Andrew Sullivan on Trump’s appeal, Trump’s legacy, and the electoral repudiation of Wokeism

November 8, 2020 • 1:00 pm

There’s been some argument around these parts about whether Wokeism will increase or decrease when Trump is gone. On the “increase”, side, Biden is seen as an enabler of Wokeism, supposedly instantiated in his increasing leaning toward the Left, and in the fact that now the “progressive” left now sees a big opportunity to advance its program. (We’ll ignore the Senate for the time being.)

On the “decrease” side, one could argue that Wokeism was aggravated by Trump’s racism and the ascendancy of Republicans, and will calm down after Trump leaves. Some have conjectured, too, that Wokeism is exacerbated by the pandemic: people with not a lot to do can nurture and express their grievances.

My own view is that Wokeism is not going away any time soon, for the fear of being labeled a bigot—one of the main motivation for the excesses of Leftism and identity politics—is too deeply instilled in the Left to disappear. It also dominates liberal media, as well as universities. Biden, while he might not buy into it, won’t repudiate it, either: after all, he’s proclaimed himself the Great Compromiser. So I expect I’ll be at this for a while.

Andrew Sullivan, on the other hand, thinks that the election represents a national repudiation of Wokeism, implying that it’s on its way out. Now, he dislikes these excesses as much as I, but the Woke don’t have to be the most numerous to prevail—they just have to be the loudest. Most important, they hold the trump card (excuse me) of being able to play on people’s guilt. And with guilt comes power.

At any rate, Sullivan’s take on the election, in his latest column at The Weekly Dish (now a subscribers-only site), has three interesting takes, all given in the title. I’ll take them in order, giving some quotes and a few reactions of my own. If you’re a subscriber, you can click on the screenshot, but you’ve probably already read his Friday column. I won’t quote him this extensively in the future as people who want to read him should subscribe.

Sullivan’s “Trumpism”: a conservatism he desires.  I had thought that Sullivan was slowly moving left, but perhaps the Right just moved further right. At any rate, he sees in the election a repudiation of Trump as a person (Sullivan, who detests him, strongly approves), but not all the principles he stood for, and some of those principles appeal to Sullivan:

This was far from the Biden landslide I had been dreaming about a few weeks back. It was rather the moment that the American people surgically removed an unhinged leader and re-endorsed the gist of his politics. It was the moment that Trump’s core message was seared into one of our major political parties for the foreseeable future, and realigned American politics. If Trump were sane, this is how he would describe his success — and leave office graciously to become the kingmaker in his own party. But he is not sane.

His impact, however, is undeniable. Neoconservatism is over; globalization as some kind of conservative principle is over; a conservatism that allows for or looks away from unrestrained mass immigration is over. What was cemented in place this week is a new GOP, not unlike the new Tories in the UK. They’re nationalist, culturally conservative, geared toward the losers of capitalism as well as its winners, and mildly protectionist and isolationist. It is a natural response to the unintended consequences of neoliberalism’s success under a conservative banner. And it speaks in a language that working class Americans understand, devoid of the woke neologisms of the educated elite. It seems to me that this formula is a far more settled and electorally potent coalition than what we now see among the deeply divided Democrats.

Now Sullivan doesn’t come straight out and say he likes this new kind of conservatism, but given what I know of his opinions, I think he does. And I’m not sure that his “new GOP” is really a thing, especially when he says it’s geared “toward the losers of capitalism as well as its winners.” Some of those losers are working-class whites, but many are people of color. It’ll be a cold day in July when blacks and Hispanics see the GOP as their party, despite their  movement towards it in this election and despite the socialists’ claim that class rather than color is important. If they’re right, capitalism’s “victims” should be on the Democrats’ side.

Trump’s appeal. I mentioned the other day that I think it’s both foolish and divisive to characterize everyone who voted for Trump as a racist. Many, I think, are not, but were either voting their pocketbook or wanted a law-and-order regime to counteract this summer’s protests. I was pleased to see that Sullivan agrees.

