The 2016 Election And Ethics Zugswang


In a July post I introduced the concept of ethics zugswang, described in the Ethics Alarms glossary as

From the chess term “zugzwang,” describing a board where the player with the next move worsens his position regardless of which move he chooses. Ethics Zugswang occurs when all the opportunity to choose ethical options has passed. Any course of action will have unethical consequences.

I often talk about ethics zugswang in my ethics seminars as well. It is a situation where  no ethical decision is possible, because of poor choices and a failure to play competent ethics chess, not thinking ahead, not anticipating worst case scenarios, and thereby creating a situation where  ethical options are unavailable. All that is left are options that do tangible harm. The idea is to avoid such messes by not blundering through life being governed by non-ethical considerations, emotions, rationalizations, recklessness and ignorance. Sometimes, however, despite all of one’s best efforts, ethics zugswang arrives anyway.

Such is the plight of the American citizen on Election Day, 2016. For months, thoughtful voters who care about democracy and want to participate in choosing their President responsibly have been trying to decide which of several unethical decisions is the best—the most ethical, or rather least unethical– of the available options. Being angry or indignant, or holding one’s breath until one turns blue, will not do. A decision has to be made, and refusing to make a decision is still a decision. (In chess, the most common response to ethics zugswang is to resign, to quit. But one cannot quit being a citizen in a democracy.)

In past posts, mostly in the comments, I and others have exchanged proposed analogies to describe the choice between choosing Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump to lead the country. Arguing that it was a binary choice that could best be compared to having one’s commercial airline flown by an untrustworthy pilot of questionable skill, motivations and objectives or, in the alternative, a seven-year old, a monkey or a spaniel, my position was that one choice was terrible and the other was infinitely worse, but the terrible one as at least survivable, with luck. Classical literature provides another useful analogy: the myth of Scylla and Charibdis.

In Greek mythology, they were two immortal and deadly monsters who lived on opposite sides the narrow waters in the Strait of Messina, between Italy and Sicily. Odysseus, trying to return home after the Trojan War,  faced the dilemma posed by having to choose between them in Homer’s Odyssey, Book XII. Scylla had been a lovely a sea nymph who was loved by the sea god Poseidon, but Poseidon’s jealous wife Aphrodite treacherously cursed the waters in which Scylla bathed. The god-poisoned water turned Scylla into huge and vicious monster with twelve legs, six heads on long, snaky necks, with each head having a triple row of shark-like teeth. The transformed Scylla’s loins were also covered by the heads of baying dogs. (Note to self: don’t mess with Aphrodite!) When ships passed close to her, Scylla’s six heads would each snatch one sailor, then devour them in her cave.

Charybdis was also once a nymph, a daughter of Poseidon, who angered Zeus, Poseidon’s brother. Zeus turned her into an even worse monster than Scylla. The transformed nymph lurked under a fig tree on the opposite shore from Scylla’s rock, drinking down and belching out  the sea three times a day, causing  fatal whirlpools no ship could survive. Odysseus managed to get the worst of this dual  monster dilemma, sailing close enough to Scylla to doom six of his sailors (who he never warned about the threat) and still seeing his chip wrecked by Charybdis, with him being the only survivor. The shipwrecked Odysseus barely escaped her clutches by clinging to a tree until the improvised raft that she swallowed floated to the surface again after many hours.  To be “between Scylla and Charybdis” means to be caught between two equally horrible alternatives.

As today loomed and this metaphor appeared more and more accurate, I sought wisdom from various versions of the story, only to gradually realize that I was not as certain as I once had been which candidate was which monster.

Deciding my own vote, as well as trying to be a useful resource as other responsible citizens dealt with the same dilemma, was a professional as well as a personal problem. For months, as least since the identity of the two nominees could no longer be denied, I have taken the firm position that in a binary choice involving two unacceptable alternatives, the most ethical choice was to do everything possible to avoid the worst result. The worst result, I was confident, was to elect Donald Trump as President. I have been fully prepared to vote for Hillary Clinton for all that time.

I believe that the beginning of a tipping point for me, where I began to question whether a vote for Hillary was really to choose Scylla  as I had assumed but was instead to choose the existentially more dangerous Charybdis, was this post, discussing Clinton’s campaign manager asserting that the news media should give Clinton an advantage because Trump was “special.” I wrote, “If the choice is between Donald Trump being elected fairly and Hillary Clinton being elected by a rigged process, I will vote for Donald Trump.”

You will note that this was before Trump began complaining that the election was “rigged,” and the news media roundly condemned him for suggesting such a thing.

My resolve continued to weaken as some of my less astute and more ideologically-biased Facebook friends posted an idiotic “OccupyDemocrats” meme that compared defeating Trump to “defeating fascism.” Much to their anger and irritation, I asked which of the two candidates, their parties and their followers displayed more fascist tendencies. Yes, the Trump campaign was certainly more nationalistic, but Democrats have come to regard simple patriotism and national pride as excessively nationalistic. Contrary to one of the prominent Big Lies wielded by Democrats and promoted  by the news media with great success, opposing illegal immigration is not xenophobia, bigotry or racism. Big Lie tactics are a hallmark of fascists. So is demanding ideological fealty, and punishing dissenters.

Is the left or the right in the United States employing speech codes, censorship, intimidation and indoctrination on the majority of college campuses? Has the left or the right taken over most of the journalistic establishment, and turned what was supposed to be a vital check on government power into an ally of it? Which party has advocated an amendment to the First Amendment, constraining political speech? Which candidate was arguing that the news media had a duty to  tilt its coverage to ensure its candidate’s election? Which candidate has argued that Australian-style gun confiscation is “worth looking at“? Whose followers, Trump’s or Clinton’s, include  those who endorse Black Lives Matter, and its rejection of the jury process and the principle of innocent until proven guilty, when police shootings are involved? Which party hired a “dirty tricks” specialist to employ false flag operations and promote violence at Trump rallies?

