March 13, 2017
March 1, 2017
NY Times Editorial Board reacts to President Donald J. Trump’s Address to US Congress
If there was a unifying theme to President Trump’s campaign, it was his pledge to serve America’s “forgotten men and women,” working people forsaken by the economy and Washington.
In his speech Tuesday night to a joint session of Congress, Mr. Trump presented himself as having made an aggressive start at championing the cause of working people, and promised a new era of rising wages, bustling factories and coal mines, sparkling air and water, and cheaper and better health care, all behind a “great great wall.” He told a few whoppers, but largely kept his eyes riveted to his teleprompter and his delivery subdued. He even opened his speech with a long-overdue condemnation of hate “in all of its very ugly forms.”
We heard again the same sorts of gauzy promises and assertions of a future Edenic America, a sort of Trumptopia, that characterized his campaign. He didn’t explain how he would get it all done, much less pay for any of it; indeed, it sounded at times as though he were still running for the job, rather than confronted with actually doing it. Across his first few weeks in office, Mr. Trump has shown little sign of delivering anything for working Americans beyond whatever satisfaction they may derive from watching him bait the Washington establishment and attack the reality-based media.
Mr. Trump likes to describe his chaotic first month as “promises kept.” Really? Remember how he promised during the campaign to “immediately” fix Obamacare and deliver “great health care for a fraction of the price”? He hasn’t even put a plan on the table. On Monday, he complained to the nation’s governors that “nobody knew” replacing Obamacare “could be so complicated.”
As in the campaign, Mr. Trump also promised Tuesday night to accelerate economic growth with a $1 trillion infrastructure plan. “Crumbling infrastructure,” he said, “will be replaced with new roads, bridges, tunnels, airports and railways, gleaming across our very, very beautiful land.” Sounds great. What’s the plan? How will we pay for it? He wasn’t saying. He also renewed his promise of “massive tax relief” for the middle class — but once again there are no details in sight.
It is very early yet in this presidency — though it sure doesn’t feel that way — and Mr. Trump may yet keep some of his proliferating commitments to Americans.
But the plans he has put forward so far, and the few actions he has taken, do not bode well. He proposes to cut the health, disability and job-training programs that working people, as well as the poor, rely upon. Mr. Trump’s first big initiative was a draconian immigration ban, now mired in court challenges, that’s caused problems for businesses from Silicon Valley to Wisconsin. Mr. Trump proudly noted Tuesday that one of the administration’s first orders froze federal hiring, but he seems unaware that those jobs aren’t only in Washington, they’re in communities across the nation.
Mr. Trump has successfully started a national assault on unauthorized immigrants — and it is already tearing families apart and disrupting businesses, and is likely to cost billions without improving the fortunes of the working poor. On Tuesday he dangled the possibility of supporting some form of “merit based” immigration reform that would make struggling families “very very happy indeed.”
Again, that last bit sounds really nice. But it’s hard to escape the conclusion that, so far, the only working people the president has really delivered for are members of his own family, who are using his presidency as a brand-building opportunity, and former campaign officials, who are cashing in as lobbyists in Washington.
Yet Mr. Trump has certainly not forgotten America’s “forgotten men and women.” The White House is assiduously stoking their fears, grievances and prejudices, and selling photo-ops as accomplishments in order to portray an undisciplined, unfocused president as “President Action, President Impact.”
Steve Bannon–The Strategic Thinker and Ideologue in the Trump White House
Meanwhile, he and his aides have counted on the protests of Americans outraged by his antics to create the appearance of an activist presidency. The cable shows are always on in the West Wing, where Stephen Bannon loves seeing split-screen television images with Mr. Trump meeting business executives on one side and opposition protest rallies on the other.
Mr. Trump closed his address to Congress by recalling the historic accomplishments of “the country’s builders and artists and inventors” and imagining what Americans can accomplish today. It’s time for the American President to do his job as well.
A version of this editorial appears in print on March 1, 2017, on Page A30 of the New York edition with the headline: Visions of Trumptopia.
Read Thomas Friedman’s article as well:
January 29, 2017
Why As A Philosopher I Voted For Trump
by Professor Daniel Bonevac (University of Texas, Austin)
This article is part of The Critique’s January/February 2017 Issue “Stick It To The Man: A Year Of Anglo-American Populist Revolt Against A Changing Culture And An Obtuse Political Establishment.”
I. “We are patronized by our inferiors”
In the heat of the Presidential election campaign, Peggy Noonan wrote about the Wikileaks revelations and thereby captured a central theme of the election:
“Here’s what you see in the emails: the writers are the worst kind of snobs, snobs with nothing to recommend them. In their expression and thoughts they are common, banal, dumb, uninformed, parochial….It’s the big fact of American life now, isn’t it? That we are patronized by our inferiors”
That’s exactly how I see it: We are patronized by our inferiors. During the campaign Hillary Clinton and the Democrats did not just reveal themselves as elitists who are out of touch with the circumstances of many of their compatriots , and proud of it; who have contempt for half the country , and are willing to say so publicly; and who are willing, in fact, to say anything to gain and keep power. They revealed themselves as fools.
That’s exactly how I see it: We are patronized by our inferiors. During the campaign Hillary Clinton and the Democrats did not just reveal themselves as elitists who are out of touch with the circumstances of many of their compatriots , and proud of it; who have contempt for half the country , and are willing to say so publicly; and who are willing, in fact, to say anything to gain and keep power. They revealed themselves as fools.
To be clear, I do not mean to say that they are unintelligent. They are often quite clever. In many cases, they are highly educated, or at least, to borrow Glenn Reynolds’s phrase, “credentialed but not educated.” But intelligence and education do not entail wisdom. Indeed, there is a kind of intelligence, and a kind of education, that seems to stand in the way of getting wisdom. Trump supporters often react to the opinions of the anointed, the elites from academia and the media, as George Orwell reacted to outlandish claims in “On Nationalism”: “One has to belong to the intelligentsia to believe things like that: no ordinary man could be such a fool.” The conventional wisdom, too often, is not wisdom at all.
II. “Who are you going to believe, us or your lying eyes?”
Sixty-five years ago, Swarthmore psychologist Solomon Asch conducted his famous experiments, gathering groups of students together for what he said was research into visual perception. In fact, he wanted to study “a disagreement between a group and one individual member about a clear and simple issue of fact.” He brought students together in groups, all but one of whom were his confederates. He showed the group a card with a line on it, and then a card with three lines—one the same length as the original, the others clearly shorter or longer. He asked the students, in sequence, which line matched the original in length. He started with his confederates, who agreed with one another. For the first few trials, their answers were correct. But then the confederates began agreeing on incorrect answers. In more than a third of the subsequent trials, the subject, who answered last, conformed to the rest of the group, giving a plainly wrong answer. “Who are you going to believe, us or your lying eyes?” Seventy-five percent of the subjects went with the majority on at least some trials. Only twenty-five percent resisted the pull of erroneous agreement completely.
Trump supporters, over the past eight years, have felt like subjects in Asch’s experiments. They have been struck by the discrepancies between informed opinion, as represented in the pages of the elite newspapers in the country, as well as the scholarly journals of academic societies, and their own perceptions on a wide variety of topics. Such discrepancies are not necessarily signs of unwisdom, of course; they may reflect differences in experiences and world views that lead people to base their opinions on different sets of facts or to interpret the same facts in different ways. In Asch’s experiments, however, there was little room for such differences; only one line on the second card was a plausible candidate for being the same length as the line on the first card. Statements that were incorrect were obviously incorrect. That is just how it has seemed to Trump supporters.
How often have we encountered statements like these over the past eight years? “Islam is a religion of peace.” “If you like your doctor, you can keep your doctor.” “Obamacare will bring down the cost of health insurance.” “The economy is in great shape.” “Raising the minimum wage doesn’t cost jobs; it creates them.” “Iran can be trusted not to develop nuclear weapons.” “America is stronger and more respected today than it was eight years ago.” These are not only false, but obviously false. The Quran repeatedly calls for violence against unbelievers. Since December 2015, 68 Americans have died from terror attacks on U.S. soil. More than 200 have been wounded. Obamacare has increased costs while decreasing patient choice, exactly as its critics predicted; no system that increases demand for services while doing nothing to increase supply can lower costs. Obama has overseen the weakest economic recovery in decades. The percentage of working-age Americans employed is at its lowest rate since the late 1970s. Minimum wage increases raise the cost of employing people, which leads to fewer jobs. Finally, Iran is already violating the nuclear agreement, according to German intelligence, and Russia, China, Iran, and other adversaries treat America with contempt.
The Democratic Party and its allies in the media and academia have pushed a narrative for decades that portrays free enterprise as cruel, corrupt, and unfair, and government as caring, altruistic, and just. Freedom creates problems; government solves them. Sometimes, that narrative is accurate. Often, however, it is not. The gap between the narrative and reality has been growing as government grows beyond the problems it knows how to solve. And those upholding the narrative seem increasingly incapable of recognizing the divergence. They seem incapable of conceiving of a simple question: Even if there is a better solution than the equilibrium achieved by the free market—by free people freely making their own decisions—why should we have confidence that government can find it? Still less do they seem capable of answering it. I am not saying that thinkers on the left do not propose solutions—of course they do—but that they do not even try to establish the optimality of their preferred policies. Consider Thomas Piketty, who advocates a global capital tax as a solution to rising inequality without establishing what an ideal level of inequality would be or whether his proposed tax would achieve it. For another example, consider George A. Akerlof and Robert J. Shiller, who argue that manipulation and weakness of will lead people to make economic decisions that are bad for them. Why these factors do not equally lead people to make political decisions that are bad for them, and lead political actors to make decisions that are bad for all of us, remains unexplored. Unlike Asch’s confederates, Democratic Party elites seem to believe the narrative. Their decision process, infused with bad information, looks to others to be increasingly irrational. Votes for Trump were votes for rationality. They were votes for truth.
III. The end of “phone and a pen” policy making
The election’s similarity to the Asch experience was no accident. It stemmed from a deep philosophical divide. This election presented Americans with a clear choice: someone who agrees with the political philosophy of the nation’s founders, or someone who utterly rejects it. The United States was founded on the political philosophy of John Locke, adapted by Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, and other founders. According to that “bottom-up” political theory, people have natural rights to life, liberty, and property. Government gets its power from the people; it is legitimate only with the consent of the governed. Its mission is to promote the general welfare by providing a framework for ordered liberty, a framework within which people can exercise their freedoms and pursue happiness. That is Donald Trump’s vision of government. There is considerable flexibility, of course, in the concept of a framework for ordered liberty. Trump’s enthusiasm for building an infrastructure for liberty places him on the Henry Clay–Dwight Eisenhower end of a continuum the other side of which is Robert Nozick’s minimal state.
Hillary Clinton’s “top-down” progressive vision, stemming ultimately from Rousseau, is incompatible with that Lockean foundation. It envisions a very different role for government. In her view, it is up to the government—in practice, the Supreme Court—to determine what rights people have. There are no natural rights, rights independent of government, inherent in us as human beings in Rousseau’s vision. Rights are creatures of government.
As such, rights can be limited or rejected if they conflict with government goals. Clinton’s platform sought to restrict freedom of speech, for example, by making it illegal to criticize political candidates during election campaigns. That is what the Citizens United decision was about: whether the government could prevent Hillary, the Movie from being shown.
She also wanted to extend the Obama administration’s assaults on freedom of religion, supporting its attempts to make a Catholic charity, the Little Sisters of the Poor, provide funding for abortions. Prominent Democrats called for churches who opposed Democratic policies on abortion, homosexuality, transgender rights, and other matters to lose property-tax exemptions , insisting that religious organizations, colleges, and clubs should not be allowed to discriminate even on the basis of religious belief.
She wanted to overturn Supreme Court decisions upholding the right to keep and bear arms, including one allowing a police officer to have a gun in his own home while off-duty, and spoke favorably of Australia’s confiscation of firearms.
She advocated policies on college campuses that have led to tenured professors being fired for cursing, telling jokes, or singing Beach Boys songs, and have provoked investigations of other professors for criticizing those very policies. Political correctness, already out of control on college campuses, has begun spreading to the workplace and other areas of society. She also backed the Obama administration’s insistence that the standard of guilt beyond a reasonable doubt be abandoned, especially as it applies to college students dealing with accusations of sexual assault.
All of these stances have something in common: they advocate restricting or eliminating rights for the sake of expanding government power: making officials immune from criticism; allowing officials to impose their moral views on religious organizations; allowing officials to have a monopoly on violence, even in self-defense; and enabling officials to impose their own visions of proper conduct, including private sexual conduct.
Allowing government officials to impose their own visions on society, even with respect to the most private matters, is central to liberal progressivism. Progressives begin with the worry that the economy and, more generally, patterns of social interaction lead naturally to greater and greater inequality, centralizing power in the hands of a few. Like Rousseau, they imagine a future in which a few gorge themselves on luxuries while the multitude lack necessities. Their solution, inspired by Rousseau, is an expansive conception of the social contract in which people commit everything to the State, and receive in return a fair share of the fruits of their social cooperation. In practice, this becomes whatever the State is willing to let them retain. The State should make this decision according to the general will, that is, the common good. But there is no mechanism within progressivism to ensure that the government acts for the common good rather than the private good of the officials making it up.
To put it another way, the progressive answer to excessive centralization of power is more centralization. Power concentrated in the hands of government is supposed to limit and channel power concentrated in private hands. This, of course, places government officials in a position superior to those they lead, entrusted with the authority to impose their own conception of the good on the rest of society. We have seen this in the Obama administration’s willingness to have key issues decided by unaccountable regulators in the alphabet agencies that now occupy much of Washington. No one voted to destroy the coal industry. No one voted to declare carbon dioxide a pollutant. No one voted to stop enforcing immigration law. No one voted to abandon the “innocent until proven guilty” standard. Clinton promised to continue Obama’s “phone and a pen” policy making, bypassing Congress and thereby the representatives of the people.
Trump stands on the other side of all these issues. He favors freedom of speech; his flouting of political correctness and, sometimes, outright incivility underscores that. He respects freedom of religion. He believes in the right to self-defense. He rejects the culture of perpetual offense that makes life on campus and, increasingly, off campus a minefield of arbitrary and often ridiculous rules. His positions on these issues are in accordance with common sense. They also accord with the Lockean vision that constituted the common ground of American political life until Woodrow Wilson.
Perhaps the central issue of Trump’s campaign was something also found in the campaign for Brexit, to return decision-making authority to the people and their elected representatives. He described the administrative state and the regulatory burden it imposes as “the anchor dragging us down,” pointing out that its growth since 1980 has cost us as much as one-fourth of our Gross National Product. He pledged to issue a moratorium on new regulations and, in the longer term, to insist that any proposed regulation accompany a proposal to eliminate two existing regulations.
In a nutshell, Clinton trusts her own vision and those of people like her. She insists that everyone else conform to that vision, whether they like it or not. Trump respects the vision of the people.
IV. Donald Trump: the supporting partner
The Asch experiments point to a key and under-appreciated reason for Trump’s success. Only twenty-five percent of Asch’s subjects resisted peer pressure consistently throughout the experiment. Seventy-five percent were at least sometimes willing to betray their lying eyes. But the rate of such betrayal fell dramatically if even one other person answered correctly. As Asch put it, “The presence of a supporting partner depleted the majority of much of its power” (1955, 34). My thesis is simple: Throughout 2016, Donald Trump played the role of that supporting partner. He freed people to articulate and act on their own beliefs, rejecting the consensus of the media. He thereby generated considerable affection and allegiance among his followers.
[Solomon Asch by Jan Rieckhoff/ullstein bild via Getty Images]
“The Asch experiments point to a key and under-appreciated reason for Trump’s success (…) Donald Trump played the role of that supporting partner. He freed people to articulate and act on their own beliefs, rejecting the consensus of the media. He thereby generated considerable affection and allegiance among his followers.”
