Are Rubio and Ryan Serious About Inequality?

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Elias Isquith

Elias Isquith is a freelance journalist and blogger. He considers Bob Dylan and Walter Sobchak to be the two great Jewish thinkers of our time; he thinks Kafka was half-right when he said there was hope, "but not for us"; and he can be reached through the twitter via @eliasisquith or via email. The opinions he expresses on the blog and throughout the interwebs are exclusively his own.

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93 Responses

  1. Avatar greginak says:

    Until i see considerable proof that Ryan isn’t a consistent ideologue, I’m not going to believe any different. He will just try to reframe what he already wants to do as somehow great for everybody. Ryan is sure his theories are the bestest and most wonderful things that won’t ever fail.Report

    • I said as much on Twitter but my take is that Ryan is like Kemp: sincere but wrong. Rubio is harder to read, not knowing him well enough yet, but seems to be less of a True Believer and more of a savvy politician who’ll follow the voters. And that’s a good thing for those of us who want to see real GOP engagement on inequality.Report

      • Avatar M.A. in reply to Elias Isquith says:

        The problem when I hear R’s talk about “inequality” is that they insist their policies – the same policies that for 30 years have caused a measurable rise in income inequality – will somehow magically cure inequality.

        Repeating the same mistake expecting different results is at least one definition of insanity.Report

      • Avatar DRS in reply to Elias Isquith says:

        Isn’t that kind of insulting to Kemp? Kemp got legislation passed. Kemp got stuff done. He also had a habit of saying things that went outside the Republican comfort zone on occasion, he called himself a “bleeding-heart conservative” (which would give most of the Republican donor base seizures today) and he said nice things about affirmative action, civil rights and fighting poverty in the inner cities.

        Name one time Ryan has said anything unexpected or radical for a Republican congressman.

        It’s probably not a coincidence that Kemp had a very public career before he entered politics and he didn’t need to worry about how he was perceived by party bigwigs.Report

        • Avatar Elias Isquith in reply to DRS says:

          These are fair points. Ryan is a Kemp protege and seems to believe he’s carrying on Kemp’s legacy — i.e., libertarianism as a boon to the poor — and that’s why I make the comparison. It’s not a judgment as to whether or not Ryan is Kemp’s equal as a moral figure. I don’t know enough about Kemp the man to justifiably weigh in on that.Report

          • Avatar MikeSchilling in reply to Elias Isquith says:

            Ryan and Kemp are the only GOP vice-presidential nominees since 1984 not to be horrifying.Report

          • Avatar DRS in reply to Elias Isquith says:

            Daniel Larison commented on Ryan’s and Rubio’s rising stars in the GOP and had this to say which I totally agree with:

            “Movement conservatives have worked constantly over the last two years to build up and promote Rubio and Ryan, and during that time they have usually ignored or excused the weaknesses of both and greatly exaggerated their strengths. As flailing, defeated parties tend to do, Republicans have promoted these younger members too much and too quickly, which has encouraged them to become overly ambitious in their plans for the very near future. After all, few ambitious politicians are likely to resist the lure of presidential politics when they have so many people on their side egging them on. Whether that is good for them or their party is another matter all together.”

            He also points out that for a party so agitated about Obama’s lack of experience, it’s a strange strategy to pursue.

            What the GOP needs right now is to let their bench strength develop and show their own strengths and weaknesses, and learn how the real world works. The biggest difference between Kemp’s time and Ryan’s is the growth of the permanent campaign – the consultants who can create public images and ongoing media attention entirely divorced from actual achievement or practical activities.Report

      • greginak & Elias:

        I don’t understand why everybody believes this.

        A guy votes for every big government expansion & spending thing he can when there’s a R in the WH and it’s a popular set of things to be voting for… then those spending/expansion votes become unpopular and he says he was never really for them – and now he’s really, *really* against them! … and now those ideas that seemed so popular a couple of years ago seem to be pretty unpopular, and he’s saying, yeah, remember, I was always for those things I was recently against!

        Where are you seeing the ideologue there? Cause I am just not getting it here.Report

        • Avatar joey jo jo in reply to Tod Kelly says:

          Starve the beast. It could be that Ryan cares whether those things are popular or unpopular, or he could be Feeding the Beast so as to more effectively Starve the Beast.Report

        • Avatar Shazbot3 in reply to Tod Kelly says:

          I think he is for austerity for the poor. Borrowing money for middle-class and wealthier older people through Medicare prescription coverage is good. (Sadly, some poor folks will get effected as a kind of collateral damage.) Borrowing money for rocket lasers on the moon, to construct a 3D computer animation studio in Waziristan is good. And a team of monkey-commandos with spear guns (who could also entertain children) to stop people in rural America from being hurt by another 9/11, perhaps aimed at the local strip mall, is also good.