Which party followed the will of the voters, and which party rigged its nominating process?

Trump, who is a Constitutional dunce, advocated that being placed on a watch list (and not even told about it) was enough to justify taking away a citizen’s right to own a gun, but he’s an idiot. Clinton and Democrats, who should understand due process, the Fifth Amendment and why this proposal advocates totalitarian, police state tactics, also argued for it. Which party has overseen the use of the tax-collecting arm of the government for partisan ends? Which party’s government has politicized the supposedly objective, fair and non-partisan Justice Department to the extent that public trust in law enforcement has declined to the vanishing point?

Democrats fall back on definitions of fascism that restrict the label to conservatives only, but there is also fascism of the left, and the increasing embrace of totalitarian methods and attitudes by the Democrats and Clinton’s followers while demonizing Republicans began to trouble me increasingly with each passing day.

My view of this ethics zugswang began to evolve from an ugly but straightforward choice between two unfit (though unfit in wildly different ways) candidates for President to a choice between one horrible, unstable and unqualified leader and the conflicted and cowardly party backing him, and, in the alternative, an entire party, its submissive ideological mob, and its totalitarianism-inclined leaders who could be counted upon to use a victory in the election to claim that the nation approves of  their methods and motives. It became a choice between one terrible leader and the supporters of somewhat less terrible one that seem determined to corrupt the nation and its government, and are infuriatingly smug and self-righteous about it.

My own decision, then, came down to these factors:

1. My reverence for the office of the Presidency, the nation, and its history. I have been a student Presidents and American leadership since the fifth grade, and it is one of my four greatest passions.

2. My conviction that the United States, its society, its culture and its values require that citizens refuse to accept lowered standards and corruption among its leaders’ character and conduct.

3. My insistence that the integrity of the democratic process is essential to the survival of the nation.

4. My dedication to ethics, and my belief that society’s ethics must be protected by never accepting that the ends justify the means, and never sending the message to wrong-doers that their conduct or their values are acceptable.

The exercise I engaged in yesterday, meticulously examining all of my posts about Trump and Clinton, and distilling them into a summary that could be used by confused and conflicted voters, was for my benefit as much as that of anyone else.  I was struck by just how relentlessly dishonest and ethically corrupt Hillary Clinton has been. You would think, wouldn’t you, that having been assured that she would be the nominee for years, she could have managed to avoid scandals and controversies? She couldn’t. She proved herself greedy, careless, incompetent and arrogant.

Then, as I reviewed the Trump files, I was even more stunned at how different in kind his unethical conduct was. It was the difference between an incorrigible juvenile delinquent and a corrupt investment banker. I was also struck by how many posts I had to write defending Trump from intentional or biased exaggerations or misinterpretations of what he said or meant, because the news media was so clearly determined to defeat him.

For a few long moments, my increasing unease over voting for Clinton to stop Trump was assuaged. (Here is an argument for voting for Clinton that tracks reasonably well with my original one.) Obviously it would be madness to elect Trump, who is a narcissist, a misogynist, an ignoramus, and, for bluntness is sometimes necessary, an asshole, who possesses neither the experience, temperament, trustworthiness nor integrity to be given such power and influence. Then I reminded myself of how I defined this particular instance of ethics zugswang.

Trump must not win, but Clinton’s party, followers and supporters must not believe that the undemocratic, unethical, hypocritical and dishonest methods and values they have displayed are now the nation’s. By every measure, Clinton deserves to lose. By any definition of justice, the Democrats deserve to lose. They want to use their victory to corrupt the nation and democracy.

Ethics zugswang.

Still, no decision is still a decision. In 1972, the first election in which I could vote, I was faced with a choice between Richard Nixon and Sen. George McGovern. I had just finished my honors thesis on “The Great Man Theory and the American Presidency,” and could not reconcile what I had learned and written with a vote for either man. Nixon, I knew, was a skilled and intelligent executive who was untrustworthy and infected with ethics rot. McGovern was an honorable and deluded man who had no skills at all to qualify him for the Presidency. Voting for him would have mocked my research and beliefs, voting for Nixon would have been an endorsement of dangerous and unethical leadership. I voted for neither, knowing that McGovern would lose, expressing my disapproval that the Democrats breached their duty to run a competent candidate, and refusing complicity in the inevitable crash of Nixon’s rotten administration that I knew was on the way, and it was.

In 2016, a similar consideration is involved. I resent that both parties abandoned their duty to allow me, and removed from me and everyone else, the opportunity to have a real choice of qualified candidates at a crucial moment in our nation’s life. I resent that I am being given the choice, as a citizen with reverence and respect for the institution of the Presidency, of voting for a man who defiles that office even by seeking it, and putting in power a group of Americans who proudly and brazenly reject the values that it is my profession to study, protect, and teach. I resent that they have removed my autonomy and forced me to be as corrupt and irresponsible as they are in order to reject a candidate like Donald Trump.

Then came this morning and the inspiration for this post, in which I wrote in part,

The Democratic Party hasn’t condemned Brazile’s actions, and won’t condemn her smug words of endorsement of lying and cheating. It hasn’t asked her to step down, as her predecessor was made to step down after she was caught rigging the nomination process for Clinton. Thus it endorses Brazile’s  values, and openly so. President Obama also endorsed Brazile’s values, explicitly, by directing his spokesman Josh Earnest to praise her, and only praise her, as “a person of integrity and ..high character” after being asked about the first of Brazile’s cheats on behalf of Clinton (more have since been uncovered.)