Asch’s subjects with a truth-telling partner developed a strong bond with that partner. “Generally the feeling toward him was one of warmth and closeness; he was credited with inspiring confidence” (1955, 34). Having someone else who sees things as you do and is willing to say so produces a sense of relief, eliminating for most the sense of self-doubt that disagreement with the rest produces. It generates a strong attachment to that person. It also generates a sense of admiration for the partner who is confident and courageous enough to tell the truth.
This, I suggest, was the source of the enthusiasm Trump’s supporters showed for his candidacy. On the last weekend of the campaign, Trump held a rally in Moon Township, southwest of Pittsburgh. Twelve thousand people, more than the venue could hold, braved a terrible traffic jam to attend. Those who could not get inside—including some of my relatives—did not leave, but remained outside to listen on loudspeakers. Meanwhile, Hillary Clinton had trouble filling high school gymnasiums. Many noted the enthusiasm gap between the candidates, but most focused on the lack of enthusiasm for Clinton. Fewer noted the extraordinary enthusiasm for Trump.
The results of the experiment do not depend, however, on whether the majority or the subject is, in the end, correct. The point is the disagreement. Having a partner who sees things as you do, right or wrong, despite the opinion of the majority is what generates the attachment.
In any event, it is far from clear that Trump was not telling the truth. The Obama recovery is the slowest since 1949. Young African-Americans face an unemployment rate of over 20 percent. The national debt has almost doubled; an American born today already owes more than $60,000 in debt. Business profits and durable goods orders are down. So are incomes. Productivity growth is slow. The “new normal,” at most two-percent economic growth, is disappointing by traditional measures. Obama’s policies, driven by a concern for economic inequality, have in fact increased inequality.
The President’s signature “accomplishment,” Obamacare, is in a death spiral of falling enrollments and soaring costs. Racial tensions are leading to riots and attacks on police officers. Violent crime is up sharply. Life expectancy is falling, especially for white males. The IRS, the FBI and the Justice Department are protecting political allies, punishing opponents, and defying court orders, all without anyone being held accountable. The State of the Union is not particularly good. And that is in addition to the international situation, where the United States appears weak, tyrants appear to be emboldened, and the Middle East is in flames. The resulting humanitarian disaster is producing a refugee crisis of unprecedented proportions that threatens the stability of Europe. The list could go on and on.
That is not to say that everything Trump said in the campaign is true. Even many of Trump’s supporters do not fully agree with his more extreme statements. As Salena Zito observed, they take him seriously, but not literally, while his media detractors tend to take him literally but not seriously. But such disagreement does not weaken the liberating effect of having another dissenter in the group; it strengthens it.
Another less-noted feature of the Asch experiments is that introducing someone into the setup who disagreed with both the majority and the subject reduced pressure to conform. But a moderate dissenter, who chose a line between the majority’s choice and the correct line in length, reduced it only moderately. A dissenter who chose a line further from the truth than the majority’s reduced pressure to conform by more than ninety percent—more than someone in full agreement with the subject. “The extremist dissenter produced a remarkable freeing of the subjects; their errors dropped to only 9 per cent. Furthermore, all the errors were of the moderate variety” (1955, 34). If Trump has on occasion deviated from the opinions of his followers by being more extreme, that has only added to the liberating effect of his candidacy. The other Republican contenders for the nomination played the role of moderate dissenters; Trump was the extreme dissenter. No wonder he defeated them. His persuasive strategy was akin to his negotiating strategy: start out with a more extreme position and negotiate toward what you want. Taking the extreme position does not weaken your hand; it strengthens it. His followers understood that.
V. “A Basket Of Deplorables”
As imagining yourself in one of Asch’s experiments might lead you to expect, the research situation produced intense feelings toward other participants. Subjects without a truth-telling partner often doubted themselves, thinking they must be abnormal in some way. Some thought the other participants must be subject to some illusion but didn’t want to cause trouble. Some considered others sheep but declined to go against the herd.
Asch did not study what happens if the confederates mock the subject or the subject’s partner, if there is one. But it is not difficult to hypothesize the result. The emotional reactions the experiment generates would probably be intensified. Those afflicted with self-doubt would likely experience even greater self-doubt. Those with negative feelings toward the herd would likely have even more negative feelings toward them. Affection toward a partner would likely be intensified as well.
That, I maintain, is precisely what the Clinton campaign and the media did during the 2016 campaign. Hillary herself attacked half of Trump’s supporters as “a basket of deplorables,” as “irredeemable.” The other half she seemed to consider pathetic. The insult quickly became a badge of honor among Trump supporters, who began posting “Deplorable Me” and “Les Deplorables” memes on social media. It drove some who had been lukewarm about Trump’s candidacy to become eager supporters, and seemed to quiet objections from so-called “NeverTrumpers”.
Attacks on the candidate himself had much the same effect. Trump’s supporters saw the incessant accusations of racism, xenophobia, Islamophobia, etc., as Asch’s subjects might have seen insults hurled at a truth-telling partner. The accusations did not push Trump’s supporters away from him; for the most part, they pushed them further toward him.
There are two key components to understanding the mechanism by which accusations of this sort strengthened the Trump campaign. The first is that most of the accusations themselves were unjustified. Pushing them made Clinton and her surrogates appear to be both knaves and fools. The second is that Trump’s supporters saw that what was generating the attacks was not Trump’s deviation from their opinions but his agreement with them. In short, they saw the accusations as essentially leveled at them. As the Democrats now know first hand, or at least should know, calling someone names is not generally an effective way of getting them to vote for you.
Consider the first point. What was the evidence that Trump was a racist? On examination, it was surprisingly thin and easily refuted. This is the comment that Democrats twisted into the claim that all Mexicans are criminals:
“When Mexico sends its people, they’re not sending their best. They’re not sending you. They’re not sending you. They’re sending people that have lots of problems, and they’re bringing those problems with us [sic]. They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists. And some, I assume, are good people. But I speak to border guards and they tell us what we’re getting. And it only makes common sense. It only makes common sense. They’re sending us not the right people.It’s coming from more than Mexico. It’s coming from all over South and Latin America, and it’s coming probably— probably— from the Middle East. But we don’t know. Because we have no protection and we have no competence, we don’t know what’s happening. And it’s got to stop and it’s got to stop fast.”
The context for these comments is his critique of Obama’s immigration policy, and, in particular, Obama’s announcement that his administration would stop enforcing immigration law. Trump said that, as a result, people crossing the border are bringing drugs and crime into the United States. All of them? No—he explicitly denied that: “some, I assume, are good people.” ‘Mexicans are bringing crime’ has the same logical form as ‘People are taking pictures’, which means that some people are taking pictures. It does not imply that all people are taking pictures, or that most people are taking pictures. ‘Squirrels are building nests in the attic’ does not mean (fortunately!) that all squirrels, or most squirrels, are doing so. Just so, Trump’s comment means that some Mexicans are bringing crime into the country. That is plainly true. It does not imply that all or most Mexicans are bringing crime into the country. So, where’s the racism? Trump went on to say that the same is true of people from other parts of the world. He not only said something uncontroversial about Mexicans, but denied that it was true only of Mexicans. The racism charge rests on a misreading of his remarks.
In 1980, Fidel Castro said that he released political prisoners in what became known as the Mariel boatlift. It turned out that many of those released were ordinary criminals. Many said at the time that Castro was sending us criminals. No one accused anyone of racism for that assertion, and for obvious reasons. It was not racist. It did not imply that all Cubans are criminals. It did not imply that most Cubans are criminals. It did not imply that Cubans are more likely to be criminals than anyone else. Just so, Trump’s comment did not imply that all, or most, or even many Mexicans are criminals. It did not imply that Mexicans are more likely to be criminals than anyone else. It implied nothing at all about Mexican immigrants who came to this country, legally or illegally, before the Obama administration stopped enforcing the law in November 2014. In fact, it is little more than common sense. Stop enforcing the law, and you get more lawbreakers.
Why, then, call Trump’s remark racist? His supporters initially interpreted it as dishonest, as an attempt to smear an opponent by misreading his statements. As the campaign continued, however, it became clear that many people believed that the comments were racist. They appeared to be incapable of distinguishing some from all, of understanding simple sentences with bare plurals and the progressive aspect—something particularly disappointing to me as a logic professor, since distinguishing some from all is crucial to symbolizing sentences in logical notation. In short, it made them look foolish.
It also made them look hypocritical. The campaign was racially divisive, but the racial division came from the other side. Clinton spoke of “systemic racism,” of “implicit bias,” which “is a problem for all of us.” In effect, she called every American a racist. She apologized for saying early in the campaign that all lives matter, and afterward said ‘Black lives matter,’ which, in her view, evidently expresses an ideal of equality. On the Supreme Court, she said she wanted justices who would decide cases, not on the Constitution or the law, but on the race, gender, wealth, and sexual orientation of the parties. Hearing her say this in the last Trump-Clinton debate, I immediately thought of the words of M. T. Latsis: “To what class does he belong? That’s the essence of the red terror.” Clinton’s stated judicial philosophy is essentially that of the Cheka, dividing people in the law by race, class, sex, and various other categories, with their rights depending on their membership in such groups. I am not saying, of course, that she wished to liquidate those of the wrong group. But she championed a form of identity politics that divides people by race, class, gender, sexual orientation, etc., and treats them differently under the law. She never made a clear case for her own candidacy—“Stronger Together” was vacuous, and was undercut by her reliance on identity politics, as revealed in the otherwise also-vacuous “I’m with Her,” not to mention her dismissal of Trump supporters as irredeemable. She and her supporters relied heavily on the appeal of electing the first female President and attacked women who did not support her as traitors.
Attacks on Trump’s call for a temporary ban on Muslim immigration, a “total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States until our country’s representatives can figure out what is going on,” were equally unjustified. President Obama interpreted this as a call to discrimination, and said, “It is our responsibility to reject religious tests on who we admit into this country. It’s our responsibility to reject proposals that Muslim Americans should somehow be treated differently. Because when we travel down that road, we lose.” To Trump’s supporters, however, the President’s reaction (echoed by all of Trump’s competitors for the Republican nomination except one, not coincidentally his chief rival for the nomination, Ted Cruz) seemed shockingly removed from reality. They looked at Europe’s experience with large-scale Muslim immigration—widespread rapes and sexual assaults, no-go zones, and terror attacks (in the year preceding the election, Paris, Brussels, and Nice, and dozens of other smaller attacks, for a total of 263 dead and 847 wounded)—saw something similar starting to happen in the United States, and said no thanks. They worried that the Democrats wanted to take the United States down the road that Angela Merkel had paved for Germany, noted the growing recognition in Europe that those policies were unwise, and declined to follow Germany’s example. In short, they saw where Obama’s road led, and decided that Trump’s road was safer.
We are now in a position to consider the second point: Trump’s supporters realized that he was being called a racist, Islamophobe, etc., because he agreed with them. Leftists have sometimes insisted that Trump’s supporters are bigots. The “basket of deplorables” remark seemed to indicate that Hillary herself was among them. But viewed from a Trump supporter’s perspective, the charge is absurd.
Why was Trump being called a racist, a xenophobe, an Islamophobe? In the end, it came down to this: he wants to slow the rate of immigration and to enforce immigration law. He wants to keep criminals and terrorists out of the country. So do most of his supporters—not because they hate foreigners, Mexicans, Muslims, or some other collection of groups, but for a variety of perfectly legitimate reasons:
 They dislike crime. They are unhappy about drug gangs crossing the border with impunity. They are not willing to put up with increased rates of theft, murder, and sexual offenses for the sake of greater diversity.
 They dislike acts of terror. They recognize that we have no way to screen newcomers to prevent terrorists from entering the country. They realize that many terrorists are homegrown in the sense that they are second- or third-generation Americans but become radicalized in Muslim communities. They see events in Europe and the United States and conclude that terror attacks are likely to become more common and more deadly if rates of Muslim immigration are not reduced.
 They worry about the availability of jobs. They recognize that immigrants compete with Americans already here for jobs at various skill levels, driving down rates of employment and wages for the native-born. They see that the consequences are worst for those who are most vulnerable.
 They worry about the social costs of immigration. Their ancestors generally came to this country at times when there was no welfare system; newcomers had to make it on their own. Now, a large majority of immigrants rely on social services of one kind or another. And dealing with large numbers of immigrants imposes burdens on schools, health care facilities, and other institutions. Only the most skilled are likely to contribute as much as they cost. As Milton Friedman once said, “It’s just obvious you can’t have free immigration and a welfare state.” The costs are potentially infinite.
 They worry about the effects of high levels of immigration on social capital. Robert Putnam’s research shows that areas with high degrees of ethnic diversity have reduced social capital; diversity damages the networks of trust and cooperation on which productive social interaction depends. There are huge costs to being a low-trust society, and huge benefits to being a high-trust one. The reduction in trust is moreover quite general. People not only trust people in other groups less; they trust people in their own group less. They become less willing to participate in various kinds of activities and associations, preferring to “turtle” in their own homes. The life and vibrancy of the community suffers.
 They worry about our political culture. They sense that the Democrats are eager to increase immigration from certain areas of the world not to benefit the United States but to benefit the Democratic Party by importing large numbers of voters without much exposure to the political culture of the United States or other English-speaking countries. The Democrats want voters with no attachment to the Magna Carta, the doctrine of natural rights, an ideal of individual liberty, or representative government. Trump supporters see little reason why Americans should assist in the destruction of their own political system and thus their own rights and liberties.
Trump supporters realize that there are many benefits to immigration, at certain levels, of certain types of people, under certain circumstances. They recoil from Hillary Clinton’s vision of open borders, but are not hostile to immigration as such. The issue, in their view, is the kind, extent, and pace of immigration, a topic they think deserves careful consideration and debate. The Democrats and the media do not respond to any of the above concerns. They instead retort by calling anyone raising them deplorable. That sounds intemperate, even desperate. To Trump supporters, it also sounds foolish.
VI. Why I Voted For Trump
I voted for Donald Trump partly because I share his political philosophy (which I view as akin to that of the British Whigs); partly because I share his view of the current state of American society and the international order; and partly because I see the American political system as teetering on the edge of a cliff. A Clinton victory, I believe, would have ended the American republic. Obama set out to transform the United States of America. He has done so by transferring power away from the people, and away from Congress, to the courts and to the executive branch. He won a few legislative victories, but has mostly ruled by decree, by executive order and especially by the rule-making of executive branch agencies. Clinton promised to continue the trend. She would have ruled more or less as a monarch with little Congressional limit to her power. The Constitution would have been a dead letter. She would have been able to impose her own moral vision on the entire country. That vision, moreover, rests on a narrative with limited correspondence to reality. And she would have removed the checks and balances of the American system designed to keep narratives and reality in line with each other.
Donald Trump won the Republican nomination because he understood that and pledged to do something about it. He is described as a populist, and for the best of reasons: he wants to return power to the people. He treats ordinary people with dignity and respect. He treats their situations as worthy of concern and their attitudes as worth taking seriously. He values the Constitution. His cabinet appointments have emphasized his commitment to return American government to Constitutional principles. And, just as important, he punctured the narrative. He showed that he understands which of Solomon Asch’s lines is a match.
“How, and to what extent, do social forces constrain people’s opinions and attitudes?” Asch wrote. “This question is especially pertinent in our day. The same epoch that has witnessed the unprecedented technical extension of communication has also brought into existence the deliberate manipulation of opinion and the ‘engineering of consent.’” Trump supporters are tired of being manipulated. They realize how extensively people who consider themselves superior to them have been engineering their consent. And they’ve had enough. They’re tired of being told that they must live a lie.
