Tag: democrats

The American Brain

I try not to go on internet search-term rabbit holes anymore.  They typically lead me to finding out things I sometimes wish I didn’t know.  The general attitudes and ensuing voting habits of Americans are among these things.

Spend only a few intimate moments with Google and you’ll find that in most poll questions, a majority of Americans support things that our politicians don’t even consider.  The bold truth is that a majority of America is less capitalist than anyone chooses to think.

President Obama took the public option for national healthcare off the table immediately in forming the ACA, despite the fact that greater than 60% of Americans wanted it.  Significant majorities like that follow suit across a variety of issues; $15 minimum wage, heavy bank and financial regulation, increase in social programs (social security, medicaid, etc), increase in taxes on the rich (the rich being >$250,000/yr), closing corporate tax loopholes.

This might sound like a blog about Bernie Sanders.  It isn’t, though he certainly champions all those things.  What this is about is trying to understand how so many Americans vote not just against their interests, but how they’re voting against their own opinions.

The success of Sanders and Trump shouldn’t be surprising if you read history books.  When people lose faith in governmental establishments, populist candidates of all kinds can gain ground in elections.  Go look up Barry Goldwater and George McGovern if you don’t believe me.  No matter what you may think of this, it’s a simple eventuality in any reasonably democratic system.

With any examination, it’s never a single factor that causes a complex issue.  And I absolutely will not find every factor, as I am just an IT guy with spare time.

But here’s a stab at some reasons:

  • Single-issue voters; some people are just so passionate about a single issue that they will only vote for a candidate who reflects their view, all other issues be damned.  Not necessarily the smartest of approaches, but it’s still a common approach regardless..
  • A collective cognitive dissonance in regards to many political keywords, such as “socialist,” “poor,” “rich,” and “middle class.”
    • The s-word is still a bad word decades after the Red Scare and the peak of the Cold War, despite the fact that socialism doesn’t necessarily mean anything close to Communism.
    • “Poor” can mean much more than most people think; most probably feel that “Poor” is “making less than I do.”
    • “Rich” to some people means $100,000/year, when in reality the definition is $250,000/yr, an amount relatively few people make (slightly less than 3%).
    • “Middle Class” has taken on a ton of meanings.  It could mean the median household income (around $53,000/year).  It could mean the “middle quintile” of households (around $40k-$65k/year).  We could use President Obama’s and Hillary Clinton’s definition (less than $250k/year, which is absurd).  Or, we could use the United State Government’s definition (of which there is none, so nevermind).
  • While social media has certainly made enormous strides in connecting individuals with each other (and has created a net positive effect on society in my eyes, despite some disadvantages), this isn’t being used to boost debate in a positive way.  While it’s now easier to find opinions and philosophies divergent to your own, most people don’t seek that out; most seek out people who agree with them, and what ensues is an echo chamber of back-patting, and the galvanization of beliefs.  Even if you’re actually “right,” it doesn’t matter because that sort of thinking is antithetical to critical thought.  The first step towards society is thinking about people who aren’t you and who disagree with you.
  • American mainstream news appears to be rather corrupt.  I plan on performing an experiment to verify this (more on that someday), but it really seems like American news is purposefully baseless, disingenuous, and lacks needed context when reporting important things.

That’s just a few things off the top of my head, but I think those things carry a lot of blame.

Hopefully we can wake the fuck up and start thinking like smart people again someday.

I’m not holding my breath.


It’s everyone’s fault.

I’ve thought and written about the regressing, reductive nature of American social and political conversation a lot.  I think it’s one of the central problems with the country; not only are there many people who don’t vote at all, but there’s a huge lack of research and a large surplus of misinformation.  It’s too easy to get a framed talking point embedded in your brain, to be oblivious to either it’s insignificance in the grand scheme of things or to be straight-up lied to.  It’s a sound-bite society, and when it comes to the important shit, that’s real dangerous.

The recent developments of the Republican party (or what’s left of it) have highlighted this problem.  There have now been enough people who have actually cast votes for Donald Trump where he is the presumptive nominee for the GOP in this upcoming election.  But there’s so much more wrong with this, and it has little to do with Trump himself, in my eyes.

Trump’s not a unique snowflake.  There have been candidates like him before; full of bluster, positioning themselves as the “outsider,” keeping their message basic and easily digestable.  Most of the time, primary voters (who tend to be slightly more discerning than general election voters) will weed these types out long before they start winning states and delegates.  For better or worse, the system is set up that way for that reason; any political party will want guys they like as the main choices, and tenets such as tradition will keep many voters from straying too far off of the reservation.

What has made Trump different is the specific manner in which he is presenting his issues, and the issues he’s presenting in the first place.  He has fostered a political climate that is friendly to xenophobia and nativism.  He has taken the Overton Window and ripped open the side of it.  This has tapped into an anger and resentment that a portion of the GOP has hidden or obfuscated for a long time.  That, coupled with frustration with a black president and the ineffectual status quo of the GOP candidate pool, has allowed this orange monster to manifest itself.

