Bill O’Reilly’s defense of the electoral college as a bulwark of white privilege

The New York Times editorialized the other day, Time to End the Electoral College:

screen-shot-2016-12-21-at-2-23-51-pmThe Electoral College, which is written into the Constitution, is more than just a vestige of the founding era; it is a living symbol of America’s original sin. When slavery was the law of the land, a direct popular vote would have disadvantaged the Southern states, with their large disenfranchised populations. Counting those men and women as three-fifths of a white person, as the Constitution originally did, gave the slave states more electoral votes.

The Thirteenth Amendment abolished slavery, and made the fugitive slave clause of the Constitution mostly moot. Section 2 of the Fourteenth Amendment explicitly repealed the “three-fifths compromise.” The last remaining vestige of slavery in the Constitution is the Electoral College.

Today the college, which allocates electors based on each state’s representation in Congress, tips the scales in favor of smaller states; a Wyoming resident’s vote counts 3.6 times as much as a Californian’s. And because almost all states use a winner-take-all system, the election ends up being fought in just a dozen or so “battleground” states, leaving tens of millions of Americans on the sidelines.

There is an elegant solution: The Constitution establishes the existence of electors, but leaves it up to states to tell them how to vote. Eleven states and the District of Columbia, representing 165 electoral votes, have already passed legislation to have their electors vote for the winner of the national popular vote. The agreement, known as the National Popular Vote interstate compact, would take effect once states representing a majority of electoral votes, currently 270, signed on. This would ensure that the national popular-vote winner would become president.

Conservative opponents of a direct vote say it would give an unfair edge to large, heavily Democratic cities and states. But why should the votes of Americans in California or New York count for less than those in Idaho or Texas? A direct popular vote would treat all Americans equally, no matter where they live — including, by the way, Republicans in San Francisco and Democrats in Corpus Christi, whose votes are currently worthless. The system as it now operates does a terrible job of representing the nation’s demographic and geographic diversity. Almost 138 million Americans went to the polls this year, but Mr. Trump secured his Electoral College victory thanks to fewer than 80,000 votes across three states: Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.

As you might imagine, this editorial did not sit well with the “Great White Father” of white male privilege at FAUX News, Bill O’Rielly. Martin Longman at the Political Animal blog discusses what happened next. Watch O’Reilly Racialize the Electoral College Debate:

Last night, Bill O’Reilly gave a little speech on his Fox News program The O’Reilly Factor in which he explained his theory of why people on the left want to do away with the Electoral College. Since it hits on several themes I’ve been focusing on, I am going to quote his remarks in full.

BILL O’REILLY: Abolishing the Electoral College, that is the subject of tonight’s Talking Points Memo. After Hillary Clinton won the popular vote, the left in America is demanding that the Electoral College system put into place in 1787 be scrapped. But there’s a hidden reason for this.

As we reported, even though Secretary Clinton won the popular vote by 2.8 million, the progressive state of California provided all of that margin. Clinton defeating Trump there by about 4.3 million votes. So if the Electoral College were abolished, presidential candidates could simply campaign in the nation’s largest states and cities, New York, L.A., Chicago, Houston, and rack up enough votes to pretty much win any election. That’s what the left wants. That’s what they want. Because in the large urban areas and blue states like New York and California, minorities are substantial. Look at the landscape. Philadelphia, Dallas-Fort Worth, Miami. In all of these places the minority vote usually goes heavily to the Democrats. And to that New York City, L.A., Chicago, San Francisco, don’t really have a national election anymore, do you? You have targeted populations. Newspapers like the New York Times and the L.A. Times have editorialized to get rid of the Electoral Cllege. They well know that neutralizing the largely white rural areas in the Midwest and South will assure liberal politicians get power and keep it.

screen-shot-2016-12-21-at-8-49-40-amTalking Points believes this is all about race. The left sees white privilege in America as an oppressive force that must be done away with. Therefore white working class voters must be marginalized and what better way to do that than center the voting power in the cities. Very few commentators will tell you that the heart of liberalism in America today is based on race. It permeates almost every issue. That white men have set up a system of oppression. That system must be destroyed. Bernie Sanders pedaled that to some extent, Hillary Clinton did. And the liberal media tries to sell that all day long. So-called white privilege bad. Diversity good.

If you look at the voting patterns, it’s clear that the Democrats are heavily reliant on the minority vote. Also on the woman vote. White men have largely abandoned the Democrats and the left believes it’s because of racism that they want to punish minorities, keep them down. So that’s what’s really going on when you hear about the Electoral College and how unfair it allegedly is. Summing up, the left wants power taken away from the white establishment. They want a profound change in the way America is run. Taking voting power away from the white precincts is the quickest way to do that.

I’ll begin my response where O’Reilly began. It’s true that California provided the entirety of Hillary Clinton’s margin of popular vote victory (and then some), and it’s true that one positive feature of the Electoral College system is that it forces the candidates to campaign in battleground states where they have an opportunity to see a variety of microcultures and discrete political concerns. Something would be lost if we had one nationwide popular vote, and it would put more emphasis on campaigning in the biggest population centers. On the other hand, the majority of our states get very little attention in our current system because it’s a foregone conclusion how they will vote. A Republican isn’t going to spend much time campaigning around Boston and a Democrat will probably ignore New Orleans.