          Money for housing assistance, student loans, free education, or the poor in general is the devil.

          Devil I say!

          So he has had a consistent ideology over time. He believes in money for X but not for Y. Unfortunately, it is morally… questionable.Report

  2. Avatar Damon says:

    So the repubs want to win more elections by acting more like dems? Sounds like a winner.Report

    • Avatar greginak in reply to Damon says:

      If its that R’s want to show they can address issues people who voted D care about then yes that is a good idea.Report

      • Avatar Damon in reply to greginak says:

        Why would you vote for the “me too” party when you already have the dems?Report

        • Avatar greginak in reply to Damon says:

          I didn’t say the R’s should be a “me too” anymore then D’s should have gone all “me too” when they were in the wilderness. There are issues that led people to vote D. If R’s want to capture some of those voters then can try to appeal to them by showing how they will address those issues. They can just try to re-frame what they already believe, which typically comes off as condescending since the assumption is the voters couldn’t figure out what they were saying in the first place. If R’s don’t want to lose people who want a solution to the health care problems in this country then they need to offer solutions.Report

          • Avatar Kazzy in reply to greginak says:

            This.

            On a great number of issues relating to inequality, the breakdown seems to be thus:

            Dems: We care but have bad ideas!
            GOPs: We don’t care!

            Seems like there is an opportunity there, no?Report

          • Avatar superdestroyer in reply to greginak says:

            The Democrats never went me too and were never actually in the wilderness. The Democrats have known for decades that virtually every demographic trends is in their favor. President Obama in 2012 sound very similar to McGovern in 1972.

            When one looks at the demographics of the U.S., there is no room for two big government, big spending, nanny state parties. If politics is about entitlements, who pays, and who receives, one party is more than enough to raise the funds and distribute the goodies.

            In the long run, a country where most children are born to single mothers, where one needs an Ivy League degree to have financial security, and where the percentage of adults who participate in the work force continues to go down, is a country that only needs one political party.Report

        • Avatar James Hanley in reply to Damon says:

          There’s more than one way to skin a cat. E.g., different policy approaches to the same problem. Some people might be turned off by GOP inattention to a problem, but not love Dem policy approaches to the problem.

          Electorally, the key is in how many such people there are.Report

          • Avatar greginak in reply to James Hanley says:

            +1 for cat skinningReport

          • +1

            “They care about crime and are anti-crime. If we care about crime and aren’t pro-crime, that’s must being all “me too” and so why would anyone vote for us?Report

          • Avatar Scott Fields in reply to James Hanley says:

            +1 too.

            Electorally, I think this is a pretty sizable segment. A lot of people are seeking solutions to what they view as problems and are open to different remedies. (I’d count myself in that group.) Solution seeking isn’t even a possibility with those who would deny there is even a problem.Report

            • Avatar Morat20 in reply to Scott Fields says:

              One large problem with the GOP ‘brand’ is they’ve spent at least since 94 claiming tax cuts and deregulation are the answer. (With a side of privatization).

              The answer to what? Everything. Bank failure? Cut taxes and deregulate. Environmental catastrophe? Ditto. Invasion of aliens? Ditto.

              After awhile, even the least informed voter starts to wonder if they’re just interested in tax cuts and deregulation, not fixing problems. Surely some things have solutions unrelated to tax policy or regulatory setup.Report

              • Avatar M.A. in reply to Morat20 says:

                Invasion of aliens?

                Are we talking about little green men with bald heads and antennae instead of ears, or are we talking foreign nationals who travel to the USA by whatever method, legal or otherwise?

                Because I was pretty sure the GOP response to either of those is actually “2nd amendment, praise the lord and pass the ammunition, time to come out shooting.”Report

  3. Avatar zic says:

    Are they serious about inequality? What kind?

    Economic inequality — yes. Ryan, at least, has a history that indicates he wants to increase it.

    Rubio’s lived with some inequality, so I at least take his concerns a bit more seriously, though maybe this is an error of judgement on my part.Report

  4. Avatar joey jo jo says:

    They want to appear to be serious about income inequality, but they are ideologically opposed to utilizing one of the ways to go about modifying income inequality. All hat, no cattle.Report

  5. Avatar MFarmer says:

    “And make no mistake — taking income inequality seriously, in both policy and rhetoric, will represent a real move away from the hard-right.”

