by Jay Johansen | Nov 26, 2016
Nov 26, 2016. I'm writing this shortly after Donald Trump won the 2016 election. He is in the process of selecting the people to make up his administration.
One thing that gives me hope for the future is that conservatives seem to have learned at least one important lesson from this past election, while liberals have not.
Look at how the process of appointing people to positions in Mr Trump's administration is going. Liberals are responding to his appointments the same way they always respond to conservative appointments. See especially their reaction to Mr Bannon's appointment as White House strategist. They accuse the appointee of being a racist, a sexist, a homophobe, and a Nazi. They demand that he be fired and that other conservatives denounce him.
Of course we've seen this scenario played out many times in the past. Political debate in this country for the past 20-plus years tends to go like this:
Conservative: I think we should [for example] require people to show an ID to vote, to make it more difficult for anyone to vote twice. Every vote should have the same weight. If one person votes twice, that dilutes the value of a voter who follows the rules and only votes once.
Liberal: That's racist!
Conservative: I'm sorry! I didn't mean to say something racist! Please, what do I have to do to prove I'm not a racist? I'll do anything, just name it!
Or if he refuses to grovel and beg forgiveness -- or often even if he does -- the liberals then demand that other conservatives denounce him as a racist. And often, other conservatives do. A conservative says something totally reasonable and having nothing to do with race, liberals call it racist, and promptly other conservatives run and hide, distance themselves from this person, call for him to lose his job and generally be treated as a pariah.
But ... that doesn't seem to be happenning this time. Liberals describe at least half of Trump's appointees as racists/sexists/homophobes, and Trump simply ignores them. He doesn't rescind the apponitments. He doesn't distance himself from these people. He doesn't even seem to be bothering to respond to the absurd liberal attacks. He just ignores them.
And more amazing still, other Republicans are also standing fast. Well, "standing fast" may be an exagerration. Many of them are so used to being cowardly wimps that they are very tentative. But, maybe I've missed it, but I haven't seen one leading Republican demand that Trump withdraw an appointment because liberals said the appointee was a racist. There is certainly no large outcry from Republicans like we've seen in the past. Remember Trent Lott? Sam Fox? Clarence Thomas? Robert Bork? Todd Akin?
In the past, liberals have consistently been able to derail a conservative appointment by yelling "Racist! Sexist! Homophobe!" and conservatives have promptly run for cover. They didn't need to present serious arguments against the appointee. Name-calling was sufficient.
But now, the rules appear to have changed. Name-calling does not instantly derail a qualified appointee! During the campaign, the Democrats called Trump every name in the book, and he still won. It appears that large numbers of voters aren't falling for it any more. Maybe the voters were smart enough that they never did fall for it, but Republican office-holders routinely did. But no more. The rules have changed. The Republicans have learned their lesson.
But the Democrats have not learned anything. When they call an appointee "racist" and it doesn't work, they try shouting louder. They appear to be convinced that if shouting "racist" doesn't stop the Republicans, the problem must be that no one heard them. They try saying it again. Repeating it on different media outlets. They try using different insults: "white nationalist" and "alt-right" and whatever other new words for "racist" they can think of. What they don't do is try something different. When this tactic doesn't work, they are not trying a different tactic. They can't accept that it's not working. They just try the same failed tactic again and again.
They're like a highly skilled swordsman used to winning every duel, who can't grasp that the invention of gunpowder makes his skill obsolete. Instead of learning to fire a gun, they are convinced that the secret to victory is to get a better sword.
I'm praying they don't learn anything. Let them keep trying a tactic that doesn't work any more, over and over.
(As I write this, I have this fear that tomorrow Trump will announce that he's withdrawing a nomination because he has learned that his appointee is a racist/sexist/homophobe. I hope he doesn't prove me wrong.)
© 2016 by Jay Johansen
Tammy Nov 30, 2016
Hello, Mr. Johansen I enjoyed your article on, "Have Republicans Learned a Lesson?" I really would like to know your thoughts on the efforts on trying to change the Electoral College vote and still trying to stop Trump from becoming President? This is a statement from,,Washington (CNN)Hillary Clinton's campaign said Saturday it will take part in efforts to push for recounts in several key states, joining with Green Party candidate Jill Stein.
Jay Johansen Nov 30, 2016
Tammy: Trump won with 306 votes to 232. Stein is calling for recounts in Wisconsin - 10 votes, Michigan - 16 votes, and Pennsylvania - 20 votes. If a recount changed the vote in any one of these states, Trump would still win. If they changed the outcome in two, Trump would still win. A recount would have to change the outcome of all 3 states. Trump won Wisconsin by 24,000 votes, Michigan by 11,000, and Pennsylvania by 71,000. The recount in Wisconsin a few years ago changed the totals by 300 votes, which I think is typical of what you get from a recount. The probability of a recount flipping all three states is VERY remote. Frankly, if it did, I think the Republicans would have grounds to say there was massive fraud. Stein missed the legal deadline to call for a recount in Pennsylvania, so a recount there would not only be unlikely to change the results, but would be illegal. If anything comes of this, it will be a major Constitutional crisis for the US.
Tammy Dec 1, 2016
Thanks for setting my mind at ease, I feel like they, (Liberal, Dems, Or ????) or trying desperately to find anyway to kick Trump to the curb. Trump has already gotten 2 companies I believe to stay in the U.S.,they,(CNN,Politico),report our economy is on the rise,(but for how long?) the dow has seen some impressive closings they have not seen in a long time. Again this could all change in a blink of a eye. The point, the economy, stock market, job not leaving, and maybe just a little ray of hope that things might really turn around. No president elect or president had a impact on the economy, the dollar or investments like that in 8 years or better. So I am hopeful, yes it will have its ups and downs but I am impressed that Trump has did more for our economy and he has not even taken his oath of office yet. Thanks for answering my question on recount.