Anyone who follows my blog and my writing, you know these names. Whatever you’re doing, find an hour and a half and see all three together at once.
This is such a profoundly arrogant statement for anyone who actually believes it. I’m really glad that liberals likeand answered, providing good, nuanced viewpoints from the liberal side. It’s been important to see good examples such as theirs for displacing the anger many people living in this situation may experience when liberal outlets and individuals speak from such a profoundly wrong and disrespectful point of view. The only thing wrong with their answers is that they don’t address the question specifically from our viewpoints. So with thanks to those gentlemen, I’ll offer that.
I remember the first time I heard “you’re voting against your interests”, immediately after the election by yet another person who was just so sure that he knew the conditions of my life better than me. Yet this same person was shocked, shocked I tell you, that Clinton didn’t win with the New York Time’s predicted 90% chance of victory a few weeks before. What does that tell you? It told me that a bunch of people who had absolutely no understanding of me and my life days ago suddenly became experts on my condition, as well as suddenly being able to view every policy proposal on the books from my perspective — better than me!
I want to be honest, every single time I have seen this levied in earnest, it has been by someone bitter about the election wanting to mock us and not from genuine concern. If it had been a concern, they would understand that mostly, they are wrong. They rationalize policies they wanted and then argue how that would have been better for us than what we wanted. This is positively asinine since, right up until about a year ago, our needs, concerns, wishes, and grievances were being mocked by the people making these plans, so to say that they in any way would solve our problems is laughable. I’m sorry, but no one who calls me and people like me part of a “basket of deplorables” has my best interests at heart.
Okay, at this point, it just sounds like I’m angry. I am, but let’s look at some real arguments to give substance to the outrage.
I really love that my good friendbrought up the book. I’m a conservative, he’s a liberal, and we have a lot of respect for each other so I would recommend him to anyone. But here, I’ll offer the other side of the story.
Much of the ideas behind What’s the Matter with Kansas stems around the fact that Kansas, like many red states, takes up more in government aid and welfare than they contribute, specifically when compared to wealthy blue states like California and New York. This phenomenon of people who soak up government aid in spite of their conservative voting patterns appear in places with namely two things in common:
- They once were solid Democrat and are now solid Republican
- Their main source of income was from agriculture or some other displaced industry.
Those points are important because you need to understand how amazingly rich my community used to be. I live in a small town in Oklahoma. For all intents and purposes, they could have written that book about us, but they chose Kansas. First of all, there is a reason that we want to “Make America Great Again.”
We look to the 1950’s with nostalgia because of how truly wonderful it was for us. First of all, if you look out to the open fields, everything was farmland. People were working and providing well for their families making cotton that made American clothing as well food for Americans. Fortunes were made as small towns like mine were looked at as great places to raise a family with lots of opportunity and wealth to go around for those willing to work and live peacefully.
Then it all went away. Price controls on labor and government subsidies for some made it impossible for agriculture to be profitable for the average farmer. My grandfather actually ran the last cotton gin in the 1970’s before it went under because there were no more growers. Furthermore, the jobs around cotton disappeared, such as the pants factory, one of only two factories in my town, that is not just a cement slab, as it has been… also, since the 70’s. After that, a few mega-growers overtook all industries and the region was gutted. Many of these mega-growers, now maintain their prices through illegal immigrant labor, but that is a whole other story. You don’t hear much from this because both the Republicans and Democrats are guilty of supporting the subsidies and supporting the mega-growers, so neither are ever going to say a word about. The collapse of the labor market for agriculture was much of the same as the story of the Rust Belt, but instead of seeing withered factories, I sit surrounded by some of the most fertile farmland in the country that hasn’t seen a plow for more than 40 years.
But then the government came to save us.
After the collapse of agriculture from the viewpoint of farm labor in the 1960s, millions developed a dependence on government aid to save themselves from the decline which was ironically brought on by government intervention into the market. This was actually the second time they did this.
I want you to understand what the world is like for us as a unique culture in the US. Long after slavery had ended, most of us, as in my very white, very poor ancestors were still picking cotton in the fields. Both mine and my wife’s grandmothers told stories in visceral detail about what picking bowls of cotton, the weight of hauling that heavy bag through the fields, and the scorching summer heat of a West Texas farm in the 1920’s and 30’s. For perspective, this image is one taken about 30 miles from my home at about the time people when people were desperate for “someone to do something”.
After that, the New Deal did those things. It brought out huge government works programs and told people it would take care of them. Work hard and Social Security would be there for you. What actually brought us out of poverty were millions of men returning from World War II with saved up money, a massive industrial base that built up from the war, and the relaxing of war-era rationing. All this combined was an explosion in economic growth the likes of which that generation had never known. However, many believed that the promises of the New Deal would be enough to get them through retirement. There was no need to save because Social Security would be enough for them. While the region was growing immensely wealthy, my grandparent’s generation was making choices they had no idea would straddle their children’s generation with hardships they never foresaw because they thought the good times would continue on forever.
As the crops disappeared in the 1960’s and 70’s, however, they had a horrific wake-up call… right about the time of the War on Poverty and the Great Society began to take effect. These programs gave out exceedingly more benefits based on need, particularly to those who weren’t working or who had children born outside of marriage, not to mention numerous housing decisions that were terrible for the neighborhoods they were affected.
