional Republicans are so wedded to obstructing every single move Biden and the congressional Democrats are trying to make, even if they are moves that would substantively help better the lives of their own constituents? You know the answer to that already. No? Then let's turn to the Democrat who's going to rid the Senate of one utterly useless Marco Rubio next year, former Orlando Congressman Alan Grayson. He must have been in a good mood when I asked him about this earlier today, telling me, with a straight face that, "On the subject of technological innovation, employment, and productivity-enhancing technology, I yield to my esteemed colleague, the space alien Korvo, from the streaming hit Solar Opposites:
This is ridiculous. I hate Earth. It's a horrible home. People are stupid. They love having robots do their jobs, but they don't create a system of universal income, so they can have money after the robots take their jobs. It makes no sense!"