. . . this is where I think I have been wrong about Trump’s appeal, and where I think I’ve misunderstood why otherwise decent people could support such a foul disrupter of democratic norms. Many of them simply didn’t take Trump’s threat to our system seriously. They took all his assaults on democracy as so much bluster from the kind of car salesman he is. They deal with this kind of bullshit all the time, took liberal democracy for granted and saw little reason to fret about its future. The writer Jamie Kirchick says that everything Trump says makes sense if it is preceded by the following words: “And now, Donnie from Queens, you’re on the air.” Many people heard Trump exactly that way, and couldn’t see what all the fuss was about. They weren’t endorsing his madness. They were looking past it. They were, in my opinion, wrong to be so cavalier. But I don’t think most were malignant extremists of any kind, or unaware of the hideous personal qualities of Trump.

And they enjoyed economic rewards that, absent the Covid19 recession, might well have swept Trump to victory. One of the more revealing results from the polls this year came in the answers to the core question made famous by Reagan: “Are you better off now than you were four years ago?” In previous campaigns to re-elect the president, Reagan was re-elected in a landslide with only 44 percent saying they were better off, George W. Bush won with 47 percent and Obama succeeded with 45 percent. For Trump, a mighty 56 percent said they were better off now than when he took office — a fundamental along with incumbency that should have led to a landslide re-election — and yet he still lost. That tells you something about Americans’ understanding of how unfit a president Trump turned out to be, even as they felt very good about their own wellbeing.

Many—perhaps most—Americans vote based on their own advancement, or lack thereof, under the last administration. (Even law and order is about personal safety rather than societal safety.) This is, again, something that much of the Left fails to understand. I don’t know if it explains the higher-than-expected vote for Trump, but if we’re to make any progress in the next four years, we have to stop the total demonization of our opponents. And that means we should stop tossing the term “racist” around cavalierly, and telling everyone they’re either an explicit or a secret racist.

Which brings us to Wokeism. As I noted, Sullivan sees the election as a repudiation of at least the “Woke Left”, and of identity politics.

[The election] was also clearly and unequivocally a rejection of the woke left. The riots of the summer turned many people off. In exit polls, 88 percent of Trump voters say it was a factor in their choice. On the question of policing and criminal justice, Trump led Biden 46 — 43 percent. For the past five years, Democrats have been telling us that Trump and his supporters were white supremacists, that he was indeed the “First White President” in Ta-Nehisi Coates’ words, that all minorities were under assault by the modern day equivalent of the KKK. And yet, the GOP got the highest proportion of the minority vote since 1960! No wonder Charles Blow’s head exploded. [Note that he cites Blows’s editorial I discussed yesterday.]

We may find out more as exit polling is pored over, but in the current stats, Trump measurably increased his black, Latino, gay and Asian support. 12 percent of blacks — and 18 percent of black men — backed someone whom the left has identified as a “white supremacist”, and 32 percent of Latinos voted for the man who put immigrant children in cages, giving Trump Florida and Texas. 31 percent of Asians and 28 percent of the gay, lesbian and transgender population also went for Trump. The gay vote for Trump may have doubled! We’ll see if this pans out. But it’s an astonishing rebuke of identity politics and its crude assumptions about how unique individuals vote.

Why did minorities shift slightly rightward after enduring four years of Trump? First off, many obviously rejected the narrative being pushed out by every elite media source: that the core of Trump’s appeal was racism. They saw a more complicated picture. I suspect that many African-Americans, for example, were terrified of “defunding the police” and pleased to be economically better off, with record low unemployment before Covid19 hit. Many legal Latino citizens, perplexing leftists, do not want continued mass immigration, and are socially conservative. Asians increasingly see the woke as denying their children fair access to education, and many gays just vote on various different issues, now that the civil rights question has been largely resolved by the Supreme Court.