In an environment where the media, the Democrats, those in high positions in academia, government, and corporations, and most of the Republican candidates agreed on a story that conflicted with what people were observing with their own eyes, Trump was the only person to tell the truth—to say what he thought, no matter what others said, and, in doing so, to depict things as his followers saw them. When he deviated, he went to an extreme, which only strengthened the independence of his fans, making them more immune to manipulation. He thereby undercut the engineering of consent. He earned the affection and loyalty of those who saw a conflict between the narrative and reality. He made those who clung to the narrative look like fools. He gave his followers not only self-confidence but self-respect. And he thereby embarked on the mission to return the United States to the system of government its founders created for it—to make America great again by returning its government to the people.
In my final section let me address some objections. Before I turn to specifics, however, let me make three more general points.
First, we must evaluate political candidates in relation to alternative candidates, not in relation to some abstract ideal. Is Donald Trump the perfect candidate? Will he make a perfect President? No, of course not. No one could fulfill such an expectation.
Second, there is always little data about how candidates will perform in office as President. No other position is comparable, and there is no way to predict how events will frame the decisions they face.
Third, there is a consistent pattern to many objections being raised against Trump: people on the left tend to accuse the right of what they themselves do. I do not know whether this is psychological projection, a conscious strategy, or the result of a mindset that interprets opponents’ actions in terms of familiar models. But it is pervasive.
Now, to the objections. I omit here ordinary policy disagreements concerning tax policy, foreign policy, trade agreements, minimum wage laws, anti-terrorism strategies, and so on. Each is a legitimate issue, an adequate treatment of which would take an essay in itself.
Objection 1: Trump is simply not qualified to be president—he has no government experience. He is the first President never to serve in government or the military.
Presidents of the United States have generally had experience as governors, generals, or U.S. Senators. The first two are analogous to the Presidency in the sense that they involve management of large enterprises with political dimensions. In the contemporary world, however, CEOs of sizable corporations also manage large enterprises with political dimensions. Experience as such a CEO seems at least as relevant to the Presidency as service as Senator. Indeed, I would find it hard to defend the proposition that Trump is less qualified than Barack Obama was in 2008.
Objection 2: Trump does not take expert advice from the military or from intelligence officials. He has threatened to fire generals and has declined daily intelligence briefings.
This complaint against Trump drips with irony, since President Obama did fire generals and skip most daily intelligence briefings. Obama purged the military of Generals McKiernan, McChrystal, Petraeus, Ham, Flynn, and Mattis, Admirals Gaouette and Giardina, and almost 200 other officers who objected to highly restrictive rules of engagement or were unwilling to subjugate military objectives to social priorities. He attended only about 40% of his intelligence briefings. Trump will have to shake up military leadership if he wishes to return the military to its main tasks—defending the nation and winning wars. As Aristotle properly noted, the goal of the military art is victory. He will also have to shake up intelligence agencies, who have been wrong on virtually every important question over the past several decades and are now at war with Trump before he even takes office.
There is a larger moral here: President Obama filled with federal government with politically radical “experts” whose advice President Trump should reject. In fact, he should do his best to root them out, get rid of them, and abolish the commissions and agencies they inhabit.
Objection 3: Trump has totalitarian tendencies. He does not accept the democratic process, and believes that he alone can fix America’s problems.
I find it hard to take this objection seriously, and not only because Trump campaigned on limiting the reach of executive action and the administrative state, while Obama expanded it and Clinton campaigned on expanding it even further. Ruth Marcus called Trump’s worry that the election was rigged “dangerous,” “irresponsible,” “unsupported,” and “set[ting] the stage for an explosive outcome the likes of which this country has never seen…. further inflaming an already toxic political climate in Washington.” But now Democrats are claiming that Russia rigged the election—supposedly by releasing accurate information via Wikileaks—and even calling Trump “illegitimate,” comparing him to the Nazis and the KKK, rejecting reconciliation, and exclaiming, “Now we fight.” In short, Democrats criticized Trump for talking about the possibility of something they now claim is actual, because his words might have brought about something the Democrats are now, themselves, intentionally bringing about. This is not only wildly hypocritical; it reveals real totalitarian tendencies on the left, tendencies already evident in the use of violence as a political weapon against Trump during the campaign.
I would like to address the arguments of those who consider Trump a fascist. I would like to, I really would. But I can’t find any arguments in the over-the-top editorials making that claim. Consider Robert Kagan, whose “argument” amounts to this: Trump exhibits “an aura of crude strength and machismo, a boasting disrespect for the niceties of the democratic culture,” and engages in “attacking or ridiculing a wide range of ‘others’.” As far as I can see, these qualities might make Trump a bully, but they hardly make him a fascist. Indira Lakshmanan quoted Trump on world affairs, saying “I alone can fix it,” and heard echoes of “strongmen” Castro, Chavez, and Musharraf. I heard in his speech a more mundane claim: that Obama’s policy of leading from behind had created a power vacuum that led to violence and anarchy in Libya, Syria, and elsewhere; that Hillary Clinton, by helping to craft that policy as Secretary of State and vowing to continue it, had no hope of repairing the resulting damage; and thus that he alone among the Presidential candidates could do so, by rejecting the Obama-Clinton policy and acting in America’s best interests.
Objection 4: Trump admires Putin, invited Russia to hack Clinton, and now dismisses attempts to sanction Russia for allegedly doing so.
Much has been said and written about the Trump-Putin connection, but so far no one has produced any actual evidence of any inappropriate relationship or of Russian involvement in the election. Trump’s remark that maybe the Russians could locate Hillary’s 30,000 missing emails was sarcasm—a joke, not an invitation. Obama did nothing when Russia invaded the Ukraine. He did nothing when the Russians hacked into the White House computer system. His response to supposed Russian involvement in the election was token. Calls for Trump to advocate sanctions before taking office, in that context, sound absurd, and, if taken as sincere, imply that Democrats care more about the interests of their own party than those of the United States. The sense of absurdity grows stronger in contrast with Clinton’s involvement with Russia, specifically, her approval of Uranium One’s acquisition of twenty percent of America’s uranium supply, which ended up in the hands of Rosatom, a Russian company. Why Russia would have preferred Trump to Clinton is unclear; Clinton appears to have been bought and paid for.
Objection 5: Trump has promoted conspiracy theories, particularly Obama’s foreign birth, without any evidence: “Mr. Obama’s citizenship was never in question. No credible evidence ever suggested otherwise.”
Trump was one of many people to question Obama’s citizenship, and hardly the first; he raised the issue in March 2011, saying that he was “a little skeptical,” and announced the issue settled a month later when Obama released his long-form birth certificate. It is moreover not true that there was no evidence that Obama was born outside the United States; his literary agency had described him as “born in Kenya” and articles by National Public Radio and the Associated Press had identified him as Kenyan-born.
Objection 6: Trump’s anti-scientific denial of climate change will set back hard-fought bipartisan progress on this front.
No one denies climate change—the earth has unquestionably warmed since the Little Ice Age—but satellite and surface data sets do not agree about how much it has warmed. Nor is there any consensus about the proportion of warming due to human activity, the effect that even drastic cutbacks in carbon dioxide emissions might have on climate, or the viability of geoengineered solutions. There is in short nothing unscientific about Trump’s position. There is also nothing bipartisan about Obama’s climate policies; the “bipartisan” group that filed an amicus brief in support of Obama’s Clean Power Plan included exactly two Republicans, both former members of Congress.
Objection 7: Trump does not respect the Constitution: he recommends a return to stop-and-frisk policing; he is open to censorship; his policies toward Muslims would violate freedom of religion and equal protection.
The policies advocated by Trump do not violate the Constitution. He does advocate Giuliani policies that proved effective in New York City, including stop-and-frisk. The Supreme Court approved that policy in Terry v. Ohio: “Where a reasonably prudent officer is warranted in the circumstances of a given case in believing that his safety or that of others is endangered, he may make a reasonable search for weapons of the person believed by him to be armed and dangerous regardless of whether he has probable cause to arrest that individual for crime or the absolute certainty that the individual is armed.”
Trump’s alleged openness to internet censorship is in the context of fighting a war, protecting national security secrets and impeding enemy communications: “it seems that he wants to knock out the infrastructure that provides Internet access in areas of Syria and Iraq that are controlled by ISIS.” Jamming enemy communications is not censorship. After the Obama administration’s decision to cede authority over the internet to ICANN, which Attorneys General of four states sought to halt with a lawsuit; after news of Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and Google engaging in censorship; after the Democrats’ war on “fake news”; it is hard to take seriously the contention that Trump’s willingness to disrupt communications in Syria is a significant threat to freedom of speech.
Finally, registering, restricting or even banning Muslim immigration into the United States would not be unconstitutional. United States law specifically includes religion as a criterion for immigration; “religious persecution” is a basis for granting refugee status. Under the plenary powers doctrine, constitutional protections do not apply to potential immigrants. If they did—if the Fourteenth Amendment’s guarantee of equal protection applied to anyone anywhere—then any immigration restriction would be unconstitutional.
In conclusion, let me summarize the case for Trump in three simple propositions:
 He says what he thinks.
 He’s on our side.
 He fights.
The first includes Trump’s resistance to the narrative and his refusal to live the lie. If he sometimes says extreme things, that only increases his supporters’ resolve. The second proposition includes Trump’s concern for ordinary people—people who do not talk and write for a living—and for the nation as a whole. Obama’s last-minute pardons of spies and terrorists fits a pattern of actions that appear to be anti-American, hostile to the United States and its inhabitants. Clinton’s vision seemed internationalist. Trump sees that a government’s primary obligation is to its citizens. The third proposition gives his supporters hope that he will finally do what they have been sending people to Washington to do for decades: shrink the unelected, unaccountable deep state, return control of their country and their lives to them, and thereby make America great again.
Footnotes & References
 “America’s Decadent Leadership Class,” Wall Street Journal, October 13, 2016.
 Michael Sainato, “Obama Blames Clinton and Her Out-of-Touch Campaign for Losing Election,” The Observer, November 15, 2016, http://observer.com/2016/11/obama-blames-clinton-and-her-out-of-touch-campaign-for-losing-election/.
 Aaron Blake, “Voters strongly reject Hillary Clinton’s ‘basket of deplorables’ approach,” Washington Post, September 26, 2016, https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/the-fix/wp/2016/09/26/voters-strongly-reject-hillary-clintons-basket-of-deplorables-approach/?utm_term=.c672f7a2b627.
 This was Barack Obama’s charge against Clinton in the 2008 primaries; see Michael James, “Obama: Hillary Will ‘Say Anything and Change Nothing’,” ABC News, http://blogs.abcnews.com/politicalpunch/2008/01/obama-hillary-w.html. It resurfaced in 2016. See, e.g., Lisa Lerer, “Leaked emails show what Clinton told executives in private,” October 8, 2016, http://www.pbs.org/newshour/rundown/emails-clinton-wall-street-private/.
 He uses this phrase repeatedly; see https://pjmedia.com/instapundit/?s=%22credentialed%2C+not+educated%22. Compare Malcolm Muggeridge on moderns being “educated into imbecility,” https://blogs.thegospelcoalition.org/justintaylor/2014/01/03/malcom-muggeridge-on-the-self-destruction-of-20th-century-western-man/, and Nassim Nicholas Taleb’s talk of “intellectuals yet idiots” (“The Intellectual Yet Idiot,” Incerto, September 16, 2016, https://medium.com/incerto/the-intellectual-yet-idiot-13211e2d0577#.dcvx4hgho).
 “Notes on Nationalism,” Polemic, May 1945; reprinted in England, Your England and Other Essays, London: Secker and Warburg, 1953.
 “Studies of independence and conformity: I. A minority of one against a unanimous majority.” Psychological Monographs: General and Applied, Vol. 70 (9), 1956, 1–70.
 “What Does Islam Teach about Violence?” The Religion of Peace, http://www.thereligionofpeace.com/pages/quran/violence.aspx.
 “List of Islamist Terrorist Attacks,” Wikipedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Islamist_terrorist_attacks.
 Tom Howell Jr., “Obamacare premiums to rise by double-digit percentages for millions,” Washington Times, October 24, 2016, http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2016/oct/24/obamacare-premiums-rise-sharply-choices-dwindle-ad/.
 Eric Morath, “Seven Years Later, Recovery Remains the Weakest of the Post-World War II Era,” Wall Street Journal, July 29, 2016, http://blogs.wsj.com/economics/2016/07/29/seven-years-later-recovery-remains-the-weakest-of-the-post-world-war-ii-era/.
 Megan Woolhouse, “Percentage of those in labor pool at 38-year low,” Boston Globe, July 3, 2015, https://www.bostonglobe.com/business/2015/07/02/percentage-workers-labor-pool-falls-year-low/zfLQrKjCyhra95v8PJxWcI/story.html.
 David Neumark, “The Evidence Is Piling Up That Higher Minimum Wages Kill Jobs,” Wall Street Journal, December 15, 2015, http://www.wsj.com/articles/the-evidence-is-piling-up-that-higher-minimum-wages-kill-jobs-1450220824.
 Benjamin Weinthal and Lahav Harkov, “German Intelligence: Iran Seeks Illegal Nuclear Technology,” Jerusalem Post, July 7, 2016, http://www.jpost.com/Middle-East/Iran-News/Germanys-Merkel-says-Iran-violating-UN-missile-regulations-459766.
 Capital in the Twenty-First Century, translated from the French by Arthur Goldhammer
(Cambridge: Belknap Press, 2014). For a critique of Piketty’s thesis, see Matthew Rognlie, “Deciphering the Fall and Rise in the Net Capital Share: Accumulation or Scarcity?” Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Spring 2015, https://www.brookings.edu/wp-content/uploads/2016/07/2015a_rognlie.pdf.
 Phishing for Phools: The Economics of Manipulation and Deception (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2015).
 This is a theme of Richard Fernandez’s recent columns. See “History’s Unexpected Guest,” Belmont Club, November 8, 2016, https://pjmedia.com/richardfernandez/2016/11/08/historys-unexpected-guest/, and “Situational Unawareness,” Belmont Club, December 10, 2016, https://pjmedia.com/richardfernandez/2016/12/10/situational-unawareness/.
 See Thomas L. Pangle, The Spirit of Modern Republicanism: The Moral Vision of the American Founders and the Philosophy of Locke. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1990.
 The most important speech for understanding that vision is probably his economic speech in Detroit: http://thehill.com/blogs/pundits-blog/campaignc/290777-transcript-of-donald-trumps-economic-policy-speech-to-detroit. Newt Gingrich has elaborated the philosophy of government underlying Trump’s policy proposals: http://www.heritage.org/events/2016/12/gingrich; https://www.c-span.org/video/?c4637292/newt-gingrich-heritage-foundation.
 On Clay’s political philosophy, see Daniel Walker Howe, The Political Culture of the American Whigs (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1984), chapter 6. Robert Nozick lays out his libertarian view in Anarchy, State, and Utopia (New York: Basic Books, 1974).
 The connection between Rousseau, progressives such as Woodrow Wilson, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, and contemporary progressives such as Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton is complex and difficult to trace, not least because politicians find it advantageous to obscure their philosophical views (if they have them!) behind bland nostrums. But early progressives were overt fans of Rousseau. Randolph Bourne, for example, described his reaction to reading The Social Contract: “Yes, that is what I would have felt, done, said! …It was a sort of moral bath; it cleared up for me a whole new democratic morality, and put the last touch upon the old English way of looking at the world in which I was brought up and which I had such a struggle to get rid of.” (Quoted by Fred Siegel, The Revolt against the Masses (New York: Encounter Books, 2013), 18.) That makes clear not only Bourne’s acceptance of Rousseau but his rejection of the English tradition stretching from Hobbes and Locke through John Stuart Mill. Whether Hillary Clinton shares the original progressive rejection of natural rights is unclear—her religious background hints that she may not—but she certainly thinks that concern for individual rights, whatever their source, needs to be balanced against and frequently overridden by concern for the general welfare. See, for example, Hillary Clinton, “Children Are Citizens Too,” It Takes a Village (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1996), where she speaks about changing conceptions of individual rights; see also Thomas Sowell, The Vision of the Anointed: Self-congratulation as a Basis for Social Policy (New York: Basic Books, 1995); Jonah Goldberg, Liberal Fascism: The Secret History of the American Left, From Mussolini to the Politics of Meaning (New York: Crown, 2008).
