Day 946 – “The Narcissist’s Loop”

I love to write.  But there are many nights I hate being an activist and writing this blog.  Like so many of you, I was horrified and sickened in November of 2016 and had to do something to resist the presidency of a man I knew, long before he ran for president, was a sleazebag and a liar and a con-artist and a phony.  Little did I know his election would turn into a three-going-on-four-year personal detour.  Aside from the many hours spent meeting with other activists, conference-calling, organizing, strategizing, promoting, photo-shopping, posting, and protesting, I try to write this blog every night.  Decent writing takes time and focus (I hope this blog is at least decently written) and thus the blog has robbed significant energy and time from my other writing projects, as well as my life.  I stick with it because it lets me vent the daily anxiety and horror caused by the actions of the Trump regime, and because I hope the blog keeps a few other people in our district engaged, motivated, and aware of what it will take to beat Trump.  But even being a news junkie, it’s not easy to come up with a new angle every day while avoiding repetition and keeping the topics fresh.  And it’s not easy to hold my attention on such a toxic and nauseating administration headed by such a vile and malignant man.  There are times I feel like my efforts are futile and I’m the only one whose life has been so distorted by the Trump debacle.

But then I run across articles like “Trump’s Tax on the National Psyche” by Matt Ford in the New Republic, and I feel better.  It’s subtitle:

The corruption and incompetence of this administration has led to a grotesque theft of Americans’ precious time and energy.

Ford goes on to write:

One poll taken shortly after Trump became president found that nearly six in ten Americans thought 2017 was the lowest point in living American memory, surpassing the Vietnam War and the September 11, 2001 attacks. Nearly three-quarters of Democrats said they were stressed about the nation’s future, a view shared by clear majorities of Republicans and independents as well.

Link here:

Ford’s article was referenced in another article on the same topic by Dahlia Lithwick in Slate entitled “The Demoralizing Reality of Life Under Trump: Every day is the same, but still awful.”  She writes this about the Trump presidency:

The actual psychic toll on our mental health is crippling. The lost sleep, the grinding anxiety, the escalating fears don’t just represent squandered time. They start to chip away at your health and at your soul. The healthy response would be to tune it out altogether, but since actual people are actually suffering the brutal consequences, we cannot. And so here we are back in the narcissist’s loop, fueling his need to be at the center because, well, there he is at the center.

She goes on to conclude that:

…the real jeopardy of authoritarianism starts with fatigue. Moral seriousness seems to require being aware enough of the chaos everywhere that you accept being punched in the mouth with it every day.

Link here:

It’s at least consoling that there are many other people out there distressed and distracted by this grotesque administration.  It’s the ongoing anxiety that we have to make some sort of peace with in order to continue resisting Trump.  Because if he gets another term, all bets are off.  Who knows how much lower our nation will sink.  Hell, it’s not even certain that we can recover from Trump’s first four years, assuming we can vote him out and actually get him to step down.  But we have to try.  We owe it to the generations before us that have sacrificed so much, and we owe it to the generations to come whose lives will be much diminished if we fail.  Just know that if the Trump presidency makes you feel like shit, you’re not alone.

Keep resisting and keep working to “vote his ass out of office.”

Day 945 – Maximum Cruelty

Yesterday was just another typical day of Trump insanity.  Trump tweeted quotes from a lunatic superfan who described him as “the second coming of God”.  Trump went on to accuse Jews who vote for Democrats of being either ignorant or disloyal to Israel–an antisemitic trope historically used to otherize citizens who happen to be Jewish.  His administration also unveiled a plan to override the law on immigrant detentions, planning to ignore the requirement of a twenty-day maximum detention in favor or indefinite detention–a concept our nation has, since its founding, vehemently rejected. The Trump regime under shadow-president Stephen Miller is continuing its war on immigration because Miller believes the Trump cult hates immigrants and desires that immigrants be treated with disdain and maximum cruelty.

Finally, Trump had a spat with the Danish Prime Minister, cancelling a trip to Denmark because the PM described Trump’s desire to buy Greenland as absurd.  Thomas Wright of the Brookings Institution published an opinion piece in The Atlantic about this Denmark debacle that put the situation in proper perspective.  We must acknowledge that Trump’s established pattern is clear and unambiguous—he wants to reject our allies and work alongside dictators and authoritarians.

The cancellation of Trump’s visit to Denmark is part of a disturbing pattern. Trump regularly beats up on and abuses America’s closest democratic allies while being sycophantic to autocrats.

Full link here:

Trump’s betrayal of our alliances and values–hard-won through countless wars and the sacrifice of millions–is crystal clear.  Trump would rather belong to a nefarious fraternity of brutal strongmen, which gives him an inflated sense of his own importance and power, than preserve beneficial, long-standing alliances that keep our republic safe and secure.  And his followers don’t care because he is the first powerful public figure to give them permission to hate and discriminate without shame.

