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Coates writes: "I have often wondered how I missed the coming tragedy. It is not so much that I should have predicted that Americans would elect Donald Trump. It's just that I shouldn't have put it past us."

Posters of Barack Obama dressed as Superman. (photo: Guardian UK)
Posters of Barack Obama dressed as Superman. (photo: Guardian UK)

We Should Have Seen Trump Coming

By Ta-Nehisi Coates, Guardian UK

02 October 17

Obama’s rise felt like a new chapter in American history. But the original sin of white supremacy was not so easily erased.

have often wondered how I missed the coming tragedy. It is not so much that I should have predicted that Americans would elect Donald Trump. It’s just that I shouldn’t have put it past us. It was tough to keep track of the currents of politics and pageantry swirling at once. All my life I had seen myself, and my people, backed into a corner. Had I been wrong? Watching the crowds at county fairs cheer for Michelle Obama in 2008, or flipping through the enchanting photo spreads of the glamorous incoming administration, it was easy to believe that I had been.

And it was more than symbolic. Barack Obama’s victory meant not just a black president but also that Democrats, the party supported by most black people, enjoyed majorities in Congress. Prominent intellectuals were predicting that modern conservatism – a movement steeped in white resentment – was at its end and that a demographic wave of Asians, Latinos and blacks would sink the Republican party.

Back in the summer of 2008, as Obama closed out the primary and closed in on history, vendors in Harlem hawked T-shirts emblazoned with his face and posters placing him in the black Valhalla where Martin, Malcolm and Harriet were throned. It is hard to remember the excitement of that time, because I now know that the sense we had that summer, the sense that we were approaching an end-of-history moment, proved to be wrong.

It is not so much that I logically reasoned out that Obama’s election would author a post-racist age. But it now seemed possible that white supremacy, the scourge of American history, might well be banished in my lifetime. In those days I imagined racism as a tumour that could be isolated and removed from the body of America, not as a pervasive system both native and essential to that body. From that perspective, it seemed possible that the success of one man really could alter history, or even end it.

I had never seen a black man like Barack Obama. He talked to white people in a new language – as though he actually trusted them and believed in them. It was not my language. It was not even a language I was much interested in, save to understand how he had come to speak it and its effect on those who heard it. More interesting to me was that he had somehow balanced that language with the language of the south side of Chicago. He referred to himself, unambiguously, as a black man. He had married a black woman. It is easy to forget how shocking this was, given the common belief at the time that there was a direct relationship between success and assimilation. The narrative held that successful black men took white wives and crossed over into that arid no-man’s-land that was not black, though it could never be white. Blackness for such men was not a thing to root yourself in but something to evade and escape. Barack Obama found a third way – a means of communicating his affection for white America without fawning over it. White people were enchanted by him – and those who worked in newsrooms seemed most enchanted of all.

But I could see that those charged with analysing the import of Obama’s blackness were, in the main, working off an old script. Obama was dubbed “the new Tiger Woods of American politics”, as a man who wasn’t “exactly black”. I understood the point – Obama was not “black” as these writers understood “black”. It wasn’t just that he wasn’t a drug dealer, like most black men on the news, but that he did not hail from an inner city, he was not raised on chitterlings, his mother had not washed white people’s floors. But this confusion was a reduction of racism’s true breadth, premised on the need to fix black people in one corner of the universe so that white people may be secure in all the rest of it. So to understand Obama, analysts needed to give him a superpower that explained how this self-described black man escaped his assigned corner. That power was his mixed ancestry.

The precise ancestry of a black drug dealer or cop killer is irrelevant. His blackness predicts and explains his crime. He reinforces the racist presumption. It is only when that presumption is questioned that a fine analysis of ancestry is invoked. Frederick Douglass was an ordinary nigger while working the fields. But when he was a famed abolitionist, it was often said that his genius must derive from his white half. Ancestry isn’t even really necessary. My wife, Kenyatta, was the only black girl in her Tennessee “gifted and talented” classes from age six. She could dance and double dutch with the best of them. Her white classmates did not care. “You’re not really black,” they would say. They meant it as a compliment. But what they really meant was to slander her neighbours and family, to reorder the world in such a way that confirmed their status among the master class. And if Obama, rooted in the world of slaves, could rise above the masters, all the while claiming the identity and traditions of slaves, was there any real meaning in being a master at all?

Denying Barack Obama his blackness served another purpose: it was a means of coping with having been wrong. Those of us who did not believe there could be a black president were challenged by the sudden prospect of one. It is easy to see how it all makes sense now – in every era there have been individual black people capable of defying the bonds of white supremacy, even as that same system held the great mass of us captive. I will speak for myself and say that before Obama’s campaign began, the American presidency seemed out of reach. It existed so high in the firmament, and seemed so synonymous with the country’s sense of itself, that I never gave the prospect of a black president much thought.