Another advantage to the Electoral College (and, I think, its best feature) was identified by George Will in his column last week:

Those who demand direct popular election of the president should be advised that this is what we have — in 51 jurisdictions (the states and the District). And the electoral vote system quarantines electoral disputes. Imagine the 1960 election under direct popular election: John F. Kennedy’s popular vote margin over Richard M. Nixon was just 118,574. If all 68,838,219 popular votes had been poured into a single national bucket, there would have been powerful incentives to challenge the results in many of the nation’s 170,000 precincts.

Honestly, though, the left isn’t objecting to the Electoral College because they’re opposed to retail politics or indifferent to the advantages of quarantining vote-counting disputes. They’re upset because the system disadvantages them.

So, the real debate should be over whether there are reasons why the left should have to compete with fifty pound weights strapped to their legs.

O’Reilly says that the left’s belief is that by “neutralizing the largely white rural areas in the Midwest and South” they can get power. I guess that’s true in a certain sense, but the word “neutralizing” is instructive in this case. If by neutral, we mean that white rural votes should have the same weight as all other votes, then all we’re doing is evening the playing field. Of course, “neutralizing” can also mean to “kill” or just to remove a threat. O’Reilly uses racially charged incendiary language on purpose, but the only thing the left wants to kill is the unfair advantage that makes the opinion of a white rancher in Wyoming several times more influential than the opinion of a Latino city worker in Los Angeles[.]

* * *

Now, when O’Reilly says that the left believes “that white men have set up a system of oppression” and that “that system must be destroyed,” he’s tribalizing the debate over the merits of the Electoral College and telling his white audience that racial minorities in the cities want to annihilate them in retaliation for their oppression. On the one hand, we do have a legacy of slavery and Jim Crow, and our legal system still demonstrates vast disparities in treatment and outcomes based on race. But the only oppression we need to concern ourselves with here is the oppression that comes with fighting to win election where your opponent can win even when they get nearly three million fewer votes. The left would simply like to win elections in which they get the most votes. It’s not any more complicated than that.

O’Reilly sneers when he says “So-called white privilege bad; diversity good,” but the only privilege that’s directly relevant to the Electoral College is the privilege of having your vote count for more than the votes of your opponents.

I want to look at O’Reilly’s conclusion one more time before I conclude.

White men have largely abandoned the Democrats and the left believes it’s because of racism that they want to punish minorities, keep them down. So that’s what’s really going on when you hear about the Electoral College and how unfair it allegedly is. Summing up, the left wants power taken away from the white establishment. They want a profound change in the way America is run. Taking voting power away from the white precincts is the quickest way to do that.

O’Reilly starts by strongly suggesting that the left (in his view, synonymous with minorities) is wrong to believe that the system is designed by the white establishment to keep them down, but then immediately complains that the left wants to take an unfair advantage away from white precincts.

I know you are not surprised that Bill O’Reilly and Fox News are using their airwaves to tell white people that darkies are coming to get them and change how things are run and take away their privileges and exact revenge on them for the sins of oppression.

I know you are not surprised that, even as they do this, they accuse the left of being the ones who make “everything about race.”

What’s clear from O’Reilly’s rant, however, is that he sees the Electoral College as a bulwark of white privilege and justifiable oppression. And that’s precisely why he likes it and wants to protect it.

Over here on the left, though, there’s an actual debate about the pros and cons of the Electoral College, and it’s not all about race. It’s about whether or not we should elect our president the same way we elect our governors and senators and congresspeople and the leaders of our unincorporated hamlets.

Longman’s colleague at the Political Animal blog, Nancy LeTourneau, adds, An Update to the Republican Southern Strategy:

In addition to the excellent arguments Martin Longman just made about Bill O’Reilly’s defense of the electoral college last night, a lot of people are suggesting that it was simply an embrace of white supremacy.

In response, we see things like this:

Screen Shot 2016-12-21 at 1.45.08 PM

Headlines like this one from Katherine Krueger are also prevalent: “Bill O’Reilly is now just openly defending white supremacy.”

* * *

It is important to keep in mind that Fox News (and Bill O’Reilly particularly) are masters of propaganda. So it’s interesting to think about the message they intended to send to their mostly white, elderly conservative audience. It is very reminiscent of how Kevin Phillips described the Republican Southern Strategy back in 1970.

From now on, the Republicans are never going to get more than 10 to 20 percent of the Negro vote and they don’t need any more than that…The more Negroes who register as Democrats in the South, the sooner the Negrophobe whites will quit the Democrats and become Republicans. That’s where the votes are. Without that prodding from the blacks, the whites will backslide into their old comfortable arrangement with the local Democrats.

In other words, O’Reilly was making a play for what Phillips called “the Negrophobe whites.” He did so by updating it to address the current arguments against the electoral college. O’Reilly believes that his audience will respond to a suggestion that “Democrats are heavily reliant on the minority vote. Also the woman vote,” by rejecting their arguments against the electoral college. He assumes that is a winning play for conservatives…just as Phillips did back in 1970.

Phillip Bump at the Washington Post adds, Bill O’Reilly rose to the defense of white privilege in America’s presidential voting process (excerpt):

In Tuesday’s broadcast, O’Reilly was specifically arguing that places in which fewer people live should have disproportionate political power so that presidential candidates are forced to campaign in those places in order to win. In other words, he’s suggesting that the power of the popular vote should be muted to give more power to the minority of Americans who live outside of cities.

