Opinion | Why Do We Pay So Many People So Little Money? – By Thomas B. Edsall – The New York Times

By 

Mr. Edsall contributes a weekly column from Washington, D.C. on politics, demographics and inequality.

Credit…Brittany Newman/The New York Times

“With notable abruptness, thanks to the advent of the coronavirus, much of the public has become aware its dependence on hospital orderlies, cleaners, trash collectors, grocery workers, food delivery drivers, paramedics, mortuary technicians, and postal, shipping, maintenance, wastewater treatment, truck stop and mass transit employees — on what, to many, had been a largely invisible work force.

As Tony Powell, a 62-year-old hospital administrative coordinator, told Molly Kinder, a fellow in the Brookings Metropolitan Policy Program, in a taped interview in May:

People are not looking at people like us on the lower end of the spectrum. We’re not even getting respect. That is the biggest thing: we are not even getting respect. Nobody is listening to their voices. Maybe they’ll wake up and see: Oh, these are the people that are actually taking care of the people that need to be taken care of.

A paper published that same month, “The Declining Worker Power Hypothesis,” by Anna Stansbury and Lawrence H. Summers, economists at Harvard, describes conditions on the bottom rungs of the job market:

The American economy has become more ruthless, as declining unionization, increasingly demanding and empowered shareholders, decreasing real minimum wages, reduced worker protections, and the increases in outsourcing domestically and abroad have disempowered workers — with profound consequences for the labor market and the broader economy.

David Lindsay Jr.
Hamden, CT | NYT Comment:
Excellent research and writing, thank you Thomas Edsall. I propose we consider and try to implement a new employment tax that goes up as the unemployment rate goes up, and retreats as the unemployment rate goes down. The funds would help pay for a federal work program for every American that needs a job. One of the many benefits of such a tax and spend system, is that it would put pressure on companies and small business people to hire workers, since if they don’t, the tax goes up. Supermarkets that replace cashiers with robots would see their taxes go up, unless those workers quickly found other work.

Opinion | Trump’s Immigration Ban Is Straight Out of His Old Populist Playbook – By Thomas B. Edsall – The New York Times

By 

Mr. Edsall contributes a weekly column from Washington, D.C. on politics, demographics and inequality.

Credit…Anna Moneymaker/The New York Times

“President Trump has chosen his pandemic re-election strategy. He is set on unifying and reinvigorating the groups that were crucial to his 2016 victory: racially resentful whitesevangelical Christiansgun activistsanti-vaxxers and wealthy conservatives.

Tying his re-election to the growing anti-lockdown movement, Trump is encouraging a resurgence of what Ed Kilgore, in New York magazine, calls “the angry anti-government strain of right-wing political activity that broke out in the tea-party movement” — a movement now focused on ending the virus-imposed restrictions on many aspects of American life.

Jeremy Menchik, a political scientist at Boston University, argues in a lengthy Twitter thread that

these protests have something for everyone: small-business, concerns for the working class, anti-elitism for resentful rural whites, fetishism of guns for NRA, dislike of government for traditional conservatives. It’s a crosscutting issue even amid a pandemic.

Menchik makes the point that anti-quarantine protests

will distract the electorate. If the election is a fight between Trump vs governors who refuse to open their economies, Trump doesn’t have to defend his record on Covid-19. He’s an advocate for liberty!

Studies of the 2009-10 Tea Party movement, Menchik writes, suggest that “continued protests will boost conservative turnout in Nov 2020.” The protests

will help frame the 2020 election as a choice between the pro-open economy Trump versus the Washington insider #BeijingBiden who is complicit in China’s efforts to hurt working class Americans.

Crucially, Menchik argues,

Continued protests will help Trump rebuild his coalition of 2016. Scholars of digital social movements emphasize a logic of connective action not collective action; where personalized content sharing across media networks enables coalition building.

Casting the coronavirus epidemic as a wedge issue, Trump is playing both ends against the middle, in an attempt to veil his own inconsistencies.    . . . “

David Lindsay:

Here are the top comments after this article, which, like the article,  are also amazing.