By the summer of 2008, it was clear that I’d made an error. Two responses were possible: (1) assess that error and reconsider the nature of the world in which I lived; or (2) refuse to accept the error and simply retrofit yesterday’s reasoning to this new reality. The notion that Obama was a “different kind of black” allowed for that latter option and the comfort of being right. But some of us had not wanted to be right. And when we asserted that “America ain’t never letting no nigger be president,” we were not bragging. Instinct warned me against hope. But instinct had also warned me against Obama winning Iowa, and instinct was wrong. And if we had misjudged America’s support for a black man running to occupy the White House, perhaps I had misjudged the nature of my country. Perhaps we were just now awakening from some awful nightmare, and if Barack Obama was not the catalyst of that awakening, he was at least the sign. And just like that, I was swept away, because I wanted desperately to be swept away, and taking the measure of my community, I saw that I was not alone.

There is a notion out there that black people enjoy the sisyphean struggle against racism. In fact, most of us live for the day when we can struggle against anything else. But having been, by that very racism, pinned into ghettos, both metaphorical and real, our options for struggle are chosen long before we are born. And so we struggle out of fear for our children. We struggle out of fear for ourselves. We struggle to avoid our feelings, because to actually consider all that was taken, to understand that it was taken systemically, that the taking is essential to America and echoes down through the ages, could make you crazy. But after Obama’s election it seemed that perhaps there was another way. Perhaps we, as Americans, could elide the terrible history, elide the national crime. Maybe it was possible to fix the problems afflicting black people without focusing on race. Perhaps it was possible to think of black people as a community in disproportionate need, worthy of aid simply because they were Americans in need. Better schools could be built, better healthcare administered, better jobs made available, not because of anything specific in the black experience but precisely because there isn’t. If you squinted for a moment, if you actually tried to believe, it made so much sense. All that was needed for this new theory was a champion – articulate, young, clean. And maybe this new champion had arrived.


That was one way of thinking about things. Here was another. “Son,” my father said of Obama, “you know the country got to be messed up for them folks to give him the job.” The economy was on the brink. The blood of untold numbers of Iraqis was on our hands. Hurricane Katrina had shamed the society. From this other angle, post-racialism and good feeling were taken up not so much out of elevation in consciousness but out of desperation.

It all makes so much sense now. The pageantry, the math, the magazines, the essays heralded an end to the old country with all its divisions. We forgot that there were those who loved that old country as it was, who did not lament the divisions but drew power from them.

And so we saw postcards with watermelons on the White House lawn. We saw simian caricatures of the first family, the invocation of a “food-stamp president” and his anticolonial, Islamist agenda. These were the fetishes that gathered the tribe of white supremacy, that rallied them to the age-old banner – and if there was one mistake, one reason why I did not see the coming tragedy, why I did not account for its possibilities, it was because, at that point, I had not yet truly considered that banner’s fearsome power.

The opportunity for that consideration came by coincidence. The eight years of Barack Obama bracketed the 150th anniversary of the civil war – America’s preeminent existential crisis. In 1861, believing themselves immersed in a short war, the forces of union thought white supremacy was still affordable. So even in the north the cause of abolition was denounced, and blacks were forbidden from fighting in the army. But the war dragged on, and wallowing in white supremacy amid the increase of dead was like wallowing in pearls amid a famine. Emancipation was embraced. Blacks were recruited and sent into battle. Later they were enfranchised and sent to serve in the halls of government, national and statewide. But in 1876, with the hot war now passed, and the need for black soldiers gone, the country returned to its supremacist roots. “A revolution has taken place by force of arms and a race are disenfranchised,” wrote Mississippi’s Reconstruction-era governor, Adelbert Ames.

They are to be returned to a condition of serfdom – an era of second slavery … The nation should have acted but it was “tired of the annual autumnal outbreaks in the South” … The political death of the negro will forever release the nation from the weariness from such “political outbreaks”. You may think I exaggerate. Time will show you how accurate my statements are.

So there was nothing new in the suddenly transracial spirit that saw the country, in 2008, reaching “for the best part of itself”. It had done so before – and then promptly retrenched in the worst part of itself. To see this connection, to see Obama’s election as part of a familiar cycle, you would have had to understand how central the brand of white supremacy was to the country. I did not. I could remember, as a child, the black nationalists claiming the country was built by slaves. But this claim was rarely evidenced and mostly struck me as an applause line or rhetorical point. I understood slavery as bad and I had a vague sense that it had once been integral to the country and that the dispute over it had, somehow, contributed to the civil war.

But even that partial sense ran contrary to the way the civil war was presented in the popular culture, as a violent misunderstanding, an honourable duel between wayward brothers, instead of what it was – a spectacular chapter in a long war that was declared when the first Africans were brought chained to American shores.