Eighty percent of the country lives in an urban area and those who live in rural areas are disproportionately white. O’Reilly is suggesting that those rural voters deserve a special privilege — more weighted electoral votes — and he’s reinforcing that argument by pointing out that it will benefit whites. Privilege for whites. White privilege.

There is a “white establishment,” of course. Congress is overwhelmingly white — more heavily white than the population as a whole. The Senate is even whiter than the House; nearly as many Kennedys have been elected to the Senate as have black people. Not coincidentally, the Senate also gives disproportionate power to less-populated and often whiter states. (You’ve heard it before: Wyoming and California get the same number of senators.)

Moreover, there’s a direct overlap between race and partisanship, as we noted in July. The Republican Party is a mostly white party; the Democratic Party is more diverse. (The overwhelming majority of the nonwhite members of the House are Democrats.) O’Reilly notes that white men have gravitated to the GOP, which is accurate and which makes the racial split more stark.

Racial Composition

Race and party are tightly intertwined. The priorities of the parties reflect their membership, and therefore talking about partisan opposition often overlaps with talking about racial tension. That also means that defenses of the power of Republican voters overlap with defenses of the power of white voters.

Another way to frame O’Reilly’s central premise is this: In the face of a diversifying American population, should protections be maintained that continue to support the political dominance of white people? A lot of white people, including O’Reilly, would say yes. A lot of nonwhite people would presumably say no.

On Jan. 20, the power structure of the federal government will be dominated by the Republican Party. The new establishment will be more white, will be acting on behalf of a heavily white party and will be less inclined to answer the preceding question in the negative.

Americans cannot seem to escape our “original sin” of slavery — followed by another 100 years of  state-sanctioned segregation. The last remaining vestige of slavery in the Constitution is the Electoral College. The time has come to end this antiquated constitutional provision.

50 responses to “Bill O’Reilly’s defense of the electoral college as a bulwark of white privilege

  1. steve I am 3/4 non ignorant southern WHITE trash lefty democrat ( 1/4 native american) and I don’t feel guilty. that is probably why I got censored here recently. I don’t feel that I am smarter then conservatives and hope I am as smart. my advantage is that conservatives are evil and self destructive. as you will soon see again.

    • Thank you for the introduction. I am happy to hear that you don’t feel guilty because you shouldn’t.

      • Steve, Censored is the Captain. He goes by Censored because AZBM locked Captain Arizona out of the comment threads.

  2. Senator John Kavanagh

    Popular vote proponents would appear less self-serving, if they also opposed the way we elect Congress because it mirrors the electoral college. But you never hear them moaning about the fact that each state gets two senators, regardless of its population. When Biden and Sanders call for Senate reform, I will take the anti-electoral college movement more seriously.

  3. One of the saddest things in politics is a male white left winger. Racked with guilt over being both male and white he contorts his thinking into a perpetual sense of inferiority in relation to anyone who is not a white male. In order to compensate for the horrible crime of being both white and a male, this pathetic creature tries to compensate for this cosmic unfairness by attacking and condemning any other white male (usually conservative) that doesn’t share his deep seated guilt. This serves two purposes: (1) In attacking and condemning white males who are not deeply contrite at being white males, he demonstrates to those he envies (anyone who is not a white male) how enlightened and noble he is for recognizing what a deplorable creature he truly is, and, (2) By such kowtowing, humbling, and belittling himself, he is allowed to hang around with the people he wishes he was. As long as he is properly contrite, he is allowed to remain. White guilt is one of the saddest afflictions a human being can experience.

    “It is important to keep in mind that Fox News (and Bill O’Reilly particularly) are masters of propaganda.”

    Thus implying that CNN, MSNBC, ABC, NBC, HBO and CBS are not left wing propaganda machines. I have always thought it was hilarious just how much the left fears Fox News. The only source they can’t control and it scares them to death. That is why Fox News needs to be lied about, criticized and condemned as much as possible. Such tactics don’t work, but they give liberals a false sense of potency. Too funny…

    “Censored” is correct in the message they posted earlier…all this angst about the Electoral College is because Hillary lost. All the reasons for getting rid of the Electoral College are just post-game excuses for why Hillary couldn’t cut it. I will guarantee you this: In the 2020 election, we will still be using the Electoral College because changing the Constitution is hard. Deliberately hard. And changing the Electoral College is NOT popular enough to get a sufficient number of States to vote in favor of it. Just ask the Equal Rights Amendment people…

    • Frances Perkins

      What are you talking about? This makes no sense. Obviously the House and Senate were another compromise. One house for the big states, one for the small ones. What Senate reform are you talking about? Electing Senators by population also? Getting the legislature to elect the US Senators again? So APS can buy Senators, like they have bought the ACC? State Senate and US Senate by one man one vote districts nationwide?

      • Frances, you totally confused me. I didn’t mention anything about “Senate Reform” and I have no idea what you are talking about. Perhaps you confused me with someone else?

