Archive

November 20th, 2016

For an evangelical magazine editor, the election brought a 'soul abandonment'

    The night that Donald Trump was elected president, I got very little sleep. Surely the wine I sipped as a wave of red swept from east to west across that horrible, televised electoral map didn't help. But I managed to have one vivid dream.

    In it, I'm standing on a stage in a stadium full of fellow Christians. And I'm telling them that they voted for the wrong candidate, and that Trump's presidency will prove to be a grave mistake.

    Wednesday greeted me as it did half the voting population, with waves of grief. But since then, the grief has turned into a more complex emotion - something like soul abandonment. After an election in which 81 percent of my white co-religionists supported Trump, the faith that has been my home for 20 years seems foreign, even hostile.

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Trump can't repeal the laws of economics

    Following a brief market plunge, the president-elect's speech last Tuesday night was more conciliatory than many expected and emphasized his commitment to infrastructure investment. Investors have, on balance, concluded that the combination of a shift to very expansionary fiscal policy and major reductions in regulation in sectors ranging from energy to finance to drug pricing will raise demand and reflate the U.S. economy.

    The result has been a rise in real interest rates and inflation expectations, along with a strong stock market and a strong dollar. Experience suggests, however, that initial market responses to major political events are poor predictors of their ultimate impact.

    The late MIT economist Rudiger Dornbusch made an extensive study of the results of populist economic programs around the world, finding that while they sometimes had immediate positive results, over the medium- and long-term they were catastrophic for the working class in whose name they were launched. This could be the fate of the Trump program given its design errors, implausible assumptions and reckless disregard for global economics.

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There's no silver lining to Trump's win. Progressives must make their own.

    Donald Trump's election to the presidency has permanently damaged the country. There's no getting away from that. But those of us who lost Tuesday can still build something from the wreckage. We can find and support each other in defense of common values. Americans across the political spectrum are alarmed by the election result. Here are some concrete ways we can act.

 

- "Mourn, then organize."

    As Peter Dreier recently noted in the American Prospect, Democrats need some time to mourn. Take that time for self-care, for whatever gives you joy and restores your resilience. I certainly needed that time. I'll never forget election night. About 10, my daughter, so excited about a potential Hillary Clinton victory, asked me in tears, "What's happening, Daddy?" My own tears began to flow.

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The trouble with Trump's infrastructure plan

    During the Obama years, most conservatives were against fiscal stimulus and most liberals were for it. Now that President-elect Donald Trump has proposed a major boost in government spending, many commentators will feel urges to migrate to the opposite positions. In light of this ideological turmoil, we should keep a clear head on when government spending truly stimulates the economy.

    The first principle is not to be fooled by increases in measured gross domestic product. A new Trump stimulus would probably boost GDP, but that doesn't mean it would be working well.

    Measured GDP just doesn't capture the relevant trade-offs for evaluating government spending. For instance, a lot of U.S. workers are producing organizational capital. They work on business plans, building client lists, developing marketing strategies, cultivating customer relations and performing other future-oriented activities common to service-sector enterprises. On any given day, most of us are not churning out additional widgets.

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The heartbreaking letters my immigrant students wrote me about Donald Trump's win

    As I watched the election coverage Tuesday night, the only thing I was thinking was "what am I going to tell my students tomorrow?" I teach government at a high school for recent immigrants. Some of my students are here legally, many as refugees, others are undocumented, and some came without documents and have since been granted asylum.

    I decided to write them a letter to explain how I was feeling. I invited them to respond. Here is an excerpt of the note I gave my class on Wednesday, along with the reflections they shared in response:

    "I know that many, if not all of you, came to this country with hope that our government would protect you from many of the problems in your countries. I feel like my country has let you down. We tell the rest of the world that we are this great place and I feel like many of the lies we tell others are becoming clear. I know that many of you are scared right now. I want you to know that I am scared too.

