Liveblogging my Reading of “If you’re a Conservative, I’m not your friend”

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Vikram Bath

Vikram Bath is the pseudonym of a former business school professor living in the United States with his wife, daughter, and dog. (Dog pictured.) His current interests include amateur philosophy of science, business, and economics. Tweet at him at @vikrambath1.

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244 Responses

  1. Avatar j r says:

    The best thing about this piece being published in Practical Ethics is that it is neither practical nor ethical.

    It’s like rain on your wedding day.Report

  2. Avatar Sam says:

    Some conservatives insist that they don’t want to hurt the poor, sick, foreign, and unemployed – but then their polices objectively do. So what’s to trump the other, the belief or the action? (Hint: the only answer worth a damn is action, as that is the thing which matters in the real world. Stated beliefs are propaganda.)Report

    • Avatar j r in reply to Sam says:

      Some conservatives insist that they don’t want to hurt the poor, sick, foreign, and unemployed – but then their polices objectively do.

      I can say the same thing about the left. Actually, I do say the same thing about the left.Report

      • Avatar Jaybird in reply to j r says:

        I think it’s unfair to say that the Baltimore City Council would be anything but Conservative, given how the last month or so has played out. It doesn’t matter what party they are.Report

      • Avatar CK MacLeod in reply to j r says:

        Some people are so committed to their own certitude that they are incapable of treating it as even possibly a mere opinion. They treat any suggestion to that effect as offensive.Report

        • Avatar Tod Kelly in reply to CK MacLeod says:

          … while others are so committed to theirs that they are incapable of understanding that something that does not offend them might offend someone else. They treat any suggestion otherwise as faulty thinking.Report

          • Avatar DensityDuck in reply to Tod Kelly says:

            Oh, I absolutely understand that other people might be offended by something I don’t care about.

            The problem is when they act like I’m an imbecile at best, and more likely an utter sociopath, when I say that I don’t care. And then they go on to say that since I’m so willing to say that I don’t care, I must therefore secretly support whatever thing it is they’re so upset about.Report

            • Avatar Tod Kelly in reply to DensityDuck says:

              I suspect you’re reading too much into it. I doubt they think you’re an imbecile or a sociopath. They probably just think you’re being kind of a d**k.

              Unless we’re talking Internet, of course. If we’re talking Internet, then yeah, they probably think you’re Hitler.Report

            • Avatar Dave in reply to DensityDuck says:

              The problem is when they act like I’m an imbecile at best, and more likely an utter sociopath, when I say that I don’t care. And then they go on to say that since I’m so willing to say that I don’t care, I must therefore secretly support whatever thing it is they’re so upset about.

              Is this a conversation about politics? I was on the receiving end in a conversation like this and it was fitness-related.

              It’s a strange world.Report

      • Avatar Will H. in reply to j r says:

        Bowling Alone all over again.

        The Left: If spontaneous community action and interaction is wholly impossible, what other than government programs might supply public goods and benefits?

        The Right: There is no need for government programs, as spontaneous action and interaction among communities will deliver those public goods and benefits at the point of demand far more efficiently than any government program.

        The conundrum is that both are correct.Report

    • Avatar Kolohe in reply to Sam says:

      Sam: Hint: the only answer worth a damn is action, as that is the thing which matters in the real world. Stated beliefs are propaganda

      Some of those that work forces, are the same that burn CVSes.Report

    • Avatar North in reply to Sam says:

      Indeed, but as has been noted the left is the same way. Intentions trump outcomes with some liberal sacred cow policies.Report

    • Avatar j r in reply to Sam says:

      (Hint: the only answer worth a damn is action, as that is the thing which matters in the real world. Stated beliefs are propaganda.)

      Yes. And this is really where my main point of contention is with many on the left. Action isn’t really worth all that much unless it’s action that is effective. You can have great beliefs, great intentions and take action, only end up making matters much worse.

      Even more important, sometimes actions work at one point, but then stop working at later points. It’s really difficult to come up with policies that work the way you want them to work in the short-to-medium term. It is almost impossible to come up with policies that work the way that you want them to work in the long term.Report

      • Avatar Will H. in reply to j r says:

        You can have great beliefs, great intentions and take action, only end up making matters much worse.

