Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Elections and consequences ... like in 1933

Every election is a consequential one.  Not merely this recent one.

The elections of 2000, which was the first one in which many of us learnt about popular vote results not aligning with the eventual selection of the president, was consequential.  Had Al Gore been in the White House in September 2001, the US might never have invaded Iraq, and the eventual chaos that we see today all over the Middle East might never have been created.  We might never have set up the torture regime and the surveillance state.

In 2004, John Kerry seemed to have a real chance at unseating the disastrous Bush and he was "Swift-boated" into defeat.  Had Kerry won, John Roberts would not have been nominated to the Supreme Court.

The GOP was not really in the running in the elections in 2008, but almost pulled one off in 2012.  That near-loss was also why trump referred to Mitt Romney as a loser and a choker who could not close the deal.

The consequences are not merely at those highest seats of power.  But, this time is different.  The consequences are being felt immediately in all kinds of corners of the country, including college campuses.

The neo-nazi white supremacist group wants to get to colleges.
[Richard] Spencer talked of the movement’s next target: colleges. He plans to speak at Texas A&M and the University of Michigan in the coming weeks and is convinced that the alt-right will appeal to students weary of politically correct campus cultures.
“I think there’s going to be a huge crowd,” he said. “The world is changing.”
He pulled his phone from his pocket. Giddy, he played a video taken at Michigan, where more than 100 students were filmed chanting “No alt-right! No KKK! No racist USA!”
He played it again.
“We’re getting under their skin,” he said. “I take a sadistic pleasure in that.”
What do Spencer's larger goals include?  An all-white country. 
“We need an ethno-state,” he said in a 2013 speech, “so that our people can ‘come home again,’ can live amongst family and feel safe and secure.”
The president-elect's chief strategist, steve bannon, provided the publishing platform for groups like spencer's.  Neo-nazi white supremacy people will soon be in the Oval Office, and parading on college campuses.

Meanwhile, there is another kind of a pressure being applied: A list of college professors who are too liberal for the hard right that calls them "anti-American":
So how does it feel to be in the cross hairs of Professor Watchlist? "It would’ve been humorous a few months ago," said Greg Hampikian, a professor of biology at Boise State University, in Idaho. "It’s not funny now."
To Mr. Hampikian, the list represents a strain of illiberal thinking that’s currently accumulating power. He was named to the list, which he called "absurd," for writing a satirical op-ed about his state’s campus-carry law for The New York Times in which he asked state lawmakers when he could shoot his students.
"They are putting normal people on the list," he said. "That’s what’s frightening. That should wake people up."  
It is beginning to escalate.  Rebecca Schuman is one of the higher education columnists whose columns I read regularly.  She is an adjunct faculty as well.  One of her tweets says it all (after her column that criticized the watch list):
Hey, only a few months ago, during the campaigns, the president-elect used language that was only a shade better than this, right?  When that kind of a language did not prevent him from being elected, and in fact helped him win votes, then we should expect such behavior to be normalized, right?

And why 1933 in the subject line?  The white supremacist group's leader told his people:
“Let’s party like it’s 1933,” he declared, referencing the year Hitler was appointed Germany’s chancellor and the Nazis embarked on the creation of their own ethno-state.
Elections have consequences.


Ramesh said...

Of course elections have consequences, although I am at a loss why you are hinting that John Roberts' appointment was a disastrous consequence.

But, in this case, I think you are exaggerating the consequences. Yes, some ugly fanatics are raising their heads. But your country cannot just be upended by nutcases, even if one of them is in the Oval Office. I have long argued that your system makes doing anything very difficult - either harm or good. Especially in the highly partisan environment that prevails these days. Your President is more likely to make a lot of noise and achieve very little.

Sriram Khé said...

"you are exaggerating the consequences"
The very example of open--not hooded, not clandestine--ant-Semitism and neo-Nazi meetings and behavior is unprecedented in recent years. A consequence of this election alone.

"your system makes doing anything very difficult - either harm or good. Especially in the highly partisan environment that prevails these days"
Reagan got a lot done despite the GOP not being in control of Congress.
Clinton got a lot done despite the Dems not always in control of Congress.
W got a lot more done despite the Dem opposition.
The partisan gridlock plagued Obama's presidency from the time he took office. Recall the GOP Senate leader's statement after Obama's election: He declared that their goal was to make sure Obama was a one-term president. The goal was not about policies that would be good for the country. It was eight years of saying only no to Obama and the Dems.
Now, the GOP has a unified government. trump in the Oval Office. And GOP in control of both chambers of Congress. Dems lack #s to even attempt blocking. So, they can--and will--achieve a lot. It will be as efficient a machine as China's one-party government is.

Yes, Roberts is a disaster. He was/is as partisan as Clarence Thomas and Scalia was. It is only the last two years he started acting slightly differently, which the commentators note as Roberts understanding that the open partisanship at SCOTUS under his leadership does not bode well for democracy and the respect for the rule of the law.

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