 See Theodore Kupfer, “Repeal the First Amendment, Clinton Insists to Applause,” National Review, July 29, 2016, http://www.nationalreview.com/corner/438519/citizens-united-hillary-clinton-overturning-means-repealing-first-amendment; Steve Simpson, “Overturning Citizens United would be a disaster for free speech,” The Hill, September 6, 2016, http://thehill.com/blogs/pundits-blog/campaign/294665-overturning-citizens-united-would-be-a-disaster-for-free-speech.
 Citizens United v. Federal Elections Commission (550 U.S. 2010), https://www.supremecourt.gov/opinions/09pdf/08-205.pdf. Justice Kennedy’s majority decision affirms that “Speech is an essential mechanism of democracy, for it is the means to hold officials accountable to the people…. The right of citizens to inquire, to hear, to speak, and to use information to reach consensus is a precondition to enlightened self-government and a necessary means to protect it…. When Government seeks to use its full power, including the criminal law, to command where a person may get his or her information or what distrusted source he or she may not hear, it uses censorship to control thought. This is unlawful. The First Amendment confirms the freedom to think for ourselves.” Chief Justice Roberts concurs: “The Government urges us in this case to uphold a direct prohibition on political speech. It asks us to embrace a theory of the First Amendment that would allow censorship not only of television and radio broadcasts, but of pamphlets, posters, the Internet, and virtually any other medium that corporations and unions might find useful in expressing their views on matters of public concern. Its theory, if accepted, would empower the Government to prohibit newspapers from running editorials or opinion pieces supporting or opposing candidates for office, so long as the newspapers were owned by corporations—as the major ones are.” That kind of censorship is precisely what Hillary Clinton was advocating.
 See Emma Green, “The Little Sisters of the Poor Are Headed to the Supreme Court,” The Atlantic, November 6, 2015, http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2015/11/the-little-sisters-of-the-poor-are-headed-to-the-supreme-court/414729/. The decision in the case, Zubik v. Burwell (578 U.S. 2016), is at https://www.supremecourt.gov/opinions/15pdf/14-1418_8758.pdf. Hillary Clinton tweeted her opposition to the Little Sisters: “Every woman, no matter where she works, deserves birth control coverage. This shouldn’t be a question. #SCOTUS -H” See Derek Hunter, “Hillary Comes Out against Religious Freedom,” The Daily Caller, May 16, 2016, http://dailycaller.com/2016/05/16/hillary-comes-out-against-religious-freedom/.
 Those publicly advocating this are media personalities rather than elected officials. See, for example, Mark Oppenheimer, “Now’s the Time To End Tax Exemptions for Religious Institutions,” Time, June 28, 2015, http://time.com/3939143/nows-the-time-to-end-tax-exemptions-for-religious-institutions/; Lee Moran, “Bill Maher Breaks Down Why All Religious Institutions Should Be Properly Taxed,” Huffington Post, April 16, 2016, http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/bill-maher-church-tax-religion_us_5711dd19e4b0018f9cba30a7.
 Stephen V. Monsma and Stanley W. Carlson-Thies, Free to Serve: Protecting the Religious Freedom of Faith-Based Organizations (Brazos, 2015); “Keeping the faith on campus,” World, April 9, 2016, https://world.wng.org/2016/04/keeping_the_faith_on_campus.
 Clinton supported overturning the Supreme Court’s decision in District of Columbia v. Heller (554 U. S. 2008), https://www.supremecourt.gov/opinions/07pdf/07-290.pdf; see the transcript of the final Trump-Clinton debate: “I disagreed with the way the court applied the Second Amendment in [Heller], because what the District of Columbia was trying to do was to protect toddlers from guns and so they wanted people with guns to safely store them.” The case concerned a 66-year-old police officer who wanted to store a gun at his house—“Respondent Heller, a D. C. special policeman, applied to register a handgun he wished to keep at home”—and had nothing to do with toddlers. The key holding: “The Second Amendment protects an individual right to possess a firearm unconnected with service in a militia, and to use that arm for traditionally lawful purposes, such as self-defense within the home.” On her favorable mention of Australia’s program, see Bradford Richardson, “Hillary: Australia-style gun control ‘worth looking at’,” The Hill, October 16, 2015, http://thehill.com/blogs/ballot-box/dem-primaries/257172-hillary-australia-style-gun-control-worth-looking-at: “I don’t know enough details to tell you how we would do it or how it would work, but certainly the Australia example is worth looking at,” she said.
 See Catherine Sevcenko, “Faculty Senate Censures LSU President for Firing Tenured Professor,” Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, October 8, 2015, https://www.thefire.org/faculty-senate-censures-lsu-president-for-firing-tenured-professor/; Kristine Guerra, “A Kentucky professor says singing a Beach Boys song got him in trouble for sexual misconduct allegations,” Washington Post, December 19, 2016, https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/grade-point/wp/2016/12/19/a-kentucky-professor-says-singing-a-beach-boys-song-got-him-in-trouble-for-sexual-misconduct-allegations/?utm_term=.c0ccd78916b6; Eric Wemple, “Northwestern University professor Laura Kipnis details Title IX investigation over essay,” Washington Post, May 29, 2015, https://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/erik-wemple/?utm_term=.40740b7f1a16.
 See, e.g., Jonathan Haidt, “The Coddling of the American Mind,” The Atlantic, September 2015, http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2015/09/the-coddling-of-the-american-mind/399356/; “The Unwisest Idea on Campus: Commentary on Lilienfeld,” Perspectives on Psychological Science 2017, Vol. 12(1) 176–177; Conor Friedersdorf, “How Politically Correct Should the Workplace Be?,” The Atlantic, April 13, 2016, http://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2016/04/how-politically-correct-should-the-workplace-be/477636/.
 The “Dear Colleague” letter that announced this policy, without any public discussion or opportunity to comment, is at https://www2.ed.gov/about/offices/list/ocr/letters/colleague-201104.pdf. See George F. Will, “Due process is still being kicked off campus,” Washington Post, May 13, 2016, https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/due-process-is-still-being-kicked-off-campus/2016/05/13/cbf3ee6e-1860-11e6-9e16-2e5a123aac62_story.html?utm_term=.658a0b5b56ad. See also “Department of Justice: Title IX Requires Violating First Amendment,” Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, April 25, 2016, https://www.thefire.org/department-of-justice-title-ix-requires-violating-first-amendment/. On Clinton’s support for that policy, see Jake New, “Trump, Clinton and Sex Assault,” Inside Higher Education, https://www.insidehighered.com/news/2016/10/11/approaches-campus-sexual-assault-would-differ-under-trump-clinton.
 See, for example, Woodrow Wilson, The New Freedom, A Call For the Emancipation of the Generous Energies of a People (New York: Doubleday, Page, and Company, 1913), http://www.gutenberg.org/files/14811/14811-h/14811-h.htm, and Franklin Delano Roosevelt, “Commonwealth Club Address,” September 23, 1932, http://www.americanrhetoric.com/speeches/fdrcommonwealth.htm.
 See Rousseau, The Social Contract, https://ebooks.adelaide.edu.au/r/rousseau/jean_jacques/r864s/, http://www.earlymoderntexts.com/assets/pdfs/rousseau1762.pdf.
 See Matt Egan, “Coal companies have been scorched under Obama,” CNN Money, August 3, 2015, http://money.cnn.com/2015/08/03/investing/coal-obama-climate-change/; Robinson Meyer, “Obama’s Big New Move on Coal,” The Atlantic, January 15, 2016, http://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2016/01/coal-obama-federal-land/424422/; Ben Wolfgang, “Obama rushes out 11th-hour regulations targeting beleaguered coal industry,” Washington Times, December 19, 2016, http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2016/dec/19/obama-rushes-out-11th-hour-regulations-targeting-c/; Andrew Follett, “The Stunning Effects of Obama’s War on Coal, in One Chart,” The Daily Caller, April 28, 2016, http://dailycaller.com/2016/04/28/the-stunning-effects-of-obamas-war-on-coal-in-one-chart/. The EPA has tended not to follow the law once it has issued regulations: see John Hinderaker, “Federal Judge Denounces EPA as Rogue Agency,” Power Line, January 12, 2016, http://www.powerlineblog.com/archives/2017/01/federal-judge-denounces-epa-as-rogue-agency.php.
 Keith Johnson, “How Carbon Dioxide Became a ‘Pollutant’,” Wall Street Journal, April 18, 2009, http://www.wsj.com/articles/SB124001537515830975; Nicolas Loris, “EPA Formally Declares CO2 a Dangerous Pollutant,” The Daily Signal, December 7, 2009, http://dailysignal.com/2009/12/07/epa-formally-declares-co2-a-dangerous-pollutant/.
 The Obama administration’s executive actions in November 2014 effectively ended enforcement of much immigration law. It had been declining even before that: see Jessica Vaughan, “Immigration Enforcement in Sharp Decline, Despite Obama Administration’s Claims,” Center for Immigration Studies, January 2014, http://cis.org/node/5082. The Attorney’s General of twenty-five states subsequently sued the federal government over this action: https://www.texasattorneygeneral.gov/files/epress/files/ImmigrationStatesFirstAmendedLawsuit12092014.pdf.
 “Law School Profs Condemn New Sexual Harassment Policy,” The Harvard Crimson, October 15, 2014, http://www.thecrimson.com/article/2014/10/15/law-profs-criticize-new-policy/; Alan Dershowitz, “Innocent until proven guilty? Not under ‘yes means yes.’,” Washington Post, October 15, 2014, https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/in-theory/wp/2015/10/14/how-affirmative-consent-rules-put-principles-of-fairness-at-risk/?utm_term=.207dc17410c6; Stephen Henrick, “A Hostile Environment for Student Defendants: Title IX and Sexual Assault on College Campuses,” Northern Kentucky Law Review 40:1 (2013), 49–92, http://chaselaw.nku.edu/content/dam/chaselaw/docs/academics/lawreview/v40/nklr_v40n1_pp049-092.pdf.
 Todd Beamon, “Turley: Obama Amnesty ‘Unprecedented’ Threat to Constitution,” Newsmax, November 14, 2014, http://www.newsmax.com/US/executive-orders-amnesty-constitution/2014/11/14/id/607521/; Karl Rove, “Clinton Is Already Vowing to Overreach,” Wall Street Journal, December 16, 2015, http://www.wsj.com/articles/clinton-is-already-vowing-to-overreach-1450307191.
 See Nick Gass, “”I’m so tired of this politically correct crap,”,” Politico, September 23, 2015, http://www.politico.com/story/2015/09/donald-trump-politically-correct-crap-213988; Conor Friedersdorf, “A Dialogue With a 22-Year-Old Donald Trump Supporter,”, The Atlantic, May 27, 2016, http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2016/05/a-dialogue-with-a-22-year-old-donald-trump-supporter/484232/; James Taranto, “Trump vs. Political Correctness,” Wall Street Journal, November 15, 2016, http://www.wsj.com/articles/trump-vs-political-correctness-1479233123; Philipp Oehmke, “Has Political Correctness Gone off the Rails in America?” Der Spiegel, January 5, 2017, http://www.spiegel.de/international/world/overwrought-political-correctness-helped-trump-win-a-1125725.html.
 See https://www.donaldjtrump.com/press-releases/issues-of-importance-to-catholics; Alexandra DeSanctis, “Senator Lee Introduces a Bill to Protect Religious Liberty,” National Review, September 28, 2016, http://www.nationalreview.com/article/440502/trump-supports-bill-protecting-religious-liberty-introduced-mike-lee,” http://www.nationalreview.com/article/440502/trump-supports-bill-protecting-religious-liberty-introduced-mike-lee.
 See F. H. Buckley, “Trump’s threat to the Liberal ‘Deep State’,” New York Post, January 19, 2017, http://nypost.com/2017/01/17/trumps-threat-to-the-liberal-deep-state/.
 Economic speech in Detroit: http://thehill.com/blogs/pundits-blog/campaignc/290777-transcript-of-donald-trumps-economic-policy-speech-to-detroit.
 Ckyde Wayne Crews, Jr., “Donald Trump Promises To Eliminate Two Regulations For Every One Enacted,” Forbes, November 22, 2016, http://www.forbes.com/sites/waynecrews/2016/11/22/donald-trump-promises-to-eliminate-two-regulations-for-every-one-enacted/#368002832b87.
 “Donald Trump campaigns at rally in Moon Township, says ‘We have to win Pennsylvania’,” WPXI, November 7, 2016, http://www.wpxi.com/news/donald-trump-to-campaign-at-rally-in-moon-township/464156588.
 There were many such stories during the campaign, e.g., “Hillary Can’t Fill High School Gym in Iowa – Trump Sells Out Huge Arenas Twice Today,” Investment Watch Blog, August 11, 2016, http://investmentwatchblog.com/hillary-cant-fill-high-school-gym-in-iowa-trump-sells-out-huge-arenas-twice-today/; Jim Hoft, “Wow! Hillary Struggles to Fill High School Gym in City of 776,000 Democrats,” Gateway Pundit, August 16, 2016, http://www.thegatewaypundit.com/2016/08/wow-hillary-struggles-fill-high-school-gym-city-776000-democrats/; John Binder, “Hillary can’t fill gym in battleground Ohio, packs crowd with high school students,” The American Mirror, August 17, 2016, http://www.theamericanmirror.com/hillary-cant-fill-gym-battleground-ohio-fills-crowd-high-school-students/.
 See Jake Gibson, “Enthusiasm Gap? Clinton addressing modest crowds, as Trump rallies big halls,” Fox News, September 23, 2016, http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2016/09/23/enthusiasm-gap-clinton-addressing-modest-crowds-as-trump-rallies-big-halls.html; Tim Hains, “Dem Strategist: Clinton Should Be In “Panic Mode” Over Enthusiasm Gap With Black Voters, “Nothing She Can Do,” “It’s Over”,” Real Clear Politics, November 1, 2016, http://www.realclearpolitics.com/video/2016/11/01/dem_strategist_clinton_should_be_in_panic_mode_over_enthusiasm_gap_with_black_voters_nothing_she_can_do_now.html.
 Eric Morath, “Seven Years Later, Recovery Remains the Weakest of the Post-World War II Era,” Wall Street Journal, July 29, 2016, http://blogs.wsj.com/economics/2016/07/29/seven-years-later-recovery-remains-the-weakest-of-the-post-world-war-ii-era/.
 “The Daily History of the Debt Results: Historical returns from 01/20/2009 through 10/04/2016,” https://treasurydirect.gov/NP/debt/search?startMonth=01&startDay=20&startYear=2009&endMonth=10&endDay=04&endYear=2016.
 Theo Francis and Kate Linebaugh, “U.S. Corporate Profits on Pace for Third Straight Decline,” Wall Street Journal, April 28, 2016, http://www.wsj.com/articles/u-s-corporate-profits-on-pace-for-third-straight-decline-1461872242; Lee Adler, “Chart of The Day – Real Durable Goods Orders Still Down 11% From Pre-Crisis Average,” Contra Corner, March 25, 2015, http://davidstockmanscontracorner.com/chart-of-the-day-real-durable-goods-orders-still-down-11-from-pre-crisis-average/.
