The Phileas Club 78 – President Trump


On this episode we talk about:

  • Our thoughts on the election of Donald Trump (“reading list” here)
  • French elections heating up with Republican primary
  • New president in Germany
  • State Capture Report

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  1. This is quite long and pretty much a train of thought response to the podcast, so I’ll try to sum up my thoughts as a preface. But first, I wanted to express appreciation for the viewpoints you’ve been engaging throughout the election coverage. I thought the podcast was wonderful as a discussion however vehemently I might criticize certain views below. So thanks for that. I apologize if this is too long or boring or somewhat lecture-y or poorly formatted.

    To start, I think you are correct that the left started to overlook the Trump voter. As is a tendency of the Democrats, we became to obsessed with the greater good and forgot that the individual values personal good more. While I don’t think it was the true cause of the defeat, one of the major failings in this election was not conveying to that group that they had not been forgotten. The question we must face as we go forward is how to address what has become an ostracized and potentially radicalized part of the electorate.

    On your point that the white working class was ignored by the Democratic Party:

    I would argue they were not ignored. Clinton addressed them with blunt conversation about their positions. The factories are gone and they are not coming back. Coal is a failing industry, the mines and plants will not reopen. Steel has been a losing market for the US for two decades now and it shares the same fate as the other industries. To these points the democrats offered new jobs in different industries. Retraining efforts, clean energy jobs where transferable skills would be applicable, and stimulus money/tax breaks to motivate those industries to transition the rust belt into a modern economy. This was not sold to them well enough, but it was butting up against the GOP platform of rolling back time which is impossible. The Democrats did not ignore them, but they did not pander to them, which in retrospect was a mistake.

    On your point of the Electoral College:

    I’m sure you’ve been learning a lot about the EC over the past few weeks, but let me sum up the main points of the left.
    First, the Electoral College’s function is not to represent the popular vote or to represent the popular vote of individual states. Constitutionally, the electors are chosen by the people and empowered to make their own choice for the office of president. Over time this was mutated into slate voting and party line voting, both ideas being in stark contrast to the American constitution. The main goal of the Electoral College was to prevent a popular individual with little experience from getting the presidency. I’ll add that the framers also intended for the EC to not work and the decision to go to the House of Representatives.
    Secondly, no one on the left thus far has claimed the election was fraudulent or that going by tradition, Trump should not win.
    Putting the first two points together, we have a logic question to address for the future of America. If the EC always follows the popular vote of the states, it has no purpose and is just a redundant feature.
    A separate issue is the popular vote. Clinton is ahead by over 1 million at the moment. Yes, if those were the rules the election would be different, but under the current system and looking forward, we cannot say that all votes are equal. Multiple times in the past few election cycles the popular vote has not aligned with the electoral vote. A vote in Florida is more influential than a vote in the majority of other states. Further, the influence of middle America over presidential elections outweighs that of more liberal states. In theory, it is supposed to just have some lag where the electoral votes eventually catch up with the popular vote as societal views shift, but the opposite is happening. The country is becoming more polarized.
    But most importantly, the current system effectively disenfranchises the majority of voters. A blue vote in a red state has no representation and a red vote in a blue state doesn’t either.
    The counter argument in favor of the EC is that a pure popular vote would result in a tyranny of the majority. Which is a valid concern, if it was still 1856. In my opinion, the House and Senate adequately empower the smaller states to have a voice in government. When the fear of tyranny of the majority was set in place, the framers were worried about the 2 million people living in urban centers overruling the 200,000 landowners scattered in the agricultural states. With the population swelling to 350 million people, it is ridiculous that 1/3rd of the population have more voting power than the other 2/3rds due to where they happen to live.

    On Owen’s first segment, I’m fairly harsh here.

    I was surprised at the absolute ignorance expressed throughout his rant. While you’d think we on the left would be accustomed to such thoughts by now, it’s still astounding to hear it outright.
    On the idea that Hillary Clinton is a loser and the list of reasons, full stop, absolute nonsense and it’s pathetically degrading to push that narrative. At the idea that a woman can’t be racist because she slept with a black man, that’s incredibly sexist, juvenile and idiotic. On specific points such as his rants about Clinton’s voting history. Yes, she did support some policy twenty or thirty years ago for political expediency. Yes, she voted for increased border security. Yes, she supports continuing strategic bombing campaigns. All of these stances are miles from the ignorant equivalence-making of Trump’s lack of hard stance on anything, his claim he would build a physical wall along the entire border, and his assertion that the government should ban based on religion.
    Speaking “real american” is a blanket excuse for talking down to people of low education.
    “I would take the idiot over the war hawk” Not understanding the foolishness in this statement is why the left lost.
    Not all Trump voters are racists. Most Racists are Trump Voters. Ignorance is the villain here, and racism goes hand in hand with racism.
    “Obama didn’t close Guantanomo Bay” “Let me simplify politics” – Again, the blind ignorance of believing these are not complex issues.
    Generals not following the order of the President is a constitutional crisis.