Following that, what we saw wasn’t a world where the government helped us or where people were mostly lifting themselves out of poverty. Quite the opposite. Funds were distributed, but here, there are people who live in poverty as a career. They are able to maintain a minimum lifestyle off government funding. Since that point, what we are seeing nationally is that the poverty line has mostly flatlined, while handouts continue to rise. This is most prominent in the areas like mine, where welfare is already normalized and where the tax base is having a harder and harder time keeping up with its rise.
I’m not talking about some distant statistical scarecrow. I am talking about real people I see daily. I mean the parents of many of the students at the school where my wife and I work and the people who live next door to me. This lifestyle is not conducive toward raising healthy homes or giving their kids a good foundation, let alone a future. It certainly isn’t capable of creating the types of wealth that people can safely retire on, nor does it produce the sorts investment into future growth in their community. Instead, it drives down the tax base while increasing the amounts infrastructure requirements by way of city utilities to schooling. You wonder why education is so low here? It isn’t because no one thought to pay teachers more. It’s because we have too many kids and not enough of a tax base. Multiply that by everything we’d like to give our people. This is what small-town conservatives fear when we talk about the welfare state.
If you’d really like to understand how the welfare state has affected the family in culture, as well as what life is like for millions of Americans who absolutely no one is listening to, I would strongly recommend readingIt outlines far better than I could how culture has declined in the rural areas most likely to be the topic of this question.
Secondly, a very good juxtaposition of What’s the Matter with Kansas? would be something like What’s Going on in Texas?
Texas is the best embodiment of what many want to see happening, as far as the white working class. Granted, they didn’t suffer from the destruction of the agricultural labor market, or at least they were able to transfer their economy over into oil, shipping, and finance. But they’ve also made some very good choices and have a particular culture that has made them very wealthy, serving as to disprove much of narratives surrounding what left-leaning advocates believe should happen in states like theirs. They have wealth, they have investment, they have manufacturing and industry. They also have greater protection of property rights, not to mention being the anchor of job recovery during the massive recession over the last decade for the entire nation.
This is particularly true against far more left-leaning states like California. I couldn’t find a more current one, but it is worth noting that this graph ended almost immediately before the graph above started.
Furthermore, it has a lower cost of living with higher living standards and even manages to have better income inequality than most other states. Particularly egregious is comparisons to states like California, where Texas’ saw growth for both its wealthiest 1% and the bottom 99% over the period of 2009 to 2012, while California saw similar growth for its top 1% but a -3% decline in income for their 99% over the same period.
Are there problems? Sure. But they are sitting pretty by most people’s standards, particularly the states which have suffered the long-term effects of collectivist policy, such that Democrats are currently suggesting, as well as those who had no major industry to replace agriculture after the state intervened into it. So this is where we are now. People say that states like mine vote against their interests because we wholeheartedly reject modern collectivist measures to “raise us out of poverty”. We, however, are already straddled with the financial and culture burden of exactly these same kinds of measures from generations past.
The worst part, when we say these things, we are completely ignored. In the best cases, we are dismissed as not knowing what is best for us because we are just the working class, more commonly known as rednecks, white trash, and hillbillies, and mostly by people who have never set foot in our towns. In the worst cases, we all suddenly became racists for pointing out images like the family of poor whites picking cotton or for mentioning that according to the US census in 2010, the number of poor whites outnumbers the number of poor blacks by about 12:1. If I say that, you hear me saying that “there is no problem with black poverty” instead of hearing what I am actually saying that the problems of poverty are not due to racism, but are rooted in exactly the same kind of bad governance. But mostly, you just don’t hear from us at all. That’s because the same sorts of metrics that gave The New York Times and virtually every other major news media outlet absolute certainty that Clinton was going to win, can only come to such an unfathomably wrong conclusion because they completely and totally don’t reach out to more than a third of the nation who don’t live in easy to reach, mostly urban, mostly rich, liberal cities.
Yet these people are the ones who want to tell us what our interests are? Pure arrogance
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Again, these are not pretty solutions, and won’t stop a determined anything from scaling it. No one is reasonably expecting it to cut off 100% of either crime related to the south of the border sources or illegal immigration. There will still be novel solutions to ever-growing problems, however, like the Great Wall of China, the main source of exploitation for both crime and illegal immigration en masse, being a largely unchecked and unenforceable border between the US and Mexico will be removed from the options for those attempting to break US laws of entry. In some places, tunnels will be dug, but for the 170,000 people who entered the US illegally in 2015 to try to pop out of a single hole in the ground… it’s going to be noticed. Across more than 2,000 miles of open border? Not so much. A person with enough desire and motivation can scale a line of Hescos just as easily as anything else. Whether we’re talking about a massive wall taking years, or a few piles of really elaborate sandbags, it serves as a very strong barrier to slow people down and prevent the movement of much larger goods, such as large amounts of drugs, weapons, or vehicles carrying even more. While you might be able to get over such a wall, the time it took to get a huge backpack filled with this sort of contraband is enough that someone watching a camera feed will probably say, “Hey Joe, you see that down at mile marker 87?”
Some will even be able to overcome the massive walls planned out, but the vast majority will be turned away, attempting to try their luck through some fraudulent means at border checkpoints. Given that we will then have the manpower to check these resources, that too will become tougher to execute. So it won’t work for 100%, but we have every reason to believe that a 95% reduction in illegal border crossing and south of the border originated international crime is completely possible. That’s great news. That’s the point of this wall, and by all evidence we have, there’s nothing to say it couldn’t do the job.
