Monday, November 14, 2016

Identity Politics, Special Interests, and the Trump Victory

Democrats rallied around various minority groups, thinking this would guarantee victory as straight, Anglo whites are no longer a majority, but rather a plurality.  Add in a strong percentage of the white women's vote, and the road to victory via identity politics was clear.

But to many, including various minorities and women, this identity politics looks like special interest politics.  People are self-interested, and voted against the "special interests". Hence, Trump won. In my opinion, people voted in their perceived self-interest as opposed to against minorities.  Depicting the largely self-interested and politically apathetic class as racists and/or sexists didn't help to win their votes.

A better approach, in my opinion, is to aim to achieve specific economic goals which will be beneficial to the majority of citizens, regardless of ethnicity, gender, or sexual orientation.  Here are a few:
  • government paid health care
  • expanded free education
  • job guarantee / "infrastructure" projects (put people to work doing socially useful things)
The right will launch vicious counterattacks against these proposals, but the great majority of citizens would stand to benefit from such programs.  The main line of attack will be that we can't afford these programs, and that taxes will have to rise to pay for them.  That line of attack is untrue.  Republicans have repeatedly shown that "deficits don't matter" (that's what Reagan proved, according to Dick Cheney).  Trump just got elected on a platform of blatant disregard for fiscal discipline.  He even correctly pointed out at one point that the U.S. government can create money to pay any and all debts. Although he basically gave lip service in other speeches to the evilness of the debt, it was just token acknowledgment of the Republican dogma.  Bernie Sanders' approach was similar.

In sum, propose good economic programs that all can benefit from.  Be prepared to counter false claims that the programs will require tax increases.  The deficit can rise, and voters have shown that they really don't care about the deficit.  What they care about, rightly, are taxes, government services, and inflation.  If we keep are eye on these facts, we can take back the presidency and pass some progressive laws.

UPDATE:  Here's what commenter stefan came up with:

Ten point agenda. We need to speed up economic growth while creating pathways to a broad-based middle class society.
1. Transportation- long range plan to install super high speed rail and upgrade regional transport throughout nation “highly reticulated vascular system”, rebuild roads, bridges, harbors, etc.
2. Communication- land-based broadband to rural as well as urban places “a completely articulated nervous system”
3. Education- federal support for state-based overhaul of education, beginning at the university level, letting state universities coordinate with localities “ a healthy neocortex”
4. Construction- lengthen depreciation period from 20 years to 100 years to induce higher quality, more labor intensive construction “physical exercise”
5. R&D- incentives and eduction dollars to foster technological innovation (?% of GDP)
6. Health- go to single payer, medicare for all
7. International- relax posture while trying to ensure peaceful coexistence “be friendly”
8. Taxation-use tax policies to suppress incomes above $5m/yr, enforce pay to play taxes for domestic corporations “recover balance”
9. Energy- upgrade grid and diversify sources
10. Domestic- protect civil rights, equal protection, and fairness


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