Obviously a big majority of non-white and non-straight voters still backed Democrats. But the emergence of this coalition of minority conservatives is fascinating — and, of course, a complete refutation of what critical race theory tells us how minorities must feel. Ditto the gender gap. It’s there, but not quite the gulf we were led to believe. We have again been told insistently that being female in America today is a constant nightmare of oppression, harassment, violence and misogyny; and that no one represents this more potently than Donald “grab ‘em by the pussy” Trump. And yet white women still voted for Trump 55 to 43 percent. Among white women with no college education, arguably those most vulnerable to the predations of men, Trump got 60 percent support. This is not a wave of rage; and it suggests that the left’s notion of patriarchy is, in 2020, something many, many women just don’t buy, or do not believe should outweigh other, more important issues.

I’d like to think that Sullivan is right here, and he may well be.  But the Woke are still there, writing for the New York Times and the New Yorker, filling the colleges with highly-paid diversity consultants, and agitating to defund the cops.  All it takes for them to prevail is for others on the Left to go along from fear of being called a bigot or of being excoriated on social media.


43 thoughts on “Andrew Sullivan on Trump’s appeal, Trump’s legacy, and the electoral repudiation of Wokeism

  1. It will be interesting to see, and a lot will depend on the cues from Biden and Harris.

    For example, during the campaign, Biden pledged to rescind the reforms to Campus Title IX rules, and thus will effectively strip any student accused of sexual assault of any rights to due process. It would be better if he didn’t.

    1. Biden buys and promotes the worst of feminist anti male bigotry i n this area and it will be a bad day for fairness on compasses.

      Even with the absurd horror of Trump Biden just stumbles over the line.

      Why? This kind of stuff.

  2. My hopes for the gradual disappearance of wokeism and intersectionality are based on two ideas.

    The first is that they are a feature of the left-leaning very metropolitan opinion-formers and remain largely confined to them. I work for a provincial charity (originally a Catholic firm) and was suspended for ‘racism’ in a diversity training workshop. The hearing cleared me and the firm rescinded its contract with the trainers. The view among the middle and senior managers was that it was a general waste of their time and one forthright liberal Aussie described it as ‘playing the race card’. Ordinary people simply don’t like being manipulated and can spot it a mile off. DiAngelo’s idea about the racist within us all just doesn’t get traction because most people operate in the real world by believing what people tell you about themselves and taking that as their motivation.

    Secondly, in my experience intersectionalists and wokeists are not that bright and definitely not intellectually agile. Where was DiAngelo this year? She disappeared during the high tide of her ideas. Having watched her on youtube, I can see why. She is a terrible advocate and a sort of updated Pastor Jim Jones senior cleric. Imagine a conversation between her ilk and a set of hard-headed lawyers drafting woke legislation which will inevitably break the Civil Rights Act. They will not have a chance. They might have a better one in the UK citing the parallel of hate speech laws protecting immutable characteristics. But I’d like to think that the US legislators would just tell them, “What’s the point of this? Everything that you say you’re against is already illegal.”

    I may be too optimistic, but I hope I am not.

    1. I think you are right about wokeism being a minority opinion on the Left. However, I worry that the US will still kowtow to their authority for some time. Those in power hate to be labelled racist and the Woke give them a way to be seen as addressing it with not too high a price. It’s like a protection racket. “Let us train your people in diversity and we won’t blow up your business.” Of course, there is a price being paid but it’s distributed among the mostly powerless. Steven Pinker won’t be hurt by them but mid-level management lives in fear of the phone call from HR about a tweet they made in college.

      As I see it, the Woke’s biggest vulnerability is that they are ineffective against racism. Unfortunately, since we won’t really tear down our political and economic structures, they’ll always claim that their methods haven’t been given a fair trial.

      Perhaps our best shot is that people of color come out strongly against what the Woke are offering. Right now, they are of two minds. They like the idea of anti-racism but aren’t down with all the new jargon and the trashing of their allies.

      1. “As I see it, the Woke’s biggest vulnerability is that they are ineffective against racism.”