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There are also numerous avenues on how to approach the building of such a wall beyond just the extreme assumptions of building the most expensive variant of proposed walls across the entire border. We can even look to implementation set up in Iraq and Afghanistan for such examples. If you’ll look at my profile picture, you’ll see what are called T-barriers.
Also called Bremer Walls and Jersey Barriers, these are large and freestanding concrete slabs are cheap to build, transport, and install. They essentially fit together like massive Lego bricks with a notch fitting two together that is mirrored on the opposite side so that an infinitely long chain can be created able to bend around objects or buildings and adjust with the terrain that is impossible to destroy without heavy machinery. They’re like legos for big boys.
In Iraq, we used them for two reasons. You can see behind me, that they were lined around our prefabricated living units. This was because the walls were able to absorb the blast of an incoming mortar, small missile, or random rocket-propelled grenade, which might come our way and endanger the thousands of Marines inside. The second way we used them was during the “Surge”, a change in tactics to our counter-insurgency efforts where, overnight, entire city blocks could be quarantined off with these units. This allowed Marines and soldiers to wall off whole neighborhoods within hours, allowing few points of entry and exit that could be manned and checked while teams searched house to house for weapons, contraband, or other signs of enemy activity. Just as quickly, the walls could be moved or removed to clear other parts of the city.
I want to be clear, that like the Great Wall of China example, there is nothing stopping someone determined from getting over one of these walls. A ladder could do it. What they do, however, is prevent the free flow of large numbers of people, and more importantly, a large amount of cargo to pass freely. You might be able to sneak over the wall yourself, and you might even be able to get over with a rifle, but there is no way you are going to be able to sneak an entire team with heavy weapons, rocket and bomb parts, and other logistical considerations over the wall clandestinely. That’s what the T-barriers did. They broke up the enemy’s ability to move and, in my mind, had a major part in the story of how the United States successfully quelled the insurgency around 2007… not that anyone heard about that.
All that to say… I’m a big fan of these simple impediments. They saved a lot of lives.
Even more humble is the HESCO barrier. These ingenious little devices are little more than 21st-century sandbags, literally. They are large canvas bags supported by a metal frame which be broken down and stacked by the hundreds when unused, taken out and unfolded where they will be installed, and then just have sand, dirt, rocks, or anything dumped in them.
Installation of these barriers is even easier than that of the T-barriers requiring little more than two unskilled technicians, a truck, and a lot of dirt.
Importantly, I’ve seen these things stacked four high, making a wall of about twenty feet. Interestingly, it can be filled with dirt excavated in other areas of the construction project. These “insta-forts” are able to be installed, and just as importantly, taken down, in a matter of days, rather than weeks, months, or even years and at a fraction of the cost of what most are assuming such a wall would cost. Granted, this is not a solution that will last a thousand years, but it will get the job done in many of the areas where a massive wall isn’t required, but some impediment is.
This is why the same technology (yes giant bags of sand and dirt still count as technology) is used in the United States civilian side to protect against the sudden threat of flooding.
So now let’s ask, can it be done?
The best places to look for that answer is where others are attempting similar feats. Case in point, Saudi Arabia.
Along the Northern border of Saudi Arabia, bordering Iraq, the Saudis began plans to build a series of walls and fence works in 2006. Construction was expedited after the invasion of Iraq’s Al Anbar and Nineveh provinces in 2014 by Islamic State forces, where construction began around September of that year. The project calls for some 1000 km long stretch of varying degrees of fortified walls, fencing, and some areas manned with remotely operated UAV surveillance.
From the Independent Journal Review
“…consists of 78 monitoring towers, eight command centers, 10 mobile surveillance vehicles, 32 rapid-response centers, and three rapid intervention squads, all linked by a fiber-optic communications network.” 
Also is Israel’s southern border which, in the words of Israel’s Prime Minister, worked out pretty well.
Bringing us back to the contemporary, what would “success” for the US Southern Border Wall be?
The first thing that has to be accepted is that the scale of illegal immigration from Mexico is staggering with huge effects on the United States.
Likewise, according to the same Pew Research centered, illegal immigrants currently account for some 3.5% of the US population. With regard to Mexican immigration, this is most readily felt in parts of the country where few people go, the small towns. There is a map created which represents every person on the US census as a color-coded dot –
Zooming out shows the map as apparently completely blue, but when you zoom into many areas, such as my town highlighted with the arrow above and shown below, you see the homogenous blue zones suddenly become remarkably racially diverse.
Why my town, as well as so many towns, become suddenly homogeneously blue as you zoom out, I don’t understand, but I do understand that this is a mostly invisible issue to many who do not live in small towns like mine, nor are the externalities of it. Those externalities include that the low wage low skill jobs that employed the majority of the population are gone. There are still people doing them, but much of the work for people starting their careers have shifted to immigrant and often illegal labor. Secondly, is the impact on the schools. In my town, the population has shifted from 5% Mexican population in the 1970’s, to around 50% today. In general, this isn’t a problem except when we factor in for illegal immigrants. I’ve polled Mexican-American students at the school who volunteer that they believe at least 25% of the students are living in the United States illegally. By that, we can estimate that some 8 to 10% of the students of the school are not legally supposed to live in the town or the country for that matter. These students do have access to the same education and the same resources but are not bearing the same tax burden. For small towns like mine, having 10% of the students not contributing to the tax base is devastating to the educational standard provided, with ripple effects that can be felt for generations. This, along with many other factors, is part of why Oklahoma education is facing an existential crisis.