 “Household income in the United States,” https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Household_income_in_the_United_States.
 David Stockman, “Chart Of The Day: The Great Productivity Bust,” Contra Corner, September 15, 2016, http://davidstockmanscontracorner.com/chart-of-the-day-the-great-productivity-bust/.
 Lawrence B. Lindsay, “How Progressives Drive Income Inequality,” Wall Street Journal, March 4, 2016, http://www.wsj.com/articles/how-progressives-drive-income-inequality-1457132837.
 Luke Hilgemann, “ObamaCare’s Death Spiral Has Begun,” Investor’s Business Daily, September 23, 2016, http://www.investors.com/politics/commentary/obamacares-death-spiral-has-begun/.
 Sean Kennedy and Parker Abt, “Trump is right about violent crime: It’s on the rise in major cities,” Washington Post, August 5, 2016, https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/trump-is-right-about-violent-crime-its-on-the-rise-in-major-cities/2016/08/05/3cf6b55e-5b11-11e6-9aee-8075993d73a2_story.html?utm_term=.bbd03b8f92a0; Federal Bureau of Investigation, “Latest Crime Statistics Released: Increase in Violent Crime, Decrease in Property Crime,” September 26, 2016, https://www.fbi.gov/news/stories/latest-crime-statistics-released.
 Betsy McKay, “Life Expectancy for White Americans Declines,” Wall Street Journal, April 20, 2016, http://www.wsj.com/articles/life-expectancy-for-white-americans-declines-1461124861.
 On the IRS scandal, see “Judicial Watch: FBI Investigation Documents of IRS Scandal,” Judicial Watch, July 27, 2016, http://www.judicialwatch.org/press-room/press-releases/judicial-watch-fbi-investigation-documents-irs-scandal/. On questions about the FBI’s handling of the Clinton email case, see “James Comey’s Clinton Immunity,” Wall Street Journal, September 27, 2016, http://www.wsj.com/articles/james-comeys-clinton-immunity-1475017121, and Andrew C. McCarthy, “Please Tell Me These FBI/DOJ ‘Side Deals’ with Clinton E-Mail Suspects Didn’t Happen,” National Review, October 4, 2016, http://www.nationalreview.com/article/440697/hillary-clinton-email-scandal-side-deals-fbi-department-justice-politicized. On defying court orders, see David French, “Federal Judge Issues ‘Extraordinary’ Order Sanctioning the DOJ for Misconduct in Executive Amnesty Litigation,” National Review, May 19, 2016, http://www.nationalreview.com/corner/435630/federal-judge-issues-extraordinary-order-sanctioning-doj-misconduct-executive-amnesty.
 On Libya, see Dominic Tierney, “The Legacy of Obama’s ‘Worst Mistake’,” The Atlantic, April 15, 2016, http://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2016/04/obamas-worst-mistake-libya/478461/; on Afghanistan, see Andrew Shaver and Joshua Madrigal, “Losing in Afghanistan,” Foreign Affairs, September 22, 2016, https://games.foreignaffairs.com/articles/afghanistan/2016-09-22/losing-afghanistan; on Iran, see Jay Solomon and Carol E. Lee, “U.S. Signed Secret Document to Lift U.N. Sanctions on Iranian Banks,” Wall Street Journal, September 29, 2016, http://www.wsj.com/articles/u-s-signed-secret-document-to-lift-u-n-sanctions-on-iranian-banks-1475193723; Center for Security Policy, “More U.S. Ransom Payments to Iran Revealed,” http://www.centerforsecuritypolicy.org/2016/09/07/more-u-s-ransom-payments-to-iran-revealed/; Mark Dubowitz, “The Iran Nuclear Agreement: One Year Later,” http://www.foreign.senate.gov/imo/media/doc/071416_Dubowitz_Testimony_Summary.pdf; “Iran seeking illegal nuke, missile technology: German intelligence,” The Times of Israel, July 8, 2016, http://www.timesofisrael.com/iran-seeking-illegal-nuke-missile-technology-says-german-intel-report/.
 For an excellent summary, see Quin Hillyer, “Saul Alinsky Leaves the White House,” American Spectator, January 19, 2017, https://spectator.org/saul-alinsky-leaves-the-white-house/.
 Salena Zito, “Taking Trump Seriously, Not Literally,” The Atlantic, September 23, 2016, http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2016/09/trump-makes-his-case-in-pittsburgh/501335/.
 Reena Flores, “Hillary Clinton: Half of Donald Trump supporters in “basket of deplorables”,” CBS News, September 10, 2016, http://www.cbsnews.com/news/hillary-clinton-half-donald-trump-supporters-basket-of-deplorables/. A video clip of her speech is at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OZHp4JLWjNw.
 “Full text: Donald Trump announces a presidential bid,” Washington Post, June 16, 2015, https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/post-politics/wp/2015/06/16/full-text-donald-trump-announces-a-presidential-bid/?utm_term=.ef13f118a008.
 For a timeline that establishes the context of Trump’s remarks, see the Federation for American Immigration Reform, President Obama’s Record of Dismantling Immigration Enforcement 2009–2015, Fair Horizon Press, 2016, http://www.fairus.org/DocServer/ObamaTimeline_2016.pdf. In January, President Obama announced that he would veto a Department of Homeland Security funding bill that cancelled funding for executive amnesty programs he had announced the previous November. In February, DHS set up an amnesty hotline for immigrants in the country illegally and allowed beneficiaries to bring in relatives from Central America. A federal judge issued an injunction to stop the President’s executive amnesty, and the Department of Justice requested a stay. In March, the administration admitted it approved more than 100,000 applications despite the injunction; Judge Hanen considered imposing sanctions on DHS for refusing to obey his orders. A second wave of unaccompanied minors streaming across the border from Central America commenced. In April, Judge Hanen denied the request for a stay of injunction; Immigration and Customs Enforcement admitted that they had released more than 30,000 criminal aliens, 3,700 of whom had been declared “Threat Level 1,” including 86 murderers, 186 kidnappers, and 373 people convicted of sexual assault. In May, the Department of Justice admitted that it had violated the injunction, granting more than 2,000 amnesty applications in direct violation of the judge’s order; 113 Republican Congressmen filed a brief in the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals in support of the injunction, which the Court proceeded to uphold. In June, Border Patrol agents complained that the Obama administration was keeping them from performing enforcement duties. Documents released by Senator Ted Cruz showed that the Obama administration had predicted that more than 100,000 unaccompanied minors would come to the United States from Central America that year as a result of his executive amnesty program. Judge Hanen once again reprimanded the Department of Justice for defying his injunction, and, in early July, threatened Secretary Johnson with contempt of court.
 Katie Springer, “Five Years Later, Overriding Crime Is Mariel Legacy,” Sun-Sentinel, September 26, 1985, http://articles.sun-sentinel.com/1985-09-26/news/8502100720_1_mariel-boatlift-criminals.
 Alfonso Chary, “How Fidel Castro and the Mariel boatlift changed lives and changed Miami,” Miami Herald, November 26, 2016, http://www.miamiherald.com/news/nation-world/world/americas/fidel-castro-en/article117206643.html: “”It was an example of what Fidel Castro was sending us, ” Odio said. “Criminals and crazies, who had no families here. I began to worry.”
 See Tom Morgan, “How to stop lawbreakers? Enforce the law,” Utica Observer-Dispatch, November 23, 2015, http://www.uticaod.com/article/20151123/OPINION/151129985.
 The distinction is central to Aristotle’s theory of the syllogism, and to contemporary first-order logic, which has two quantifiers, corresponding to some and all.
 “Transcript of the First Debate,” New York Times, September 27, 2016, https://www.nytimes.com/2016/09/27/us/politics/transcript-debate.html?_r=1. The concept of implicit bias stems from Anthony G. Greenwald, Debbie E. McGhee, and Jordan L. K. Schwartz, “Measuring Individual Differences in Implicit Cognition: The Implicit Association Test,” Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 74, 6 (1998), 1464–1480. Though the concept of implicit bias is coming under increasing criticism in academic circles—see, e.g., Oswald, F., Mitchell, G., Blanton, H., Jaccard, J., and Tetlock, P., “Predicting ethnic and racial discrimination: a meta-analysis of IAT criterion studies,” Journal of Personality and Social Psychology Studies, 105(2), 2013, 171–192;
Oswald, F., Mitchell, G., Blanton, H., Jaccard, J., & Tetlock, P. , “Using the IAT to predict ethnic and racial discrimination: small effect sizes of unknown societal significance,” Journal of Personality and Social Psychology Studies, 108(4), 2015, 562–571; Blanton, H., and Jaccard, J., “Not so fast: ten challenges to importing implicit attitude measures to media psychology,” Media Psychology, 2015, 1–32; Blanton, H., Jaccard, J., and Burrows, C. N., “Implications of the implicit association test D-transformation for psychological assessment,” Assessment, 22(4), 2015, 429–440—it has most often been seen as an indication of hidden racism. See, for example, Malcolm Gladwell, Blink (New York: Little, Brown and Company, 2007), chapter 3, and President’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing, Final Report: President’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Justice, 2015.
 “Hillary Clinton’s ‘All Lives Matter’ Remark Stirs Backlash,” New York Times, June 24, 2015, https://www.nytimes.com/politics/first-draft/2015/06/24/hillary-clintons-all-lives-matter-remark-stirs-backlash/.
 “Hillary Clinton said it. Black lives matter. No hedge.” Washington Post, July 20, 2015, https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/the-fix/wp/2015/07/20/hillary-clinton-said-it-black-lives-matter-no-hedge/?utm_term=.ee334f27a074.
 “And I feel strongly that the Supreme Court needs to stand on the side of the American people, not on the side of the powerful corporations and the wealthy. For me, that means that we need a Supreme Court that will stand up on behalf of women’s rights, on behalf of the rights of the LGBT community….” “The final Trump-Clinton debate transcript, annotated,” Washington Post, October 19, 2016, https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/the-fix/wp/2016/10/19/the-final-trump-clinton-debate-transcript-annotated/?utm_term=.e55b48ea684b.
 M. T. Latsis, Red Terror, quoted in Harrison Salisbury, Black Night, White Snow: Russia’s Revolutions, 1905-1917 (London, 1978), 565, and in Paul Johnson, Modern Times (New York: HarperCollins, 1983, 1991), 71.
 See Mark Lilla, “The End of Identity Liberalism,” New York Times, November 18, 2016, https://www.nytimes.com/2016/11/20/opinion/sunday/the-end-of-identity-liberalism.html?_r=1: “National politics in healthy periods is not about ‘difference,’ it is about commonality. And it will be dominated by whoever best captures Americans’ imaginations about our shared destiny.”
 Ella Whelan, “Stop Vote-shaming Trump’s Female Supporters,” Spiked, 15 November, 2016, http://www.spiked-online.com/newsite/article/stop-vote-shaming-trumps-female-supporters/18975#.WHvdyTuEfKx.
 “Donald J. Trump Statement on Preventing Muslim Immigration,” December 7, 2015, https://www.donaldjtrump.com/press-releases/donald-j.-trump-statement-on-preventing-muslim-immigration.
 “Address to the Nation by the President,” December 6, 2015, https://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2015/12/06/address-nation-president.
 Marco Rubio and John Kasich were the most vocal in criticizing Trump’s stance; see, for example, “The CNN Miami Republican debate transcript, annotated,” Washington Post, March 10, 2016, https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/the-fix/wp/2016/03/10/the-cnn-miami-republican-debate-transcript-annotated/?utm_term=.273c513232de. Polls showed that 50% of the American people, and 71% of Republicans, supported Trump’s proposal; see Kristina Wong, “Half of American Voters Back Trump’s Muslim Ban,” The Hill, March 29, 2016, http://thehill.com/policy/defense/274521-poll-half-of-american-voters-back-trumps-muslim-ban.
 The best known are the Rotherham scandal, which involved the exploitation of 1,400 children, and the Cologne New Year’s Eve attacks, which involved almost 1,200 sexual assaults in that city as well as hundreds in other German cities; see “Rotherham child sexual exploitation scandal,” Wikipedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rotherham_child_sexual_exploitation_scandal, and “New Year’s Eve sexual assaults in Germany,” Wikipedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/New_Year’s_Eve_sexual_assaults_in_Germany. But the problem is much more widespread. See “Europe’s Muslim rape epidemic: ‘Cologne is every day’,” Muslim Statistics, July 11, 2016, https://muslimstatistics.wordpress.com/2016/07/11/europes-muslim-rape-epidemic-cologne-is-every-day/; “Sweden and Denmark have highest number of sexual assaults in Europe,” The Independent, January 7, 2016, http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/europe/sweden-and-denmark-have-highest-number-of-sexual-assaults-in-europe-a6800901.html. For a list of sexual assaults by migrants in Germany covering just the first two months of 2016, see Soeren Kern, “Germany: Migrant Rape Crisis Worsens,” Gatestone Institute, March 5, 2016, https://www.gatestoneinstitute.org/7557/germany-rape-migrants-crisis; a similar list for July is at https://www.gatestoneinstitute.org/8663/germany-migrants-rape.
 The existence of “no-go zones,” zones in which non-Muslims are likely to be attacked, is controversial and not officially acknowledged, but widely asserted by police and those living in neighboring areas. See Soeren Kern, “European ‘No-Go’ Zones: Fact or Fiction? Part 1: France,” Gatestone Institute, January 20, 2015, https://www.gatestoneinstitute.org/5128/france-no-go-zones, and “European ‘No-Go’ Zones: Fact or Fiction? Part 2: Britain,” Gatestone Institute, February 3, 2015, https://www.gatestoneinstitute.org/5177/no-go-zones-britain; “Police Admit: No-Go Zones in France,” New Observer, October 11, 2016, http://newobserveronline.com/police-admit-no-go-zones-france/. For an argument that there are no no-go zones, see David A. Graham, “Why the Muslim ‘No-Go-Zone’ Myth Won’t Die,” The Atlantic, January 20, 2015, https://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2015/01/paris-mayor-to-sue-fox-over-no-go-zone-comments/384656/. Skeptical filmmakers who have ventured into these areas to investigate have tended to be attacked; see, for example, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L8bqWbJkTf8. The dispute turns largely on definitions; no one thinks there are areas officially acknowledged as outside government authority, and everyone admits that there are areas that are dangerous for outsiders, even for police.
 “List of Islamist terrorist attacks,” Wikipedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Islamist_terrorist_attacks; “Islamic Terror in Europe (Since 2001),” https://www.thereligionofpeace.com/attacks/europe-attacks.aspx.
 The United States, in the year preceding the election, suffered terror attacks in San Bernardino, California; Orlando, Florida; St. Cloud, Minnesota; and Burlington, Washington, for a total of 68 dead and more than 200 wounded. See “Everything we know about the San Bernardino terror attack investigation so far,” Los Angeles Times, December 14, 2015, http://www.latimes.com/local/california/la-me-san-bernardino-shooting-terror-investigation-htmlstory.html; “Orlando shooting: 49 killed, shooter pledged ISIS allegiance,” CNN, June 13, 2016, http://www.cnn.com/2016/06/12/us/orlando-nightclub-shooting/; “ISIS wing claims responsibility for Minnesota mall attack,” CNN, September 18, 2016, http://www.cnn.com/2016/09/18/us/minnesota-mall-stabbing/; and “Mall shooting suspect had blog with picture of ISIS leader,” Fox News, September 26, 2016, http://www.foxnews.com/us/2016/09/26/mall-shooting-suspect-had-blog-with-picture-isis-leader.html.
