Barack Obama And The Death Of Normal

07 Nov
November 7, 2012

I was on an airplane last night as the election was decided. As the plane landed after midnight on the East Coast, I confess that my hand was shaking as I turned on my phone for the news. I did not want to see dishonesty and divisiveness and raw political hackery rewarded. It is hard enough for anyone to actually address the problems, to move this country forward, to make the intransigent American ruling class yield even a yard of the past to the inevitable future. But going backwards last night would have been devastating. I read the returns in silent elation; a business trip had me traveling in business class and the gnashing of corporate teeth all around precluded a full-throated huzzah on my part. I abhor a gloat.

But the country is changing. And this may be the last election in which anyone but a fool tries to play — on a national level, at least — the cards of racial exclusion, of immigrant fear, of the patronization of women and hegemony over their bodies, of self-righteous discrimination against homosexuals. Some in the Republican party and among the teabagged fringe will continue to play such losing hands for some time to come; this shit worked well in its day and distracted many from addressing any of our essential national issues. But again, if they play that weak-ass game past this point, they are fools.

America is different now, more so with every election cycle. Ronald Reagan won his mandate in an America in which 89 percent of the voters were white. That number is down to 72 percent and falling. Fifty thousand new Latino citizens achieve the voting age every month. America will soon belong to the men and women — white and black and Latino and Asian, Christian and Jew and Muslim and atheist, gay and straight — who can walk into a room and accept with real comfort the sensation that they are in a world of certain difference, that there are no real majorities, only pluralities and coalitions. The America in which it was otherwise is dying, thank god, and those who relied on entitlement and division to command power will either be obliged to accept the changes, or retreat to the gated communities from which they wish to wax nostalgic and brood on political irrelevance.

You want to lead in America? Find a way to be entirely utilitarian — to address the most problems on behalf of the most possible citizens. That works. That matters. Last night, it mattered just enough to overcome the calcified political calculations of men who think that 47 percent will vote against them because they are victims, or that 53 percent are with them because the rest of us vote only from self-interest and without regard for the republic as a whole. It was a closer contest than common sense and the spirit of a truly great nation should dictate. But unless these white guys who have peddled “normal” for so long — normal as in racial majority, normal as in religious majority, normal as in sexual orientation — unless they have a hard moment of self-reflection and self-awareness, well, it will not be this close again.

Eighty years ago, the Democratic party became a national utilitarian enterprise, molding the immigrant waves of Irish and Italian and Jew into a voting bloc that stunned the political opposition and transformed American society, creating the world’s greatest economic engine in the form of a consumer class with vast discretionary income. The New Deal asserted for American progress — shaping and influencing administrations both Democratic and Republican — for three decades before running aground on the shoals of the civil rights movement, resulting racial fears and resentments, and, of course, the Southern strategy of political cynics.

Well, a new voting bloc as formidable as the New Deal coalition certainly isn’t yet complete, and the political results are still fitful. To be sure, venality has transformed the upper house of our national legislature into a paralytic failure, with a new standard of a filibuster-proof supermajority now the norm. The lower house of that legislature reflects less of any national consensus than it does the absurdity of post-census gerrymandering. Never mind Obama. If Romney had won this election, our government would be just as broken. It is the legislative branch that remains an epic systems failure.

For lost and fretful white men, unwilling to accept the terms of a new America, Congress is the last barricade against practical and inevitable change. But there, too, the demographic inevitabilities are all in play. All the gerrymandering in this world won’t make those other Americans, those different Americans, go away. And the tyranny of minority and lack of compromise that you employ to thwart progress now will likely breed an equal contempt when the demographics do indeed provide supermajorities.

Hard times are still to come for all of us. Rear guard actions will be fought at every political crossroad. But make no mistake: Change is a motherfucker when you run from it. And right now, the conservative movement in America is fleeing from dramatic change that is certain and immutable. A man of color is president for the second time, and this happened despite a struggling economic climate and a national spirit of general discontent. He has been returned to office over the specific objections of the mass of white men. He has instead been re-elected by women, by people of color, by homosexuals, by people of varying religions or no religion whatsoever. Behold the New Jerusalem. Not that there’s anything wrong with being a white man, of course. There’s nothing wrong with being anything. That’s the point.

This election marks a moment in which the racial and social hierarchy of America is upended forever. No longer will it mean more politically to be a white male than to be anything else. Evolve, or don’t. Swallow your resentments, or don’t. But the votes are going to be counted, more of them with each election. Arizona will soon be in play. And in a few cycles, even Texas. And those wishing to hold national office in these United States will find it increasingly useless to argue for normal, to attempt to play one minority against the next, to turn pluralities against the feared “other” of gays, or blacks, or immigrants, or, incredibly in this election cycle, our very wives and lovers and daughters, fellow citizens who demand to control their own bodies.

Regardless of what happens with his second term, Barack Obama’s great victory has already been won: We are all the other now, in some sense. Special interests? That term has no more meaning in the New America. We are all — all of us, every last American, even the whitest of white guys — special interests. And now, normal isn’t white or straight or Christian. There is no normal. That word, too, means less with every moment. And those who continue to argue for such retrograde notions as a political reality will become less germane and more ridiculous with every passing year.

Lots of waste and shouting and ignorance still to come, of course. But last night was a milestone.

 

741 replies
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  1. Chase says:

    Thank you David Simon for this great article. Being a bigot is NEVER acceptable, even if someone thinks it’s because of “my values” or whatever frequently repeated little words they use to try to justify their xenophobia. It doesn’t matter what religion, beliefs, traditions or how “American” you think you are, discriminating against people for any reason whatsoever is just plain wrong. Imagine if someone’s religion said that “murder is fine!”. They could try to justify that all they want, but murder in the true meaning is never fine. Even if they said something like “well, you have your opinion and I have mine”. Folks, that might be a technical “opinion”, but with a little abstract thinking, that “opinion” really has about the same weight as a fact, regardless of whether it is technically an opinion or not.

    So my point is pretty much no matter how you slice it, thinking of race, sexual orientation, or any type of person as having “less value” because the person is not white (and I’m white by the way) is absolutely 100% wrong. Also, we absolutely aren’t being hateful against other whites by saying this. It’s simply that in the US there seems to be a special breed of “white” people that have this incredibly hateful, vile, bully-like view of others. They are wrong. Period. It’s not about their whiteness (It’s just that they happen to be of that color).

    And about the religion thing, folks, I’m just going to say it: religion is all about being delusional. It’s time to grow up. We are well into the 21st century. Again, back to that “opinion” thing. This is not an opinion issue. This is a fact. God simply does not exist. And if you say “well, how do you know for sure?”, the answer is that there comes a point in an intelligent human being’s mind when he has to accept that Santa, the Easter bunny, and all other crazy things do not exist. He takes all the facts together, assembles them in his (hopefully) thinking mind and comes to a logical, realistic, scientifically supported conclusion. With that said, if one can be religious without being hateful or starting wars, then that’s fine as long as he keep it to himself. Your religious personal beliefs deserved to be “attacked” when it comes to them being hateful or starting costly wars.

    It’s a little funny how, with all the information available these days, there are still people who haven’t the slightest idea of how their own planet works, yet feel even remotely qualified to combat well known natural facts, usually by hatefully spouting off scripture from some ancient, very out-of-date religion, as if man’s word has any influence on the workings of the known universe.

    The good news? Atheism is on the rise. Bigoted, weak-minded people are are being replaced rapidly by more intelligent, tolerant, rational human beings. It’s about time.

    Reply
    • Dan says:

      I think it’s weird people are so excited that white religious influence is declining. The modern world was basically built by white Christians. This isn’t to say that nobody else could have done it, but nobody else did do it. It’s also evident that a single belief system is gaining dominance. It’s the one people call leftist or progressive. It’s believes in an increasingly invasive federal government, tons of little laws, enforcing its dogmas with social exclusion. It has its own bad words such as the n word that is probably equivalent in social consequences to saying Jesus Christ as a swear word on televion in 1950. So the new dominant belief system has exactly the same things about it including censorship that people complained about in the old white Christian system. Whether the new left leaning socialist leaning system is capable of producing or maintaining a free society remains to be seen. I don’t really think it will be able to. I think it’s going to make a bigger and bigger more invasive government that will eventually become Big Brother. But we’ll see. Anyway I really think the republicans lost, Obama didn’t win. He barely beat mitt Romney! And it was because of the swing states. I think it’s because he’s a savvier politician. I think Ron Paul would have beat Obama head to head. But you’re right of course that the West is moving away from its white Christian roots. This really shouldn’t produce jubilation though. It should produce soberness I think at best and even a certain amount of apprehension. We are clear cutting the old institutions. I fear we may be cutting ourselves off at the root.

      Reply
    • Dan says:

      Oh I also wanted to say the main immediate reason for today’s legislative gridlock is obamacare and the way they rammed it through. The gridlock will probably decline the farther we get from that disgusting event. That was my personal moment of becoming totally disgusted by politicians.

      Reply
  2. Jason says:

    The problem is an uninformed and apathetic electorate, more interested in American Idol than those governing them (we can thank the “mainstream” media for that). Obama may have been the best choice of the three names on the ballot, but that doesn’t mean he was the best choice. His record proves that. Thank goodness I have the ability to write-in a candidate. I vote my conscience and principles.

    Today, Obama wants the ability to bypass Congress to get what he wants (in violation of the Constitution), to kill American citizens with drones, and make 11 million ILLEGAL immigrants in the nation citizens. This is NOT what America is. My grandparents and other ancestors came over to this nation from Europe and took the legal steps to become citizens.

    On a side note, Mr. Simon, was there ever talk of a season of The Wire focusing on the prison system? I know you did that a bit with the Barksdale clan, but I mean as a full-season arc? Especially now that many are going to private ownership, I think that would’ve been a very timely topic for the show.

    Reply
    • David Simon says:

      Disagree. The American electorate actually wants some very reasonable things if you look at the polls. I have much more faith in the collective will and intent of my fellow citizens. I believe in the ideal of democratic, representative government. The problem isn’t the people.

      The problem is the second branch of government, the legislative. It’s been purchased wholesale by our monied interests. Capital has seized the legislative reins to a point where the popular will cannot find purchase without achieving improbable super-majorities in the national legislature. Short of that, gridlock.

      If the people were actually heeded, I would be rather sanguine about our prospects.

