Bedlam Farm Blog Journal by Jon Katz

30 November

Do 80 Per Cent Of Republicans Think The Election Was Stolen? I Don’t Believe It

by Jon Katz

I don’t care what the polls and surveys say about Republicans and the presidential election. Life is more complex than we have been led to believe.

I am quite to the left, I am sure, of almost all my neighbors and friends. I disagree with almost all of them most, if not all of the time.

These are born and bred Republicans, not the testosterone powered children in big trucks who rush around with Big Daddy flags and banners.

These are working people, family people, farmers,  neighbors, and friends much like me. I don’t take polls, but I have yet to meet a single one who loves Joe Biden or who thinks he stole the election from Donald Trump.

They would just like Donald Trump to stay in office so he can set more of Washington on fire and so that the Democrats don’t get to screw them again with more devastating trade deals.

If they don’t get that victory, believe me, they will do their work and care for their families and move on. If Joe Biden breaks Democratic precedent and actually does something, they’ll be happy to cheer him on too.

They wear their big boy pants every day. They do not wake up in the morning, plotting to abolish our democracy.

And take this to the bank:

Eighty percent of them do not believe for one second that  Joe Biden organized a global conspiracy to steal the November election. They just wish he had lost.

Other than the increasingly unhinged ranting of the President himself, nothing makes fuzzy-headed liberals and progressives crazier than polls that report that 70 to 80 percent of all Republicans believe Joe Biden and Democrats literally conspired to steal the election from their brave and gifted leader.

How can this happen, they ask? How could all these people support such a flawed man?

How did  80 percent of the Republican Party, once so dull, stodgy and somber, come to believe something that almost every Trump-appointed judge in the country and most Republican election officials say is obviously false.

How can people who call themselves Christians embrace a man who has broken every one of the Ten Commandments and brags about it?

These quite shocking poll results about Republicans are faithfully reported by one news organization after another as if they could be true.

I can’t offer you any surveys but the one in my own head. They are not true. They couldn’t be true.

National polling in recent years are valuable in many ways, but they are poor predictors of the future; their findings have proven to be nowhere close to reality.

These polls spread a lot of fear and agony; they sink the hearts of patriots who see our very democracy bleeding to death before us. They make a lot of money for cable news channels.

I have to be honest and say I don’t buy this narrative, these hysterical and dubious poll results—common sense and where I live scream otherwise.

The pollsters got the 2016 election wrong.

They got 80 percent of the 2020 down-ballot election wrong.

Why, all of a sudden, do these improbably, even ludicrous poll numbers become sacrosanct and so easily accepted by our so-called elitist and best-educated voters?

One reason is that the poll surveys meet stereotypes of rural people and Trump’s core supporters. To vote for him, they must be, like him, racist, dismissive of science, uneducated, weak-minded, and prone to conspiracy theories.

It isn’t enough for them to just like his style and boldness; they have to be bonkers like him as well.

The media has prospered and grown fat these past four years, fattening over fear and hysteria, and nothing makes liberals more hysterical than dismissing their opponents as stupid, racist, and clueless.

Their devil is the bright young congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. Ours is Notorious White Man Mitch McConnell, the evil scheming devil of the far right.

Devils are the centerpieces of our civic system; I’m glad Mencken didn’t live to see It.

I decided to take my own poll over the last few days.

I went to Jean’s Place, where Trump flags fly as proudly as Mickey Mouse flags at Disney World,  and I waited for a farmer to come out of the diner and get into his truck.

We know each other, and while we aren’t close, we have nodded and mumbled hellos.

I supposed a poll with greater numbers would carry more weight, but the farmer I ran into was just what I was looking for.

I asked him (let’s call him Andy) if I could ask him a question. Sure, he said, shoot.

If a pollster called and asked him who he was voting for, would he tell the truth? “Hell, no,” he said.

Why not? I asked.

“Well,” he said, “first, because it’s nobody’s business,” he said, “And secondly, because I love Donald Trump and Trump supporters know better than to tell strangers that they like Trump. They probably sell lists like that all over the Internet; nobody knows where those lists go.”

Do you think Joe Biden stole the election? I asked. “No, he said, “I might be old, but I’m not stupid.  It’s getting silly. He’s not smart enough or mean enough. But that doesn’t mean we won’t go down without a fight.”