When it comes to the civil war, all of our popular understanding, our popular history and culture, our great films, the subtext of our arguments are in defiance of its painful truths. It is not a mistake that Gone With the Wind is one of the most read works of American literature or that The Birth of a Nation is the most revered touchstone of all American film. Both emerge from a need for palliatives and painkillers, an escape from the truth of those five short years in which 750,000 American soldiers were killed, more than all American soldiers killed in all other American wars combined, in a war declared for the cause of expanding “African slavery”. That war was inaugurated not reluctantly, but lustily, by men who believed property in humans to be the cornerstone of civilisation, to be an edict of God, and so delivered their own children to his maw. And when that war was done, the now-defeated God lived on, honoured through the human sacrifice of lynching and racist pogroms. The history breaks the myth. And so the history is ignored, and fictions are weaved into our art and politics that dress villainy in martyrdom and transform banditry into chivalry, and so strong are these fictions that their emblem, the stars and bars, darkens front porches and state capitol buildings across the land to this day.

The implications of the true story are existential and corrosive to our larger national myth. To understand that the most costly war in this country’s history was launched in direct opposition to everything the country claims to be, to understand that it was the product of centuries of enslavement, which is to see an even longer, more total war, is to alter the accepted conception of America as a beacon of freedom. How does one face this truth or forge a national identity out of it?

For now the country holds to the common theory that emancipation and civil rights were redemptive, a fraught and still-incomplete resolution of the accidental hypocrisy of a nation founded by slaveholders extolling a gospel of freedom. This common theory dominates much of American discourse, from left to right. Conveniently, it holds the possibility of ultimate resolution, for if right-thinking individuals can dedicate themselves to finishing the work of ensuring freedom for all, then perhaps the ghosts of history can be escaped. It was the common theory – through its promise of a progressive American history, where the country improves itself inexorably and necessarily – that allowed for Obama’s rise. And it was that rise that offered me that chance to see that theory for the illusion that it was.

Immersed in my reading, it became clear to me that the common theory of providential progress, of the inevitable reconciliation between the sin of slavery and the democratic ideal, was myth. Marking the moment of awakening is like marking the moment one fell in love. If forced I would say I took my tumble with the dark vision of historian Edmund Morgan’s book American Slavery, American Freedom. Certainly slavery was contrary to America’s stated democratic precepts, conceded Morgan, but in fact, it was slavery that allowed American democracy to exist in the first place. It was slavery that gifted much of the south with a working class that lived outside of all protections and could be driven, beaten and traded into generational perpetuity. Profits pulled from these workers, repression of the normal angst of labour, and the ability to employ this labour on abundant land stolen from Native Americans formed a foundation for democratic equality among a people who came to see skin colour and hair textures as defining features. Morgan showed the process in motion through the law – rights gradually awarded to the mass of European poor and oppressed, at precisely the same time they were being stripped from enslaved Africans and their descendants.

It was not just Edmund Morgan. It was James McPherson. It was Barbara Fields. It was David Blight. Together they guided me through the history of slavery and its cataclysmic resolution. I became obsessed and insufferable. Civil war podcasts were always booming through the house. I’d drag Kenyatta and our son, Samori, to the sites of battles – Gettysburg, Petersburg, the Wilderness – audiobooks playing the whole way. I went to Tennessee. I saw Shiloh. I saw Fort Donelson. I saw Island No 10. At every stop I was moved. The stories of suffering, limbs amputated, men burned alive, the bravery and gallantry, all of it seeped up out of the ground and enveloped me. But something else accompanied this hallowed feeling: a sense that the story, as it was told on these sites, as it was interpreted by visitors – most of them white – was incomplete, and this incompletion was not thoughtless but essential. The tactics of the war were always up for discussion, but the animating cause of those tactics, with but a few exceptions, went unsaid.

By then, I knew. The history books spoke where tourism could not. The four million enslaved bodies, at the start of the civil war, represented an inconceivable financial interest – $75bn in today’s dollars – and the cotton that passed through their hands represented 60% of the country’s exports. In 1860, the largest concentration of multimillionaires in the country could be found in the Mississippi River valley, where the estates of large planters loomed.


Any fair consideration of the depth and width of enslavement tempts insanity. First conjure the crime – the generational destruction of human bodies – and all of its related offences – domestic terrorism, poll taxes, mass incarceration. But then try to imagine being an individual born among the remnants of that crime, among the wronged, among the plundered, and feeling the gravity of that crime all around and seeing it in the sideways glances of the perpetrators of that crime and overhearing it in their whispers and watching these people, at best, denying their power to address the crime and, at worst, denying that any crime had occurred at all, even as their entire lives revolve around the fact of a robbery so large that it is written in our very names. This is not a thought experiment. America is literally unimaginable without plundered labour shackled to plundered land, without the organising principle of whiteness as citizenship, without the culture crafted by the plundered, and without that culture itself being plundered.