Is that clear? The President of the United States publicly stated, through his agent, that an individual who lies and cheats has integrity. This is what integrity has come to mean under this leader, to his party.

That settled it. For me, the least unethical course was not to vote for either candidate. As a citizen, I cannot responsibly vote for an utterly unfit man like Donald Trump. As an ethicist and a patriot, I cannot participate in sending a message to Clinton and all those who have become corrupted under her and Barack Obama that cheating, lying, influence peddling, destroying a free and independent news media, restricting free speech and individual rights, manipulating the process and undermining democracy is now acceptable in the United States of America, because cheating and lying work.

I am confident that I came to this decision as a result of a the best ethical analysis I could muster, taking all factors, including my unique situation as an ethicist, into consideration. The decision can be legitimately criticized; of course it can. It’s unethical. That’s ethics zugswang. I take some solace and pride, however, that I have spent many, many hours over more than a year doing what I could—and admittedly, what I could wasn’t enough or very much— to avoid this point.

Damn those who put us there.



209 thoughts on “The 2016 Election And Ethics Zugswang

  1. Okie dokie. Time to learn how to balance between a perfectly maintained buzz and still maintain high levels of work efficiency and family involvement for 4 years.

    Good night.

    Lefties- despair not. This is far more a godsend for you than you think. Just remember, the disaster that was going to be Hillary can’t be blamed on you now. The disaster that will be Trump is going to be blamed on your arch rivals.

    • And plus, there’s always this lefties:

      Given that Trump is dishonest, untrustworthy and despicable, there’s a 95% chance he still harbors all the progressive and democrat beliefs and values hat he held for decades until about 5 minutes before he needed to pander for the Republican nomination.

      Good bet is, y’all just got a left of center president like you wanted!

  2. Well, the American People have spoken. While postal and provisional ballots might possibly change some swing states, we’re talking remote contingencies now.

    A GOP controlled house, senate, SCOTUS, presidency, an overwhelming majority of state legislatures and governorships – usually both – and a fanatic core of alt rightists ready to primary any GOP legislator who dares cross their man.

    There will be a day of reckoning, as 83% of evangelicals now get their wish. With antiterrorism legislation such as the 2013 National Defence Authorisation Act in place, the legal checks and balances have been mostly defused.

    Trump openly states he gets revenge on his enemies. Of course, maybe he isn’t erratic, doesn’t have control issues, and has a deep knowledge and respect for the constitution.

    We’ll see. But he has the people behind him.

    • No he doesn’t. He has some people behind him. What he has is the arrogance to believe that this election gives him a mandate. Let’s not buy that. This election is almost pure reaction against liberal overreach and arrogance. The people are behind giving the finger to liberal hypocracy in every public institution.

    • Zoe, he doesn’t have even 50 percent of the people behind him. Not at this time, anyway. But, if attacks on him end up looking enough like attacks on those people, then that number of people behind him should be expected to increase to beyond 50 percent. I think (I hope!) you will agree, that now is no time for anyone external to America to piss off too many Americans. Not now, and not too soon after Inauguration Day – and especially not by trying deliberately to piss off either the “lame duck” president (which he is not), or the president-elect (whom I shall henceforth call the Apprentice).

      • Fuck off USA. Is that a clear enough message? Tear up treaties if you will. Many of which I think should be torn up, but not unilaterally.

        Now if we were malicious, we’d kowtow while preparing surprises for you. Instead, straight talk. We don’t negotiate with nazis nor the KKK. If you’re neither, we don’t have a problem.

        Meanwhile, 4 of my US friends, three GLBT, one just not very feminine looking, have been attacked in the last 24 hours. Too small a sample to draw any conclusions, and no great harm done in even the worst case, just superficial scalpel wounds to face and arms.

        Rather more are staying in their homes until the situation clarifies.

  3. Looking at the transcript of President elect Trump’s speech…

    Doubling economic growth? BS. Not doable, baloney.
    Increasing employment – doable and necessary.
    Infrastructure – doable and necessary.
    Ruling for all Americans – most unTrumplike.

    What was not said:

    How this is to be accomplished. Increased privatisation?
    Roe vs Wade and SCOTUS
    Sticking it to the gays
    Making America a Christian Nation.
    Global Warming Hoax
    Sending Clinton to prison.

    Danger signs:
    Helping everyone be all they can be. Reparative therapy for Gays?
    Friends with everyone. Putin given a free hand in Europe?

    So.. was he scamming the alt right then, or is he scamming the rest of us now?

    No idea. I’d bet on the latter, but time will tell. First the economic chaos has to be weathered first. This mild speech might help there.

    • “Making America a Christian Nation.”
      America IS a Christian nation. Much less now than it used to be, but still Christian. I’m not sure what your point is. Are you suggesting that America being a Christian nation is the reason for the mess it’s in?

    • My opinion is that he chose Pence as a running mate as a cynical ploy to get Evangelicals, who were backing away from it, on his side. I run in those circles, so I can tell you that the Supreme Court was a HUGE deal-maker for Trump. As disgusted as the Christian right was with Trump, they would not risk Hillary appointing a leftist justice to replace Scalia.

      Don’t get me wrong, many of them voted for a third party candidate or just left the President slot blank, but there were a number of them that held their nose and voted for him for that reason.

      If he has a single conversation with Pence now, I’d be surprised. The two have little in common as I doubt Trump is anti-gay or anti-abortion. He just talked the talk to get the voters.

