The latest heard off the street is not to be surprised if Trump isn't inaugurated (so to speak).
You didn't think the public silence from the in-crowd was because they had given up, did you?
Also we have:
Keeping Up With the…Kushners, Bannon Hit Squad, Trump Transition Team
Here’s Why Russia Wasn’t Behind the WikiLeaks Emails Leak
U.S. Quietly Drops Bombshell: Wall Street Banks Have $2 Trillion European Exposure
Here’s How Goldman Sachs Became the Overlord of the Trump Administration
House Bills Would Put Brakes on SEC, Other Regulators/Investment News
By Pam Martens and Russ Martens: January 6, 2017
Northwest Ohio supporters of Senator Bernie Sanders’ in his run for President have launched a nationwide push to enlist other organizations to send it letters and take to social media to endorse a demand that President-elect Donald Trump fulfill a campaign pledge. Trump made the pledge on October 26 of this year in a speech he delivered in Charlotte, North Carolina, promising to enact a 21st Century Glass-Steagall Act to reform Wall Street. Such legislation has been sitting dormant in both the House and Senate for years. If enacted, it would separate the deposit-taking, taxpayer-insured commercial banks from the globe-trotting, high-risk trading casinos known as investment banks on Wall Street.
. . . The 1933 Glass-Steagall Act kept the financial system of the United States safe for 66 years until its repeal in 1999 during the Bill Clinton presidency. It took only nine years after its repeal for Wall Street to blow up the financial system in a replay of 1929. All that prevented another Great Depression was a massive, secret money drop by the Federal Reserve.
Following the financial crash in 2008, the Federal Reserve fought for years in court to avoid providing details of the money it funneled to the Wall Street banks during the years of the crisis. When the Fed finally lost the legal fight, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) tallied up the secret Fed loans, all of which had been made at super low, below-market interest rates with no public or Congressional disclosure. The final tally came to $16.1 trillion in cumulative loans. (See the GAO report for a bank-by-bank breakdown of the loans.)
While Wall Street banks received trillions of dollars in almost interest-free loans, many of the same banks were charging the customers they had rendered homeless through foreclosures, double-digit interest rates on their credit cards.
It's kind of nice to know now who was behind the plethora of Obama-greeting "Muslim Scare Stories" and the monsters present in Trump's famously named "Swamp," isn't it?
I'm still kinda scared though.
. . . On August 17, 2016, the "New York Times" reported that Steve Bannon would become Chief Executive of the Trump campaign. The article focused on Bannon’s role at "Breitbart News" but Bannon was the long-tenured filmmaker for "Citizens United," making right-wing documentaries like “Fire from the Heartland,” a glowing tribute to Michele Bachmann; “The Undefeated,” about Sarah Palin; “Generation Zero,” blaming the 2008 financial crash on liberals; “Occupy Unmasked,” portraying the young people attempting to remove their democracy from the iron grip of the one percent as sinister criminals; and “The Hope and the Change,” showing Democrats’ disillusionment with the campaign promises of Barack Obama, which is certainly a valid concern for progressives._ _ _ _ _ _ _
. . . Two weeks later, on September 1, 2016, the "Washington Post" announced that David Bossie, President of Citizens United, had been named Trump’s Deputy Campaign Manager.
Three men coming from a nonprofit that refuses to reveal its donors and effectively ushered in a corporate takeover of U.S. elections doesn’t seem to correlate with a President-elect who promised to “drain the swamp” in Washington and become the champion of the working class.
Another name set off alarms here at "Wall Street On Parade." The “Occupy Unmasked” documentary shows in its credits that it was produced by David Bossie; that it is a “film by Stephen K. Bannon”; and then the name of David Horowitz is prominently displayed in the trailer credits without mention of his role. David Horowitz played a major role in promoting a propaganda film produced in 2008 to fan the flames of hate again Muslims – a film that was secretly funded by a Charles Koch affiliated group.
Less than two months before the 2008 presidential election, which would ultimately place the first Black President in the Oval Office, 100 major newspapers and magazines across the United States distributed millions of DVDs of a race-baiting documentary, “Obsession: Radical Islam’s War Against the West.” The newspaper and magazine insertions, together with a separate direct mail campaign, saw 28 million DVDs flood into swing voter states. At the time, Barack Obama was being smeared for Muslim ties.
On October 26, 2010, Wall Street On Parade broke the news that a secretive nonprofit, "Donors Capital Fund," bearing the unmistakable fingerprints of Charles Koch, had sluiced more than $17 million to pay for the production and distribution of the DVDs. Charles Koch and his brother, David, are billionaires and majority owners of Koch Industries, one of the largest private corporations in the world with interests in oil, chemicals, commodities trading, paper products along with many other business interests. Their history of creating front groups dates back decades.
We reported the following in our 2010 article about the role played by David Horowitz in spreading the message of the “Obsession” film . . .
“Prior to this sophisticated and expensive media campaign in the final approach to election day, ‘Obsession’ was part of the 2007 college road show headed by the lefty turned radical right, David Horowitz (who dramatically improved his tax bracket by discovering the greatest threat to America’s future was radical Islam, just before the rest of the country discovered the greatest threat to America’s future was home grown terrorists with algorithms and high speed computers on Wall Street trading floors. While Mr. Horowitz had a fourth of the country gazing at variations of Hitler’s mustache, the underpinnings of America’s financial infrastructure were imploding right under our noses.)