White dependency on slavery extended from the economic to the social, and the rights of whites were largely seen as dependent on the degradation of blacks. “White men,” wrote Mississippi senator and eventual president of the Confederacy Jefferson Davis, “have an equality resulting from a presence of a lower caste, which cannot exist were white men to fill the position here occupied by the servile race.”

Antebellum Georgia governor Joseph E Brown made the same point: “Among us the poor white laborer is respected as an equal. His family is treated with kindness, consideration and respect. He does not belong to the menial class. The negro is in no sense of the term his equal. He feels and knows this. He belongs to the only true aristocracy, the race of white men. He blacks no master’s boots, and bows the knee to no one save God alone. He receives higher wages for his labor than does the laborer of any other portion of the world, and he raises up his children, with the knowledge that they belong to no inferior caste; but that the highest members of the society in which he lives, will, if their conduct is good, respect and treat them as equals.”

Enslavement provided not merely the foundation of white economic prosperity, but the foundation of white social equality, and thus the foundation of American democracy. But that was 150 years ago. And the slave south lost the war, after all. Was it not the America of Frederick Douglass that had prevailed and the Confederacy of Jefferson Davis that had been banished? Were we not a new country exalting in Martin Luther King Jr’s dream?

I was never quite that far gone. But I had been wrong about the possibility of Barack Obama. And it seemed fair to consider that I might be wrong about a good deal more.

But the same year I began my exploration of the civil war and the same summer I finished American Slavery, American Freedom, Harvard professor Henry Louis Gates was arrested. Gates was returning from a long trip. He was having trouble with the lock on his front door and so was attempting to force his way into his home. Someone saw this and called the police. They arrived and, after an exchange of words, Sgt James Crowley arrested, charged and jailed Gates for disorderly conduct. It caused a minor sensation.

Commenting on the arrest, Obama asserted that anyone in Gates’s situation would be “pretty angry” if they were arrested in their own home. Obama added that “the Cambridge police acted stupidly.” He then cited the “long history” of “African Americans and Latinos being stopped by law enforcement disproportionately”. I don’t know why I expected this would go over well. I don’t know why I thought this mild criticism from a new president in defence of one of the most respected academics at our country’s most lauded university in a case of obvious but still bloodless injustice might be heard by the broader country and if not agreed with, at least grappled with.

In fact, there would be no grappling. Obama was denounced for having attacked the police, and the furore grew so great that it momentarily threatened to waylay his agenda. The president beat a hasty retreat. He apologised to the police officer, then invited Crowley and Gates to the White House for a beer. It was absurd. It was spectacle. But it cohered to the common theory, it appealed to the redemptive spirit and reduced the horror of being detained by an armed officer of the state, and all of the history of that horror, to something that could be resolved over a beer.

And now the lies of the civil war and the lies of these post-racial years began to resonate with each other, and I could now see history, awful and undead, reaching out from the grave. America had a biography, and in that biography, the shackling of black people – slaves and free – featured prominently. I could not yet draw literal connections, though that would come. But what I sensed was a country trying to skip out on a bill, trying to stave off a terrible accounting. your social media marketing partner


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+8 # revhen 2017-10-02 10:12
My wife said it best when we saw the second plane smash into the tower: "This will drive us crazy." Trump is one of the consequences of that craziness. Our blind confidence in our goodness and strength was shattered that day.
-20 # Depressionborn 2017-10-02 10:38
Yes, Trump was inevitable, Socialism having fallen to its unstoppable, failure induced, suicide. Tyranny is now a real possibility.

There are only three systems:
Liberty, tyranny or chaos
+1 # ericlipps 2017-10-02 21:28
Quoting Depressionborn:
Yes, Trump was inevitable, Socialism having fallen to its unstoppable, failure induced, suicide. Tyranny is now a real possibility.

There are only three systems:
Liberty, tyranny or chaos

Socialism? What socialism? And what do you mean by "liberty"?
0 # Depressionborn 2017-10-03 08:09
Quoting ericlipps:
Quoting Depressionborn:
Yes, Trump was inevitable, Socialism having fallen to its unstoppable, failure induced, suicide. Tyranny is now a real possibility.

There are only three systems:
Liberty, tyranny or chaos

Socialism? What socialism? And what do you mean by "liberty"?

liberty defined as "the state of being free within society from oppressive restrictions imposed by authority on one's way of life, behavior, or political views. Socialism" used as today's welfare state, not true socialism defined as state ownership of means of production.

