Reaching the rust belt


They didn’t want affordable college and “jobs of the future”. They want a theme park of white male privilege and 1940s technologies.

I just snipped the above from a random comment thread. It may be a little presumptuous and somewhat caustic, but it hints at the core problem that led to the recent tragedy of electing a dangerous demagogue to run the country. I’ve been pondering this problem for the past couple of weeks now, and wondering what can possibly change this mentality and begin to solve the problem. My concern is that we may be on the forefront of a huge paradigm shift that could result in more similar tragedies before we come out on the other side in a more hopeful future (see the preceding post for context).

I’m not so sure that the bulk of Trump voters are consciously desiring a theme park of white male privilege and I bet many of them really do appreciate smart phones and big screen TVs among other benefits of modern technology. What they are conscious of, however, is diminishing status as their identities as being valued members of society, the noble working class creating cars, extracting valued resources from the ground, etc., is vanishing before their eyes, and with it their priveged economic standing. The recent immigrants and lower classes are gaining on them and in some cases passing them by and they don’t see any hint of a reversion to the norm. That’s because there’s a new norm coming and they are not being educated about it and how it can ultimately benefit them and their children to embrace it.

In the immediate aftermath, I was mostly just angry and following the impulse to blame them for the catastrophe without searching for reasons. “Fuck Trump voters” was a pretty good summary of the way I felt about it for a while. It seemed shocking that anyone could be so ignorant as to vote for the sociopath without sharing his core racism, misogyny, and xenophobia, or at least accepting it as the price for a chance at ending the pattern of societal irrelevance they were facing. Now I look at it more through the lens of low information voters being misled by a media funded by an avaricious oligarchy with a strong vested interest in electing the candidate who could be counted on to defend their ability to stand on top of the disgruntled masses duping them with false promises of better times to come. It seems the real challenge is how to get a more accurate message to these people informing them of a real route to future prosperity through the benefits of modern technology and finding some role they can play in making it happen.

Maybe the American ideal of freedom and decentralized power is the key. Clean power technologies are much more capable of being decentralized, but they are still too expensive for the middle class to reap the benefits. For now, a reasonably well-off person can start building a self-reliant lifestyle with solar panels and electric transport, but rural folks in the heartland can’t see that happening in their lifetimes. The truth is that it is coming sooner than they think but no one is telling them that. The Republicans are selling an impossible dream of prospering through the old paradigm. How can we sell a much more achievable prosperity in the new? It seems that should be an easier task as time goes by, but what can be done to accelerate that transition? We need a new vision for the American heartland, showing the beleaguered middle class how cool it’s going to be for them in a very short time, if they will just throw off the hopeless desire to return to the ways of old.


It seems quite clear to me all of a sudden. The polls weren’t that far off. Near the end there were a bunch of national polls showing the race about a 4% lead for Clinton. Nate Silver said that a systemic flaw in polling could move the results about 3% in either direction, so it could really be anywhere from a 1 to 7 point lead and that looked pretty safe. As it’s turning out, there was a systemic flaw and it was undercounting Trump voters by a little more than 2% nationwide. That’s how Hillary ended up only winning by a little under 2% in the popular vote.

It seems like everyone forgot about the electoral college. It was state polls that mattered and those are always a little slower to show a late trend. I bet Clinton’s people had some late data and it’s why she was doing rallies in Michigan and PA in the last couple of days. They probably hoped whatever they were seeing for Wisconsin was just wrong (no time to be in all three states).

Looking forward, the Democrats have a big problem because this fluky thing of winning the popular vote and losing the EC could be a persistent pattern. Dems have a huge advantage in very populous states like CA and NY and that pushes up the PV margin, while they’re actually struggling to be ahead in enough states to win the EC. All it’s going to be about next time is taking back the rust belt. I wonder how they can do it.

How about a New Clean Energy Deal? Invest heavily in Solar and Wind Technologies in the rust belt, transforming the old dying industrial heartland into manufacture of wind turbines, solar roofing, battery factories, and electric cars. Put everybody to work along with AI to do the tedious crap. That will boost productivity enough to make the work week half as long, twice as easy, and significantly higher paying with amazing health care. Convert factory farms to cultivated meatless protein factories and build a thousand or so vertical farms to keep all the food local. Where you have to import, use hyperloops, drones, and self-driving electric trucks.

For everybody else outside the rust belt, put them to work in a big way, but keep the work week short and the pay sky high. Most of us can be foremen supervising robots in large scale assembly of solar and wind plants, building true 21st century infrastructure. All jobs cheap and easy – like playing computer games and getting paid really well for it.  Future’s so bright I gotta wear shades.

As for Trump and all his evil minions… seduce them into an alternative reality fantasy dome where they get to think they’re really rich, pay no taxes, and run regulation-free corporations while they have special bigotry bots to abuse in every way their hearts desire.

Good 3:45am thoughts to play with. Should do this more.