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Episode Notes

Near the beginning of the podcast, I mention the difference between liberalism and leftism, and our episode on neoliberalism dives into that. We also talked about systemic racism in previous episodes, which we briefly touch on in this one. For more on that, our episode on George Floyd goes into some detail and the show page for it delves into it with relevant links to studies and other episodes.

We mentioned that overt racism — in contrast to systemic racism — is on the rise. That’s general public perception, along with people saying they’ve seen people express overtly racist sentiments more often. This has actualized in increases in anti-immigrant sentiment, spikes in violence nationally as well as specifically in areas where the Trump campaign held rallies and in counties that he won more decisively.

I also brought up some of the anarchist philosophy that guides my thinking on the subject and this playlist does a pretty good job of explaining the endpoint or political goal of that philosophy from the perspective of Piotr Kropotkin and Mikhail Bakunin (more the former than the latter). This Q&A also does a pretty good job.

I talked about the history of movements and how there’s danger to complacency after wins. Here’s an essay version of the Death of Environmentalism piece reprinted at Grist. Here’s a podcast episode at the New York Times that covers the broad strokes of how the feminist movement changed after Roe v. Wade. I mentioned Rosa Parks’ activism. This piece goes into a lot more detail.

There’s some possibility that Trumpism dies. The tweet that isolated Hannah Arendt’s thoughts on this is here, which comes from her 1968 book, Totalitarianism: Part Three of The Origins of Totalitarianism.

I also reference the movement of conspiracy theorists from one theory that suits their explanation for why the world is off-kilter to another – Dan Olson’s video on Flat Earth demonstrates one example of that, and is one of the best videos I’ve ever seen on YouTube. I also mentioned that QAnon might be dying, and this Mother Jones piece from February substantiates it.

One key part of Arendt’s theory of disappearing totalitarian movements might be the elimination of totalitarian-friendly media. For that I bring up the example of radio in Rwanda and how effective radio jamming could have been. One of the best pieces on the subject was written by Jamie Metzl, who discusses it in a piece in Foreign Affairs. That piece is behind a paywall, so I’ve uploaded the text here.

In January 1994 U.N. Observers reported that Hutu extremist leaders were mobilizing to slaughter the minority Tutsis and moderate Hutus. Threatened by peace negotiations that could have undermined their political base, Hutu hard-liners began broadcasting fiery calls for a “final war” to exterminate Tutsi “cockroaches.” After a suspicious April 1994 plane crash killed the presidents of Rwanda and Burundi, the genocide began. Announcers on the Hutu extremist-controlled Radio-Televisions Libre des Milles Collines helped organize the militias and goaded the young killers, reading lists of enemies to be hunted down and butchered. Recognizing that these broadcasts were whipping Rwanda into a killing frenzy, the U.N. military commander in Kigali, General Romeo Dallaire, a few international human rights organizations, and several U.S. senators called for them to be jammed, but nothing was done. Instead, the small U.N. military contingent was drastically reduced, and the world stood by as 800,000 Tutsis and moderate Hutus were brutally murdered.

I do not love all of Metzl’s arguments – especially those he puts forth after 9/11, where he argues that the United States should have engaged in propaganda to counter arguments that American sanctions were responsible for deaths in Iraq. But the core of the argument – that information and radio waves can be used as part of a broader violence and hate strategy – is worth noting.

I referenced a helicopter crash in Rwanda. That’s incorrect — it was a downed plane with no well-established perpetrator.

This is the piece from the New York Times that goes into a study about how people will pick their preferred politicians then project their preferred policy positions onto them.

Why? Voters appear not to know Mr. Trump’s and Biden’s stances. Only 40 percent of survey respondents place Mr. Biden as more supportive than Mr. Trump on masks, and only 41 percent do the same on closing businesses. Only 47 percent place Mr. Biden as more supportive of the WHO. These results are consistent with decades of research showing that a considerable share of the public doesn’t know the positions of the parties and presidential candidates, even on the most salient issues.

It’s not just that people don’t know. When people don’t have a sense for party or candidate platforms, they tend to assume that their preferred party or candidate agrees with them on the issues. This phenomenon, which political scientists call projection, appears to be operating here. People’s perceptions appear strongly influenced by which candidate they like.

This is Primer on simulating alternate voting systems and CGP Grey’s playlist on alternate voting systems.

This is the Unlearning Economics video on the Green New Deal that briefly touches on the debate between no-growth environmental activists and green-growth activists.