But his cult isn’t big enough to elect him to a second term.  He will need to attract independents and he will also need a low Democratic turnout.  Thus far, Democrats are fired up and independents are moving away from Trump.  Just yesterday a new CNN poll showed his approval rating slipped to 40% from 43%, where it had been for months.  The shaky economy was cited as part of the reason, and his brutal trade policies have also been getting a lot of negative press recently, with disgruntled farmers taking to the airwaves to complain that Trump’s tariffs are bankrupting them.  At this rate, only the most hard-core Trump cultists will be left in his camp by the 2020 election.

Our job is to get liberals, progressives and Democrats to the polls.  Keep resisting Trump and keep working to “vote his ass out of office.”

Day 944 – Base Turnout is Everything

When reviewing the election of Trump in 2016 a lot of people are tempted to think of Trump’s victory in terms of magic, as if he had some secret powerful mojo that defied the polls and propelled him to the presidency.  And they project that magic onto the 2020 election and worry that Democrats won’t be able to stop him.  But this view ignores the facts.  Trump won four swing states by almost impossibly slim margins.  And as data demonstrated, Democratic turnout in those states was depressed for three reasons.  One, many Democrats weren’t enthusiastic about voting for Hillary Clinton and, two, James Comey’s announcement of more email investigation further depressed turnout for Clinton and, three, a large and coordinated effort to dampen Democratic turnout was unleashed on social media by Russia and Russia’s unwitting helpers.

The 2018 midterms provided a ton of new data and insight about voting trends and possibilities for the 2020 election.  Only one election analyst predicted the 2018 outcome with near perfection and she has a lot to say about the coming 2020 election. Her name is Rachel Bitecofer and she claims that many of the 2016 and 2018 election theories pushed by political pundits are wrong.  She makes a very compelling case.  One of the things she argues is that the 2018 midterm Democratic wave didn’t pull Trump voters or conservative independents back to the Democratic side.  Instead, liberal independents who didn’t necessarily vote in 2016 turned out big for the Democrats in 2018.  In other words, the wave included many people who were freaked out by Trump and came off the sidelines to vote.  Her modeling has led her to the conclusion that the urge of Democrats to appeal to moderates in the face of Trump’s presidency is the wrong path.  Instead, she urges the Democrats to embrace their most bold and progressive members.  These were the members who in 2018 made the greatest inroads in Red States, like Beto in Texas and Abrams in Georgia, while moderate Democrats in Red States often lost their races in 2018.  Bitecofer concludes from the data that there are few people who voted for Trump who can be “converted” but there are many disaffected progressive people who didn’t vote at all who can be enlisted.  In other words, the Democrats should try to turn out their like-minded voters rather than try to placate voters who no longer exist.

Here’s a quote from an interview of Bitecofer in Salon:

“…it was this giant turnout of core constituencies, that either are Democrats or favor Democrats — they’re independents who favor Democrats — and they have a huge turnout explosion. So it’s not the same pool of voters changing their minds and voting Democrat after voting Republican because of the issue of health care. It’s a whole different pool of voters. They might have many reasons that they cite, and probably this is not the reason they would cite. But what made them enraged and show up is Trump Inc., the negative partisanship. I don’t know why Nancy Pelosi, the DCCC or many of these moderate members are convinced that moderate Republicans crossed over and voted for them. I have the data for some of these districts and the data tells a very different, very clear story: If Republicans voted in huge numbers, they voted for Republicans.”

Here’s the link to the article–it’s a fascinating and worthwhile discussion:

And here’s a link to her latest analysis and prediction for the 2020 election:

Her analysis breaks through the “Donald Trump is magic” myth and shows that his campaign is fighting against some very strong demographic trends and cultural forces.  This is not to say we don’t have a long, difficult fight on our hands to vote him out, but we need to know that it’s entirely possible and will depend on the turnout among our own progressive base that we’re able to generate.  It’s not magic.  It’s hard work.

Keep resisting Trump and keep working to “vote his ass out of office.”

Day 943 – Desperate Tweetstorm

Trump says or does something horrible, scandalous or vile every single day.  It’s how he stays at the center of the media shit-storm he himself creates.  He’s the embodiment of the notion that there’s no such thing as “bad” press.  But in his case, it’s all bad, and yesterday was no exception.  Trump started the day with another spectacularly unhinged and desperate tweetstorm, blathering about Anthony Scaramucci, berating the Federal Reserve Board, and accusing Google of somehow altering the 2016 election vote totals. Twitter exploded in ridicule, with many commenting that they couldn’t even fathom what Trump was talking about.  But Hillary Clinton jumped into the fray and smacked Trump down in epic style:

Image may contain: 1 person, text

What got under Trump’s skin?  Perhaps it was the shaky economy or sagging poll numbers.  Or perhaps he was trying to distract from the empty seats at his New Hampshire Klan rally, or perhaps he was trying to take the focus off of his flip-flop on universal background checks.