        It seems to me that those most susceptible to accepting the lash handed to them by critical race theory to flog themselves, are literally the LEAST racist people to begin with. That is, the furthest “left/liberal/progressive”
        are the ones willing to just accept the racist label. It’s not converting either people who don’t view themselves as guilty racists and aren’t in inclined to fall for the trick, or actual racists.

  3. It it definitely too early to tell what Biden presidency will mean for Wokeism. As you say, he’s the Great Compromiser. Since regular folk on both sides, red and blue, dislike Wokeism, this may mean that Biden will fight Wokeism, or at least not embrace it. There are a lot of things that still need to play out before we’ll know:

    – Someone on Fareed Zakaria’s show this morning pointed out that a lot depends on whether Fox News continues to embrace conspiracy theories and fake news. Murdoch evidently told his outlets to go with the Biden win over Trump’s “stolen election” theme but I can’t see them dumping Hannity, et al or see them changing their tunes. Since Trump voters largely get their news from Fox, this matters a lot.

    – Dem politicians are blaming the far Left politicians for their “defund the police” and socialism. They say this hurt them greatly in the election. AOC and friends are pushing back hard but it seems she has few friends among elected officials. She may be forced to move to the center or lose power within the Dem party. Her star is dangling by a thread. How this turns out will effect how much Biden needs to allow Far Left ideas into his platform and administration. The Far Left may call for the creation of an “Equity Commission”, for example, but won’t get anyone to listen if they are seen as losing the Senate for Dems and almost the presidency.

  4. I don’t see that much of a repudiation of wokism here. One reason is that Biden was supported by every person who is woke or woke-inclined that I am aware of. They feel they deserve just as much credit as Lincoln Project Republicans are claiming. And they are probably right. This election solidified the broad range of folk who are simply not totally insane.

  5. “This was far from the Biden landslide I had been dreaming about a few weeks back. It was rather the moment that the American people surgically removed an unhinged leader and re-endorsed the gist of his politics.”

    A nice turn of phrase, but is it accurate? I don’t think so. It seems to me that the nation narrowly avoided a continuing, accelerating, plunge towards real life 1984 and that there was just barely enough voters that were sane enough, not deluded enough and motivated enough to avoid it. Or perhaps that’s what Sullivan means?

    “It was the moment that Trump’s core message was seared into one of our major political parties for the foreseeable future, and realigned American politics.

    I don’t think so. The core message has been being seared into the political party in question for decades, progressively, and Trump just happened to fit that message like he had been the model. I’ve got no idea what Sullivan means by realigned American politics. Nothing has been realigned in any significant way. The same divides are there. No significant number of people have changed their minds in any significant way.

    “. . . ; a conservatism that allows for or looks away from unrestrained mass immigration is over.”

    He seems to be saying that this was ever actually a thing with both the RP, presumably under Bush Jr, and the DP. Pure bunk. Nothing even remotely like unrestrained mass immigration has ever been the policy of any US administration in my lifetime.

    “But I don’t think most were malignant extremists of any kind, or unaware of the hideous personal qualities of Trump.”

    I agree that most are not malignant extremists, though a depressing number unfortunately are. And I agree that even many that are not malignant extremists are not unaware of the hideous personal qualities of Trump, and that is a serious problem in my view. Anyone who judges that someone as despicable as Trump is a better choice for President of the US compared to anyone, even my cat, is really bad at assessing things. We, as a society, have got to get over this stupid, ancient attitude that indecency, immorality, somehow makes someone a better choice for a leader because they are capable “of making the hard choices.”

    1. At least two things are unclear about the election and will require weeks or months to be clarified. The first is why the polls were so wrong (again) and why Biden did not win a landslide. I think the riots of last summer were a godsend for not only Trump, but for down ballot candidates as well. I imagine that Biden was advised to go easy on condemnation of them. It may not matter since he won, but is possible that the refusal to forcefully condemn the riots may have cost him a bigger victory. Chances are we will never know. I think that Trump’s rants about minorities moving into the suburbs and that Biden was a socialist (can anything be more laughable?) won him a few percentage points from the ill-informed. In other words, Trump resorted to emphasizing the culture wars as a means of diverting attention from the virus,his incompetence, and his piggishness. His strategy almost worked.

