Will America emerge from its current divide?
America has some severe problems. My list is as follows:
1) A decimation of the middle class has to be reversed or we will become a third world country
2) Identity politics is destroying our unity and re-inflaming old divisions and problems unnecessarily leading to more and more violence
3) A radicalized Democratic Party is acting out in traumatic ways believing crazy ideas, trying to create a uniformity of speech that is contrary to all prior belief, committing acts that go beyond anything before to win
4) The belief or understanding of our constitution and civic behavior is collapsing
5) We are experiencing economic stress that is leaving many people insecure and unhappy and questioning the value of immigration
6) Simultaneously the world is seeing some of these pressures as well causing the EU to break up for the first time, for 65 million refugees and chaos in the Middle East
I am struggling to understand why these things happened and why they have gotten to the point they have. Will it get better?
One assumption I’ve had is that Obama (in my mind) clearly did not grow the economy as fast as he could. There are many technical reasons why I think he could have done better but many people have pointed out that the difference is significant because a small decrease in performance can have a dramatic impact on the life of many people. Consider this comparison:
This kind of divergence affects many people’s lives. Along with a massive hit on people’s wealth as a result of the home crisis we are talking a huge impact on the middle class’s feeling of security about their future. During the recovery the jobs that were created were primarily part time and temp jobs that don’t allow the middle class to rebuild wealth or feelings of security. We can argue all day about why this happened and if Obama could have done better but the fact is that you can imagine that many of our social ills on that list above can be summarized as coming from this graph above.
People who are marginal or even middle class who feel their security threatened will be more worried about immigration, more worried about their health and will take drugs more. We will see more rioting as people perceive the pain they feel is due to injustice racially or otherwise.
The good news is that if we can raise the growth rate of the economy, fix a few things economically maybe this will cause a lot of this consternation and social problems to dissipate. It doesn’t have to be a sudden 20% boost. People are willing to change their attitude a lot when things look like they are on the right track towards solving the problems and they see some tangible evidence of some improvement.
All that Trump might need to do for instance is get the economy growing at 3% a year rather than the 2% a year or less. Over Obama’s term the rate of growth is <1% overall but in the latter part he was pushing the 2%+ level. In Reagan and other recoveries we get growth rates of 4, 5, even 7+% in the past on a quarterly basis.
Trumps thesis is that if we improve a few things on the margin, cut tax rates, cut regulations, strike some better deals for trade, get some savings on the budget that we can boost growth by 1% or greater over the next 8 years annually and achieve closer to 3%+ rate which would produce far more jobs.
The fact is the US is a growing country, especially with immigration which usually has been between 1–2 million (closer to 2 million) so that to break even with jobs you needed to produce between 2–3 million jobs a year extra just to keep even. Thus my rule for elections has been that if the economy is not growing at roughly 2.5% or so that the incumbent loses. That’s because the growth is not sufficient to keep up with number of job seekers. Thus there is a feeling even if things are growing that it’s not growing fast enough. Malaise. George Bush Sr fell for this. He lost even though he had 90%+ approval ratings 6–9 months prior to the election.
If my theory is correct then if Trump gets the growth rate above 2.5% or so then he will be re-elected no matter what games the democrats play. I honestly believe that is true and the fact is that using this metric I have correctly predicted the elections everytime since 1980 except for the second election of Barrack Obama which I relate to a historic “race” factor.
I believe that issues 1, 5, 6 can be solved or highly ameliorated by this approach.
However this simplistic analysis is confounded by what appears to be some amazing behavior on the part of the Democratic Party. Issues 2, 3 and 4 may not be affected by simply fixing the economy. Here are some reasons why:
A) A violent and irrational hatred of Trump that exceeds any previous election and presidency leading to extreme behaviors
B) The rise of identity politics which seeks to reinflame the feelings of injustice
C) The lawlessness of the last campaign which put into doubt the authenticity of our election process
D) The rise of the filter bubble and normalizing limitations on speech and people actively seeking to limit speech.
I see everything else as kind of normal issues and posturing that occurs all the time but these things potentially change the election process.
The filter bubble emerges
I tie A and D to the same thing. In other words the filter bubble essentially by keeping people’s views within a certain select information sources allows people to believe more and more bizarre ideas which allows them to spiral the hatred out of control without any countervailing influence.
I also see B and C being heavily influenced by the filter bubble. It is clear that people feeling injustice can reinforce each other in the filter bubble without any dissent allowing the feelings to spiral just as they do the other narratives about the campaign.
Lastly during the last campaign the democrats spun a message of hate promulgated through the filter bubble with reinforcing stories.
All in all the filter bubble is allowing the democrats to remain in hateland and to spin continued resistance and bizarre stories to a level never seen before. Trump has proven to be either the perfect antithesis to this or its source of energy. I don’t know.