        I find the harm done by those who care oh-so-much to be far more offensive than a straight-out “Fish you!

        In fact, that’s why I haven’t spoken to my mom in some ten years (though I most often tell people she’s dead), because she has that tendency far too frequently.

        I prefer a true enemy to a false friend.Report

      • Avatar Vikram Bath in reply to j r says:

        Remember the original subject is whether you should be friends with someone. I think for that particular purpose intention matters a lot.Report

        • Avatar j r in reply to Vikram Bath says:

          I’m not convinced of that. There are roughly speaking two ways to go through the world.

          You can bluster through the world convinced that your point of view and your way of doing things is the one and only way and that anyone disagreeing with you must be either stupid, evil or both.

          Or you can hold a point of view that you believe is mostly correct, but about which you have a general sense of humility and are also constantly challenging and refining.

          For me at least, you ought to be striving to be part of that second group. And part of holding the second point of view is not cloistering yourself away from people who might challenge your views. That’s not to say that you ought to go out of your way to befriend obviously terrible people, but if your definition of obviously terrible people is anyone who voted for that other party, you’re probably in the first group.Report

  3. Avatar greginak says:

    As an Official Liberal let me say there are many things worse then racism/ sexism. Murder, genocide, rape, child abuse, slavery, physical assault.

    You have point here about the bubbles people willingly choose to live in and how that deprives them of ideas and challenges to their own orthodoxy. That is a solid point. But you buried it among quite a bit of silliness. The liberals only talk about liberal ideas in a liberal frame is pretty dim for a post on this particular web home. That should be obvious. But the good point about bubbles being bad is that people of every belief do that. Go to a solid conservative web site, will you really see C’s honestly looking at L ideas. Bubbles are bad; that is a solid point. I read the Bleeding Heart Libertarian site and i’ll be damned if i’ve ever seen a liberal idea described well or treated as anything but the road to Heck.

    So you see Libertarians being open to reams of solid science that climate change is real. Good on them. But you ding liberals for not going the other way, they aren’t denying the reams of science that show CC is real….Huh….Liberals are bad because they aren’t’ ignoring the science while libertarians are good because they are paying attention to the science. How does that even make sense? If CC is proven with a lot of good data then believing the science is not just a taste or opinion, its following the best evidence.

    And liberals haven’t moved to believe in miscegenation laws as a knock….Well i guess i’ll cop to being a bad liberal for not openly considering the merits of chattel slavery. Darn my bubble.Report

    • Avatar Oscar Gordon in reply to greginak says:

      @greginak

      greginak: Liberals are bad because they aren’t’ ignoring the science while libertarians are good because they are paying attention to the science.

      Expand the field a bit: Any recent liberal ideas or programs that failed to deliver that were then supplanted in the liberal ideology by something libertarians or conservatives championed?Report

      • Avatar greginak in reply to Oscar Gordon says:

        The ACA, which most liberals found to be far less then we hoped for, was based to a degree on Heritage Foundations ideas. It was a compromise that included conservative ideas. Liberals want more than the ACA but we have mostly supported it.

        The entire neo-liberal framework, championed by Clinton and sometimes by Obama, is about harnessing capitalism to achieve liberal social goals. This is often a hot topic in liberal circles with some people defending it and some hating it. But the neo-lib idea was to get away from direct gov social programs which haven’t always worked.

        Liberals hereabouts have certainly been open to talking about a GBI. I have questions about how well it would work and i can’t imagine it ever being implemented, but it is an idea worth looking at.

        That is three quick things off the top of my head.Report

        • Avatar Vikram Bath in reply to greginak says:

          Great question and great response.

          When I was thinking of examples, the only one I could come up with was that liberals abandoned any claim to civil liberties being important. But I didn’t know how to write that without it being even more snarky than everything else in this already-way-too-snarky post.Report

          • Avatar greginak in reply to Vikram Bath says:

            Umm yeah i remember when Liberals had that secret vote to stop caring about civil liberties. Heck yeah, screw them. It did puzzle the crap out of me why i had donated to the ACLU and was actually for civil liberties. But what the heck. I just assumed liberal “civil liberties” weren’t the Real Civil Liberties that conservatives and libertarians tell me about. I’m just here to learn, so that is on me.Report

            • Avatar Vikram Bath in reply to greginak says:

              greginak: Umm yeah i remember when Liberals had that secret vote to stop caring about civil liberties.

