Présidentielle américaine: Vous avez dit effet Bradley ? (Revenge of the clingers and deplorables: a win so big even Nate Silver missed it)

9 novembre, 2016

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Tim Youngblood of Dahlonega, Ga. waits for Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump to arrive for a rally at the Fox Theater, Wednesday, June 15, 2016, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)

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La prédiction est un art bien difficile, surtout en ce qui concerne l’avenir. Niels Bohr
Soudain, Norman se sentit fier. Tout s’imposait à lui, avec force. Il était fier. Dans ce monde imparfait, les citoyens souverains de la première et de la plus grande Démocratie Electronique avaient, par l’intermédiaire de Norman Muller (par lui), exercé une fois de plus leur libre et inaliénable droit de vote. Le Votant (Isaac Asimov, 1955)
Vous allez dans certaines petites villes de Pennsylvanie où, comme ans beaucoup de petites villes du Middle West, les emplois ont disparu depuis maintenant 25 ans et n’ont été remplacés par rien d’autre (…) Et il n’est pas surprenant qu’ils deviennent pleins d’amertume, qu’ils s’accrochent aux armes à feu ou à la religion, ou à leur antipathie pour ceux qui ne sont pas comme eux, ou encore à un sentiment d’hostilité envers les immigrants. Barack Obama (2008)
Pour généraliser, en gros, vous pouvez placer la moitié des partisans de Trump dans ce que j’appelle le panier des pitoyables. Les racistes, sexistes, homophobes, xénophobes, islamophobes. A vous de choisir. Hillary Clinton
I continue to believe Mr. Trump will not be president. And the reason is that I have a lot of faith in the American people. Being president is a serious job. It’s not hosting a talk show, or a reality show. The American people are pretty sensible, and I think they’ll make a sensible choice in the end. It’s not promotion, it’s not marketing. It’s hard. And a lot of people count on us getting it right. Barack Hussein Obama (Feb. 2016)
Comme je l’ai dit depuis le début, notre campagne n’en était pas simplement une, mais plutôt un grand mouvement incroyable, composé de millions d’hommes et de femmes qui travaillent dur, qui aiment leur pays, et qui veulent un avenir plus prospère et plus radieux pour eux-mêmes et leur famille. C’est un mouvement composé d’Américains de toutes races, de toutes religions, de toutes origines, qui veulent et attendent que le gouvernement serve le peuple. Ce gouvernement servira le peuple. J’ai passé toute ma vie dans le monde des affaires et j’ai observé le potentiel des projets et des personnes partout dans le monde. Aujourd’hui, c’est ce que je veux faire pour notre pays. Il y a un potentiel énorme, je connais bien notre pays, il y a potentiel incroyable, ce sera magnifique. Chaque Américain aura l’opportunité de vivre pleinement son potentiel. Ces hommes et ces femmes oubliés de notre pays, ces personnes ne seront plus oubliées. Donald Trump
Je suis désolé d’être le porteur de mauvaises nouvelles, mais je crois avoir été assez clair l’été dernier lorsque j’ai affirmé que Donald Trump serait le candidat républicain à la présidence des États-Unis. Cette fois, j’ai des nouvelles encore pires à vous annoncer: Donald J. Trump va remporter l’élection du mois de novembre. Ce clown à temps partiel et sociopathe à temps plein va devenir notre prochain président. (…) Jamais de toute ma vie n’ai-je autant voulu me tromper. (…) Voici 5 raisons pour lesquelles Trump va gagner : 1. Le poids électoral du Midwest, ou le Brexit de la Ceinture de rouille 2. Le dernier tour de piste des Hommes blancs en colère 3. Hillary est un problème en elle-même 4. Les partisans désabusés de Bernie Sanders 5. L’effet Jesse Ventura. Michael Moore
The phenomenon of voters telling pollsters what they think they want to hear, however, actually has a name: the Bradley Effect, a well-studied political phenomenon. In 1982, poll after poll showed Tom Bradley, Los Angeles’ first black mayor and a Democrat, with a solid lead over George Deukmejian, a white Republican, in the California gubernatorial race. Instead, Bradley narrowly lost to Deukmejian, a stunning upset that led experts to wonder how the polls got it wrong. Pollsters, and some political scientists, later concluded that voters didn’t want to say they were voting against Bradley, who would have been the nation’s first popularly-elected African-American governor, because they didn’t want to appear to be racist. (…) In December, a Morning Consult poll examined whether Trump supporters were more likely to say they supported him in online polls than in polls conducted by live questioners. Their finding was surprising: « Trump performs about six percentage points better online than via live telephone interviewing, » according to the study. At the same time, « his advantage online is driven by adults with higher levels of education, » the study says, countering data showing Trump’s bedrock support comes from voters without college degrees. « Importantly, the differences between online and live telephone [surveys] persist even when examining only highly engaged, likely voters. » But Galston says while the study examines « a legitimate question, » the methodology is unclear, and « it’s really important to compare apples to apples. You need to be sure that the online community has the same demographic profile » as phone polling. « It may also be the case that people who are online and willing to participate in that study are already, in effect, a self-selected sample » of pro-Trump voters, Galston says. (…) Ultimately, Trump’s claim « is more of a way to try to explain poor polling numbers. Trump is losing at the moment and he’s trying to explain it off, » Skelley says. « This doesn’t really hold up under scrutiny. » US News & world report (July 2016)
Ever since the ascendency of their “war room,” the Clinton-inspired Left has attacked the integrity and morality of all Republican presidential candidates: McCain was rendered a near-senile coot, confused about the extent of his wife’s wealth and the number of their estates. No finer man ran for president than Mitt Romney. And by November 2012 when he lost, he had been reduced to a bullying hazer in his teen-age years, a vulture capitalist, a heartless plutocrat who was rude to his garbage man, tortured dogs, had an elevator in his house, and provided horses and stables to his aristocratic wife. All were either lies or exaggerations or irrelevant and all insidiously cemented the picture of the gentlemanly Romney as a preppie, out-of-touch, old white-guy snob, and gratuitously cruel to the less fortunate. Trump was certainly more vulgar than either McCain or Romney, but what voters he lost owing to his crass candor he may well have gained back through his slash-and-burn, take-no-prisoners willingness to fight back against the liberal smear machine. We can envision what Marco Rubio, Jeb Bush, or Ted Cruz would look like after six months of “going high” from the Clinton-campaign treatment. It is a mistake to believe that any other candidate would have better dealt with the Clinton-Podesta hit teams; all we can assume is that most would have suffered far more nobly than Trump. It would be wonderful if a Republican candidate ran with Romney’s personal integrity, Rubio’s charisma, Walker’s hands-on experience, Cruz’s commitment to constitutional conservatism, and Trump’s energy, animal cunning, and ferocity, but unfortunately such multifaceted candidates are rare. Victor Davis Hanson
What I was hearing was this general sense of being on the short end of the stick. Rural people felt like they’re not getting their fair share. (…)  First, people felt that they were not getting their fair share of decision-making power. For example, people would say: All the decisions are made in Madison and Milwaukee and nobody’s listening to us. Nobody’s paying attention, nobody’s coming out here and asking us what we think. Decisions are made in the cities, and we have to abide by them. Second, people would complain that they weren’t getting their fair share of stuff, that they weren’t getting their fair share of public resources. That often came up in perceptions of taxation. People had this sense that all the money is sucked in by Madison, but never spent on places like theirs. And third, people felt that they weren’t getting respect. They would say: The real kicker is that people in the city don’t understand us. They don’t understand what rural life is like, what’s important to us and what challenges that we’re facing. They think we’re a bunch of redneck racists. So it’s all three of these things — the power, the money, the respect. People are feeling like they’re not getting their fair share of any of that. (…)  It’s been this slow burn. Resentment is like that. It builds and builds and builds until something happens. Some confluence of things makes people notice: I am so pissed off. I am really the victim of injustice here. (…) Then, I also think that having our first African American president is part of the mix, too. (…) when the health-care debate ramped up, once he was in office and became very, very partisan, I think people took partisan sides. (…) It’s not just resentment toward people of color. It’s resentment toward elites, city people. (…) Of course [some of this resentment] is about race, but it’s also very much about the actual lived conditions that people are experiencing. We do need to pay attention to both. As the work that you did on mortality rates shows, it’s not just about dollars. People are experiencing a decline in prosperity, and that’s real. The other really important element here is people’s perceptions. Surveys show that it may not actually be the case that Trump supporters themselves are doing less well — but they live in places where it’s reasonable for them to conclude that people like them are struggling. Support for Trump is rooted in reality in some respects — in people’s actual economic struggles, and the actual increases in mortality. But it’s the perceptions that people have about their reality are the key driving force here. (…) One of the key stories in our political culture has been the American Dream — the sense that if you work hard, you will get ahead. (…) But here’s where having Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump running alongside one another for a while was so interesting. I think the support for Sanders represented a different interpretation of the problem. For Sanders supporters, the problem is not that other population groups are getting more than their fair share, but that the government isn’t doing enough to intervene here and right a ship that’s headed in the wrong direction. (…) There is definitely some misinformation, some misunderstandings. But we all do that thing of encountering information and interpreting it in a way that supports our own predispositions. Recent studies in political science have shown that it’s actually those of us who think of ourselves as the most politically sophisticated, the most educated, who do it more than others. So I really resist this characterization of Trump supporters as ignorant. There’s just more and more of a recognition that politics for people is not — and this is going to sound awful, but — it’s not about facts and policies. It’s so much about identities, people forming ideas about the kind of person they are and the kind of people others are. Who am I for, and who am I against? Policy is part of that, but policy is not the driver of these judgments. There are assessments of, is this someone like me? Is this someone who gets someone like me? (…) All of us, even well-educated, politically sophisticated people interpret facts through our own perspectives, our sense of what who we are, our own identities. I don’t think that what you do is give people more information. Because they are going to interpret it through the perspectives they already have. People are only going to absorb facts when they’re communicated from a source that they respect, from a source who they perceive has respect for people like them. And so whenever a liberal calls out Trump supporters as ignorant or fooled or misinformed, that does absolutely nothing to convey the facts that the liberal is trying to convey. Katherine Cramer
Ce qui est nouveau, c’est d’abord que la bourgeoisie a le visage de l’ouverture et de la bienveillance. Elle a trouvé un truc génial : plutôt que de parler de « loi du marché », elle dit « société ouverte », « ouverture à l’Autre » et liberté de choisir… Les Rougon-Macquart sont déguisés en hipsters. Ils sont tous très cools, ils aiment l’Autre. Mieux : ils ne cessent de critiquer le système, « la finance », les « paradis fiscaux ». On appelle cela la rebellocratie. C’est un discours imparable : on ne peut pas s’opposer à des gens bienveillants et ouverts aux autres ! Mais derrière cette posture, il y a le brouillage de classes, et la fin de la classe moyenne. La classe moyenne telle qu’on l’a connue, celle des Trente Glorieuses, qui a profité de l’intégration économique, d’une ascension sociale conjuguée à une intégration politique et culturelle, n’existe plus même si, pour des raisons politiques, culturelles et anthropologiques, on continue de la faire vivre par le discours et les représentations. (…)  C’est aussi une conséquence de la non-intégration économique. Aujourd’hui, quand on regarde les chiffres – notamment le dernier rapport sur les inégalités territoriales publié en juillet dernier –, on constate une hyper-concentration de l’emploi dans les grands centres urbains et une désertification de ce même emploi partout ailleurs. Et cette tendance ne cesse de s’accélérer ! Or, face à cette situation, ce même rapport préconise seulement de continuer vers encore plus de métropolisation et de mondialisation pour permettre un peu de redistribution. Aujourd’hui, et c’est une grande nouveauté, il y a une majorité qui, sans être « pauvre » ni faire les poubelles, n’est plus intégrée à la machine économique et ne vit plus là où se crée la richesse. Notre système économique nécessite essentiellement des cadres et n’a donc plus besoin de ces millions d’ouvriers, d’employés et de paysans. La mondialisation aboutit à une division internationale du travail : cadres, ingénieurs et bac+5 dans les pays du Nord, ouvriers, contremaîtres et employés là où le coût du travail est moindre. La mondialisation s’est donc faite sur le dos des anciennes classes moyennes, sans qu’on le leur dise ! Ces catégories sociales sont éjectées du marché du travail et éloignées des poumons économiques. Cependant, cette« France périphérique » représente quand même 60 % de la population. (…) Ce phénomène présent en France, en Europe et aux États-Unis a des répercussions politiques : les scores du FN se gonflent à mesure que la classe moyenne décroît car il est aujourd’hui le parti de ces « superflus invisibles » déclassés de l’ancienne classe moyenne. (…) Face à eux, et sans eux, dans les quinze plus grandes aires urbaines, le système marche parfaitement. Le marché de l’emploi y est désormais polarisé. Dans les grandes métropoles il faut d’une part beaucoup de cadres, de travailleurs très qualifiés, et de l’autre des immigrés pour les emplois subalternes dans le BTP, la restauration ou le ménage. Ainsi les immigrés permettent-ils à la nouvelle bourgeoisie de maintenir son niveau de vie en ayant une nounou et des restaurants pas trop chers. (…) Il n’y a aucun complot mais le fait, logique, que la classe supérieure soutient un système dont elle bénéficie – c’est ça, la « main invisible du marché» ! Et aujourd’hui, elle a un nom plus sympathique : la « société ouverte ». Mais je ne pense pas qu’aux bobos. Globalement, on trouve dans les métropoles tous ceux qui profitent de la mondialisation, qu’ils votent Mélenchon ou Juppé ! D’ailleurs, la gauche votera Juppé. C’est pour cela que je ne parle ni de gauche, ni de droite, ni d’élites, mais de « la France d’en haut », de tous ceux qui bénéficient peu ou prou du système et y sont intégrés, ainsi que des gens aux statuts protégés : les cadres de la fonction publique ou les retraités aisés. Tout ce monde fait un bloc d’environ 30 ou 35 %, qui vit là où la richesse se crée. Et c’est la raison pour laquelle le système tient si bien. (…) La France périphérique connaît une phase de sédentarisation. Aujourd’hui, la majorité des Français vivent dans le département où ils sont nés, dans les territoires de la France périphérique il s’agit de plus de 60 % de la population. C’est pourquoi quand une usine ferme – comme Alstom à Belfort –, une espèce de rage désespérée s’empare des habitants. Les gens deviennent dingues parce qu’ils savent que pour eux « il n’y a pas d’alternative » ! Le discours libéral répond : « Il n’y a qu’à bouger ! » Mais pour aller où ? Vous allez vendre votre baraque et déménager à Paris ou à Bordeaux quand vous êtes licencié par ArcelorMittal ou par les abattoirs Gad ? Avec quel argent ? Des logiques foncières, sociales, culturelles et économiques se superposent pour rendre cette mobilité quasi impossible. Et on le voit : autrefois, les vieux restaient ou revenaient au village pour leur retraite. Aujourd’hui, la pyramide des âges de la France périphérique se normalise. Jeunes, actifs, retraités, tous sont logés à la même enseigne. La mobilité pour tous est un mythe. Les jeunes qui bougent, vont dans les métropoles et à l’étranger sont en majorité issus des couches supérieures. Pour les autres ce sera la sédentarisation. Autrefois, les emplois publics permettaient de maintenir un semblant d’équilibre économique et proposaient quelques débouchés aux populations. Seulement, en plus de la mondialisation et donc de la désindustrialisation, ces territoires ont subi la retraite de l’État. (…) Aujourd’hui, ce parc privé « social de fait » s’est gentrifié et accueille des catégories supérieures. Quant au parc social, il est devenu la piste d’atterrissage des flux migratoires. Si l’on regarde la carte de l’immigration, la dynamique principale se situe dans le Grand Ouest, et ce n’est pas dans les villages que les immigrés s’installent, mais dans les quartiers de logements sociaux de Rennes, de Brest ou de Nantes. (…) In fine, il y a aussi un rejet du multiculturalisme. Les gens n’ont pas envie d’aller vivre dans les derniers territoires des grandes villes ouverts aux catégories populaires : les banlieues et les quartiers à logements sociaux qui accueillent et concentrent les flux migratoires. (…) En  réalité,  [mixité  sociale » et « mixité  ethnique »] vont  rarement  ensemble.  En  région   parisienne,  on  peut  avoir  un  peu  de  mixité  sociale   sans mixité ethnique. La famille maghrébine en phase  d’ascension sociale achète un pavillon à proximité des  cités.  Par  ailleurs,  les  logiques  séparatistes  se  poursuivent  et  aujourd’hui  les  ouvriers,  les  cadres  de  la   fonction  publique  et  les  membres  de  la  petite  bourgeoisie  maghrébine  en  ascension  sociale  évitent  les   quartiers où se concentre l’immigration africaine.  Ça me fait penser à la phrase de Valls sur l’apartheid.  Il  devait  penser  à  Évry,  où  le  quartier  des  Pyramides   s’est  complètement  ethnicisé  :  là  où  vivaient  hier  des   Blancs et des Maghrébins, ne restent plus aujourd’hui  que des gens issus de l’immigration subsaharienne. En  réalité, tout le monde – le petit Blanc, le bobo comme  le Maghrébin en phase d’ascension sociale – souhaite  éviter  le  collège  pourri  du  coin  et  contourne  la  carte   scolaire. On est tous pareils, seul le discours change…  (…) À  catégories  égales,  la  mobilité  sociale  est  plus  forte   dans les grandes métropoles. C’est normal : c’est là que  se  concentrent  les  emplois.  Contrairement  aux  zones   rurales, où l’accès au marché de l’emploi et à l’enseignement  supérieur  est  difficile,  les  aires  métropolitaines   offrent   des   opportunités   y   compris   aux   catégories    modestes. Or ces catégories, compte tenu de la recomposition  démographique,  sont  aujourd’hui  issues  de   l’immigration. Cela explique l’intégration économique  et  sociale  d’une  partie  de  cette  population.  Évidemment,  l’ascension  sociale  reste  minoritaire  mais  c’est   une constante des milieux populaires depuis toujours :  quand on naît  « en bas » , on meurt  « en bas » .  (…) les   classes   populaires   immigrées   bénéficient    simplement  d’un  atout  :  celui  de  vivre   «  là  où  ça  se   passe  » .  Il  ne  s’agit  pas  d’un  privilège  résultant  d’une   politique  volontariste.  Tout  ça  s’est  fait  lentement.  Il   y  a  des  logiques  démographiques,  foncières  et  économiques.  Il  faut  avoir  à  l’esprit  que  la  France  périphérique  n’est  pas  100  %  blanche,  elle  comporte  aussi  des   immigrés, et puis il y a également les DOM-TOM, territoires ultrapériphériques !    (..) Notre  erreur  est  d’avoir  pensé  qu’on  pouvait  appliquer   le   modèle   mondialisé   économique   sans   obtenir   ses    effets  sociétaux,  c’est-à-dire  le  multiculturalisme  et  une   forme  de  communautarisme.  La  prétention  française,   c’était  de  dire  :   «  Nous,  gros  malins  de  Français,  allons   faire  la  mondialisation  républicaine  !  »   Il  faut  constater  que  nous  sommes  devenus  une  société  américaine   comme les autres. La laïcité et l’assimilation sont mortes  de  facto.  Il  suffit  d’écouter  les  élèves  d’un  collège  pour   s’en convaincre : ils parlent de Noirs, de Blancs, d’Arabes.  La société multiculturelle mondialisée génère partout les  mêmes tensions et paranoïas identitaires, nous sommes  banalement dans ce schéma en France. Dans ce contexte,  la question du rapport entre minorité et majorité est en  permanence  posée,  quelle  que  soit  l’origine.  Quand  ils   deviennent  minoritaires,  les  Maghrébins  eux-mêmes   quittent les cités qui concentrent l’immigration subsaharienne. Sauf que comme en France il n’y a officiellement  ni religion ni race, on ne peut pas en parler… Ceux qui  osent le faire, comme Michèle Tribalat, le paient cher.  (…)  La  création  de  zones  piétonnières  fait  augmenter les prix du foncier. Et les aménagements écolos des  villes correspondent, de fait, à des embourgeoisements.  Tous  ces  dispositifs  amènent  un  renchérissement  du   foncier  et  davantage  de  gentrification.  Pour  baisser   les prix ? Il faut moins de standing. Or la pression est  forte  :  à  Paris,  plus  de  40  %  de  la  population  active   est composée de cadres. C’est énorme ! Même le XX e arrondissement est devenu une commune bourgeoise.  Et  puis  l’embourgeoisement  est  un  rouleau  compresseur.  On  avait  pensé  que  certaines  zones  resteraient   populaires,  comme  la  Seine-et-Marne,  mais  ce  n’est   pas le cas. Ce système reproduit le modèle du marché  mondialisé,  c’est-à-dire  qu’il  se  sépare  des  gens  dont   on n’a pas besoin pour faire tourner l’économie.  (…) La  politique  municipale  de  Bordeaux  est  la  même   que  celle  de  Lyon  ou  de  Paris.  Il  y  a  une  logique  qui   est celle de la bourgeoisie mondialisée, qu’elle soit de  droite ou de gauche. Elle est libérale-libertaire, tantôt  plus libertaire (gauche), tantôt plus libérale (droite)…  (…) L’un des codes fondamentaux de la nouvelle bourgeoisie  est  l’ouverture.  Si  on  lâche  ce  principe,  on  est   presque  en  phase  de  déclassement.  Le  vote  populiste,   c’est  celui  des  gens  qui  ne  sont  plus  dans  le  système,   les  « ratés » , et personne, dans le milieu bobo, n’a envie  d’avoir  l’image  d’un  loser.  Le  discours  d’ouverture  de   la supériorité morale du bourgeois est presque un signe  extérieur  de  richesse.  C’est  un  attribut  d’intégration.   Aux yeux de la classe dominante, un homme tolérant est  quelqu’un qui a fondamentalement compris le monde. (…) Mais plus personne ne l’écoute ! Quand on regarde catégorie après catégorie, c’est un processus de désaffiliation  qui  s’enchaîne  et  se  reproduit,  incluant  notamment  le   divorce des banlieues avec la gauche. Le magistère de la  France d’en haut est terminé ! Électoralement, on le voit  déjà avec la montée de l’abstention et du vote FN. Le FN  existe  uniquement  parce  qu’il  est  capable  de  capter  ce   qui  vient  d’en  bas,  pas  parce  qu’il  influence  le  bas.  Ce   sont les gens qui influencent le discours du FN, et pas le  contraire ! Ce n’est pas le discours du FN qui imprègne  l’atmosphère  !  Le  Pen  père  n’était  pas  ouvriériste,  ce   sont les ouvriers qui sont allés vers lui. Le FN s’est mis  à parler du rural parce qu’il a observé des cartes électorales…  les  campagnes  sont  un  désert  politique  rempli   de Français dans l’attente d’une nouvelle offre. Bref, ce  système ne peut pas perdurer. (…) Si l’on regarde le dernier sondage Ipsos réalisé  dans  22  pays,  on  y  découvre  que  seulement  11  %  des   Français (dont beaucoup d’immigrés !) considèrent que  l’immigration est positive pour le pays. C’est marrant,  les  journalistes  sont  90  %  à  penser  le  contraire.  En   vérité, il n’y a plus de débat sur l’immigration : tout le  monde est d’accord sauf des gens qui nous mentent… (…)  Les   ministres   et   gouvernements    successifs  sont  pris  dans  la  même   contradiction  :  ils  ont  choisi  un   modèle économique qui crée de la  richesse,  mais  qui  n’est  pas  socialement   durable,   qui   ne   fait   pas    société.  Ils  n’ont  de  fait  aucune   solution,   si   ce   n’est   de   gérer   le   court terme en faisant de la redistribution.  La  dernière  idée  dans   ce  sens  est  le  revenu  universel,  ce   qui  fait  penser  qu’on  a  définitivement  renoncé  à  tout  espoir  d’un   développement  économique  de  la   France périphérique. Christophe Guilluy
Experts et commentateurs se sont, dans leur grande majorité, mis le doigt dans l’œil parce qu’ils pensent à l’intérieur du système. À Paris comme à Washington, on reste persuadé qu’un «outsider» n’a aucune chance face aux appareils des partis, des lobbies et des machines électorales. Que ce soit dans notre monarchie républicaine ou dans leur hiérarchie de Grands Électeurs, si l’on n’est pas un familier du sérail, on n’existe pas. Tout le dédain et la condescendance envers Trump, qui n’était jusqu’ici connu que par ses gratte-ciel et son émission de téléréalité, pouvaient donc s’afficher envers cette grosse brute qui ne sait pas rester à sa place. On connaît la suite. (…) Trump est l’un des premiers à avoir compris et utilisé la désintermédiation. Ce n’est pas vraiment l’ubérisation de la politique, mais ça y ressemble quelque peu. Quand je l’ai interrogé sur le mouvement qu’il suscitait dans la population américaine, il m’a répondu: Twitter, Facebook et Instagram. Avec ses 15 millions d’abonnés, il dispose d’une force de frappe avec laquelle il dialogue sans aucun intermédiaire. Il y a trente ans, il écrivait qu’aucun politique ne pouvait se passer d’un quotidien comme le New York Times. Aujourd’hui, il affirme que les réseaux sociaux sont beaucoup plus efficaces – et beaucoup moins onéreux – que la possession de ce journal. (…) Là-bas comme ici, l’avenir n’est plus ce qu’il était, la classe moyenne se désosse, la précarité est toujours prégnante, les attentats terroristes ne sont plus, depuis un certain 11 septembre, des images lointaines vues sur petit ou grand écran. (…) Et la fureur s’explique par le décalage entre la ritournelle de «Nous sommes la plus grande puissance et le plus beau pays du monde» et le «Je n’arrive pas à finir le mois et payer les études de mes enfants et l’assurance médicale de mes parents». Sans parler de l’écart toujours plus abyssal entre riches et modestes. (…) Il existe, depuis quelques années, un étonnant rapprochement entre les problématiques européennes et américaines. Qui aurait pu penser, dans ce pays d’accueil traditionnel, que l’immigration provoquerait une telle hostilité chez certains, qui peut permettre à Trump de percer dans les sondages en proclamant sa volonté de construire un grand mur? Il y a certes des points communs avec Marine Le Pen, y compris dans la nécessité de relocaliser, de rebâtir des frontières et de proclamer la grandeur de son pays. Mais évidemment, Trump a d’autres moyens que la présidente du Front National… De plus, répétons-le, c’est d’abord un pragmatique et un négociateur. Je ne crois pas que ce soit les qualités les plus apparentes de Marine Le Pen… (…) Son programme économique le situe beaucoup plus à gauche que les caciques Républicains et les néo-conservateurs proches d’Hillary Clinton qui le haïssent, parce que lui croit, dans certains domaines, à l’intervention de l’État et aux limites nécessaires du laisser-faire, laisser-aller. (…) Il ne ménage personne et peut aller beaucoup plus loin que Marine Le Pen, tout simplement parce qu’il n’a jamais eu à régler le problème du père fondateur et encore moins à porter le fardeau d’une étiquette tout de même controversée. Sa marque à lui, ce n’est pas la politique, mais le bâtiment et la réussite. Ça change pas mal de choses. (…) il trouve insupportable que des villes comme Paris et Bruxelles, qu’il adore et a visitées maintes fois, deviennent des camps retranchés où l’on n’est même pas capable de répliquer à un massacre comme celui du Bataclan. On peut être vent debout contre le port d’arme, mais, dit-il, s’il y avait eu des vigiles armés boulevard Voltaire, il n’y aurait pas eu autant de victimes. Pour lui, un pays qui ne sait pas se défendre est un pays en danger de mort. (…) Il s’entendra assez bien avec Poutine pour le partage des zones d’influence, et même pour une collaboration active contre Daesh et autres menaces, mais, comme il le répète sur tous les tons, l’Amérique de Trump ne défendra que les pays qui paieront pour leur protection. Ça fait un peu Al Capone, mais ça a le mérite de la clarté. Si l’Europe n’a pas les moyens de protéger son identité, son mode de vie, ses valeurs et sa culture, alors, personne ne le fera à sa place. En résumé, pour Trump, la politique est une chose trop grave pour la laisser aux politiciens professionnels, et la liberté un état trop fragile pour la confier aux pacifistes de tout poil. André Bercoff
La grande difficulté, avec Donald Trump, c’est qu’on est à la fois face à une caricature et face à un phénomène bien plus complexe. Une caricature d’abord, car tout chez lui, semble magnifié. L’appétit de pouvoir, l’ego, la grossièreté des manières, les obsessions, les tweets épidermiques, l’étalage voyant de son succès sur toutes les tours qu’il a construites et qui portent son nom. Donald Trump joue en réalité à merveille de son côté caricatural, il simplifie les choses, provoque, indigne, et cela marche parce que notre monde du 21e siècle se gargarise de ces simplifications outrancières, à l’heure de l’information immédiate et fragmentée. La machine médiatique est comme un ventre qui a toujours besoin de nouveaux scandales et Donald, le commercial, le sait mieux que personne, parce qu’il a créé et animé une émission de téléréalité pendant des années. Il sait que la politique américaine actuelle est un grand cirque, où celui qui crie le plus fort a souvent raison parce que c’est lui qui «fait le buzz». En même temps, ne voir que la caricature qu’il projette serait rater le phénomène Trump et l’histoire stupéfiante de son succès électoral. Derrière l’image télévisuelle simplificatrice, se cache un homme intelligent, rusé et avisé, qui a géré un empire de milliards de dollars et employé des dizaines de milliers de personnes. Ce n’est pas rien! Selon plusieurs proches du milliardaire que j’ai interrogés, Trump réfléchit de plus à une candidature présidentielle depuis des années, et il a su capter, au-delà de l’air du temps, la colère profonde qui traversait l’Amérique, puis l’exprimer et la chevaucher. Grâce à ses instincts politiques exceptionnels, il a vu ce que personne d’autre – à part peut-être le démocrate Bernie Sanders – n’avait su voir: le gigantesque ras le bol d’un pays en quête de protection contre les effets déstabilisants de la globalisation, de l’immigration massive et du terrorisme islamique; sa peur du déclin aussi. En ce sens, Donald Trump s’est dressé contre le modèle dominant plébiscité par les élites et a changé la nature du débat de la présidentielle. Il a remis à l’ordre du jour l’idée de protection du pays, en prétendant au rôle de shérif aux larges épaules face aux dangers d’un monde instable et dangereux. Cela révèle au minimum une personnalité sacrément indépendante, un côté indomptable qui explique sans doute l’admiration de ses partisans…Ils ont l’impression que cet homme explosif ne se laissera impressionner par rien ni personne. Beaucoup des gens qui le connaissent affirment d’ailleurs que Donald Trump a plusieurs visages: le personnage public, flashy, égotiste, excessif, qui ne veut jamais avouer ses faiblesses parce qu’il doit «vendre» sa marchandise, perpétuer le mythe, et un personnage privé plus nuancé, plus modéré et plus pragmatique, qui sait écouter les autres et ne choisit pas toujours l’option la plus extrême…Toute la difficulté et tout le mystère, pour l’observateur est de s’y retrouver entre ces différents Trump. C’est loin d’être facile, surtout dans le contexte de quasi hystérie qui règne dans l’élite médiatique et politique américaine, tout entière liguée contre lui. Il est parfois très difficile de discerner ce qui relève de l’analyse pertinente ou de la posture de combat anti-Trump. (…) à de rares exceptions près, les commentateurs n’ont pas vu venir le phénomène Trump, parce qu’il était «en dehors des clous», impensable selon leurs propres «grilles de lecture». Trop scandaleux et trop extrême, pensaient-ils. Il a fait exploser tant de codes en attaquant ses adversaires au dessous de la ceinture et s’emparant de sujets largement tabous, qu’ils ont cru que «le grossier personnage» ne durerait pas! Ils se sont dit que quelqu’un qui se contredisait autant ou disait autant de contre vérités, finirait par en subir les conséquences. Bref, ils ont vu en lui soit un clown soit un fasciste – sans réaliser que toutes les inexactitudes ou dérapages de Trump lui seraient pardonnés comme autant de péchés véniels, parce qu’il ose dire haut et fort ce que son électorat considère comme une vérité fondamentale: à savoir que l’Amérique doit faire respecter ses frontières parce qu’un pays sans frontières n’est plus un pays. Plus profondément, je pense que les élites des deux côtes ont raté le phénomène Trump (et le phénomène Sanders), parce qu’elles sont de plus en plus coupées du peuple et de ses préoccupations, qu’elles vivent entre elles, se cooptent entre elles, s’enrichissent entre elles, et défendent une version «du progrès» très post-moderne, détachée des préoccupations de nombreux Américains. Soyons clairs, si Trump est à bien des égards exaspérant et inquiétant, il y a néanmoins quelque chose de pourri et d’endogame dans le royaume de Washington. Le peuple se sent hors jeu. (…) Ce statut de milliardaire du peuple est crédible parce qu’il ne s’est jamais senti membre de l’élite bien née, dont il aime se moquer en la taxant «d’élite du sperme chanceux». Cette dernière ne l’a d’ailleurs jamais vraiment accepté, lui le parvenu de Queens, venu de la banlieue, qui aime tout ce qui brille. Il ne faut pas oublier en revanche que Donald a grandi sur les chantiers de construction, où il accompagnait son père déjà tout petit, ce qui l’a mis au contact des classes populaires. Il parle exactement comme eux! Quand je me promenais à travers l’Amérique à la rencontre de ses électeurs, c’est toujours ce dont ils s’étonnaient. Ils disaient: «Donald parle comme nous, pense comme nous, est comme nous». Le fait qu’il soit riche, n’est pas un obstacle parce qu’on est en Amérique, pas en France. Les Américains aiment la richesse et le succès. (…) L’un des atouts de Trump, pour ses partisans, c’est qu’il est politiquement incorrect dans un pays qui l’est devenu à l’excès. Sur l’islam radical (qu’Obama ne voulait même pas nommer comme une menace!), sur les maux de l’immigration illégale et maints autres sujets. Ses fans se disent notamment exaspérés par le tour pris par certains débats, comme celui sur les toilettes «neutres» que l’administration actuelle veut établir au nom du droit des «personnes au genre fluide» à «ne pas être offensés». Ils apprécient que Donald veuille rétablir l’expression de Joyeux Noël, de plus en plus bannie au profit de l’expression Joyeuses fêtes, au motif qu’il ne faut pas risquer de blesser certaines minorités religieuses non chrétiennes…Ils se demandent pourquoi les salles de classe des universités, lieu où la liberté d’expression est supposée sacro-sainte, sont désormais surveillées par une «police de la pensée» étudiante orwellienne, prête à demander des comptes aux professeurs chaque fois qu’un élève s’estime «offensé» dans son identité…Les fans de Trump sont exaspérés d’avoir vu le nom du club de football américain «Red Skins» soudainement banni du vocabulaire de plusieurs journaux, dont le Washington Post, (et remplacé par le mot R…avec trois points de suspension), au motif que certaines tribus indiennes jugeaient l’appellation raciste et insultante. (Le débat, qui avait mobilisé le Congrès, et l’administration Obama, a finalement été enterré après de longs mois, quand une enquête a révélé que l’écrasante majorité des tribus indiennes aimait finalement ce nom…). Dans ce contexte, Trump a été jugé«rafraîchissant» par ses soutiens, presque libérateur. (…) Pour moi, le phénomène Trump est la rencontre d’un homme hors normes et d’un mouvement de rébellion populaire profond, qui dépasse de loin sa propre personne. C’est une lame de fond, anti globalisation et anti immigration illégale, qui traverse en réalité tout l’Occident. Trump surfe sur la même vague que les politiques britanniques qui ont soutenu le Brexit, ou que Marine Le Pen en France. La différence, c’est que Trump est une version américaine du phénomène, avec tout ce que cela implique de pragmatisme et d’attachement au capitalisme. (…) Trump n’est pas un idéologue. Il a longtemps été démocrate avant d’être républicain et il transgresse les frontières politiques classiques des partis. Favorable à une forme de protectionnisme et une remise en cause des accords de commerce qui sont défavorables à son pays, il est à gauche sur les questions de libre échange, mais aussi sur la protection sociale des plus pauvres, qu’il veut renforcer, et sur les questions de société, sur lesquelles il affiche une vision libérale de New Yorkais, certainement pas un credo conservateur clair. De ce point de vue là, il est post reaganien. Mais Donald Trump est clairement à droite sur la question de l’immigration illégale et des frontières, et celle des impôts. Au fond, c’est à la fois un marchand et un nationaliste, qui se voit comme un pragmatique, dont le but sera de faire «des bons deals» pour son pays. Il n’est pas là pour changer le monde, contrairement à Obama. Ce qu’il veut, c’est remettre l’Amérique au premier plan, la protéger. Son instinct de politique étrangère est clairement du côté des réalistes et des prudents, car Trump juge que les Etats-Unis se sont laissé entrainer dans des aventures qui les ont affaiblis et n’ont pas réglé les crises. Il ne veut plus d’une Amérique jouant les gendarmes du monde. Mais vu sa tendance aux volte face et vu ce qu’il dit sur le rôle que devrait jouer l’Amérique pour venir à bout de la menace de l’islam radical, comme elle l’a fait avec le nazisme et le communisme, Donald Trump pourrait fort bien changer d’avis, et revenir à un credo plus interventionniste avec le temps. Ses instincts sont au repli, mais il reste largement imprévisible. (…) De nombreuses questions se posent sur son caractère, ses foucades, son narcissisme et sa capacité à se contrôler, si importante chez le président de la première puissance du monde! Je ne suis pas pour autant convaincue par l’image de «Hitler», fasciste et raciste, qui lui a été accolée par la presse américaine. Hitler avait écrit Mein Kamp. Donald Trump, lui, a écrit «L ‘art du deal» et avait envisagé juste après la publication de ce premier livre, de se présenter à la présidence en prenant sur son ticket la vedette de télévision afro-américaine démocrate Oprah Winfrey, un élément qui ne colle pas avec l’image d’un raciste anti femmes! Ses enfants et nombre de ses collaborateurs affirment qu’il ne discrimine pas les gens en fonction de leur sexe ou de la couleur de leur peau, mais en fonction de leurs mérites, et que c’est pour cette même raison qu’il est capable de s’en prendre aux représentants du sexe faible ou des minorités avec une grande brutalité verbale, ne voyant pas la nécessité de prendre des gants. Les questions les plus lourdes concernant Trump, sont selon moi plutôt liées à la manière dont il réagirait, s’il ne parvenait pas à tenir ses promesses, une fois à la Maison-Blanche. Tout président américain est confronté à la complexité de l’exercice du pouvoir dans un système démocratique extrêmement contraignant. Cet homme d’affaires habitué à diriger un empire immobilier pyramidal, dont il est le seul maître à bord, tenterait-il de contourner le système pour arriver à ses fins et prouver au peuple qu’il est bien le meilleur, en agissant dans une zone grise, avec l’aide des personnages sulfureux qui l’ont accompagné dans ses affaires? Et comment se comporterait-il avec ses adversaires politiques ou les représentants de la presse, vu la brutalité et l’acharnement dont il fait preuve envers ceux qui se mettent sur sa route? Hériterait-on d’un Berlusconi ou d’un Nixon puissance 1000? Autre interrogation, vu la fascination qu’exerce sur lui le régime autoritaire de Vladimir Poutine: serait-il prêt à sacrifier le droit international et l’indépendance de certains alliés européens, pour trouver un accord avec le patron du Kremlin sur les sujets lui tenant à cœur, notamment en Syrie? Bref, pourrait-il accepter une forme de Yalta bis, et remettre en cause le rôle de l’Amérique dans la défense de l’ordre libéral et démocratique de l’Occident et du monde depuis 1945? Autant de questions cruciales auxquelles Donald Trump a pour l’instant répondu avec plus de désinvolture que de clarté. Laure Mandeville
Après les référendums de 2005 (France et Pays-Bas) et le Brexit (2016), voici une nouvelle surprise avec l’élection de Donald Trump par une franche majorité d’Américains. À chaque fois, le suffrage universel a eu raison des médias, des sondeurs et de leurs commanditaires. On peut au moins se réjouir de cette vitalité démocratique. (…) C’est en partie en raison du libre-échange et du primat de la finance que les électeurs américains ont voté pour Donald Trump : il a su capter leur colère sourde, tout comme d’ailleurs le candidat démocrate Bernie Sanders, rival malheureux d’Hillary Clinton.  L’autre motif qui a conduit à la victoire de Trump et à l’élimination de Sanders tient à l’exaspération d’une majorité de citoyens face aux tromperies de l’utopie « multiculturaliste » et de la société « ouverte ». À preuve le vote de l’Iowa en faveur de Donald Trump : dans cet État plutôt prospère, avec un faible taux de chômage, c’est évidemment l’enjeu multiculturaliste qui a fait basculer les électeurs. En effet, l’élection en 2008 d’un président noir (pas un Afro-Américain mais un métis, fils d’une blanche du Kansas et d’un Kényan) n’a pas empêché le retour à de nouvelles formes de ségrégation raciale. C’est ainsi que la candidate démocrate Hillary Clinton a tenté de jouer la carte « racialiste » en cajolant les électeurs afro-américains et latinos. Mais sans doute s’est-elle trompée dans son évaluation du vote latino : beaucoup d’Étasuniens latino-américains aspirent à leur intégration dans la classe moyenne et ne se sentent guère solidaires des Afro-Américains. Le même phénomène s’observe en Europe de l’Ouest, sous l’effet d’un emballement migratoire sans précédent dans l’Histoire. Les nouveaux arrivants font bloc avec leur « communauté » dans les quartiers et les écoles : Africains de la zone équatoriale, Sahéliens, Maghrébins, Turcs, Orientaux, Chinois etc. Il compromettent ce faisant l’intégration des immigrants plus anciennement installés. À quoi les classes dirigeantes répondent par des propos hors-contexte sur le « vivre-ensemble » et l’occultation de la mémoire. La chancelière Angela Merkel et même le pape François ont perçu les dangers de cette politique dans leurs dernières déclarations, en novembre 2016. Quant aux élus français, qui ont abandonné leur souveraineté à Bruxelles et Berlin et se tiennent désormais à la remorque des puissants, ils feraient bien de prendre à leur tour la mesure de l’exaspération populaire face au néolibéralisme financier, au multiculturalisme et à l’emballement migratoire. Ils se doivent de nommer et analyser ces phénomènes sans faux-semblants, et de préconiser des solutions respectueuses de la démocratie. Hérodote
Make no mistake about it: this election is Barack Obama’s legacy. He pushed hard for Hillary Clinton in the end because he understood that as such. And it was all for naught. No celebrity, no sports star, and no current president with a strong approval rating was enough to drag Hillary Clinton over the finish line. (…) Last night Jamelle Bouie and Van Jones voiced something I expect we will hear from many of Obama’s firmest supporters in the coming weeks – the idea that Trump represents a “whitelash” against eight years of Obama. But this dramatically oversimplifies the case, particularly if as it seems at the moment Trump won more minority votes than Mitt Romney in 2012. In fact, as Nate Cohn notes, Clinton failed in areas of the country where Obama’s support had been strongest among white Americans.   She failed to keep pace with Obama in the Rust Belt states that he won repeatedly. Her vaunted GOTV machine failed to attract the votes of young people, of union members, and of minorities to the degree necessary to win. And meanwhile, Trump’s utter lack of a campaign was more than made up for by the emotional dedication of his supporters. This was about more than just race – it was a sustained rejection of the country’s ruling class. But expect the media to try to make it about two things: race, and about Hillary Clinton’s lousy campaign. (…) The majority of political reporters never seemed to get outside their bubble. They spoke to anti-Trump conservatives, and printed anti-Trump views from conservatives, but rarely would even publish the sorts of views I and others have been sounding for months about the real and rational gripes of Trump voters. Many in the media preferred the caricature to the real thing. If you are a member of the media who does not know anyone who was pro-Trump, who has no Trump voters among your family or friends, realize how thick your bubble is. Change this. Don’t stick to the old sources, who clearly didn’t know what was going on – add new ones, who offer the perspective from the ground. (…) What is clear is this: Donald Trump is the man Americans have chosen as their vehicle for the dramatic change they demand from Washington. They have utterly rejected the change offered in the eight year Barack Obama agenda as wholly insufficient. And they have given Trump the rare gift of a united government in order to make those changes happen. They have tossed aside the assumptions of an elite class of gatekeepers and commentators whose opinions they disrespect and disavow. And they have sent a message to Washington that nothing less than wholesale change will satisfy them, including a change in the fundamental character of the commander in chief. Ben Domenech
Since the 1960s, when America finally became fully accountable for its past, deference toward all groups with any claim to past or present victimization became mandatory. The Great Society and the War on Poverty were some of the first truly deferential policies. Since then deference has become an almost universal marker of simple human decency that asserts one’s innocence of the American past. (…)  Since the ’60s the Democratic Party, and liberalism generally, have thrived on the power of deference. When Hillary Clinton speaks of a “basket of deplorables,“ she follows with a basket of isms and phobias—racism, sexism, homophobia, xenophobia and Islamaphobia. Each ism and phobia is an opportunity for her to show deference toward a victimized group and to cast herself as America’s redeemer. And, by implication, conservatism is bereft of deference. (…) And they have been fairly successful in this so that many conservatives are at least a little embarrassed to “come out” as it were. Conservatism is an insurgent point of view, while liberalism is mainstream. And this is oppressive for conservatives because it puts them in the position of being a bit embarrassed by who they really are and what they really believe. Deference has been codified in American life as political correctness. And political correctness functions like a despotic regime. It is an oppressiveness that spreads its edicts further and further into the crevices of everyday life. We resent it, yet for the most part we at least tolerate its demands. (…) And into all this steps Mr. Trump, a fundamentally limited man but a man with overwhelming charisma, a man impossible to ignore. The moment he entered the presidential contest America’s long simmering culture war rose to full boil. Mr. Trump was a non-deferential candidate. He seemed at odds with every code of decency. He invoked every possible stigma, and screechingly argued against them all. He did much of the dirty work that millions of Americans wanted to do but lacked the platform to do. Thus Mr. Trump’s extraordinary charisma has been far more about what he represents than what he might actually do as the president. He stands to alter the culture of deference itself. After all, the problem with deference is that it is never more than superficial. We are polite. We don’t offend. But we don’t ever transform people either. Out of deference we refuse to ask those we seek to help to be primarily responsible for their own advancement. Yet only this level of responsibility transforms people, no matter past or even present injustice. Some 3,000 shootings in Chicago this year alone is the result of deference camouflaging a lapse of personal responsibility with empty claims of systemic racism. As a society we are so captive to our historical shame that we thoughtlessly rush to deference simply to relieve the pressure. And yet every deferential gesture—the war on poverty, affirmative action, ObamaCare, every kind of “diversity” scheme—only weakens those who still suffer the legacy of our shameful history. Deference is now the great enemy of those toward whom it gushes compassion. Societies, like individuals, have intuitions. Donald Trump is an intuition. At least on the level of symbol, maybe he would push back against the hegemony of deference—if not as a liberator then possibly as a reformer. Possibly he could lift the word responsibility out of its somnambulant stigmatization as a judgmental and bigoted request to make of people. This, added to a fundamental respect for the capacity of people to lift themselves up, could go a long way toward a fairer and better America. Shelby Steele
For the past six months, one big question has loomed over the 2016 election: Is the candidacy of Donald J. Trump an amusing bit of reality TV or a terrifying and dangerous challenge to the country’s political system? At first, Trump’s popularity was easy to dismiss. It was nothing more than a phase, the result of Trump’s celebrity status and his talent for provocation. His antics made it hard to look away, but it was easy to convince yourself that Trump mania would never lead to anything serious, like the Republican nomination. It was especially easy to come to that conclusion if you were reading FiveThirtyEight, the statistics-driven news website founded by Nate Silver. Since the beginning of Trump’s campaign last June, the election guru and his colleagues have been consistently bearish on Trump’s chances. Silver, who made his name by using cold hard math to call 49 out of 50 states in the 2008 general election and all 50 in 2012, has served as a reassuring voice in the midst of Trump’s shocking rise. For those of us who didn’t want to believe we lived in a country where Donald Trump could be president, Silver’s steady, level-headed certainty felt just as soothing as his unwavering confidence in Barack Obama’s triumph over Mitt Romney four years ago. What exactly has Silver been saying? In September, he told CNN’s Anderson Cooper that Trump had a roughly 5-percent chance of beating his GOP rivals. In November, he explained that Trump’s national following was about as negligible as the share of Americans who believe the Apollo moon landing was faked. On Twitter, he compared Trump to the band Nickelback, which he described as being “[d]isliked by most, super popular with a few.” In a post titled “Why Donald Trump Isn’t A Real Candidate, In One Chart,” Silver’s colleague Harry Enten wrote that Trump had a better chance of “playing in the NBA Finals” than winning the Republican nomination. Multiple times over the past six months, Silver has reminded his readers that four years ago, daffy fly-by-nighters like Herman Cain and Michele Bachmann led the GOP field at various points. Trump’s poll numbers, he wrote, would drop just like theirs had. In one August post, “Donald Trump’s Six Stages of Doom,” Silver actually laid out a schedule for the candidate’s inevitable collapse. (…) It’s clear, now, that Silver and his fellow analysts at FiveThirtyEight underestimated Trump. Silver himself recently admitted as much, writing in a blog post published last week that he’d been too skeptical about Trump’s chances.  (…)  Maybe, like many people who have watched Trump’s rise with increasing horror, Silver latched onto a narrative that justified rejecting the Apprentice star’s achievements, identifying them as symptoms of a media bubble rather than a reflection of real popular sentiment. If that’s the case, Silver turns out to have a good bit in common with the pundits that he and his unemotional, numbers-driven worldview were supposed to render obsolete. Faced with uncertainty, Silver chose to go all in on an outcome that felt right, one that meshed with his preexisting beliefs about how the world is supposed to work. (…)Missing the significance of Trumpism is a different kind of failure than, say, calling the 2012 election for Mitt Romney. It also might be a more damning one. Botching your general election forecast by a couple of percentage points suggests a flawed mathematical formula. Actively denying the reality of Trump’s success suggests Silver may never have been capable of explaining the world in a way so many believed he could in 2008 and 2012, when he was telling them how likely it was that Obama would become, and remain, the president. Leon Neyfakh (Jan. 2016)
Mr Silver predicted, with an absurdly precise 71.4% chance, that Mrs Clinton would take 302 electoral votes and beat Mr Trump by 3.6% in the popular vote. He was wildly incorrect. (As of the writing of this article, Mr Trump will win 306 electoral votes but will lose the popular vote by merely 0.2%.) Even worse, Mr Silver got several key states wrong: He predicted that Clinton would win Wisconsin, Michigan, Pennsylvania, North Carolina, and Florida. In reality, Trump swept all of them. Alex Berezow
It was a big polling miss in the worst possible race. On the eve of America’s presidential election, national surveys gave Hillary Clinton a lead of around four percentage points, which betting markets and statistical models translated into a probability of victory ranging from 70% to 99%. That wound up misfiring modestly: according to the forecast from New York Times’s Upshot, Mrs Clinton is still likely to win the popular vote, by more than a full percentage point. But at the state level, the errors were extreme. The polling average in Wisconsin gave her a lead of more than five points; she is expected to lose it by two and a half. It gave Mr Trump a relatively narrow two-point edge in Ohio; he ran away with the state by more than eight. He trailed in Michigan and Pennsylvania by four, and looks likely to take both by about a point. How did it all go wrong? Every survey result is made up of a combination of two variables: the demographic composition of the electorate, and how each group is expected to vote. Because some groups—say, young Hispanic men—are far less likely to respond than others (old white women, for example), pollsters typically weight the answers they receive to match their projections of what the electorate will look like. Polling errors can stem either from getting an unrepresentative sample of respondents within each group, or from incorrectly predicting how many of each type of voter will show up. The electoral map leaves no doubt as to how Mr Trump won. In states where white voters tend to be well-educated, such as Colorado and Virginia, the polls pegged the final results perfectly. Conversely, in northern states that have lots of whites without a college degree, Mr Trump blew his polls away—including ones he is still expected to lose, but by a far smaller margin than expected, such as Minnesota. The simplest explanation for this would be that these voters preferred him by an even larger margin than pollsters foresaw—the so-called “shy Trump” phenomenon, in which people might be wary of admitting they supported him. Pre-election polls gave little evidence for this phenomenon: they showed him with a massive 30-point lead among this group. But remarkably, even that figure wound up understating Mr Trump’s appeal to them: the national exit poll put him 39 points ahead. Given that such voters make up 58% of the eligible population in Wisconsin, Michigan, Ohio and Pennsylvania—though a smaller share of those who actually turn out—this nine-point miss among them accounts for a large chunk of the overall error. It is also likely that less-educated whites, who historically have had a low propensity to vote, turned out in greater numbers than pollsters predicted. The Economist
Election polling is harder than other forms of survey research, because you must assess two things at once. Not only do you have to find out who people say they will support, you also have to estimate their likelihood of actually turning up to vote. So Trump may have been right in claiming that he’d created a new movement of people who had previously shunned political engagement. If so, pollsters who relied on prior voting behavior to predict who would turn out this time would have systematically underestimated Trump’s support. Problems with likely voter modeling could also mean that the pollsters overestimated the extent to which the “Obama coalition” of black, Latino, and younger voters would turn out for Clinton.(…) “Shy Trumpers,” who were embarrassed to admit their support for the GOP candidate, quietly delivered their verdict in the polling booths. This theory first emerged in the run-up to the Republican primaries, as pollsters noticed that Trump was doing better in online polls than in those conducted over the phone. The idea was that some of Trump’s supporters were embarrassed to admit their choice to a real person. The idea gained traction when a polling experiment run last December by Morning Consult seemed to confirm that the effect was real. In the match-up against Clinton, however, Trump’s advantage in online polls mostly evaporated. And when Morning Consult ran a poll with Politico in late October to specifically probe for the effect, it seemed to operate only among college-educated voters. “Overall, it didn’t look like it massively shifted the race,” Morning Consult’s Cartwright said. (…) Trump’s anti-establishment supporters believed the polls were rigged, and so they refused to answer the phone or respond to online surveys. For pollsters, this is a much darker possibility. The idea that the polls were rigged became a popular refrain among Trump’s supporters. So maybe these people simply refused to participate in polls, either on the phone or online. If so, all of the pollsters may have been systematically blind to many of the disaffected, mostly white voters who drove Trump to victory, especially in the Rust Belt states of the Midwest. “People who don’t like the government often perceive the polls as being part of the government,” said Johnson of the University of Illinois, who believes this is the most plausible explanation for the pollsters’ miss. BuzzFeed
L’effet Bradley (en anglais Bradley effect) (…) est le nom donné aux États-Unis au décalage souvent observé entre les sondages électoraux et les résultats des élections américaines quand un candidat blanc est opposé à un candidat non blanc (noir, hispanique, latino, asiatique ou océanien). Le nom du phénomène vient de Tom Bradley, un Afro-Américain qui perdit l’élection de 1982 au poste de gouverneur de Californie, à la surprise générale, alors qu’il était largement en tête dans tous les sondages. L’effet Bradley reflète une tendance de la part des votants, noirs aussi bien que blancs, à dire aux sondeurs qu’ils sont indécis ou qu’ils vont probablement voter pour le candidat noir ou issu de la minorité ethnique mais qui, le jour de l’élection, votent pour son opposant blanc. Une des théories pour expliquer l’effet Bradley est que certains électeurs donnent une réponse fausse lors des sondages, de peur qu’en déclarant leur réelle préférence, ils ne prêtent le flanc à la critique d’une motivation raciale de leur vote. Cet effet est similaire à celui d’une personne refusant de discuter de son choix électoral. Si la personne déclare qu’elle est indécise, elle peut ainsi éviter d’être forcée à entrer dans une discussion politique avec une personne partisane. La réticence à donner une réponse exacte s’étend parfois jusqu’aux sondages dits de sortie de bureau de vote. La façon dont les sondeurs conduisent l’interview peut être un déterminant dans la réponse du sondé. Wikipedia
Silicon Valley these days is a very intolerant place for people who do not hold so called ‘socially liberal’ ideas. In Silicon Valley, because of the high prevalence of highly smart people, there is a general stereotype that voting Republican is for dummies. So many people see considering supporting Republican candidates, particularly Donald Trump, anathema to the whole Silicon Valley ethos that values smarts and merit. A couple of friends thought that me supporting Trump made me unworthy of being part of the Silicon Valley tribe and stopped talking to me. At the end of the day, we choose our politics the way we choose our lovers and our friends — not so much out a rational analysis, but based on impressions and our own personal backgrounds. My main reason for supporting Trump is that I basically agree with the notion that unless the trend is stopped, our country is going to hell … The Silicon Valley elite is highly hypocritical on this matter. One of the reasons, I assume, they don’t like Trump is because on this area, as in many others, he is calling a spade a spade. I believe Trump is right in this case. … supporting Trump only offers [an] upside. Electing Hillary Clinton would keep the status quo. If Trump wins, there’s a whole set of new possibilities that would emerge for the nation. Even if it remains socially liberal, it would be good for it if the president were to be a Republican so that the Valley could recover a little bit of its rebel spirit (that was the case during the Bush years for instance). I believe that the increased relevance in national politics of companies like Google (whose Chairman [Eric] Schmidt has been very cozy with the Obama administration) and Apple (at the center of several political disputes) has been bad for the Valley. A Trump presidency would allow the Valley to focus on what it does best: dreaming and building the technology of the future, leaving politics for DC types. Silicon valley software engineer
Many people are saying to maybe their friends while they’re having a sip of Chardonnay in Washington or Boston, ‘Oh, I would never vote for him, he’s so – not politically correct,’ or whatever, but then they’re going to go and vote for him. Because he’s saying things that they would like to say, but they’re not politically courageous enough to say it and I think that’s the real question in this election. Trump is kind of a combination of the gun referendum, because he’s an emotional energy source for people who want to make sure that they’re voicing their concerns about all these issues – immigration, et cetera – but then I think there’s this other piece. They don’t find it to be correct or acceptable to a lot of their friends, but when push comes to shove, they’re going to vote for him. Gregory Payne (Emerson College)
Donald Trump performs consistently better in online polling where a human being is not talking to another human being about what he or she may do in the election. It’s because it’s become socially desirable, if you’re a college educated person in the United States of America, to say that you’re against Donald Trump. Kellyanne Conway (Trump campaign manager)
They’ll go ahead and vote for that candidate in the privacy of a [voting] booth But they won’t admit to voting for that candidate to somebody who’s calling them for a poll. Joe Bafumi (Dartmouth College)
Trump’s advantage in online polls compared with live telephone polling is eight or nine percentage points among likely voters. Kyle A. Dropp
It’s easier to express potentially ‘unacceptable’ responses on a screen than it is to give them to a person. Kathy Frankovic
This may be due to social desirability bias — people are more willing to express support for this privately than when asked by someone else. Douglas Rivers
In a May 2015 report, Pew Research analyzed the differences between results derived from telephone polling and those from online Internet polling. Pew determined that the biggest differences in answers elicited via these two survey modes were on questions in which social desirability bias — that is, “the desire of respondents to avoid embarrassment and project a favorable image to others” — played a role. In a detailed analysis of phone versus online polling in Republican primaries, Kyle A. Dropp, the executive director of polling and data science at Morning Consult, writes: Trump’s advantage in online polls compared with live telephone polling is eight or nine percentage points among likely voters. This difference, Dropp notes, is driven largely by more educated voters — those who would be most concerned with “social desirability.” These findings suggest that Trump will head into the general election with support from voters who are reluctant to admit their preferences to a live person in a phone survey, but who may well be inclined to cast a ballot for Trump on Election Day. The NYT (May 2016)
Les analystes politiques, les sondeurs et les journalistes ont donné à penser que la victoire d’Hillary Clinton était assurée avant l’élection. En cela, c’est une surprise, car la sphère médiatique n’imaginait pas la victoire du candidat républicain. Elle a eu tort. Si elle avait su observer la société américaine et entendre son malaise, elle n’aurait jamais exclu la possibilité d’une élection de Trump. Pour cette raison, ce n’est pas une surprise. (…) Sans doute, ils ont rejeté Donald Trump car ils le trouvaient – et c’est le cas – démagogue, populiste et vulgaire. Je n’ai d’ailleurs jamais vu une élection américaine avec un tel parti pris médiatique. Même le très réputé hebdomadaire britannique « The Economist » a fait un clin d’oeil à Hillary Clinton. Je pense que la stigmatisation sans précédent de Donald Trump par les médias a favorisé chez les électeurs américains la dissimulation de leur intention de vote auprès des instituts de sondage. En clair, un certain nombre de votants n’a pas osé admettre qu’il soutenait le candidat américain. Ce phénomène est classique en politique. Souvenez du 21 avril 2002 et de la qualification surprise de Jean-Marie Le Pen, leader du Front national, au second tour de l’élection présidentielle française. (…) A travers l’élection de Trump, certains Américains ont exprimé leur colère. Une partie de l’Amérique ne trouve pas ses gains dans la globalisation. Cette Amérique-là ne parvient pas à retrouver son niveau de vie d’avant la crise des subprimes, elle a le sentiment d’être abandonnée. Ce sentiment était particulièrement perceptible chez les ouvriers, qui voient l’industrie s’effilocher. Ne se sentant pas assez considérés, ils ont davantage choisi Donald Trump qu’Hillary Clinton. (…) Cette formule [victoire du peuple américain contre l’establishment] est très exagérée. Oui, une partie des électeurs de Donald Trump ont voté contre Washington et ses élites. Oui, certains Américains souffrent d’un mépris de classe, en particulier dans l’Amérique profonde. Mais dire que le peuple s’est tourné vers Trump est inexact. Le candidat républicain et la candidate démocrate sont au coude à coude en termes de suffrages exprimés [à 15 heures, 47,5% pour Trump et 47,6% pour Clinton , NDLR]. Au passage, nous avons affaire à deux candidats richissimes. Si ma mémoire est bonne, Donald Trump, pseudo-candidat du peuple, n’est pas issu de la classe ouvrière… (…) L’arrivée au pouvoir de dirigeants populistes s’explique avant tout par des spécificités locales. Après, il y a des effets communs. De nouvelles puissances émergent. Les gens se sentent décentrés. Il y a une surabondance d’innovations technologiques et scientifiques. Une partie de la société se sent déclassée. L’immigration accélère les mécanismes de recomposition culturelle. Aux Etats-Unis, les Blancs anglo-saxons deviennent minoritaires. Ceci induit une réaction exprimée en votant pour un candidat populiste : Donald Trump. (…) Une chose est certaine : l’élection de Trump, mais aussi le Brexit, vont peser sur le langage et le lexique employés par une partie des prétendants à la présidentielle française. Des acteurs politiques, de droite comme de gauche, seront tentés de durcir leur discours. Mais ce climat chauffé à blanc devrait avant tout profiter à Marine Le Pen, la candidate du Front national. Personne ne fait mieux qu’elle dans ce registre. Dominique Reynié

Attention: un fiasco peut en cacher un autre !

Au lendemain de la victoire aussi reaganesque qu’inattendue du candidat républicain Donald Trump …

Et partant, à une ou deux exceptions près, d’un des plus grands fiascos de l’histoire sondagière

Comment, comme le rappelle le politologue Dominique Reynié, ne pas voir …

Derrière cette revanche des « clingers » et « deplorables » si longtemps méprisés par un establishment prêt pour se maintenir en place à tous les coups tordus  …

Et à l’instar du récent référendum du Brexit outre-manche comme de la qualification surprise du candidat frontiste au deuxième tour en France en 2002 …

La part du fameux effet Bradley

A  savoir la tendance de certains électeurs …

Face à la démonisation généralisée – véritable terrorisme intellectuel – de leurs candidats par les médias et l’opinion en général …

A la dissimulation de leur intention de vote auprès des instituts de sondage ?

Dominique Reynié : «L’élection de Trump n’est pas une surprise»

Kevin Badeau
Les Echos
09/11/2016

LE CERCLE/INTERVIEW – Pour Dominique Reynié, directeur général de la Fondapol, les médias n’ont pas su entendre le malaise de la population américaine.

Donald Trump a été élu Président des Etats-Unis, est-ce vraiment une surprise ?

Les analystes politiques, les sondeurs et les journalistes ont donné à penser que la victoire d’Hillary Clinton était assurée avant l’élection. En cela, c’est une surprise, car la sphère médiatique n’imaginait pas la victoire du candidat républicain. Elle a eu tort. Si elle avait su observer la société américaine et entendre son malaise, elle n’aurait jamais exclu la possibilité d’une élection de Trump. Pour cette raison, ce n’est pas une surprise.

Pourquoi les médias n’ont-ils rien vu venir ?

Sans doute, ils ont rejeté Donald Trump car ils le trouvaient – et c’est le cas – démagogue, populiste et vulgaire. Je n’ai d’ailleurs jamais vu une élection américaine avec un tel parti pris médiatique. Même le très réputé hebdomadaire britannique « The Economist » a fait un clin d’oeil à Hillary Clinton.

Je pense que la stigmatisation sans précédent de Donald Trump par les médias a favorisé chez les électeurs américains la dissimulation de leur intention de vote auprès des instituts de sondage. En clair, un certain nombre de votants n’a pas osé admettre qu’il soutenait le candidat américain. Ce phénomène est classique en politique. Souvenez du 21 avril 2002 et de la qualification surprise de Jean-Marie Le Pen, leader du Front national, au second tour de l’élection présidentielle française.

L’élection de Donald Trump traduit-elle le refus de la mondialisation par les Américains ?

A travers l’élection de Trump, certains Américains ont exprimé leur colère. Une partie de l’Amérique ne trouve pas ses gains dans la globalisation. Cette Amérique-là ne parvient pas à retrouver son niveau de vie d’avant la crise des subprimes, elle a le sentiment d’être abandonnée. Ce sentiment était particulièrement perceptible chez les ouvriers, qui voient l’industrie s’effilocher. Ne se sentant pas assez considérés, ils ont davantage choisi Donald Trump qu’Hillary Clinton.

Est-ce une victoire du peuple américain contre l’establishment, comme on l’entend parfois ?

Cette formule est très exagérée. Oui, une partie des électeurs de Donald Trump ont voté contre Washington et ses élites. Oui, certains Américains souffrent d’un mépris de classe, en particulier dans l’Amérique profonde. Mais dire que le peuple s’est tourné vers Trump est inexact. Le candidat républicain et la candidate démocrate sont au coude à coude en termes de suffrages exprimés [à 15 heures, 47,5% pour Trump et 47,6% pour Clinton , NDLR]. Au passage, nous avons affaire à deux candidats richissimes. Si ma mémoire est bonne, Donald Trump, pseudo-candidat du peuple, n’est pas issu de la classe ouvrière…

Victor Orban en Hongrie, Andrzej Duda en Pologne, Trump aux Etats-Unis, pourquoi une telle vague populiste dans le monde occidental ?

L’arrivée au pouvoir de dirigeants populistes s’explique avant tout par des spécificités locales. Après, il y a des effets communs. De nouvelles puissances émergent. Les gens se sentent décentrés. Il y a une surabondance d’innovations technologiques et scientifiques. Une partie de la société se sent déclassée. L’immigration accélère les mécanismes de recomposition culturelle. Aux Etats-Unis, les Blancs anglo-saxons deviennent minoritaires. Ceci induit une réaction exprimée en votant pour un candidat populiste : Donald Trump.

L’élection de Trump est-elle une excellente nouvelle pour Marine Le Pen ?

Une chose est certaine : l’élection de Trump, mais aussi le Brexit, vont peser sur le langage et le lexique employés par une partie des prétendants à la présidentielle française. Des acteurs politiques, de droite comme de gauche, seront tentés de durcir leur discours. Mais ce climat chauffé à blanc devrait avant tout profiter à Marine Le Pen, la candidate du Front national. Personne ne fait mieux qu’elle dans ce registre.
Propos recueillis par Kévin Badeau

Voir aussi:

Bill Berkovitz

Truthout

03 October 2016 

Just before Election Day in November 1982, according to most polls, Tom Bradley, the first African American mayor of Los Angeles, appeared poised to become governor of California. Despite leading in the polls, Bradley lost the election to Republican George Deukmejian. Instead of becoming the first African American governor of California, Bradley became the namesake of something called The Bradley Effect.

The Bradley Effect — also known as The Wilder Effect — proposed that voters that said they would vote for the African American candidate were either too embarrassed, or ashamed for fear of being labeled racist, to admit to pollsters that they wouldn’t vote for a Black man as Governor.

According to Ballotpedia, “A related concept is social desirability bias, which describes the tendency of individuals to ‘report inaccurately on sensitive topics in order to present themselves in the best possible light.’ According to New York University professor Patrick Egan, ‘Anyone who studies survey research will tell you one of the biggest problems we encounter is this notion of social desirability bias.’ Some researchers and pollsters theorize that a number of white voters may give inaccurate polling responses for fear that, by stating their true preference, they will open themselves to criticism of racial motivation.”

While most of the above appear to apply particularly to elections where African Americans are facing off again white candidates, this year’s presidential election may contain some of those same dynamics. Some pundits are claiming that a Bradley Effect-like situation might be in play with voters who support Donald Trump, but are un-willing to admit it to pollsters.

Ever since the Bradley-Wilson contest, the notion of a Bradley Effect has been raised fairly frequently. In this presidential race, it may be worth posing two countervailing questions: Are independent voters – not the hardcore who support Trump regardless of what he says or does – reluctant to admit they are going to vote for him, yet when they arrive at the polling places they will vote for him?

Or, might it be possible some voters that have declared support for Trump will, in the sanctity of the voting booth, vote for Hillary Clinton, thereby reflecting an inversion of The Bradley Effect?

In late August, Emerson College Professor Gregory Payne told Breitbart News that he sees the same Bradley Effect taking place amongst Trump voters. In 1982, Payne said: “People, when you’d ask them if they were going to vote, oftentimes they would say they were going to vote for Bradley or a Black candidate so they felt socially acceptable. Then when they went behind the curtain, they decided that they didn’t really want to vote for Bradley.”

“I think with Trump, what you have is you have the opposite,” Payne, who wrote speeches for Bradley and also wrote Tom Bradley: The Impossible Dream, said. “Many people are saying to maybe their friends while they’re having a sip of Chardonnay in Washington or Boston, ‘Oh, I would never vote for him, he’s so – not politically correct,’ or whatever, but then they’re going to go and vote for him. Because he’s saying things that they would like to say, but they’re not politically courageous enough to say it and I think that’s the real question in this election.”

“Trump is kind of a combination of the gun referendum, because he’s an emotional energy source for people who want to make sure that they’re voicing their concerns about all these issues – immigration, et cetera – but then I think there’s this other piece. They don’t find it to be correct or acceptable to a lot of their friends, but when push comes to shove, they’re going to vote for him.”

In May, The New York Times’ Thomas B. Edsall interviewed Kyle A. Dropp, the executive director of polling for Morning Consult: “Trump’s advantage in online polls compared with live telephone polling is eight or nine percentage points among likely voters. This difference, Dropp notes, is driven largely by more educated voters — those who would be most concerned with “social desirability.” These findings suggest that Trump will head into the general election with support from voters who are reluctant to admit their preferences to a live person in a phone survey, but who may well be inclined to cast a ballot for Trump on Election Day.”

Some of this might explain why after the first debate, Trump’s online unscientific poll numbers as to who won the debate far outpace his numbers done by accredited polling companies.

Trump campaign manager Kellyanne Conway has called Team Trump’s efforts the « Undercover Trump Voter » project. « Donald Trump performs consistently better in online polling where a human being is not talking to another human being about what he or she may do in the election. It’s because it’s become socially desirable, if you’re a college educated person in the United States of America, to say that you’re against Donald Trump. »

“They’ll go ahead and vote for that candidate in the privacy of a [voting] booth,” says Dartmouth College political science professor Joe Bafumi. “But they won’t admit to voting for that candidate to somebody who’s calling them for a poll.”

 Voir également:

Chris Keall

BNR

November 7, 2016

Is Donald Trump’s support being underestimated by pollsters?

Two factors indicate it’s possible.

1. The Brexit effect
UKIP leader Nigel Farage says lots of people who don’t usually vote will cast a ballot for Mr Trump, mirroring the so-called « Brexit effect » in the UK that caught pollsters off guard.

There’s a possibility this is happening. As I type, just over 40 million early votes have been cast [UPDATE: the final early voting tally was 47 million].

Early votes have been coming in at around 1.5 million to 2 million a day, so it would take quite a last-minute surge to beat the 46 million early votes in 2012 (of a total 128 million).

Yet in some key areas, earlier voting has been heavier. Exhibit A is that battleground-of-battlegrounds, Florida, where early voting closes today NZT (most states will keep early voting open).

Figures post this morning show 6.1 million early votes cast, compared to 4.7 million in 2012.

So the Brexit effect could be in play.

Against this, the Clinton campaign has a far larger get-out-the-vote field operation, and surveys indicate that Hispanic voters are turning out in greater numbers than 2012 — unlikely to be a positive for Mr Trump.

And in key swings states, including Nevada, registered Democrat turnout is up over 2012. But the lingering question is: Are they staying loyal? How many white working class supporters are crossing over, a la the blue-collar « Reagan Democrats » in 1984?

2. The Bradley effect
In the 1982 race for Governor of California, black candidate Tom Bradley (a Democrat), enjoyed a lead in the polls but lost to white Republican George Deukmejian.

Poll historians call this the « Bradley effect. » Some people lied and told pollsters they would support Mr Bradley because they did not want to appear racist.

Variations on this theme include the « Shy Tory » effect in the UK in 1992 when some people were too sheepish to tell pollsters they would vote for the Conservative Party as led by the unfashionable John Major (his party was behind in the polls, but won). And the « Wilder » effect 1989, where polls showed Democrat candidate Douglas Wilder comfortably on track to become Virgina’s first black governor — but ultimately he only won his race against his white Republican rival by a razor-thin margin.

Are some Trump supporters also too sheepish to declare their support?

This cycle, due to the spiralling cost of trying to reach people by live phone as due to so many ditching landlines, around half the polls are online (with online panels weighted to match census data).

Pundits say voters are more likely to express their true preference with an online form rather than when they talk to a human pollster.

Morning Consult, which has been conducting a tracking poll for Politico, decided to test the « Shy Trump voter » hypothesis by conducting phone and online interviews with a sample of 2075 likely voters (read its full report here).

The test found there is a « social desirability » effect, which is quite marked among higher income and college educated voters (blue = Clinton, red = Trump).

But once voters across the board are factored in, the « Shy Trump voter » effect is a lot smaller; around 2%:

Politico deems that 2% too small to influence the race … but bear in mind we’re now talking about a race where Clinton has a margin of two points or under according to the latest poll-of-poll surveys.

Some real-life evidence runs against it. Some online surveys, such as that conducted by IPSOS/Reuters, which has Clinton in the lead by four points as of this morning, are actually more bullish for the Democrat that some live phone surveys, such as the one conducted by the Trump-friendly Fox News, which as of today actually shows a tighter race with more people avowing support for Trump to put him within 2 points of the lead.

You could also argue for some degree of a « Shy Clinton supporter » effect, given the Democrat’s flat campaign and various baggage.

But overall, the 2% « Shy Trumper » effect vs a 2% Clinton lead, and a possible « Brexit » effect boosting Trump’s vote mean this election is too close to call.

The Democrat’s best hope remains that the race comes down to the state-by-state electoral college vote, where she maintains a narrow lead in a couple of key battlegrounds that make it tricky for Trump to get to the magic 270 needed to take the Whitehouse (Politico has a good summary here). But even in her so-called « firewall » states, Clinton’s lead is still close to the margin of error.