      My takeaway from the election is that the nation is still bitterly divided. Biden managed to squeak through, but almost all prominent Republicans, not just Trump bellowing from the sidelines, will attempt to demonize him. The basic stalemate will continue, but at least for four years Trump will not be appointing new judges and the U.S. will be welcomed back into the world community.

      1. I think the polls were so wrong (again) because pollsters haven’t been able to figure out a sampling technology now that land lines are extinct. IOW, I think it is big time sampling error.

        And… Biden did more than “squeak through”. Of course Republicans will demonize him. They don’t have all that many tricks.

      2. I think the promise of getting the economy open after the pandemic was a winner for Trump. Many voters are only personally touched by the pandemic via job loss and inability to do the fun things they used to do. On the other hand, Biden could be seen to offer more lockdowns and more draconian mask-wearing. Of course, the tradeoff is nowhere near that simple. The reason we have such a high level of disease is Trump continually ignored it. On the other hand, the high level of disease also means that neither Biden or Trump will be able to do much about it until we get a vaccine.

      3. There is a persuasive quasi-consensus that seems to be emerging among people in the polling industry that Trump voters hate pollsters generally, viewing them as part of the mainstream media/political establishment conspiracy to undermine their tin idol, and hence don’t respond to polling calls. If so, it’s difficult to see how polling would ever be able to develop an accurate picture of Trump’s true strength.

        1. ” . . . a persuasive quasi-consensus . . . among people in the polling industry that Trump voters hate pollsters generally . . . . and hence don’t respond to polling calls . . . difficult to see how polling would ever be able to develop an accurate picture of Trump’s true strength.”

          The media emphasizes Trump voters’ aversion to polls, but surely there are not a few voters who, regardless of political persuasion, are no less averse.

          In your view, of what advantage to voters are polls, as opposed to, say, political campaign strategists?

          For example, in the case of Trump, is it that, if polls (assuming they’re sufficiently accurate) indicated that Trump’s appeal was getting higher over time, it would indicate a need to persuade more voters of whatever political stripe to vote for Biden? This is definitely a campaign strategist’s perspective. No doubt, not a few voters require this motivation (as opposed to being internally and independently motivated, of their own volition, to vote their convictions, regardless of what the polls say).

          Do voters somehow have a duty, civic or otherwise, to participate in polls?

          1. No one has a duty to respond to any phone inquiry that they don’t want to, and I’m not sure why you’re even posing the question. My point was simply that Trump voters appear to dislike the polling business far more than non-Trumpers, which will naturally skew the result. Period. There seems to be a presupposition in your question that ‘duty to participate’ is an actual issue, but I’ve no idea why you’re presupposing that. So far as I can see, it’s not based on anything anyone’s actually said in this thread.

            1. “My point was simply that Trump voters appear to dislike the polling business far more than non-Trumpers, which will naturally skew the result. Period.”

              I got that particular point. It was easy to get. Not a point of confusion or contention for me.

              “No one has a duty to respond to any phone inquiry that they don’t want to, and I’m not sure why you’re even posing the question . . . There seems to be a presupposition in your question that ‘duty to participate’ is an actual issue, but I’ve no idea why you’re presupposing that. So far as I can see, it’s not based on anything anyone’s actually said in this thread.”

              The word “duty” seems to be “triggering.” I trust that the word “expectation” is an acceptable substitute.

              Based on my recent experience, I not unreasonably claim that polling businesses, political campaign strategists, media organizations, and non-profit political special interest groups are not beyond trying to impose on voters/citizens an expectation or obligation to participate in polls or otherwise conform to their requirements.

              A voter special interest group tried to shame me for not acquiescing to their insistence that I vote by absentee ballot, in multiple mailings telling me that they will be “disappointed” if I don’t vote, and reminding me that my neighbors will know whether I voted, it being a matter of public record. I voted in person during early voting – as if I owed that outfit any explanation.