    Yes, because we know the hard right has promoted income inequality for decades now, to the dissatisfaction of the soft right who don’t want quite as much inequality, just enough to make sure we can separate the country clubbers from the bowling leaugers. It’s probably just a ploy to put a kind face on Rubio who is, as we know, evil. Ryan can’t change his image — not after throwing that old lady off the cliff. Don’t trust these two dastardly rightwingers — it’s a trap!Report

    • Avatar Murali in reply to MFarmer says:

      So you’re saying inequality actually matters and our politicians should care about it? CommieReport

      • Avatar MFarmer in reply to Murali says:

        Well, of course politicians should care about inequality. I’m very impressed by how many say they care, and the people who post here care a lot about inequality, and this is admirable, even if it’s commie. But, we can’t believe anyone on the Right when they say they care about inequality, because they have promoted inequality for so long, plus their fascism has done nothing to help bring about equality.Report

  6. If the new party position is indeed that inequality matters and that our current level of inequality is too high, I admit to a certain fascination with seeing how many economists suddenly reverse their position on the subject. Also the effect that it would have on macroeconomics in general, where so many things are reduced to a “single representative agent.” Can’t do that if you intend your models to inform us on inequality policy… :^)Report

  7. Avatar LWA (Liberal With Attitude) says:

    John Holbo over at Crooked Timber has a good post about how the GOP spent decades dogwhistling on race, but now wants to deftly pivot and be more conducive to other ethnic groups.
    But of course, 30 or 40 years of message discipline doesn’t just vanish the moment it becomes inconvenient.

    Read any right leaning blog, and you realize that the conservative base has a very clear ingrained message on wealth and equality, all of which can be described in terms of bootstraps, independence, and hard work.
    It is an article of faith that the government spends vast quantities of money on shiftless lazy folks while coddling them with nanny state regulations. The only reason people are poor is laziness or stupidity.

    Yes, I understand that the GOP leadership isn’t actually saying that, explicitly. But this message has been pounded for at least 30 years- the GOP brand is pretty well established in people’s minds.

    Tough to turn that off when it suddenly becomes embarrassing or inconvenient.Report

    • Avatar MikeSchilling in reply to LWA (Liberal With Attitude) says:

      I dunno. It was a masterstroke when Mitt defused the 47% stuff by saying “I don’t really believe that.” That’s what turned the election around, right?Report

        • Avatar Mike Schilling in reply to MFarmer says:

          It amazed me that he won handily, what with all the polls predicting it, and you know they’re always wrong.Report

          • To the contrary, polls are always right. Everybody knows this. You should know this since all the polls you doubted turned out to be correct, right? Or, have you believed all polls, therefore always been correct?Report

            • Avatar MFarmer in reply to MFarmer says:

              Seriously, this deal with polls in the last election shows just how ignorant most on the Left have become, or just flat out dishonest. Polls are useful guides when they are done correctly. It was not odd that people would question the polls in this last election with the turn out at Romney rallies being what they were. For some reason there just wasn’t a great turnout for Republicans at the voting booths, and the Left had been organizing in ways that only those on the inside truly understood. Most people don’t make politics and community organizing their lives, so they can’t fathom the diligence it requires to be that politically obsessed. That government power is so great it causes such obsession and constant organizing is a scary development. I admit that I had no idea that the Left was organizing as much and as long and with as much sophistication as they had been. If I had known this, then I would have trusted the polls. I also didn’t predict the low turn out for Romney at the voting booth, and i wasn’t alone. All pundits were predicting a big turnout. But just saying that not trusting polls is somehow stupid is ignorant, because polls have predicted the wrong results quite often. No one with the ability to think will accept all polls at face value, or even a system like Silver’s if there’s empirical evidence that places doubt on the system. I just didn’t have inside information over the level of organizing on the Left and Silver did, which was more valuable than his system, actually.Report

              • Avatar Kim in reply to MFarmer says:

                Where have you been for eight years??
                Insider? Nate!?
                Pshaw…Report

              • Avatar Tod Kelly in reply to MFarmer says:

                Seriously, Mike, taking your own prediction

                “When the voting is done, Romney will have a comfortable win… I say around 55-43… I’m basing my prediction on something that’s outdated, reason.”

