In GOP Land America is 89% White

Let People VoteBenjy Sarlin has a great article about the New Southern Strategy that I’ve been writing about, How the GOP Stopped Worrying About Latinos and Learned to Love the Base. It lays out the best statistical counter argument to Sean Trende that I’ve read. As you know, I don’t think any of this really matters. The Republican Party has no intention of changing. For one thing, they have a long history of getting people to vote against their best interests by voting Republican. That’s what the “Reagan Democrats” were: people who resented blacks more than they cared about their own well being. So it only makes sense that they would continue to think that they can win elections while remaining unpopular. And the recent damage to the Voting Rights Act only makes that opinion all the more compelling to the Republican Party.

And that got me thinking: voter suppression. There is a very old theory about liberals and conservatives. It claims that liberals make policies based upon the way they want people to be, but conservatives base their policies on the way people actual are. I think there actually used to be something to this. A lot of socialist thought assumed that incentives didn’t matter whereas conservatives were all about incentives. For the last few decades, though, liberals have been all about incentives. In as much as conservatives think about incentives, they now believe they are the only thing that matters, which is just as big a mistake as thinking that they don’t matter at all.

But in a more fundamental way, the Republican Party believes things that are clearly untrue. We saw this most clearly last year where even Mitt Romney went into election day thinking he was going to win despite the overwhelming evidence to the contrary. But more to the point, I have noticed that a lot of conservatives really do think that any time a Republican loses an election it is a sign of voter fraud. I believe this comes from the extremely insular nature of conservative politics. Just look at the Deer Lady: it is clear she never hears anything about politics that is not filtered through a right wing extremist.

It goes much deeper than this. Much of the conservative base really thinks that the world is the way they “remember” it. They think it is still 1976 when whites made up 89% of the electorate. So to them, the coming “demographic death spiral” is just a myth like global warming. The only reason that white voters have been declining is that ACORN has been committing vast voter fraud (even though it no longer exists). And by enacting voter ID laws we will return to the halcyon days of old.

Note: this is not what people like Sean Trende and Byron York are talking about. As I’ve explained before, they are just the intellectual rationalizations of what the Republicans were always going to do. But I think there is much more here than stubbornness from the Republicans. They are just convinced that America is still a white man’s country and that if everything is fair, they win. Personally, I don’t see why so many liberals are trying to educate them on the matter. The time would be better spent trying to educate both parties on some basic economics.

Creepy Christian Mingle Girl Not So Creepy

Christian Mingle AdYou may remember that earlier this year, I made fun of the Chtristian Mingle ad on the left. I wrote of the model, “She looks like she is either the unfortunate victim of an evil plastic surgeon or the resident of a galaxy far far away.” Even Andrea told me that I was being mean, but the photo is super creepy.

Well, I didn’t think about it much after I published it. But just recently, I noticed that Tundra Hunden over at Tundra Talk brought up the subject. He wrote, “Is it just me or… Is the woman in that Christian Mingle banner kinda (ok really ) scary looking? The kind of scary where you see her without all 14lbs of makeup and have to break out your rusty Swiss Army knife and start sawing…” Mostly, the guys on the site thought it was just him. It wasn’t that they didn’t think she was scary; it was more just that they all agreed that they would have sex with pretty much anyone or anything.

But then Tundra Hunden came back, “HA! I am not alone. Not only that but I am only half the jerk that this guy is.” And he linked to my article. I’m always happy when people link to me, so call me a jerk all you want. Andrea, for one, agrees. But it was never my intention to put the woman down, just the ad. It is an extremely unflattering photo and I would think the people at Christian Mingle would have seen that.

Well, it turns out that the same model was used in other ads. And she isn’t unattractive at all. She has a very unusual look, but that isn’t necessarily a bad thing. The crew could have used her face to far better advantage. And they did, as you can see in this photo from the same ad campaign:

Christian Mingle Couple

In this photo she looks down right fetching, like just a regular girl. Not to put too fine a point on it, she looks like the kind of girl that young Christians would be looking for. Now was that so hard? Why do they continue to use the “alien woman in prom dress trying to hypnotize you” photo?

Tom Stoppard and Julian Assange

Tom StoppardGerman Nazarene movement painter Johann Friedrich Overbeck was born on this day in 1789. The great Czech composer Leos Janacek was born in 1854. Danish painter Albert Gottschalk was born in 1866. Franz Kafka was born in 1883. Bluesman Mississippi John Hurt was born in 1893. Actor George Sanders was born in 1906. Director Ken Russell was born in 1927. Guitarist Tommy Tedesco was born in 1930.

Humorist Dave Barry is 66. Actor Tom Cruise is 51. And WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange is 42.

They day, however, belongs to playwright Tom Stoppard who is 76 today. He wrote and directed one of my favorite films, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead (which is much better than the play). And as much as Assange is a hero of mine, he mostly just depresses me. Here is a good example of just how fun Stoppard is at his best:

Happy birthday Tom Stoppard!