I see the filter bubble as a real thing that has fundamentally changed the way that politics happens in america. One of the first things the filter bubble noticeably did was to promulgate the notion that Hillary was destined to win. This feeling of extreme confidence in the result of the election was quite possibly an engineered thing. I have argued that the polls were biased prior to the last 3 weeks by a pervasive use of problematic demographics that biased the election results to look better for Hillary. Podesta actually wrote about how to do this and there were press releases 3 weeks before the election of ABC adjusting its demographics by 8 points to mask the bias they had all along. If in fact this was a conscious effort to deceive the country about the state of the election it ended up hurting Hillary although it could have worked.
The assumption was that by convincing everybody that Hillary would win the democrats would be buoyed and republicans would be dispirited. An effect noticed many times before is that if people believe their candidate is going to lose anyway they don’t go to the polls. The reverse effect can play too. If you are sure Hillary was going to win did they not go and vote? Either way, the problem was that by having such a large number of people essentially convinced of the results when the result was not as expected brain damage occurred.
I call it brain damage and reading the news stories afterwards it is hard to dispel that idea. The left was clearly experiencing some kind of trauma. I believe this is similar to PTSD or something. If it was only the polls the filter bubble had worked its magic on maybe this would have been repaired quickly but the filter bubble had grown to encompass many narratives.
- Trump is a white supremacist out to intern all immigrants legal or not
- Trump is a crazy person likely to get us into war and have horrible relations with other countries
- Trump was a pawn of Putin who was actually the most powerful person in the world, not the US president
- Trump is a dictator who will seek to destroy our democratic institutions
- Trump is morally corrupt womanizing, thief, insane, stupid, lying oaf who everyone hates
- Trumps trade policies will destroy america
- Trumps plans for global warming will end the world early
These narratives were used to spin illegals, legal immigrants, blacks, women and to try to undermine trump. What’s amazing is that this 24 hour a day screaming of these false narratives did not prevent Trumps victories. Any one of these might have done in a candidate in a prior election. The filter bubble spun up the hate of Trump to insane levels.
This is the problem the democrats have. Not just the fact the election results were stunningly wrong but all these narratives above or a lot of them apparently were wrong. How the democrats heads don’t explode I am not sure.
Some of these like the election filter bubble have already collapsed. I think the Putin narrative appears to be dead. It seems like the dictator narrative is dead. Several other appear to be pretty much impossible to sustain. I think many people may have doubts about his morality still and some may still believe some of the last 3 which haven’t been conclusively disproved but I am not sure I am correct. The hatred for Trump is extraordinary and it feeds an obstructionist Democratic Party that refuses to work with the most objectionable man ever in history.
I think that the problem with the filter bubble is that when you are wrenched from a belief so violently and confronted with the truth it is hurtful. Really. You saw how democrats talked about safe spaces and such. People in such a situation will be highly motivated like a drug addict to plunge back into the filter bubble for solace.
The news in the real world is so counter to their filter bubble narratives they seek to exclude more and more and become more frightened of reading anything counter to their preconceived beliefs promulgated by the filter bubble. So, a dependency is created.
I suppose one could say Beitbart news, Drudge and other conservative news sources represents a similar coddling for conservatives but conservatives are more or less forced to listen to the filter bubble at least a little. The left is not. They can find on Facebook, google and the major entertainment networks stories to keep their brains intact with false stories.
So what? What if half the nation chooses to live in a bubble and not listen to anything remotely true? Well, if that source is telling them revolt, demonstrate, defy the first amendment, that anything people on the left do is okay then you get the possibility for a lot of problems with these people.
The filter bubble is on a wartime footing to keep itself in place. I am not sure if the mere collapse of all the filter bubble narratives will be sufficient to crush it because I think it will re-emerge in an instant if the current protocols stay in place. If it is like a drug then even if it is sent into hiding because the narratives are destroyed there will be people who still follow and there is always the chance to resurrect it.
Part of me wants the democrats to believe that it failed them. They lost the election. It didn’t work. Diverse ideas and transparency is better than trying to be overwhelmingly sure of oneself and having thousands of others patting you on the back. I want to believe that the internet and tools will expand so that no matter what attempts are made to silence, hide information people will still find it but frankly I don’t know the answer.
I would prefer if we confronted the idea of conformity of ideas as wrong. I would prefer if we all pledged to the constitution our belief in the first amendment. I would prefer if I was sure that all kids were being taught about our constitutional rights. I would prefer if either google and Facebook are broken up or some form of way to keep the airwaves open was enforced.
I don’t need to be lectured by Google or Facebook on what is the correct way to think about issues. I would prefer if I knew if people looked they could find information that they want without having to go around blocks or phrase things in special ways to get beyond the intelligence. I would prefer we not shield people from the real world. Let them make up their own mind about good and bad. I have no problems with this. I believe the American system has shown that people are overwhelmingly common sensical and generous of heart and forgiving. We don’t need liberals to tell us what is right and wrong especially the current flavor.
Our founders believed in the people and if anything the US system of government has proven that faith to be good decision, certainly better than any other decision by any group of leaders. We need to rediscover our freedom and our constitution and the magic in it.