      He also accurately read middle America’s disgust with the Democratic Party and its tactics. This is as much an indictment of the Obama Administration as it is about the Supreme Court.

      So, yes, to answer your question, I think he was scamming the alt-right. I tried to remind people how little power the Vice-President has and how unlikely it is that Roe vs Wade would be reversed, but they wore the rose-colored glasses anyway.

      I got online this morning, expecting to see obnoxious Democrats gloating all over the place. I just sat in stunned silence. Then I cried.

  4. Key point… “It represents a wholesale repudiation of the establishment, from Washington to Wall Street.”

    Right Idea, Wrong Revolution. (Y’all should have embraced the Occupy movement.)

    Donald Trump’s Mojo, Simple Yet Complex (originally published Jan. 16)

  5. My wife, Stella, is Hispanic. She teaches science to 6th graders at Hatch Middle School (Hatch, New Mexico), overwhelmingly Hispanic population, and many kids the children of illegals. Stella told me yesterday her kids are afraid of what will happen if Trump wins.

    Now, this morning, Stella is asking me to help her figure out how to console her students. I’m at a loss to help her. Best I could do was to tell her to stay neutral and let the other teachers do the consoling.

    • I’m not sure that she can. I’m sorry for the kids, but their parents broke the law to come here. If they are deported, as they should have been before they started raising families here, it’s the fault of the adults.

      I’m not convinced, however, that Trump will do most of what he says…if that’s any consolation.

  6. Consider the following…

    The U.S. Electoral College

    November 8, 2016—Election Day
    Registered voters cast their votes for President and Vice President. By doing so, they also help choose the electors who will represent their state in the Electoral College.

    Mid-November through December 19, 2016
    After the presidential election, the governor of your state prepares seven Certificates of Ascertainment. “As soon as practicable,” after the election results in your state are certified, the governor sends one of the Certificates of Ascertainment to the Archivist.

    Certificates of Ascertainment should be sent to the Archivist no later than the meeting of the electors in December. However, federal law sets no penalty for missing the deadline.

    The remaining six Certificates of Ascertainment are held for use at the meeting of the Electors in December.

    December 13, 2016
    States must make final decisions in any controversies over the appointment of their electors at least six days before the meeting of the Electors. This is so their electoral votes will be presumed valid when presented to Congress.

    Decisions by states’ courts are conclusive, if decided under laws enacted before Election Day.

    December 19, 2016
    The Electors meet in their state and vote for President and Vice President on separate ballots. The electors record their votes on six “Certificates of Vote,” which are paired with the six remaining Certificates of Ascertainment.

    The electors sign, seal, and certify six sets of electoral votes. A set of electoral votes consists of one Certificate of Ascertainment and one Certificate of Vote. These are distributed immediately as follows:

    one set to the President of the Senate (the Vice President) for the official count of the electoral votes in January; two packages to the Secretary of State in the state where the electors met—one is an archival set that becomes part of the public record of the Secretary of State’s office and the other is a reserve set that is subject to the call of the President of the Senate to replace missing or incomplete electoral votes; two packages to the Archivist—one is an archival set that becomes part of the permanent collection at the National Archives and Records Administration and the other is a reserve set that is subject to the call of the President of the Senate to replace missing or incomplete electoral votes; and one set to the presiding judge in the district where the Electors met—this is also a reserve set that is subject to the call of the President of the Senate to replace missing or incomplete electoral votes.

    December 28, 2016
    Electoral votes (the Certificates of Vote) must be received by the President of the Senate and the Archivist no later than nine days after the meeting of the electors. States face no legal penalty for failure to comply.

    If votes are lost or delayed, the Archivist may take extraordinary measures to retrieve duplicate originals.

    On or Before January 3, 2017
    The Archivist and/or representatives from the Office of the Federal Register meet with the Secretary of the Senate and the Clerk of the House in late December or early January. This is, in part, a ceremonial occasion. Informal meetings may take place earlier.

    January 6, 2017
    The Congress meets in joint session to count the electoral votes. Congress may pass a law to change this date. The Vice President, as President of the Senate, presides over the count and announces the results of the Electoral College vote. The President of the Senate then declares which persons, if any, have been elected President and Vice President of the United States.

    If a State submits conflicting sets of electoral votes to Congress, the two Houses acting concurrently may accept or reject the votes. If they do not concur, the votes of the electors certified by the Governor of the State on the Certificate of Ascertainment would be counted in Congress.

    If no Presidential candidate wins 270 or more electoral votes, a majority, the 12th Amendment to the Constitution provides for the House of Representatives to decide the Presidential election. If necessary the House would elect the President by majority vote, choosing from the three candidates who received the greatest number of electoral votes. The vote would be taken by state, with each state having one vote.

    If no Vice Presidential candidate wins 270 or more electoral votes, a majority, the 12th Amendment provides for the Senate to elect the Vice President. If necessary, the Senate would elect the Vice President by majority vote, choosing from the two candidates who received the greatest number of electoral votes. The vote would be taken by state, with each Senator having one vote.

    If any objections to the Electoral College vote are made, they must be submitted in writing and be signed by at least one member of the House and one Senator. If objections are presented, the House and Senate withdraw to their respective chambers to consider their merits under procedures set out in federal law.


    This election is not over yet!

      • fattymoon said, “Pipe dream.”

        Nonsense; there is no pipe dream here, I’m just stating the facts. Theoretically it’s over; however, the fact is it’s truly not over!

        FYI: I’ve been very clear about the fact that I don’t want Trump or Clinton in the White House; I believe the USA looses with either one of them.

      • I said “This election is not over yet!” at 8:00am the morning after the election was over; I stand by that statement.

