Barack Obama And The Death Of Normal

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.



  • […] Yes, Mitt Romney won the white vote, but he received 59% of the white vote; not exactly a landslide given that the country has real problems. Among white voters over 65, Romney received 61% of the vote. But among white voters under 29, he received only 51% of the vote, a sure sign of things to come. And the white vote was only 72% of the national vote, a record low. As David Simon writes in "Barack Obama and the Death of Normal": […]

  • From your socialist neighbours to the north…Thank you. I cringe when I see comments that the US is headed in the same direction as Europe…well, the US would have to make a radical shift to get to that point. You would have to be more like Canada first, and we are doing just fine thank you.
    We have our issues, but in general the one overriding trait we share is that we want our government to work for all citizens. Canadians are, contrary to the anti-socialist right wing, hard working people that are not looking for hand outs. We just understand that the true measure of a great society is how it cares for those that are less fortunate.

  • 100,000 demonstrators outside its doors, a 2-day national strike and the Greek parliament passed its 5th austerity package? Your faith in demographics to change something other than the preferred rhetoric of the elite’s representatives leaves me sketpical. In the U.S. there is no popularly viable alternative to capitalism to scare capital to compromise, what’s left of unionism is led by the co-opted, militarism is unopposed — I despair that not a single black collegiate basketball player that I know of, male or female, has objected to taking part in the militarist propoganda of playing on a navy war machine, not even from my Catholic alma mater — as the security state is perfected. I have no faith that effective class alliances can be constructed across identitarian boundaries. I have no idea where yours comes from. But even if it were possible, 100,000 demonstrators outside its doors, a 2-day national strike and the Greek parliament passed its 5th austerity package. Hopeless.

    • I see such a viable alternative being built in the Occupy movement. It’s going to be hard work, a lot of uphill battles, but trust that the new society is being built in the shell of the old.

      • I admire the impulse behind the Occupy movement greatly. And I think it a real spark of civil dissent.

        But thus far it’s been a great first act. It has no second act, alas.

        • David,

          You talk about the messy process of democracy, how we have to sort of figure it out as we go along. I feel the same way about the Occupy movement. It may not have a clear list of demands or political ambitions, but in a sense, that’s the point. It’s trying to change things outside of the political process and electoral politics, changing things on the ground floor, which, to me, is a far more radical proposition. Viewing Occupy as sort of a Tea Party Left, mainly needed to energize voters, is wrongheaded. Occupy has different goals, at times nebulous though they may be.

          I would agree with you that there is no second act if OWS and the Occupy encampments around the U.S. (and the world) had simply dissipated like most of us are lead to believe (basically due to the utter lack of coverage–and who can blame ’em? There are other things to cover, things that are more exciting and better fit whatever narrative the hacks are trying to sell today), but the reality is that it’s still moving. It’s active in Strike Debt, a project to help ordinary citizens break free from and resist the Debt Industrial Complex. It’s active in Strike Debt’s sister project, the Rolling Jubilee, which is buying up distressed debt and forgiving it. It is active in Occupy Sandy in its grassroots organization of hurricane relief. It is active in Occupy the Hood, which strives to improve the quality of life for disenfranchised people of color. It’s active in all the foreclosure resistors across the nation, saving people from being kicked out of their homes.

          These things may seem like they’re happening parallel to the Real Work, the political work. Who we vote for and what decisions get made. These things may seem like they’re not part of the bigger picture. But trust me, they are, and I feel, just as important.

          Occupy is organizing communities, and helping give people the proper tools to take care of themselves. It is teaching people about mutual aid and affinity, and showing them that there is a wide range of tactics on hand to not just resist oppression but to begin building society in a truly democratic manner. It’s showing them that they have a voice, and that when they speak, people will listen–even if –especially if–it’s not those in power.

          It’s not perfect, no. It’s got flaws and blemishes, because it’s human. Just like the democratic process you’re talking about.

          I hope you can forgive my optimism (if not my tendency to rant). The twin engines that are moving us forward as a nation–the Death of the Normal, and a movement toward self-determination, from the ground up–these things are very exciting to me, and should be to everyone who values democracy and liberty alike (and I don’t mean that word in the creepy way the right uses it). Will the Occupy Movement dismantle capitalism and the stranglehold of the state? Nah, probably not. Certainly not any time soon. But it’s planting seeds and handing out tools.

          • Street protest and street theater is a first act, whether it endures or not.

            The second act must require overt political intervention and overt political activity.

            • I think that describing all that the Occupy movement does as “street protest and street theater” is reductionist and foolhardy, but I have the feeling that we are not going to agree on this point.

              For what it’s worth, if Occupy *was* nothing but protest and street theater, I’d be right there with you. The actions outlined above prove that there is a lot more going on. We can argue for days about the relative importance of community building, mututal aid and direct action vs. voting in the right people and pushing them to do the right things (I am assuming this is what you mean by “overt political activity,” please correct me if I’m wrong), and that’s the point that I don’t think we’re going to agree on.

              That said, luckily for both of us, trying to build a better world isn’t an either/or proposition, so you can keep doing your thing and I’ll keep doing mine, and in the best of times those activities will work in concert; at the worst of times, they will be in opposition, but I can only hope that the same kind of civil but aggressive dialog we find in these comments can be had out on a larger scale.

              • Again, I was in support of Occupy. I was proud of Occupy.

                But a real second act would have been to emerge from the street and fuck with the money. The money is what is ruining us. The money is what capital has with which to purchase any and all levers of reform within our representative government. While Occupy had a share of the nation’s attention down in that park, Wall Street ran unimpeded and the bulls and bears all made the same money they would otherwise. Then they send more and more of it to Washington and elsewhere to purchase ever more of our political infrastructure and to elect men to high courts who would equate this money with speech and rule for ever more of it to influence our body politic. Fuck with that.

                More on this to come, at least from me anyway. I’ve been thinking about campaign financing and how to counter Citizens United. I’ve been worried about how little is possible when the legislative branch is so monied and purchased and, therefore, inert. Moderates and liberals have shown themselves capable of raising their own billion for a presidential contest, but in the end, the whole thing is a wasteful, attritive exercise.

                I think the Occupy leaders ought to be thinking long and hard about how they can insert themselves in the campaign financing argument, how they can do something creative and provocative and carry the spirit of dissent to a place where you are fucking not merely with the physical space of a handful of cities, but with the money that capital uses to purchase power and marginalize any other societal metric other than profit. Fuck with the money and you’ll have everyone’s attention.

                More to come when I get my head straight on this. I’m talking to some people about an argument and so, if they can help me get to some place meaningful, watch this space and we can continue this on a more appropriate thread. But today is Sunday and the Sudan S.A.P.C. is stepping out for their fall second line and I have promised my two year old daughter she will be in a parade. So, sorry, but I’m out.

            • Realizing that I’m probably being a bit uncharitable in my reading of your viewpoint here, so if that’s the case, I do apologize.

  • Brilliant piece; I will be linking it everywhere. Thank you. (And your calm, reasoned, precise replies to some of the more wingut comments you’ve gotten here are…angelic.)

  • Lovely post. Four years ago, on the night of Obama’s election, I wrote an email to an Italian friend who had been enthusiastically following Obama’s career and quoted those lines Seamus Heaney’s “The Cure at Troy” about those remarkable moments when “the longed for tidal wave of justice” rises up and “hope and history rhyme.” But at this moment, your invocation of Blake seems much more on the mark: the New Jerusalem will not descend from sky, it is something that must be built.