                … and combining it with the actual election results

                “The Fivethirtyeight.com analyst, despite being pilloried by the pundits, outdid even his 2008 prediction. In that year, his mathematical model correctly called 49 out of 50 states, missing only Indiana (which went to Obama by 0.1%.)
                This year, according to all projections, Silver’s model has correctly predicted 50 out of 50 states. A last-minute flip for Florida, which finally went blue in Silver’s prediction on Monday night, helped him to a perfect game.”

                … and coming to the conclusion that…

                “Seriously, this deal with polls in the last election shows just how ignorant most on the Left have become”

                and that “no one with the ability to think” would have missed the “empirical evidence” that Silver’s system was unsound…

                Seriously, I’ll go out on a limb and say this will be my favorite thing I read on this site all month, with the possible exception of the response I know is going to follow this comment.
                Report

              • Avatar MFarmer in reply to Tod Kelly says:

                At first, I thought you were just a dishonest partisan, but now I know that you are just dim. You lack the ability to comprehend arguments outside your narrow political view. I understood those who mistakenly thought Kerry won when I predicted a Bush victory — from media reports and polls one would have thought Kerry would win. After it was over, my liberal friends congratulated me for getting it right and moved long. You, on the other hand interpret everything in a narrow partisan space that’s limited by your lack of intelligence and ugly spirit. You really should get out of that bubble. You are one of the reasons this place has devolved into a snarky, progressive ass-slapping clique that can’t fathom anything beyond the party line. It’s one thing to be true believer on principle, but you’re a dishonest partisan more interested in spin than the truth. I don’t like this place anymore, and you are a main reason.Report

              • Avatar Murali in reply to MFarmer says:

                Dude, I’m sure Tod can defend himself, but don’t get personal. If we took this to getting personal, things could get really nasty. You wouldn’t like it when I’m angry nasty.Report

              • Avatar Tod Kelly in reply to MFarmer says:

                See, I knew you’d top it.Report

              • Avatar Shazbot5 in reply to MFarmer says:

                Yeah, Tod. You are an ugly spirit, like the ghost of Marty Feldman. Also, MFarmer,’s predictions were totally reasonable.Report

              • Avatar Murali in reply to Shazbot5 says:

                Dude, do you have different versions of yourself running around?Report

              • Avatar Shazbot5 in reply to Shazbot5 says:

                Yes. But as a perdurantist, I believe that each version of me is just a part of the 4-dimensional object that actually is me.Report

              • Avatar BlaiseP in reply to Shazbot5 says:

                But only one such avatar/version can appear at any one time, thus leading us to the Superman problem: where’s Clark Kent while Superman’s around? It could be you are only Shazbot’s evil twin from a Leibniz-ian Bizarro World.

                Us do opposite of all Shazbotly things!Report

              • Avatar Glyph in reply to Shazbot5 says:

                I’m waiting for the Shazbot6 upgrade. I hear 5’s kind of buggy.Report

              • Avatar BlaiseP in reply to Shazbot5 says:

                Shazbot5.x hasn’t worked since the last kernel upgrade. Get the nightly build from github, do a make clean all and it works perfectly.Report

              • Avatar Shazbot5 in reply to Shazbot5 says:

                Shazbot 5 is alive.

                If you catch that reference, you are as big a nerd/loser as me.Report

              • Avatar James Hanley in reply to MFarmer says:

                Mike, there was no empirical evidence that Silver’s methodology was unsound. There were claims, based on weak understandings of survey methodology and statistics, but simply no empirical evidence whatsoever. Zero, zip, zilch, nada, nothing.Report

              • Avatar mark boggs in reply to James Hanley says:

                But the anecdotal evidence, the evidence that was based in the animosity and disgust the right had with Obama, was never taken into account. Much like the amazed disbelief many on the left felt back in 2004 when they simply could not comprehend that the country could want 4 more years Of Bush. It’s the gut feelings that were disregarded, facts be damned.Report

              • Avatar zic in reply to James Hanley says:

                Mark,
                But the anecdotal evidence, the evidence that was based in the animosity and disgust the right had with Obama, was never taken into account.

                Why wouldn’t that be reflected in the polling? And why should it have been ‘taken into account’ any more then the disgust liberals felt toward Romney?

                The polling, Silver’s methodology, accurately predicted the outcome. So your question only works in an alternate reality.Report

              • Avatar mark boggs in reply to James Hanley says:

                Which is where most of the right spent the weeks prior to the election: An alternate reality.