        Pipe dream, eh fattymoon? It’s not a pipe dream for Clinton supporters and Trump Derangement Syndrome sufferers.

        Electoral College: Make Hillary Clinton President on December 19

        On December 19, the Electors of the Electoral College will cast their ballots. If they all vote the way their states voted, Donald Trump will win. However, they can vote for Hillary Clinton if they choose. Even in states where that is not allowed, their vote would still be counted, they would simply pay a small fine – which we can be sure Clinton supporters will be glad to pay!

        We are calling on the Electors to ignore their states’ votes and cast their ballots for Secretary Clinton. Why?

        Mr. Trump is unfit to serve. His scapegoating of so many Americans, and his impulsivity, bullying, lying, admitted history of sexual assault, and utter lack of experience make him a danger to the Republic.

        Secretary Clinton WON THE POPULAR VOTE and should be President.
        Hillary won the popular vote. The only reason Trump “won” is because of the Electoral College.

        But the Electoral College can actually give the White House to either candidate. So why not use this most undemocratic of our institutions to ensure a democratic result?


        Go ahead and break the law in your state and vote for Clinton, her supporters will be glad to pay the bill; that is some serious ends justify the means shit!

        Does anyone honestly think that there isn’t going to be Electoral College member intimidation shortly, threats on them and their families, and complete public smearing and total destruction of the lives of any Electoral College member that doesn’t vote for Hillary?

        Did you notice that they are preaching about the overall popular vote in the country and then completely ignore that the popular vote in individual states is what drives the Electoral College votes.

        The Clinton political machine is NOT done with this election yet.

        I am convinced that there will be blood in the streets before this is over, if it’s ever over!

        • Arggh. I’m in the middle of writing about this idiocy, and idiocy it is. And OVER it is. This is grandstanding nonsense, again from the same people who were outraged that Trump said he might not “accept the results of the election.” This will stand as a classic of shameless hypocrisy til the stars turn cold.

          • Jack Marshall said, “And OVER it is.”

            Honestly Jack, I’m not so sure it’s over. The tentacles of the ends justify the means corruption from the Clinton political machine stretch a long, long way. Corrupting the Electoral College is just another knot in the long and winding rope of the ends justify the means. I had fears of what would happen if either Clinton or Trump were elected, this one was on my list, my fears are coming to pass one by one.

            In 2011, prior to Obama winning his second term in office, I said to a friend that we are on a train with no brakes heading directly into the path of a constitutional crisis in the United States. I think we are rapidly approaching that point; from my vantage point it’s approaching inevitability.

            Our society has completely lost it’s moral foothold.

            • Doesn’t matter. The rule of law is assailed but sound. Don’t indulge the fantasy that the election results can be overturned. The news media isn’t even doing that. It just encourages the totalitarians.

  7. I approach this election and my view of America from a ‘meta-political perspective’. And the meta-political perspective that concerns me is the larger European and European-descended world. Their welfare, their self-realization and self-awareness, their power. How to define that, how to explain that, how to advocate for that, is what I understand the work to be. How to do it ethically and morally is as much a part of it.

    Over the last 2 years, and especially over this campaign cycle, I have read avidly from many different sources, heard many many different views from many different angles, and in the end what concerns me most is the Identitarian perspective. It is not the only thing but it is the guiding thing.

    I guess it is sort of like what all of them say they fear: white people coming to awareness. The drooling hordes of not-college-trained as the Times has stressed it from the statrt. This really IS a part of this *movement*. The meta-political vantage or perspective that seems to have considerable meaning for me and for those who think like me is not in this bizarre and unlikely triumph, it is what will be constructed in America, Australia, Europe, in the Southern Cone of South America and also in South Africa.

    I have asked myself ‘Is it wrong or evil to think in those terms?’ and I have struggled with it. I do not fully know, nor does anyone know I guess, what a white identity project in a full scale will mean. But it is the meta-political perspective that allows it to be visualized, and its value and importance distinguished from other concerns.

    From that perspective — though I do not share it so much myself — I notice that people in the European Right and the so-called Alt-Right seem to be feeling celebratory joy. Certainly the Republican-Fox crowd. But the only perspective to have is that we of the political Right, who define ourselves not as Cucks, can only continue the activism we began with.

    And this activism and writing and education will also continue in Europe, America, Canada, Australia and in the whole European-descended world. I think it will emerge as a big part of it.

    • White identity was tried in the 30s. It didn’t end well. You might also want to look up George Wallace in the US. Or for that matter, the Confederacy, another white identity experiment. That didn’t end well either in the 1860,s.

      • The 30’s was, according to sources I admite, ‘Teutonic Imperialism’, and also seen from that perspective, another phase of disastrous destructive cycles in Europe. From the perspective I hold the calamity of the present derives from those disasters and so they cannot be repeated. Substantially, the definitions and the rhetoric of the European Right (I draw my ideas from that source mainly) has almost no correspondence with the Fascism that grew out of the interwar period. And yet it cannot be denied, it simply cannot, that the Alt-Right and the New European Right turns around to examine the fascist resistance to encroaching Communism and of course Marxism. I think that if *you* understand better this position and perspective, you will modify at least to some degree your reflexive reaction.

        I think, and I watched the election being streamed on YouTube (we have no TV) and the reaction of the MSNBC and the NYTs crowd as they saw how repudiated they were, and what it will mean for them, indicates that they have no understanding of what is really going on. And they have no way to understand it and validate it. What they do is also what you do (to a large extent): refuse to see it and refuse to understand it by redefining it into something previous.