    On Matthias’s segment

    After the Bush administration, the view of America had deteriorated around the world. So far, this feels a little different from an American perspective because of how fiercely Trump has been opposed. Among the left, Trump is much less “our” president. Even at his worst, Bush was still “our” president.
    Further deterioration of alliances and world security does weigh on American’s mind, but at the moment the focus is on keeping the fallout from the election contained in America.

    On Paulo’s segment

    Isolationism is a major concern for any student of history. America withdrawing into itself in a very abstract way led to both of the World Wars.
    I believe the polling industry has been fundamentally discredited by this election and the preceding. At best, an intensive overhaul of all data modeling is necessary.
    Fiscal conservatism has been buried underneath social conservatism and the liberal response to it. This dominates the political discourse in America. We have long departed from the arguments of States vs. Federal or liberal spending policies vs. conservative spending. This is the main plague in the Republican party because a significant portion of their coalition is hard line social conservatism who know nothing about fiscal conservatism.
    The American economy did recover, even down to the poor white voters, but since they didn’t see the immediate effects of “I got a job” they still feel persecuted. Limited, selfish world views, again a symptom of ignorance and low education, motivated Trump voters. I agree with the assertion that they will regret their votes.

    Broader Topics

    I’d argue that democracy is not functioning in America. Aforementioned EC issues are one thing, but the rampant gerrymandering and voter suppression employed by the GOP are allowing a minority party to have a majority rule.
    Bannon, Milo, and the others who have become synonymous with Trump. This raises the question of whether you can take parts of individuals while rejecting the whole. I think this issue shuts down immediately because when you appoint a white supremacist to a position of power, you cannot ever be certain that his twisted beliefs will not influence policy. While listening to the podcast, Bannon was quoted comparing himself to Darth Vader, Dick Cheney and Satan. Surely such a man must be absolutely rejected.
    Pedantic, but China is not a superpower. America is the only surviving superpower after the collapse of the Soviet Union. Economically,
    Again, the ignorance of world politics. We invest in human rights around the world to buy influence. Our economic and military power is increased by its ability to be used. By promoting a stable world and protecting specific interests, America benefits personally. Paulo is a smart fellow.

    I’ll stop by answering a question that I posed near the beginning. How do we address this group of voters who elected Trump? I don’t think the answer is to go down and listen to what they have to say because they are fundamentally wrong. They are motivated by selfish means which is correct in their view of the world and I cannot fault them for that, but we do not progress as a society by curbing ourselves to the will of the lowest denominator or the easy path. If we did, we’d still have slavery and women couldn’t vote and homosexuals would be castrated or executed. Instead, we must find a method to bring them up and we have to find it quickly. I think the answer is in absolute resistance to Trump and his ilk. The American people need to express adamantly that America made a mistake and won’t rest until it is corrected. A Trump presidency cannot be something we survive or weather through like we did with Bush. With the appointment of people like Bannon, Sessions, and Flynn, I hope it has become clearer to everyone that this administration must be fought at every turn. Regardless of who voted for Trump, these are the men who he allies himself with – racists, sexists, white nationalists. Because if it goes too far, we know what happens. I’ll end with an ominous and hopefully far fetched button on quote from Churchill:

    “We have before us an ordeal of the most grievous kind. We have before us many, many long months of struggle and of suffering. You ask, what is our policy? I will say: It is to wage war, by sea, land, and air, with all our might and with all the strength that God can give us; to wage war against a monstrous tyranny never surpassed in the dark, lamentable catalogue of human crime. That is our policy. You ask, what is our aim? I can answer in one word: It is victory, victory at all costs, victory in spite of all terror, victory, however long and hard the road may be.”

    • Sydney, this position has been taken by the democrats during the elections and they lost. If we keep doing that, we’ll have eight years of Trump instead of four. The problem with Clinton is that she did not mean almost any of what she said regarding her policies. Like Trump, she was not going to reign in financial sector or go against other special interests like big oil, coal, health insurance, trade unions, etc. These people are writing her checks after all. It is Obama all over again, fake hope. In this election cycle people decided not to be deceived by the empty establishement rhetoric.