      Reply
      • Jason says:

        Agree with you on the legislative branch being purchased.

        You have better faith in people than I do. I’m in my early 30s and most people my age can’t name their reps in Congress, but they know every contestant on American Idol. They think a drone was in the Terminator films. I am speaking about my personal experience. You obviously have a lot more than I do.

        Reply
      • Jason says:

        In my experience, people don’t want reasonable things. And while the legislative branch is bought and paid for, the “mainstream” media doesn’t help matters. People need to realize there are more options than the Republicrats.

        Reply
        • David Simon says:

          Then democracy can’t work, can it? And we should trust which dictatoriat class to bring us reasonableness? Conservatives? Liberals? Libertarians, who demonstrate their contempt for republican, representative government with every sounding, yet seek elective office so as to then demonstrate their incapacity to build anything but a civic justification for their own selfishness and disconnect from any communal moment of connection?

          Or should we instead try to maximize the voice of the collective and aspire to the democracy we invoke only as platitude?

          I look at the polling data and I see what the majority of Americans believe when it comes to many fundamental issues and I am entirely encouraged. Would that the collective will ever actually be expressed through our purchased political infrastructure. But no.

          I don’t think you could be more wrong about what ails us. It’s not that the people want the wrong things, by and large. It’s that the citizens of this republic no longer get what they want. And need.

          Reply
          • Jason says:

            You’re right, the people aren’t getting what they want. And I see them complain, but not really do anything about it.

            We should elect men and women to represent us who will follow adherence to the people, within the framework of the constitution. In my Congressional District in 2010, we had a candidate for Congress who was neither Democrat or GOP. Jake Towne was an independent who had a plan to govern and represent us based on the Constitution. I volunteered, joining a small group who helped.

            He lost, naturally, as businesses and special interests funneled money to the incumbent GOP candidate. After the election, our Congressman backed unpopular initiatives and I listened to people clamoring for something different. When they enumerated what they were looking for, it was Jake Towne! These people asked me why they never heard of him. All they had to do was look (and not discard the information I gave them and/or led them to). They blew a chance to get someone to act in their interests. I am sure I wasn’t the only one who had this happen.

            Reply
            • Jason says:

              It is evident reading over my posts that I have not articulated my point clearly enough. Allow me to try again.

              Special interests and big business have our legislators bought and paid for. And Citizens United makes it legal. And while perhaps people are generally in agreement on issues, I don’t see enough ire at the fact they are not getting what they need or want. THAT’S the apathy I speak of. I don’t see people getting involved to make a difference. I see and hear complaining and finger-pointing. Are there Republicrat candidates who will ignore big business and focus on the people’s needs? No doubt there are, But people don’t do enough, IMO, to get them to the forefront.

              I hope that’s a bit more clear.

              Reply
  3. David says:

    Here’s the great “change” we got after Warmonger-in-Chief Bush:

    (All of the following articles were written by LEFT-wing, progressive journalists.)

    Obama’s War on medical marijuana
    http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/news/obamas-war-on-pot-20120216

    “But over the past year, the Obama administration has quietly unleashed a multi¬agency crackdown on medical cannabis that goes far beyond anything undertaken by George W. Bush.”

    Obama’s War on whistleblowers
    http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2012/06/obamas-whistleblowers-stuxnet-leaks-drones

    Obama’s Drone War on innocent civilians in Asia
    http://www.nytimes.com/2012/10/14/public-editor/questions-on-drones-unanswered-still.html

    “The Bureau of Investigative Journalism in Britain has estimated that, in the first three years after President Obama took office, between 282 and 535 civilians were credibly reported killed by drone strikes — including more than 60 children.”

    http://droneswatch.org/2013/01/20/list-of-children-killed-by-drone-strikes-in-pakistan-and-yemen/

    http://www.democracynow.org/2013/1/22/dirty_wars_jeremy_scahill_and_rick

    “We’re looking right now at a reality that President Obama has essentially extended the very [drone war] policies that many of his supporters once opposed under President Bush,” says Scahill.”

    Obama’s War on civil liberties
    http://m.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2012/dec/26/drones-yemen-fbi-occupy-terrorism

    http://www.salon.com/2010/05/13/citizens_2/

    Obama protects Wall Street bankers from going to jail
    http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2013/jan/23/untouchables-wall-street-prosecutions-obama

    Obama still hasn’t closed Gitmo
    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/05/21/AR2009052104045.html

    Obama’s War on U.S. citizens with drone attacks
    http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2012/dec/21/coming-drone-attack-america?INTCMP=SRCH

    Reply
  4. jm says:

    The author of this article is very wrong and needs to do there research!

    He thinks the Republican Party playing social conservatism is a losing weak ass game? Well if you go on the Pew Research Center you’ll find out that a lot of the blacks and Hispanics in the Democratic party are highly religious social conservatives! Most black and Hispanic Democrats are moderates. Some are even conservative on most issues but place there vote based on just a couple issues and on those couple issues they favor the Democrats stance while being conservative on all others.

    I see this as being bad for the Democratic Party and good for the Republicans! Why? Because if the Republicans could find out what is attracting a lot of these religious socially conservative blacks and Hispanics into the Democratic Party then Republicans could adjust there positions and steal them from the Democratic Party! I’m going to guess a majority of blacks vote Democratic due to welfare, blacks were strongly Republican back in the day and left the party for FDR’s New Deal welfare state. I’m going to guess a lot of Hispanics favor welfare and lighter immigration laws. A lot of blacks and Hispanics do live in lower income.

    Reply
    • makeinu says:

      I’m going to guess a majority of blacks vote Democratic due to welfare

      Argument full stop. Played the racist card, ignore anything he says.

      Also, the word you’re looking for is “their”. Not “there” Quit relying on spell check and learn the damn language.

      Reply
      • David says:

        “Also, the word you’re looking for is “their”. Not “there” Quit relying on spell check and learn the damn language. Quit relying on spell check and learn the damn language.” It’s even worse than that. JM should have written; “The author of this article is very wrong and needs to do his research!”

        But that doesn’t take away from his point that there are socially conservative Democrats too.

        Reply
    • David says:

      You’re 100% correct. Obama was voted for 2–1 over McCain in 2008 in California at the same time that Proposition 8 was voted for. (That’s the law mandating that only men and women can marry.)

      Many Democrat Blacks are also Southern Baptists. Many Democrat Latinos are Roman Catholics. There religion says that homosexual is a no-no.

      Also, did you know that about 30% of Democrats are pro-life?

      Reply
  5. Ken says:

    Last night, it mattered just enough to overcome the calcified political calculations of men who think that 47 percent will vote against them because they are victims, or that 53 percent are with them because the rest of us vote only from self-interest and without regard for the republic as a whole.

    When white people act purely in their self interest, they are following the philosophy of Ayn Rand. When minorities vote without regard for the republic, it’s heresy.

    Got that?

    Reply
  6. The Raven says:

    As a comfortable, middle-aged white guy, I sprinted to the polling station to vote for Barack Obama. He is the best candidate for president I have ever had the privilege of voting for.

    He could not have been elected without the 40 percent of people like me who felt the same way. In this, I’d temper the tone of this blog’s triumphalism. Obama was a good candidate, but he is still arguably centrist and even slightly centrist-right. Those of us who’d prefer a more progressive candidate are still waiting.

    A big test will be how the federal government reacts to the recreational marijuana laws passed in CO and WA. For 2016 is it too early to hope for Elizabeth Warren?

    Reply
    • torsten says:

      Obama is not “centrist right.” He is much more liberal but is a pragmatist who understands what is possible in the current political climate and refuses to let naive idealism and purity destroy that which he knows he can achieve.

      Reply
      • Jake_v says:

        Thank god not everyone is ignorant enough to think that Elizabeth Warren (with all her lies based on race) and Barack H. Obama are the cure.

        On that note…seems like we are a lot sicker as a nation following 4 years of this administration and looks like the infection won’t let up soon.

        You folks who keep ‘seeing everything through the eye’s of the gays/blacks/mexicans/wahetevertodayshotpilticalgroupis’ are destroying this country through bias.

        How about opening your eyes and seeing the issues through the eyes of an American. That’s what made this nation great.

        Reply
        • David Simon says:

          Congratulations, you’ve pretty much defined the precise cohort at which the essay argues.

          I’m not sure your mind can open enough to perceive the world from anywhere else but your self-entitled place in it, but ask yourself for just a moment why the eyes of gays/blacks/latinos and all of those that you lump into the other are not in fact the eyes of Americans, just as plainly as those who self-identify as white. That is what the essay is saying, Americanism is no longer majority white and male. This election proved that decisively. Many people are comfortable with that and understand that coalition politics will be our shared future. Those who are not will increasingly live in the past, nuture their resentments and become less relevant to the American future. From your words about others — different from you — daring to assess American life and American problems through eyes other than your own and thereby “destroying the country” by not thinking as white, straight, male Americans — your platonic ideal of a citizen apparently — I would have to assume that you are a certified member of this embittered cohort. For you, white is the political default. In reality, American life is multicultural.

          Your statement is not evidence of your lack of bias. It is, in fact, proof of an underlying racist assumption on your part.

          Reply
  7. indianbadger says:

    Mr. Simon,

    In all the excoriating of Mr. Romney’s “gift” comments from both the right and the left; the one criticism that has not been leveled against this monstrously narrowminded view of electorates seems to be that Mr. Romney was ALSO proposing “gifts” for his coalition of voters he was assembling. What do you call the list of his economic proposals other than a “gift” for the well off? Repealing Obamacare, repealing Dodd Frank, more tax cuts for the wealthy, increasing Defense expenditures (which is essentially a pork for the MIC), reducing regulations from the EPA; what is all this EXCEPT a ‘gift’ to the wealthy? And even a person with a high school math education can read the CBO scoring of his proposals (which are essentially the Ryan plan) and figure out that this will only massively INCREASE out debt! Why is no one calling out Mr. Romney for his hypocrisy along with his stupidity?

    Reply
  8. Daniel says:

    I, a comfortably wealthy white guy, voted for Barrack Hussein Obama because is he the most normal, human and seemingly decent person I have ever had the chance to vote for.

    I bet none of what we are talking about on this blog will matter whatsoever come the next election cycle. Fucking hurray for that.