              That’s mostly correct though (1) I made the mistake of conflating liberal with Democratic and (2) the meeting wasn’t a secret. http://www.motherjones.com/mojo/2012/09/democrats-retreat-civil-liberties-2012-platform

              The first mistake is significant, and I don’t mean to discount it. The ACLU does still qualify as liberal. They just don’t actually have any influence on the Democratic Party.Report

              • Avatar greginak in reply to Vikram Bath says:

                Sadly true the ACLU has little affect on the D’s. I’d say gay marriage is a civil liberty and the D’s have often been good on that. On national defense type CL then the D’s are, at best, slightly better then the R’s and they aren’t at their best often.Report

              • Avatar North in reply to Vikram Bath says:

                Man liberal=Democratic Party is a dangerous game because the corollary that Libertarian & Conservative = Republicans is really really bad for those ideologies..

                But frankly I think Greg nailed it. American Liberals have been coopting conservative ideas vigorously since the 1990’s. They’ve been so successful, in fact, that conservatives have been driven to basically denying the reality of it and painting their ideologies with libertarian colors (while remaining functionally conservative) which confuses the hell out of libertarians.Report

              • Avatar Oscar Gordon in reply to North says:

                Yeah, remembering that the political machine != ideological framework is tricky. Political parties exist to get members elected to power, and ideological frameworks are merely a means to that end.Report

              • Yeah, political parties primarily exist to win elections. Occasionally they will exist to agitate a major party, but that’s the exception.Report

      • Avatar greginak in reply to Oscar Gordon says:

        Also, tragically, many otherwise liberal politicians went all for the Get Tough on Crime crap in the 80’s and 90’s.

        Most of the D’s and plenty of liberals have become much more friendly to globalization and lower trade barriers. Again this is a heated topic, but you will find lib and D’s on both sides.

        I didn’t mention gay rights/marriage at least in regards to libertarians since i assume that libs and libs were always pretty much on the same side.

        What liberal ideas have libertarians and conservatives signed onto?Report

        • Avatar North in reply to greginak says:

          Spending, though they seem to have missed the part where you raise taxes to pay for it. International interventionism and foreign adventurism though, let’s be frank, that was always a conservative inclination.

          I’m drawing a blank otherwise.Report

          • Avatar Morat20 in reply to North says:

            What spending? Conservatives have been good on spending they like for, well, ever.

            They keep taking whacks at SS and Medicare, and have for 80 years now.

            Of course “spending” isn’t exactly liberal or conservative. It’s just spending. It’s programs that matter. It’s not like there’s an ideology wedded to some specific budget size or greater (or lesser).Report

          • Avatar Marchmaine in reply to North says:

            ” International interventionism and foreign adventurism though, let’s be frank, that was always a conservative inclination.”

            Hold on, friend, there’s a misplaced ‘always’ in that sentence.Report

      • Avatar Michael Drew in reply to Oscar Gordon says:

        @oscar-gordon

        The problem is that there’s no way to define what’s officially in or out of “the liberal ideology.”

        I could say that a lot of (nominal) liberals pretty much went along with the idea that ‘welfare as they knew it” failed, or at least needed to be reformed. But there were certainly liberals who disagreed, and even today would argue that AFDC should have continued and been expanded. But nevertheless I’d say that essentially stopping sending no-strings money to low-income families and instead instituting work requirements and benefits limits is a pretty fundamental example of what you ask about, and that liberals very much did buy into that.

        But then you’ll be able to cite the liberals who dissented front that path. No one’s in charge of what everyone thinks on any side. So it can never be a clean example.Report

        • Avatar Oscar Gordon in reply to Michael Drew says:

          @michael-drew

          Good example, as are all the ones above. Thank you.

          The whole purpose of my comment was to get counter examples, rather than just a snarky retort that liberals should back away from science in order to flirt with conservative ideas.

          So, thanks everyone who replied with examples!Report

    • Avatar Vikram Bath in reply to greginak says:

      greginak: As an Official Liberal let me say there are many things worse then racism/ sexism. Murder, genocide, rape, child abuse, slavery, physical assault.

