Benjamin Studebaker

Yet Another Attempt to Make the World a Better Place by Writing Things

Tag: United States

Don’t Fear Trump–Fear the Next Republican President

I’ve long argued that the Democratic Party needs to use its time in the wilderness to remake itself so it can pursue and deliver real benefits for poor and working class voters and be seen to do so in its campaigns. This remaking necessarily requires a period of disunity and chaos within the Democratic Party–central questions about what being a Democrat is for need to be asked, and different people will and should give different answers. Those differences should be resolved in blood-soaked primaries. But I’m increasingly concerned it’s not going to happen–too many Democrats seem to believe that the party needs to unify at all costs to present the strongest possible electoral challenge to Trump in 2018 and 2020. This is a dangerous misreading of the historical situation. The biggest threat to the United States is not the Trump presidency–it is the next Republican presidency, or perhaps the one after that. Let me explain…

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The Democratic Party Can Still Be Captured, and It’s Worth Doing It

You know what surprised me? So many people took Bernie Sanders’ defeat as a reason to give up on the Democratic Party. When Sanders announced he was running, one of my good friends messaged me. He was so excited! There was someone challenging Clinton who believed in things! But I gave him a cold shower. The Democratic Party gave up on stuff like single payer and tuition free college ages ago! Sanders was polling in the single digits. We’d be lucky if he got 10%! I eventually came around and saw that 2016 wasn’t going to be a rerun of 2012. Something fundamental had changed–people were frustrated with the status quo but in a deeper way than they were in 2008. They wanted someone bold who promised to do big things. Giving nice speeches about how much you care is okay, but it doesn’t pay your medical bills or your student debt. Politicians today have to persuade people they’ll do exciting things. This caused problems for the Democratic Party establishment. It was good at a lot of things, but exciting policy wasn’t one of them. Sanders came quite close to beating Clinton, and then Donald Trump–the least popular major party presidential candidate in history–did it. This changed the way I viewed the Democratic Party, in ways that have only slowly become clear to me.

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Obviously Oprah Winfrey Should Not Be President

A number of pieces have come out suggesting that Oprah Winfrey should run for president on the strength of the speech she delivered last night at the Golden Globes. It’s very obvious that this is wrong, and it’s disturbing to me that it needs to be said. This is not to say that she didn’t give a nice speech–it was a fine expression of empathy for some groups that are hurting badly. But the ability to give speeches like this has nothing at all to do with governing a country, and the Trump presidency ought to have long since made this very clear.

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How to Read That Productivity/Wage Gap Chart We’re Always Seeing

You’ve probably seen this chart before. It’s everywhere now. I’ve used it more than a few times over the years. It’s the chart from the Economic Policy Institute that shows that while US productivity has continued to increased over the last few decades, real inflation-adjusted wages haven’t kept pace:

I’ve seen two bad misreadings of this chart lately, and I want to clear them up.

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Trump Welcomes the Hatred of the Press

Remember back during the 2016 campaign when the media couldn’t stop covering Donald Trump? It hasn’t really changed, has it? The press hasn’t adapted much. Yes, there’s a lot of content about how bad Trump is, and some of it is even policy-oriented, focusing on some of the more odious bits and pieces of the Trump tax plan. But this is having no impact on Trump’s approval rating, which has hovered in the mid to upper 30s for most of the first year of his presidency–higher than the low 30s figures he suffered from throughout most of the 2016 campaign. Why is it that nothing the media says or does seems to seriously harm Trump?

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