Mr. Horowitz joins the swelling ranks of pundits and academicians earning a fat living from tax subsidized nonprofits while railing against government welfare. His pay at his nonprofit, "Freedom Center," was a sweet $480,162 in 2008, the most recent tax filing available on line. Total salaries and benefits at the(Freedom) Center represented 40 per cent of revenues in 2008.”
Another Koch connection in the Trump campaign is Rebekah Mercer, daughter of billionaire hedge fund titan Robert Mercer, a major donor through his PAC to the Trump effort. In December 2014, Ken Vogel reported at "Politico" that “Chase Koch, the 37-year-old son of billionaire industrialist Charles Koch, has been spearheading an initiative to involve the children of wealthy contributors in the Koch brothers’ vast political network.” According to Vogel, Rebekah Mercer has attended at least one of the infamous Koch donor seminars. She now sits on the Trump Transition Team’s executive committee.
According to the Mercer Family Foundation’s Federal 990 tax returns, which list Rebekah Mercer as the only member of the Board of Directors, the Foundation’s assets have risen from a paltry $654,000 in 2005 to $34 million at the end of 2014, the last 990 tax return currently publicly available. The Mercer Family Foundation has been a major donor to Citizens United Foundation, giving $2 million in 2012; $1 million in 2013; and $550,000 in 2014.
The Mercer Family Foundation is also funding a number of groups that have been favorites of the Koch-related nonprofits. The Cato Institute, which turns out to have been secretly 50 percent owned by Charles and David Koch as shareholders for decades (no, we had never heard of a nonprofit having shareholders either), received a $300,000 donation in 2014 from the Mercer Family Foundation.
The climate-denial outfit, the Heartland Institute, another favorite of Koch-related nonprofits, has received more than $3 million since 2009 from the Mercer Family Foundation. Trump has stated that climate change is a “Chinese hoax.” ExxonMobil has been a significant donor to the Heartland Institute also according to the DeSmog Blog. The Blog also notes that in the 1990s, the Heartland Institute “worked with the tobacco company Philip Morris to question the science linking second-hand smoke to health risks, and lobbied against government public health reforms.”
Robert Mercer is Co-CEO of the hedge fund, Renaissance Technologies. In 2014, the U.S. Senate’s Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations hauled its executives before a hearing and accused it of “tax avoidance of more than $6 billion.” The hedge fund, and others, had concocted a scheme to magically change short-term capital gains into long-terms capital gains while also using enormous leverage provided by the too-big-to-fail banks. As we reported in detail in 2014:
“…the hedge fund makes a deposit of cash into an account at the bank which has been established so that the hedge fund can engage in high-frequency trading of stocks. The account is not in the hedge fund’s name but in the bank’s name. The bank then deposits $9 for every one dollar the hedge fund deposits into the same account. Some times, the leverage reaches as high as 20 to 1.
“The hedge fund proceeds to trade the hell out of the account, generating tens of thousands of trades a day using their own high-frequency trading program and algorithms. Many of the trades last no more than minutes. The bank charges the hedge fund fees for the trade executions and interest on the money loaned.
“Based on a written side agreement, preposterously called a ‘basket option,’ the hedge fund will collect all the profits made in the account in the bank’s name after a year or longer and then characterize millions of trades which were held for less than a year, many for just minutes, as long-term capital gains (which by law require a holding period of a year or longer). Long-term capital gains are taxed at almost half the tax rate of the top rate on short-term gains.”
According to "Bloomberg News," Renaissance Technologies has yet to settle up with the IRS over this scheme. Perhaps putting one of those free-market wizards in charge of the IRS will make the $6 billion problem go away for the Mercers. . . .
Welcome to the world ruled by the incognizant (Ooooh! How mean is that characterization?) "Martha's Vineyard liberal" Democrats.
What happens in the next month will probably determine how quickly we either enter entirely that world or exit it to another better one.
If you remember who the Jacobins were during the French Revolution, you'll appreciate even more today's featured essays.
Drop off a contribution there if you can as they are one of the few online magazines to permit full access to their content.
With the rise of Donald Trump, we need to think seriously about what it would take to form a democratic organization rooted in the working class.
The dismantling of autoworker gains was a class project, not the inevitable result of globalization.
American workers are losing the class war. Private-sector union membership is in the single digits, and hiring this quarter is the worst since 2010. The low unemployment rate is more a sign of people withdrawing from the labor force than of the jobless finding work. And while the rich continue to make money hand over fist, real hourly and weekly wages have fallen since the 1970s.
A recent Federal Reserve poll found that nearly half of Americans would have to essentially beg, borrow, or steal if faced with an unexpected $400 expense. Two out of three respondents in a recent Pew survey said they believed the next generation would be worse off financially, while a poll gauging consumer confidence finds only a quarter of respondents believe jobs are “plentiful.”
We can’t move to Canada or hide under the bed. This is a moment to embrace democratic politics, not repudiate them.