Nigel Farage might be deeply unloveable, but his Brexit poll theory proved correct — unlike polling guru Nate Silver at FiveThirtyEight, who called it wrong.

The Trump Effect

Is Trump down in polls because voters are too embarrassed to admit they are voting for him?

Joseph P. Williams

US News & world report

July 1, 2016

During the Republican presidential primaries, Donald Trump frequently bragged about polls showing him leading the pack of GOP contenders, declaring himself the people’s choice. Now that his poll numbers have plunged since he locked up the nomination, Trump insists voters are still with him: a silent majority too embarrassed to tell it to the pollsters.

« People say ‘I’m not going to say who I’m voting for' » when pollsters call, Trump said, in his signature broken syntax, at a rally earlier this month. « Don’t be embarrassed, I’m not going to say who I’m voting for and then they get it and I do much better. It’s, like, an amazing effect. »

Call it the Trump Effect: the notion that voters won’t admit they support him, because it’s distasteful to back a populist celebrity billionaire who’s unafraid to offend immigrants, women and minorities. There’s some evidence to support the theory, including a recent analysis that shows Trump’s support increases by about six points in online surveys, compared with surveys conducted over the phone.

Coupled with recent face-plants by pollsters at home and abroad – including erroneous numbers on President Barack Obama’s re-election, the Scottish independence referendum and the United Kingdom’s Brexit vote – polling skeptics and Trump supporters have room to embrace the theory.

« What happens is the elites, the establishment all pile on. The average citizen will not tell pollsters the truth, » Newt Gingrich, a Trump surrogate, said Tuesday morning on Fox News. « You get much better results for Trump for example in a computerized online poll than a telephone poll because people don’t want to tell the pollster something they think is not socially acceptable. »

While not dismissing the possibility outright, however, political analysts doubt that Trump, running about five points behind presumptive Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton in polling averages, is poised to surge past her on the strength of voters too embarrassed to say they support him.

« Intuitively, it makes a lot of sense, » says William Galston, a senior fellow and political analyst at the Brookings Institution. Trump, he said, could be supported by « people who are not as bold as Donald Trump to say in public what [others think] is politically incorrect. It might make them more reticent » to admit they’re on his side.

Still, « as is the case with many other things, it’s possible. But I know of no evidence that directly supports it, » Galston says. « The evidence I’ve reviewed is far from enough to move the possible to the probable. I’m not there yet. »

Geoffrey Skelley, a political analyst at the University of Virginia’s Center for Politics, concurs, dismissing the possibility of « social desirability bias » skewing the numbers against the GOP’s presidential nominee.

« Trump is claiming it to be the case, but there’s really no evidence for it, » he says.

The phenomenon of voters telling pollsters what they think they want to hear, however, actually has a name: the Bradley Effect, a well-studied political phenomenon.

In 1982, poll after poll showed Tom Bradley, Los Angeles’ first black mayor and a Democrat, with a solid lead over George Deukmejian, a white Republican, in the California gubernatorial race. Instead, Bradley narrowly lost to Deukmejian, a stunning upset that led experts to wonder how the polls got it wrong.

Pollsters, and some political scientists, later concluded that voters didn’t want to say they were voting against Bradley, who would have been the nation’s first popularly-elected African-American governor, because they didn’t want to appear to be racist.

Trump has begun to allude to Bradley at rallies and in interviews (« He was supposed to win by 10 points, and he lost by 5 or something, » Trump said) – and he says polls improperly include too many Democrats and are conducted by news outlets that are biased against him.

In December, a Morning Consult poll examined whether Trump supporters were more likely to say they supported him in online polls than in polls conducted by live questioners. Their finding was surprising: « Trump performs about six percentage points better online than via live telephone interviewing, » according to the study.

At the same time, « his advantage online is driven by adults with higher levels of education, » the study says, countering data showing Trump’s bedrock support comes from voters without college degrees. « Importantly, the differences between online and live telephone [surveys] persist even when examining only highly engaged, likely voters. »

But Galston says while the study examines « a legitimate question, » the methodology is unclear, and « it’s really important to compare apples to apples. You need to be sure that the online community has the same demographic profile » as phone polling.

« It may also be the case that people who are online and willing to participate in that study are already, in effect, a self-selected sample » of pro-Trump voters, Galston says.

Nevertheless, « what prompts the question is obvious: We’ve probably never had a political candidate quite like Donald Trump, » Galston says. « An unusual candidate is likely to spark lots and lots of unusual questions. The American people, at least in my lifetime, have never been presented with such a choice. »

« It’s logically possible for a reverse Bradley Effect to be happening, » he says, « but that doesn’t mean that it is happening. »

Skelly says math and logic also work against Trump’s claim of a reverse Bradley Effect.

« In a fair number of the early states and caucuses, Trump underperformed his poll numbers. Not until Wisconsin did he start routinely outperforming them, » Skelley says. « Also, kind of anecdotally, have you met a Trump supporter who isn’t vocally for Trump? Every Trump supporter I’ve talked to is happy to tell me they’re a Trump supporter. »

Still, if more reticent ones are engaging in social desirability, the poll numbers probably wouldn’t move enough to have a dramatic impact on Trump’s race with Clinton if they come out of the closet on Election Day, Skelley says.

« I guess if there were something to this it would have to be at the margins, » he says. « Studies have shown Obama’s race may have cost him a couple of points, but nothing compared to what happened to Tom Bradley in that race. Trump may lose a couple of points, if it were actually a thing. But I can’t imagine it would be very substantial. »

Although the U.S. Census « almost always finds more people who say they voted than actually voted, » Skelley says, « I think when it comes to asking people who they’re planning to vote for, in this day and age, I don’t think those type of people who will respond if asked. »

Ultimately, Trump’s claim « is more of a way to try to explain poor polling numbers. Trump is losing at the moment and he’s trying to explain it off, » Skelley says. « This doesn’t really hold up under scrutiny. »

‘Lots of contempt’: What it’s like to be a secret Trump fan in Silicon Valley
Biz Carson
Business Insider
Jul. 15, 2016

Jake is like many people working in Silicon Valley.

The software engineer works for a big tech company, went to a top-tier university, and loves doing innovative work.

But one thing makes him very different: He supports Donald Trump.

In Silicon Valley — which prides itself on open-mindedness, a system of meritocracy, and a thirst for innovation — Jake’s support of Trump is more than just outside the mainstream. It’s a dangerous liability.

Since he’s told people of his support, friends who he thought were close have stopped talking to him. His coworkers shirk the subject. What used to be personal relationships at work are now only professional conversations, he says.

Now Jake tries to keep his Trump support a secret. Despite supporting the candidate both financially and in person, Jake believes his entire career could be at risk if his name were publicly linked to Trump. Business Insider agreed to interview him over email on conditions of anonymity and that we change his first name in the story.

Jake points often to Brendan Eich, a millionaire and creator of the Mozilla browser, who had to step down after his financial support of Prop 8, a California measure aimed at blocking same-sex marriage, came to light a couple of years ago. And unlike Eich, Jake says he doesn’t have the millions or the untouchable public stature of Peter Thiel to be out as a Trump supporter.

The sense of risk was driven home on Thursday, when 140 Silicon Valley bigwigs, including Apple cofounder Steve Wozniak and « Shark Tank » judge Chris Sacca, came together to decry Trump in an open letter. Y Combinator President Sam Altman has compared Trump to Hitler.

« Silicon Valley these days is a very intolerant place for people who do not hold so called ‘socially liberal’ ideas, » Jake says.

The experience of the former Mozilla creator is « exhibit A of the lack of tolerance in Silicon Valley for certain ideas, ideas which [by the way] were mainstream in American society until very recently or that, in fact, ideas that continue to be divisive today, » Jake says.

No one knows how many other « Jake »s are in Silicon Valley. But his existence there shows the power of Trump’s appeal in some of the most unlikely places.

Bloomberg called a Trump supporter in tech’s cradle « rarer than unicorns » — although in Santa Clara County, home to the likes of Google and Apple, 49,771 people voted for him in the primary. Like Jake, there are others who opt for secrecy and silence over the potential repercussions.

Here is the story of one Trump supporter’s existence in Silicon Valley’s politically hostile environment.

Unworthy of the tech tribe

Jake didn’t say much at first when his colleagues at work would make jokes about Trump — after all, he initially thought Trump’s campaign was a joke. His first donation was meant as a « middle finger » to the Washington establishment.

Eventually, though, he began to see Trump as a serious candidate, and he soon revealed to his team that he was in Trump’s camp. His colleagues « couldn’t believe it, » and he said there was « lots of contempt, even from people who are right of center. »

« In Silicon Valley, because of the high prevalence of highly smart people, there is a general stereotype that voting Republican is for dummies, » he says. « So many people see considering supporting Republican candidates, particularly Donald Trump, anathema to the whole Silicon Valley ethos that values smarts and merit. »

He’s talked about his positions more with coworkers and feels as if he’s earned respect back from some, although no one has come to team Trump with him. But the collegial work atmosphere is now tense and stilted.

« The relationship with those who were more upset is different. Now it is strictly professional, whereas before we talked more about personal stuff, » he says.

Peter Thiel, a Silicon Valley billionaire who cofounded PayPal, is a delegate for Trump and speaking at the Republican National Convention. Tristan Fewings/Getty Images

Some of his friends have demonized him and stopped talking to him entirely.

« A couple of friends thought that me supporting Trump made me unworthy of being part of the Silicon Valley tribe and stopped talking to me, » Jake says. « Honestly, I couldn’t care less. This says more about them than about me. »

Even with the thinly veiled malice toward Trump by members of the tech elite, Jake has no plans to leave his job or his career. For the most part, he’s found tech employees have an indifference towards politics.

« The main reason I stay in Silicon Valley is that I love my work and doing innovative stuff. I am willing to put up with the rest. And, as I said, most people are not very ideological, so the situation is not that bad, » he said. « It is mostly the motivated few that I am concerned about that could go the extra mile to do to me what was done to Brendan Eich. »

True believer

Why does an educated, well-compensated Silicon Valley engineer support the man who is such a pariah among his Silicon Valley peers?

Brendan Eich resigned from Mozilla after backlash from his financial support for Prop 8 in California. Brave

Like many Trump supporters, Jake believes the country is in trouble, saddled with too much debt, not enough good jobs, and a political system that benefits the wealthy and the elite. In his view, it’s the very rich who have benefited from the Obama economy, including the banks that were bailed out after the financial crisis.

Jake has historically voted Republican, although he skipped the last two elections, and he describes his political views as closer to Libertarian. Government is a « necessary evil, but evil nonetheless, » he says. He’s socially conservative on some issues (particularly abortion) and is against same-sex marriage for utilitarian reasons, but fine with civil unions.

After months of studying Trump’s message, Jake says that he found himself to be a true believer.

« At the end of the day, we choose our politics the way we choose our lovers and our friends — not so much out a rational analysis, but based on impressions and our own personal backgrounds. My main reason for supporting Trump is that I basically agree with the notion that unless the trend is stopped, our country is going to hell, » Jake says.

The ‘sideshow’

Of course, much of the backlash against Trump in Silicon Valley is due to the candidate’s comments, considered by many to be xenophobic and racist, about immigrants, Muslims, and Mexicans.

Jake says he doesn’t agree with Trump on many of those points, but Jake doesn’t really take them seriously either, describing them as a « sideshow. »

On Trump’s proposed ban on Muslims? Jake thinks Trump’s perceived extremist remarks wouldn’t be backed up with actions.

« I do not agree with a blanket ban (and personally I think he never meant it), but I do agree with the notion of increasing the scrutiny of people who come from high-risk countries or zones, » he says.

Donald Trump. Sara D. Davis/Getty Images

Nor does he expect Trump to build his famous wall on the US-Mexico border and evict millions from the country. « He might complete the fence that already exists and probably make it stronger, but I have no doubt that Trump is a smart guy who won’t be deporting massively millions of people, » he says.

Jake says he is sympathetic to the idea of making it easier for highly qualified immigrants to stay legally in the US, and even finding a solution for the problem of illegal immigration that doesn’t involve deportation. But he also believes many companies abuse the H-1B program that allows skilled foreigners to come work in the US, bringing in not only highly qualified engineers, but also barely qualified service contractors to staff their data centers.

« The Silicon Valley elite is highly hypocritical on this matter. One of the reasons, I assume, they don’t like Trump is because on this area, as in many others, he is calling a spade a spade. I believe Trump is right in this case, » Jake says.

Help Silicon Valley do what it does best

From his position, « supporting Trump only offers [an] upside. » Electing Hillary Clinton would keep the status quo, he says. If Trump wins, there’s a whole set of new possibilities that would emerge for the nation.

While most tech leaders predict doom and gloom during a Trump presidency, Jake sees the opposite for Silicon Valley: a return to the contrarian spirit that has fueled it in the past.

« Even if it remains socially liberal, it would be good for it if the president were to be a Republican so that the Valley could recover a little bit of its rebel spirit (that was the case during the Bush years for instance). I believe that the increased relevance in national politics of companies like Google (whose Chairman [Eric] Schmidt has been very cozy with the Obama administration) and Apple (at the center of several political disputes) has been bad for the Valley, » he says. « A Trump presidency would allow the Valley to focus on what it does best: dreaming and building the technology of the future, leaving politics for DC types. »

Voir également:

How Many People Support Trump but Don’t Want to Admit It?

Does he share our values and our principles on limited government, the proper role of the executive, adherence to the Constitution?

As the speaker of the Republican-dominated House, Ryan could have posed a harder question: Do Republican voters “share our values and our principles”?

The answer to this question, based at least on the 10.7 million votes cast for Trump in Republican primaries and caucuses so far, is “no.”

But that’s not all. There is also strong evidence that most traditional public opinion surveys inadvertently hide a segment of Trump’s supporters. Many voters are reluctant to admit to a live interviewer that they back a candidate who has adopted such divisive positions.

An aggregation by RealClearPolitics of 10 recent telephone polls gives Clinton a nine-point lead over Trump. In contrast, the combined results for the YouGov and Morning Consult polls, which rely on online surveys, place Clinton’s lead at four points.

Why is this important? Because an online survey, whatever other flaws it might have, resembles an anonymous voting booth far more than what you tell a pollster does.

In a May 2015 report, Pew Research analyzed the differences between results derived from telephone polling and those from online Internet polling. Pew determined that the biggest differences in answers elicited via these two survey modes were on questions in which social desirability bias — that is, “the desire of respondents to avoid embarrassment and project a favorable image to others” — played a role.

In a detailed analysis of phone versus online polling in Republican primaries, Kyle A. Dropp, the executive director of polling and data science at Morning Consult, writes:

Trump’s advantage in online polls compared with live telephone polling is eight or nine percentage points among likely voters.

This difference, Dropp notes, is driven largely by more educated voters — those who would be most concerned with “social desirability.”

These findings suggest that Trump will head into the general election with support from voters who are reluctant to admit their preferences to a live person in a phone survey, but who may well be inclined to cast a ballot for Trump on Election Day.

Conflicting online and phone poll findings in response to Trump’s call on Dec. 7, 2015 — five days after two terrorists killed 14 people in San Bernardino, Calif. — for a “total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States until our country’s representatives can figure out what is going on” demonstrate the difficulty gauging Trump’s strength.

Phone-based surveys in December by the Washington Post/ABC News, CBS News and NBC/Wall Street Journal found strong majorities — 57 to 60 percent — of Americans opposed to the proposal.

At the same time, YouGov, operating online, found substantial and growing support for Trump’s proposal, with a plurality, 45-41, in support. When YouGov repeated the question on March 24-25 — just after the terrorist attacks in Brussels — support had grown to 51-40.

This December-to-March shift was strongest among independent voters, who increased their support from 42-37 in favor of the ban to 62-37 in favor. Similarly, a March 29 Morning Consult online poll found majority support for the ban, 50-38, with voters who identified themselves as independents favoring Trump’s plan 49-36.

I asked a number of experts about the disparity between online and phone polls. All of them — Alan Abramowitz, John Sides, Michael Tesler and Lynn Vavreck, political scientists who specialize in the analysis of poll data — agreed that in the case of highly contentious issues, respondents can be more willing to express their real views anonymously, to a computer rather than to a human.

Kathy Frankovic, the former CBS polling director who now works for YouGov, told me that “it’s easier to express potentially ‘unacceptable’ responses on a screen than it is to give them to a person.” Douglas Rivers, a political scientist at Stanford and the chief scientist for YouGov, agreed, noting in an email that stronger support in online polls for a ban on Muslims

may be due to social desirability bias — people are more willing to express support for this privately than when asked by someone else.

Needless to say, Trump has expressed confrontational views on a number of fronts. He claims that as president he will impose harsh tariffs on imports from China, suspend Muslim immigration, deport 11 million immigrants and build an $8 billion wall that Mexico will pay for.

Taken together, these positions have provided a foundation for the strong correlation between support for Trump and white ethnocentrism and white racial resentment.

One method of ranking whites on ethnocentrism is to measure the degree to which they believe Caucasians are more trustworthy, intelligent, industrious and less violent than African-Americans, Hispanics and other minorities. These are the kinds of questions that prompt certain respondents in phone surveys to mask their views and provide socially acceptable answers instead.

The accompanying chart, which uses data provided to The Times by Marc Hetherington and Drew Engelhardt, political scientists at Vanderbilt, shows that white Republicans are the most ethnocentric of all voters, but also that there are substantial numbers of ethnocentric white Democrats and white independents..

This suggests that Trump could potentially find significant levels of support not only among Republican voters, but also among white Democrats and independents.

Now that Trump appears to have the Republican nomination in hand, the question becomes: Can he capitalize on racial resentment among Democrats and independents in the general election?

Perhaps not surprisingly, Hetherington and Engelhardt found that racial resentment follows a similar pattern to the expression of white ethnocentrism. It is highest among Republicans, but it is also present among Democrats and independents. The second chart derived from their data shows that in rankings of racial resentment, more than half of white Republicans, 58 percent, fall into the top four most resentful categories.

What should prove worrisome for Democrats is that 42 percent of white independents also fall into the four most resentful categories, as do 22 percent of white Democrats.

Even polls using traditional phone survey methods find notable support for issues high on Trump’s agenda. You can see this, for example, in attitudes toward the Chinese, Muslims and Mexicans — all of whom Trump has demonized.

Anger toward China appears to offer fertile ground for Trump in the general election. In its 2015 American Values Survey, the Public Religion Research Institute asked how responsible China is for American “economic problems.” Solid majorities of Democrats (70 percent), independents (72 percent) and Republicans (80 percent) said China is “very” or “somewhat” responsible.

Or take another Trump theme: Islam. The P.R.R.I. values survey asked whether they agreed or disagreed with the statement “the values of Islam are at odds with American values and way of life.” Among all voters, 56 percent said that they agreed. Republican were strongest at 76 percent, but independents came in at 57 percent, with Democrats trailing at a still robust 43 percent.

The Polling Report, an aggregation of public opinion surveys, presents data on immigration from multiple sources. On a basic question — what should happen to the 11 million undocumented men, women and children now living within the borders of the United States — most traditional surveys show strong support for finding ways to legalize the status of those who have not committed crimes and have paid taxes.

A March 2016 Pew study found, for example, that voters preferred allowing undocumented immigrants to stay in the United States over attempting to deport them by 74-25. It also found that a majority said immigrants strengthen the country (as opposed to adding a burden), 57-35. These are not good numbers for Trump.

But poll results (irrespective of whether questions are posed online or by phone) can change quite a bit depending on their exact wording, the specific issues addressed and even the placement of a query in a series of questions.

For example, a September 2015 Pew survey asked a related but different set of questions about immigrants that produced results more favorable to Trump’s prospects. Voters reported (50-28) that they believe that immigrants damage the economy (as opposed to making it better), with a fifth saying that immigrants don’t have much effect. Voters also reported that they think that immigrants make crime worse rather than better (50-7), with 41 percent saying that they don’t have much effect.

There are a few conclusions to be drawn.

First, the way Trump has positioned himself outside of the traditional boundaries of politics will make it unusually difficult to gauge public support for him and for many of his positions.

Second, the allegiance of many white Democrats and independents is difficult to predict — cross-pressured as they are by the conflict between unsavory Trump positions they are drawn to and conscience or compunction. The ambivalence of many Republicans toward Trump as their party’s brazenly defiant nominee will further compound the volatility of the electorate.

Finally, the simple fact that Trump has beaten the odds so far means that it is not beyond the realm of possibility that he could beat them again. If he does take the White House, much, if not all, of his margin of victory will come from voters too ashamed to acknowledge publicly how they intend to cast their vote.

Voir encore:

Why are people afraid to admit they voted Conservative?

Ed West
Catholic Herald
8 May 2015

About one in eight Tories won’t even admit their support to pollsters

Alas, the tragicomic spectacle of the British Labour leader Ed Miliband going eyeball to eyeball with Vladimir Putin now belongs in a very niche sub-genre of “what if” history books.

I wonder if Miliband was surprised by the exit polls in yesterday’s general election. I certainly was, being all prepared for the “ajockalypse” and an Ed Miliband-Nicola Sturgeon government.

Despite Miliband being tipped by most pundits, last night was a disaster for Labour, both in England and Scotland, where they have as many seats as the Tories. It’s been a while since that happened.

The biggest losers, however, were the pollsters, who all had Labour and the Conservatives neck and neck, when in fact there was a six-point gap.

Why did the opinion polls get it so spectacularly wrong, worse even than in the 1992 general election?

Margaret Thatcher wrote about the phenomenon of shy Tories back in 1979. It’s the very nature of small-C conservatives that they’re wary of tribal displays. In contrast, proclaiming socialism is a good way of expressing what some call “virtue signalling”.

Part of the reason for this shyness, it has to be said, is that people don’t like other people shouting “Tory scum” at them or vandalising their cars. Such violence, which has also been known to happen to Republicans in America, is the extreme end of a more general hostility towards conservatism.

My six-year-old daughter, who happens to share the same name as our new Labour MP (she was confused that lots of people were displaying her name in their windows), asked the other day why, if there are two main parties, no one had the blue Conservative party banner outside their front door.

Although where I live is barren territory for the Tories, in American terms rather like Vermont, even in my part of town one in six vote Tory. Probably twice that number would if the Liberal Democrats were not the main anti-Labour opposition. Yet out of hundreds of placards displayed outside people’s home, not a single person dared to admit voting Conservative.

And being a conservative, both big and small-C, has become so socially unacceptable that about one in eight Conservative voters routinely lie about it even when they are guaranteed anonymity by polling companies, let alone on Facebook.

Conservative causes generally tend to suffer from their supporters being “shy” about expressing views they know to be unfashionable or unpopular, but which they feel to be right.

David Quinn is making the same point about the Irish same-sex marriage referendum, which may well also surprise the pollsters.

It doesn’t help that socially liberal people tend to have a higher status in society. They are richer, more successful and more socially sophisticated – and it’s human instinct to defer on these subjects.

The general election obviously represents a great result for the Conservatives, but in the longer term Tories may want to ask what it means for their future if being a supporter has become something to hide.

Voir de même:

Voices
‘Did they keep quiet after the election?’: 5 ways to identify a ‘shy Tory’

Because Conservatives don’t all come in red trousers…
Jamie Campbell
The Independent
11 May 2015

If there was one major revelation of this mad election, it’s that Conservatives don’t all come in red trousers dripping in fox blood carrying polo mallets.

2015 saw the rise of the Secret Tory, Conservatives who, whether it be because they’re genuinely embarrassed about their views or fearful of the scorn of liberal friends, keep schtum about voting blue.

Picking them out isn’t as easy as spotting the corners of broadsheet Telegraph poking out from a Guardian Berliner but here are a few tips that might just help you identify this muted majority:

Disclaimer: Instructions are not watertight. Liberals may well also play tennis.

Did they keep quiet after the election? Such was the pummelling that Labour and the Lib Dems took last week, apathy’s been off the menu for the liberals of the UK. It feels a bit like a football match where the losers are inconsolable whilst the winners are too sheepish to celebrate. No tears? Probably Tory.What sports do they play? This isn’t to say that if someone goes down to Clapham Common every weekend for a game of rugger with Hugo, Digby and Xander they definitely won’t go to anti-fox hunting protests and love Polly Toynbee, but it’s probably a good sign. Golf, cricket and even an innocent game of tennis can be clues of the furtive Tory.

Donald Trump, une surprise ? Pas vraiment

Joseph Savès

Hérodote
9 novembre 2016

Après les référendums de 2005 (France et Pays-Bas) et le Brexit (2016), voici une nouvelle surprise avec l’élection de Donald Trump par une franche majorité d’Américains. À chaque fois, le suffrage universel a eu raison des médias, des sondeurs et de leurs commanditaires (*). On peut au moins se réjouir de cette vitalité démocratique.

Les lecteurs et Amis d’Herodote.net peuvent heureusement se féliciter d’avoir accès à des analyses plus fines, parce que fondées sur les enseignements de l’Histoire.

Le 23 octobre 2016, nous avons titré notre lettre sur des élections pleines de surprises aux États-Unis et évoqué un précédent largement ignoré : l’élection du candidat « populiste » et « anti-système » Andrew Jackson, en 1828.

Par bien des aspects de sa personnalité, il n’était pas sans ressembler au nouveau président des États-Unis. Et lui aussi avait été rejeté par les instances de son parti et honni par les élites de la côte Est.

Ce 3 novembre 2016, à la lumière de l’Histoire, nous avons aussi rappelé ce qu’est le libre-échange prôné par ces mêmes élites comme par les fonctionnaires de Bruxelles et les élites françaises : une utopie aussi folle que le communisme soviétique.

C’est en partie en raison du libre-échange (*) et du primat de la finance que les électeurs américains ont voté pour Donald Trump : il a su capter leur colère sourde, tout comme d’ailleurs le candidat démocrate Bernie Sanders, rival malheureux d’Hillary Clinton (*).

L’autre motif qui a conduit à la victoire de Trump et à l’élimination de Sanders tient à l’exaspération d’une majorité de citoyens face aux tromperies de l’utopie « multiculturaliste » et de la société « ouverte ».

À preuve le vote de l’Iowa en faveur de Donald Trump : dans cet État plutôt prospère, avec un faible taux de chômage, c’est évidemment l’enjeu multiculturaliste qui a fait basculer les électeurs.

En effet, l’élection en 2008 d’un président noir (pas un Afro-Américain mais un métis, fils d’une blanche du Kansas et d’un Kényan) n’a pas empêché le retour à de nouvelles formes de ségrégation raciale. C’est ainsi que la candidate démocrate Hillary Clinton a tenté de jouer la carte « racialiste » en cajolant les électeurs afro-américains et latinos. Mais sans doute s’est-elle trompée dans son évaluation du vote latino : beaucoup d’Étasuniens latino-américains aspirent à leur intégration dans la classe moyenne et ne se sentent guère solidaires des Afro-Américains.

Le même phénomène s’observe en Europe de l’Ouest, sous l’effet d’un emballement migratoire sans précédent dans l’Histoire. Les nouveaux arrivants font bloc avec leur « communauté » dans les quartiers et les écoles : Africains de la zone équatoriale, Sahéliens, Maghrébins, Turcs, Orientaux, Chinois etc. Il compromettent ce faisant l’intégration des immigrants plus anciennement installés (*). À quoi les classes dirigeantes répondent par des propos hors-contexte sur le « vivre-ensemble » et l’occultation de la mémoire.

La chancelière Angela Merkel et même le pape François ont perçu les dangers de cette politique dans leurs dernières déclarations, en novembre 2016. Quant aux élus français, qui ont abandonné leur souveraineté à Bruxelles et Berlin et se tiennent désormais à la remorque des puissants, ils feraient bien de prendre à leur tour la mesure de l’exaspération populaire face au néolibéralisme financier, au multiculturalisme et à l’emballement migratoire. Ils se doivent de nommer et analyser ces phénomènes sans faux-semblants, et de préconiser des solutions respectueuses de la démocratie.

Voir encore:

Trump, Clinton and the Culture of Deference

Political correctness functions like a despotic regime. We resent it but we tolerate it.

Shelby Steele
The Wall Street Journal

In the broader American culture—the mainstream media, the world of the arts and entertainment, the high-tech world, and the entire enterprise of public and private education—conservatism suffers a decided ill repute. Why?

The answer begins in a certain fact of American life. As the late writer William Styron once put it, slavery was “the great transforming circumstance of American history.” Slavery, and also the diminishment of women and all minorities, was especially tragic because America was otherwise the most enlightened nation in the world. Here, in this instance of profound hypocrisy, began the idea of America as a victimizing nation. And then came the inevitable corollary: the nation’s moral indebtedness to its former victims: blacks especially but all other put-upon peoples as well.

This indebtedness became a cultural imperative, what Styron might call a “transforming circumstance.” Today America must honor this indebtedness or lose much of its moral authority and legitimacy as a democracy. America must show itself redeemed of its oppressive past.

How to do this? In a word: deference. Since the 1960s, when America finally became fully accountable for its past, deference toward all groups with any claim to past or present victimization became mandatory. The Great Society and the War on Poverty were some of the first truly deferential policies. Since then deference has become an almost universal marker of simple human decency that asserts one’s innocence of the American past. Deference is, above all else, an apology.

One thing this means is that deference toward victimization has evolved into a means to power. As deference acknowledges America’s indebtedness, it seems to redeem the nation and to validate its exceptional status in the world. This brings real power—the kind of power that puts people into office and that gives a special shine to commercial ventures it attaches to.

Since the ’60s the Democratic Party, and liberalism generally, have thrived on the power of deference. When Hillary Clinton speaks of a “basket of deplorables,“ she follows with a basket of isms and phobias—racism, sexism, homophobia, xenophobia and Islamaphobia. Each ism and phobia is an opportunity for her to show deference toward a victimized group and to cast herself as America’s redeemer. And, by implication, conservatism is bereft of deference. Donald Trump supporters are cast as small grudging people, as haters who blindly love America and long for its exclusionary past. Against this she is the very archetype of American redemption. The term “progressive” is code for redemption from a hate-driven America.

So deference is a power to muscle with. And it works by stigmatization, by threatening to label people as regressive bigots. Mrs. Clinton, Democrats and liberals generally practice combat by stigma. And they have been fairly successful in this so that many conservatives are at least a little embarrassed to “come out” as it were. Conservatism is an insurgent point of view, while liberalism is mainstream. And this is oppressive for conservatives because it puts them in the position of being a bit embarrassed by who they really are and what they really believe.

Deference has been codified in American life as political correctness. And political correctness functions like a despotic regime. It is an oppressiveness that spreads its edicts further and further into the crevices of everyday life. We resent it, yet for the most part we at least tolerate its demands. But it means that we live in a society that is ever willing to cast judgment on us, to shame us in the name of a politics we don’t really believe in. It means our decency requires a degree of self-betrayal.

And into all this steps Mr. Trump, a fundamentally limited man but a man with overwhelming charisma, a man impossible to ignore. The moment he entered the presidential contest America’s long simmering culture war rose to full boil. Mr. Trump was a non-deferential candidate. He seemed at odds with every code of decency. He invoked every possible stigma, and screechingly argued against them all. He did much of the dirty work that millions of Americans wanted to do but lacked the platform to do.

Thus Mr. Trump’s extraordinary charisma has been far more about what he represents than what he might actually do as the president. He stands to alter the culture of deference itself. After all, the problem with deference is that it is never more than superficial. We are polite. We don’t offend. But we don’t ever transform people either. Out of deference we refuse to ask those we seek to help to be primarily responsible for their own advancement. Yet only this level of responsibility transforms people, no matter past or even present injustice. Some 3,000 shootings in Chicago this year alone is the result of deference camouflaging a lapse of personal responsibility with empty claims of systemic racism.

As a society we are so captive to our historical shame that we thoughtlessly rush to deference simply to relieve the pressure. And yet every deferential gesture—the war on poverty, affirmative action, ObamaCare, every kind of “diversity” scheme—only weakens those who still suffer the legacy of our shameful history. Deference is now the great enemy of those toward whom it gushes compassion.

Societies, like individuals, have intuitions. Donald Trump is an intuition. At least on the level of symbol, maybe he would push back against the hegemony of deference—if not as a liberator then possibly as a reformer. Possibly he could lift the word responsibility out of its somnambulant stigmatization as a judgmental and bigoted request to make of people. This, added to a fundamental respect for the capacity of people to lift themselves up, could go a long way toward a fairer and better America.

Mr. Steele, a senior fellow at Stanford University’s Hoover Institution, is the author of “Shame: How America’s Past Sins Have Polarized Our Country” (Basic Books, 2015).

Voir de plus:

Donald Trump is the man Americans have chosen as their vehicle for the dramatic change they demand from Washington.
 The Federalist
Ben Domenech

It is not breaking the protocols of green room conversations, I think, to say that a certain prominent pollster arrived last night at CBS headquarters in New York City declaring firmly that Hillary Clinton would win by five points, the GOP would lose the Senate, and that it would not be close. I believe he said as much on Twitter. I was more skeptical. Having heard the exit polling myself, and knowing as we all do that Trump voters are less eager to talk to these youngsters with their clipboards, I had already warned The Federalist’s staff to not anticipate an early call. As the night wore on, it became abundantly clear that the exits had dramatically underestimated the support for Donald Trump in key states. And then it became clear that they had overestimated support for Clinton in several key states. And then, at some point, it became clear that this would not be a Bush-Gore close loss at all – that she was sinking to the point that her performance was comparable to Michael Dukakis. And then everyone started to lose their minds.

The strongest thought in my head as the night wore on, and Wisconsin and Pennsylvania remained uncalled despite a clear advantage for Donald Trump, was: what on earth must the conversation be like in that room with Barack and Michelle Obama, watching the returns, followed by that magnanimous speech. Make no mistake about it: this election is Barack Obama’s legacy. He pushed hard for Hillary Clinton in the end because he understood that as such. And it was all for naught. No celebrity, no sports star, and no current president with a strong approval rating was enough to drag Hillary Clinton over the finish line. What did Obama say? What epithets did he utter? And on what did he blame the result? Schadenfreude has always been part of the case for Trump, and it is particularly sharp when it comes to the feelings of the current chief executive.

Last night Jamelle Bouie and Van Jones voiced something I expect we will hear from many of Obama’s firmest supporters in the coming weeks – the idea that Trump represents a “whitelash” against eight years of Obama. But this dramatically oversimplifies the case, particularly if as it seems at the moment Trump won more minority votes than Mitt Romney in 2012. In fact, as Nate Cohn notes, Clinton failed in areas of the country where Obama’s support had been strongest among white Americans.   She failed to keep pace with Obama in the Rust Belt states that he won repeatedly. Her vaunted GOTV machine failed to attract the votes of young people, of union members, and of minorities to the degree necessary to win. And meanwhile, Trump’s utter lack of a campaign was more than made up for by the emotional dedication of his supporters. This was about more than just race – it was a sustained rejection of the country’s ruling class. But expect the media to try to make it about two things: race, and about Hillary Clinton’s lousy campaign. Ah, look, they’re doing it already.

The big winners from last night, beyond Donald Trump: Reince Priebus, who gets to keep his job; The Heritage Foundation, which bit the bullet and worked with Trump’s transition team on numerous points; Nate Silver, who got pounded by the left for a month for his poll skepticism only to be proven correct; TV networks who sold ads; Republican pragmatists who backed Trump while criticizing his excesses; Republican Senators who won back their majority while keeping Trump at arm’s length; Peter Thiel; pro-lifers and federalists, who will likely get two Supreme Court seats; Breitbart and Laura Ingraham and the pro-Trump factions of cable television, who were to the hilt defenders of Trump; Claremonsters; and civil libertarians, who probably will get to work with liberals again, which they love.

The big losers, beyond the Clinton family and Barack Obama: The Democratic Party, which now looks like a leaderless husk of what was once a coalition sure of its demographic destiny; the true NeverTrumpers who hoped Trump would lose big; John Podesta and the Clinton team; TV networks who garnered a new degree of hate from a frustrated electorate; James Comey, who will get it from both sides; old media conservatives who didn’t just reject but dismissed Trump and the phenomenon as mere celebrity worship; conservatives in the foreign policy space who explicitly backed her; any consultants who specialize in expensive GOTV efforts; the GOP autopsy; Bill Weld, who pretended to be a libertarian to try and get Hillary Clinton elected; and Joe Biden, who everyone will look back to as being able to beat Trump handily had he run.

A word about the overall failure of the media this cycle: it will be very interesting to see which reporters learn from this, and which ones double down on their ignorance. The majority of political reporters never seemed to get outside their bubble. They spoke to anti-Trump conservatives, and printed anti-Trump views from conservatives, but rarely would even publish the sorts of views I and others have been sounding for months about the real and rational gripes of Trump voters. Many in the media preferred the caricature to the real thing. If you are a member of the media who does not know anyone who was pro-Trump, who has no Trump voters among your family or friends, realize how thick your bubble is. Change this. Don’t stick to the old sources, who clearly didn’t know what was going on – add new ones, who offer the perspective from the ground.

 On The Federalist Radio Hour over the past several months, we’ve tried to analyze things from the perspective of the likeliest polling result – which has pretty consistently been a Hillary Clinton victory. Had the polls gone steadily in the other direction, we would’ve spent more time on the possibility of a Trump victory. The challenge in analyzing that result is Trump’s unpredictability as a chief executive. He has destroyed the GOP as we knew it and remade it as a more nationalist and populist coalition, in favor of a great deal of ideas that ring of Keynesian spending (the first agenda item mentioned in his victory speech was rebuilding infrastructure). How does he adapt to working with Mitch McConnell and Paul Ryan, assuming he even wants to do that? To whom does he listen, given that he has ignored so many of his own advisors on so many areas of policy? These are things that are inherently impossible to predict for a man who has had three campaign managers in a year’s time.

What is clear is this: Donald Trump is the man Americans have chosen as their vehicle for the dramatic change they demand from Washington. They have utterly rejected the change offered in the eight year Barack Obama agenda as wholly insufficient. And they have given Trump the rare gift of a united government in order to make those changes happen. They have tossed aside the assumptions of an elite class of gatekeepers and commentators whose opinions they disrespect and disavow. And they have sent a message to Washington that nothing less than wholesale change will satisfy them, including a change in the fundamental character of the commander in chief.

As a believer in constitutional limited government, this is an electoral result I find hopeful for more reason than one. Trump is not a believer in that, but there are those around him who do. More importantly, his attitude and character are so abrasive to the sentiments of the American elites that it almost has to result in a reassertion of the powers of other branches of government, particularly the Congress. This would be a very good thing, not just for the next four years, but for a generation that has seen the executive office expanded without any pause. It may take a change agent like Trump to necessitate a return to the limitations the Constitution demands.

So we’re doing this, America. President Donald Trump. It will be a crazy ride for the next four years. Let’s see what comes next.

Ben Domenech is the publisher of The Federalist. Sign up for a free trial of his daily newsletter, The Transom.
Voir aussi:
Politics
Who’s winning, who’s losing, and why.
How Nate Silver Missed Donald Trump

The election guru said Trump had no shot. Where did he go wrong?

For the past six months, one big question has loomed over the 2016 election: Is the candidacy of Donald J. Trump an amusing bit of reality TV or a terrifying and dangerous challenge to the country’s political system? At first, Trump’s popularity was easy to dismiss. It was nothing more than a phase, the result of Trump’s celebrity status and his talent for provocation. His antics made it hard to look away, but it was easy to convince yourself that Trump mania would never lead to anything serious, like the Republican nomination.

It was especially easy to come to that conclusion if you were reading FiveThirtyEight, the statistics-driven news website founded by Nate Silver. Since the beginning of Trump’s campaign last June, the election guru and his colleagues have been consistently bearish on Trump’s chances. Silver, who made his name by using cold hard math to call 49 out of 50 states in the 2008 general election and all 50 in 2012, has served as a reassuring voice in the midst of Trump’s shocking rise. For those of us who didn’t want to believe we lived in a country where Donald Trump could be president, Silver’s steady, level-headed certainty felt just as soothing as his unwavering confidence in Barack Obama’s triumph over Mitt Romney four years ago.

What exactly has Silver been saying? In September, he told CNN’s Anderson Cooper that Trump had a roughly 5-percent chance of beating his GOP rivals. In November, he explained that Trump’s national following was about as negligible as the share of Americans who believe the Apollo moon landing was faked. On Twitter, he compared Trump to the band Nickelback, which he described as being “[d]isliked by most, super popular with a few.” In a post titled “Why Donald Trump Isn’t A Real Candidate, In One Chart,” Silver’s colleague Harry Enten wrote that Trump had a better chance of “playing in the NBA Finals” than winning the Republican nomination.

Multiple times over the past six months, Silver has reminded his readers that four years ago, daffy fly-by-nighters like Herman Cain and Michele Bachmann led the GOP field at various points. Trump’s poll numbers, he wrote, would drop just like theirs had. In one August post, “Donald Trump’s Six Stages of Doom,” Silver actually laid out a schedule for the candidate’s inevitable collapse.

That collapse is running late. Here we are, a few days from the Iowa caucus, and Trump’s poll numbers haven’t gone down at all. The latest data suggest that he leads his closest rival, Ted Cruz, by about 5 points in Iowa and almost 20 points in New Hampshire. He has also recently become the top GOP contender according to the betting market Betfair. Meanwhile, members of the so-called GOP establishment, who previously expressed open contempt for Trump, now seem to be warming to him. On Jan. 16, the Washington Post quoted the former finance chairman for Mitt Romney’s 2012 campaign saying there was a “growing feeling” among many in the GOP that Trump “may be the guy.” Bob Dole praised Trump in the New York Times as a dealmaker who has the “right personality” to do business with Congress. Orrin Hatch, the most senior Republican in the Senate, told CNN he was “coming around” on Trump.

It’s clear, now, that Silver and his fellow analysts at FiveThirtyEight underestimated Trump. Silver himself recently admitted as much, writing in a blog post published last week that he’d been too skeptical about Trump’s chances. “Things are lining up better for Trump than I would have imagined,” he wrote, adding that “[i]f, like me, you expected” the show to have been over by now, “you have to revisit your assumptions.”

Everyone makes mistakes—even Nate Silver. It’s also entirely possible that the Trump collapse is still to come and that as soon as we see the actual voting process play out, the hollowness of his popularity will reveal itself. Still, Silver is right that his assumptions are worth revisiting. Maybe the Trump phenomenon is so unprecedented that no statistical model could have foreseen it. Or maybe it took a candidate as unique as Donald Trump to reveal the flaws and limitations of Silver’s prediction machine.

* * *

To understand how Silver got Trump wrong, it helps to understand what exactly he was skeptical about, and why. A look at his campaign coverage reveals that two basic beliefs guided Silver’s thinking.

The first centered on the polls showing Trump miles ahead of his rivals. These polls have been plentiful, and they have been consistent. To pick two more or less at random, CNN showed Trump’s support in Iowa grow from 22 percent in August to 37 percent this past week. According to national polls conducted by CBS and the New York Times, he has gone from polling at 24 percent nationally in August to 36 percent earlier this month.

None of this has impressed Silver. No matter what the polls said, as he wrote on FiveThirtyEight week after week, it was important to remember they were fundamentally unreliable and not at all indicative of how primary voters would ultimately cast their ballots. This has always been true of pre-primary polls, Silver argued, in part because primary voters have historically waited until the last minute to decide whom to support and in part because the people answering questions from pollsters are not necessarily the ones who will end up actually voting.

Anything Silver says about polling carries weight. Polls are his bread and butter—the raw materials he filters through his proprietary model to predict the outcomes of elections. His expertise on which polls to ignore, which ones to trust, and how much to trust them is central to his political wisdom. The early national polls showing Trump in the lead, Silver wrote, were basically worthless. As he put it in a post titled “Donald Trump Is Winning The Polls—and Losing the Nomination,” they not only “lack empirical power to predict the nomination” but “describe a fiction.”

Silver thought that it was foolish of reporters and columnists to act like Trump’s numbers were significant. The fact that pundits insisted on investing them with so much importance proved they were motivated more by the demands of the news cycle than by a commitment to truth—a tendency Silver has always taken pride in avoiding.

The problem, Silver believed, wasn’t just that the media legitimized polls that didn’t deserve people’s attention. It was worse than that: By talking about Trump’s poll numbers like they mattered, the media risked distorting future polls, thereby reinforcing the false narrative of Trump’s dominance. “Some voters may be coughing up Trump’s name in polls because he’s the only candidate they’ve been hearing about,” Silver wrote in December, noting that the media has given Trump’s campaign “more coverage than literally all the other Republicans combined.”

Silver’s error, in retrospect, was to conflate his doubts about the polls with his doubts about Trump’s viability as a candidate. In other words, it’s perfectly possible for Silver to have been correct in saying the early polls did not constitute proof of a massive Trump lead, while also being wrong about the likelihood that Trump would become the nominee. This mistake is illustrated most clearly in that post headlined “Donald Trump’s Six Stages of Doom,” in which Silver asserted that “Trump’s campaign will fail by one means or another” before ticking off a bunch of reasons to be suspicious of the early polls that showed him in the lead. While the post made brief mention of Trump’s “poor organization in caucus states, poor understanding of delegate rules,” and his lack of “support from superdelegates,” it didn’t offer much on why Silver found it so unlikely that lots and lots of people would vote for him.

This brings us to the second basic belief guiding Silver’s skepticism about Trump mania. Polls aside, the history of modern American politics made it clear to him that a “Trump-like candidate” could never win the nomination.

What is a “Trump-like candidate”? Under Silver’s definition, it’s someone who has low favorability ratings and, more important, is hated by party leaders. Citing a theory laid out in The Party Decides—an influential work of political science which says that primary candidates don’t win without the support of the party establishment—Silver has argued that Trump was an almost certain loser. Even if Trump managed to survive until the Republican National Convention, Silver wrote, “the Republican Party would go to extraordinary lengths to avoid nominating him.”

The race has not played out that way. Indications in December that GOP leaders were either powerless against Trump or unwilling to go after him struck Silver as “perplexing”—precisely the emotion you would expect from a quantitatively inclined thinker confronted with a reality that hasn’t conformed to his calculations. In a chat with colleagues published on FiveThirtyEight, Silver discussed possible reasons why GOP leaders had not been more aggressive in snuffing out Trump earlier, when he might have been an easier target. “From the get-go, they haven’t seemed to have any plan at all for how to deal with Trump,” he wrote.

What’s crucial to note here is that Silver’s confidence about how the GOP would respond to Trump was never really based on any statistical calculations. Rather, in repeatedly citing The Party Decides, he was relying on a theory about how political parties work—one that’s been embraced by some of the very same pundits that Silver has defined himself against. And while it’s true that The Party Decides was an empirical work based on historical data, the notion that GOP leaders would find a way to kill Trump’s campaign is, on some level, premised on a belief that the individual actors who control the Republican Party would all act as rationally as Nate Silver would if he were in their shoes. When news reports came out this month that influential Republican donors were starting to think Trump wouldn’t be such a bad candidate, Silver wrote, with some exasperation, “the donor class is probably wrong.”

Maybe what happened here is that Silver was the one sober guy in a room full of drunks, powerless to stop irrational party leaders from taking unreliable polling data seriously. Even if you believe that establishment figures are only giving Trump a look because they despise his closest rival, Ted Cruz, it’s undeniable that their thinking is being informed by Trump’s numbers. The fact that Silver thinks those numbers are silly doesn’t matter. They were consequential, and now that the Iowa caucus is one week away, those consequences are becoming more and more serious.

Why was Silver so confident that the “party decides” theory would hold? One reason, surely, is that it always had in the past—if you want a recent example, think back to the mavericks of the 2012 GOP contest, who were squashed like bugs until party favorite Romney was the last man standing. But it also seems possible that Silver believed the GOP would stop Trump for a simpler reason: It was what he wanted to happen.

Silver did not respond to multiple requests for comment for this story, so the best I can do is venture a guess. Maybe, like many people who have watched Trump’s rise with increasing horror, Silver latched onto a narrative that justified rejecting the Apprentice star’s achievements, identifying them as symptoms of a media bubble rather than a reflection of real popular sentiment. If that’s the case, Silver turns out to have a good bit in common with the pundits that he and his unemotional, numbers-driven worldview were supposed to render obsolete. Faced with uncertainty, Silver chose to go all in on an outcome that felt right, one that meshed with his preexisting beliefs about how the world is supposed to work.

* * *

There is another, more narrow explanation for why Trump eluded Silver. As effective as the FiveThirtyEight approach was when applied to Obama vs. McCain and Obama vs. Romney, perhaps it just doesn’t work nearly as well when applied to primaries. If Silver’s system depends largely on interpreting poll numbers, how reliable can that system be if the pre–Iowa and New Hampshire polls are basically worthless? Garbage in, garbage out.

“I think figuring out what’s going on in a primary is more of an art than a science,” says Steve Kornacki, a political analyst at MSNBC who has been covering presidential campaigns since 2002. “There’s just so much more volatility, coming from so many different levels in a primary. And there’s a lot more art involved in figuring out what’s going on than there is in a general election, especially in an era when 80 percent of the country knows whether they’re team blue or team red and which way they vote.”

Of course, Silver knows this, and he has taken certain steps to compensate for it. In a 2,800-word blog post laying out FiveThirtyEight’s methodology for forecasting primaries, he explained how he and his team use state and national polls alongside party leader endorsements. He also left room for the possibility that FiveThirtyEight’s prediction “might be totally wrong.” “Forecasting primaries and caucuses is challenging, much more so than general elections,” Silver wrote, adding that “an unusual candidate like Donald Trump tends to have especially uncertain forecasts.”

Where does all that uncertainty leave FiveThirtyEight? In the months leading up to Iowa and New Hampshire, frequent Silver critic Matt Bruenig told me the FiveThirtyEight founder is “in a situation where the only thing he’s really capable of doing—the thing that he’s exceptional at—is not really available to him, so he ends up doing what normal reporters do.” Bruenig added: “It just makes him like everyone else. … Anyone can read The Party Decides and be like, ‘Oh yeah, this is what social science says will happen.’ ”

(It may not be entirely true that this GOP primary was a hopeless exercise for data journalists. Though early polls may not be the most solid data points, it’s possible that FiveThirtyEight could have done a better job interpreting them: As Kornacki points out, Silver’s insistence on comparing Trump to Joe Lieberman and Rudy Giuliani—candidates with high name recognition who led in primary polls before imploding—failed to consider that both Lieberman and Giuliani led their respective races very early, while Trump has built his lead more gradually. RealClearPolitics, which averages multiple polls, shows Trump starting at just 6 percent last July.)

In Silver’s defense, he has occasionally given voice to self-doubt. He concluded a Jan. 6 chat with FiveThirtyEight staff by saying, “Yeah, the pundits are probably full of shit, but there’s a chance we’re full of shit too, so let’s wait and see what happens.” For the most part, though, Silver his proclaimed his skepticism about Trump loudly, repeatedly, and unequivocally. His predictions of Trump’s collapse—at an event at the 92nd Street Y in September he literally told the audience to “calm down” about his supposed march to the nomination—have not betrayed much caution or uncertainty.

As irrational as it seems for a quantitative analyst to comment so confidently on something he knows he can’t reliably predict, it’s also not all that surprising. Silver has a website to run, after all, and that means covering Trump—and making predictions about him—whether the necessary data is available or not.

The theory that Donald Trump was a real threat to the status quo was a perfect target for Silver and his colleagues. Throughout 2015 and into 2016, they set out to prove that this media sensation was being amplified by a credulous, mathematically illiterate press corps. A Trump implosion would be a classic Silver victory, one that would demonstrate the superiority of rational, data-driven analysis over the chatter of insiders and vague notions of “momentum.”

Instead, the rise of Trump might have demonstrated the limits of Silver’s powers. As Dave Weigel wrote in the Washington Post recently, Trump’s enormous popularity—a tidal wave of support that Silver has said will soon abate—has been the story of the campaign. In his piece, Weigel argued that it wasn’t the first time a primary bid turned out to signal a major shift in the political winds, from the campaign of George Wallace in 1964, which Weigel said represented “a historic moment in the politics of backlash,” to that of Pat Robertson in 1988, which “cemented the influence of the religious right in Republican electoral politics.” While none of those candidates won their party’s nomination, it would have been irresponsible for the media to ignore the significance of their campaigns, as Silver has encouraged his audience, and the press, to do with Trump.

While it’s true that “the rise of Trump” may not end with Trump becoming the nominee, it has revealed, or perhaps even caused, a profound shift in the nation’s political climate. As Kornacki put it to me, “It took Donald Trump saying all this stuff”—floating the idea of denying Muslims entry into the United States, for instance—“to reveal there was a massive constituency for it.”

Missing the significance of Trumpism is a different kind of failure than, say, calling the 2012 election for Mitt Romney. It also might be a more damning one. Botching your general election forecast by a couple of percentage points suggests a flawed mathematical formula. Actively denying the reality of Trump’s success suggests Silver may never have been capable of explaining the world in a way so many believed he could in 2008 and 2012, when he was telling them how likely it was that Obama would become, and remain, the president.

“This is an extraordinary, unusual, utterly bizarre election year, in which events that have never happened before are happening,” says Blake Zeff, the editor of the political news site Cafe and a former campaign aide to Obama and Hillary Clinton. “That’s a nightmare scenario for a projection model that is predicated on historical trends.” While Zeff cautioned it was premature to pillory Silver for missing out on Trumpism, the point stands: What was true yesterday is not necessarily true today, and that’s a problem for Silver and his team of prognosticators.

In 2008, Silver emerged as a new kind of journalist. His data-driven approach to political analysis was a necessary corrective to a media herd that too often relied on gut feelings and received wisdom. So long as punditry continues to exist, thinkers like Silver will remain essential. But the rise of FiveThirtyEight hasn’t changed the fundamental purpose of journalism: to pay attention as the world changes and to try to understand what’s driving that change.

You could argue Silver never promised he was capable of doing those things—that all he ever intended to do was predict the future, not explain it. But Trump’s campaign, which is forcing Americans to ask themselves how such a hateful, boorish candidate could capture the imagination of so many of their fellow citizens, makes it clear that truly revelatory analysis must tell us “why,” not just “what.” If only Nate Silver could give us both.

Voir également:

Le professeur qui a prédit la victoire de Trump fustige les sondages

Alexander Panetta
La Presse Canadienne
09 novembre 2016

Ses amitiés ont été mises à l’épreuve, ses méthodes contestées, mais au bout du compte, il a encore eu raison. Allan Lichtman a désormais prédit avec succès les résultats de neuf élections présidentielles consécutives – incluant la victoire de Donald Trump – grâce à un modèle qu’il a créé.

M. Lichtman est très critique des sondages et des journalistes politiques qui s’en inspirent, et affirme que son questionnaire en 13 parties est beaucoup plus probant dans ses prédictions que les cartes numérisées des batailles par État.

Le professeur d’histoire à l’American University à Washington a tout de même dit, mercredi, qu’il ne tirait aucune satisfaction à avoir eu raison sur la victoire du controversé républicain Donald Trump.

M. Lichtman estime que les analystes électoraux errent en étudiant une campagne comme une série de zones de combat – le nord en opposition au sud de la Floride, l’ouest par rapport à l’est de la Pennsylvanie, etc. Il préfère voir tout cela comme un jeu de dominos, les morceaux s’abattant les uns sur les autres.

Le professeur a dit croire que les campagnes américaines étaient l’affaire d’élans insufflés à un candidat ou à l’autre.

Au début des années 1980, un collègue et lui-même ont examiné les résultats électoraux depuis la guerre civile et ont repéré des tendances. Ils ont établi 13 affirmations vraies ou fausses, et déterminé que si la réponse à six d’entre elles ou plus était «fausse», le parti au pouvoir allait subir la défaite. Parmi ces affirmations figurent «l’économie n’est pas en récession»; «il n’y a pas de course véritable pour l’investiture du parti au pouvoir»; «le parti a remporté des sièges au cours des deux précédents demi-mandats» et «le candidat est charismatique ou un héros national».

La méthode a porté ses fruits chaque fois depuis 1984.

Cette fois, le sixième et ultime domino s’est abattu sur Hillary Clinton durant les primaires – en ayant une concurrence étonnamment forte de la part du sénateur Bernie Sanders.

M. Lichtman a rapidement prédit une victoire de M. Trump dans des entrevues, et s’est attiré la foudre de certains.

«Pas de courriels haineux. Mais une tonne de critiques», a dit le professeur âgé de 69 ans, qui avait déjà brigué un siège démocrate au Sénat dans le Maryland.

«Je crois que j’ai perdu tous mes amis démocrates, à tout le moins pour un certain moment. J’ai subi beaucoup de pressions pour changer ma prédiction», a-t-il confié.

Trump is headed for a win, says professor who has predicted 30 years of presidential outcomes correctly
Peter W. Stevenson
The Washington Post
September 23, 2016

Allan Lichtman, a distinguished professor of history at American University, created his « 13 Keys to the White House » more than 30 years ago—and he’s ready to predict who will win in 2016. (Peter Stevenson/The Washington Post)

Update: The Fix caught up with Lichtman again on Oct. 28. Here’s his latest prediction.

Nobody knows for certain who will win on Nov. 8 — but one man is pretty sure: Professor Allan Lichtman, who has correctly predicted the winner of the popular vote in every presidential election since 1984.

When we sat down in May, he explained how he comes to a decision. Lichtman’s prediction isn’t based on horse-race polls, shifting demographics or his own political opinions. Rather, he uses a system of true/false statements he calls the « Keys to the White House » to determine his predicted winner.

And this year, he says, Donald Trump is the favorite to win.

The keys, which are explained in depth in Lichtman’s book “Predicting the Next President: The Keys to the White House 2016” are:

  1. Party Mandate: After the midterm elections, the incumbent party holds more seats in the U.S. House of Representatives than after the previous midterm elections.
  2. Contest: There is no serious contest for the incumbent party nomination.
  3. Incumbency: The incumbent party candidate is the sitting president.
  4. Third party: There is no significant third party or independent campaign.
  5. Short-term economy: The economy is not in recession during the election campaign.
  6. Long-term economy: Real per capita economic growth during the term equals or exceeds mean growth during the previous two terms.
  7. Policy change: The incumbent administration effects major changes in national policy.
  8. Social unrest: There is no sustained social unrest during the term.
  9. Scandal: The incumbent administration is untainted by major scandal.
  10. Foreign/military failure: The incumbent administration suffers no major failure in foreign or military affairs.
  11. Foreign/military success: The incumbent administration achieves a major success in foreign or military affairs.
  12. Incumbent charisma: The incumbent party candidate is charismatic or a national hero.
  13. Challenger charisma: The challenging party candidate is not charismatic or a national hero.

Lichtman, a distinguished professor of history at American University, sat down with The Fix this week to reveal who he thinks will win in November and why 2016 was the most difficult election to predict yet. Our conversation has been lightly edited for length and clarity.

THE FIX: Can you tell me about the keys, and how you use them to evaluate the election from the point where — I assume it’s very murky a year or two out, and they start to crystallize over the course of the election.

LICHTMAN: « The Keys to the White House » is a historically based prediction system. I derived the system by looking at every American presidential election from 1860 to 1980, and have since used the system to correctly predict the outcomes of all eight American presidential elections from 1984 to 2012.

The keys are 13 true/false questions, where an answer of « true » always favors the reelection of the party holding the White House, in this case the Democrats. And the keys are phrased to reflect the basic theory that elections are primarily judgments on the performance of the party holding the White House. And if six or more of the 13 keys are false — that is, they go against the party in power — they lose. If fewer than six are false, the party in power gets four more years.

So people who hear just the surface-level argument there might say, well, President Obama has a 58 percent approval rating, doesn’t that mean the Democrats are a shoo-in? Why is that wrong?

It absolutely does not mean the Democrats are a shoo-in. First of all, one of my keys is whether or not the sitting president is running for reelection, and right away, they are down that key. Another one of my keys is whether or not the candidate of the White House party is, like Obama was in 2008, charismatic. Hillary Clinton doesn’t fit the bill.

The keys have nothing to do with presidential approval polls or horse-race polls, with one exception, and that is to assess the possibility of a significant third-party campaign.

What about Donald Trump on the other side? He’s not affiliated with the sitting party, but has his campaign been an enigma in terms of your ability to assess this election?

Donald Trump has made this the most difficult election to assess since 1984. We have never before seen a candidate like Donald Trump, and Donald Trump may well break patterns of history that have held since 1860.

We’ve never before seen a candidate who’s spent his life enriching himself at the expense of others. He’s the first candidate in our history to be a serial fabricator, making up things as he goes along. Even when he tells the truth, such as, « Barack Obama really was born in the U.S., » he adds two lines, that Hillary Clinton started the birther movement, and that he finished it, even though when Barack Obama put out his birth certificate, he didn’t believe it. We’ve never had a candidate before who not just once, but twice in a thinly disguised way, has incited violence against an opponent. We’ve never had a candidate before who’s invited a hostile foreign power to meddle in American elections. We’ve never had a candidate before who’s threatened to start a war by blowing ships out of the water in the Persian Gulf if they come too close to us. We’ve never had a candidate before who has embraced as a role model a murderous, hostile foreign dictator. Given all of these exceptions that Donald Trump represents, he may well shatter patterns of history that have held for more than 150 years, lose this election even if the historical circumstances favor it.

We’re a little bit less than seven weeks out from the election today. Who do you predict will win in November?

Based on the 13 keys, it would predict a Donald Trump victory. Remember, six keys and you’re out, and right now the Democrats are out — for sure — five keys.

Key 1 is the party mandate — how well they did in the midterms. They got crushed.

Key number 3 is, the sitting president is not running.

Key number 7, no major policy change in Obama’s second term like the Affordable Care Act.

Key number 11, no major smashing foreign policy success.

And Key number 12, Hillary Clinton is not a Franklin Roosevelt.

One more key and the Democrats are down, and we have the Gary Johnson Key. One of my keys would be that the party in power gets a « false » if a third-party candidate is anticipated to get 5 percent of the vote or more. In his highest polling, Gary Johnson is at about 12 to 14 percent. My rule is that you cut it in half. That would mean that he gets six to seven, and that would be the sixth and final key against the Democrats.

So very, very narrowly, the keys point to a Trump victory. But I would say, more to the point, they point to a generic Republican victory, because I believe that given the unprecedented nature of the Trump candidacy and Trump himself, he could defy all odds and lose even though the verdict of history is in his favor. So this would also suggest, you know, the possibility this election could go either way. Nobody should be complacent, no matter who you’re for, you gotta get out and vote.

Do you think the fact that Trump is not a traditional Republican — certainly not an establishment Republican, from a rhetorical or policy perspective — contributes to that uncertainty over where he fits in with the standard methodology for evaluating the Keys?

I think the fact that he’s a bit of a maverick, and nobody knows where he stands on policy, because he’s constantly shifting. I defy anyone to say what his immigration policy is, what his policy is on banning Muslims, or whoever, from entering the United States, that’s certainly a factor. But it’s more his history in Trump University, the Trump Institute, his bankruptcies, the charitable foundation, of enriching himself at the expense of others, and all of the lies and dangerous things he’s said in this campaign, that could make him a precedent-shattering candidate.

It’s interesting, I don’t use the polls, as I’ve just explained, but the polls have very recently tightened. Clinton is less ahead than she was before, but it’s not because Trump is rising, it’s because Clinton is falling. He’s still around 39 percent in the polls. You can’t win if you can’t crack 40 percent.

As people realize the choice is not Gary Johnson, the only choice is between Trump and Clinton, those Gary Johnson supporters may move away from Johnson and toward Clinton, particularly those millennials. And, you know, I’ve seen this movie before. My first vote was in 1968, when I was the equivalent of a millennial, and lots of my friends, very liberal, wouldn’t vote for Hubert Humphrey because he was part of the Democratic establishment, and guess what? They elected Richard Nixon.

And, of course, as I have said for over 30 years, predictions are not endorsements. My prediction is based off a scientific system. It does not necessarily represent, in any way, shape or form, an Allan Lichtman or American University endorsement of any candidate. And of course, as a successful forecaster, I’ve predicted in almost equal measure both Republican and Democratic victories.

Voir également:

Wonkblog
A new theory for why Trump voters are so angry — that actually makes sense
Jeff Guo
The Washington Post
November 8, 2016

Regardless of who wins on Election Day, we will spend the next few years trying to unpack what the heck just happened. We know that Donald Trump voters are angry, and we know that they are fed up. By now, there have been so many attempts to explain Trumpism that the genre has become a target of parody.

But if you’re wondering about the widening fissure between red and blue America, why politics these days have become so fraught and so emotional, Kathy Cramer is one of the best people to ask. For the better part of the past decade, the political science professor has been crisscrossing Wisconsin trying to get inside the minds of rural voters.

Well before President Obama or the tea party, well before the rise of Trump sent reporters scrambling into the heartland looking for answers, Cramer was hanging out in dairy barns and diners and gas stations, sitting with her tape recorder taking notes. Her research seeks to understand how the people of small towns make sense of politics — why they feel the way they feel, why they vote the way they vote.

There’s been great thirst this election cycle for insight into the psychology of Trump voters. J.D. Vance’s memoir “Hillbilly Elegy” offers a narrative about broken families and social decay. “There is a lack of agency here — a feeling that you have little control over your life and a willingness to blame everyone but yourself,” he writes. Sociologist Arlie Hochschild tells a tale of perceived betrayal. According to her research, white voters feel the American Dream is drifting out of reach for them, and they are angry because they believe minorities and immigrants have butted in line.

Cramer’s recent book, “The Politics of Resentment,” offers a third perspective. Through her repeated interviews with the people of rural Wisconsin, she shows how politics have increasingly become a matter of personal identity. Just about all of her subjects felt a deep sense of bitterness toward elites and city dwellers; just about all of them felt tread on, disrespected and cheated out of what they felt they deserved.

Cramer argues that this “rural consciousness” is key to understanding which political arguments ring true to her subjects. For instance, she says, most rural Wisconsinites supported the tea party’s quest to shrink government not out of any belief in the virtues of small government but because they did not trust the government to help “people like them.”

“Support for less government among lower-income people is often derided as the opinions of people who have been duped,” she writes. However, she continues: “Listening in on these conversations, it is hard to conclude that the people I studied believe what they do because they have been hoodwinked. Their views are rooted in identities and values, as well as in economic perceptions; and these things are all intertwined.”

Rural voters, of course, are not precisely the same as Trump voters, but Cramer’s book offers an important way to think about politics in the era of Trump. Many have pointed out that American politics have become increasingly tribal; Cramer takes that idea a step further, showing how these tribal identities shape our perspectives on reality.

It will not be enough, in the coming months, to say that Trump voters were simply angry. Cramer shows that there are nuances to political rage. To understand Trump’s success, she argues, we have to understand how he tapped into people’s sense of self.

Recently, Cramer chatted with us about Trump and the future of white identity politics.

(As you’ll notice, Cramer has spent so much time with rural Wisconsinites that she often slips, subconsciously, into their voice. We’ve tagged those segments in italics. The interview has also been edited for clarity and length.)

For people who haven’t read your book yet, can you explain a little bit what you discovered after spending so many years interviewing people in rural Wisconsin?

Cramer: To be honest, it took me many months — I went to these 27 communities several times — before I realized that there was a pattern in all these places. What I was hearing was this general sense of being on the short end of the stick. Rural people felt like they’re not getting their fair share.

That feeling is primarily composed of three things. First, people felt that they were not getting their fair share of decision-making power. For example, people would say: All the decisions are made in Madison and Milwaukee and nobody’s listening to us. Nobody’s paying attention, nobody’s coming out here and asking us what we think. Decisions are made in the cities, and we have to abide by them.

Second, people would complain that they weren’t getting their fair share of stuff, that they weren’t getting their fair share of public resourcesThat often came up in perceptions of taxation. People had this sense that all the money is sucked in by Madison, but never spent on places like theirs.

And third, people felt that they weren’t getting respect. They would say: The real kicker is that people in the city don’t understand us. They don’t understand what rural life is like, what’s important to us and what challenges that we’re facing. They think we’re a bunch of redneck racists.

So it’s all three of these things — the power, the money, the respect. People are feeling like they’re not getting their fair share of any of that.

Was there a sense that anything had changed recently? That anything occurred to harden this sentiment? Why does the resentment seem so much worse now?

Cramer: These sentiments are not new. When I first heard them in 2007, they had been building for a long time — decades.

Look at all the graphs showing how economic inequality has been increasing for decades. Many of the stories that people would tell about the trajectories of their own lives map onto those graphs, which show that since the mid-’70s, something has increasingly been going wrong.

It’s just been harder and harder for the vast majority of people to make ends meet. So I think that’s part of this story. It’s been this slow burn.

Resentment is like that. It builds and builds and builds until something happens. Some confluence of things makes people notice: I am so pissed off. I am really the victim of injustice here.

So what do you think set it all off?

Cramer: The Great Recession didn’t help. Though, as I describe in the book, people weren’t talking about it in the ways I expected them to. People were like,Whatever, we’ve been in a recession for decades. What’s the big deal?

Part of it is that the Republican Party over the years has honed its arguments to tap into this resentment. They’re saying: “You’re right, you’re not getting your fair share, and the problem is that it’s all going to the government. So let’s roll government back.”

So there’s a little bit of an elite-driven effect here, where people are told: “You are right to be upset. You are right to notice this injustice.”

Then, I also think that having our first African American president is part of the mix, too. Now, many of the people that I spent time with were very intrigued by Barack Obama. I think that his race, in a way, signaled to people that this was different kind of candidate. They were keeping an open mind about him. Maybe this person is going to be different.

But then when the health-care debate ramped up, once he was in office and became very, very partisan, I think people took partisan sides. And truth be told, I think many people saw the election of an African American to the presidency as a threat. They were thinking: Wow something is going on in our nation and it’s really unfamiliar, and what does that mean for people like me?

I think in the end his presence has added to the anxieties people have about where this country is headed.

One of the endless debates among the chattering class on Twitter is whether Trump is mostly a phenomenon related to racial resentment, or whether Trump support is rooted in deeper economic anxieties. And a lot of times, the debate is framed like it has to be one or the other — but I think your book offers an interesting way to connect these ideas.

Cramer: What I heard from my conversations is that, in these three elements of resentment — I’m not getting my fair share of power, stuff or respect — there’s race and economics intertwined in each of those ideas.

When people are talking about those people in the city getting an “unfair share,” there’s certainly a racial component to that. But they’re also talking about people like me [a white, female professor]. They’re asking questions like, how often do I teach, what am I doing driving around the state Wisconsin when I’m supposed to be working full time in Madison, like, what kind of a job is that, right?

It’s not just resentment toward people of color. It’s resentment toward elites, city people.

And maybe the best way to explain how these things are intertwined is through noticing how much conceptions of hard work and deservingness matter for the way these resentments matter to politics.

We know that when people think about their support for policies, a lot of the time what they’re doing is thinking about whether the recipients of these policies are deserving. Those calculations are often intertwined with notions of hard work, because in the American political culture, we tend to equate hard work with deservingness.

And a lot of racial stereotypes carry this notion of laziness, so when people are making these judgments about who’s working hard, oftentimes people of color don’t fare well in those judgments. But it’s not just people of color. People are like: Are you sitting behind a desk all day? Well that’s not hard work. Hard work is someone like me — I’m a logger, I get up at 4:30 and break my back. For my entire life that’s what I’m doing. I’m wearing my body out in the process of earning a living.

In my mind, through resentment and these notions of deservingness, that’s where you can see how economic anxiety and racial anxiety are intertwined.

The reason the “Trumpism = racism” argument doesn’t ring true for me is that, well, you can’t eat racism. You can’t make a living off of racism. I don’t dispute that the surveys show there’s a lot of racial resentment among Trump voters, but often the argument just ends there. “They’re racist.” It seems like a very blinkered way to look at this issue.

Cramer: It’s absolutely racist to think that black people don’t work as hard as white people. So what? We write off a huge chunk of the population as racist and therefore their concerns aren’t worth attending to?

How do we ever address racial injustice with that limited understanding?

Of course [some of this resentment] is about race, but it’s also very much about the actual lived conditions that people are experiencing. We do need to pay attention to both. As the work that you did on mortality rates shows, it’s not just about dollars. People are experiencing a decline in prosperity, and that’s real.

The other really important element here is people’s perceptions. Surveys show that it may not actually be the case that Trump supporters themselves are doing less well — but they live in places where it’s reasonable for them to conclude that people like them are struggling.

Support for Trump is rooted in reality in some respects — in people’s actual economic struggles, and the actual increases in mortality. But it’s the perceptionsthat people have about their reality are the key driving force here. That’s been a really important lesson from this election.

I want to get into this idea of deservingness. As I was reading your book it really struck me that the people you talked to, they really have a strong sense of what they deserve, and what they think they ought to have. Where does that come from?

Cramer: Part of where that comes from is just the overarching story that we tell ourselves in the U.S. One of the key stories in our political culture has been the American Dream — the sense that if you work hard, you will get ahead.

Well, holy cow, the people I encountered seem to me to be working extremely hard. I’m with them when they’re getting their coffee before they start their workday at 5:30 a.m. I can see the fatigue in their eyes. And I think the notion that they are not getting what they deserve, it comes from them feeling like they’re struggling. They feel like they’re doing what they were told they needed to do to get ahead. And somehow it’s not enough.

Oftentimes in some of these smaller communities, people are in the occupations their parents were in, they’re farmers and loggers. They say, it used to be the case that my dad could do this job and retire at a relatively decent age, and make a decent wage. We had a pretty good quality of life, the community was thriving. Now I’m doing what he did, but my life is really much more difficult.

I’m doing what I was told I should do in order to be a good American and get ahead, but I’m not getting what I was told I would get.

The hollowing out of the middle class has been happening for everyone, not just for white people. But it seems that this phenomenon is only driving some voters into supporting Trump. One theme of your book is how we can take the same reality, the same facts, but interpret them through different frames of mind and come to such different conclusions.

Cramer: It’s not inevitable that people should assume that the decline in their quality of life is the fault of other population groups. In my book I talk about rural folks resenting people in the city. In the presidential campaign, Trump is very clear about saying: You’re right, you’re not getting your fair share, and look at these other groups of people who are getting more than their fair share. Immigrants. Muslims. Uppity women.

But here’s where having Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump running alongside one another for a while was so interesting. I think the support for Sanders represented a different interpretation of the problem. For Sanders supporters, the problem is not that other population groups are getting more than their fair share, but that the government isn’t doing enough to intervene here and right a ship that’s headed in the wrong direction.

One of the really interesting parts of your book is where you discuss how rural people seem to hate government and want to shrink it, even though government provides them with a lot of benefits. It raises the Thomas Frank question — on some level, are people just being fooled or deluded?

Cramer: There is definitely some misinformation, some misunderstandings. But we all do that thing of encountering information and interpreting it in a way that supports our own predispositions. Recent studies in political science have shown that it’s actually those of us who think of ourselves as the most politically sophisticated, the most educated, who do it more than others.

So I really resist this characterization of Trump supporters as ignorant.

There’s just more and more of a recognition that politics for people is not — and this is going to sound awful, but — it’s not about facts and policies. It’s so much about identities, people forming ideas about the kind of person they are and the kind of people others are. Who am I for, and who am I against?

Policy is part of that, but policy is not the driver of these judgments. There are assessments of, is this someone like me? Is this someone who gets someone like me?

I think all too often, we put our energies into figuring out where people stand on particular policies. I think putting energy into trying to understand the way they view the world and their place in it — that gets us so much further toward understanding how they’re going to vote, or which candidates are going to be appealing to them.