    • White guilt…

      A Report from Occupied Territory
      By James Baldwin JULY 11, 1966

      “The Torture of Mothers is a detailed account of the case which is now known as the case of The Harlem Six. Mr. Nelson is not, as I have earlier misled certain people into believing, a white Southern novelist, but a white Northern one. It is a rather melancholy comment, I think, on the Northern intellectual community, and it reveals, rather to my despair, how little I have come to expect of it that I should have been led so irresistibly into this error. In a way, though, I certainly have no wish to blame Mr. Nelson for my errors, he is, nevertheless, somewhat himself to blame. His tone makes it clear that he means what he says and he knows what he means. The tone is rare. I have come to expect it only of Southerners—or mainly from Southerners—since Southerners must pay so high a price for their private and their public liberation. But Mr. Nelson actually comes from New England, and is what another age would have called an abolitionist. No Northern liberal would have been capable of it because the Northern liberal considers himself as already saved, whereas the white Southerner has to pay the price for his soul’s salvation out of his own anguish and in his own flesh and in the only time he has.”

      https://www.thenation.com/article/report-occupied-territory/

    • Yeah, my antenna goes up when someone mentions white guilt.

      Quite frankly, I haven’t witnessed too much of it in real life. And, as James Baldwin so eloquently stated as his own observations back in 1966, the white Northern liberal did not feel the same anguish as the (liberal) white southerner. Anguish and guilt are very different. I could write extensively about the anguish of the liberal white southerner from that era, but not now. Maybe later.

      White guilt is not a great motivator when it comes to enacting policies that would atone for the horror of 400 years of slavery and Jim Crow.

      I prefer to believe that there are people, some percentage of the population that includes white males, who simply believe in social justice. They have greater concern for the lives and well being of others than white American males (or anyone else) who believe they are responsible only for themselves and perhaps those with whom they have some kind of direct relationship.

      • “White guilt is not a great motivator when it comes to enacting policies that would atone for the horror of 400 years of slavery and Jim Crow.”

        This is something I have never understood. Correcting injustices and ensuring that equal opportunities were made available to all were necessary and correct to do. We are still struggling with that, but we have made tremendous progress and I firmly believe most of us are committed to these important goals.

        But atoning for the slavery is pointless. No native born American alive today had anything to do with the institution os slavery. No person owned slaves and no person was a slave. So what would we atone for? We had no control over what happened hundreds of years ago one way or the other.

        This nation fought a terrible Civil War in which more people were killed than in all other wars we have fought combined. Those people, the people who were involved in slavery in one way or another practically destroyed the Nation in rectifying slavery. They paid mightily in blood and treasure for that abomination and it was appropriate they did so. THEY engaged in it, or allowed it to exist, until morality prevailed and slavery was stamped out.

        So please explain to me why we need to atone for slavery in 2016. I am eager to hear a good rational reason not based on misplaced guilt. I am waiting to be convinced…

      • Well, first that would be “atonement” for 400 years of slavery, lynching, and Jim Crow. At this point we could add mass incarceration. And what I said was that “white guilt” has not been a great motivator in enacting policies that atone for 400 years of oppression. In fact, I question the very existence of “white guilt.”

        Your response has mostly proved my point, to the extent that most white people would agree with you. And I suspect they do.

        But Americans are not good students of history. They learn very little in school, and much of that has been sanitized or revised. They eventually decide that every day in America must have been as good as the day the Allies marched into Paris, and they let it go. Why bother with all that old stuff that is water under the bridge?

        So, Steve, one day you might have some time to read a long article by Ta-nehisi Coates:

        The Case for Reparations
        TA-NEHISI COATES JUNE 2014 ISSUE

        Two hundred fifty years of slavery. Ninety years of Jim Crow. Sixty years of separate but equal. Thirty-five years of racist housing policy. Until we reckon with our compounding moral debts, America will never be whole.

        http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2014/06/the-case-for-reparations/361631/

        • “Two hundred fifty years of slavery. Ninety years of Jim Crow. Sixty years of separate but equal. Thirty-five years of racist housing policy. Until we reckon with our compounding moral debts, America will never be whole.”

          Well, it will never be whole in the mind of some who insist on wallowing in the “sins of the past”. I do not think that anything we can do will change what happened in the past. We have some control on the future and we can continue to try and achieve equality in opportunity. Although even the concept of “equal opportunity” has been corrupted somewhat by the sense of guilt carried by some whites over the “sins of the past”.

          I am not certain I know what you mean by “racist housing policy” unless you are referring to various housing projects that sprang up in citys across the country. When those were built, they were considered as form of compensation to blacks for the disadvantages they had and were experiencing. It was felt no rent or low rent housing was an important part of “leveling the playing field” (a phrase used to corrupt the pursuit of equal opportunity). It wasn’t anyone’s fault, except the tenants, for those expensive projects becoming the hellholes they became. So if that is what you consider a “racist housing policy”, whom do you deem responsible?

          “Well, first that would be “atonement” for 400 years of slavery, lynching, and Jim Crow.”

          I would agree that anyone who was a slave we could justifiably compensate. Iwould agree that any direct and immediate family member of someone who was lynched we could justifiably compensate. I would even agree anyone who could prove they were hurt by Jim Crow could be justifiably compensated. But I don’t think anyone who has black skin should be compensated for injuries that never occurred to them.

          “In fact, I question the very existence of “white guilt.””

          Okay. I see it on these pages on a regular basis, but you obviously see it differently. I think white guilt is a terrible stullifying reality that keeps whites from thinking rationally on the subject of minorities.

          “But Americans are not good students of history. They learn very little in school, and much of that has been sanitized or revised.”