  • Nonsense. Pure nonsense. I’ll check in with you in 4 years when: the number of folks on food stamps has increased by say 25%; the number of unemployed remains unchanged, or worse; the number of abortions out of pure convenience increases (you are aware that only 1% of all abortions are because of true medical concerns, right?); prices for energy, food, education and all the other necessities Americans continues to outpace wage increases; when the number of foreclosures remains unchanged or increases. Voter turnout was lower than what is should have been and heck, at that point, you don’t know what was missing this time around. Romney never made race, gender and other social issues a factor in this race. He flat out said he would not change anything regarding Roe v. Wade. In fact, he said he’d prefer that to be a state decision, not a federal one, but he wasn’t going to touch it. He also said he’d like healthcare to be a state decision too, and that one he’d work to overturn and pass over to states to deal with. You know according to the 10th Amendment of the US Constitution and all.

    Demand to control your own bodies. The fact that a woman can simply kill the unborn is sickening. A it tells such about the society which permits it. I can’t walk up to a woman in her 5 month and stab her in the belly, possibly killing her and the unborn, without being charged two crimes. Why can she visit a DR to kill the potential life? China controls population, not America.

    We’ve unfortunately headed down the European path. It is clear as day and it has failed there miserably…and the worst hasn’t even hit them yet. Thomas Jefferson had two great quotes that predicted this: “The democracy will cease to exist when you take away from those who are willing to work and give to those who would not.” and “Government big enough to supply everything you need is big enough to take everything you have … The course of history shows that as a government grows, liberty decreases.”

    • Your argument about abortion makes no sense. I’m not taking up a battle against your morals here but of your logic. How exactly do abortions lead to more people getting food stamps? How exactly do abortions lead to unemployment? Especially all those “abortions of convenience.”

    • “We’ve unfortunately headed down the European path. ”

      Oh, yes, John, those poor benighted Europeans toiling under their socialism, those poor shuffling beasts without e.g. 21st-century infrastructure, major corporations, strong trade & banking, technological innovation, strong educational systems and robust university systems, etc! How do they even make it, over there, living in the shadow cast by the American colossus?

      To speak seriously: You’ve quoted Thomas Jefferson–though only by second-hand, I’m sure, since your select quotes are wingnut staples propagated widely online. Well, here is another bit of knowledge “discovered” with only a few keystrokes – from Wikipedia’s article on the economy of the EU:

      “The economy of the European Union generates a GDP of over €12.629 trillion (US$17.578 trillion in 2011) according to the International Monetary Fund (IMF), making it the largest economy in the world.”

    • The unemployment rate was at 8.3 percent a month after Mr. Obama took office. So this idea that it’s higher now than when the President took office might be factually true in terms of the pure stat, but an intelligent person ought to be able to look a little deeper. The rate bottomed out at 10 percent in the fall of 2009 and has been declining since. The hole we were in when the President took office was not going to be erased in 3 years.

      As for abortion, Romney said during the Republican primaries that he would be “delighted” to sign a law that would outlaw Roe v. Wade, and he also said if he were elected and had the opportunity, he would nominate Supreme Court Judges that would rule in favor of abolishing that law. Reversing Roe v. Wade would turn abortion back into a state issue, and we know where that would head.

      But again, why let facts interfere? Romney certainly didn’t care about facts.

      As for voter turnout being low, perhaps you weren’t paying attention, but Republican Governors or legislatures in 18 different states sought some form of legislation (and in the case of Ohio, Florida, and others, actually passed new laws) that essentially made it harder for people to vote. There is no reason why an American citizen should have to stand in a line for 7 hours to cast a vote. But that’s what the Republicans wanted because they assumed it would keep Obama’s vote margins down in south Florida, north east Ohio, etc…

      My guess? Had these laws not been passed, the President would have rolled up his margins in Florida, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and elsewhere…we’d be looking at another point or point and a half at least of support for Mr. Obama. And we do know who didn’t show up — these laws were targeted to impact minority communities, or those that usually favor Democratic candidates.

      John, you keep going on believing what Fox News tells you. Mr. Simon has already stated that he has no argument with those who are on the other side of the abortion issue as a personal issue. But politically, it should be readily apparent that Roe V. Wade will never be reversed, and Republicans will continue to lose women voters if they keep trying.

      The amusing part to all of this is that we have seen, just in response to this essay, that the attitudes, asssumptions, and judgements that continue to cause a breakdown in support amongst an increasingly diverse population for the GOP continue to direct their “thinking.” in other words, you haven’t learned anything. Tuesday night taught you nothing.

    • u can quote Jefferson but i dont think u would approve of Jefferson as prez. he’s quite radically to the left of the teapartiers and therefore the current republican party. perhaps that why the texas republicans were so reluctant to include him in their school history texts recently.

    • John, your idealism is shocking. Shouldn’t a teabagger like you be lobbying against taxes and such? Also, nice job on the fake Jefferson quotes. I’ve got a real one for you, though, if you want to read it:

      “If we do not change our direction, we are likely to end up where we are headed.”
      -Chinese Proverb

      Let me also say that your predictions have little to no evidence, or factual basis. I guess that’s what happens to someone who lives and dies in the conservative bubble, though. I like how you say that we’ve “unfortunately headed down the European path,” as if the American path was any good. Before this election, and the changes that Mr. Simon previously mentioned were brought about, we were headed the way of the Roman empire. And quick. We still are, there’s no doubt about it.

      However, removing civil liberties, controlling what substances people can put into their bodies, preforming unnecessary scans on every pregnant vagina, and allowing the president to assassinate anyone he wants without due process; these are not things that repair any country. They do the opposite, in fact. They make countries implode.

      I digress, though. Barack fucked up once or twice, but he has ultimately brought people together. For not having a legislative branch and holding office in one of the most corrupt periods in the history of American government, I’d say he did pretty well.

      Mitt was no more than a one term governor of a state that didn’t even like him (Mass. went Barack), a member of a “private religion” full of rich people that didn’t like him (He got less Mormon votes than George Dub-yah), and a whole gender, sexual preference, and ethnicity that didn’t like him. He was an avid flip-flopper, a “self-righteous lout,” as Mr. Simon so accurately said in a previous post… just an overall political chameleon. He doesn’t represent the American people. He may represent one percent of it, but he is not a man who represents me, or any of my friends, or my family, or anyone in the middle class. Is it not a president’s job to represent the people? Not just this percent, this sector, these lobbyists? I find it disturbing that people like Mitt are even allowed to run. Nothing good can come from it. Just my opinions though, not facts.

  • Let me add a tiny voice of pure glee to the election results–from an older white woman of comfortable means who has an older white husband who is also gleeful. We love that the world order is changing–for the better, for inclusiveness, for the good of more people. Those screaming about how European socialism is dragging Europe down are the same ones who would scream “who cares about Europe” if anybody made a comparison that showed some aspect of Europe in a better light. Yes, several things need to be fixed in our economy, but I’ll throw my lot in with compassion rather than mean-spiritedness any day.

      • Yeah, i really like this one too. I’m an American song-writer and Producer that actually moved to Europe to get away exactly what you are referring to. Just very tired of what i like to call “The American Ignorance Complex”. Harsh, i know, but overwhelmingly true. I realized as I’m working to finish my next record that I’m going to title it ” Long Distance LIfe”. There is lot’s of imagery intact. Mainly, relationships. But what i noticed is that I’ve that I’ve also felt quite alone and distant from myself as an “American”. Well, anyways… just felt good to see someone call out the ” scared of what they don’t know” mentality of America in a non-hateful way. As we say in Holland, ” Wat mooi gezegd!” (Beautifully said)

    • Right on Terry, I’m with you. Spreading fear while being mean-spirited will lead us nowhere. It’s time we listen and compromise…both sides. We need to start thinking more about the “many”and less about the “few”. BTW, I am a white, middle-aged woman of comfortable means who was also gleeful, as was my husband. I feel much better about my children’s future after the results. We conserve, love our environment, love people of all races and genders and teach these values to our 2 children (one of which voted for the first time and was also gleeful!!).

    • This site is in dire need of a “like” button!
      “Yes, several things need to be fixed in our economy, but I’ll throw my lot in with compassion rather than mean-spiritedness any day.” – made by day, oh heck, week!

