Thursday, November 17, 2016

Is anything else happening in the world?

Keeping up with the anti-Trumpism is pretty exhausting, but how can you resist, really?

A few random thoughts:

*  as a customer, I would not be impressed if Trump turned up in the restaurant I was eating in.  Would you trust an undocumented waiter not to take a stab at him, or turn the gas on and leave pronto?  But, it seems, he had a few well wishers at 21 Club, and given a burger there costs $36, you can just tell that this was a audience which would get this benefit from his policies:
When our meal ended, we wandered over to the front bar room. An hour later, people lined up to see Trump and his family exit. (An NBC video would show him saying “we’ll get your taxes down” as he made his way out.) Only one or two people among the dozens clapped. Many of the others were frantically snapping pictures with their smartphones. One man nearby shouted “Thank you, Donald.”
 *  What's irritating about the Trumpkins complaining about the nation wide protests is that they would have to be fooling themselves (well, they already have, but go with me here) if they were to deny that if the shoe was on the other foot - Trump had lost but with 1,000,000 + of the popular vote - the pro-Trump protests would have been full of armed wingnuts in the streets fully primed by Trump's pre-election "the system's rigged" rhetoric.     The situation would have been a thousand times scarier.

*  There is, however, due to Trump's lack of transparency re taxes, business arrangements, and exposure to foreign lending, some added legitimacy to the campaign to not just wave him into the White House.  If ever there were people with damaging disclosures to be made about Trump in any respect, now is the time to make them.

*  I've noticed quite a few tweets in #Trump by people saying in response to Megyn Kelly's "Trump bullied me" line words to the effect "Hey you started it by bullying him with that rude first question you asked."   We're not dealing with normal people here, to put it mildly:  protective of their hero getting asked a clear and direct question about his history of extreme sexism is "bullying".  Dimwits.

Vox has an interview with a social scientist about why social media is so bad for democracy - a favourite theme of mine - and large parts are worth reproducing here:

Jonathan Haidt

... I’m a fan of the political scientist Karen Stenner, who divides the groups on the right into three: The laissez-faire conservatives or libertarians who believe in maximum freedom, including economic freedom and small governance; the Burkean conservatives, who fear chaos, disruption, and disorder — these are many of the conservative intellectuals who have largely opposed Trump.
And then there are the authoritarians, who are people who are not necessarily racist but have a strong sense of moral order, and when they perceive that things are coming apart and that there’s a decrease in moral order, they become racist — hostile to alien groups including blacks, gay people, Mexicans, etc. This is the core audience that Trump has spoken to.
That’s not to say that most people who voted for him are authoritarians, but I think this is the core group that provides the passion that got him through the primaries...

Sean Illing

What you’re describing sounds like an expansion of the culture war. Is it your view that culture wars have subsumed all of our politics and that policies are just props in this broader battle?

Jonathan Haidt

Yes, that’s right. There are existential questions at stake, and this election has felt really apocalyptic for both sides. The right thinks the country is crashing into a void and that Trump, while crazy, is our only hope. The left thinks Trump will bring about a fascist coup, a war with China, or a betrayal of our alliances.
So there is an apocalyptic feeling here. Sacred values are at stake. There really can be no compromise between these two visions....

Ok here's the part about social media:

Jonathan Haidt

We haven’t talked about social media, but I really believe it’s one of our biggest problems. So long as we are all immersed in a constant stream of unbelievable outrages perpetrated by the other side, I don’t see how we can ever trust each other and work together again.
I don’t know what we’re going to do about social media. I’m hopeful that future generations will learn social media responsibility and somehow manage to communicate without demonizing the other side.
We have to recognize that we’re in a crisis, and that the left-right divide is probably unbridgeable. And if it is, we’ll have to give up on doing big things in Washington, and do as little as we possibly can at the national level. We’re going to have to return as much as we can to states and localities, and hope that innovative solutions spring from technology or private industry.
Polarization is here to stay for many decades, and it’s probably going to get worse, and so the question is: How do we adapt our democracy for life under intense polarization?

Sean Illing

There are some who think we’re not quite as polarized as it seems. The idea is that what often appear to be deep divisions are really just products of people living in echo chambers, and that this amplifies differences and obscures commonalities. I’m not terribly persuaded by this, but perhaps it’s worth considering.

Jonathan Haidt

There’s certainly a debate among political scientists about this, but I’m a social psychologist, so I’m not looking at people’s views about policy; I’m looking at their views about each other. And if you look at any measures of what people think about people on the other side, those have become vastly more hostile. That’s what concerns me.
In the 1960s, surveys asked people how they’d feel if their child married a Republican or an African American or a Jew, and back then some people really didn’t want their kids to marry someone of a different ethnicity, but a different political party wasn’t as big a deal. Now the opposite is true.
So I’m quite confident that there is affective polarization or emotional polarization in recent years.

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