Likewise, let’s look at some numbers from the US Federal Sentencing Commission in 2015. Illegal immigrants accounted for 37% of all federal crimes, discounting all immigration-related federal crimes, this accounts for 14% of all federal crimes. In that remaining category, they accounted for 75% of drug possession, 30% of kidnappings, 21% of national defense crimes such as exporting arms, munitions or military equipment, and providing material support to foreign terrorist organizations, 18% of drug trafficking, 10% of money laundering, and 5% of all murders. 
I want to be clear, this isn’t saying that Mexicans are bad people or even that all illegal immigrants are bad. I don’t even believe the majority are guilty anything more than knowingly attempting to subvert our immigration laws, but all of these crimes… should not be able to happen at all. We simply must accept that the United States would be better off with fewer people selling drugs, fewer kidnappings, and fewer murders, and if an easy to prevent much of that is tougher enforcement of immigration law, then great.
Similarly, the economic burden placed on our rural labor force and education systems should not be happening at all.
That is how we will be able to measure if the Southern Wall will be a success. If it can dramatically reduce the influx of illegal immigration as well as the crime coming through or dependent upon an open Southern border, then it will be a success.
Having established that, let’s ask first if there is evidence to support the building. San Diego built their own wall and saw perhaps the best proof we need.
The wall in San Diego reduced illegal immigration apprehensions by 95%.
Back then, Border Patrol agent Jim Henry says he was overwhelmed by the stream of immigrants who crossed into the United States illegally just in that sector.
“It was an area that was out of control,” Henry says. “There were over 100,000 aliens crossing through this area a year.”
Today, Henry is assistant chief of the Border Patrol’s San Diego sector. He says apprehensions here are down 95 percent, from 100,000 a year to 5,000 a year, largely because the single strand of cable marking the border was replaced by double — and in some places, triple — fencing.
Furthermore, let’s look at the national level implementation in the US. Most illegal immigrants to the US actually came over in the 1990s when apprehensions reached a staggering 1.6 million per year.
Policies beginning around the time of 2000 halted much of the illegal immigration into the US but just as much was the 2006 Secure Fence Act, which saw the construction of 653 miles of reinforced fencing along the U.S.-Mexico border. Due mostly to this, US Border Patrol now is forced to make far fewer apprehensions. Extending the 653 miles would further reduce the need for US Border Patrol agents to make what still amounts to a quarter million apprehensions a year.
It’s worked before.
In fact, studying the purpose of the Great Wall of China serves well to explain what success for the Southern Border Wall would look like.
At that time, the threat came from populations to the north that wasn’t set on invading and overthrowing China, but from small raiding parties looting borderland villages. Militarily, a raid is an attack which isn’t meant to occupy territory but to inflict some harm on an enemy before retreating back to a safe location. In this way, the harm that was visited upon the Ming Dynasty could come from literally anywhere along the empire’s northern border. Without warning, some independent tribe of anywhere from 15 to 200 soldiers could show up and ransack a borderland village or even a small city. They could take with them slaves and treasure, preventing development in the region and representing a constant drain on the empire.
So there are two possible solutions to this problem. You either dedicate an army, literally a whole army, to the entire border that could respond with reasonable force to any possible raid attempt, or, you build some static defense that could prevent the majority of such attacks. In the case of China, the solution was the northern border wall, a static option. Could a determined foe scale the wall? Sure, but the wall prevented the main tool necessary for these raids from getting over — the horse. By denying that tactical necessity, it no longer became profitable for the types of raids to occur. No longer did the region suffer from the raids, but also, the types of people who would do the raiding also died off. At the same, the army that was saved was allowed to be redeployed to other areas, sometimes to expand the borders of China, sometimes to protect them invasions themselves. To say the least, the Great Wall of China was necessary to providing the culture with much of the stability and security to become the cultural centerpiece of world history it is today. Eventually, the wall was overcome by a determined force from the north, but it still bought the Chinese more than 1,200 years of security after it was built.
Not too shabby.
When President Barack Obama was elected, I was rather a-political. I was starting college. I actually just got out of the Marines and off an Iraq deployment only a few months prior. I also had a slew of problems adjusting to civilian life amidst a recent series of personal tragedies. Politics? Whatever. Who has the time?
The only real moment that stood out to me in 2008 was when another student, a black student if I’m being very honest, said very confidently to the whole class, “It’s time we had a black man in the White House!”
That was it. That was the end of his explanation.
I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. My entire life, I had been raised on the belief that skin color had nothing to do with a person’s ability and that treating every race equally was all that mattered. We had been taught to be colorblind, but there was a student arguing that policies didn’t matter, voting patterns didn’t matter, experience didn’t matter. His skin color alone was what mattered. I was floored. This was racism. That was exactly racism. This was complete and total racism. It was saying, in a college History class no less, that a person was qualified for the most powerful role in the country because of the color of his skin. He might as well have said, “I’m not voting for anyone if they are white.”
I looked to the teacher, and she said nothing, as if, “Good enough.” When did it become acceptable for people to say that skin color alone was the qualifier for anything, especially the office of President of the United States?
I wanted to ask right then, “Don’t policies matter?”