Regardless, none of this insanity had any effect on Trump supporters.  The unhinged ranting at his Klan rallies, the broken promises on the border wall and healthcare and drug costs, the disastrous tariffs that have bankrupted farmers–none of this matters to his cult of followers.  Why?  Because they are, in fact, a cult in the established and nefarious tradition of authoritarian strong men and fascists.  This is a good time to revisit one of the most profound and useful articles written about Trump supporters, published at the end of 2018 by Alexander Hurst in The New Republic entitled “Escape From the Trump Cult.”  Hurst draws from decades of study of cults and authoritarian regimes around the world:

Trump sold his believers an engrossing tale of “American carnage” that he alone could fix, then isolated them in a media universe where reality exists only through Trump-tinted glasses, attacking all other sources of information as “fake news.” In the most polarized media landscape in the wealthy world, Republicans place their trust almost solely in Fox News, seeing nearly all other outlets as biased. In that context, the effect of a president who lies an average of ten times a day is the total blurring of fact and fiction, reality and myth, trust and cynicism.

What is their goal?

The more defections they can get from voters that would otherwise side with the illiberal president, the better. If the opposition can get the other side to split, they win.”

So how do we deal with these cult members?

When it comes to helping individuals leave cult-like groups, many sociologists agree: Positive social factors are more effective than negative sanctions. Lalich counsels using dialogue to ask questions and reinforce doubts, rather than “to harp” or criticize. Testimonials from former cult members can be particularly helpful in fueling disillusionment, she says.

This statement confirms why guys like Scaramucci and former white supremacists are so valuable. They were once insiders whose legitimacy isn’t so easily dismissed by cult members.  They aren’t just another coastal lib–they have enough credibility to pierce the bubble of delusion that cults require.

If you haven’t, it’s a must-read.  Here’s a link:

At some point–hopefully in January of 2021–we’re going to toss Trump into the ashcan of history.  But his supporters will still be out there.  As angry as we will rightfully be at them, and as much damage as their support of Trump has caused, we demonize and marginalize them at out peril.  They already feel frightened and adrift in a culture that is changing around them.  We have to find points of agreement and shared aspiration or we risk further polarization–which will always lead to upheaval, authoritarianism, and violence. We can’t “otherize” them the way they and Trump are otherizing us now.  It’s a recipe for disaster.  Meanwhile, we can’t fracture and split apart.  As Hurst’s article points out, the side that splits apart first will lose.

In case you’re interested, Congressman Delgado is holding another town hall event at 6:30pm tonight, August 20th, in Broome County.  Here’s a link to details:

Keep resisting Trump and keep working to “vote his ass out of office.”



Day 942 – Demote Moscow Mitch

To state the obvious, the main goal of the 2020 election will be to rid the White House of the Trump infection.  Trump is a singularly damaging and toxic force in our culture and a second Trump term would be even more catastrophic to our democracy and our republic than his first term.  But our secondary goal should surely be to flip the Senate.

“Moscow Mitch” McConnell has also been a disaster for our Democracy.  At every turn he has cheapened the Senate and sold its traditions down the river in exchange for political power and short term gain.  After Barack Obama was elected president and the GOP took control of the Senate in the 2010 midterm election, it was Leader McConnell who swore to block Obama any way he could.  And it was McConnell who stole a priceless Supreme Court seat from president Obama, defiling Senate protocol, tradition and decorum in the process.  McConnell continues to block all progressive legislation passed by the House, earning his self-affirmed nickname of “grim reaper” and his Senate the label of “legislative graveyard.”

In the Washington Post yesterday E. J. Dionne detailed the obstacles Democrats will need to overcome to take control of the Senate:

If Democrats won the White House, they would need a net three-seat gain to control the Senate with the vote of a Democratic vice president. It’s difficult to imagine this happening without the defeat of the three most vulnerable Republican incumbents, Gardner and Sens. Susan Collins (R-Maine) and Martha McSally (R-Ariz.).

Link to full article:

There are a number of things we can do as activists to help in the effort to flip the Senate–even though we don’t live in a swing state.  First, we can give money to Democrats running for the Senate in closely contested races.  Second, we can write postcards to Democratic voters in swing states urging them to go to the polls.  Third, we can send text messages to voters in swing states urging them to go to the polls, usually in conjunction with a group like Swing Left.  Fourth, we can drive to the nearest swing state and help with door-knocking or voter registration or yard signs (think Maine, to oust Susan Collins).  Fifth, we can give money to umbrella organizations like the DSCC or Swing Left.  Sixth, we can use social media to expose the truth about the horrible record of incumbent Republicans and dampen the enthusiasm of Republican voters.  And there are surely more things we can do.