All of us, even well-educated, politically sophisticated people interpret facts through our own perspectives, our sense of what who we are, our own identities.

I don’t think that what you do is give people more information. Because they are going to interpret it through the perspectives they already have. People are only going to absorb facts when they’re communicated from a source that they respect, from a source who they perceive has respect for people like them.

And so whenever a liberal calls out Trump supporters as ignorant or fooled or misinformed, that does absolutely nothing to convey the facts that the liberal is trying to convey.

If, hypothetically, we see a Clinton victory on Tuesday, a lot of people have suggested that she should go out and have a listening tour. What would be her best strategy to reach out to people?

Cramer: The very best strategy would be for Donald Trump, if he were to lose the presidential election, to say, “We need to come together as a country, and we need to be nice to each other.”

That’s not going to happen.

As for the next best approach … well I’m trying to be mindful of what is realistic. It’s not a great strategy for someone from the outside to say, “Look, we really do care about you.” The level of resentment is so high.

People for months now have been told they’re absolutely right to be angry at the federal government, and they should absolutely not trust this woman, she’s a liar and a cheat, and heaven forbid if she becomes president of the United States. Our political leaders have to model for us what it’s like to disagree, but also to not lose basic faith in the system. Unless our national leaders do that, I don’t think we should expect people to.

Maybe it would be good to end on this idea of listening. There was thisrecent interview with Arlie Hochschild where someone asked her how we could empathize with Trump supporters. This was ridiculed by some liberals on Twitter. They were like, “Why should we try to have this deep, nuanced understanding of people who are chanting JEW-S-A at Trump rallies?” It was this really violent reaction, and it got me thinking about your book.

Cramer: One of the very sad aspects of resentment is that it breeds more of itself. Now you have liberals saying, “There is no justification for these points of view, and why would I ever show respect for these points of view by spending time and listening to them?”

Thank God I was as naive as I was when I started. If I knew then what I know now about the level of resentment people have toward urban, professional elite women, would I walk into a gas station at 5:30 in the morning and say, “Hi! I’m Kathy from the University of Madison”?

I’d be scared to death after this presidential campaign! But thankfully I wasn’t aware of these views. So what happened to me is that, within three minutes, people knew I was a professor at UW-Madison, and they gave me an earful about the many ways in which that riled them up — and then we kept talking.

And then I would go back for a second visit, a third visit, a fourth, fifth and sixth. And we liked each other. Even at the end of my first visit, they would say, “You know, you’re the first professor from Madison I’ve ever met, and you’re actually kind of normal.” And we’d laugh. We got to know each other as human beings.

That’s partly about listening, and that’s partly about spending time with people from a different walk of life, from a different perspective. There’s nothing like it. You can’t achieve it through online communication. You can’t achieve it through having good intentions. It’s the act of being with other people that establishes the sense we actually are all in this together.

As Pollyannaish as that sounds, I really do believe it.

Voir encore:

Hillary Clinton prévenue à l’avance de questions des débats lors des primaires démocrates

Hillary Clinton a reçu en avance des questions qui lui ont été posées lors de débats de la primaire démocrate, révèlent des emails publiés lundi par WikiLeaks, qui confirment des accusations lancées par Donald Trump.

De nouveaux emails publiés lundi par WikiLeaks embarrassent la campagne Clinton. Ils démontrent qu’Hillary Clinton avait reçu en avance des questions qui allaient lui être posés lors des débats de la primaire démocrate.

« Une des questions qui sera posée à HRC proviendra d’une femme qui a une éruption cutanée »

Un des emails rendus publics est particulièrement parlant : rédigé par l’actuelle présidente intérimaire du Parti démocrate, Donna Brazile, il est adressé à John Podesta, président de la campagne de Mme Clinton et Jennifer Palmieri, directrice de la communication de la candidate.

Le message est daté du 5 mars, veille d’un débat qui s’est déroulé dans la ville septentrionale de Flint, devenue symbole des injustices sociales aux Etats-Unis en raison de son réseau d’eau gravement contaminé au plomb. « Une des questions qui sera posée à HRC (Hillary Rodham Clinton, NDLR) proviendra d’une femme qui a une éruption cutanée », avertit Donna Brazile, qui officiait alors comme commentatrice sur la chaîne CNN.

« Sa famille a été empoisonnée au plomb et elle demandera ce qu’Hillary pourrait faire pour les gens de Flint si elle devient présidente », précise Donna Brazile. Au débat le lendemain, Hillary Clinton avait en effet été interrogée par une femme qui avait dénoncé les problèmes cutanés de sa famille, même si les termes de la question énoncée étaient sensiblement différents.

« De temps en temps j’obtiens les questions à l’avance »

Dans un message du 12 mars, veille d’un débat organisé par CNN, Donna Brazile promet à Jennifer Palmieri d’en « envoyer quelques-unes supplémentaires », en faisant très vraisemblablement référence à des questions de débat.

Enfin, dans un autre email récemment révélé, Donna Brazile avait écrit : « De temps en temps j’obtiens les questions à l’avance ». Dans ce même message, la stratège du Parti démocrate sous-entendait que Hillary Clinton se verrait poser une question sur la peine de mort.

Après ces révélations, CNN a affirmé lundi que Donna Brazile avait donné sa démission de la chaîne. « Merci CNN. Honorée d’avoir été une politologue et commentatrice démocrate sur votre chaîne », a tweeté lundi Donna Brazile.

Cela confirme des accusations lancées par Donald Trump

Depuis des semaines le candidat républicain à la présidentielle, Donald Trump, répète que sa rivale a été avantagée dans la campagne de la primaire démocrate face à son principal concurrent Bernie Sanders, notamment en bénéficiant à l’avance des questions des débats. Donald Trump n’a pas présenté de preuves à l’appui de ses affirmations mais les faits lui ont ici donné raison.

Les emails rendus publics par WikiLeaks ont été piratés sur le compte de John Podesta, par des hackers proches du pouvoir russe, selon les services de renseignement américains. Le Parti démocrate n’a pas confirmé ni infirmé leur authenticité.

Voir enfin:

Le racisme reste un non-dit dans la course à la présidentielle

Selon un sondage récent, Barack Obama pourrait perdre six points de pourcentage le jour de l’élection présidentielle du fait de sa couleur. Le prix du préjugé racial pour le candidat qui s’est pourtant toujours gardé d’apparaître comme le champion de la minorité noire.

L’Obs
06 octobre 2008

Cela relève du non-dit et peu d’Américains l’avoueront en votant le 4 novembre mais le racisme reste, lundi 6 octobre, un préjugé latent dans cette élection historique qui pourrait porter au pouvoir le premier président noir des Etats-Unis, Barack Obama.
Le candidat démocrate à la Maison Blanche s’est toujours présenté comme celui de tous les Américains. Il s’est gardé d’apparaître comme le champion de la minorité noire mais s’est affirmé fier de sa double identité, lui, né d’un père kényan et d’une mère blanche du Kansas.« Les racistes nieront »

« Le racisme est un thème que notre pays ne peut se permettre d’ignorer. C’est une impasse qui nous bloque depuis des années », avait lancé au printemps le sénateur de 47 ans.
Selon un sondage récent de l’université de Stanford, Barack Obama pourrait perdre six points de pourcentage le jour de l’élection présidentielle du fait de sa couleur. Le prix du préjugé racial.
« La race est un facteur pour ceux qui voteront pour ou contre Barack Obama », explique Gary Weaver, professeur à l’American University et directeur de l’Institut de gestion des relations interculturelles.
« Certains Blancs ne voteront jamais pour un Noir. Mais il est peu probable qu’ils l’admettront publiquement. Ils pourront le faire lors d’un sondage anonyme », explique-t-il à l’AFP.
« Les racistes nieront le plus souvent qu’ils sont influencés dans leur vote par la race car c’est inacceptable socialement. Mais, dans l’isoloir, ils voteront vraisemblablement contre Obama », poursuit Gary Weaver.

Pas un obstacle mais une question centrale

Les Américains appellent ce phénomène « l’effet Bradley », du nom d’un ancien maire noir de Los Angeles Tom Bradley, battu à l’élection de gouverneur de Californie alors que tous les sondages le donnaient gagnant.
« La race peut être un obstacle mais ce n’est pas une question primordiale pour beaucoup d’Américains. Elle reste néanmoins centrale pour quelques-uns, en particulier les ruraux blancs des Etats du sud », observe Paul Herrnson, professeur à l’université du Maryland (est).
« Beaucoup de racistes ne voteront tout simplement pas, le 4 novembre. Certains voteront pour McCain », le candidat républicain, estime Gary Weaver, universitaire blanc, marié à une Noire il y a 38 ans, quand des Etats interdisaient encore les unions mixtes.
« Plus de 90% des Noirs devraient voter Obama, ainsi qu’une majorité des Hispaniques et une proportion énorme des jeunes. Ces trois catégories d’électeurs devraient contrebalancer ceux qui ne voteront jamais pour un candidat noir », souligne-t-il.
« Très peu d’Américains admettent qu’ils sont racistes, si ce n’est quelques milliers de Néo-Nazis, ou de membres du Ku Klux Klan, qui ne sont plus que 1.000 à 2.000 dans le Sud. L’Américain moyen ne l’avouera jamais », assure Gary Weaver.

Pas de problèmes chez les jeunes

« Il y a une évolution parmi les jeunes, eux n’ont pas de problème à fréquenter ceux qui sont différents », se réjouit Bryan Monroe, rédacteur en chef adjoint d’Ebony, le plus ancien magazine noir américain.
« Le plus grand fossé se trouve entre les personnes âgées blanches et les jeunes. Si les jeunes votent, ils décideront de cette élection », renchérit M. Weaver.
« Ils ont grandi après la lutte pour les droits civiques, ont appris à l’école que l’Amérique était censée être multiculturelle, plurielle, égalitaire. Pour eux, Obama est le représentant de cette société-là », relève-t-il.
Les Noirs ne représentent plus que 13% de la population américaine (40 millions), derrière les Hispaniques (42 millions).
Concentrée dans les Etats du Nord industriel et au sud de la Virginie, la communauté noire urbaine vit le plus souvent séparée des Blancs, dans des quartiers ghettoïsés.
Les inégalités sociales sont frappantes. Dans les prisons, il y a six fois plus de Noirs que de Blancs. Un Noir sur 15 est un détenu.
Et si les préjugés racistes reculent, ils n’ont pas disparu. Ainsi, sur le campus d’une université de l’Oregon, une effigie de Barack Obama vient d’être retrouvée, pendue à un arbre. (avec AFP)


Etats-Unis: Comment le lac Reagan a viré au rouge (Red states vs. blue states: How the election that wouldn’t end gave us a new political shorthand)

8 mars, 2015


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Year
Incumbent
Party
Incumbent
Color
Challenger
Color
1976 Republican Blue = Ford Red = Carter
1980 Democratic Red = Carter Blue = Reagan
1984 Republican Blue = Reagan Red = Mondale
1988 Republican Red = Bush Blue = Dukakis
1992 Republican Blue = Bush Red = Clinton
1996 Democratic Red = Clinton Blue = Dole
2000 Democratic Blue = Gore Red = Bush
2004 Republican Red = Bush Blue = Kerry
Le drapeau rouge est un pavillon de terreur qui n’a jamais fait que le tour du Champ-de-Mars, tandis que le drapeau tricolore a fait le tour du monde, avec le nom, la gloire et la liberté de la patrie! Lamartine
Dans la Rome antique, les yeux bleus étaient une disgrâce, voire, pour une femme, un signe de débauche. Au Moyen Age, la mariée était en rouge, mais aussi les prostituées. On le devine déjà : les couleurs en disent long sur nos ambivalences. Elles sont de formidables révélateurs de l’évolution de nos mentalité. Dominique Simmonet
Au XIIe siècle, la Vierge devient le principal agent de promotion du bleu Depuis que l’on dispose d’enquêtes d’opinion, depuis 1890 environ, le bleu est en effet placé au premier rang partout en Occident, en France comme en Sicile, aux Etats-Unis comme en Nouvelle-Zélande, par les hommes comme par les femmes, quel que soit leur milieu social et professionnel. C’est toute la civilisation occidentale qui donne la primauté au bleu, ce qui est différent dans les autres cultures: les Japonais, par exemple, plébiscitent le rouge. Pourtant, cela n’a pas toujours été le cas. Longtemps, le bleu a été mal aimé. Il n’est présent ni dans les grottes paléolithiques ni au néolithique, lorsque apparaissent les premières techniques de teinture. Dans l’Antiquité, il n’est pas vraiment considéré comme une couleur; seuls le blanc, le rouge et le noir ont ce statut. A l’exception de l’Egypte pharaonique, où il est censé porter bonheur dans l’au-delà, d’où ces magnifiques objets bleu-vert, fabriqués selon une recette à base de cuivre qui s’est perdue par la suite, le bleu est même l’objet d’un véritable désintérêt. (…) mais la couleur bleue est difficile à fabriquer et à maîtriser, et c’est sans doute la raison pour laquelle elle n’a pas joué de rôle dans la vie sociale, religieuse ou symbolique de l’époque. A Rome, c’est la couleur des barbares, de l’étranger (les peuples du Nord, comme les Germains, aiment le bleu). De nombreux témoignages l’affirment: avoir les yeux bleus pour une femme, c’est un signe de mauvaise vie. Pour les hommes, une marque de ridicule. On retrouve cet état d’esprit dans le vocabulaire: en latin classique, le lexique des bleus est instable, imprécis. Lorsque les langues romanes ont forgé leur vocabulaire des couleurs, elles ont dû aller chercher ailleurs, dans les mots germanique (blau) et arabe (azraq). Chez les Grecs aussi, on relève des confusions de vocabulaire entre le bleu, le gris et le vert. L’absence du bleu dans les textes anciens a d’ailleurs tellement intrigué que certains philologues du XIXe siècle ont cru sérieusement que les yeux des Grecs ne pouvaient le voir! (…) à l’exception du saphir, pierre préférée des peuples de la Bible, il y a peu de place pour le bleu. Cette situation perdure au haut Moyen Age: les couleurs liturgiques, par exemple, qui se forment à l’ère carolingienne, l’ignorent (elles se constituent autour du blanc, du rouge, du noir et du vert). Ce qui laisse des traces encore aujourd’hui: le bleu est toujours absent du culte catholique… Et puis, soudain, tout change. Les XIIe et XIIIe siècles vont réhabiliter et promouvoir le bleu. (…) Il n’y a pas à ce moment-là de progrès particulier dans la fabrication des colorants ou des pigments. Ce qui se produit, c’est un changement profond des idées religieuses. Le Dieu des chrétiens devient en effet un dieu de lumière. Et la lumière est… bleue! Pour la première fois en Occident, on peint les ciels en bleu – auparavant, ils étaient noirs, rouges, blancs ou dorés. Plus encore, on est alors en pleine expansion du culte marial. Or la Vierge habite le ciel… Dans les images, à partir du XIIe siècle, on la revêt donc d’un manteau ou d’une robe bleus. La Vierge devient le principal agent de promotion du bleu. (…) Il y a une seconde raison à ce renversement: à cette époque, on est pris d’une vraie soif de classification, on veut hiérarchiser les individus, leur donner des signes d’identité, des codes de reconnaissance. Apparaissent les noms de famille, les armoiries, les insignes de fonction… Or, avec les trois couleurs traditionnelles de base (blanc, rouge, noir), les combinaisons sont limitées. Il en faut davantage pour refléter la diversité de la société. Le bleu, mais aussi le vert et le jaune, va en profiter. On passe ainsi d’un système à trois couleurs de base à un système à six couleurs. C’est ainsi que le bleu devient en quelque sorte le contraire du rouge. Si on avait dit ça à Aristote, cela l’aurait fait sourire! Vers 1140, quand l’abbé Suger fait reconstruire l’église abbatiale de Saint-Denis, il veut mettre partout des couleurs pour dissiper les ténèbres, et notamment du bleu. On utilisera pour les vitraux un produit fort cher, le cafre (que l’on appellera bien plus tard le bleu de cobalt). De Saint-Denis ce bleu va se diffuser au Mans, puis à Vendôme et à Chartres, où il deviendra le célèbre bleu de Chartres. Omniprésent, consensuel, le bleu est devenu une couleur raisonnable (…) le bleu, divinisé, s’est répandu non seulement dans les vitraux et les oeuvres d’art, mais aussi dans toute la société: puisque la Vierge s’habille de bleu, le roi de France le fait aussi. Philippe Auguste, puis son petit-fils Saint Louis seront les premiers à l’adopter (Charlemagne ne l’aurait pas fait pour un empire!). Les seigneurs, bien sûr, s’empressent de les imiter… En trois générations, le bleu devient à la mode aristocratique. La technique suit: stimulés, sollicités, les teinturiers rivalisent en matière de nouveaux procédés et parviennent à fabriquer des bleus magnifiques. (…) Les conséquences économiques sont énormes: la demande de guède, cette plante mi-herbe, mi-arbuste que l’on utilisait dans les villages comme colorant artisanal, explose. Sa culture devient soudain industrielle, et fait la fortune de régions comme la Thuringe, la Toscane, la Picardie ou encore la région de Toulouse. On la cultive intensément pour produire ces boules appelées «coques», d’où le nom de pays de cocagne. C’est un véritable or bleu! On a calculé que 80% de la cathédrale d’Amiens, bâtie au XIIIe siècle, avait été payée par les marchands de guède! A Strasbourg, les marchands de garance, la plante qui donne le colorant rouge, étaient furieux. Ils ont même soudoyé le maître verrier chargé de représenter le diable sur les vitraux pour qu’il le colorie en bleu, afin de dévaloriser leur rival. [la guerre entre le bleu et le rouge] durera jusqu’au XVIIIe siècle. A la fin du Moyen Age, la vague moraliste, qui va provoquer la Réforme, se porte aussi sur les couleurs, en désignant des couleurs dignes et d’autres qui ne le sont pas. La palette protestante s’articule autour du blanc, du noir, du gris, du brun… et du bleu. (…) Comparez Rembrandt, peintre calviniste qui a une palette très retenue, faite de camaïeux, et Rubens, peintre catholique à la palette très colorée… Regardez les toiles de Philippe de Champaigne, qui sont colorées tant qu’il est catholique et se font plus austères, plus bleutées, quand il se rapproche des jansénistes… Ce discours moral, partiellement repris par la Contre-Réforme, promeut également le noir, le gris et le bleu dans le vêtement masculin. Il s’applique encore de nos jours. Sur ce plan, nous vivons toujours sous le régime de la Réforme. (…) Au XVIIIe siècle, il devient la couleur préférée des Européens. La technique en rajoute une couche: dans les années 1720, un pharmacien de Berlin invente par accident le fameux bleu de Prusse, qui va permettre aux peintres et aux teinturiers de diversifier la gamme des nuances foncées. De plus, on importe massivement l’indigo des Antilles et d’Amérique centrale, dont le pouvoir colorant est plus fort que l’ancien pastel et le prix de revient, plus faible que celui d’Asie, car il est fabriqué par des esclaves. Toutes les lois protectionnistes s’écroulent. L’indigo d’Amérique provoque la crise dans les anciennes régions de cocagne, Toulouse et Amiens sont ruinés, Nantes et Bordeaux s’enrichissent. Le bleu devient à la mode dans tous les domaines. Le romantisme accentue la tendance: comme leur héros, Werther de Goethe, les jeunes Européens s’habillent en bleu, et la poésie romantique allemande célèbre le culte de cette couleur si mélancolique – on en a peut-être gardé l’écho dans le vocabulaire, avec le blues… En 1850, un vêtement lui donne encore un coup de pouce: c’est le jean, inventé à San Francisco par un tailleur juif, Levi-Strauss, le pantalon idéal, avec sa grosse toile teinte à l’indigo, le premier bleu de travail. (…) Les valeurs protestantes édictent qu’un vêtement doit être sobre, digne et discret. En outre, teindre à l’indigo est facile, on peut même le faire à froid, car la couleur pénètre bien les fibres du tissu, d’où l’aspect délavé des jeans. Il faut attendre les années 1930 pour que, aux Etats-Unis, le jean devienne un vêtement de loisir, puis un signe de rébellion, dans les années 1960, mais pour un court moment seulement, car un vêtement bleu ne peut pas être vraiment rebelle. Aujourd’hui, regardez les groupes d’adolescents dans la rue, en France: ils forment une masse uniforme et… bleue. (…) En France, il fut la couleur des républicains, s’opposant au blanc des monarchistes et au noir du parti clérical. Mais, petit à petit, il a glissé vers le centre, se laissant déborder sur sa gauche par le rouge socialiste puis communiste. Il a été chassé vers la droite en quelque sorte. Après la Première Guerre mondiale, il est devenu conservateur (c’est la Chambre bleu horizon). Il l’est encore aujourd’hui. (…) En matière de couleurs, les choses changent lentement. Je suis persuadé que, dans trente ans, le bleu sera toujours le premier, la couleur préférée. Tout simplement parce que c’est une couleur consensuelle, pour les personnes physiques comme pour les personnes morales: les organismes internationaux, l’ONU, l’Unesco, le Conseil de l’Europe, l’Union européenne, tous ont choisi un emblème bleu. On le sélectionne par soustraction, après avoir éliminé les autres. C’est une couleur qui ne fait pas de vague, ne choque pas et emporte l’adhésion de tous. Par là même, elle a perdu sa force symbolique. Même la musique du mot est calme, atténuée: bleu, blue, en anglais, blu, en italien… C’est liquide et doux. On peut en faire un usage immodéré. (…) Aujourd’hui, quand les gens affirment aimer le bleu, cela signifie au fond qu’ils veulent être rangés parmi les gens sages, conservateurs, ceux qui ne veulent rien révéler d’eux-mêmes. D’une certaine manière, nous sommes revenus à une situation proche de l’Antiquité: à force d’être omniprésent et consensuel, le bleu est de nouveau une couleur discrète, la plus raisonnable de toutes les couleurs. Michel Pastoureau
Parler de «couleur rouge», c’est presque un pléonasme en effet! D’ailleurs, certains mots, tels coloratus en latin ou colorado en espagnol, signifient à la fois «rouge» et «coloré». En russe, krasnoï veut dire «rouge» mais aussi «beau» (étymologiquement, la place Rouge est la «belle place»). Dans le système symbolique de l’Antiquité, qui tournait autour de trois pôles, le blanc représentait l’incolore, le noir était grosso modo le sale, et le rouge était la couleur, la seule digne de ce nom. La suprématie du rouge s’est imposée à tout l’Occident. (…) On a évidemment mis en valeur ce qui tranchait le plus avec l’environnement. Mais il y a une autre raison: très tôt, on a maîtrisé les pigments rouges et on a pu les utiliser en peinture et en teinture. Dès – 30 000 ans, l’art paléolithique utilise le rouge, obtenu notamment à partir de la terre ocre-rouge: voyez le bestiaire de la grotte Chauvet. Au néolithique, on a exploité la garance, cette herbe aux racines tinctoriales présente sous les climats les plus variés, puis on s’est servi de certains métaux, comme l’oxyde de fer ou le sulfure de mercure… La chimie du rouge a donc été très précoce, et très efficace. D’où le succès de cette couleur. (…) Dans l’Antiquité déjà, on l’admire et on lui confie les attributs du pouvoir, c’est-à-dire ceux de la religion et de la guerre. Le dieu Mars, les centurions romains, certains prêtres… tous sont vêtus de rouge. Cette couleur va s’imposer parce qu’elle renvoie à deux éléments, omniprésents dans toute son histoire: le feu et le sang. On peut les considérer soit positivement soit négativement, ce qui nous donne quatre pôles autour desquels le christianisme primitif a formalisé une symbolique si forte qu’elle perdure aujourd’hui. Le rouge feu, c’est la vie, l’Esprit saint de la Pentecôte, les langues de feu régénératrices qui descendent sur les apôtres; mais c’est aussi la mort, l’enfer, les flammes de Satan qui consument et anéantissent. Le rouge sang, c’est celui versé par le Christ, la force du sauveur qui purifie et sanctifie; mais c’est aussi la chair souillée, les crimes (de sang), le péché et les impuretés des tabous bibliques. (…) Tout est ambivalent dans le monde des symboles, et particulièrement des couleurs! Chacune d’elles se dédouble en deux identités opposées. Ce qui est étonnant, c’est que, sur la longue durée, les deux faces tendent à se confondre. Les tableaux qui représentent la scène du baiser, par exemple, montrent souvent Judas et Jésus comme deux personnages presque identiques, avec les mêmes vêtements, les mêmes couleurs, comme s’ils étaient les deux pôles d’un aimant. Lisez de même l’Ancien Testament: le rouge y est associé tantôt à la faute et à l’interdit, tantôt à la puissance et à l’amour. La dualité symbolique est déjà en place. (…) Dans la Rome impériale, celui que l’on fabrique avec la substance colorante du murex, un coquillage rare récolté en Méditerranée, est réservé à l’empereur et aux chefs de guerre. Au Moyen Age, cette recette de la pourpre romaine s’étant perdue (les gisements de murex sur les côtes de Palestine et d’Egypte sont de plus épuisés), on se rabat sur le kermès, ces oufs de cochenilles qui parasitent les feuilles de chênes. Au Moyen-Age, le rouge est masculin, puis il devient féminin. (…) La récolte est laborieuse et la fabrication très coûteuse. Mais le rouge obtenu est splendide, lumineux, solide. Les seigneurs bénéficient donc toujours d’une couleur de luxe. Les paysans, eux, peuvent recourir à la vulgaire garance, qui donne une teinte moins éclatante. Peu importe si on ne fait pas bien la différence à l’oeil nu: l’essentiel est dans la matière et dans le prix. Socialement, il y a rouge et rouge! D’ailleurs, pour l’oeil médiéval, l’éclat d’un objet (son aspect mat ou brillant) prime sur sa coloration: un rouge franc sera perçu comme plus proche d’un bleu lumineux que d’un rouge délavé. Un rouge bien vif est toujours une marque de puissance, chez les laïcs comme chez les ecclésiastiques. A partir des XIIIe et XIVe siècles, le pape, jusque-là voué au blanc, se met au rouge. Les cardinaux, également. Cela signifie que ces considérables personnages sont prêts à verser leur sang pour le Christ… Au même moment, on peint des diables rouges sur les tableaux et, dans les romans, il y a souvent un chevalier démoniaque et rouge, des armoiries à la housse de son cheval, qui défie le héros. On s’accommode très bien de cette ambivalence. [le petit chaperon rouge] Dans toutes les versions du conte (la plus ancienne date de l’an mille), la fillette est en rouge. Est-ce parce qu’on habillait ainsi les enfants pour mieux les repérer de loin, comme des historiens l’ont affirmé? Ou parce que, comme le disent certains textes anciens, l’histoire est située le jour de la Pentecôte et de la fête de l’Esprit saint, dont la couleur liturgique est le rouge? Ou encore parce que la jeune fille allait se retrouver au lit avec le loup et que le sang allait couler, thèse fournie par des psychanalystes? Je préfère pour ma part l’explication sémiologique: un enfant rouge porte un petit pot de beurre blanc à une grand-mère habillée de noir… Nous avons là les trois couleurs de base du système ancien. On les retrouve dans d’autres contes: Blanche-Neige reçoit une pomme rouge d’une sorcière noire. Le corbeau noir lâche son fromage – blanc – dont se saisit un renard rouge… C’est toujours le même code symbolique. (…) Les codes symboliques ont des conséquences très pratiques. Prenez les teinturiers: en ville, certains d’entre eux ont une licence pour le rouge (avec l’autorisation de teindre aussi en jaune et en blanc), d’autres ont une licence pour le bleu (ils ont le droit de teindre également en vert et en noir). A Venise, Milan ou Nuremberg, les spécialistes du rouge garance ne peuvent même pas travailler le rouge kermès. On ne sort pas de sa couleur, sous peine de procès! Ceux du rouge et ceux du bleu vivent dans des rues séparées, cantonnés dans les faubourgs parce que leurs officines empuantissent tout, et ils entrent souvent en conflit violent, s’accusant réciproquement de polluer les rivières. Il faut dire que le textile est alors la seule vraie industrie de l’Europe, un enjeu majeur. Au fil des siècles, le rouge de l’interdit s’est affirmé. (…) D’autant plus qu’il est la couleur des «papistes»! Pour les réformateurs protestants, le rouge est immoral. Ils se réfèrent à un passage de l’Apocalypse où saint Jean raconte comment, sur une bête venue de la mer, chevauchait la grande prostituée de Babylone vêtue d’une robe rouge. Pour Luther, Babylone, c’est Rome! Il faut donc chasser le rouge du temple – et des habits de tout bon chrétien. Cette «fuite» du rouge n’est pas sans conséquence: à partir du XVIe siècle, les hommes ne s’habillent plus en rouge (à l’exception des cardinaux et des membres de certains ordres de chevalerie). Dans les milieux catholiques, les femmes peuvent le faire. On va assister aussi à un drôle de chassé-croisé: alors qu’au Moyen Age le bleu était plutôt féminin (à cause de la Vierge) et le rouge, masculin (signe du pouvoir et de la guerre), les choses s’inversent. Désormais, le bleu devient masculin (car plus discret), le rouge part vers le féminin. On en a gardé la trace: bleu pour les bébés garçons, rose pour les filles… Le rouge restera aussi la couleur de la robe de mariée jusqu’au XIXe siècle. (…) Surtout chez les paysans, c’est-à-dire la grande majorité de la population d’alors. Pourquoi? Parce que, le jour du mariage, on revêt son plus beau vêtement et qu’une robe belle et riche est forcément rouge (c’est dans cette couleur que les teinturiers sont les plus performants). Dans ce domaine-là, on retrouve notre ambivalence: longtemps, les prostituées ont eu l’obligation de porter une pièce de vêtement rouge, pour que, dans la rue, les choses soient bien claires (pour la même raison, on mettra une lanterne rouge à la porte des maisons closes). Le rouge décrit les deux versants de l’amour: le divin et le péché de chair. Au fil des siècles, le rouge de l’interdit s’est aussi affirmé. Il était déjà là, dans la robe des juges et dans les gants et le capuchon du bourreau, celui qui verse le sang. Dès le XVIIIe siècle, un chiffon rouge signifie danger. (…) En octobre 1789, l’Assemblée constituante décrète qu’en cas de trouble un drapeau rouge sera placé aux carrefours pour signifier l’interdiction d’attroupement et avertir que la force publique est susceptible d’intervenir. Le 17 juillet 1791, de nombreux Parisiens se rassemblent au Champ-de-Mars pour demander la destitution de Louis XVI, qui vient d’être arrêté à Varennes. Comme l’émeute menace, Bailly, le maire de Paris, fait hisser à la hâte un grand drapeau rouge. Mais les gardes nationaux tirent sans sommation: on comptera une cinquantaine de morts, dont on fera des «martyrs de la révolution». Par une étonnante inversion, c’est ce fameux drapeau rouge, «teint du sang de ces martyrs», qui devient l’emblème du peuple opprimé et de la révolution en marche. Un peu plus tard, il a même bien failli devenir celui de la France. (…) En février 1848, les insurgés le brandissent de nouveau devant l’Hôtel de Ville. Jusque-là, le drapeau tricolore était devenu le symbole de la Révolution (ces trois couleurs ne sont d’ailleurs pas, contrairement à ce que l’on prétend, une association des couleurs royales et de celles de la ville de Paris, qui étaient en réalité le rouge et le marron: elles ont été reprises de la révolution américaine). Mais, à ce moment-là, le drapeau tricolore est discrédité, car le roi Louis-Philippe s’y est rallié. L’un des manifestants demande que l’on fasse du drapeau rouge, «symbole de la misère du peuple et signe de la rupture avec le passé», l’emblème officiel de la République. C’est Lamartine, membre du gouvernement provisoire, qui va sauver nos trois couleurs: «Le drapeau rouge, clame-t-il, est un pavillon de terreur qui n’a jamais fait que le tour du Champ-de-Mars, tandis que le drapeau tricolore a fait le tour du monde, avec le nom, la gloire et la liberté de la patrie!» Le drapeau rouge aura quand même un bel avenir. La Russie soviétique l’adoptera en 1918, la Chine communiste en 1949… Nous avons gardé des restes amusants de cette histoire: dans l’armée, quand on plie le drapeau français après avoir descendu les couleurs, il est d’usage de cacher la bande rouge pour qu’elle ne soit plus visible. Comme s’il fallait se garder du vieux démon révolutionnaire. (…) Dans le domaine des symboles, rien ne disparaît jamais vraiment. Le rouge du pouvoir et de l’aristocratie (du moins en Occident, car c’est le jaune qui tient ce rôle dans les cultures asiatiques) a traversé les siècles, tout comme l’autre rouge, révolutionnaire et prolétarien. Chez nous, en outre, le rouge indique toujours la fête, Noël, le luxe, le spectacle: les théâtres et les opéras en sont ornés. Dans le vocabulaire, il nous est resté de nombreuses expressions («rouge de colère», «voir rouge») qui rappellent les vieux symboles. Et on associe toujours le rouge à l’érotisme et à la passion. (…) Plus le bleu a progressé dans notre environnement, plus le rouge a reculé. Nos objets sont rarement rouges. On n’imagine pas un ordinateur rouge par exemple (cela ne ferait pas sérieux), ni un réfrigérateur (on aurait l’impression qu’il chauffe). Mais la symbolique a perduré: les panneaux d’interdiction, les feux rouges, le téléphone rouge, l’alerte rouge, le carton rouge, la Croix-Rouge (en Italie, les croix des pharmacies sont aussi rouges) … Tout cela dérive de la même histoire, celle du feu et du sang… Michel Pastoureau
Avec le fait de jouer en rouge, tout de suite, je pense qu’on aura un sentiment de combat, d’agressivité. Wesley Fofana (joueur de rugby français)
Ce samedi au Stade de France, il faudra crier «Allez les Rouges !» pour encourager les joueurs du XV de France, contre l’Ecosse, lors du match d’ouverture du Tournoi des Six nations. Adidas, l’équipementier de l’équipe de France, a en effet décidé de faire renaître la tunique portée en 1958 contre l’Australie, puis contre l’Ecosse l’année suivante : un maillot d’un rouge ardent, «symbole d’honneur, de passion et d’émotion», précise la marque aux trois bandes. Cette tunique sera la nouvelle référence pour les matchs à l’extérieur du XV de France jusqu’à la Coupe du monde, au côté du maillot domicile, bleu incandescent, lancé en novembre dernier. A l’image de ce dernier, les bandes situées sur les épaules font écho à celles présentes sur le maillot de 1995. «L’inscription allbleus cousue à l’intérieur du col symbolise quant à elle l’unité derrière ce maillot bleu», précise l’équipementier dans un communiqué. Ces deux maillots auront nécessité plus de deux années de recherche et de développement. Adidas met en avant «une coupe adaptée à la position de jeu, une meilleure respirabilité, ainsi qu’une résistance et une flexibilité limitant les risques de déchirure». Les joueurs de Philippe Saint-André n’ont plus qu’à faire le reste pour briller sur la route menant à la Coupe du monde.  Le Parisien
Les Bleus voient rouge L’équipe de France de football a déjà perdu son âme depuis longtemps, certains joueurs refusant même de chanter « La Marseillaise » ; voilà que le rugby semble lui emboîter le pas. L’équipe de France de rugby, ou plutôt son équipementier, a choisi dorénavant la couleur rouge et non plus bleue comme maillot à l’extérieur, après avoir choisi la couleur « allbleue » pour les matchs à domicile. Le blanc a disparu. Le maillot tricolore (maillot bleu, culotte blanche et bas rouges) était porté depuis le 22 mars 1906, match disputé contre l’Angleterre. Comme moi amoureux du rugby, Roger Couderc doit se retourner dans sa tombe. On ne pourra plus dire « Allez les Bleus » au risque de soutenir l’équipe adverse comme ces Écossais le 7 février. Lui qui disait « Allez les petits », peut-être faudra-t-il aussi crier maintenant « Allez les grands » pour faire moderne. L’équipe de France de football a déjà perdu son âme depuis longtemps, certains joueurs refusant même de chanter « La Marseillaise » ; voilà que le rugby semble lui emboîter le pas, car quand on vend son maillot, on n’est pas loin de commencer à perdre son âme. Il faut innover, dit-on. Tu parles… surtout faire de l’argent par la vente d’un nouveau maillot à 79 euros pièce, tout de même. Les éléments de langage sont soignés, argument massue : il y a trois couleurs dans notre drapeau, donc le rouge est permis. Un peu court. Même les entraîneurs de notre équipe nationale reprennent cette consigne de parole, faisant semblant d’adhérer à cette nouveauté. Or, l’attachement à la nation France, aux trois couleurs, est dans les gènes du « peuple » du rugby qui, lui, n’apprécie pas. Mais qui se soucie de l’avis des supporters ? Pas la Fédération française de rugby, sans nul doute, qui a vendu le maillot. Pourtant, cela me paraît plus significatif qu’une simple innovation. Car, dans cette même veine du renoncement, on a ouvert l’équipe de France à des étrangers naturalisés, Rory Kockott et Scott Spedding, deux joueurs sud-africains naturalisés en 2014, qui évoluent en Top 14. La logique du système est poussée jusqu’au bout. Nous avons de plus en plus d’étrangers dans notre championnat national, laissant moins de chance à de jeunes joueurs français d’éclore, et voilà que maintenant on leur barre aussi la route pour le XV de France. (…) La vie, c’est aussi respecter son maillot et ses couleurs bleu, blanc et rouge. S’il s’agit d’innover pour innover, on pourrait aussi appeler la tour Eiffel tour du Champ-de-Mars, ou l’Arc de Triomphe Arc de l’Étoile (qu’on enlève donc le triomphe, c’est ringard et réac), et le palais de l’Élysée palais normal… Les touristes pourront ainsi constater notre esprit d’innovation. Philippe Franceschi
Régulièrement, les chaînes de télévision organisent une campagne publicitaire afin de se mettre en valeur. Cette année, TF1 a décidé de mettre en valeur ses animateurs phares au travers plusieurs scènes du quotidien. Mais l’originalité de cette campagne 2011 repose sur la thématique de la dualité, merveilleusement incarnée par le Rouge et le Bleu de son propre logo. Ainsi, on découvre successivement Vincent Lagaf’ opposer juilletistes et aoûtiens, Sandrine Quétier affirmer que nous sommes jamais d’accord avec d’un côté les bleus et de l’autre les rouges ou encore Christian Jeanpierre soulignant que, dès l’enfance, nous voulons être pompier ou pilote d’avion. Il convient de souligner que les protagonistes de chaque scène sont exclusivement en rouge et en bleu. Enfin, les deux spots terminent avec Laurence Ferrari et Claire Chazal, entourées de supporters bleus et rouges dans un gradin avant que le slogan de TF1, « On se retrouve tous sur TF1 », vienne « mettre tout le monde d’accord ». Fan2t
Un homme et d’une femme à la recherche de l’amour, se rencontrant dans le plus simple appareil, sur une île paradisiaque et totalement déserte, peut-on lire sur le site de l’émission. Sans vêtement ni maquillage, au coeur de ce jardin d’Eden, nos célibataires intrépides n’auront plus rien à cacher et ne pourront plus prétendre être quelqu’un d’autre… Juste la vérité nue ! D8
Ca commence à ressembler à une grande piscine. David Brinkley (1980)
One network map of the United States was entirely blue for the Republicans. On another network, the color motif was a blanket of red. Geraldine A. Ferraro (1985)
Here’s my solution to the election. Bush will be the president of the red states and Gore will be president of the blue states. It’s over, that’s all! »  David Letterman (2000)
Les commentateurs aiment à découper notre pays entre états rouges et états bleus ; les états rouges pour les Républicains, les États bleus pour les démocrates mais j’ai une nouvelle pour eux, moi aussi. Nous prions un Dieu magnifique dans les états bleus et nous n’aimons pas les agents fédéraux qui farfouillent dans nos bibliothèques dans les états rouges. On apprend le base-ball à nos enfants dans les États bleus et, oui, on a des amis homosexuels dans les états rouges. Il y a des patriotes qui se sont opposés à la guerre en Irak et il y des patriotes qui l’ont soutenue. Nous formons un seul peuple, chacun d’entre nous prêtant serment à la bannière étoilée, chacun d’entre nous défendant les États-Unis d’Amérique. Barack Obama (2004)
Vous allez dans certaines petites villes de Pennsylvanie où, comme dans beaucoup de petites villes du Middle West, les emplois ont disparu depuis maintenant 25 ans et n’ont été remplacés par rien d’autre (…) Et il n’est pas surprenant qu’ils deviennent pleins d’amertume, qu’ils s’accrochent aux armes à feu ou à la religion, ou à leur antipathie pour ceux qui ne sont pas comme eux, ou encore à un sentiment d’hostilité envers les immigrants. Obama (2008)
Nous qui vivons dans les régions côtières des villes bleues, nous lisons plus de livres et nous allons plus souvent au théâtre que ceux qui vivent au fin fond du pays. Nous sommes à la fois plus sophistiqués et plus cosmopolites – parlez-nous de nos voyages scolaires en Chine et en Provence ou, par exemple, de notre intérêt pour le bouddhisme. Mais par pitié, ne nous demandez pas à quoi ressemble la vie dans l’Amérique rouge. Nous n’en savons rien. Nous ne savons pas qui sont Tim LaHaye et Jerry B. Jenkins. […] Nous ne savons pas ce que peut bien dire James Dobson dans son émission de radio écoutée par des millions d’auditeurs. Nous ne savons rien de Reba et Travis. […] Nous sommes très peu nombreux à savoir ce qu’il se passe à Branson dans le Missouri, même si cette ville reçoit quelque sept millions de touristes par an; pas plus que nous ne pouvons nommer ne serait-ce que cinq pilotes de stock-car. […] Nous ne savons pas tirer au fusil ni même en nettoyer un, ni reconnaître le grade d’un officier rien qu’à son insigne. Quant à savoir à quoi ressemble une graine de soja poussée dans un champ… David Brooks
How, I wondered, could anyone who had just lived through the 2000 presidential election, and its endless maps of America by state and county, still associate the color “red” with the Left? Particularly when, nearly four years later, after another presidential election and after exposure to another endless succession of maps, the association of “red” and “Republican” seems to have become firmly rooted in our discourse, embraced by both parties. Now we are even treated to learned disquisitions by intrepid reporters from our major daily papers who have donned their pith helmets and ventured out into the far hinterlands, trying to find and comprehend the inner essence of that exotic thing, Red America. Someday the precise story will be told, by a historian more patient than I, of how the Republican party came to be assigned the color “red” in the mapping of the 2000 electoral results. From what little I have been able to determine, the change seems to have happened gradually, and with no visible conscious intent, and considerable inconsistency along the way. As recently as the 1980 election, the late David Brinkley, then still an anchor at NBC News, was drolly comparing the map representing Ronald Reagan’s landslide victory to a suburban swimming pool — solid blue, in other words. Time magazine somewhat more generously referred to the 1980 map as “Lake Reagan,” and stuck with a blue-Republican and red-Democratic scheme all through the 1990s. Other networks and news outlets used different color schemes during those years, sometimes replacing blue with white, and even reversing the coloration more or less at will. (I distinctly remember watching the 1980 returns on ABC, and hearing Frank Reynolds turn to Ted Koppel and say, “The country’s going Red, Ted!”) How and why most of the major media outlets (with the exception of Time) fixed upon the red-Republican and blue-Democratic schema in 2000 remains somewhat mysterious. When a New York Times graphics editor was asked for his paper’s rationale, he responded simply that “both Republican and red start with the letter R.” So chalk one up for Sesame Street. Of course, for anyone who knows even a smattering of modern European history, this is a truly an astonishing turn of events, whose significance is only barely hinted at by Frank Reynolds’s wisecrack. It’s amazing how willing the democratic Left has been to acquiesce in the loss of one of its most permanent, most universal, and most beloved symbols — the color Red — without serious protest. (…) We Americans tend to think, in our own times, of Red in this sense referring exclusively to the history of Communism, but that is a vast oversimplification. Let me be clear in what I’m saying here. I don’t want to be associated with the view that Communism was merely “liberalism in a hurry.” But by the same token, I do want to insist that the range of historical referents to Red would be better described as different expressions of an energetic and idea-driven commitment to systemic progressive reform, expressions that can and do vary widely in the extent of their liberalism or illiberalism, but that have in common a commitment to the general cause of human freedom and human liberation. Those political meanings of Red emerged fully in the French Revolution of 1848, when socialists and radical republicans adopted the red flag as a symbol of their cause, in contrast to the white flag of the Bourbon monarchists and the more moderate tricolor flag of the liberal Second Republic. From then on, the red flag became firmly associated in French political culture with the progressive socialist cause. Later the softer and more humane image of the red rose would be adopted as a symbol of the French Socialist Party (…)  Similarly, the British Labor Party used a red flag, followed by a red rose, as its symbols. The party early on adopted as its anthem the song “The Red Flag,” which describes the “scarlet standard” as “the people’s flag,” “the hope of peace,” the banner and symbol of “human right and human gain.” Similarly, the color Red (and usually also the red rose) is strongly associated with the Australian Labor Party, the Canadian Liberal Party, the German Social Democratic Party, the Dutch Socialist Party, the Party of European Socialists (located in Brussels) and the Socialist International. (…) So there is a strong and enduring historical association, at least within modern European political culture, between the color Red and the most strongly progressivist, activist, reformist movements in European political life. (…) The mutation in the political meaning assigned to the color Red in America seems to have come about largely by chance and careless inattention. Nobody — not even the devious, all-knowing, and all-powerful Karl Rove — sought to induce or manipulate this change. But I believe one can make a very strong and suggestive argument that, in fact, this shift in symbolic meaning, even if entirely unintended, is extraordinarily meaningful, and fits in utterly unexpected ways with the historical situation in which we find ourselves. Hegel spoke of the “cunning of reason” in history, a term that indicated the ways in which the concatenation of seeming coincidences and random irrational events in history ends up furthering the cause of great, consequential, and intelligible change. Just such cunning may in fact be in evidence in this instance. What I am saying, then, is that there is a sense — a limited sense, but a real sense — in which the Republican Party of George W. Bush has indeed “become Red” — if by “being Red” one means, rather than being the standard bearer for the specific agenda of socialism, instead standing for a grand commitment to the furtherance of certain high ideals and goals, an agenda of progressive reform meant not merely for the sake of the nation, but for the general good of humanity. Such are precisely the sort of larger causes that socialism nearly always has championed. But they can no longer be regarded as the exclusive property of socialism, or more generally of the Left. Bush’s administration may well represent the culmination of a change that has been in the works for a quarter-century or so — perhaps dating back to the days of Reagan, who loved to quote one of the quintessential Red thinkers, Thomas Paine — an effort to capture the mantle of progressive change for the benefit of the conservative party. (…) As a result, it entirely plausible, I think, for Republicans to assert that the conservative party in America today is the party of progress, of human liberation, of national and international purpose. And Democrats who snicker at such an assertion do so at their own risk, for it is even more plausible to state that the liberal party is the party of opposition to change — the party of entrenched interests, of public bureaucracies and public-employee unions and identity-politics lobbies, the party that opposes tax reform, opposes tort reform, opposes educational reform, opposes Social Security reform, opposes military reform, opposes the revisiting of Supreme Court rulings, opposes the projection of American power overseas, opposes the work of Christian missionaries, opposes public accountability for the work of the scientific research community, opposes anything that offends the sensibilities of the European Union and the United Nations, and so on. Indeed, there are times when it seems they are on the verge of adopting the National Review’s famous slogan, about standing athwart history and yelling “Stop.” (…) But to stress these things is to leave out the key element driving Bush’s moral agenda, which has taken on growing saliency in his administration since 9/11, but was there to see all along for those with eyes to see, going back to his days as governor of Texas. And that is its grounding in Bush’s evangelical Protestantism. It is his evangelicalism that has broadened and softened his younger tendencies toward harder-edged oil-and-gas business conservatism, fired his moral concerns, given him a sense of political mission, and given him the energy, force, and staying power to pursue it. Many of the very positions that make some of his fellow conservatives suspicious of Bush — his “compassionate conservatism,” his relatively favorable view of many Federal social and educational programs, his sensitivity to issues of racial injustice and reconciliation, his softness on immigration issues, his promotion of the faith-based initiative, his concern with issues of international religious liberty, his African AIDS initiative, and above all, his enormously ambitious, even seemingly utopian, foreign-policy objectives — are positions that are best explained by the effects of his evangelical Christian convictions, and by his willingness to allow those convictions to trump more conventional conservative positions. It is strange that, of all the things liberals loathe about Bush, his religion seems to be at the top of the list. For it is precisely the seriousness of Bush’s commitment to his evangelical faith that has made him more “liberal,” in a certain sense, than many of his party brethren. [but] the Republicans have become Red less because of their strengths than because of the Democrats’ weaknesses. Something like that analysis is put forward, in the most compelling form I’ve yet seen, by Martin Peretz in the current issue of the New Republic, in an extremely intelligent article titled “Not Much Left.” Liberals, he argues, find themselves today where conservatives were a half-century ago, without ideas, without a vision of the good society, bookless, forced to feed on stale ideas from the 60s, and therefore, dying. I think there is considerable merit in Peretz’s analysis, and I think the appalling situation currently unfolding at Harvard is a window onto why the absence of fresh ideas on the Left may be a much more difficult problem to solve than even he posits. Conservatives had the benefit, in retrospect, of being in the wilderness, and having to invent and sustain their own institutions. The Left might be far better off, in the long run, if it didn’t have the Harvards of the world in its pocket, because it might be less inclined to control discourse rather than stimulate it. (…) But conservatism will be like the salt that has lost its savor, if it abandons its most fundamental mission — which is to remind us of what Thomas Sowell called “the constrained vision” of human existence, which sees life as a struggle, with invariably mixed outcomes, full of unintended consequences and tragic dilemmas involving hopelessly fallible people, a world in which the legacy of the past is usually more reliable than the projections of the future. As the example of Niebuhr suggests, such a vision need not reject the possibility of human progress altogether — which, by the way, has never been characteristic of traditional conservatism either, from Edmund Burke on. But it does suggest that it is sometimes wise to adopt, so to speak, a darker shade of red, one that sees the hand of Providence in our reversals as well as our triumphs. To do so is as needful for American evangelicalism as for American politics. Wilfred McClay (University of Tennessee, 2005)
As we know, the color red is more “eye-catching” and perhaps it made graphic sense for the networks to color-in the vast Republican expanse of the country in red to create a more dramatic background map. However, the problem has now transformed itself into a shorthand notation whereby the color is not used solely to visually differentiate states or counties. It is on the verge of becoming a part of the political lexicon as commentators refer to the “red states” and the “blue states”. This is, to me, as a longstanding political operative, not only confusing but a disturbing trend of how the political paradigm has shifted. There are two general reasons why blue for Republican and Red for Democrat make the most sense: connotation and practice. First, there has been a generally understood meaning to the two colors inasmuch as they relate to politics. That is, the cooler color blue more closely represented the rational thinker and cold-hearted and the hotter red more closely represented the passionate and hot-blooded. This would translate into blue for Republicans and red for Democrats. Put another way, red was also the color most associated with socialism and the party of the Democrats was clearly the more socialistic of the two major parties. The second reason why blue for Republicans makes sense is that traditional political mapmakers have used blue for the modern-day Republicans, and the Federalists before that, throughout the 20th century3. Perhaps this was a holdover from the days of the Civil War when the predominantly Republican North was “Blue”. While not a unanimous practice4, there is significant printed evidence of tradition in favor of the blue for Republican and red for Democrat color scheme. Nevertheless, the networks appear to be making this change full-bore during 2004. Even some conservative commentators5 have begun to use the “red state/blue state” break as a shorthand to “Republican state/Democrat state” as part of their terminology. Moreover, some younger political observers have been exposed only to the red for Republican scheme6. Of course, while this just shrieks of inside-the-beltway elitism, it also tends to confuse the debate for many average Americans, especially those over 30. The sole premise for this short-hand is the color-coding of the maps, most of which have not been seen since the 2000 election night/recount coverage. The political parties have invested untold millions in brand recognition for their party labels. Now the media are poised to turn this around for the sake of inside Washington jargon. Clark Bensen (2004)
Without giving it a second thought, we said blue for conservatives, because that’s what the parliamentary system in London is, red for the more liberal party. Roy Wetzel (NBC)
I just decided red begins with ‘r,’ Republican begins with ‘r.’ It was a more natural association. There wasn’t much discussion about it. Archie Tse (graphics editor for the Times
For years, both parties would do red and blue maps, but they always made the other guys red. During the Cold War, who wanted to be red? Chuck Todd (NBC)
Red was a term of derision. There’s a movie named Reds. You’d see red in tabloid headlines, particularly in right wing tabloids like the Daily Mirror in New York and the New York Daily News. Mitchell Stephens (New York University)
There are two general reasons why blue for Republican and Red for Democrat make the most sense: connotation and practice. First, there has been a generally understood meaning to the two colors inasmuch as they relate to politics. That is, the cooler color blue more closely represented the rational thinker and cold-hearted and the hotter red more closely represented the passionate and hot-blooded. This would translate into blue for Republicans and red for Democrats. Put another way, red was also the color most associated with socialism and the party of the Democrats was clearly the more socialistic of the two major parties. The second reason why blue for Republicans makes sense is that traditional political mapmakers have used blue for the modern-day Republicans, and the Federalists before that, throughout the 20th century. Perhaps this was a holdover from the days of the Civil War when the predominantly Republican North was ‘Blue’. Clark Bensen (Republican operative)
Si chacun de nous obtenait la société de ses rêves, les Etats bleus pourraient autoriser le mariage homosexuel et les Etats rouges faire broder les Dix Commandements sur la toge de tous les juges. Les bleus pourraient conserver le Premier amendement et se débarrasser du Deuxième. Les rouges pourraient garder le Deuxième et se débarrasser du Premier. Steve Hartmann (CBS)
Yes, Barnicle is right when he notes that tens of millions of good people in Middle America voted Republican. But if you look closely at that map you see a more complex picture. You see the state where James Byrd was lynch-dragged behind a pickup truck until his body came apart — it’s red. You see the state where Matthew Shepard was crucified on a split-rail fence for the crime of being gay — it’s red. You see the state where right-wing extremists blew up a federal office building and murdered scores of federal employees — it’s red. The state where an Army private who was thought to be gay was bludgeoned to death with a baseball bat, and the state where neo-Nazi skinheads murdered two African-Americans because of their skin color, and the state where Bob Jones University spews its anti-Catholic bigotry: they’re all red too. But that’s not the whole story, either. Cultural warriors like House impeachment managers Bill McCollum and James Rogan and ultra-conservatives like Sen. John Ashcroft were defeated. A gun control measure passed in Colorado and Oregon, and school vouchers were rejected in Michigan and California. Democrats gained seats in the House, the Senate and state legislatures — and Gore carried the popular vote. My point is that Middle America is a far more complicated place than even a gifted commentator like Mike Barnicle gives us credit for. It’s not all just red and blue — or black and white. Paul Begala
The state where left-wing extremist, Muslim terrorists blew up the World Trade Center – that’s blue. The county where a race riot following a jury verdict destroyed 2,000 Korean businesses and caused the deaths of 58 people – that’s blue. The states where Colin Ferguson and Ronald Taylor killed 8 whites and Asians because leftwing race baiters convinced them they were victims of a racial conspiracy – are blue. The counties, nationwide, where the vast majority of murderers, rapists and child molesters live and operate – those are blue, too. David Horowitz
During the 2000 election, the media began using maps showing liberal states as blue and conservative states as red. The obvious reason was to avoid the implication that liberals are related to socialists or communists, who throughout the world for over a century have been associated with the color red. Prior to 2000, the color scheme varied, with the more common − and more logical − practice being to use red for Democrats and blue for Republicans. For example, NBC’s David Brinkley referred to Ronald Reagan’s 49-state landslide victory in 1984 as a “sea of blue.” But since 2000, the current usage has become so ingrained that it would be very difficult to change. There may be a lesson here. We should be careful of the habits we develop. Changing them later can be difficult or impossible, no matter how illogical or destructive they may be. This is true for a drug habit, but it is equally − if less obviously − true for habits of thought. Refusing to associate big-government candidates and parties with socialism may seem innocent. But such thinking is hardly innocent if it encourages us to overlook the failing socialist states in Europe, Asia, Africa, and Latin America. (…) Then we have the notion that Democrats are more “compassionate” than Republicans. This is true only if we define “compassionate” as voting Democratic − a circular argument if there ever was one. In fact, conservatives on average give more to charity than liberals, both as individuals and by state. And Americans give more to charity than Europeans who live in socialist nations. (…) When we call conservative states red and liberal states blue, it is more than a mere confusion of colors. We are being manipulated to muddle our thinking until we can no longer draw logical conclusions. Socialism isn’t a novel idea worth trying. It is an old idea that has been tried in many forms and many places by many people, and to a significant extent it doesn’t work. We need to take from socialism the idea of a social safety net into which the unfortunate can fall without serious injury. But at the same time, we need to encourage individual initiative and responsibility, because they are necessary for progress – and even more important, because they are essential for human dignity. We can call red blue and blue red all day long, but the true colors remain the same. David C. Stolinsky
Newspapers, in those days, were largely black and white. But two days after voters went to the polls in 2000, both the New York Times and USA Today published their first color-coded, county-by-county maps detailing the showdown between Al Gore and George W. Bush. Both papers used red for the Republican Bush, blue for the Democrat Gore. (…) The 2000 election dragged on until mid-December, until the Supreme Court declared Bush the victor. For weeks, the maps were ubiquitous. Perhaps that’s why the 2000 colors stuck. Along with images of Florida elections officials eyeballing tiny ballot chads, the maps were there constantly, reminding us of the vast, nearly even divide between, well, red and blue voters(…)  In the beginning, blue was red and red was blue and they changed back and forth from election to election and network to network in what appears, in hindsight, to be a flight of whimsy. The notion that there were “red states” and “blue states”—and that the former were Republican and the latter Democratic—wasn’t cemented on the national psyche until the year 2000. Chalk up another one to Bush v. Gore. Not only did it give us “hanging chads” and a crash course in the Electoral College, not only did it lead to a controversial Supreme Court ruling and a heightened level of polarization that has intensified ever since, the Election That Wouldn’t End gave us a new political shorthand. (…)  Before the epic election of 2000, there was no uniformity in the maps that television stations, newspapers or magazines used to illustrate presidential elections. Pretty much everyone embraced red and blue, but which color represented which party varied, sometimes by organization, sometimes by election cycle. There are theories, some likely, some just plain weird, to explain the shifting palette. Jodi Enda (NPR)
The use of “red” and “blue” as color codes on maps of electoral results actually dates back to at least 1908, when the Washington Post printed a special supplement in which Republican states were colored red and Democratic blue The colors were apparently arbitrarily assigned in that case, although in later years both parties strove to claim blue (as in “true blue Americans”) and avoid red, with its connotations of radicalism. Finally, in 1976, the TV networks agreed to a formula to avoid any implication of favoritism in color selections. The color of the incumbent party, initially set as blue for Gerald Ford’s Republican ticket in that year, would flip every four years. Consequently, a successful challenger runs again in four years, as the incumbent, under the same color. So in 1992, the challenger Clinton was red on the maps, and in 1996, incumbent Clinton was also red. Challenger Bush, red in 2000, was red again as an incumbent in 2004. But perhaps because the pundits decreed 2000 to be a watershed election, the “red/blue” divide has assumed a broader political significance (at least to pundits), and although the formula dictates that the Republicans should be carrying the blue flag in 2008, it will be interesting to see how the networks color their maps. Word detective
Entre partisans d’une morale religieuse et tenants d’une nation laïque, les États-Unis connaissent actuellement une profonde division culturelle et idéologique. S’il faut nuancer les tableaux catastrophistes d’une Amérique déchirée en bastions rouges et bleus, la polarisation de la vie politique aux États-Unis est loin d’être un mythe et une véritable guerre culturelle a vu le jour, prônée par la droite chrétienne qui se targue d’un poids sans précédent dans la vie politique américaine. Depuis 2000, la religion joue en effet un rôle décisif dans les élections. La réélection de Bush en 2004, point culminant des tentatives de la droite chrétienne pour influencer le cours de la politique américaine, en témoigne. En 2004, des tendances importantes ont modifié de façon significative la nature de la vie politique américaine. Le choix des électeurs ne s’est plus fait en fonction de questions politiques ou socio-économiques mais bien en fonction des valeurs. Être démocrate ou républicain est devenu affaire de choix culturel voire émotionnel autour de questions comme l’avortement, le mariage gay, le rôle de la famille ou la place de la religion dans la vie publique. À l’aube de l’élection présidentielle de 2008, Hans-Georg Betz revient sur les élections de 2000 et 2004 qui ont porté George W. Bush au pouvoir. Un décryptage du conflit entre deux visions du monde irréconciliables. Autrement (2008)
Le système électoral américain explique également les stratégies de campagne qu’adoptent les candidats. Ceux-ci ont bien sûr intérêt à concentrer leurs efforts sur les Etats qui permettent de gagner le plus de grands électeurs. En théorie, il est possible d’être élu président des Etats-Unis en n’ayant la majorité que dans les onze Etats désignant le plus d’électeurs : Californie (55), Texas (34), New York (31), Floride (27), Illinois (21), Pennsylvanie (21), Ohio (20), Michigan (17), Georgie (15), New Jersey (15), caroline du Nord (15), ce qui permet d’obtenir 271 grands électeurs sur les 269 nécessaires. En outre, les candidats tendent à délaisser les Etats qui ont une longue tradition de vote en faveur de leur camp (la Californie, l’Etat de New York, et les Etats du nord-est pour les Démocrates), (le Texas et les Etats du Sud et Mid-West pour les Républicains). Ils focalisent leurs activités de campagne sur les Etats dont le vote est incertain. En 2004, ils ont ainsi consacré 54% de leurs investissements en publicité télévisée et 45% de leurs déplacements à trois Etats (Floride, Ohio, Pennsylvanie) qui ne représentent pourtant que 14% de la population totale (…). Depuis le milieu des années 1990, le nombre des Etats considérés comme incertains et où se déroule en conséquence l’essentiel de la campagne (dits battleground, toss up ou swing States) s’est réduit et est passé d’une vingtaine à une douzaine (…) Il semble donc qu’au cours des deux dernières décennies, les Etats-Unis se soient davantage polarisés avec d’un côté des Etats fortement démocrates (Blue States) et d’un autre côté des Etats fortement républicains (Red States). Ce clivage géographique (opposant les régions industrielles démocrates et les zones rurales républicaines) reflèterait les différences sociales, religieuses ou raciales des populations concernées. Cette polarisation croissante peut apparaître surprenante dans la mesure où de nombreuses études ont montré que les électeurs américains tendent à devenir plus modérés et être moins attachés aux partis républicain et démocrate. Dans Culture War ? The myth of a Polarized America (…), Morris Fiorina a d’ailleurs remis en cause l’idée d’une polarisation croissante. Je ne peux détailler toutes ses analyses ici, mais pour l’essentiel Fiorina nous dit qu’en termes de valeurs et d’attitudes politiques (mais pas religieuses) les Américains sont moins divisés qu’on ne le dit et que les clivages partisans ne s’observent véritablement que parmi les élites politiques et les citoyens engagés. Si l’on a l’impression d’une polarisation, ce serait surtout un effet du découpage des circonscriptions électorales (le gerrymandering) qui accentue artificiellement la séparation entre électorats démocrates et républicain. Incidemment, le mythe de la polarisation aurait été soutenu par les médias en ce qu’il simplifie et dramatise la couverture de la vie politique, présentée comme un affrontement entre les deux grands partis. L’ouvrage de Fiorina a suscité de vifs débats et de nombreuses études sur le même thème. Comme il arrive souvent dans les recherches en sciences politiques, certaines enquêtes ont abouti à des conclusions sensiblement différentes et confirmé au contraire la tendance à une polarisation politique croissante des Etats-Unis (en termes géographiques, sociaux, et même religieux). Thierry Vedel

Attention: un conservatisme peut en cacher un autre !

Couleur du feu et du sang, signal de danger ou d’interdiction (chiffon rouge, feux rouges, téléphone rouge, alerte rouge, carton rouge, Croix-Rouge), couleur de l’insurrection et du communisme (drapeaux soviétique et chinois) …

Couleur mariale, du roi, de la raison, de la modération, de la sobriété, de la dignité, de la discrétion, des républicains, des conservateurs, du consensus (organismes internationaux: ONU, Unesco, Conseil de l’Europe, Union européenne) …

Religion, armes à feu, chapeaux de cowboy, blancs, moindre instruction, ruralité, peine capitale, guerre d’Irak, courses de stock cars, musique country, pickups, Wall Street Journal …

Laïcité, relativisme, internationalisme, mutliculturalisme, féminisme, diplômes, urbanité, cosmopolitisme, avortement, écologie, tennis, musique classique, Toyota Prius, NYT, café latte, quiches …

En ces temps étranges où, innovation et sens des affaires obligent, il faudra désormais crier « Allez les rouges ! » pour soutenir les Bleus …

Et où, pour les mêmes raisons, les divisions entre bleus et rouges le temps d’une campagne de pub pour une chaine se voulant fédératrice en année préélectorale se voient aujourd’hui  réduites, prétendue tyrannie de la transparence oblige mais avec floutés stratégiques de rigueur pour que ça reste un « spectacle quasi-familial » s’il vous plait, à leur plus simple expression

Pendant que l’autre côté de l’Atlantique et via les réseaux sociaux, la fracture blancs-noirs qu’était censé réduire le premier président prétendument post-racial vire à une véritable guerre idéologique et culturelle des bleus et des rouges

Et qu’une génération qui, entre appel démagogique aux jeunes diplômés et aux immigrés de la part d’un président largement discrédité croyait avoir définitivement fait main basse sur le pouvoir se voit à son tour prise de doute

Qui se souvient …

Que la polarisation politique aujourd’hui apparemment si forte et si ancrée dans le langage politique américain …

Mais aussi si opposée à la tradition européenne …

D’un pays divisé entre Etats bleus supposément progressistes (en fait principalement urbains) et Etats rouges dits conservateurs (en fait principalement ruraux) …

N’a en fait pas plus de 15 ans ?

Et qui comprend …

Qu’imposé au départ par le souci peut-être de ne pas stigmatiser le même camp ou, plus vraisemblablement, par le choix largement graphique de médias américains en mal de dramatisation (et pour cause, l’écart Bush-Gore de la présidentielle de 2000 s’étant alors réduit, derrière l’effet de loupe du sytème winner take all et du vote indirect des grands électeurs, à justement quelques centaines de voix) …

Puis fixé dans les mémoires par la longue bataille juridique de ladite élection (36 jours !) …

Le bleu du « lac de Reagan« , autrement dit du libéralisme et de l’attachement aux valeurs communes (patriotisme, sécurité, famille) …

Ait pu quasiment du jour au lendemain finir par perdre toute signification idéologique …

Au point de s’inverser pour signifier son contraire et se réduire à la défense de groupes d’intérêt (minorités, jeunes, femmes, homosexuels) ?

A moins que, devant le nouveau conservatisme desdits groupes d’intérêt, le camp de la raison et de la conservation des valeurs se soit vu contraint de reprendre le rouge flambeau du véritable libéralisme et progressisme ?

Etats rouges et Etats bleus : la polarisation politique aux Etats-Unis

Thierry Vedel

31 août 2008

Le vote populaire ne dit pas qui va gagner
Cela peut apparaitre étonnant, mais par rapport à leurs homologues français, les médias américains publient assez peu de sondages sur les intentions de vote à la présidentielle (ceux qui sont accros aux sondages pourront néanmoins trouver leur bonheur dans la presse, par exemple ici sur le site du New York Times). La raison tient sans doute au système électoral américain. Un sondage national n’a qu’un intérêt relatif pour anticiper l’issue de la présidentielle. Le président américain est en effet élu non pas directement par les citoyens américains, mais par un collège de 538 « grands électeurs ». Ceux-ci désignés dans chaque Etat suivant le principe du winner-take-all (le candidat arrivé en tête rafle toutes les voix des grands électeurs). De ce fait, il peut arriver qu’un candidat ayant recueilli la majorité des suffrages au plan national (ce que les Américains appellent « le vote populaire ») ne soit pas élu car il n’a pas la majorité des voix des « grands électeurs ». Cela s’est produit quatre fois jusqu’à présent en 1824, 1876, 1888 et surtout 2000 (où Bush l’a emporté avec 5 voix d’avance chez les grands électeurs alors que Gore avait obtenu plus de 500 000 voix que lui dans « le vote populaire »).
Un champ de bataille qui se rétrécit

Le système électoral américain explique également les stratégies de campagne qu’adoptent les candidats. Ceux-ci ont bien sûr intérêt à concentrer leurs efforts sur les Etats qui permettent de gagner le plus de grands électeurs. En théorie, il est possible d’être élu président des Etats-Unis en n’ayant la majorité que dans les onze Etats désignant le plus d’électeurs : Californie (55), Texas (34), New York (31), Floride (27), Illinois (21), Pennsylvanie (21), Ohio (20), Michigan (17), Georgie (15), New Jersey (15), caroline du Nord (15), ce qui permet d’obtenir 271 grands électeurs sur les 269 nécessaires.
En outre, les candidats tendent à délaisser les Etats qui ont une longue tradition de vote en faveur de leur camp (la Californie, l’Etat de New York, et les Etats du nord-est pour les Démocrates), (le Texas et les Etats du Sud et Mid-West pour les Républicains). Ils focalisent leurs activités de campagne sur les Etats dont le vote est incertain. En 2004, ils ont ainsi consacré 54% de leurs investissements en publicité télévisée et 45% de leurs déplacements à trois Etats (Floride, Ohio, Pennsylvanie) qui ne représentent pourtant que 14% de la population totale (Source : Who picks the President ? A report by FairVote – The Center for Voting and Democracy’s). Depuis le milieu des années 1990, le nombre des Etats considérés comme incertains et où se déroule en conséquence l’essentiel de la campagne (dits battleground, toss up ou swing States) s’est réduit et est passé d’une vingtaine à une douzaine ( Source : Congressional Quarterly’s Guide to U.S. Elections, 4th edition). Carte montrant les Etats où les dépenses en publicité ont été les plus fortes lors de la campagne 2004. Source: FairVote.

La polarisation entre Etats rouges et Etats bleus : un mythe ?
Il semble donc qu’au cours des deux dernières décennies, les Etats-Unis se soient davantage polarisés avec d’un côté des Etats fortement démocrates (Blue States) et d’un autre côté des Etats fortement républicains (Red States). Ce clivage géographique (opposant les régions industrielles démocrates et les zones rurales républicaines) reflèterait les différences sociales, religieuses ou raciales des populations concernées. Cette polarisation croissante peut apparaître surprenante dans la mesure où de nombreuses études ont montré que les électeurs américains tendent à devenir plus modérés et être moins attachés aux partis républicain et démocrate. Dans Culture War ? The myth of a Polarized America (New York: Pearson Longman, 2005), Morris Fiorina a d’ailleurs remis en cause l’idée d’une polarisation croissante. Je ne peux détailler toutes ses analyses ici, mais pour l’essentiel Fiorina nous dit qu’en termes de valeurs et d’attitudes politiques (mais pas religieuses) les Américains sont moins divisés qu’on ne le dit et que les clivages partisans ne s’observent véritablement que parmi les élites politiques et les citoyens engagés. Si l’on a l’impression d’une polarisation, ce serait surtout un effet du découpage des circonscriptions électorales (le gerrymandering) qui accentue artificiellement la séparation entre électorats démocrates et républicain. Incidemment, le mythe de la polarisation aurait été soutenu par les médias en ce qu’il simplifie et dramatise la couverture de la vie politique, présentée comme un affrontement entre les deux grands partis.
L’ouvrage de Fiorina a suscité de vifs débats et de nombreuses études sur le même thème. Comme il arrive souvent dans les recherches en sciences politiques, certaines enquêtes ont abouti à des conclusions sensiblement différentes et confirmé au contraire la tendance à une polarisation politique croissante des Etats-Unis (en termes géographiques, sociaux, et même religieux). Pour un bon point sur la question, on pourra consulter le numéro spécial de The Forum, A Journal of Applied Research in Contemporary Politics, Vol. 3, Issue 2, (July 2005) dont le sommaire est consultable ICI. (Voir en particulier l’article de Alan Abramowitz et Kyle Saunders, l’un des meilleurs à mes yeux).

Voir aussi:

Seeing Red

Gary Andres

March 2, 2005

Democrats, the progressive party no more. Is President George W. Bush the new face of progressive reform in American politics and do Democrats now don the mask of the status quo? Some observers, particularly liberals, scoff at this idea, but growing evidence suggests Bush’s platform has a long pedigree in the morally based progressive tradition in American politics.

The media have largely missed this developing reversal, largely because it refuses to acknowledge Bush’s motivation to help people by dismantling the traditional welfare state, replacing it with programs that fall under the rhetorical rubric of “compassionate conservatism” and the “ownership society.” Bush’s new “progressivism,” however, also creates some tensions with elements of the conservative community–challenges the Republicans must manage if they hope to solidify their position as the majority party in America.

One person who astutely recognizes this subtle shift in the political tectonic plates is Wilfred McClay, of the University of Tennessee–Chattanooga. Last week Professor McClay gave an insightful lecture at the Ethics and Public Policy Center in Washington D.C., titled George W. Bush’s Evangelical Conservatism: Or How The Republicans Become Red. McClay begins with a symbol: The media’s use of the color red to depict states in the Republican victory column. This hasn’t always been the case: The sea of blue on the map depicting the 1980 GOP landslide was called “Lake Reagan” by Time magazine. But since 2000, Republicans have been the crimson party.

McClay highlights the irony of the changing color scheme. “It’s amazing how willing the democratic Left has been to acquiesce in the loss of one of the most permanent, most universal, and most beloved symbols–the color Red–without serious protest.”

“Red,” he notes, has long been associated with progressive, liberal, energetic, idea-driven reform causes (as well as Communism in the former Soviet Union and China)–including the 1848 revolution in France, and a host of labor parties throughout Europe in the last 200 years.

And just as the GOP has co-opted the progressive party’s color scheme, McClay says the “conservative (Republican) party in America today is the party of progress, of human liberation, of national and international purpose.” The Democrats, on the other hand, are the political Luddites–”the party of entrenched interests, of public bureaucracies and public-employee unions and identity-politics lobbies, the party that opposes tax reform, opposes tort reform, opposes educational reform, opposes Social Security reform, opposes military reform, opposes the projection of American power overseas . . . ” Democrats, he impishly notes, have all but adopted National Review’s famous slogan from its inaugural edition about “standing athwart history yelling [stop]!’”

President Bush’s progressive domestic and international vision is tethered by twin goals–freedom and responsibility. It is a worldview McClay calls “evangelical conservatism.” “Self-government is not possible under the yoke of political or religious tyranny. But neither is it possible in a world in which the formation of character is ignored, and the linkage between our efforts and our results is erased,” he said.

The twin appendages of the “self-governing individual” (freedom) and the “self-governing soul” (responsibility) were the handmaidens of abolitionism and other progressive social reforms of the 19th century. The same intellectual lineage animates the president’s support of American power to promote freedom internationally and his compassionate-conservative ideas domestically. Rather than a new philosophy, McClay argues Bush’s approach “may represent the recovery of a well established and distinctively American approach to social and political reform.”