I legitimately wanted to know. Like I said, I had a lot of life happening in 2008, so the election didn’t really weigh too heavily on my mind, even though it was already September or so. I’m ashamed of how ignorant and apathetic I was. But here I was in college and I wanted to know what the man stood for. In particular, I wanted to know his foreign policy. Remember, I was so fresh from the sandbox, I still had sand falling out of my… Let’s just say it was still on my mind. Many of my friends still in the Marines were going to deploy again very shortly into the tenure of the new president, and so many people I knew had already suffered so much for the gains we had made in Iraq. By the end of 2007, the war was as good as won. So all the next guy had to do was nothing stupid and we’d be fine there. Still, I wanted to know that this guy wouldn’t botch the whole thing.
But I said nothing. At that time, I was afraid of saying, “That’s not good enough for me. I’d like to know his foreign policy.” I feared that if I questioned his logic, I would be called a racist.
That was my first run in with identity politics. And as an additional point, I didn’t go to school in some blue state where I might have expected this. I went to school in Dallas, Texas.
I did start looking more into things on my own, though. That left me with only one real series of questions.
“What does Change even mean? Change what? How? What’s the context, here?”
Then the election happened. I wasn’t too torn up, though I was surprised. I expected people to go for the experienced veteran, being that we were in the middle of two wars. I understood very little back then.
After that, however, I started seeing a lot of things that were fairly alarming. Now President Obama was making some terrible choices with our military. This included ignoring the conflicts to a great degree while apologizing across the world for our presence. “This will embolden our enemies,” I thought. Then he placed in a series of secretaries over the DoD and the various branches who clearly were more interested in “reforms” that had nothing to do with making our warfighters more combat effective, but everything to do with partisan social agendas. There were also cuts being made and the sequestration. Just so you know, that’s a really frightening word if you’re in the military, and particularly if you’re in the military in the middle of two active conflicts. Then there was the pullout from Iraq. There, I got angry. I told my wife then that if we pull out of Iraq the terrorists were going to take over all of Al Anbar (where I had been deployed). But he gave out that wonderful stimulus package, so everybody got $800. Why should I complain?
Then ISIS happened and I was proven right. Places, where people I knew died, were now the property of the worst terrorists the world had ever known, born strictly out the absence of the American military forces after we had gained control of it years prior. I was upset about Iraq, to say the least. Then I got more upset at the complete lack of a response to Russia in Ukraine; upset about the Iran deal; upset that Afghanistan was ignored after they got Bin Laden; and upset that diddly squat was being done about a suddenly nuclear-armed North Korea test firing their first generation of ICBMs.
Switching back to local… did I mention that I also graduated during this time… and that I had to get a job during the slowest recovering recession in our nation’s history? Nothing will slap you in the face harder than finding out that graduating with honors from a good university and military experience aren’t enough to get you a decent job a full four years after Obama took office and more than five years after the start of the recession.
I ended up finally being hired in a crap retail management position where my job was to write schedules that screwed over my employees. Of course, that wasn’t what the ad read, but yes, that was my job. I had to take people who had been working with the company for years and deserved full-time status, and never allow them more than 32 hours a week. If they worked more than 35 enough weeks, they automatically qualified as full-time employees. Why is that bad? Thanks to this new healthcare legislation coming down that forced companies to pay healthcare worth more than the labor of their employees, the companies juggled to figure out a scheme that allowed them to stay in the black. That involved Operations Managers like me essentially switching from managing operations, the sort of harder and faster motivation that I was good at, to screwing over employees. I was good at harder and faster. I was Marine after all, but not screwing over good and hardworking people who deserved to work the hours they wanted to, but I would be doomed if I gave them more than 35 a week. Granted, I didn’t realize at the time that I was an evil corporate miser, but looking back, that’s all I was.
Oh, my company was bad, but then I found out that they weren’t the only ones. As it turned out, people predicted that this behavior would run rampant. Unemployment would go down, but underemployment would skyrocket as people would take on not one job adequate for their needs and appropriate to their skills, but three part-time jobs because no one was going to be hiring full-time employees now. Upward mobility also became impossible, and millions of people still couldn’t get healthcare.
I’ve read many arguments against The Affordable Care Act, but this is the one that did me in on the President’s desire to do nice things domestically. There were really obvious signs that this wouldn’t work, that it would cause some massive problems, but people who raised their hand to say anything… racists — or if they objected to the plan itself, they lacked empathy. I’m sorry, but all those kids in college who were so livid toward anyone who disagreed with them and said they lacked empathy, they never had to empathize with real people. They didn’t know Charity.
And Charity isn’t a euphemism. That’s her real name: Charity H. She was a real hard worker. Always reliable. I knew that if anyone flaked, I could rely on her. She was quiet, but exactly the sort I wanted on my teams. It was my job to force her into taking a second job. I became very angry years after leaving retail and walking past that same store and seeing Charity still working there, probably in the same position, and probably at no more than 32 hours a week.
At some point during this time, the church shooting happened where a deranged nutbag shot and killed a small bible study at a predominately black church. That was heartbreaking, reminding every one of Columbine and other shootings of the sort. The president himself went to lead the funeral. I thought that was classy. Then, out of nowhere in the speech,
“It’s time to take down that flag!”
