Scott Adams on Trump Getting the Black Voter

The Lion of the Blogosphere blog brought to my attention a post by Scott Adams, Dilbert creator and 2016 election savant that outlines a plan to have Trump co-opt much of the more moderate Black Lives Matter agenda using his famed deal making skills to put together a Republican agenda to attract Black voters:

Create safer neighborhoods to attract jobs and create optimism.

Fix school bureaucracies in communities where students are failing.

Create apprenticeships for unskilled adults

Address the opioid epidemic directly and by improving the environment

Prosecute and jail police that falsify reports.

Police must call an ambulance if defendant complains of illness.

Voting rights for people in prison

Independent prosecutors for police killings of unarmed civilians.

Comprehensive national database of police shootings.

New York holiday for Day of Remembrance for victims of police brutality.

 

Adams addresses these issues individually in his post, but LOTB finds it ridiculous since as he writes, “That is never going to happen. Blacks know which party sucks up to them. Republicans could never suck up to blacks the way Dems do.”  Sadly, I find myself agreeing more with Lion on this one.  It has nothing to do with the most of the list Adams has assembled.  Prosecuting police for false reports is of course something that should (and often does) happen anyway, as well as calling an ambulance of a suspect complains of symptoms.  That is probably standard operating procedure for most law enforcement agencies.  A comprehensive database for police shootings, if the Justice Department isn’t already keeping one, is a good idea as is independent prosecutors to handle police shootings (or any crime handled by the police officer).  But that is already being done by many localities and is definitely a good idea for those that aren’t.  A local prosecutor who deals with the police in putting together cases on a regular basis is put in an awkward position trying to prosecute one of those same police officers.

The real problem is that Adams is a political novice in this area.  He’s basically offering a warmed over Jack Kemp agenda, minus the enterprise zones and school choice.  Kemp spent much of his career working to put together an agenda that would attract Black voters to the Republican Party.  His reward was Republicans attracting fewer Black voters by the end of his career than when he started.  The answer to the GOP making inroads into the Black voter demographic isn’t going to hinge on finding poll tested issues like School Choice.

There are a couple of obvious answers to the Republican’s near total estrangement from Black America.  Sure, the media is quick to label any Republican a racist so that in this point in history the two are nearly synonymous. But there are a couple of deeper answers too.

Color-Blindness: I think that’s one of the issues that make it difficult for conservatives to reach out to Blacks; conservatives in particular and the Republican Party in general have adopted “color-blindness” as their answer to racial issues. They took King’s “Content of our character” speech and stopped there.  For Republicans, the civil rights movement was basically won in 1964, But Blacks, and the Democrats moved on from that. That’s thin offering to a Black population that considers color-blindness as the same thing as being thrown to the wolves of institutional racism and white privilege.

Today “civil rights” doesn’t mean equality before the law and equality of opportunity; it means the exact opposite; affirmative action, set asides, reparations and all sorts of special treatment. So for Democrats to say that Republicans oppose civil rights, they have a point. At least civil rights as they are understood today, not the classical understanding.

Black Leadership:  Republicans have nothing but contempt for what passes for Black leadership now days. Both the now fading Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton are considered crooks and con men by most Republicans. And although I’ve met plenty of Black people who tell me that Al Sharpton doesn’t represent them, when you get right down to it, when there is some sort of police shooting or similar incident, at least a majority of black people do recognize Jackson and Sharpton as having some sort of legitimacy to speak on Black issues. Partially it’s white media anointing them, but they couldn’t get away with it unless the majority of Black people agreed.  Who did Trayvon Martin’s parents go to when they felt local authorities were not taking them seriously? Not Colin Powell or Herman Cain.