At present we have Fascism, the collusion of gov and big business. chaos coming next?
-1 # Depressionborn 2017-10-03 08:15
hi ericlipps
the welfare state has been slipping slowly for 40 years. (Working class take home is down 20% in the last 30 years.) People, knowing something is wrong, are are fed up. It is causing a societal chasm.

From chaos order???
+2 # Rodion Raskolnikov 2017-10-02 11:52
"Prominent intellectuals were predicting that modern conservatism – a movement steeped in white resentment – was at its end "

I don't know any prominent intellectuals who predicted this. There were some in the media and Obama himself talked loosely about a "post-racial America" but it was very apparent that they were just celebrating Obama's victory.

I think many people saw Trump coming. On this site, Michael Moore warned over and over that Trump would win. I did not think he would win, but I was pretty sure he was the next phase in the evolution -- or devolution -- of the republican party. The democrat party is stuck in neutral. It can't go forward or backward.

Both Obama and Trump are polarizing figures in America right now because the nation is polarized. The middle is evaporaating. Obama thought he was middle, but he was not. He was the extreme of neo-liberalism and establishment politics. Trump is the extreme of the Tea Party, anti-neo-libera lism and anti-establishm ent.

Neither Obama nor Trump are effective leaders. The nation is stagnating as its plutocrat class sucks all of the wealth out of it. No leader will confront or even raise the real problems that face the US: racism, wealth inquality, de-industrializ ation, oligarchy, the collapse of democracy. The US can't fix its problems.
+17 # jean staneslow 2017-10-02 11:52
your article is incredible. it makes me want to read all the books you read! thank you ta-nehisi . jean in minnesota
+19 # boomerjim 2017-10-02 11:53
When large portions of the public feel left out and ignored, if no responsible forces step forward effectively, fascists move in. Bernie saw it. Hillary was tone deaf.
-1 # ericlipps 2017-10-02 21:31

I just knew a "blame Hillary" post would pop up here. So far nobody's figured out a way to blame her for the Civil War, but I'm sure someone's working on it.
0 # Rodion Raskolnikov 2017-10-03 07:42
boomer -- good point. People have been ignored by the establishment rulers of both parties. So people are leaving the parties. Both Trump and Sanders were populist candidates. They ran on the major party ticket, but they were hardly a republican or a democrat.

I don't necessarily agree that this means fascists are moving in. Fascism is a reaction against democracy and a return to monarchial rule without a hereditary monarch. Fascists want a strong dictator type but it works to if there is a succession of them, as we have in the US. Fascism is also the corporate control of the government. That is definitely not populism. The US is a fascist or Nazi state, but the forces of fascism and Nazism are in the CIA, NSA, FBI, Pentagon and the rest of the Deep State or Shadow Government that controls the sock puppets we elect. They are in it for the bribes they get.

Populism can be hijacked by fascists. The tactic is generally to use wedge issues like race, immigration, gender, and so on. But populism in itself is not fascist. It's great vulnerability is that it is weak.

Let me repeat again -- the heart of fascism and Nazism in the US is the CIA and Pentagon. They run the government on behalf of the corporations that run them. We need to stop pointing to KKK or swastika wielding lower class whites as fascists and nazis. They are pathetic and ignorant people who are just sick of the establishment.
+3 # kyzipster 2017-10-04 16:10
"We need to stop pointing to KKK or swastika wielding lower class whites as fascists and nazis."

They are fascists and Nazis and we should humiliate them at every opportunity.

We need to stop claiming or inferring that every Trump voter is a member of the KKK or a neo-Nazi group. Not only does it keep us hopelessly divided, it's contributing to a lot of unnecessary fear in minority communities. Like it's the second coming of Jim Crow America.

I think their (and Trump's) efforts to excuse these groups in their base is despicable and a form of fascism, but the more we shame the 'swastika wielding' minority, the more the GOP base will be forced to decide what it is they stand for. In the end, I think it's pretty clear that Nazis and the KKK suck. We should at least have that much agreement between the left and right. I'm convinced we can do it!

It's a mess out there right now but we should never stop pointing at the KKK and Nazis. We should never stop calling Trump out for normalizing this small faction on the right just because they love him unconditionally .
+5 # Kootenay Coyote 2017-10-02 12:09
50 years ago, when I was a Canadian in Grad School in Pennsylvania, a black colleague said that the nation owed Blacks the wages of their slave labour; but that he did not foresee a time when the nation would recognize that. The interest as well as the capital remains to be paid, & if it is not paid in coin it will inevitably be paid in blood, according to US custom.
0 # bread and butter 2017-10-02 12:23
Debbie Wasserman Schultz, and Hillary Clinton elected Donald Trump.
-2 # kyzipster 2017-10-03 16:38
I think at some point we can blame voters for giving Trump the nomination and the presidency. Of course Clinton played a role in losing but your statement would ring more true to me if Jill Stein had gotten 5% of the vote instead of 1%.
-1 # bread and butter 2017-10-03 17:10
I didn't vote.