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The 200-year era of 'left' and 'right' is over

    U.S. democracy may be government of the people, by the people, for the people. But who are "We the people"?

    In the United States, every couple of years, one finds out. Elections reveal how the identity of the people - the sovereign person - has changed in body, will, and soul. As with human beings, certain moments in the life of the sovereign being are revealing of its true personality. Donald Trump's victory was one such moment.

    Before the primaries, it was possible to dismiss the electoral relevance of white working-class America, and those left behind by globalization more broadly, and many did: Look no further than the desiccated Washington-consensus platitudes regurgitated by Hillary Clinton and most of the Republican primary candidates.

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Stop protesting democracy: Saying #notmypresident is the same as saying #notmyconstitution

    What was lost in the election last week?

    Decency. Humanity. Morality. All the way around.

    From protesters destroying property in Portland, Oregon, to racists destroying a sense of safety in Silver Spring, Maryland, too many people are undermining the foundation of our country in the aftermath of a polarizing election. And our first order of business is to fix it. Because this is about democracy, really.

    Donald Trump is going to be our president. And saying #notmypresident is the same as saying #notmyconstitution or #notmycountry or #notmyAmerica.

    It is our America. All of us.

    Yes, Hillary Clinton won the popular vote. A majority of Americans who voted last week - and a totally shameful 43 percent of y'all stayed home, and you better not have been at those protests if you did - voted for her.

    But the same constitution that gives protesters the right to peaceful assembly also created the electoral college that gave Trump the White House.

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It's not just Trump. People freaked out over Nixon and Reagan, too.

    Donald Trump's election has been greeted by a considerable portion of the country with panic. Large swaths of commentators have described his victory as a potential disaster for the nation - placing a "xenophobic racist" and "clown" in the Oval Office. One Hillary Clinton supporter outside her hotel in New York the morning after the election said, "I'm feeling physical pain. I'm shocked. I'm sad." Articles with headlines like "Day of Mourning," "An American Tragedy" and "Autocracy: Rules for Survival" have bounced across the Internet. As the New Yorker's David Remnick wrote, "This is surely the way fascism can begin."

    At times like these, it helps to look to our past for perspective. And the truth is that we've been here before, many times, throughout the 19th century and in living memory.

    In 1968 and 1980, the same liberal, educated and urban swaths of the country voiced similar fear and despair about the outcome - a sense that the nation as they knew it could not survive. And yet here we are, decades later, still enamored with the republic they were sure was doomed.

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Giuliani explains why Trump can't do a real blind trust: It 'would basically put his children out of work'

    Good-government types were already crying foul over Donald Trump's intention to put his children in charge of his business during his presidency. And now that those same children are on Trump's transition team, these groups are even more concerned about conflicts of interest.

    Trump loyalist Rudolph Giuliani seemed to acknowledge in a CNN interview Sunday that it wasn't an ideal set-up. But then he offered a remarkable defense. "He would basically put his children out of work if - and they'd have to go start a whole new business, and that would set up the whole - set up new problems," Giuliani said on "State of the Union."

    Giuliani added: "It's kind of unrealistic to say you're going to take the business away from the three people who are running it and give it to some independent person. And remember, they can't work in the government because of the government rule against nepotism. So you would be putting them out of work."

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Clinton may have lost, but women still won

    There will be the temptation to see Hillary Clinton's defeat as evidence that a woman can't rise to the top. If we're not careful, the dominant gender will whisper in the backroom, let's not nominate one of them again.

    But it will happen, nonetheless -- and thanks to Clinton. Just seeing her win her party's nomination and triumph in three debates has ingrained the idea that a female president is inevitable. Multiple female candidates will stand upon Clinton's shoulders as she stood on others'. In her memoir "Hard Choices," she wrote that the venerable Maine Sen. Margaret Chase Smith's challenge to Barry Goldwater for her party's nomination in 1964 inspired her to run for class president. They both lost and they both soldiered on.

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