It’s the Oppression Stupid: Over the years the left learned that they needed to inculcate the Black worldview into the leftist pantheon of grievances. It was easy for the left since they already bought into the history of America being a history of oppression. If you’re African American, that is literally true, so it was easy to add the racial component. The OJ Simpson trial is the last time I recall that a social issue that was racially charged was also split racially more than politically. White conservatives and liberals thought OJ did it, Blacks, by and large, didn’t.  So when Trayvon Martin came along, the left automatically assumed the position of most Black Americans; that it was a racist murder. Following the story as I did, the story was, from the beginning, broken down in a partisan way, with Democrats including almost all Blacks thinking it was a racist murder and Republicans thinking it was probably a legitimate case of self-defense.  So from the African American point of view, which party was on the side of, and supporting, Black people and which side wasn’t?

African American Insecurity: African Americans feel that their position is extremely unsecure. I’m not talking about economically, although that too, but politically. It’s as if the civil rights movement could be unrolled any moment. That’s certainly how the voter ID issue has been presented in the media. Not as a common sense measure to secure voting, but as Bull Connor running the electoral process, ready to turn his water hose on any Black person who dares ask for a ballot. When you have an entire media establishment running with that to support their party and attack the party that they regard as the enemy, that’s going to make a difference. That’s actually worse than the “Republicans are Racist” meme since it creates the idea that all Black people should band together for political survival. That’s why Black Republicans are hated and treated worse than white Republicans; they represent a crack in a unity that’s needed to prevent a rollback to the Jim Crowe era or worse.

As a party, Black people don’t trust Republicans and that’s why some of the craziest advertising can run a few days before the election, like “Republicans want to re-institute Jim Crow” or “Republicans want to chain blacks to the back of a pickup” carry weight. Remember Biden saying that “He is going to put y’all back in chains?” That stuff works, even though it sounds crazy. A minority group that feels threatened and under the gun, as Blacks often do; is susceptible to that sort of message. After all, Jim Crow is actually the memory of many older people, and deep down, they must think if white people ever got a chance…

I don’t think Republicans can win Black votes in any appreciable degree, at least not this generation. The reason is because most people don’t really vote on “issues,” like a Black friendly Scott Adams-Jack Kemp position by position agenda. That’s why although almost all of the Black people I’ve known personally were small “c” conservatives, hardly any of them voted Republican. It’s a matter of trust. And there isn’t any real way for Republicans to win it.

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When the News No Longer Resembles News

I honestly think I’ve had about enough.  If you happened to catch Chuck Todd’s apoplectic reaction to President Trump’s news conference on Tuesday.

What made me reach my breaking point came at about the 1:34 mark, “…when was the last time you saw a President of the United States defend the cause of White Nationalists?”

It’s an insane smear, but I’ve no doubt that Todd was being totally sincere in his belief that Trump was rooting for the Nazi’s.  As for me, I’ve been a news junkie for decades. Up until the internet made it ridiculous, I had a subscription to the local newspaper and I would make sure I caught a steady stream of news shows on cable and the traditional nightly news. Most mornings I would have the morning news shows on in the background while I worked. So generally, I’ve watched a lot of news.  Not just hours a week but hours a day.

But I’ve never felt so estranged from what newspaper columns and talking heads on cable are babbling about as I have this year. It’s as if they are living not just in a different moral universe, but a different factual one as well. Their editorial decisions seem like they are being made by college student government rather than seasoned, professional editors. How can you spend 8 months on wall to wall Russia when there has yet to be any actual evidence of a Russia collusion story?  It’s simply a daily rehashing of a burned out conspiracy theory.

I’m tuning out the news more and more these days.  I can get all my news online with a lot less wasted time and no smug pomposity; which is particularly galling with their track record of inaccuracy.  After the election, it occurred to me that I would have been better informed if I had spent 18 months leading up to the election just reading Scott Adams’ blog than the hundreds of hours wasted watching Morning Joe.

Hopefully, when this age of mass hysteria and moral panic has passed, and the news media has returned to some sort of semblance of normalcy, I can return to getting my media news junkie fix.  But for now, I’ll be a lot healthier if I’m off the stuff.