  • David, I just want to say I loved this piece. You put into words what’s been floating around in the air but is so difficult to put into words, and you did it gently and honorably. I’ve been very fearful of the power of money–not representing any kind of plurality but just a handful of greedy, self-interested, cynical billionaires–and it’s almost incomprehensible that in spite of all that money, the people spoke. I think you’ve nailed why. Bravo.

    ps. Miriama, thank you for the beautiful Langston Hughes poem.

    • David thanks for writing what over 53% of America ( and still counting Florida and other places) is thinking. The republican party has been stuck in an antiquated thought cycle. Are they attempting to replicate the Puritans? If so they are doing a very good job of designing a method of becoming extinct. The brown, black, yellow, red, gay, straight, male, female, and other votes count as well as the well to do vote. Staying in that insulated bubble full of fear does them nor America as a whole any good. Would someone please pinch these guys so that they can recognize that this is not pre-civil war America, nor is Bull Connor going to resurrect the nation. Thanks for your honesty and truth. Forward not backwards.

  • Quick & simple question and anyone can answer this. Breaking down the terrific posts & writing on here there is one obstacle that I see to all of this-

    How exactly do liberals/progressives expect this utopia they dream of to be achieved and paid for? The European model is in complete breakdown right now & split in the Euro is pretty much a sealed deal. We’ve had 40 years of the Keynesian dream, an unbacked fiat currency that also happens to be the reserve currency of the world. The petro-dollar is only accepted in USD. It’s arguably on the verge of collpase & undeniable being weakend by our Federal Reserve to ignite inflation. Our debt burden per household is somewhere in the $250k range. There are obstacles to get around and then there is Mt. Kilimanjaro… I believe we are facing the latter.

    Do you really think taxation is the way to economic growth? And David, being a millionaire, would you have a problem with a tax code similar to France’s where 75% of your income is stolen… I mean taxed by the government? So if you made $1 million USD, you wouldn’t have a problem w/ giving the common folk $750k of that?

    • What about the original essay conjured the idea of utopia in your brain?

      Democracy is a messy, never-finished struggle to make representative, inclusive government by consensus a little more functional than not every damn day. The work is never finished. And you can never win, but absent the effort, your society and the democratic ideal will certainly fail. What the fuck is utopic about that?

      The essay was about a transformational moment in the electoral framework that is going to guarantee a more representative, more inclusive governance. Everything after that is still hard-work and argument. But it will be hard work and argument that allows for greater diversity and, possibly, a more utilitarian purpose, rather than plutocratic selfishness. Take that utopia talk and upshove it asswards already. Nobody is talking about any utopias except for you rearguard stalwarts.

      • you dodged my question like a teenager that dodges his or her parents when they borrow the car and leave the gas tank on empty & then expect the parent to fill it up.

        It’s understandable though. Everytime I need reassurance that progressives live in economic fantasyland I’ll stroll thru Red Emma’s bookstore and look for the section where they sell books on econmics. It’s one book by Lord Keynes. How’s that for economic insight? Or when I need a good laugh I’ll hit up Paul Krugman’s blog.

        I will give it to you elite progressives, you’ve done one hell of job selling this garbage idea of democracy to all those suckers out there… you cats are modern day P.T. Barnums. The problem is that democracy is not freedom. Democracy is simply majoritarianism, which is inherently incompatible with real freedom. But as you’ve espoused, we can never have real freedom. All we can have is democracy… but it has to be the way you want it. Pretty sick and sad if you ask me

        Courtesy of democracy, government, through its taxes, restrictive regulations, corporate subsidies, racial set-asides, and welfare programs, plays far too large a role in determining who succeeds and who fails in our society.

        • Blah, blah, blah. Look, the Bush tax cuts for the extremely wealthy played a huge part in the budget deficit. This is fact, it isn’t a matter of political or philosophical debate.

          The President has absolutely no reason to make a deal to stall this so-called “fiscal cliff” before the new Congress is sworn in this January. Because any deal made at that point can be retroactive to 1/1, and if they do nothing, taxes will rise on the rich anyway. Beyond that, he has nothing else to run for…democrats in Congress can separate themselves from him if they need to to win re-election, or use the opportunity to once again paint the Republicans as obstructionists who want to protect the rich at the expense of everyone else.

          But this is a pretty basic issue. We increase the tax rates to the Clinton era, and our revenues increase. In exchange, the President will consider spending cuts to entitlements. He has all the leverage, and a growing demographic of voters to boost his party’s footing.

          There’s no reason for McConnell and Boehner to get in the way…in fact, they have every reason not too.

    • “So if you made $1 million USD, you wouldn’t have a problem w/ giving the common folk $750k of that?”

      For the sake of it : the 75% only applies to incomes over 1 million €. Which means if you make something like 1 million yearly, you will end up having a “normal” tax rate (albeit quite high, of course, this is still France after all). If you make 3 millions, you will have a 75% tax rate on the remaining 2.

      • Thank you, Guillaume, for making this clarification! This kind of false claim is made ALL THE TIME — and usually not challenged, since in a conversation involving only Americans, very few are going to be knowledgeable enough about French taxation to be able to respond as you have. Sometimes those making the claims are aware they are untrue and counting on the audience not knowing otherwise. So glad you weighed in today and set the record straight. Merci!

  • […] But leaving the economic aspect of the discussion aside, I think the prevalence of racist and negative attitudes towards minorities, the poor, and anyone receiving government assistance in general exemplified by people like O’Reilly are ultimately an impediments to our material and spiritual growth as a nation. And for all their talk about fiscal conservatism and ‘makers and takers,’ this is the kind of thing that people like O’Reilly, Trump, and Limbaugh seem to be really afraid of: “Barack Obama And The Death Of Normal.” […]

  • *My original submission suffered from terrible use of HTML.

    A respected elder shared this cartoon: http://i.imgur.com/IBghc.jpg. It features a comparison between “the greatest generation” and “the lamest generation”. After an initial eye-roll, we can ignore obtuse generalizations, and focus on the sign held by the man born in such an incompetent era; it reads “forward”. The soldier, from the era of overt greatness, carries a flag instead – but what would his sign read?

    While some will hold on to the notion of “backward” and others to “stay the same”, I’m proud to move “forward”.

    “Change is a motherfucker when you run from it.”

  • “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.”

    Amen brother!

    • The election proved Mr. Romney to be absolutley correct, they want their free stuff, supplied by the labors of others. If he was incorrect in any way, it was that the percentage was too low.

      How a man as inept as Obama could be elected and then re-elected has to scare anyone with an ounce of common sense. This idiot stated that he would DECREASE the deficit by $5,000,000,000,000. Has anyone been more horribly wrong than this fool. Not only did he not decrease the deficit by 5 trillion but he grew it by 5 trillion. Hey, whats a 10 trillion dollar mistake between dipshits. We’ll let the other guy pay for it. His latest prediction is a 4 trillion dollar decrease over the next 10 years, seriously.

      What we really need to address is the absolute bigotry of the black community, 96+% voted for Obama, that’s descrimination to the nth degree.

      And only a moron brings up the topic of abortion, that cats out of the bag, it will never, EVER change. You all keep killin your babies, we can wait. Sooner or later you’ll run out of voters.

      • A man was buying a barn. The owner was selling at a good price, but warned that there was still some manure inside, which should only take a little while to clear out. The man bought the barn, and the owner took the money and left. When the man opened the barn, it was filled to the rafters with manure. The smell almost knocked him down. But he’d bought it, it was his now, and so he started clearing out the manure. No one came to help. In fact, some of the local farmers would sneak in at night and empty their manure spreaders inside. Even after the man figured out that they were dumping manure in his barn, he had too much pride, and was too principled, to call them on it, no matter how his family wished he would.
        He’s still working on emptying that barn. He admitted he didn’t look to see how full it was, so he’s going to try to finish the job himself.

        I’m glad to offer my back to help with the heavy lifting, even while the other farmers just watch from the sidelines.