              Notwithstanding differing opinions about who is qualified to declare what reasonably constitutes an issue, and who is allowed to initiate and solicit commentary on it – I say that any expectations that voters will or should participate in polls is reasonably relevant to the thread topic – exploring why pollsters did not adequately predict voter behavior.

              Is there any denial that politicos and media types do expect voters to participate in polls, and are unhappy campers if they don’t? If some voters don’t want anything to do with pollsters, what do critics expect pollsters to do about it beyond what they’ve already done – conduct a poll of these voters to find out why they don’t want to participate in polls? (A non-trivial percentage of Biden voters didn’t want to deal with pollsters.) Do critics expect pollsters to somehow compel voters to participate? Critics are no less obligated to try to compel voters who, in any case, owe no one an explanation.

          2. While most people don’t like taking polls, Trump voters may be more against them because of Trump telling them they’re bad and that they don’t want others to know they support Trump. Perhaps they’re racist but dopn’t want others to know it, perhaps they just don’t want to be called racist by their neighbors.

            Campaign workers follow polls to aid in allocating scarce resources. For example, Biden spent time and money in Georgia because polls told him he had a reasonable chance of winning the state.

      4. I don’t think the polls being wrong are complicated. It’s simply split voting. Millions of non-D voters went for Biden, and then went for Republicans down ballot. I don’t think it’s a real head scratcher or anomaly. What’s an anomaly is the MSM keeps telling us it’s an anomaly…and they have a bad habit of trying to tell us when an anomaly occurs. The media is the true puppeteer here; they are why Trump got so far in the first place. “Put a spotlight on crazy! but don’t act outraged”, “Normalize what the President does, because he’s President”, “Don’t point out his lies or he won’t want to talk to us!” Our media (esp. the WH press corps and others with “access”) don’t do their job when it comes to politics and they do more harm than good by putting access above reporting reality. I’ve stepped back and realize how rationality just got a reprieve, and it just barely won…this time. The media must make rationality and facts a champion again, and get off this “balancing both sides” bullshit. Facts don’t jump from one team to another as if the team who last had the ball actually owns reality. The media created the monster who created the “fake news” mantra that will now undermine them for…decades? Dull Donnie has always known how to manipulate the media. Unfortunate that the media still hasn’t figured this out. Greed blinds is probably the simplest explanation.

        1. +1

          The media in the US has long since lost its way. It’s not that its fake news, its more subtle than that. I agree with every point you made. The biggest problem, it’s not news, it’s a news show.

  6. It will be interesting. My take is that the ‘Woke’ regard both mainstream Republicans and mainstream Democrats as part of the same ‘Establishment’, the same institution.

    Since the ‘Woke’ are on a long march through the institutions they will continue to march against the Republicans (big business and beyond rescue) *and* the Democrats (sold out to big business).


    1. I think you’re conflating traditional leftists who view Democrats as having sold out to big business with the woke folk who see everything as intersectional struggles between people in race and gender terms. The former are more traditional left-leaning people who gravitated toward Sanders in the presidential, mostly because of his “socialism”. The latter, to the extent that they gravitated, did so toward Warren/Harris/Buttigieg, although that doesn’t mean these candidates themselves are particularly woke. They just happen to fit the intersectional categories. (And, of course, one can be both woke AND an economics-oriented person.)

      1. I over simplified. I lumped further left with the Democrats and futher right with the Republicans… but as you say the ‘Woke’ are about intersectional power (etc.) and I believe this puts them against established power, i.e. the Establishment.

        On the brighter side there isn’t yet a political party solely of the ‘Woke’, and if there were attempts to set one up it would quickly fall apart. So the USA at least is stuck with the two main parties for now.

        1. I personally think wokism, taken where it logically must go, is against everyone. Original sin being what it is.

  7. I know this doesn’t really fit here, but PCC has said to relax and disengage, and nothing accomplishes that better than listening to some of the calls to Rudy G’s fraud hotline, including one accusing the Hamburgler of stealing votes.