      Populist talk, on the other hand, is a totally new thing in the modern American politics. The promise to “drain the swamp” i.e. get money out of politics and fair trade deals was all that was needed to get the votes. Vast majority of the Americans do know that the political system is corrupt and decided not to elect another puppet of the special interests. Hopefully in four years these voters would realized that they have been had. If in 2020 the Democrats would come up with a candidacy of Chuck Schumer or another Clinton, there will be another four years of Trump or worse.

      “Isolationism is a major concern for any student of history.”

      This is another problem. The term is promulgated mostly by republicans to shut down any meaningful conversation about US foreign policy. Just stopping this crazy interventionist policies and consider something more thoughtful is not an isolationism. Pursuing diplomatic rather than military solutions is not an isolationism, it is common sense. I’d rather see US influencing the world with the power of diplomacy, moral authority and a dollar than its army.

      It is long past due for the US to get off its high horse and look carefully in the mirror. It has stopped being a democracy and it is a scientific fact ( For a long time it has supported all sorts of abominable regimes ( and opposed and dismantled a good number of democracies. I would argue that it is a pretty lousy track record for a world policemen. And how is it working out for us, americans? Do we feel increasingly secure? Are we getting what we paid for in terms of ensuring world security in flourishing of democracy? Is it OK to just keep pursuing the same failed policies, like Clinton surely would have done?

      This election is a vote against establishment, against both parties, against the system which produced Trump and Clinton as the only options. If Democratic party does not change its ways dramatically, there would be eight yeas of Trump. It can also get a lot worse thanks to a consolidated efforts of both parties to get rid of all the famous “checks and balances” (Matthias is so right to be skeptic about those). We can end up with a dictatorship or a lengthy period of social and economic instability.

      As always, thank you, Patrick for a great show. Now I am your proud Patreon supporter 🙂

    • Marlon "GuyFromTrinidad" says:

      Spot on, I agree wholeheartedly

  2. Ike Bermeyer says:

    Downloaded your podcast for the first time. I was just about to hit the unsubcribe button, then Owen came on to speak a little reason into the conversation. Tried of main stream media creating the naritive that they want. How can you not call CNN, NBC, ABC fake news, when they give the debate questions to Hillary before the debates?

    • You make it seem like there CNN was just filling in Clinton on all of the questions in advance. That could be, but we have no evidence of that whatsoever and any news source that suggests that we do is being dishonest. What we know is that one person leaked two questions to Clinton during the primary debate season and gave a vague promise after leaking the first question to share more. That’s it. If there was more, wikileaks weirdly chose not to share it. Don’t get me wrong. That is a terrible thing. It’s totally messed up and dishonest. We should get to the bottom of how she even had the questions and why she did it. And I’m glad she was forced to resign over it. But we don’t know that CNN leadership had anything to do with it. We don’t know if it was planned. And we certainly don’t know that it ever happened again or during the presidential election. Again it could be, but there’s no evidence at all of any of that.

      Regardless, even if they are doing that it does not invalidate every news story from CNN, NBC, and ABC. Not even by a long shot. Yes these news sources are all biased in a lot of ways, and I don’t really like them very much and I don’t rely on them. I also don’t rely on MSNBC or Fox News which also have serious issues. So do the major news papers. But to call any of these sources “fake news” is a bridge too far. “fake news” is a term being used for obviously ridiculously false stories being literally made up out of thin air and posted to facebook and being shared to millions. How do we know these stories are fake? Well because they are posted to dumb sites like “” which is obviously trying to trick people for one. And for another because real reporters found the people who made these stories and asked them and they said things like “yeah I made that up for the views and because I thought it’d be funny”. THAT’s fake news. The fact is a rogue employee at CNN who has the finger on the scale for Hilary Clinton in no way invalidates all the other work they are doing. I can’t stand CNN. It’s easily by LEAST favorite news source. But even I think that’s just unfair.

  3. I thought it was interesting what you had to say about Bannon and how his economic positions are somewhat populist even if twisted to benefit primarily people who he sees as having the right cultural heritage. I had not been fully aware of that aspect of the movement he’s a part of. It’s fascinating in a way. I’m an American and what I’ve noticed for ages is that in American politics for my entire life the most respected people, the people who were considered “serious people” were always socially liberal and economically conservative. That was the way to be seen as important and to matter.

    As a result, the realm of acceptable debate was defined by this. Serious centrists were economicaly conservative and socially liberal. Right wingers wanted to push the socially liberal side to be less liberal but keep the economics the same and Left wingers wanted to push the economic side to be less conservative but keep the social side the same.