        • I’m here for the heavy lifting as well. I brought my “we-just-want-free-stuff” peeps with me too. Turns out, we’re not so much interested in “free stuff” and a govt to take care of us, but rather just want to be respected and included and would very much like it if old white evangelicals would stop fucking with us.

    • What about the millions of voters who have abstained for election cycles past, who were convinced that the electoral college — in its plutocratic absurdity — would render their votes irrelevant in large population centers? In urban areas such as New York and Los Angeles and Chicago and Baltimore and Newark and Detroit that became electoral redundancies in our Kafkaesque, anti-populist approximation of democracy?

      What about the millions who are disenfranchised because having committed even a non-violent felony in their youth, having paid their debt to society with incarceration, having completed a period of parole or probation and never having committed another crime, they are nonetheless excluded from the democratic process?

      What about the millions of otherwise moderate and reasoned Americans — black and white and brown — who, watching the rearguard attempts of a ruling class routing its power and capital to avoid addressing any other need but their own, long ago gave up on the electoral process thinking that a new dynamic would never emerge, that it just couldn’t matter?

      You’re crying over 8 million white folk who decided not to vote? In every damn election, about 100 million eligible Americans fail to vote. Do you really think all of them believe as you do? Or do you more intelligently believe that their inertia stems from a multitude of disenchantments, many if not most if which do not remotely correspond to your complaints? Is there anything you cats won’t whine about or seize upon?

      The essay says the demographic dynamic has changed in America. It has. Deal with it, or not. It really doesn’t matter what you do. Or any number of millions of voters who will always find reasons — some more legitimate than others — to sit on their hands.

      • Right, the essay says the demographic is changing. The piece I posted says that’s true but it doesn’t paint the whole picture.

        I’m not crying. I’m not claiming anyone believes as I do. I’m not a part of some group you refer to as “you cats”. I’m simply asking you to consider a surprising nuance of this last election that is relevant to your essay. Why the ad hominem?

        In fact, I’m extremely interested in your sentiment that we live in a “Kafkaesque, anti-populist approximation of a democracy”. I write about it often. I also wonder whether Obama’s absurd savior status does more to perpetuate that condition than it does to mitigate it.

        • I didn’t consider “you cats” to be an ad hominem. Not at all. Cats is cool. Just ask Louis Jordan or Brian Setzer.

          But trying to parse why 8 million of 100 million who stayed home did so is a little bit of a fool’s errand. Not that I’m calling you a fool. It’s a figure of speech. The Republicans may run a better candidate next time and get another 10 million white men and women to the polls. The Democrats might have a Latino on the ticket and pull twenty million more Latinos.


          The Republicans might scale back the policies and platforms that have alienated every other too much of every cohort beyond white males and return to national viability.

          The essay and its argument still stand.

          • Thank you, I really needed to read that. I linked this essay to friends, who in turn to me to come back and read the comments. I usually don’t, your essay was enough to satisfy my hunger. I’m glad I did return. I first discovered this blog through your obit for DeAndre McCullough. I’m glad there are voices like yours in this world. We need more in every shape and metaphysical colour.

            Stay gold.

  • I am a proud white Republican. My party needs to come to the conclusion that it needs to forever stay out of the bedroom. On abortion, most of us have no interest in this fight but the left equates it with an “elective medical procedure”. I say feel free to murder the unborn, its on you, but to not equate it with the termination of a human life is dishonest and immoral. The issues that matter to me are financial. I make a decent wage and work hard like many Americans. Our family balances our household budget why can’t our government do this. What do I get from my taxes. NYC spends an incredible amount of money per student yet they suck and for a fraction of that money my children receive a far superior education at a Catholic School. Illegal Immigrants are not evil or criminal but they are drain on on our resources. Who pays their hospital bills, they receive free legal representation in criminal and family courts, get financial aid at our Universities. I see Greece, Spain, and Ireland and am afraid that oyr nation is heading that way. Only half of this nations households pay taxes. We can’t be all things for everybody. Like a soft parent our leaders need to say no and cut spending. Like the Dems see me as an angry, racist, and women hating I see Dems as those who punish success and want to fund and “study” everything. California is the epicenter for our future. 600 Billion in debt with no ideas or plans. Lovely what Oakland, Stockton, and other cities there have becone. Sorry, but my business will be forced to let go of some good hardworking people. Obamacare isn’t free and it’s not my civic duty to make less money for my family when I don’t have to. Dems see thevworld from a public sector perspective. More benefits, wages, pensions but no idea that these costs compound over the years.

    • I have no interest in invalidating your views on abortion. But it behooves you to concede that attempting to invalidate mine or other pro-choice Americans is a fight to no purpose whatsoever. Prohibiting abortion has never worked in the history of humankind and it won’t work going forward. Prohibitions seldom achieve any desired result other than a geometric increase in human pain and societal trauma.

      I can’t help you if you don’t understand that taxes are the cost of maintaining the entirety of the society that surrounds you and of which you are, despite your desired abdication, a part. If you feel that government has failed to achieve worthy goals, or pursued those that are unworthy, there is a fundamental remedy in republican, representative government. You can engage with others like-minded and attempt to transform bad government into better government. It is a messy and often confusing process, and it never ends. Reform is never permanent, and democracy is replete with every kind of conflict imaginable. Who but a fool pretends otherwise: Democracy isn’t merely liberty. They are not the same thing. In the democratic compact, Liberty is tethered to responsibility, to communal participation. You want liberty without responsibility, be a libertarian,a luftmenschen. Complain loudly that hell is other people, some of whom want different things than you and yet are citizens of the same nation-state. You want to think that societal problems will solve themselves without consideration of the social and political compact among Americans, be a free-market capitalist. Pretend that profit is a metric for building a just and inclusive society.

      You want a democracy? Then the government — bad or good — is by definition yours. It is not the other. It is not the enemy. It is yours and you share in the responsibility, whether you run from that fact or not. You and every motherfucker around you — even the ones who piss you off — all of you are the government. And consensus and compromise that brings enough of those motherfuckers on board to make bad government better is your only fucking hope. You want to run away from that, go ahead. But that doesn’t make it any less true.

      • Was considering contributing to the discussion but you said it all… Jefferson and Sartre… the only thing I would add is a bit of praise for Europe… their system has worked well for decades, with better stats for quality of life than we have… if things there are now troubled, even if they are falling apart, our eurocousins should and eventually will tweak, modify, or change their system, painful as it is to do so… but give them credit for a cpl of generations of good government and healthy people… prattling on about Europe’s doom its like complainig about US social security cause it may go broke… fix it, cut benefits/raise taxes, then wait for us boomers to die off and new demographics make it healthy again, assuming its moribund, which it ain’t… even if you abolish it, at least credit it for 60 plus years of success…

        If programs that were once solvent are not now, reform, replace, etc. That’s why we need, really need conservative voices, but voices that say more than “I’m a maker you’re a taker.” If half the country doesn’t make enough to pay the IRS, its because we accepted the conservative idea that taxes should be indexed to rise in the cost of living… support unions and policies that raise wages, (WHAT!!) and see how delighted the bottom half is to pay the IRS as well as the other payroll taxes they already pay… I for one would gladly move to the highest bracket.

  • That’s the best article I have read _ period.
    Those fools who harbor those foolish axioms will continue because they are fools; but to no avil, thanks to people like you and the rest of the country that voted for Obama. Really possitive people, who strive for a more civilized society, will praise such an outstanding article. You can tell those who are what they are when they pick out one tree in the total forest that they think represents their prejudice, insane, mind virus view. Hopefully news media and other outlets of communication will present and feature you. Thank You!