I asked Andy if a pollster asked him if he thought Biden stole the election, would he say no?

“No,” he said, “I’ ‘d say probably. Voted for Trump and supported him for four years. If he needs my support now, I’m happy to give it to him. I’m not going to sell him out now, even if he is acting a little crazy, like a cow that eats curly dock and broom snakeweed..”

Would you accept Joe Biden as a legitimate President?

“Sure,” he said, “life goes on. I’m no guerrilla fighter. I don’t happen to think Democrats do things fair and square in general, but the election is pretty much over.  I’m not into secret plots..”

Did you know, I ask, that the networks called it for Biden three weeks ago?

He shook his head, “no,” he said, “I don’t watch much TV.

The numbers that suggest 80 percent of Republicans have lost their minds don’t add up for me. Common sense says it seems too big a stretch. Numbers like that sound frighteningly high, but the reality is more complicated, reports the New York Times and some political scientists.

This is one of those issues that really bears some thought.

There is a growing body of evidence to suggest that political partisans, which most American voters are now, often give answers that reflect not what they know or believe as fact, but what they wish were true, or hope becomes true or is what they say to support the candidates they like.

Before this intense partisanship, voters said what they believe. Now, they seem increasing to say what they are supposed to say. Thank labeling for it. Trump has forged a powerful connection with his followers. They won’t let go of him quickly or easily.

Political partisanship is an American blood sport now; winner takes all, opponents are enemies, not partners.  We don’t speak warmly of enemies and their motives. But that doesn’t mean we truly believe every awful thing we say about them either.

The pollsters call this partisan cheerleading.

They wonder if  Republicans are merely expressing support for the President they love by accepting his demonstrably false claims of fraud, just as most elected Republicans in Congress have – or do they really believe Biden managed a global conspiracy to steal the election without anyone noticing?

Are the vast majority of Republicans really saying they no longer have any faith in our country’s election system or are they reflecting radically different ways of looking at the world and supporting their passionately-held values?

Lonna Atkeson, a political scientist at the University of New Mexico suggests that these results should be taken with alarm, but also, some skepticism.

In a survey released yesterday by YouGov and Bright Line Watch, a group of political scientists who monitor the state of American democracy, 87 percent of Republicans accurately said that news media decisions desks had declared Mr. Biden the winner of the election.

That seems to rule out the possibility that many Republicans, like Andy, my friend at Jean’s Diner, are not aware of that fact.

Only about 20 percent of Republicans told pollsters they considered a Biden victory “the true result.” And 19 percent said they expected Donald Trump to be inaugurated on Jan. 20 – a belief that’s “unreasonably optimistic” at this point, says Brendan Nyhan, a Dartmouth political scientist who is part of the research group.

Digging deeper, he added, found that about half of the group expecting Mr. Trump to be inaugurated also said he was the true winner. The other Republicans all expressed some doubt about the outcome.

“There’s also a small set of people who acknowledge Joe Biden won, but not nearly as many as you would hope.” Given Trumpism, to tell a pollster that Biden won fairly is almost treasonous, an act of disloyalty and surrender.

Political scientists say many people give the equivalent of the party line answer to survey takers, regardless of their real beliefs. There are also numerous reports of Trump campaign staffers urging their followers to lie to pollsters when they call, so that support for Trump always seems higher than anticipated.

“The evidence is very strong that a number of people out there, even if they know the truth, will give a cheerleading answer,” said Seth Hill, a political scientist at the University of California, San Diego. Many of the President’s base is eager to stick it to the establishment; he said, no matter what the establishment does.

Other voters say pollsters believe that what they sincerely believe and want to be true is the same thing. In past, elections researchers have long found that the winning candidate’s supporters have more faith that the election was fair than the losing candidates do.

Accusations of “rigged” and fraudulent elections aren’t new; they are as old as American elections. In other words, Democrats lose faith in elections when Republicans win, and Republicans lose faith in elections when Democrats win.

“Democracy is the art and science of running the circus from the monkey cage,” wrote H.L. Mencken. “In this world of sin and sorrow,” he wrote, “there is always something to be thankful for; as for me, I rejoice that I am not a Republican.”

No politician of either party has attacked the integrity of elections more than Trump, or for as often or more dishonestly. It ought not to be shocking that Republicans feel cheated and also enabled to feel cheated by their party’s leader.