    What you’re telling me is that Bannon and his ilk were in effect entirely outside the realm of what had previously been considered acceptable debate. They flipped everything on its head supporting a socially conservative view and a economically liberal view. That’s actually quite amazing that they’ve made what was literally the least acceptable position in American politics suddenly acceptable again. If Trump somewhat represents a Bannon-esque view of the world, it implies that opposition to Trump coming from the Republicans is not something left wingers like me want to really support. Because their problem with Trump is that he’s not economically conservative enough. And that plays out in what I’ve seen being said by people like Glenn Beck and David Frum who opposed Trump vociferously. Meanwhile right wing Trump critics could never get fully on board with left wing opposition to Trump because we were most concerned about Trump’s social conservatism which while right wingers might not have gone as far as Trump, they were still kind of in the ball park. As a result the opposition to Trump was sort of naturally split in a way that made it hard for them to come together to defeat Trump. Maybe that more than many of the other explanations explains why Donald Trump won.

    Also from a people’s perspective, I do think the policies the US government has been enacting have been getting to the point where they are more economically conservative than the people want and more socially liberal than the people are quite ready to accept. People in America might might be willing to accept gay marriage but when we start talking about trans rights and adopting the very specific language of the modern social justice movement people might have thought it was a bridge too far. I don’t think that Americans are incapable of accepting that stuff, but I think a lot of them weren’t ready for it. And I don’t think it’s because they hate others, though some do, but it’s because they were uncomfortable about what it implied about them. I still think the majority of the country, especially people who are hurting, hate being told that they are where they are even in part because they are ‘privileged’.

    And on the economic side Americans are totally into balanced budgets and the likes but when it got to the point where austerity was starting to dig into their wages and well being they rejected it wholeheartedly. It seems then that the country was finally ready for a message that is both socially conservative and economically liberal to actually break through.

    That doesn’t mean it’s popular. God forbid that ever happen. But it did become somewhat acceptable. It’s clear that America has decided that it wants that side in the debate. Maybe some of the people wanted it in the discussion because they thought that was the only way to get their economic populism view heard and others because it was the only way to get their social conservatism a chance. Either way just enough people who felt either way wanted it enough to vote Trump into office, though just barely.

    There are two equally terrifying outcomes of this that I can see. On the one hand Trump might just be lying altogether. He might implement the most extreme economically conservative agenda because that’s what he really thinks. Or he might do it because that’s the only possible way to work with Republicans in congress to get anything done. On the other hand on social issues he’s unable to make much progress because there is significant universal opposition to him on it. Liberals oppose him because we don’t believe in that stuff but Republicans oppose it and maybe even Donald Trump opposes it because they realize that that kind of extreme social conservatism is still extremely incredibly unpopular in the country. Sure things get more socially conservative but not to the extent that people fear. This is the scenario I think is most likely.

    The more terrifying scenario, imo, is that republicans and Trump gain common ground on social conservatism and a very very biased economic liberalism. That is they use the economic liberalism to in a sense bribe the population into liking them. It’s very protectionist and in that sense not very liberal at all when you look at it from a global perspective, but it is also extremely beneficial to a certain subset of the American populace, especially the white American populace. And weirdly the economic liberalism doesn’t even have to be smartly designed or well implemented or even really work that well. It just has to appear as if it’s helping people. It has to look as if Trump is on their side. And in so far as it isn’t working Trump will just double down on his social conservatism, and blame the Other for any failing in his policy or mistakes he makes. And that way lies really dangerous stuff for any and all disadvantaged groups in America that are effective targets for scapegoating, but especially muslims in America who will surely be the first target.

    Anyway thought I’d share my thoughts. Excellent podcast by the way.

  4. Dang, y’all got some long comments this week lol.

    I’m only halfway into the episode, but I wanted to come on and address one thing Patrick said about Hillary, and resound what Owen said about her.

    Patrick, you mentioned that Hillary was likely judged more harshly because she was a woman; not as a result of intentional sexism, but of latent sexism. Honestly I’d argue the exact opposite. Put any male democratic nominee in her shoes and they would have been dropped from the race faster than a lead balloon. If you put Joe Biden or John Edwards in the race with Hillary’s track record they would have been dismissed as soon as controversy started to swirl. Way too often did I hear people argue that we should vote for Hillary because she is a woman. Honestly, step back and assess all the things Hillary either did or was accused of – if a male candidate was being paraded with the same track record they never would have made it past the primaries.

    I really like the truth that Owen laid out: Hillary is a loser. She has never won anything; she’s been riding coat-tails or inching in on luck since the beginning of her political career. When the DNC rigged the primaries for her they handed the election to Trump.