But McClay concludes his lecture with a warning. Even if “conservative” government pursues policies to strengthen the “self-governing individual” and the “self-governing soul,” it’s still government. And however noble these ends, they may sometimes trump more conventional conservative positions. While sympathetic to the president’s general thrust, McClay argues conservatism cannot abandon its most fundamental mission, “what Thomas Sowell called the ‘constrained vision’ of human existence, which sees life as a struggle, with invariable mixed outcomes, full of unintended consequences and tragic dilemmas involving hopelessly fallible people.”

Indeed, President Bush deserves credit as a progressive reformer. So the new color scheme is probably justified. But as McClay argues, as these ideas evolve, “a darker shade of red, one that sees the hand of Providence in our reversals as well as our triumphs,” may be in order. The president’s palate, while promising and much needed, is a work in progress.

–Gary Andres is vice chairman of research and policy at the Dutko Group Companies and a frequent NRO contributor.

Voir aussi:

Ethics & Public Policy Center

American Culture and the Presidency

Wilfred M. McClay

American Culture and the Presidency
George W. Bush’s Evangelical Conservatism:

Or, How the Republicans Became Red

February, 23, 2005

American Culture and Democracy: Fall 2004 Lecture Series

Wilfred McClay: Thank you very much, Ed, and good evening to all of you. I am glad that we were finally able to hold this lecture, after being defeated twice in our earlier attempts. The delay probably has worked to my advantage, since the more distance that’s put between me and the other speakers in this series, the less I will suffer by comparison to them. It is indeed a daunting matter to have to follow on after Justice Scalia, Richard Neuhaus, Hadley Arkes, Bill Kristol, Eric Cohen, and so on. At least this way, I don’t have to follow them in close-order drill, but more as a straggler bringing up the rear.

One other advantage of delay — though a mixed advantage to be sure — is that I was able to keep on gathering material and rethinking this talk. That has meant its becoming transmuted into something a little different from what I set out to do at first. I was initially drawn to think about the role played by the Biblical story of the Prodigal Son — which is, in my opinion, one of the deepest and most thoroughly ingrained moral patternings in our redemption-haunted culture — with particular reference to the personae and public perceptions not only of President Bush and his opponent in the 2004 presidential campaign, but of Bill Clinton, Richard Nixon, and the whole succession of modern, highly personalized American presidencies. For what it is worth, I planned to argue that John Kerry would likely lose the election because he — unlike Bush, and unlike Clinton before him — did not know how to join the story of his own life, with its twists and turns, to that deeply American, and deeply Biblical, story of the Prodigal Son — a story that, in a sense, can be said to encapsulate many of the essentials of the Christian faith, particularly in its evangelical Protestant form. Since it is no great achievement to predict an event that has already happened, I obviously won’t pursue that same line of inquiry. But the larger question of the role of certain deep stories in providing our culture with an enduring account of itself, an account that structures our political and moral imaginations, remains central to what I want to talk about tonight.

There is always a temptation to be entirely topical and present-minded in approaching such a subject, finding dramatic changes in the flow of current events. Certainly President Bush’s extraordinary Second Inaugural Address and subsequent State of the Union Address, both barely a month ago, continue to reverberate in Washington and the country, and their contents and effects form a natural part of my subject. But the matters I want to address are longer-term in their gestation and development, and in no way dependent on these two remarkable speeches and their after-effects. In fact, I’d contend that anyone who has been paying attention to the public words of George W. Bush already knew that these speeches did not contain a great deal that was entirely new. I say that not to be dismissive, but simply to emphasize the consistency in the President’s long-term direction. Take for example the National Security Strategy of the United States, promulgated in September 2002. Judging from the reporting on it, you would think there was nothing much of interest about it, aside from the section on preemptive warfare. But it is absolutely clear, from the start, in basing itself on “a distinctly American internationalism that reflects the union of our values and our national interests,” that aims to “make the world not just safer but better” by promoting political and economic freedom, and that insists “America must stand firmly for the nonnegotiable demands of human dignity.” All these rather sweeping and significant statements went largely unnoticed amid the frenzy over the document’s discussion of preemption. But they were there, and very prominently so.

What I want to look at is, specifically, how the administration of George W. Bush seems to have marked a sea change in the evolution of Republican politics, in conservatism, in the present and future alignment of our political parties and ideologies, and the role of religion in our public discourse and public action. In addition, however, I want to talk about the ways that, taking a longer-range historical view, what looks like a sea change may in fact merely be the process of this administration and the political party it leads rejoining itself, consciously or not, to certain longer traditions of American political and social reform. And I will also want to ask, in the end, whether these changes or reorientations are entirely a good thing, or whether there are aspects of them that should give pause to Americans in general, and to conservative Americans and evangelical Americans in particular.

*****

Let me ease into the subject with an anecdote, meant to illuminate the meaning of my subtitle. Toward the end of April in 2001, I found myself on a business trip to New York, and thought that I would use the occasion to have lunch with a friend, one of those people one deals with for years by phone and email without ever having met in the flesh. I should add, too, that this was and is someone with her feet planted firmly and intransigently on the political Left, with the most dismissive and contemptuous attitude imaginable toward Republicans in general and George W. Bush in particular — but an otherwise charming and intelligent person who tolerates me as a harmless eccentric. We arranged to meet for lunch at a little place off Union Square. After we’d firmed up the arrangements by phone, she concluded with the following instruction: “Now remember, it’ll be May Day, so be sure to wear a red tie.”

Not wishing to offend, I obliged. But I wondered at the request, which struck me as a bit absurd. I thought I detected in it the scent of nostalgia for a bygone era. It was as if we were still living in those heady days when a May Day visit to Union Square might mean an encounter with fiery labor organizers, or German-speaking radical anarchists, or a garment-workers’ rally — or maybe an earnest, rousing speech by Eugene Debs or Emma Goldman or Norman Thomas — instead of an encounter with a swarming beehive of commercial activity, around a Square which now offers the full array of franchise outlets that one would likely find anyplace else in America — Staples, Barnes and Noble, CVS pharmacy, and so on — all accompanied by the deafening noise of seemingly incessant construction. And I somehow doubt that “Red Emma,” were she to show up, would regard my red tie as a very impressive sign of my solidarity with the workers of the world.

I can understand a certain nostalgia for the Left’s glory days — for a time when there was still a plausible sense that it was the Left that stood for the common man and the human prospect, over against the dehumanizing forces of industrialism and finance capitalism and murderous nation-state rivalries and militarism and racial subordination and class arrogance and massive economic inequality, and all the other evils in the long parade of human folly. I’m far from immune to the pull of such concerns myself, as I think many decent people find themselves. It seems to be an especially bitter experience for those who have experienced such glory days to realize that times change and one can’t draw on their moral and intellectual capital forever, which may explain why that realization has been so slow in coming to the aging leadership of the Civil Rights Movement, or the Vietnam-era boomers who currently dominate the major media and the universities.

But how, I wondered, could anyone who had just lived through the 2000 presidential election, and its endless maps of America by state and county, still associate the color “red” with the Left? Particularly when, nearly four years later, after another presidential election and after exposure to another endless succession of maps, the association of “red” and “Republican” seems to have become firmly rooted in our discourse, embraced by both parties. Now we are even treated to learned disquisitions by intrepid reporters from our major daily papers who have donned their pith helmets and ventured out into the far hinterlands, trying to find and comprehend the inner essence of that exotic thing, Red America.

Someday the precise story will be told, by a historian more patient than I, of how the Republican party came to be assigned the color “red” in the mapping of the 2000 electoral results. From what little I have been able to determine, the change seems to have happened gradually, and with no visible conscious intent, and considerable inconsistency along the way. As recently as the 1980 election, the late David Brinkley, then still an anchor at NBC News, was drolly comparing the map representing Ronald Reagan’s landslide victory to a suburban swimming pool — solid blue, in other words. Time magazine somewhat more generously referred to the 1980 map as “Lake Reagan,” and stuck with a blue-Republican and red-Democratic scheme all through the 1990s. Other networks and news outlets used different color schemes during those years, sometimes replacing blue with white, and even reversing the coloration more or less at will. (I distinctly remember watching the 1980 returns on ABC, and hearing Frank Reynolds turn to Ted Koppel and say, “The country’s going Red, Ted!”)

How and why most of the major media outlets (with the exception of Time) fixed upon the red-Republican and blue-Democratic schema in 2000 remains somewhat mysterious. When a New York Times graphics editor was asked for his paper’s rationale, he responded simply that “both Republican and red start with the letter R.” So chalk one up for Sesame Street.

Of course, for anyone who knows even a smattering of modern European history, this is a truly an astonishing turn of events, whose significance is only barely hinted at by Frank Reynolds’s wisecrack. It’s amazing how willing the democratic Left has been to acquiesce in the loss of one of its most permanent, most universal, and most beloved symbols — the color Red — without serious protest. I am not talking here about yielding some of the more or less primordial symbolic meanings ascribed to Red, though those too would seem to be worth hanging on to. Red is the color of life, of love and fidelity, of warmth, of emotional intensity, of power and grandeur. Any political movement or party worth its salt would like to lay claim to such things. But I am thinking more specifically of the political meanings of Red, which may draw upon these more primordial meanings, but also link them to specific historical events and causes and traditions and aspirations. We Americans tend to think, in our own times, of Red in this sense referring exclusively to the history of Communism, but that is a vast oversimplification. Let me be clear in what I’m saying here. I don’t want to be associated with the view that Communism was merely “liberalism in a hurry.” But by the same token, I do want to insist that the range of historical referents to Red would be better described as different expressions of an energetic and idea-driven commitment to systemic progressive reform, expressions that can and do vary widely in the extent of their liberalism or illiberalism, but that have in common a commitment to the general cause of human freedom and human liberation.

Those political meanings of Red emerged fully in the French Revolution of 1848, when socialists and radical republicans adopted the red flag as a symbol of their cause, in contrast to the white flag of the Bourbon monarchists and the more moderate tricolor flag of the liberal Second Republic. From then on, the red flag became firmly associated in French political culture with the progressive socialist cause. Later the softer and more humane image of the red rose would be adopted as a symbol of the French Socialist Party, and was used to especially good public effect in recent memory by Francois Mitterrand. Its enduring power was manifest at Mitterrand’s funeral nine years ago, when throngs of mourners arrived at the Notre Dame Cathedral bearing red roses in their hands.

Similarly, the British Labor Party used a red flag, followed by a red rose, as its symbols. The party early on adopted as its anthem the song “The Red Flag,” which describes the “scarlet standard” as “the people’s flag,” “the hope of peace,” the banner and symbol of “human right and human gain.” Similarly, the color Red (and usually also the red rose) is strongly associated with the Australian Labor Party, the Canadian Liberal Party, the German Social Democratic Party, the Dutch Socialist Party, the Party of European Socialists (located in Brussels) and the Socialist International. Just out of curiosity, I paid a visit to the current websites of each of these organizations, and believe me, you have never seen so much red, and especially so many red roses, outside of the city of Pasadena on New Year’s Day.

So there is a strong and enduring historical association, at least within modern European political culture, between the color Red and the most strongly progressivist, activist, reformist movements in European political life. But, you may well be asking, so what? This is all very interesting, I suppose, but what earthly difference does it make, so far as the United States and the Republican Party are concerned? Isn’t it possible, for example, that American disregard for European color rules is precisely a sign of our superiority, and our exceptionalism?

A reasonable question. My answer would be this. The mutation in the political meaning assigned to the color Red in America seems to have come about largely by chance and careless inattention. Nobody — not even the devious, all-knowing, and all-powerful Karl Rove — sought to induce or manipulate this change. But I believe one can make a very strong and suggestive argument that, in fact, this shift in symbolic meaning, even if entirely unintended, is extraordinarily meaningful, and fits in utterly unexpected ways with the historical situation in which we find ourselves. Hegel spoke of the “cunning of reason” in history, a term that indicated the ways in which the concatenation of seeming coincidences and random irrational events in history ends up furthering the cause of great, consequential, and intelligible change. Just such cunning may in fact be in evidence in this instance.

What I am saying, then, is that there is a sense — a limited sense, but a real sense — in which the Republican Party of George W. Bush has indeed “become Red” — if by “being Red” one means, rather than being the standard bearer for the specific agenda of socialism, instead standing for a grand commitment to the furtherance of certain high ideals and goals, an agenda of progressive reform meant not merely for the sake of the nation, but for the general good of humanity. Such are precisely the sort of larger causes that socialism nearly always has championed. But they can no longer be regarded as the exclusive property of socialism, or more generally of the Left. Bush’s administration may well represent the culmination of a change that has been in the works for a quarter-century or so — perhaps dating back to the days of Reagan, who loved to quote one of the quintessential Red thinkers, Thomas Paine — an effort to capture the mantle of progressive change for the benefit of the conservative party. These efforts have not been a notable success in the past, and even the most plausible of them, Newt Gingrich’s notion of a “conservative opportunity society,” foundered on the rocks of its creator’s problematic persona. Yet it may be clear to future historians that events of the past quarter-century have slowly been weaving a possible new guiding narrative for the Republican party.

As a result, it entirely plausible, I think, for Republicans to assert that the conservative party in America today is the party of progress, of human liberation, of national and international purpose. And Democrats who snicker at such an assertion do so at their own risk, for it is even more plausible to state that the liberal party is the party of opposition to change — the party of entrenched interests, of public bureaucracies and public-employee unions and identity-politics lobbies, the party that opposes tax reform, opposes tort reform, opposes educational reform, opposes Social Security reform, opposes military reform, opposes the revisiting of Supreme Court rulings, opposes the projection of American power overseas, opposes the work of Christian missionaries, opposes public accountability for the work of the scientific research community, opposes anything that offends the sensibilities of the European Union and the United Nations, and so on. Indeed, there are times when it seems they are on the verge of adopting the National Review’s famous slogan, about standing athwart history and yelling “Stop.”

Now some of these things may be worth opposing, and I am not here this evening to endorse or condemn the whole slate of either party. But it seems clear that such a shift of party identities may now be upon us, and that the shift of the color Red to the Republican side may provide an interesting symbolic representation of it.

Clearly, too, as a corollary to the above, one would want to point out that Bush came to this position from a route entirely distinct from the route taken by European socialists. The influences on his thinking are various, of course. As an American, he is heir to the traditional American commitment to the concept of universal natural rights that permeates certain documents of the nation’s founding, and the struggles and travails of its subsequent history. Such sentiments are not unheard of in the party of Lincoln, and Bush, though a proud Texan, seems to have had almost no attraction to the vestiges of traditionalist Southern conservatism. And I don’t doubt for a minute that Bush has been greatly influenced by the neoconservative advisors and theorists in his administration, whose advocacy for the preemptive use of force, democratic nation-building, and the active use of American power in pursuit of a universal human-rights agenda dovetails so well with many of his own instincts (even if they also represent a departure from avowed positions of the 2000 campaign).

But to stress these things is to leave out the key element driving Bush’s moral agenda, which has taken on growing saliency in his administration since 9/11, but was there to see all along for those with eyes to see, going back to his days as governor of Texas. And that is its grounding in Bush’s evangelical Protestantism. It is his evangelicalism that has broadened and softened his younger tendencies toward harder-edged oil-and-gas business conservatism, fired his moral concerns, given him a sense of political mission, and given him the energy, force, and staying power to pursue it. Many of the very positions that make some of his fellow conservatives suspicious of Bush — his “compassionate conservatism,” his relatively favorable view of many Federal social and educational programs, his sensitivity to issues of racial injustice and reconciliation, his softness on immigration issues, his promotion of the faith-based initiative, his concern with issues of international religious liberty, his African AIDS initiative, and above all, his enormously ambitious, even seemingly utopian, foreign-policy objectives — are positions that are best explained by the effects of his evangelical Christian convictions, and by his willingness to allow those convictions to trump more conventional conservative positions. It is strange that, of all the things liberals loathe about Bush, his religion seems to be at the top of the list. For it is precisely the seriousness of Bush’s commitment to his evangelical faith that has made him more “liberal,” in a certain sense, than many of his party brethren.

It is, then, quite legitimate to ask whether Bush is even rightly understood as a conservative. Clearly, this question can involve us in an endless semantic game, and I don’t want to spend our time doing that. But the fundamental dynamic at work is, I think, pretty clear. Although many secular observers seem not to understand this, evangelicalism, by its very nature, has an uneasy relationship with conservatism. To call someone both an evangelical and a conservative, then, while it is not to utter a contradiction, is to call him something slightly more problematic than one may think. Of course this is, or should be, true of all Christians, who have transcendental loyalties that must sometimes override their political commitments, even very fundamental ones. But it is especially true of evangelicalism. As a faith that revolves around the experience of individual transformation, it inevitably exists in tension with settled ways, established social hierarchies, customary usages, and entrenched institutional forms. Because evangelicalism places such powerful emphasis upon the individual act of conversion, and insists upon the individual’s ability to have a personal and unmediated relationship to the Deity and to the Holy Scriptures, it fits well with the American tendency to treat all existing institutions, even the church itself, as if their existence and authority were provisional and subordinate, merely serving as a vehicle for the proclamation of the Gospel and the achievement of a richer and more vibrant individual faith. As such, then, evangelicalism, at least in its most high-octane form, may not always be very friendly to any settled institutional status quo. In the great revivals of earlier American history, it nearly always served to divide churches and undermine established hierarchies, a powerful force for what Nathan Hatch called “the democratization of American Christianity.”

True, evangelicalism can also be a force of moral conservatism, in insisting upon the permanence of certain moral and ethical desiderata, particularly if those are clearly stated in the Bible. But it can also be a force of profound moral radicalism, calling into question the justice and equity of the most fundamental structures of social life, and doing so from a firm vantage point outside those structures. David Chappell’s excellent recent book on the Civil Rights Movement, A Stone of Hope, very effectively made the point that it was the power of prophetic evangelical Christianity that energized the Civil Rights Movement and gave southern blacks the courage and fortitude to challenge the existing segregationist social order. And one could say similar things about many of the great nineteenth-century American movements for social reform, notably abolitionism, a rather unpopular cause in its day which would have made little headway without the fervent commitment of evangelical Protestants who believed the country was being polluted and degraded by the continued existence of slavery.

I am not claiming that Bush is a radical reformer. I don’t think anyone, other than an opponent straining for partisan advantage, would do that. But I am pointing out that the religious vision that energizes him is not always compatible with conservatism as conventionally understood, and may not, in the long run, be easily contained or constrained by it. Yes, Bush is a conservative, but he is a conservative whose conservatism has been continuously informed, leavened, challenged, reshaped, and reoriented by his religious convictions; and many of his closest aides and advisors have undergone a similar process. To capture this distinctive, I’m going to use the term “evangelical conservatism” to describe his position. I should hasten to add that there is a very great difference between “evangelical conservatism” and “conservative evangelicalism,” the latter of which refers to a theologically conservative position which may or may not translate into conservative political views. What I’m calling “evangelical conservatism” is better understood as a form of conservatism, then, and not as a form of evangelicalism — a political, rather than a theological, term.

The question remains as to whether or not Bush’s evangelical conservatism is still conservatism at all, or rather a departure from conservatism, and if so, whether it is a wise, coherent, or justifiable one. That is an interesting question. But it might be better first to ask whether what I am calling “evangelical conservatism” amount to little more than a strange little blip on the screen of American history, the latest flavor in reformism, a mere passing reflection of the idiosyncrasies of one man — or whether instead it finds echoes, in the form of antecedents and precedents, in the American past. As the historian Ronald G. Walters sadly observes in his history of reform movements in antebellum America, nothing so characterizes the history of American reform as its discontinuities, its inability to build traditions and institutions that can stretch across the generations. But this need not be the case. The historical record itself suggests that Bush’s evangelical conservatism, rather than being a radical innovation, may represent the recovery of a once well-established, and distinctively American, approach to social and political reform.

*****

The specifically evangelical tinge to Bush’s conservatism is equally visible in both his domestic and foreign policy. Indeed, one could argue that — within the limits that political prudence and expediency always place upon ideological consistency — these two aspects of policy form something of a seamless web. And the principle that unifies them is the characteristically evangelical emphasis upon the ultimate value of the self-governing individual. The administration’s zeal for the promotion of freedom, and particularly for the causes of global human rights and religious liberty, clearly owes a great deal to the moral influence of evangelical Christians (and also certain very committed secular Jews, such as Abe Rosenthal and Michael Horowitz, who have taken a powerful interest in the cause of religious liberty). And its domestic conception of the “ownership society,” which is a further elaboration of ideas that were already adumbrated in the “compassionate conservatism” that Bush advanced as governor of Texas and in his 2000 campaign, is also aimed at the formation and empowerment of self-governing individuals. Both depend upon a certain anthropology of the human person, a constrained individualism which understands human flourishing as requiring both the political and social freedom to pursue the good, and the moral discipline to live responsibly within the constraints that reflect the highest properties of human nature. Self-government is not possible under the yoke of political or religious tyranny. But neither is it possible in a world in which the formation of character is ignored, and the linkage between our efforts and our results is erased. Hence the two facets of the Bush agenda are conjoined.

Such a formulation bears a strong resemblance to the outlook of so much nineteenth-century American reform, which held up as a social ideal the freely choosing individual who was constrained (and thereby made genuinely free) by the disciplining influences of education, religion, and formative moral training. From the time of the Founding up to the end of the 19thcentury, the ultimate goal of social reform was the creation of the optimal conditions for what historian Daniel Walker Howe calls “the construction of the self.”. It was an era that still unabashedly extolled the “self-made” man, in which “self-improvement” was regarded as a moral imperative, and in which the concept of “individualism” was not understood as a synonym for narcissism or footloose irresponsibility, but rather as a highly desirable condition — a condition, though, which could NOT be properly understood or sustained apart from the existence of an objective moral order. And it was not enough for those constraints to be applied externally, like so many fences and leashes. They needed to be completely internalized as well. The responsible democratic self would need the help of institutions — family, church, neighborhood, and polity — with an interest in character formation. But the goal was not to remain in a state of tutelage, but to become transformed internally in the direction of self-sufficency, and thereby become more or less autonomous or self-constrained.

The relationship between the self-governing polity and the self-governing soul appears again and again — for example, in the thought of public-education pioneer Horace Mann, who saw the role of education as that of implanting the tools of self-regulation, so that naturally anarchic individuals would be fit for the task of self-control and self-direction. The clergyman William Ellery Channing, whose 1838 lecture “Self-Culture” became a classic brief for the endless human capacity for self-improvement, argued that God had endowed the human race with the extraordinary power “of acting on, determining, and forming ourselves.” One could argue that neither of these men was, in the strictest sense, an evangelical. But in this respect, there was little difference between them and their contemporaries, such as the arch-evangelical Charles Grandison Finney. As historian Daniel Walker Howe has put it, the essence of the evangelical commitment was that it was “undertaken voluntarily, consciously, and responsibly, by the individual for himself or herself,” by those “who have consciously decided to take charge of their own lives and identities,” and who are willing to embrace a discipline that is “at one and the same time liberating and restrictive.”

This ideal of the self-governing individual stands behind many of the great reform movements of pre-Civil War America — temperance, women’s rights, health faddism, and of course, antislavery. That ideal is at the heart of the evangelical-Protestant moral critique of slavery. Slavery was a systemic affront to the ideal of self-governance. It not only prevented slaves from being self-governing and fully realized individuals. It just as surely prevented masters from achieving that same status. It corrupted both, and in the process had a corrupting effect upon all that came into contact with them, a contention that the economically backward state of the South seem to prove. This was a critique that, of course, went back as far as Thomas Jefferson’sNotes on the State of Virginia, but it took a religious movement to provide the energy to act on it.

It would take a lecture longer than this already over-long one to trace the ways that this 19th-century Whig-evangelical model of social reform through individual transformation under the tutelage of morally authoritative institutions came to be supplanted by philosophies of reform that dealt in the behavior of social aggregates rather than the reformation of individual hearts and minds. But it is certainly seemed clear, by the end of the 1970s or so, those approaches had fallen far short of unambiguous success; and with the sweeping welfare-reform measures of a decade ago, Federal social policy has begun to reject approaches to social reform that fail to take into account the dynamics of individual character formation. This is clearly where Bush’s heart is, and in that sense, his approach picks back up where the reformers of the 19th century left off. Here too, one can see how his own perspective dovetails so nicely with that of neoconservative critics of the welfare state, but even so is different, given its roots in a certain religious anthropology.

*****

It may be that I’m failing to give adequate attention to the other side of the story here. Which is to say that the Republicans have become Red less because of their strengths than because of the Democrats’ weaknesses. Something like that analysis is put forward, in the most compelling form I’ve yet seen, by Martin Peretz in the current issue of the New Republic, in an extremely intelligent article titled “Not Much Left.” Liberals, he argues, find themselves today where conservatives were a half-century ago, without ideas, without a vision of the good society, bookless, forced to feed on stale ideas from the 60s, and therefore, dying.

I think there is considerable merit in Peretz’s analysis, and I think the appalling situation currently unfolding at Harvard is a window onto why the absence of fresh ideas on the Left may be a much more difficult problem to solve than even he posits. Conservatives had the benefit, in retrospect, of being in the wilderness, and having to invent and sustain their own institutions. The Left might be far better off, in the long run, if it didn’t have the Harvards of the world in its pocket, because it might be less inclined to control discourse rather than stimulate it.

But there’s one thing that Peretz mentions in passing that also summarizes what makes me uneasy about the Bush agenda, and it’s packed into one sentence: “The most penetrating thinker of the old liberalism, the Protestant theologian Reinhold Niebuhr, is virtually unknown in the circles within which he once spoke and listened, perhaps because he held a gloomy view of human nature.” One could say the same about the older conservatism, which also once found Niebuhr a compelling figure but now finds it easy to dismiss him.

There is not much of Niebuhr, or original sin, or any other form of Calvinist severity, in the current outlook of the Bush administration. That too is a reflection of the optimistic character of American evangelicalism, and therefore of evangelical conservatism. It certainly reflects the preference of the American electorate, which does not like to hear bad news, a fact that is surely one of the deep and eternal challenges to democratic statesmanship. And it is, by and large, an appropriate way for good leaders to behave. It is, in some respects, a political strength.

But conservatism will be like the salt that has lost its savor, if it abandons its most fundamental mission — which is to remind us of what Thomas Sowell called “the constrained vision” of human existence, which sees life as a struggle, with invariably mixed outcomes, full of unintended consequences and tragic dilemmas involving hopelessly fallible people, a world in which the legacy of the past is usually more reliable than the projections of the future. As the example of Niebuhr suggests, such a vision need not reject the possibility of human progress altogether — which, by the way, has never been characteristic of traditional conservatism either, from Edmund Burke on. But it does suggest that it is sometimes wise to adopt, so to speak, a darker shade of red, one that sees the hand of Providence in our reversals as well as our triumphs. To do so is as needful for American evangelicalism as for American politics.

 Voir de plus:

Red States, Blue States, Confusional States
David C. Stolinsky
November 13, 2014

Some states are red
Some states are blue
The blue states are redder
But what can you do?

During the 2000 election, the media began using maps showing liberal states as blue and conservative states as red. The obvious reason was to avoid the implication that liberals are related to socialists or communists, who throughout the world for over a century have been associated with the color red.

Prior to 2000, the color scheme varied, with the more common − and more logical − practice being to use red for Democrats and blue for Republicans. For example, NBC’s David Brinkley referred to Ronald Reagan’s 49-state landslide victory in 1984 as a “sea of blue.” But since 2000, the current usage has become so ingrained that it would be very difficult to change. There may be a lesson here.

We should be careful of the habits we develop. Changing them later can be difficult or impossible, no matter how illogical or destructive they may be. This is true for a drug habit, but it is equally − if less obviously − true for habits of thought. Refusing to associate big-government candidates and parties with socialism may seem innocent. But such thinking is hardly innocent if it encourages us to overlook the failing socialist states in Europe, Asia, Africa, and Latin America.

Socialist governments traditionally do make a financial mess. They always run out of other people’s money.
– Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher

Barack Obama proposed a variation on the theme of “one size fits all” health-care plans. We refused to see the similarities between this plan and the socialized Canadian system with its long delays, the British system with its rationing of care, and the French system with its inability to react to emergencies. So unless we amend or repeal ObamaCare, we will face similar problems. Erroneous terminology leads to erroneous thinking. We heard promises of “excellent care for everyone at less cost” and reacted with cheers and applause, rather than the hoots and whistles such baloney deserved.

Then we have the notion that Democrats are more “compassionate” than Republicans. This is true only if we define “compassionate” as voting Democratic − a circular argument if there ever was one. In fact, conservatives on average give more to charity than liberals, both as individuals and by state. And Americans give more to charity than Europeans who live in socialist nations.

I believe that socialism is deficient not only on economic grounds, but also on moral grounds. It encourages us to leave the well-being of fellow citizens and even family to the government. For example, in 2003 France was stuck by a heat wave in which over 11,000 died. Those who could do so took their usual August vacation to the seashore, leaving elderly relatives and neighbors to swelter in non-air-conditioned apartments. Even health-care personnel went on vacation, while those who remained were limited by law to a 35-hour work week. There’s “compassion” for you.

Some time ago I was talking to a colleague. I mentioned the evils of the Soviet Union. As if on cue, he said, “True communism hasn’t been tried.” Really? In 74 years of “building socialism,” the Soviet Union just couldn’t get it right? And Poland, Hungary, Czechoslovakia, Bulgaria, Romania, Yugoslavia, Albania, and East Germany didn’t do it right, either? What about China, North Korea, Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia – not to mention the liberals’ favorite, Cuba? What about the failed African regimes that rejected Western ideas of democracy and free enterprise, but unwisely chose Marxism to emulate?

In fact, true communism was tried by the Pilgrims in the Plymouth Colony in 1620. After a few years of near starvation, they gave it up and allowed private ownership of land. This experience was duplicated by communists in the Soviet Union and China, where millions died in famines. But unlike the Pilgrims, it took the Russians and Chinese many years to admit their error.

After centuries of attempts of various sorts by various peoples of various racial, ethnic, and cultural backgrounds, nobody could get socialism “right.” But many liberals still believe that they could get it “right,” if only we nasty old conservatives got out of the way and let them try.

As G. K. Chesterton observed, when people stop believing in God, they don’t believe in nothing, they believe in anything. First it was global cooling and nuclear winter. Now it is global warming. First it was removing mercury from tuna fish, childhood vaccines, and even thermometers. Now it is mandating compact fluorescent bulbs that contain mercury. Yet no matter what other beliefs come and go, one liberal belief remains constant − the belief that they are smarter than all other people and can finally get socialism “right.”

But what does it mean to get socialism “right”?

● Can a system that is inefficient be made to work efficiently?

● Can a system that creates disincentives to productivity be made productive?

● Can a system that rewards conformity be made innovative?

● Can a system that discourages individual responsibility be made to encourage it?

● Can a system that enforces compliance be made to encourage political freedom?

● Can a system that punishes “incorrect” speech be made to encourage free expression?

● Can a system that takes more of our money and makes spending decisions for us be made to encourage economic freedom?

● Can a system based on Marx’s 19th-century notions cope with 21st-century problems?

● Can a system based on lies ever succeed? Note the admission that ObamaCare could not have been passed without lying to Congress and the American people.

We can’t get socialism “right” any more than we can get wife-beating “right” or perpetual motion “right.” If something is wrong, both morally and practically, we can never get it “right.” The best we can hope for is to get it less wrong − that is, to compare it with something that seems even worse.

Thus when I criticized his hero, Fidel Castro, my liberal colleague replied, “He got rid of Batista.” Yes, but so what? John Gotti got rid of Paul Castellano − did that excuse Gotti’s Mafia career? And Lenin got rid of the czar. But what if he hadn’t? Despite the oppression and inefficiency of the czarist regime, things in Russia were slowly improving. It is illogical to compare conditions in the Soviet Union before it collapsed in 1991 with conditions in the czarist Russia of 1917. Nothing in the world is the same as it was in 1917.

Similarly, apologists for Castro compare education and health care in Cuba now with conditions when Batista fell in 1959. Liberals fall into the trap of assuming that if the Left hadn’t seized power, conditions in the country in question would have remained frozen in time. This is similar to claiming that if the American Revolution hadn’t occurred, we would still be going around on horseback wearing three-cornered hats and wigs.

Things change whether our guy or the other guy is in charge. The question is how they change. Does freedom increase or decrease? Is the value of the individual enhanced or diminished? Does society come to resemble a community of human beings or an anthill? Are productivity and innovation encouraged or discouraged? Are we motivated to take care of ourselves, our family, and our neighbors, or are we tempted to slough off our responsibilities onto Big Brother?

When we call conservative states red and liberal states blue, it is more than a mere confusion of colors. We are being manipulated to muddle our thinking until we can no longer draw logical conclusions.

Socialism isn’t a novel idea worth trying. It is an old idea that has been tried in many forms and many places by many people, and to a significant extent it doesn’t work. We need to take from socialism the idea of a social safety net into which the unfortunate can fall without serious injury. But at the same time, we need to encourage individual initiative and responsibility, because they are necessary for progress – and even more important, because they are essential for human dignity.

We can call red blue and blue red all day long, but the true colors remain the same.

Voir également:

BETWEEN THE LINES
How red states turned blue and vice versa
Exclusive: Joseph Farah vows not to use media-manipulated color narrative
WND
05/09/2012

Joseph Farah is founder, editor and CEO of WND and a nationally syndicated columnist with Creators News Service.. He is the author or co-author of 13 books, including his latest, « The Tea Party Manifesto, » and his classic, « Taking America Back, » now in its third edition and 14th printing. Farah is the former editor of the legendary Sacramento Union and other major-market dailies.

It’s been four years since I made this point heading into another presidential election.

But it’s a point worth making again and again. It illustrates how the Democrats have their way with the media – every time.

Folks like me, old enough to remember when red states meant Democrat and blue states meant Republican, probably still get confused from time to time about the terminology.

All one has to do is take a trip down memory lane to look at the way the media uniformly showed the Ronald Reagan landslide of 1984. Look at the map. The blue states belonged to Reagan. The red states were those won by Walter Mondale.

Why did that perfectly sensible system suddenly change in the presidential election of 2000?

The story goes that the current use of Republican red and Democrat blue began when the late Tim Russert, a respected television interviewer, but one who worked formerly for Democratic Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan of New York, decided to use this new color scheme 12 years ago, according to the Washington Post, and it took.

I’m not surprised it did, given the political complexion of the national press corps.

The former system made more sense and was deliberately changed by media partisans who didn’t like to suggest Democrats should be associated with the color red.

I’m not making this up. In fact, even the predictably leeward-tilting Wikipedia acknowledges the newly adopted U.S. hue standard stands in stark contrast to the system of political colors in most other countries that bother to hold elections: “This unofficial system of political colors used in the United States is the reverse of that in most other long-established democracies, where blue represents right-wing and conservative parties, and red represents left-wing and social democratic parties.”

For once, Wikipedia has it right.

What’s a little more surprising, however, is how easily Republicans fell in line, apparently without realizing the reason they went from blue to red overnight. There’s even a Republican-leaning opinion site called RedState.com. How shortsighted and gullible can you get?

To understand the history behind this change, let’s take a look at what was happening on television before 1980. Again, according to the usually unreliable Wikipedia, “In 1976, John Chancellor, the anchorman for the ‘NBC Nightly News,’ asked his network’s engineers to construct a large electronic map of the USA. The map was placed in the network’s election-night news studio. If Jimmy Carter, the Democratic candidate that year, won a state, it would light up in red; if Gerald Ford, the Republican, carried a state, it would light up in blue.”

Made sense. Jimmy Carter was a progenitor of Barack Obama. And even though Gerald Ford was too dumb to understand that Eastern Europe and specifically Poland was, at the time, under Soviet domination, no one would ever accuse him of being a commie.

The next election cycle, famous for Ronald Reagan’s Republican landslide, was also memorable for David Brinkley’s observation that the election board looked like a “sea of blue.”

That made even more sense because Reagan’s convictions were decidedly and unabashedly anti-red.

There were deviations at some other networks, but the standard remained Democrat-red and Republican-blue for three more presidential elections. It was understandable. There was little confusion about it. It all made sense.

Democrats were at least soft on communism and socialism in the post JFK-LBJ world. Republicans tended to be anti-communist. It was all perfectly understandable, accurate and had both historical precedent to support it as well as contemporary parallels in other countries.

I propose to you it’s time we – real Americans, the rest of us – stopped being manipulated like this.

I would like to announce today, as I did on 2008, that my news organization, WND, will stand apart and refuse to use the “red-state-blue-state” paradigm in news coverage because it will not be a part of the obvious manipulation behind it. We won’t use the reverse, either, because it is certain only to cause confusion among our readers.

But I further propose that you start lobbying other news organizations to reconsider their use of the currently accepted “red state-blue state” labeling system based on the historical precedents you have learned about in this column and because it was launched and inspired by a former Democratic Party activist cum newsman and was adopted enthusiastically because it was so welcomed by the press’ overwhelming party of choice.

Words mean things. Symbols, too, have meaning. Why is it that I get confused about what someone means when they say, for instance, “California is a blue state and Texas is red.” I get confused because it makes no sense! I don’t think I’m alone. I would propose to you that most people my age or older feel the same way. We all know California is red and Texas is blue. That makes sense.

It’s a very simple concept. Some Democrats, perhaps those not belonging openly to the Progressive Caucus, might be a little self-conscious about being red. Republicans are not. But the fact remains that today’s Democrats are pushing a political agenda that is traditionally, historically and practically red all over.

It’s time for them – and their cheerleaders in the press – to just be honest about it.

Voir encore:

RED STATE BLUES Did I Miss That Memo?
Clark Bensen
POLIDATA/Political Data Analysis
May 27, 2004

Over the past quarter of a century I have generated hundreds, nay thousands, of colorcoded (thematic) maps illustrating political behavior for the nation. These maps have used election results as the source information and show the geographic distribution of voter preferences at various levels of political geography, state, county, town/city, precinct and congressional or legislative districts2. In every one of these maps that indicate a political dichotomy of Republican vs. Democrat, the traditional color-coding scheme has been used:

BLUE FOR REPUBLICAN, RED FOR DEMOCRAT.

When I first came to Washington following the 1980 elections to join the staff of the Republican National Committee, it was already a given that color-coded maps were generated in this fashion. In fact, having watched network news election night coverage over the years, this seemed to be a generally-accepted standard. As the elections ticked away, however, the networks started to change and one-by-one the new election night standard generally became just the reverse.

As we know, the color red is more “eye-catching” and perhaps it made graphic sense for the networks to color-in the vast Republican expanse of the country in red to create a more dramatic background map. However, the problem has now transformed itself into a shorthand notation whereby the color is not used solely to visually differentiate states or counties. It is on the verge of becoming a part of the political lexicon as commentators refer to the “red states” and the “blue states”. This is, to me, as a longstanding political operative, not only confusing but a disturbing trend of how the political paradigm has shifted.

There are two general reasons why blue for Republican and Red for Democrat make the most sense: connotation and practice. First, there has been a generally understood meaning to the two colors inasmuch as they relate to politics. That is, the cooler color blue more closely represented the rational thinker and cold-hearted and the hotter red more closely represented the passionate and hot-blooded. This would translate into blue for Republicans and red for Democrats. Put another way, red was also the color most associated with socialism and the party of the Democrats was clearly the more socialistic of the two major parties.

The second reason why blue for Republicans makes sense is that traditional political mapmakers have used blue for the modern-day Republicans, and the Federalists before that, throughout the 20th century3. Perhaps this was a holdover from the days of the Civil War when the predominantly Republican North was “Blue”.

While not a unanimous practice4, there is significant printed evidence of tradition in favor of the blue for Republican and red for Democrat color scheme.

Nevertheless, the networks appear to be making this change full-bore during 2004. Even some conservative commentators5 have begun to use the “red state/blue state” break as a shorthand to “Republican state/Democrat state” as part of their terminology. Moreover, some younger political observers have been exposed only to the red for Republican scheme6.

Of course, while this just shrieks of inside-the-beltway elitism, it also tends to confuse the debate for many average Americans, especially those over 30. The sole premise for this short-hand is the color-coding of the maps, most of which have not been seen since the 2000 election night/recount coverage. The political parties have invested untold millions in brand recognition for their party labels. Now the media are poised to turn this around for the sake of inside Washington jargon.

The key issue here is not the color chosen for the maps. The key issue is how states, or areas, are described. What is needed is a return to clarity. Texas is not a “red state”, it is (at least now) a generically Republican state. New York is not a “blue state”, it is a generically Democrat state. There are no reds or blues living in America; only Republicans, Democrats and “Others”.

1 Clark H. Bensen, B.A., J.D., consulting data analyst and attorney doing business as POLIDATA ® Polidata Data Analysis and a publisher of data volumes operating as POLIDATA ® Demographic and Political Guides. POLIDATA is a demographic and political research firm located outside Washington, D.C.

2 Numerous examples of these maps may be found online at www.polidata.org. Distillers of Official Data ™ since 1974

3 Notable examples include: a) Charles O. Paullin and John K. Wright, Atlas of the Historical Geography of the United States, (Washington, D.C., Carnegie Institution of Washington and the American Geographical Society of New York, 1932); b) Kenneth C. Martis and Ruth Anderson Rowles, The Historical Atlas of Political Parties in the United States Congress, 1789-1989, (New York, MacMillan, 1989); c) See also the National Atlas of the United States at nationalatlas.gov (a web update of Gerlach, Arch C., editor, National Atlas of the United States of America, (Washington, U.S. Geological Survey, 1970)).

4 My analyst counterpart, Kim Brace, of Election Data Services, who serves the Democrat side of the aisle, has been using red for Republican for as long as Polidata has been using blue for Republican.

5 Observed in a column by Bob Novak in Spring 2004. 6 Observed in a column in GOPUSA.com in a travel letter from a current college student

Voir de plus:

When Republicans Were Blue and Democrats Were Red
The era of color-coded political parties is more recent than you might think
Jodi Enda
smithsonian.com
October 31, 2012

Television’s first dynamic, color-coded presidential map, standing two stories high in the studio best known as the home to “Saturday Night Live,” was melting.

It was early October, 1976, the month before the map was to debut—live—on election night. At the urging of anchor John Chancellor, NBC had constructed the behemoth map to illustrate, in vivid blue and red, which states supported Republican incumbent Gerald Ford and which backed Democratic challenger Jimmy Carter.

The test run didn’t go well. Although the map was buttressed by a sturdy wood frame, the front of each state was plastic.

“There were thousands of bulbs,” recalled Roy Wetzel, then the newly minted general manager of NBC’s election unit. “The thing started to melt when we turned all the lights on. We then had to bring in gigantic interior air conditioning and fans to put behind the thing to cool it.”

That solved the problem. And when election results flowed in Tuesday night, Nov. 2, Studio 8-H at 30 Rockefeller Center lit up. Light bulbs on each state changed from undecided white to Republican blue and Democratic red. NBC declared Carter the winner at 3:30 a.m. EST, when Mississippi turned red.

That’s right: In the beginning, blue was red and red was blue and they changed back and forth from election to election and network to network in what appears, in hindsight, to be a flight of whimsy. The notion that there were “red states” and “blue states”—and that the former were Republican and the latter Democratic—wasn’t cemented on the national psyche until the year 2000.

Chalk up another one to Bush v. Gore. Not only did it give us “hanging chads” and a crash course in the Electoral College, not only did it lead to a controversial Supreme Court ruling and a heightened level of polarization that has intensified ever since, the Election That Wouldn’t End gave us a new political shorthand.

Twelve years later, in the final days of a presidential race deemed too close to call, we know this much about election night Nov. 6: The West Coast, the Northeast and much of the upper Midwest will be bathed in blue. With some notable exceptions, the geographic center of the country will be awash in red. So will the South. And ultimately, it is a handful of states—which will start the evening in shades of neutral and shift, one by one, to red or blue—that will determine who wins.

If enough of those swing states turn blue, President Barack Obama remains in the White House four more years. If enough become red, Gov. Mitt Romney moves in January 20, 2013. For now, they are considered “purple.”

Here’s something else we know: All the maps—on TV stations and Web sites election night and in newspapers the next morning—will look alike. We won’t have to switch our thinking as we switch channels, wondering which candidate is blue and which is red. Before the epic election of 2000, there was no uniformity in the maps that television stations, newspapers or magazines used to illustrate presidential elections. Pretty much everyone embraced red and blue, but which color represented which party varied, sometimes by organization, sometimes by election cycle.

There are theories, some likely, some just plain weird, to explain the shifting palette.

“For years, both parties would do red and blue maps, but they always made the other guys red,” said Chuck Todd, political director and chief White House correspondent for NBC News. “During the Cold War, who wanted to be red?”

Indeed, prior to the breakup of the Soviet Union little more than two decades ago, “red was a term of derision,” noted Mitchell Stephens, a New York University professor of journalism and author of A History of News.

“There’s a movie named Reds, ” he said. “You’d see red in tabloid headlines, particularly in right wing tabloids like the Daily Mirror in New York and the New York Daily News.”

Perhaps the stigma of red in those days explains why some networks changed colors— in what appeared to be random fashion—over the years. Kevin Drum of the Washington Monthly wrote in 2004 that the networks alternated colors based on the party of the White House incumbent, but YouTube reveals that to be a myth.

Still, there were reversals and deviations. In 1976, when NBC debuted its mammoth electronic map, ABC News employed a small, rudimentary version that used yellow for Ford, blue for Carter and red for states in which votes had yet to be tallied. In 1980, NBC once again used red for Carter and blue for the Republican challenger, Ronald Reagan, and CBS followed suit. But ABC flipped the colors and promised to use orange for states won by John Anderson, the third-party candidate who received 6.6% of the popular vote. (Anderson carried no states, and orange seems to have gone by the wayside.) Four years later, ABC and CBS used red for Republicans and blue for Democrats, but the combination wouldn’t stick for another 16 years. During the four presidential elections Wetzel oversaw for NBC, from 1976 through 1988, the network never switched colors. Republicans were cool blue, Democrats hot red.

The reasoning was simple, he said: Great Britain.

“Without giving it a second thought, we said blue for conservatives, because that’s what the parliamentary system in London is, red for the more liberal party. And that settled it. We just did it,” said Wetzel, now retired.

Forget all that communist red stuff, he said. “It didn’t occur to us. When I first heard it, I thought, ‘Oh, that’s really silly.’ ”

When ABC produced its first large electronic map in 1980, it used red for Republicans and blue for Democrats, while CBS did the reverse, according to Wetzel. NBC stuck with its original color scheme, prompting anchor David Brinkley to say that Reagan’s victory looked like “a suburban swimming pool.”

Newspapers, in those days, were largely black and white. But two days after voters went to the polls in 2000, both the New York Times and USA Today published their first color-coded, county-by-county maps detailing the showdown between Al Gore and George W. Bush. Both papers used red for the Republican Bush, blue for the Democrat Gore.

Why?

“I just decided red begins with ‘r,’ Republican begins with ‘r.’ It was a more natural association,” said Archie Tse, senior graphics editor for the Times. “There wasn’t much discussion about it.”

Paul Overberg, a database editor who designed the map for USA Today, said he was following a trend: “The reason I did it was because everybody was already doing it that way at that point.”

And everybody had to continue doing it for a long time. The 2000 election dragged on until mid-December, until the Supreme Court declared Bush the victor. For weeks, the maps were ubiquitous.

Perhaps that’s why the 2000 colors stuck. Along with images of Florida elections officials eyeballing tiny ballot chads, the maps were there constantly, reminding us of the vast, nearly even divide between, well, red and blue voters.

From an aesthetic standpoint, Overberg said, the current color scheme fits with the political landscape. Republicans typically dominate in larger, less populated states in the Plains and Mountain West, meaning the center of the United States is very red. “If it had been flipped, the map would have been too dark,” he said. “The blue would have been swamping the red. Red is a lighter color.”

But not everyone liked the shift. Republican operative Clark Bensen wrote an analysis in 2004 titled “RED STATE BLUES: Did I Miss That Memo?”

“There are two general reasons why blue for Republican and Red for Democrat make the most sense: connotation and practice,” Bensen wrote. “First, there has been a generally understood meaning to the two colors inasmuch as they relate to politics. That is, the cooler color blue more closely represented the rational thinker and cold-hearted and the hotter red more closely represented the passionate and hot-blooded. This would translate into blue for Republicans and red for Democrats. Put another way, red was also the color most associated with socialism and the party of the Democrats was clearly the more socialistic of the two major parties.

“The second reason why blue for Republicans makes sense is that traditional political mapmakers have used blue for the modern-day Republicans, and the Federalists before that, throughout the 20th century. Perhaps this was a holdover from the days of the Civil War when the predominantly Republican North was ‘Blue’.”

At this point—three presidential elections after Bush v. Gore—the color arrangement seems unlikely to reverse any time soon. Not only have “red states” and “blue states” entered the lexicon, partisans on both sides have taken ownership of them. For instance, RedState is a conservative blog; Blue State Digital, which grew out of Democrat Howard Dean’s 2004 presidential campaign, helps candidates and organizations use technology to raise money, advocate their positions and connect with constituents. In 2008, a Republican and a Democrat even joined forces to create Purple Strategies, a bipartisan public affairs firm.

Sara Quinn, a visual journalist now at the Poynter Institute in Florida, said she sees no particular advantage to either color.

“Red is usually very warm and it comes forward to the eye. Blue tends to be a recessive color, but a calming color,” she said.

Not that anyone thought of those things when assigning colors in 2000. Not that they think about it at all today.

“After that election the colors became part of the national discourse,” said Tse. “You couldn’t do it any other way.”

Voir aussi:

One State, Two State, Red State, Blue State
Tom Zeller
The New York Times
February 8, 2004

ON Dec. 19, the online magazine Slate corrected an installment of « Moneybox, » a recurring column by Daniel Gross . The article had « reversed the states’ electoral colors, » the correction stated. « It’s the blue coastal states that opposed Bush, and the red states that supported him. »

The arbitrary, it seemed, had become axiomatic. Neither Mr. Gross’s column, nor the correction, referred to a particular map. Instead, they both alluded to what has become, in the four years since the Bush-Gore showdown, something of a Platonic political tableau – one from which this simple, harmonic maxim now emanates: Democratic states are blue, and Republican states are red.

« I didn’t realize it had become so official, » said Mr. Gross, who also writes periodically for The New York Times. « I must have missed the memo. »

There wasn’t one, of course, but it is testament to the visual onslaught of the 2000 election – those endlessly repeated images of the electoral United States – that the Red State/Blue State dichotomy has become entrenched in the political lexicon.

« The red states have turned redder, » the Bush campaign manager, Ken Mehlman, said recently, « while the blue states have turned purple. »

To many, this palette represents an ignorant (or perhaps intentional) reversal of international tradition, which often associates red with left-leaning parties and blue with the right. « It’s weird, is all, » wrote a blogger at dailykos.com, a political Web journal. « I’d like some accountability if people are going to start messing with cultural symbolism willy-nilly. »

Mark Monmonier, a professor of geography at Syracuse University’s Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs and an expert in the use of maps as analytical and persuasive tools, found himself automatically reversing the current color code. « I remember talking in a class about the red states and blue states, » he said, « and a student actually corrected me. »

Online political discussion groups buzz with conspiracy theories about the maps, suggesting that Republican states were made red because that color typically represents the enemy on military combat maps, or because red has more negative psychological baggage (fiery, dangerous) than friendly, pacific blue.

Others have thought it simply a naïve attempt to avoid trafficking in stereotypes (Democrats are Reds, or socialists). Professor Monmonier suggested – jokingly – that the red-left, blue-right association more rightly follows the conventional ordering of visible light (red, yellow, green, blue, and so forth).

But in the United States, at least, the color coding has rarely been static.

An early marriage of red and blue with the two major parties is noted in the Texas State Historical Association’s Handbook of Texas History Online , which describes a color-coding system developed in the 1870’s to help illiterate and Spanish-speaking voters navigate English-language ballots in South Texas. Local Democratic leaders called their party the Blues; Republicans chose to be the Reds.

By late in the next century, however, few were guided by that historical tidbit – or any other convention.

« It’s beginning to look like a suburban swimming pool, » the television anchor David Brinkley noted on election night 1980, as hundreds of Republican-blue light bulbs illuminated NBC’s studio map, signaling a landslide victory for Ronald Regan over the Democratic incumbent Jimmy Carter. Other staffers, Time magazine wrote, called it « Lake Reagan. »

Mr. Carter’s bulbs were red.

Five years later, in her book « My Story, » Geraldine A. Ferraro recalled watching her 1984 vice presidential bid founder on the television screen. Mr. Reagan’s victory this time around was rendered in both flavors. « One network map of the United States was entirely blue for the Republicans, » she wrote. « On another network, the color motif was a blanket of red. »

By the 1990’s, the color scheme was becoming a bit more formalized – at least on network and cable television. But other news outlets continued to vary.

Time magazine had favored Democratic red and Republican white in the 1976 election between Jimmy Carter and Gerald Ford, then reversed those colors for Reagan and Carter in 1980. By 1988, the magazine was using Republican blue and Democratic red, and it stayed with that motif even through the 2000 election, which has colorized the nation’s political language in precisely the opposite way.

The Times, which published its first color presidential election map in 2000, followed the networks, although Archie Tse, a graphics editor who made the choice, provided a different rationale: « Both Republican and red start with the letter R, » he said.

The National Atlas of the United States, published online under the auspices of the United States Geological Survey at nationalatlas.gov , still resists that trend: Bush counties are blue; Gore counties red.

Does it matter? Can swaths of cartographic-crimson or seas of ballot-blue tickle the rods and cones of the voting public and trigger deep-seated associations? The field of color psychology is uncertain on the matter.

Robert F. Simons, a professor of psychology at the University of Delaware and a co-author of a recent study titled « The Emotional Significance of Color in Television Presentations, » published in the journal Media Psychology, says it is difficult to link colors directly with how much people like or dislike something.

« People still associate color with all sorts of things – red is hot, blue is cold, » Professor Simons said. « But when all is said and done, these are semantic associations that probably have little to do with color per se. »

But Leatrice Eiseman, the director of the Pantone Color Institute , says those semantic associations are fairly entrenched – at least in the West. Blue, Ms. Eiseman says, is cool and calming, and typically represents « those things in nature that are always there for us, like water and the sky, » she said. Red, in contrast is « exciting, dynamic, high-energy. »

« It can also be a symbol of danger and bloodshed, » she added, although Republicans who find themselves uncomfortable at the hot-and-twitchy end of the spectrum may take comfort at the ascension of their color on Valentine’s Day. « Red is also a very sensual color, » Ms. Eiseman said.

She suggests that maps would do better to mimic the flag, with states bearing either stars on a blue field, or red-and-white stripes. « That would provide a symbolism that is familiar to everyone, » Ms. Eiseman said.

Whatever the subliminal debris, the 2000 election, which kept the nation staring at tinted maps for weeks as the outcome remained uncertain, appears to have cemented a decision that once could be safely governed by whimsy. The Geospatial and Statistical Data Center at the University of Virginia , for example, once chose shades of green and turquoise for its election maps. « I suspect it was just what the mapmaker liked at the time, » said Michael J. Furlough, the director of the data center.

But the center’s maps for the 2000 election were made red and blue. « We made that decision so that the colors would match those that we thought viewers naturally associated with each party, » Mr. Furlough said.

« A critical part of Dean . . . truly reflects much of the culture of the Blue States of America, » wrote Andrew Sullivan in Time magazine last week. That’s probably reason enough for the publication to cede to convention and render the Democrats blue this year. The magazine’s managing editor, James Kelly, says it’s already been decided. « We’re getting with the program, » he said.

Voir encore:

Elephants Are Red, Donkeys Are Blue
Color Is Sweet, So Their States We Hue
Paul Farhi
The Washington Post
November 2, 2004

Tonight, as the results of this too-close-to-call election trickle in, voters will find out not just who they’ve chosen to lead them, but where they live — in « red » or « blue » America.

The TV networks’ electoral maps will turn red once again when President Bush wins a state, and blue when John Kerry claims one. The evening’s talk will likely break along red and blue lines. DanPeterTom will discuss which states might go red, which are trending blue, and which, depending on their ultimate chromatic disposition, could decide the election.

Red and blue, of course, have become more than just the conveniently contrasting colors of TV graphics. They’ve become shorthand for an entire sociopolitical worldview. A « red state » bespeaks not just a Republican majority but an entire geography (rectangular borders in the country’s midsection), an iconography (Bush in a cowboy hat), and a series of cultural cliches (churches and NASCAR). « Blue states » suggest something on, and of, the coastal extremes, urban and latte-drinking. Red states — to reduce the stereotypes to an even more vulgar level — are a little bit country, blues are a little more rock-and-roll.

How has it come to this? What cosmic decorator did the states’ colors, reducing a continental nation’s complicated political and cultural realities to a two-tone palette?

The answers are somewhat murky — we may have to wait for a recount to be sure — but it appears the 2000 election, NBC’s graphics department and David Letterman all played critical roles.

Before Bush’s disputed victory over Al Gore four years ago, there was no consensus on the color of liberalism or conservatism. Indeed the scheme was often reversed, reflecting traditional European associations (red being not just the color of communism but of Great Britain’s Labor Party, too).

In 1976, NBC identified states won by Gerald Ford in blue and Jimmy Carter’s states in red. On election night in 1980, ABC News showed Ronald Reagan’s march to the White House as a series of blue lights on a map, with Carter’s states in red. Time magazine assigned red to the Democrats and blue to the Republicans in its election graphics in every election from 1988 to 2000. The Washington Post’s election graphics for the 2000 election were Republican-blue, Democrat-red.

The first reference to « red states » and « blue states, » according to a database search of newspapers, magazines and TV news transcripts since 1980, occurred on NBC’s « Today » show about a week before the 2000 election. Matt Lauer and Tim Russert discussed the projected alignment of the states, using a map and a color scheme that had first shown up a few days earlier on NBC’s sister cable network, MSNBC. « So how does [Bush] get those remaining 61 electoral red states, if you will? » Russert asked at one point.

In an interview yesterday, Russert disclaimed credit for coining the red-state, blue-state distinction. « I’m sure I wasn’t the first to come up with it, » he said. « But I will take credit for the white board, » Russert’s signature, hands-on electoral vote tracker.

As the 2000 election became a 36-day recount debacle, the commentariat magically reached consensus on the proper colors. Newspapers began discussing the race in the larger, abstract context of red vs. blue. The deal may have been sealed when Letterman suggested a week after the vote that a compromise would « make George W. Bush president of the red states and Al Gore head of the blue ones. »

All of this doesn’t answer two fundamental questions: Why red? Why blue?

Stephen Hess, a professor of media and public affairs at George Washington University, points to the obvious association with the American flag. He adds that those colors look good on a TV screen, too.

Besides, other combinations wouldn’t work. We’ve already tried blue and gray, and we know how that ended up. It would be wrong, for obvious reasons, to divide the country into « black » states and « white » states. And it just wouldn’t look right to pick a more out-there palette, such as taupe-teal or puce-mauve.

Some conspiracy-mind Republicans resent being colored red because that hue tends to be associated with negative traits (fiery, bloody, hot, red-in-the-face), although red is also associated with love. Blue, meanwhile, is peaceful and tranquil, the color of sky and water, but it’s also the color of cold and depression.

The real problem may lie in the superficial caricatures that the colors conjure. Is it really accurate, after all, to describe New Mexico as a « blue » state when Gore won it by just 366 votes in 2000? In California — a state so blue that neither of the two leading candidates bothered campaigning much there this year — voters have in recent years approved initiatives repealing racial preferences and bilingual education, and have ousted a Democratic governor in favor of a Republican. Ohio — historically a red state — is close enough that Kerry might eke out a narrow victory, but it is also poised to pass overwhelmingly a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage.

The whole red-blue division got an eloquent rebuke at the Democratic National Convention this summer, when Senate candidate Barack Obama told the cheering crowd, « We coach Little League in blue states and we have gay friends in red states. We pray to an awesome God in blue states and we don’t like federal agents sniffing around our libraries in red states. »

Red? Blue? In roses and violets maybe, but politics and culture come in many hues, and many of them clash.

Voir de même:

Banana Republicans
MSNBC

Paul Begala

November 13, 2000

The Bushies are desperate — desperate to stop a manual recount of disputed Florida votes. And as so often happens when one is desperate, they’re saying some really stupid things. Former Secretary of State and Bush fixer James A. Baker III even went on national television to say that manual recounts are not as reliable as machine counts.

The Bush camp craves power more than it respects democracy. ‘Trusting the people’ is just a slogan to them.

WHILE BAKER has a right to his opinion, his opinion does not trump Florida election law, which calls for a manual recount if there are anomalies in the machine count.

And apparently George W. Bush does not share his lawyer’s suspicion of manual recounts, since in 1997 he signed a law saying a manual recount was preferable if a machine count yielded a result that was too close to call. Having voted in Texas — as recently as the last presidential election — I know firsthand that many Texans vote on the same controversial punch-card machines as were used in Palm Beach County.

The Bushies are so desperate to stop the manual recount they’ve devised a two-tiered strategy :

First, they’ve gone into federal court to ask that the Florida election law, which clearly allows a manual recount, is unconstitutional. This is legal lunacy and political hypocrisy. Legally, Florida’s recount law is like most states,’ in that it allows recounts in close races or where some discrepancy is shown. Before any county can grant a Gore campaign request for a recount, the county must first demonstrate — by examining 1 percent of the ballots by hand — that there is some cause for concern that the machine might have missed some ballots. Such a regime is common and fair, hardly the abridgement of the 14th Amendment’s equal protection clause and the First Amendment’s free speech clause, as the Bushies’ stunning legal brief argues.

DEJA VU ALL OVER AGAIN
Politically, this is the most blatant hypocrisy since another Bush got elected by asking us to read his lips and then raised our taxes. Bush Jr. campaigned on a commitment to return more power to states and localities. Now, where a state (run by his own brother) is exercising control of its own electoral process, Bush wants the feds to come in and take it over.

The man whose slogan was “I trust the people,” now says he trusts machines more. The man who campaigned for tort reform and against lawyers, is now trying to use lawyers to stop a legal and valid recount — apparently because he fears that if the real will of the people is known, he’d lose.

Fortunately, a federal judge has denied the request for an injunction. Score one for democracy.

But the Bushies aren’t through yet. The other prong of the Bush anti-recount strategy is even more chilling :

The Florida secretary of state — a partisan Republican who campaigned for Bush in New Hampshire and who the Tampa Tribune says spent $100,000 of taxpayers’ money on a world tour to boost her credentials for a Bush ambassadorial appointment – has ruled that the deadline for all certified county results is 5 p.m. ET Tuesday. Such a deadline would make many of the hand recounts impossible to complete. What’s the rush? The overseas absentee ballots will be coming in until Friday, so there’s no need to rush the process to a close. Besides, Florida law clearly allows for a manual recount. It seems unfair — and unconstitutional — for a state official to set such a tight time limit that the recount becomes a practical impossibility.

HEAVY-HANDED STRATEGIES
Such heavy-handed, anti-democratic strategies qualify them to be Banana Republicans. They seem to care more about their preferred outcome than an honest and fair process.

Al Gore has already demonstrated his willingness to accept an unfavorable result by conceding the election when he thought Bush had won Florida by a fairly wide margin of 50,000 votes. Gore’s campaign spokesman made it clear that if a fair and accurate count yields a Bush victory, the Democrats will recognize it. Have we ever heard a single Bush spokesman make such a comment? No. In fact, thanks to the reporting of Michael Kramer of the New York Daily News and Andy Miga of the Boston Herald, we know the Banana Republicans had a secret strategy for undermining a Gore victory if Bush had won the popular vote. Now that the result is the other way, we’ve seen no Democratic strategy for de-legitimizing Bush. In fact, Gore has made it clear that although he won the popular vote nationwide, he will respect the result of the electoral vote as determinative. I have yet to hear a single Banana Republican say the same thing. They crave power more than they respect democracy.

“Trusting the people” is just a slogan to them.
As they did during the right-wing lynch mob’s attempt to impeach our president, the American people are showing their usual good judgment. According to a Newsweek poll released Monday, 72 percent of Americans feel that making certain the count is fair and accurate is more important than getting matters resolved as quickly as possible. Almost 70 percent say that the recount and the delay are proof that the U.S. electoral system is working, not a sign of weakness. And two-thirds (66 percent) of all Americans, and a majority (54 percent) of Bush voters think Gore did the right thing in withdrawing his concession to Bush. So pay no attention to the hot-air boys who are trying to railroad this election for their man Bush. Let’s settle down, slow down and get the most accurate count possible. It’s more important to get this right than to get it right away.

PERPLEXED, BUT NOT DIVIDED
Finally, I feel compelled to respond to something that was said on MSNBC cable last week. Mike Barnicle is one of the great voices of American commentary, and last week he held up the USA Today map of how every county in America voted. There was a sea of Bush red across the South, Midwest and Rocky Mountains with Gore blue hugging the coasts. Barnicle said this was proof of a cultural divide in America: “Wal-Mart versus Martha Stewart,” he said. “Family values versus a sense of entitlement.” I’ve been thinking about that ever since. And while I appreciate a guy from the Northeast opining about the cultural superiority of the Deep South, let me offer my own perspective: I was raised in that ocean of red. I grew up in Sugar Land, Texas — a place so conservative our Congressman is Tom “the Hammer” DeLay, the leader of the right-wing forces in the GOP Congress. There is no doubt that Barnicle’s observations have merit: There are different cultural mores on the coasts than there are in the middle of the country. But I don’t think that’s the only thing going on here.

Why would my beloved South vote so heavily Republican when just a generation ago it was heavily (no, totally) Democratic? LBJ knew. When he signed the Civil Rights Act he put his head in his hands and told his press secretary, Bill Moyers, “I’ve just given the South to the Republicans for a generation.” LBJ’s pessimism was prescient.

In the next presidential election, George Wallace stormed across the South with a message that cloaked racism in anti-government, anti-federal rhetoric. Richard Nixon’s infamous “Southern Strategy” was aimed at co-opting the votes of Southern Democratic racists who were disillusioned with their party’s support of civil rights. And by 1980, Ronald Reagan could stand in Neshoba County, Miss. — where Goodman and Chaney and Schwerner were murdered by racist thugs for registering black voters — and call for “states’ rights.”

The only two men from my party who won the White House since LBJ were moderate Southerners who knew the ins and outs of racial politics: Jimmy Carter of Georgia and Bill Clinton of Arkansas. If we were in a recession or a war, you could understand the unanimous verdict of my fellow Southerners. What is it about peace and prosperity that has them so angry? Could it be that the Clinton administration was the first in history to take on the extremists at the NRA, by pushing through the Brady Law and the assault weapon ban? Could it be that this administration saved affirmative action from a right-wing assault in the courts, the ballot box and the Congress? Could it be that this administration stood courageously for the simple proposition that no American should be fired from his job because of who he fall in love with?

NO EASY ANSWERS
Vice President Gore tells reporters that democracy, not the election, is at stake.

Yes, Barnicle is right when he notes that tens of millions of good people in Middle America voted Republican. But if you look closely at that map you see a more complex picture.

You see the state where James Byrd was lynch-dragged behind a pickup truck until his body came apart — it’s red.

You see the state where Matthew Shepard was crucified on a split-rail fence for the crime of being gay — it’s red.

You see the state where right-wing extremists blew up a federal office building and murdered scores of federal employees — it’s red.

The state where an Army private who was thought to be gay was bludgeoned to death with a baseball bat, and the state where neo-Nazi skinheads murdered two African-Americans because of their skin color, and the state where Bob Jones University spews its anti-Catholic bigotry : they’re all red too.

But that’s not the whole story, either. Cultural warriors like House impeachment managers Bill McCollum and James Rogan and ultra-conservatives like Sen. John Ashcroft were defeated.

A gun control measure passed in Colorado and Oregon.

School vouchers were rejected in Michigan and California.

Democrats gained seats in the House, the Senate and state legislatures

And Gore carried the popular vote.

My point is that Middle America is a far more complicated place than even a gifted commentator like Mike Barnicle gives us credit for. It’s not all just red and blue — or black and white.

Democratic strategist Paul Begala is the co-host, with Oliver North, of MSNBC’s “Equal Time.” Begala is also the author of “Is Our Children Learning? The Case Against George W. Bush.”

Florida Recount …

PAUL BEGALA

Just when the Fat Lady was two-thirds through her aria, the Florida Supreme Court has stuffed a big-ol’ sock in her mouth. The Court has ordered, finally, that the disputed ballots from Miami-Dade County — and any other undervotes from any other county — be counted.

This is only fair. And fairness should count for something. I spoke to a high school civics class this morning, and had a hard time trying to explain why, since I believe any fair and full counting will show that Gore won Florida and with it the White House, The System may not give us that full and fair counting. The best I could come up with is to remind the students of what President Kennedy said, « Life is not fair. »

JFK had been, as he memorably said of his generation, « tested in war, (and) tempered by a hard and bitter peace. » He had seen his brother killed in combat, his sister killed in a plane crash, his boat shot out from under him in the Pacific. And yet he knew others who’d emerged from the war unscathed — and others still who were never called to serve at all.

His conclusion : life is not fair.

For someone like me who has, thank God, never been asked to serve in combat, I lack JFK’s tough, but accurate, perspective. And, Lord knows, an election is not a war. No one will die. No one will be injured. No one will have their lives shattered. So, while this is definitely the biggest political story of my lifetime, Kennedy’s lesson has helped me put it into perspective.

Still, I am thrilled that the Florida Supreme Court has ordered a careful count of the disputed ballots. It would be even more fair to have, as Gore has suggested, a full recount of the entire state of Florida. But absent that, counting the disputed ballots may yield a victory for Gore — or it may yield a victory for Bush. But more fundamentally, the count will confer legitimacy. After all, when 6,000,000 votes are cast but only 537 separate the winner from the loser, and tens of thousands of ballots have never been accurately read, it seems only fair to give those ballots a look-see.

I know The System is not always fair. But it ought to be unfair to both parties in the same way. That is, if the GOP is going to tell hundreds of voters in Palm Beach County that their votes don’t count because their local canvassing board submitted the paperwork 127 minutes late (when the Supreme Court had said the Secretary of State could receive them the next morning); if we’re going to tell 20,000 citizens whose votes were invalidated by a flawed ballot, and thousands more whose votes were never counted because of flawed machines, and untold more whose votes were excluded because of a lack of translators for Haitian immigrants or because the needlessly complicated ballot confused a lot of first-time voters — if the Republicans’ answer to all of those people is, « Life is unfair, » why do they appeal to fundamental fairness to include thousands of ballots whose applications were tampered with by party operatives?

The twin-killing of the Seminole and Martin County cases makes sense when you consider the radical — and unfair — nature of the remedy. Nobody wants to throw out the votes of thousands of citizens who did nothing wrong. Nobody but the Republicans, if those votes happen to be for Al Gore. By the same token, the Florida Supreme Court ruling makes sense. If every vote counts in Seminole and Martin Counties, they ought to count in the state’s other counties as well.

Watch for the Banana Republicans to attack the Court, just as Bush lawyer (and the man who ran the Wilie Horton campaign for Poppy) James Baker called the last Supreme Court ruling with which he disagreed, « unacceptable. » The Bushies will resort to the US Supreme Court, the Florida Legislature, Tom DeLay and the right-wingers who run the GOP Congress. All Al Gore has on his side are the people, the votes and the law. It’s going to be one helluva fight.

The drumbeat from the Know-Nothing Class continues

PAUL BEGALA

Why, the pundidiots ask, won’t Al Gore simply concede defeat and let us get about the important business of sucking up to the Bushies? I can hardly blame them. The Clinton Era has been a long, lonely walk in the wilderness for most of the chattering class. The Clintons didn’t like them. Didn’t like their arrogance or their condescension. Couldn’t stand their ruthlessness. And they let it show.

Worse, the Clinton Era proved the absolute and total lack of power in the punditocracy. From inside the White House it seemed to me as if 90 percent of the talking heads were calling for Clinton’s head. And he wouldn’t offer it up. Day after day they told the American people that Clinton had to go. The American people followed it carefully, studied it judiciously and told the pundidiots to pound sand. Obviously what Clinton did in his private life was wrong, and lying about it was terribly wrong. All of that made him a bad husband, perhaps, but it didn’t change the reality that he was, in the eyes of the American people, a terrific president. And so they hung in there with him. The pundidiots acted like two-year-olds who weren’t getting enough attention, « But our opinions matter! » they screamed. « We get the best tables at the finest Georgetown restaurants. When we say he has to go, he has to go. »

But he would not go. And the American people would not let him go. And so he stayed. He survived, he succeeded, he triumphed. He is seen as more successful in his job than Eisenhower or Reagan were at this stage of their presidencies. He has become the most successful president since FDR, accomplishing more of the goals he set at the beginning of his presidency than anyone since.

And in so doing he pissed-off the pundidiots mightily.

Perhaps that’s why they’re so cranky, so angry, so nasty to Al Gore. Good Lord, the man won the election. He got more votes than the other guy. More Americans wanted him to be President than George W. Bush. I know that’s not constitutionally dispositive, but it’s pretty damned important. But only if you think the will of the people matters.

George W. Bush may capture the White House. But somewhere in the pea-brain of his is the knowledge, the fact, the certainty that most Americans did not want him in that job — that more Americans wanted the other guy. What’s worse, his supporters can draw no comfort from the argument that they won the electoral vote, since we know Bush’s only hope to « win » Florida lies in legal technicalities, deadlines and the trump card of the Tallahassee Taliban setting aside the will of the voters and giving W 25 electoral votes by legislative fiat.

Independent, nonpartisan analyses of the Florida vote conducted by both the Miami Herald and the Orlando Sentinel concluded that Gore won Florida by a comparatively comfortable margin — as much as 23,000 votes.

Not ready for prime time

PAUL BEGALA

January 8, 2001

Chavez flap is one more sign of Bushies’ arrogance.

So now we learn that Labor Secretary-designate Linda Chavez housed — and may have employed — an illegal alien. We don’t have enough information yet to discern whether this was a commendable act of charity or a criminal violation of the labor laws. And until more facts are in I’m not interested in passing judgment on Chavez.

But this revelation does allow us to make some important judgments about Team Bush :

THEY LIE : I know that sounds harsh, but what else do you call it? The New York Times reports that Bush spokesman Tucker Eskew “said Ms. Chavez was unaware of the woman’s legal status at the time she was sheltering her and only realized after she had departed from her home that she was here illegally.” But that’s not what the woman in question says. Marta Mercado told The Washington Post that she informed Chavez of her illegal status about three months after moving into her home. And Chavez’s close friend, Abigail Thernstrom, told the Times, “I’m pretty confident that Linda did know” that Mercado was not legally in this country.

Why would the Bushies lie about such a thing? For the same reason George W. Bush lied about failing to report to the Alabama National Guard and for the same reason the president-elect lied about his arrest for drunk driving. It’s the same reason the Bushies lied about Dick Cheney’s post-election heart attack. And the same reason Bush lied to a court in Texas about whether he’d discussed with state regulators a controversial investigation of a funeral home company run by a gubernatorial campaign contributor. Because that’s what they do.

CLINTON LIES V. BUSH LIES

Yes, Bill Clinton denied having an affair. I don’t excuse that, but what straying husband wants his family, much less the world, to know? And (except for Hillary) whose dadgum business is it anyway?

As they never tire of telling us, the Bushies don’t have extramarital affairs. They save their lies for public affairs.

Remember : “Read my lips.”

Remember : “I was out of the loop on Iran-Contra.”