He was and is loved by lots of people. That doesn’t mean they believe everything he says.

Again and again, we see that polls and surveys are an imperfect way of measuring real or long-lasting sentiment. All blacks and whites, no greys.

When I think about politics I tend not to think about polls, I think about the people I know and what they are like.

Does it really make sense that 80 percent of Republican voters – tens of millions of Americans – actually believe the entire election was fake when Republican judges, poll workers, secretaries of state, and governors from all over the country were the very people who managed the contested elections and who defended them again and again from  Trump and his lawyers?

If 80 percent of all Republicans believe the election was stolen, where did all of these Republicans come from?

It doesn’t make any sense when you think about it.

In one respected political survey, Trump supporters were asked shortly before Election Day how they would want him to respond if he lost, depending on the degree of loss: if they would want him to concede and commit to a peaceful transfer or resist the results and use any means to remain in office.

About 40 percent wanted him to take the latter option if he lost in the Electoral College and lost the national popular vote by only a percentage point. The same share wanted the president to contest the election even if he lost the popular vote by 10 or 12 points.

That, found the surveyors, suggests that a significant share of the President’s supporters don’t necessarily believe the election was fraudulent. Instead, they were prepared to support the president’s contesting of the election no matter what.

Clearly, the X factor here is a President with no respect for the history of the American political structure or love of democracy, one who was preparing his followers all year to expect a rigged election if he lost.

He was elected to disrupt the process, and so he is.

That would have a bearing on any political party if its leader behaved in that way. It’s not clear what people will feel once Trump is out of office, and the pandemic beings to recede and the economy begins to recover.

The irony is that many American elections used to be fraudulent and rigged. The Chicago Democratic machine was notorious for showering people with cash to vote a certain way

Our elections today are probably cleaner than they have ever been.

There’s a new presence in the White House; he may change some minds himself.

Trump’s supporters might very well see that a functioning government can do better for them than a dysfunctional one centered around a monomaniac. It isn’t as if Donald Trump transformed all of their lives or solved many social and economic problems.

If someone else can do that, we may find a political environment different from our gloomy expectations.

The lesson of our recent elections is that the people don’t speak with one voice. Not too long ago, Obama was a hero expected to alter the universe. Then Trump. Now Biden.

It may be that our expectations of these people are way too high in a greedy, partisan, and mistrustful populace. It might be they are too low. I can’t know that none of us has ever predicted the future accurately every time.

I can’t imagine that any of us will. My choice is to start listening to voices in my own head, not the findings of surveys with important but very limited conclusions.

 

 

 

 

30 November

The Better To See With. Covid-19 Alters The World

by Jon Katz

I spent the afternoon getting my retina checked, there is some additional swelling in the left eye, but Dr. Falk, who I did not recognize in her Covid-19 gear, said it wasn’t a problem as it was well away from the retina itself.

I might need some laser surgery next year, maybe not.

I was surprised to see all of the changes in her office since the virus struck – the warning signs, the forbidden spouses and partners sitting in hallways and in their cars (like Maria.)

Everything about the office looked and felt different. Maria sat out in our car for two hours reading, I give thanks for her every day. I can’t drive for hours after my pupils get dilated.

It always feels strange. Covid separates and isolates us in order to save us. We will need to be patient for a while longer.

I’m excited about all the good vaccine news, I understand it will be months before most people even have a chance to take them. It will be fascinating to see the country come slowly but inevitably back to life.

It’s odd, but I’m earmarked for the first group, older and high-risk people. I have no problems taking a vaccine, but I’m uneasy

I’m glad my eye test went well. I have one more surgery to go, it’s scheduled for December 21, the week before Christmas. Then I think I’ll separate from the world of health care for a while.

I always swore I’d never define my life around my health, but this year, my health define me for much of the time. I’m lucky, I am better and healthier than before, one more to go.

30 November

Is There A Mentor For Sa-Lin At Bishop Maginn?

by Jon Katz

Sa Lin, an impressive new student at Bishop Maginn High School, could use some help.

First, he could use a mentor (our new program)  to check up on him from time to time and encourage him.

Secondly, he could use help paying the tuition at Bishop Maginn. His family, who moved here from Thailand in 2009 after their home was destroyed in the Karen genocide, could use some help with tuition.