                I was very tongue in cheek. Well, mostly. I think that those on the right who felt Obama was the anti-Christ simply couldn’t conceive that the rest of the country didn’t feel the same. If you could have weighted their opinion by the volume of hostility toward Obama, it would have weighed a billion pounds. Unfortunately for them, their vote still just equals one no matter how passionate they were. It is the equivalent of 2004 when people could not believe that Bush got re-elected after the first four years he had.Report

              • Avatar Rtod in reply to James Hanley says:

                zic, I think mark was in a very strong Sarcasm Mode there.Report

              • Avatar mark boggs in reply to James Hanley says:

                Mr. Kelly,

                Even with your ugly spirit you seem to have not lost your laser like sarcasm detection powers.Report

              • Avatar Murali in reply to James Hanley says:

                Pretty everyone else in the rest of the world (except israel, autralia and the UK) also couldn’t figure out how you could re-elect Bush. This time whenever I told people that there was almost no chance of Romney winning, people who didn’t know about 538 said that I shouldn’t be sure about that americans could do anything, the voted Bush in twice!Report

              • Avatar BlaiseP in reply to James Hanley says:

                As I understand it, having heard the NPR interview with Nate Silver, he seems to be nonpartisan with Libertarian overtones. Silver really didn’t have a dog in this fight.

                The Right was blinded by their hatred of Obama. It drove all the common sense out of their positions. If Obama was for it, they were against it. Romney climbed into his bubble and never got out.

                MFarmer wants to say it was not odd that people would question the polls in this last election with the turn out at Romney rallies being what they were. That’s inside the bubble thinking. Team Obama understood what the Romney camp never grasped: to win elections and battles, it comes down to controlling the terrain. Obama simply out-organised Romney, seventeen ways from Sunday. Rallies are old hat. Last century’s thinking. Unless the faithful who go to rallies will get five other to vote, it’s pointless even having a rally.

                Sun Tzu, from the Terrain chapter The natural formation of the country is the soldier’s best ally; but a power of estimating the adversary, of controlling the forces of victory, and of shrewdly calculating difficulties, dangers and distances, constitutes the test of a great general.. Axelrod was a great general because he was a Shrewd Calculator. He won because he had better information. Nate Silver had better information.Report

              • Avatar zic in reply to James Hanley says:

                Blaise, I’m reading his book right now. And he does have a dog in the outcome — in producing the most accurate forecast possible.

                He goes into great detail about picking the signal amongst the noise, about the risks of overconfidence and random patterns, etc.

                It’s not a party alignment (though he admits to being liberalish,) it’s professional alignment.Report

              • Avatar Mike Schilling in reply to James Hanley says:

                Mark:

                Isn’t the anti-Christ supposed to take over the world?Report

              • Avatar mark boggs in reply to James Hanley says:

                Mr. Schilling,

                The whole world = The United States.

                Get with the exceptionalism program.Report

              • Avatar Mike Schilling in reply to James Hanley says:

                So defeating Obama in the U.S. would usher in the Rapture, even if the guy who beat him doesn’t believe in that? Sorry to ask so many dumb questions, but my civics classes didn’t explain any of this stuff.Report

              • Avatar zic in reply to MFarmer says:

                I’m chewing on this:
                Most people don’t make politics and community organizing their lives, so they can’t fathom the diligence it requires to be that politically obsessed. That government power is so great it causes such obsession and constant organizing is a scary development. I admit that I had no idea that the Left was organizing as much and as long and with as much sophistication as they had been. If I had known this, then I would have trusted the polls.

                What does it mean? I’m glad for the rest of the comment, for it makes it seem less sinister, and that’s a relief, because I really value your thoughts.

                Yesterday, I asked about why Republicans think political organizing on the part of the left fraudulent. You didn’t answer. But the quote above veers awfully close to the kinds of things I’ve heard and read that make me wonder why conservatives fear organizing by the left — other then losing elections. Why is it bad to get votes involved, organized, informed, and to the polls?Report

              • Avatar Just Me in reply to zic says:

                “Why is it bad to get votes involved, organized, informed, and to the polls?” I question the “informed” part of that question. I don’t really see much informing going on in get out the vote campaigns, from either party. I see a bunch of the other is “horrid” and I will tell you anything you want to hear, vote for us.Report

              • Avatar zic in reply to Just Me says:

                I don’t really see much informing going on in get out the vote campaigns, from either party.

                Are you talking the parties or the press, with it’s horse-race coverage? Because I saw a lot of informing. When I made calls, people asked questions, and I directed them to resources to answer those questions.