    • That an interesting, albeit a bit extreme, point. I wouldn’t say it like that (as you know), but thanks for the comment nonetheless. 🙂

  5. Hi, a new listener just wanting to give my thanks for making this podcast. The balance made it an enjoyable listen.

    I just have one question, Patrick, you are a very intelligent person. Why do you go on the Instance, and critically, say the extreme, biased, insane and ridiculous things you do there. Scott is also mad, but he’s scott johnson. It honestly is a shock to see your content here vs the lets just say different image you leave over there.

    Best of luck, thanks again for making the podcast, and pixels.!

    • Errr… I’m honestly not sure what extreme, biased and ridiculous things you’re referring to, but I’m sure you could chuck the off to my having worked at Blizzard for years: their propaganda has infected my brain and I can’t see things clearly anymore! 🙂
      And thanks for the kind comments on this show.

      • Sorry, i wrote this at some weird hours of early morning. I hear all your content here on frenchspin, find it insightful even to the point where i respect your opinion. On the instance i just want to laugh. Sure the instance has always been of this intent but the difference was really unexpected. Thanks again, good luck!

  6. Hayden Smith says:

    Thanks once again Patrick for another fantastic episode. Your approach to the result has been better than any other outlet, including mainstream media.

    This show really is the flagship of all you do (IMHO).

  7. Marlon "GuyFromTrinidad" says:

    Finally, got the nerve to listen to the episode as I was avoiding everything related to the American Election as I was too burned out. Good episode a few reactions from me.

    1; The episode taught me we still need to get better about talking about racism and prejudice. Look at the persons actions rather than making a pronouncement about who they are. Cause that leads down a rabbit hole you can’t get out of (insert video here that ppl may or may not like but I find cool ) I know people get tired of it but for many of us we have to deal with it everyday and there was a fair bit of it in this election, During this episode I heard some inaccuracies about race. Of course someone could vote for Obama and still exhibit racial tendencies. Of course you could sleep with someone of a different race and they can still have preconceived prejudices towards you. (insert NYtimes think piece that I also liked)

    2. The media sucks. I hate this phrase. There are certain aspects of the media that is wrong and not as informative as it could be, but the media is reflective of the time we live in and there are some really good journalists out there doing some really great reporting. I am not going to lie its hard to pick out the good ones sometimes but I have started cultivating a list of conservative and liberal columnists to give me a more balanced view on the issues, even though I am not even American (my son is studying in Florida I feel that I need to be very much aware of everything going on there, plus its entertaining) One of the core problems with some of the American Media is they are trying to have it all like CNN (medium post incoming) (BTW I do like Jake Tapper, everyone else is on the bubble for me)

    3. When it comes to White supremacy and neo – Nazism, never dismiss it as a few people, it took one twisted neo-Nazi racist pile of crap to kill nine African Americans last year in Charleston who welcomed him into their church. Don’t tell me that the media brings more attention to them, they have to be exposed to the light we need to actively resist hate. We need to condemn with our strongest voices and not allow it to be normalized. We need to resist it. And I am pleased by those members of the republican party who have come out in condemnation of it because I do want a strong republican party to make sure that they put in the necessary checks and balances for Trump to curb the “Berlusconi” like tendencies he is exhibiting.
    And for those who want to actively resist do it the smart way

  8. As usual, best podcast on the net.

  9. Hi Patrick,
    You said there were GamerGate articles on the blog but I can’t find them. I tried the search box, nothing. Any links?


  10. Great episode!

    Trump scares the hell out of me. I want the swamp drained, but I don’t want to burn down the surrounding forest to do it.

    Like Owen, I voted Libertarian. I am a ‘Hey Government, stay out of my bedroom and my wallet’ Son of Liberty. I believe in the Libertarian platform and had hoped that Johnson could pull the 5% needed to get the party a seat at the ‘Big Kids’ Table’.

    As I’ve grown older, I have come to see that our corrupt two party system is a failure. I realize that at their core these two parties aren’t so different. Sure they pander to different extremes to get votes and money. But where the rubber meets the road, they are both about only one thing: maintaining their power over the American people and the world at large. Despite their differences, they collude together and suck up to Wall Street to keep the status quo. This why we will never have any true reform until more voices are allowed to sit at the table.

    One thing that Trump has said that I do find encouraging is that he wants to scrap the current financial regulations and go to a system more like a 21st century Glass-Steagall. To anyone who hasn’t seen ‘Inside Job’ narrated by Matt Damon, I highly recommend it. This film examines the causes of the 2008 financial crisis from the beginnings under Reagan and how in the end little changed. When watching notice that even though the Washington cast changed over the years, the Wall Street cast largely remained the same.

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