          As a staunch defender of public education, I was surprised you said that. ;o)

          • “I am not certain I know what you mean by “racist housing policy” unless you are referring to various housing projects that sprang up in citys across the country.”

            Read TNC’s article someday if you have any curiosity at all on the subject. You are hardwired into your right wing talking points and it really leaves no room for discussion.

            And, BTW, the harm that was done by slavery, lynching, segregation, etc… is intergenerational.

          • Per Forbes, the median White (non-Hispanic) household has a wealth of $111,000, while the median Latino household has average of $8,000 and the median Black household has average wealth of a mere $7,000. (their source is the US Census Bureau, so it’s as accurate as we’re likely to get).

            Why? The inequities in each generation build on each other. As just a simple example, I was able to get my undergraduate degree at a pretty good private institution debt-free, because of a combination of merit-based aid, alongside my parents being able to pay close to $7,000 per semester out-of-pocket to cover room and board. Because I didn’t have to take out debt, I can immediately start saving and accumulating wealth, reaping capital gains and dividends, instead of having to pay down debt and letting interest accrue to another party at my expense.

            Compound that process over 8 generations since the end of Slavery, and add in 90 years of Jim Crow and 50+ years of institutional redlining and predatory loans by the financial sector (which, by the way, still exists in many places, if not as official banking-sector policy), and you end up where we are today.

            “But I don’t think anyone who has black skin should be compensated for injuries that never occurred to them.”

            I am going to make the somewhat extreme claim, based on the above, that pretty much anyone who has black skin can reasonably claim that such injuries have or do occur to them on a regular basis. Thankfully, such restrictions on basis of codified law are rare, but discrimination, unfortunately, hasn’t gone away just because Jim Crow has been found Unconstitutional.

          • “…while the median Latino household has average of $8,000 and the median Black household has average wealth of a mere $7,000.”

            And your solution, Edward, would be vast transfers of wealth via the government to rectify this? How much of this was the direct result of disincentives created by government programs perversely created to “help” the poor. As you know, there are severe limits on how much you can own in order to receive those government “freebies”. There are incentives to minimize reported wealth (property, income, investments, etc.) in order to maximize government benefits.

            Also, do those figures of $7,000 and $8,000 make any sense to you? To be honest, I didn’t realize the Census Bureau tracked wealth or net worth, nor could I find it on thier web page. But they do track income, and that tells a very different story about blacks and latinos. However, Wikipedia’s best estimate, based on Census figures, is the median net wealth is around $90,000 and if that’s true, who makes up all those levels between latinos and blacks and the rest of America to reach a median of $90,000?

            And while we are discussing latinos, what do they have to do with slavery and Jim Crow?

            “…pretty much anyone who has black skin can reasonably claim that such injuries have or do occur to them on a regular basis.”

            Of course you do, Edward. Such a mindset is necessary to justify much of the foolishness that goes on because of white guilt. Do they still experience racial discrimination or bias? Yes, they do and that needs to be corrected, and we are working to do that. But suffering from slavery, Jim Crowe, lynchings, and “separate but equal”? No. That was 50 years or more ago. Two and half generations at least. If someone wants to claim suffering for that, they are looking for an excuse.

            “Why? The inequities in each generation build on each other.”

            Having spent considerable time in the Middle East, I can assure that is the reason blood vendettas go on generation after generation. The killing can never stop because the people insist on wallowing in the past. We consider it barbaric and yet liberals here in America want to use the same logic to perpetuate a never ending need to remember the past and make the present suffer for it. And it is never ending. There can be no end to the need to compensate by whatever means for all the “sins of the past”.

            Your story of you going to college is a nice one. I, on the other hand, had to join the Army and serve two years in Vietnam for the GI Bill, take on student loans, work at part time jobs to the extent it delayed my graduation by a year, and hard scrabble it all the way through to my Bachelors Degree. My parents couldn’t afford to pay my way, and I didn’t have the grades for scholarships because I was a dumb-ass in high school. I did manage to graduate Summa Cum Laude, and had a much easier time with the Masters and PhD (since my employer paid for it). The opportunities are there…you just have to go after them. Don’t make excuses…

          • Steve, I don’t remember making the claim that I agreed with the USFG’s approach to poverty reduction. I agree that asset caps and sharp income thresholds have contributed to a poverty trap whereby low-income households have perverse incentives to avoid saving and investing in themselves and their families lest they risk losing welfare benefits. In fact, I actually raised that very point during my Clean Elections Debate.

            Now, on to your next point, regarding ‘White Guilt’; I once again have to object to the fact that I feel like words are being put in my mouth. My point was that even though systemic discrimination in the form of Slavery and Jim Crow is largely diminished (I don’t think it’s been zeroed out), income and wealth levels are subject to a lot of path-dependency; we know this income mobility is not particularly high compared with many other countries. If you couple centuries of systemic discrimination disabling Black households from being able to accumulate wealth in the same way that many White households could, especially in the War and Post-War periods (such as discrimination and the accommodation of Jim Crow in the post-WWII GI bill, not dissimilar from the one you claimed helped put you through school after serving in Vietnam). And according to individuals such as Ta-Nehisi Coates and Michelle Alexander, the use of selective police enforcement and prosecutorial discretion of criminal law is having a substantially disparate impact disadvantaging African-Americans and Latinos today. Not quite the same thing, as Jim Crow, but I don’t think it’s correct to say that all the problems have gone away.