                So I guess if your view of GOTV efforts are the mailers, phone calls, and ads, perhaps. But personal contact — real community organizing — involved a lot of informing from my experience.Report

              • Avatar Murali in reply to zic says:

                I don’t know about others, but the basic idea is that any get out the vote effort is likely to result in more rather than less injustice. People who ordinarily don’t vote and who are also most likely to vote if pulled by GOTV are most likely politically disengaged and uninformed. Being “informed” by party activists, does not improve matters for two reasons

                1. Partial information can often be worse than no information because as has already been established, discourse failure is ripe in public deliberation. In this particular case, they probably haven’t thought particularly hard or carefully about these issues. Questions of justice are difficult and it is unlikely that people who have not thought hard about it can get the answers right. In fact, because people are systematically irrational in particular predictable ways, people who only have devoted cursory attention to these matters can be quite likely to get things wrong.

                2. Being “informed” by particularly partisan volunteers doesn’t help either. Most people who are sufficiently partisan to be involved in actual campaign operations on a volunteer basis rarely have sufficient distance from the issue to not be motivated reasoners themselves.

                If the results of democracy are to approach justice, then democratic procedures must be arranged in such a way as to improve the reasoning of the voters. However, the structures of representative democracies (at least as they currently exist and are theorised about) fail at this task.Report

              • Avatar zic in reply to zic says:

                Murali, thank you for that.

                I totally disagree with most if it.

                People don’t live in a vacuum; they make decisions based on all kinds of information, things they hear from their family, friends, co-workers; things they hear on the news, be it Limbaugh or Colbert.

                What you’re describing is an ideal of rational decision making for voting; but things have never been like that and the information for a rational decision is often hidden and were it not, totally overwhelming.

                So the faulty process, the family/friends/vague news/hidden information process that we have must work in other ways to inform. First, voters make a lot of poor decisions. And the majority of voters make poor decions a lot of the time, meaning the ‘wrong’ candidate wins office. Having that wrong candidate in office, however, informs voters. If you’ve been following the thread of letters written to Andrew Sulliven by millennial voters you see this is a theme; having a bad president was a learning experience. But this does mean that voting behavior is a time series, not a snap shot, and that goes against much of the conventional wisdom of party affiliation.

                But that brings us to the second thing: Party; and party information. I’ve been making calls for my local Democratic party for some time, now. We are lucky, we have a great community organizer at the County level; she’s revived a party stagnating, recruited good candidates, gotten volunteers to engage. She’s a good example of how a single person, not candidate, can make a difference.

                With all those calls, I have never been given a list of voters who weren’t in some way affiliated with the Democratic Party. They’ve given money to candidates, registered to vote in a primary, or taken some other action to identify themselves. So the suggestion that these are totally no-information voters also does not work. They do, in fact, have information. They’re just not as likely to vote.

                The exception would be first-time voters, who may not have considered the information they do have in the frame of making voter decisions. And here, the campaign information, the party information, mattered. For youth voters, the party stands on immigration, gay marriage, contraception, etc. signaled a lot of information about those parties. And they compared that information with their life experience, which is what Sullivan documents with that series of letters. (Sadly the link provided is the end of the series, where the naysayers attack, but you can follow it forward if you’ve interest.)

                Now MFarmer’s comment above actually is valuable to me; because it shows that the real intent is to win; that the whole ‘fraud’ argument is just so much signaling to other Republicans that there is threat that community organizing will work, and undesirable voters will vote; and the only reason those voters are undesirable is because they don’t desire Republican policies.Report

              • Avatar Murali in reply to zic says:

                office. Having that wrong candidate in office, however, informs voters. If you’ve been following the thread of letters written to Andrew Sulliven by millennial voters you see this is a theme; having a bad president was a learning experience. But this does mean that voting behavior is a time series, not a snap shot, and that goes against much of the conventional wisdom of party affiliation

                Call me extremely sceptical about the average voter to learn the correct lessons.

                I’d like to point you to this book, but if you don’t want to buy it, here is a paper by the same guys who wrote the book which gives a condensed argument.

                The logic of the argument is irresistable. It is instrumentallly rational for most people to be poorly informed voters. Moreover, the predictions of the theory pan out vey well in terms of the observations about how people actually do deliberate in democracies.