We have no illusions about the impact of Donald Trump’s victory. It is a disaster. The prospect of a unified right-wing government, led by an authoritarian populist, represents a catastrophe for working people.
There are two ways to respond to this situation. One is to blame the people of the United States. The other is to blame the elite of the country.
In the coming days and weeks, many pundits will be doing the former. Frightened liberals have already written explainers on how to move to Canada; last night, the Canadian immigration website went down after a surge of traffic. The people who brought us to this precipice are now planning their escape.
But blaming the American public for Trump’s victory only deepens the elitism that rallied his voters in the first place. It’s unquestionable that racism and sexism played a crucial role in Trump’s rise. And it’s horrifying to contemplate the ways that his triumph will serve to strengthen the cruelest and most bigoted forces in American society.
Still, a response to Trump that begins and ends with horror is not a political response — it is a form of paralysis, a politics of hiding under the bed. And a response to American bigotry that begins and ends with moral denunciation is not a politics at all — it is the opposite of politics. It is surrender.
To believe that Trump’s appeal was entirely based on ethnic nationalism is to believe that a near majority of Americans are driven only by hate and a shared desire for a white supremacist political program.
We don’t believe that. And the facts don’t bear it out.
This election, in the words of "New York Times" analyst Nate Cohn, was decided by people who voted for Barack Obama in 2012. Not all of them can be bigots.
Clinton won only 65 percent of Latino voters, compared to Obama’s 71 percent four years ago. She performed this poorly against a candidate who ran on a program of building a wall along America’s southern border, a candidate who kicked off his campaign by calling Mexicans rapists. (pic.twitter.com/DX64yUPyLM)
Not us, Cornel, not us.
How Cornel West went from liberal media darling to pariah.
by Connor Kilpatrick
The first time I met Cornel West was at Disney World. He wasn’t hard to spot. I didn’t want to bother him — I was with my in-laws, he was with a young member of his family — but just a few weeks after the rough-and-tumble primary season in which both of us dove headfirst into the Sanders campaign, I couldn’t get over the irony of two Berniebros passing in the night. And at Epcot of all places.
Despite the 90 degree weather, he was clad as always in the same black suit, the same white shirt. Except now, instead of that reverential band of cloth he wears around his collar, his shirt was unbuttoned halfway down his chest, the collar spread out like a disco-era leisure suit. It was the only alteration of the iconic Brother West uniform that he would permit under the hot Orlando sun.
It was a much-deserved vacation for West. It’d been a rough few months on top of a rough few years. Only a couple of presidential cycles ago, West was on stage in Harlem, exchanging embraces with then–Senator Obama. But now, West finds himself in a strange place. After his public break with the Obama presidency, the same liberal intelligentsia that once championed West has not only thrown him overboard, but seems to delight in making a public spectacle of their scorn for a man they claim is little more than “embittered” after being “spurned” by the first black president.
Long beloved by liberals as the premier black public intellectual, West is now rejected by the same crowd of Democratic Party apparatchiks that first helped him shoot to fame through television appearances, countless books, a hip-hop album, and even an onscreen role in The Matrix sequels. The Nation’s Joan Walsh has said that West is in the midst of a “tragic meltdown.” The "Washington Post"’s Jonathan Capehart — the same man who tried to claim a photo of Sanders at a 1962 civil rights sit-in was fraudulent — has called West “no better than a Birther.”
Michael Eric Dyson, in one of the weirder and more personalized anti-West takedowns, published what can only be called a scornful ten-thousand-word breakup letter to his former mentor. Dyson, the Georgetown professor and Aspen Institute regular, spent one particularly lengthy section of his New Republic essay “ranking” black public intellectuals’ prowess according to their equivalent prizefighter. West was given the rank of Mike Tyson.
All of this led up to the great left/liberal schism of 2016 that was Sanders vs. Clinton. As Dyson, Capehart, and Walsh lined up firmly behind the increasingly miserable Clinton campaign, West found himself allied first with Bernie Sanders and later Green Party candidate Jill Stein. At the height of Sanders-mania, while Dyson, Walsh, and Capehart were delivering cringeworthy apologetics for Clinton, West was working with the Sanders campaign in the South, touring black churches and colleges in support of the social-democratic political revolution. In more than a few of these events, he sat alongside Adolph Reed, the man who had written a classic excoriation of both West and Dyson and their entire field of “black public intellectuals.”
The irony of West literally sharing the stage with Reed was lost on few. Written in the 1990s, Reed’s “What Are the Drums Saying, Booker?” reads like prophecy today. The black public intellectual, in “Drums,” was a “freelance race spokesman; his status depended on designation by white elites rather than by any black electorate or social movement” only able to claim that status thanks to a long period of depoliticization. His role was to thus interpret “the opaquely black heart of darkness for whites.”
Unsurprisingly, this role fits perfectly within the brokerage model of politics that the Democratic Party has so heavily relied on for years to enact an agenda that is increasingly at odds with the material needs of most black voters. In the original essay, Reed found perhaps the clearest articulation of this role in West’s work up to that point — referencing West-isms like the call for a “love ethic” and a “politics of conversion.”