It’s fun to say the GOP made this bed and now has to lie in it, but that’s too easy, and a pretty lazy argument.

It doesn’t take a long look at the other side of party lines to see practically the same thing happening.  There’s a few key differences which will likely make the outcome different, but it’s similarities are striking.

(Disclaimer: I am not comparing Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump; the only two things they have in common are that they’re not establishment candidates and they both share disdain for international trade agreements.  Past that, they’re almost completely opposite.)

Bernard Sanders is a similar anti-establishment candidate, but his campaign has been much more “standard” than Trump’s.  Sanders’ path to victory involved reshaping the Democratic party into one that will accept him.  Trump’s path to victory just involved smashing bugs until there were none left.

The primary difference in the outcomes of their prospective campaigns is Hillary Clinton.  Sanders will not likely win the nomination simply because his opponent is a far more accomplished, experienced, and prepared candidate than anyone Trump had to face.  If there were a long-time Republican stalwart running against Trump, his outcome would likely be far different; instead, he got to slice through a relatively cream-puff schedule of first-timers, has-beens, zealots, and John Kasich.  None of them come close to the name recognition, experience, or party loyalty than HRC.

There’s thousands of words to go around here regarding the possibilities of these races (at least of what’s left of them), but the important factor to take from it all is this: shit’s changing.  Shit’s changing a lot.  Both parties have had enough unrest that establishment-unfriendly candidates went very, very far in these primaries.  One looks like he’ll win, the other has come far closer than anyone would have ever guessed.

People are fucking angry, is what I’m trying to say.  They’re angry enough to leave the cocoons of party politics and find candidates that invigorate them.  They’re angry enough to refuse to look inside the box, because inside the box hasn’t worked for them well enough.  In some cases (the death of the middle class, trade agreements that are good for business/bad for people, questionable foreign policy decisions) these angry masses have a point.  In some cases (xenophobia, nativism) they don’t.  But none of it matters if they remain angry.

If they remain angry and impassioned, shit will change.  It simply has to.  There is nothing more terrifying to a government than a mobilization of angry masses, mainly because that’s what gets them killed/removed from power/otherwise marginalized.  This isn’t conjecture, this is history that has repeated itself forever.

And we can’t just point at the GOP and go “WOW THEY FUCKED THIS UP.”  This became fucked up.  Everyone is involved, everyone is responsible.  Anyone can say what they want about Trump’s racists or Sanders’ comrades, they are people who believe in their action and support for their candidate.  They didn’t wake up and go “fuck the police.”  They feel cheated, they feel abandoned, they feel unrepresented.

Yeah, I gave that word the italics, the bold, and the underline treatment.  That word should evoke the last time people in America felt unrepresented.  We threw a bunch of tea into the ocean, then there was a big war that created our country.

“The Establishment Has Failed”, or “What Happens When Government Stops Serving The Majority”

No matter what part of the political spectrum you lie on, there is a scary candidate on the other side.  Republicans are frightened of the potential of a “socialist” Sanders presidency (and that “socialist” label is being applied to Clinton as well, to a lesser extent).  Democrats are wringing their hands at the momentum Trump appears to have.

While Sanders and Trump are as close to diametrically opposed as can be philosophically, they do share one common trait: they are populist, non-establishment candidates.  Trump brings far more consternation among Republicans than Sanders does among Democrats, but neither are the preferred candidate of either party.  Trump threatens to splinter the GOP, while the DNC has more subtle fears about Sanders, mainly the concern that he is too far left and will turn off centrist voters (which are the key to winning anything).  Both of them are getting their funding from nontraditional sources (Sanders by a large volume of small donors and unions, Trump from his own coffers), and both are appealing on a populist platform.

This shouldn’t be surprising.  The success of both candidates points to a rising tide of dissatisfaction with either political establishment.  While it may be shocking to see this on both sides at this time, to me this was a situation that was inevitable.

This is what happens when the majority of the country (re: middle class and lower) have not been served properly by the government for decades.

This is what happens when both political establishments have sold out (pardon the cliched term) to corporate interests.

This is what happens when the decay of the majority is so apparent that people turn to relatively extreme candidates and their ideologies.

The most ardent Sanders or Trump supporters share that same thought process: the establishments have failed us, we must look elsewhere for help.  The perceived failures, possible solutions, “radical” ideologies, and the candidates themselves are obviously different depending on which side you ask, but the resentment and dissatisfaction is of the same stripe: Washington has failed the American people, and enough is enough.

For the Democratic party, this is less of a concern for a variety of reasons.  The current establishment candidate is a strong household name, and Sanders’ success hasn’t been enough to carry him to a clear victory (and most sober predictive measures don’t show him as a real threat anymore).  While Sanders’ success is still going to provide a lasting effect even without a win (in that his ideals are now exposed and talked about in political analysis), the fact that he simply won’t win doesn’t threaten the Democratic party to a great extent.  The largest consequence of his success is the fact that it’s very obvious that the younger generation of Democrats and liberals largely share his ideals, and this is something that needs to be accounted for as they get older.