12 steps…

Four Theories on Trump vs Sessions

My general thoughts and feelings on Trump’s constant attacking of Jeff Sessions is that it’s disgraceful and shows poor leadership to be attacking a loyal subordinate in such a passive aggressive (and sometimes not so passive) and very public way.  Sessions isn’t in some random cabinet post; he’s the Attorney General, and almost everything that Trump wants in domestic policy depends on Sessions.  That’s doubly true when you’re talking about issues like immigration.  Sessions is really the only “Trumpist” in the cabinet.  Everyone else could care less about Trump’s ideas.  So without Sessions; there is no logical replacement (or at least one that the Senate would confirm-Sorry Kris Kobach) to carry on Trump’s policies.  Regardless of what happened to the rest of Trump’s Presidency, Trumpism would be over.

So why would Trump be acting in such a crazy way?  CNN has beclowned itself trying to puzzle that one out, but going through the interwebs, I’ve seen 4 theories that might explain Trump’s attack on his only ally, Jeff Sessions.

One.  Trump’s a madman.

In this case, Trump is just as he appears to be.  He’s gone into a rage because of the Mueller investigation, and can’t stop himself from sniping at Sessions because he doesn’t really want to fire him but wants him gone and hopes if he is humiliated publicly often enough, Sessions will just resign.  Who Trump gets to replace him and how that takes care of his Mueller issue are just problems for another day.  The main thing is to get rid of someone who Trump feels failed him.  That this will damage him with a large section of the conservative base doesn’t matter.  Trump angry now!

Two.  Trump is Mr. Magoo.

This is the theory of the Lion of the Blogosphere.  According to the Lion, Trump is just bouncing around from situation to situation, but through sheer luck and happenstance; he winds up smelling like a rose. Trump’s speech in which he mentioned the effects of immigration in Sweden is a good example. After making a comment about the problems being caused in Sweden by immigrants, Trump was roundly mocked on social media and the weekend political shows, only to have immigrant riots break out in Sweden days later.  Was Trump a prescient social scientist, or did he get lucky on counting on Muslims being Muslim?  My magic 8 ball says “signs point to yes.”  In any case, Trump one; Media smart-asses zero.

Three.  Trump is pulling a professional wrestlingwork.” Having worked with professional wrestling before, Trump is well aware how wrestling is much more like a soap opera for dudes than an athletic contest.  There is a lot of drama in the wrestling story lines and sometimes a heel can get into a feud and then it turns out he has a secret alliance with the babyface!  Yeah!  The day is saved!  In this scenario, Trump and Sessions are working together to draw out and crystallize support for Sessions by having Trump attacking him.  Suddenly, every media person and Democrat (I know, same thing) who hated Sessions suddenly rush to his support. This gives Sessions freedom of action for things that will be unpopular to the Democrats/Media because if Trump is mad at Sessions, that must be good.

Four.  5D Chess. In the Scott Adams version, Trump is like Spock, if Spock were a New York real estate developer and hotel and casino owner.  Actually, that’s not a bad idea for a Star Trek spin off:  Star Trek: Las Vulcan.  Where pleasure is logical… In this scenario, Trump is running all of the various media scenarios through his mind palace, war gaming the responses of the various media networks and politicians to insulate Sessions from future criticism similar to theory three; set a public distance between Sessions and Trump to give Sessions a free hand.

Which do I think is the mostly likely?  Well I think we’ve seen signs of all four over the course of the Trump campaign and Presidency, although there could well be a lot of overlap.  When Trump tweeted the punching CNN gif, did he know what the media reaction would be and that it ultimately would make the media look extremely stupid, or did he Mr Magoo his way into that situation?  It’s hard to say.  There is a lot of overlap between theories one and two and theories three and four.  But when it comes to Sessions, I hope it’s a theory three & four scenario, but I fear it may be a theory one & two.