I mentioned Carlos Maza in the podcast – this is the video I’m referencing, but he also has a great video on how treating politics like sports makes us dumber. This is his video that talks about the media’s inherent bias towards the status quo (or a neoliberal status quo) that brings up the fact that those that rise to prominence inside corporate media structures are ones that don’t question the fundamental underpinnings of society.

I mentioned Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s interview in the New York Times that I found illuminating. It’s already being spun against her by centrist Democrats but there’s not much response to her central claims.

These folks are pointing toward Republican messaging that they feel killed them, right? But why were you so vulnerable to that attack?

If you’re not door-knocking, if you’re not on the internet, if your main points of reliance are TV and mail, then you’re not running a campaign on all cylinders. I just don’t see how anyone could be making ideological claims when they didn’t run a full-fledged campaign.

Our party isn’t even online, not in a real way that exhibits competence. And so, yeah, they were vulnerable to these messages, because they weren’t even on the mediums where these messages were most potent. Sure, you can point to the message, but they were also sitting ducks. They were sitting ducks.

This is the piece on disengaged Latino voters brought up by Texas Monthly.

Over the past year, in an attempt to better understand Latino voters and nonvoters, two colleagues—my fellow anthropologist Michael Powell and sociologist Betsabeth Monica Lugo—and I set out across Texas to get to know them. Instead of disseminating multiple-choice surveys, as pollsters do, we spent hours conversing one-on-one with more than one hundred Latinos who were eligible to vote, from five major regions—Houston, San Antonio, Dallas, El Paso, and the Rio Grande Valley. The study was commissioned and funded by the Texas Organizing Project Education Fund, the sister organization of the Texas Organizing Project, the largest grassroots progressive organization in the state. Though the group leans left, the study was nonpartisan, and we were given full independence to design it and let the results be what they may. While our research was focused on what drives civic engagement, not on which candidates Latinos prefer, many participants shared such thoughts with us in the course of our conversations.

We asked mostly open-ended questions, trying to get to the heart of the whys more than the whats of Latino voting. All of our interviews ran at least ninety minutes long, and some stretched to two hours. Many of the conversations turned emotional; more than one interviewee shed tears. We also laughed. The depth of the exchanges repeatedly surprised us, and much of what we heard ran counter to some of the most pervasive narratives about Latino voters and nonvoters.

Peter is a prime example. Here was a young man who reads politics voraciously and who spoke cogently about being racially harassed, about his views of representative democracy, and about his dreams for his then-eleven-day-old son. And who, it turned out, had even driven by the polls a few times during recent election seasons, but ultimately hadn’t felt compelled to get out of his car and cast a vote.  Peter often told us that he wanted to feel like he was part of something bigger—something that would bring about change for his family and for his community. But he wasn’t convinced that voting would accomplish those things. Why was that?

The United States lags behind most other countries in voter participation. Though the United States saw the highest turnout in 120 years with a 66.9 percent participation rate, that’s still not near the top – it’s just much further from the bottom of modern democracies, where they usually are. The next step is finding a way to convert non-voters into voters and keep new voters engaged. Removing barriers, like the expansion of mail-in voting seems to be a big part of the solution, though there always needs to be work done to reduce voter suppression.

We mentioned that Trump’s lone saving point might be a troop drawdown. That didn’t happen.

Here’s Bernie Sanders on Right to Repair, something that impacts small tech consumers everywhere as well as those who buy equipment from agricultural equipment firms. Another piece at Bloomberg goes into detail on this as well.

Leftist policies are overwhelmingly popular. Data For Progress has polling data on ending cash bail, generic drug manufacturing, job guarantees and public internet access and all of them are overwhelmingly popular, two of which are even popular solely among Trump voters. Some of these also engage nonvoters.

That support exists for paid maternity leave, government childcare funding, boosting the minimum wage and Medicare for All. This piece on just Medicare for All found even higher support.

Second-choice preferences tell us a lot about how voters can view candidates, often along non-ideological lines. The second choice for Kamala Harris supporters was evidently closely split between Joe Biden, Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders while Buttigieg surged ahead in Iowa mostly because of second-choice preference from voters whose initial choices ranged the ideological spectrum.

I mentioned that there was a phenomena among conservative media to take a talking point and extrapolate it out such that they have a completely new language and set of words to discuss a topic. There’s no better example of that than the way they talked about the Green New Deal, which Parker Molloy talked about in this thread: