Recently I’ve been disturbed by how flippantly the term “illegitimate” is getting tossed around by some Democrats and Trump opponents. Since Congressman John Lewis (D-GA) denounced Trump as illegitimate, many have criticized Trump’s petulant reply to Lewis while defending or echoing his remark. Some feel this is perfectly acceptable because the birthers on the right denied Obama’s legitimacy, claiming falsely that he was born in Kenya. But while the birther movement was absurd, we did not see mainstream Republican politicians explicitly deny the legitimacy of Obama–even Trump himself never used that term in any of his birther tweets. Legitimacy is a very serious political concept, and we should be extraordinarily selective about when we invoke it. Read the rest of this entry »
There are some people who feel that because Hillary Clinton won the popular vote, Donald Trump’s victory in the electoral college is illegitimate. This is a very poor argument–there are many much more interesting grounds for challenging Trump’s legitimacy than the electoral college.
In the previous post, we talked about the threats Trump poses and how the American left can meet some of those threats in the short-term. In this one I want to talk about opportunities, because there’s a case to be made that in the long-run a Trump presidency may be the best thing that ever happened to the left in America.
I’ve been disappointed in my side over the last 48 hours. On social media aggressive posts are circulating personally blaming and shaming Trump supporters for Trump’s victory and for criminal acts motivated by hate. Columnists are lashing out, reductively attributing Trump’s victory to racism and sexism alone on the basis of exit polls which show the same kinds of gaps in support among the races and the sexes that we’ve long seen in previousracesdatingallthewaybacktothe70sandbeyond. The last time women were more likely to vote for a Republican was 1960 (when they skewed slightly toward Nixon) and black voters haven’t gone for a Republican since before the New Deal. Too many people are doubling down on the same failed strategy that brought us to this pass. But just as importantly, by blaming the voters as individual agents, these people are contradicting fundamental left wing principles.
When they write about what you should do with your vote, most people pick one side and make a case. But there are a lot of arguments for different courses of action and I think it’s more interesting to lay them out and let you decide which one you think is strongest. These are the very best arguments I can think of for any political choice you might want to make on November 8, consistent with what I know about how policy and political institutions work–I’m not going to pretend that Gary Johnson’s tax plan makes sense or that climate change is a Chinese hoax.