But in the Obama era, black public intellectuals find themselves in a curious position. It’s a difficult balancing act — how to keep “interpreting the drums” for the Democratic Party elite, as Reed’s argument goes, while staying friendly with that same party that’s overseen a mass economic immiseration of working-class Americans and an exploding carceral state (both of which disproportionately affect black Americans).
The contradictions in this relationship grow even starker as the rhetorical victories have stacked up. Today, even Silicon Valley CEOs proudly proclaim that “Black Lives Matter.” The discourse of diversity and the grad student seminar has become entrenched in everything from television criticism to celebrity tabloids. The Obama years have been a boon to the salaried intellectual class of all races, but lean times for the working-class constituents whose needs, hopes, and desires the black intellectual class vies to interpret for white audiences. What is the role of the black public intellectual when the discourse of “race relations” is now perhaps the liberal class’s preferred way — some would say only way — of talking about our never-ending barrage of social injustices?
Needless to say, the Obama era has been a hell of a trip for Brother West. As the analytical role of black public intellectual became increasingly unable to explain the growing social inequalities in American life, West bolted from the political mainstream to the margins. Where he once shared the stage with President Obama, he now occupies it with people like Revolutionary Communist Party leader Bob Avakian. While the Hillary Clinton campaign enlisted the Democratic Party’s black bourgeoisie to batten down the hatches against the Sanders threat, West assailed the Obama legacy as one of illusory racial uplift alongside the material reality of a post-crash society in which single black women were left with a median net worth of five dollars.
When Clinton’s black surrogates shamelessly accused Sanders of racial aloofness, West fought back using the same rhetoric of a “black public intellectual” that had helped build his career. But now, he was attempting to forge that same language into a weapon of social-democratic demystification, wielding it against the Clintonite fog of cultural studies jargon, meritocratic appeals, and subtle free-market apologetics.
It was always doomed. To no one’s surprise, West’s exhaustive intervention failed. No matter how much he vied with his former comrades for the “black public consciousness,” Clinton swept the South by even larger margins than anyone had expected. The same brokerage politics of racial authenticity that had, decades ago, delivered black votes to the Clinton machine weren’t about to win them away for a seventy-four-year-old senator few had heard of. The Wests of the world can deliver only righteousness and fiery passions. Congressmen Jim Clyburn and John Lewis can deliver jobs, networks, and targeted legislation.
As much as West tries to summon what he calls “the black prophetic tradition” in order to make it work for the democratic-socialist agenda he sincerely believes in, the battle over that discourse has long since been lost. The Democratic Party has only grown more skilled at “interpreting the drums,” even as it continues to abandon or rewrite historical commitments to trade unions and social insurance programs — commitments that disproportionately benefited black Americans.
We live in an era in which Clinton — who proudly supported mass incarceration and the obliteration of welfare — declares that a social-democratic program of financial reform and single-payer health insurance “won’t end racism.” A recent WikiLeaks publication of internal Clinton campaign emails reveals another line they were testing out against Sanders: “Wall Street is not gunning down young African Americans or denying immigrants a path to citizenship.”
It’s a sentiment that would’ve bewildered civil rights veterans like A. Philip Randolph, Martin Luther King Jr, John P. Davis, Bayard Rustin, and Lester Granger, all of whom were committed to social-democratic politics as a crucial means of putting racism on a path towards ultimate extinction. The tragedy of West isn’t that he’s “full of bitterness,” as his liberal detractors claim. It’s that the politics of West’s “black prophetic tradition,” try as he might to wield them for socialist ends, will today find their strongest, clearest articulation in the same old quest of “interpreting the drums” for a mostly white ruling class.
Earlier in the primary season, during an interview on the Real News Network, West directly called out the black elite — whom he calls “the lumpenbourgeoisie” — for abandoning “the black prophetic tradition” for “individual upward mobility” and the “formation of the black professional class.” As he put it, “Black folk for the most part became just extensions of a milquetoast neoliberal Democratic Party. But Adolph Reed and a host of others told this story many years ago. It’s becoming much more crystallized. We have to be willing to tell the truth no matter how unpopular it is.”
West didn’t hesitate to proclaim that his biggest left-wing critic had been right all along. But the fact that he felt betrayed by this “lumpenbourgeoisie” in the first place only shows the limits of this political vision and the power of Reed’s original critique. After all, why would a “lumpenbourgeoisie” act different than any bourgeoisie? A vision of a harmonious insular black “community” without any internal class tensions might sound appealing to some in 2016 — particularly to the Democratic Party — but it’s a delusion no serious leftist can afford to entertain.
But as tragic as West’s crusade can appear, the sincerity of his commitment to a more just and egalitarian world — and the righteousness of his passion — cannot be called into question. Those who, like Michael Eric Dyson, claim that West’s political commitments now derive from nothing more than hurt feelings over unreturned phone calls to Barack are either not paying attention or shamelessly projecting their own guilty consciences onto West.
As soon as Sanders laid down his arms and endorsed Clinton, West was already on the trail for Green Party candidate Jill Stein, telling Bill Maher that “the Clinton train — Wall Street, security, surveillance, militarism — that’s not going in the same direction I’m going . . . she’s a neoliberal.” And while many criticisms of the Green Party’s electoral myopia are warranted, it’s impossible not to respect West’s drawing a line in the sand against the Democrats — a party he sees as irredeemable. If his break with Obama made him “sad and bitter,” one can only wonder what his elite critics think of him now.