        The Confederacy cannot work as an example because no one that I am aware of in white identity politics or meta-politics, has any desire at all to create or recreate a slave society. In fact, they fully understand that as an evil, and they describe it as such.

  8. I don’t think it’s that complicated. This presidential election turned out to be like a Congressional election. It’s 2014 all over again and we were probably dolts for not seeing it coming. The rejection of lefty over-reach should have been anticipated as soon as the Dems rammed Obamacare through.

    I said the GOP could have won the election if they’d just nominated a low grade artichoke. Turns out I was right. They did and they did.

    I just hope our new president will be humbled by the magnitude of the office, rather than emboldened by it as was his predecessor.

    Cheer up everybody, the sun came up today.

    • A legal analysis from Brynn Tanhill. You see, while for most people, unless they’re of Hispanic or Middke East appearance, nothing much will chsnge, for some it’s a bit different.

      Most civil rights for trans and intersex people have been gained through the courts, by creative interpretations of the Civil Rights Act 1964, and in an atmosphere of administrative neutrality. Only in the last half of Obama’s second term was there limited support. But even under Reagan, Clinton, and the Bushes, neutrality. Carter was only mildly hostile. Only one tiny trans friendly part of VAWA made it through congress,in 50 years.

      That will change come inauguration day.

      The analysis, which i hope Jack will cast a professional glance over. It has implications for Lawrence vs Texas and posdibly Loving vs Vurginia too, both states rights issues.

      Many of tbe more extreme and unlikely consequences haven’t been seen since the 50s, but she left a few out.

      The analysis:

      People have been asking me what last night means. I can’t know all the potential fallout from it; between foreign policy, the economy, military affairs, and domestic spending everything tells me this is going to be a parade of horribles.

      However, I do know pretty much exactly what is going to happen to the transgender community.

      1. We’re going to lose the Gavin Grimm case on both counts (Auer and Title IX). “How can you know?” you ask? Well, how do you win when the plaintiffs argue that a government argues against its own previous interpretation of a policy? When we lose, this will trickle down to Title VII’s definition of sex as well. As a result, transgender students and workers will lose all their federal protections except those contained in the VAWA.

      2. Losing Title VII and Title IX, as well as being reduced to rational basis scrutiny, will open the floodgates on anti-transgender laws. In court, under rational basis scrutiny, government claims of “public safety” have a strong chance of succeeding. In any event, we will see a deluge of anti-transgender laws passed at the state level this year, and they’re likely to be upheld as constitutional post-Grimm.

      3. The ACA is likely to be repealed. There go our legal protections in health care in most states. It also means that getting blockers is going to get a lot harder in most states (33 of them, in fact) for parents with transgender children.

      4. We’re likely to see the interpretation of RFRA to expand via SCOTUS case to allow employers to discriminate against transgender employees (and women, and anyone else without strict scrutiny level protections). Worse, though, we will likely see it expanded via court decisions to allow employees to claim religious exemptions from corporate EO policies when it comes to transgender co-workers. This means the your employer must accommodate in the least intrusive way possible, that co-worker who keeps refusing to work with you, calling you an abomination, and leaving Chick Tracks on your desk.

      Similarly, this expansion of RFRA would likely allow people to ignore civil rights protections for transgender people even in deep blue states where state law protects transgender people. Imagine teachers and principals who can refuse to educate transgender students, or who can “witness” to them in the classroom in front of all their peers. This (#3) would effectively nullify all the state and local level protections we have fought for over the past 20 years. It’s also very likely to happen with two more Scalias on the Supreme Court, which Trump has promised to do.

      5. All of Obama’s executive orders will be repealed, including those protecting transgender federal employees and contractors.

      6. Mike Pence is going to be running the show on social policy. When it comes to transgender people, look at what the Family Research Council’s goals are and apply them to the Federal government. The Trump administration is likely to try to prevent the federal government from recognizing any gender changes in a legal sense (bye-bye passports and social security gender marker changes). No more coverage of hormones, labs, therapy, or anything else in federal employee health benefits. OPM can mandate transgender people use separate bathrooms, or simply remove the existing language. They’ve already hinted they want to roll back the DoD’s policy, which is one of the FRC’s 5 main policy goals for the transgender community.


      Keep in mind that it can take anywhere between 20-75 years to strike down bad Supreme Court rulings, if they are ever struck down at all. (The Koramatsu decision allowing the detention of Japanese-Americans still stands, actually). As such, the damage done during a Trump Administration is likely to last the rest of our lives. With gerrymandered districts and the census cycle the way it is, we will not see the Equality Act passed until at least 2033.

      Adverse rulings on RFRA are also likely to render moot any efforts we might undertake at a state or local level in terms of non-discrimination efforts.

      Worse, the things I just listed are what I expect to happen. It doesn’t even take into account what they can do if they get REALLY nasty. They can easily (and legally) revoke all our security clearances, and purge the federal government (and federal contractors) of transgender employees. They can refuse to issue DEA licenses to transgender doctors (legally), and disbar transgender lawyers at a state level,

      There would be little recourse for the really nasty things I described under rational basis scrutiny.(And if they start happening, run, and don’t stop until you’re north of the Canadian border claiming refugee status. The things I just described are likely a prelude to much, much worse things happening.)

      Last night wasn’t just bad.

      It was probably the end of the LGBT civil rights movement, as we know it, for the next 2 decades, if not for the rest of our lives.

      • For those unfamiliar with the FRCs and IFCs policies

        Part II: Public Policy Implications of the Transgender Movement

        1) Should the government itself (local, state, and/or federal) accept and recognize so-called changes in someone’s sex or “gender identity?”