David Potenziani
Durham, NC
Times Pick

Mr. Edsall ably documents the fact that Trump is clever but not smart. He’s clever by driving wedges between groups and connecting his disparate supporters in the hope to flip a few states. If he were smart, he would have stepped up with leadership showing (feigned) sincerity, calm, and empathy for the plight of the American people, marshaling the resources to get testing on its feet, and driving forward for effective treatment and the promised land of a vaccine. He would have won. Maybe bigly. But all is not good in the land of Trump. The latest polls show erosion of support by seniors. GOP governors are breaking ranks with the leaders of their party. Most Americans fear the virus and want protection. Trump’s approach is purely political when a vastly different solution is needed. The lack of leadership will leave all areas in the lurch. Because COVID-19 respects no one, the epidemic will ravage every farm, hamlet, village, and town—everywhere. This was a challenge of leadership. Trump has failed. Tragically.

35 Replies907 Recommended

John commented April 22

John
Cleveland Heights
Times Pick

In addition to the groups described as comprising his coalition, Trump pulled together a number of single-issue voters who were willing to hold their noses regarding their general dislike for the man: anti-choice, anti-tax, anti-immigrant, anti-regulation, anti-Palestinian, etc. I hope that this pandemic has revealed that character matters. This is a guy who insisted on placing his name on stimulus checks as a decoration, a guy who lies shamelessly and gives himself a 10/10 for his performance on every issue, the kind of person who, if a character on a TV show, everyone would laugh at and find completely despicable and to be dismissed. I hope that these single-issue voters will come to their senses and see that Trump is not presidential material. Biden, despite his flaws, has a basic sense of right and wrong that one could appeal to. It would matter to Biden whether a given course of action was right or not. Trump completely lacks that. He does not even understand that. His desire to win at all costs and his lack of character are now completely laid bare. He has got to go.

24 Replies574 Recommended

alan haigh commented April 22

alan haigh
carmel, ny

Thank you pundits. Without your guidance Trump’s tactics would have seemed like love of America and the desire to lift the lot of working Americans to me. Every single Trump briefing on the pandemic has revealed such utter incompetence- such a complete inability to marshal a simple paragraph of information that if the voters bring him within a mile of another term, I suppose we will have the government we deserve. Cuomo’s detailed briefings provide a perfect contrast, revealing a thorough grasp of the data and what the consequences are for regular people. Night and day. Grammar school and graduate school. How can Trump be a champion for anyone who successfully graduated high school?

7 Replies495 Recommended

Joel Sanders commented April 22

Joel Sanders
Montgomery, AL

It’s interesting that the anti-shutdown protestors see themselves as, once again, giving the middle finger to the coastal elites but are actually being duped by conservative elites.

5 Replies415 Recommended

Tony Pious commented April 22

Tony Pious
Times Pick

Conservative working class whites fail to understand what wealthy conservative whites have always known. Government per se is not the enemy; government is merely the tool of the real enemy — Big Capital. That the Kochs and Mercers and DeVos’s of the world can fund astroturf campaigns and hoodwink blue colar whites into acting against their own interests is bald evidence of the primacy of money in American politics. What credulous working class whites fail to understand is that COVID-19 is a far greater threat to them than to the shadowy squintillionaires who bankroll their protests. So while they are coughing and hacking their way to an early grave the Kochs and Mercers and DeVos’s of the world are secure in the knowledge that their squintillions will isolate them from the havoc they wreak.

20 Replies409 Recommended

Stephen Csiszar commented April 22

Stephen Csiszar
Carthage NC

@David Potenziani He cannot even be bothered to pretend to feign sincerity, or anything else he lacks, like everything. He can however, continue endlessly to talk about himself. TV game show host making life-and-death decisions for hundreds of millions. Oh America.

329 Recommended

Mike N commented April 22

Mike N
Rochester

Our country is divided now into two camps but it isn’t even about ideology anymore. It comes down to one thing: those susceptible to the con, and those who aren’t. It’s not about ideology; it’s about gullibility.

24 Replies328 Recommended

Opinion | Covid-19 Is Twisting 2020 Beyond All Recognition – By Thomas B. Edsall – The New York Times

By 

Mr. Edsall contributes a weekly column from Washington, D.C. on politics, demographics and inequality.

Credit…Al Drago for The New York Times

“Not only will the coronavirus crisis define Donald Trump’s legacy, it will determine whether or not he is a one-term president.

David Winston, a Republican pollster, summed up the situation in an email:

The country is not looking at what is occurring through a political lens. They are focused on the threat to their health and the country’s health and how that threat is being addressed.

Because of that, Winston continued, voters will judge the Trump administration by “the effectiveness of actions taken to address that threat, and get the country moving forward again,” making the question on Election Day “who does the country believe should be given the responsibility to govern.”