      I have to adopt the live-blogging defense for my assertion otherwise. As with the prior time I tried it, I picked a piece I figured I’d hate, got into the appropriate mood to hate it, and just wrote. In this case, the author was so dismissive of others that I couldn’t help but want to be dismissive of her and her tribe in return. I realize this instinct is actually terrible, and in fact it resulted in me writing something wrong, which makes it all the more terrible.

      But that was the reason I wrote it.Report

    • Avatar veronica d in reply to greginak says:

      But you know, I might unfriend all my conservative friends on Facebook, but that does not mean I will not encounter conservative ideas. It just mean I won’t encounter them on that forum, which largely seems to mean I won’t encounter dumb conservative memes.

      Which, I doubt I’m missing much.

      I think I see enough conservative ideas floating around on the blogs I read.Report

      • Yeah, the weird thing is I think the actual choice is OK. I’ve never literally de-friended anyone, but I have chosen to see fewer posts from some people who I didn’t feel I got much out of seeing.

        I’m more snippy about the author’s attitude than the actual choices.Report

      • Avatar North in reply to veronica d says:

        Frankly I suspect that the liberal mélange of ideologies and priorities is too disjointed to sustain a good solid bubble.Report

        • Avatar Will Truman in reply to North says:

          Yes and no? You can have a lot of differing opinions inside a particular range where views outside that (non-extreme) range views are not welcome.

          I’ve mentioned before that I was chased out of the comment section of a liberal blog. There were no shortage of different opinions, and smart people (which was why I was there and still lurk) but the outward bound was sufficiently to the left of me that there was a 50/50 split on whether I should fuck off and crawl in a hole and die or should just move on.Report

          • Avatar North in reply to Will Truman says:

            I agree, but if you compare that to the conservative bubble the liberal side is more like a series of very small bubbles all clumped together whereas the conservative side is maybe one or two very large encompassing bubbles. The various liberal bubbles may listen to their co-liberal bubbles and nod politely but they quickly move on. The conservatives kind of have a coherent universal narrative and the different factions just emphasize different sections according to taste (while still bowing to the other parts).Report

            • Avatar Will Truman in reply to North says:

              I agree that the two are not the same, but they are not the polar opposites you think. There are debates within conservative circles. The difference between National Review conservatism and Weekly Standard conservatism and City Journal conservatism may be less noticeable from where you stand.

              But perhaps more controversially than that, I think it’s easier to avoid conservative perspectives than liberals ones. If you’re inclined to do so. Especially if you’ve gone to college.Report

              • Avatar North in reply to Will Truman says:

                I read conservative websites, I’ve read NRO long enough to know how distinctly downward it’s trended in caliber for instance.
                I’d agree that it’s easier to avoid the conservative perspective than one of the liberal ones. Definitely. But I submit the conservative ones are much more firmly interlinked than the various liberal clans. Environmentalism for instance has virtually no overlap with socialism or civil rights. It is easy to find environmentalists who give not a rip about welfare or unionism or vice versa. The conservatives, at least to my reading, follow and enforce a kind of general encompassing ideology.Report

              • Avatar LeeEsq in reply to North says:

                Considering some of things that environmentalists consider necessary to save the planet, environmentalism as a lot to do with economy and civil rights because it involves potential government control over a lot of aspects of human life. This could infringe on private ownership or people’s civil liberties.Report

              • Avatar North in reply to LeeEsq says:

                Well that’s kind of my point. I’m not saying the subjects aren’t interrelated, I’m saying that the various liberal tribes can largely be indifferent or even opposed to the priorities of other liberal tribes. With the exception of libertarianism which is treated as an odd sort of surface paint or fan dancer for most of the other sects within it the various conservative tribes go to considerable trouble to talk about how their priorities also mesh with the priorities of the overarching conservative movement.Report

              • Avatar Murali in reply to North says:

                Well, libertarianism is, strictly speaking, another liberal tribe. Its alienation from the other liberal tribes seems to be a peculiar historical accident. Also, not all tribes on the left are liberal tribes. So, what we are seeing more often is the liberal contingent of the left fighting against the fabian socialists. But the alliance between the fabian socialists and the left liberals is a very historically contingent thing (and such an association has been detrimental to liberalism, just as the libertarian association with conservatives has been detrimental to libertarianism). If the liberals/neoliberals/libertarians on the centre left and centre right were to realign to form a big liberal tent, that party would obtain a permanent majority for at least the next 50 years. The fabian socialists would not join with the neoconservatives or the religious right. They would either hold their nose and vote liberal or be irrelevant. The neo-cons and the religio-cons face demographic doom anyway.Report