The truth is that Cornel West is being punished for choosing a genuine commitment to a more egalitarian society over the faux radicalism (and career opportunities) of the DNC and MSNBC black intelligentsia. On an appearance on late-night television a couple years ago, David Letterman pitched him a softball question on the overall improvement in “race relations.” Instead, West chastised Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder for their inaction on police violence: “It’s a question of what kind of persons do you have, not just black faces.” After Letterman pointed out how at least things had improved for the LGBT population, West countered: “The system is still structured in such a way that one percent of the population owns 43 percent of the wealth, you end up with an embrace of gay and lesbian brothers and sisters, especially upper–middle class and above, but the gay poor, the lesbian poor, they’re still catching hell . . . It’s not just black. It’s white. It’s brown. It’s the structure of a system . . . it’s worse [than ever].”
I was thinking about that when I stuck my sweaty hand out to shake West’s on the Epcot promenade. I was also thinking about the first time I ever heard him speak in public. It was at Left Forum just before "Occupy Wall Street" and just after the Wisconsin protests and the "Arab Spring." And while I’ve never been shy about poking fun at that venue’s tendency towards “Comic Con for Alternative Politics,” that year was different. It felt like that disparate coalition of marginal ideologies we call “the radical left” was beginning to cohere into something. And West’s fiery speech that day made that possibility feel just within reach. Sure, there were a few airy West-isms and of course weaving in references to his favorite musicians as sources of potential “radicalization” trickling through the culture (“listen to a little Curtis Mayfield, listen to a little Bob Dylan, listen to a little Bruce Springsteen, listen to a little Aretha — her birthday’s on Monday!”).
But it didn’t matter. Because for the first time in years, it seemed like something really was happening. And the man on stage was the perfect one to give voice to that excitement, to that first hint of a lifelong passion and commitment. I remember looking around the auditorium: the young, this new generation who would soon file out in "Occupy" and, a few years later, join the Sanders campaign, were hanging on his every word as they listened to West define what it meant to be radical, what it meant to be on the Left. “That means we cut radically against the grain of the last forty years, especially in the American empire, where we have been told lies. Unfettered markets generating self-sufficiency, prosperity, and justice is a lie!
. . . Wall Street oligarchs and the corporate elites are sucking so much of the blood of American democracy in such a way that more and more people are just useless, superfluous. And they don’t care! They think that they can get away with it because there’s been no resistance of large scale! And they think in the end, the chickens don’t come home to roost, that you don’t reap what you sow. . . we simply say at Left Forum,” and here he backed away from the mic, lowered his voice and smiled, “We stand for the truth.” People were on their feet, exploding in applause.
While West’s reputation has suffered greatly among liberals, it has never been better among socialists. And while still marginal, after the Sanders challenge to the entire liberal class, ours is a corner with some confidence now. West is a longtime member of the Democratic Socialists of America and his reputation for generosity among younger members is unparalleled. He seemingly has time for everyone. Especially those who offer him nothing in career opportunities or elite respectability.
Unlike his former student Dyson, I doubt Cornel West will be receiving any new invitations to the Aspen Institute, at least for the time being. The Democratic Party and MSNBC elite may hate him, and we might quibble about the usefulness of his conversations with Bob Avakian, but it seems at long last Brother West has found his home.
Hillary Clinton won rich suburbs in record numbers. But her campaign failed to mobilize workers of all races.
by Matt Karp
In the wake of Donald Trump’s stunning and disastrous Electoral College victory, analysts have zeroed in on one demographic group that bears the burden for Hillary Clinton’s defeat: white voters without college degrees. Crudely grouped under the rubric “white working class,” these voters helped push Trump past Clinton in the battleground states of Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan, and Wisconsin.
In the weeks since, this same group — a vast and heterogeneous cohort that represents more than 40 percent of the electorate in all four states — has been the subject of a maddeningly unhelpful public debate.
Were some of these voters drawn to the siren of Trump’s white nationalist campaign? Yes, obviously. Were some of them expressing frustration at the social and economic decline of their communities, and the manifest inability of Democratic politicians to address it? Yes, just as obviously. Might these things all be related, in some fundamental way? You’re better off asking President Obama than a liberal pundit.
But while a chunk of this amorphous group may have decided the election by defecting from Obama to Trump, white Midwesterners without college diplomas were not the only Americans who voted this November. Nor are they the only demographic that can tell us something about the nature of the campaign and the evolution of both major parties.
Chasing the Moderate Republican
In the Democratic primary, Hillary Clinton fended off Bernie Sanders’s challenge with the strong support of two key groups: wealthy, educated whites and mostly working-class non-white Democrats.
While Sanders gradually improved his standing with younger non-white voters, it was not enough to take the nomination. Clinton’s core coalition — an effective alliance between the Upper East Side and East Flatbush — held firm, leading Clinton to blowout wins in states like New York, Texas, and Florida.
Clinton counted on the same alliance to carry her to victory in the general election. Very quickly, though, Democratic leaders made it clear that in a campaign against Donald Trump, not all members of the coalition required equal attention.