        Sex is a biological reality, and is immutable. In reality, a “sex change” is impossible. Biological sex is a more fundamental, more important, and more accurate measure of a person’s intrinsic identity than the purely subjective and often shifting concept of “gender identity.” Ideally, the law would forbid government recognition in any way (whether on birth certificates, driver’s licenses, passports, or any other government-issued identification) of any change in an individual’s biological sex as identified at birth….

        2) Should the government force other, private entities to accept and recognize so-called “sex changes” through the use of non-discrimination laws that include “gender identity” as a protected category?

        This question relates to the efforts to pass laws or ordinances at the local, state, and federal level which would outlaw “discrimination” on the basis of so-called “gender identity” in employment, housing, public accommodations, education, and business transactions.

        Some of the bills or laws that seek to protect “gender identity” acknowledge the importance of appearance, dress and grooming standards in the workplace. However, most ordinary Americans would consider dressing in ways that are culturally appropriate for one’s biological sex to be the most fundamental “appearance, grooming, and dress standard” that could be conceived of.

        3) Should the government pay for medical treatment designed to create the appearance one is other than the sex he or she was born?

        One context in which taxpayers could be forced to pay for “gender reassignment” procedures is through the health insurance provided for public employees. Another avenue is government health insurance programs for the poor and the elderly (Medicaid and Medicare)…. View
        Government should not pay for gender reassignment (hormone treatments and surgery). Such treatments–involving, as they do, the amputation of healthy body parts–are, arguably, a violation of medical ethics. These are elective procedures rather than necessary health care–just like any other form of cosmetic or plastic surgery.
        (But see O’Donobhain for a legal opinion to the contrsry by the full bench of the Tax Court )

        4) Should the government force other entities to pay for changes in sexual appearance?

        The Affordable Care Act (also known as “Obamacare”) has greatly expanded the role of the federal government in dictating to insurance companies (and those who purchase insurance policies, whether employers or individuals) what must be included in those policies. There is no explicit “sex change” mandate in Obamacare. However, some aspects of the law have increased the chances that insurance companies will offer such coverage.

        5) Should the federal government permit “transgender” individuals to serve in the military as their preferred sex?

        Historically, transgendered persons have not been permitted to serve in the U.S. military. Transgender status has been considered a disqualifying psychiatric condition, and having had gender reassignment surgery has been a disqualifying physical condition. However, transgender activists are pushing for a change to the policy.


        A person’s sex (male or female) is an immutable biological reality. In the vast majority of people (including those who later identify as “transgender”), it is unambiguously identifiable at birth. There is no rational or compassionate reason to affirm a distorted psychological self-concept that one’s “gender identity” is different from one’s biological sex.

        Neither lawmakers nor counselors, pastors, teachers, nor medical professionals should participate in or reinforce the transgender movement’s lies about sexuality–nor should they be required by the government to support such distortion.

        ** The Executive Summary does not contain citations as these are embedded in the text of this paper.

        Dale O’Leary is a freelance writer and lecturer and the author of The Gender Agenda and One Man, One Woman. Her blog can be found at

        Peter Sprigg is Senior Fellow for Policy Studies at Family Research Council in Washington, D.C. and the co-author of Getting It Straight: What the Research Shows about Homosexuality and author of Outrage: How Gay Activists and Liberal Judges are Trashing Democracy to Redefine Marriage.


        • These are all religious beliefs unsupported by the evidence, and contrary to the current understanding of medical science. Biological flat earthism.

      • My verdict: hysterical, out of control, ridiculous, incompetent fear-mongering with an extreme partisan twist. You know, transgender issues are obviously of paramount importance to transgender people, but on the national priority list, they just aren’t that high. Nothing indicates that Trump would waste his time and currency fighting that fight, and my guess is that Pence will have little influence over his agenda.

        This--“It was probably the end of the LGBT civil rights movement, as we know it, for the next 2 decades, if not for the rest of our lives.”–is beyond irresponsible, and foolish to boot.

        Get a grip.

        • Already happening, Jack. See NCs HB2 and the ,44 other bills before state legislatures on the subject.

          HB2 is under challenge in Federal Court. In February, the DOJ will switch from challenging it to supporting it.

          Absent protection under Title VII its legal to fire or harass at work anyone suspected of being GLBT in 33 states. Sorry, 34 including NC now.

          • Yes, a tiny minority, negligible compared to the grand schene of things. But if Ms Tanhill is wrong, please show me evidence, otherwide its argument from incredulity, no?

            It’s already started.One of many similar accounts.

            Jxxxxx Gxxxxxx We are just waiting for how this will effect transgender military kids. We heard last week that Tricare in Germany will not provide puberty blockers. They want to do an EFMP move. But EFMP already stated they would not take into account her safety or access to restrooms at school. They said they could send us anywhere with an encodrinologist no matter if they had experience or were even willing to provide care. We are scared now for the safety of our daughter.

            • The proof is that American law and politics isn’t like that, and never have been. What does Germany have to do with Trump?
              He’s right that the ACA will be repealed, because it was, is and always has been bad legislation. Then Congress had better come up with something better, or all hell will break loose.

              • Who’s willing to put money on the table that Trump ends up pushing fully government run medical insurance?

                Then sell outs across the board on the Republican side will crow how awesome that solution is and sell outs across the board on the Democrat side will crow how terrible of the idea that solution is?

  9. So… I gave myself the night, because I had my head bit off on Twitter about halfway through the election results, and I realised that there were far too many raw nerves and high emotions running around, and no one was going to benefit from what I had to say.

    This might still be true, but I want to get it off my chest.