He was talking about the Confederate flag, in whatever state still flew it. I’m sure there was a healthy debate about that before the shooting, but to me and many people, this was a statement taken so far out of left field — owing absolutely nothing to the problem of bat-crap crazy people murdering others — that I was floored at how he seemed to shift the blame to a whole state for what this one guy did. In reading the actual text of the speech, the entire three paragraphs of the eulogy where the flag came into question, he didn’t mention the actual killer once. Instead, the clear and overwhelming focus was on how racist America was, not the individual in question. American history somehow caused this. It was literally as if he was saying all of us were responsible — not just the killer. Even if he was a perfectly sane person who just simply was a horrible, horrible racist, we all were responsible because of American history. He was just a symptom of a deeply racist nation. I was completely lost as to why this egregious crime was being suddenly turned into a political call to action that had nothing to do with the events in question, one that put the onus of responsibility on all Americans and their inescapable racism.
I remember not long after that, there was this 16 or 17-year-old girl posing with her friends in front of the flag before prom. Prom. They’re freaking kids. You may not agree with that. You may think that every white person in the South with a Confederate flag is a raging racist out to enslave all the POC, but you’d be wrong. I know these people and you’re wrong, but whatever. What came next was absurd. A protest formed outside the girl’s home. I don’t know how, but she got doxxed and a mob of protesters began harassing her family and threatening her, right outside her bedroom window.
Full stop. That’s unacceptable. I am not a free speech supremacist. I’ll fight very hard for people to say things that I don’t even agree, but there is a line of decency we do not cross. I don’t believe that speech should happen at someone’s front door. People get crazy and at the snap of a finger can turn a protest into a mob. It was indecent for people to “protest” like that.
In a conversation among Top Writers about how terrible this girl was, where the fact that they were protesting at her house was the context of the article, I pointed out this fact. When a mob is allowed to threaten minors for an Instagram photo, I call the moment. Of course, that opened me up to a barrage of being called a racist. The heck? I wasn’t even supporting the flag. I could care less about the flag. I was just saying to leave the protests out of people’s front yards and don’t think you’re the good guy for terrifying little girls.
Then we get into Black Lives Matter. Look, I’ve read the data, and there are cases where police acted wrongly. Nobody is saying it never happens. But we were asking for people to wait for evidence before stories based on a few unverified facts became major national narratives and the source of outrage for millions. Case in point: Michael Brown, where wild protests followed the “execution” of an innocent black teenager trying to surrender to a murderous racist white cop. As the days went by, there was less and less evidence to support this story, and more that exonerated the police officer. So when we actually had evidence that Brown was doing a lot of stuff he shouldn’t, I was the guy who said something, “Maybe we should wait for some evidence before the riots?”
Oh, how things went South after that. Turns out, I was completely right and that the Department of Justice’s investigation completely proved that Brown attacked the police officer, made no effort to surrender and that the officer was completely in his rights to shoot him. It turns out that the whole “Hands Up; Don’t Shoot” story was completely falsified by the guy who was Brown’s accomplice in the crimes that got him killed. Doesn’t really matter. By this point, we had Top Writers literally saying, and I am directly quoting, “Jon Davis wants people who look like me back picking cotton,” and posting pictures of some random white guy assaulting Martin Luther King Jr. saying, “Here’s Jon Davis’ grandpa,” inside Quora answers!
It was insane. Of course, I don’t blame Barack Obama for that directly, but he set the stage for this outrage culture. He normalized outrage culture and never tried to check it as cities went up in riots based on little to no evidence other than narratives of systemic racism.
Then there was the slaying of several police officers at a BLM protest in Dallas. This was it for me. In the speech at the memorial service, many people, myself included, interpreted the President’s words as, “But a lot of cops do bad things too.” It felt, in that moment, that the President of the United States was standing over a funeral where police officers had given their lives protecting people who despised them, and there was a suggestion that the killer was in the slightest way possibly justified because some cops somewhere are bad?
You don’t have to agree with me. You don’t have to respect my opinion. That’s just the way it sounded to me… as well as millions of other people like me. I know that most people reading this don’t have access to right-wing news, but people were furious that this was being politicized so blatantly and that it happened by way of pushing this notion over the bodies of as-yet-not-buried police officers who died fighting a radicalized terrorist to protect citizens at a protest against them. This was insane. But you’re not allowed to say these things. I know, because repeatedly, those of us who did were bombasted if we were ever critical of anything.
He had a personality cult. That’s what it was. The core of his supporters were a repressive and hateful cult of personality around the man. Whether you call them Social Justice Warriors or whatever, that’s what they were: A cult of ideologues; an extremely vocal minority of his followers with far too much power who used dirty tactics to silence anyone who disagrees with any of their agenda. I’ve never seen anything like it. No one was allowed to be critical of anything he did, what he said, or even the massive and undeniable policy failures he led like pulling out of Iraq. If you ever opened your mouth, you were immediately branded with every hateful, toxic ad hominem meant to smear your reputation so that anything you said no longer mattered. Many good liberals, people who I don’t fault for voting Obama for very good reasons, did nothing about it. I was bitter about that for a while. Many were and still are my friends, but now I think they were just terrified of the SJWs too. Over the last year, many, have come to me silently to say as much.
Again, I can’t blame President Obama for what everything his followers did, but I got sick of the constant feeling of mob tyranny, of a president who was above criticism, and of the feeling that anything I said would get Google to return my name with “he wants people who look like me back picking cotton.” I think that’s what really turned me from simply saying, “I don’t like the President’s politics, but I appreciate his service,” to “I’ll do anything to avoid another eight years of this madness.” It wasn’t him. He seems like a decent human. Good husband. Good father. He seems very fine, and I do appreciate his service to the country. But it was that personality cult of his rabid fanatics.