Faced with a Republican opponent who openly touted his affinity for “the poorly educated,” Team Clinton focused on courting white voters at the opposite end of the class pyramid. Trump’s vulgarity and chauvinism, they hoped, would drive wealthy Republican moderates toward Clinton. Rather than aggressively contest Trump’s bogus populism, Democratic strategists concentrated on “moderate” suburban Republicans — the ideological cousins, and often the literal neighbors, of professional-class Democrats.
“For every one of those blue-collar Democrats [Trump] picks up,” former Pennsylvania governor Ed Rendell predicted in February, “he will lose to Hillary two socially moderate Republicans and independents in suburban Cleveland, suburban Columbus, suburban Cincinnati, suburban Philadelphia, suburban Pittsburgh, places like that.”
Electorally, of course, this strategy proved catastrophic. In the Midwestern swing states, Clinton hemorrhaged white “blue-collar Democrats” without winning nearly enough “moderate Republicans” to compensate.
Nevertheless, the election results show that the Democrats’ conscious effort to woo the rich wasn’t entirely for naught. Clinton ran nine points ahead of Obama’s 2012 tally among voters earning more than $100,000. Further up the income ladder, among voters making more than $250,000 annually, she bested Obama’s margin by a full eleven points.
And although overall Democratic turnout declined substantially from 2012, it is wrong to say that nobody was excited to vote for Clinton. In the wealthy and well-educated suburbs of cities like Boston, Chicago, and Minneapolis — as in the effectively suburbanized enclaves of Manhattan and Washington, DC — Clinton’s vote total far surpassed Obama’s mark four years ago.
Nate Silver has compiled tables that show the huge shift from Obama to Clinton in America’s most educated counties. But his confident gloss that “education, not income” guided the electorate somewhat overstates the case, even according to his own data. A look at affluent suburban returns on a district and town level suggests that some combination of income, education, culture, and geography — in a word, “class” — drove Clinton’s most dramatic gains.
Incomplete returns in wealthy, suburban West Coast areas — like Orange County, located outside of Los Angeles, and Marin and San Mateo counties, outside of San Francisco — reveal a similar Clinton surge.
Much of this, no doubt, reflects elite aversion to Trump rather than pure affection for Clinton. But that’s not the whole story. After all, these affluent and expensively credentialed suburbs also delivered Clinton huge margins during the Democratic primary.
Bernie Sanders’s style of class politics — and his program of mild social-democratic redistribution — did not gain much favor in New Canaan, Connecticut (where he won 27 percent of the vote) or Northfield, Illinois (39 percent). For some suburban Democrats, Sanders’s throttling in these plush districts virtually disqualified him from office: “A guy who got 36 percent of the Democrats in Fairfax County,” an ebullient Michael Tomasky wrote after the Virginia primary, “isn’t going to be president.”
Clinton was their candidate. By holding off Sanders’s populist challenge — and declining to concede fundamental ground on economic issues — the former secretary of state proved she could be trusted to protect the vital interests of voters in Newton, Eden Prairie, and Falls Church. They, more than any other group in America, were enthusiastically #WithHer.
To some extent, Clinton’s appeal even carried over to wealthy red-state suburbs. In Forysth County outside Atlanta, and Williamson County outside Nashville — the richest counties in Georgia and Tennessee — Clinton lost big but improved significantly on Obama’s performance in 2012.
But wealthy, educated suburbanites were never going to push the Democrats over the top all by themselves. Despite Clinton’s incremental gains, in the end, most rich white Republicans remained rich white Republicans: hardly the sturdiest foundation for an anti-Trump majority.
So what about the other, much larger wing of Clinton’s primary coalition?
Cracks in the Firewall
Many assumed that the fear of Trump would make non-white Democrats — who were at the heart of Obama’s victories in 2008 and 2012 — rush to the polls in huge numbers. Despite various warning signs, from Ohio to Florida, the Clinton campaign seems to have shared the same assumption.
But they were disastrously wrong. Exit polls report that Trump did even better with Latino voters than Mitt Romney in 2012. While some experts have disputed those findings, county-level results suggest that at the very least, the Clinton campaign did not generate anything like the wave of Latino voters that Democrats were expecting.
African Americans, meanwhile, strongly preferred Clinton. While she didn’t match Obama’s historic margins, Clinton still won 88 percent support from black voters.
But it was largely uninspired support.
Black Americans have seldom had the luxury of choosing between two parties equally interested in winning their votes. The modern Republican Party’s increasingly warm embrace of white identity politics — an odious evolution culminating in the Trump campaign — has made lonely black Republicans lonelier still.
A choice between the Democrats and a party that flirts with the Ku Klux Klan is no choice at all. But African Americans can still opt to stay home — and this year, it appears many people did just that.
Republican efforts at voter suppression, including new restrictive laws in key states, likely blocked some African Americans from casting a ballot. But in many locations, the drop in Democratic turnout seems too large to be the product of ID laws and voter purges alone.
In Detroit, which is 82 percent African American, no major voting restrictions have been instituted since 2012. Yet Clinton tallied forty-seven thousand fewer votes than Obama, a decline of more than 16 percent. In St Louis’s northwestern wards, where African Americans comprise over 85 percent of the population, the Democratic vote fell by between 25 and 30 percent from 2012. (Overall population decline might account for some of these dips, but probably not all of them.)
