Not That Unpopular…
In his letter in the June 19/26 issue of The Nation, Michael Ferber correctly points out that “there were other reasons Trump won the election besides Russian meddling.” But then he adds this snarky comment: “not least that his opponent was so roundly and rightly disliked.”
Well, sure, Hillary Clinton wasn’t the perfect candidate, but she did win almost 3 million more votes than Trump, which unmasks Ferber’s comment as hyperbole and, might I add, “fake news.” Clinton won 65.85 million votes compared with 62.98 million for Trump. She lost the presidency because of low turnout by Democratic-leaning voters (exacerbated by GOP-sponsored voter suppression), and the votes for Green Party candidate Jill Stein, in three states: Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin. Trump eked out victories in those states of 0.3, 0.7, and 0.7 percentage points, respectively; that’s 10,704, 44,292, and 22,748 votes in each state, or a total of 77,744 votes. Those three wins gave him 46 Electoral College votes, enough for a majority.
If Clinton had done one point better in each state, she’d have won the Electoral College vote. In Wisconsin, for example, Trump beat Clinton by a mere 22,748 votes out of more than 2.9 million votes cast. Statewide, Trump received about the same number of votes as Mitt Romney in 2012, but Clinton received almost 240,000 fewer votes than Obama did in 2012.
The statewide decline in voter turnout was particularly devastating in Democratic strongholds. In 2011, Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker and the Republican State Legislature adopted tougher voter-registration laws, including a requirement that voters provide a photo ID. This election-law change had a chilling effect in Milwaukee, the state’s largest city, which has a large African-American and low-income population. According to Neil Albrecht, the Milwaukee Election Commission’s executive director, voter turnout there declined by 41,000 people between 2012 and 2016, with some of the greatest drop-off coming in districts with “transient, high-poverty” residents. Voter-watchdog groups also said that Wisconsin Department of Motor Vehicles officials gave incorrect information to people seeking to obtain a photo ID. Moreover, in all three states, Stein won more votes than Trump’s margin of victory over Clinton. Had most of Stein’s supporters voted for Clinton, she would have won enough Electoral College votes to win the White House.
Subject, Verb… Violence
Patricia J. Williams’s observations on Trump’s English are brilliant [“Language Games,” June 5/12]. Language controls silently. It takes a mind like Williams’s to ferret out “a ‘pre-emptive’ self-defender holding at bay the subjunctive mood of probable, pending, or likely victimization.” Trump may not be conscious of what his phrasing does, but it’s doing the business of autocrats and dictators. I appreciate that Williams caught that.
Margreta von Pein
Thank you for the excellent series of stories in the “Beyond Resistance: Democrats Fighting to Win” issue [June 5/12]. Like millions of others, I have participated in numerous protests against Donald Trump’s policies. I have written letters to the editor and contacted members of Congress to object to Trump’s initiatives. I have attended meetings, signed online petitions, and encouraged others to get involved.
The problem with the resistance movement is that local activists are not getting direction from the Democratic National Committee, and as a result we’re all over the place. I think the DNC should work with resistance leaders and provide local activists with a weekly plan. What can those of us on the ground do to be most helpful in both the short and long term? Is devoting time to organizing a protest more effective than getting on the phone and calling voters in a special election? Millions of people want to get involved in helping the Democrats take over the House and Senate. We need direction.
Applause for Merkley
As an Oregonian, I have supported Senator Jeff Merkley for years and couldn’t be more proud [“Senator Jeff Merkley, Working-Class Hero,” by Zoë Carpenter, June 5/12]. His progressive ideas and legislative proposals are right on. Although most of these proposals are progressive, he also has found a way to work across the aisle. Hard as that is, he’s really good at making his point of view sound reasonable to Republicans.
Perriello: Promise and Peril
Watching the establishment Democrats dutifully line up and support the establishment candidate in the race against Tom Perriello is predictably depressing [“Is Virginia for Populists?,” by George Zornick, June 5/12]. Kudos to Elizabeth Warren, in whom I have lost much faith over the past year, for not being one of the establishment crowd on this one.
It’s pretty depressing that the progressive candidate is willing to inflict his viewpoint on a woman’s right to control her own body. That stand affects half the population. Women are fighting for reproductive rights. We aren’t willing to backpedal on the issue to elect some pol who takes the same stand as a Republican.
Re “The Mystic,” by Paul Goldberger [June 5/12]: If a test of a “great” building is how it feels to deal with it on a daily basis—working in it, not just photographing it—then Louis Kahn’s Salk Institute passes with great marks.
I was a student worker at the University of California, San Diego, years ago, and worked for a couple of the labs there. Kahn designed a building that is incredibly warm and human, despite its perceived austerity. It’s beautiful on the outside, but it’s really a pleasure for the scientists and others to work in it. Even though it was built in 1963, I don’t envision it ever becoming dated. It is both relaxed and elegant; I can now understand how New Deal values came through. The building is fantastic, yet it is still for the people and not Kahn’s ego.
Re “The Great Pretender,” by Mike Konczal [June 5/12]: There is an old saying among economists that “anything that cannot go on forever, won’t.” An economy or society that gets heavier and heavier at the very (nonproductive) top while everyone underneath gets crushed is an economy or society that will eventually collapse from its own dead weight. The insatiable greed of those at the very top simply hastens their own eventual undoing.