            Now, I wish I knew what the perfect solution is/was/will be. Sad to say, I don’t. And better minds than mine have tried and failed to solve this problem. Curious what you have to say about it.

          • “Steve, I don’t remember making the claim that I agreed with the USFG’s approach to poverty reduction.”

            Oh, you didn’t make that claim. I apologize if I left you that impression. I brought it in out of left field because I feel it is an important factor in explaining – to a degree – income disparities. I watched my youngest brother fall into that trap and saw how it crippled his life, so I am very much aware of it. I tried to hire him for my Company Security and at an excellent wage and he said he couldn’t do it because it would mess up his entitlements. The only way he could work for me is if I would pay him under the table, which I wouldn’t. Apparently, though, a lot of employers are willing to do so because his lifestyle is certainly better than his declared income would indicate.

            “… the use of selective police enforcement and prosecutorial discretion of criminal law is having a substantially disparate impact disadvantaging African-Americans and Latinos today.”

            We keep getting told that is the case, but how true is it? Blacks and latinos don’t do themselves any favors by committing crimes far out of proportion to their percentage of the population. I know the statistics show blacks and latinos are incarcerated at higher rates than whites, but why do you suppose prosecutors – including black prosecutors – do that? Because they are racists? Or because they are trying to send a message to those communities? Or do those criminals have records that deserve imprisonment? Or??? It is such a consistent occurrence that I have to think there is a reason besides racism. Especially given the amount of scrutiny that goes on of what these prosecutors do. And what of the juries, often made up with blacks sitting in, who find them guilty and recommend prison? Something more is going on than racism, but that doesn’t fit the script of the left.

            “Not quite the same thing, as Jim Crow, but I don’t think it’s correct to say that all the problems have gone away.”

            Of course it hasn’t all gone away, but we have made tremendous progress and genuinely want to see it through. But dragging in slavery, Jim Crow, segregation, et. al., and trying to make people today feel guilty about it just turns people off. They reason, as they should, that they had nothing to do with that and there is no reason they should be paying for it.

          • Well, we should try to not go backwards, for starters:

            On the anniversary of Brown v. Board, new evidence that U.S. schools are resegregating
            By Emma Brown May 17

            “Poor, black and Hispanic children are becoming increasingly isolated from their white, affluent peers in the nation’s public schools, according to new federal data showing that the number of high-poverty schools serving primarily black and brown students more than doubled between 2001 and 2014.

            The data was released by the Government Accountability Office on Tuesday, 62 years to the day after the Supreme Court decided that segregated schools are “inherently unequal” and therefore unconstitutional.

            That landmark decision in Brown v. Board of Education began the dismantling of the dual school systems — one for white kids, one for black students — that characterized so many of the nation’s communities. It also became a touchstone for the ideal of public education as a great equalizer, an American birthright meant to give every child a fair shot at success.

            But that ideal appears to be unraveling, according to Tuesday’s GAO report…”

            Read more
            https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/education/wp/2016/05/17/on-the-anniversary-of-brown-v-board-new-evidence-that-u-s-schools-are-resegregating/?utm_term=.2c89e6b47f7b

          • Steve, regarding your comments about the criminal justice system, here is a good website for you to peruse after Christmas when you have time. 🙂

            http://eji.org/

          • Amy Goodman interviews Bryan Stevenson, EJI founder. Part 1.

            “Just Mercy”: Bryan Stevenson on Ferguson, Prison Reform & Why the Opposite of Poverty is Justice
            STORY NOVEMBER 20, 2014

            https://www.democracynow.org/2014/11/20/just_mercy_bryan_stevenson_on_ferguson

          • I promise I will read this one after Christmas, as well. Thank you for the reference. I am getting ready to go over to my Daughters house for the weekend and will not be blogging during that time.

            Before I do that I want to wish you a Merry Christmas and Happy and Prosperous Hew Year!

            It is a great pleasure corresponding with you!

          • PART 2: Bryan Stevenson on Executions and Civil Rights: “Lynching Stopped But the Mindset Didn’t”
            WEB EXCLUSIVE NOVEMBER 20, 2014

            https://www.democracynow.org/2014/11/20/part_2_bryan_stevenson_on_executions

          • My, my so much material for Steve to review. Actually, the Amy Goodman interviews are on video so that should make it easier for you, Steve, as you explore the world outside the confines of the right wing talking point.

            Bryan Stevenson is an interesting man, definitely cut from the same bolt of cloth as Charles H. Houston and Thurgood Marshall.

          • “…Steve, as you explore the world outside the confines of the right wing talking point…”

            I didn’t realize I was repeating “right wing talking points”. I thought they were original to me. I guess those “right wing” guys are pretty smart…

          • The question about prosecutors is a good one, but I think the answer is one of what the prosecutor’s incentives are, and how principal-agent theory and mechanism design play into it.

            I’ll speak only to Arizona, but here in Arizona, the prosecutor for criminal cases is the office of the County Attorney, probably with some number of exceptions. And since I live in Pima County, I’ll speak to the re-elected county attorney Barbara LaWall, but feel free to substitute in the name of your county’s top attorney.

            One of LaWall’s advertisements and slogans mentioned that she had a conviction rate of over 95%! And I think that a lot of county attorneys want to appear competent and ‘tough on crime’ to win (re-) election.