    • You people make me sick. You preach inclusiveness and tolerance. Progressives are the most uninclusive group of all. I was once asked this question by an idiot (progressive), he stated that I was closed minded and therefore wrong, “what are you willing to change your mind about, you’re so stubborn”. I asked him the same question and to all of you blowhards out there in la la land, “what are you willing to consider, or change your mind about?” Nothing, the progressives degrade people of faith on a regular basis, or people that cherish life even when it is an inconvenience and believe that abortion (women’s health issue my ass) is wrong. You have no tolerence for people that disagree with you. Stop lying to yourself, you’re as rigid in your beliefs as we are.

      • And yet despite your abusive tone and juvenile reliance on the ad hominem, which — you may notice if you pause for breath — is not replicated either in the original essay or in this response, for example, you have nonetheless been permitted to post on this website. So there is at least some tolerance — note the spelling — by those with whom you disagree.

        If you want to proceed on this website, you will confine yourself to argument about issues and debate that eschews simple name-calling and insult. Do you understand? On this website, you can debate why the opinions of others are lacking and you can make your own forcefully. What you cannot do, without being barred out at the next offense, is to attack the personhood of your opponents. Google the phrase argumentum ad hominem if the distinction remains elusive.

        You may be used to the message boards on such sites as Fox News or MSNBC where issues take a backseat to petty insult and other such adolescent indulgence. You are somewhere else now and the rules are different.

        In fact, there is sufficient tolerance on this board so that I have passed through every single response from every single viewpoint, save for those that indulged in the name-calling and direct abuse of other individuals, or ventured into the realm of open racism or anti-Semitism. I’m allowing this post through as a means of reminding all participants on this site of the standards employed. And, de facto, to explain to recent offenders why their post — if it did not appear — was indeed consigned to the kill basket. It was not because of their argument or content, but because they resorted to the personal abuse of opponents and/or infantile playground namecalling. In several cases, overt racism, anti-Semitism and misogyny sent the post to unposted oblivion.

        On rare occasions, an insult is indeed earned by someone else’s dishonorable or dishonest tack and at such moments, allowances may be made. Sometimes, a dickhead behaves like a dickhead and one must point this out, alas. But absent such a justifiable provocation by your opponents, characterizing them with insult rather than focusing on their argument will eventually result in digital exile.

        This post is at the frontier for such treatment, and if you want to proceed here, you need to pull back. You can attack the progressive viewpoint without declaring that your opponents sicken you. That’s really kind of over the top and not particularly clever at that. Still, the webmistress and I have passed you through because it’s an opportunity to restate the rules, so to speak.

        Yes, civility is prized here and, at a certain point, demanded. So raise your game and get hold of your emotions, or take your weak shit elsewhere. The rest of the internet comment boards might be cesspolls, but here, the plumbing works.

        • I stumbled on this post (friend linked it on facebook), and I haven’t even read the whole thing. Liked what I’ve read, now I have to go back and finish.

          But let me give you props on two counts (at least):
          First, you’re letting them post responses, and therefore, you are ahead of most of the sites they usually post on, which would never allow you. And in most cases, well, give ’em enough rope, and they hang themselves.
          Second: my stars, you’re productive in answering them. Whether it’s the ‘fiat money’ crowd or the ‘baby murder’ mindset, you respond to almost all of them, and in a delightfully subtle, two-level manner, providing both answer and attitude.
          And three (yes, I’m a verbose, over-analytic type) I love that you call them on their mechanics, whether it’s missing the argument, ad hominem attacks, or just bad spelling and grammar. Theirs where your really getting two them.

          PS: Is there any way to post responses without being thrown back to the original post, sans responses, then having to open up the well-over-500 responses and scroll back down to where I left off reading them? They’re wonderfully entertaining, but reading so many of them two or three times, well, I may need another shower before bedtime.

    • Let me get this straight. In order to be relevant, I need to be pro-choice, pro-gay marriage, pro-amnesty, and pro-raising taxes. No thanks. I’d rather go down with the ship.

    • forget the eurpean model, americans should instead look to canada. a strong free country that takes care of all its citzens.h care is there for everyone

    • I hope to god you are right. I am afraid we are going to see a seismic re-alignment in racial categories expanding just who is “white.” They don’t give up easy.

      • You’re correct. There will be some of that to be sure. The attempt to peel off the Latino vote — given the explosive demographics there — is almost certain. If they couple that with a commitment to immigration reform, they might float their boat for a while. But then, they will have done so by becoming at least somewhat more inclusive and by actually forsaking ideological absurdity and xenophobia for practical reform and governance.

        I’m not adverse to the GOP remaining in the game if they become a rational political argument for more and different Americans. That’s the critique, after all, no?

  • That’s the best article I have read _ period
    Those fools who harbor those foolish axioms will continue because they are fools; but to no avail, thanks to people like you and the rest of the country that voted for Obama. Really possitive people, who strive for a more civilized society, will only praise such an outstanding article. You can tell those who are what they are, when they pick out one tree in the total forest that they think represents their prejudice, insane, mind virus view. Hopefully, news media and other outlets of communication will present and feature you _ THANK YOU!

  • When personal responsibility becomes a bad thing and when the people’s number one issue is whether or not a person has the right to kill a living, human, baby, we got problems. Dude, we got huge problems. When it’s more valuable to spend money we do not have then to impose some sort of governor on unsustainable programs, we lose as a country.

    This week, we lost. Too bad, that Obama seems like a pretty nice guy. Wish he kept his promises of four years ago to approach things in a smart, measured manner. Instead we have people like you spouting off idiocy laced with profanity–for effect, bro!–that fail to see that the path we are on will not last. It can not last. People on the front lines, creating jobs, are sending them elsewhere. That will continue to happen. Your leader will send resources away from this country to other countries. The poor will be poorer. And so will the rich. So will you. Ah, well.

    Ah, well, at least we can kill babies! phew.

    • To facilitate the trends with which the conservative movement in America continues to marginalize itself, I would only ask that you maintain your allegiance to the GOP and/or the Tea Party and that you speak forcefully about what you feel in the language that comes so naturally to you. I would urge you to do this in every possible forum and, certainly, at key points in the electoral cycles going forward.

      Speak your mind and encourage your candidates to speak as you do.

      For the good of the nation and for the possibility of a real American future, it is the least you can do.

      • I concur 100%! For the good of America, conservatives need to proclaim LOUDLY! PROUDLY! AND OFTEN! their true feelings about non-white, non-hetero people.

        Honestly, sometimes I think those people are trying to destroy the GOP on purpose. If so, good job!

      • People read this as racist? Wow. Do I support protecting babies? Yes. As do a majority of Americans. Do I support the rights of people to live as they please? Yes. But no one, read no one, should have the right to kill a baby. Men/women should realize that the potential cost of sex is babies. That’s how we’re made. And yet people are too stupid to understand that and want an easy out.

        Now that’s out of the way, and looking beyond social issues, teh bare fact is that this country continues to spend money it does not have. Period. That system does not work. Never has and never will. Without a change to that simple issue the celebrations will become sobs. It’s too bad. People sure miss the boat on what really matters. Lower taxes and less government largesse, higher growth, higher prosperity for all all. Period.

        • I’m always interested in this viewpoint. It’s the general rhetoric I hear coming from conservatives who are not of the batshit crazy variety. I try to be open minded and engage with folks on these things if they really want to have their message heard.

          Unfortunately, the abortion thing is kind of a non-starter. If the start of your conversation is calling the other side baby murderers, it’s clear you don’t want a discussion so much as to vent your self-righteousness. As David says above, you will never get rid of abortions. The only thing you can do is ensure that they are done in back alleys where more people will suffer and die because of them. If you care about adults at least half as much as you care about babies, you’ll concede that point and work with those realities.

          As for the economy, I find the rhetoric here fascinating as well. “…this country continues to spend money it does not have.” Let’s say we take that simplistic view as the truth. Why present your arguments as though this is a fact that will remain true as long as Dems are in office? Didn’t Clinton end his term with a surplus? There is nothing about a Dem platform that presumes that we must be fiscally irresponsible. In fact, this is the very thing that liberals (Dem or otherwise) are really shouting. Work with us to make things better. I live in California and I was surprised myself that the state struck down many of the tax raising measures that were on this ballot. We’re not moochers. We’re not “looking for free stuff”. Once you let go of those tired cliches, you can start to see a practical way forward. There are things we feel staunchly about, and we will defend those things. But if we can compromise and also come out with a balanced budget, no one is going to call that a failure.

