Diatribes of Jay

This is a blog of essays on public policy. It shuns ideology and applies facts, logic and math to economic, social and political problems. It has a subject-matter index, a list of recent posts, and permalinks at the ends of posts. Comments are moderated and may take time to appear. Note: Profile updated 4/7/12

13 October 2016

Gut Level


[For a bit on Michelle Obama’s blockbuster speech in New Hampshire Thursday, click here. For a recent popular post on how to stop losing good jobs, click here.]

Why did Hillary lose the second debate, at least with Donald’s followers and independent waverers? Because she is all reason and he is all emotion. She tried to fight hate, fear and rage with competence and experience. She tried to cool boiling viscera with five-point plans.

That just won’t work. Not now, not ever.

You can’t fight emotion with reason, at least not among those caught in emotion’s web. You have to jump feet first into the pit. You have to get your hands and mind dirty. You have to make people see how much worse their hate, fear and rage will become if Donald gets anywhere near the White House.

Let’s face it. As that magnificent Carly Simon video makes clear, Donald is not just an unusual politician, let alone an unusually skilled one. He’s a psychopath. Or a sociopath. Take your pick.

He’s Nero. He’s Caligula. He’s Huey Long. He’s George Wallace. He’s Joe (not Gene!) McCarthy. He’s Hitler and Mussolini rolled into one.

If he wins, he will do to women and minorities (and to our national credo) what Catharine the Great did to horses. He will take our traditions of Tolerance and Reason, which make us Americans, and he will screw them. He will do so thoroughly and repeatedly, because that’s who he is. And like Nero and Caligula, he will enjoy it.

Don’t get me wrong. It’s beginning to look as if Hillary will win no matter what. But with a human abomination this repulsive, we can’t afford a weak or partial victory. We can’t abide two or three percent.

We have to crush this monster so decisively and so completely, that no one will think of running or supporting his ilk for another century. Donald must lose so badly that no major party, although out of ideas and out of favor, will ever again dream of making such a pact with the Devil.

How do we do that? Well, we already have an inkling how.

Donald’s “grab their pussy” video was Manna from Heaven. It was eleven years old, and it’s not exactly relevant to any pressing national issue.

Substantively, it should have been superfluous. Anyone who has followed Donald’s noxious ravings on the stump should have known what he is capable of. He got up at 3:00 am to Tweet-blast a former Miss Universe for allegedly being fat. That alone ought to have have told us that Donald can only see women, let alone respect them, insofar as they give him visual or sexual pleasure or advance his business interests. As conservative pundit David Brooks told us months ago, he has the mentality of a “diseased adolescent.”

So Donald’s “pussy” video was nothing new. But it did what Hillary’s campaign so far has utterly failed to do. It began to gel the common notion that Donald is a human mutant—absolutely unacceptable under any circumstances. It began to promote his universal social ostracism. It began, for the first time ever, to turn women’s majority power of numbers into Nate Silver’s lovely all-blue electoral map.

For those who like theory, there’s good theory to back all this up. Remember the abortion issue? In a prior post, I explained why it’s the gift that keeps on giving to so-called “conservatives,” including bullies who will seek any means to power.

There are two main reasons. First, if you can oversimplify and make your oversimplification stick, it’s an absurdly simple issue. Define abortion as “killing babies,” regardless of nuance, circumstances and subtleties. Then you have a wedge issue that anyone can understand.

Second, then you reach right down to evolutionary bedrock. Spiders and some lizards eat their young. We humans protect and nurture our young at all costs. (Among other reasons why, we have the longest time to maturity and nearly the longest gestation period of any species on this planet.)

As Hillary herself has observed, we raise kids in a village, as a community. So in purporting to protect babies from murder, you build your gut issue on the bedrock that supports human civilization.

Now, in this unusual situation, progressives can do that, too. Not all men are bigger and stronger than all women. But most fit that mold, and that’s how we humans think of our genders. Yet women are essential to our reproduction and child-rearing, not to mention our happiness. So we men have learned to protect them—our mothers, sisters, daughters—at all costs.

Part biological evolution and part social evolution, this rule is just as deeply embedded in our psyches as not eating our young, even when we are very hungry. What man won’t come to the aid of a woman in real distress?

