A Periodic Note Of Hope

A good friend of this blog wrote in with a rather bleak outlook for our country. He said, “Barring a miracle…it’s game over for American democracy.” He ended this way:

Truth doesn’t matter (or exist?) anymore. Donald F***ing Trump is President of the United States. There will be five fiends on the SCOTUS. The November election vote counts will be altered in Moscow. Hide and watch. We are tilting at windmills, friends.

My response:

I’m pessimistic, too, my friend, although not to the degree you are. My national optimism, once very strong during the Obama presidency, has taken a big, big hit, that’s for sure. But I’m not ready to concede just yet. I periodically need to give myself a pep talk and it looks like you need one now. So, here goes.

As you know, I’m not one to believe in miracles. But I do believe in numbers.

I’ll call your attention to a CNN article, which reiterates what I’ve tried to say on this blog: despite all the focusing on and fussing over Tr-mp voters we see in the press, Tr-mp is just not that popular overall:

cnn polling sept 2018

Now, granted he is higher in other polls and granted that even 36% support (most of it comes from Republicans, obviously) is grossly offensive, but still it is a good place for us to find some hope.

Also from that CNN article, party ID most recently finds:

25% identify as Republicans
31% as Democrats
38% as Independent

More than two-thirds of folks don’t identify as Republicans, a number that has been increasing. Bottom line on these stats is:

If you take CNN’s approval rating number and party identification and break it up into segments of the total population, only 20% of the US population over the age of 18 are Republicans who approve of Trump.

Surmountable in the extreme, don’t you think?

Also consider this:

The entire US population was about 318 million in 2016. Subtracting out those under the age of 18, the US voting age population in 2016 was approximately 244,807,000, according to the US Census figures. Exactly 136,669,237 people voted in the presidential election, according to the official results. That means approximately 55.8% of the population voted.

Of those, 62,984,825 voted for Trump and 65,853,516 voted for Hillary Clinton. As percentages, 25.7% of the US voting age population voted for Trump and 26.9% of the US population voted for Clinton.

Another 7,830,896 (3.2% of the US population) voted for third parties. That means 108,137,763, or about 44.2% of the population, didn’t vote.

Perhaps the saddest of all these statistics is that Tr-mp is in power only with the consent of 25.7% of the population and that more than 108 million people weren’t interested enough in their democratic inheritance to bother to vote—and that was in 2016, a presidential election year!

Can we do better? Can we get more people out to vote—even in this off-year—who will vote against Tr-mpism? I have confidence we can. The polls are showing as much all over the place. When more people vote, more Republicans tend to lose. And we need more Republicans to lose if we are to start the long job of, first, putting things back together and, second, restarting progressivism. It’s that simple.

It’s not a miracle. It’s math.



  1. It is true, people of goodwill are still out there, but raw partisanship may nevertheless destroy our form of government. We are teetering on the brink, (nod to the Generalist.)

    I recently came upon a podcast about ranked choice voting. It is already in use in some places both foreign and domestic and it appears to offer a remedy for excessive partisanship in that it motivates candidates in primaries to appeal as much to centrists as to extremists. I would enthusiastically support such a movement.


    • Jim,

      I think I would agree we are teetering on the brink. But I disagree that “raw partisanship” is to blame. People have been partisans in this country almost from the beginning. I think the problem is at least two things.

      One, people don’t have a sophisticated enough understanding of how the idea of compromise works and how it is the foundation of any advanced democracy. People don’t understand that compromise is the product of two, often fiercely partisan folks agreeing to do a thing that neither one of them ideally wants but represents the best possible outcome under certain circumstances. Now, don’t get me wrong. I don’t think it is wise to compromise with some people, especially when those people refused to compromise when they had power. Thus, I think Democrats would be foolish, should they gain power this fall, to play nice with this current crop of Republicans, who have essentially trashed the system since Obama came on the scene. But as a general rule, compromise is essential but is seen as a weakness by both sides of the partisan divide, when really it is the only way a divided country like ours can function with any semblance of sanity.

      Two, I think cynicism has taken deep root among us. I’ve written about this extensively, and I think it is the primary reason we have Tr-mp, a sick man with a relatively small cult-like following. Too many people have given up or don’t think it worth their time and effort to do anything but bitch about the system, which I admit has at least one fundamental flaw at its heart: it is weirdly undemocratic at the national level. Oddly, as weird as our system is, we could overcome the flaws by overcoming cynicism and, as Obama reminds us during almost every speech these days, vote, vote, vote.