If not for Clinton, I would have.

If Stein had 5% of the vote, she'd be blamed for Clinton's loss.

It's a circular argument. When will the DNC take responsibility for it's behavior?
-2 # kyzipster 2017-10-04 09:45
I'm not defending the DNC, but any word spoken outside of the group think at RSN is always interpreted as a defense of the DNC. It's predictable.

I'm only pointing out that we should give voters some credit for giving us Trump. They're often painted as a victim of Clinton around here. Like she gave them no choice. That doesn't explain why Trump won the nomination in the first place.

Perhaps it's living in a red state in the South that gives me my perspective, Republicans are still loving their Trump and he will likely get a second term if we don't wake up to that fact. Polls, as usual, are largely bull chit. I think we can stop blaming Clinton at some point.
+2 # bread and butter 2017-10-04 12:37
I'm not blaming Clinton for the fact that Republicans exist.

I'm blaming the DNC, and DWS, and HRC for the fact that Democrats weren't given a choice that included something other than a Republican.

I'm also blaming all of the above for the way the Democratic base was mistreated during the primaries, and then lectured to for not jumping on the train off the cliff in November.

Liberals don't "fall in line". You actually have to convince us.

Rather than lecturing us about why we should have plugged our noses and voted against our interests, we should have been actually LISTENED TO.

We all have the right to vote our conscience. My vote was for not pulling the lever for either psychopath. So, yeah. I guess I DID vote. I just wasn't convinced to vote for the 2nd worst possible candidate.
-3 # kyzipster 2017-10-04 13:42
"Rather than lecturing us about why we should have plugged our noses and voted against our interests, we should have been actually LISTENED TO."

..but I'm not lecturing anyone and I'm not advocating for the DNC or telling you who you should have voted for, that's just your projection. Very common around here, anyone who dares to expand the discussion.

My only point here is that Trump voters should be given some credit for the election. Not painted as victims so much. So many people want to excuse their support of Trump because Hillary was so repulsive.

I think it matters very much that we get a realistic take on what's going on. They LOVE Trump, the more outrageous he acts, the more they support him. What's going on right now is not that much different than the election season and Hillary is long gone.

I think believing that he's so horrible that anyone could beat him but Hillary is as delusional as the DNC, the very belief that helped them lose the election.

I suspect we're in agreement on the failures of the Dem establishment. Sorry if I don't fall in lockstep with every simple minded take on the election.
-2 # bread and butter 2017-10-04 20:33
But my argument isn't about you. I made it very clear who I was discussing. Don't be so defensive. It's not about you.

Can we both agree that millions of potential voters didn't vote?

Can we both agree that in 2008 (when there were fewer eligible voters), Obama got 4 million more votes than Clinton in 2016?

It's actually self-explanator y. Clinton lost (whether she won California or not), because she refused to acknowledge that she needed the left to win.

This isn't 1992, but Clinton's strategy wanted to pretend that it was.
-1 # kyzipster 2017-10-05 11:37
You made it about me in your post. Claiming I'm lecturing you about who you should have voted for, blah blah blah.

If it's self centered of me to defend against your projections, so be it.
-2 # nice2bgreat 2017-10-04 21:55
kyzipster, you write, "Republicans are still loving their Trump and he will likely get a second term if we don't wake up to that fact."

Quoting kyzipster:
I'm not defending the DNC...

What's the difference between "not defending the DNC" and arguing in a way that gives cover to the DNC (and Hillary Clinton)?

It's obfuscating reasons that HRC lost; not "only pointing out" that voters are to blame that Trump won.

You just won't accept, that, if not for Clinton and the DNC's strategies and tactics -- and admitted to by DNC lawyers in open court, that, the DNC has no obligation to offer fairness in Democratic Party Primaries or follow their own guidelines for fairness -- that Sanders, "because of voters", would be President.

Obfuscation allows Clinton and Dems to both propagate a bs "nuanced" rationale for losing -- to muddy waters -- to continue Dem corporatism undaunted, and to blame and vilify Sanders, for HRC's loss.

Even if you don't accept polls indicating Sanders easily defeating all Republican candidates by 12 points + through Trump's General Election win, election results during "open" D Party Primaries show Sanders' crossover appeal with Independents and many Trump voters are also included as those who like, even prefer Sanders.

It's sophistry to promote credulously speculative framings that suppose, because Hillary Clinton lost to Donald Trump, that Bernie Sanders "would" have lost to Trump -- that requires cognitive dissonance.
0 # kyzipster 2017-10-05 11:52
You read all of that into my post? Amazing.