            On the surface, that number sounds damn good, right? When she prosecutes, she convicts. But there’s at least three ways to get a higher conviction rate, and the latter two are less obvious:

            1) Do a better job of gathering evidence, making cases, and convincing juries. This is what people think on the surface. But it’s really more a combination of:

            2) Give really lax plea deals to individuals so the accused voluntarily enter a guilty plea. Note, that this counts as a conviction on paper despite the quality of evidence, lack thereof, or whether the accused actually committed the crime in question.

            3) Don’t even press charges, or drop them, if the evidence is really flimsy. If the case doesn’t go to trial, it won’t hurt your conviction rate.

            What I think happens is a little bit of (2) toward minorities, who generally have fewer resources with which to fight the State (and both parties know this), and a little bit of (3) toward people with money to spend on high-power criminal defense attorneys. The more able you are to fight the case (and therefore, the less certain LaWall is that she can convict you), the better plea agreement she has to give you to convince you to take it.

            Remember, that 97% of all criminal cases are settled via plea agreement and don’t go to trial. I’m not saying this is the end-all, be-all answer, but there’s an economic model which explains why the criminal system is prejudiced against minorities without there being an explicit racial element. To the extent that a minority has to risk a closeted racist on the jury or other unconscious biases by prospective jurors, the model tilts in further in the same direction.

          • You make some excellent points, Edward, and I wish I had time to respond right now but I am getting ready to go over to my Daughters house for the weekend and was not planning on blogging during that time. However your response is interesting enough I may borrow a computer and try to respond. If I don’t, however, please forgive me. It’s Christmas and with so many things going on and Grandchildren…well, my cup spilleth over. :o)

            Before I do that I want to wish you a Merry Christmas and Happy and Prosperous Hew Year!

            It is a great pleasure corresponding with you!

          • “To the extent that a minority has to risk a closeted racist on the jury or other unconscious biases by prospective jurors…”

            Here in Maricopa County, most juries have minorities sitting on them. I would think that the power of a closeted racist would be minimized. In fact, I would think the effect of minorities feeling sympathy for an accused who is also a minority might have a more profoiunf effect. Those “biases” can work in both directions.

            “…but there’s an economic model which explains why the criminal system is prejudiced against minorities without there being an explicit racial element.

            There is an economic bias against poor defendants, but that is not racially motivated, that is economics. That minorities may tend to be poor in greater numbers is unfortunate, but it is happenstance and not intention. To say it is based on race is wrong.

          • Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to you too, Steve. 🙂 🙂

          • Merry Christmas, Happy Saturnalia, Festivus, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, and/or any other Holidays, and a Happy and Prosperous New Year to everyone as well.

        • Well, Liza, I read Mr. Coates very poignant and evocative article, but I am still not convinced that I should be held responsible for the atrocious acts committed long before I was on this earth. I felt the comparison between taking pride in my Revolutionary War ancestors and blacks feeling the pain of their early slave ancestors was a false equivilency. I do feel pride in my ancestors that fought on both sides of the Revolutionary War but I don’t have any right to claim anything for their service, how they suffered, if they died, or anything else related to what they experienced and did. I think blacks whose ancestors were slaves can feel pride, outrage, or whatever at what happened, but they are not entitled to anything forwhatever happened during the slavery of their ancestors.

          And I don’t think they are entitled to anything for what happened to them during the 1920s, 1930s, and 1940s, unless they are the aggreived party and then they can have cause of action against those who harmed them. I don’t think society as a whole has a responsibility to all blacks for what occurred, reprehensible though it was.

          We can only be responsible for what occurs within the general scope of our lifetimes. To insist we be responsible for the bad things that previous generation did is ridiculous unless we try and compensate the actual victims of what happened. I have no problem with that. But to say we need to be held responsible for things which happened many years and that we compensate people who were not involved at all is wrong.

        • I can’t imagine that I will get this comment to show up in the right place.

          Well, Steve, I’m glad you read TNC’s article. By your logic, no one is responsible for any harm done to others. All they need do is wait for the next generation and the slate is clean.

          Okay then.

          • That’s not what I said, Liza. If you inflict damage, you are responsible for your actions. If you suffer damage, you are are a victim and may be due recompense. I even think immediate family members may be due recompense on your behalf if you cannot claim it for yourself. But if you were born after the damage was inflicted, it is not your responsibility. If the damage was inflicted on an ancestor, you are due no recompense. When I use the word “recompense” I not only refer to cash, goods and services, I extend it to special programs, set asides and similar activities.

            I just don’t think you can hold people responsible for things that happened many years ago before they were born over which they had no input or control.

          • Yeah, that line of reasoning would be more applicable if we were talking about a car collision. But we are talking about hundreds of years of enslavement and lynching and segregation that resulted in impoverished, devastated families and an entire race of people denied access to decent housing, education, and jobs throughout most of the 20th century. If you do not believe these are “damages” inflicted on the these families and these people, including the next generations, then you are in effect saying that no one bears responsibility for any of this once the exact perpetrators of the original crimes against humanity are dead and gone. Regardless of the fact that the effects of hundreds of years of those crimes are still in evidence.

            Apparently, by your reckoning, in less than a hundred years the US will bear no responsibility for the war crimes committed in Iraq because the injured parties who lived during that time and the US perpetrators are all going to be dead.

