Reading the Future in the Past
I just ran across a truly prescient article by John Nichols [“Donald Trump Is Dangerous,” March 14], in which he argued: “Without a forceful response from Democrats, [Trump’s] populism could win over blue-collar workers.” Nichols cited polls and focus groups showing that the Democrats could be in trouble in industrial swing states and mentioned the appeal of Trump’s promises to protect jobs and change trade policies. “What if Trump turns up the volume on a populist message while the Democrats run a more cautious campaign?” Nichols asked. We got the answer on November 8. Too bad that Hillary apparently doesn’t read The Nation.
Re D.D. Guttenplan’s “Mourn, Resist, Organize” [Nov. 28]: Is it too soon to start thinking about impeachment?
On this very sad day, the least I can do is renew my subscription to The Nation. My first one was given to me as a birthday present in 1998—the year I immigrated to the United States—by a neighbor friend. During the 12 years I spent there, eventually becoming a US citizen, reading The Nation was my oxygen, my open door to America. I would have crossed the ocean again during the Bush years without it. Then I let my subscription expire. Trump’s election was a violent reminder: You can never let it go; the struggle is going on and on.
It’s so interesting to see The Nation’s response to the mess it perpetuated. When you endorsed Bernie Sanders, you gave a platform and a voice to a man who shook his finger at his opponent and talked down to her during the debates. Bernie treated Hillary Clinton with a chauvinistic disdain surpassed only by the Republicans’ and Trump’s: He was impatient, demonstrative, and verging on disrespectful. His supporters acted the same way: Clinton was vilified as part of the establishment, the elite. And when it came time to vote, many of Sanders’s supporters abandoned the Democrats’ well-wrought liberal populism for another brand altogether. Apparently, voting for a woman was more than many of them could stomach, so they voted for Trump or didn’t vote at all. Now they’ll have to digest the next four years of Trump’s policies. Thanks for the support.
It’s a waste of time thinking about what might have happened had Bernie Sanders been the Democratic nominee… but I have a little time to waste.
I voted Green, so I have a clear perspective on Hillary Clinton’s defeat: What’s not to like? We avoided the privatization of Social Security, the Clinton neoliberal agenda, and probably World War III, plus we got in a good kick to the testicles of the oligarchs who funded this debacle. The Clintons should go back to Arkansas, lead a simple existence, and ponder the enormous damage they’ve done to the Democratic Party. People, peace, planet—go Green.
kansas city, mo.
I’m tired of the media trying to portray Donald Trump as the spokesman for working-class and blue-collar America. The average Trump voter earns $75,000 per year. The fact is that Hillary Clinton got the support of those earning under $50,000 per year.
As Joan Walsh notes in “Whitelash” [Nov. 28], Trump’s support came from a backlash of deplorable bigots who are angry that we’re becoming a majority-minority country. The media should stop softening the image of Trump’s supporters, who represent the worst of America.
In order to win in 2020, the Democrats shouldn’t try appealing to Trump supporters. What they should do is make more of an effort to energize their base. If that had been done in 2016, Hillary Clinton would be president-elect today.
new york city
Here’s the elephant in the room that I don’t see pundits addressing much: “Backlash” implies considerable improvement. Yet here are some data from the General Social Survey in 2014: “It is better for the man to work and the woman to tend to the home”: Among men, 33 percent agree; among women, 30 percent agree. When education levels are factored in, the disparity becomes clear: Among men without a high-school degree, 56 percent agree; among women with the same education level, 49 percent agree. Among men with an advanced degree, 19 percent agree; among women with the same education level, 16 percent agree.
Given these numbers, I wonder if Hillary Clinton ever really had a chance. (For the record, I believe all women work, but only some get paid.) Draw your own conclusions about how much this affected the presidential race.
Susan Carol Losh
An Old Debate, Renewed
John Harris’s “Can the Left Find Its Voice in the 21st Century?” [Nov. 28] is the best piece of political commentary I’ve read in this overly long election season. His idea that work can no longer be the defining factor of a person’s place in society raises questions that I wish our politicians were addressing. Teach-ins could raise these concerns, along with the idea of a universal basic income and the specifics of European social democracies, and become important tools for electing the left in years to come.
It’s not only within the working class that secure, full-time jobs have evaporated. My own field of higher education has seen continuing attacks on tenure by Republican politicians, along with the growing use of part-time faculty and online courses. I can imagine a teacher being paid once for developing a course that could then be run online indefinitely, perhaps supplemented by adjunct faculty. So much for the importance of dialogue and relationship in learning.
In the conclusion of his article, Harris suggests that new left parties should pursue a universal basic income. I recall tackling this topic over 60 years ago, in intercollegiate debates. The teams on the negative side of the proposition won most of the contests because the teams on the affirmative side could not “prove” a current or future need for the wage. Today, that need is becoming obvious. So it’s interesting that President Obama believes that debating an issue over the next 10 to 20 years will resolve what some of us debated more than six decades ago. Perhaps timing is everything.