 See Christiane Hoffmann, “Merkel’s Humane Refugee Policies Have Failed,” Der Spiegel, February 26, 2016, http://www.spiegel.de/international/europe/the-limits-of-humanity-merkel-refugee-policies-have-failed-a-1079455.html.
 See “DEA: Most Illegal Drugs Enter via Mexico, Cartels Greatest Criminal Threat to U.S.,” Judicial Watch, November 1o, 2015, http://www.judicialwatch.org/blog/2015/11/dea-most-illegal-drugs-enter-via-mexico-cartels-greatest-criminal-threat-to-u-s/. The DEA report itself is at https://www.dea.gov/docs/2015%20NDTA%20Report.pdf.
 An outline of the screening process is at https://www.whitehouse.gov/blog/2015/11/20/infographic-screening-process-refugee-entry-united-states. The difficulty, however, is that there are many falsified documents and little data on which to base decisions. See Leo Hohmann, “FBI: No Way to Screen ‘Refugees’ Coming to U.S.,” World Net Daily, October 22, 2015, http://www.wnd.com/2015/10/fbi-no-way-to-screen-refugees-coming-to-u-s/.
 George J. Borjas, Heaven’s Door: Immigration Policy and the American Economy (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1999) and We Wanted Workers: Unraveling the Immigration Narrative (New York: W. W. Norton, 2016); Bob Davis, “Immigrants Push Down Wages for Low-Income Workers—But How Much?,” Wall Street Journal, February 9, 2016, http://blogs.wsj.com/economics/2016/02/09/immigrants-push-down-wages-for-low-income-workers-but-how-much/.
 Interview with Milton Friedman, Forbes, December 29, 1997. For discussion, see Robert Rector, “Look to Milton: Open borders and the welfare state,” http://www.heritage.org/research/commentary/2007/06/look-to-milton-open-borders-and-the-welfare-state.
 Robert D. Putnam, Bowling Alone: The Collapse and Revival of American Community (New York: Simon & Schuster, 2000); “E Pluribus Unum: Diversity and community in the twenty-first century”. Scandinavian Political Studies 30 (2), June 2007, 137–174, doi:10.1111/j.1467-9477.2007.00176.x.
 See Thomas M. Holbrook, “Here’s a close look at how immigrant voters could affect the 2016 U.S. election,” Washington Post, June 26, 2016, https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/monkey-cage/wp/2016/06/26/heres-a-close-look-at-how-immigrant-voters-could-affect-the-2016-election/?utm_term=.fcdc8cc57f12; also, Altered States: Changing Populations, Changing Parties, and the Transformation of the American Political Landscape (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2016).
 The “phone and a pen” political philosophy of Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton rejects limitations on executive power. That is precisely the point of the Magna Carta, the doctrine of natural rights, and representative government—to limit the executive’s power. Recent immigrants to the United States are from parts of the world where these traditions are weak, and the tradition of executive power is strong. See Luma Simms, “Why Immigrants Vote for Democrats,” The Federalist, July 27, 2015, http://thefederalist.com/2015/07/27/why-immigrants-vote-for-democrats/; James G. Gimple, “Immigration’s Impact on Republican Political Prospects, 1980 to 2012,” Center for Immigration Studies, April 2014, http://cis.org/immigration-impacts-on-republican-prospects-1980-2012.
 Publius Decius Mus lays out the argument in his influential essay “The Flight 93 Election,” Claremont Review of Books, September 5, 2016, http://www.claremont.org/crb/basicpage/the-flight-93-election/: “A Hillary presidency will be pedal-to-the-metal on the entire Progressive-left agenda, plus items few of us have yet imagined in our darkest moments. Nor is even that the worst. It will be coupled with a level of vindictive persecution against resistance and dissent hitherto seen in the supposedly liberal West only in the most “advanced” Scandinavian countries and the most leftist corners of Germany and England. We see this already in the censorship practiced by the Davoisie’s social media enablers; in the shameless propaganda tidal wave of the mainstream media; and in the personal destruction campaigns—operated through the former and aided by the latter—of the Social Justice Warriors. We see it in Obama’s flagrant use of the IRS to torment political opponents, the gaslighting denial by the media, and the collective shrug by everyone else.”
 “Opinions and Social Pressure,” Scientific American 193, 5 (1955), 31–35, 31.
 See Vaclav Havel, “The Power of the Powerless,” in The Power of the Powerless: Citizens Against the State in Central-Eastern Europe, edited by John Keane, with an Introduction by Steven Lukes (London: Hutchinson, 1985).
 See the Clinton endorsements by The New Yorker, October 31, 2016, http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2016/10/31/the-new-yorker-endorses-hillary-clinton, and The Atlantic, http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2016/11/the-case-for-hillary-clinton-and-against-donald-trump/501161/.
 Dana Milbank, “Donald Trump’s war with the U.S. military,” Washington Post, September 9, 2016, https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/donald-trumps-war-with-the-us-military/2016/09/09/a6701dae-7678-11e6-8149-b8d05321db62_story.html?utm_term=.3e2570a30bbd; Andy Greenberg, “Trump ignoring US intelligence agencies creates risks beyond Russia hacking,” Wired, December 12, 2016, https://www.wired.com/2016/12/trump-cia-national-intelligence-briefings/.
 F. Michael Maloof, “Top Generals: Obama is ‘Purging the Military,’” State of the Nation, July 19, 2016, http://stateofthenation2012.com/?p=43853; Daniel John Sobieski, “Obama purged military of those who sought victory,” American Thinker, September 10, 2016, http://www.americanthinker.com/blog/2016/09/obama_purged_military_of_those_who_sought_victory.html#ixzz4W399n6wF; “List Of Military Elite Purged And Fired Under Obama, Compiled By General Paul Vallely, 3-17-14,” https://jhaines6.wordpress.com/2014/11/14/list-of-military-elite-purged-and-fired-under-obama-compiled-by-general-paul-vallely-3-17-14/.
 Marc A. Thiessen, “Obama’s hypocrisy on intelligence briefings,” Washington Post, December 19, 2016, https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/obamas-hypocrisy-on-intelligence-briefings/2016/12/19/8b1fbed0-c5f4-11e6-bf4b-2c064d32a4bf_story.html?utm_term=.229941a01b00.
 Aristotle, Comanche Ethics I, 1.
 See John Hinderaker, “Dishonest CIA Director Rips Trump; Trump Should Rip Him Back,” Power Line, January 15, 2017, http://www.powerlineblog.com/archives/2017/01/dishonest-cia-director-rips-trump-trump-should-rip-him-back.php: “So ‘intelligence officials’ think nothing of committing a felony if it will help serve the cause of the Democratic Party. The CIA is a sick agency. Heads need to roll.”
 “Donald Trump makes his most dangerous comments yet,” Washington Post, August 3, 2016, https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/donald-trump-makes-his-most-dangerous-comments-yet/2016/08/03/ed5722ba-59b0-11e6-831d-0324760ca856_story.html?utm_term=.4ec29a8af454.
 John Lewis: “I don’t see this president-elect as a legitimate president.” See Virginia Kruta, “Trump Lashes Out at Dem. Rep. Skipping Inauguration of ‘Illegitimate’ President,” Independent Journal Review, January 14, 2016, http://ijr.com/2017/01/778135-trump-lashes-out-at-dem-rep-skipping-inauguration-of-illegitimate-president/. Martin O’Malley tweeted, “Now is not the time for reconciliation. Dietrich Bonhoeffer didn’t reconcile with the Nazis. MLK didn’t reconcile with the KKK. Now we fight” https://twitter.com/MartinOMalley/status/820476452478939137/photo/1?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw.
 See Piers Morgan, “The people who are determined to delegitimize Donald Trump’s presidency before he even takes the oath aren’t just undermining him, they are undermining democracy and undermining America,” Daily Mail, January 16, 2017, http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-4125390/PIERS-MORGAN-People-undermining-Trump-undermine-America.html#ixzz4W3QkNa8u.
 See Austin Bay, “Democratic Party Operative Robert Creamer Used Terror to Wage War on Honesty,” The Observer, October 25, 2016, http://observer.com/2016/10/democratic-party-operative-robert-creamer-used-terror-to-wage-war-on-honesty/. Creamer has not faced any legal consequences; he met with Obama in the White House 340 times, and sat in the front row at Obama’s farewell address. Note, too, the threats against Trump, including from a family friend of the Clintons: “EXCLUSIVE: Florida man charged with threatening to kill President-elect Trump at his inauguration on Twitter was a close family friend of Bill and Hillary Clinton,” Daily Mail, January 19, 2017, http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-4133938/Florida-man-threatened-kill-Trump-Clinton-friend.html#ixzz4WFAzNPZd.
 “This is how fascism comes to America,” Washington Post, May 18, 2016, https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/this-is-how-fascism-comes-to-america/2016/05/17/c4e32c58-1c47-11e6-8c7b-6931e66333e7_story.html?utm_term=.35ab03239faf.
 “‘I alone can fix it’ — the simple and dangerous appeal of Trump’s worldview,” Boston Globe, July 22, 2016, https://www.bostonglobe.com/opinion/2016/07/22/alone-can-fix-simple-and-dangerous-appeal-trump-worldview/yssdNUFFuNeng96N2Vxj1H/story.html.
 See Jennifer Rubin, “Republicans have a problem: Trump-Putin,” Washington Post, July 27, 2016, https://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/right-turn/wp/2016/07/27/republicans-have-a-problem-trump-putin/?utm_term=.5d4fdb3805f4) and Garry Kasparov, “The U.S. doesn’t have a problem with Russia. It has a problem with Vladimir Putin.” Washington Post, January 3, 2017, https://www.washingtonpost.com/posteverything/wp/2017/01/03/the-u-s-doesnt-have-a-problem-with-russia-it-has-a-problem-with-vladimir-putin/?utm_term=.f016663a818a.
 You can listen for yourself: “Trump: ‘Russia, I hope you can find Hillary’s missing emails’ – video,” https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/video/2016/jul/27/donald-trump-russia-dnc-email-hack-video.
 See Jennifer Rubin, “Russia invades, Obama expresses ‘concern’,” Washington Post, August 28, 2014, https://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/right-turn/wp/2014/08/28/russia-invades-obama-expresses-concern/?utm_term=.a639a82d27c6; Paul Roderick Gregory, “International Criminal Court: Russia’s Invasion Of Ukraine Is A ‘Crime,’ Not A Civil War,” Forbes, November 20, 2016, http://www.forbes.com/sites/paulroderickgregory/2016/11/20/international-criminal-court-russias-invasion-of-ukraine-is-a-crime-not-a-civil-war/#1a654c8c7fec; Liz Peek, “Obama, not Trump, has built up Russian strongman Putin,” Fox News, August 15, 2016, http://www.foxnews.com/opinion/2016/08/15/obama-not-trump-has-built-up-russian-strongman-putin.html.
 See Evan Perez and Shimon Prokupecz, “How the U.S. thinks Russians hacked the White House,” CNN, April 8, 2015, http://www.cnn.com/2015/04/07/politics/how-russians-hacked-the-wh/; John Hinderaker, “Remember When the Russians Hacked the White House Computers?” Power Line, December 11, 2016, http://www.powerlineblog.com/archives/2016/12/remember-when-the-russians-hacked-the-white-houses-computers.php.
 See Jo Becker and Mike McIntire, “Cash Flowed to Clinton Foundation Amid Russian Uranium Deal,” New York Times, April 23, 2015, https://www.nytimes.com/2015/04/24/us/cash-flowed-to-clinton-foundation-as-russians-pressed-for-control-of-uranium-company.html?_r=0: “…the sale gave the Russians control of one-fifth of all uranium production capacity in the United States…. As the Russians gradually assumed control of Uranium One in three separate transactions from 2009 to 2013, Canadian records show, a flow of cash made its way to the Clinton Foundation. Uranium One’s chairman used his family foundation to make four donations totaling $2.35 million. Those contributions were not publicly disclosed by the Clintons, despite an agreement Mrs. Clinton had struck with the Obama White House to publicly identify all donors. Other people with ties to the company made donations as well. And shortly after the Russians announced their intention to acquire a majority stake in Uranium One, Mr. Clinton received $500,000 for a Moscow speech from a Russian investment bank with links to the Kremlin that was promoting Uranium One stock.”
 Michael Barbaro, “Donald Trump Clung to ‘Birther’ Lie for Years, and Still Isn’t Apologetic,” New York Times, September 16, 2016, https://www.nytimes.com/2016/09/17/us/politics/donald-trump-obama-birther.html.
 See “Donald Trump, Whoopi Goldberg, Spar Over Obama on ‘The View’” Wall Street Journal, March 24, 2011; “Birtherism Is Dead, But the Birther Industry Continues,” Time, April 27, 2011.
 Trial and Triumph: Stories Out Of Africa, NPR, October 9, 2008; “Kenyan-born Obama all set for US Senate”. The Standard. Associated Press. June 27, 2004; Dylan Stableford, “‘Born in Kenya’: Obama’s Literary Agent Misidentified His Birthplace in 1991”, ABC News, May 16, 2012.
 See Nicholas Kristof, “As Donald Trump Denies Climate Change, These Kids Die of It,” New York Times, January 6, 2017, http://www.nytimes.com/2017/01/06/opinion/sunday/as-donald-trump-denies-climate-change-these-kids-die-of-it.html; Brad Plummer, “Here’s what optimistic liberals get wrong about Trump and climate change,” Vox, January 4, 2017, http://www.vox.com/energy-and-environment/2017/1/4/14116592/trump-climate-change-optimism-meh.
 U.S. Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works, “Bipartisan Group of Current & Former Senators & House Members Join to File Amicus Brief in Support of President Obama’s Clean Power Plan,” http://www.epw.senate.gov/public/index.cfm/2016/4/bipartisan-group-of-current-former-senators-house-members-join-to-file-amicus-brief-in-support-of-president-obama-s-clean-power-plan.
 392 U.S. 1 (1968), http://caselaw.findlaw.com/us-supreme-court/392/1.html. In the first Trump-Clinton debate, Lester Holt asserted that stop-and-frisk had been found unconstitutional in New York, and Trump denied it. So-called fact-checkers universally took Holt’s side, declaring Trump’s statement false, even though it is hard to locate anything incorrect in what he said. Even Michelle Ye Hee Lee, “Trump’s false claim that stop and frisk in NYC wasn’t ruled unconstitutional,” Washington Post, September 28, 2016, https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/fact-checker/wp/2016/09/28/trumps-false-claim-that-stop-and-frisk-was-not-ruled-unconstitutional/?utm_term=.9387780a1ab1, draws the relevant distinction, though she then proceeds to ignore it: “The important distinction here is that stop and frisk as a tactic is constitutional. The way it was applied in New York City, and as it was challenged in the lawsuit that Trump and Holt were referring to, was found unconstitutional.” So, Trump’s claim that stop-and-frisk itself had not been found unconstitutional was entirely correct.
 Nicholas Thompson, “Please Don’t Shut Down the Internet, Donald Trump,” New Yorker, December 17, 2015, http://www.newyorker.com/tech/elements/please-dont-shut-down-the-internet-donald-trump.
 See https://www.texasattorneygeneral.gov/files/epress/Net_Complaint_-_FILED.pdf; Sarah Perez, “Facebook, Microsoft, Twitter and YouTube collaborate to remove ‘terrorist content’ from their services,” Tech Crunch, December 5, 2016, https://techcrunch.com/2016/12/05/facebook-microsoft-twitter-and-youtube-collaborate-to-remove-terrorist-content-from-their-services/; Alex Hurn, “Facebook, YouTube, Twitter and Microsoft sign EU hate speech code,” The Guardian, May 31, 2016, https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2016/may/31/facebook-youtube-twitter-microsoft-eu-hate-speech-code; Robert Epstein, “The New Censorship,” US News, June 22, 2016, http://www.usnews.com/opinion/articles/2016-06-22/google-is-the-worlds-biggest-censor-and-its-power-must-be-regulated; Liz Peek, “How the Focus on ‘Fake News’ Could Lead to Censorship,” Fiscal Times, December 14, 2016, http://www.thefiscaltimes.com/Columns/2016/12/14/How-Focus-Fake-News-Could-Lead-Censorship.