And who can forget : “Clarence Thomas is the most qualified person in America for the Supreme Court.”

So spare us the lectures about “restoring honor and dignity” to the White House. Bush hasn’t even gotten there yet, and he’s already left a trail of mendacity from here to Waco. The only thing the Bushies ever wanted to restore was themselves — to power.

But the lack of candor from Bush and his minions is not the only lesson from this mess.

We’ve also learned — horrors :

They’re hypocrites.
When Attorney General-designate Zoe Baird was being pilloried for failing to pay Social Security taxes on an illegal immigrant she’d hired as a nanny, Linda Chavez was one of the loudest voices in the hypocrites’ choir. “I think most of the American people were upset during the Zoe Baird nomination that she’d hired an illegal alien. That was what upset them more than the fact that she did not pay Social Security taxes,” Chavez told PBS in 1993, according to the Post.

And Chavez was far from alone. During the Baird case, and all the way through impeachment, Republicans argued for a strict, unforgiving reading of the law, invoking in pompous, pious tones, “The Rule of Law.” Let’s see the same people who argued for Bill Clinton because he was reluctant to admit an affair turn around and argue for leniency in the Chavez case.

A strict reading of the law says it’s a violation to harbor someone who is illegally in this country — irrespective of whether you actually employed her (which would be another violation). But suddenly, the same people who trashed the Constitution to impeach President Clinton because they wanted to make a constitutional crisis out of an affair, are now, in the words of the Bush transition spokesman, appealing for “a common-sense standard : government should not punish you for trying to help somebody else out in life.”

Only a Bushie could produce this whiplash-inducing spin. Only a Bushie could convince himself that the rules don’t apply to him and his cronies. And only a Bushie could argue that when “they” break the rules, the act is a manifestation of their good intentions and moral superiority, while if a Democrat makes a mistake it is, literally, a federal case and proof of that person’s moral sleaziness.

ENUMERATING ACTS OF COMPASSION

Finally, we’ve learned something more surprising :

Not ready for prime time. Who would’ve thought that Cheney-Bush, Inc. would stumble so badly on something so obvious? Spokesfibber Eskew was coy when asked if Chavez’s illegal immigrant problem had surfaced in the pre-nomination vetting. “The vetters ask a range of serious questions,” he told the Post, “including things about domestic employees and paying taxes. They don’t, however, ask potential nominees to enumerate every act of compassion.”

Sounds like they missed this. They missed Dick Cheney’s EKG, which looks like 40 miles of bad Oklahoma farm road, and his congressional voting record, which looks like Jesse Helms’ greatest hits. They missed John Ashcroft’s remark that the cause of the Confederacy — slavery — was not “perverted.” If people owning people ain’t perverted, I don’t know what is.

The Bushies promised competence more than ideology. So far we’ve gotten mendacity and hypocrisy — all in service of a right-wing ideology.

No wonder they lost the election.

Voir encore:

Racial Witch-Hunt The Left is Guilty of Racial McCarthyism
David Horowitz
Front page magazine

January 22, 2001

ON DECEMBER 14TH, as the Holiday Season was getting into full swing, five young men and women, all professionals with bright careers ahead of them, were accosted at gunpoint in a townhouse belonging to one of them, sexually tortured and then shot in the head. The sadistic criminals who perpetrated this atrocity were brothers. Only one young woman survived.
ON DECEMBER 14TH, as the Holiday Season was getting into full swing, five young men and women, all professionals with bright careers ahead of them, were accosted at gunpoint in a townhouse belonging to one of them, sexually tortured and then shot in the head. The sadistic criminals who perpetrated this atrocity were brothers. Only one young woman survived. In a poignant footnote to the tragedy, she had discovered, when one of the criminals stole a diamond ring from a drawer in the apartment where her companions were killed, that her now dead boyfriend intended to propose to her. Naked and bleeding from her head wound, the young woman staggered a mile through the snow to safety.Despite the story’s horror, despite its drama, despite its “human interest” dimension, not a single national news outlet reported the case. The reason: the monsters who committed this horror were black, the victims white. The reason: The national media is infected with anti-white racism, and the infection is of epidemic proportions. The reason: The story did not fit the politically correct national melodrama of black victimhood, white oppression.

The same epidemic of politically correct, anti-white attitudes pervades local governments and law enforcement authorities. The official position over the killings in the editorial rooms of the Wichita Eagle and the local District Attorney’s office is that the December 14th hate crime was not a hate crime at all. Why? Because the victims were robbed and the motive therefore was not racial, but robbery.

Matthew Shepherd was robbed.

Neither the crime nor the silence surrounding it, are isolated incidents. Last February, 6-year-old Jake Robel was dragged five miles to his death in Missouri because a black car-jacker was deaf to a white child’s screams for help. The nation was not informed. Last April, eight-year-old Kevin Shifflett, had his throat slit by a racist in broad daylight in Alexandria, Virginia, a suburb of the nation’s capital. No one reported Kevin’s assassination as a hate crime and the crime itself was smothered in a politically correct news blackout. The reason? Kevin was white, his racist attacker black. These crimes of the last year remain invisible. But a two-year-old hate crime, familiar to every citizen through endless repetition in the news media, congressional keenings, and presidential pronouncements because it was committed against a black man, did become a central feature of the Democrats’ campaign against presidential candidate George Bush, whom they found guilty of association to the incident because it took place in Texas.Why should these facts surprise anyone, when everyone knows that it is politically correct to hate white people in America? Hatred of whites is a well-developed intellectual doctrine at our nation’s most prestigious universities and law schools – whole faculties are devoted to it. Hatred of whites is widely taught in our nation’s schools, where they are portrayed as history’s racists and oppressors. It is inscribed in our nation’s laws, which provide racial privileges and racial protections for those whose skin color is any shade but white. Meanwhile, the Democratic Party campaigns to ensure that hate crimes are identified in the public mind exclusively with straight white males. Its surrogate in this campaign is the nation’s leading so-called civil rights organization, the NAACP, which ran a multi-million dollar TV effort during the presidential race insinuating that George W. Bush hates black people and is in league with lynchers because he did not think extending a hate crimes law to include special protections for gays was a prudent idea. No Democrat has condemned this racial McCarthyism let alone the offensive outbursts of party extremists like Maxine Waters.

In a calculated cynicism, the Democratic Party has whipped up racial paranoia in the African-American community by lending credibility to the lunatic charge that there was systematic disenfranchisement of black voters in Florida by racists who remain invisible. The U.S. Civil Rights Commission has even staged a show trial to demonstrate the indemonstrable. Witness after witness appeared before the Commission to claim racial intimidation, and then was forced to admit under questioning that they had actually been able to vote. Not a shred of evidence exists that there was a conspiracy to deprive African-Americans in Florida of the right to vote. Yet the NAACP has filed lawsuits making just that accusation. And millions of black people have been persuaded by racial demagogues and their liberal abettors that such a conspiracy exists, that the election was “stolen” from them in order that Republicans could appoint racists to government.

The witch-hunting mentality that has seized the Democratic Party is on full display in a notorious Internet column written by Clinton strategist and Gore advisor Paul Begala during the Florida brawl:

Yes… tens of millions of good people in Middle America voted Republican. But if you look closely at that [electoral] map [showing counties that voted Republican in red] you see a more complex picture. You see the state where James Byrd was lynch-dragged behind a pickup truck until his body came apart – it’s red. You see the state where Matthew Shepard was crucified on a split-rail fence for the crime of being gay – it’s red. You see the state where right-wing extremists blew up a federal office building and murdered scores of federal employees – it’s red. The state where an army private who was thought to be gay was bludgeoned to death with a baseball bat, and the state where neo-Nazi skin-heads murdered two African Americans because of their skin color, and the state where Bob Jones University spews its anti-Catholic bigotry: they’re all red too.
One could respond to Begala in Begala fashion: “The state where left-wing extremist, Muslim terrorists blew up the World Trade Center – that’s blue. The county where a race riot following a jury verdict destroyed 2,000 Korean businesses and caused the deaths of 58 people – that’s blue. The states where Colin Ferguson and Ronald Taylor killed 8 whites and Asians because leftwing race baiters convinced them they were victims of a racial conspiracy – are blue. The counties, nationwide, where the vast majority of murderers, rapists and child molesters live and operate – those are blue, too.”

But far more important is how Begala’s outburst reveals the casual way in which a mainstream political strategist on the left can smear an entire political party – routinely identified by his political comrades as a “white party” – as a den of racial killers.

Not since the heyday of Senator Joe McCarthy has there been a demonization of whole categories of Americans or a national witch-hunt on a scale like this.

And this witch-hunt is now the focus of the nomination process for the new president’s cabinet. Nor do Democrats betray any embarrassment at the fact that leading their attack from the left is a Senator who killed a woman while driving under the influence, left the scene of the accident, and avoided a manslaughter charge only by massing all his legendary family’s political muscle to fix the judicial process in a backwater county of his own state. Democrats had previously politicized and debased the process by which Supreme Court nominees are vetted. Now they are turning what used to be a pro forma confirmation ritual of a new Administration into an orgy of character assassination.

Consider the spectacle. George Bush has nominated the most diverse cabinet in American history. He has appointed African-Americans to the highest positions on record. He has appointed a Chinese-American and an Arab-American to cabinet positions for the first time. He has appointed Hispanic Americans and African Americans and a Japenese American, and of course women. Yet his nominations are the targets of a Democrat campaign to portray his nominees as racists, homophobes and even, in one frenzied historical leap – Torquemadas.

All this has had a predictable effect on a reliably uninformed public. Does a national icon of the popular culture, Ricky Martin, have the temerity to accept an invitation to sing at the new President’s Inauguration? In normal times, this would routinely be seen as a high honor – in this case an honor to the entire Puerto Rican community to have one of its sons assume such a nationally visible role. But in the atmosphere the left has poisoned, Ricky Martin must be prepared to have his life and career torn apart. On hearing of his decision, Martin’s childhood friend and professional partner, the man who produces and writes his songs, told the nation’s press that the singing gig was “a betrayal of everything that every Puerto Rican should stand for.” “This is a president,” according to Robi Rosa, “who would have people in his Cabinet who would obstruct the exercise of civil rights, human rights, consumer rights, the right to choose, the right to be free of gun violence and the right to a clean environment.”

This pathetic extremist screed – far from being unexpected — sounds very much like the tune the whole Democratic choir is singing. Mario Cuomo may have sung it first at the 1996 Democrat Convention: “Ladies and gentlemen, brothers and sisters, the Republicans are the real threat. They are the real threat to our women. They are the real threat to our children. They are the real threat to clean water, clean air and the rich landscape of America.” Give me a break.

What are the actual charges the Democrats have brought against Bush’s nominee for Attorney General? John Ashcroft is accused of the crime of opposing racial preferences (along with 70% of all Americans). According to the witch-hunters, this makes him a closet racist. He is accused of opposing a failed program — forced busing as a means of integration — which has been rejected even in liberal Democrat cities like Los Angeles and Boston, and even among blacks. For this he is accused of “racism.” He is accused of sympathies for the Confederacy because he didn’t condemn the Confederate flag and thought the Confederate cause may have embraced other issues besides slavery (normally the left argues it was about anything but slavery) – yet it was Democrat Senator Fritz Hollings who raised the Confederate flag over South Carolina’s capitol and Bill Clinton who signed official proclamations commemorating the Confederacy while governor of Arkansas — with no such backlash effects. Ashcroft is accused of opposing one black judicial nomination out of a total 26 such nominations because Ronnie White, the black judge in question, overturned the death penalty of a cold-blooded killer who had murdered the wife of a sheriff in front of her children at a Christmas Party, arousing the passionate interest of Missouri sheriffs. For this – for all this – a man with two decades of unimpeachable public service, a supporter of integration, a proponent of Martin Luther King’s vision — is pilloried as a “racist.”

In the atmosphere of hysteria whipped up by left-wing McCarthyites, one news channel even billed a program on the nominee for Attorney General this way: “Bush calls him a man of integrity; critics call him frightening.” Begalism uber alles.

The time has come to pose to Democrats and the left the same question the hero of America’s most famous witch-hunt finally put to the Senator himself: Have you no decency, sir (and madam)? Have you no shame?

David Horowitz is the founder of The David Horowitz Freedom Center and author of the new book, One Party Classroom.

Voir encore:

Ferguson : sur Twitter, les Etats-Unis se divisent entre «rouges» et «bleus»
Hugo Pascua

Libération

26 novembre 2014

LU SUR LE WEBLa statisticienne Emma Pierson a modélisé les discussions autour de Ferguson en analysant les tweets sur l’affaire, laissant clairement apparaître deux camps qui s’ignorent mutuellement.

Les bleus contre les rouges. Et si tout était aussi simple ? C’est la vision des émeutes de Ferguson que propose Emma Pierson, statisticienne-blogueuse diplômée de Stanford, sur le site Quartz. Une modélisation rendue possible grâce à l’analyse de près de 200 000 tweets concernant l’affaire Brown, et qui dessine deux camps très opposés dans leur façon de voir les événements.

En août Michael Brown, jeune afro-américain de 18 ans, est abattu en pleine rue de six balles par Darren Wilson, un policier blanc. Pendant plus de 10 jours de violentes émeutes raciales éclatent dans la ville de Ferguson, poussant le gouverneur du Missouri à demander l’intervention de la garde nationale. La ville reprend son calme jusqu’au 24 novembre dernier, quand le grand jury du comté de Saint Louis décide de ne pas poursuivre Darren Wilson, entraînant de nouvelles émeutes.

Emma Pierson décide d’étudier ce conflit par le prisme de Twitter, plateforme qui a joué un rôle majeur dans les événements de Ferguson. «Twitter a permis de faire circuler des informations (pas toujours exactes) en live, d’organiser les manifestations, et même de lancer des cyberattaques contre le Ku Klux Klan» explique-t-elle. Dans les jours précédents le verdict du grand jury et la seconde vague d’émeutes, celle-ci a donc récolté plus de 200 000 tweets en rapport avec Ferguson et a produit une représentation graphique.

Le résultat de l’analyse «peint réellement un sombre tableau de la division entre les gens», dit-elle. Sur l’image ci-dessus, chaque point représente un compte Twitter influent et deux points sont reliés entre eux si l’un mentionne l’autre. «En substance, l’image représente le réseau social de qui parle à qui. Et il montre deux groupes clairement divisés», poursuit la statisticienne.

Emma Pierson s’est ensuite lancée dans l’étude de chaque mouvance, établissant que l’appartenance à un groupe était fortement liée au rattachement à un parti politique. «Ceux qui se décrivent comme «conservateur» (ou en utilisant des adjectifs similaires) sont beaucoup plus susceptibles d’être dans le groupe rouge alors que ceux qui se décrivent comme «libéral» [au sens anglosaxon, plutôt de gauche, ndlr] sont beaucoup plus susceptibles d’être dans le groupe bleu». Une appartenance au groupe qui est, selon elle, aussi liée à la couleur de peau : «Les comptes Twitter contenant les qualificatifs « Afro-Américain » dans leurs profils sont quasiment systématiquement dans le groupe bleu».

«Les deux groupes s’ignorent complètement»
Le conflit actuel à Ferguson voit donc s’affronter deux groupes politiquement opposés, aux origines différentes. Et si l’on regarde la modélisation des tweets, il est frappant de voir qu’aucun tweet rouge n’est repris par le groupe bleu et inversement. «Les deux groupes s’ignorent complètement», constate Emma Pierson, «ils pensent de manière radicalement opposée». Une affirmation qui se vérifie lorsque l’on regarde les plus gros retweets de chaque clan.

Dans le groupe rouge on se sentirait bien plus en sécurité dans la rue si l’on venait à croiser Darren Wilson plutôt que Michael Brown. On pense aussi que Brown était armé au moment ou il a été abattu, justifiant ainsi le geste du policier. A l’inverse, le groupe bleu ironise sur Darren Wilson tirant 12 coups de feu pour abattre un homme désarmé. En rouge on parle de justice populaire et de chasse raciale, en bleu on parle d’abattre le système. Les premiers pensent qu’Obama ne fait qu’envenimer la situation forçant le gouverneur du Missouri à déclarer l’état d’urgence. Les autres estiment que l’état d’urgence ne doit en aucun cas être utilisé pour enfreindre les droits de l’homme.

Des divergences d’opinions qui poussent les deux mouvances à l’affrontement, «quand les deux groupes décident d’arrêter de s’ignorer c’est rarement joli» explique Emma Pierson. Pour cela il suffit de voir la façon dont le groupe rouge s’en est pris à l’un des leaders du groupe bleu, DeRay Mckesson, chef d’établissement scolaire qui a joué un rôle central dans l’organisation des manifestations. Le qualifiant de «communiste» qui diffuse la haine comme «les démocrates, les noirs», qui voit de «la valeur dans le radotage raciste», «armé de fusil et de cocktails Molotov» et qui devrait très rapidement «prendre ses médocs».

La théorie des chambres d’écho
Ce mélange d’opposition, d’affrontements sporadiques, et d’ignorance quasi constante est le reflet d’une théorie sur les réseaux sociaux bien connue, celle des «echos chambers». Une théorie qui veut qu’à mesure que le monde se détache des modes d’informations traditionnels pour se diriger vers d’autres médias, comme Twitter, le champ de vision de tout un chacun diminue.

Une étude de 2012, sur la diffusion des informations politiques via les réseaux sociaux menée par deux universitaires de Brown, démontre que les utilisateurs sont presque exclusivement confrontés à des posts alignés sur leurs propres opinions. «Deux utilisateurs de Twitter peuvent être exposés a des contenus radicalement différents autour d’une même histoire, en fonction de qui ils décident de suivre (comme c’est le cas pour Ferguson). Alors que deux personnes qui lisent le journal local, liront peut-être des histoires différentes mais à la fin de la journée ils auront été exposés au même contenu», explique Brian Knight, professeur d’économie à l’université de Brown. Cette théorie continue à faire débat, et elle été contestée tout récemment par le chercheur de l’université de New York Pablo Barbera.

«Internet nous offre un large éventail de choix quant à l’information que nous lisons, conclut Claire Cain Miller, journaliste au New York Times. Mais la responsabilité de la variété de cette information reste, semble-t-il, une affaire personnelle».

Voir aussi:

American Focus: le Kentucky, l’Etat qui vire rouge, contre les verts, tout en restant bleu

Le Kentucky, paradoxe d’un carrefour qui vire au rouge et contre les verts

tout en restant bleu

Laurent Sierro

America Polyphony

26 novembre 2014

Le « Ballot Bomb » de la jeunesse n’aura pas suffi pour les démocrates de l’Etat du Kentucky. Les 15-29 ans, devenus le groupe électoral le plus important des Etats-Unis, n’ont manifestement pas plébiscité la candidate démocrate Alison Grimes, 36 ans, adversaire malheureuse du sénateur républicain sortant Mitch McConnell, 72 ans, lors des récentes élections législatives américaines de mi-mandat. Au début de la « Bible Belt », avec une majorité de baptistes, le Kentucky est un peu un Etat intermédiaire.

Réélu donc, Mitch McConnell sera en plus désormais le chef de la majorité républicaine au Sénat. Il incarnera dans les deux prochaines années l’opposition au président Barack Obama. Et ce notamment sur un thème qui lui a permis de séduire l’électorat pauvre de l’est de son Etat: le changement climatique.

« Les gens dans cette région votaient plutôt démocrate, mais ils n’apprécient pas Barack Obama et surtout pas sa lutte contre le changement climatique », explique Al Cross, professeur à l’Université du Kentucky et spécialiste politique de l' »Etat du Bluegrass ». Il évoque d’ailleurs un Etat de plus en plus rouge aux couleurs des républicains. Une évolution également observée dans l’ouest du Kentucky.

Discours anti-Obama efficace

Comme dans d’autres Etats américains, le discours anti-Obama a été efficace. Alison Grimes a bien tenté de se distancer du président, mais trop tardivement ou alors sans effet. Son manque de dynamisme a parfois aussi été critiqué. Et au final, l’argent à disposition de Mitch McConnell a fait la différence dans la dernière semaine avant ces élections du 4 novembre, selon le directeur de campagne de la candidate démocrate.

Les dix millions de dollars de décalage au départ de la campagne avec l’un des poids lourds du Sénat depuis 30 ans ont certes pu être comblé, mais pas intégralement. Sans compter qu’il a fallu faire face à un troisième candidat libertarien et à des « Super PAC » (super comités d’action politique, groupes d’intérêt, pour aider un candidat ou un élu indépendamment de son parti), largement favorables à l’expérimenté Mitch McConnell.

Un seul gouverneur GOP en plus de 40 ans

Toutefois, la direction politique que prend l’Etat du Kentucky est en fait plus compliquée. L’identité locale est assez forte. Si Barack Obama a été largement battu ici et si les républicains remportent toutes les élections à dimension nationale (présidentielle ou représentants fédéraux), le paysage politique de l’Etat reste bleu.

Le parti démocrate a en effet conservé sa majorité qu’il possède depuis 1921 à la Chambre des représentants de l’Etat. Les républicains contrôlent en revanche le Sénat au Capitole de la capitale Frankfort. D’autre part, un seul gouverneur républicain a été élu dans le Kentucky depuis plus de 40 ans.

Paradoxe dans un Etat qui constitue le lien entre les régions du nord-est et le sud profond des Etats-Unis. Premier Etat de la conquête vers l’Ouest au 19e siècle, le Kentucky est désormais clairement à l’Est. Culturellement sudiste, il est économiquement nordiste. L’Etat n’avait pas fait Sécession lors de la Guerre civile, mais s’était tourné vers le Sud. « Nous avons rejoint les perdants après la guerre », relève le professeur Al Cross.

Aujourd’hui, très diversifié, le Kentucky est au contact de sept Etats, autant de manières différentes de s’identifier par rapport à ses voisins. Voilà un Etat probablement intéressant à suivre et sans doute important dans la perspective des futures élections nationales.

Ainsi se termine cette excellente série « American Focus » du journaliste suisse Laurent Sierro, invité sur ce blog durant plus de deux mois. Mille mercis à lui pour tous ces passionnants et éclairants reportages, décryptages et analyses de la société américaine et de ses diversités.

Pour rappel, Laurent Sierro a été Transatlantic Media Fellow au Centre d’études stratégiques et internationales (CSIS) de Washington D.C de début septembre à fin novembre 2014. Dans le cadre de ce programme pour les journalistes européens, il a approfondi pendant ces trois mois plusieurs thèmes en voyageant dans une vingtaine d’Etats américains. Il a multiplié les rencontres et les visites sur le terrain, se focalisant notamment sur trois thèmes: l’immigration, les relations entre religion et société ainsi que l’évolution du fédéralisme. Les analyses ou comptes-rendus publiés tout le long sur ce blog représentent ses conclusions et non celles du CSIS. Ils figurent tous dans la catégorie « American Focus ».

Voir enfin:

Red States and Blue States….Explained!

RED STATES AND BLUE STATES….EXPLAINED!….In my post yesterday about red states and blue states, one question I pondered was this: why were Gore states colored blue in 2000 election maps and Bush states red? After all, red is traditionally the color of lefty parties around the world, and in past elections network maps had usually colored Democratic states red.

In comments, Petey provides the answer:

Since the advent of color TV, there has been a formula to avoid charges of giving any party an advantage by painting it a “better” color. Here is the formula: the color of the incumbent party alternates every 4 years.

He seems to be quite correct. The table below shows how this formula has applied since 1976:


Year
Incumbent
Party
Incumbent
Color
Challenger
Color
1976 Republican Blue = Ford Red = Carter
1980 Democratic Red = Carter Blue = Reagan
1984 Republican Blue = Reagan Red = Mondale
1988 Republican Red = Bush Blue = Dukakis
1992 Republican Blue = Bush Red = Clinton
1996 Democratic Red = Clinton Blue = Dole
2000 Democratic Blue = Gore Red = Bush
2004 Republican Red = Bush Blue = Kerry

This fits all the available evidence, and also explains why Democrats have usually been colored red: it’s a coincidence. In the six elections prior to 2000 every Democrat but one had been coded red, but that was just because of how the cycle of incumbency happened to work out during that period.

And as Petey points out in email, this raises an interesting question: what will happen in 2008? The formula will assign blue to the Republicans, but the red state/blue state divide has now become so entrenched it’s hard to imagine anyone switching colors at this point. I guess in four years we’ll find out just how anal the network mapping gurus really are.

Voir par ailleurs:

Il était une fois les couleurs
1 : Le bleu – La couleur qui ne fait pas de vagues
Dominique Simonnet
L’Epress
05/07/2004

A force de les avoir sous les yeux, on finit par ne plus les voir. En somme, on ne les prend pas au sérieux. Erreur! les couleurs sont tout sauf anodines. Elles véhiculent des sens cachés, des codes, des tabous, des préjugés auxquels nous obéissons sans le savoir et qui pèsent sur nos modes, notre environnement, notre vie quotidienne, nos comportements, notre langage et même notre imaginaire. Les couleurs ne sont ni immuables ni universelles. Elles ont une histoire, mouvementée, qui remonte à la nuit des temps. C’est cette étonnante aventure que nous allons conter, au fil de l’été, avec l’historien anthropologue Michel Pastoureau, spécialiste mondial de cette question (lire absolument son passionnant Bleu, histoire d’une couleur, au Seuil, et Les Couleurs de notre temps, Bonneton). A chaque semaine, sa couleur. Et d’abord le bleu, la préférée des Occidentaux. Une chose, déjà, est sûre: avec un guide affable et érudit comme Michel Pastoureau, on verra le monde autrement!

1 Le bleu La couleur qui ne fait pas de vagues

Les historiens ont toujours dédaigné les couleurs, comme si elles n’avaient pas d’histoire, comme si elles avaient toujours été là. Toute votre oeuvre montre le contraire…
Lorsque, il y a vingt-cinq ans, j’ai commencé à travailler sur ce sujet, mes collègues ont été, c’est vrai, intrigués. Jusque-là, les historiens, y compris ceux de l’art, ne s’intéressaient pas vraiment aux couleurs. Pourquoi une telle lacune? Probablement parce qu’il n’est pas facile de les étudier! D’abord, nous les voyons telles que le temps les a transformées et non dans leur état d’origine, avec des conditions d’éclairage très différentes: la lumière électrique ne rend pas par exemple les clairs-obscurs d’un tableau, que révélaient autrefois la bougie ou la lampe à huile. Ensuite, nos ancêtres avaient d’autres conceptions et d’autres visions des couleurs que les nôtres. Ce n’est pas notre appareil sensoriel qui a changé, mais notre perception de la réalité, qui met en jeu nos connaissances, notre vocabulaire, notre imagination, et même nos sentiments, toutes choses qui ont évolué au fil du temps. Au XIIe siècle, la Vierge devient le principal agent de promotion du bleu

Il nous faut donc admettre cette évidence: les couleurs ont une histoire. Commençons donc cette semaine par la préférée des Occidentaux, le bleu.
Depuis que l’on dispose d’enquêtes d’opinion, depuis 1890 environ, le bleu est en effet placé au premier rang partout en Occident, en France comme en Sicile, aux Etats-Unis comme en Nouvelle-Zélande, par les hommes comme par les femmes, quel que soit leur milieu social et professionnel. C’est toute la civilisation occidentale qui donne la primauté au bleu, ce qui est différent dans les autres cultures: les Japonais, par exemple, plébiscitent le rouge. Pourtant, cela n’a pas toujours été le cas. Longtemps, le bleu a été mal aimé. Il n’est présent ni dans les grottes paléolithiques ni au néolithique, lorsque apparaissent les premières techniques de teinture. Dans l’Antiquité, il n’est pas vraiment considéré comme une couleur; seuls le blanc, le rouge et le noir ont ce statut. A l’exception de l’Egypte pharaonique, où il est censé porter bonheur dans l’au-delà, d’où ces magnifiques objets bleu-vert, fabriqués selon une recette à base de cuivre qui s’est perdue par la suite, le bleu est même l’objet d’un véritable désintérêt.

Il est pourtant omniprésent dans la nature, et particulièrement en Méditerranée.
Oui, mais la couleur bleue est difficile à fabriquer et à maîtriser, et c’est sans doute la raison pour laquelle elle n’a pas joué de rôle dans la vie sociale, religieuse ou symbolique de l’époque. A Rome, c’est la couleur des barbares, de l’étranger (les peuples du Nord, comme les Germains, aiment le bleu). De nombreux témoignages l’affirment: avoir les yeux bleus pour une femme, c’est un signe de mauvaise vie. Pour les hommes, une marque de ridicule. On retrouve cet état d’esprit dans le vocabulaire: en latin classique, le lexique des bleus est instable, imprécis. Lorsque les langues romanes ont forgé leur vocabulaire des couleurs, elles ont dû aller chercher ailleurs, dans les mots germanique (blau) et arabe (azraq). Chez les Grecs aussi, on relève des confusions de vocabulaire entre le bleu, le gris et le vert. L’absence du bleu dans les textes anciens a d’ailleurs tellement intrigué que certains philologues du XIXe siècle ont cru sérieusement que les yeux des Grecs ne pouvaient le voir!

Pas de bleu dans la Bible non plus?
Les textes bibliques anciens en hébreu, en araméen et en grec utilisent peu de mots pour les couleurs: ce seront les traductions en latin puis en langue moderne qui les ajouteront. Là où l’hébreu dit «riche», le latin traduira «rouge». Pour «sale», il dira «gris» ou «noir»; «éclatant» deviendra «pourpre» … Mais, à l’exception du saphir, pierre préférée des peuples de la Bible, il y a peu de place pour le bleu. Cette situation perdure au haut Moyen Age: les couleurs liturgiques, par exemple, qui se forment à l’ère carolingienne, l’ignorent (elles se constituent autour du blanc, du rouge, du noir et du vert). Ce qui laisse des traces encore aujourd’hui: le bleu est toujours absent du culte catholique… Et puis, soudain, tout change. Les XIIe et XIIIe siècles vont réhabiliter et promouvoir le bleu.

Est-ce parce qu’on a appris à mieux le fabriquer?
Non. Il n’y a pas à ce moment-là de progrès particulier dans la fabrication des colorants ou des pigments. Ce qui se produit, c’est un changement profond des idées religieuses. Le Dieu des chrétiens devient en effet un dieu de lumière. Et la lumière est… bleue! Pour la première fois en Occident, on peint les ciels en bleu – auparavant, ils étaient noirs, rouges, blancs ou dorés. Plus encore, on est alors en pleine expansion du culte marial. Or la Vierge habite le ciel… Dans les images, à partir du XIIe siècle, on la revêt donc d’un manteau ou d’une robe bleus. La Vierge devient le principal agent de promotion du bleu.

Etrange renversement! La couleur si longtemps barbare devient divine.
Oui. Il y a une seconde raison à ce renversement: à cette époque, on est pris d’une vraie soif de classification, on veut hiérarchiser les individus, leur donner des signes d’identité, des codes de reconnaissance. Apparaissent les noms de famille, les armoiries, les insignes de fonction… Or, avec les trois couleurs traditionnelles de base (blanc, rouge, noir), les combinaisons sont limitées. Il en faut davantage pour refléter la diversité de la société. Le bleu, mais aussi le vert et le jaune, va en profiter. On passe ainsi d’un système à trois couleurs de base à un système à six couleurs. C’est ainsi que le bleu devient en quelque sorte le contraire du rouge. Si on avait dit ça à Aristote, cela l’aurait fait sourire! Vers 1140, quand l’abbé Suger fait reconstruire l’église abbatiale de Saint-Denis, il veut mettre partout des couleurs pour dissiper les ténèbres, et notamment du bleu. On utilisera pour les vitraux un produit fort cher, le cafre (que l’on appellera bien plus tard le bleu de cobalt). De Saint-Denis ce bleu va se diffuser au Mans, puis à Vendôme et à Chartres, où il deviendra le célèbre bleu de Chartres. Omniprésent, consensuel, le bleu est devenu une couleur raisonnable

La couleur, et particulièrement le bleu, est donc devenue un enjeu religieux.
Tout à fait. Les hommes d’Eglise sont de grands coloristes, avant les peintres et les teinturiers. Certains d’entre eux sont aussi des hommes de science, qui dissertent sur la couleur, font des expériences d’optique, s’interrogent sur le phénomène de l’arc-en-ciel… Ils sont profondément divisés sur ces questions: il y a des prélats «chromophiles», comme Suger, qui pense que la couleur est lumière, donc relevant du divin, et qui veut en mettre partout. Et des prélats «chromophobes», comme saint Bernard, abbé de Clairvaux, qui estime, lui, que la couleur est matière, donc vile et abominable, et qu’il faut en préserver l’Eglise, car elle pollue le lien que les moines et les fidèles entretiennent avec Dieu.

La physique moderne nous dit que la lumière est à la fois une onde et une particule. On n’en était pas si loin au XIIIe siècle…
Lumière ou matière… On le pressentait, en effet. La première assertion l’a largement emporté et, du coup, le bleu, divinisé, s’est répandu non seulement dans les vitraux et les oeuvres d’art, mais aussi dans toute la société: puisque la Vierge s’habille de bleu, le roi de France le fait aussi. Philippe Auguste, puis son petit-fils Saint Louis seront les premiers à l’adopter (Charlemagne ne l’aurait pas fait pour un empire!). Les seigneurs, bien sûr, s’empressent de les imiter… En trois générations, le bleu devient à la mode aristocratique. La technique suit: stimulés, sollicités, les teinturiers rivalisent en matière de nouveaux procédés et parviennent à fabriquer des bleus magnifiques.

En somme, le bleu divin stimule l’économie.
Vous ne croyez pas si bien dire. Les conséquences économiques sont énormes: la demande de guède, cette plante mi-herbe, mi-arbuste que l’on utilisait dans les villages comme colorant artisanal, explose. Sa culture devient soudain industrielle, et fait la fortune de régions comme la Thuringe, la Toscane, la Picardie ou encore la région de Toulouse. On la cultive intensément pour produire ces boules appelées «coques», d’où le nom de pays de cocagne. C’est un véritable or bleu! On a calculé que 80% de la cathédrale d’Amiens, bâtie au XIIIe siècle, avait été payée par les marchands de guède! A Strasbourg, les marchands de garance, la plante qui donne le colorant rouge, étaient furieux. Ils ont même soudoyé le maître verrier chargé de représenter le diable sur les vitraux pour qu’il le colorie en bleu, afin de dévaloriser leur rival.

C’est carrément la guerre entre le bleu et le rouge!
Oui. Elle durera jusqu’au XVIIIe siècle. A la fin du Moyen Age, la vague moraliste, qui va provoquer la Réforme, se porte aussi sur les couleurs, en désignant des couleurs dignes et d’autres qui ne le sont pas. La palette protestante s’articule autour du blanc, du noir, du gris, du brun… et du bleu.

Sauvé de justesse!
Oui. Comparez Rembrandt, peintre calviniste qui a une palette très retenue, faite de camaïeux, et Rubens, peintre catholique à la palette très colorée… Regardez les toiles de Philippe de Champaigne, qui sont colorées tant qu’il est catholique et se font plus austères, plus bleutées, quand il se rapproche des jansénistes… Ce discours moral, partiellement repris par la Contre-Réforme, promeut également le noir, le gris et le bleu dans le vêtement masculin. Il s’applique encore de nos jours. Sur ce plan, nous vivons toujours sous le régime de la Réforme.

A partir de ce moment-là, notre bleu, si mal parti à l’origine, triomphe.
Oui. Au XVIIIe siècle, il devient la couleur préférée des Européens. La technique en rajoute une couche: dans les années 1720, un pharmacien de Berlin invente par accident le fameux bleu de Prusse, qui va permettre aux peintres et aux teinturiers de diversifier la gamme des nuances foncées. De plus, on importe massivement l’indigo des Antilles et d’Amérique centrale, dont le pouvoir colorant est plus fort que l’ancien pastel et le prix de revient, plus faible que celui d’Asie, car il est fabriqué par des esclaves. Toutes les lois protectionnistes s’écroulent. L’indigo d’Amérique provoque la crise dans les anciennes régions de cocagne, Toulouse et Amiens sont ruinés, Nantes et Bordeaux s’enrichissent. Le bleu devient à la mode dans tous les domaines. Le romantisme accentue la tendance: comme leur héros, Werther de Goethe, les jeunes Européens s’habillent en bleu, et la poésie romantique allemande célèbre le culte de cette couleur si mélancolique – on en a peut-être gardé l’écho dans le vocabulaire, avec le blues… En 1850, un vêtement lui donne encore un coup de pouce: c’est le jean, inventé à San Francisco par un tailleur juif, Levi-Strauss, le pantalon idéal, avec sa grosse toile teinte à l’indigo, le premier bleu de travail.

Il aurait très bien pu être rouge…
Impensable! Les valeurs protestantes édictent qu’un vêtement doit être sobre, digne et discret. En outre, teindre à l’indigo est facile, on peut même le faire à froid, car la couleur pénètre bien les fibres du tissu, d’où l’aspect délavé des jeans. Il faut attendre les années 1930 pour que, aux Etats-Unis, le jean devienne un vêtement de loisir, puis un signe de rébellion, dans les années 1960, mais pour un court moment seulement, car un vêtement bleu ne peut pas être vraiment rebelle. Aujourd’hui, regardez les groupes d’adolescents dans la rue, en France: ils forment une masse uniforme et… bleue.

Et on sait combien ils sont conformistes… Simultanément, le bleu a acquis une signification politique.
Qui a évolué, elle aussi. En France, il fut la couleur des républicains, s’opposant au blanc des monarchistes et au noir du parti clérical. Mais, petit à petit, il a glissé vers le centre, se laissant déborder sur sa gauche par le rouge socialiste puis communiste. Il a été chassé vers la droite en quelque sorte. Après la Première Guerre mondiale, il est devenu conservateur (c’est la Chambre bleu horizon). Il l’est encore aujourd’hui.

Après des siècles plutôt agités, le voici donc sur le trône des couleurs. Va-t-il le rester?
En matière de couleurs, les choses changent lentement. Je suis persuadé que, dans trente ans, le bleu sera toujours le premier, la couleur préférée. Tout simplement parce que c’est une couleur consensuelle, pour les personnes physiques comme pour les personnes morales: les organismes internationaux, l’ONU, l’Unesco, le Conseil de l’Europe, l’Union européenne, tous ont choisi un emblème bleu. On le sélectionne par soustraction, après avoir éliminé les autres. C’est une couleur qui ne fait pas de vague, ne choque pas et emporte l’adhésion de tous. Par là même, elle a perdu sa force symbolique. Même la musique du mot est calme, atténuée: bleu, blue, en anglais, blu, en italien… C’est liquide et doux. On peut en faire un usage immodéré.

On dirait qu’elle vous énerve un peu, cette couleur.
Non, elle n’est justement pas assez forte pour cela. Aujourd’hui, quand les gens affirment aimer le bleu, cela signifie au fond qu’ils veulent être rangés parmi les gens sages, conservateurs, ceux qui ne veulent rien révéler d’eux-mêmes. D’une certaine manière, nous sommes revenus à une situation proche de l’Antiquité: à force d’être omniprésent et consensuel, le bleu est de nouveau une couleur discrète, la plus raisonnable de toutes les couleurs.

Il était une fois les couleurs
2 : Le rouge – C’est le feu et le sang, l’amour et l’enfer
Dominique Simonnet
L’Express
12/07/2004

Avec lui, on ne fait pas vraiment dans la nuance. Contrairement à ce timoré de bleu dont nous avons raconté l’histoire ambiguë la semaine dernière, le rouge est une couleur orgueilleuse, pétrie d’ambitions et assoiffée de pouvoir, une couleur qui veut se faire voir et qui est bien décidée à en imposer à toutes les autres. En dépit de cette insolence, son passé, pourtant, n’a pas toujours été glorieux. Il y a une face cachée du rouge, un mauvais rouge (comme on dit d’un mauvais sang) qui a fait des ravages au fil du temps, un méchant héritage plein de violences et de fureurs, de crimes et de péchés. C’est cette double personnalité du rouge que décrit ici l’historien du symbolisme Michel Pastoureau, notre guide tout au long de cet été bigarré: une identité fascinante, mais brûlante comme les flammes de Satan.

2 – Le rouge – C’est le feu et le sang, l’amour et l’enfer

S’il est une couleur qui vaut d’être nommée comme telle, c’est bien elle! On dirait que le rouge représente à lui seul toutes les autres couleurs, qu’il est la couleur.
Parler de «couleur rouge», c’est presque un pléonasme en effet! D’ailleurs, certains mots, tels coloratus en latin ou colorado en espagnol, signifient à la fois «rouge» et «coloré». En russe, krasnoï veut dire «rouge» mais aussi «beau» (étymologiquement, la place Rouge est la «belle place»). Dans le système symbolique de l’Antiquité, qui tournait autour de trois pôles, le blanc représentait l’incolore, le noir était grosso modo le sale, et le rouge était la couleur, la seule digne de ce nom. La suprématie du rouge s’est imposée à tout l’Occident.

Est-ce tout simplement parce qu’il attire l’?il, d’autant qu’il est peu présent dans la nature?
On a évidemment mis en valeur ce qui tranchait le plus avec l’environnement. Mais il y a une autre raison: très tôt, on a maîtrisé les pigments rouges et on a pu les utiliser en peinture et en teinture. Dès – 30 000 ans, l’art paléolithique utilise le rouge, obtenu notamment à partir de la terre ocre-rouge: voyez le bestiaire de la grotte Chauvet. Au néolithique, on a exploité la garance, cette herbe aux racines tinctoriales présente sous les climats les plus variés, puis on s’est servi de certains métaux, comme l’oxyde de fer ou le sulfure de mercure… La chimie du rouge a donc été très précoce, et très efficace. D’où le succès de cette couleur.

J’imagine alors que, contrairement au bleu dont vous nous avez raconté l’infortune la semaine dernière, le rouge, lui, a un passé plus glorieux.
Oui. Dans l’Antiquité déjà, on l’admire et on lui confie les attributs du pouvoir, c’est-à-dire ceux de la religion et de la guerre. Le dieu Mars, les centurions romains, certains prêtres… tous sont vêtus de rouge. Cette couleur va s’imposer parce qu’elle renvoie à deux éléments, omniprésents dans toute son histoire: le feu et le sang. On peut les considérer soit positivement soit négativement, ce qui nous donne quatre pôles autour desquels le christianisme primitif a formalisé une symbolique si forte qu’elle perdure aujourd’hui. Le rouge feu, c’est la vie, l’Esprit saint de la Pentecôte, les langues de feu régénératrices qui descendent sur les apôtres; mais c’est aussi la mort, l’enfer, les flammes de Satan qui consument et anéantissent. Le rouge sang, c’est celui versé par le Christ, la force du sauveur qui purifie et sanctifie; mais c’est aussi la chair souillée, les crimes (de sang), le péché et les impuretés des tabous bibliques.

Un système plutôt ambivalent…
Tout est ambivalent dans le monde des symboles, et particulièrement des couleurs! Chacune d’elles se dédouble en deux identités opposées. Ce qui est étonnant, c’est que, sur la longue durée, les deux faces tendent à se confondre. Les tableaux qui représentent la scène du baiser, par exemple, montrent souvent Judas et Jésus comme deux personnages presque identiques, avec les mêmes vêtements, les mêmes couleurs, comme s’ils étaient les deux pôles d’un aimant. Lisez de même l’Ancien Testament: le rouge y est associé tantôt à la faute et à l’interdit, tantôt à la puissance et à l’amour. La dualité symbolique est déjà en place.

C’est surtout aux signes du pouvoir que le rouge va s’identifier.
Certains rouges! Dans la Rome impériale, celui que l’on fabrique avec la substance colorante du murex, un coquillage rare récolté en Méditerranée, est réservé à l’empereur et aux chefs de guerre. Au Moyen Age, cette recette de la pourpre romaine s’étant perdue (les gisements de murex sur les côtes de Palestine et d’Egypte sont de plus épuisés), on se rabat sur le kermès, ces ?ufs de cochenilles qui parasitent les feuilles de chênes. Au Moyen-Age, le rouge est masculin, puis il devient féminin

Il fallait le trouver!
En effet. La récolte est laborieuse et la fabrication très coûteuse. Mais le rouge obtenu est splendide, lumineux, solide. Les seigneurs bénéficient donc toujours d’une couleur de luxe. Les paysans, eux, peuvent recourir à la vulgaire garance, qui donne une teinte moins éclatante. Peu importe si on ne fait pas bien la différence à l’?il nu: l’essentiel est dans la matière et dans le prix. Socialement, il y a rouge et rouge! D’ailleurs, pour l’?il médiéval, l’éclat d’un objet (son aspect mat ou brillant) prime sur sa coloration: un rouge franc sera perçu comme plus proche d’un bleu lumineux que d’un rouge délavé. Un rouge bien vif est toujours une marque de puissance, chez les laïcs comme chez les ecclésiastiques. A partir des XIIIe et XIVe siècles, le pape, jusque-là voué au blanc, se met au rouge. Les cardinaux, également. Cela signifie que ces considérables personnages sont prêts à verser leur sang pour le Christ… Au même moment, on peint des diables rouges sur les tableaux et, dans les romans, il y a souvent un chevalier démoniaque et rouge, des armoiries à la housse de son cheval, qui défie le héros. On s’accommode très bien de cette ambivalence.

Et le Petit Chaperon… rouge qui s’aventure lui aussi dans la forêt du Moyen Age? Il entre dans ce jeu de symboles?
Bien sûr. Dans toutes les versions du conte (la plus ancienne date de l’an mille), la fillette est en rouge. Est-ce parce qu’on habillait ainsi les enfants pour mieux les repérer de loin, comme des historiens l’ont affirmé? Ou parce que, comme le disent certains textes anciens, l’histoire est située le jour de la Pentecôte et de la fête de l’Esprit saint, dont la couleur liturgique est le rouge? Ou encore parce que la jeune fille allait se retrouver au lit avec le loup et que le sang allait couler, thèse fournie par des psychanalystes? Je préfère pour ma part l’explication sémiologique: un enfant rouge porte un petit pot de beurre blanc à une grand-mère habillée de noir… Nous avons là les trois couleurs de base du système ancien. On les retrouve dans d’autres contes: Blanche-Neige reçoit une pomme rouge d’une sorcière noire. Le corbeau noir lâche son fromage – blanc – dont se saisit un renard rouge… C’est toujours le même code symbolique.

Au Moyen Age, ces codes dont vous parlez se manifestent à travers les vêtements et l’imaginaire. Pas dans la vie quotidienne, quand même!
Mais si! Les codes symboliques ont des conséquences très pratiques. Prenez les teinturiers: en ville, certains d’entre eux ont une licence pour le rouge (avec l’autorisation de teindre aussi en jaune et en blanc), d’autres ont une licence pour le bleu (ils ont le droit de teindre également en vert et en noir). A Venise, Milan ou Nuremberg, les spécialistes du rouge garance ne peuvent même pas travailler le rouge kermès. On ne sort pas de sa couleur, sous peine de procès! Ceux du rouge et ceux du bleu vivent dans des rues séparées, cantonnés dans les faubourgs parce que leurs officines empuantissent tout, et ils entrent souvent en conflit violent, s’accusant réciproquement de polluer les rivières. Il faut dire que le textile est alors la seule vraie industrie de l’Europe, un enjeu majeur. Au fil des siècles, le rouge de l’interdit s’est affirmé

Je parie que notre rouge, décidément insolent, ne va pas plaire aux collets montés de la Réforme.
D’autant plus qu’il est la couleur des «papistes»! Pour les réformateurs protestants, le rouge est immoral. Ils se réfèrent à un passage de l’Apocalypse où saint Jean raconte comment, sur une bête venue de la mer, chevauchait la grande prostituée de Babylone vêtue d’une robe rouge. Pour Luther, Babylone, c’est Rome! Il faut donc chasser le rouge du temple – et des habits de tout bon chrétien. Cette «fuite» du rouge n’est pas sans conséquence: à partir du XVIe siècle, les hommes ne s’habillent plus en rouge (à l’exception des cardinaux et des membres de certains ordres de chevalerie). Dans les milieux catholiques, les femmes peuvent le faire. On va assister aussi à un drôle de chassé-croisé: alors qu’au Moyen Age le bleu était plutôt féminin (à cause de la Vierge) et le rouge, masculin (signe du pouvoir et de la guerre), les choses s’inversent. Désormais, le bleu devient masculin (car plus discret), le rouge part vers le féminin. On en a gardé la trace: bleu pour les bébés garçons, rose pour les filles… Le rouge restera aussi la couleur de la robe de mariée jusqu’au XIXe siècle.

La mariée était en rouge!
Bien sûr! Surtout chez les paysans, c’est-à-dire la grande majorité de la population d’alors. Pourquoi? Parce que, le jour du mariage, on revêt son plus beau vêtement et qu’une robe belle et riche est forcément rouge (c’est dans cette couleur que les teinturiers sont les plus performants). Dans ce domaine-là, on retrouve notre ambivalence: longtemps, les prostituées ont eu l’obligation de porter une pièce de vêtement rouge, pour que, dans la rue, les choses soient bien claires (pour la même raison, on mettra une lanterne rouge à la porte des maisons closes). Le rouge décrit les deux versants de l’amour: le divin et le péché de chair. Au fil des siècles, le rouge de l’interdit s’est aussi affirmé. Il était déjà là, dans la robe des juges et dans les gants et le capuchon du bourreau, celui qui verse le sang. Dès le XVIIIe siècle, un chiffon rouge signifie danger.

Y a-t-il un rapport avec le drapeau rouge des communistes?
Oui. En octobre 1789, l’Assemblée constituante décrète qu’en cas de trouble un drapeau rouge sera placé aux carrefours pour signifier l’interdiction d’attroupement et avertir que la force publique est susceptible d’intervenir. Le 17 juillet 1791, de nombreux Parisiens se rassemblent au Champ-de-Mars pour demander la destitution de Louis XVI, qui vient d’être arrêté à Varennes. Comme l’émeute menace, Bailly, le maire de Paris, fait hisser à la hâte un grand drapeau rouge. Mais les gardes nationaux tirent sans sommation: on comptera une cinquantaine de morts, dont on fera des «martyrs de la révolution». Par une étonnante inversion, c’est ce fameux drapeau rouge, «teint du sang de ces martyrs», qui devient l’emblème du peuple opprimé et de la révolution en marche. Un peu plus tard, il a même bien failli devenir celui de la France.

De la France!
Mais oui! En février 1848, les insurgés le brandissent de nouveau devant l’Hôtel de Ville. Jusque-là, le drapeau tricolore était devenu le symbole de la Révolution (ces trois couleurs ne sont d’ailleurs pas, contrairement à ce que l’on prétend, une association des couleurs royales et de celles de la ville de Paris, qui étaient en réalité le rouge et le marron: elles ont été reprises de la révolution américaine). Mais, à ce moment-là, le drapeau tricolore est discrédité, car le roi Louis-Philippe s’y est rallié. L’un des manifestants demande que l’on fasse du drapeau rouge, «symbole de la misère du peuple et signe de la rupture avec le passé», l’emblème officiel de la République. C’est Lamartine, membre du gouvernement provisoire, qui va sauver nos trois couleurs: «Le drapeau rouge, clame-t-il, est un pavillon de terreur qui n’a jamais fait que le tour du Champ-de-Mars, tandis que le drapeau tricolore a fait le tour du monde, avec le nom, la gloire et la liberté de la patrie!» Le drapeau rouge aura quand même un bel avenir. La Russie soviétique l’adoptera en 1918, la Chine communiste en 1949… Nous avons gardé des restes amusants de cette histoire: dans l’armée, quand on plie le drapeau français après avoir descendu les couleurs, il est d’usage de cacher la bande rouge pour qu’elle ne soit plus visible. Comme s’il fallait se garder du vieux démon révolutionnaire.

Nous obéirions donc toujours à l’ancienne symbolique.
Dans le domaine des symboles, rien ne disparaît jamais vraiment. Le rouge du pouvoir et de l’aristocratie (du moins en Occident, car c’est le jaune qui tient ce rôle dans les cultures asiatiques) a traversé les siècles, tout comme l’autre rouge, révolutionnaire et prolétarien. Chez nous, en outre, le rouge indique toujours la fête, Noël, le luxe, le spectacle: les théâtres et les opéras en sont ornés. Dans le vocabulaire, il nous est resté de nombreuses expressions («rouge de colère», «voir rouge») qui rappellent les vieux symboles. Et on associe toujours le rouge à l’érotisme et à la passion.

Mais, dans notre vie quotidienne, il est pourtant discret.
Plus le bleu a progressé dans notre environnement, plus le rouge a reculé. Nos objets sont rarement rouges. On n’imagine pas un ordinateur rouge par exemple (cela ne ferait pas sérieux), ni un réfrigérateur (on aurait l’impression qu’il chauffe). Mais la symbolique a perduré: les panneaux d’interdiction, les feux rouges, le téléphone rouge, l’alerte rouge, le carton rouge, la Croix-Rouge (en Italie, les croix des pharmacies sont aussi rouges) … Tout cela dérive de la même histoire, celle du feu et du sang… Je vais vous raconter une anecdote personnelle. Jeune marié, j’ai un jour acheté une voiture d’occasion: un modèle pour père de famille, mais rouge! Autant dire que la couleur et le véhicule n’allaient pas ensemble. Personne n’en avait voulu, ni les conducteurs sages qui le trouvaient trop transgressif, ni les amateurs de vitesse qui le trouvaient trop sage. On m’en avait donc fait un bon rabais. Mais ma voiture n’a pas fait long feu, si je puis dire: la grille d’un parking est tombée sur le capot et l’a totalement anéantie. Je me suis dit que les symboles avaient raison: c’était vraiment une voiture dangereuse

Voir enfin:

Discours d’ouverture de la Convention nationale démocratique de 2004
Barack Obama
27 juillet 2004
Traduction Wikisource en français de Democratic National Convention/Keynote address.

Merci beaucoup. Merci beaucoup. Merci. Merci. Merci beaucoup. Merci beaucoup. Merci. Merci. Merci, Dick Durbin. Nous sommes tous fiers de vous.

Au nom de ce grand État de l’Illinois, carrefour d’une nation, terre de Lincoln, permettez moi d’exprimer ma plus profonde gratitude d’avoir le privilège de faire un discours à cette convention

Ce soir, c’est un honneur particulier pour moi parce que, soyons réaliste, ma présence ici n’était pas très probable. Mon père était un étudiant étranger, né et élevé dans un petit village du Kenya. Il a grandi en gardant des chèvres et a été à l’école dans une cabane couverte d’une tôle ondulée. Son père, mon grand-père, était cuisinier, domestique des Britanniques mais mon grand-père avait des grands rêves pour son fils. En travaillant dur et en persévérant, mon père a obtenu une bourse pour venir étudier dans un endroit magique, l’Amérique, qui brillait comme un phare de liberté et d’opportunité à tout ceux qui étaient venus auparavant.

En étudiant ici, mon père a rencontré ma mère. Elle est née dans une ville de l’autre coté de la Terre, dans le Kansas. Son père a travaillé sur des plates-formes pétrolières et dans des fermes pendant presque toute la Grande Dépression. Le lendemain de l’attaque de Pearl Harbour, mon grand-père s’est engagé, à rejoint l’armée de Patton, a marché à travers l’Europe. À la maison, ma grand-mère élevait leur enfant et est allé travailler sur une chaine d’assemblage de bombardiers. Après la guerre, il ont étudié grâce au Servicemen’s Readjustment Act, on acheté une maison grâce à la Federal Housing Administration et ont plus tard déménagé vers l’est, jusqu’à Hawaï, à la recherche d’opportunités.

Et eux aussi avaient de grands rêves pour leur fille. Un rêve commun, né sur deux continents.

Mes parents ne partageaient pas seulement un amour improbable, ils partageaient une foi durable dans les possibilités de cette nation. Ils m’ont donné un nom africain, Barack ou « le béni », croyant que dans une Amérique tolérante, votre nom n’est pas un obstacle au succès. Ils m’ont imaginé rejoindre les meilleures écoles du pays, même s’ils n’étaient pas riches, car dans une Amérique généreuse, on n’a pas besoin être riche pour exploiter son potentiel.

Tous deux sont morts maintenant et pourtant je sais que ce soir, ils me regardent avec une grande fierté.

Je suis ici aujourd’hui, reconnaissant envers la diversité de mon héritage, conscient que les rêves de mes parents se perpétuent à travers mes deux filles. Je suis ici tout en sachant que mon histoire fait partie de la grande histoire américaine, que j’ai une dette envers tous ceux qui sont venus avant moi et quand dans n’importe quel autre pays au monde, mon histoire n’aurait été possible.

Ce soir, nous nous rassemblons pour affirmer la grandeur de notre nation — pas seulement à cause de la taille de nos gratte-ciel, de la puissance de notre armée ou de la taille de notre économie. Notre fierté est basée sur une prémisse très simple, résumée dans une déclaration faite il y a plus de 200 ans : « Nous tenons pour évidentes pour elles-mêmes les vérités suivantes : tous les hommes sont créés égaux ; ils sont doués par le Créateur de certains droits inaliénables ; parmi ces droits se trouvent la vie, la liberté et la recherche du bonheur. »

C’est ça le vrai génie de l’Amérique — une foi dans des rêves simples, une insistance sur de petits miracles, que l’on peut mettre nos enfants au lit le soir tout en sachant qu’ils sont nourris, habillés et protégés du mal, que l’on puisse dire ce que l’on pense, écrire ce que l’on pense, sans entendre quelqu’un soudainement frapper à sa porte, que l’on puisse avoir une idée et bâtir sa propre entreprise sans avoir à verser des pots de vin, que l’ont peut faire son devoir électoral sans crainte de représailles et que nos voix seront comptées — du moins, la plupart du temps.

Cette année, pour cette élection, nous sommes appelés à réaffirmer nos valeurs et nos engagement, à les confronter à la dure réalité et voir si nous sommes à la hauteur de l’héritage de nos aïeux et la promesse des générations futures.

Et, mes chers compatriotes, démocrates, républicains, indépendants, je vous dis ce soir: nous avons encore beaucoup à faire.

Beaucoup à faire pour les ouvriers que j’ai rencontrés à Galeburg dans l’Illinois, qui perdent leur emploi à l’usine Maytag, délocalisée au Mexique et qui doivent se battre contre leurs propres enfants pour des emplois à 7 dollars de l’heure; beaucoup à faire pour le père que j’ai rencontré et qui avait perdu son travail et se demandait, en retenant ses larmes, comment il allait payer les 4 500 dollars par mois pour payer les médicaments de son fils sans les aides financières sur lesquelles il comptait; beaucoup à faire pour la jeune femme de la banlieue est de Saint-Louis, et des milliers comme elle, qui a les notes, la volonté et l’envie mais pas l’argent pour aller à l’université.

Mais ne vous méprenez pas ! Les personnes que j’ai rencontrées, dans des petites et des grandes villes, à des diners ou dans des parcs, n’attendent pas du gouvernement qu’il résolve tous leurs problèmes. Ils savent qu’ils devront travailler dur pour s’en sortir… et ils le veulent.

Allez dans les comtés autour du Comté de Cook à Chicago et les gens vous diront qu’ils ne veulent pas que leurs impôts soient gaspillés par l’assistance sociale ou par le Pentagone.

Allez dans n’importe quel centre ville et les habitants vous diront que le gouvernement ne peut pas tout seul apprendre à nos enfants à apprendre — ils savent que les parents doivent leur apprendre, que les enfants ne peuvent pas y arriver sauf si on a de grands espoirs pour eux , qu’on coupe la télévision et qu’on taise les rumeurs disant qu’un jeune noir avec un livre joue au blanc. Ils savent ces choses là.

Les gens n’attendent pas du gouvernement qu’il résolve tous leurs problèmes mais ils ressentent, au plus profond d’eux même, qu’avec un petit changement dans les priorités, nous pouvons être sûr que chaque enfant américain a un bon départ dans la vie et que toutes les opportunités lui restent ouvertes

Ils savent que nous pouvons faire mieux et ils veulent ce choix.

Dans cette élection, nous offrons cette possibilité. Notre partie a choisi pour nous mener un homme qui incarne le mieux ce que ce pays a à offrir. Et cet homme, c’est John Kerry. John Kerry comprend les idéaux de la communauté, de la foi et du service parce que ceux-ci ont façonné sa vie. De ses années héroïques au Viet Nam à celles de procureur et lieutenant gouverneur, durant deux décennies au Sénat des États-Unis, il s’est dévoué pour son pays. Encore et encore, nous l’avons vu prendre des décision difficiles quand des plus aisées étaient possibles.

Ses valeurs, et ce qu’il a réalisé, illustre ce qu’il y a de meilleur en nous. John Kerry croit en une Amérique où le travail est récompensé. Alors, au lieu d’offrir des réductions d’impôts aux entreprises qui délocalisent à l’étranger, il en offre à des entreprises qui créent des emplois ici.

John Kerry croit en une Amérique où tous les Américains peuvent se payer la même couverture maladie que les hommes politiques de Washington.

John Kerry croit en l’indépendance énergétique pour que nous ne soyons plus les otages des profits des compagnies pétrolières ou de sabotages de champs pétrolifères à l’étranger.

John Kerry croit en la liberté constitutionnelle qui fait que notre pays est jalousé dans le monde entier et il ne sacrifiera jamais nos libertés de base, ni n’utilisera la foi pour nous diviser.

Et John Kerry croit que dans un monde dangereux, la guerre doit parfois être une option mais ne doit jamais être la première option.

Vous savez, il y a quelques temps, j’ai rencontré un jeune homme nommé Seamus dans une réunion de vétérans à East Moine dans l’Illinois. C’était un gamin avec une belle allure, 1m80 — 1m85, les yeux clairs et un grand sourire. Il m’a dit qu’il avait rejoint les Marines et allait aller en Irak la semaine suivante. En l’écoutant parler de la raison pour laquelle il s’était enrôlé, de la foi absolue qu’il avait en notre pays et ses dirigeants, de son attachement au devoir et au service, j’ai pensé que ce jeune homme avait tout ce qu’aucun d’entre nous ne pouvait espérer pour un enfant mais je me suis alors demandé : est-ce que l’on sert Seamus aussi bien qu’il nous sert ?

J’ai pensé à ces 900 hommes et femmes — fils et filles, maris et femmes, amis et voisins, qui ne reviendront pas chez eux. J’ai pensé à ces familles que j’ai rencontrées et qui doivent se battre pour continuer à vivre sans les revenus d’un être cher ou dont un membre est revenu amputé ou paralysé mais qui n’aura pas d’aide médical à long terme parce qu’il est réserviste.

Quand on envoie nos jeunes hommes et femmes vers le danger, nous avons l’obligation solennelle de ne pas falsifier les chiffres ou cacher la vérité sur la raison pour laquelle on les envoie. Nous avons l’obligation de nous occuper de leur famille lorsqu’ils sont absents, de prendre soin des soldats lorsqu’ils sont de retour et de ne jamais aller à la guerre sans avoir suffisamment de troupes pour la gagner, assurer la paix et gagner le respect du monde.

Maintenant, laissez moi mettre les choses au clair. Nous avons de vrais ennemis dans le monde. Nous devons les trouver. Nous devons les poursuivre et nous devons les vaincre.

John Kerry le sait. Et tout comme le lieutenant Kerry n’a pas hésité à risquer sa vie pour protéger les hommes qui ont servi avec lui au Viet Nam. Le président Kerry n’hésitera pas un instant à utiliser notre puissance militaire pour garder l’Amérique saine et sauve.

John Kerry croit en l’Amérique et il sait que ça n’est pas suffisant pou certains d’entre nous de simplement prospérer. A coté de notre célèbre individualisme, il y a un autre ingrédient dans la saga de l’Amérique: une croyance que l’on est tous unis pour former un seul peuple.

S’il y a un enfant du sud de Chicago qui ne sait pas lire, ça me regarde, même si ce n’est pas mon enfant. S’il y a une personne âgée quelque part qui ne peut pas payer ses médicaments et qui doit se choisir entre se loger ou se soigner, ça affecte ma vie même si ce n’est pas un de mes grands parents. S’il y a un famille américaine d’origine arabe rassemblée sans bénéficier d’un avocat ou d’un procès en bonne et due forme, ça menace mes libertés publiques.

C’est cette croyance fondamentale — je suis le gardien de mon frère, je suis le gardien de ma sœur — qui fait que notre pays fonctionne. C’est ce qui nous permet de poursuivre nos rêves individuels tout en formant une seule famille américaine.

E pluribus unum. « Out of many, one. » E pluribus Unum; « De la diversité, un seul ».

Maintenant, alors même que nous parlons, il y a ceux qui se préparent à nous diviser : les diffuseurs de publicité négative, qui adopte la politique du n’importe quoi. Alors ce soir, je leur dis, il n’y a pas une Amérique libérale et une Amérique conservatrice — il y a les États-Unis d’Amérique. Il n’y a pas une Amérique noire, une Amérique blanche, une Amérique latino et une Amérique asiatique, il y a les États-Unis d’Amérique.

Les érudits aiment à découper notre pays entre états rouges et états bleus ; les états rouges pour les Républicains, les États bleus pour les démocrates mais j’ai une nouvelle pour eux, moi aussi. Nous prions un Dieu magnifique dans les états bleus et nous n’aimons pas les agents fédéraux qui farfouillent dans nos bibliothèques dans les états rouges. On apprend le base-ball à nos enfants dans les États bleus et, oui, on a des amis homos dans les états rouges. Il y a des patriotes qui se sont opposés à la guerre en Irak et il y des patriotes qui l’ont soutenue.

Nous formons un seul peuple, chacun d’entre nous prêtant serment à la bannière étoilée, chacun d’entre nous défendant les États-Unis d’Amérique.

Au final, c’est à ça que revient cette élection. Participons-nous à une politique du cynisme ou participons-nous à une politique de l’espoir.

John Kerry nous demande d’espérer. John Edwards nous demande d’espérer.

Je ne suis pas en train de parler d’un optimisme aveugle ici, l’ignorance pleine de bonne volonté qui pense que le chômage disparaitra si on y pense pas ou que la crise de l’assurance médicale se résoudra d’elle même si nous l’ignorons. Ce n’est pas de ça que je parle. Je parle de quelque chose de plus important.

C’est l’espoir des esclaves s’asseyant autour d’un feu et chantant des chansons à propos de la liberté. L’espoir d’émigrants partant pour des contrées lointaines. L’espoir d’un jeune lieutenant de la Navy patrouillant dans le Delta du Mékong. L’espoir du fils d’un meunier qui ose envers et contre tout. L’espoir d’un gamin maigre avec un nom bizarre qui pense que l’Amérique a une place pour lui, aussi.

L’espoir. L’espoir face à la difficulté ! L’espoir face à l’incertitude ! L’audace de l’espoir. Au final, c’est le plus grand don que Dieu nous a fait, le fondement de cette nation. Une croyance en des choses invisibles. Une croyance en des jours meilleurs devant nous.

Je crois qu’on peut donner à nos classes moyennes un peu de soulagement et offrir aux familles qui travaillent de nombreuses opportunités. Je crois qu’on peut offrir un emploi aux chômeurs, un toit aux sans domicile fixe et sauver de la violence et du désespoir les jeunes des villes à travers l’Amérique. Je crois que le bon vent nous pousse et que l’on se trouve à un carrefour de notre histoire. Nous pouvons faire les bons choix et affronter les défis qui nous attendent.

Amérique ! Ce soir, si tu ressens la même énergie que moi, si tu sens la même urgence que moi, si tu sens la même passion que moi, si tu sens la même espérance que moi — et si nous faisons ce que nous avons à faire, alors je n’ai pas de doute qu’à travers le pays, de la Floride à l’Orégon, de l’Etat de Washington au Maine, le peuple se lèvera en novembre et John Kerry sera président, et John Edwards sera vice-président et ce pays réclamera son dû et un jour meilleur suivra ce long processus politique.

Merci beaucoup à vous tous. Que Dieu vous bénisse. Merci.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A19751-2004Jul27.html

washingtonpost.com
Transcript: Illinois Senate Candidate Barack Obama

FDCH E-Media
Tuesday, July 27, 2004; 11:09 PM

Candidate for U.S. Senate in Illinois, Barack Obama, delivered the keynote address at the Democratic National Convention in Boston Tuesday night. Here is a transcript of his remarks.

OBAMA: Thank you so much. Thank you.

(APPLAUSE)

Thank you. Thank you so much. Thank you so much.

(APPLAUSE)

Thank you, Dick Durbin. You make us all proud.

On behalf of the great state of Illinois…

(APPLAUSE)

… crossroads of a nation, land of Lincoln, let me express my deep gratitude for the privilege of addressing this convention. Tonight is a particular honor for me because, let’s face it, my presence on this stage is pretty unlikely.

My father was a foreign student, born and raised in a small village in Kenya. He grew up herding goats, went to school in a tin- roof shack. His father, my grandfather, was a cook, a domestic servant to the British.

OBAMA: But my grandfather had larger dreams for his son. Through hard work and perseverance my father got a scholarship to study in a magical place, America, that’s shown as a beacon of freedom and opportunity to so many who had come before him.

(APPLAUSE)

While studying here my father met my mother. She was born in a town on the other side of the world, in Kansas.

(APPLAUSE)

Her father worked on oil rigs and farms through most of the Depression. The day after Pearl Harbor, my grandfather signed up for duty, joined Patton’s army, marched across Europe. Back home my grandmother raised a baby and went to work on a bomber assembly line. After the war, they studied on the GI Bill, bought a house through FHA and later moved west, all the way to Hawaii, in search of opportunity.

(APPLAUSE)

And they too had big dreams for their daughter, a common dream born of two continents.

OBAMA: My parents shared not only an improbable love; they shared an abiding faith in the possibilities of this nation. They would give me an African name, Barack, or « blessed, » believing that in a tolerant America, your name is no barrier to success.

(APPLAUSE)

They imagined me going to the best schools in the land, even though they weren’t rich, because in a generous America you don’t have to be rich to achieve your potential.

(APPLAUSE)

They’re both passed away now. And yet I know that, on this night, they look down on me with great pride.

And I stand here today grateful for the diversity of my heritage, aware that my parents’ dreams live on in my two precious daughters.

I stand here knowing that my story is part of the larger American story, that I owe a debt to all of those who came before me, and that in no other country on Earth is my story even possible.

(APPLAUSE)

OBAMA: Tonight, we gather to affirm the greatness of our nation not because of the height of our skyscrapers, or the power of our military, or the size of our economy; our pride is based on a very simple premise, summed up in a declaration made over two hundred years ago: « We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal…

(APPLAUSE)

… that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. »

That is the true genius of America, a faith…

(APPLAUSE)

… a faith in simple dreams, an insistence on small miracles; that we can tuck in our children at night and know that they are fed and clothed and safe from harm; that we can say what we think, write what we think, without hearing a sudden knock on the door; that we can have an idea and start our own business without paying a bribe; that we can participate in the political process without fear of retribution; and that our votes will be counted — or at least, most of the time.

(APPLAUSE)

This year, in this election, we are called to reaffirm our values and our commitments, to hold them against a hard reality and see how we are measuring up, to the legacy of our forbearers and the promise of future generations.

OBAMA: And fellow Americans, Democrats, Republicans, independents, I say to you, tonight, we have more work to do…

(APPLAUSE)

… more work to do, for the workers I met in Galesburg, Illinois, who are losing their union jobs at the Maytag plant that’s moving to Mexico, and now they’re having to compete with their own children for jobs that pay 7 bucks an hour; more to do for the father I met who was losing his job and chocking back the tears wondering how he would pay $4,500 a months for the drugs his son needs without the health benefits that he counted on; more to do for the young woman in East St. Louis, and thousands more like her who have the grades, have the drive, have the will, but doesn’t have the money to go to college.

Now, don’t get me wrong, the people I meet in small towns and big cities and diners and office parks, they don’t expect government to solves all of their problems. They know they have to work hard to get a head. And they want to.

Go into the collar counties around Chicago, and people will tell you: They don’t want their tax money wasted by a welfare agency or by the Pentagon.

(APPLAUSE)

Go into any inner-city neighborhood, and folks will tell you that government alone can’t teach kids to learn.

OBAMA: They know that parents have to teach, that children can’t achieve unless we raise their expectations and turn off the television sets and eradicate the slander that says a black youth with a book is acting white. They know those things.

(APPLAUSE)

People don’t expect — people don’t expect government to solve all their problems. But they sense, deep in their bones, that with just a slight change in priorities, we can make sure that every child in America has a decent shot at life and that the doors of opportunity remain open to all. They know we can do better. And they want that choice.

In this election, we offer that choice. Our party has chosen a man to lead us who embodies the best this country has to offer. And that man is John Kerry.

(APPLAUSE)

John Kerry understands the ideals of community, faith and service because they’ve defined his life. From his heroic service to Vietnam to his years as prosecutor and lieutenant governor, through two decades in the United States Senate, he has devoted himself to this country. Again and again, we’ve seen him make tough choices when easier ones were available. His values and his record affirm what is best in us.

John Kerry believes in an America where hard work is rewarded. So instead of offering tax breaks to companies shipping jobs overseas, he offers them to companies creating jobs here at home.

(APPLAUSE)

OBAMA: John Kerry believes in an America where all Americans can afford the same health coverage our politicians in Washington have for themselves.

(APPLAUSE)

John Kerry believes in energy independence, so we aren’t held hostage to the profits of oil companies or the sabotage of foreign oil fields.

(APPLAUSE)

John Kerry believes in the constitutional freedoms that have made our country the envy of the world, and he will never sacrifice our basic liberties nor use faith as a wedge to divide us.

(APPLAUSE)

And John Kerry believes that in a dangerous world, war must be an option sometimes, but it should never be the first option.

(APPLAUSE)

You know, a while back, I met a young man named Seamus (ph) in a VFW hall in East Moline, Illinois. He was a good-looking kid, 6’2″, 6’3″, clear eyed, with an easy smile. He told me he’d joined the Marines and was heading to Iraq the following week.

OBAMA: And as I listened to him explain why he had enlisted — the absolute faith he had in our country and its leaders, his devotion to duty and service — I thought, this young man was all that any of us might ever hope for in a child. But then I asked myself: Are we serving Seamus (ph) as well as he’s serving us?

I thought of the 900 men and women, sons and daughters, husbands and wives, friends and neighbors who won’t be returning to their own hometowns. I thought of the families I had met who were struggling to get by without a loved one’s full income or whose loved ones had returned with a limb missing or nerves shattered, but still lacked long-term health benefits because they were Reservists.

(APPLAUSE)

When we send our young men and women into harm’s way, we have a solemn obligation not to fudge the numbers or shade the truth about why they are going, to care for their families while they’re gone, to tend to the soldiers upon their return and to never, ever go to war without enough troops to win the war, secure the peace and earn the respect of the world.

(APPLAUSE)

OBAMA: Now, let me be clear. Let me be clear. We have real enemies in the world. These enemies must be found. They must be pursued. And they must be defeated.

John Kerry knows this. And just as Lieutenant Kerry did not hesitate to risk his life to protect the men who served with him in Vietnam, President Kerry will not hesitate one moment to use our military might to keep America safe and secure.

(APPLAUSE)

John Kerry believes in America. And he knows that it’s not enough for just some of us to prosper. For alongside our famous individualism, there’s another ingredient in the American saga, a belief that we are all connected as one people.

If there’s a child on the south side of Chicago who can’t read, that matters to me, even if it’s not my child.

(APPLAUSE)

If there’s a senior citizen somewhere who can’t pay for their prescription and having to choose between medicine and the rent, that makes my life poorer, even if it’s not my grandparent.

