Saturday, November 12, 2016

DC Statehood is a Bad Idea

Before we moved to lovely Danville, Kentucky, Mrs. G. and I lived in the District of Columbia.  "Statehood for DC" was a constant political refrain of local politics.

The citizens of the District just voted overwhelmingly (79%) for a plan to separate out a small federal district for the main government offices and monuments, and turn the rest into a new state of New Columbia.

I like the idea of shrinking the District of Columbia down to a federal core - Capitol and Supreme Court, White House, the mall and its adjacent offices and, in my version, across the river to include the Pentagon.

I do not think, though, that the city of Washington surrounding this core is a state.  I do believe that they should have voting representation in the House of Representatives.  But not their own senators.

SO my proposal:  the federal District of Columbia shrink to the smaller diamond I outlined above.  The rest becomes Washington City, Maryland.

Friday, November 11, 2016

Protesting President Trump's Election is Misguided

I don't care for political street theater.  I am glad that in a free country people who like to do that sort of thing can.  But I think it is counterproductive, and usually self-indulgent.

Which is why I think the protests of President Trump's election are a bad idea.  Just as I thought the protests of President Obama's election eight years ago were a bad idea.

I understand that there are many people who are fearful, my own students included.  And some people have already been treated hatefully by Trump supporters, my own students included.  The right response is for the police to prosecute the assailants.

Donald Trump did, indeed, empower the white nationalists.  But protesting his election is to misdirect the anger at should actually be aimed at the actual wicked people on the ground.

Just wait.  There will be plenty of substantive things to protest later.

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Voting to Get Our Old Jobs Back Will Not Repeal Global Capitalism

Two decades ago an economist gave a talk at Centre College in which he predicted that, due to automation and increased efficiencies in delivery, we could "optimistically" expect to eliminate 25 million jobs in the United States.

"You mean 'pessimistically,' don't you?" I asked.

No, he was thinking like an employer - or, really, as a shareholder - who was concerned about increasing profits by reducing costs.

I was thinking like a sociologist, looking at the effect on the entire population.

I think the margin in this election were the 25 million people who lost their jobs, or the possibility of those jobs.  Those jobs - low education mass employment - is gone forever, and not just to China.  Most have been eliminated altogether.

The governing class of both parties supports globalization of the economy, including automation.  Voting against "elites" in favor of a strongman who promises to bring back those jobs is a hope against hope.

Wednesday, November 09, 2016

The Republic Will Survive President Trump

My first presidential election was 1980, when Ronald Reagan unseated Jimmy Carter. Mrs. G. and I were students at a very liberal college, and we and all of our friends were devastated.

The 2000 election was, if anything, worse. President Bush the younger came into office by one vote, and that voter later concluded she had voted wrongly.

On this morning after election day, this one feels like an even harder kick in the gut. The campaign promises made by Donald Trump are far worse than anything his predecessors proposed. On the other hand, the worst are so un-American, un-Constitutional, or even physically impossible, that they will not actually happen. And, as he has made clear many times, he often says things he does not mean and will later deny having said.

Moreover, unlike Ronald Reagan, or George W. Bush, or even the Tea Party, there are no other Trumpian legislators. He will have to rely on regular Republican politicians to govern. This should have a moderating influence, though they will likely enact many things I disagree with.

Still, the Trump campaign has unleashed a white nationalist layer of Americans who normally do not vote or proclaim their positions in public. I do fear that they will feel emboldened to act on their sense of entitlement in dangerous ways.

Monday, November 07, 2016

Happily Voting for Hillary

I have known since election night, 2008, who I would be voting for tomorrow: Hillary Clinton.

I was, and remain, a strong supporter of Barack Obama.  I believe he has been a very good president, and has accomplished a great deal despite colossal obstruction.  I thought Hillary Clinton would make a good president in 2008, but Obama would make a better one.  I have not changed my mind.

Since then she has done all she could to prepare to succeed Obama.  As with the parade of policy wonks who head the lists of Democratic politicians these days, she does her homework.  She is better prepared on foreign policy than Obama was.  She has invaluable experience as a senator.  And she has the unprecedented preparation of having been First Lady.

Like her husband, the first President Clinton, she is a trimmer.  She has cut deals and cut corners.  Nonetheless, on the scale of presidential-level politicians, I would rate her failures about a 2 on a ten-point scale.  Of presidents in the past century, I think only Jimmy Carter and the current incumbent would rate higher on that scale.  That includes some very effective presidents.

And then there is the great historic moment of the first woman president.  Mrs. Gruntled and I will be wearing suffragette colors when we vote, in honor of this new epoch.  And I dearly hope, and expect, that she will win.