    Reply
    • Daniel says:

      And hopefully last time I will have to admit being a middle class white guy. Now I need to find a Latino wife so my children can look more normal

      Reply
  9. Joe K says:

    I just found your blog via John Gruber, and I’m thoroughly impressed. Your writing style makes reading your blog not just informative but truly enjoyable. Thanks for posting!

    One question on this article: You state that to change America, one has to “Find a way to be entirely utilitarian — to address the most problems on behalf of the most possible citizens.” Do you think this is true even given the existence of the Electoral College? I realize that action during the presidency and promises during campaigning are not necessarily equivalent, but I wonder whether it has an effect on behavior during presidency.

    Reply
  10. Brian Hogan says:

    1. I voted for Obama again, knew I would 4 years ago, after I gave him 6 hours of my time (voter registration, phone calls) in response Hillary Clinton’s use of racism to try to get the nomination (B. Clinton (closely paraphrased): “Not surprised Obama did well in [one or both of the Carolinas]. Jesse Jackson did well there too when he ran for Pres.” Also, Ferraro and Lanny Davis.).
    2. September 18th column re: homicides in Baltimore
    3. This column, and all the others like it (“White Guys Suck LOL.”).
    4. I’m a white guy.
    4a. See demographics for violent crime statistics.
    5. I’ll never vote Repub. Greedy, hatemongering warmongers.
    6a. “Urban policy”? You know much much better.
    7. You may now call me a racist (I don’t think I am, at least, not as bad as a lot of other people).

    Reply
    • Brian Hogan says:

      I certainly don’t expect you to “agree” with me – it’s not that kind of comment, and the only people who would are in a club I don’t want to join – and I don’t expect you to publicly (here) say “I understand your unhappiness (like I understand Petraeus’ bad move)”. I’m venting, of course (of course), from up here in Philadelphia. I’ve simply found, after 45 years, that my capacity for a certain kind of masochism, and faith-based…something…has worn thin, to the point of almost no longer there. Lost the faith, I guess. Divisive politics; bad public administration; bad schools; too many guns held on me (mugged liberal, but still a liberal, leftist even), etc. Certainly chickens coming home to roost: hate that hate produced, poverty that exclusion from professions and trades produced, and more hate. Philly’s a rough town. Don’t like where I am, internally and externally, and don’t see the way out. But I would vote for Obama a third time, and I’ll vote for Hillary so she beats Christie.

      Anyway, I’m just not sure you need to piss on our shared demographic, without at least a couple of qualifiers. Again, somewhat to my surprise, my masochistic tendencies have dissipated. Didn’t see it coming.

      Reply
    • Brian Hogan says:

      I’d like to apologize for these comments. The hate and divisiveness that they express and promote is destructive, and morally wrong. To Mr. Simon and his readers, please accept my apology.

      I don’t wish to conceal, or otherwise avoid responsibility for, my unacceptable conduct; however, these comments are hateful enough that if the moderator wishes to expunge them, I would have no obejctions.

      Reply
      • Shahir says:

        That’s admirable….I say lots of mean things and regret them but I always hope that I (we all) act (and vote) from the better part of ourselves and not from the dark corners of our minds. Philadelphia is a rough town. Know it well. Hang in there!

        Reply
  11. Californian says:

    The New Dealers “transformed American society, creating the world’s greatest economic engine in the form of a consumer class with vast discretionary income. The New Deal asserted for American progress”

    Except one very important detail. Immigration was very, very low during the New Deal Great Society era, particularly relative to the Gilded Age. A large consumer class with vast discretionary income was created 1945-75 period because immigration was limited (not eliminated totally) significantly for the first time in America’s industrial history. Thus employers were forced to pay higher wages than they ever had before, and pay for much of workers’ training and education. Because ot the basically high immigration levels we’ve had since the late 1970s due to a failure to enforce the 1965 Immigration Act quotas, real wages have been stagnant or declining for those in the bottome half. Employers don’t have to pay much to anyone except those with scarce skills. Legalizing 11+ million illegals will only make this problem worse, and continuing to not sanction those who employ illegals will make it even worse. You, and the so called “left” ( which on immigration actually isn’t), need to learn the basics of supply & demand. As long as labor supply is basically unlimited employers & landowners can continue to pocket all the profits of improved productivity & deliver nothing much to workers.
    http://www.economica.ca/ew07_2p1.htm

    Reply
    • David Simon says:

      Read the “Promised Land” by Nick Lehman. In the 1930s and 1940s, America was undergoing one of the largest immigrant movements in its history. It just happened to be the mass movement of rural blacks from the South to the Northern cities. Mechanical cotton harvesting exacerbated the trend and turned it into a deluge beginning in 1943. And yet the wartime economy and the two decades following managed to absorb millions of new migrant workers into America’s industrial complex.

      Only deindustrialization that began in the 1970 betrayed that last, huge immigrant wave in last-hired, first-fired fashion.

      Read Lehman’s book. Your analysis misses one of the greatest immigrant-to-work waves in American history.

      Reply
      • torsten says:

        Couldn’t you make a similar argument about women joining the workforce? Either way, it’s not true immigration. Californian’s economic arguments have some merit.

        Reply
  12. Brian says:

    (Rove’s current predicament reminds me of Clay Davis and Stringer Bell. I wonder who got “rain-made” and how they’ll react.)

    I think the cheapest way out of this for the GOP will be to absolutely cave on immigration. If you can, at some cost, eliminate just one of worst parts of your brand (and what is modern Conservatism ™ if not a brand, managed exactly as so?) in order to capture the largest market segment while paying the lowest price (by losing the fewest voters), immigration seems like the correct play.

    I expect a massive effort to explain how “some on the left have misinterpreted our position on immigration all along.” :)

    Reply
    • David Simon says:

      Agree, the turnaround on immigration will be first.

      To the credit of Rove and Dubya, they saw the future and tried to lead the GOP toward the Latino vote, but the party faithful were having none of it. Now, rather than confront the right-to-lifers and the anti-gay contingent, they’ll try to keep those wedge issues and abandon immigration as an issue. They have such a long road back with African-Americans after the last fifty years, and that cohort isn’t growing as rapidly as the Latino or pro-gay cohort. Women they will never lose by such a brutal margin because reproductive rights isn’t as much of a litmus test for that half of the population; as long as they keep the gender gap to small single-digits they can continue to placate the anti-abortion activists.

      In order of burgeoning threat, the Latino and Asian cohorts are growing fastest, although the pro-gay cohort is growing as well. A lot of people simplistically think, how can that be, aren’t gays a consistent percentage of the population? True. But gays who are out of closet and politically active is a growing percentage — and, more geometrically, Americans who are the relatives or close friends of active gay Americans is a cohort that is rapidly becoming an essential majority. It isn’t the number of gays that is growing, it is the number of Americans who want to be on the right side of a civil rights issue. That’s the other cohort that the Republicans could easily begin to cultivate by saying no here and there to the religious right.

      If they do such things, good on them. The country becomes more tolerant as a result, and while I live on the left for the most part, I am inclined to say that any effort by any party to further tolerance is deserving of some corresponding political gain.

      Reply
  13. Steve Humphreys says:

    My take on what we witnessed last Tuesday was nothing short of the crumbling edifice of white male hegemony in American politics. It’s most central pillar, the GOP’s Southern Strategy, which until then buoyed the Republican Party over a rising tide of changing electorate demographics, is now the latest contribution to the garbage dump of history. I am perfectly fine with gloating over this victory over bigotry.

    Reply
  14. Steve O says:

    Here’s the solution…

    We need two leaders, Obama, who will enact policies for the people who want free stuff (birth control, Obamaphones, etc,) and the second, Romney, who will run the business side of the country that will pay for the free stuff and figure out a way to pay for defense and infrastructure.

    Reply
    • David Simon says:

      You know, as the creation of a fella who claims to be a masterful business executive, that was one of the worst-run modern campaigns in a while. The street work and computer-data basing were about a generation behind the Dems. Seems Mr. Romney might be better at pulling profits from companies that are in decline rather than building up an enterprise for anything other than bankruptcy.

      But profit is profit, I suppose.

      Anyway, that’s beside the point. Your desire to have a different president than the one the American people elected is duly noted.

      Reply
      • Steve O says:

        Clearly Obama is clueless and in over his head when it comes to making economic and foreign policy decisions (or lack there of). His record doesn’t lie.

        Quite frankly, Obama’s been so bad that Romney shouldn’t have had to spend $1 on the campaign yet have won in a landslide. It shows two things about the majority of the electorate…

        1. They support their party’s nomination just like they support their favorite sport’s team. Regardless of how crappy the record they still buy a ticket and cheer for the team. They guy spent over 100 days on the golf course in 3 years, that’s 1 out of 10 days! That’s 10 times more than he spent with his own economic council and 10 times more than he spent meeting with leaders of the opposition. By any measure he would be fired if he was running a business – I guess President of the USA is not as important.

        2. Voters are not informed on the things that matter. You have to pass a test to drive a car – I argue determining the future of a country, state, or municipality is far more important yet their is no test to qualify to vote, much less an ID check to see if you are who your are.

        Reply
        • David Simon says:

          I’m sure you would be excellent in administering this test. You could devise the questions and judge the answers. And so improve the American electorate that the outcomes would certainly not cause you the frustration that you currently endure. Our collective gratitude would ensue, no doubt.

          But why even bother with a test? As you say, Obama is clueless and you see this “clearly.”

          Why bother with the entire democratic dynamic. Better for all of us if you and those like-minded but otherwise thwarted observers of the American experiment could be engaged to make the decision for us. That would certainly achieve a better result than the process of government of the people, by the people and for the people. It’s about time that weakass shit perished from the earth.

          Dude, if you were an Athenian, you’d be swallowing hemlock right now. The world’s first democracy would be doing you like they did Socrates for sneering at the primacy of the demos. Ours being a more perfect union, we simply let you talk and write ridiculous shit and smile. Too bad. I’m sure you and Mitt Romney would have made all the trains run on time.

          Reply
        • Jack Daw says:

          2. is a non-starter. Driving a car is, in poli-sci terms, a privilege. Voting is a right. It’s inherent in the idea of a right that you have to do something to lose it, you don’t have to do something to earn it.