                I know you are personally involved in this, and I’m really reluctant to make public criticisms about things people are personally very committed to. But I hope you take this in the right spirit. Most of us, even the more politically active ones are doing it wrong. And this involves everyone, not just democrats, or republicans. Libertarians are like this as well. mfarmer is exhibit A of a libertarian who displays poor deliberative practices and has not really thought out his positions very well. It takes a fair bit of rigorous training to be able to disregard your intuitions. It is really a very unnatural way to think. Yet, intuitions will almost predictably lead us wrong when it comes to political matters. This is one of th biggest reasons why I am sceptical of Democracy and universal suffrage. For example, maybe we should predicate the right to vote on passing a test covering history, geography, civics and economics.Report

              • Avatar zic in reply to zic says:

                Murali, I skimmed the paper, and I’ll check with my local used book store for the book.

                While I don’t disagree with much of the paper, I do take exception. First and foremost, there’s this underlying assumption in much of the discourse that the best economic outcome is the best outcome. I just don’t buy that argument; there are a host of metrics beyond money. Money’s just become an easy way to measure some things; and it really fails at measuring others.

                More importantly, rational economic behavior is not, and has never been, the foundations of democracy. And it will never be, either.

                I prefer to view the process as akin to my vegetable garden. (In fact I sort of live in fear of being branded a Chauncy in the internets.) In any given plot of land, some things will grow and others will not. some weeds will appear, some weeds will choke out the garden, and some will never sprout. Some bugs will happen. Most of what matters — the microbes in the soil, we never know about. We can push things in certain directions — we can add water, increase drainage, add organic matter or fertilizers, provide shade or shelter from the cold. But these only move things in certain directions, they rarely result in 100% predictive outcomes and you never have perfect information.

                So when I talk to other voters, I’m rarely interested in convincing them to vote Democratic. I’m more interested in helping them think about what’s important to them in the outcome of the election, and asking what questions they need to ask to help determine who to vote for to push outcomes in their desired direction.

                Winning elections based on a minority interest is, I think, frightening. There should be some good expectations of the directions policy will move toward, and some good signal from campaigns and parties about those directions. If a minority wins, the outcomes will be at odds with the public. We’re living this in Maine now with our governor, who won with a minority of the vote in a three-way race, and folks do not like it, it creates its own forms of crippling discord. They also considered that outcome when voting to send Angus King to the senate.

                Disturbing is the notion that by being engaged in the process, you somehow have no respectable stand to speak about the process. Such logic leads to stupidities like you can only speak about dogs and cats, because you can observe them without bias, and not about humans because you’re biased by being human; only men should speak about women, women about men. etc.Report

              • Avatar Mike Schilling in reply to MFarmer says:

                It was not odd that people would question the polls in this last election with the turn out at Romney rallies being what they were.

                Because the turnout at campaign rallies is the best predictor of election results, and if Nate Silver ignored them to focus on some other nonsense that by some weird coincidence happened to give the right answer, he was just lucky. Or a cheater. Or both.Report

              • I don’t the think the polls adequately took into account how much I wanted him to lose.Report

              • Avatar Stillwater in reply to Mike Schilling says:

                and if Nate Silver ignored them to focus on some other nonsense that by some weird coincidence happened to give the right answer, he was just lucky. Or a cheater. Or both.

                Or … he was suppressing the vote.Report

              • Avatar Murali in reply to Mike Schilling says:

                Opposition rallies in Singapore always have a high turnout rate. Of course they hardly ever win.

                My hypothesis is that parties that make for good political theater and circuses are also parties that people don’t take sufficiently seriously to vote into power. Right now, the democratic party is downright boring. In fact it is about as boring as Singapore politcs and that is saying something. But the republican party is about as fascinating as a train-wreckReport

              • Avatar Shazbot3 in reply to MFarmer says:

                I try not to respond to MFarmer, but this is one for the textbooks:

                1. “Polls are useful guides when they are done correctly.”

                Yes. Yes, they are.

                But, as it so happens, it is also true that:

                2.”Polls are done correctly when they are useful guides.”

                Putting 1. and 2. together, we get:

                3. “Polls are done correctly if and only if they are useful guides.”

                And that my friends, is the trueiest of all truisms.Report

              • Avatar Mike Schilling in reply to Shazbot3 says:

                There’s an ever truer conclusion:

                “Polls are done correctly if and only if they are done correctly.”Report

              • Avatar Morat20 in reply to MFarmer says:

                Let me get this straight: The people on the Left, with their poll aggregation and “this is what the numbers tell us” were the ignorant ones?

                Not the people on the right, “unskewing” polls until they said what they wanted, having massive meltdowns on Fox News as their projections turned out to be utterly wrong?