In New York City, whose voting regulations are controlled exclusively by Democrats, turnout in predominantly black neighborhoods also sagged from 2012. While Clinton’s vote jumped by more than 14 percent in the Upper East Side, it sank by 8 percent in East Flatbush.
No city in America was more hotly contested by the two parties than Philadelphia, the largest metropolis in any of the swing states. The Clinton campaign in particular invested heavily in media and get-out-the-vote operations in the city. But the combined result — measured by initial vote counts — was deeply uneven, mirroring the election as a whole.
In Center City’s wealthiest neighborhoods, Clinton rode a wave of enthusiasm, adding 25 percent to Obama’s vote totals in genteel Society Hill and tony Rittenhouse Square. But in the working-class and mainly black wards of West and North Philadelphia, Democratic turnout fell across the board — in some areas by more than 10 percent.
For some observers, this was the predictable upshot of Obama’s absence from the ballot: African-American turnout returned to something approximating its pre-2008 levels. But this view sits uneasily alongside an analysis in which racial identity politics — Trump’s blatant appeals to whiteness — played a much larger role in 2016 than during Obama’s campaigns. It is a perverse logic that suggests Westport, Connecticut somehow had more to fear from white supremacy than West Philadelphia.
A better explanation, as Ezekiel Kweku has argued, is that the Clinton campaign simply failed to generate excitement from working-class voters of all races.
We should avoid reading too much into county or district vote counts, which cannot divulge the identities or the motivations of individual voters. Still, FiveThirtyEight’s findings suggest that among non-white voters, an enthusiasm gap opened along class lines: Clinton surpassed Obama in highly educated majority-minority counties, but struggled in poorer and less educated places. Election returns in the majority non-white wards of Washington DC fit this interpretation, too.
In rapidly gentrifying Ward 1, home to Howard University and prosperous, diverse neighborhoods like Adams Morgan and Columbia Heights, Clinton’s performance matched her strong showings in the District’s rich white areas: registered voter turnout grew 8 percent from 2012, and Clinton gained 17 percent more votes than Obama. In Ward 4, largely black and middle class, overall turnout also rose from 2012, while Clinton matched Obama’s vote totals. But in Ward 8, which encompasses poorer and working-class neighborhoods in Southeast DC, turnout dipped from 2012: Clinton received 13 percent fewer votes than Obama.
Clinton’s struggles with unenthusiastic black working-class voters were hardly limited to Washington. “I’ve been bearing the bad news for some time,” Detroit pastor Charles Williams told Mlive.com. “The Clinton machine relied so heavily on old relationships to deliver them a win . . . What I heard way too much of was — I feel like I’m just voting for the lesser of two evils. That doesn’t give you the push to vote.”
Sabrina Tavernise’s "New York Times" profile of mostly black nonvoters in Milwaukee, where turnout plunged from 2012, told a similar story. Cedric Fleming, a barber in Milwaukee’s working-class District 15, put his frustrations this way:
“Give us loans, or a 401(k),” he said, trimming the mustache of Steve Stricklin, a firefighter from the neighborhood. His biggest issue was health insurance. Mr. Fleming lost his coverage after his divorce three years ago and has struggled to find a policy he could afford. He finally found one, which starts Monday but costs too much at $300 a month.In pursuit of professional-class Republicans, the Clinton campaign made a conscious decision to elevate questions of tone, temperament, and decorum at the expense of bread-and-butter issues like health care or the minimum wage. This wasn’t just a tactical move away from some culturally distinct group of “white working-class” voters. It was a strategic retreat from the working class as a whole.
“Ain’t none of this been working,” he said. He did not vote.
Clinton’s final TV commercial exemplified the spirit of her campaign. Planted sedately behind a desk in a comfortable, well-furnished room, the Democrat condemned “darkness” and “division” as the camera slowly zoomed inward. Her gold necklace and bracelet twinkling in the softened light, she spoke for two full minutes about work ethic and core values without ever uttering the words “jobs,” “wages,” or “health care.”
In the end, Clinton had no trouble convincing Ezra Klein that she was running a populist campaign, but a hell of a hard time convincing people in East New York and North St Louis, never mind western Pennsylvania.
That division — deeper than a mere messaging failure by Team Clinton — is the Democratic Party’s central problem. As Lily Geismer and Tom Frank have argued, wealthy professionals have been gaining power and influence within the Democratic Party for decades. With organized labor in retreat, the party has grown more and more dependent on voters, and political leaders, from prosperous metropolitan districts.
The Clinton campaign only accelerated this gradual transformation; Clinton’s defeat, by itself, is not likely to reverse it. Amid the rubble of the 2016 election, the two Democrats poised to lead the party in Congress are Nancy Pelosi of San Francisco and Chuck Schumer of New York City.
The Whole Class
Election Day cataclysm or not, the Democrats remain a party of two distinct groups: a wealthy, motivated, and highly resourceful professional class that supplies the party its leadership and ideological compass; and an unenthusiastic, unorganized, and largely non-white working class, whose chief reason for voting Democratic is that the other major party is packed full of racists.