          My impression, naive as it may be, is that people like you have the wrong idea about what caused the deficit in the first place. The 2 wars we’ve been fighting for 10 years have cost us more money than anything else you’ve got save maybe healthcare. And the person you would prefer over Barack Obama is firmly in the camp of hawks who felt we should continue those indefinitely and also start more.

          So if you are being intellectually honest with yourself and with us, what is it that’s really going on? Do you just prefer your representatives to pay lip service to fiscal responsibility, even though most presidents do a pretty terrible job at it? Or do you just like trashing Democrats because you’ve been indoctrinated into this ideologically binary thinking? “Dems are bad at the economy, get a Rep in there and he’ll fix things.”

          Instead of giving pithy opinions on what every one else is doing wrong, why not try being cogent and clear on what you think is right? And then use your powers of persuasion to bring your fellow Americans along with you. That’s how democracy is supposed to work. The system can still work just as well for you as it ever did. But for the best chance of success, you must contend with the rest of us. And the first step is understanding that not everyone has the same set of priorities as you do.

        • If all the households work to pay off their debts by cutting back spending, then who buys at the local store?
          If all states must balance their budgets (true) and to do so, they stop buying supplies, end building programs and fire teachers, with what do those suppliers pay their workers, how do unemployed workers buy their food, and where do laid-off teachers get gas to drive their cars to interviews?
          When the only source left in the nation able to spend money, to buy things, to put money in circulation, is the whole nation, as represented by the federal government, then that’s who has to spend money.
          Because business in America, sitting on over $4trillion in banked profits, will tell you their problem is that there’s almost no increase in demand. Supply-side economics is a fiction dreamed up to fleece the tax payer with that trickle-down nonsense. No business can sell something there’s no demand for. It’s simple capitalism.
          And in America, for decades, we let unfettered, unexamined capitalism pick our pockets, then, in the last ten years, sell us houses they promised they’d always buy back at our profit, thus fleecing us a second, third, fourth time. So now the only place where there’s any ability to put money into the system to get it started is federal spending.

          BTW, you might want to check who owns the majority of Federal debt. It’s US, as in United States, citizens, corporations, pensions, etc. We’re loaning our selves money, lately at an effective rate of 0%. If you could borrow $1billion now, to build a new highway, and reopen 10 closed bridges, and then take between 10 and 20 years to pay the money back, wouldn’t the companies and citizens who used that road, or didn’t have to drive around those bridges anymore, actually create a profit for themselves in doing so, maybe even enough to pay for those bonds? And then the bonds are paid off, and the highway and bridges keep making profits for the users, and for the nation. That’s why it’s called investment.

          Private enterprise won’t do it on its own, because its profit horizon is too short, looking at the next quarter or the next year.

          And that’s why we need to do it, and why the federal government, at least until we get the economy rolling again, is the only one who can do it.
          Now, get out of the way, please.

        • What if the baby was conceived through rape?
          Please, write at great length on the topic and publish said writings in a public forum. Encourage your favorite politicians to do the same. Dying to hear your opinion on the matter. 😉

      • And, . . . Obama opens his mouth and the market tanks. That he can learn to lead and not pander to the short-term warm fuzzies that come from promising the world, when government can make no such promise. For that, and for Obama, I pray.

  • Hi David,

    I have to start by telling you that I teach a graduate level education course at Hopkins. My students are all members of Teach For America; they come to me as recent graduates from the best schools in the country and are then thrown into some of Baltimore City’s most challenging schools. They are heroes, true soldiers in a war of compassion against poverty. I thought you might like to know that every wave of incoming students is introduced to their new city of Bal’more by watching The Wire. As a fan myself, this process entertains me to no end. With each new week, startling (heartbreaking?) new plot developments unfolded (How could Stringer do that to D??!!!). From all of us, a huge Thank You.

    As to this article, I agree with it 100% but am left feeling hollowed by it. The question I pose is this: besides complaining about our politicians and exercising our right to vote, what more can we do? What actions should we take, because if we sit idly by just writing and reading brilliant articles, nothing changes.

    After reading another recent op-ed piece (http://www.nytimes.com/2012/11/09/opinion/krugman-lets-not-make-a-deal.html#commentsContainer), I felt even more keenly that the famed “People” need to take to the streets, to stand on the Mall of Washington calling for action. To get off our asses, so to speak, or as my Great Uncle Harry would say when we bickered as children: to quit your bitchin’. We need to display just how deeply unsatisfied we are with with Congress (as, apparently the 11% approval rating doesn’t seem to be affecting the “work” they do). I feel powerless. Tell me, Mr. Simon, because if you’re brilliant enough to create The Wire I feel there’s likely nothing you cannot do, tell me… how do we begin to mobilize words into action? (because words can lack tone, please know that there is NO snark in this question. It’s posed earnestly and hopefully …).

    • Hey!? Why do the abortion nutters get the replies? Maybe they’re just more fun to bandy with.

      Here’s the line in your piece that grabbed my attention: “If Romney had won this election, our government would be just as broken. It is the legislative branch that remains an epic systems failure.” I get that you can’t reply to every comment, but perhaps you will write more later on this topic?

      Cheers from Maryland!

    • I am a teacher in a BCPS high school and would like to tell you that your students are not “true soldiers in a war against poverty”. They are pawns in corporate plot to privatize public schools and de-professionalize teaching. For every position that one of your students takes, a teacher that is more qualified and intends to stay in the profession for more than 2 years is rejected. The students at your students’ schools will suffer the consequences of having a highly transient teaching staff that has no intention of staying in Baltimore past their commitment to TFA. Andres Alonso will pay TFA thousands of dollars to have a cadre of young, naive, and ignorant teachers who will do nothing to improve the overall levels of crime, poverty, and low expectations that our students experience every day. It will be an exhilarating experience for your students; they will tell their middle-class families and friends crazy stories about their impoverished students and everyone will shake their heads in awe and tell them they are “true soldiers of compassion in the war against poverty”. Then your students will leave Baltimore forever. And probably teaching. Wendy Kopp will make profits. Her husband, the KIPP CEO will make profits. Michelle Rhee will make profits. Andres Alonso will make a $10,000 bonus. BCPSS students will take more tests and Pearson will make profits. And an even more pronounced two-tier school system will develop.

      • I taught inner city kids myself and I can assure you that my TFAers pour blood, sweat, tears and unimaginable hours into their work. A surprising number stay on in the city after they’ve completed their two year master’s program. They are compassionate, and they are DOING SOMETHING (besides bitching about life).

        Arguing with a fool creates two, so I’ll stop with one last comment — you sound far too bitter to be teaching.

        • Your first paragraph was content and meaningful content, and I was interested in your perspective as I am, indeed, of two minds about the TFA program, its benefits versus the threat to career teaching as a profession. Your experiences are wholly relevant.

          Then you ruined it with the last sentence, blandly and childishly resorting to meaningless ad hominem and defeating your own purpose.

          If you are arguing with a fool, then your arguments alone can make that clear. And there is no need to call the name. Just as there is no need to characterize that person in any negative way. It is fine to say their arguments are foolish, or arrogant, or ignorant or indulgent or whatever. After all, we are trying for a good argument here. But ad hominem always loses. A second offense bars you out, brother.

          • Point made and taken. I do not know TeacherAnnie and should not have name called. Was feeling badly about it even before I discovered I was chided by David Simon.

            If TFAers are pawns in all of this, at least they’re out there trying to make things better–they don’t have to be. It’s a life most 20-somethingers would avoid (run screaming from?).