Crises can provoke extreme responses. The 2008-9 recession produced both Barack Obama and the Tea Party. On a grander scale, the Great Depression produced both Franklin Delano Roosevelt and Adolf Hitler.

No one is suggesting that the country is at such a point now, but, then again, no one suggested in January of 2015 that the country was on the verge of electing Donald Trump president.

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Continue reading the main story

The current pandemic shows signs of reshaping the American political and social order for years to come.

March 10-15 NBC News/Commonwealth Fund poll asked 1,006 adults “How much do you trust the President Trump to provide information about the coronavirus epidemic?” A majority, 53 percent, said they either had no trust at all (40 percent) or little trust (13 percent). 30 percent said they either completely trust (16 percent) or mostly trust (14 percent) the president.

In another danger signal for Trump, the poll asked “how confident are you that the vaccine will be available to the American public at little or no cost” if a Democrat wins or if Trump is re-elected. Nearly two thirds said they were confident a low-cost vaccine would be available with a Democrat in the White House; half said they were confident with Trump in office for another four years.

Trump’s job approval ratings have risen in recent weeks, but Gary Langer, who conducts polling for ABC News, warned that the results of an ABC/Washington Post survey released on March 27 show that there are substantial risks to the president:

Trump’s overall approval rating drops among people who are more worried about catching the coronavirus, report severe local economic impacts, say their lives have been especially disrupted or know someone who’s caught the virus. He also has lower approval in states with higher per capita infection rates.

While some of those findings reflect the higher levels of infection with coronavirus in blue states, Langer wrote, “the results suggest that as the crisis deepens, the risks to views of his performance likely rise.”

On March 26, Pew Research released results of a survey that showed significant demographic and partisan differences in responses to the question “Has someone in your household lost a job or taken a pay cut as a result of Covid-19?”

Opinion | Trump Has His Sights Set on Black Voters – By Thomas B. Edsall – The New York Times

By 

Mr. Edsall contributes a weekly column from Washington, D.C. on politics, demographics and inequality.

Credit…Leah Millis/Reuters

“The Trump campaign is investing more money and resources in an attempt to attract African-American voters than any Republican presidential campaign in recent memory.

The drive includes highly visible television advertising, including an $11 million Super Bowl commercial, along with ad purchases in local black newspapers and on radio stations; “Black Voices for Trump”; storefronts in key battleground states; and a sustained social media campaign directed at black voters whose consumer, religious and demographic profiles suggest potential support, including on such issues as immigration, abortion, gender roles and gay rights.

For Trump, the effort became all the more crucial as the Super Tuesday primaries demonstrated Joe Biden’s strong appeal to black voters. Exit polls showed Biden winning 57 percent of the votes cast by African-Americans on Tuesday, 40 points higher than his closest competitor, Bernie Sanders, at 17 percent.

Adrianne Shropshire, executive director of the pro-Democratic BlackPAC and the affiliated nonpartisan Black Progressive Action Coalition, wrote in an email that Trump has already communicated with a large segment of the African-American electorate, although she disputes the effectiveness of Trump’s bid to win black support:

We’ve had a significant number of black voters tell us that they have gotten Trump ads on their social media platforms. That tracks with our recent poll where nearly 30 percent of those surveyed said that they had been contacted by the campaign.

Many Democrats and their liberal allies downplay the president’s efforts, arguing that not only is black support for the Democratic Party rock solid, but that animosity to Trump among minority voters has reached record highs. Democratic politicians and strategists who act on these assumptions do so at their own risk.”

Opinion | Does Anyone Have a Clue About How to Fight Back Against Trump’s Racism? – By Thomas B. Edsall – The New York Times

By 

Mr. Edsall contributes a weekly column from Washington, D.C. on politics, demographics and inequality.

Credit…Doug Mills/The New York Times

“Can Democrats diminish the bigotry that Donald Trump has unleashed in this country?

Stung by the success of Trump’s anti-immigrant, racist campaign themes in 2016, left-of-center advocacy groups — think tanks, unions, progressive academics and Democratic consultants — are developing tools this year to counter the continuing Republican assault on liberal values, based on the optimistic assumption that the reservoir of white animosity is not so deep that Trump is assured re-election.

These efforts on the left challenge the long history of Republican success in exploiting race and a host of ancillary issues — crime, welfare, social disorder, family breakdown, homelessness — a history that includes Richard Nixon in 1968 and 1972, Ronald Reagan in 1980, George H.W. Bush in 1988 and Donald Trump in 2016.