What are the implications of such a starkly bifurcated coalition? One consequence is the ongoing disfigurement of the liberal political imagination. In a world where Ivy League students — the sons and daughters of Fairfax and Marin — vote for Clinton at a clip of more than 80 percent, elite Democrats find it exceedingly difficult to identify any tangible common interests they share with most American workers.
Instead, their attitude toward working-class Americans tends to take two forms. On the one hand, a growing contempt for the (white) workers who have slowly drifted away from the Democratic Party; on the other, an essentially philanthropic if not paternalistic concern for “the most vulnerable” (non-white) workers who ostensibly remain within the Democratic camp.
This has given us an elite liberal discourse that grows eloquent about questions of “privilege” and “empathy,” but cannot seem to imagine a politics of power and solidarity. It has given us a liberalism that adores means-testing and looks askance at universal goods — not because universal goods are too expensive, but because they might benefit someone who isn’t deservingly deprived.
The Clinton campaign carried this brand of liberalism faithfully forward. It represented the apotheosis of a Democratic Party leadership that primarily envisions the working class as a downtrodden group in need of help, rather than a sleeping giant in need of organization. A leadership that views politics as a room where clever experts hash out benevolent policies for the neediest, rather than a field of mass struggle in which everybody’s basic welfare is at stake. A leadership that may be genuinely tolerant, inclusive, and compassionate, but whose own class blinders make it almost impossible for them to think about progressive politics in terms of collective self-interest.
These Democratic leaders, to be sure, may be able to reclaim the presidency without attracting more working-class support. In the aftermath of Clinton’s defeat, some analysts are already urging Democrats to abandon the Rust Belt once and for all, while focusing on college-educated voters in the Sunbelt.
But even if this version of the Democratic Party somehow retook Congress and the White House, how would it govern? Why should we believe that a party ever more dominated by affluent professionals — no matter how virtuous their intentions — will ever be able to address the material concerns of voters like Cedric Fleming?
The true political strength of the Left is not that it has a monopoly of virtue, but that it has a monopoly of numbers. Justice for the most vulnerable is not possible, and will never be possible, unless we recognize that our fight is about justice for all.
This does not mean submerging every group identity, and every distinct lived experience, into an undifferentiated mass. But it does mean working to build a coalition that is yoked together not by empathy or patronage but by common goals and common enemies.
Simply put, the lesson of the 2016 election is not that that the Democrats should “appeal” to the “white working class.” It is that left-wing politics will never get anywhere if we cannot harness the passionate self-interest of the entire working class.
The obstacles to building this kind of diverse democratic coalition are, of course, enormous. But it happens to be the only thing that can save us.
January 9, 2016
Pam and Russ Martens have compiled an amazing roster of present and former Goldman Sachs executives ensconced in the Trump transition team and announced as Trump appointees. http://wallstreetonparade.com/2017/01/heres-how-goldman-sachs-became-the-overlord-of-the-trump-administration/
This is discouraging.
On the other hand, the Senate is unlikely to refuse confirmation to Goldman Sachs personnel.
Many people have worked for Goldman Sachs, including Nomi Prins, and Pam Martens worked on Wall Street. Both are effective critics of the big banks.
Some of Trump’s most important appointments — State, Defense, and National Security Advisor — are supportive of his intentions to restore normal relations with Russia, reorganize the CIA, and get the US out of pointless wars. If he can achieve these things or even one of them, it is a victory regardless if he fails to take on the banks.
According to Douglas Valentine’s just published book, The CIA As Organized Crime, it is the CIA, not the banks, that control the government. Judging by the extraordinary pressure that the CIA is putting on Trump with the allegation that Trump’s election is tainted by Russian interference, it is not clear at this time whether the CIA will accept Trump as President of the United States.
If Goldman Sachs were also Trump’s determined opponent, what would Trump’s chances be?
It is very easy to be unrealistic about expectations from a president. Trump’s announcement that he intends to supplement his Secret Service protection with private protection suggests that he understands that there are many constraints on his action.
There is no guarantee that Trump can do anything. But clearly his election is seen as a threat by the ruling establishment. So let’s give Trump a chance and see what he can do. I doubt he will be able to do anything but surrender. Nevertheless, I hope.
Certainly there is no reason to help the ruling establishment pull him down. Whether they realize or not, those liberal, left, progressive commentators and organizations are aligned with the ruling establishment in the attack on Trump.
Professor Paul Craig Roberts
January 9, 2015
“Trump acknowledges Russia role in U.S. election hacking”
If this is not a fake news headline and the Reuters report is correct, Trump is bending to the pressure. http://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-russia-cyber-idUSKBN14S0O6
And to no avail. Intelligence officials and Senate leaders say that Trump’s admission is not enough and that he must punish Russia, not establish normal relations.
Trump is being pushed hard to validate the orchestrated “Russian Threat” on which the fortune and power of the military/security complex resides. If this report is not more fake news and Trump continues bending, he will be in the ruling establishment’s hands by the time he is inaugurated.
For some really good news reporting, watch Lee, Max & Stacy (at Fearrington!) and Richard below.
If I don't see you until then . . . Happy Chinese New Year!