          Reply
        • dc says:

          I don’t want to hear about Obama’s time on the golf links. If those statistics you cite aren’t fully pulled out of your butt, one could at least say that Obama was improving his golf game. What was Dubya doing — besides clearing brush — during the 1,020 vacation days that he took away from the Oval Office… more than any other President since Herbert Hoover? How can anyone possibly clear that much brush?

          As to the sports team quality of American politics, you have a point — but your own party’s behavior is every bit as much a confirmation of that fact as anything on the Obama side. Coming out of the primaries, the GOP’s support of Romney was anemic at best. He was the lesser of several evils, as far as your base was concerned. And yet the GOP fell behind him in lockstep, never once stopping to think about whether the interests of rural white working class voters were really served by having an overprivileged, private equity plutocrat in the Oval Office. If you honestly believe that support for Romney was any more thoughtful and policy-driven than support for Obama, you’re at a remove from political reality that not even Karl Rove could match.

          Reply
          • Steve O says:

            Whatever sane words you put on paper don’t coverup the lockstep, closed minded, liberal drivel. How about an original thought rather than spew the JournoList talking points. Are you a card carrying member?

            I could have sworn George Bush ran for office in ’00 and ’04. Are you sure GWB was running in this election? Last time I checked it was Obama and Romney representing the major parties.

            As for Obama golfing more than he spends time working with his own economic team, is CBS News good enough for a source? I could list others but they might not be acceptable for a JournoList member.
            http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-503544_162-57454890-503544/president-obama-plays-100th-round-of-golf-draws-fire-from-critics/

            What makes you think I’m a member of the GOP? I don’t buy party lines, I first decide who might affect my wallet the most, if there is no clear choice then I judge experience and lastly character. In ’00 we had a choice between 2 losers–I didn’t vote for President. In ’04 I reluctantly voted for Bush, didn’t think going after a 2-bit dictator (Saddam) made sense but the alternative was John Kerry. In ’08 I campaigned my ass off for McCain, not because he would be good for the economy, but because Obama was and is proving to be the biggest threat to a healthy economy since Warren Harding.

            Romney was the first candidate in my lifetime that I thought perfectly fit the requirement at the time–someone who could manage the economy and tackle the debt. What did we get? 4 more years of the same deadlocked crap. You idiots voted Obama in again based on petty social crap while the USA drowns in debt. If Obama had one ounce of Bill Clintons ability to lead things might get better. Unfortunately, he is way to divisive, small minded and totally lacking leadership to get things done.

            Reply
            • TimW says:

              Here Here! Well said and spot on. Thank you.

              Reply
              • Shahir says:

                It would be spot on if it was backed up with accurate information – the link Steve O provides says Obama played 100 games (as of Jun 12, 2012) but has NO information on meetings on economic issues or with economics team. So to Steve O(blivious’) question: “As for Obama golfing more than he spends time working with his own economic team, is CBS News good enough for a source?”
                Ans: Yes it would be, if you actually had bothered to read the story….and if you bothered to look at the White House published meeting schedule (oh wait, we don’t have access to that – another Kenyan Muslim conspiracy!) So, you’re pulling those facts from your butt (or another orifice – maybe Tim W’s orifice)….yes, time to be nice to you dimwitted orfs has passed.

                Next point…
                “What makes you think I’m a member of the GOP? I don’t buy party lines…..In ’00 we had a choice between 2 losers–I didn’t vote for President.”

                What a man! So, since you’re sharing…can you point out the last time you didn’t vote for a GOPer or an (unlisted party) right-wing wack-a-doodle? If it’s anytime in the last two decades, I’ll stand corrected and consider you a borderline independent. Doubt it though.

                Next point:
                “I first decide who might affect my wallet the most, if there is no clear choice then I judge experience and lastly character.”

                Yes – we get it…you’re a selfish little sh$t who internalized Ayn Rand and believe the nonsense from Chicago School of Economics that we’re all better off when we all act in our personal self-interest with guile (their words – if you need a cite from Jensen and Meckling, let me know – or be smart – look it up!).

                Some of us (including, it seems, David Simon) vote against our personal financial interest when our ECONOMIC interests are better served by a person of better character and stable/solid experience. Yes, it may seem sanctimonious but it’s also what many Brits called our “founding fathers” – principled and sanctimonious. It’s what America is built on – principles, sacrifice for the common good, hard work, and helping one another. So, get on board or F off!

                Reply
                • Steve O says:

                  As I said before. You’re unable to see beyond your political preference. I shouldn’t have to point out things that are obvious. Obama’s infrequent and absent in the last year meeting with his jobs council was made an issue in the election. From NYT-”the council, composed of corporate executives, labor leaders and other outside advisers, has not met in public for six months, as first reported by Politico.”

                  I voted for a number of Dems in this last election at local and state level, and do so in every election. If you want POTUS votes here you go…
                  ’72 Nixon
                  ’76 Carter
                  ’80 Reagan
                  ’84 Reagan
                  ’88 Bush
                  ’92 Bush
                  ’96 Clinton
                  ’00 No vote
                  ’04 Bush
                  ’08 McCain
                  ’12 Romney

                  Unfortunately, you and a large number of idiots, voted not for the best choice for the economy, but for your TEAM, regardless of how bad the leader was/is (remember that analogy?). How can you possibly square up “ECONOMIC interests are better served by a person of better character and stable/solid experience” with a vote for Obama when it relates to the economy. He has been an utter and absolute failure. And character? The golfing narcissist has little (good) character as it relates to being a leader. The best one can say about Obama is he appears to be a good father and husband. It’s one of the highest measures of a man but matters little to the Presidency. You know we’re in for trouble when the POTUS feels more comfortable hanging with JayZ than Paul Otellini.

                  Reply
  15. HA-ha! says:

    “I abhor a gloat.”

    Then you’ve missed out on a good time for the past week.

    http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-nPo0B3beiz8/UJ1v0FHlbbI/AAAAAAAAHcI/JRozgQ6xjvQ/s1600/drinking%2Brepublican%2Btears.jpg

    Reply
  16. Lark says:

    What a crock of shit. I don’t care if you’re a gay black jew who practices wicca while eating vegan tofu bought from your local co-op. What I DO care about is enticing the poor to stay poor through abundant and unchecked social programs while we borrow 40 cents/dollar that is building in a national debt that is greater than 100% of our GDP.

    Yeah, I’m a white male. Yes, I’m successful & fiscally secure. But I guess that makes me a relic in your “New America.”

    Reply
    • David Simon says:

      You’re good and angry, too.

      If only the GOP could manufacture you guys fast enough, it would have a future.

      Reply
      • Lark says:

        Go ahead and raise taxes to fund more “green” energy, build the generational welfare caste, and further government’s oversight of healthcare, and you’ll have a lot more angry folks. People of all colors and creeds will see an increasingly bloated government doing less with more of their tax dollars.

        You won’t need the GOP to break out the cookie-cutter; you progressives will have done it all on your own.

        Cheers!

        Reply
        • MDM says:

          Lark,

          Don’t your hands get all itchy and stratchy from punching straw men all day?

          You do remember the economic boom that resulted from a combination of FDR’s social programs, plus the astounding, almost- unthinkable-today tax rates under such SOCIALISTS (gasp!) as DWIGHT EISENHOWER?

          It’s gonna be okay, Lark. You keep on trying to burn down the forest. Those scary, scary, liberals would rather plant things.

          Sincerely,

          Michael

          Reply
        • MDM says:

          Just a couple other things though Lark,

          On Health Care: do you understand how poor our health care system has been before the Affordable Care Act (an idea created by and supported by the Heritage Foundation, and a younger, pre-GOP primary Mitt Romney)? Do you know where our health care system is ranked in the world compared to countries who have systems that are far, far more socialized? I’ll give you a hint, it would take a armful of foam #1 fingers to count that high. Luckily, those things are lightweight. “Obama”care is already saving lives, and that’s worth something to me.

          It’s an interesting point for you to make that everybody, regardless of class, race, gender, religion, is going to come flocking back to an unchanged GOP (if, as I’m assuming, your response to the electoral and popular shellacking last week is to double down and push further to the right) if the economy starts to reverse the slow, modest, but steady gains it has made in repairing itself after the W Bush presidency. I dunno, Lark. Maybe it’s not “rational”, but I wouldn’t go running back into the arms of someone who punches me and calls me “faggot” even if holds up a dollar, because I know he’s got 20 ways of pulling that dollar back. Catch my metaphor?

          Look, I looooove the bootstrap idea. I think it’s nice, but I also think it’s simple, and most of the time, not applicable. I’m a white dude too, Lark. Straight, as well. I earned a full scholarship to a private boarding school back in the day, and even though my way was paid for exclusively by others, I continued to work hard and had one of the highest GPAs in my class. In fact, the hardest workers with the highest grades were nearly all (but not always, of course) scholarship kids from modest little surrounding towns like mine. Many of my other classmates, the ones whose families could afford outright the ridiculous tuition costs, did not work hard. They took, and often marginally scraped by, easier classes. They did drugs, they skipped class, they did worse, but they never seemed to flunk out or get kicked out for their transgressions…. Hmmmm….

          And today, are all of those slackers and moochers out on the street, or slinging fries? No. I know quite a few of them that work in hedge funds and other financial firms that their parents had connections to or owned outright.

          So spare me the fiction that everyone who has financial success has earned every single cent by working hard. It may be true in a modicum of cases, but I know better, I’ve seen it.

          And I guess it’s plausible to wonder if I am bitter, because I’ll admit this whole story sounds like it could come from a place of bitterness, and I’ll allow myself some self-reflection on that point (because self-reflecting is what healthy, honest people do). I’m definitely not bitter about their jobs or the money they make doing them. For one, finance is boooooorrrrrrring, and I much prefer being out in the woods doing environmental work, or teaching, or editing, or writing, all of which are far more creative, fun, and fulfilling. What I’m bitter and resentful about is that I’m sure a lot of the chumps I went to school are probably angry like you are now, and think about the world in terms of makers vs. takers, and think that everything they inherited they earned. And those types of delusions, as I can tell by your anger, are toxic.

          That gets my goat, because that is what true entitlement looks like.

          Reply
          • TimW says:

            Chumps, angry, toxic, delusional, baggers. This is how you describe those with whom you do not agree.

            I believe the road to true liberty is paved by a smaller and less intrusive government. Create a world where this division can not take place, not where it is sown and fertilized by words of bias.

            No need to reply, I know where you stand. I fundamentally disagree.

