Documentation. Witnesses. Facts. Truth. That's what they're afraid of.

Friday, November 18, 2016

The Handoff

I have a number of things I'm planning to post about, but I wanted to interrupt the stream to share this bittersweet, though foreboding piece from the New Yorker entitled "Obama Reckons with a Trump Presidency."

David Remnick spent time with Obama in the days leading up to Election Day, as well as on Election Day, and then followed Obama post-election, including a lengthy sit-down interview. An excerpt:

The new media ecosystem “means everything is true and nothing is true,” Obama told me later. “An explanation of climate change from a Nobel Prize-winning physicist looks exactly the same on your Facebook page as the denial of climate change by somebody on the Koch brothers’ payroll. And the capacity to disseminate misinformation, wild conspiracy theories, to paint the opposition in wildly negative light without any rebuttal—that has accelerated in ways that much more sharply polarize the electorate and make it very difficult to have a common conversation.” 
That marked a decisive change from previous political eras, he maintained. “Ideally, in a democracy, everybody would agree that climate change is the consequence of man-made behavior, because that’s what ninety-nine per cent of scientists tell us,” he said. “And then we would have a debate about how to fix it. That’s how, in the seventies, eighties, and nineties, you had Republicans supporting the Clean Air Act and you had a market-based fix for acid rain rather than a command-and-control approach. So you’d argue about means, but there was a baseline of facts that we could all work off of. And now we just don’t have that.”
The man is brilliant, and we were lucky to have him as President. We would have been even luckier to be able to have Hillary Clinton add to Obama's legacy. In a moment of anger, sorrow, and frustration, I wrote the following shortly after Black Tuesday:
And while she could just say "f**k you all" and go retire to an island somewhere, I'm hoping that the truly heartfelt words that she just said on a conference call with all of us who volunteered indicate that she's going to continue to be a leader for us despite the fact that we may not even deserve it.
As I was reading Remnick's piece, I thought repeatedly about how we also may have not deserved Obama. By the end, I felt, "Wait, we voted for him, and he won, and that's the way it worked. We earned his Presidency. But the racists who voted Trump into office don't."

That's absurd, though, right? I would never advocate pandering to the multitudes of Trump voters, a majority of whom likely really are racist. We should not abandon minorities or other vulnerable populations for the sake of the comfort of the ignorant Trump voter. We can't meet them halfway. But doesn't everyone deserve the benefits of good leadership? It's been normal practice since the 1600s for certain classes of elites, starting with French slaveholders in what's now the American Deep South, to pit poor whites against blacks. We all know that. It's their ideological descendants, along with Russia (unbelievable but we know it's true!) who cultivate the messages that come out of places like this:

That day, as they travelled, Obama and Simas talked almost obsessively about an article in BuzzFeed that described how the Macedonian town of Veles had experienced a “digital gold rush” when a small group of young people there published more than a hundred pro-Trump Web sites, with hundreds of thousands of Facebook followers. The sites had names like and, and most of the posts were wildly sensationalist, recycled from American alt-right sites. If you read such sites, you learned that Pope Francis had endorsed Trump and that Clinton had actually encouraged Trump to run, because he “can’t be bought.”
Such messages are put through the right-wing media spin cycle and sent to tens of millions of people. Those who need to be held responsible are those who know better and are benefitting from keeping such voters in an alternate reality based on Alex Jones's fever dreams. I don't think I need to name them; frankly, given the incoming administration's attitude towards free speech, I'm not even sure I'm comfortable naming certain ones. Our media and writers who are feeling braver than I do tonight need to hold them to account. It's unlikely, at least among the mainstream media, so we'll have to figure something else out.

Bottom line, the vast majority of the world's inhabitants deserve the best leadership humanity can produce, and it starts with the Democratic Party figuring out how to get them back into office.

UPDATE (11/18/16 2:15 AM): My good friend Steve Leon has so much more to say on my last statement about the Democratic Party.

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