Friday, December 09, 2016
The Democrats are now the party of the rich
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 nonwhite Democrats.
While Sanders gradually improved his standing with younger nonwhite 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.
This Filmmaking Couple Doesn’t Want to Be Punished for Not Promoting Same-Sex Marriage
A Minnesota couple is suing state officials to allow their film production company to celebrate marriage as a man-woman union without being forced, against their biblical beliefs, to promote same-sex marriage.
Carl and Angel Larsen, of St. Cloud, Minnesota, say they run Telescope Media Group as a way to deploy their storytelling ability and production services to glorify God.
“The Larsens desire to counteract the current cultural narrative undermining the historic, biblically orthodox definition of marriage by using their media production and filmmaking talents to tell stories of marriages between one man and one woman that magnify and honor God’s design and purpose for marriage,” the lawsuit filed Tuesday in the U.S. District Court for the District of Minnesota says.
Alliance Defending Freedom, a Christian legal organization, filed the lawsuit on behalf of the Larsens and Telescope Media Group, which they own.
“Because of their religious beliefs, and their belief in the power of film and media production to change hearts and minds, the Larsens want to use their talents and the expressive platform of [Telescope Media Group] to celebrate and promote God’s design for marriage as a lifelong union of one man and one woman,” the suit says.
Minnesota government officials argue that private businesses face criminal penalties if they promote a marriage between a man and woman but refuse to promote a same-sex marriage, the Larsens’ lawyers at the Christian legal group Alliance Defending Freedom say.
“Filmmakers shouldn’t be threatened with fines and jail simply for disagreeing with the government,” Jeremy Tedesco, senior counsel at Alliance Defending Freedom, said in a formal statement.
“Filmmakers shouldn’t be threatened with fines and jail simply for disagreeing with the government,” @Jeremy_Tedesco says.
If convicted after criminal prosecution under the Minnesota Human Rights Act, the Larsens face a fine of $1,000 and up to 90 days in jail, according to the lawsuit. They also could be ordered to pay compensatory and punitive damages up to $25,000.
The Larsens, who are in their mid-30s and have been married for 14 years, are challenging the law before Minnesota officials take any action against them and their company.
The law in question is the Minnesota Human Rights Act.
“The law does not exempt individuals, businesses, nonprofits, or the secular business activities of religious entities from nondiscrimination laws based on religious beliefs regarding same-sex marriage,” the Minnesota Department of Human Rights website says.
The Larsens’ lawyers filed a pre-enforcement challenge against Kevin Lindsey in his official capacity as commissioner of the Minnesota Department of Human Rights and against Lori Swanson in her official capacity as attorney general of Minnesota. According to the suit:
The Larsens simply desire to use their unique storytelling and promotional talents to convey messages that promote aspects of their sincerely held religious beliefs, or that at least are not inconsistent with them. It is standard practice for the owners of video and film production companies to decline to produce videos that contain or promote messages that the owners do not want to support or that violate or compromise their beliefs in some way.
The Daily Signal sought comment from both the Minnesota Attorney General’s Office and the Department of Human Rights, but neither had responded by publication.
Telescope Media Group’s services include web-streaming and video recording of live events as well as producing short films.
“Telescope Media Group exists to glorify God through top-quality media production,” the company’s website says.
The company has created content for clients such as the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association and LifeLight, an annual Christian music festival held near Sioux Falls, South Dakota.
“Every American—including creative professionals—should be free to peacefully live and work according to their faith without fear of punishment,” Tedesco said in a release from Alliance Defending Freedom. He added:
For example, a fashion designer recently cited her ‘artistic freedom’ as a ‘family-owned company’ to announce that she won’t design clothes for Melania Trump because she doesn’t want to use her company and creative talents to promote political views she disagrees with. Even though the law in D.C. prohibits ‘political affiliation’ discrimination, do any of us really think the designer should be threatened with fines and jail time?
French fashion designer Sophie Theallet published an open letter Nov. 17 saying she would not dress President-elect Donald Trump’s wife, the future first lady, because of disagreements with him and urged other fashion designers to do the same.
Last week, American fashion designer Tom Ford said on TV’s “The View” that he would not dress Melania Trump, in part because “she’s not necessarily my image.”
“The Larsens simply seek to exercise these same freedoms, and that’s why they filed this lawsuit to challenge Minnesota’s law,” Tedesco said.
We need to talk about Islam
Islam is a problem; there is no getting around it. In the last 15 years violence has spread across the Islamic world like a plague. Islamic terror attacks have spread that violence into the West. Supposedly democratic revolutions have been replaced by either a return to dictatorship, or hardline theocratic governments with dreams of empire. Throughout all of this Muslims have demanded we keep silent as even discussing it is offensive to them.
15 years ago was the September 11th attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. Osama Bin Laden, a Saudi prince and Islamic hardliner, planned the attacks to draw the Western Alliance into a war they could not win. 15 years later he must be laughing from the grave, his plan worked flawlessly. We’ve spent millions of lives and trillions of dollars but in spite, or perhaps because of that, Islamic hardliners now rule over their ashen kingdoms from Tripoli in Africa to the Khyber Pass in the Himalayas.
The devastation has naturally created a migration crisis as millions of those rich enough or strong enough to flee arrive on Western shores. They carry the very ideology that started the war, and provide cover for the hardliners to infiltrate and recruit. In Western countries they find soft targets everywhere, they exploit the very freedom we give them in order to hurt us in the most gruesome ways.