                The people who were CORRECT were the “ignorant” ones?

                Allright, that’s it. This whole MFarmer stuff — it’s performance art? Trolling? A schtick? You’re pulling our legs.Report

              • Avatar M.A. in reply to MFarmer says:

                I admit that I had no idea that the Left was organizing as much and as long and with as much sophistication as they had been.

                A decade of the right wing bubble’s dishonest screaming about how ACORN was going to stage a government takeover and eat our babies using “community organizing” and you were unaware that community organizing and GOTV campaigns existed?

                I think we can boil your entire response down to three words:

                “Conservatives Aren’t Informed.”

                You’ve just become one of my primary examples of how being immersed in right wing media makes people less informed than the often-scoffed-at “low information voters.”Report

              • Avatar zic in reply to M.A. says:

                Nice catch. That’s some tasty irony.Report

    • But of course, 30 or 40 years of message discipline doesn’t just vanish the moment it becomes inconvenient.

      More specifically, 30 or 40 years of message discipline doesn’t just vanish when it’s become the core arguments for the base.

      What disturbs me more is how the religious used to get it. Billy Graham famously said “It would disturb me if there was a wedding between the religious fundamentalists and the political right. The hard right has no interest in religion except to manipulate it.” It seems his perspective has come true to look at the rhetoric to come out of the right wing regarding religion.

      They can call me “unamerican” for being an atheist, but woe betide the one who points out that the 1st amendment demands they take their grasping claws off of the kids in public schools. It’s shameful.Report

      • Avatar zic in reply to M.A. says:

        They can call me “unamerican” for being an atheist, but woe betide the one who points out that the 1st amendment demands they take their grasping claws off of the kids in public schools. It’s shameful.

        Awesome. Thank you.Report

  8. Avatar BlaiseP says:

    The Republicans can’t move off their positions: their donors won’t let them. The GOP could recycle Jeb Bush’s low-key approach to Republican politics (itself a minor variant of his father Bush41’s stances on many issues) but they won’t because the party’s now in the hands of its Jacobins.

    The GOP simply can’t keep the crazies from grabbing the microphone. All those crazies are unelected bloviators. Look at ’em all. Who is this Grover Norquist bozo and why does anyone take him seriously? Doesn’t anyone remember the Jack Abramoff scandal? Norquist was up to his pierced nipples in that sewage. Limbaugh, who the hell is that dumbass? The Folx at Fox, for crissakes, some Australian nut case whose underlings tap kidnapped girls’ telephones — this is the voice of Fair ‘n Balanced Conservatism in the USA?

    The GOP needs to grow some gonads. Maybe some of that testosterone cream or something. Vitamin supplements. Send ’em on an Outward Bound canoe trip for some confidence building. It’s very sad to see what’s become of Conservatism in the Land of the Free, the Party of Lincoln become a gaggle of unscientific dumbasses and shrieky pantywaists.Report

  9. Avatar M.A. says:

    De-indenting this but I think it’s important. I might even make a guestpost to submit based on this later.

    Mark Boggs:
    I was very tongue in cheek. Well, mostly. I think that those on the right who felt Obama was the anti-Christ simply couldn’t conceive that the rest of the country didn’t feel the same. If you could have weighted their opinion by the volume of hostility toward Obama, it would have weighed a billion pounds. Unfortunately for them, their vote still just equals one no matter how passionate they were. It is the equivalent of 2004 when people could not believe that Bush got re-elected after the first four years he had.

    There’s a lot of Pauline Kael syndrome going on here on the right wing. And the funniest part is that it’s not that they really don’t know anyone who thinks differently, it’s that they are so toxic that those who think differently won’t bother to talk to them if politics ever comes near the conversation.. They’ll make a polite excuse and leave, or else they’ll just bear it as their friend rants until a graceful exit can be found.

    They can’t understand how the right wingers stand by their racist friends. And because of the way the right wing have gotten so toxic, and are known to blow up when challenged, most on the left have decided it’s just better to let the right wing exist in their little bubble and not challenge them in the first place.

    And so the Fox News and right-wing Hate Radio crowd can’t imagine how anyone doesn’t think exactly the same way they do, because the most challenge they ever get from friends is a nod of the head and change of subject; the most challenge they ever hear inside the media bubble is the token liberal calling a radio show to get the dump-button 5 words in followed by a 5 minute tirade from the host about “wow, what a retarded moron that caller was” to be reinforced by 5 more yes-men callers saying “well you sure showed that libtard.”Report

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