            Thanks again for your time and your insights.

            Tim

            Reply
            • imagine says:

              A few thoughts….

              MDM, you make some good points about entitlement, and kudos to you for being hard-working.
              And to Lark and ilk, I will give you this: while you would certainly consider me a liberal Democrat, I agree that our government is too big, too wasteful. I don’t think our federal government was originally designed to be so vast. Case in point, it currently employs over 2.5 million in the executive branch alone. Big number.

              I find the national deficit to be truly frightening. According to the ticking debt clock, today we owe $16,260,514,782,492.70 (about $51,808.34 per U.S. citizen). That’s a big-ass number! There’s cause there for us not to sleep at night. And I don’t think that taxing is the solution to all problems (nor do I believe that Democrats believe that). I work quite hard for the little bit of money I make, and I’d like to keep as much of it as I can, while still doing my part to support my country and countrymen.

              Right there we have common ground, good, solid get-your-hands-dirty common ground that we could work on together. I do believe that these issues are what a fair number of moderate Republicans are concerned about.

              That said, the notion that all Americans begin their live’s journey at the same starting line is a FARCE. (MDM’s classmates are a good example). It wasn’t quite true when Romney said: “Everything that Ann and I have, we earned the old-fashioned way,” given that his father was an auto CEO and the governor of Michigan. He attended exclusive (and crazy expensive) private schools, had his higher education paid in full by his parents, AND his first home was purchased for him. Perhaps in his circle, that’s the old-fashioned way of living the hand-to-mouth existence, but I’d imagine most of us had a tougher run. The most recent Census finds over 46 million Americans impoverished. That’s a big-ass number, too! I don’t see in good conscience how any American would want to blame the poor for our problems (and yet they do, again and again).

              And while I’m fiscally pragmatic, I cannot live in a country that excludes people based on race, religion, or their skin color. I cannot support a government that would define my homosexual brother as a social deviant nor deny him the same legal rights as every American citizen. I would never want to live in under a government that forced its religious beliefs down my throat.

              In my meandering way, I’m trying to make a point. Your fiscal concerns are valid. Your federalism debate about how large the federal government should be in relationship to state government is also worthy. If Republicans would drop their bonds with religious extremists and bigots (check all the trending articles around facebook, “nigger” and the newly jobless) perhaps you’d gain more traction.

              I actually hope you do because in a sense, I think those topics made it a better election.

              Reply
            • MDM says:

              Did I say baggers? Did I call you a chump? Is it not delusional for someone to think that they hit a triple when they were born on third base? Did you not cop to being angry earlier in this discussion thread?

              Please don’t take the quick out of this conversation just because of a few words that weren’t directed at you. I’m still curious to hear how socialized health care, which has been working like gangbusters in many other democracies, is going to sound the death knell for our democracy here in a watered down form.

              And if you’re really worried about words of “bias” in our society, then I hope you share that very real concern with Michele Bachmann and other Tea Party leaders who you must admit, could use a lesson or two on that subject.

              Reply
              • TimW says:

                MDM – I was replying to Mr. Simon who demonstrates his ability to sling pejoratives around faster than Barack Obama can spend my paycheck. Not interested in discussing an ever expanding federal government for any reason. Thank you.

                Reply
                • David Simon says:

                  I realize that you misfiled your response under the wrong thread, Tim. If the Webmistress can, she will refile. Webmistress?

                  Reply
  17. Les says:

    I am so looking forward to the day when you decide to write about the Occupy movement.

    Reply
  18. Ron Evry (Mister Ron) says:

    There is a huge gap between the racist and regressive incongruities of today’s Tea Party and the racist elements of yesterday’s Democratic Party (anyone who writes “democrat party” is an unwitting tool). From the days during and after the Civil War period, firebrand “Brick Pomeroy” used the most virulent race-hatred in his writing and speeches, yet he turned out to be strongly in favor of promoting labor rights throughout the nation, and putting most of the tax burden on he rising post-Civil War Upper Class. He saw the direct connection of the Republicans’ indebtedness to the Industrialists that bought Government bonds for pennies on the dollar, which was needed to pay bounties for volunteers and build armaments for the war effort.

    But to make his attacks on the wealthy class stick in the South, he and other Democrats made scapegoats of the Black population, and continued that course for a century. I have a scan of a 1950s George Wallace campaign comic book, which practically reads like a Socialist Manifesto once you ignore the racial idiocy in it. The Southern Democrats remained in the Democratic Party even through the FDR years, because they too championed Social Security, the Tennessee Valley Authority, and Federal help in combatting Pellagra. Once a relative prosperity set in place, many of these Democrats became Republicans, after race became the number one issue. Ronald Reagan did not choose Philadelphia, Mississippi to launch his campaign because he liked the Barbecue there…

    Reply
  19. TimW says:

    Hi David,

    I came to this website at the advice of two people whom I admire greatly who had highly recommend or shared it on Facebook. I write to tell you that I do not share their enthusiasm for the piece. I’d like to articulate why, and hear your thoughts.

    The first issue I have with it is your denigration of an American caucus in our congress, referring to and blindly labeling millions of Americans who love this country as much as you as the “Tea Bagger fringe”.. I’d like to hear exactly why you think this brand of bigotry helps unify America.

    The second issue has to do with your mischaracterizing the democrat party of 80 years ago as some kind of unifying all these different cultures in America at a time when the Democrat party was absolutely the party of racism, the party of the KKK. “Jack Dupree, victim of a particularly brutal murder in Monroe County, Mississippi – assailants cut his throat and disemboweled him, all within sight of his wife, who had just given birth to twins – was ‘president of a Republican club’ and known as a man who ‘would speak his mind.’

    The third, and main issue, is then the irony in which you suggest that everyone dump their own values and just change who they are for the “new normal”.

    If the “new normal” includes slandering a caucus in our American caucus. Count me out.

    Thank you,

    Tim

    Reply
    • David Simon says:

      Bigotry is misused in your post. Or it is used to reference my political prejudices, which are entirely within the bounds of ordinary civic behavior. In other words to be bigoted or prejudiced against a demographic group or ethnicity or religion or such is to be uncivil and destructive. To have prejudices against a political party that espouses core values that you find ludicrous is merely to engage in political opinion. You cannot be bigoted against the Democratic Party. You can be opposed to it.

      This is important. Words have meaning. To transfer the power of the term “bigotry” to something that is merely a denigration of political philosophy is to engage in the rherotical fallacy of equivocation. You have, unwittingly I think, equivocated.

      I do indeed have little regard for the Tea Party as a whole. It has embraced what it believes to be a philosophy against high taxation and government intervention at all points that it equates with liberty. I see instead greed and selfishness and a disregard for the responsibilities of citizenship. Further, the Tea Party has made no efforts to divorce itself from the statements of those in its ranks would be so extreme and absurd and jaundiced as to maintain a ridiculous, infantile argument against the citizenship of a president with whom they disagree. It has failed to respond forcefully when some of those attacks have ventured into statements that are overtly racist and xenophobic. Until this third party begins to evoke any core value with which I can treat seriously, I will regard it as an intellectual and political cul de sac and I will say so willingly. That doesn’t make me a bigot. I don’t hold the Tea Party in low regard because most of its members are white, or Christian, or even conservative, when you think about it. I don’t hold Tea Party members in low regard, at all, as human beings. Their political positions and philsophy, however, I hold in very low regard.

      You are correct that the southern wing of the Democratic party, even fifty years ago was an agent of overt racism and brutality. Obviously, though, I was speaking of the Democratic machines of the cities which did exactly what I said it did with regard to the immigrant classes and their Americanization and to the rise of labor and the resulting tension between capital and labor that created the American century, neither side winning or getting all they wanted, both sides getting what they needed and creating a vast consumer class out of working people. Yes, in the South the Democratic Party was retrograde until the early 1960s. And yet, you perversely had to reach past an extaordinary fundamental of history to attempt to label the Democratic Party as anything other than a heroic agent of ultimate change in the South. Was it not Lyndon Johnson who risked his entire political coalition to push the voting rights act through Congress, and upon signing it, declare that in doing so — which was the only moral course — he had nonetheless lost the South for the Democratic Party for generations to come?

      Your argument has nothing to do with the last fifty years of American history in which the Democratic Party has been the party of both Northern labor and Southern civil rights. And, correspondingly, the Reoublicans have been the party of capital and the Southern strategy. Follow history forward with any intellectual rigor and, alas for the content of your post, you run out worthy argument a few long generations back.

      Lastly, I am not asking anyone to dump their values. Who could or would do such a thing? I am saying the values of the Republican Party as a whole, and certainly the Tea Party as an extreme subset of the Republican coalition, are out of step with the values of the changing American electorate and that if they choose to remain true to those values and not moderate those values to capture more of that electorate, they will lose more elections. So in that sense, you are exactly correct. If you find change untenable, as you have every right, I am indeed counting you out. That is exactly what the essay argues.

      Reply
      • TimW says:

        Thank you for the reply David. I would like to address some of the points.

        “Or it is used to reference my political prejudices, which are entirely within the bounds of ordinary civic behavior”

        That is my point, exactly, about your definition of “Normal”. It’s OK, in your mind, to apply juvenile labels on millions of Americans, Veterans and good people.

        You say I misused the term “bigot” while defending your own over prejudices. I used the word exactly according to its definition so you might want to argue that with Merriam Webster.

        “Bigotry is the state of mind of a bigot, defined by Merriam-Webster as “a person who is obstinately or intolerantly devoted to his or her own opinions and prejudices; especially: one who regards or treats the members of a group (as a racial or ethnic group) with hatred and intolerance”

        You then go on to blame the American Tea Party for the actions of others imposed upon it. You say:

        “It has failed to respond forcefully when some of those attacks have ventured into statements that are overtly racist and xenophobic”

        Well sir I have responded to your attack, and I am not even a Tea Party member. The fact: I hit the nail on the head and you did nothing but prove me correct. It would like to see you admit that the use of a juvenile pejorative to anger a group of people against another group of people is just wrong, regardless of context.

        That would be a “normal” I would agree with.

        Tim

        Reply
        • David Simon says:

          Again, I have familiarized myself with the philosophical and ideological premise and platform of the Tea Party. I have nothing but contempt for it. I think it tragic and simplistic and laughable, and further, I think the party leaders have been at best inert and at worst complicit in marrying the party to overtly paranoid and racist stances when it comes to such things as the birther nonsense. I speak plainly when I show my contempt for that political enterprise, in this forum and elsewhere.