The policy to date has been one of bombs away but don’t criticize Islam. To wonder for a moment why Al Qaida or ISIS might feel their violence is justified according to their religion is to risk the accusation of racist, Islamophobe, or bigot. This comes from the left of course, anything outside of their narrow understanding of things is racism, but it also comes from Muslims themselves. When discussing the war and the reasons for it the mere mention of the Qur’an, even in a neutral tone, will elicit outrage from Muslims.
The practice of pretending the problem “isn’t Islam” is not working. Through unprecedented military, intelligence and diplomatic capability we have replaced dozens of governments, killed thousands of so called leaders, and hundreds of thousands of their followers, yet we are further from peace than we have ever been. Through liberating Muslims from the restraints of tyrants we have freed them to become something wholly worse.
Islamic freedom is the freedom to punish those who rebel against Islam. You don’t have to dig far into Islamic theology to find that the concept of freedom comes with a huge asterisk. Mohammad al-Shirazi, an Iranian cleric, wrote about freedom in detail in his book ‘The New Order for the World of Faith, Freedom, Welfare and Peace’. At the beginning it seems fairly reasonable, that rights are afforded to both Muslims and non-Muslims, but by point 10 it’s clear that freedom in Islam is the freedom to be ruled by Islam. He concludes:
“In the matters with which Islam is in accord, it is clear that the Islamic expression of them – whether that be in the Qur’an or in the sunna – is more precise, deeper and profound and more in concord with the desired meaning than the prevailing expressions used in our time which were laid down by a group of scholars, jurists, and legalists after effort and inquiry, as well as adoption from Islam…
In the matters where Islam differs from man made laws, we always can see that the Islamic view is more fitting and more appropriate for both the individual and society…
There is no cure for the world if it wants to reclaim its nobility, its freedom and its humanity except by a return to the freedoms laid out in Islam according to the methods mentioned in the Qur’an and the sunna.”
So when terrorists call themselves freedom fighters we can understand they do so earnestly from their own point of view. The Charlie Hebdo attack was an expression of Islamic freedom against rebels breaking Islamic law. They believe in the freedom to be Muslim, but not the freedom not to be.
Pointing this out, criticizing their religion, understanding it and then rejecting it is a violation of their freedom according to Islam. Not knowing the Qu’ran is fine, ignorance is natural, but knowing the Qu’ran and rejecting its teachings is an act of hostility which can be answered with violence.
Islam apologists tell us that it is only a minority with a false interpretation. In the past they’ve been able to make this case because the Islamists have not been able to get their message across. ISIS solved that problem through cunning use of social media and English language propaganda. Anyone with even a rudimentary understanding of theology can see that their interpretation is not false, as Ayaan Hirsi Ali puts it – this is Islam; Islamic State radicals are “good Muslims”, they’re the actual Muslims.
In fact the Qu’ran explicitly holds those who fight in the name of Islam above those who do not. Chapter 4 verse 95 promises a greater reward to those who take up arms or offer funding in the cause of Islam. It might be true that not all Muslims believe that but it’s a hard case to make that terrorists are doing anything other than obeying the dictates of Islam.
So the problem is Islam itself. Right now Iraqi government forces and Kurdish Peshmerga fighters lay siege to Mosul, Iraq’s second largest city and key ISIS stronghold. If this can be considered a victory it is a temporary one at best. Taking territory from ISIS will once again leave us with hundreds of thousands of radicalized Muslim youth with nowhere to go and nothing to lose.
What will replace ISIS as the world’s leading terror organization is tough to say, but something will replace it; new tactics and strategies, new rhetoric, a new organizational structure and new accountants holding the purse strings will not erase the fact that it will still be the same basic beast. Dealing with this will come at an increasingly unaffordable cost to Western countries with Muslim minorities.
Policing the Muslim community is a wicked problem. In order to have Muslim communities in Western countries Western governments must police them for radicalization, crossing the line between maintaining law and order and policing religion itself. The act of secular government interference in the Islamic faith breeds resentment and further encourages radicalization. It is both a necessary but counterproductive policy, it is a short term band aid for a problem that is only going to get worse.
Terrorist organizations have math on their side, the same math that saw Britain abolish Fighter Command to focus on bombers – some attacks will always get through. If we can stop 99% of attacks then they will try one hundred times. Their human resources are inexhaustible thanks to a high fertility rate and with social forces on their side the death toll will increase.
But every action has an equal and opposite reaction, and while belated the Western reaction is inevitable. Few of us have personally felt the sting of terrorism yet, but how long is it until no one among us does not know someone who knows someone affected by an attack? How long until we each know someone who has lost someone? How long until those with a righteous grudge outnumber the naïve? How long is Western good grace expected to last?
The day is coming when innocent Muslims in the west will be given a choice – give up your religion or leave. How long until we reach this day I am unsure but it is only a matter of time and the longer we wait the more painful the choice will be.
Political correctness is most pervasive in universities and colleges but I rarely report the incidents concerned here as I have a separate blog for educational matters.
American "liberals" often deny being Leftists and say that they are very different from the Communist rulers of other countries. The only real difference, however, is how much power they have. In America, their power is limited by democracy. To see what they WOULD be like with more power, look at where they ARE already very powerful: in America's educational system -- particularly in the universities and colleges. They show there the same respect for free-speech and political diversity that Stalin did: None. So look to the colleges to see what the whole country would be like if "liberals" had their way. It would be a dictatorship.
For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS and DISSECTING LEFTISM. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here.