    I don’t think Donald Trump was the best candidate last night. I think Hillary would have been better, but she was still a giant sack of shit. BUT. but…. but… I don’t think he’s the unmitigated disaster people are saying he is. I’ve been saying this for a while; the American system is designed with checks and balances on its checks and balances. It’s part of what makes your system genuinely superior to many other democracies. We are looking at the birth of the lamest duck presidency ever. I see my lefty friends lamenting the loss of control over SCOTUS nominees. Well, to be completely frank, two of the three people you’re lamenting were conservative justices to begin with, you’re really only in danger of having one seat switch. Feed Ginsberg some aspirin and have her stick it out four years… And maybe next time don’t count your chickens before they hatch.

    On that note, perhaps if you’d been just a little more smug and condescending, you’d have pulled this off. Seriously, maybe if you’d just told the minorities they were victims with more fervour, and blamed white America a little more, you could have made this happen. I mean, I know that it’s hard to ratchet up hate much further than every -ist and -phobe coupled with “Nazi” and “white supremacist” but if there was a group of people more able to ratchet up the drama to 11 (because 11’s better than 10) it’s the American progressive.

    I’ve been saying for years that black people vote as a block because of the politics of division, they’ve been lied to, made hollow promises to, pandered to (hot sauce!) and it worked! Congratulations lefties, you have a vote plantation. The problem is that white people are the majority, and believe it or not, no one really likes to be called a white supremacist neo-Nazi racist xenophobic bigot. Shocker, right? So as the result of the decades long practise of demonising white America, and especially un-college educated, middle class white America, they’re starting to act as a voting block against you.

    Let me be very crystal clear: If White America starts to behave as monolithically as Black America in regards to voting, you will never form government again. With that in mind, maybe … Just maybe…. It’s time to y’know… actually consider unity language, as opposed to the politics of division.

    I’m just saying.

    On a side note: Trump’s victory speech was actually really good, no? It’s a pity it was past grandma’s bedtime when the polls came in last night, “It’s a losing candidate’s duty to concede quickly and gracefully”, right?

    • “believe it or not, no one really likes to be called a white supremacist neo-Nazi racist xenophobic bigot. Shocker, right? So as the result of the decades long practise of demonising white America, and especially un-college educated, middle class white America, they’re starting to act as a voting block against you.”

      And this is the saddest possible thing.

      • I see and describe a different angle. After WW2 there began a general identification of white people, white Europeans, as agents of evil in the world. That would follow of course from assigning the value of Evil to the Nazis. They were given the role of white Satans. But in general this *narrative* got spun and was inflicted for something like 2 or 3 generations. Now, as a basic understanding, whites view themselves as tainted. This is a real thing and it needs to be better understood.

        The Intellectual Class in the US and Europe has received and has integrated into its definitions this view of Europe and Europeans. It became a doctrine and policy was established around it. And part of that policy was, if my understanding is right, to deny that white people can see themselves as a *race* while simultaneously seeing themselves as a race that will be mixed-in, blended, dilluted, with other races. Multi-culturalismo is the doctrine and the policy in action.

        Now, to turn against any of this (these definitions, these neutralizing tools) requires the construction and reconstruction of Identiy. But this is not allowed! There is not one person on this blog who will speak in these terms. Not one. But to reconstruct a relationship to one’s own self, and to honor and appreciate oneself as a White, and to establish/reestablish identity that is honorable and ethical, involves going back over all these negative identifiers and owning them. Instead of ‘supremicist’ it has to be a realistic understanding of one’s value and strength when one has tossed off the other’s negative definition (installed at a psychological level). Not racist but raciologist (William Shockley) and race-realist. They are not the same. Also a reclaiming of intuitive understanding that is not muddled by the twisted logics of post-Marxian intellectualism. You see those people mindf*ck their victims in such a way that they cannot see, understand and appreciate themselves. (This viewpoint derives directly from The Authoritarian Personality and is a devious application of defeatist psychology. THAT viewpoint took a body blow this election cycle.)

        I do not see this as ‘the saddest thing possible’. Quite the opposite. It is the beginning of new roads of possibility.

  10. What I’m hoping for — both parties doing a re-boot. The Republicans need to figure out how their candidate happened and how to prevent it in the future. The Democrats need to find strong leaders who are ethical. Both parties need to get over themselves, stop being so smug and aggravating, lose the arrogance, and stop plotting. And maybe the Almighty 2-Party System needs to just go away.

    Oh, and all of us need to ignore and shun the media. No revenue for them, and maybe they’ll all crumble, and then maybe we can re-boot the 4th Estate, too.

    • Pretty good analysis, PAW, in a few words. In a non-parliamentary system, though, two parties will always be the way, for good or ill.

      And BINGOBINGOBINGO on the news media. They were the real losers last night, and good.

  11. So it wasn’t Scylla & Charybdis after all, it was a (painful) exercise in equipoise:

    “In the world of medical ethics, it’s called equipoise: If a clinician sees two options as equally valid, he is ethically obligated to offer all treatments to his patients and let the patients decide.”

    or rather, its inverse: in the case of equally invalid options, all treatments should be withheld.

    Thanks, doc.

  12. Faith is restored in humanity after coming here and reading so many intelligent responses to the outcome of the election. For right now it seems less of an existential crisis than I had imagined. So looking forward to more essays/analysis and the thoughtful comments, too.

  13. Thank you for this post. Your words offer solace for my decision.

    I have been agonizing over my decision to skip the presidential race (as I commented to an earlier post). I felt (and still feel) that I abdicated my civil responsibility – I didn’t write in a different person because, well . . . I don’t know why). I thought that my decision not to decide and cast a vote was unethical. However, I just couldn’t vote for either one of them, for all of the reasons you enumerated.


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