(APPLAUSE)

If there’s an Arab-American family being rounded up without benefit of an attorney or due process, that threatens my civil liberties.

(APPLAUSE)

It is that fundamental belief — it is that fundamental belief — I am my brother’s keeper, I am my sisters’ keeper — that makes this country work.

(APPLAUSE)

OBAMA: It’s what allows us to pursue our individual dreams, yet still come together as a single American family: « E pluribus unum, » out of many, one.

Now even as we speak, there are those who are preparing to divide us, the spin masters and negative ad peddlers who embrace the politics of anything goes.

Well, I say to them tonight, there’s not a liberal America and a conservative America; there’s the United States of America.

(APPLAUSE)

There’s not a black America and white America and Latino America and Asian America; there’s the United States of America.

(APPLAUSE)

The pundits, the pundits like to slice and dice our country into red states and blue States: red states for Republicans, blue States for Democrats. But I’ve got news for them, too. We worship an awesome God in the blue states, and we don’t like federal agents poking around our libraries in the red states.

We coach little league in the blue states and, yes, we’ve got some gay friends in the red states.

(APPLAUSE)

There are patriots who opposed the war in Iraq, and there are patriots who supported the war in Iraq.

We are one people, all of us pledging allegiance to the stars and stripes, all of us defending the United States of America.

(APPLAUSE)

OBAMA: In the end, that’s what this election is about. Do we participate in a politics of cynicism, or do we participate in a politics of hope?

John Kerry calls on us to hope. John Edwards calls on us to hope. I’m not talking about blind optimism here, the almost willful ignorance that thinks unemployment will go away if we just don’t think about it, or health care crisis will solve itself if we just ignore it.

That’s not what I’m talking. I’m talking about something more substantial. It’s the hope of slaves sitting around a fire singing freedom songs; the hope of immigrants setting out for distant shores; the hope of a young naval lieutenant bravely patrolling the Mekong Delta; the hope of a millworker’s son who dares to defy the odds; the hope of a skinny kid with a funny name who believes that America has a place for him, too.

(APPLAUSE)

OBAMA: Hope in the face of difficulty, hope in the face of uncertainty, the audacity of hope: In the end, that is God’s greatest gift to us, the bedrock of this nation, a belief in things not seen, a belief that there are better days ahead.

I believe that we can give our middle class relief and provide working families with a road to opportunity.

I believe we can provide jobs for the jobless, homes to the homeless, and reclaim young people in cities across America from violence and despair.

I believe that we have a righteous wind at our backs, and that as we stand on the crossroads of history, we can make the right choices and meet the challenges that face us.

America, tonight, if you feel the same energy that I do, if you feel the same urgency that I do, if you feel the same passion that I do, if you feel the same hopefulness that I do, if we do what we must do, then I have no doubt that all across the country, from Florida to Oregon, from Washington to Maine, the people will rise up in November, and John Kerry will be sworn in as president. And John Edwards will be sworn in as vice president. And this country will reclaim it’s promise. And out of this long political darkness a brighter day will come.

Thank you very much, everybody.

God bless you.

Thank you.

Voir par ailleurs:

Les Bleus voient rouge
L’équipe de France de football a déjà perdu son âme depuis longtemps, certains joueurs refusant même de chanter « La Marseillaise » ; voilà que le rugby semble lui emboîter le pas.
Philippe Franceschi
Consultant en sécurité

Boulevard voltaire

L’équipe de France de rugby, ou plutôt son équipementier, a choisi dorénavant la couleur rouge et non plus bleue comme maillot à l’extérieur, après avoir choisi la couleur « allbleue » pour les matchs à domicile. Le blanc a disparu. Le maillot tricolore (maillot bleu, culotte blanche et bas rouges) était porté depuis le 22 mars 1906, match disputé contre l’Angleterre. Comme moi amoureux du rugby, Roger Couderc doit se retourner dans sa tombe. On ne pourra plus dire « Allez les Bleus » au risque de soutenir l’équipe adverse comme ces Écossais le 7 février. Lui qui disait « Allez les petits », peut-être faudra-t-il aussi crier maintenant « Allez les grands » pour faire moderne.

L’équipe de France de football a déjà perdu son âme depuis longtemps, certains joueurs refusant même de chanter « La Marseillaise » ; voilà que le rugby semble lui emboîter le pas, car quand on vend son maillot, on n’est pas loin de commencer à perdre son âme.

Il faut innover, dit-on. Tu parles… surtout faire de l’argent par la vente d’un nouveau maillot à 79 euros pièce, tout de même. Les éléments de langage sont soignés, argument massue : il y a trois couleurs dans notre drapeau, donc le rouge est permis. Un peu court. Même les entraîneurs de notre équipe nationale reprennent cette consigne de parole, faisant semblant d’adhérer à cette nouveauté. Or, l’attachement à la nation France, aux trois couleurs, est dans les gènes du « peuple » du rugby qui, lui, n’apprécie pas. Mais qui se soucie de l’avis des supporters ? Pas la Fédération française de rugby, sans nul doute, qui a vendu le maillot.

Pourtant, cela me paraît plus significatif qu’une simple innovation. Car, dans cette même veine du renoncement, on a ouvert l’équipe de France à des étrangers naturalisés, Rory Kockott et Scott Spedding, deux joueurs sud-africains naturalisés en 2014, qui évoluent en Top 14. La logique du système est poussée jusqu’au bout. Nous avons de plus en plus d’étrangers dans notre championnat national, laissant moins de chance à de jeunes joueurs français d’éclore, et voilà que maintenant on leur barre aussi la route pour le XV de France. Je n’aime pas cette mondialisation de l’Ovalie. Mais où sont les nouveaux Lux, Trillo, Maso, Dourthe, grands joueurs français des années 1970 formés par de petits clubs, et qui avaient pourtant le « french flair » que nous envient tant les Anglo-Saxons? École du rugby, école de la vie, notre rugby, sport viril mais correct, se veut promouvoir une action éducatrice et d’épanouissement de l’enfant au travers du respect des valeurs du sport, dans les opérations « Rugby Cup des Quartiers ». La vie, c’est aussi respecter son maillot et ses couleurs bleu, blanc et rouge. S’il s’agit d’innover pour innover, on pourrait aussi appeler la tour Eiffel tour du Champ-de-Mars, ou l’Arc de Triomphe Arc de l’Étoile (qu’on enlève donc le triomphe, c’est ringard et réac), et le palais de l’Élysée palais normal… Les touristes pourront ainsi constater notre esprit d’innovation.

Rugby : contre l’Ecosse, il faudra crier « Allez les Rouges ! »
Adrien Pécout
Le Monde
06.02.2015

Les supporteurs du XV de France vont devoir réviser leurs classiques. Haranguer les Tricolores à grand renfort d’« Allez les Bleus ! » sonnera un peu faux, samedi 7 février, au Stade de France. Car pour la première fois depuis plus d’un demi-siècle, les Français affronteront l’Ecosse, en ouverture du Tournoi des six nations, vêtus d’un maillot qui ne sera ni bleu ni blanc, comme cela leur arrive parfois, mais rouge.

Et il va falloir s’y habituer. Les hommes de Philippe Saint-André arboreront cette tenue pour tous leurs matchs à l’extérieur jusqu’à la fin de l’année 2015, y compris durant la prochaine Coupe du monde (septembre-octobre). Mais ce sera donc également le cas dès ce week-end, à Saint-Denis. Contre l’Ecosse, la France ne pourra pas revêtir le maillot bleu qu’elle utilise d’ordinaire à domicile, ce privilège étant traditionnellement accordé à l’équipe visiteuse.

L’équipementier du XV de France, Adidas, avait émis l’idée de virer au rouge dès 2013. Un sacrilège ? A la Fédération française de rugby, on indique que ce changement de couleur a fait débat, puis a été soumis à l’approbation du président Pierre Camou, du sélectionneur Philippe Saint-André et de plusieurs membres du bureau fédéral.

Loin de s’en émouvoir, les joueurs jurent apprécier la nouveauté. Surtout quand leur équipementier les sollicite pour une vidéo de promotion… Au micro, le centre Wesley Fofana déclare : « Avec le fait de jouer en rouge, tout de suite, je pense qu’on aura un sentiment de combat, d’agressivité. » Le talonneur Benjamin Kayser, lui, voit en cette nouvelle couleur rien de moins que « la passion, la victoire et le feu ».

EN 1959, UNE VICTOIRE 9-0 CONTRE L’ÉCOSSE… EN ROUGE

Là-dessus, difficile de lui donner tort. Le 10 janvier 1959, à Colombes, la France avait déjà joué en rouge : à la clé, une victoire 9-0, déjà contre l’Ecosse. Cette année-là, lancés par cette victoire inaugurale, les Bleus remporteront dans la foulée leur premier Tournoi des cinq nations sans être ex æquo avec un autre pays.

« Contre l’Ecosse, si je me souviens, on avait appris seulement le jour du match, une fois dans les vestiaires, qu’on porterait des maillots rouges », raconte au Monde Michel Celaya, le capitaine des Bleus et troisième-ligne de Biarritz à l’époque. Aujourd’hui octogénaire, l’ancien joueur ignore les raisons qui avaient conduit les Bleus à devenir rouges.

« Et je ne sais pas non plus pourquoi, ensuite, cette tenue rouge n’a pas été conservée plus longtemps. Pour moi, le principal, c’était le coq qu’on avait sur le maillot et sur les blazers d’après-match. Et de toute façon, sur le terrain, nous, les troisièmes-lignes, on n’avait pas le temps de s’attarder sur le maillot, on était concentrés sur les guiboles adverses ! »

En marge du match, Michel Celaya et ses compères François Moncla et Jean Barthe avaient tout de même tenu à immortaliser l’événement : « Cette couleur rouge, quand même, ça nous étonnait. On avait demandé à des journalistes de venir nous prendre en photo avec », ajoute l’international (50 sélections entre 1953 et 1961).

Selon des témoignages oraux rapportés à la Fédération française de rugby, la France aurait également revêtu un maillot rouge en 1958 lors d’une tournée contre l’Australie, pour un match également synonyme de victoire (19-0). Elle le portera donc de nouveau jusqu’à la fin de l’année 2015, date à laquelle Adidas choisira ou non de rétablir le maillot blanc pour les matchs à l’extérieur.

« Pour moi qui suis du Sud, ça ne me déplairait pas que le rouge reste la couleur de notre deuxième maillot, s’amuse Celaya, Biarrot de naissance. Pour plaisanter, je dirais que ça nous fait ressembler à des toréadors. Quand des taureaux vous foncent desssus, vous ne portez pas une cape blanche, vous portez une cape rouge. »


Diversité: L’enfer, c’est les autres, mais j’ai besoin des oeufs ! (Hell is other people, but I need the eggs ! – How diversity is eating away at trust)

1 décembre, 2013
https://i1.wp.com/consumertraveler.com/wp-content/uploads/In-God-.jpghttps://i1.wp.com/edge.liveleak.com/80281E/ll_a_s/2013/Oct/23/LiveLeak-dot-com-f83_1382554898-USHasSpent37TrillionOnWelfareOverPast5Yearsprev.jpgMais, quand le Fils de l’homme viendra, trouvera-t-il la foi sur la terre? Jésus (Luc 18: 8)
Ne croyez pas que je sois venu apporter la paix sur la terre; je ne suis pas venu apporter la paix, mais l’épée. Car je suis venu mettre la division entre l’homme et son père, entre la fille et sa mère, entre la belle-fille et sa belle-mère; et l’homme aura pour ennemis les gens de sa maison. Jésus (Matthieu 10: 34-36)
Je pensais à cette vieille blague, vous savez, ce-ce-ce type va chez un psychiatre et dit : « Doc, euh, mon frère est fou. Il se prend pour un poulet. » Et, euh, le docteur dit : « Et bien, pourquoi ne le faites-vous pas enfermer ? » Et le type dit : « J’aimerais bien, mais j’ai besoin des œufs. » Et bien, je crois que c’est ce que je ressens au sujet des relations. Vous savez, elles sont totalement irrationnelles et folles et absurdes et… mais, euh, je crois qu’on continue parce que, euh, la plupart d’entre nous ont besoin des œufs…  Woody Allen
Nous venons de terminer le cinquième exercice depuis que le président Obama a pris ses fonctions. Durant ces cinq années, le gouvernement fédéral a dépensé un total de 3,7  mille milliard de dollars pour environ 80 programmes sous condition de ressources différents contre la pauvreté et de protection sociale. La caractéristique commune des programmes d’aide sous condition de ressources est qu’ils sont gradués par apport au revenu d’une personne et que, contrairement aux programmes tels que la sécurité sociale ou l’assurance-maladie, ils sont un avantage gratuit sans aucune contribution du bénéficiaire. La somme énorme dépensée pourl’assistance sous condition de ressources est près de cinq fois supérieure au montant combiné consacré à la NASA et à l’éducation et à tous les projets de transport de compétence fédérale au cours de cette époque. (3,7 mille milliards de dollars n’est pas encore la totalité du montant dépensé pour le soutien fédéral de la pauvreté, les États membres contribuant pour plus de 200 milliards de dollars chaque année à ce lien fédéral, principalement sous forme de soins de santé gratuits à faible revenu.) Parce que le budget de l’aide sociale est tellement fragmenté — les coupons alimentaires ne sont qu’un des 15 programmes fédéraux qui fournissent une aide alimentaire, cela rend le contrôle efficace presque impossible, tout en masquant l’étendue tant aux contribuables qu’aux législateurs. Par exemple, il est plus facile pour les législateurs opposés aux réformes de s’opposer à des économies de coupons alimentaires en occultant le fait qu’un ménage qui reçoit des coupons alimentaires a souvent simultanément  droit à une myriade de programmes d’aide fédéraux y compris l’assistance de trésorerie, les logements subventionnés, les soins médicaux gratuits, la garde d’enfants gratuite et l’assistance énergétique à la maison. Commission sénatoriale du Budget
« Il est temps que l’Amérique comprenne que beaucoup des plus grandes disparités de la nation, de l’éducation à la pauvreté et à l’espérance de vie sont de plus en plus liées à la position de classe économique, » a déclaré William Julius Wilson, professeur de Harvard spécialiste des questions raciales et de la pauvreté. Il note par ailleurs que, malgré la persistance des difficultés économiques, les minorités sont plus optimistes quant à l’avenir après l’élection d’Obama, ce qui n’est pas les blancs qui se débattait. « Il y a la possibilité réelle que l’aliénation blanche va augmenter si des mesures ne sont pas prises pour mettre en évidence et lutter contre l’inégalité sur un large front, » a dit Ted Wilson. Parfois appelé « les pauvres invisibles » par les démographes, les blancs à faible revenu sont généralement dispersés dans les banlieues, mais aussi les petites villes rurales, où plus de 60% des pauvres sont blancs. Concentrés dans les Appalaches à l’est, ils sont également nombreux dans le Midwest industriel et  à travers le cœur de l’Amérique, du Missouri, de l’Arkansas et de l’Oklahoma jusqu’aux grandes plaines. Plus de 19 millions de blancs sont tombésen dessous du seuil de pauvreté de 23 021 $ pour une famille de quatre, représentant plus de 41 % de la nation démunis, près du double le nombre de pauvres noirs. CS monitor
« L’enfer c’est les autres » a été toujours mal compris. On a cru que je voulais dire par là que nos rapports avec les autres étaient toujours empoisonnés, que c’était toujours des rapports infernaux. Or, c’est tout autre chose que je veux dire. Je veux dire que si les rapports avec autrui sont tordus, viciés, alors l’autre ne peut être que l’enfer. Pourquoi ? Parce que les autres sont, au fond, ce qu’il y a de plus important en nous-mêmes, pour notre propre connaissance de nous-mêmes. Quand nous pensons sur nous, quand nous essayons de nous connaître, au fond nous usons des connaissances que les autres ont déjà sur nous, nous nous jugeons avec les moyens que les autres ont, nous ont donné, de nous juger. Quoi que je dise sur moi, toujours le jugement d’autrui entre dedans. Quoi que je sente de moi, le jugement d’autrui entre dedans. Ce qui veut dire que, si mes rapports sont mauvais, je me mets dans la totale dépendance d’autrui et alors, en effet, je suis en enfer. Et il existe une quantité de gens dans le monde qui sont en enfer parce qu’ils dépendent trop du jugement d’autrui. Mais cela ne veut nullement dire qu’on ne puisse avoir d’autres rapports avec les autres, ça marque simplement l’importance capitale de tous les autres pour chacun de nous. Sartre
Chacun se croit seul en enfer et c’est cela l’enfer. René Girard
De toutes les menaces qui pèsent sur nous, la plus redoutable, nous le savons, la seule réelle, c’est nous-mêmes. René Girard
Ce ne sont pas les différences qui provoquent les conflits mais leur effacement. René Girard
Aucun nombre de bombes atomiques ne pourra endiguer le raz de marée constitué par les millions d’êtres humains qui partiront un jour de la partie méridionale et pauvre du monde, pour faire irruption dans les espaces relativement ouverts du riche hémisphère septentrional, en quête de survie. Boumediene (mars 1974)
Un jour, des millions d’hommes quitteront le sud pour aller dans le nord. Et ils n’iront pas là-bas en tant qu’amis. Parce qu’ils iront là-bas pour le conquérir. Et ils le conquerront avec leurs fils. Le ventre de nos femmes nous donnera la victoire. Houari Boumediene (ONU, 10.04.74)
Nous avons 50 millions de musulmans en Europe. Il y a des signes qui attestent qu’Allah nous accordera une grande victoire en Europe, sans épée, sans conquête. Les 50 millions de musulmans d’Europe feront de cette dernière un continent musulman. Allah mobilise la Turquie, nation musulmane, et va permettre son entrée dans l’Union Européenne. Il y aura alors 100 millions de musulmans en Europe. L’Albanie est dans l’Union européenne, c’est un pays musulman. La Bosnie est dans l’Union européenne, c’est un pays musulman. 50% de ses citoyens sont musulmans. L’Europe est dans une fâcheuse posture. Et il en est de même de l’Amérique. Elles [les nations occidentales] devraient accepter de devenir musulmanes avec le temps ou bien de déclarer la guerre aux musulmans. Kadhafi (10.04.06) 
Et si Raspail, avec « Le Camp des Saints », n’était ni un prophète ni un romancier visionnaire, mais simplement un implacable historien de notre futur? Jean Cau
Le 17 février 2001, un cargo vétuste s’échouait volontairement sur les rochers côtiers, non loin de Saint-Raphaël. À son bord, un millier d’immigrants kurdes, dont près de la moitié étaient des enfants. « Cette pointe rocheuse faisait partie de mon paysage. Certes, ils n’étaient pas un million, ainsi que je les avais imaginés, à bord d’une armada hors d’âge, mais ils n’en avaient pas moins débarqué chez moi, en plein décor du Camp des saints, pour y jouer l’acte I. Le rapport radio de l’hélicoptère de la gendarmerie diffusé par l’AFP semble extrait, mot pour mot, des trois premiers paragraphes du livre. La presse souligna la coïncidence, laquelle apparut, à certains, et à moi, comme ne relevant pas du seul hasard. Jean Raspail
Qu’est-ce que Big Other ? C’est le produit de la mauvaise conscience occidentale soigneusement entretenue, avec piqûres de rappel à la repentance pour nos fautes et nos crimes supposés –  et de l’humanisme de l’altérité, cette sacralisation de l’Autre, particulièrement quand il s’oppose à notre culture et à nos traditions. Perversion de la charité chrétienne, Big Other a le monopole du Vrai et du Bien et ne tolère pas de voix discordante. Jean Raspail
Ce qui m’a frappé, c’est le contraste entre les opinions exprimées à titre privé et celles tenues publiquement. Double langage et double conscience… À mes yeux, il n’y a pire lâcheté que celle devant la faiblesse, que la peur d’opposer la légitimité de la force à l’illégitimité de la violence. Jean Raspail
La véritable cible du roman, ce ne sont pas les hordes d’immigrants sauvages du tiers-monde, mais les élites, politiques, religieuses, médiatiques, intellectuelles, du pays qui, par lâcheté devant la faiblesse, trahissent leurs racines, leurs traditions et les valeurs de leur civilisation. En fourriers d’une apocalypse dont ils seront les premières victimes. Chantre des causes dé sespérées et des peuples en voie de disparition, comme son œuvre ultérieure en témoigne, Jean Raspail a, dans ce grand livre d’anticipation, incité non pas à la haine et à la discrimination, mais à la lucidité et au courage. Dans deux générations, on saura si la réalité avait imité la fiction. Bruno de Cessole
Délinquants itinérants issus des gens du voyage ou «petites mains» pilotées à distance par des mafias des pays de l’Est, ces bandes de cambrioleurs ignorant les frontières n’hésitent plus à couvrir des centaines de kilomètres lors de raids nocturnes pour repérer puis investir des demeures isolées. En quelques années, les «voleurs dans la loi» géorgiens sont devenus les «aristocrates» de la discipline. Organisés de façon quasi militaire et placés sous la férule de lieutenants, ces «Rappetout» venus du froid écument avec méthode les territoires les plus «giboyeux» du pays, notamment dans le Grand Ouest, les régions Rhône-Alpes, Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur ou encore Languedoc-Roussillon. Selon une estimation récente, la valeur marchande de leur colossal butin frise les 200.000 euros par semaine. Continuant à se propager dans les grandes villes, le fléau gangrène à une vitesse étourdissante les campagnes et les petites agglomérations: entre 2007 et 2012, le nombre de villas et résidences «visitées» en zone gendarmerie a bondi de 65 %. Soit 35.361 faits constatés de plus en cinq ans. En plein cœur du département de la Marne, où les cambriolages ont flambé de 47 % en un an, des clans albanais retranchés près de Tirana ont dépêché des «soldats» pour piller des maisons de campagne situées dans des villages jusque-là préservés tels que Livry-Louvercy, aux Petites-Loges ou encore à Gueux. Le Figaro
Le tout virtuel ne marche pas. Si les solutions pour travailler à distance existent, rien ne remplace le contact humain nécessaire au bon fonctionnement d’une entreprise. A la longue, communiquer uniquement par mail ou par téléphone devient pénible. Gauthier Toulemonde
En présence de la diversité, nous nous replions sur nous-mêmes. Nous agissons comme des tortues. L’effet de la diversité est pire que ce qui avait été imaginé. Et ce n’est pas seulement que nous ne faisons plus confiance à ceux qui ne sont pas comme nous. Dans les communautés diverses, nous ne faisons plus confiance à ceux qui nous ressemblent. Robert Putnam
Page appelle ça le « paradoxe de diversité. » Il pense que les effets à la fois positifs et négatifs de la diversité peuvent coexister dans les communautés, mais qu’il doit y avoir une limite. » Si l’investissement civique tombe trop bas, il est facile d’imaginer que les effets positifs de la diversité puissent tout aussi bien commencer à s’affaiblir. Michael Jonas
Americans don’t trust each other anymore. We’re not talking about the loss of faith in big institutions such as the government, the church or Wall Street, which fluctuates with events. For four decades, a gut-level ingredient of democracy — trust in the other fellow — has been quietly draining away. These days, only one-third of Americans say most people can be trusted. Half felt that way in 1972, when the General Social Survey first asked the question. Forty years later, a record high of nearly two-thirds say “you can’t be too careful” in dealing with people. (…) Does it matter that Americans are suspicious of one another? Yes, say worried political and social scientists. What’s known as “social trust” brings good things. A society where it’s easier to compromise or make a deal. Where people are willing to work with those who are different from them for the common good. Where trust appears to promote economic growth. Distrust, on the other hand, seems to encourage corruption. At the least, it diverts energy to counting change, drawing up 100-page legal contracts and building gated communities. Even the rancor and gridlock in politics might stem from the effects of an increasingly distrustful citizenry, said April K. Clark, a Purdue University political scientist and public opinion researcher. “It’s like the rules of the game,” Clark said. “When trust is low, the way we react and behave with each other becomes less civil.” (…) There’s no single explanation for Americans’ loss of trust. The best-known analysis comes from “Bowling Alone” author Robert Putnam’s nearly two decades of studying the United States’ declining “social capital,” including trust. Putnam says Americans have abandoned their bowling leagues and Elks lodges to stay home and watch TV. Less socializing and fewer community meetings make people less trustful than the “long civic generation” that came of age during the Depression and World War II. Connie Cass

A l’heure où même les plus démagogiques de nos dirigeants atteignent des sommets d’impopularité …

Et où, attirés par le grand festin de l’Etat-tout-Providence, les réfugiés économiques du Tiers-Monde comme les nouveaux barbares de l’est déferlent par vagues entières sur nos côtes et nos villes …

Pendant que, par manque de contact humain, un chef d’entreprise français, pourtant armé des dernières technologies numériques et d’un sacré sens de l’auto-promotion, se voit contraint après 40 jours à peine de mettre un terme à son expérience de Robinson virtuel …

Comment ne pas voir avec les résultats d’une grande enquête américaine sur les modes de vie …

Que contre les prédictions les plus naïves ou les plus roublardes de nos hérauts de la diversité …

Mais conformément aux prévisions des plus lucides de nos sociologues ou, accessoirement, de nos propres Evangiles …

Ce n’est pas nécessairement, derrière les spectaculaires et indéniables prodiges de nos nouvelles technologies, à plus de paix et d’harmonie que va aboutir le formidable rassemblement de population – proprement inouï dans l’Histoire de l’humanité – que nous connaissons actuellement …

Mais bien, très probablement, à des niveaux de conflit dont nous n’avons pas encore idée ?

In God we trust, maybe, but not each other

Connie Cass

WASHINGTON (AP) — You can take our word for it. Americans don’t trust each other anymore.

We’re not talking about the loss of faith in big institutions such as the government, the church or Wall Street, which fluctuates with events. For four decades, a gut-level ingredient of democracy — trust in the other fellow — has been quietly draining away.

These days, only one-third of Americans say most people can be trusted. Half felt that way in 1972, when the General Social Survey first asked the question.

Forty years later, a record high of nearly two-thirds say “you can’t be too careful” in dealing with people.

An AP-GfK poll conducted last month found that Americans are suspicious of each other in everyday encounters. Less than one-third expressed a lot of trust in clerks who swipe their credit cards, drivers on the road, or people they meet when traveling.

“I’m leery of everybody,” said Bart Murawski, 27, of Albany, N.Y. “Caution is always a factor.”

Does it matter that Americans are suspicious of one another? Yes, say worried political and social scientists.

What’s known as “social trust” brings good things.

A society where it’s easier to compromise or make a deal. Where people are willing to work with those who are different from them for the common good. Where trust appears to promote economic growth.

Distrust, on the other hand, seems to encourage corruption. At the least, it diverts energy to counting change, drawing up 100-page legal contracts and building gated communities.

Even the rancor and gridlock in politics might stem from the effects of an increasingly distrustful citizenry, said April K. Clark, a Purdue University political scientist and public opinion researcher.

“It’s like the rules of the game,” Clark said. “When trust is low, the way we react and behave with each other becomes less civil.”

There’s no easy fix.

In fact, some studies suggest it’s too late for most Americans alive today to become more trusting. That research says the basis for a person’s lifetime trust levels is set by his or her mid-twenties and unlikely to change, other than in some unifying crucible such as a world war.

People do get a little more trusting as they age. But beginning with the baby boomers, each generation has started off adulthood less trusting than those who came before them.

The best hope for creating a more trusting nation may be figuring out how to inspire today’s youth, perhaps united by their high-tech gadgets, to trust the way previous generations did in simpler times.

There are still trusters around to set an example.

Pennsylvania farmer Dennis Hess is one. He runs an unattended farm stand on the honor system.

Customers pick out their produce, tally their bills and drop the money into a slot, making change from an unlocked cashbox. Both regulars and tourists en route to nearby Lititz, Pa., stop for asparagus in spring, corn in summer and, as the weather turns cold, long-neck pumpkins for Thanksgiving pies.

“When people from New York or New Jersey come up,” said Hess, 60, “they are amazed that this kind of thing is done anymore.”

Hess has updated the old ways with technology. He added a video camera a few years back, to help catch people who drive off without paying or raid the cashbox. But he says there isn’t enough theft to undermine his trust in human nature.

“I’ll say 99 and a half percent of the people are honest,” said Hess, who’s operated the produce stand for two decades.

There’s no single explanation for Americans’ loss of trust.

The best-known analysis comes from “Bowling Alone” author Robert Putnam’s nearly two decades of studying the United States’ declining “social capital,” including trust.

Putnam says Americans have abandoned their bowling leagues and Elks lodges to stay home and watch TV. Less socializing and fewer community meetings make people less trustful than the “long civic generation” that came of age during the Depression and World War II.

University of Maryland Professor Eric Uslaner, who studies politics and trust, puts the blame elsewhere: economic inequality.

Trust has declined as the gap between the nation’s rich and poor gapes ever wider, Uslaner says, and more and more Americans feel shut out. They’ve lost their sense of a shared fate. Tellingly, trust rises with wealth.

“People who believe the world is a good place and it’s going to get better and you can help make it better, they will be trusting,” Uslaner said. “If you believe it’s dark and driven by outside forces you can’t control, you will be a mistruster.”

African-Americans consistently have expressed far less faith in “most people” than the white majority does. Racism, discrimination and a high rate of poverty destroy trust.

Nearly 8 in 10 African-Americans, in the 2012 survey conducted by NORC at the University of Chicago with principal funding from the National Science Foundation, felt that “you can’t be too careful.” That figure has held remarkably steady across the 25 GSS surveys since 1972.

The decline in the nation’s overall trust quotient was driven by changing attitudes among whites.

It’s possible that people today are indeed less deserving of trust than Americans in the past, perhaps because of a decline in moral values.

“I think people are acting more on their greed,” said Murawski, a computer specialist who says he has witnessed scams and rip-offs. “Everybody wants a comfortable lifestyle, but what are you going to do for it? Where do you draw the line?”

Ethical behavior such as lying and cheating are difficult to document over the decades. It’s worth noting that the early, most trusting years of the GSS poll coincided with Watergate and the Vietnam War. Trust dropped off in the more stable 1980s.

Crime rates fell in the 1990s and 2000s, and still Americans grew less trusting. Many social scientists blame 24-hour news coverage of distant violence for skewing people’s perceptions of crime.

Can anything bring trust back?

Uslaner and Clark don’t see much hope anytime soon.

Thomas Sander, executive director of the Saguaro Seminar launched by Putnam, believes the trust deficit is “eminently fixable” if Americans strive to rebuild community and civic life, perhaps by harnessing technology.

After all, the Internet can widen the circle of acquaintances who might help you find a job. Email makes it easier for clubs to plan face-to-face meetings. Googling someone turns up information that used to come via the community grapevine.

But hackers and viruses and hateful posts eat away at trust. And sitting home watching YouTube means less time out meeting others.

“A lot of it depends on whether we can find ways to get people using technology to connect and be more civically involved,” Sander said.

“The fate of Americans’ trust,” he said, “is in our own hands.”

___

Associated Press Director of Polling Jennifer Agiesta and AP News Survey Specialist Dennis Junius contributed to this report.

___

Online:

AP-GfK Poll: http://www.ap-gfkpoll.com

General Social Survey: http://www3.norc.org/GSS+Website

Voir aussi:

L’exil du patron Robinson sur une île déserte touche à sa fin

Isabelle de Foucaud

le Figaro

18/11/2013

Gauthier Toulemonde est parti 40 jours sur une île de l’archipel indonésien pour démontrer que le télétravail n’est plus une utopie avec les technologies de communication.

Gauthier Toulemonde, qui a décidé de passer 40 jours sur une île au large de l’Indonésie pour tester des conditions «extrêmes» de télétravail, a pu gérer son entreprise sans encombre. Il sera de retour en France d’ici à la fin de la semaine.

Gauthier Toulemonde prépare ses valises avec le sentiment du devoir accompli. Il doit quitter mardi son île déserte de l’archipel indonésien, longue de 700 mètres, large de 500 et située à cinq heures de bateau du village le plus proche, sur laquelle il vient de passer 40 jours dans des conditions extrêmes. «J’appréhende le retour à la vie moderne après cette longue période de solitude. Je ne sais plus ce que c’est de prendre le métro ou d’être coincé dans les embouteillages», confie-t-il au figaro.fr par téléphone satellitaire ce lundi, à la veille de son départ.

A 54 ans, l’entrepreneur de Saint-André-lez-Lille (Nord), qui a partagé son expérience sur un blog, ne voulait pas seulement réaliser un «rêve d’enfant» en montant cette expédition à la Robinson Crusoé. Certes, il a passé ce séjour dans l’isolement total, mais ultra connecté. Un ordinateur, une tablette numérique et deux téléphones satellitaires alimentés par des panneaux solaires étaient du voyage. «Mon but était de démontrer que je pouvais continuer à gérer mon entreprise à distance, grâce aux nouvelles technologies», explique Gauthier Toulemonde , propriétaire de la société Timbropresse qui publie le mensuel Timbres magazine, et par ailleurs rédacteur en chef de L’Activité immobilière.

Un pari réussi. «Nous avons bouclé, avec mon équipe à distance, chaque magazine dans les délais et avec les mêmes contenus et paginations que d’habitude», se réjouit-il, en assurant avoir assumé sans encombre l’ensemble de ses responsabilités. Choix des sujets, attribution aux journalistes et pigistes, réalisation d’interviews et lancement des pages en production … «Les communications étaient réduites a minima et je privilégiais les échanges par mail plutôt que par téléphone satellitaire, ces appels étant beaucoup plus coûteux.» Le patron Robinson est parti avec un budget de «moins de 10.000 euros», sans sponsor, et s’est fixé comme limite stricte 20 euros de frais Internet par jour.

Les limites du «tout virtuel»

Autre complication: le décalage horaire de six heures (en plus) qui a considérablement rallongé les journées de Gauthier Toulemonde afin qu’il puisse «croiser» un minimum sa dizaine de salariés en France. «Lorsque je prenais du retard sur la rédaction d’un article, en revanche, ce décalage devenait un sérieux avantage pour moi en me donnant un peu plus de temps.»

Si les solutions pour travailler à distance existent et fonctionnent, rien ne remplace le contact humain nécessaire au bon fonctionnement d’une entreprise

Des délais souvent bienvenus alors que ce chef d’entreprise – parti quand même avec des rations de survie de pâtes et de riz – devait en plus assurer sa subsistance en pêchant, chassant ou cueillant des végétaux dès 5 heures du matin. Le tout dans un environnement dominé par des rats, serpents et varans. «Ma plus grande crainte était de perdre ma connexion», confie cependant l’aventurier. Parti en pleine saison des pluies, il a subi des intempéries qui l’ont parfois fait vivre pendant quelques jours sur ses réserves d’énergie.

Ces frayeurs ont-elles refroidi l’enthousiasme de l’entrepreneur pour le télétravail? «Le tout virtuel ne marche pas. Si les solutions pour travailler à distance existent, rien ne remplace le contact humain nécessaire au bon fonctionnement d’une entreprise», conclut Gauthier Toulemonde, en confiant au passage qu’«à la longue, communiquer uniquement par mail ou par téléphone devient pénible».

Voir encore:

Real-life Robinson Crusoe who decided to run his Paris business from a remote Indonesian island goes home after being put off by the snakes, spiders and sky-high phone bills

Gauthier Toulemonde, 54, moved to a 700×500-metre island for 40 days

He scavenged for vegetables and fish, and ‘detoxed from modern life’

Only companion was a ‘rented’ dog that scared off wildlife for him

Says lack of human contact and fear of losing web signal was unbearable

Mia De Graaf

The Daily Mail

 30 November 2013

A French businessman who realised his childhood dream to relocate to a desert island has been driven home by wild Indonesian creatures and unaffordable phone bills.

Gauthier Toulemonde, 54, had been getting increasingly frustrated with his stagnant life commuting from Lille to Paris every day to his office job as a publicist.

Last Christmas, the sorry sight of distinctly un-merry Parisians lugging presents through the station compelled him to finally take a leap.

Deserted: Gauthier Toulemonde, 54, relocated his work as a publicist to one of Indonesia’s 17,000 islands

Deserted: Gauthier Toulemonde, 54, relocated his work as a publicist to one of Indonesia’s 17,000 islands

Moving to one of Indonesia’s 17,000 islands like Robinson Crusoe moved to Trinidad, Mr Toulemonde ‘detoxed from modern life’ by scavenging for food, being in touch with nature, and having little to no contact with other human beings.

His only companion was Gecko, a dog borrowed from a Chinese woman, to scare off the wildlife.

He told The Guardian he wanted to be the first ‘Web Robinson’ to persuade French people to abandon the tiring, demoralising commute and work remotely.

He added: ‘I found myself in Gare Saint Lazare in Paris just before Christmas watching the continuous stream of people passing by.

Idyllic: He was bound by Indonesian law to keep the exact location of the 700×500-metre island a secret

Idyllic: He was bound by Indonesian law to keep the exact location of the 700×500-metre island a secret

‘Web Robinson’: Toulemonde filmed his experiment testing if it was possible to work this far from the office

‘Web Robinson’: Toulemonde filmed his experiment testing if it was possible to work this far from the office

‘They had this sad look on their faces, even though they were carrying Christmas presents. It had long seemed to me absurd this travelling back and forth to offices.

‘My idea of going away had been growing for a while, but it was on that day, I decided to leave.’

It took him six months – and numerous run-ins with the Indonesian government – to find the perfect uninhabited island for a six-week trial run. Although he managed to persuade officials to let him go, he was ordered by law not to reveal the exact location of the hideaway, that is just 700-by-500 metres.

Finally, in October he set off – with just a tent, four solar panels, a phone, a laptop, rice and pasta for supplies.

Guard dog: Gecko, a dog he borrowed from a Chinese woman, helped scare off the wildlife

Guard dog: Gecko, a dog he borrowed from a Chinese woman, helped scare off the wildlife

Isolated: Toulemonde was banned from revealing the exact location of the uninhabited island

Isolated: Toulemonde was banned from stating the exact location of the uninhabited island in the Indian Ocean

Every day he woke at 5am and went to bed at midnight.

He would scavenge for vegetables on the island and fish in the sea before simply reclining to ‘detox from modern life’.

‘Those days, for me it was like being in quarantine,’ he told Le Figaro.

‘I used the time as a detox from modern life.’

He told Paris Match: ‘What gave me most joy was living – stripped bare – in the closest possible contact with nature. Every day was magical.’

However, it was not stress-free: his company had to publish two editions of Stamps Magazine.

Snakes: Toulemonde was surrounded by Indonesia’s wildlife ranging from small snakes to giant pythons

Snakes: Toulemonde was surrounded by Indonesia’s wildlife ranging from small snakes to giant pythons

Rats: He said living on the island with pests such as rats for any more than 40 days would be too much to handle

Rats: He said living on the island with pests such as rats for any more than 40 days would be too much to handle

Diary: He wrote a blog and made videos tracking his progress. He admitted he won’t go out again

Diary: He wrote a blog and made videos tracking his progress. He admitted he won’t go out again

He allowed himself 20 euros a day for internet to email his employees – and abandoned extortionate phone calls early on.

But after completing his trial, Mr Toulemonde has conceded that he cannot do it forever.

Although he claims the ‘telecommuting’ experiment was a success, he told French broadcasters My TF1 News that the snakes and rats were intolerable – and fear of losing Internet connection was even worse.

The biggest challenge was lack of human contact.

He said: ‘Telecommuting really works but doing everything virtually has its limits. Working from distance might be doable, but nothing can replace human contact.’

Voir par ailleurs:

Exclusive: Signs of declining economic security

Hope Yen

Jul. 28, 2013

ECONOMIC INSECURITY

Chart shows cumulative economic insecurity by age; 2c x 4 inches; 96.3 mm x 101 mm;

WASHINGTON (AP) — Four out of 5 U.S. adults struggle with joblessness, near poverty or reliance on welfare for at least parts of their lives, a sign of deteriorating economic security and an elusive American dream.

Survey data exclusive to The Associated Press points to an increasingly globalized U.S. economy, the widening gap between rich and poor and loss of good-paying manufacturing jobs as reasons for the trend.

The findings come as President Barack Obama tries to renew his administration’s emphasis on the economy, saying in recent speeches that his highest priority is to « rebuild ladders of opportunity » and reverse income inequality.

Hardship is particularly on the rise among whites, based on several measures. Pessimism among that racial group about their families’ economic futures has climbed to the highest point since at least 1987. In the most recent AP-GfK poll, 63 percent of whites called the economy « poor. »

« I think it’s going to get worse, » said Irene Salyers, 52, of Buchanan County, Va., a declining coal region in Appalachia. Married and divorced three times, Salyers now helps run a fruit and vegetable stand with her boyfriend, but it doesn’t generate much income. They live mostly off government disability checks.

« If you do try to go apply for a job, they’re not hiring people, and they’re not paying that much to even go to work, » she said. Children, she said, have « nothing better to do than to get on drugs. »

While racial and ethnic minorities are more likely to live in poverty, race disparities in the poverty rate have narrowed substantially since the 1970s, census data show. Economic insecurity among whites also is more pervasive than is shown in government data, engulfing more than 76 percent of white adults by the time they turn 60, according to a new economic gauge being published next year by the Oxford University Press.

The gauge defines « economic insecurity » as experiencing unemployment at some point in their working lives, or a year or more of reliance on government aid such as food stamps or income below 150 percent of the poverty line. Measured across all races, the risk of economic insecurity rises to 79 percent.

« It’s time that America comes to understand that many of the nation’s biggest disparities, from education and life expectancy to poverty, are increasingly due to economic class position, » said William Julius Wilson, a Harvard professor who specializes in race and poverty.

He noted that despite continuing economic difficulties, minorities have more optimism about the future after Obama’s election, while struggling whites do not.

« There is the real possibility that white alienation will increase if steps are not taken to highlight and address inequality on a broad front, » Wilson said.

___

Sometimes termed « the invisible poor » by demographers, lower-income whites are generally dispersed in suburbs as well as small rural towns, where more than 60 percent of the poor are white. Concentrated in Appalachia in the East, they are also numerous in the industrial Midwest and spread across America’s heartland, from Missouri, Arkansas and Oklahoma up through the Great Plains.

More than 19 million whites fall below the poverty line of $23,021 for a family of four, accounting for more than 41 percent of the nation’s destitute, nearly double the number of poor blacks.

Still, while census figures provide an official measure of poverty, they’re only a temporary snapshot. The numbers don’t capture the makeup of those who cycle in and out of poverty at different points in their lives. They may be suburbanites, for example, or the working poor or the laid off.

In 2011 that snapshot showed 12.6 percent of adults in their prime working-age years of 25-60 lived in poverty. But measured in terms of a person’s lifetime risk, a much higher number — 4 in 10 adults — falls into poverty for at least a year of their lives.

The risks of poverty also have been increasing in recent decades, particularly among people ages 35-55, coinciding with widening income inequality. For instance, people ages 35-45 had a 17 percent risk of encountering poverty during the 1969-1989 time period; that risk increased to 23 percent during the 1989-2009 period. For those ages 45-55, the risk of poverty jumped from 11.8 percent to 17.7 percent.

By race, nonwhites still have a higher risk of being economically insecure, at 90 percent. But compared with the official poverty rate, some of the biggest jumps under the newer measure are among whites, with more than 76 percent enduring periods of joblessness, life on welfare or near-poverty.

By 2030, based on the current trend of widening income inequality, close to 85 percent of all working-age adults in the U.S. will experience bouts of economic insecurity.

« Poverty is no longer an issue of ‘them’, it’s an issue of ‘us’, » says Mark Rank, a professor at Washington University in St. Louis who calculated the numbers. « Only when poverty is thought of as a mainstream event, rather than a fringe experience that just affects blacks and Hispanics, can we really begin to build broader support for programs that lift people in need. »

Rank’s analysis is supplemented with figures provided by Tom Hirschl, a professor at Cornell University; John Iceland, a sociology professor at Penn State University; the University of New Hampshire’s Carsey Institute; the Census Bureau; and the Population Reference Bureau.

Among the findings:

—For the first time since 1975, the number of white single-mother households who were living in poverty with children surpassed or equaled black ones in the past decade, spurred by job losses and faster rates of out-of-wedlock births among whites. White single-mother families in poverty stood at nearly 1.5 million in 2011, comparable to the number for blacks. Hispanic single-mother families in poverty trailed at 1.2 million.

—The share of children living in high-poverty neighborhoods — those with poverty rates of 30 percent or more — has increased to 1 in 10, putting them at higher risk of teen pregnancy or dropping out of school. Non-Hispanic whites accounted for 17 percent of the child population in such neighborhoods, up from 13 percent in 2000, even though the overall proportion of white children in the U.S. has been declining.

The share of black children in high-poverty neighborhoods dropped sharply, from 43 percent to 37 percent, while the share of Latino children ticked higher, from 38 to 39 percent.

___

Going back to the 1980s, never have whites been so pessimistic about their futures, according to the General Social Survey, which is conducted by NORC at the University of Chicago. Just 45 percent say their family will have a good chance of improving their economic position based on the way things are in America.

The divide is especially evident among those whites who self-identify as working class: 49 percent say they think their children will do better than them, compared with 67 percent of non-whites who consider themselves working class.

In November, Obama won the votes of just 36 percent of those noncollege whites, the worst performance of any Democratic nominee among that group since 1984.

Some Democratic analysts have urged renewed efforts to bring working-class whites into the political fold, calling them a potential « decisive swing voter group » if minority and youth turnout level off in future elections.

« They don’t trust big government, but it doesn’t mean they want no government, » says Republican pollster Ed Goeas, who agrees that working-class whites will remain an important electoral group. « They feel that politicians are giving attention to other people and not them. »

___

AP Director of Polling Jennifer Agiesta, News Survey Specialist Dennis Junius and AP writer Debra McCown in Buchanan County, Va., contributed to this report.

Voir aussi:

Report: U.S. Spent $3.7 Trillion on Welfare Over Last 5 Years

Dutch King: Say Goodbye to Welfare State

AMSTERDAM September 17, 2013 (AP)

Toby Sterling Associated Press

King Willem-Alexander delivered a message to the Dutch people from the government Tuesday in a nationally televised address: the welfare state of the 20th century is gone.

In its place a « participation society » is emerging, in which people must take responsibility for their own future and create their own social and financial safety nets, with less help from the national government.

The king traveled past waving fans in an ornate horse-drawn carriage to the 13th-century Hall of Knights in The Hague for the monarch’s traditional annual address on the day the government presents its budget for the coming year. It was Willem-Alexander’s first appearance on the national stage since former Queen Beatrix abdicated in April and he ascended to the throne.

« The shift to a ‘participation society’ is especially visible in social security and long-term care, » the king said, reading out to lawmakers a speech written for him by Prime Minister Mark Rutte’s government.

« The classic welfare state of the second half of the 20th century in these areas in particular brought forth arrangements that are unsustainable in their current form. »

Rutte may be hoping that the pomp and ceremony surrounding the king and his popular wife, Queen Maxima, will provide a diversion from the gloomy reality of a budget full of unpopular new spending cuts he revealed later in the day.

A series of recent polls have shown that confidence in Rutte’s government is at record low levels, and that most Dutch people — along with labor unions, employers’ associations and many economists — believe the Cabinet’s austerity policies are at least partially to blame as the Dutch economy has worsened even as recoveries are underway in neighboring Germany, France and Britain.

After several consecutive years of government spending cuts, the Dutch economy is expected to have shrunk by more than 1 percent in 2013, and the agency is forecasting growth of just 0.5 percent next year.

« The necessary reforms take time and demand perseverance, » the king said. But they will « lay the basis for creating jobs and restoring confidence. »

Willem-Alexander said that nowadays, people expect and « want to make their own choices, to arrange their own lives, and take care of each other. »

The ‘participation society’ has been on its way for some time: benefits such as unemployment compensation and subsidies on health care have been regularly pruned for the past decade. The retirement age has been raised to 67.

The king said Tuesday some costs for the care of the elderly, for youth services, and for job retraining after layoffs will now be pushed back to the local level, in order to make them better tailored to local circumstances.

The monarchy was not immune to cost-cutting and Willem-Alexander’s salary will be cut from around 825,000 euros ($1.1 million) this year to 817,000 euros in 2014. Maintaining the Royal House — castles, parades and all — costs the government around 40 million euros annually.

A review of the government’s budget by the country’s independent analysis agency showed that the deficit will widen in 2014 to 3.3 percent of GDP despite the new spending cuts intended to reduce it.

Eurozone rules specify that countries must keep their deficit below 3 percent, and Rutte has been among the most prominent of European leaders, along with Germany’s Angela Merkel, in insisting that Southern European countries attempt to meet that target.

Among other measures, the government announced 2,300 new military job cuts. That follows a 2011 decision to cut 12,000 jobs — one out of every six defense employees — between 2012 and 2015.

However, the government said Tuesday it has decided once and for all not to abandon the U.S.-led « Joint Strike Fighter » program to develop new military aircraft. The program has suffered cost overruns and created divisions within Rutte’s governing coalition.

A debate over the budget later this week will be crucial for the future of the coalition, as it does not command a majority in the upper house, and it must seek help from opposition parties to have the budget approved.

Challenged as to whether his Cabinet may be facing a crisis, Rutte insisted in an interview with national broadcaster NOS on Tuesday that he ultimately will find support for the budget.

« At crucial moments, the opposition is willing to do its share, » he said.

Geert Wilders, whose far right Freedom Party currently tops popularity polls, called Rutte’s budget the equivalent of « kicking the country while it’s down. »

——–

History suggests that era of entitlements is nearly over

Michael Barone

The Examiner

January 11, 2013

It’s often good fun and sometimes revealing to divide American history into distinct periods of uniform length. In working on my forthcoming book on American migrations, internal and immigrant, it occurred to me that you could do this using the American-sounding interval of 76 years, just a few years more than the biblical lifespan of three score and ten.

It was 76 years from Washington’s First Inaugural in 1789 to Lincoln’s Second Inaugural in 1865. It was 76 years from the surrender at Appomattox Courthouse in 1865 to the attack at Pearl Harbor in 1941.

Going backward, it was 76 years from the First Inaugural in 1789 to the Treaty of Utrecht in 1713, which settled one of the British-French colonial wars. And going 76 years back from Utrecht takes you to 1637, when the Virginia and Massachusetts Bay colonies were just getting organized.

As for our times, we are now 71 years away from Pearl Harbor. The current 76-year interval ends in December 2017.

Each of these 76-year periods can be depicted as a distinct unit. In the Colonial years up to 1713, very small numbers of colonists established separate cultures that have persisted to our times.

The story is brilliantly told in David Hackett Fischer’s « Albion’s Seed. » For a more downbeat version, read the recent « The Barbarous Years » by the nonagenarian Bernard Bailyn.

From 1713 to 1789, the Colonies were peopled by much larger numbers of motley and often involuntary settlers — slaves, indentured servants, the unruly Scots-Irish on the Appalachian frontier.

For how this society became dissatisfied with the Colonial status quo, read Bailyn’s « The Ideological Origins of the American Revolution. »

From 1789 to 1865, Americans sought their manifest destiny by expanding across the continent. They made great technological advances but were faced with the irreconcilable issue of slavery in the territories.

For dueling accounts of the period, read the pro-Andrew Jackson Democrat Sean Wilentz’s « The Rise of American Democracy » and the pro-Henry Clay Whig Daniel Walker Howe’s « What Hath God Wrought. » Both are sparklingly written and full of offbeat insights and brilliant apercus.

The 1865-to-1941 period saw a vast efflorescence of market capitalism, European immigration and rising standards of living. For descriptions of how economic change reshaped the nation and its government, read Morton Keller’s « Affairs of State » and « Regulating a New Society. »

The 70-plus years since 1941 have seen a vast increase in the welfare safety net and governance by cooperation among big units — big government, big business, big labor — that began in the New Deal and gained steam in and after World War II. I immodestly offer my own « Our Country: The Shaping of America from Roosevelt to Reagan. »

The original arrangements in each 76-year period became unworkable and unraveled toward its end. Eighteenth-century Americans rejected the Colonial status quo and launched a revolution, then established a constitutional republic.

Nineteenth-century Americans went to war over expansion of slavery. Early-20th-century Americans grappled with the collapse of the private-sector economy in the Depression of the 1930s.

We are seeing something like this again today. The welfare state arrangements that once seemed solid are on the path to unsustainability.

Entitlement programs — Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid — are threatening to gobble up the whole government and much of the private sector, as well.

Lifetime employment by one big company represented by one big union is a thing of the past. People who counted on corporate or public-sector pensions are seeing them default.

Looking back, we are as far away in time today from victory in World War II in 1945 as Americans were at the time of the Dred Scott decision from the First Inaugural.

We are as far away in time today from passage of the Social Security in 1935 as Americans then were from the launching of post-Civil War Reconstruction.

Nevertheless our current president and most politicians of his party seem determined to continue the current welfare state arrangements — historian Walter Russell Mead calls this the blue-state model — into the indefinite future.

Some leaders of the other party are advancing ideas for adapting a system that worked reasonably well in an industrial age dominated by seemingly eternal big units into something that can prove workable in an information age experiencing continual change and upheaval wrought by innovations in the market economy.

The current 76-year period is nearing its end. What will come next?

Michael Barone,The Examiner’s senior political analyst, can be contacted at mbarone@washingtonexaminer.com

———-

America’s Fourth Revolution: The Coming Collapse of the Entitlement Society-and How We Will Survive It

James Piereson

The United States has been shaped by three far-reaching political revolutions: Jefferson’s “revolution of 1800,” the Civil War, and the New Deal. Each of these upheavals concluded with lasting institutional and cultural adjustments that set the stage for new phases of political and economic development. Are we on the verge of a new upheaval, a “fourth revolution” that will reshape U.S. politics for decades to come? There are signs to suggest that we are.

America’s Fourth Revolution describes the political upheaval that will overtake the United States over the next decade as a consequence of economic stagnation, the growth of government, and the exhaustion of post-war arrangements that formerly underpinned American prosperity and power. The inter-connected challenges of public debt, the retirement of the « baby boom » generation, and slow economic growth have reached a point where they can no longer be addressed by incremental adjustments in taxes and spending, but will require profound changes in the role of government in American life. At the same time, the widening gulf between the two political parties and the entrenched power of interest groups will make it difficult to negotiate the changes needed to renew the system.

America’s Fourth Revolution places this impending upheaval in historical context by reminding readers that Americans have faced and overcome similar challenges in the past and that they seem to resolve their deepest problems in relatively brief but intense periods of political conflict. In contrast to other books which claim that the United States is in decline, America’s Fourth Revolution argues that Americans will struggle over the next decade to form a governing coalition that will guide the nation on a path of renewed dynamism and prosperity.

Voir enfin:

L’enfer c’est les autres

1964 et 1970

L’existentialisme athée

par Jean-Paul Sartre

Extrait du CD « Huis clos » et de « L’Existentialisme est un humanisme »

* * *

L’enfer, c’est les autres [1]

Quand on écrit une pièce, il y a toujours des causes occasionnelles et des soucis profonds. La cause occasionnelle c’est que, au moment où j’ai écrit Huis clos, vers 1943 et début 44, j’avais trois amis et je voulais qu’ils jouent une pièce, une pièce de moi, sans avantager aucun d’eux. C’est-à-dire, je voulais qu’ils restent ensemble tout le temps sur la scène. Parce que je me disais que s’il y en a un qui s’en va, il pensera que les autres ont un meilleur rôle au moment où il s’en va. Je voulais donc les garder ensemble. Et je me suis dit, comment peut-on mettre ensemble trois personnes sans jamais en faire sortir l’une d’elles et les garder sur la scène jusqu’au bout, comme pour l’éternité. C’est là que m’est venue l’idée de les mettre en enfer et de les faire chacun le bourreau des deux autres. Telle est la cause occasionnelle. Par la suite, d’ailleurs, je dois dire, ces trois amis n’ont pas joué la pièce, et comme vous le savez, c’est Michel Vitold, Tania Balachova et Gaby Sylvia qui l’ont jouée.

Mais il y avait à ce moment-là des soucis plus généraux et j’ai voulu exprimer autre chose dans la pièce que, simplement, ce que l’occasion me donnait. J’ai voulu dire « l’enfer c’est les autres ». Mais « l’enfer c’est les autres » a été toujours mal compris. On a cru que je voulais dire par là que nos rapports avec les autres étaient toujours empoisonnés, que c’était toujours des rapports infernaux. Or, c’est tout autre chose que je veux dire. Je veux dire que si les rapports avec autrui sont tordus, viciés, alors l’autre ne peut être que l’enfer. Pourquoi ? Parce que les autres sont, au fond, ce qu’il y a de plus important en nous-mêmes, pour notre propre connaissance de nous-mêmes. Quand nous pensons sur nous, quand nous essayons de nous connaître, au fond nous usons des connaissances que les autres ont déjà sur nous, nous nous jugeons avec les moyens que les autres ont, nous ont donné, de nous juger. Quoi que je dise sur moi, toujours le jugement d’autrui entre dedans. Quoi que je sente de moi, le jugement d’autrui entre dedans. Ce qui veut dire que, si mes rapports sont mauvais, je me mets dans la totale dépendance d’autrui et alors, en effet, je suis en enfer. Et il existe une quantité de gens dans le monde qui sont en enfer parce qu’ils dépendent trop du jugement d’autrui. Mais cela ne veut nullement dire qu’on ne puisse avoir d’autres rapports avec les autres, ça marque simplement l’importance capitale de tous les autres pour chacun de nous.

Deuxième chose que je voudrais dire, c’est que ces gens ne sont pas semblables à nous. Les trois personnes que vous entendrez dans Huis clos ne nous ressemblent pas en ceci que nous sommes tous vivants et qu’ils sont morts. Bien entendu, ici, « morts » symbolise quelque chose. Ce que j’ai voulu indiquer, c’est précisément que beaucoup de gens sont encroûtés dans une série d’habitudes, de coutumes, qu’ils ont sur eux des jugements dont ils souffrent mais qu’ils ne cherchent même pas à changer. Et que ces gens-là sont comme morts, en ce sens qu’ils ne peuvent pas briser le cadre de leurs soucis, de leurs préoccupations et de leurs coutumes et qu’ils restent ainsi victimes souvent des jugements que l’on a portés sur eux.

À partir de là, il est bien évident qu’ils sont lâches ou méchants. Par exemple, s’ils ont commencé à être lâches, rien ne vient changer le fait qu’ils étaient lâches. C’est pour cela qu’ils sont morts, c’est pour cela, c’est une manière de dire que c’est une « mort vivante » que d’être entouré par le souci perpétuel de jugements et d’actions que l’on ne veut pas changer.

De sorte que, en vérité, comme nous sommes vivants, j’ai voulu montrer, par l’absurde, l’importance, chez nous, de la liberté, c’est-à-dire l’importance de changer les actes par d’autres actes. Quel que soit le cercle d’enfer dans lequel nous vivons, je pense que nous sommes libres de le briser. Et si les gens ne le brisent pas, c’est encore librement qu’ils y restent. De sorte qu’ils se mettent librement en enfer.

Vous voyez donc que « rapport avec les autres », « encroûtement » et « liberté », liberté comme l’autre face à peine suggérée, ce sont les trois thèmes de la pièce.

Je voudrais qu’on se le rappelle quand vous entendrez dire… « L’enfer c’est les autres ».

Je tiens à ajouter, en terminant, qu’il m’est arrivé en 1944, à la première représentation, un très rare bonheur, très rare pour les auteurs dramatiques : c’est que les personnages ont été incarnés de telle manière par les trois acteurs, et aussi par Chauffard, le valet d’enfer, qui l’a toujours jouée depuis, que je ne puis plus me représenter mes propres imaginations autrement que sous les traits de Michel Vitold, Gaby Sylvia, de Tania Balachova et de Chauffard. Depuis, la pièce a été rejouée par d’autres acteurs, et je tiens en particulier à dire que j’ai vu Christiane Lenier, quand elle l’a jouée, et que j’ai admiré quelle excellente Inès elle a été.

L’existence précède l’essence [2]

Est-ce qu’au fond, ce qui fait peur, dans la doctrine que je vais essayer de vous exposer, ce n’est pas le fait qu’elle laisse une possibilité de choix à l’homme ? Pour le savoir, il faut que nous revoyions la question sur un plan strictement philosophique.

Qu’est-ce qu’on appelle existentialisme ? La plupart des gens qui utilisent ce mot seraient bien embarrassés pour le justifier, puisque aujourd’hui [1945], que c’est devenu une mode, on déclare volontiers qu’un musicien ou qu’un peintre est existentialiste. Un échotier de Clartés signe l’Existentialiste ; et au fond le mot a pris aujourd’hui une telle largeur et une telle extension qu’il ne signifie plus rien du tout. Il semble que, faute de doctrine d’avant-garde analogue au surréalisme, les gens avides de scandale et de mouvement s’adressent à cette philosophie, qui ne peut d’ailleurs rien leur apporter dans ce domaine ; en réalité c’est la doctrine la moins scandaleuse, la plus austère ; elle est strictement destinée aux techniciens et aux philosophes. Pourtant, elle peut se définir facilement. Ce qui rend les choses compliquées, c’est qu’il y a deux espèces d’existentialistes : les premiers, qui sont chrétiens, et parmi lesquels je rangerai Jaspers et Gabriel Marcel, de confession catholique ; et, d’autre part, les existentialistes athées parmi lesquels il faut ranger Heidegger, et aussi les existentialistes français et moi-même. Ce qu’ils ont en commun, c’est simplement le fait qu’ils estiment que l’existence précède l’essence, ou, si vous voulez, qu’il faut partir de la subjectivité. Que faut-il au juste entendre par là ? Lorsqu’on considère un objet fabriqué, comme par exemple un livre ou un coupe-papier, cet objet a été fabriqué par un artisan qui s’est inspiré d’un concept ; il s’est référé au concept de coupe-papier, et également à une technique de production préalable qui fait partie du concept, et qui est au fond une recette. Ainsi, le coupe-papier est à la fois un objet qui se produit d’une certaine manière et qui, d’autre part, a une utilité définie, et on ne peut pas supposer un homme qui produirait un coupe-papier sans savoir à quoi l’objet va servir. Nous dirons donc que, pour le coupe-papier, l’essence — c’est-à-dire l’ensemble des recettes et des qualités qui permettent de le produire et de le définir — précède l’existence ; et ainsi la présence, en face de moi, de tel coupe-papier ou de tel livre est déterminée. Nous avons donc là une vision technique du monde, dans laquelle on peut dire que la production précède l’existence.

Lorsque nous concevons un Dieu créateur, ce Dieu est assimilé la plupart du temps à un artisan supérieur ; et quelle que soit la doctrine que nous considérions, qu’il s’agisse d’une doctrine comme celle de Descartes ou de la doctrine de Leibniz, nous admettons toujours que la volonté suit plus ou moins l’entendement, ou tout au moins l’accompagne, et que Dieu, lorsqu’il crée, sait précisément ce qu’il crée. Ainsi, le concept d’homme, dans l’esprit de Dieu, est assimilable au concept de coupe-papier dans l’esprit de l’industriel ; et Dieu produit l’homme suivant des techniques et une conception, exactement comme l’artisan fabrique un coupe-papier suivant une définition et une technique. Ainsi l’homme individuel réalise un certain concept qui est dans l’entendement divin. Au XVIIIe siècle, dans l’athéisme des philosophes, la notion de Dieu est supprimée, mais non pas pour autant l’idée que l’essence précède l’existence. Cette idée, nous la retrouvons un peu partout : nous la retrouvons chez Diderot, chez Voltaire, et même chez Kant. L’homme est possesseur d’une nature humaine ; cette nature humaine, qui est le concept humain, se retrouve chez tous les hommes, ce qui signifie que chaque homme est un exemple particulier d’un concept universel, l’homme ; chez Kant, il résulte de cette universalité que l’homme des bois, l’homme de la nature, comme le bourgeois sont astreints à la même définition et possèdent les mêmes qualités de base. Ainsi, là encore, l’essence d’homme précède cette existence historique que nous rencontrons dans la nature.

L’existentialisme athée, que je représente, est plus cohérent. Il déclare que si Dieu n’existe pas, il y a au moins un être chez qui l’existence précède l’essence, un être qui existe avant de pouvoir être défini par aucun concept et que cet être c’est l’homme ou, comme dit Heidegger, la réalité humaine. Qu’est-ce que signifie ici que l’existence précède l’essence ? Cela signifie que l’homme existe d’abord, se rencontre, surgit dans le monde, et qu’il se définit après.

L’homme, tel que le conçoit l’existentialiste, s’il n’est pas définissable, c’est qu’il n’est d’abord rien. Il ne sera qu’ensuite, et il sera tel qu’il se sera fait. Ainsi, il n’y a pas de nature humaine, puisqu’il n’y a pas de Dieu pour la concevoir. L’homme est seulement, non seulement tel qu’il se conçoit, mais tel qu’il se veut, et comme il se conçoit après l’existence, comme il se veut après cet élan vers l’existence ; l’homme n’est rien d’autre que ce qu’il se fait. Tel est le premier principe de l’existentialisme.

C’est aussi ce qu’on appelle la subjectivité, et que l’on nous reproche sous ce nom même. Mais que voulons-nous dire par là, sinon que l’homme a une plus grande dignité que la pierre ou que la table ? Car nous voulons dire que l’homme existe d’abord, c’est-à-dire que l’homme est d’abord ce qui se jette vers un avenir, et ce qui est conscient de se projeter dans l’avenir. L’homme est d’abord un projet qui se vit subjectivement, au lieu d’être une mousse, une pourriture ou un chou-fleur ; rien n’existe préalablement à ce projet ; rien n’est au ciel intelligible, et l’homme sera d’abord ce qu’il aura projeté d’être. Non pas ce qu’il voudra être. Car ce que nous entendons ordinairement par vouloir, c’est une décision consciente, et qui est pour la plupart d’entre nous postérieure à ce qu’il s’est fait lui-même. Je peux vouloir adhérer à un parti, écrire un livre, me marier, tout cela n’est qu’une manifestation d’un choix plus originel, plus spontané que ce qu’on appelle volonté. Mais si vraiment l’existence précède l’essence, l’homme est responsable de ce qu’il est. Ainsi, la première démarche de l’existentialisme est de mettre tout homme en possession de ce qu’il est et de faire reposer sur lui la responsabilité totale de son existence.

Ma volonté engage l’humanité entière [3]

Ainsi, notre responsabilité est beaucoup plus grande que nous ne pourrions le supposer, car elle engage l’humanité entière. Si je suis ouvrier, et si je choisis d’adhérer à un syndicat chrétien plutôt que d’être communiste, si, par cette adhésion, je veux indiquer que la résignation est au fond la solution qui convient à l’homme, que le royaume de l’homme n’est pas sur la terre, je n’engage pas seulement mon cas : je veux être résigné pour tous, par conséquent ma démarche a engagé l’humanité tout entière. Et si je veux, fait plus individuel, me marier, avoir des enfants, même si ce mariage dépend uniquement de ma situation, ou de ma passion, ou de mon désir, par là j’engage non seulement moi-même, mais l’humanité tout entière sur la voie de la monogamie. Ainsi je suis responsable pour moi-même et pour tous, et je crée une certaine image de l’homme que je choisis ; en me choisissant, je choisis l’homme.

L’angoisse et la mauvaise foi [4]

Ceci nous permet de comprendre ce que recouvrent des mots un peu grandiloquents comme angoisse, délaissement, désespoir. Comme vous allez voir, c’est extrêmement simple. D’abord, qu’entend-on par angoisse ? L’existentialiste déclare volontiers que l’homme est angoisse. Cela signifie ceci : l’homme qui s’engage et qui se rend compte qu’il est non seulement celui qu’il choisit d’être, mais encore un législateur choisissant en même temps que soi l’humanité entière, ne saurait échapper au sentiment de sa totale et profonde responsabilité. Certes, beaucoup de gens ne sont pas anxieux ; mais nous prétendons qu’ils se masquent leur angoisse, qu’ils la fuient ; certainement, beaucoup de gens croient en agissant n’engager qu’eux-mêmes, et lorsqu’on leur dit : « mais si tout le monde faisait comme ça ? » ils haussent les épaules et répondent : « tout le monde ne fait pas comme ça. » Mais en vérité, on doit toujours se demander : qu’arriverait-il si tout le monde en faisait autant ? Et on n’échappe à cette pensée inquiétante que par une sorte de mauvaise foi. Celui qui ment et qui s’excuse en déclarant : tout le monde ne fait pas comme ça, est quelqu’un qui est mal à l’aise avec sa conscience, car le fait de mentir implique une valeur universelle attribuée au mensonge. Même lorsqu’elle se masque l’angoisse apparaît. C’est cette angoisse que Kierkegaard appelait l’angoisse d’Abraham.

Vous connaissez l’histoire : Un ange a ordonné à Abraham de sacrifier son fils : tout va bien si c’est vraiment un ange qui est venu et qui a dit : tu es Abraham, tu sacrifieras ton fils. Mais chacun peut se demander, d’abord, est-ce que c’est bien un ange, et est-ce que je suis bien Abraham ? Qu’est-ce qui me le prouve ? Il y avait une folle qui avait des hallucinations : on lui parlait par téléphone et on lui donnait des ordres. Le médecin lui demanda : « Mais qui est-ce qui vous parle ? » Elle répondit : « Il dit que c’est Dieu. » Et qu’est-ce qui lui prouvait, en effet, que c’était Dieu ? Si un ange vient à moi, qu’est-ce qui prouve que c’est un ange ? Et si j’entends des voix, qu’est-ce qui prouve qu’elles viennent du ciel et non de l’enfer, ou d’un subconscient, ou d’un état pathologique ? Qui prouve qu’elles s’adressent à moi ? Qui prouve que je suis bien désigné pour imposer ma conception de l’homme et mon choix à l’humanité ? Je ne trouverai jamais aucune preuve, aucun signe pour m’en convaincre. Si une voix s’adresse à moi, c’est toujours moi qui déciderai que cette voix est la voix de l’ange ; si je considère que tel acte est bon, c’est moi qui choisirai de dire que cet acte est bon plutôt que mauvais. Rien ne me désigne pour être Abraham, et pourtant je suis obligé à chaque instant de faire des actes exemplaires. Tout se passe comme si, pour tout homme, toute l’humanité avait les yeux fixés sur ce qu’il fait et se réglait sur ce qu’il fait. Et chaque homme doit se dire : suis-je bien celui qui a le droit d’agir de telle sorte que l’humanité se règle sur mes actes ? Et s’il ne se dit pas cela, c’est qu’il se masque l’angoisse. Il ne s’agit pas là d’une angoisse qui conduirait au quiétisme, à l’inaction. Il s’agit d’une angoisse simple, que tous ceux qui ont eu des responsabilités connaissent. Lorsque, par exemple, un chef militaire prend la responsabilité d’une attaque et envoie un certain nombre d’hommes à la mort, il choisit de le faire, et au fond il choisit seul. Sans doute il y a des ordres qui viennent d’en haut, mais ils sont trop larges et une interprétation s’impose, qui vient de lui, et de cette interprétation dépend la vie de dix ou quatorze ou vingt hommes. Il ne peut pas ne pas avoir, dans la décision qu’il prend, une certaine angoisse.

Tous les chefs connaissent cette angoisse. Cela ne les empêche pas d’agir, au contraire, c’est la condition même de leur action ; car cela suppose qu’ils envisagent une pluralité de possibilités, et lorsqu’ils en choisissent une, ils se rendent compte qu’elle n’a de valeur que parce qu’elle est choisie. Et cette sorte d’angoisse, qui est celle que décrit l’existentialisme, nous verrons qu’elle s’explique en outre par une responsabilité directe vis-à-vis des autres hommes qu’elle engage. Elle n’est pas un rideau qui nous séparerait de l’action, mais elle fait partie de l’action même.

L’homme est condamné à être libre [5]

Et lorsqu’on parle de délaissement, expression chère à Heidegger, nous voulons dire seulement que Dieu n’existe pas, et qu’il faut en tirer jusqu’au bout les conséquences. L’existentialiste est très opposé à un certain type de morale laïque qui voudrait supprimer Dieu avec le moins de frais possible.

Lorsque, vers 1880, des professeurs français essayèrent de constituer une morale laïque, ils dirent à peu près ceci : Dieu est une hypothèse inutile et coûteuse, nous la supprimons, mais il est nécessaire cependant, pour qu’il y ait une morale, une société, un monde policé, que certaines valeurs soient prises au sérieux et considérées comme existant a priori ; il faut qu’il soit obligatoire a priori d’être honnête, de ne pas mentir, de ne pas battre sa femme, de faire des enfants, etc., etc.. Nous allons donc faire un petit travail qui permettra de montrer que ces valeurs existent tout de même, inscrites dans un ciel intelligible, bien que, par ailleurs, Dieu n’existe pas. Autrement dit, et c’est, je crois, la tendance de tout ce qu’on appelle en France le radicalisme, rien ne sera changé si Dieu n’existe pas ; nous retrouverons les mêmes normes d’honnêteté, de progrès, d’humanisme, et nous aurons fait de Dieu une hypothèse périmée qui mourra tranquillement et d’elle-même.

L’existentialiste, au contraire, pense qu’il est très gênant que Dieu n’existe pas, car avec lui disparaît toute possibilité de trouver des valeurs dans un ciel intelligible ; il ne peut plus y avoir de bien a priori, puisqu’il n’y a pas de conscience infinie et parfaite pour le penser ; il n’est écrit nulle part que le bien existe, qu’il faut être honnête, qu’il ne faut pas mentir, puisque précisément nous sommes sur un plan où il y a seulement des hommes. Dostoïevsky avait écrit : « Si Dieu n’existait pas, tout serait permis. » C’est là le point de départ de l’existentialisme. En effet, tout est permis si Dieu n’existe pas, et par conséquent l’homme est délaissé, parce qu’il ne trouve ni en lui, ni hors de lui une possibilité de s’accrocher. Il ne trouve d’abord pas d’excuses. Si, en effet, l’existence précède l’essence, on ne pourra jamais expliquer par référence à une nature humaine donnée et figée ; autrement dit, il n’y a pas de déterminisme, l’homme est libre, l’homme est liberté. Si, d’autre part, Dieu n’existe pas, nous ne trouvons pas en face de nous des valeurs ou des ordres qui légitimeront notre conduite. Ainsi, nous n’avons ni derrière nous, ni devant nous, dans le domaine lumineux des valeurs, des justifications ou des excuses. Nous sommes seuls, sans excuses. C’est ce que j’exprimerai en disant que l’homme est condamné à être libre. Condamné, parce qu’il ne s’est pas créé lui-même, et par ailleurs cependant libre, parce qu’une fois jeté dans le monde, il est responsable de tout ce qu’il fait.

L’existentialiste ne croit pas à la puissance de la passion. Il ne pensera jamais qu’une belle passion est un torrent dévastateur qui conduit fatalement l’homme à certains actes, et qui, par conséquent, est une excuse. Il pense que l’homme est responsable de sa passion. L’existentialiste ne pensera pas non plus que l’homme peut trouver un secours dans un signe donné, sur terre, qui l’orientera ; car il pense que l’homme déchiffre lui-même le signe comme il lui plaît. Il pense donc que l’homme, sans aucun appui et sans aucun secours, est condamné à chaque instant à inventer l’homme.

Le désespoir [6]

Quant au désespoir, cette expression a un sens extrêmement simple. Elle veut dire que nous nous bornerons à compter sur ce qui dépend de notre volonté, ou sur l’ensemble des probabilités qui rendent notre action possible.

