29 May 2016

Race, Sex, Politics and Gambling

White males are Donald Trump's base. No other group supports him As an old white male who is friends with many similarly old white males, I can tell you that most of us never stop to question whether we'd have similar levels of income and wealth if we were female or a minority. There seems to be a simple belief among us that if "we" were suddenly made black or Hispanic or female - or even, say, an Hispanic female - that we would do just as well, in spite of all the evidence to the contrary. It's tough to imagine ourselves as the other.


This is the time of the election cycle when conversations and Facebook posts are cluttered with cries of dismay about how we get such poor choices for our elections, as if it reveals some shortcoming in our candidates. In fact, this lament reveals a shortcoming among our voters. In a nation of 300 million people who are growing more diverse every year, there simply is no way that the candidate who emerges from the primaries will be someone everyone is happy with.
Imagine that the only time you could hear music is in public places and we had to vote for the music we'd listen to over the next four years. You might love rock but even so you'd feel badly about choosing that to the exclusion of jazz or even the easy listening you campaign against. We have such diverse tastes in music that we'd never pretend to agree to one style of music even for ourselves, much less everyone. We'd finally agree on Frank Sinatra (again) or Bach (again) but none of us would be very happy about it.
There are two problems. One is that none of us are always conservative or liberal or federalists or states-rights people. The other is that whoever we elect will have to find a way to represent the uneducated, rural voter in Kentucky as well as the over-educated, urban voter in San Francisco. This guarantees that whoever wins 51% of the votes of this country will leave about 85% of voters feeling like the winner doesn't really represent them.
In a nation of 300 million, you can't get it your way. You are different from everyone else and so are they. Everyone feels like an outsider, so at least you have that in common with everyone else. You're not one in a million. You're one in three hundred million.


As the father of an adult woman, I have a new perspective on feminism. From one angle it is very simple. It's true that women are sexual beings who love romance and sex and babies. Just like men. But it's also true that men get to be who they are outside of that. Men get to be accountants or mechanics or project managers without their sexuality ever being an issue. One simple take on feminism is that women have exactly the same deal, getting to be a person who is only incidentally sexual or female. It's simply about being a person first.


The Republican Party is making its biggest gamble ever. The party is showing its refusal to support evolution by devolving from Lincoln to Eisenhower to Reagan to Bush to Trump. More than that, most of the party has decided to support Donald Trump. There is so much to say about this but I'll simply say this: when you've decided that religious freedom is negotiable, you've thrown in the towel on any claim of having principles. Trump has declared clearly that he wants to ban Muslims, effectively declaring his desire to end religious freedom. It would be incredibly comical to think that someone who doesn't know the difference between "second Corinthians," and "two Corinthians" (which sounds like the setup to a joke) would take it upon himself to decide which religions should be allowed. Would be if it weren't for the fact that Republicans actually support this candidate.
Republicans know that if they don't support Donald, they're handing the presidency to the Democrats and - quite possibly - the Senate as well. But the big gamble is that if they support him, they could still lose the presidency and then tar their reputation completely with millennials and most anyone under 60. Of course given that so many of them are old, the prospect of leaving behind an obsolete party apparently worries them about as much as leaving behind melting ice caps.

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