      Liked by 1 person

  2. Anson Burlingame

     /  October 1, 2018


    I do not agree with your “root causes” of the Great Divide. I consider myself “sophisticated” (or educated, or well read, or thoughtful, enough to understand which side is for what. While dispondent, to the extreme, about the Great Divide, I do not consider it “the end of democracy in America”, etc. as well.

    Check out Sunday, Sept 30, 2018 Globe wherein I wrote a column entitled “We Have Been Here Before”. Based on three recent books, listed in column, I make my case. We will pull out of the mess but it will take time, a long time, which democracy is not geared to like, at all. Everyone wants their way, NOW, no if, ands or butts about it.



    • Anson,

      I don’t know whether you read the original piece here, but what part of “I have confidence we can” get more people out to vote and, thus, change things in the right direction (my vision of right, that is) wasn’t clear to you?

      Obviously, you have your own direction in which the country should flow, which is your prerogative as a citizen. But when I am talking about the inability of people to understand the nature of political compromise and an increasing cynicism (it seems to me, anyway), I am not directly addressing what you call the Great Divide. We have always had divisions, some more severe than others, in this country, most recently in the 1960s, which threatened to tear the country apart.

      But Tr-mp is different. He has no interest, absolutely none, in preserving those institutions (like the Justice Department, for instance) that helped hold the country together through turbulent and divisive times. In fact, in important ways, he is trying to further divide the country by undermining critical institutions, like our justice system and our free press. Add to that his fondness for despots abroad and you have a totally different situation here at home than we have ever faced. Can you imagine, for instance, what you would have done, how you would have reacted, had Obama uttered the words “We fell in love” when referencing Kim Jong-un? I doubt you would have survived the shock of such a statement, but it appears to be no big deal these days.




    • DG

       /  October 2, 2018

      I see you are still being a pain in the American peoples’ ass. “Everyone wants their way” comment is so typical of the far right wing crazies. These crazies try to solely blame , or have the lefties share in the blame, for what the Republican Party alone has done and continue to do to our democracy.
      You say “We will pull out of this mess,” but you won’t own up to who is causing the mess. I offer the following, but not complete, list of “getting our way” things that my party fights for everyday: the right for workers to organize, getting paid a living wage, equal pay for equal work, having a great and equal education system, having great and affordable health care, having fair and equal housing, owning our own home and car, putting our kids through college, being able to live comfortably after retiring at a reasonable age, clean air, safe food and water, environmental protections, fair and honest police force that will be held accountable when they’re not, fair and moderate judges, protection of our civil rights and voter rights, assure us honest elections, faith in our leaders to keep us safe/ respected around the globe and for the representatives of our local, state and federal government to help us achieve all the things listed above. But, who is stopping us?
      In my mind, the 3 most dangerous people on the planet are Paul Ryan, Mitch McConnell and the uninformed, or ill informed, voters who vote Republican. However, not included here, are voters like yourself who represent the very backbone of what keeps this country torn apart. I have left you out because your type have always been around and will always be around come hell or nuclear war. Without these 3, there would be no president trump period.


      Liked by 1 person

      • DG,

        Nice summary of what Democrats stand for and want for the country and a nice summary of why we can’t have them. Bravo!



  3. Anonymous

     /  October 2, 2018


    You are spot on as to cynicism being one of the root causes in the lack of voter participation. “My vote doesn’t count”, “Lobbyists and big business run this country”, “Hypocritical and corrupt leaders” all are cited in the self defeating denial that nothing can be changed. The white flag of surrender to this is not a rebel flag, as many of the “independents” exhibit. I implore millennials, which identify as 60% progressive, to vote for their future.

    The lost art of compromise, before Reagan accused Tip O’ Neill of wanting half a loaf of the bread today, and coming back for the other half next week, has certainly been totally lost since Citizens United. Congress now speaks to the next election from the day they take their seats, purely posturing to the voters, it seems instead of working for the people.

    It is certainly easy to be jaded driving down Rangeline Road, passing 8-10 payday loan stores offering exhorbitant fees and interest rates to struggling citizens, healthcare costs few can afford, and more TIF zones than council members in this city. There is one party that works to address these issues, claiming to be independent and supporting “none of the above” is a cop-out and perpetuates the problem.

    Liked by 2 people

    • I couldn’t agree more. Well said, especially about millenials. If they want a better world, they have it in their power to get one. My generation sure has mucked up things, that’s for sure.



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