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Fri Nov 20, 2020, 12:49 PM

Purpling Red America

The collective progressive movement must put most of its eggs in the purpling basket.

https://thebanter.substack.com/p/purpling-red-america



If we’re lucky, each of us has a few people in our lives who would go to the mat for us in the worst of times. That could mean anything from offering a small forgivable loan or a roof over our heads to donating a kidney. If you have ten such people in your life you are wealthy beyond imagination. Donald Trump, though perhaps nearly broke by strictly financial standards, has millions of such people, probably none of whom he has ever met or will ever meet. My generic impression of one such prototype is a composite MAGA dude from Middle America who can barely make his utility payments but who over the last few years has taken time off from work repeatedly to attend Trump rallies. The last rally he attends, in Circleville, Ohio, gives him a severe case of COVID, traceable either to Trump himself or one of his aides. It’s now late October, 2020. The MAGA dude is hospitalized and way too ill to vote in person on November 3. On November 2, a friend sneaks into the hospital, where the MAGA dude is on his deathbed. The friend has brought with him an absentee ballot and offers to place it in a drop box later that day. The MAGA dude lifts his arm, moves the IV bag out of the way, and votes for the last time in his life. Is there one person in the entire world who doubts that vote is cast for Trump?

Few of us can conceive of having even one such fanatical follower, let alone millions. We will never understand the convoluted psychology of someone utterly devoted to the very person who threatens to take his life. In much the same way, we will never significantly shrink the tumor that is the hardcore base of Trump supporters. It’s not even worth trying. The tumor isn’t simply resistant to political chemotherapy. It thrives on it. There is no need to despair, because millions of soft core Trump supporters may be peeled away in the coming years. Of course, it’s not going to be easy. But if we don’t have a viable strategy to accomplish this overarching task, 2016 will again metastasize, this time with a vengeance. Preventing a relapse must be the practical long term focus of center-left politics in the United States now and for the foreseeable future. Ideas are being floated constantly: statehood for Puerto Rico, Guam, and D.C.; reversing egregious gerrymandering; doing away with the Electoral College altogether. None of these measures is beyond the pale, and none would be shunned by the GOP were they in a parallel situation. But none directly addresses the possibility of reorienting relatively sane Trump supporters and the states they live in.

The collective progressive movement must put most of its eggs in the purpling basket if it is to be any more than a marginally worthy combatant of the right, with whom we transfer power back and forth routinely every four, eight, or twelve years with no true moral victory and, worse, no real victory for the Americans we claim to serve. This objective will, in fact, be my own intellectual focus over the next year or so, sandwiched by my usual deliriums of disgust and depression. In this space on this day I will get the ball rolling with a single, hopefully valid, general observation. Babies born into red states and, in particular, rural areas grow to be young men and women who seek opportunity. When they don’t find it where they live, they are likely to relocate. Much of the time the relocation is to a more urbanized area, often a major metropolis. If that young man or woman happens to be somewhat culturally liberal—as many are regardless of their upbringing—the odds are still greater that relocation will be to a bluish metropolis. This shift is self-reinforcing. As talented young people are drained from an area, it becomes still less desirable to the next wave of youth coming of age. The logical conclusion economically is thousands of angry blighted red counties ripe for a demagogue. The logical conclusion politically is a state with a grand total of 893 lost souls represented by two U.S. senators.

The question within the question is how to make these rural areas magnets for young people rather than repellents. Solutions exist but are complicated by a single profound and disturbing political reality: Solutions threaten the existence of the modern GOP. At the same time, the issue is not an abstraction, and there is hope. In 1990 my young bride and I were lured away from New York City to Northampton County, Pennsylvania. The circumstances were complicated but had at least something to do with the extension of Interstate 78 and the access it provided to the same city we left. Those circumstances also had at least something to do with burgeoning development west of the Delaware River. Sue and I weren’t the only young people “voting with our feet” at that time. All this came rushing back to me on Saturday, November 7 as Pennsylvania put Joe Biden over the top in the 2020 presidential election. Small blue margins in purplish eastern counties like Northampton made the difference. Bragging rights and a drunken lost weekend aside, it is not an exaggeration to say good economic policy decades earlier helped set the table for the demise of Donald J. Trump. We are now in a position to set the table for the next generation. Staving off an aspiring dictator in 2044 is not sufficient. The U.S. needs to become a bastion of inclusive capitalism for the benefit of all.

snip

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Arrow 6 replies Author Time Post
Reply Purpling Red America (Original post)
Celerity Friday OP
Arne Friday #1
Celerity Friday #3
Arne Friday #4
Celerity Friday #5
Arne Friday #6
empedocles Friday #2

Response to Celerity (Original post)

Fri Nov 20, 2020, 12:53 PM

1. That is very strange Ven Diagram.

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Response to Arne (Reply #1)

Fri Nov 20, 2020, 01:09 PM

3. It is not a Venn diagram.

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Response to Celerity (Reply #3)

Fri Nov 20, 2020, 04:23 PM

4. Excuse me, I would have called this a When diagram

as in, when will the MAGAs get deprogrammed.

Historically, deprogramming someone immersed in a cult often entailed “rescuing” them by physically removing them from their surroundings (this practice did raise some ethical concerns) or doing “exit counseling.” But deprogramming can be especially challenging now given that a lot of dangerous groupthink surrounding Trumpism and conspiracies happens online, and it is nearly impossible to stop someone from using the internet.

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Response to Arne (Reply #4)

Fri Nov 20, 2020, 04:33 PM

5. I would wager almost none of his hardcore base (say 35% of the electorate) ever leaves until

they assume room temperature. 95% are perma-stuck in a closed feedback loop. Trump could be convicted on 1001 disparate counts of felonious, traitorous shitbaggery and spend the rest of his life in a supermax and they will still build shrines, kill, maim and destroy in his name, and attempt to break him out, with many going so far as to lay down their very lives, just as they do now with COVID-19. They are lifers.

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Response to Celerity (Reply #5)

Fri Nov 20, 2020, 04:52 PM

6. What the actual hell is in that coolaid?

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Response to Celerity (Original post)

Fri Nov 20, 2020, 12:58 PM

2. Good perspective. Purpling.

A big difficulty in forseeable, future elections - is that we are unlikely to have anything like the big, fat target trump, to generate as many votes in our Dem direction.

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