So when Donald is the putative source of distress—let alone when he appears to endorse and prescribe it—men’s protective instincts and women’s primal fear and revulsion rise unbidden from our lower depths. They are just as strong as our revulsion at “killing babies.”

So, at this moment in this election, Donald has unwittingly given progressives a gut issue as strong and flexible as abortion. We should beat him over the head with it, relentlessly and continuously, until we send him back chastened to his pathetic reality shows on November 8.

Yes, Hillary is smarter than Donald—a lot smarter. Yes, she is cooler, more rational, more circumspect, more consistent, and more persistent. Yes, she has infinitely more knowledge and experience of politics and of the world. But none of these good characteristics will change many minds at this point in the election cycle.

Part of the reason is that there are no simple solutions to any of our pressing problems. How do we stop hemorrhaging good jobs? I've proposed one method, but it takes a long essay even to explain it. How do we fix Syria? How do we stop Putin’s and Iran’s adventurism without causing a war that might be worse, even if it’s not nuclear?

Let’s face it. No one really knows. No one outside of secret government circles and a few think tanks has even been thinking seriously about answers to these questions. Everyone has been focusing on how to win this election. And even if there were clear and simple solutions—which there are not—there’s nothing resembling a national consensus on any of them, and far too little time left to build one.

So there is only one ploy left for progressives to make this election the decisive rejection of Donald and his feckless facilitators that it should be. We have to show every sentient being, including many who now think they like Donald, that he is the vilest excuse for a human being ever to seek our highest office. We have to get them to gag at his sight. We have to make them cringe at the very thought of seeing him in their living room, as their leader, for the next four years.

If there were ever a campaign that cried out for negativity, this is it. Wide publicity and discussion of Donald’s “pussy” video is a good start. So is that powerful Carly Simon video.

But they’re only a start. We must pound Donald and his party with the like, as if with artillery attacking a fortress, until there’s nothing left of his campaign but rubble. For in truth Donald has no campaign: no solutions, no ideals, no reason, no consistency. His sole campaign is his diseased personality.

Then, when the dust clears after a decisive election, we will have a new nation. We will be able to look ourselves in the mirror again. And the GOP can begin building a new, real party with some decency and some ideas.

Endnote: To some of us, it seems as if Hillary, in addressing gender, is following Barack Obama’s lead on race. As a presidential candidate, Obama twice won clear popular majorities in a still consummately racist nation. His campaigns never mentioned race.

But Obama’s circumstances were and are different. Obama’s supposed affinity group, African-Americans, are a 12% minority. Hillary’s—women—are an absolute majority of people and voters. They are her secret weapon. Furthermore, whites have no evolutionary imperative to protect African-Americans, as men do women. Evolutionary tribalism works against African-Americans, while evolution works for women.

Or course Hillary and her surrogates must be careful and subtle and not alienate anyone, as always. But if they are learning from Obama’s silence on racism to keep mum on sexism and assaults on women, they are learning the wrong lesson. And they may be leaving the most decisive win in American history on the table.

Michelle’s Second Blockbuster

I cannot end this piece without genuflecting toward Michelle Obama. If the Carly Simon “Vain”” clip added a howitzer to artillery arrayed against Donald’s campaign, Michelle provided an entire squadron of B-52 Stratofortress bombers.

It was not enough that she had made by far the best speech of both parties’ conventions. On Thursday afternoon, in New Hampshire, she went one better. She made what may be the best speech of this entire campaign season.

Hers was a near-perfect combination of analysis, reason and emotion. I will not tarnish it by trying to cherry-pick quotes or aspects. If you care about the issues discussed in this post, you must set aside 29 minutes and watch it.

In it, Michelle followed her own rule from her earlier convention speech. While Donald went low, she went high. She went high for the whole speech, speaking of decency, empathy, and cooperation. She annihilated Donald at a gut level without ever using a nasty word about him, let alone the epithets and profanity he uses every day. She exhorted us to raise the level of our politics and our society for our progeny, if no one else.

Watch the speech. When you are finished, you will know why it is your sacred duty to stop Donald, save our nation, and elect Hillary at all costs. And you will know why regardless of whether you are female, male, a child or an adult.

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