I've posted quite a few times since the election that I believe Sanders might have won. He would have done better than Clinton. I part ways with the group-think around here that it would have been a landslide. I think it would have been close like all of our elections.

His polling today is a great thing but it has no relationship to polling that would have happened had he won the Dem nomination.

I'm pointing out one simple truth as I see it, Trump is hugely popular. He won the election as much as Hillary lost it. This isn't a defense of all that's wrong with the Dem establishment and Hillary Clinton. There can be more than one truth.

There seems to be a myth that's developed. Since Trump is so repulsive to us, he should have been easy to beat. I thought that myself for quite awhile. I'm seeing something very different today. They love him and that love is growing. I don't know where you live, but like the DNC, progressives need to spend more time in red states like where I live. Sanders is doing it, I suspect he might agree with me on Trump.

This isn't excusing the DNC. It's a critique of the DNC, I'm referring to the overconfidence they had in the election season last year that helped Trump win. Many Sanders supporters seem to share the same blind spot.

Yes, another establishment Dem will lose against him and a true progressive like Sanders might win in 2020. We probably share the same belief in this.
0 # kyzipster 2017-10-05 13:01
To sum up my view on this, progressives need to appeal to the left and forget about this mythical 'white rust belt former middle class factory worker.' I think that's largely an archetype developed in the media during the election, trying to make sense of the Trump phenomenon.

They need to fire up the left and get us to the polls. This is about speaking to all working people like Sanders has been able to do, beyond identity politics. I think progressives understand this but it also needs to be understood that Trump speaks to Middle America like few before him, and no liberal will reach them easily because it's deeply cultural, almost cult-like.

If Democrats can change or if a new party takes hold and stands firmly with progressive principles, they will eventually win over more red state voters but the Culture War is not going away anytime soon.

Placing all of our hopes on one good candidate is perhaps short sighted. Like the conservative movement starting in the 1970s, it could take years to see a progressive revolution manifest. I think local government is where it's happening right now and we should look at the big picture. Embrace true progressive Democrats working in urban and state governments. Challenge the neoliberals at every opportunity. Embrace a third party in places that might have a chance. California NY, Colorado, Washington state, etc.

It doesn't have to be a total rejection of the Dem Party. If I thought that might work, I'd embrace it.
-3 # Depressionborn 2017-10-03 18:47
Quoting kyzipster:
I think at some point we can blame voters for giving Trump the nomination and the presidency. Of course Clinton played a role in losing but your statement would ring more true to me if Jill Stein had gotten 5% of the vote instead of 1%.

Absolutely. We voted his promises. When he is destroyed we will vote them again. Sorry
-1 # kyzipster 2017-10-04 13:58
Don't apologize to me, apologize to your grandkids.
+2 # elizabethblock 2017-10-02 15:05
"Obama, rooted in the world of slaves" -- is he? Unlike almost all African Americans - including Mr Coates! - Obama is NOT a descendant of slaves. I wonder whether, if he had been, he would have had the strength to run for president. Habits of deference, of justified fear, last for generations.
-10 # 2017-10-02 15:36
Coates will only become relevant when he begins to address the grossly disproportionat e amount of violent crime committed by black men and women (and teenagers). His absurd interpretations of American history as being somehow dependent on African slavery is a tedious distraction. Very few people owned slaves, even in the South--and those few who did own plantations or factories staffed with slave labor paid no personal or corporate income tax, thus not contributing to the national coffers. As for Obama, yeah, Te, you sure were wrong about the most war-mongering president since Teddy Roosevelt, the most secretive since Cheney, and the harshest against whistle-blowers since Stalin. But Coates has only one dreary song to play--blacks are perpetual victims of white racism, blah, blah...what a fraud.
+1 # kyzipster 2017-10-04 15:50
Most poorer, small farm owners owned a slave or two in the South. I don't know the percentage of white people but it wasn't just the wealthiest who benefited. Of course, the North benefited greatly from the slave trade and cheaper goods coming from the South. Post Civil War, the whole country benefited from cheap African American labor in the same way we benefit from cheap illegal immigrant labor today. Because of obscene racism and the absence of civil rights protections under the law.

It's difficult to prove how much slavery contributed to current day problems but I think it's an undeniable fact that the century of apartheid that followed the Civil War, extreme economic and social marginalization , contributed greatly to conditions today that account for high crime and poverty rates.

Of course white people experience the oppression of class and generational poverty and all that goes along with it but when a society oppresses an entire race of people in every conceivable way, it takes more than a few decades to get past it.
-3 # John S. Browne 2017-10-02 16:44

The "terrible accounting" has always existed as long as the U.S. has existed, and continues on. The U.S. government and military enslave and mass-murder as never before, and most white Americans still, if most of them do so unconsciously, consider themselves "superior". I put the word, superior, in quotes because it is ONLY a so-called superiority; for, NO ONE is superior to ANYONE else WHATSOEVER. But, unfortunately "superiority" still exists all over the U.S., and all over the world as well. Organized "Christians", who are nothing but counterfeit "Christians, and Muslims and so on, all consider themselves "superior", though they are anything but.