That history points to the relentless power of racial resentment in American politics. Despite polling that shows greater acceptance of racial equality, this issue is as potent a source of political strength for Trump today as it was for Nixon a half century ago.

There are myriad studies, as have noted (along with many others) that show the continuing effectiveness of race and immigration as wedge issues. These studies continue to appear at an alarming rate.”

Opinion |  – By Thomas B. EdThe Lobbyists Blocking Nancy Pelosi and Her New Majoritysall – The New York Times

By Thomas B. Edsall
Mr. Edsall contributes a weekly column from Washington, D.C. on politics, demographics and inequality.

Jan. 10, 2019

64
Speaker Nancy Pelosi after a group photo with House democratic women in front of the Capitol on Jan. 4, 2018.
Credit
Erin Schaff for The New York Times

“Speaker Nancy Pelosi and the idealistic class of 64 Democratic House freshmen are armed with a reform agenda.

This includes H.R. 1, a 571-page bill that addresses voting rights, corruption, gerrymandering and campaign finance reform as well as the creation of a Select Committee on the Climate Crisis — a first step toward a “Green New Deal.”

Proponents of this ambitious project face a determined adversary, however — the top ranks of the interest group establishment, skilled in co-opting liberal members of Congress and converting initiatives to square with the interests of corporate America.

The upper stratum of the Washington lobbying community often exercises de facto veto power over the legislative process, dominating congressional policymaking, funneling campaign money to both parties and offering lucrative employment to retiring and defeated members of the House and Senate.

Lobbyists exercise this power across the course of a member’s career. “Whoever is elected is immediately met with a growing lobbying onslaught by the same big players,” write Lee Drutman, a senior fellow at New America, Matt Grossmann, a political scientist at Michigan State and Tim LaPira, a political scientist at James Madison University, who have contributed a chapter to “Can America Govern Itself?” a book edited by Francis Lee and Nolan McCarty that is coming out in June.

Within the federal lobbying community — a $3.37 billion industry in 2017 — Drutman, Grossmann and LaPira write

a limited number of organizations at the very top of the resource distribution have escalated their political investments in ways that increasingly distinguish them from the rest of the pack.

This population of groups at the top of the distribution is becoming increasingly stable over the last two decades. This group of top organizations — which we call the top tier — is positioning itself as a distinct class.

The authors argue that the first tier lobbying organizations

are analogous to the current generation of very wealthy families who now pay for every conceivable tutor so that their children can be advantaged in applying to elite prep schools and colleges, which are now more and more essential to getting ahead in our increasingly economically stratified society. In both circumstances, financial resources and social connections build up over time, reinforcing stratification. Money does not guarantee outcomes. But it helps reinforce inequalities by widening the gap between the very top and everyone else.

The ability of this elite constituency to meet politicians’ demands for campaign contributions and other resources, the authors argue, has allowed Congress to ignore traditional “populist concerns regarding dominant economic interests” as members of the House and Senate “continue their high-dollar fund-raisers and constant meetings with lobbyists.””

Opinion | White Identity Politics Aren’t Going Anywhere – By Thomas B. Edsall – The New York Times

How should Democrats understand — and confront — them?

By Thomas B. Edsall
Mr. Edsall contributes a weekly column from Washington, D.C. on politics, demographics and inequality.

Dec. 20, 2018, .137

Image
Voters at Merry Acres Middle School in Albany, Ga. on Nov. 6, 2018CreditCreditRuth Fremson/The New York Times

“For 50 years Republicans have battered the Democratic coalition, wielding the so-called southern strategy — built on racism and overlaid with opposition to immigration — to win control of the White House and one or both chambers of Congress.

At the same time, Democrats have struggled to piece together a coalition strong enough to deliver an Election Day majority. In the 1950s, the Democratic coalition was 87 percent white and 13 percent minority, according to the American National Election Studies; it is now 59 percent white and 41 percent minority, according to Pew Research.

As the Democratic Party has evolved from an overwhelmingly white party to a party with a huge minority base, the dominant strategic problem has become the tenuous balance between the priorities of its now equally indispensable white and minority wings.

President Trump has aggressively exploited Democratic vulnerabilities as no previous Republican candidate had dared to do. The frontal attack Trump has engineered — in part by stigmatizing “political correctness” — has had a dual effect, throwing Democrats back on their heels while simultaneously whetting their appetite for a fight.