 

A few More Election Observations

Just a couple of observations:

The Return of the War on Women: It wasn’t really called that this year, but in the pearl clutching, fainting couch department, it was 2012 all over again.  Where Romney was portrayed as insensitive and clueless when it comes to women, Trump has been portrayed as a sexual predator.  The failure of the typical War-on-Women attacks in 2014 lead many Republican “thinkers” to believe that it was an expired tactic, but that’s really just a reflection of the difference in the electorate that shows up in Presidential year elections and non Presidential ones.  I predict that in 2018 Republicans will once again declare the War-on-Women tactics dead, and then be surprised when they work like a charm in 2020.

Power over Principles:  Ideology barely made a single campaign stop in probably one of the most ideology free Presidential campaigns in my lifetime.  The Democrats have long espoused a policy, modeled off of Samuel Gompers’s famous quote, of “more.”  The Democratic coalition has long been a “more” party, rather than an ideological party; as long as that “More” comes from the other guys. That’s been Democratic Policy for decades, but the shift of some #nevertrump holdouts as the election neared showed that no matter how you want to slice it ideologically, there are two broad coalitions in American politics, a generally left leaning extraction coalition, and a generally right leaning production coalition.  How else to explain that the same anti war crowd that voted for Obama based on his promise to leave Iraq now voted for the candidate that promised to confront Russia, militarily if necessary, to establish a no fly zone in Syria?

It’s the Identity stupid:  The economy barely showed up as an issue in the campaign.  In fact, it was probably less of a factor in any election in my lifetime, and that includes economic high points hit during the Reagan and Clinton administrations.  The Obama economy has been no high point, but, as I observed in 2012:

“Even if Romney had won, it would have been the last gasp of an archaic idea in US politics; political parties that are more or less based on policy decisions and ideas and to a lesser degree, ideology and the left/right continuum   Eventually, I suspect that we will be voting according to our ethnic, gender, and sexual preferences.  In other words, our politics will become more tribal.”

I’m quite the prophet!  So the economy and public policy proposals (except on the Trump side) were minor accessories to this year’s election, not the central focus as they had been in the past.  But we’re a different country now so tribe is more important than policy. Meanwhile, Trump won about 60% of the white vote although I think these numbers understate that.  Hopefully there will be better data in a few weeks and I’m betting it will show a much higher percentage of the white vote.  That’s the only way I can figure that Trump won such a large victory and won so many previously out of reach states when the percentage of the white vote dropped 2% from 72% in 2012 to 70% in 2016. Although Trump won a higher percentage of both the Black vote and Hispanic vote than Romney did, that just doesn’t give you the margin of victory that Trump managed.  As an aside, that 2% drop in the White electorate every four years seems like a good rule of thumb to calculate how much more of the white vote Republicans will need to win in the future to be competitive.  Some liberal wag on twitter made the comment last night that the white working class finally started voting like a minority.

Yep.

That’s the future, love it or hate it (I hate it personally, but I didn’t bake this cake).

Policy loses to Persuasion:  Dilbert writer Scott Adams has distinguished himself as the preeminent political prognosticator of this election.  Adams predicted a Trump landslide in 2015 and has been following up on the campaign at his blog, which has turned out to be the most accurate site on Trump for the duration of the campaign.  Adam’s experience in the techniques of persuasion gave invaluable insight into why stupid things that Trump said weren’t stupid at all, they were deliberate attempts to create an imagery and mood and how to feel about something.  Once he had tagged Jeb Bush as “low energy Jeb” you couldn’t help but analyze his speech and the way he physically handled himself to see if he was “low energy.”  Brilliant!   All of Jeb’s 100 million dollars couldn’t save him after that.

I’m sure I’ll have other observations about the election and I’ll post them as they come, but the Trump victory is really making me look forward to Thanksgiving Day dinner conversation.  I intend to make Thanksgiving great again!