              • Avatar North in reply to Murali says:

                It’s entirely possible, Murali, that if the GOP consensus were to shatter and the Dems consider edging into the center that your prophecy could come to pass.Report

              • Avatar LeeEsq in reply to Murali says:

                Libertarians seems to be divided on the issue of whether or not libertarianism falls into the liberal tradition. Many libertarians, particularly the more intellectual and humanities leaning ones, do see themselves as heirs to the liberal tradition. Others, for lack of a better term science-leaning ones, argue against this.Report

              • Avatar Murali in reply to LeeEsq says:

                @leeesq

                Per my observation, the people who tend not to see libertarianism as part of the liberal tradition mostly (with some exceptions who are nonetheless still mistaken) are those who are too mired in the tribal politics of conservative libertarian fusion to see what’s right in front of their eyes.Report

          • Avatar Oscar Gordon in reply to Will Truman says:

            Balloon Juice?Report

  4. Avatar zic says:

    So liberals, too, are guilty of epistemic closure?

    Sure; some are; and this is something everyone is prone to after an election setback. After the last presidential election in the US, we lost a bunch of conservative commenters here, and mostly because they needed time to recoup after the political loss and they opted to do that by withdrawing from a website where there were liberals participating in the discussion. I still miss George Turner and Mike Farmer, and would welcome them back any day; and if someone wants to bother sending them an email telling them I said that, it’d be fine by me.

    I think the problem here is what does ‘conservative’ mean; it’s become a really vague thing. Because most center-left liberals I know; including the presumptive nominee for president, are (in my view) conservative. The folks who call themselves conservative, on the other hand, seem radical and much more prone to epistemic closure and failure to engage ideas that push against their ideology. They’re preaching revolution, they want to tear down the government, they don’t want to participate in governing compromise, and the upcoming Republican primary and dances to the right are ample evidence of that.

    So I can’t help but wonder if what you’re calling lack of engagement in ideas really equates to lack of agreement?

    And I don’t mind letting folks who feel let down by an election withdraw from those who won; they’ll re-engage when they’ve had time to sort out their losses and re-evaluate how to move their own preferences forward.Report

    • Avatar Vikram Bath in reply to zic says:

      Those are great questions. I hate to try and draw a simplistic picture after I just criticized someone else for doing the same, but perhaps the Democratic Party became dominant in the US by co-opting the most popular conservative ideas and the conservatives in the UK won this election by co-opting the most popular liberal ideas.

      I know every time I read Freddie DeBoer I come away feeling that all the Democrats are actually conservatives.Report

      • To add another example to @greginak’s list, cap-and-trade is an old Republican idea to environmental issues that was stolen by the Democratic Party. Al Gore’s lock box was too. From what I’ve read about both, Obamacare couldn’t resemble Romney’s health care plan if it tried.Report

        • I think it’s partial (non-zero, but non-full) credit if a position was embraced out of political necessity instead of an actual conversion. Do liberals think that that Romneycare is better than Single Payer of NHS? Or is it just better than the most available alternative? (I’m not sure of the answer to that, so it could be full credit).

          I think the Democratic Party (or at least Clinton) does get credit for Welfare Reform, which I think they (at the time) actually believed in.Report

          • Avatar North in reply to Will Truman says:

            I think they can claim full credit because they believe (accurately I’d submit) that the ACA model was better than the status quos.Report

          • Avatar Saul Degraw in reply to Will Truman says:

            @will-truman

            I think most liberals would tell you that ACA is better than what existed before and is positive but we are not very happy about the lack of a single-payer or government option and would prefer more of a Medicare-For-All.

            The ACA is bowing to political realities. There are people on the left who claim that if Obama tried harder, we could have had ACA but those ur-Liberals at LGM do not think so. And you can’t really accuse the LGM crowd of being DLC/neo-liberal moderates by any definition of the word. Maybe you can accuse them of being pragmatic leftists.