The GOP, on the other hand, may be heading for a fracture of immense proportions.  Trump’s success, now some of it in hindsight, is rather obvious to trace.  He is tapping into a portion of conservatives that share his somewhat-to-obvious xenophobic proposals, and are also dissatisfied with recent establishment results.  This is exacerbated by the fact that Trump appears to have appeared at the “perfect” time, where there is no clear opponent.  There’s no one with the cache of Hillary Clinton on the Republican side to oppose Trump.  The GOP’s initial establishment candidate, Jeb Bush, has already been ousted from contention, and the newly-crowned Marco Rubio has yet to win a state.  Some would think lining up behind Ted Cruz would be the obvious play for the GOP, but they dislike him almost as much as they do Trump, so they chose to back Rubio.


Both sides have themselves to blame.  Income inequality has been rising steadily for over four decades now; it was only a matter of time before people took notice.  Corporations now exert their power over our government with impunity.  While I wouldn’t call this a “revolution” by any standard (you’d need a lot more voter turnout to consider that term), it may be the beginning of one.  It may be the first wave of a sustained storm that may reshape American politics as we know it.

Will the establishments adjust to this development?  Will our government realign their priorities to serve the majority once more?  Will all this culminate into a splintering of parties, resulting in a four-or-five-or-six-party system?

Well, who the hell knows.  Right now we have a self-labeled socialist and a reality TV star in our primaries.

A Quick Rundown of the Crazy People Running for President


Jeb Bush
A man with his pedigree and record cannot be trusted.  Look at that snarl.  He’ll probably steal again!

John Kasich
How can a person so good at Fruit Ninja find any time to govern effectively?  NEXT.

Ben Carson
He might be the most intelligent Republican candidate, but if he can’t hold in a fart without making a face like that, diplomatic trips are going to be a non-starter.

Carly Fiorina
Carly Fiorina
I know that we’ve recently broadened our horizons when concerning who’s able to get into the oval office, but this is way too far.  Say what you want about a woman in the White House, but someone with a giant doppelganger twin?  This is too far.  That might come in handy in diplomacy, but the White House is NOT big enough for a failed businesswoman and her colossal clone!

Marco Rubio
Old-guard Republicans are in love with him, but he looks more like an extra in a John Hughes movie.  Is this a face you can trust with the nation?  Or is it a face you can trust with helping the main character with a tricky relationship problem?  I think the answer is clear.

Ted Cruz
Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) Announces His Run For President At Liberty University
Cruz may be the leading alternative to front-runner Trump, but are we sure we can let this man kill again?  How could we let someone who feeds on the souls of the innocent into the White House?

Rand Paul
If there’s one thing I’ve learned in life, it’s that people with hair that looks like that are either middle managers in retail, or the villain of an Adam Sandler movie.  May as well elect Christopher MacDonald to office.

Donald Trump
Perfect.  You can’t beat the perfection that is Donald Trump…’s hair.  The hair is perfect, and would kill in the general election.  Too bad it’s attached to a despicable human being.

THE DEMOCRATS (thank Jebus there’s a lot less of them)

Hillary Clinton
The idea of a Hillary presidency has long been a goal of the Democratic party, but honestly, we can’t elect someone to a third term.  Seems unfair.

Bernie Sanders

Bernie Sanders
Aw, grandpa woke up after falling asleep watching Gilligan’s Island reruns.  Can you go get him some hot cocoa and a blanket?  And tell him to stop sleeping on the couch, it’s bad for his back!

Martin O’Malley
Martin O’Malley is a person, who happens to be running for president.  I think he’s real.  Citation needed.


They’ve already won.

This cycle’s presidential primaries are probably the most compelling since I’ve been alive.


bern = felt.

Bernie Sanders has changed the game.  While he still lags in many polls and projections, and he still claims the “socialist” label that will likely keep confidence in his ability to win a general election tepid, his impact on the race has been felt already.

In a way, Sanders has already won.  Even if he loses in the primary or the general election, his views and arguments have now been projected into the mainstream.  Hillary has been forced to entertain or outright co-opt a number of views that many progressives would have only dared to dream would be spoken of on television, radio, Twitter, and countless other media outlets.

Even if he doesn’t win, Bernie Sanders has made an indelible mark on American politics.


it’s gotta be the hair.

Donald Trump has changed the game.  While many pollsters and experts predict his eventual loss in the primaries, and he still claims the “straight-shooter” label that has served him well so far but will likely be his undoing, his impact on the race has been felt already.

In a way, Trump has already won.  Even if he loses in the primary or the general election, his views and arguments have now been projected into the mainstream.  Other Republicans have been forced to entertain or outright co-opt a number of views that many closeted racists and xenophobes would have only dared to dream would be spoken of on television, radio, Twitter, and countless other media outlets.

Even if he doesn’t win, Donald Trump has made an indelible mark on American politics.