            And intellectually you can be of two minds about the program, but unless you’ve r-e-a-l-l-y spent time working in these classrooms, you honestly cannot know what it’s like. I suppose I feel protective of those who have the courage to do so. Half of all public school teachers (not just inner city ones) drop out of the profession in less than five years, so I’m not sure the “job steeling” accusation had any merit, and having worked in such schools, many of the teachers there shouldn’t be (of course I know that there are amazing exceptions, but sadly too few).

            These TFAers are insanely bright and FIERCELY determined young people (however you may feel about the politics of the program).

            And hey, my initial point had nothing to do with TFA (except to let you know we all enjoy The Wire, you’re welcome). My point was about Congress. Lost in the melee now, I suppose.

            • Thanks for abandoning the ad hominem.

              This site may not get the traffic of those at professional news organizations, but I’ve perused their comments sections enough to know that as small as we are, we are going to do better when it comes to civil argument.

    • For the love of god, do you actually think you are making a distinction by assessing this in terms of geography rather than demographics?

      Where do you think the minority populations of the country are predominantly located?


      Where do you think the political active gay communities are located?


      Where do you think the more tolerant and moderate Americans — those who are now mentally equipped to live in close quarters in a multicultural fashion, who are comfortable with the idea of political coalition across the lines of class and religion and race — are likely to be found?


      Geez. Think it through.

      • I’m sure you agree that the America of the urban center and the America of the rural/midwest seem to have entirely different values and beliefs and this divide only grows with time. Your essay rings of a death toll on conservative values and beliefs held in these places. So we should just say a big fuck you to all the values and beliefs these people hold. Assimilate or be marginalized?

        A long time ago my parents taught me that there is no normal. My idea of normal is not your idea of normal or that of the other person. I’m very curious on on your thoughts about this great melting pot of millions of individuals, how does a politician serve the interests of all now ? How do they determine the course ?

        Also, you mention the epic system failure that is the legislative branch. “It is the legislative branch that remains an epic systems failure.” I’d love to know more about your ideas on this failure.

        • In my opinion the David’s essay is not saying that anyone should “say a big fuck you” to anyone’s else’s values but I think he’s simply saying goodbye to theirs being the predominant ones. Besides, are white people the only people who have conservative values? I doubt it. I’m white and I’m definitely not conservative. If the GOP wants to win elections they should stop excluding people who might share their values but not their skin colour. Not only is that approach morally and intellectually despicable but it’s just plain stupid strategically.
          Or perhaps I got it all wrong? Being a Canadian I’m endlessly shocked, fascinated and depressed at how much overt racism is still a factor in your politics. Obviously there is racism here but in cities and especially in our elections race and religion are so much less of an issue. It’s no socialist paradise but multi-culturalism and social safety nets haven’t really done our economy any harm. Not that we aren’t facing problems in the future, but race and abortion will most likely not get in the of the debate in how to deal with future economic problems. Perhaps the sooner you all get passed these issues the sooner you’ll be able to focus on what’s important. Hopefully sooner than later as our economy is well mixed with yours!

          • If the GOP wants to win elections they should stop excluding people who might share their values but not their skin colour.

            … or their gender, or their sexual orientation, or their religion …

            It’s a wonder the GOP got as many votes as they did.

          • Thanks Warren but my question was for David Simon. Perhaps your Canadian rose-colored glasses predispose you to think all of Americas issues are concerned with race and religious issues, but I didn’t mention skin color in my post.

            Conservatives and those who hold conservative values are not all white, christian, straight, male, or whatever you way you want to group them.

            Is there room for people who don’t agree with the majority in this new “multi-cultrual world” you speak of ? My question was about how a politician can address all of these values now that the tables are turning, so to speak. The majority becomes the minority and this new “multi-culturalism” influenced government is going to address their concerns too right?

  • Extremely insightful! I’m a first-time reader and though I’m not interested in posting a comment at this time, I would love to receive future posts by email…Thanks, b

  • Excellent piece – I only hope you’re “right on” with it. I do find it hard to trust that a slight majority of the popular vote re-electing Obama this time around definitely means the country has turned the corner for good and we’re finally really living in the “new America” some of us have been envisioning since the 1960s. It has seemed inevitable to me for longer than I care to recall that the GOP could not keep putting down everyone in the country other than rich white men (and those who aspire to be, so thus try to identify with that crowd more than is justified) without all those groups of people finally catching on and refusing to vote for them! And I *hope* you’re right that we’re finally a different kind of nation and there may not be some huge backlash next time around. I hear a lot of scrambling among Republicans (on radio talk shows) about how they failed to get their message across to various demographics, etc. It seems to me they *did* get their message across… and the big problem is the message itself. Like, “how can we reach Latinos?” Hmm… well, maybe a good start would be not basically proposing to rape the women and deport the men, you know??!!

  • Thank you Mr. Simone, well done. I am not crazy and I believe that Mitt is a good but misdirected man. He believes in the trickle-down. The majority of Americans have been waiting for the trickle since the 1percent thought of that trick. Mitt sadly believes in that myth and many others like “the white man’s burden.” Mitt has bought into Rudyard Kipling’s writings on the white man’s duty to educate, civilize, and ultimately control the masses of “others.” The election proved that the divide and conquer mentality has run into the invisible wall of cohesiveness among the different groups with similar needs. Mitt you are a good man, with a bad and flawed plan. America is on track to move forward. No longer can our leaders and the 1percent use divisiveness to control black, brown, white, yellow, gay, Jew, women, men, middle-class, poor, or just the “other” against each other to control our country.

    • I saw an excellent phrase the other day – “trickle down poverty”. I believe it illustrates perfectly what the Republican fiscal policies cause to trickle down to the lower classes.


      • Silly phrases like “trickle down poverty” just show your naivety. As if all Republicans are upper class and all Dems are lower. 8 out of 10 of the wealthiest counties favored Obama.

        This country is in for a rough economic ride with Obama the next 4 years. He’s a disgrace. It’s a shame the first black president was Obama, an international anti-colonialist with none of the rich history of black America in his bones.

  • And isn’t it a relief? I have been reading the Langston Hughes poem hopefully to immigrant Korean friends and my children for years. It’s wonderful. This moment is wonderful. History, however, has many swings and odd sine curves to it. I would caution a lot of watching and working forward in a vein of progress–– with a suspicious and jaundiced eye towards any other “men on white horses.” Older Empires had many twists and turns in them.

  • Excellent, well written post! Obama’s win for the second time reminds me of the Langston Hughes’ Poem, “I, Too, Sing America.” Growin up in Chocolate City (Washington, DC) I learned this poem at an early age. We learned it in the 4th grade, I think. Maybe 3rd. It resonated w/ me then as we read it aloud as a class and smiled big ole grins when we got to the end (I too am America). And it resonates w/ me now as an adult watchin Obreezy win his second term as President. It reaffirms that we are ALL part of what makes this country great, even if they can’t see it yet. It speaks of an undyin faith that at some point in the future – even if they can’t see it now — they will see that I too am America.

    I, too, sing America.
    I am the darker brother.
    They send me to eat in the kitchen
    When company comes,
    But I laugh,
    And eat well,
    And grow strong.

    I’ll be at the table
    When company comes.
    Nobody’ll dare
    Say to me,
    “Eat in the kitchen,”

    They’ll see how beautiful I am
    And be ashamed—

    I, too, am America.

    • oh my.

      so it’s Friday night on the other side of the world and I’ve landed here via a random link. what a treat for the end of the week. the Hughes poem is a beautiful bonus.

      thanks David, and thanks Mariama.

      • Just want to add my thanks for this post and Hughes’ poem. They both moved me. I’m a middle-aged white dude with a newfound hope that the U.S. can realize what I’ve always regarded as its greatest promise and greatest potential: becoming a blind meritocracy that rewards hard work, but that does not ignore its most vulnerable populations. The passage of the ACA (as a start) and the results of this election warmed my heart.