            You keep saying this over and over so you must believe it. Not everyone agrees.

            https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/grade-point/wp/2016/09/04/georgetown-joins-brown-u-va-and-others-in-looking-anew-at-slavery/?utm_term=.0e7b92c1dd33

          • I realize not everyone has the same opinion as me. If there wasn’t a wide variety of opinions, the matter wouldn’t be under discussion as much as it is. And I am not surprised that many of our Universities subscribe to the theory that we are responsible for reparations for slavery. It is in these hotbeds of liberal thinking that many bad ideas arise. As we have discussed before, universities are also noted for things such as “safe zones” where no one is allowed to discuss disturbing ideas, “liberal orthodoxy” where no conservative are allowed to speak or even visit, “speech codes” that prohibit students from introducing any ideas that run contrary to the liberal orthoxy on penalty of expulsion, et. al. So there is no surprise in their zeal to embrace reparations.

            As to the next generation being responsible for any war crimes we might commit in Iraq…you are correct, I don’t think they would be responsible for what we do today. The next generation has no way of influencing what we do or don’t do, nor do they have anything to do with what we do or don’t do. I don’t see how on earth you can think they are responsible.

            I worked with the Israeli Army for a good while and I found out that the Jews – many of whom are still alive from the Nazi era – do not blame the current German people for what happened in World Ward 2. The blame the Nazis and the German people of that period. I think if anyone in the world had any “right” to bear a grudge it would be the Jews. After all, it was recent history and they were literally slaughtered by the millions, yet that attitude wasn’t there. Yes, there were some who blamed all Germans, but they were very few.

            I am sorry that my thoughts on this upset you. I truly am. But it is how I think.

          • Nonetheless, Germany has paid reparations to Israel, and there was a new, relatively recent but unsettled demand made in 2009.

            https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reparations_Agreement_between_Israel_and_West_Germany

            So, in these cases of extreme human rights violations, the victims (or those acting on their behalf) may see that the descendants of the perpatrators are not criminals, but they tend not to worry about who comes up with the cash.

      • Amy Goodman interviews TNC – Part 1

        The Case for Reparations: Ta-Nehisi Coates on Reckoning with U.S. Slavery & Institutional Racism
        STORY MAY 29, 2014

        https://www.democracynow.org/2014/5/29/the_case_for_reparations_ta_nehisi

        • Lisa, I promise I will read Ta-Nehisi Coates article right after Christmas. Things are pretty busy right now and I want to give it my full attention. Thank you in advance for pointing it out to me so I can read and differing point of view.

      • Part 2: Ta-Nehisi Coates on Segregation, Housing Discrimination and “The Case for Reparations”
        STORY MAY 30, 2014

        https://www.democracynow.org/2014/5/30/part_2_ta_nehisi_coates_on

      • You don’t have to agree with Mr. Coates, of course, but his presentation should illuminate that this is a complex subject that has been dismissed by those who, basically, don’t want to hear about it.

      • Steve, please go back and read what you wrote about white male liberals and what you have supposed to be their “guilt.” Wow, such disparaging comments. However, this was intended mainly to provide a different context, for whatever that is worth. And TNC is always a good read.

        • Yes, Liza, my comments were harsh and disparaging. I am greatly frustrated by how white guilt makes otherwise intelligent males act like blubbering fools. The funny thing is I have several friends who represent white leftist males to a “T”. Perfectly reasonable, intelligent men who are great outdoor/camping companions and decent poker players who become blithering idiots when faced with a variety of subjects near and dear to the hearts of the left.

          I like them anyway in spite of this horrible flaw. :o)

  4. John Huppenthal

    You are thinking old style thinking. Trump is in charge now and he is going to appeal directly to Blacks with economic opportunity and school choice.

  5. anybody hear hillary clinton or her supporters complain about the electoral college BEFORE the election? popular vote initiative still needs more then a 11 states.

  6. Frances Perkins

    You can never respond to the right with the “shoe in the per foot” discussion. You can be absolutely sure that if Trump won the popular vote by 2.7 million votes and lost the election because of the electoral college, O’Reilly and every other right wing pundit would be totally for the abolishment of the electoral college, starting on Day one of the next congress, in fact they would want it ex post facto!!!!

    • So you are saying that all the whining and crying the left is doing about the Electoral College is nothing more than sour grapes and represents a giant temper tantrum because Hillary lost? For a left winger, that is astoundingly honest of you, Frances!

      • Frances Perkins

        Steve you need to stop reading into things that aren’t there.

      • For Sure Not Tom

        The left has been against the electoral college since the 2000 election.

        And lots of people were scratching their heads over the need for the electoral college long before that.

        Having the popular vote overridden twice so early in this century has raised the volume, but the protest is not new.

        • That is true, but the only time the volume goes up is when democrats lose.

          What do you think the chances are that a Constitutional Amendment will be passed eliminating the Electoral College? I think there is almost zero chance of that happening in the next 20 years. I don’t think the hue and cry is enough to change anything right now.

          • Saw lots of praising from Democrats and left-leaning pundits about the Electoral College when the talk was about the stalwart and indestructible blue wall of Michigan, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania alongside Virginia as safe blue states and how it was a bulwark against the know-nothings (and Know-Nothings) of rural Flyover Country.

            There are places where I do agree more with the Democrats, but I don’t profess that either major party won’t hem and haw about how the game is rigged and the electoral rules need to be changed whenever they lose.