            ACA still seems like a sell-out to the insurance companies to me.Report

            • Thanks, Saul. That’s kind of what I was getting at. PPPACA speaks more of a willingness to compromise (a virtue in itself!) than an actual embrace of Heritage ideas.Report

            • Avatar DavidTC in reply to Saul Degraw says:

              The ACA is proof the government can work *even if* the policies have to be set up in such a way to let big business suck huge amounts of money out of them. Uh, yay?

              The ACA is less a ‘conservative’ idea than a ‘corporatism’ idea. (Jokes aside about how they are the same thing.)

              I guess it is also ‘conservative’ in that it attempts to change the *existing* market very little. Maybe that’s ‘conservative’?Report

          • At the first instance, my knee-jerk response is to agree with Saul on how ACA is at most only second best single payer or public option. That said, those have their own potential problems. I can easily imagine a public option becoming something like a medicaid for all that few doctors accept because payment is so slow and uncertain, while at the same time establishing a very high floor for premiums that keeps prices up.

            Perhaps something like the ACA could work better than the ACA (or proposed single-payer or public option) does. Maybe something like the Swiss plan? Other than reading* that wikipedia article, I don’t know much about it. But it seems like the Swiss system *might* help curb costs in the way that Canadian style single payer does not because there’s some competition in there and some alternative ways for the companies to make profits. Maybe.

            *well, skimming, which is a kind of reading, but one that doesn’t take too long or require honest engagement with the material.Report

            • Avatar greginak in reply to Gabriel Conroy says:

              Moving towards the Swiss/German model makes the most sense for us. Path dependency is a big thing so trying to eliminate insurance companies is not going to happen even if it was a good idea. I think conservo health wonk Avik Roy suggested something along those lines a in the last year or two. Or course i don’t’ think he suggested during the election to Romney as a way to improve HC. But it isn’t a bad idea and has a lot going for it. Assuming of course there were to be a discussion about how to improve HC for all.Report

              • Agreed, and I’m pessimistic that any plan to “improve” the ACA will simply result in repealing guaranteed issue, local area pricing, and subsidies for premiums. As you know, the latter seems like a distinct possibility, at least for the non-exchange states.Report

      • Avatar zic in reply to Vikram Bath says:

        So before we can even hold this discussion, at least in terms of US politics and political discussions, we need to define ‘conservative.’ It wouldn’t hurt to define liberal, while we’re at it. But just last week, we had someone write a front-page post about having a daughter and a shift to conservatism; a follow-on post supporting a social-democrat for president.

        I still think we’ve got an Alex P. Keaton problem here, and it starts with people who are mostly liberal but pro market afraid to call themselves liberal. We’re seeing conservative policies adopted by liberals, and conservatives, in reaction, becoming reactionary.Report

        • Avatar North in reply to zic says:

          Well yes there’s a huge definition problem going on. Frankly conservatism has been in a crisis since George W and that crisis hasn’t been resolved, it’s just being ignored. There’s an ideological chasm on the center right basically and it’s distorting the whole landscape.Report

        • Avatar DavidTC in reply to zic says:

          @zic
          I still think we’ve got an Alex P. Keaton problem here, and it starts with people who are mostly liberal but pro market afraid to call themselves liberal.

          Yes. And not just that. I think I’ve mentioned this before, but a lot of conservatives are ‘liberals except one thing’. And an important thing here is their sole disagreement is often something *totally imaginary*.

          There are legit examples of this ‘one thing’, don’t get me wrong. If someone is staunchly pro-life, and won’t vote for most Democrats because of that, but otherwise hold liberal beliefs…that’s one thing. I get that. I can disagree with that position, but still easily make sense of how they vote if their hold that position. Likewise, I know people argued it was completely immoral to vote for the Republicans in 2008 because they might continue their torture. Okay.

          But you also get people who basically hold liberal beliefs, but won’t vote Democratic because they are convinced that Democrats want to destroy the free market by socializing all businesses. Or are busy giving free money to illegal immigrants. Or setting up the death panels. Or all sorts of just odd things, weird thoughts they’ve somehow gotten inside their heads.