          To compare that with the bigotry that underlies and travels with many of the right-leaning stances on immigration, voter suppression, privacy rights for women, et al, is absurd and embarrassing. And when Democratic leaders have extreme opinions forced upon them — remember Mr. Obama’s minister, for example — they stand up and make the distinctions between those opinions and the party platform. Not so for the Tea Party fringe, or even for many maintream Republicans. Mr. Romney refused to repudiate his support for Mr. Mourdock after that provocative little statement that equated rape with divine purpose in Indiana. But the voters of Indiana reputiated Mr. Mourdock. And the voters nationwide repudiated Mr. Romney.

          That’s what the essay is arguing. The GOP is tied to a demographic anchor and that anchor is the Tea Party and other such extreme-right demagoguery.
          Making that assessment and voicing my disdain for the Tea Party and its arguments is prejudicial to the Tea Party. But all political opinion, if it is worth a damn, is favorable to certain ideas more than others, to certain factions more than others. Prejudice against a political idea is not racism or sexism or xenophobia. It is political opinion. If you really can’t see the profound distinction, and understand that bigotry against people based on ethnicity or religion or gender or sexual orientation isn’t the same as prejudice against a political party, then God bless you.

          But the dynamic is in play regardless. And unless the GOP moves toward the center and jettisons its worst ideological excesses, it will not capture enough of the changing American electorate going forward. I don’t know how many other ways to say it, and so, I hope you can focus, going forward, on what I am saying and not what you think I am saying. And further that we can concede as obvious that my politics would require a contempt for the Tea Party and its positions, as I am sure the Tea Party would have contempt for my party affiliations and positions. So what?

          Reply
          • TimW says:

            David,

            Again I thank you for taking the time to respond to my reply to this piece. What is bothersome remains a couple of key items.

            I am concerned (generally) that people do not know the history of the Democratic party with regards to racism and that they have some image of their party that is beyond reproach.

            It was the Republicans that passed the Civil Rights Act in 1964. In that year (less than 50 ago) The “D-baggers” (hey, it’s how you roll man) left history with this gem from (D-GA) Russell: “We will resist to the bitter end any measure or any movement which would have a tendency to bring about social equality and intermingling and amalgamation of the races in our (Southern) states”

            Going back further, to 1866 it was the Republicans again who championed civil rights to African Americans in the wake of the civil war.

            Yet you conveniently left this out?

            Sorry, but to paint 1930′s Democrats as socially unifying, I find, intellectually dishonest since you did not balance the position with the historical record of the party (GOP) you sought to discredit with your remarks.

            You might get page hits by your words but the critical thinkers amongst your readership should be insulted.

            The American Tea Party, whether you like them or not, is a legitimate caucus in the US Congress (gaining steam) that is made up of exceptional people, of all walks, races and social status, who want a smaller, less intrusive federal government. You can demean them, call them “racists” or your extremely insulting “Tea Baggers”, especially because, I am certain, you know the modern meaning of that term (don’t tell me I used ‘bigot’ incorrectly with that level of labeling and name-calling!). By stooping to these juvenile tactics you only discredit yourself, much like John Boehner did earlier this week in what has to be the most ignorant quote of this election: “we don’t have a Tea Party caucus to the speaker of the house”. At least he didn’t use your pejorative.

            Thanks again for listening.

            Reply
            • David Simon says:

              Did you really just declare that the Republicans were the force that championed civil rights in the mid-1960s? Or try to suggest that the Republican Party has done a damn thing for the cause of civil rights other than to use it as a wedge issue since 1968 until the present day? Did you really do that?

              Please go to google and type “Lyndon Johnson” followed by “Civil Rights”

              Then consult google by typing “Richard Nixon” and “Southern Strategy” in the same search.

              Black folks know that history intimately. They have voted for the Democratic Party overwhelmingly — in the North and South both — for half a century based on that history. Or do you really think that you have some special, hidden insight into the truth, and 94 percent of African-Americans have been “tricked” into supporting the wrong political party?

              The Tea Party is a legitimate faction within the U.S. political spectrum because it exists and some people support it. No one is denying that. The Green Party is too, for that matter. So is the Libertarian Party. But if I disagree with every premise behind the Tea Party and if I find its arguments abhorrent, there’s nothing to stop me from saying so. I do. I say so. Measured against what I believe to be true and worthy in the American experiment, the Tea Party is proving to be an intellectual empty space, and it would seem from the latest election results, as lasting as a fart in wind. They are largely being repudiated when their candidates open their mouths on key issues, and their warping of conservatism itself within the GOP is dragging that party to defeat. In truth, I hope they hang around for a while. I hope the Republicans continue to try to keep them in their tent. Bring us more Mourdocks. Bring us more Bachmanns. Give them louder microphones. The more they talk to the American electorate the lower the Republicans and Tea Partiers will sink.

              You are going in circles, brother. I admit to being wholly biased, wholly prejudiced, wholly bigoted — if you must use that loaded term — against the Tea Party. If you are spending time with google, you might look up the “Know Nothing’ party of the 1840s and 1850s. That is the political movement most comparable to the Tea Party of the present day. I think the tea partiers are direct descendants. I think so as a political thought and a political bias. No shame in political bias. We are all, by necessity, politically biased. It is in fact the premise of politics that we begin with such bias.

              But we were not merely talking about political bias in my original essay were we? No, we are talking about the alienation of key electoral cohorts based on race, gender and sexual orientation. We are not saying that Republicans are marginalizing themselves because they are conservative, but because they have embraced a conservatism in which too many black Americans, Latinos, women and gays feel they have no place to stand. And because America is becoming more pluralistic, the Republicans and the Tea Party face a diminished future. Unless they change. As the Democrats, in fact, changed forever as a result of taking full responsibility for the cause of Civil Rights in the mid-1960s.

              That you conflate my openly declared political bias with the attempts to marginalize Americans based on race, gender or sexual orientation is a ridiculous and dishonest equivocation. That you keep citing ancient American history as a means of arguing that the current Tea Party deserves more respect for its backward view of the American experiment is so off-point as to astonish. If fifty years from now, the Tea Party matures into a sensible, cohesive force for governance, then won’t that be wonderful? But, here, today, they are talking political trash and in this last election, people by and large began to figure that out. And I for one, see no reason to hesitate before saying so. Sorry.

              Reply
              • TimW says:

                Civil Rights Act of 1964
                The original House version:[16]
                Democratic Party: 152–96 (61–39%)
                Republican Party: 138–34 (80–20%)
                Cloture in the Senate:[17]
                Democratic Party: 44–23 (66–34%)
                Republican Party: 27–6 (82–18%)
                The Senate version:[16]
                Democratic Party: 46–21 (69–31%)
                Republican Party: 27–6 (82–18%)
                The Senate version, voted on by the House:[16]
                Democratic Party: 153–91 (63–37%)
                Republican Party: 136–35 (80–20%)

                Yes, I *know* there was a huge disparity between the south and the north.

                What this story tells: there was incredible diversity *within* the party at the time (and now). Is this *exactly* like the incredible diversity which exists within the “tea bagger” party today which you lump in to one group that you “have extreme disdain for”? Is this not making my point about your unfair denigration and stereotype of all of that incredible diversity? Are you being fair?

                If not, than what I see here is not the death of normal, what I see here is the continuation of normal.

                Thanks,

                Tim

                Reply
                • David Simon says:

                  You are being positively obtuse here.

                  You do know that the Southern legislators though all Democrats were actually referred to by the term “Dixiecrats” to distinguish them from
                  the rest of the party and that these legislators would not exist as Democrats much beyond 1968?

                  You do know that the man who railroaded all of those votes through Congress was President Johnson, and that he did so knowing that he was effectively tossing Southern Democrats out of the party and into the hands of the political opposition for the foreseeable future?

                  You do know that because of the way Congress works, the large Democratic majorities in both houses mean that it was Democratic committee chairs and whips and majority leaders who were the shepherds of all of that legislation, acting on Johnson’s direct instruction. They maneuvered it to the floor, they bartered the votes, they engineered the victory.

                  You do know that Robert Caro has written magnificently, for volume after volume, on this, the greatest moral victory and crowning achievement of Lyndon Johnson’s lifetime?

                  You do know that every Republican politician of the ensuing half century with national ambitions has used Johnson’s triumph and the shadow of racial politics both as wedges to draw white votes and Southern states to their cause. You do know the name Lee Atwater? Karl Rove? Willie Horton? You’ve heard of welfare queens with Cadillacs?

                  And meanwhile I’ve yet to encounter a Tea Party politician advocating for women’s reproductive rights, for rational and liberalized immigration policies, for increased access of all voters to the polls for all citizens, regardless of race, for gay marriage and equal rights for homosexuals. Show me some. Show me the wide, inclusive ideological spectrum that has found a place in the Tea Party. And then I’ll be less inclined to be so unequivocally opposed to the entire premise of that political enterprise.

                  If you are trying to use the existence of Dixiecrats prior to the Civil Rights victory as evidence that there are bad Democrats as well as worthy ones, I’m not sure you’ve done much other than assert for the premise of my original essay. Lyndon Johnson repudiated the Dixiecrats, knowing it would cost his party power and votes for the longterm. He did so anyway because the views of the Dixiecrats were a plague upon the American future. Which is exactly the recourse that the original essay argues for Republicans today. Repudiate the birthers, the race-baiters, the vote suppressors, those who wish to deny full and equal rights to homosexuals, and those who use abortion as a wedge issue to the point of trying to legislate women’s medical choices, even demanding unnecessary and invasive procedures. Cast them out of your tent as Johnson did with his knuckle-draggers, repudiate them — as Johnson repudiated the moral anachronists in his party. And carry conservatism forward as a plausible alternative for an America that has already changed and left these wedge issues behind. Do that and the futures for the GOP and the Tea Party are both unwritten. Don’t, and their future dims.

                  If you were bringing up Civil Rights to validate the Tea Party, the object historical lesson actually serves the opposite — and highlights the very point of the original essay.

                  Best,

                  D

                  Reply
                  • TimW says:

                    What I am bringing up is exactly about civil liberty.

                    That is “a world in which all individuals are sovereign over their own lives and no one is forced to sacrifice his or her values for the benefit of others”.