I’m going to be honest, I don’t think I would very much like Donald Trump as a person. I would have rather had Marco Rubio. I’m still happy I voted for Trump, though. That’s because I didn’t want a nice fella. I wanted someone who would win and who would be a hammer to the fanatics that supported Obama to the point of militancy. I mean that. Militancy. They said and did things I would expect to see in Iraq. Blatant acts of terrorism were ignored or even had the blame pushed to people like me for speaking out. Nothing could be questioned and if you stepped out of line, you were slandered or people threatened to take away your jobs, and often, even real threats of violence. They’re still doing it. What would eight more years of that look like? Would my writing be censored as “hate speech”? Would people who speak like me have thugs show up at my door? Would I be locked up in the gulag?
No. Not cool. The intolerance of these people was enough. I was sick of it.
I may not like Donald Trump as a person, but I love Donald Trump Supporters. I’m their supporter because I know them personally. I grew up with them, and I know their hearts. They’re good people who didn’t deserve the unmitigated treatment they got over those years and continue to receive today. And no matter what kind of a person he is, he spoke for them when everyone, even the other Republicans, ignored them. I didn’t want a nice person out to win the Nobel Prize for making the world feel special. I wanted a hammer.
Short answer: Maybe as an individual, President Obama was a really swell guy, but I felt he was a bad president. Not a communist or a Kenyan born Muslim Manchurian candidate. Not Satan or the anti-christ. Not even the worst President ever, but in the bottom half. I felt he was someone who had a vision of the United States that didn’t reflect reality, made bad policies reflective of that vision, and alienated many when he stirred up the divisive rhetoric to push his vision on us.
I know, I know, you want to tell me about what a terrible person Trump is. Say what you want about Trump, but at least now people are listening to the “flyover states” and the unacceptable behavior by radical left-wing fanatics is finally being called unacceptable by the good Obama voters who I still love as dear friends. Maybe if that had happened years ago, we’d be having a conversation about Marco Rubio. But it didn’t.
That’s why, if we’re being honest with ourselves, most conservatives don’t think Obama was a bad person. It was his core fanatics we couldn’t stand and it was they who helped Trump win the election.
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From the point of view of conservatives, more new age right-wing populists who haven’t thoroughly been exposed to the theory behind their beliefs in the form of conservative writers, “red-pilled” is the period of realization where they start viewing the world differently due to some great political realization. A common experience, a person who doesn’t really have much of a political experience, but has been the target of political action, whether it is being involved or very near an activist cause that had little justification or that they made some opinion statement and suffered the social media backlash from politically minded left-wing radicals, colloquially known as. Following this, they usually enter a period of isolation where they are afraid to speak up openly and start to feel the effect of “gaslighting” (where numerous people try to convince you are crazy or hold irrational beliefs.)
Then you run into something, some news story, some video, or some event, that makes you aware that your experiences are part of a pattern of behavior by the SJWs, or more broadly the progressive left, where others like you have felt the same pressures, and the same irrational hatred you experienced, and finally, that there are many others who feel the same as you do and share your views.
That is the red pill moment.
This is when you realize that many of the narratives around various forms of oppression simply aren’t true. Some have credibility, but often the sources are worth exploring, and through the raw data is usually true, the facts don’t point to the conclusions the activists say they do when weighed with other information. Often, there are far more rational and evidence-based explanations for inequalities in our world then that hate explains everything and we must outlaw people’s thoughts or ban those the activists deem as haters.
Mostly, you learn that speaking out about this will get you attacked by people with deep-seated agendas to support the narratives, whether they are true or not. This opens your eyes to the reality that if there are structures which exist to repress people… that is one of them — a complex of doctrines and activists which actively promote narratives of oppression while actively seeking to repress arguments against them by vilifying those who make them rather than through open debate. Then you’re left realizing how much you’ve been missing out on all long.
From then, you start questioning everything and find many new sources, many that bring current events into question from a very different point of view. I would recommend, personally for anyone who might be at this point and looking for those new sources of information. As you learn, the more the majority of the “SJW” worldview falls apart at closer analysis.
For context, “the red-pill” phrase began to have a more concrete political meaning than “a moment that I realized something big (i.e. any random epiphany)” inspired by the movie the Matrix, came from men’s rights movements. Arguing that there are many inequalities facing men especially — the “death gap” of higher mortality of working men, the inequity in divorce settlements, the media ignoring issues of men’s health such as prostate cancer, settlements, often unjustly having no access to their kids after separation, the perception of guilty until proven innocent following rape accusation, and simply many other issues that are never addressed in an environment where the overriding narrative is one built on feminist narratives of a history of systemic repression of women’s rights. That evolved into criticisms of modern Third Wave, or intersectionality feminism which began around the 1990’s as simply furthering a message about an established and mysterious patriarchy which exists to marginalized women. One noted champion of this notion — Christina Hoff Sommers, a feminist activist for many decades who believes that the goals of feminism have been achieved in the United States and that the goal of feminism should now be bringing equal rights to women in other parts of the world.
It was furthered with the movie “The Red Pill”, a documentary by a feminist who wanted to show the world how stupid and evil the men’s rights activists were. She literally said that was her motivation, but once she made the movie and was really forced to listen to them, she confessed that it had completely changed her view on the subject.