Bishop Maginn accepts all students regardless of their income. They don’t have to pay the full tuition, which would be nice, but any amount will help the school financially pressed itself.

Also, Sa-Lin, who is 15 years old,  wants to be a New York State Tropper when he graduates. He asked for help in buying the Bishop Maginn school uniform; he needs about $180 to buy a jacket and sweater, and shirt (two sets).

He could also use a set of mechanical pencils. His father was severely injured in an auto accident and can’t work. Sa Lin loves to draw (I’m getting him some mechanical pencils.)

Sa Line says the tuition help would help his family out; they are struggling.

I spent a half-hour with Sa Lin last week; he is personable, funny, and hard-working. I asked him why he wanted to be a state trooper, and he said, “that way, I will get to see the whole state.”

If you’d be interested in mentoring Sa-Lin (the program isn’t about money, but encouragement and support), please e-mail Sue Silverstein (silverstein@bishopmaginn.org).

If you’d like to help him with tuition, please e-mail Principal Mike Tolan, Bishop Maginn High School,  75 Park Avenue, Albany, N.Y. 12202; tuition donations made to the school are tax-deductible.

If you’d like to help me purchase the uniforms and some of the smaller necessities – the uniform, toiletries – you can send me a contribution via Paypal, jon@bedlamfarm.com, or by mail Jon Katz, Refugee Fund, P.O. Box 205, Cambridge, N.Y., 12816.

Thank you.

30 November

New Pen Pal List For The Mansion

by Jon Katz

For those in the Army Of Good Mansion Pen Pal program or who wish to join, I have a new resident list – residents who wish to get your digital or paper letters and messages.

This is a very successful program, especially during the Covid-19 crisis when the residents are allowed few or no visitors. The residents appreciate it.

You can send messages via Julie, the Activities Director – she’s julia@thecambridgemansion.com – or by mail to the Mansion, 11 S. Union Avenue, Cambridge, N.Y., 12816.

Postcards, letters, pictures are very welcome. So are Christmas cards.

I should say that some of the residents can and will respond, but many cannot. Please don’t expect instant replies or replies at all.

I can’t tell you whether your messages have been received or not.

I’m not permitted in the Mansion right now, and it isn’t possible to keep track of each message.

Here is the new and updated residents list, these are the residents who hope to get your letters: Clara, Charlie, Lorry, Matt, Gerry, Dale, Madeline, Brother Peter, Helen, Georgianna, Nancy, Peggie, Becky Jean, Gary, Ben, John Georgiann Julie Ruth, Claudia, Russell, Charon.

Several of the residents have asked me if it’s possible to get Christmas Cards.

They would love that.

The residents love to know where you live, to see your pets, and to exchange stories. Your messages mean a lot.

30 November

Dropping Zinnia At Vet, Inflatable Collar On The Way

by Jon Katz

I dropped Zinnia off this morning at the vet for her spaying. I’m pretty easy normally dropping a dog off but Zinnia was harder.

The vet tech took her out of the car (we can’t come into the vet’s offices during the pandemic, they come out to get us.

Zinnia bounded out of the car, trusting as always, but as she got to the door, she turned and looked for me and tried to rush back to the car. She didn’t make it, as she was pulled through the door she turned her head I saw a pleading look in her big black eyes.

I’m not into dog dramas that aren’t real dramas, but that got to me. Zinnia is the most trusting and loving creature I know of, and that is the first time I saw her alarmed in her life. She’ll be fine, and so will I, but that is never fun.

Zinnia and I are pretty inseparable these days, she is my writing coach and companion, it feels a bit empty with her out of the house. Bud has grabbed her toys and bones and happy.

I dread the hood they want me to put on her for two weeks, Fate used to take them off before we got back to the farmhouse, I can’t imagine a more uncomfortable thing to put on a dog.

But thanks to my blog, there might be a better solution.

Kay  Welty messaged me this morning and suggested an inflatable dog collar for Zinnia, who comes home tomorrow. My Chewy.com delivery should arrive with the collar about the same time she gets home.

 

Chewy is fast and reliable. The inflatable collar seems like a great idea to me, I’ll share the experience.

Today, I’m off to the eye doctor to check on my eyes, my restoration work continues.

 

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