                    This can not happen when the federal government decides how all people should live their lives.

                    This can not happen when the tax dollars from one group of people pays for the exclusive rights of another group of people.

                    Rights only extend to where the trounce the rights of other people.

                    This is liberty and that passage is the preamble for the Libertarian government.

                    Your dogma that everyone who believes abortion is a crime is an idiot or some misogynistic dolt trampels on the rights of these people just because they do not think like you.

                    So I ask you…what of the civil liberties of these people?

                    Is this what you mean by the new norm: Everyone who is not a Democrat is an idiot?

                    Everyone who is in the Tea Party and believes in right to life is a member of the “know nothing party” and therefore deserves nothing but your scorn?

                    Is that what this article is about?

                    Thanks,

                    T

                    Reply
                    • David Simon says:

                      I see you’ve abandoned that absurd tack about Democrats and civil rights. And yet your argument with the essay is becoming more simplistic and more ideological now.

                      Civil liberty – “a world in which all individuals are sovereign over their own lives and no one is forced to sacrifice his or her values for the benefit of others.”

                      And how pray tell do we build a society? With liberty alone?

                      Or is responsibility a metric?
                      How about shared sacrifice?
                      Patriotism?
                      Or is liberty the only thing you want to measure?

                      Liberty alone works for an individual in isolation.
                      Liberty tethered to responsibility, shared sacrifice and patriotism builds great nations, great societies. Are these things in some conflict? Why yes they are. How much individual liberty? How much responsibility? Shared sacrifice? Patriotism? At what point have citizens insisted on so much personal freedom that they are no longer contributing sufficiently to the society that allowed any freedoms in the first place? At what point are the responsibilities and sacrifices of citizenship no longer commensurate with the liberties accorded? This is the grist of an adult debate over governance. Liberty alone builds nothing. Sorry, Ms. Rand.

                      We paid more tax as Americans under Eisenhower. Are you telling me America wasn’t ascendant in the 1950s, that we were not a viable democracy? I’m sorry. I believe your proposed America is much smaller in spirit and in achievement than the future of which I believe we are capable.

                      The new normal of the essay refers only to a world in which white or Christian or straight are defining characteristics of members of pluralities, of coalitions. As the American electorate changes, the very idea of normal is transformed. The essay makes that point. It says nothing about everyone other than Democrats being idiots. It doesn’t even use the word idiot. But it does say that the Republican party is now burdened with platforms that are increasingly opposed by cohorts necessary to achieve electoral victory. And some of these are now so toxic — attacks on the privacy and reproductive rights of women, opposition to equal rights for gays, overt efforts at voter suppression, nativist and xenophobic responses to Latino immigration — that unless they are rethought or jettisoned, good and intelligent people in the Republican party are going to need to get used to being out of power. The Tea Party has been the vanguard of this journey into extremity and electoral oblivion. It deserves more than my scorn. If I were Republican, I’d be even more vocal about its debilitating presence in my shrinking tent.

                      On abortion:

                      Yes, I do not believe as you do in opposing abortion. But if you read elsewhere in these comments, you will see that I readily agree that it is intellectually legitimate to oppose abortion as a personal matter. If you believe life begins at conception and that the death of a fetus is the taking of a viable life then opposition to abortion is a natural, reasoned conclusion. I respect that and have said so. Repeatedly.

                      What I am opposed to is attempting to do more than use intellectual persuasion to forward that point of view. I realize, as a practical matter of governance, that any actual attempt to use the lever of government to impose one’s belief in the matter of abortion will result in nothing less than a national disaster. For all human history, efforts to prohibit abortion have failed utterly. Prohibitions against personal choice always do. Affluent women who do not wish to conceive a child will travel out of the country for the procedure, poorer women will be consigned as they once were to back alleys. And the argument will go on regardless, never to find any consensus because there can be no consensus on such a two-sided moral argument. For anti-abortion activists to make the moral argument is one thing. For them to seek prohibition by government fiat is another.

                      And yes, while a fellow American morally opposed to abortion is entirely legitimate intellectually, a Virginia legislator who would vote to invade a woman with a vaginal probe not because the procedure is necessary, but in an effort to shame her out of her choice is a misogynistic dolt. Just as a senatorial candidate who thinks rape victims have a biological means of preventing pregnancy is a misogynistic dolt. Just as one who equates babies born from sexual assault as a divine act is a misogynistic dolt. Not because they doesn’t think like me, because they think as they do. Obviously, I am aware that there is a chasm between intelligent people who oppose abortion and these cretins. But once you take abortion out of a moral discussion and attempt to justify legal sanctions against it and to use the levers of government to prohibit it, you are quickly led by absolutists to some unbelievable demonstrations of arrogance and ignorance. Such men as these have no business legislating the medical and life choices of women — if any men anywhere have any business doing so.

                      But to conclude, I have to offer one more critique of your argument, and that is of its astonishing hypocrisy within the small confines or your most recent post. You begin with a quote about liberty: “a world in which all individuals are sovereign over their own lives and no one is forced to sacrifice his or her values for the benefit of others.”

                      What a noble, unbounded and purist sentiment. Unless, it would seem, that individual is a woman whose view of when life begins differs than mine, in which case, I am going to force her to sacrifice her values — and submit her body — for the benefit of others. Isn’t the circular distance you traveled in that one short post — the have-my-cake-and-eat-it-and-then-pretend-I-didnt-do-both intellectual dishonesty you demonstrated — just a little bit embarrassing to you? You’ve just said you want your liberty unimpeded by your government. Yet in the next breath, you want your government to subjugate others if they chose to exercise their liberty in a way that you find abhorrent. Wow. Just wow.

                • Ben says:

                  Tim,

                  The factions in the 1964 legislation battle were really Northerners and Southerners, not political parties. The states that Congressmen represented overwhelmingly determined their stance, not their parties.

                  Furthermore, most of those dixiecrats fled to the Republican party.

                  Reply
  20. Shahir says:

    “But the country is changing.”

    Agreed!

    “..this may be the last election in which anyone but a fool tries to play — on a national level, at least — the cards of racial exclusion, of immigrant fear, of the patronization of women and hegemony over their bodies, of self-righteous discrimination against homosexuals.”

    I wish but I doubt it…not while Rowe, Murdoch, Fox, Beck, Rush, etc find it to be lucrative….and they’re not the teabagger fringe – this is mainstream GOPer land! A lot of suits I work with (and some, otherwise, nice people I’m related to) who normally believe in the laws of math and science froth out on these folks. It’s comforting to believe “I’m successful because I just work harder than than those lazy bums or that I’m failing because the colored guy or that woman got an unfair, government-sanctioned leg-up on me!”

    “…if they play that weak-ass game past this point, they are fools.”

    Remain vigilant….”no retreat, baby, no surrender”!

    Reply
  21. Danielle says:

    After holding my breath for some time before the results were read, I took that long awaited deep breath. i sat back and really realized that the world is different now and some people will never get over that.It was the first time I heard the terms “white america and black america”being thrown around like ragdolls.Thanks for this really great post!

    Reply
  22. Jag Pop says:

    Ok, “the new ‘normal’”.

    In 2004 Democrats, that is the little people, not the
    politicians, believed that war, invasion, lying, government
    secrecy, erosion of rights, arrogant disregard of
    international law and warmongering were…
    …bad.

    Now “we” cheer with “full-throated huzzah” at the victory
    of a Democratic candidate that embraces war, invasion, lying, government secrecy, erosion of rights, arrogant disregard of
    international law and warmongering.

    We dance, we cheer, we smile, we are normal but “we” don’t seem to notice
    what we have become.

    Reply
    • David Simon says:

      So the correct vote was for Romney then. Or we should have folded our arms because our platonic ideal of the candidate wasn’t on the ballot?

      Things can always get worse.

      The election of 2000 proved that in spades. And when I read a post like yours it reminds me of every conversation with every Naderite I ever had twelves year ago. You know the ones. It doesn’t matter. Bush and Gore are two sides of the same coin, etc. It isn’t a real choice, et al.

      I am not sanguine about all of Mr. Obama’s performance. But a second term is the time when there is somewhat less political inhibition. And more, I am entirely certain that if you believe in drawing down wars rather than starting new ones, I just made the better choice.

      But you keep waiting for a electoral choice worthy of your vote. I’m sure the next Bobby Kennedy will be along any minute.

      Reply
      • Jag Pop says:

        After your response we sat down for supper and the new James Bond movie Skyfall was discussed. The bad guy in the movie is Javier Bardem and thus it brought to mind his role in the classic movie
        “No Country For Old Men”.

        Javier Bardem’s character in that movie carried an air pressured cattle killing device. The device delivered a killer knockout punch to cattle and sheeple alike.

        Javier Bardem’s character took advantage of people’s lack of being aware in the moment and their obedience to the dictates of even cursory authority, “Here, now stand right there.”

        Liberals have made themselves irrelevant in case you hadn’t noticed. Obama and his ilk can deliver lipservice and then do whatever they will and liberals are accepting. Or at least they will stand in long lines and vote quite predictably.

        I could have sworn that when I walked away from the computer before supper you had used the word “nuanced”, but now your sentence is: “But a second term is the time when there is somewhat less political inhibition.”

        No matter, I am not sure what you wrote, guess I need to be more alert myself :)

        Obama waited until three days after the election to his “less inhibited” term to kill negotiations at the UN for making the Mideast a WMD-free zone. (Why would we **want** severely strengthened inspections of Iran?) This proposal of a WMD-free Mideast has been around since even before we used WMD as a pretext for war with Iraq. Where would we have been without *that* pretext, I snark.

        I remember, even though most liberals choose to forget, that BEFORE Obama received his original Democratic Party nomination he lipserviced how he would protect OUR (the little people) rights with respect to FISA. But immediately AFTER he received the nomination he stuck it to us. I remember well. And I learned. I learned to know what to expect and it certainly isn’t a more nuanced second term from Obama.

        Reply
        • David Simon says:

          Yes, he’s so flawed. So sadly human.

          Unlike that principled fellow Romney, or the ennobled dignity that one is accorded by not voting at all.

          Sorry. I’ve lived through a long series of American elections. I have never once voted for the platonic ideal of a candidate.

          I’m not sure what else to say. I came to election day from the real world, and I returned to the same sordid place. And within that context, I try to make my vote actually matter to the extent it can.