“. . . In other words, pro-immigration, pro-diversity Democrats face clear obstacles breaking the Republican hold on white voters — and a challenge in repelling Trump’s race-and-immigration-focused offensive. Still, the accumulating insights on how and where Republicans have successfully worked these levers may help demonstrate — as President Barack Obama, President Bill Clinton and the results of this year’s midterm elections prove — that these obstacles are not insuperable and that they can be overcome.”

Opinion | After Citizens United, a Vicious Cycle of Corruption – By Thomas B. Edsall – The New York Times

Thomas B. Edsall
By Thomas B. Edsall
Mr. Edsall contributes a weekly column from Washington, D.C. on politics, demographics and inequality.

Dec. 6, 2018, 363
Justice Anthony M. Kennedy, the author of the Supreme Court’s decision in Citizens United, speaking at the White House in 2017.
Credit
Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

“In the eight years since it was decided, Citizens United has unleashed a wave of campaign spending that by any reasonable standard is extraordinarily corrupt.

To see how this operates in practice, let’s take a look at how Paul Ryan, the outgoing speaker of the House, negotiated a path — narrowly constructed to stay on the right side of the law — during a recent fund-raising trip to Las Vegas, as recounted in detail by Politico.

In early May, Ryan flew to Nevada to solicit money from Sheldon Adelson — the casino magnate who was by far the largest Republican contributor of 2018 — for the Congressional Leadership Fund, an independent expenditure super PAC. Ryan was accompanied by Norm Coleman, a former Republican Senator from Minnesota.

The Leadership Fund, according to its website, is “a super PAC exclusively dedicated to protecting and strengthening the Republican Majority in the House of Representatives.” It “operates independently of any federal candidate or officeholder.””

Opinion | Donald Trump’s Dimming Prospects – By Thomas B. Edsall – The New York Times

By Thomas B. Edsall
Mr. Edsall contributes a weekly column from Washington, D.C. on politics, demographics and inequality.,  Nov. 29, 2018, 301


Supporters of Kyrsten Sinema, the Democratic Senate candidate in Arizona, await election results in Phoenix on Nov. 6. Ms. Sinema won.
Credit
Christian Petersen/Getty Images

“Now that the midterm elections have been digested — and looked at up, down and sideways — some patterns that might dim President Trump’s re-election prospects have begun to emerge.

Catalist, a for-profit data firm founded in 2006 by the Democratic campaign strategists Harold Ickes and Laura Quinn, has become a go-to source of voter and donor information for liberal and progressive organizations.

During and after the 2018 elections, the firm conducted a study of the electorate to determine favorable and unfavorable developments important to its clients.

Catalist found that between 2014 and 2018 white voters aged 18 to 44 shifted sharply in favor of the Democrats. In 2014, whites 18 to 29 supported Democrat candidates by one percentage point; in 2018, these young white voters backed Democrats by 26 points, a substantial 25-point swing.”

Opinion | The Trump Legions – By Thomas B. Edsall- NYT

Thomas B. Edsall
By Thomas B. Edsall
Mr. Edsall contributes a weekly column from Washington, D.C. on politics, demographics and inequality.

Nov. 1, 2018, 98
Image
Thumbs up on President Trump in Murphysboro, Ill., last week.CreditCreditDoug Mills/The New York Times

“When reporters asked President Trump last week if he bore any responsibility for the pipe bombs sent to many of his critics and adversaries, he declared his innocence:

“Not at all, no. There is no blame. There is no anything.”

At the same time, an Oct. 29 PRRI survey revealed that 69 percent of voters believe that Trump has “damaged the dignity of the presidency.”

Trump reinforced this public assessment in his answer to another question: Did he plan to phone any of the officials who had been targeted with bombs, including his predecessors in the White House, the Clintons and the Obamas? His reply:

“I think we’ll probably pass, thank you very much.”

These exchanges raise the same two questions that have been posed repeatedly during the Trump presidency:

How could this man have been elected to the highest office in the land? And how can Trump not only remain in office but, for the moment at least, appear to stand a reasonable chance of being renominated and even re-elected?

To get some answers to these questions, I turned to a 2018 paper by Ronald Inglehart and two fellow political scientists at the University of Michigan, as well as to a new book by Marc Hetherington and Jonathan Weiler, who are political scientists at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill.

In “The Silent Revolution in Reverse: Trump and the Xenophobic Authoritarian Populist Parties,” Inglehart, Jon Miller and Logan Woods provide fresh insight on a subject to which Inglehart, at times writing with Pippa Norris of Harvard, has devoted much of his career: the ongoing tension between materialist and post-materialist values and the political consequences of that tension.”