  • “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.”

    I grew up in central Florida and Tennessee. It is my sincerest hope that this is true. But I’m not so sure.

    On another note, we finally caught up with Ettlin for the first three episodes of Treme. I was excited to see Mischiya Lake, who we had the pleasure of dancing to for two nights at Mobtown Ballroom in Pigtown last month. And…the Red Stick Ramblers! One year we hired them to play the Glen Echo Ballroom for dancers and right next to their stage display of CDs for sale, they stacked mason jars of homemade hot sauce. They are a treasure.

  • WOW. I stumbled across this post on a friends facebook profile. Mr. Simon, I will be back. Very well stated and eloquently expressed. Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts with the world.

  • “There’s nothing wrong with being anything. That’s the point.”

    Sweeping statements like these just shows how low we’ve set the bar. Of course there HAS to be wrong with something. We can’t just accept things because people say “that’s the way they are”. There may not be something wrong with being white, black, short, fat, thin, what have you, but we can’t accept that there’s nothing wrong with being a pedophile, rapist, or just being a plain jackass. My point is, total acceptance of everything for equality’s sake cannot be the solution.

    • Did you really just equate any of the minority groups and electoral cohorts that I cited — African-Americans, Latinos, women, gays — with pedophiles and rapists? Did you actually sit down and type that? Are you that desperate to cast your judgment on others different than you that you have equivocated to that extent? Wow.

      Regroup and come back with something honest and intelligent, or please, leave this site alone.


    • Relativism…everyone makes their own moral code…don’t hold anyone accountable…the government will take care of you if you don’t have the initiative or the character to stand up and earn a living.
      I weep (and pray) for this country because of posts such as Mr. Simon’s and like minded followers. Just because he can put words together to sound literate does not mean he actually has a worthwhile or edifying message. He has consumed the Koolaid.
      I see the downward spiral of this country under this amateur and It is about the economy…not the changing demographics or the female anatomy. Those are just distractions to the real issues that BO could not or would not address.

  • David, you are a great writer. I enjoy reading your writing. But I am mad and want to argue. I think Republicans are portrayed as caring about things like abortion. And they do, but they care a hell of a lot more about money. So while a dumbass Republican may say something insane about abortion or rape, he is not going to change laws. But a Democrat will lie to the point of disbelief and say that a Republican will ruin your life and say what you can and cannot do. While all the Republican really wants to do is save money and not have government run things. Hopefully you can admit, government does a bad job at running things. So you all fell for the story the Politician from Chicago spun, read that again, you entrusted your vote to a Politician from Chicago over a devout Mormon! Have you ever met a Mormon who didn’t impress the hell out of you with their character? Now how about a Chicago politician? So while the vote did fall along strictly racial lines, don’t be misguided about the truth. Republicans may not know how to effectively communicate to people who do not trust them, but they do not lie to them. We have entrusted a Chicago politician with a financial problem over a successful Mormon business man. I am insane to think the majority is insane? I sincerely hope you are correct, and that the President will bring a new America that is diverse and accepting, but I also hope we are financially stable. In all of this, the problem is that Republicans believe the USA is in a financial nightmare, and the people who don’t believe them, still don’t believe them. So they cast their vote along racial lines, or along lines that cannot measure up to the country failing economically. The majority do not believe the country will have real money problems, or do not care. This is all because Republicans are all white and only want white power?

    • I’m sorry, but you’ve mischaracterized my argument. I can only suggest that you might read it more carefully and note the differences between what the essay does assert and what you assume it asserts.

    • Wow! Did I ever meet a Mormon who didn’t impress me with their character? Yes. And, frankly, one of them was running for President! Which part of Mr. Romney’s character impressed you? His ability to change his position so fast and with a completely straight face? Or his ability to pander to the elite in this country? I realize the point of this article was NOT to create more animosity, but please don’t respond with a complete lack of any sense of reality about the candidate the Republicans ran! He was an unlikeable man with a questionable business ethic who ran on a platform of “I’m NOT him, but I can sound like him if that is what you want” and with no plan to speak of. Republicans are quick to decry that money and small government is what matters – but you jumped behind a man who’s plan, what there was of it, consisted of his own version of Trickle-down Economics (that proven succcess!) and who wanted the government small, unless it dealt with getting into people’s private lives who were not white, straight, male Christians. And for you to argue that this vote was completely along racial lines misses the point of the article and the reality of the vote.

      • Why do we even give a shit about another individual’s religious choice?

        I mean, seriously.

        Aren’t there more important things on our plate?

    • Do you really believe that Obama only got black votes? What about the republican stance on women, on homosexuality, on economy? I think that if you looked at the numbers with an open mind you would realise that the supporters of Mitt Romney appear arrogant and selfish. Of course money is important but to totally disregard everything else is also foolish. if you take race out of the equation for a minute and look again…you might come to a clearer understanding.

      • You are arguing with a straw man. You need to reread the essay slowly, thinking about what it says and what it doesn’t say. It doesn’t say that Obama got only black votes. It doesn’t remotely suggest any such thing. My understanding on the points raised in the essay are, I’m afraid, a clearer understanding than you have thus far achieved. Try again, if it matters to you.

        • Dude, she’s replying to Mike Nick, not you. And he said those things so her post is relevant. (“While the vote did fall along strictly racial lines”)

          Maybe you should take your own advice and read more carefully?

          Great essay by the way.

          • Yep, you’re right.

            Problem is wordpress brings each comment up on my email independent of the string. And I am on a film set in New Orleans only seeing the extant posts individually. My bad. Apologies.

    • Thank you. Why do so few people see the truth of this? Because Obama voters don’t want to let go of their demonization of the Republican. Despite the accuracy of what you wrote. Obama is the quintessential “the King has no clothes.”

      This one sentence says it all: So while a dumbass Republican may say something insane about abortion or rape, he is not going to change laws. But a Democrat will lie to the point of disbelief and say that a Republican will ruin your life and say what you can and cannot do. While all the Republican really wants to do is save money and not have government run things.

    • “So while a dumbass Republican may say something insane about abortion or rape, he is not going to change laws.”

      This is demonstrably untrue. Republican State legislatures around the country have enacted more restrictive anti-choice legislation in the past few cycles than in many, many years prior. They are doing exactly what they are claiming they’ll do: chip away at a long held Constitutionally protected right to privacy, in hopes of eventually overturning it. (Which Romney and his running mate BOTH promised to do.) If you are voting for Republicans because you think their more radical views are fringe and will never see the light of day, I suggest you never send your daughter to college in Kansas, or if you do, you hope like hell she does not become pregnant via rape. The Republican platform states a hard line position on abortion–no exceptions. These ideas have consequences; politics becomes policy. And on the economy, you really might want to look back historically on who has stewarded more growth; it’s generally Democrats who were in power not only during boom times but who have lowered the deficit. The idea that Republicans are somehow more fiscally responsible than Democrats is a myth, happily peddled by politicians who really want nothing more than tax cuts for their plutocrat friends. White power? Some of them. Money rules? ALL of them.

  • Can’t help but think of the domino theory that was so popular during the cold war and in justifying Viet Nam. Two legal marijuana dominos are down…

  • The unsung legacy of Obama will be the hundreds of thousands of community organizers he’s trained who will now go back to their communities and using what they’ve learned from his campaigns, affect change in small but meaningful ways, block by block, city by city and state by state. Battles will be lost, set backs will happen and inform our course, but average citizens now have the tools to get shit done in a way they didn’t before this man ran for president. The importance of this can not be underestimated.

    • How about you learn what a Community Organizer actually does…. It divideds a community in order to get them to do what the organizer wants them to do.

      • No. Not at all.

        I spent a couple decades reporting carefully on actual communities for long, detailed works of narrative non-fiction. The community organizers I encountered were, by and large, some of the most committed people and honorable people I have ever met. In fact, in the long history of wrong things that have been told to me in life, you just made the top five.

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