 Contra the claims of, for example, Corey Brettschneider, “Trump vs. the Constitution: A Guide,” Politico, August 4, 2016, http://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2016/08/2016-donald-trump-constitution-guide-unconstitutional-freedom-liberty-khan-214139. See Louis Nelson, “Trump’s Muslim registry wouldn’t be illegal, constitutional law experts say,” Politico, November 17, 2016, http://www.politico.com/story/2016/11/donald-trump-muslim-registry-constitution-231527.
 See Eric Posner, “Is an Immigration Ban on Muslims Unconstitutional?” December 8, 2015, http://ericposner.com/is-an-immigration-ban-on-muslims-unconstitutional/; Hiroshi Motomura, “Immigration Law after a Century of Plenary Power: Phantom Constitutional Norms and Statutory Interpretation,” Yale Law Journal, 100, 3 (1990), 545–613.
 See Stephen F. Hayes, “Obama’s Shameful Legacy,” Weekly Standard, January 18, 2017, http://www.weeklystandard.com/obamas-shameful-legacy/article/2006355; Bob McManus, “Why Liberals Just Love to Set Terrorists Free,” New York Post, January 18, 2017, http://nypost.com/2017/01/18/why-liberals-just-love-to-set-terrorists-free/.
January 11, 2017
President Barack H. Obama’s Message of Hope to America
Farewell Mr. President and thank you for keeping your fellow Americans and we citizens of the world free from major conflicts over the last 8 years. Your legacy is intact and your administration is a difficult act to follow. May God Bless you, Mrs. Michelle Obama and family. Welcome to the 45th POTUS, Donald J. Trump. Dr. Kamsiah Haider and Din Merican
The text of President Barack Obama’s farewell speech Tuesday night (US time) in Chicago, as prepared for delivery.
Barack Obama: America–Land the Brave and The Free–is Exceptional
It’s good to be home. My fellow Americans, Michelle and I have been so touched by all the well-wishes we’ve received over the past few weeks. But tonight it’s my turn to say thanks. Whether we’ve seen eye-to-eye or rarely agreed at all, my conversations with you, the American people – in living rooms and schools; at farms and on factory floors; at diners and on distant outposts – are what have kept me honest, kept me inspired, and kept me going. Every day, I learned from you. You made me a better President, and you made me a better man.
I first came to Chicago when I was in my early twenties, still trying to figure out who I was; still searching for a purpose to my life. It was in neighbourhoods not far from here where I began working with church groups in the shadows of closed steel mills. It was on these streets where I witnessed the power of faith, and the quiet dignity of working people in the face of struggle and loss.
After eight years as your President, I still believe that. And it’s not just my belief. It’s the beating heart of our American idea – our bold experiment in self-government.
It’s the conviction that we are all created equal, endowed by our Creator with certain unalienable rights, among them life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.
It’s the insistence that these rights, while self-evident, have never been self-executing; that We, the People, through the instrument of our democracy, can form a more perfect union.
This is the great gift our Founders gave us. The freedom to chase our individual dreams through our sweat, toil, and imagination – and the imperative to strive together as well, to achieve a greater good.
For 240 years, our nation’s call to citizenship has given work and purpose to each new generation. It’s what led patriots to choose republic over tyranny, pioneers to trek west, slaves to brave that makeshift railroad to freedom. It’s what pulled immigrants and refugees across oceans and the Rio Grande, pushed women to reach for the ballot, powered workers to organise. It’s why GIs gave their lives at Omaha Beach and Iwo Jima; Iraq and Afghanistan – and why men and women from Selma to Stonewall were prepared to give theirs as well.
So that’s what we mean when we say America is exceptional. Not that our nation has been flawless from the start, but that we have shown the capacity to change, and make life better for those who follow.
Yes, our progress has been uneven. The work of democracy has always been hard, contentious and sometimes bloody. For every two steps forward, it often feels we take one step back. But the long sweep of America has been defined by forward motion, a constant widening of our founding creed to embrace all, and not just some.
If I had told you eight years ago that America would reverse a great recession, reboot our auto industry, and unleash the longest stretch of job creation in our history . if I had told you that we would open up a new chapter with the Cuban people, shut down Iran’s nuclear weapons program without firing a shot, and take out the mastermind of 9/11 . if I had told you that we would win marriage equality, and secure the right to health insurance for another 20 million of our fellow citizens – you might have said our sights were set a little too high.
But that’s what we did. That’s what you did. You were the change. You answered people’s hopes, and because of you, by almost every measure, America is a better, stronger place than it was when we started.
In ten days, the world will witness a hallmark of our democracy: the peaceful transfer of power from one freely-elected president to the next. I committed to President-Elect Trump that my administration would ensure the smoothest possible transition, just as President Bush did for me. Because it’s up to all of us to make sure our government can help us meet the many challenges we still face.
We have what we need to do so. After all, we remain the wealthiest, most powerful, and most respected nation on Earth. Our youth and drive, our diversity and openness, our boundless capacity for risk and reinvention mean that the future should be ours.
But that potential will be realized only if our democracy works. Only if our politics reflects the decency of the people. Only if all of us, regardless of our party affiliation or particular interest, help restore the sense of common purpose that we so badly need right now.
That’s what I want to focus on tonight – the state of our democracy.
Understand, democracy does not require uniformity. Our founders quarrelled and compromised, and expected us to do the same. But they knew that democracy does require a basic sense of solidarity – the idea that for all our outward differences, we are all in this together; that we rise or fall as one.
There have been moments throughout our history that threatened to rupture that solidarity. The beginning of this century has been one of those times. A shrinking world, growing inequality; demographic change and the spectre of terrorism – these forces haven’t just tested our security and prosperity, but our democracy as well. And how we meet these challenges to our democracy will determine our ability to educate our kids, and create good jobs, and protect our homeland.
In other words, it will determine our future.
“Our democracy won’t work without a sense that everyone has economic opportunity”.
Our democracy won’t work without a sense that everyone has economic opportunity. Today, the economy is growing again; wages, incomes, home values, and retirement accounts are rising again; poverty is falling again. The wealthy are paying a fairer share of taxes even as the stock market shatters records. The unemployment rate is near a ten-year low. The uninsured rate has never, ever been lower. Health care costs are rising at the slowest rate in fifty years. And if anyone can put together a plan that is demonstrably better than the improvements we’ve made to our health care system – that covers as many people at less cost – I will publicly support it.
That, after all, is why we serve – to make people’s lives better, not worse.
But for all the real progress we’ve made, we know it’s not enough. Our economy doesn’t work as well or grow as fast when a few prosper at the expense of a growing middle class. But stark inequality is also corrosive to our democratic principles. While the top one per cent has amassed a bigger share of wealth and income, too many families, in inner cities and rural counties, have been left behind – the laid-off factory worker; the waitress and health care worker who struggle to pay the bills – convinced that the game is fixed against them, that their government only serves the interests of the powerful – a recipe for more cynicism and polarisation in our politics.
There are no quick fixes to this long-term trend. I agree that our trade should be fair and not just free. But the next wave of economic dislocation won’t come from overseas. It will come from the relentless pace of automation that makes many good, middle-class jobs obsolete.
And so we must forge a new social compact – to guarantee all our kids the education they need; to give workers the power to unionise for better wages; to update the social safety net to reflect the way we live now and make more reforms to the tax code so corporations and individuals who reap the most from the new economy don’t avoid their obligations to the country that’s made their success possible. We can argue about how to best achieve these goals. But we can’t be complacent about the goals themselves. For if we don’t create opportunity for all people, the disaffection and division that has stalled our progress will only sharpen in years to come.
There’s a second threat to our democracy – one as old as our nation itself. After my election, there was talk of a post-racial America. Such a vision, however well-intended, was never realistic. For race remains a potent and often divisive force in our society. I’ve lived long enough to know that race relations are better than they were ten, or twenty, or thirty years ago – you can see it not just in statistics, but in the attitudes of young Americans across the political spectrum.
But we’re not where we need to be. All of us have more work to do. After all, if every economic issue is framed as a struggle between a hardworking white middle class and undeserving minorities, then workers of all shades will be left fighting for scraps while the wealthy withdraw further into their private enclaves. If we decline to invest in the children of immigrants, just because they don’t look like us, we diminish the prospects of our own children – because those brown kids will represent a larger share of America’s workforce. And our economy doesn’t have to be a zero-sum game. Last year, incomes rose for all races, all age groups, for men and for women.
Going forward, we must uphold laws against discrimination – in hiring, in housing, in education and the criminal justice system. That’s what our Constitution and highest ideals require. But laws alone won’t be enough. Hearts must change. If our democracy is to work in this increasingly diverse nation, each one of us must try to heed the advice of one of the great characters in American fiction, Atticus Finch, who said “You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view.until you climb into his skin and walk around in it.”
For blacks and other minorities, it means tying our own struggles for justice to the challenges that a lot of people in this country face – the refugee, the immigrant, the rural poor, the transgender American, and also the middle-aged white man who from the outside may seem like he’s got all the advantages, but who’s seen his world upended by economic, cultural, and technological change.
For white Americans, it means acknowledging that the effects of slavery and Jim Crow didn’t suddenly vanish in the ’60s; that when minority groups voice discontent, they’re not just engaging in reverse racism or practising political correctness; that when they wage peaceful protest, they’re not demanding special treatment, but the equal treatment our Founders promised.
For native-born Americans, it means reminding ourselves that the stereotypes about immigrants today were said, almost word for word, about the Irish, Italians, and Poles. America wasn’t weakened by the presence of these newcomers; they embraced this nation’s creed, and it was strengthened.
So regardless of the station we occupy; we have to try harder; to start with the premise that each of our fellow citizens loves this country just as much as we do; that they value hard work and family like we do; that their children are just as curious and hopeful and worthy of love as our own.
None of this is easy. For too many of us, it’s become safer to retreat into our own bubbles, whether in our neighbourhoods or college campuses or places of worship or our social media feeds, surrounded by people who look like us and share the same political outlook and never challenge our assumptions. The rise of naked partisanship, increasing economic and regional stratification, the splintering of our media into a channel for every taste – all this makes this great sorting seem natural, even inevitable. And increasingly, we become so secure in our bubbles that we accept only information, whether true or not, that fits our opinions, instead of basing our opinions on the evidence that’s out there.
Politics is a battle of ideas
This trend represents a third threat to our democracy. Politics is a battle of ideas; in the course of a healthy debate, we’ll prioritise different goals, and the different means of reaching them. But without some common baseline of facts; without a willingness to admit new information, and concede that your opponent is making a fair point, and that science and reason matter, we’ll keep talking past each other, making common ground and compromise impossible.
Isn’t that part of what makes politics so dispiriting? How can elected officials rage about deficits when we propose to spend money on preschool for kids, but not when we’re cutting taxes for corporations? How do we excuse ethical lapses in our own party, but pounce when the other party does the same thing? It’s not just dishonest, this selective sorting of the facts; it’s self-defeating. Because as my mother used to tell me, reality has a way of catching up with you.
Take the challenge of climate change. In just eight years, we’ve halved our dependence on foreign oil, doubled our renewable energy, and led the world to an agreement that has the promise to save this planet. But without bolder action, our children won’t have time to debate the existence of climate change; they’ll be busy dealing with its effects: environmental disasters, economic disruptions, and waves of climate refugees seeking sanctuary.
Now, we can and should argue about the best approach to the problem. But to simply deny the problem not only betrays future generations; it betrays the essential spirit of innovation and practical problem-solving that guided our Founders.
It’s that spirit, born of the Enlightenment, that made us an economic powerhouse – the spirit that took flight at Kitty Hawk and Cape Canaveral; the spirit that cures disease and put a computer in every pocket.
“a faith in reason, and enterprise, and the primacy of right over might”.
It’s that spirit – a faith in reason, and enterprise, and the primacy of right over might, that allowed us to resist the lure of fascism and tyranny during the Great Depression, and build a post-World War II order with other democracies, an order based not just on military power or national affiliations but on principles – the rule of law, human rights, freedoms of religion, speech, assembly, and an independent press.
That order is now being challenged – first by violent fanatics who claim to speak for Islam; more recently by autocrats in foreign capitals who see free markets, open democracies, and civil society itself as a threat to their power. The peril each poses to our democracy is more far-reaching than a car bomb or a missile. It represents the fear of change; the fear of people who look or speak or pray differently; a contempt for the rule of law that holds leaders accountable; an intolerance of dissent and free thought; a belief that the sword or the gun or the bomb or propaganda machine is the ultimate arbiter of what’s true and what’s right.
Because of the extraordinary courage of our men and women in uniform, and the intelligence officers, law enforcement, and diplomats who support them, no foreign terrorist organisation has successfully planned and executed an attack on our homeland these past eight years; and although Boston and Orlando remind us of how dangerous radicalisation can be, our law enforcement agencies are more effective and vigilant than ever. We’ve taken out tens of thousands of terrorists – including Osama bin Laden. The global coalition we’re leading against ISIL has taken out their leaders, and taken away about half their territory. ISIL will be destroyed, and no one who threatens America will ever be safe. To all who serve, it has been the honor of my lifetime to be your Commander-in-Chief.
But protecting our way of life requires more than our military. Democracy can buckle when we give in to fear. So just as we, as citizens, must remain vigilant against external aggression, we must guard against a weakening of the values that make us who we are. That’s why, for the past eight years, I’ve worked to put the fight against terrorism on a firm legal footing. That’s why we’ve ended torture, worked to close Gitmo, and reform our laws governing surveillance to protect privacy and civil liberties. That’s why I reject discrimination against Muslim Americans. That’s why we cannot withdraw from global fights – to expand democracy, and human rights, women’s rights, and LGBT rights – no matter how imperfect our efforts, no matter how expedient ignoring such values may seem. For the fight against extremism and intolerance and sectarianism are of a piece with the fight against authoritarianism and nationalist aggression. If the scope of freedom and respect for the rule of law shrinks around the world, the likelihood of war within and between nations increases, and our own freedoms will eventually be threatened.
“So let’s be vigilant, but not afraid.”
So let’s be vigilant, but not afraid. ISIL will try to kill innocent people. But they cannot defeat America unless we betray our Constitution and our principles in the fight. Rivals like Russia or China cannot match our influence around the world – unless we give up what we stand for, and turn ourselves into just another big country that bullies smaller neighbours.
“our democracy is threatened whenever we take it for granted.”
Which brings me to my final point – our democracy is threatened whenever we take it for granted. All of us, regardless of party, should throw ourselves into the task of rebuilding our democratic institutions. When voting rates are some of the lowest among advanced democracies, we should make it easier, not harder, to vote. When trust in our institutions is low, we should reduce the corrosive influence of money in our politics, and insist on the principles of transparency and ethics in public service. When Congress is dysfunctional, we should draw our districts to encourage politicians to cater to common sense and not rigid extremes.
And all of this depends on our participation; on each of us accepting the responsibility of citizenship, regardless of which way the pendulum of power swings.
Our Constitution is a remarkable, beautiful gift. But it’s really just a piece of parchment. It has no power on its own. We, the people, give it power – with our participation, and the choices we make. Whether or not we stand up for our freedoms. Whether or not we respect and enforce the rule of law. America is no fragile thing. But the gains of our long journey to freedom are not assured.
