Will Stancil Profile picture
Apr 29, 2022 16 tweets 3 min read Twitter logo Read on Twitter
Fine, here’s what I think is going on:

White men have long been a minority in US society (currently 29%), but until very recently, they controlled all the ladders of ascent into cultural, political, media, or economic relevance.
That doesn’t mean that women and people of color weren’t visible in politics or culture. But it means the people who rose up the ladder into a position of influence generally had political beliefs that white men found tolerable, if not outright appealing.
You’re a woman or especially a minority, and you want to be a Times columnist, a judge, a congressional leader of note, a TV anchor?

If your ideas conform with the ideas of the white men who run these institutions, you can rise, rise, rise. If they don’t you likely won’t.
Now it’s important to switch perspectives and imagine what this system looked liked to white men themselves: consensus.

They could look out their window and see that almost everyone notable agreed with them on really divisive cultural issues!
Occasionally someone would break into the cozy unanimity with ideas that ran against the consensus, like a Jesse Jackson running for president. But even when this happened, all the major cultural and political power centers would reiterate that this was radical fringe politics.
Today… this system mostly remains in place, actually! Most political, cultural, and economic institutions are still controlled by white men! Many nonwhite, nonmale people who advance in these institutions do so by being agreeable to white male gatekeepers! (No names, sorry.)
But cracks are starting to emerge. There are people appearing in politics and culture who do not appear to have really been let in by white male gatekeepers - in fact, who express ideas that the vast, vast majority of white male gatekeepers find incorrect or even annoying.
What are these ideas? It varies but generally they are, naturally, ideas that challenge the power structure itself, point out the ways in which white people and men hold disproportionate power, and point out the way that power is exercised, often unfairly.
Why are cracks emerging now? Partly it’s a cultural evolution. Partly it’s technological (Twitter plays a big role here). But I think most of it is just demographic. America’s white majority is rapidly becoming a white plurality. Total societal control just isn’t sustainable.
And as this has happened, the world as experienced by white men (who, let’s remember, do still control the vast majority of political, cultural, and economic institutions) has also changed: where they once saw consensus, now there’s conflict.
For many white men, including many who hold vast power and influence, it feels like a bunch of malcontents - espousing ideas everyone previously agreed were radical, no less! - have forced their way past the gatekeepers, and are now making everything complicated and unpleasant.
The response of white men has varied. Some have argued that we need to restore the consensus of earlier years, unaware it was illusory and achieved partly by exclusion. Some have desperately kept trying to gatekeep.

And a whole lot of them have just gotten really, really angry.
And that’s where we are now: a small but growing number of people with perspectives that are not agreeable to white male gatekeepers pushing into the public eye, and white men seeing it as radicals smashing a consensus they were told was shared by everyone worth listening to.
And I think it's not a coincidence that the figures and groups that attract the most obsessive ire, who are blamed for causing all the trouble, are also the figures and groups that seem to have most dramatically circumvented the gatekeepers: AOC. Nikole Hannah-Jones. BLM.
One last thing I'll say: in my experience, white men are skeptical of the idea of white male gatekeeping (which makes sense, because it's not like we all got together and decided to do it).
But women and people of color are often acutely aware that their ability to exist in elite circles depends on not challenging certain ideas, and not rubbing powerful people the wrong way. Where do those ideas come from? What do most of those powerful people have in common?

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More from @whstancil

May 25
The debt ceiling, the presidential race, the media, everywhere you see the basic problem in US politics: there’s a violent, hyperactive fascist minority, and then a liberal majority represented by inert, ancient seatwarmers who refuse to accept that they’re in any kind of fight
It’s so depressing because in population terms it’s younger people who are the bulwark of liberal democracy. But the calcified power structure of the liberal political party is suffocating that youthful majority. It doles out jobs while negotiating to slow the far right’s advance
Liberal democracy can’t win without fighting back and seizing territory. But so many of our “victories” are just holding off the other side for another day, limiting the damage. And one by one institutions are falling, basically unchallenged: the Supreme Court, so much media
Read 5 tweets
May 24
What Biden SHOULD have done is announce, in January, that under no circumstances would he allow the US to default.

He should have clarified that were he forced into a position where he must violate one law to follow another, the law he’d choose to follow is the Constitution.
This position is common-sensical and legally correct (as the Constitution supersedes statute). It doesn’t even preclude Biden from negotiating to raise the debt ceiling, to avoid breaking any law, though of course if Biden truly believes it, it removes much of the GOP’s leverage.
Despite the complete hash Biden has made of things, he could still do this. The more he reassures markets he will never under any circumstances default, the freer his hand dealing with the GOP House and GOP Supreme Court.
Read 5 tweets
May 24
"We'll blow up the country unless you give us what you want" isn't an electoral consequence. It's a hostage situation. The problem here is that there is virtually no limit to what the GOP can demand: the alternative to giving in is unthinkable, so they can extort endlessly.
I mean, could the GOP demand a six-month debt ceiling increase so we get to do this all again in the winter? Why not? Could it demand we shutter the Education Department? Who's stopping them? Could they demand Biden resign? Still easily better than an apocalyptic default.
Dems have trained themselves to think of these things as negotiations requiring compromise, but in a negotiation BOTH SIDES HAVE LEVERAGE. In a hostage situation, only one side has leverage, and the question is how much ransom you're willing to give them to get the hostage back.
Read 5 tweets
May 23
I was told not to tweet this until the houses adjourned for fear of jinxing it, but the Minnesota legislature just completed what is probably the most productive session anywhere in the country since probably the New Deal. Sweeping bills and reforms across every area of life.
Minnesota’s Democratic-Farmer-Labor part accompanied this monumental session with a six-vote margin in the House and a bare one-vote majority in the Senate. The scale of their achievement cannot be overstated.
With no votes to spare, Minnesota Democrats have implemented vast new social programs, enacted protections for groups threatened by far-right states and the Supreme Court, strengthened unions, poured money into schools, replaced infrastructure, and fed every Minnesota child.
Read 65 tweets
May 21

The article literally describes Biden saying he CAN'T use the 14th Amendment until "after the current crisis is resolved."
This is just dumb. "If I proclaim the debt ceiling unconstitutional, the markets will treat it as a default" is obviously wrong, and the sooner you do it, the less the reaction will be. Nothing will have changed on the ground!
You cannot safely wait until the last second to invoke the 14th Amendment! If you go right up to the wire desperately seeking a deal, the GOP's leverage over you will grow and grow, because your constitutional escape hatch gets weaker.
Read 7 tweets
May 20
Biden reduced to pathetically whining about MAGA because his admin saw progressives as a threat and Republicans as negotiating partners, and refused to use his best tools against the latter in because it meant caving to the former
Like on some level I don’t want to believe the debt ceiling stuff is bad as it looks, but it sort of has to be, because Biden simply has no leverage at all as long as he’s negotiating. All leverage requires procedural radicalism he’s taken off the table
There is nothing Biden can do to force the GOP to capitulate, no magic words that will make them reasonable. Literally all he’s got is “sit around and complain that they’re not accepting his increasingly generous offers of huge cuts”
Read 4 tweets

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