    The line is busy, but when I get through I want to complain that during the 60s and 70s my votes for Pat Paulsen were never counted, nor was my vote for Pogo during the 50s.

    Childish, yes.

  8. I think, tentatively, exit polls are worthless this time. Unless I see solid data, I call the sudden support for Trump from minority groups into question. The Trump administration has downplayed Covid, and it came out against voting by mail. Conversely, it became a partisan issue and the Democrats voted even more by mail, and were even more skittish about going out in person to vote and interact with others outside. If true, this would skew the exit poll results perhaps to a degree that they are entirely unreliable. If people want to make the case, I’m sure they could do it with election results proper.

    Another possible reason has nothing to do with Trump, but everything to do with Biden and Harris. At a time when progressives are questioning law enforcement, the Democratic party in its infinite wisdom picked the Prince of Prisons and a hardboiled prosecutor as their candidate team. Biden was a major player in the racist-motivated “War on Drugs” and has authored it significantly. He can call it as one of his proud achievements that the USA has the largest per capita prison population on the planet (1).

    Ultimately, I do not know who voted what for which reasons. I anyway believe that stated reasons are largely (after-the-fact) rationalization. I also believe that we humans are strongly affected by mental models that deeply structure our thoughts, and voting seems to conjure up at least two: voting for someone, or preventing someone. They work very differently. Among many Democrats, the message was to “vote blue no matter who“, which is the (Trump) prevention-model. But there is no good reason why this shouldn’t be symmetrical, voting Trump to prevent Biden. This model in its meme form spells out that the traits of one candidate are altogether irrelevant (“no matter who”). This is further complicated as the candidates are representative of parties, ideological views and even (stereo) types of people. Think of a pious Christian mom, and an academic bureaucrat. I am sure you have an intuition how they’d vote, and what their tribe is.

    In the USA, where parties have a strong identity element to it, people also vote simply because they identify with a political subculture (and bubble) and can then overlook all sorts of things — thanks to extreme partisan media that has entrapped Americans completely, they may not even be aware of their side‘s shortcomings. The blue side was hyperventilating about Trump calling troops losers in some context, but Trump says ten things in nine minutes in eight different directions. Likely, the red tribe saw him recite the Bible while a golden eagle was landing on the flagpole where the flag waved just in the right amount in the background.


    1. Exit polls were able to handle the early vote-by-mail problem because the fact that someone voted is a public record and they were able to contact early voters and ask the same questions they would have asked at a traditional polling place.

  9. I’m surprised Sullivan makes the same mistake made by Blow in interpreting these small marginal changes in percentage of progressive liberal group X who voted for Trump. Both writers misinterpret these numbers to mean that this indicates some members of group X must have voted for Hilary in 2016 but changed their minds and voted for Trump in 2020.

    That needn’t be the case. In 2020 the total turnout was up a lot (10% or more) over 2016. So these marginal increases in the *small* number of individuals in group X who voted for Trump in 2016 could all be accounted for by the small percentage of conservative or reactionary individuals in group X who didn’t vote at all in 2016 but came out to vote (for Trump) in 2020. There are conservatives and reactionaries in all walks of life, including in overwhelmingly liberal progressive groups. If turnout of the liberals in such groups was already high in 2016, then the only slice of such groups who could turn out anew in 2020 might be from the conservative corners of such groups.

    tl;dr Differences in turnout could be at least as important as change in party preference in understanding these voting trends.

  10. Biden plans to undo Trump’s executive order against critical race theory on his first day in office. If he should step aside for Kamala Harris, there will be wokeism on steroids.

    1. It is actually very obscure what a woke bill would look like: and I am fairly certain that it would overturn the US Civil Rights Act. I think we need to be clear what law they would want to promulgate. Especially as they are not clear on what it would be. They are their own hero hunting down an imaginary villain.

      Remember, they ain’t that bright, thinking nothing has changed in the liberal democracies since 1964: and their followers are basically recycling the ideology that we leftists thought 40 years ago, and failing to notice that things and the law have moved on.