Accents and Star Trek Into Darkness

Star Trek Into DarknessIn order to escape the heat yesterday, I snuck away to the cheap movie theater and watched Star Trek Into Darkness. I was none too pleased with the first “new old” Star Trek. In particular, I don’t buy most of the characters. The only one who manages to make me believe he’s the real guy is Karl Urban as McCoy. The others are silly caricatures like Scotty (with all due respect to Simon Pegg) and Chekov. Or they are banal Hollywood archetypes like Kirk and Uhura. I wasn’t expecting much from the movie and it delivered.

The film is a good example of what has become of action films. Into Darkness effectively takes the two Nicholas Meyer Star Trek moves and puts them into one. Instead of using the episode “Space Seed” as background, it is put right into the film. But rather than the Enterprise finding the Botany Bay, the head of Starfleet uses Khan to start a war with the Klingon Empire. So you have The Wrath of Khan with The Undiscovered Country. Yet both of those films are better. A large part of it is just that Meyer actually knows how to tell a story. But so does J. J. Abrams, when he wants to (e.g. Super 8). I think the bigger problem is that because of how easy and cheap CG effects now are, action scenes take up far too much time in these movies. You can literally leave the theater at the beginning of an action sequence, buy some Jolly Joes, flirt with the ticket taker, and be back in your set before missing any important plot information.

But the film is fine. It works. Star Trek is by its very nature a silly franchise. It should have been a half hour shorter. But hey, the people need time to finish their popcorn. Regardless, it was a hell of a lot better than Man of Steel.

There were, however, two things that really bugged me about this film. The first is that I don’t like being pandered to. My knowledge of the original cast Star Trek is far greater than I would like to admit. I hated it every time the film tipped its hat to something in the future. I know all about Dr. Marcus. I know that she and Kirk are going to hook up and that she’s going to give birth to Kirk’s only son and that in The Search for Spock, he will die and Kirk will get to say his best line ever, “Klingon bastard! You killed my son!” I do not need to see Kirk ogling the young Dr. Marcus in her underwear. Not that I ever mind looking at Alice Eve in her underwear.

The second thing that really bugged me was far, far worse. When did Dr. Marcus suddenly become British? Her father isn’t British. She isn’t British in 20 years when she and Kirk reunited in The Wrath of Khan. What the hell is that all about? Similarly, when did Khan become British? Because 20 years later, Khan will talk like this:

What is going on? The producers decided that if anything, Scotty and Chekov had to have even more silly Hollywood accents, but Marcus and Khan could just become whatever? And here’s the thing: Alice Eve and Benedict Cumberbatch are fine actors. They could have done the accents. They’re from England. Unlike most American actors, they’re trained. Karl Urban managed it. Jeez!

Afterword

I could go on and on about how Star Trek generally betrays all of its high ideals for the future of humanity. But let me just say this: the worst thing is the way that it is so rigidly hierarchical. If we are to survive for another 250 years into the future, we have got to get beyond that. And it is interesting in Star Trek Into Darkness that there isn’t even much in the way of token women commanders. It is as though the producers today are no more evolved than they were in the 1960s.

White Party Strategy More Than Demographics

Fire Hose ProtestersI have basically been in agreement with Sean Trende about the Republican Party’s option regarding being a white party. But there is a very big difference. Trende seems to think it is a good idea; I think it is just the Republican Party’s only option given that they are unwilling to do anything to moderate their ideology or stop their pandering to what is essentially a bigoted base. Well, Trende is out with a fourth article that shows in excessive detail that Republicans can continue to win election with this New Southern Strategy.

To some extent, however, Trende is attacking a straw man. No one I know is making the argument that Republicans can’t or won’t win elections if they don’t broaden their appeal. The argument is that it will get harder and harder. And Trende effectively concedes this point. His whole argument is predicated on the idea that Republicans can win 70% of the white vote. I find this a highly dubious contention, although it is a lot easier to imagine now that the Supreme Court has effectively shot down the Voting Rights Act.

Yesterday, Francis Wilkinson pushed back on Trende’s argument, Republicans’ Dead-End Search for ‘Missing White Voters’. He argued that the numbers are all well and fine, but this isn’t just about numbers. He said that the current demographic makeup of the Republican party is a “crisis of legitimacy”:

Republican policies already cater to an increasingly narrow tranche of American society: the rich and the old (who, not coincidentally, happen also to be white). When they wax nostalgic over the era of institutional racism and sexism, it sounds like moral obtuseness to most younger, more diverse voters. And so it is. How long before Republicans put themselves out of reach of most Asians and Hispanics as they have with blacks?

I would go further. The more that the Republican Party becomes seen as the party of whites, the more that whites themselves will rebel against it. There is a lot of identity in politics but only the most extreme don’t wince at the thought of identifying as white in this regard. There is too much history and no one wants to be associated with white bigots setting fire hoses on black protesters. And note: the Republican Party wouldn’t have to become overwhelmingly white to be perceived that way; it would only take the kind of white-focused campaign that Trende envisions.

None of this changes my notion of what will happen, however. I like Trende—I think he is a brilliant analyst. I’m tempted to say that he has harmed the Republican Party by demonstrating that they don’t have to make any changes. But I don’t think that’s right. This is another case like Reinhart and Rogoff. The Republican Party was always planning to push further into being a white party. Trende has simply supplied them with the intellectual grounding to justify it. This will not end well.