If we elect a Democratic president but don’t flip the Senate, you can bet that Moscow Mitch will continue to block any progress, reject any legislation from the House, and hold up all judicial nominations like he did so shamelessly and destructively during the Obama presidency.  We can certainly repair much of the damage and restore many of the protections jettisoned under Trump, but we won’t be able to make the big changes we need to make on climate, health care, prescription drugs and gun control with Moscow Mitch in the way.

Keep resisting and keep working to “vote his ass out of office.”

Day 941 – Empty Seats, Empty Rhetoric

Apparently there are at least three Republican challengers for Antonio Delgado’s House seat thus far in NY 19.  Two of the challengers probably didn’t get much coverage because they appear to be, well, on the fringe.  They are Ola Hawatmeh and Mike Roth.  The third and most recent is Anthony German.  They were all just profiled in Chronogram, and here is a link to the article:

Hawatmeh and Roth both appear to be extreme-right candidates who spew a lot of empty rhetoric.  It’s harder to know just how extreme German is but we will find out soon enough.  A Republican primary will provide a lot of scrutiny and it will give the Republicans plenty of room to pick each other apart and spend some money before a nominee is chosen, which will work in Delgado’s favor, but we will also need to keep Delgado in the spotlight as much as possible during the primary process, which can tend to overshadow the incumbent.

Congressman Delgado is holding another town hall event at 6:30pm on Tuesday, August 20th, in Broome County, in case you are interested.  He’s doing a great job of spending time in the counties that have traditionally been overlooked and under-served and listening to their concerns.  Here’s a link to details:

Lunatic Congressman Steve King of Iowa, who recently mused that civilization would not exist but for rape and incest, held a town hall this weekend in Iowa and two people showed up–probably reporters.  It was laughable, and it was a reminder of the rally that Trump held two days ago in New Hampshire, where he claimed to have broken attendance records even though pictures were circling on social media showing plenty of empty seats in the balcony.  These episodes are propelling the Twitter hashtag “#EmptySeatMAGATour” to the top of the trending list as resistors attack one of Trump’s most sensitive topics–crowd size.  Small hands, small crowds?

Keep resisting and keep working to “vote his ass out of office.”

Day 940 – Trump Fatigue?

A slew of polls were released this week and none of them were good news for Trump.  In head-to-head matchups with any of the top Democratic primary candidates he consistently garnered only 38 to 39% support, which is pretty dismal.  And this has been his exact support level in past polls, too.  Pundits were remarking that his base of support is strong and consistent but not enough to carry him to victory–though we have yet to see robust polling in the key battleground states where the margins will really matter.  It’s also wise to assume that some voters won’t admit to pollsters that they are planning on voting for Trump, perhaps as a strategy, or out of shame.  But these poll numbers were encouraging.

Political observers seem to be increasingly sensing that the public is suffering from Trump fatigue–and why wouldn’t we be?  Even Republicans are growing tired of all the drama and discord.  Trump’s presidency has been an all-out, non-stop assault on our norms and institutions; a string of outrageous scandals and acts of criminality; and a torrent of smears and vile statements that would have brought down any other president.  His Klan rallies have become whine-a-thons delivered in an aggrieved tone so caustic they are impossible for any non-cultist to suffer through.  The moment I hear his screeching, ridiculous voice I have to change the channel.

But eventually activists will need to redouble their efforts.  The Resistance kicked into full gear in the beginning of 2017 and activists threw themselves into organizing and action, in part simply as an outlet for the horror and anxiety they suffered under a lying, vengeful, destructive con-man in the White House.  A lot of effort went into registering voters, door knocking and getting voters to the polls, and in 2018 our efforts paid off in the Midterms.  Since then, the Resistance has taken something of a collective breather, which we needed.  We can’t be effective activists if we are overextended or burned out.  So we need to save our strength until the time is right to re-enter the fray because the most important fights are still ahead of us.

The two most significant moments will arrive in mid-2020: when the Republicans pick a NY-19 nominee in June to run against Delgado (assuming there will be a Republican primary), and when the Democratic party picks a presidential nominee in July.  We will have to be fully mobilized and engaged before the first of these primaries takes place, so keep the time-frame in mind. Meanwhile, there are important local elections happening this Fall that we ignore at our peril.  If the Trump disaster has taught us anything, it’s that local elections really matter.  School boards and town supervisors and district attorneys and mayors all have a big impact on the quality of life and the priorities in our communities.  So once the summer ends, please tune into your local candidates and see if you can do anything to help them win. 

Keep resisting and keep working to “vote his ass out of office.”