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Dispatches From the Culture Wars – Ashes and Diamonds edition

Words of warning; The urban/rural divide; Who’s white? Who’s working class?; Stripping voting rights (more); Resistance is local

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Autocracy: Rules for Survival

By Masha Gessen
November 10, 2016
New York Review of Books

In the face of the impulse to normalize, it is essential to maintain one’s capacity for shock. This will lead people to call you unreasonable and hysterical, and to accuse you of overreacting. It is no fun to be the only hysterical person in the room. Prepare yourself.
Despite losing the popular vote, Trump has secured as much power as any American leader in recent history. The Republican Party controls both houses of Congress. There is a vacancy on the Supreme Court. The country is at war abroad and has been in a state of mobilization for fifteen years. This means not only that Trump will be able to move fast but also that he will become accustomed to an unusually high level of political support. He will want to maintain and increase it—his ideal is the totalitarian-level popularity numbers of Vladimir Putin—and the way to achieve that is through mobilization. There will be more wars, abroad and at home.

The 2016 Election Pitted Booming Cities Against Stagnant Rural Areas

by Timothy B. Lee
Nov 23, 2016

The 1990s were a time of healthy economic growth for the smallest counties. They actually added jobs at a faster rate than big urban centers. But in the most recent recovery, the pattern has been reversed. The largest counties have been adding jobs at the fastest rate in at least a generation. The smallest counties have been adding jobs only half as fast, and that constitutes the slowest job growth these areas have seen in decades.
So the natural conservatism of rural areas combined with resentment at the Democratic president who presided over an unusually weak economic recovery in rural areas. At the same time, the natural liberalism of urban areas was reinforced by a strong urban recovery under a Democratic president. It’s not too surprising that this produced an election that was sharply polarized between urban and rural areas.

If You’ve Ever Described People as ‘White Working Class,’ Read This

By Max Ehrenfreund and Jeff Guo
November 23, 2016
Washington Post

The white working class has received enormous attention since Election Day thanks to its critical role in electing Donald Trump the next president. Exit polls show he won this group — defined as white adults over 25 without a four-year degree — by an overwhelming margin of 39 percentage points.
Census data show that 42 percent of American are part of the white working class, bigger than any other single group.
Yet although this demographic acted with surprising uniformity on Election Day — few other groups swung so far toward a particular party's direction since 2012 — it is far from monolithic. And it is certainly doesn't match the stereotype of the rural, blue-collar worker that has often been cited as a typical member of the white working class.

Will Trump Join GOP's Voter ID Push From the White House?

by Perry Bacon Jr.
November 29, 2016
NBC News

Thirty-four states, most controlled by Republicans, have passed some kind of law mandating a formal identification to vote, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Those laws vary widely by state, and some of them have been struck down by courts.
Trump has met since his election victory with Kris Kobach, the Kansas secretary of state who authored a voter ID law in his home state and has been pushing for them across the country.
Kobach has called for all 50 states to adopt laws that would require proof of U.S. citizenship (generally a passport or birth certificate) to register to vote and then a valid photo ID to cast a ballot.
Trump and his team could press Republican governors to adopt provisions along the lines of Kobach's proposal, in the same way that Obama successfully pushed cities and states in liberal areas to adopt his policies, such as raising the minimum wage.
And with control of the president and both houses of Congress, Republicans could go further.

‘All Resistance Is Local’: A Plan of Progressive Action for the Trump Years

By Heather Gerken, David Bollier, Gary Gerstle and Gar Alperovitz
November 29, 2016
The Nation

Shut out of the legislative and executive branches, likely to be sidelined in the judiciary, progressives have very little leverage to stop or even slow down the Republican juggernaut. Any effort to protect vulnerable Americans from the most harmful effects of the new administration’s policies will have to come from cities and states. All resistance is local. The beginning of a new reconstruction will have to be local, too.
In this forum—an installment of our ongoing series, “That’s Debatable”—four writers take on the question of what can be done at the state and local levels to resist the Trump administration, and even to create a profoundly new political order. In a time of apparent impotence for the left their responses offer a plan of action; in a time of despair, they offer many reasons for hope.