          Reply
          • Chris says:

            I don’t think you are being quite fair, or rather I’m not sure you are hearing what Jag Pop is saying, when you reply with your “platonic ideal” of a candidate mantra.

            I think Jag Pop is trying to say that the new normal is a normal that is unconscionable. A normal where the “war on terror” is now “overseas contingency operations” and where vast swathes of the population don’t really even understand that the US is at war. Etc. Etc. Etc.

            This is, of course, not an argument to vote for Romney. I think the only people who argue that (other than the right) are infantile leftists (a term used advisedly with full awareness of the term’s history) who think worsening conditions will lead to a situation where revolution can finally occur.

            And it’s not sufficient to reply that Obama is “human” with all the flaws that this entails. The point is that the situation we are in is inhuman and Obama is putting a human face on it. He’s the true heir to Clintonite “new democrats”. It’s not just that the dems and repubs are two sides of the same coin, but that one side of that coin wants to convince us that they are the force of good in the world. What would be wrong with refusing to vote because you refuse to provide your approval, via the vote, for all this?

            It was repugnant to listen to Obama’s acceptance speech knowing that this man keeps his little kill list of targets for extra-legal killing. To see him re-energized and blathering on about all the good that america is and all that is light and peace wanting and the greatest this and the greatest that. Garf.

            Reply
            • Shahir says:

              “What would be wrong with refusing to vote because you refuse to provide your approval, via the vote, for all this?”

              Chris – We inhabit different worlds/realities…you find Obama’s acceptance speech repugnant. I consider sitting out a vote repugnant and irresponsible when one of the choices is someone who openly stands against reproductive rights, immigration reform, economic reform that includes a more rational tax reform, a less interventionist foreign policy….etc.

              Finally, as a third-worlder (born, raised, and US immigrant), I’m pretty critical of US-intervention or “extra-legal” killings. However, I have first-hand experience (therefore, biased and anecdotal) of the harm intended against the US (and its citizens) by some of the people in places like Pakistan, Yemen, Afghanistan, etc and I’m not ready to call off our “extra legal” war against terrorism. So, I’m a little torn about this point and I believe that this President and his administration are too.

              Reply
            • David Simon says:

              911 was the most costly attack on American soil, killing more Americans than Pearl Harbor. It was traumatic and deeply damaging to the American spirit. Never mind the excesses that have been done in the resulting counterterror activites. We fought an unnecessary war in Iraq to no meaningful purpose against a foe who had zero to do with 911.

              It is as if we have been running a fever for eleven years and our judgment is affected.

              Mr. Obama, as an inheritor of all this, is a decidedly mixed bag. He has drawn down the Iraq War and largely extricated us from that destructive fiasco. He is trying to extricate us from Afghanistan, which was probably a necessary and inevitable American incursion once Mullah Omar insisted on keeping his country a host nation for Al Qaeda. No American government could, in the wake of 911, avoid Afghanistan. Remaining there to nation build, long after Al Qaeda had changed its geographic disposition, is more problematic. It is diminishing returns.

              But if we are not going to occupy entire countries ad nauseum and be nation-building until the ends of time, then we are left with a dilemma. There are in fact organized, extra-legal entities in the world that are trying to kill American citizens. We are in a dirty war. By default. And it cannot be made clean by all of your judicious reason.

              The drone strikes are terrifying as a harbinger of the human future, and I am unconvinced that they are precise and pristine as our government wants you to believe. We miss. We kill innocents. No doubt. But all forms of warfare are imprecise — some, such as saturation bombing, are ridiculously so. And yet, targeted assassination has thinned the ranks and unbalanced the leadership of an actual extra-legal entity that is engaged in active warfare not merely against American military targets but against American civilians.

              The legal argument that we are targeting not recognized combatants of a nation-state — in which case a certain residue of due process under the rules of war would apply — is compelling. We cannot demand any corresponding due process from AL Qaeda or others of that cohort. if they bring down an airliner, if they target an ambassador, there is no remedy in due process. Dirty war means what it means. And the Israelis, as an existential necessity, have been surviving in the roughest of neighborhoods and relying on targeted assassination as a survival technique for forty years. You can register your distaste, and you can acknowledge that there are debilitating moral costs to asymmetrical warfare and targeted assassination. You cannot effectively argue in the wake of a Munich or a Maalot or a 911 or a Bali or a Benghazi that responsible governments should refrain from targeting suspected members of the organizations responsible because there ought to be due process involved. Due process with whom? With what government entity are you going to file a legal brief? In what failed state are you going to appeal for justice.

              Every president from here on out — every fucking one — is going to have a targeted list. At least until humankind renounces terror as a strategic force for political purpose.

              I fault Mr. Obama deeply on one targeted killing, that of an American citizen allied with Al Qaeda. Citizenship does demand due process and before a fellow citizen is targeted there needs to be a judicial process by which evidence is presented in a court of law and the rights of the citizen are represented, even in absentia, by competent legal counsel. That decision was appalling and needs to be condemned.

              But that there should be some certain evidence of participation in this dirty war should of course be a necessary prerequisite to arriving on a list for targeted assassination in all cases — regardless of citizenship. We should be doing our damnedest to kill the right people.

              All of this sounds shocking to the civilian, democratic (lower d) mind. We are a nation of laws. But it is not entirely about us, is it? We are engaged in a prolonged military conflict with entities that are not nations of laws. They aren’t even nations. This is a forced move — as it is a forced move for the Israelis. And everyone gets dirty in a dirty war. But we are incapable, as a unilateral act, of making it clean.

              Guantanamo? Any citizen of a viable state with a viable judicial system should be turned over to his home nation — along with our evidence. Mr. Obama inherited the morass of Guantanamo and he has failed to resolve it in a way that demonstrates our capacities for providing due process when we are able to capture combatants alive. The problem for him is he acquired a jail population in which the methods used to obtain said evidence involved torture, and so, court prosecutions became problematic. Also there is the residual problem of what to do with citizens of nations withput viable judicial systems, of failed states and nations known to be havens for terror organizations. To some extent, Mr. Obama is a prisoner of facts on the ground when it comes to Guantanamo. Nonetheless, I fault him and his administration for failing to process and repatriate more prisoners to their home nations and to either provide evidence for their continued detention or to allow paroles.

              I credit Mr. Obama with killing Osama bin Ladin and other ranking leaders of Al Qaeda and using targeted assassination to do so. Again, this is a dirty war. And it comes to us as a fact on the ground. And I credit Mr. Obama with using targeted assassination and intelligence gathering to thwart additional attacks on American soil.

              If you want to believe the world a less malevolent place than it actually is, then all of this must sound horrifying and unnecessary. It is horrifying. But it is scarcely unnecessary. Those planes really did fly into those buildings. Those American civilians really did die. We are really engaged with a certain extra-legal enemy in a long-term, low-grade conflict that is entirely lethal.

              If I voted for Romney, do I think I would have closed Guantanamo faster? Or made the targeted assassinations more precise, or restricted their use against fellow citizens suspected of operating with Al Qaeda? Do I think the dirty war is not going to be required under Romney? No. Of course not. I will say that I was in absolute agreement with Ron Paul when he took issue with the targeting of an American citizen during the campaign. He was exactly right. But Mr. Paul was not on the ballot last week, having been dispatched in the Republican primaries. And there is so much else with which I disagree in the libertarian platform that I am doubtful Mr. Rand could have had my vote had he prevailed to the nomination. But on that issue, as on the drug war, I am indeed a fellow traveler with libertarian argument.

              Every vote for every candidate is problematic. But I live in the real world, as I said. And fighting an extra-legal war against an extra-legal opponent who has amply demonstrated the willingness to kill American citizenry at random is problematic. But not voting is also problematic. And not fighting an extra-legal war against people who are killing you as best they can is also problematic.

              Nothing in the previous posts seems capable of acknowledging even that much reality.

              Reply
      • Cal says:

        Who is going to run against George P. Bush or Nikki Haley in 2016? Change can work both ways.

        Reply
        • David Simon says:

          You’re really not getting it.

          Any political party can rethink its platform and arguments and become a more appealing alternative for the electorate. The Republicans may well do that. Good on them if they do.

          But that electorate will be less white and more minority four years from now. In that sense, no, change cannot work two ways. Not ever.

          Unless the white birthrate is going to double overnight and we are going to have another mass immigration from say, Ireland and Sweden, then any Republican resurgence will require peeling off Democratic support by abandoning fundamentally alienating portions of their platform. You want Latino support? Deal rationally with the reality of immigration. You want more women to vote for you? Sarah Palin demonstrated that running a female candidate doesn’t mean much when you are assaulting the privacy rights of women at all points. You want the Democrats to get something less than 94 percent of the African-American vote, try to contemplate an urban policy or two, or to stop trying to suppress voting in minority precincts. It doesn’t matter so much who you run. It matters what you believe and what you offer. Change that and you’ve got something. Otherwise, change — demographic change, which is what this essay is about — is only running one way.

          Reply
          • Shahir says:

            To David Simon’s last reply…it would be good for us to have vibrant parties (at least two) that argue things out based on reality and reach out across the whole country. I love what Rachel Maddow had to say (watch the last part – not just the beginning – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SVwXA7sHUlE).

            So, if Nikki Haley or Bush III or Jindal or Rubio want to step up, they better bring their A-game and realistic solutions to the real problems we’re facing. And they’ll have to address all Americans not just the ones who voted for Saint Reagan.

            Reply
          • Cal says:

            I wonder if a sane Herman Cain would’ve gotten a bigger share of the minority vote? And remember the front runners for the Democrats are an ancient Hillary and a bunch of white guys.

            Reply
            • David Simon says:

              Assessing whether Candidate A or Candidate Y migth occasionally upend the demographic realities — if you are a Republican right now — is a little like playing with the fine tuning knowbs when you’ve blown every speaker on the stereo. Yeah, if you dick around with it some, you might hear a few more songs. But, dude, the appliance is busted. You might have one good houseparty left in the old thing, but ultimately, you’re gonna need new speakers.

              Reply
    • TimW says:

      Amazing people think they elected a peaceful president while simultaneously ignoring drone strikes that are launched from Wisconsin and controlled from Nevada and which kill, maim innocent people and destroy personal property every single day. America attacks sovereign nations with ‘apparent impunity’. Is this the new normal too?

      Reply

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