  11. I guess a lesson from the military would be helpful.
    If you do not understand your opponent, you are never going to be able to predict his actions.
    I am amazed that so many rational people seem to actually believe that anyone with conservative beliefs is motivated primarily by hate and racism.
    If that perception were true, it certainly would be a mystery why the groups under discussion might align themselves that way.
    But back to the study of strategy and tactics. When we find that our predictions about the movements or tactics of our opponent keep failing, a smart tactician will assume that his understanding of the opponent is the issue.
    Also, expecting people to align themselves strictly according to race or sex or membership in a group perceived to be oppressed is a woke concept, as is “Everyone I don’t like is Hitler”.

    1. The modern Republican Party is
      more religious QAnon cult than “conservative”. The actual conservatives have become Lincoln Project activists. The cult IS largely motivated by miscellaneous forms of bigotry. Show me the principled conservatives. Can you find more than you can count on your right hand?

    2. “If you do not understand your opponent, you are never going to be able to predict his actions.”

      That’s just Sun-Tzu talking. When it comes to politics, are you inferring that the current GOP understands their opponent, or even wants to? What polls are in their favor? (I know, fuck polls.) I’m not saying the Dems are guru leaders, but c’mon. Trump et al.? His cult millions don’t even try to understand their opponent. It’s all trolling and trashing and gnashing. I sure don’t feel the GOP has ever tried to understand me…not since I’ve been politically aware, anyway.

  12. While the bouncers have not yet descended on the White House, Trump “winning” by some court gambit seems extremely remote. Come January, it’ll be hit the road, Don.

    Putin looks like he is finished as well.

    Looking at the Senate, the prospects of any radical legislation making it through Congress (and not getting veto’d by Biden) look extremely thin. If you voted for change, I hope it was already in your pocket.

    The American “Left” or “Center-Left” or whatever it is has been animated for 4 years by its hatred of Trump and nefarious tales of Putin and the Russians under the bed. Where is the enemy that will preserve that unity?

    Putin, if he is the classic strong man, will make sure a mediocrity will replace him, not wanting to be upstaged in the history books. Perhaps a new Slavic demon can be summoned up, but it may be a stretch.

    Biden wants normalization with Iran, so that won’t do. Venezuela looks a bit too much like an underdog for people to feel too comfortable kicking them around and destabilizing their government (not that we won’t try).

    China? No, too many American elites have too much wealth invested in Chinese business interests. The business of America is now China.

    Rednecks with guns will still stir the imagination, conspiracy theories involving nefarious Slavs may still capture the racial imagination of our anti-racists (now that we can’t hate Arabs anymore like in the 80’s), but I’m not seeing how any of it congeals into a principle of action like it did under Trump. It simply falls apart into in-fighting, with lots of very bad times for most necessitating the need to pin blame onto others.

  13. Nassim Taleb wrote a nice piece on why the most intolerant minority ends up winning:

    Wokeness won’t go away, the Woke may be a minority, but make up for lack of numbers in their intolerance. People criticize the Moral Majority for their intolerance, but I suspect their failure was a direct result of insufficient intolerance. They have nothing on the anti-smoking crusaders.

  14. In the NYRB, Peter Beinart points out that despite Trump’s “populist” verbiage in 2016, his administration catered to the usual owners of the Republican Party—doing little except reducing the regulation of business and passing a big corporate tax cut. This is quite different from the nationalist/populist parties of Europe, like PiS in Poland and Fidesz in Hungary. Our illuminati always describe these parties as “Right-wing”, but, as Beinart reminds us, they sometimes enact welfare measures with a distinct social-democratic flavor.

    So, Republican “populism” is another hustle.
    Elsewhere in the spectrum, the richly well-compensated Diversity consultants and “anti-racism” trainers are also working a hustle. What else could be expected in a society in which the media, and therefore the entire popular culture, is dominated by the advertising business—an institution for which the hustle is foundational.

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