Quand on veut quelque chose, il y a toujours des éléments probables. Je puis compter sur la venue d’un ami. Cet ami vient en chemin de fer ou en tramway ; cela suppose que le chemin de fer arrivera à l’heure dite, ou que le tramway ne déraillera pas. Je reste dans le domaine des possibilités ; mais il ne s’agit de compter sur les possibles que dans la mesure stricte où notre action comporte l’ensemble de ces possibles. À partir du moment où les possibilités que je considère ne sont pas rigoureusement engagées par mon action, je dois m’en désintéresser, parce qu’aucun Dieu, aucun dessein ne peut adapter le monde et ses possibles à ma volonté. Au fond, quand Descartes disait : « Se vaincre plutôt soi-même que le monde », il voulait dire la même chose : agir sans espoir.

[1] Extrait audio et texte de Jean-Paul Sartre, Huis clos, Groupe Frémeaux Colombini SAS © 2010 (La Librairie Sonore en accord avec Moshé Naïm Emen © 1964 et Gallimard © 2004, ancien exploitant).

[2] Jean-Paul Sartre, L’Existentialisme est un humanisme, Éditions Nagel © 1970, pages 15 à 24.

Extrait audio de Luc Ferry, Mythologie, Frémeaux & Associés © 2010, CD2-[8], L’invention de la liberté, 0:07 à 3:34.

[3] Ibid. pages 26 et 27.

[4] Ibid. pages 27 à 33.

[5] Ibid. pages 33 à 38.

[6] Ibid. pages 49 à 51.

Philo5…

… à quelle source choisissez-vous d’alimenter votre esprit?


Présidentielle américaine/2012: Mais qui a encore besoin d’électeurs quand on a Nate Silver? (Did Voter of the year Nate Silver help Obama’s reelection?)

11 novembre, 2012
Soudain, Norman se sentit fier. Tout s’imposait à lui, avec force. Il était fier. Dans ce monde imparfait, les citoyens souverains de la première et de la plus grande Démocratie Electronique avaient, par l’intermédiaire de Norman Muller (par lui), exercé une fois de plus leur libre et inaliénable droit de vote. Le Votant (Isaac Asimov, 1955)
Le fait même de poser une question peut inventer un résultat car elle fait appel à l’imaginaire du sondé qui n’y avait pas encore réfléchi. Alain Garrigou
D’après les journaux, les sondages montrent que la plupart des gens croient les journaux qui déclarent que la plupart des gens croient les sondages qui montrent que la plupart des gens ont lu les journaux qui conviennent que les sondages montrent qu’il va gagner. Mark Steyn
Le premier ordinateur est livré à l’United States Census Bureau le 30 mars 1951 et mis en service le 14 juin. Le cinquième (construit pour l’Atomic Energy Commission) a été utilisé par CBS pour prédire l’issue de l’élection présidentielle de 1952 (alors que les sondages réalisés « humainement » donnaient Eisenhower perdant). À partir d’un échantillon d’un pour cent des votants il prédit qu’Eisenhower aurait été élu président, chose que personne n’aurait pu croire, mais UNIVAC avait vu juste. Wikipedia
UNIVAC I came to the public’s attention in 1952, when CBS used one to predict the outcome of the presidential election. The computer correctly predicted the Eisenhower victory, but CBS did not release that information until after the election because the race was thought to be close. CNN
What accounts for the persistent and often wide ranging divergence between polls? The most common answer is that there are fundamental variations in the pool of respondents sampled. For example, polls typically target a particular population: adults at large, registered voters, likely voters, actual voters, and all these categories can be infinitely subdivided and, in labyrinthine ways, overlap. Further muddying already turbid waters, each one of these populations tends to be more or less Republican or Democrat so every poll relies upon some algorithmic method to account for these variations and extrapolate results calibrated in light of them. These methods are themselves borne out of a multiplicity of veiled political assumptions driving the purportedly objective analysis in one direction or another, potentially tincturing the purity of mathematical data with ideological agenda. Math doesn’t lie but those who make decisions about what to count and how to count it surely do. Another problem is that voter self-identification, a crucial ingredient in any poll, is both fluid and deceptive. Consider that while approximately 35% of all voters classify themselves as “independents”, only 10% of these actually have no party affiliation. In other words, in any given year, voters registered with a certain party might be inspired to vote independently or even switch sides without surrendering their party membership. These episodic fits of quasi-independence can create the illusion that there are grand tectonic shifts in the ideological makeup of the voting public. It’s worth noting that the vast majority of so-called independents pretty reliably vote with their party of registration. The problem of self-identification is symptomatic of the larger difficulty that polling, for all its mathematical pretensions, depends on the human formulation of questions to be interpreted and then answered by other human beings. Just as the questions posed can be loaded with hidden premises and implicit political judgments, the responses solicited can be more or less honest, clear, and well-considered. It seems methodologically cheap to proudly claim scientific exactitude after counting the yeas and nays generated by the hidden complexity of these exchanges. Measuring what are basically anecdotal reports with number doesn’t magically transform a species of hearsay into irrefragable evidence any more than it would my mother’s homespun grapevine of gossip. The ambiguous contours of human language resist the charms of arithmetic. The ultimate value of any polling is always a matter to be contextually determined, especially in light of our peculiar electoral college which isolates the impact of a voting population within its state. So the oft cited fact that 35% of voters consider themselves independent might seem like a count of great magnitude but most of those reside in states, like California and New York, whose distribution of its electoral college votes is a foregone conclusion. When true independent voters in actual swing states are specifically considered, then only 3-5% of the voting population is, in any meaningful sense, genuinely undecided. Despite their incessant production, it is far from clear how informative we can consider polls that generally track the popular vote since, in and of itself, the popular vote decides nothing. Ivan Kenneally

Attention: un bruit peut en cacher un autre !

Mais qui parlera de l’influence médiatique et donc proprement électorale de nos Nate Silver?

Alors qu’au lendemain de la relativement courte réélection du Père Noël de Chicago, où, entre la désaffection apparemment inattendue d’une partie d’électeurs républicains et d’hispaniques et sans compter la « surprise d’octobre » de l’ouragan Sandy, les Américains ont « une fois de plus exercé leur libre et inaliénable droit de vote », la planète progressiste se félicite de la leçon que viennent d’asséner aux sondeurs et stratèges du GOP les ordinateurs du petit génie de la statistique Nate Silver et son blog du NYT (comme d’ailleurs ceux de Sam Wang ou d’Intrade) …

Comment ne pas repenser (merci Dr Goulu) à cette nouvelle de politique-fiction de 1955 d’Isaac Asimov (« Franchise », « droit de vote » mais traduit par « Le Votant » en français) sur la « démocratie électronique » dans laquelle les États-Unis de 2008 (première année du premier succès de Nate!) se sont déchargés du devoir électoral sur un ordinateur géant (MULTIVAC) permettant de réduire toute la consultation électorale au questionnaire d’un seul électeur, simple employé de magasin de son état?

Mais aussi à l’histoire réelle qui l’avait inspirée, à savoir la prédiction il y a exactement 60 ans par le premier superordinateur (UNIVAC I) qu’avait livré la firme Remington Rand au Bureau du recensement américain et qui, à partir d’un échantillon d’un pour cent de la population et contre les sondages humains, avait prédit pour CBS le succès du républicain Eisenhower contre le démocrate Stevenson?

Information que CBS avait d’ailleurs, contrairement au NYT de 2012, gardé cachée pour ne pas interférer dans une élection elle aussi annoncée très serrée ?

5 leçons scientifiques du succès de Nate Silver

Tom Roud

Café sciences

Le 07/11/2012

La communauté scientifico-geek s’est trouvée un nouveau héros au cours de cette élection présidentielle américaine: Nate Silver, l’auteur du formidable blog 538, qui, à l’heure où je vous parle, a fait un sans faute au niveau de la prédiction des résultats état par état (la Floride restant indéterminée, ce qu’il avait d’ailleurs aussi prévu).

On peut tirer 5 leçons de ce succès de Silver:

ce n’est pas la première fois que Silver réussit à prédire le résultat d’une élection présidentielle état par état. C’est en réalité la seconde fois après 2008. On dit parfois en science qu’un seul résultat spectaculaire ne vaut rien sans sa confirmation, l’élection de 2012 confirme à mon sens qu’il ne s’agit pas d’un coup de chance, et donc que ses modèles sont capables de correctement capturer une réalité.

pour qu’un modèle marche, il faut se baser sur des données multiples, bonnes et moins bonnes. Dans le cas présent, tous les sondages accumulés. Le modèle de Silver pondère parfaitement tous ces sondages, et surtout permet de nuancer tous les « outliers ». Par exemple, le 18 Octobre, un sondage Gallup très commenté politiquement donnait Romney 7 points devant Obama. Silver a tout de suite dit qu’il s’agissait de bruit (« polls that look like outliers normally prove to be so »). Une approche raisonnée identifie les tendances, là où le commentaire politique se focalise sur le bruit.

Inspiré de http://xkcd.com/904. Oui, je sais, c’est du Comic Sans.

un modèle hyper simple peut pourtant être étonnamment prédictif. Les modèles de Silver reposent sur l’idée que les populations socio-économiquement similaires votent de la même façon. En couplant cette idée avec les données de la démographie et les sondages disponibles, Silver a pu « projeter » les résultats des états même en l’absence de sondage sur ceux-ci. Comme disait quelqu’un sur ma TL ce matin, le modèle tient sur une feuille Excel. Les modèles les plus simples ne sont donc pas les moins efficaces, un principe de parcimonie scientifique souvent absent de nombreuses modélisations (oui, je pense à toi, « systems biology »)

le corollaire, c’est qu’un système complexe est modélisable tant qu’on identifie correctement des « causes premières ». Nul ne peut contester que les déterminants du vote sont multiples, et que la nature humaine est complexe; pourtant, le modèle de Silver prouve qu’ on peut manifestement arriver à comprendre et prédire relativement finement des comportements. Une leçon à retenir à chaque fois qu’on vous dira que nul ne peut modéliser un système complexe multifactoriels (comme au hasard le climat)

enfin, la science, ce sont des prédictions. Silver s’est mouillé (allant jusque parier avec un éditorialiste critiquant son modèle), a été critiqué pour cela y compris dans son propre journal. C’est la grosse différence entre une approche quantitative et le reste: on sort des prédictions, on les valide ou on les réfute, et on améliore ainsi le modèle au cours du temps. Processus totalement inconnu des nombreux éditorialistes.

Grâce soit donc rendue au premier psychohistorien !

Voir aussi:

US elections 2012

The Signal and the Noise by Nate Silver – review

Nate Silver made headlines predicting Obama’s win. Ruth Scurr learns how he did it

Ruth Scurr

The Guardian

9 November 2012

Obama aside, the indubitable hero of the 2012 US presidential election was the statistician and political forecaster Nate Silver. His blog, FiveThirtyEight.com, syndicated by the New York Times since 2010, correctly predicted the results of the election in 50 out of 50 states. When the worldwide media was universally proclaiming the race too close to call and the pundits were deriding mathematical models, FiveThirtyEight.com steadily argued that the odds made clear that Obama would win. On election day, Silver’s final forecast was that Obama had a 90.9% chance of winning.

The Signal and the Noise: The Art and Science of Prediction

Nate Silver

the Guardian

Reflecting on the electoral impact of Hurricane Sandy, Silver was the voice of sanity in the last few days of the race. On 5 November he suggested that « historical memory » might consider Sandy pivotal, but in fact Obama had been rebounding slowly but surely in the polls since his lows in early October. Listing eight alternative explanations for Obama’s gains after the storm hit – including recent encouraging economic news – Silver concluded that the gains were « over-determined »: a lot of variables might have contributed to the one result.

As the votes were counted and the states declared themselves, vindicating the FiveThirtyEight.com predictions in every single case, Silver’s newly published book became an overnight bestseller.

The first thing to note about The Signal and the Noise is that it is modest – not lacking in confidence or pointlessly self-effacing, but calm and honest about the limits to what the author or anyone else can know about what is going to happen next. Across a wide range of subjects about which people make professional predictions – the housing market, the stock market, elections, baseball, the weather, earthquakes, terrorist attacks – Silver argues for a sharper recognition of « the difference between what we know and what we think we know » and recommends a strategy for closing the gap.

Recognition of the gap is not new: there are plenty of political theorists and scientists droning on about it already, in the manner of the automated voice on the tube when train and platform don’t quite meet. Strategies for closing, or at least narrowing, the gap between what we know and what we think we know in specific contexts, are rarer, specialised, and probably pretty hard for anyone outside a small circle of experts to understand.

What Silver has to offer is a lucid explanation of how to think probabilistically. In a promising start, he claims that his model – based on a theorem inspired by Thomas Bayes, the 18th-century English mathematician – has more in common with how soldiers and doctors think than with the cognitive habits of TV pundits. « Much of the most thoughtful work I have found on the use and abuse of statistical models, and on the proper role of prediction, comes from people in the medical profession, » Silver reports. You can quite easily get away with a stupid model if you are a political scientist, but in medicine as in war, « stupid models kill people. It has a sobering effect ».

Silver is not a medical doctor, even if a version of the Hippocratic oath – Primum non nocere (First, do no harm) – is the guiding principle of his probabilistic thinking: « If you can’t make a good prediction, it is very often harmful to pretend that you can. » After graduating from Chicago with a degree in economics in 2000, he worked as a transfer-pricing consultant for the accounting firm KPMG: « The pay was honest and I felt secure, » but he soon became bored. In his spare time, on long flights and in airports, he started compiling spreadsheets of baseball statistics that later became the basis for a predictive system called Pecota.

Silver delivers a candid account of the hits and misses of Pecota, the lessons learned and the system’s limitations: « It’s hard to have an idea that nobody else has thought of. It’s even harder to have a good idea – and when you do, it will soon be duplicated. »

After his interest in baseball peaked, he moved on to predicting electoral politics. The idea for FiveThirtyEight (named after the 538 votes in the electoral college) arrived while Silver was waiting for a delayed flight at New Orleans airport in 2008. Initially, he made predictions about the electoral winners simply by taking an average of the polls after weighting them according to past accuracy. The model gradually became more intricate: his method centres on crunching the data from as many previous examples as possible; imagine a really enormous spreadsheet. He accurately forecast the outcome of 49 out of 50 states in the 2008 presidential election and the winner of all 35 senate races.

Challenged by the economist Justin Wolfers and his star student David Rothschild as to why he continues to make forecasts through FiveThirtyEight despite fierce competition from larger prediction websites such as Intrade (which covers « everything from who will win the Academy Award for Best Picture to the chance of an Israeli air strike on Iran ») Silver replies: « I find making the forecasts intellectually interesting – and they help to produce traffic for my blog. » His unabashed honesty seems the open secret of his success.

Bayes, who lends his name to Silver’s theorem, was « probably born in 1701 – although it might have been 1702 ». Silver is a statistician, not a historian, so he reports the fact of the uncertainty without elaboration. As a Nonconformist, Bayes could not go to Oxford or Cambridge, but was eventually elected a fellow of the Royal Society. His most famous work, « An Essay toward Solving a Problem in the Doctrine of Chances », was published posthumously in 1763. Silver summarises it as: « a statement – expressed both mathematically and philosophically – about how we learn about the universe: that we learn about it through approximation, getting closer and closer to the truth as we gather more evidence. »

The attraction of Bayes’s theorem, as Silver presents it, is that it concerns conditional probability: the probability that a theory or hypothesis is true if some event has happened. He applies the theorem to 9/11. Prior to the first plane striking the twin towers, the initial estimate of how likely it was that terrorists would crash planes into Manhattan skyscrapers is given as 0.005%. After the first plane hit, the revised probability of a terror attack comes out at 38%. Following the second plane hitting the revised estimate that it was a deliberate act jumps to 99.99%. « One accident on a bright sunny day in New York was unlikely enough, but a second one was almost a literal impossibility, as we all horribly deduced. »

Fastidiously aware of the gap between what we know and what we think we know, Silver proceeds wryly to delineate the limits of what he has achieved with this application of Bayes theorem to 9/11: « It’s not that much of an accomplishment, however, to describe history in statistical terms. »

Silver ends by advocating a balance between curiosity and scepticism when it comes to making predictions: « The more eagerly we commit to scrutinising and testing our theories, the more readily we accept that our knowledge of the world is uncertain, the more willingly we acknowledge that perfect prediction is impossible, the less we will live in fear of our failures, and the more freedom we will have to let our minds flow freely. By knowing more about what we don’t know, we may get a few more predictions right. »

More modesty and effort, in other words, would improve the predictive performance of everyone from the TV pundits to the political scientists, and members of the public trying to understand what is likely to happen next. Just do not expect, Silver warns, to fit a decent prediction on a bumper sticker. « Prediction is difficult for us for the same reason that it is so important: it is where objective and subjective reality intersect. » You would probably need to be a stat geek to drive around with that on the back of your car, but it might just fit if the lettering were small.

• Ruth Scurr’s Fatal Purity: Robespierre and the French Revolution is published by Vintage.

 Voir également:

FiveThirtyEight – Nate Silver\’s Political Calculus

Methodology

Our Senate forecasts proceed in seven distinct stages, each of which is described in detail below. For more detail on some of the terms below please see our FiveThirtyEight glossary.

Stage 1. Weighted Polling Average

Polls released into the public domain are collected together and averaged, with the components weighted on three factors:

* Recency. More recent polls receive a higher weight. The formula for discounting older polling is based on an exponential decay formula, with the premium on newness increasing the closer the forecast is made to the election. In addition, when the same polling firm has released multiple polls of a particular race, polls other than its most recent one receive an additional discount. (We do not, however, simply discard an older poll simply because a firm has come out with a newer one in the same race.)

* Sample size. Polls with larger sample sizes receive higher weights. (Note: no sample size can make up for poor methodology. Our model accounts for diminishing returns as sample size increases, especially for less reliable pollsters.)

* Pollster rating. Lastly, each survey is rated based on the past accuracy of “horse race” polls commissioned by the polling firm in elections from 1998 to the present. The procedure for calculating the pollster ratings is described at length here, and the most recent set of pollster ratings can be found here. All else being equal, polling organizations that, like The New York Times, have staff that belong to The American Association for Public Opinion Research (A.A.P.O.R.), or that have committed to the disclosure and transparency standards advanced by the National Council on Public Polls, receive higher ratings, as we have found that membership in one of these organizations is a positive predictor of the accuracy of a firm’s polling on a going-forward basis

The procedure for combining these three factors is modestly complex, and is described in more detail here. But, in general, the weight assigned to a poll is designed to be proportional to the predictive power that it should have in anticipating the results of upcoming elections. Note that it is quite common for a particular survey from a mediocre pollster to receive a higher weight than one from a strong pollster, if its poll happens to be significantly more recent or if it uses a significantly larger sample size.

Certain types of polls are not assigned a weight at all, but are instead dropped from consideration entirely, and not used in FiveThirtyEight’s forecasts nor listed in its polling database. from the firms Strategic Vision and Research 2000, which have been accused – with compelling statistical evidence in each case – of having fabricated some or all of their polling, are excluded. So are interactive (Internet) polls conducted by the firm Zogby, which are associated with by far the worst pollster rating, and which probably should not be considered scientific polls, as their sample consists of volunteers who sign up to take their polls, rather than a randomly-derived sample. (Traditional telephone polls conducted by Zogby are included in the averages, as are Internet polls from firms other than Zogby.)

Polls are also excluded from the Senate model if they are deemed to meet FiveThirtyEight’s definition of being “partisan.” FiveThirtyEight’s definition of a partisan poll is quite narrow, and is limited to polls conducted on behalf of political candidates, campaign committees, political parties, registered PACs, or registered 527 groups. We do not exclude polls simply because the pollster happens to be a Democrat or a Republican, because the pollster has conducted polling for Democratic or Republican candidate in the past, or because the media organization it is polling for is deemed to be liberal or conservative. The designation is based on who the poll was conducted for, and not who conducted it. Note, however, that there are other protections in place (see Stage 2) if a polling firm produces consistently biased results.

Stage 2. Adjusted Polling Average

After the weighted polling average is calculated, it is subject to three additional types of adjustments.

* The trendline adjustment. An estimate of the overall momentum in the national political environment is determined based on a detailed evaluation of trends within generic congressional ballot polling. (The procedure, which was adopted from our Presidential forecasting model, is described at more length here.) The idea behind the adjustment is that, to the extent that out-of-date polls are used at all in the model (because of a lack of more recent polling, for example), we do not simply assume that they reflect the present state of the race. For example, if the Democrats have lost 5 points on the generic ballot since the last time a state was polled, the model assumes, in the absence of other evidence, that they have lost 5 points in that state as well. In practice, the trendline adjustment is designed to be fairly gentle, and so it has relatively little effect unless there has been especially sharp change in the national environment or if the polling in a particular state is especially out-of-date.

* The house effects adjustment. Sometimes, polls from a particular polling firm tend consistently to be more favorable toward one or the other political party. Polls from the firm Rasmussen Reports, for example, have shown results that are about 2 points more favorable to the Republican candidate than average during this election cycle. It is not necessarily correct to equate a house effect with “bias” – there have been certain past elections in which pollsters with large house effects proved to be more accurate than pollsters without them – and systematic differences in polling may result from a whole host of methodological factors unrelated to political bias. This nevertheless may be quite useful to account for: Rasmussen showing a Republican with a 1-point lead in a particular state might be equivalent to a Democratic-leaning pollster showing a 4-point lead for the Democrat in the same state. The procedure for calculating the house effects adjustment is described in more detail here. A key aspect of the house effects adjustment is that a firm is not rewarded by the model simply because it happens to produce more polling than others; the adjustment is calibrated based on what the highest-quality polling firms are saying about the race.

* The likely voter adjustment. Throughout the course of an election year, polls may be conducted among a variety of population samples. Some survey all American adults, some survey only registered voters, and others are based on responses from respondents deemed to be “likely voters,” as determined based on past voting behavior or present voting intentions. Sometimes, there are predictable differences between likely voter and registered voter polls. In 2010, for instance, polls of likely voters are about 4 points more favorable to the Republican candidate, on average, than those of registered voters, perhaps reflecting enthusiasm among Republican voters. And surveys conducted among likely voters are about 7 points more favorable to the Republican than those conducted among all adults, whether registered to vote or not.

By the end of the election cycle, the majority of pollsters employ a likely voter model of some kind. Additionally, there is evidence that likely voter polls are more accurate, especially in Congressional elections. Therefore, polls of registered voters (or adults) are adjusted to be equivalent to likely voter polls; the magnitude of the adjustment is based on a regression analysis of the differences between registered voter polls and likely voter polls throughout the polling database, holding other factors like the identity of the pollster constant.

Step 3: FiveThirtyEight Regression

In spite of the several steps that we undertake to improve the reliability of the polling data, sometimes there just isn’t very much good polling in a race, or all of the polling may tend to be biased in one direction or another. (As often as not, when one poll winds up on the wrong side of a race, so do most of the others). In addition, we have found that electoral forecasts can be improved when polling is supplemented by other types of information about the candidates and the contest. Therefore, we augment the polling average by using a linear regression analysis that attempts to predict the candidates’ standing according to several non-poll factors:

A state’s Partisan Voting Index

The composition of party identification in the state’s electorate (as determined through Gallup polling)

The sum of individual contributions received by each candidate as of the last F.E.C. reporting period (this variable is omitted if one or both candidates are new to the race and have yet to complete an FEC filing period)

Incumbency status

For incumbent Senators, an average of recent approval and favorability ratings

A variable representing stature, based on the highest elected office that the candidate has held. It takes on the value of 3 for candidates who have been Senators or Governors in the past; 2 for U.S. Representatives, statewide officeholders like Attorneys General, and mayors of cities of at least 300,000 persons; 1 for state senators, state representatives, and other material elected officeholders (like county commissioners or mayors of small cities), and 0 for candidates who have not held a material elected office before.

Variables are dropped from the analysis if they are not statistically significant at the 90 percent confidence threshold.

Step 4: FiveThirtyEight Snapshot

This is the most straightforward step: the adjusted polling average and the regression are combined into a ‘snapshot’ that provides the most comprehensive evaluation of the candidates’ electoral standing at the present time. This is accomplished by treating the regression result as though it were a poll: in fact, it is assigned a poll weight equal to a poll of average quality (typically around 0.60) and re-combined with the other polls of the state.

If there are several good polls in race, the regression result will be just one of many such “polls”, and will have relatively little impact on the forecast. But in cases where there are just one or two polls, it can be more influential. The regression analysis can also be used to provide a crude forecast of races in which there is no polling at all, although with a high margin of error.

Step 5. Election Day projection

It is not necessarily the case, however, that the current standing of the candidates – as captured by the snapshot — represents the most accurate forecast of where they will finish on Election Day. (This is one of the areas in which we’ve done a significant amount of work in transitioning FiveThirtyEight’s forecast model to The Times.) For instance, large polling leads have a systematic tendency to diminish in races with a large number of undecided voters, especially early in an election cycle. A lead of 48 percent to 25 percent with a high number of undecided voters, for example, will more often than not decrease as Election Day approaches. Under other circumstances (such an incumbent who is leading a race in which there are few undecided voters), a candidate’s lead might actually be expected to expand slightly.

Separate equations are used for incumbent and open-seat races, the formula for the former being somewhat more aggressive. There are certain circumstances in which an incumbent might actually be a slight underdog to retain a seat despite of having a narrow polling lead — for instance, if there are a large number of undecided voters — although this tendency can sometimes be overstated.

Implicit in this process is distributing the undecided vote; thus, the combined result for the Democratic and the Republican candidate will usually reflect close to 100 percent of the vote, although a small reservoir is reserved for independent candidates in races where they are on the ballot. In races featuring three or more viable candidates (that is, three candidates with a tangible chance of winning the lection), however, such as the Florida Senate election in 2010, there is little empirical basis on which to make a “creative” vote allocation, and so the undecided voters are simply divided evenly among the three candidates.

Step 6. Error analysis

Just as important as estimating the most likely finish of the two candidates is determining the degree of uncertainty intrinsic to the forecast.

For a variety of reasons, the magnitude of error associated with elections outcomes is higher than what pollsters usually report. For instance, in polls of Senate elections since 1998 conducted in the final three weeks of the campaign, the average error in predicting the margin between the two candidates has been about 5 points, which would translate into a roughly 6-point margin of error. This may be twice as high as the 3- or 4-percent margins of error that pollsters typically report, which reflects only sample variance, but not other ambiguities inherent to polling. Combining polls together may diminish this margin of error, but their errors are sometimes correlated, and they are nevertheless not as accurate as their margins-of-error would imply.

Instead of relying on any sort of theoretical calculation of the margin of error, therefore, we instead model it directly based on the past performance of our forecasting model in Senatorial elections since 1998. Our analysis has found that certain factors are predictably associated with a greater degree of uncertainty. For instance:

The error is higher in races with fewer polls

The error is higher in races where the polls disagree with one another.

The error is higher when there are a larger number of undecided voters.

The error is higher when the margin between the two candidates is lopsided.

The error is higher the further one is from Election Day.

Depending on the mixture of these circumstances, a lead that is quite safe under certain conditions may be quite vulnerable in others. Our goal is simply to model the error explicitly, rather than to take a one-size-fits-all approach.

Step 7. Simulation.

Knowing the mean forecast for the margin between the two candidates, and the standard error associated with it, suffices mathematically to provide a probabilistic assessment of the outcome of any one given race. For instance, a candidate with a 7-point lead, in a race where the standard error on the forecast estimate is 5 points, will win her race 92 percent of the time.

However, this is not the only piece of information that we are interested in. Instead, we might want to know how the results of particular Senate contests are related to one another, in order to determine for example the likelihood of a party gaining a majority, or a supermajority.

Therefore, the error associated with a forecast is decomposed into local and national components by means of a sum-of-squares formula. For Congressional elections, the ‘national’ component of the error is derived from a historical analysis of generic ballot polls: how accurately the generic ballot forecasts election outcomes, and how much the generic ballot changes between Election Day and the period before Election Day. The local component of the error is then assumed to be the residual of the national error from the sum-of-squares formula, i.e.:

The local and national components of the error calculation are then randomly generated (according to a normal distribution) over the course of 100,000 simulation runs. In each simulation run, the degree of national movement is assumed to be the same for all candidates: for instance, all the Republican candidates might receive a 3-point bonus in one simulation, or all the Democrats a 4-point bonus in another. The local error component, meanwhile, is calculated separately for each individual candidate or state. In this way, we avoid the misleading assumption that the results of each election are uncorrelated with one another.

A final step in calculating the error is in randomly assigning a small percentage of the vote to minor-party candidates, which is assumed to follow a gamma distribution.

A separate process is followed where three or more candidates are deemed by FiveThirtyEight to be viable in a particular race, which simulates exchanges of voting preferences between each pairing of candidates. This process is structured such that the margins of error associated with multi-candidate races are assumed to be quite high, as there is evidence that such races are quite volatile.

Voir encore:

50th anniversary of the UNIVAC I

CNN

BLUE BELL, Pennsylvania (CNN) — Fifty years ago — on June 14, 1951 — the U.S. Census Bureau officially put into service what it calls the world’s first commercial computer, known as UNIVAC I.

UNIVAC stands for Universal Automatic Computer. The first model was built by the Eckert-Mauchly Computer Corp., which was purchased by Remington Rand shortly before the UNIVAC went on sale.

Rights to the UNIVAC name are currently held by Unisys.

Unisys spokesmen Guy Isnous and Ron Smith say other early users of UNIVACs included the U.S. Air Force, the U.S. Army, the Atomic Energy Commission, General Electric, Metropolitan Life, US Steel, and DuPont.

The UNIVAC was not the first computer ever built. A host of companies, including Eckert-Mauchly, Remington Rand, IBM, and others, all were developing computers for commercial applications at the same time.

Perhaps the most famous computer of the era was the ENIAC, a computer developed for the U.S. military during World War II. Other computers developed in the 1940s were mostly used by academia.

But the UNIVAC I was the first computer to be widely used for commercial purposes — 46 machines were built, for about $1 million each.

Compared to other computers of the era, the UNIVAC I machines were small — about the size of a one-car garage. Each contained about 5,000 vacuum tubes, all of which had to be easily accessible for replacement because they burned out frequently.

Keeping all those vacuum tubes cool was also a major design challenge. The machines were riddled with pipes that circulated cold water to keep the temperature down.

Each unit was so bulky and needed so much maintenance that some of the companies that bought them never moved them to their own facility, instead leaving them on-site at Remington Rand.

UNIVAC I came to the public’s attention in 1952, when CBS used one to predict the outcome of the presidential election. The computer correctly predicted the Eisenhower victory, but CBS did not release that information until after the election because the race was thought to be close.

Voir enfin:

Polling Opinion: More Sorcery Than Science

Ivan Kenneally

November 5, 2012

At first glance, political opinion polls seems like the nadir of modern liberal democracy. In their special alchemy they congeal a sensitivity to the will of the people and an emphasis on mathematical exactitude. The poll is the culmination of the peculiar modern marriage of science and popular sovereignty, the technocratic and the democratic. To borrow from Hamilton, and by borrow I mean disfigure, the poll is the ultimate success of our “grand experiment in self-governance.”

Of course, on another interpretation, they are completely useless.

As the estimable Jay Cost points out in the Weekly Standard, the polls this year simply don’t seem to add up, collectively defeated by the strident arithmetic that underwrites their purported value. Depending on what pollster you ask, Romney is poised for an explosive landslide of a victory, or about to win a historically close election, or is about to lose decisively, in a fit of humiliation. If you ask Paul Krugman, and I don’t advise that you should unless you’ve been inoculated against shrill, he will call you stupid for suggesting Romney has any chance at victory.

What all these positions have in common is an appeal to the unassailability of mathematics, that last frontier that resists our postmodern inclinations to promiscuously construct and deconstruct the truth like a pile of lego pieces.

What accounts for the persistent and often wide ranging divergence between polls? The most common answer is that there are fundamental variations in the pool of respondents sampled. For example, polls typically target a particular population: adults at large, registered voters, likely voters, actual voters, and all these categories can be infinitely subdivided and, in labyrinthine ways, overlap. Further muddying already turbid waters, each one of these populations tends to be more or less Republican or Democrat so every poll relies upon some algorithmic method to account for these variations and extrapolate results calibrated in light of them. These methods are themselves borne out of a multiplicity of veiled political assumptions driving the purportedly objective analysis in one direction or another, potentially tincturing the purity of mathematical data with ideological agenda. Math doesn’t lie but those who make decisions about what to count and how to count it surely do.

Another problem is that voter self-identification, a crucial ingredient in any poll, is both fluid and deceptive. Consider that while approximately 35% of all voters classify themselves as “independents”, only 10% of these actually have no party affiliation. In other words, in any given year, voters registered with a certain party might be inspired to vote independently or even switch sides without surrendering their party membership. These episodic fits of quasi-independence can create the illusion that there are grand tectonic shifts in the ideological makeup of the voting public. It’s worth noting that the vast majority of so-called independents pretty reliably vote with their party of registration.

The problem of self-identification is symptomatic of the larger difficulty that polling, for all its mathematical pretensions, depends on the human formulation of questions to be interpreted and then answered by other human beings. Just as the questions posed can be loaded with hidden premises and implicit political judgments, the responses solicited can be more or less honest, clear, and well-considered. It seems methodologically cheap to proudly claim scientific exactitude after counting the yeas and nays generated by the hidden complexity of these exchanges. Measuring what are basically anecdotal reports with number doesn’t magically transform a species of hearsay into irrefragable evidence any more than it would my mother’s homespun grapevine of gossip. The ambiguous contours of human language resist the charms of arithmetic.

The ultimate value of any polling is always a matter to be contextually determined, especially in light of our peculiar electoral college which isolates the impact of a voting population within its state. So the oft cited fact that 35% of voters consider themselves independent might seem like a count of great magnitude but most of those reside in states, like California and New York, whose distribution of its electoral college votes is a foregone conclusion. When true independent voters in actual swing states are specifically considered, then only 3-5% of the voting population is, in any meaningful sense, genuinely undecided. Despite their incessant production, it is far from clear how informative we can consider polls that generally track the popular vote since, in and of itself, the popular vote decides nothing.

So the mathematical scaffolding of polls all presume non-mathematical foundations, stated and unstated assumptions, partisan inclinations and non-partisan miscalculations. When the vertiginous maelstrom of numbers fails in its most fundamental task, alighting disorder with order, bringing sense to a wilderness of senselessness, then where can we turn for guidance? I can’t just wait for the results Tuesday night–the modern in my marrow craves not just certainty but prediction, absolute knowledge as prologue. There’s no technocratic frisson in finding anything out after the fact, without the prescience of science, which appeals just as much to our desire to be clever as it does to our craving for knowledge.

I will suggest what no political scientist in America is suggesting: set aside the numbing numbers and the conflicting claims to polling precision and follow me follow Aristotle. We must survey what is available to us in ordinary experience, what we can confirm as a matter of pre-scientific perception, the ancient realism that appealed not to computational models, but the evidence I can see with my own eyes.

What do I see with these eyes? A president running as a challenger, pretending he wasn’t in charge the last four years of blight and disappointment. I see a less than commanding Commander in Chief trying to slither past a gathering scandal that calls into suspicion his character and competence to protect his country. I see a wheezing economy, so infirm our president celebrated a palsied jobs report as evidence of our march to prosperity. I see transparent class warfare that insidiously assumes our embattled middle class resents the rich more than they resent their own shrinking economic opportunity and that women feel flattered and emboldened when condescendingly drawn into a magically conjured cultural war.

I see enthusiastic crowds form around the man they think will deliver them from four years of gruesome ineffectiveness and a defeated left, dispirited and weary, unlikely to convert but less likely to surge. I see ads about Big Bird and and a terror of confronting big issues and a president who seems as bored by his performance as we are. Obama does not look like a winner, not to these eyes.

So in an election year hyper-charged with ideological heat, and polling data potentially varnished by self-fulfilling prophecy and partisan wishful thinking, I tend to rely upon an old school conception of realism: what I can see and what I can modestly infer from what I see. Today, as I write this, I see a Romney victory, however narrowly achieved. This would also be a big victory for the common sense of ordinary political perception over the tortured numbers games that aim to capture it precisely, or to mold it presumptuously.


Présidentielle américaine 2012: Dewey va-t-il à nouveau battre Truman? (Will Dewey defeat Truman all over again?)

3 octobre, 2012
Exceptio probat regulam. Proverbe latin
Tough sh…t, Rollins, I’m glad it cost you plenty. It’s my in-kind contribution to the Mondale campaign. Ben Bradlee (the Washington Post)
They were pounding on me for positive information. You know, where is some good news we can share with people? We were monitoring all these polls and I was sending the ones that were most favorable because [campaign aides] wanted to share them with reporters. We were not finding very much good news and I was trying to give them what I could find. (…) I didn’t necessarily take any of these as for—as you would say, for the truth of the matter. I took them more as something that could be used as propaganda for the campaign. Harrison Hickman
In May, the pollster for Al Gore’s presidential bid in 2000 and John Edwards’s in 2004 and 2008, Harrison Hickman, took the stand in the federal criminal case against Edwards over alleged campaign finance violations stemming from payments to support Edwards’s mistress. Under oath, Hickman admitted that in the final weeks of Edwards’s 2008 bid, Hickman cherry-picked public polls to make the candidate seem viable, promoted surveys that Hickman considered unreliable, and sent e-mails to campaign aides, Edwards supporters and reporters which argued that the former senator was still in the hunt —even though Hickman had already told Edwards privately that he had no real chance of winning the Democratic nomination. (…) In short, to many journalists, what Hickman admitted doing in late 2007 and 2008 was no more a sign of bad character than an actor spinning a yarn on stage during a play or a lawyer mounting an implausible defense for a clearly guilty client. Josh Gernstein
President Barack Obama leads Republican nominee Mitt Romney 49 percent to 45 percent in the battleground state of Iowa, a new Des Moines Register Iowa Poll has found. (…) But 10 percent say they could still be persuaded to vote for another candidate, the poll found. Des Moines Register (Sep. 29, 2012)
Election Could Mirror 1980 Race (…) Barack Obama, like Carter, can run neither on his dismal four-year stewardship of the economy nor on his collapsing Middle East policy. Victor Davis Hanson
Barring any debate debacle, Romney will win by 4 or 5 points and will win Florida, Ohio, Nevada, Virginia and Pennsylvania. Dick Morris (former strategist for Bill Clinton)
I would just caution, the fundamentals of this election call for a close election. I really think the election is going to tighten. Yes, President Obama is ahead, and probably has the best chance to win, but this is going to be a tighter race than the polls show right now. (…) I’ll tell you, it’s caused me to question some of the polls because based on everything I know about Virginia and everything I’m seeing, I think the real margin is actually quite close (…) I would give President Obama, spot him two or three points, you know he won by six last time in Virginia. Think of the conditions in the country. It’s almost impossible to imagine him winning by the same margin in Virginia or nationally so my projection is he gets considerably fewer electoral votes than he got last time. He got 365. I’ll be surprised if he gets above 320 or so, maximum under the best conditions. Larry Sabato
The reality is that 2012 is a horse race and will remain so. An incumbent below 50% is in grave danger. On Election Day he’ll usually receive less than his final poll number. That’s because his detractors are more likely to turn out, and undecideds are more resistant to voting for him. (…) Both candidates have advantages as the race enters its final month. Mr. Obama is slightly ahead (but short of 50%). Late-deciding independents will probably break more for Mr. Romney. Clear-eyed operatives in Boston and Chicago know this and are only playing head games with their opposition when they assert otherwise. Team Obama’s relentless efforts to denigrate Mr. Romney as a sure loser appear to have convinced the Republican candidate that he must run as the underdog. This will make the naturally cautious Mr. Romney more aggressive, energized and specific about his agenda in the campaign’s closing weeks than he might have been. It will also make his victory more likely. America likes come-from-behind winners. Karl Rove

Pour ceux qui auraient oublié que les exceptions servent aussi à confirmer les règles …

Alors qu’à quelques heures du premier des trois débats télévisés qui vont opposer les deux candidats à la Maison-Blanche mais encore à cinq semaines de l’élection elle-même et certes dans la lignée de 17 des 20 dernières élections depuis 1932, les médias multiplient les sondages annonçant comme quasi-assurée la réélection d’un président sortant notoirement non réputé pour sa modestie

Mais que, s’appuyant sur le problème du suréchantillonage des électeurs démocrates comme sur celui du retard du candidat démocrate dans les intentions de vote des indépendants qui avaient assuré sa victoire en 2008,  tant l’ancien stratège de Clinton Bill Morris que le meilleur analyste des présidentielles américaines Larry Sabato voient, à l’instar des élections françaises du printemps dernier, un résultat des plus serrés voire une victoire du Républicain …

Retour, avec une tribune de l’ancien conseiller de Reagan Jeffrey Lord dans The American Spectator (merci james), sur l’une des trois exceptions des 80 dernières années, à savoir, entre celles de Hoover en 32 et de Bush père en 92, la non-réelection de Carter en 80 …

Et notamment sur la manière dont les médias, comme l’avait alors explicitement avoué le patron du puissant Washington Post Ben Bradlee, avaient systématiquement mis en avant, avec les résultats que l’on sait, une lecture des sondages favorables au candidat démocrate …

How Carter Beat Reagan

Washington Post admits polling was « in-kind contribution »; New York Times agenda polling.

Jeffrey Lord

The American Spectator

on 9.25.12

Dick Morris is right.

Here’s his column on « Why the Polls Understate the Romney Vote. »

Here’s something Dick Morris doesn’t mention. And he’s charitable.

Remember when Jimmy Carter beat Ronald Reagan in 1980?

That’s right. Jimmy Carter beat Ronald Reagan in 1980.

In a series of nine stories in 1980 on « Crucial States » — battleground states as they are known today — the New York Times repeatedly told readers then-President Carter was in a close and decidedly winnable race with the former California governor. And used polling data from the New York Times/CBS polls to back up its stories.

Four years later, it was the Washington Post that played the polling game — and when called out by Reagan campaign manager Ed Rollins a famous Post executive called his paper’s polling an « in-kind contribution to the Mondale campaign. » Mondale, of course, being then-President Reagan’s 1984 opponent and Carter’s vice president.

All of which will doubtless serve as a reminder of just how blatantly polling data is manipulated by liberal media — used essentially as a political weapon to support the liberal of the moment, whether Jimmy Carter in 1980, Walter Mondale in 1984 — or Barack Obama in 2012.

First the Times in 1980 and how it played the polling game.

The states involved, and the datelines for the stories:

· California — October 6, 1980

· Texas — October 8, 1980

· Pennsylvania — October 10, 1980

· Illinois — October 13, 1980

· Ohio — October 15, 1980

· New Jersey — October 16, 1980

· Florida — October 19, 1980

· New York — October 21, 1980

· Michigan — October 23, 1980

Of these nine only one was depicted as « likely » for Reagan: Reagan’s own California. A second — New Jersey — was presented as a state that « appears to support » Reagan.

The Times led their readers to believe that each of the remaining seven states were « close » — or the Times had Carter leading outright.

In every single case the Times was proven grossly wrong on election day. Reagan in fact carried every one of the nine states.

Here is how the Times played the game with the seven of the nine states in question.

• Texas: In a story datelined October 8 from Houston, the Times headlined:

Texas Looming as a Close Battle Between President and Reagan

The Reagan-Carter race in Texas, the paper claimed, had « suddenly tightened and now shapes up as a close, bruising battle to the finish. » The paper said « a New York Times/CBS News Poll, the second of seven in crucial big states, showing the Reagan-Carter race now a virtual dead heat despite a string of earlier polls on both sides that had shown the state leaning toward Mr. Reagan. »

The narrative? It was like the famous scene in the Wizard of Oz where Dorothy and her friends stare in astonishment as dog Toto pulls back the curtain in the wizard’s lair to reveal merely a man bellowing through a microphone. Causing the startled « wizard » caught in the act to frantically start yelling, « Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain! » In the case of the Times in its look at Texas in October of 1980 the paper dismissed « a string of earlier polls on both sides » that repeatedly showed Texas going for Reagan. Instead, the Times presented this data:

A survey of 1,050 registered voters, weighted to form a probable electorate, gave Mr. Carter 40 percent support, Mr. Reagan 39 percent, John. B. Anderson, the independent candidate, 3 percent, and 18 percent were undecided. The survey, conducted by telephone from Oct. 1 to Oct. 6, has a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 4 percentage points.

In other words, the race in Texas is close, assures the Times, with Carter actually in the lead.

What happened? Reagan beat Carter by over 13 points. It wasn’t even close to close.

• Pennsylvania: The next « Crucial States » story focused on Pennsylvania on October 10. Here the headline read:

Undecided Voters May Prove Key

Reagan, said the Times, « appears to have failed thus far to establish many positive reasons for voting for him. »

Once again the paper played the polling data card, this time saying Reagan had a mere 2 point lead. But the Reagan lead was quickly disputed in series of clever ways. Fundraising for Reagan wasn’t as good as expected, said the Times, and besides the budget for a Reagan telephone bank being shaved « from $700,000 to $400,000. » The Times/CBS poll showed that Carter was ahead of Reagan 36-32 among union households in a heavily labor state. To make matters worse for Reagan the GOP Senate candidate Arlen Specter was being « swamped » in the polls by his Democratic rival, the former Pittsburgh Mayor Pete Flaherty — with Specter losing to Flaherty 47-36. Not to mention Reagan was being trounced in Philadelphia 52-15 percent. Towards the very end of the story was this interesting line — a line that should have some relevance to the Romney campaign as President Obama struggles with the consequences of the killing of the American Ambassador in Libya. Reads the sentence:

One negative reason [meaning an anti-Carter vote] that did not turn up in the telephone poll but came up repeatedly in door-to-door interviews was the hostage situation in Iran.

What happened? The race wasn’t close, with Reagan beating Carter in Pennsylvania not by barely 2 points but rather trouncing him by over 7 points. And Arlen Specter beat Pete Flaherty.

• Illinois: The Times headline here in a story October 13?

Poll Finds Illinois Too Close to Call: Both Camps Note Gains by Carter

The narrative for Illinois? Carter is gaining, so much so that:

…uncertainty about Ronald Reagan’s leadership, especially among suburban voters, [has] apparently set back Mr. Reagan’s hope for a victory in Illinois and left his campaign scrambling to regain lost momentum, according to advisers in both camps.

Then came the usual New York Times/CBS polling data that proclaimed a Reagan one-point lead of 34% to Carter’s 33% as a sure sign that « Carter Gains and Reagan Slips in Close Illinois Race » — as an inside page headline proclaimed.

What happened? Reagan beat Carter by almost 8 points, 49.65% to 41.72%. Again, there was no « close » race as the Times had claimed.

• Ohio: The headline in this « Crucial States » profile once again conforms to the Times pattern of declaring Reagan and Carter to be in a « close » race.

Ohio Race Expected to Be Close As Labor Mobilizes for President

The narrative for Ohio? Ohio, the paper explained, had been « long viewed by Ronald Reagan’s campaign as its best opportunity to capture a major Northern state » but « such a victory …is not yet in hand. » Then came the inevitable New York Times/CBS polling data. Reagan was ahead by a bare 2 points, 36% to 34%. Two-thirds of the undecided were women and Reagan was doing « much worse among women voters than men. » Carter on the other hand had the great news that « 35 percent of the undecided came from labor union households, a group that divides nearly 2-1 for Mr. Carter among those who have made up their minds. »

What happened? Reagan beat Carter by over 10 points in Ohio. Yet another « crucial state » race wasn’t even close to being close as the paper had insisted.

• Florida: For once, the problem was impossible to hide. The Times headline for its October 19 story headlined:

Carter Is in Trouble With Voters In Two Major Sections of Florida

There was no New York Times/CBS poll here. But what was published was « the most recent Florida Newspapers Poll » that showed Reagan with only a 2 point lead over Carter: 42 for Reagan, 40 for Carter, with 7 for Anderson. The election, said the Times confidently, « was widely expected to be close. » Surprise!

What happened? Reagan beat Carter in Florida by over 17 points.

• New York: The Times headline for its home state in a story dated October 21?

President is in the Lead, Especially in the City — Anderson Slide Noted

The Times waxed enthusiastic about New York. Reagan was « being hindered by doubts within his own party. » And it trotted out its favorite New York Times/CBS Poll to show definitively that Reagan was getting clobbered in New York. The poll, said the Times, « showed Mr. Carter leading in the state with 38%, to 29% for Mr. Reagan…. » Which is to say, Carter was running away with New York state, leading Reagan by 9 points. The headline on the inside of the paper:

Reagan Far from Goal in New York; Carter in Lead

Why was this so? Why was Reagan doing so badly in New York? The paper turned to a Carter campaign aide in the state who explained that New Yorkers aren’t « willing to vote for a Goldwater. » Then they found one « frustrated Republican county chairman » who said the problem with Reagan was that New Yorkers « don’t like what they think they know about him. » Then there was the usual yada-yada: Reagan was failing miserably with women (losing 41-23 said the poll) and losing in New York City, not to mention that « labor is hard at work » for Carter.

What happened? Reagan beat Carter in New York by over 2 points.

• Michigan: The last of the profiles in the Times « Crucial States » series was Michigan, published on October 23. The ambiguous headline:

Party Defections May Tip Scales in Michigan Vot

The Michigan story begins with the tale of Reagan being endorsed by Dr. Martin Luther King’s famous aide the Reverend Ralph Abernathy. But the Times immediately saw a problem in this backing of Reagan from a prominent « black civil rights leader. » The problem? Black backlash. Said the paper:

Mr. Reagan was barely out of town [Detroit] before the backlash set in.

« The Abernathy Betrayal, » screamed the headline over the chief article in The Michigan Chronicle, a black newspaper. And yesterday the 400-member Council of Black Pastors, in the greater Detroit area, broke its precedent of refraining from Presidential endorsements and declared its support for President Carter a direct reaction to the Abernathy endorsement.

In other words, Reagan was damned because he didn’t get black support — and damned especially when he did. Grudgingly, the paper admitted that « although the race was close » in Michigan, « Mr. Reagan was ahead. » But once again, the Times insisted that a key state race was close. Close, you see, close. Did they mention it was close?

What happened? Reagan carried Michigan by over 6 points, 48.999 to Carter’s 42.50. Yet again — it wasn’t close.

That same day, October 23, the paper ran a second polling story on the general status of the presidential election, its theme self-evident:

Poll Shows President Has Pulled To Even Position With Reagan.

The story by Times reporter Hedrick Smith began this way:

In an election campaign reminiscent of the tight, seesaw contest of 1960, President Carter has pulled to an essentially even position with Ronald Reagan over the last month by attracting some wavering Democrats and gaining on his rival among independents, according to a new nationwide survey by The New York Times and CBS News.

The survey, readers were assured, was « weighted to project a probable electorate » and had Carter leading Reagan 39-38.

As if the point hadn’t been driven home enough, seven days later on October 30, the Times decided to sum up the entire race in the light of the just completed Reagan-Carter debate. Can you guess what they said? That’s right:

Carter and Reagan Voicing Confidence on Debate Showing: Performances Rated Close

And inside the paper the continuation of the story proclaimed — guess what?

Outcome of Debate Rated as Close.

On November 4 — the day before the election — the Times proclaimed… proclaimed…

Yup:

Race is Viewed as Very Close

The final results?

Ronald Reagan clobbered Jimmy Carter winning 51.7% to Carter’s 41% — a 10 point-plus victory in the popular vote. Third place Congressman John Anderson managed a mere 6.6%.

In the Electoral College? Reagan carried 44 states for a total of 489 votes. Carter won 6 states plus the District of Columbia for 49 electoral votes.

To say the least, the race wasn’t « close. » To compare it to 1960 as a « tight, seesaw contest » was in fact not simply ridiculously untrue but bizarre.

So what do we have here?

What we have is the liberal « paper of record » systematically presenting the 1980 Reagan-Carter election in 9 « Crucial States » as somehow « close » in five of the nine — Texas, Illinois, Ohio, Florida and Michigan. New York was in the bag for Carter. Only in his own California and New Jersey was Reagan clearly leading.

The actual results had only New York « close » — with Reagan winning by 2. Reagan carried every other « close » state by a minimum of 6 points and as much 17 — Florida. Florida, in fact, went for Reagan by a point more than California and about 4 more than New Jersey.

How could the New York Times — its much ballyhooed polling data and all of its resulting stories proclaiming everything to be « close » — been so massively, continuously wrong? In the case of its « Crucial States » — nine out of nine times?

The obvious answer is called to mind by a polling story from four years later involving Ronald Reagan and his next opponent, Jimmy Carter’s vice president Walter Mondale.

By 1984, Reagan was an extremely popular incumbent president. He was running well everywhere against Mondale. But suddenly, up popped a curious Washington Post poll that indicated Reagan’s 1980 margin of over 16% in California had dropped precipitously to single digits. Nancy Reagan was alarmed, calling campaign manager Ed Rollins (full disclosure, my former boss) and saying, « You have to do something. »

Rollins disagreed, as he later wrote in his memoirs Bare Knuckles and Back Rooms: My Life in American Politics.

A Californian himself Rollins was certain Reagan was just fine in California. The Reagan campaign’s own polls (run by Reagan’s longtime pollster Dick Wirthlin) showed Reagan with a « rock-solid » lead. After all, said Rollins, « Californians knew Ronald Reagan, and either loved him or hated him. He’d been on the ballot there six times and never lost. » The Post poll data made no sense. But Mrs. Reagan was insistent, so Rollins ordered up another (expensive) poll from Dick Wirthlin. Rollins also dispatched longtime Reagan aide and former White House political director Lyn Nofziger, a Californian as well, back to the Reagan home precincts. More phone banks were ordered up. In all, a million dollars of campaign money that could have been spent on Minnesota — Mondale’s home state where the ex-Minnesota Senator was, remarkably, struggling — was spent on California because of the Washington Post poll.

A few weeks later, the Washington Post ran a story that confirmed Rollins’ initial beliefs. The Post confessed that… well… oops… it had made a mistake with those California polling numbers. Shortly afterward came the November election, with California once again giving Reagan a more than 16 point victory. In fact, Reagan carried 49 states, winning the greatest landslide victory in presidential history while losing Minnesota in — yes — a close race. Mondale had 49.72% to Reagan’s 49.54%, a difference of .18% that might have been changed by all that money that went into California. Making Reagan the first president in history to win all fifty states.

After the election, Ed Rollins ran into the Washington Post’s blunt-speaking editor Ben Bradlee and « harassed » Bradlee « about his paper’s lousy polling methodology. »

Bradlee’s « unrepentant » response?

« Tough sh…t, Rollins, I’m glad it cost you plenty. It’s my in-kind contribution to the Mondale campaign. »

Got that?

So the questions for 2012.

How corrupt are all these polls showing Obama leading or in a « close race »?

Are they to Obama what that California poll of the Washington Post was for Walter Mondale — an « in-kind contribution »?

Is that in fact what was going on with the New York Times in 1980? An « in-kind contribution » to the Carter campaign from the Times?

What can explain all these polls today — like the ones discussed here at NBC where the Obama media cheerleaders make their TV home? Polls that the Obama media groupies insist show Obama 1 point up in Florida or 4 points in North Carolina or 5 points in Pennsylvania. And so on and so on.

How does one explain a president who, like Jimmy Carter in 1980, is increasingly seen as a disaster in both economic and foreign policy? How does a President Obama, with a Gallup job approval rating currently at 49% — down a full 20% from 2009 — mysteriously win the day in all these polls?

How does this happen?

Can you say « in-kind contribution »?

About the Author

Jeffrey Lord is a former Reagan White House political director and author. He writes from Pennsylvania at jlpa1@aol.com.

 Voir aussi:

Number-Cruncher on Polls’ History of Underestimating the GOP

Jim Geraghty

The National review on line

September 28, 2012

One of my regulars, the accounting-minded poll watcher nicknamed “Number-Cruncher” writes in, describing what he thinks honest pollsters should be saying right now:

“For the past two election cycles the partisan divide in this country has been volatile. In 2008, we could have modeled the turnout in race similar to 2004 and Obama still would have beaten McCain by 1 or 2 points. We knew that there was no way the divide was going to end up even, so even moving to a 1996 model of +3 Democrat advantage would give Obama a 4 point win. Democrats ended up with a +7 partisan ID advantage, given an almost perfect storm for the Democrats.

The 2008 cycle was an interesting race for pollsters, in that while the partisan divide clearly favored the Democrats, we didn’t have to worry too much about overestimating or underestimating too much because we knew the main result: an Obama win.”

Looking back through recent presidential cycles, we see Republicans over-performing their standing in the final polls – sometimes by a little, sometimes by a lot.

In 1992, Gallup’s final poll had Clinton winning by 12 percentage points, he won by 5.6 percentage points. In late October 1992, Pew had Clinton up 10.

In 1996, some reputable pollsters had Clinton winning by 18 percentage points late, and Pew had Clinton up by 19 in November; on Election Day, he won by 8.5 percentage points… In 2004, pollsters were spread out, but most underestimated Bush’s margin. (2000 may have been a unique set of circumstances with the last-minute DUI revelation dropping Bush’s performance lower than his standing in the final polls; alternatively, some may argue that the Osama bin Laden tape the Friday before the election in 2004 altered the dynamic in those final days.) In 2008, Marist had Obama up 9, as did CBS/New York Times and Washington Post/ABC News, while Reuters and Gallup both had Obama up 11.

Now, if this was just random chance of mistakes, you would see pollsters being wrong in both directions and by about the same margin in each direction at the same rate – sometimes overestimating how well the Democrats do some years, sometimes overestimating how well the Republicans do. But the problem seems pretty systemic – sometimes underestimating the GOP by a little, sometimes by a lot.

This is an international polling problem. Look at the polling for the most recent presidential race in France, if you read the tracking polls you would have thought Sarkozy would lose by 20….then the last round of polls showed it in single digits, and Sarkozy ultimately lost by about 3 points.”

Going back to the topic of volatility, in 2008, Gallup provided a model called the “expanded” likely voter model; they knew turnout was likely to be different from past cycles, but they knew that the different turnout was almost certainly going to help Obama. So they used this poll (they ran four different polls Adults, Registered Voters, Likely Voters and New Voters). In the end it wasn’t necessary because the regular bias of registered voters was enough to offset the “new voters”…. but that’s for another day.

Here is what people should know is bothering pollsters, and if you’re a Republican you can feel comfortable that what you are reading is based on guess work assumptions:

In 2010, we saw the country move back to 2004 levels, but we also saw a bubbling of the Tea Party, who are among the most enthusiastic of voters. Also 2010 was a midterm, where the overall turnout of registered voters is considerably lower, and the GOP base turns out better in non-presidential years than the Democrats’ base. So we process this data.

We saw in 1994 the GOP do very well, but in 1996 Clinton won easily. But sometimes a party’s momentum from the midterms carries on to the following year; we saw the Democrats add to their 2006 gains in 2008. So will 2012 be a receding of the tide of the midterms (like 1996) or an acceleration (like 2008)?

Of course in 1996, the economy was soaring and right now, we’re crawling… so you make the judgment on where this should be.

Even using logical deductions, it is difficult to get a read on what the 2012 partisan divide will be because we’ve seen it change so quickly. From 1994 through 2004, the partisan divide was fairly stable, moving no more than 2 points from cycle to cycle.

Personally I think its safe to say that 2008 is not going to happen in 2012, any pollster hanging their hat on 2008 sampling cannot be reasonably relied on…

Number-Cruncher and I part company a bit on this point:

Given the intensity of the Tea Party, it would not be all that surprising if the Tea Party/GOP combination out polls Democrats by a margin greater than 2004, which would turn every pollster except Rasmussen upside down, with Rasmussen being turned on his side.. Simply put, we just do not know.

The problem is that “not GOP, but Tea Party” isn’t listed as an option in most polls, so we don’t know how many Tea Partiers are choosing to identify themselves as independents. It is quite possible that in the polls where we see Romney winning independents, his lead in this demographic is driven by Tea Partiers who refuse to self-identify as GOP. In short, you know how we’ll know the combined demographics of the GOP andTea Party makes up a larger share of the electorate than self-identified Democrats? When Romney wins the election.

He concludes:

One other point to keep in mind, is that Rasmussen has been consistently polling party preference ID, among adults (not likely voters). His latest result was +4.3 Republican and while that is a bit of an outlier, he has consistently been polling Republicans ahead of Democrats by about a 1 to three point margin. Also consider this: In 2008 when the electorate was breaking towards Obama and the Democrats, Rasmussen predicted a +7.8 percent Party Advantage, the exits revealed essentially the same result. . In 2004, Rasmussen revealed a Partisan ID trend favoring Democrats by 1.8% percent. If Rasmussen goes or comes close to three for three on the partisan ID prediction (he was within two points both times), then Romney likely has a 2 to 3 point lead in his polling (Note if you subscribe to the pay side of Rasmussen’s data you know his is polling more Democrats than the Partisan ID study). Simply put, if Rasmussen is correct, then Romney will has an electorate which is MORE favorable than 2004. If this is the case with swing states, the Electoral College will break significantly towards Romney.

I still think a D+3 or D+4 electorate is the most likely scenario, but Rasmussen’s measurements do provide one piece of evidence for a scenario that’s considerably better for the GOP.

Voir également:

Battleground Poll: Race still tight

James Hohmann

Politico

October 1, 2012

The presidential race is tight enough nationally that a strong performance in Wednesday’s debate by Mitt Romney could put him in the lead.

A new POLITICO/George Washington University Battleground Poll of likely voters shows President Barack Obama ahead 49 percent to 47 percent, a point closer than a week ago and still within the margin of error. A tracking poll will be performed each week, and the results released each Monday, through Election Day.

Romney now leads by 4 points among independents, up slightly from a week ago. The Republican must overperform with that group to make up for the near monolithic support of African-Americans for Obama, as well as the huge Democratic advantage among Latinos and women

The head-to-head numbers mostly held steady through the past two weeks.

“The basic underpinnings of this race are just not changing, and that’s what’s going to keep this a very close race,” said Republican pollster Ed Goeas of the Tarrance Group, who helped conduct the bipartisan poll.

A solid 46 percent say they will vote to reelect Obama and 42 percent say firmly they’ll vote to replace him. Just 9 percent say they’ll consider someone else.

“We’ve never had a debate where the electorate was this polarized,” said Celinda Lake, the Democratic pollster who helped conduct the poll. “There’s a real question about how many voters are left to move in the debate.”

Obama’s overall job approval stands at 49 percent, with an identical number of respondents disapproving. The president’s personal favorability slipped to 50 percent, with 47 percent viewing him unfavorably.

Romney remains slightly underwater on likability, with 46 percent viewing him favorably and 48 percent viewing him unfavorably. He has a problem with women, among whom Obama leads by 12 points, 54 percent to 42 percent. Asked about Romney as a person, 51 percent of women say they don’t have a good impression.

“For Romney, it’s a double goal that he has: He’s got to get that likability up, particularly among women,” said Lake. “And he’s got to draw a sharp contrast on what he’d do on the economy. That’s very difficult to do simultaneously. … It’s hard to maintain likability when you’re being an attack dog.”

Romney has not benefited from revelations about the Obama administration bungling its initial response to the attack on the U.S. consulate in Libya. Obama actually expanded his lead over Romney last week on who is better able to handle foreign policy, from 9 points to 12 points.

Democratic intensity has slipped slightly to 75 percent. A week before last, still in the afterglow of their convention, 81 percent of Democrats called themselves “extremely likely” to vote. Republican enthusiasm, meanwhile, held steady around 80 percent.

Regardless of whom they’re supporting, twice as many voters (61 percent) expect the president to prevail in November as expect him to lose.

“Democrats should be careful not to take this for granted,” said Lake. “Inevitability cannot diminish our focus on getting our voters out because the Republicans will be focused on getting their voters out.”

Pocketbook issues remain overwhelmingly the top concern of voters, and half of Wednesday’s 90-minute debate will focus on the economy.

Romney has reopened a slight advantage on which of the two candidates is bestequipped to handle the economy — 49 percent to 47 percent — and to create jobs – 48 percent to 47 percent. A slight majority, 52 percent, disapprove of Obama’s handling of the economy.

Romney narrowed his gap on the question of who fights harder for the middle class. During the media firestorm over his “47 percent” comments, the poll showed him trailing by 19 points on the question. Now he’s down only 13 points — 54 to 41 percent. This double-digit deficit remains a problem, though, because three in four likely voters consider themselves part of the middle class.

Lake said Obama has persuaded most middle-class voters that he’s fighting for them, but he hasn’t convinced them that he has a plan to help them if he gets reelected.

“Now we’ve got to prove we can do something about their lives,” she said.

Of the 11 issues on which the candidates were pitted against one another, Romney’s clearest edge came on the federal budget and spending: Fifty-six percent disapprove of Obama’s handling of the issue — 47 percent strongly so. By a 7-point margin, voters believe Romney is best equipped to tackle the debt.

Obama holds a 3-point edge on which candidate has a better tax plan. This is traditionally a Republican issue, and the lead is notable for someone who makes raising taxes on the wealthy a centerpiece of his campaign.

One of six debate segments will focus on health care. Obama leads Romney by 8 points on who is best for health care generally and Medicare specifically.

Another segment is about governing. Obama leads Romney on the questions of who shares your values (48 percent to 45 percent) and who is the stronger leader (50 percent to 43 percent). But Romney has an advantage (47 percent to 45 percent) on who can “get things done.”

Goeas said to watch these three indicators as a gauge for the gut reaction of voters to the debate.

Obama is trailing slightly with independents. In 2008, the Democrat carried them by 7 percent — the same margin as his overall victory. But right now, he’s softer on the individual issues than is reflected in the head-to-head matchup, which shows him behind by 4 points with independents.

Romney has a 14-point edge on jobs and an 11-point edge on the economy among independent voters. More than 60 percent disapprove of Obama’s handling of the economy and spending. Romney even has a slight advantage on taxes. He ties the president on who is the stronger leader and leads by 9 points on who has the best ability to get things done.

Among all likely voters, 56 percent say the country is on the wrong track. This number has fallen because 72 percent of Democrats and 73 percent of African-Americans now say the country is on the right track. Yet two in three independents still think the country’s on the wrong track.

“He has to be careful of accepting and affirming the praise of the Democrats who think the country’s going in the right direction and assuring people he can change the direction with four more years,” said Goeas. “He doesn’t want to do anything to dampen enthusiasm he’s getting from Democrats, but he can’t afford to be removed completely because the overwhelming majority thinks we’re on the wrong track.”

The POLITICO/George Washington University Battleground poll, conducted by the Tarrance Group and Lake Research Partners, surveyed 1,000 registered likely voters from Sept. 24 to Sept. 27 and has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.1 percentage points.

Voir encore:

A pollster under oath

Josh Gerstein

Politico

10/2/12

When a pollster or strategist for a struggling political campaign presents what seems like a sugar-coated view of his candidate’s chances, do you ever think: I wish I could give that adviser some truth serum, or maybe put him under oath?

Well, truth serum may be pushing it, but the put-him-under-oath part has actually happened. And when a pollster is required to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth, under penalty of perjury, what emerges is quite a bit different than what you hear in the waning days of a presidential campaign.

In May, the pollster for Al Gore’s presidential bid in 2000 and John Edwards’s in 2004 and 2008, Harrison Hickman, took the stand in the federal criminal case against Edwards over alleged campaign finance violations stemming from payments to support Edwards’s mistress.

Under oath, Hickman admitted that in the final weeks of Edwards’s 2008 bid, Hickman cherry-picked public polls to make the candidate seem viable, promoted surveys that Hickman considered unreliable, and sent e-mails to campaign aides, Edwards supporters and reporters which argued that the former senator was still in the hunt —even though Hickman had already told Edwards privately that he had no real chance of winning the Democratic nomination.

« They were pounding on me for positive information. You know, where is some good news we can share with people? We were monitoring all these polls and I was sending the ones that were most favorable because [campaign aides] wanted to share them with reporters, » Hickman testified on May 14 at the trial in Greensboro, N.C. « We were not finding very much good news and I was trying to give them what I could find. »

Hickman testified that when circulating the polls, he didn’t much care if they were accurate. « I didn’t necessarily take any of these as for—as you would say, for the truth of the matter. I took them more as something that could be used as propaganda for the campaign, » the veteran pollster said.

Edwards’s viability from late 2007 through January 2008 was a hotly disputed issue at his trial because federal prosecutors were seeking to prove that nearly $1 million in expenses Edwards backers paid for his mistress in and around that time frame amounted to donations to advance his bid for the presidency. Edwards’s defense contended that his inner circle viewed his prospects of winning the presidency as zero or close to it, once Sen. Barack Obama’s juggernaut gathered steam, so the payments must have been made out of personal affection for Edwards or for some other reason unrelated to the presidential campaign.

However, Hickman’s testimony also opened a rare window into the way major presidential campaigns try to use polling numbers to spin the press and laid bare the fact that top campaign operatives sometimes propound a version of the truth starkly at odds with what they themselves believe.

Hickman, called by the former senator’s defense, testified that he told Edwards in « early to middle of November 2007, » that the campaign wasn’t going to succeed.

« I told him that the odds were overwhelming that we were not going—that he was not going to be the nominee for president. I mean, we talked about a variety of things might change, do differently, and all that, but none of them translated into winning the nomination, » the pollster told Edwards attorney Alan Duncan.

However, under cross-examination by lead prosecutor David Harbach, Hickman acknowledged sending a series of emails in November and December, and even into January, endorsing or promoting polls that made Edwards look good. Asked about what appeared to be a New York Times/CBS poll released in mid-November showing an effective « three-way tie » in Iowa with Hillary Clinton at 25 percent, Edwards at 23 percent and Obama at 22 percent, Hickman acknowledged he circulated it but insisted he didn’t think it was correct.

« The business I’m in is a business any fool can get into, and a lot can happen. I’m sure there was a poll like that, » the folksy Hickman told jurors when first asked about a poll showing the race tied. « I kept up with every poll that was done, including our own, and there may have been a few that showed them a tie, but… that’s not really what my analysis is. Campaigns are about trajectory, and… there could have been a point at which it was a tie in the sense that we were coming down, and Obama was going up, and Clinton was going up. »

Hickman also indicated that senior campaign staffers knew many of the polls were poorly done and of little value. « We didn’t take these dog and cat and baby-sitter polls seriously, » he said.

Hickman acknowledged that on January 2, 2008, a day before the Iowa caucuses, he sent out a summary of nine post-Christmas Iowa polls showing Edwards in contention in the Hawkeye State. However, he testified two-thirds of them were from firms he considered « ones we typically would not put a lot of credence in. » Hickman put Mason-Dixon, Strategic Vision, Insider Advantage, Zogby and Research 2000 in the « less reputable » group. He also told the court that ARG polls « have a miserable track record. »

Hickman said he considered the Des Moines Register polls, CNN and Los Angeles Times polls more accurate. (A full transcript of his testimony is posted here.)

The prosecutor was clearly trying to suggest that Edwards was more viable than Hickman, a longtime friend of the ex-senator, admitted in his initial testimony. Harbach may have even been trying to suggest that Hickman’s basic credibility was impugned by the heavy spin he acknowledged offering late in the 2008 primary campaign. However, the line of questioning was baffling to reporters in the courtroom who seemed not at all surprised that a campaign would insist on its viability until moments before the candidate dropped out or lost.

In short, to many journalists, what Hickman admitted doing in late 2007 and 2008 was no more a sign of bad character than an actor spinning a yarn on stage during a play or a lawyer mounting an implausible defense for a clearly guilty client.

When the defense got to question Hickman again, he was unapologetic about what he termed an effort to « keep up morale » among Edwards backers and aides.

« They were being inundated with bad news. I didn’t have to give them bad news. I was trying to pick out morsels, you know, acorns. Out of a big stack of acorns, I was trying to pick out a few good ones that they could pass along to other people, you know, to keep them working, » Hickman testified. « I mean, I wasn’t going to say, you know, all hope is lost, you know, take a couple of weeks off. I mean, that was not the object of it. I mean, the object was to keep going as hard as we could. And we all worked as hard as we could. I mean, the working hard and promoting the candidacy are independent, in my mind, to the evaluation of what the likely outcome is. »

Asked if what he did to that end in the 2008 race was at all unusual when compared with other contests, Hickman told Duncan: « No. No. I did — you know, I did what I was supposed to do…. I did my job the way I’ve always done my job. »

While the discussion of polling and the legitimate bounds of spin did offer an unusual behind-the-scenes look at a major presidential campaign, it’s not at all clear that it had any impact on the outcome of the case against Edwards. Indeed, U.S. District Court Judge Catherine Eagles at one point admonished Hickman and Duncan that the grad-school polling seminar seemed pretty tangential to anything jurors were being asked to consider.

« I don’t think we need quite this much detail about particular polls, » the judge said.

« That’s fine, your honor, » Duncan replied.

« I’m sorry, » Hickman quickly chimed in.

After nine days of deliberation, the jury revealed on May 31 that it had acquitted Edwards on one felony count and was hopelessly deadlocked on five others. The Justice Department quickly announced that it would not retry the case.

Voir encore:

The greatest political showdown on earth

It’s make-or-break time in the world’s most important, and expensive, election. On the eve of tomorrow’s televised debate between the presidential candidates (the first of three), Rupert Cornwell looks forward to a momentous month

Rupert Cornwell

The Independent

2 October 2012

The largest, the longest, the costliest and the cruellest exercise in democracy on the planet is approaching its climax. Thirty-six days from today (barring a repeat of the Florida deadheat a dozen years ago) a new American president will have been elected – in the event of a victory by Mitt Romney, the 45th in a line stretching back to 1789 and George Washington.

The winner will be the last man standing after a contest that formally began with Iowa’s caucuses last January, and continued through a four-month primary season and the late summer party nominating conventions. Now come four presidential and vice-presidential debates, capped by a final draining sprint to the finishing line on 6 November. In reality, though, the process has been under way almost from the instant Barack Obama was sworn into office on the freezing Washington morning of 20 January 2009, promising a new beginning for his country in the midst of its worst economic and financial crisis since the Great Depression.

The final match-up is the one that all along has seemed likely, between the Democratic incumbent seeking his second permitted term, and a Republican challenger who if truth be told never stopped campaigning for the White House even after he had lost his party’s 2008 nomination to John McCain. By the time it’s all over, some $3bn may have been spent on the presidential election alone, in money raised by the candidates, their respective parties and outside groups (not least the infamous Super PACs, empowered by a Supreme Court ruling that enables super rich donors to contribute as much as they like).

Throw in the similar sum likely to be spent on the down-the-card contests, for all 435 seats in the House of Representatives and 33 Senate seats (one third of the total), as well as a dozen governors’ races, and the total outlay for Election 2012 may reach an unprecedented $6bn, equivalent to roughly $50 for every likely voter.

Right now, despite economic indicators that in previous elections would have consigned him to defeat, Mr Obama remains the favourite. Recent history suggests that incumbents who seek a second term usually succeed, and at the time of writing Intrade, the usually reliable political prediction market, gives him a 75 per cent chance of victory.

Since Herbert Hoover lost to Franklin Roosevelt in 1932, only two incumbents have been defeated: Jimmy Carter in 1980, when the opponent was Ronald Reagan, who arguably caught America’s Zeitgeist more perfectly than any candidate before or since; and George H.W. Bush, whose misfortune in 1992 was to find himself up against the most gifted politician of his age in Bill Clinton, at a moment when Republicans had already held the Presidency for 12 years. The same rule of thumb operates in the US as in most other genuine democracies. When one party has been in power for a decade the electoral mantra is: throw the bums out.