In his own farewell address, George Washington wrote that self-government is the underpinning of our safety, prosperity, and liberty, but “from different causes and from different quarters much pains will be taken.to weaken in your minds the conviction of this truth;” that we should preserve it with “jealous anxiety;” that we should reject “the first dawning of every attempt to alienate any portion of our country from the rest or to enfeeble the sacred ties” that make us one.
We weaken those ties when we allow our political dialogue to become so corrosive that people of good character are turned off from public service; so coarse with rancour that Americans with whom we disagree are not just misguided, but somehow malevolent. We weaken those ties when we define some of us as more American than others; when we write off the whole system as inevitably corrupt, and blame the leaders we elect without examining our own role in electing them.
It falls to each of us to be those anxious, jealous guardians of our democracy; to embrace the joyous task we’ve been given to continually try to improve this great nation of ours. Because for all our outward differences, we all share the same proud title: Citizen.
Ultimately, that’s what our democracy demands. It needs you. Not just when there’s an election, not just when your own narrow interest is at stake, but over the full span of a lifetime. If you’re tired of arguing with strangers on the internet, try to talk with one in real life. If something needs fixing, lace up your shoes and do some organising. If you’re disappointed by your elected officials, grab a clipboard, get some signatures, and run for office yourself. Show up. Dive in. Persevere. Sometimes you’ll win. Sometimes you’ll lose. Presuming a reservoir of goodness in others can be a risk, and there will be times when the process disappoints you. But for those of us fortunate enough to have been a part of this work, to see it up close, let me tell you, it can energise and inspire. And more often than not, your faith in America – and in Americans – will be confirmed.
Mine sure has been. Over the course of these eight years, I’ve seen the hopeful faces of young graduates and our newest military officers. I’ve mourned with grieving families searching for answers, and found grace in Charleston church. I’ve seen our scientists help a paralysed man regain his sense of touch, and our wounded warriors walk again. I’ve seen our doctors and volunteers rebuild after earthquakes and stop pandemics in their tracks. I’ve seen the youngest of children remind us of our obligations to care for refugees, to work in peace, and above all to look out for each other.
That faith I placed all those years ago, not far from here, in the power of ordinary Americans to bring about change – that faith has been rewarded in ways I couldn’t possibly have imagined. I hope yours has, too. Some of you here tonight or watching at home were there with us in 2004, in 2008, in 2012 – and maybe you still can’t believe we pulled this whole thing off.
You’re not the only ones. Michelle – for the past twenty-five years, you’ve been not only my wife and mother of my children, but my best friend. You took on a role you didn’t ask for and made it your own with grace and grit and style and good humour. You made the White House a place that belongs to everybody. And a new generation sets its sights higher because it has you as a role model. You’ve made me proud. You’ve made the country proud.
Malia and Sasha, under the strangest of circumstances, you have become two amazing young women, smart and beautiful, but more importantly, kind and thoughtful and full of passion. You wore the burden of years in the spotlight so easily. Of all that I’ve done in my life, I’m most proud to be your dad.
” To Joe Biden, you were the first choice I made as a nominee, and the best. Not just because you have been a great Vice President, but because in the bargain, I gained a brother. “
To Joe Biden, the scrappy kid from Scranton who became Delaware’s favorite son: you were the first choice I made as a nominee, and the best. Not just because you have been a great Vice President, but because in the bargain, I gained a brother. We love you and Jill like family, and your friendship has been one of the great joys of our life.
To my remarkable staff: For eight years – and for some of you, a whole lot more – I’ve drawn from your energy, and tried to reflect back what you displayed every day: heart, and character, and idealism. I’ve watched you grow up, get married, have kids, and start incredible new journeys of your own. Even when times got tough and frustrating, you never let Washington get the better of you. The only thing that makes me prouder than all the good we’ve done is the thought of all the remarkable things you’ll achieve from here.
And to all of you out there – every organiser who moved to an unfamiliar town and kind family who welcomed them in, every volunteer who knocked on doors, every young person who cast a ballot for the first time, every American who lived and breathed the hard work of change – you are the best supporters and organisers anyone could hope for, and I will forever be grateful. Because yes, you changed the world.
That’s why I leave this stage tonight even more optimistic about this country than I was when we started. Because I know our work has not only helped so many Americans; it has inspired so many Americans – especially so many young people out there – to believe you can make a difference; to hitch your wagon to something bigger than yourselves. This generation coming up – unselfish, altruistic, creative, patriotic – I’ve seen you in every corner of the country. You believe in a fair, just, inclusive America; you know that constant change has been America’s hallmark, something not to fear but to embrace, and you are willing to carry this hard work of democracy forward. You’ll soon outnumber any of us, and I believe as a result that the future is in good hands.
“My fellow Americans, it has been the honor of my life to serve you.”
My fellow Americans, it has been the honor of my life to serve you. I won’t stop; in fact, I will be right there with you, as a citizen, for all my days that remain. For now, whether you’re young or young at heart, I do have one final ask of you as your President – the same thing I asked when you took a chance on me eight years ago.
I am asking you to believe. Not in my ability to bring about change – but in yours.
I am asking you to hold fast to that faith written into our founding documents; that idea whispered by slaves and abolitionists; that spirit sung by immigrants and homesteaders and those who marched for justice; that creed reaffirmed by those who planted flags from foreign battlefields to the surface of the moon; a creed at the core of every American whose story is not yet written:
Yes We Can.
Yes We Did.
Yes We Can.
Thank you. God bless you. And may God continue to bless the United States of America.
November 11, 2016
President Barack Obama’s legacy: What happens now?
By Sam Clench
The biggest loser of the US election wasn’t even on the ballot.
I’m not talking about Hillary Clinton, even though her political career has been crushed for good. No, the ultimate victim of Donald Trump’s stunning triumph is the man he will replace as president, Barack Obama.
“My name may not be on the ballot, but our progress is on the ballot,” Obama said before the election, urging his supporters to vote for Ms Clinton. “Tolerance is on the ballot. Democracy is on the ballot. Justice is on the ballot. Good schools are on the ballot. Hope is on the ballot.”
The president said he would consider it “a personal insult, an insult to my legacy” if Trump won. Well, here we are.
It’s a bizarre situation. Eight years ago, Obama was swept into power by America’s fury with his predecessor. This time, Trump won despite Obama’s remarkable popularity.
The president’s approval rating has risen steadily this year, and is now at its highest point since the heady days of his political honeymoon in late 2009.
“There’s a contrast with George W. Bush, who exited with very low favourability ratings,” Dr Gorana Grgic, a lecturer in US politics and foreign policy at the United States Studies Centre, tells news.com.au. “If you look at it from a historical perspective, Obama is up there.”
To give you some of that historical perspective, Obama’s ratings are comparable to those of Ronald Reagan, who often tops polls asking people to name the nation’s greatest president. But while Reagan’s legacy has shaped American politics for decades, Obama’s could vanish within months.
When Trump takes office, the Republican Party will control all three levers of power in Washington: the White House, Senate and House of Representatives. That means he will have free rein to pursue his agenda – and systematically dismantle Obama’s achievements.
The most obvious threat is to the president’s signature domestic policy, the health care law known as Obamacare. It’s already in trouble, with rising premiums and too few young, healthy people signing up to subsidise the nation’s older, sicker health insurance customers.
Obviously, Donald Trump has said that he would push for the repeal of Obamacare. The Republicans have already tried almost 50 times,” Dr Grgic says. Republican Senate leader Mitch McConnell has confirmed that repealing the law is a “pretty high item on our agenda”.
Dr Grgic argues the next president should focus on “getting more people into Obamacare, increasing competition and seeing whether something can be done about rising drug prices”. That is probably what Ms Clinton would have done.
Instead, Trump plans to scrap the whole thing and start again. Obama’s foreign policy record is flawed, but he has overseen a dramatic recovery in America’s reputation, which suffered badly during Bush’s second term.
“Obama has been pretty clear on what his outlook is for the way that the US engages with the world. It’s a very multilateral approach. and it’s principled on ‘don’t do stupid stuff’,” Dr Grgic says. “It was very much a reaction to what was perceived to be the overreach of the Bush administration.”
The world is somewhat less enthusiastic about a Trump presidency. A global poll taken shortly before the election showed people in every overseas country surveyed, with the exception of Russia, overwhelmingly preferred Ms Clinton.
Trump’s victory will clearly cause a seismic shift in America’s image – and its approach to the rest of the world.
The President-elect has been a scathing critic of Obama’s foreign policy doctrine. During the campaign, he called the much-hyped agreement with Iran, which aimed to curb the country’s efforts to develop nuclear weapons, “the worst deal ever negotiated”. Trump has promised to tear it up. He will also consider reversing Obama’s landmark decision to normalise relations with Cuba.
If those achievements are wiped away, Obama’s record will pretty much be reduced to the messes in Libya, Ukraine and Syria, which developed into a cataclysmic civil war on his watch.
“Obviously we have the nonintervention in Syria. Whether this was a mistake or not, we know Hillary Clinton was very vocal in support of a more assertive response,” Dr Grgic says.
“Obama had a very principled approach to foreign policy, and that involved mutual efforts and burden-sharing, and that simply wasn’t there in the early days of Syria.
“What you see in Syria now is a complete asymmetry of power, where you have the Assad regime being supported by Russia.”
Speaking of Russia, Obama’s efforts to rein in Vladimir Putin could be ditched completely when Trump takes control.
“There has been a complete breakdown basically of the relations between Russia and the US,” Dr Grgic says. That breakdown “started with the 2011 intervention in Libya,” which Putin opposed, and “spiralled” from there.
“It takes two to tango, right? I don’t think it’s just Obama’s fault for this one. It’s very clear that Putin has been very skilful in using this window of opportunity to assert Russia’s power,” she says. “When you are dealing with an autocratic leader, it’s very difficult to make a case for co-operation, when Putin is not constrained by the same factors as Obama.”
Trump repeatedly praised Putin during the campaign, calling him a “stronger leader” than Obama and suggesting he could work alongside the Russian dictator as an ally. That would mean a drastic reorientation of Obama’s foreign policy.
But put aside the policy implications of a future Trump administration for a moment, because part of the legacy Obama wanted to leave is in tatters already.
Back in 2008, Obama energised his voters with a promise to revolutionise politics in the United States. Sarah Palin infamously referred to this as the “hopey-changey stuff”, and perhaps she was right to mock it, because the bipartisan dream Obama spoke of so eloquently never materialised. That was partly his own fault.
“Obama is simply not the kind of politician that likes to get down and dirty with the kind of everyday politicking, and the horsetrading. He was simply not willing to engage in politics as it is usually done on Capitol Hill,” Dr Grgic says. That hindered the president’s ability to negotiate with Congress.
“A lot of people have said that it’s a kind of product of his personality and who he was previously. An academic, someone who’s very aloof maybe. He’d rather debate things, he’d rather try to show that his argument is plausible or he has more evidence to support his course of action than make those compromises.”
With the Republican Party pulled to the right by its base and Obama unable to break the gridlock in Washington, we’re now witnessing “the most polarising environment ever” in the US, she says.
That environment led directly to the rise of Donald Trump. It decimated the Democrats, whose numbers in Congress have plummeted, and who now face an utterly dominant Republican Party at both federal and state level.
Obama’s one great talent was getting himself elected. His party has crumbled around him over the last eight years, with most of its rising stars turfed from office, and now there is no obvious leader ready to pick up the pieces when he’s gone.
Obama isn’t the only one to blame for this – not even close – but it’s an undeniable fact that he failed to bring the country together. White people and minorities are bitterly divided. Urban elites and rural voters openly sneer at each other. And now, in a sickening dose of irony, America’s first black president will hand over the White House to the man who spent years hounding him with a racist birther conspiracy theory.
“We want to do everything we can to help you succeed. Because if you succeed, the country succeeds,” Obama told Trump when they met today. Those were the right words, and they sounded sincere.
But inside, even if he doesn’t show it, Obama must fear for his legacy. His proudest achievement, health care reform, is in mortal danger, his foreign policy doctrine is about to be reversed, and the nation he hoped to unite is seething with resentment.
Hillary Clinton lost an election, and I’m sure it hurts badly. But Barack Obama could lose everything his presidency stood for, and that is far worse.
May 31, 2015
The Insecure American
by Paul Krugman
America remains, despite the damage inflicted by the Great Recession and its aftermath, a very rich country. But many Americans are economically insecure, with little protection from life’s risks. They frequently experience financial hardship; many don’t expect to be able to retire, and if they do retire have little to live on besides Social Security.
Many readers will, I hope, find nothing surprising in what I just said. But all too many affluent Americans — and, in particular, members of our political elite — seem to have no sense of how the other half lives. Which is why a new study on the financial well-being of U.S. households, conducted by the Federal Reserve, should be required reading inside the Beltway.
Before I get to that study, a few words about the callous obliviousness so prevalent in our political life. I am not, or not only, talking about right-wing contempt for the poor, although the dominance of compassionless conservatism is a sight to behold. According to the Pew Research Center, more than three-quarters of conservatives believe that the poor “have it easy” thanks to government benefits; only 1 in 7 believe that the poor “have hard lives.”
And this attitude translates into policy. What we learn from the refusal of Republican-controlled states to expand Medicaid, even though the federal government would foot the bill, is that punishing the poor has become a goal in itself, one worth pursuing even if it hurts rather than helps state budgets.
But leave self-declared conservatives and their contempt for the poor on one side. What’s really striking is the disconnect between centrist conventional wisdom and the reality of life — and death — for much of the nation.
Take, as a prime example, positioning on Social Security. For decades, a declared willingness to cut Social Security benefits, especially by raising the retirement age, has been almost a required position — a badge of seriousness — for politicians and pundits who want to sound wise and responsible. After all, people are living longer, so shouldn’t they work longer, too? And isn’t Social Security an old-fashioned system, out of touch with modern economic realities?
Meanwhile, the reality is that living longer in our ever-more-unequal society is very much a class thing: life expectancy at age 65 has risen a lot among the affluent, but hardly at all in the bottom half of the wage distribution, that is, among those who need Social Security most. And while the retirement system F.D.R. introduced may look old-fashioned to affluent professionals, it is quite literally a lifeline for many of our fellow citizens. A majority of Americans over 65 get more than half their income from Social Security, and more than a quarter are almost completely reliant on those monthly checks.
These realities may finally be penetrating political debate, to some extent. We seem to be hearing less these days about cutting Social Security, and we’re even seeing some attention paid to proposals for benefit increases given the erosion of private pensions. But my sense is that Washington still has no clue about the realities of life for those not yet elderly. Which is where that Federal Reserve study comes in.
This is the study’s second year, and the current edition actually portrays a nation in recovery: in 2014, unlike 2013, a substantial plurality of respondents said that they were better off than they had been five years ago. Yet it’s startling how little room for error there is in many American lives.
We learn, for example, that 3 in 10 non elderly Americans said they had no retirement savings or pension, and that the same fraction reported going without some kind of medical care in the past year because they couldn’t afford it. Almost a quarter reported that they or a family member had experienced financial hardship in the past year
And something that even startled me: 47 percent said that they would not have the resources to meet an unexpected expense of $400 — $400! They would have to sell something or borrow to meet that need, if they could meet it at all
Of course, it could be much worse. Social Security is there, and we should be very glad that it is. Meanwhile, unemployment insurance and food stamps did a lot to cushion unlucky families from the worst during the Great Recession. And Obamacare, imperfect as it is, has immensely reduced insecurity, especially in states whose governments haven’t tried to sabotage the program.
But while things could be worse, they could also be better. There is no such thing as perfect security, but American families could easily have much more security than they have. All it would take is for politicians and pundits to stop talking blithely about the need to cut “entitlements” and start looking at the way their less-fortunate fellow citizens actually live.
A version of this op-ed appears in print on May 29, 2015, on page A23 of the New York edition with the headline: The Insecure American