This is the reality of the country and world that we live in; and, short of the return of Jesus the Christ to bring an end to it all, it will go on interminably. Most people of the U.S. and the world are racists and/or bigots, and they will not be redeemed from that. They are irredeemable. The ONLY redemption for them, particularly from that racism and/or bigotry, which most of them will NEVER accept and experience, is God the Father ONLY THROUGH JESUS THE CHRIST (John 14:6). So, don't expect ANY TRUE extrication from it, as it will not happen until God the Father through Jesus the Christ washes the entire earth clean, and destroys ALL evil.

No "Odrona" will be a "savior" to save us from it, and the U.N. "Fourth Reich" corporate-fasci st one-world government and religion they are ushering in will not save us either.

+3 # kyzipster 2017-10-02 23:35
Obama was able to win in large part because of 8 years of Bush and all of his failures. Trump won largely because of Obama's embrace of the status quo which has left working people far behind. 'The pendulum' is always a contributing factor.

Trump campaigned with a long list of hatreds and resentments but I don't know how much of his win was backlash from having an African American President. Ben Carson might have beaten Hillary after 8 years of an establishment Democrat and a dysfunctional Congress.

I'm pretty sure the white supremacists in the base of the Republican Party, partly the working class who were courted from the Democrats with the Culture War, didn't vote for Obama or Hillary. Their ugliness, their backlash, has been online for 8 years. I don't know how much of a factor it's been with getting Trump elected. I'm sure they repulsed quite a few people in Hillary's direction and she did win the popular vote.

Trump has empowered them and normalized them like no president in my lifetime and it's disgusting how the rest of the Republican base excuses it.

A friend of mine said to me right after Trump won, 'there's no way we will lose 40 years of progress.' He was referring to LGBTQ issues. Despite massive legislative attacks on our rights happening right now, I still believe that's true. I really hope it's true in every other area when it comes to racism and other bigotries, but Trump is waking us up to what ugliness is still out there.
-2 # bread and butter 2017-10-04 20:35
It doesn't matter how much Repugs hate Obama. If the left had been convinced to vote, Clinton would have won.
0 # kyzipster 2017-10-05 14:10
I agree, I'm referring the effect of having one party in the White House. Had a Republican been in the White House instead of Obama, Clinton might have one. Their extremism motivates 'the left' to vote. I think she would have won in 2008 had she secured the nomination.

No, not a defense of her, just a comment on how the status quo continues decade after decade. In fact, Trump probably puts us at risk of another establishment Democrat winning the WH. The more outrageous he behaves, along with his supporters, the more the left will be willing to support anyone but him. I'm not blaming anyone, just a prediction.

I'm thinking it will be Warren. Not advocating, just predicting. Maybe we can call her a hybrid of a progressive and an establishment Dem. It would be an improvement.
-4 # Depressionborn 2017-10-04 02:52 2017-10-02 15:36

some truth in the wilderness, thanks slinkie
-1 # Kimc 2017-10-04 15:58
We are discussing the presidents and the racism issue as if there weren't a huge disaster waiting for us just over the horizon. When the climate change makes this planet unlivable, the people who are on the bottom now will be pushed further down. Americans shot their wad with the Revolutionary war and aren't capable of another one, but elsewhere there will be great unrest if there is anyone left. We are heading toward not having any food as soon as 2030.
-1 # elkingo 2017-10-06 04:55
Racism is an artifact of classism, classism is an artifact of capitalism. Long live socialism!
-1 # elkingo 2017-10-06 05:02
Black people are victims of white racism, and white people are victims of white racism. Nowhere are people allowed to be human, to love and be loved. And neither black people nor white people exist. Reason it out. Sorry to wax a little cryptic.
-1 # elkingo 2017-10-06 05:08
John S: you're right about "superiority:. Superiority is a mathematical and or hierarchical idea, a result of the culturally pathological suasion of capitalism on consciousness.

But as far as Jesus/God being the panacea, you are just plain nuts, though I understand the good motivation.
-1 # John S. Browne 2017-10-06 19:16

"Rhetorically-questioning, what if you're nuts because of your totally rejecting Jesus the Christ? I know you will probably never consider that, but I'm just "saying". And, I remind you, my question is nothing but a rhetorical one. I probably don't want to read whatever your response to it might be, so please don't bother to respond to it, and spare God, me and everyone your blasphemy and/or so-called "logical", "scientific", etc., response to it and to "Him".


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