But even if Romney is manifestly neither a Reagan nor a Clinton, a second Obama term is far from set in stone. The mood of the country is sour; 35 per cent of Americans say the country is on the wrong track, a distinct improvement from a year ago to be sure, but hardly a resounding endorsement of the status quo. The worst of the Great Recession may be over, but the recovery struggles to gather steam. Since FDR, moreover, no president has been re-elected when the US unemployment rate was over 8 per cent. At the end of August it stood at 8.1 per cent.

Further complicating matters is the electoral system itself. Presidents are not elected by direct popular vote (if they were, the 43rd president would have been Al Gore, not George W. Bush) but by the sum of 51 separate elections in the constituent states and the District of Columbia. Each of these in turn sends voters to a 538-vote electoral college, all committed to the winner of the popular vote in their state – except in the cases of Maine and Nebraska, which allocate electoral college votes to the winner of each congressional district.

The number of electoral votes is in proportion to a state’s population. Thus the most populous, California, has 55, while the least populous, Wyoming, has just three. To win the presidency a candidate needs to win a majority, ie 270, of these super-electors. It is thus possible, though unlikely, that either Obama or Romney will suffer Gore’s fate.

At the very least, electoral college landsides, as defined by one candidate winning 400 or more of the 538 votes, are no more. Once they were common; of the 10 elections between 1952 and 1988, seven saw margins of that size or larger – the biggest in 1984, when Ronald Reagan trounced Walter Mondale by 525 to 13, with the latter winning only DC and his home state of Minnesota

But in an ever more polarised America, those days are over. In both 1992 and 1996, Bill Clinton failed to crack the 400 mark, while George W. Bush’s two subsequent victories were squeakers. The 365 electoral votes amasssed by Obama in 2008 – a year when everything, from financial crisis and a desperately unpopular outgoing Republican president to Obama’s personal charisma, favoured Democrats – may be close to the realistic maximum for either party. Certainly, it would be astonishing if Obama matched that score, five weeks hence.

In practice, this election will be fought and won in a dozen or so battleground states, most notably Ohio, Florida, North Carolina, Virginia, Wisconsin and Colorado, where the result is not a foregone conclusion. Right now Romney is trailing in almost every one of them, which explains why he is a 3 to 1 outsider in the race. His own shortcomings as a candidate, and his failure to provide a vision of where he wants to take the country, are one reason. No less important, Americans seem to accept that Obama, though shorn of his aura of 2008, could not have been expected to correct in a mere four years the profound economic problems laid bare by the financial crisis. He has not succeeded – but nor has he yet conclusively failed. A majority of likely voters appears ready to give him a chance to finish the job.

Such calculations of course could be turned on their head, by events abroad (a European financial collapse and Wall Street meltdown, say, or an Israeli attack on Iran’s nuclear installations) or at home, most obviously a really strong performance by Romney in the three presidential debates, the first and most important of which takes place tomorrow. In addition, some scandal or huge faux pas could undo Obama.

But such scenarios are increasingly hard to imagine. The President is a cautious, disciplined politician. And even a stellar debate performance is no guarantee of victory, as John Kerry found out in 2004. Separately, Obama is more trusted than Romney on national security, and a foreign crisis could actually help him. Time is also running out. Early voting in some states has already started, and in others will do so in a week or two. Polls suggest that at this late stage, in today’s polarised political climate, fewer people than ever (maybe 5 to 7 per cent of voters) are genuinely undecided.

And while Romney may be a lacklustre candidate, his cause has not been helped by his party. Not only do Republicans sometimes seem to inhabit an alternative universe, on tax policy, abortion and other social issues. Collectively, they are growing steadily whiter, older, more male and more conservative, when the country at large is becoming younger, more diverse and socially more liberal. Especially telling is Obama’s huge lead (almost 20 per cent in swing state Virginia) among women.

These trends could also determine the outcome of the Congressional elections. Until recently it had seemed that, even if re-elected, Obama would have to work with a Republican-controlled Congress, with his opponents retaining the House and making the net gain of four seats to secure a majority in the Senate. Again, however, this may no longer apply.

In several close-fought Senate races, the Democratic candidate is now ahead. And so unpopular is the Republican majority in the House, with its intransigent Tea Party bloc increasingly held responsible by voters for the gridlock in Washington, that there, too, Democrats conceivably could snatch back control.

Back in the dark days of late 2010, after his « shellacking » in that year’s mid-terms, Barack Obama’s fortunes reached a nadir. Some even privately wondered then whether he had lost the stomach for the fight, whether he would even run for a second term. Those doubts have been laid to rest. Election night on 6 November will be exciting. But day by day it looks less likely that come mid-January, the removal vans will be pulling up at the White House.

Voir enfin:

Can We Believe the Presidential Polls?

Last week’s CBS/New York Times poll had Obama ahead by nine points in Florida. That’s not very likely.

 Karl Rove

The WSJ

October 3, 2012

I’ve seen a movie like this one before. I was in my 20s and director of the Texas Victory Committee for Reagan-Bush. Our headquarters was in an old mortuary in Austin. That seemed an appropriate venue when, on Oct. 8, 1980, the New York Times released its poll on the presidential race in Texas, one of 10 battlegrounds. (Yes, the Lone Star State was then a battleground.)

According to the Times, the contest was « a virtual dead heat, » with President Jimmy Carter ahead despite earlier surveys showing Ronald Reagan winning. A large Hispanic turnout for Mr. Carter—and the fact that Texas was « far more Democratic than the nation » (only 16% of Texans identified themselves as Republicans then)—meant that Mr. Reagan « must do better among independents » to carry the state. Our hurriedly called strategy session at the mortuary had more than the normal complement of hand-wringers.

Then came more hard punches. On Oct. 13, Gallup put the race nationally at Carter 44%, Reagan 40%. The bottom appeared to fall out two weeks later when a new national Gallup poll had Carter 47%, Reagan 39%.

Reagan trailed in October but won in a walk.

That produced more than a few empty chairs in phone banks across Texas. But most volunteers, grim and stoic, hung on, determined to stay until the bitter end. Only Election Day was not so bitter. Reagan carried all 10 of the Times’ battleground states and defeated Mr. Carter by nearly 10 points.

Every election is different and this year won’t replicate 1980. But context might be helpful to edgy supporters of Mitt Romney.

In the past 30 days, there were 91 national polls (including each Gallup and Rasmussen daily tracking survey). Mr. Obama was at or above the magic number of 50% in just 20. His average was 47.9%. Mr. Romney’s was 45.5%.

There were 40 national polls over the same period in 2004. President George W. Bush was 50% or higher in 18. His average was 49%; Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry was at 43.8%. An Oct. 4, 2004, story in the New York Times declared the Bush/Kerry race « a dead heat » and asked « whether Mr. Bush can regain the advantage. »

Mr. Bush was hitting the vital 50% mark in almost half the polls (unlike Mr. Obama) and had a lead over Mr. Kerry twice as large as the one Mr. Obama now holds over Mr. Romney. So why was the 2004 race « a dead heat » while many commentators today say Mr. Obama is the clear favorite?

The reality is that 2012 is a horse race and will remain so. An incumbent below 50% is in grave danger. On Election Day he’ll usually receive less than his final poll number. That’s because his detractors are more likely to turn out, and undecideds are more resistant to voting for him.

Then there is the tsunami of state-level polls. Last week, there were 46 polls in 22 states; the week before, 52 polls in 18 states; and the week before that, 41 polls in 20 states. They’re endowed by the media with a scientific precision they simply don’t have.

Take last week’s CBS/New York Times Florida survey, which had Mr. Obama leading Mr. Romney by nine points. The poll sampled more Democrats than Republicans—nine percentage points more. Yet the Democratic advantage in the 2008 presidential exit polls was three percentage points. Does it seem probable that Florida Democrats will turn out in higher numbers in 2012, especially when their registration edge over Republicans dropped by 22% in the past four years?

On Aug. 2, radio talk-show host Hugh Hewitt asked Peter Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University polling organization—which runs the CBS/NYT battleground state polls, including last week’s Florida poll—if he expected a Democratic advantage in the Sunshine State three times what it was last time. Mr. Brown responded that « I think it is probably unlikely, » but defended his polling organization’s record.

Both candidates have advantages as the race enters its final month. Mr. Obama is slightly ahead (but short of 50%). Late-deciding independents will probably break more for Mr. Romney. Clear-eyed operatives in Boston and Chicago know this and are only playing head games with their opposition when they assert otherwise.

Team Obama’s relentless efforts to denigrate Mr. Romney as a sure loser appear to have convinced the Republican candidate that he must run as the underdog. This will make the naturally cautious Mr. Romney more aggressive, energized and specific about his agenda in the campaign’s closing weeks than he might have been. It will also make his victory more likely. America likes come-from-behind winners.

Mr. Rove, a former deputy chief of staff to President George W. Bush, helped organize the political action committee American Crossroads.


Présidence Obama: Obama ou l’anti-Reagan (Looking back at the illusion of Obama’s popularity)

16 novembre, 2010
Reagan, je l’ai trouvé comme il est : habité de certitudes. Américain typique, il n’est pas très exportable. Mitterrand (sommet d’Ottawa, 1981)
Son étroitesse d’esprit est évidente. Cette homme n’a que quelques disques qui tournent et retournent dans sa tête. Mitterrand (sommet de Williamsburg, 1983)
L’égalité sera acquise quand on élira un Président noir incompétent. Pape Diouf (président de l’Olympique de Marseille et ancien journaliste)
Imaginez que vous soyez un électeur. Il y a le type X et le type Y. Vous êtes totalement d’accord avec le type X mais vous ne pensez pas qu’il puisse gérer quoi que ce soit. Quant au type Y, vous divergez de point de vue sur la moitié des dossiers mais vous le pensez qualifié. Pour qui voteriez-vous ? Bill Clinton (Aout 2008)
I think that I’m a better speechwriter than my speechwriters. I know more about policies on any particular issue than my policy directors. And I’ll tell you right now that I’m gonna think I’m a better political director than my political director. Obama
C’est un homme de promesse perpétuelle. Il y avait une plaisanterie cruelle qui disait que le Brésil est le pays de l’avenir et qu’il le sera toujours; Obama est le Brésil des politiciens d’aujourd’hui. Il n’a évidemment rien accompli. Et dans le contexte américain, être le héros de cinq gauchistes norvégiens n’est pas exactement positif du point de vue politique (…) Ce qui rendait Obama unique, c’est qu’il était le politicien charismatique par excellence – le plus total inconnu à jamais accéder à la présidence aux Etats-Unis. Personne ne savait qui il était, il sortait de nulle part, il avait cette figure incroyable qui l’a catapulté au-dessus de la mêlée, il a annihilé Hillary, pris le contrôle du parti Démocrate et est devenu président. C’est vraiment sans précédent : un jeune inconnu sans histoire, dossiers, associés bien connus, auto-créé. Charles Krauthammer
I fear two things with Obama. One is if the GOP fails to elect a House majority in 2010 to keep Obama within the bounds of sanity. A GOP majority is essential for the safety of the country and the world. But even if Obama is defeated in 2012, he will just turn into an angrier version of Al Gore and Jimmy Carter. He will haunt the political future of this country as long as he is alive, because that famished ego never gets enough. Malignant narcissism often gets worse over time. And on the Left and among blacks, Obama will still have love and adoration enough to keep him supplied. He is an easy target for flattery by the Saudis, even the Iranians — in fact, by all the real enemies we have. So even if the voters throw out this very dangerous cult-like administration, you can expect Obama to be popping up in our politics for years to come. He will haunt the Democrats, which might be a good thing. But he will haunt the United States as well, even if he is defeated in 2012. James Lewis
Les marchés boursiers ne sont pas les seuls, pour reprendre la célèbre formule d’Alan Greenspan, à faire preuve « d’exubérance irrationnelle ». Pierre Delhommais
Le mythe R. Reagan, « grand communicateur », a valeur d’exemple : loin de ne reposer que sur les vertus du président des États-Unis élu en 1980, la construction de cette réputation repose sur un savoureux paradoxe puisqu’elle s’est imposée au moment même où sa cote de popularité ne parvenait pas à décoller. En contrepartie, l’état-major de Reagan a fortement investi dans les relations avec la presse ainsi qu’en direction du Congrès en mobilisant systématiquement les courants d’opinion conservateurs invités à relayer publiquement les positions du président sur ses thèmes de prédilection. De sorte que la popularité de Reagan, que les journalistes ont attribuée volontiers à ses qualités personnelles et à ses dons oratoires, semble avoir été le résultat d’un intense et efficace travail de coulisses. Acrimed

Attention: une illusion peut en cacher une autre!

A l’heure ou, avec la correction électorale en début du mois de leur « exubérance irrationnelle », nos Obamalatres des medias en sont a appeler celle-ci a renoncer a une seconde candidature en 2012 voire a ouvertement regretter son prédécesseur …

Et ou, avec cette fois la planche a billets et a l’instar d’une France qui s’enfonce chaque jour un peu plus dans le chomage, le président en question semble bien parti pour confirmer par son incompétence l’aquisition définitive de l’égaliteépour les noirs …

Comment ne pas repenser a l’effondrement d’une autre « illusion » elle aussi en son temps, si l’on en croit nos politologues, largement créée et entretenue par les medias ?

A savoir celle de la popularité d’un autre « grand communicateur »

Dont la carriere, apres avoir vu son progressisme braqué par la realité, avait elle aussi été lancée par un brillant discours pour l’investiture du candidat (perdant) de son parti …

Et qui avait lui aussi du son élection plus au rejet de son prédécesseur ou de sa politique qu’a son propre programme …

Mais a la différence toutefois (ce que semblent étrangement oublier nos dits politologues) qu’avec le retour de la croissance et la victoire de la Guerre froide, celui-ci avait vu ses idées largement validées

1964 Republican Convention

The following speech was given by President Reagan when he nominated Barry Goldwater at the 1964 Republican Convention in Cow Palace.

I am going to talk of controversial things. I make no apology for this.

It’s time we asked ourselves if we still know the freedoms intended for us by the Founding Fathers. James Madison said, « We base all our experiments on the capacity of mankind for self government. »

This idea that government was beholden to the people, that it had no other source of power is still the newest, most unique idea in all the long history of man’s relation to man. This is the issue of this election: Whether we believe in our capacity for self-government or whether we abandon the American Revolution and confess that a little intellectual elite in a far-distant capital can plan our lives for us better than we can plan them ourselves.

You and I are told we must choose between a left and right, but I suggest there is no such thing as a left or right. There is only an up or down. Up to man’s age-old dream-the maximum of individual freedom consistent with order or down to the ant heap of totalitarianism. Regardless of their sincerity, their humanitarian motives, those who would sacrifice freedom for security have embarked on this downward path. Plutarch warned, « The real destroyer of the liberties of the people is he who spreads among them bounties, donations and benefits. »

The Founding Fathers knew a government can’t control the economy without controlling people. And they knew when a government sets out to do that, it must use force and coercion to achieve its purpose. So we have come to a time for choosing.

Public servants say, always with the best of intentions, « What greater service we could render if only we had a little more money and a little more power. » But the truth is that outside of its legitimate function, government does nothing as well or as economically as the private sector.

Yet any time you and I question the schemes of the do-gooders, we’re denounced as being opposed to their humanitarian goals. It seems impossible to legitimately debate their solutions with the assumption that all of us share the desire to help the less fortunate. They tell us we’re always « against, » never « for » anything.

We are for a provision that destitution should not follow unemployment by reason of old age, and to that end we have accepted Social Security as a step toward meeting the problem. However, we are against those entrusted with this program when they practice deception regarding its fiscal shortcomings, when they charge that any criticism of the program means that we want to end payments….

We are for aiding our allies by sharing our material blessings with nations which share our fundamental beliefs, but we are against doling out money government to government, creating bureaucracy, if not socialism, all over the world

We need true tax reform that will at least make a start toward restoring for our children the American Dream that wealth is denied to no one, that each individual has the right to fly as high as his strength and ability will take him…. But we can not have such reform while our tax policy is engineered by people who view the tax as a means of achieving changes in our social structure….

Have we the courage and the will to face up to the immorality and discrimination of the progressive tax, and demand a return to traditional proportionate taxation? . . . Today in our country the tax collector’s share is 37 cents of every dollar earned. Freedom has never been so fragile, so close to slipping from our grasp.

Are you willing to spend time studying the issues, making yourself aware, and then conveying that information to family and friends? Will you resist the temptation to get a government handout for your community? Realize that the doctor’s fight against socialized medicine is your fight. We can’t socialize the doctors without socializing the patients. Recognize that government invasion of public power is eventually an assault upon your own business. If some among you fear taking a stand because you are afraid of reprisals from customers, clients, or even government, recognize that you are just feeding the crocodile hoping he’ll eat you last.

If all of this seems like a great deal of trouble, think what’s at stake. We are faced with the most evil enemy mankind has known in his long climb from the swamp to the stars. There can be no security anywhere in the free world if there is no fiscal and economic stability within the United States. Those who ask us to trade our freedom for the soup kitchen of the welfare state are architects of a policy of accommodation.

They say the world has become too complex for simple answers. They are wrong. There are no easy answers, but there are simple answers. We must have the courage to do what we know is morally right. Winston Churchill said that « the destiny of man is not measured by material computation. When great forces are on the move in the world, we learn we are spirits-not animals. » And he said, « There is something going on in time and space, and beyond time and space, which, whether we like it or not, spells duty. »

You and I have a rendezvous with destiny. We will preserve for our children this, the last best hope of man on earth, or we will sentence them to take the first step into a thousand years of darkness. If we fail, at least let our children and our children’s children say of us we justified our brief moment here. We did all that could be done.

Voir aussi:

Ronald Reagan

A Time for Choosing (aka « The Speech »)

Air date 27 October 1964, Los Angeles, C

Program Announcer: Ladies and gentlemen, we take pride in presenting a thoughtful address by Ronald Reagan. Mr. Reagan:

Reagan: Thank you. Thank you very much. Thank you and good evening. The sponsor has been identified, but unlike most television programs, the performer hasn’t been provided with a script. As a matter of fact, I have been permitted to choose my own words and discuss my own ideas regarding the choice that we face in the next few weeks

I have spent most of my life as a Democrat. I recently have seen fit to follow another course. I believe that the issues confronting us cross party lines. Now, one side in this campaign has been telling us that the issues of this election are the maintenance of peace and prosperity. The line has been used, « We’ve never had it so good. »

But I have an uncomfortable feeling that this prosperity isn’t something on which we can base our hopes for the future. No nation in history has ever survived a tax burden that reached a third of its national income. Today, 37 cents out of every dollar earned in this country is the tax collector’s share, and yet our government continues to spend 17 million dollars a day more than the government takes in. We haven’t balanced our budget 28 out of the last 34 years. We’ve raised our debt limit three times in the last twelve months, and now our national debt is one and a half times bigger than all the combined debts of all the nations of the world. We have 15 billion dollars in gold in our treasury; we don’t own an ounce. Foreign dollar claims are 27.3 billion dollars. And we’ve just had announced that the dollar of 1939 will now purchase 45 cents in its total value.

As for the peace that we would preserve, I wonder who among us would like to approach the wife or mother whose husband or son has died in South Vietnam and ask them if they think this is a peace that should be maintained indefinitely. Do they mean peace, or do they mean we just want to be left in peace? There can be no real peace while one American is dying some place in the world for the rest of us. We’re at war with the most dangerous enemy that has ever faced mankind in his long climb from the swamp to the stars, and it’s been said if we lose that war, and in so doing lose this way of freedom of ours, history will record with the greatest astonishment that those who had the most to lose did the least to prevent its happening. Well I think it’s time we ask ourselves if we still know the freedoms that were intended for us by the Founding Fathers.

Not too long ago, two friends of mine were talking to a Cuban refugee, a businessman who had escaped from Castro, and in the midst of his story one of my friends turned to the other and said, « We don’t know how lucky we are. » And the Cuban stopped and said, « How lucky you are? I had someplace to escape to. » And in that sentence he told us the entire story. If we lose freedom here, there’s no place to escape to. This is the last stand on earth.

And this idea that government is beholden to the people, that it has no other source of power except the sovereign people, is still the newest and the most unique idea in all the long history of man’s relation to man.

This is the issue of this election: whether we believe in our capacity for self-government or whether we abandon the American revolution and confess that a little intellectual elite in a far-distant capitol can plan our lives for us better than we can plan them ourselves.

You and I are told increasingly we have to choose between a left or right. Well I’d like to suggest there is no such thing as a left or right. There’s only an up or down: [up] man’s old — old-aged dream, the ultimate in individual freedom consistent with law and order, or down to the ant heap of totalitarianism. And regardless of their sincerity, their humanitarian motives, those who would trade our freedom for security have embarked on this downward course.

In this vote-harvesting time, they use terms like the « Great Society, » or as we were told a few days ago by the President, we must accept a greater government activity in the affairs of the people. But they’ve been a little more explicit in the past and among themselves; and all of the things I now will quote have appeared in print. These are not Republican accusations. For example, they have voices that say, « The cold war will end through our acceptance of a not undemocratic socialism. » Another voice says, « The profit motive has become outmoded. It must be replaced by the incentives of the welfare state. » Or, « Our traditional system of individual freedom is incapable of solving the complex problems of the 20th century. » Senator Fulbright has said at Stanford University that the Constitution is outmoded. He referred to the President as « our moral teacher and our leader, » and he says he is « hobbled in his task by the restrictions of power imposed on him by this antiquated document. » He must « be freed, » so that he « can do for us » what he knows « is best. » And Senator Clark of Pennsylvania, another articulate spokesman, defines liberalism as « meeting the material needs of the masses through the full power of centralized government. »

Well, I, for one, resent it when a representative of the people refers to you and me, the free men and women of this country, as « the masses. » This is a term we haven’t applied to ourselves in America. But beyond that, « the full power of centralized government » — this was the very thing the Founding Fathers sought to minimize. They knew that governments don’t control things. A government can’t control the economy without controlling people. And they know when a government sets out to do that, it must use force and coercion to achieve its purpose. They also knew, those Founding Fathers, that outside of its legitimate functions, government does nothing as well or as economically as the private sector of the economy.

Now, we have no better example of this than government’s involvement in the farm economy over the last 30 years. Since 1955, the cost of this program has nearly doubled. One-fourth of farming in America is responsible for 85% of the farm surplus. Three-fourths of farming is out on the free market and has known a 21% increase in the per capita consumption of all its produce. You see, that one-fourth of farming — that’s regulated and controlled by the federal government. In the last three years we’ve spent 43 dollars in the feed grain program for every dollar bushel of corn we don’t grow.

Senator Humphrey last week charged that Barry Goldwater, as President, would seek to eliminate farmers. He should do his homework a little better, because he’ll find out that we’ve had a decline of 5 million in the farm population under these government programs. He’ll also find that the Democratic administration has sought to get from Congress [an] extension of the farm program to include that three-fourths that is now free. He’ll find that they’ve also asked for the right to imprison farmers who wouldn’t keep books as prescribed by the federal government. The Secretary of Agriculture asked for the right to seize farms through condemnation and resell them to other individuals. And contained in that same program was a provision that would have allowed the federal government to remove 2 million farmers from the soil.

At the same time, there’s been an increase in the Department of Agriculture employees. There’s now one for every 30 farms in the United States, and still they can’t tell us how 66 shiploads of grain headed for Austria disappeared without a trace and Billie Sol Estes never left shore.

Every responsible farmer and farm organization has repeatedly asked the government to free the farm economy, but how — who are farmers to know what’s best for them? The wheat farmers voted against a wheat program. The government passed it anyway. Now the price of bread goes up; the price of wheat to the farmer goes down.

Meanwhile, back in the city, under urban renewal the assault on freedom carries on. Private property rights [are] so diluted that public interest is almost anything a few government planners decide it should be. In a program that takes from the needy and gives to the greedy, we see such spectacles as in Cleveland, Ohio, a million-and-a-half-dollar building completed only three years ago must be destroyed to make way for what government officials call a « more compatible use of the land. » The President tells us he’s now going to start building public housing units in the thousands, where heretofore we’ve only built them in the hundreds. But FHA [Federal Housing Authority] and the Veterans Administration tell us they have 120,000 housing units they’ve taken back through mortgage foreclosure. For three decades, we’ve sought to solve the problems of unemployment through government planning, and the more the plans fail, the more the planners plan. The latest is the Area Redevelopment Agency.

They’ve just declared Rice County, Kansas, a depressed area. Rice County, Kansas, has two hundred oil wells, and the 14,000 people there have over 30 million dollars on deposit in personal savings in their banks. And when the government tells you you’re depressed, lie down and be depressed.

We have so many people who can’t see a fat man standing beside a thin one without coming to the conclusion the fat man got that way by taking advantage of the thin one. So they’re going to solve all the problems of human misery through government and government planning. Well, now, if government planning and welfare had the answer — and they’ve had almost 30 years of it — shouldn’t we expect government to read the score to us once in a while? Shouldn’t they be telling us about the decline each year in the number of people needing help? The reduction in the need for public housing?

But the reverse is true. Each year the need grows greater; the program grows greater. We were told four years ago that 17 million people went to bed hungry each night. Well that was probably true. They were all on a diet. But now we’re told that 9.3 million families in this country are poverty-stricken on the basis of earning less than 3,000 dollars a year. Welfare spending [is] 10 times greater than in the dark depths of the Depression. We’re spending 45 billion dollars on welfare. Now do a little arithmetic, and you’ll find that if we divided the 45 billion dollars up equally among those 9 million poor families, we’d be able to give each family 4,600 dollars a year. And this added to their present income should eliminate poverty. Direct aid to the poor, however, is only running only about 600 dollars per family. It would seem that someplace there must be some overhead.

Now — so now we declare « war on poverty, » or « You, too, can be a Bobby Baker. » Now do they honestly expect us to believe that if we add 1 billion dollars to the 45 billion we’re spending, one more program to the 30-odd we have — and remember, this new program doesn’t replace any, it just duplicates existing programs — do they believe that poverty is suddenly going to disappear by magic? Well, in all fairness I should explain there is one part of the new program that isn’t duplicated. This is the youth feature. We’re now going to solve the dropout problem, juvenile delinquency, by reinstituting something like the old CCC camps [Civilian Conservation Corps], and we’re going to put our young people in these camps. But again we do some arithmetic, and we find that we’re going to spend each year just on room and board for each young person we help 4,700 dollars a year. We can send them to Harvard for 2,700! Course, don’t get me wrong. I’m not suggesting Harvard is the answer to juvenile delinquency.

But seriously, what are we doing to those we seek to help? Not too long ago, a judge called me here in Los Angeles. He told me of a young woman who’d come before him for a divorce. She had six children, was pregnant with her seventh. Under his questioning, she revealed her husband was a laborer earning 250 dollars a month. She wanted a divorce to get an 80 dollar raise. She’s eligible for 330 dollars a month in the Aid to Dependent Children Program. She got the idea from two women in her neighborhood who’d already done that very thing.

Yet anytime you and I question the schemes of the do-gooders, we’re denounced as being against their humanitarian goals. They say we’re always « against » things — we’re never « for » anything.

Well, the trouble with our liberal friends is not that they’re ignorant; it’s just that they know so much that isn’t so.

Now — we’re for a provision that destitution should not follow unemployment by reason of old age, and to that end we’ve accepted Social Security as a step toward meeting the problem.

But we’re against those entrusted with this program when they practice deception regarding its fiscal shortcomings, when they charge that any criticism of the program means that we want to end payments to those people who depend on them for a livelihood. They’ve called it « insurance » to us in a hundred million pieces of literature. But then they appeared before the Supreme Court and they testified it was a welfare program. They only use the term « insurance » to sell it to the people. And they said Social Security dues are a tax for the general use of the government, and the government has used that tax. There is no fund, because Robert Byers, the actuarial head, appeared before a congressional committee and admitted that Social Security as of this moment is 298 billion dollars in the hole. But he said there should be no cause for worry because as long as they have the power to tax, they could always take away from the people whatever they needed to bail them out of trouble. And they’re doing just that.

A young man, 21 years of age, working at an average salary — his Social Security contribution would, in the open market, buy him an insurance policy that would guarantee 220 dollars a month at age 65. The government promises 127. He could live it up until he’s 31 and then take out a policy that would pay more than Social Security. Now are we so lacking in business sense that we can’t put this program on a sound basis, so that people who do require those payments will find they can get them when they’re due — that the cupboard isn’t bare?

Barry Goldwater thinks we can.

At the same time, can’t we introduce voluntary features that would permit a citizen who can do better on his own to be excused upon presentation of evidence that he had made provision for the non-earning years? Should we not allow a widow with children to work, and not lose the benefits supposedly paid for by her deceased husband? Shouldn’t you and I be allowed to declare who our beneficiaries will be under this program, which we cannot do? I think we’re for telling our senior citizens that no one in this country should be denied medical care because of a lack of funds. But I think we’re against forcing all citizens, regardless of need, into a compulsory government program, especially when we have such examples, as was announced last week, when France admitted that their Medicare program is now bankrupt. They’ve come to the end of the road.

In addition, was Barry Goldwater so irresponsible when he suggested that our government give up its program of deliberate, planned inflation, so that when you do get your Social Security pension, a dollar will buy a dollar’s worth, and not 45 cents worth?

I think we’re for an international organization, where the nations of the world can seek peace. But I think we’re against subordinating American interests to an organization that has become so structurally unsound that today you can muster a two-thirds vote on the floor of the General Assembly among nations that represent less than 10 percent of the world’s population. I think we’re against the hypocrisy of assailing our allies because here and there they cling to a colony, while we engage in a conspiracy of silence and never open our mouths about the millions of people enslaved in the Soviet colonies in the satellite nations.

I think we’re for aiding our allies by sharing of our material blessings with those nations which share in our fundamental beliefs, but we’re against doling out money government to government, creating bureaucracy, if not socialism, all over the world. We set out to help 19 countries. We’re helping 107. We’ve spent 146 billion dollars. With that money, we bought a 2 million dollar yacht for Haile Selassie. We bought dress suits for Greek undertakers, extra wives for Kenya[n] government officials. We bought a thousand TV sets for a place where they have no electricity. In the last six years, 52 nations have bought 7 billion dollars worth of our gold, and all 52 are receiving foreign aid from this country.

No government ever voluntarily reduces itself in size. So, governments’ programs, once launched, never disappear.

Actually, a government bureau is the nearest thing to eternal life we’ll ever see on this earth.

Federal employees — federal employees number two and a half million; and federal, state, and local, one out of six of the nation’s work force employed by government. These proliferating bureaus with their thousands of regulations have cost us many of our constitutional safeguards. How many of us realize that today federal agents can invade a man’s property without a warrant? They can impose a fine without a formal hearing, let alone a trial by jury? And they can seize and sell his property at auction to enforce the payment of that fine. In Chico County, Arkansas, James Wier over-planted his rice allotment. The government obtained a 17,000 dollar judgment. And a U.S. marshal sold his 960-acre farm at auction. The government said it was necessary as a warning to others to make the system work.

Last February 19th at the University of Minnesota, Norman Thomas, six-times candidate for President on the Socialist Party ticket, said, « If Barry Goldwater became President, he would stop the advance of socialism in the United States. » I think that’s exactly what he will do.

But as a former Democrat, I can tell you Norman Thomas isn’t the only man who has drawn this parallel to socialism with the present administration, because back in 1936, Mr. Democrat himself, Al Smith, the great American, came before the American people and charged that the leadership of his Party was taking the Party of Jefferson, Jackson, and Cleveland down the road under the banners of Marx, Lenin, and Stalin. And he walked away from his Party, and he never returned til the day he died — because to this day, the leadership of that Party has been taking that Party, that honorable Party, down the road in the image of the labor Socialist Party of England.

Now it doesn’t require expropriation or confiscation of private property or business to impose socialism on a people. What does it mean whether you hold the deed to the — or the title to your business or property if the government holds the power of life and death over that business or property? And such machinery already exists. The government can find some charge to bring against any concern it chooses to prosecute. Every businessman has his own tale of harassment. Somewhere a perversion has taken place. Our natural, unalienable rights are now considered to be a dispensation of government, and freedom has never been so fragile, so close to slipping from our grasp as it is at this moment.

Our Democratic opponents seem unwilling to debate these issues. They want to make you and I believe that this is a contest between two men — that we’re to choose just between two personalities.

Well what of this man that they would destroy — and in destroying, they would destroy that which he represents, the ideas that you and I hold dear? Is he the brash and shallow and trigger-happy man they say he is? Well I’ve been privileged to know him « when. » I knew him long before he ever dreamed of trying for high office, and I can tell you personally I’ve never known a man in my life I believed so incapable of doing a dishonest or dishonorable thing.

This is a man who, in his own business before he entered politics, instituted a profit-sharing plan before unions had ever thought of it. He put in health and medical insurance for all his employees. He took 50 percent of the profits before taxes and set up a retirement program, a pension plan for all his employees. He sent monthly checks for life to an employee who was ill and couldn’t work. He provides nursing care for the children of mothers who work in the stores. When Mexico was ravaged by the floods in the Rio Grande, he climbed in his airplane and flew medicine and supplies down there.

An ex-GI told me how he met him. It was the week before Christmas during the Korean War, and he was at the Los Angeles airport trying to get a ride home to Arizona for Christmas. And he said that [there were] a lot of servicemen there and no seats available on the planes. And then a voice came over the loudspeaker and said, « Any men in uniform wanting a ride to Arizona, go to runway such-and-such, » and they went down there, and there was a fellow named Barry Goldwater sitting in his plane. Every day in those weeks before Christmas, all day long, he’d load up the plane, fly it to Arizona, fly them to their homes, fly back over to get another load.

During the hectic split-second timing of a campaign, this is a man who took time out to sit beside an old friend who was dying of cancer. His campaign managers were understandably impatient, but he said, « There aren’t many left who care what happens to her. I’d like her to know I care. » This is a man who said to his 19-year-old son, « There is no foundation like the rock of honesty and fairness, and when you begin to build your life on that rock, with the cement of the faith in God that you have, then you have a real start. » This is not a man who could carelessly send other people’s sons to war. And that is the issue of this campaign that makes all the other problems I’ve discussed academic, unless we realize we’re in a war that must be won.

Those who would trade our freedom for the soup kitchen of the welfare state have told us they have a utopian solution of peace without victory. They call their policy « accommodation. » And they say if we’ll only avoid any direct confrontation with the enemy, he’ll forget his evil ways and learn to love us. All who oppose them are indicted as warmongers. They say we offer simple answers to complex problems. Well, perhaps there is a simple answer — not an easy answer — but simple: If you and I have the courage to tell our elected officials that we want our national policy based on what we know in our hearts is morally right.

We cannot buy our security, our freedom from the threat of the bomb by committing an immorality so great as saying to a billion human beings now enslaved behind the Iron Curtain, « Give up your dreams of freedom because to save our own skins, we’re willing to make a deal with your slave masters. » Alexander Hamilton said, « A nation which can prefer disgrace to danger is prepared for a master, and deserves one. » Now let’s set the record straight. There’s no argument over the choice between peace and war, but there’s only one guaranteed way you can have peace — and you can have it in the next second — surrender.

Admittedly, there’s a risk in any course we follow other than this, but every lesson of history tells us that the greater risk lies in appeasement, and this is the specter our well-meaning liberal friends refuse to face — that their policy of accommodation is appeasement, and it gives no choice between peace and war, only between fight or surrender. If we continue to accommodate, continue to back and retreat, eventually we have to face the final demand — the ultimatum. And what then — when Nikita Khrushchev has told his people he knows what our answer will be? He has told them that we’re retreating under the pressure of the Cold War, and someday when the time comes to deliver the final ultimatum, our surrender will be voluntary, because by that time we will have been weakened from within spiritually, morally, and economically. He believes this because from our side he’s heard voices pleading for « peace at any price » or « better Red than dead, » or as one commentator put it, he’d rather « live on his knees than die on his feet. » And therein lies the road to war, because those voices don’t speak for the rest of us.

You and I know and do not believe that life is so dear and peace so sweet as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery. If nothing in life is worth dying for, when did this begin — just in the face of this enemy? Or should Moses have told the children of Israel to live in slavery under the pharaohs? Should Christ have refused the cross? Should the patriots at Concord Bridge have thrown down their guns and refused to fire the shot heard ’round the world? The martyrs of history were not fools, and our honored dead who gave their lives to stop the advance of the Nazis didn’t die in vain. Where, then, is the road to peace? Well it’s a simple answer after all.

You and I have the courage to say to our enemies, « There is a price we will not pay. » « There is a point beyond which they must not advance. » And this — this is the meaning in the phrase of Barry Goldwater’s « peace through strength. » Winston Churchill said, « The destiny of man is not measured by material computations. When great forces are on the move in the world, we learn we’re spirits — not animals. » And he said, « There’s something going on in time and space, and beyond time and space, which, whether we like it or not, spells duty. »

You and I have a rendezvous with destiny.

We’ll preserve for our children this, the last best hope of man on earth, or we’ll sentence them to take the last step into a thousand years of darkness.

We will keep in mind and remember that Barry Goldwater has faith in us. He has faith that you and I have the ability and the dignity and the right to make our own decisions and determine our own destiny.

Thank you very much.

Voir aussi:

OBAMA

July 27, 2004

Keynote Address

2004 Democratic National Convention

On behalf of the great state of Illinois, crossroads of a nation, land of Lincoln, let me express my deep gratitude for the privilege of addressing this convention. Tonight is a particular honor for me because, let’s face it, my presence on this stage is pretty unlikely. My father was a foreign student, born and raised in a small village in Kenya. He grew up herding goats, went to school in a tin-roof shack. His father, my grandfather, was a cook, a domestic servant.

But my grandfather had larger dreams for his son. Through hard work and perseverance my father got a scholarship to study in a magical place: America, which stood as a beacon of freedom and opportunity to so many who had come before. While studying here, my father met my mother. She was born in a town on the other side of the world, in Kansas. Her father worked on oil rigs and farms through most of the Depression. The day after Pearl Harbor he signed up for duty, joined Patton’s army and marched across Europe. Back home, my grandmother raised their baby and went to work on a bomber assembly line. After the war, they studied on the GI Bill, bought a house through FHA, and moved west in search of opportunity.

And they, too, had big dreams for their daughter, a common dream, born of two continents. My parents shared not only an improbable love; they shared an abiding faith in the possibilities of this nation. They would give me an African name, Barack, or « blessed, » believing that in a tolerant America your name is no barrier to success. They imagined me going to the best schools in the land, even though they weren’t rich, because in a generous America you don’t have to be rich to achieve your potential. They are both passed away now. Yet, I know that, on this night, they look down on me with pride.

I stand here today, grateful for the diversity of my heritage, aware that my parents’ dreams live on in my precious daughters. I stand here knowing that my story is part of the larger American story, that I owe a debt to all of those who came before me, and that, in no other country on earth, is my story even possible. Tonight, we gather to affirm the greatness of our nation, not because of the height of our skyscrapers, or the power of our military, or the size of our economy. Our pride is based on a very simple premise, summed up in a declaration made over two hundred years ago, « We hold these truths to he self-evident, that all men are created equal. That they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights. That among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. »

That is the true genius of America, a faith in the simple dreams of its people, the insistence on small miracles. That we can tuck in our children at night and know they are fed and clothed and safe from harm. That we can say what we think, write what we think, without hearing a sudden knock on the door. That we can have an idea and start our own business without paying a bribe or hiring somebody’s son. That we can participate in the political process without fear of retribution, and that our votes will he counted ? or at least, most of the time.

This year, in this election, we are called to reaffirm our values and commitments, to hold them against a hard reality and see how we are measuring up, to the legacy of our forbearers, and the promise of future generations. And fellow Americans ? Democrats, Republicans, Independents ? I say to you tonight: we have more work to do. More to do for the workers I met in Galesburg, Illinois, who are losing their union jobs at the Maytag plant that’s moving to Mexico, and now are having to compete with their own children for jobs that pay seven bucks an hour. More to do for the father I met who was losing his job and choking back tears, wondering how he would pay $4,500 a month for the drugs his son needs without the health benefits he counted on. More to do for the young woman in East St. Louis, and thousands more like her, who has the grades, has the drive, has the will, but doesn’t have the money to go to college.

Don’t get me wrong. The people I meet in small towns and big cities, in diners and office parks, they don’t expect government to solve all their problems. They know they have to work hard to get ahead and they want to. Go into the collar counties around Chicago, and people will tell you they don’t want their tax money wasted by a welfare agency or the Pentagon. Go into any inner city neighborhood, and folks will tell you that government alone can’t teach kids to learn. They know that parents have to parent, that children can’t achieve unless we raise their expectations and turn off the television sets and eradicate the slander that says a black youth with a book is acting white. No, people don’t expect government to solve all their problems. But they sense, deep in their bones, that with just a change in priorities, we can make sure that every child in America has a decent shot at life, and that the doors of opportunity remain open to all. They know we can do better. And they want that choice.

In this election, we offer that choice. Our party has chosen a man to lead us who embodies the best this country has to offer. That man is John Kerry. John Kerry understands the ideals of community, faith, and sacrifice, because they’ve defined his life. From his heroic service in Vietnam to his years as prosecutor and lieutenant governor, through two decades in the United States Senate, he has devoted himself to this country. Again and again, we’ve seen him make tough choices when easier ones were available. His values and his record affirm what is best in us.

John Kerry believes in an America where hard work is rewarded. So instead of offering tax breaks to companies shipping jobs overseas, he’ll offer them to companies creating jobs here at home. John Kerry believes in an America where all Americans can afford the same health coverage our politicians in Washington have for themselves. John Kerry believes in energy independence, so we aren’t held hostage to the profits of oil companies or the sabotage of foreign oil fields. John Kerry believes in the constitutional freedoms that have made our country the envy of the world, and he will never sacrifice our basic liberties nor use faith as a wedge to divide us. And John Kerry believes that in a dangerous world, war must be an option, but it should never he the first option.

A while back, I met a young man named Shamus at the VFW Hall in East Moline, Illinois. He was a good-looking kid, six-two or six-three, clear-eyed, with an easy smile. He told me he’d joined the Marines and was heading to Iraq the following week. As I listened to him explain why he’d enlisted, his absolute faith in our country and its leaders, his devotion to duty and service, I thought this young man was all any of us might hope for in a child. But then I asked myself: Are we serving Shamus as well as he was serving us? I thought of more than 900 service men and women, sons and daughters, husbands and wives, friends and neighbors, who will not be returning to their hometowns. I thought of families I had met who were struggling to get by without a loved one’s full income, or whose loved ones had returned with a limb missing or with nerves shattered, but who still lacked long-term health benefits because they were reservists. When we send our young men and women into harm’s way, we have a solemn obligation not to fudge the numbers or shade the truth about why they’re going, to care for their families while they’re gone, to tend to the soldiers upon their return, and to never ever go to war without enough troops to win the war, secure the peace, and earn the respect of the world.

Now let me be clear. We have real enemies in the world. These enemies must be found. They must be pursued and they must be defeated. John Kerry knows this. And just as Lieutenant Kerry did not hesitate to risk his life to protect the men who served with him in Vietnam, President Kerry will not hesitate one moment to use our military might to keep America safe and secure. John Kerry believes in America. And he knows it’s not enough for just some of us to prosper. For alongside our famous individualism, there’s another ingredient in the American saga.

A belief that we are connected as one people. If there’s a child on the south side of Chicago who can’t read, that matters to me, even if it’s not my child. If there’s a senior citizen somewhere who can’t pay for her prescription and has to choose between medicine and the rent, that makes my life poorer, even if it’s not my grandmother. If there’s an Arab American family being rounded up without benefit of an attorney or due process, that threatens my civil liberties. It’s that fundamental belief ? I am my brother’s keeper, I am my sister’s keeper ? that makes this country work. It’s what allows us to pursue our individual dreams, yet still come together as a single American family. « E pluribus unum. » Out of many, one.

Yet even as we speak, there are those who are preparing to divide us, the spin masters and negative ad peddlers who embrace the politics of anything goes. Well, I say to them tonight, there’s not a liberal America and a conservative America there’s the United States of America. There’s not a black America and white America and Latino America and Asian America; there’s the United States of America. The pundits like to slice-and-dice our country into Red States and Blue States; Red States for Republicans, Blue States for Democrats. But I’ve got news for them, too. We worship an awesome God in the Blue States, and we don’t like federal agents poking around our libraries in the Red States. We coach Little League in the Blue States and have gay friends in the Red States. There are patriots who opposed the war in Iraq and patriots who supported it. We are one people, all of us pledging allegiance to the stars and stripes, all of us defending the United States of America.

In the end, that’s what this election is about. Do we participate in a politics of cynicism or a politics of hope? John Kerry calls on us to hope. John Edwards calls on us to hope. I’m not talking about blind optimism here ? the almost willful ignorance that thinks unemployment will go away if we just don’t talk about it, or the health care crisis will solve itself if we just ignore it. No, I’m talking about something more substantial. It’s the hope of slaves sitting around a fire singing freedom songs; the hope of immigrants setting out for distant shores; the hope of a young naval lieutenant bravely patrolling the Mekong Delta; the hope of a millworker’s son who dares to defy the odds; the hope of a skinny kid with a funny name who believes that America has a place for him, too. The audacity of hope!

In the end, that is God’s greatest gift to us, the bedrock of this nation; the belief in things not seen; the belief that there are better days ahead. I believe we can give our middle class relief and provide working families with a road to opportunity. I believe we can provide jobs to the jobless, homes to the homeless, and reclaim young people in cities across America from violence and despair. I believe that as we stand on the crossroads of history, we can make the right choices, and meet the challenges that face us. America!

Tonight, if you feel the same energy I do, the same urgency I do, the same passion I do, the same hopefulness I do ? if we do what we must do, then I have no doubt that all across the country, from Florida to Oregon, from Washington to Maine, the people will rise up in November, and John Kerry will be sworn in as president, and John Edwards will be sworn in as vice president, and this country will reclaim its promise, and out of this long political darkness a brighter day will come. Thank you and God bless you.

Voir egalement:

American Narcissus

The vanity of Barack Obama

Jonathan V. Last

November 22, 2010, Vol. 16, No. 10

Why has Barack Obama failed so spectacularly? Is he too dogmatically liberal or too pragmatic? Is he a socialist, or an anticolonialist, or a philosopher-president? Or is it possible that Obama’s failures stem from something simpler: vanity. Politicians as a class are particularly susceptible to mirror-gazing. But Obama’s vanity is overwhelming. It defines him, his politics, and his presidency.

It’s revealed in lots of little stories. There was the time he bragged about how one of his campaign volunteers, who had tragically died of breast cancer, “insisted she’s going to be buried in an Obama T-shirt.” There was the Nobel acceptance speech where he conceded, “I do not bring with me today a definitive solution to the problems of war” (the emphasis is mine). There was the moment during the 2008 campaign when Obama appeared with a seal that was a mash-up of the Great Seal of the United States and his own campaign logo (with its motto Vero Possumus, “Yes we Can” in Latin). Just a few weeks ago, Obama was giving a speech when the actual presidential seal fell from the rostrum. “That’s all right,” he quipped. “All of you know who I am.” Oh yes, Mr. President, we certainly do.

My favorite is this line from page 160 of The Audacity of Hope:

I find comfort in the fact that the longer I’m in politics the less nourishing popularity becomes, that a striving for power and rank and fame seems to betray a poverty of ambition, and that I am answerable mainly to the steady gaze of my own conscience.

So popularity and fame once nourished him, but now his ambition is richer and he’s answerable not, like some presidents, to the Almighty, but to the gaze of his personal conscience. Which is steady. The fact that this sentence appears in the second memoir of a man not yet 50 years old—and who had been in national politics for all of two years—is merely icing.

People have been noticing Obama’s vanity for a long time. In 2008, one of his Harvard Law classmates, the entertainment lawyer Jackie Fuchs, explained what Obama was like during his school days: “One of our classmates once famously noted that you could judge just how pretentious someone’s remarks in class were by how high they ranked on the ‘Obamanometer,’ a term that lasted far longer than our time at law school. Obama didn’t just share in class—he pontificated. He knew better than everyone else in the room, including the teachers. ”

The story of Obama’s writing career is an object lesson in how our president’s view of himself shapes his interactions with the world around him. In 1990, Obama was wrapping up his second year at Harvard Law when the New York Times ran a profile of him on the occasion of his becoming the first black editor of the Harvard Law Review. A book agent in New York named Jane Dystel read the story and called up the young man, asking if he’d be interested in writing a book. Like any 29-year-old, he wasn’t about to turn down money. He promptly accepted a deal with Simon & Schuster’s Poseidon imprint—reportedly in the low six-figures—to write a book about race relations.

Obama missed his deadline. No matter. His agent quickly secured him another contract, this time with Times Books. And a $40,000 advance. Not bad for an unknown author who had already blown one deal, writing about a noncommercial subject.

By this point Obama had left law school, and academia was courting him. The University of Chicago Law School approached him; although they didn’t have any specific needs, they wanted to be in the Barack Obama business. As Douglas Baird, the head of Chicago’s appointments committee, would later explain, “You look at his background—Harvard Law Review president, magna cum laude, and he’s African American. This is a no-brainer hiring decision at the entry level of any law school in the country.” Chicago invited Obama to come in and teach just about anything he wanted. But Obama wasn’t interested in a professor’s life. Instead, he told them that he was writing a book—about voting rights. The university made him a fellow, giving him an office and a paycheck to keep him going while he worked on this important project.

In case you’re keeping score at home, there was some confusion as to what book young Obama was writing. His publisher thought he was writing about race relations. His employer thought he was writing about voting rights law. But Obama seems to have never seriously considered either subject. Instead, he decided that his subject would be himself. The 32-year-old was writing a memoir.

Obama came clean to the university first. He waited until his fellowship was halfway over—perhaps he was concerned that his employers might not like the bait-and-switch. He needn’t have worried. Baird still hoped that Obama would eventually join the university’s faculty (he had already begun teaching a small classload as a “senior lecturer”). “It was a good deal for us,” Baird explained, “because he was a good teaching prospect and we wanted him around.”

And it all worked out in the end. The book Obama eventually finished was Dreams from My Father. It didn’t do well initially, but nine years later, after his speech at the 2004 Democratic convention made him a star, it sold like gangbusters. Obama got rich. And famous. The book became the springboard for his career in national politics.

Only it didn’t quite work out for everybody. Obama left the University of Chicago, never succumbing to their offers of a permanent position in their hallowed halls. Simon & Schuster, which had taken a chance on an unproven young writer, got burned for a few thousand bucks. And Jane Dystel, who’d plucked him out of the pages of the New York Times and got him the deal to write the book that sped his political rise? As soon as Obama was ready to negotiate the contract for his second book—the big-money payday—he dumped her and replaced her with super-agent Robert Barnett.

We risk reading too much into these vignettes—after all, our president is a mansion with many rooms and it would be foolish to reduce him to pure ego. Yet the vignettes are so numerous. For instance, a few years ago Obama’s high school basketball coach told ABC News how, as a teenager, Obama always badgered him for more playing time, even though he wasn’t the best player on the team—or even as good as he thought he was. Everyone who has ever played team sports has encountered the kid with an inflated sense of self. That’s common. What’s rare is the kid who feels entitled enough to nag the coach about his minutes. Obama was that kid. His enthusiasm about his abilities and his playing time extended into his political life. In 2004, Obama explained to author David Mendell how he saw his future as a national political figure: “I’m LeBron, baby. I can play on this level. I got some game.” After just a couple of months in the Senate, Obama jumped the Democratic line and started asking voters to make him president.

Yet you don’t have to delve deep into armchair psychology to see how Obama’s vanity has shaped his presidency. In January 2009 he met with congressional leaders to discuss the stimulus package. The meeting was supposed to foster bipartisanship. Senator Jon Kyl questioned the plan’s mixture of spending and tax cuts. Obama’s response to him was, “I won.” A year later Obama held another meeting to foster bipartisanship for his health care reform plan. There was some technical back-and-forth about Republicans not having the chance to properly respond within the constraints of the format because President Obama had done some pontificating, as is his wont. Obama explained, “There was an imbalance on the opening statements because”—here he paused, self-satisfiedly—“I’m the president. And so I made, uh, I don’t count my time in terms of dividing it evenly.”

There are lots of times when you get the sense that Obama views the powers of the presidency as little more than a shadow of his own person. When he journeyed to Copenhagen in October 2009 to pitch Chicago’s bid for the Olympics, his speech to the IOC was about—you guessed it: “Nearly one year ago, on a clear November night,” he told the committee, “people from every corner of the world gathered in the city of Chicago or in front of their televisions to watch the results of .  .  . ” and away he went. A short while later he was back in Copenhagen for the climate change summit. When things looked darkest, he personally commandeered the meeting to broker a “deal.” Which turned out to be worthless. In January 2010, Obama met with nervous Democratic congressmen to assure them that he wasn’t driving the party off a cliff. Confronted with worries that 2010 could be a worse off-year election than 1994, Obama explained to the professional politicians, “Well, the big difference here and in ’94 was you’ve got me.”

In the midst of the BP oil spill last summer, Obama explained, “My job right now is just to make sure that everybody in the Gulf understands this is what I wake up to in the morning and this is what I go to bed at night thinking about: the spill.” Read that again: The president thinks that the job of the president is to make certain the citizens correctly understand what’s on the president’s mind.

Obama’s vanity is even more jarring when paraded in the foreign arena. In April, Poland suffered a national tragedy when its president, first lady, and a good portion of the government were killed in a plane crash. Obama decided not to go to the funeral. He played golf instead. Though maybe it’s best that he didn’t make the trip. When he journeyed to Great Britain to meet with the queen he gave her an amazing gift: an iPod loaded with recordings of his speeches and pictures from his inauguration.

On November 9, 2009, Europe celebrated the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall. It was kind of a big deal. They may not mention the Cold War in schools much these days, but it pitted the Western liberal order against a totalitarian ideology in a global struggle. In this the United States was the guarantor of liberty and peace for the West; had we faltered, no corner of the world would have been safe from Soviet domination.

President Obama has a somewhat different reading. He explains: “The Cold War reached a conclusion because of the actions of many nations over many years, and because the people of Russia and Eastern Europe stood up and decided that its end would be peaceful.” Pretty magnanimous of the Soviets to let the long twilight struggle end peacefully like that, especially after all we did to provoke them.

So Obama doesn’t know much about the Cold War. Which is probably why he didn’t think the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall was all that important. When the leaders of Europe got together to commemorate it, he decided not to go to that, either. But he did find time to record a video message, which he graciously allowed the Europeans to air during the ceremony.

In his video, Obama ruminated for a few minutes on the grand events of the 20th century, the Cold War itself, and the great lesson we all should take from this historic passing: “Few would have foreseen .  .  . that a united Germany would be led by a woman from Brandenburg or that their American ally would be led by a man of African descent. But human destiny is what human beings make of it.” The fall of the Berlin Wall, the end of the Cold War, and the freedom of all humanity—it’s great stuff. Right up there with the election of Barack Obama.

All presidents are hostage to self-confidence. But not since Babe Ruth grabbed a bat and wagged his fat finger at Wrigley’s center-field wall has an American politician called his shot like Barack Obama. He announced his candidacy in Springfield, Illinois, on the steps where Abraham Lincoln gave his “house divided” speech. He mentioned Lincoln continually during the 2008 campaign. After he vanquished John McCain he passed out copies of Team of Rivals, a book about Lincoln’s cabinet, to his senior staff. At his inauguration, he chose to be sworn into office using Lincoln’s Bible. At the inaugural luncheon following the ceremony, he requested that the food—each dish of which was selected as a “tribute” to Lincoln—be served on replicas of Lincoln’s china. At some point in January 2009 you wanted to grab Obama by the lapels and tell him—We get it! You’re the Rail Splitter! If we promise to play along, will you keep the log cabin out of the Rose Garden?

It’s troubling that a fellow whose electoral rationale was that he edited the Harvard Law Review and wrote a couple of memoirs was comparing himself to the man who saved the Union. But it tells you all you need to know about what Obama thinks of his political gifts and why he’s unperturbed about having led his party into political disaster in the midterms. He assumes that he’ll be able to reverse the political tide once he becomes the issue, in the presidential race in 2012. As he said to Harry Reid after the majority leader congratulated him on one particularly fine oration, “I have a gift, Harry.”

But Obama’s faith in his abilities extends beyond mere vote-getting. Buried in a 2008 New Yorker piece by Ryan Lizza about the Obama campaign was this gob-smacking passage:

Obama said that he liked being surrounded by people who expressed strong opinions, but he also said, “I think that I’m a better speechwriter than my speechwriters. I know more about policies on any particular issue than my policy directors. And I’ll tell you right now that I’m gonna think I’m a better political director than my political director.” After Obama’s first debate with McCain, on September 26th, [campaign political director Patrick] Gaspard sent him an e-mail. “You are more clutch than Michael Jordan,” he wrote. Obama replied, “Just give me the ball.”

In fairness to Obama, maybe he is a better speechwriter than his speechwriters. After all, his speechwriter was a 27-year-old, and the most affecting part of Obama’s big 2008 stump speech was recycled from Massachusetts governor Deval Patrick, with whom he shared a campaign strategist. But it’s instructive that Obama thinks he knows “more about policies on any particular issue” than his policy directors. The rate of growth of the mohair subsidy? The replacement schedule for servers at the NORAD command center? The relationship between annual rainfall in northeast Nevada and water prices in Las Vegas?

What Scott Fitzgerald once said about Hollywood is true of the American government: It can be understood only dimly and in flashes; there are no more than a handful of men who have ever been able to keep the entire equation in their heads. Barack Obama had worked in the federal government for all of four years. He was not one of those men. More important, however, is that as president he shouldn’t be the chief wonk, speechwriter, and political director.

David Remnick delivers a number of insights about Obama in his book The Bridge. For instance, Valerie Jarrett—think of her as the president’s Karen Hughes—tells Remnick that Obama is often bored with the world around him. “I think that he has never really been challenged intellectually,” Jarrett says. “So what I sensed in him was not just a restless spirit but somebody with such extraordinary talents that they had to be really taxed in order for him to be happy.” Jarrett concludes, “He’s been bored to death his whole life.”

With one or two possible exceptions, that is. Remnick reports that “Jarrett was quite sure that one of the few things that truly engaged him fully before going to the White House was writing Dreams from My Father.” So the only job Barack Obama ever had that didn’t bore him was writing about Barack Obama. But wait, there’s more.

David Axelrod—he’s Obama’s Karl Rove—told Remnick that “Barack hated being a senator.” Remnick went on:

Washington was a grander stage than Springfield, but the frustrations of being a rookie in a minority party were familiar. Obama could barely conceal his frustration with the torpid pace of the Senate. His aides could sense his frustration and so could his colleagues. “He was so bored being a senator,” one Senate aide said.

Obama’s friend and law firm colleague Judd Miner agreed. “The reality,” Miner told Remnick, “was that during his first two years in the U.S. Senate, I think, he was struggling; it wasn’t nearly as stimulating as he expected.” But even during his long, desolate exile as a senator, Obama was able to find a task that satisfied him. Here’s Remnick again: “The one project that did engage Obama fully was work on The Audacity of Hope. He procrastinated for a long time and then, facing his deadline, wrote nearly a chapter a week.” Your tax dollars at work.

Looking at this American Narcissus, it’s easy to be hammered into a stupor by the accumulated acts of vanity. Oh look, we think to ourselves, there’s our new president accepting his Nobel Peace Prize. There’s the president likening his election to the West’s victory in the Cold War. There’s the commander in chief bragging about his March Madness picks.

Yet it’s important to remember that our presidents aren’t always this way. When he accepted command of the Revolutionary forces, George Washington said,

I feel great distress, from a consciousness that my abilities and military experience may not be equal to the extensive and important Trust. .  .  . I beg it may be remembered, by every Gentleman in the room, that I, this day, declare with the utmost sincerity, I do not think myself equal to the Command I am honored with.

Accepting the presidency, Washington was even more reticent. Being chosen to be president, he said, “could not but overwhelm with despondence one who, inheriting inferior endowments from nature and unpracticed in the duties of civil administration, ought to be peculiarly conscious of his own deficiencies.”

In his biography of John Quincy Adams, Robert Remini noted that Adams was not an especially popular fellow. Yet on one of the rare occasions when he was met with adoring fans, “he told crowds that gathered to see and hear him to go home and attend to their private duties.”

And Obama? In light of the present state of his presidency, let’s look back at his most famous oration:

The journey will be difficult. The road will be long. I face this challenge with profound humility, and knowledge of my own limitations. But I also face it with limitless faith in the capacity of the American people. Because if we are willing to work for it, and fight for it, and believe in it, then I am absolutely certain that generations from now, we will be able to look back and tell our children that this was the moment when we began to provide care for the sick and good jobs to the jobless; this was the moment when the rise of the oceans began to slow and our planet began to heal; this was the moment when we ended a war and secured our nation and restored our image as the last, best hope on earth. This was the moment—this was the time—when we came together to remake this great nation so that it may always reflect our very best selves and our highest ideals.

The speech was given on June 3, 2008, and the epoch-making historical event to which “this moment” refers throughout is Barack Obama’s victory over Hillary Clinton in the Democratic primaries.

A senior writer at The Weekly Standard, Jonathan V. Last covered the Obama campaign in 2008.

Voir enfin:

Le mythe de la popularite de Ronald Reagan


Ramadan: Retour sur la charia incomprise (Using the wrong size of stone is against the law)

11 août, 2010
WrongStone
stoning1 Stoning2Stoning3Comme ils continuaient à l’interroger, il se releva et leur dit: Que celui de vous qui est sans péché jette le premier la pierre contre elle. Et (…) quand ils entendirent cela, accusés par leur conscience, ils se retirèrent un à un, depuis les plus âgés jusqu’aux derniers. Jean 8:7-9
Jésus s’appuie sur ce qu’il y a de plus humain dans la Loi, l’obligation faite aux deux premiers accusateurs de jeter les deux premières pierres; il s’agit pour lui de transformer le mimétisme ritualisé pour une violence limitée en un mimétisme inverse. Si ceux qui doivent jeter  « la première pierre » renoncent à leur geste, alors une réaction mimétique inverse s’enclenche, pour le pardon, pour l’amour. Mais il est périlleux de priver la violence mimétique de tout exutoire. Jésus sait bien qu’à dénoncer radicalement le mauvais mimétisme, il s’expose à devenir lui-même la cible des violences collectives. René Girard
D’abord, vous êtes enterré. Le Code Pénal Islamique dit qu’un homme déclaré coupable d’adultère est enterré jusqu’à la taille; une femme, jusqu’à la poitrine. Si la condamnation est basée sur la confession du prisonnier, selon la loi, c’est le juge présidant le tribunal qui jette la première pierre. Si la condamnation est basée sur le rapport de témoins, ce sont les témoins eux-mêmes qui lancent les premiers, puis le juge, puis les autres – en général d’autres officiels des forces de justice et de sécurité. Les pierres doivent être de taille moyenne selon le code pénal : pas trop grandes pour qu’une ou deux ne suffisent pas à tuer une personne, mais pas trop petites qu’on puisse les appeler des cailloux. En d’autres termes, à peu près la taille d’une mandarine. Toute la procédure prend moins d’une heure.
Un mince espoir pour les lapidés réside dans le fait que ceux qui arrivent à s’échapper de leur trou voient leur peine commuée. Mais cette règle s’applique uniquement pour ceux qui ont confessé leur crime. (Si vous êtes condamné à la lapidation sur la base de témoignages, s’extirper du trou ne sert à rien.) De toute manière, il est très difficile d’échapper à la punition: les prisonniers sont d’abord mis dans un sac en toile blanche avec leurs mains attachées. Christopher Beam
Parce qu’il s’agit d’une injonction divine, la rigueur de cette loi est éprouvante pour les musulmans eux-mêmes. Elle constitue une punition, mais aussi une forme de purification. Il est interdit d’insulter le coupable. Après sa mort, on prie pour lui. Ce que fit le Prophète pour une femme qui s’était livrée après avoir accouché d’un enfant adultérin, et dont le repentir avait été sincère. Hani Ramadan

A l’heure où nos amis musulmans s’apprêtent à fêter pendant tout un mois la fameuse bataille de Badr et la réception du Coran en une sorte, comme à peu près tout le reste, de resucée musulmane de Yom Kippour et Shavouot combinés …

Et pour ceux qui, au moment où comme chaque année nos journaux se dévouent d’un seul homme pour apporter leur petite pierre à l’halalisation de nos concitoyens, s’inquiéteraient encore du sort de cette mère iranienne condamnée à une prochaine lapidation pour « adultère »

Retour sur la célèbre tribune (en une du Monde s’il vous plait!) du frère de Tariq au nom prédestiné (un certain Hani Ramadan, lui aussi petit-fils du fondateur des Frères musulmans) qui avait, à la veille déjà d’une lapidation annoncée mais au Nigéria comme on s’en souvient, dissipé l’incompréhension dont souffre chez nous la charia et rassuré tout le monde.

Rappelant, contre ceux qui prétendent « résumer toute la médecine aux seules amputations chirurgicales », qu’il est « exclu de couper la main du voleur dans un Etat qui ne donne pas à ce dernier les moyens de vivre dignement ».

Et surtout qu' »injonction divine, la rigueur de cette loi est éprouvante pour les musulmans eux-mêmes » qui ont d’ailleurs l’interdiction d’insulter le coupable et l’obligation de prier pour lui  après sa mort

Sans compter, ce que rappelle dument le site Slate, que, ni trop grosses ou trop petites pour qu’elles ne tuent pas trop vite ou trop lentement pour des suppliciés enserrés les mains attachées dans un sac en toile blanche et enterrés jusqu’à la taille ou la poitrine pour les femmes, la taille des pierres est fort heureusement rigoureusement réglementée

La charia incomprise

Hani Ramadan

Le Monde

10.09.02

En Occident, qui voit dans l’application de la charia un retour à des règles moyenâgeuses, les condamnations à mort de Safiya et Amina au Nigeria ont soulevé un tollé. Doit-on comprendre que les musulmans, convaincus du bien-fondé des règles divines, sont des barbares, des coupeurs de mains sanguinaires et des assassins ?

Avant tout, il n’est pas inutile de rappeler que beaucoup, parmi ceux qui crient au scandale, ne réagissent pas devant des crimes d’une autre nature. Dans les capitales occidentales, on n’est guère ému par les rapports qui font état de l’extermination des Tchétchènes, avec son cortège de meurtres et de mutilations.

Personne ne se soucie du sort des enfants handicapés à vie en Palestine, fruit de la terreur et de la lâcheté de la communauté internationale, parce qu’il est plus facile de s’ingérer dans les affaires du Nigeria que dans celles des pays qui exercent au grand jour un terrorisme d’Etat inqualifiable.

A cela s’ajoute une vision caricaturale de la civilisation musulmane. Réduire la richesse de la loi islamique – reconnue par les plus grands spécialistes du droit comparé – aux seuls châtiments corporels, c’est un peu comme si l’on prétendait résumer toute la médecine aux seules amputations chirurgicales. La science médicale comprend une variété de disciplines, allant de la prévention aux traitements les moins éprouvants. Il en va de même pour la charia. Les peines concernant le vol et l’adultère ne peuvent être appliquées que dans une société où sont protégées les normes et les valeurs islamiques. Il est exclu de couper la main du voleur dans un Etat qui ne donne pas à ce dernier les moyens de vivre dignement.

La lapidation prévue en cas d’adultère n’est envisageable que si quatre personnes ont été des témoins oculaires du délit. Ce qui est pratiquement irréalisable, à moins que le musulman choisisse d’avouer sa faute. Avant l’exécution de la sentence, les juristes précisent qu’il lui est toujours possible de revenir sur son aveu.

Une grossesse illégitime peut également entraîner une mise en accusation. Mais en affirmant avoir été contrainte ou victime d’un viol, ou en soutenant que l’enfant est bien légitime, la femme échappera à toute sanction. Dans ce dernier cas, si son époux rejette la paternité du nouveau-né, les conjoints seront définitivement séparés, et elle conservera la garde de sa progéniture.

On le voit : ces peines ont donc surtout une valeur dissuasive. Le prophète Mahomet lui-même faisait tout pour en repousser l’application. Ainsi, lorsque Mâ’iz se présenta au Messager de Dieu en lui demandant de le purifier parce qu’il avait commis l’adultère, ce dernier se détourna de lui. Mais Mâ’iz confessa son erreur à quatre reprises. Dès lors, le Prophète ne pouvait qu’ordonner sa lapidation.

Parce qu’il s’agit d’une injonction divine, la rigueur de cette loi est éprouvante pour les musulmans eux-mêmes. Elle constitue une punition, mais aussi une forme de purification. Il est interdit d’insulter le coupable. Après sa mort, on prie pour lui. Ce que fit le Prophète pour une femme qui s’était livrée après avoir accouché d’un enfant adultérin, et dont le repentir avait été sincère.

La volonté de Dieu, pour les croyants, s’exprime à deux niveaux : dans le livre de la Révélation et dans celui de la Création. Les doctrines juive, chrétienne et musulmane affirment unanimement que Dieu seul est le créateur de toute chose. Or nous demandons : qui a créé le virus du sida ? Observez que la personne qui respecte strictement les commandements divins est à l’abri de cette infection, qui ne peut atteindre, à moins d’une erreur de transfusion sanguine, un individu qui n’entretient aucun rapport extraconjugal, qui n’a pas de pratique homosexuelle et qui évite la consommation de drogue. Par rapport à ces principes de base, seuls s’exposent à la contamination ceux qui ont un comportement déviant.

Avant de juger cette conception moralisatrice et complètement dépassée, je propose simplement que l’on fasse un effort de réflexion : la mort lente d’un malade atteint du sida est-elle moins significative que celle d’une personne lapidée ? Pour le musulman, les signes divins que l’intelligence humaine perçoit se découvrent aussi bien dans l’univers que dans la loi.

Soyons encore plus explicite, au risque de heurter cette fois la sensibilité des partisans invétérés des Lumières. Dans une tradition authentique, le prophète Mahomet annonçait : « La turpitude n’apparaît jamais au sein d’un peuple, pratiquée ouvertement aux yeux de tous, sans que ne se propagent parmi eux les épidémies et les maux qui n’existaient pas chez leurs prédécesseurs. » Qui pourrait nier que les temps modernes, conjuguant le déballage de la débauche sur grand écran et la hantise obsédante d’une contagion mortelle, offrent la parfaite illustration de cette parole ?

En clair, que ceux qui nient qu’un Dieu d’amour ait ordonné ou maintenu la lapidation de l’homme et de la femme adultères se souviennent que le virus du sida n’est pas issu du néant.

Remarquons cependant que l’éthique musulmane nous prescrit de soutenir le malade du sida dans l’épreuve qu’il subit, et qu’il est essentiel de l’accompagner et de le réconforter avec compassion. Remarquons encore que l’islam a encouragé la recherche médicale, le Prophète ayant indiqué qu’à toute maladie, si l’on excepte la vieillesse, correspondait un remède. Il reste que l’épidémie du sida devrait à notre sens, pour être conjurée, nous conduire à une réflexion morale sur le sens de nos responsabilités et sur la nécessité de revenir aux normes susceptibles de préserver notre spiritualité.

Les musulmans sont convaincus de la nécessité, en tout temps et tout lieu, de revenir à la loi divine. Ils voient dans la rigueur de celle-ci le signe de la miséricorde divine. Cette conviction n’est pas nourrie par un fanatisme aveugle, mais par un réalisme correspondant à la nature des choses de la vie. Vivre en paix et en conformité avec l’être et le devoir, tel est le principe de leur engagement, parce que, comme le souligne le Coran, « c’est certes à Dieu qu’appartiennent la création et le commandement ». (7, 54)

Les musulmans savent que la nature leur est soumise autant qu’ils se soumettent à Dieu, mais qu’elle se rebelle en revanche contre eux s’ils enfreignent les lois du Tout-Puissant. Ils ont la certitude que l’homme ne peut se suffire à lui-même, et que la libération des moeurs est à l’origine d’une incommensurable détresse qui touche des millions d’individus. Qui donc aurait le droit de le leur reprocher ?

Voir aussi:

Comment se passe une lapidation en Iran

De la taille des pierres à qui peut jeter la première.

Christopher Beam

Traduit par Holly Pouquet

Slate

Vendredi 6 août 2010

Le Brésil a offert l’asile à Sakineh Ashtiani, une Iranienne reconnue coupable d’adultère en 2006 et condamnée à la peine de mort par lapidation. Il y a quelques semaines, la peine a été temporairement suspendue par les officiels iraniens, mais Ashtiani reste quand même sous le coup de la peine de mort.  Au fait, comment une lapidation se déroule-t-elle?

D’abord, vous êtes enterré. Le Code Pénal Islamique dit qu’un homme déclaré coupable d’adultère est enterré jusqu’à la taille; une femme, jusqu’à la poitrine.  Si la condamnation est basée sur la confession du prisonnier, selon la loi, c’est le juge présidant le tribunal qui jette la première pierre. Si la condamnation est basée sur le rapport de témoins, ce sont les témoins eux-mêmes qui lancent les premiers, puis le juge, puis les autres – en général d’autres officiels des forces de justice et de sécurité. Les pierres doivent être de taille moyenne selon le code pénal : pas trop grandes pour qu’une ou deux ne suffisent pas à tuer une personne, mais pas trop petites qu’on puisse les appeler des cailloux. En d’autres termes, à peu près la taille d’une mandarine. Toute la procédure prend moins d’une heure.

Un mince espoir pour les lapidés réside dans le fait que ceux qui arrivent à s’échapper de leur trou voient leur peine commuée. Mais cette règle s’applique uniquement pour ceux qui ont confessé leur crime. (Si vous êtes condamné à la lapidation sur la base de témoignages, s’extirper du trou ne sert à rien.) De toute manière, il est très difficile d’échapper à la punition: les prisonniers sont d’abord mis dans un sac en toile blanche avec leurs mains attachées.

Les lapidations en Iran étaient publiques par le passé. Entre 1993 et 2000, tout le monde pouvait venir et lancer les pierres. Mais à la suite de cela, un tollé public s’est élevé contre cette pratique et les lapidations sont devenues des affaires privées. Elle ont lieu souvent maintenant à l’intérieur d’un cimetière. En 2002, le principal chef de l’institution judiciaire a même prononcé un moratoire contre les exécutions par lapidation. Mais il s’agissait plus d’une indication qu’un changement de loi, et la pratique de la lapidation s’est poursuivie pendant que les officiels niaient son existence. A l’été 2009, une commission parlementaire a recommandé qu’on abroge la loi autorisant la lapidation, mais le parlement ne l’a pas encore formellement révoquée.  (Vous pouvez regarder le film NSFW montrant une lapidation publique en 1994 ici.)

La loi iranienne décrit trois cas pour lesquels un coupable présumé d’adultère peut être condamné à la lapidation: l’auteur présumé fait lui-même une confession, des témoins attestent de sa culpabilité, ou bien encore le juge prononce la condamnation sur la seule base de sa «connaissance». (Cette dernière est aussi arbitraire que cela en a l’air).  Quand il s’agit de témoignages, un seul ne suffit pas: la cour a besoin de quatre hommes, ou trois hommes et deux femmes.  Si deux hommes et quatre femmes témoignent, l’adultère présumé est seulement passible du fouet.

L’Explication remercie Hadi Ghaemi de l’International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran.


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