Since that point, “The Red Pill” idea has mushroomed out to a series of smaller movement of similar criticisms of various Progressive and Intersectional movements. Many who “take the red pill” gravitate to the Right, where they either find a home with right-wing populist groups or with mainline conservativism.
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What would you like the map of electoral districts to look like? Like this?
Okay, well let’s just lay that grid over a place like New York.
Perhaps this map is more useful.
Oh… wait. It seems that none of the squares have the same number of people. So should they all get the same representation? Well, okay, but maybe we should zoom out.
Oh. Wow, it seems that some forms of inequality are just inescapable. Let’s just go back to New York.
Here’s an income distribution map of New York.
Here’s a racial distribution map.
Then there is Crime.
Where do all the Millennials live?
Where is there stuff to do?
Are you getting the message yet?
People are very, very different, and there are no clean, clear-cut lines that can square us off into just the right club of voting groups. We all have different needs and put together with all our neighbors, our neighborhoods all have different needs than any other neighborhoods. Perhaps the worst way to divide us up would be a perfectly simple clear cut square.
Can you imagine how horrific it would be to place one of those perfect lines dividing one black community in two, but which centers those same two grids over two different white, or even Indian, Hispanic, or let’s have fun, Albino communities? Let’s take the last example of the Albinos. There could be absolutely no hate or race-related issues present in that community at all, but they would completely dominate the political spectrum for their district because the line on the map divides the other community, whatever they are in two. On the upside, everyone in the community is provided with lots of sunscreen while the black neighborhood missed out on another education bond.
What’s worse? Nothing is set in stone, as these populations and their needs change all the time.
Okay, so literally night and day don’t matter that much, but places are changing all the time, and this page mapping the changing gentrification of New York City neighborhoods over a 20-year span proves it:
So whatever map we draw today… isn’t going to be good 10 years ago to service the people who live inside of it.
So let’s look back at that map again. The Grid.
You still think it is a good idea? Do you think it actually helps anyone? So what do we do? We draw funny looking lines around districts of people we think will have common interests. How do we do it? With really weird maps of dragons.
Yes, amplify this out to the state level and the two competing parties draw lines around groups in ways that they believe will allow them to secure a victory and help their constituency… in theory. It’s a weird and ugly process, often involving corruption on both sides, and often leaving many people in a lurch, but like most things in government… all the other ideas suck worse.
Now, you may think that this post is only about the need for redistricting, and not actual gerrymandering. Sorry, but to me, they are identical. Call me cynical, but I think that virtually all of our district lines are the result of some level of manipulation for the benefit of someone, both sides, and at all levels. If there is a line drawn somewhere in the sand, then I am sure someone did some politicking at some point to put it there.
What’s worse? I still feel this is that this is the best system. Note that best isn’t always good. Sometimes the best is just better than all the worse options. So why do I think this works? Let’s look at the other options.
A few brought up impartial judges or some impartial third party to draw the lines. Where is this mythical creature of which you speak? Who do we know of reputable note with no political affiliations, biases, or loyalties, either known or unknown? I’m sorry, but the world simply doesn’t work that way. People have their beliefs and all will be corrupted by them to act in a way that will favor one team over the other. Sorry, but whenever I hear, “Let’s appoint an impartial third party,” I scowl and ask who’s paying that third party’s checks.
“But an algorithm. That could work.” Have you looked into Google? You know how they fired an employee for his views that they told him to give? Or the way that Youtube started demonizing and filtering all those conservative channels in the last year? Or what about the people who asked Amazon’s Alexa, “Alexa… who is the Lord Jesus Christ?” “Jesus Christ is a fictional character.” I’m a rather religious person, so I don’t want to hand over my political future to someone who casts me as a worshipper of Pinocchio or Moby Dick.
Oh! Or here’s a big one, what happens when whole districts are based off whatever metrics the programmers deem important (and only those). Hmmm… and all black district. There are words for that… segregation, institutional racism, literally a ghetto. I could go on. Eventually, the computer is going to factor some things with regard to crime, education level, income level, property values, religious persuasion, number of children per household… whatever, and the little program we wrote to solve all of our problems… is going to be the most hatefully prejudiced thing in the world, at least by our current standards. I promise you, everyone is going to hate it, and for very, very good reasons.
Sorry, but an algorithm is just as corrupted as the mind of its creators, and that could be through overt biases or even incompetence. Actually, incompetence is the wrong word… arrogance. Arrogance is the word for someone who believes they can write a program that will pool all people into ideological bubbles without even asking them about it.
So why is gerrymandering, in all its hidden forms, the best?
Because at least when people are fighting to get you in their district… someone is fighting for you. They think you are someone who can actually help them, so they want to work for you. The way they do that is trying to get you on their map. And in a democracy, that means that everyone matters. And they do that in the shadiest of ways, but the fact is that they are trying to get you, and that means that they are going to try to serve you better than the other guy. In the end, that means the system incentivizes your elected officials to care about your specific neck of the woods… rather than the richest 3% of your grid square. You see, it’s the competition that makes it work, the low down, dirty, nasty, cutthroat competition. That’s the only way that you get that other 97 % to be relevant because the clever politician made them into a dragon to devour the people who prevent them from progressing.
Yes, of course, there is cheating. It’s cheating when someone draws lines specifically to break up certain voting blocs. Just ask the Kurds, the millions of people who didn’t even get their own country thanks to Sykes-Picot and possibly history’s ugliest case of gerrymandering, but overall, it’s the best we’ve got.
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