          We often talk about Single Issue Voters, but there’s really two sorts…there’s the ‘This issue is so important I will pick whoever agrees with me on it. (I.e., me, in 2008, with health insurance. Although that was a bit of a gimme for Democrats.)’, and then there’s the Bogus Single Issue Voters, where they have somehow come to the conclusion that one side is doing something that not only is *not* a position of theirs, it’s almost *inconceivable* that anyone would adopt it as a policy position. It’s a completely absurd thing for anyone to be doing in the current political environment.

          I notice these things because, hilariously, some times those positions are *actually* really far-left positions I do agree with…and I know that no elected Democrat in a million years would do them.

          And I suspect the right has a much larger group of that second type than the left. *Maybe*.

          Or maybe not. I rather have a disadvantage living in a very conservative area, so the average dumbass I hear happens to be Republican (Because everyone happens to be Republican), and then going online and talking to intelligent mostly liberals. It’s entirely possible that if I were to wander around, I dunno, San Francisco I’d run across a lot of people who logically, to match their worldview, should be voting conservative but have managed to come up with some dumbass ideas about what Republicans want.Report

          • Avatar Saul Degraw in reply to DavidTC says:

            @davidtc

            Maybe. The average would-be conservative I find here has economically conservative leanings but feels the GOP is completely wrong on social issues and too beholden to the religious right. The fights here tend to be between DLC types and anti-DLC types with some old-school ward politicians thrown in for good measure.Report

            • Avatar DavidTC in reply to Saul Degraw says:

              The average would-be conservative I find here has economically conservative leanings but feels the GOP is completely wrong on social issues and too beholden to the religious right.

              Yeah, that’s what I was thinking. That the single-issue-making-them-be-on-the-left voters exist…but are factually correct. As in, the issue they care about stopping the right from doing is a real thing the right wants to do, or at least is somewhat in a party platform or something. (1)

              I think we’ve had a few posts about conspiracy theories and how the right seems full of them, and I suspect this is somehow related.

              These ‘Bogus Single Issues’ are not *exactly* the same as conspiracy theories, but often have their origins in conspiracy theory, and/or conspiracy theories exist to explain why the the other side would want to do these completely politically insane things that they have to ‘stop’. And the right is awash in conspiracies. (I mean, *of course* Obama is going to seize control of Texas because…uh…Muslim?)

              1) As an aside, about the social issues, I still don’t think it’s sunk in how disastrous anti-gay stuff has been for them. Utterly disastrous.Report

              • Avatar Saul Degraw in reply to DavidTC says:

                @davidtc

                It is more than the anti-gay stuff but that is a huge part of it. It is their 2nd Amendment purity, the anti-choice stuff, their stance against climate change, immigration, etc.

                And the GOP can’t do anything about these issues because they have a large number of base voters who are single-issue voters on these issues. The GOP does seem to have a lot more single-issue voters than the Democratic Party.Report

          • Avatar Jesse Ewiak in reply to DavidTC says:

            “It’s entirely possible that if I were to wander around, I dunno, San Francisco I’d run across a lot of people who logically, to match their worldview, should be voting conservative but have managed to come up with some dumbass ideas about what Republicans want.”

            The problem is that largely, the modern Republican Party wants to do those dumbass things, and in fact, even want to go even farther. The truth is, most people, even conservative voters, don’t even believe Republican plans are real.

            I mean, maybe there’s some really sheltered people who think the GOP wants to throw gay people in jail and immediately end all welfare, but aside from that, I mean, look at the stated Republican platform.

            http://www.nytimes.com/2012/07/08/magazine/can-the-democrats-catch-up-in-the-super-pac-game.html?_r=4&pagewanted=1&pagewanted=all

            “The public did not view Romney as an extremist. For example, when Priorities informed a focus group that Romney supported the Ryan budget plan—and thus championed “ending Medicare as we know it” — while also advocating tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans, the respondents simply refused to believe any politician would do such a thing.”Report

            • Avatar DavidTC in reply to Jesse Ewiak says:

              The problem is that largely, the modern Republican Party wants to do those dumbass things, and in fact, even want to go even farther.

              Man, for some reason I feel I need to defend the Republicans here. Weird.

              It’s really only some fraction of Republican politicians that are loons. Maybe half. The rest often just end up standing there in shock as to what is happening.

              Of course, this varies by location.

              The truth is, most people, even conservative voters, don’t even believe Republican plans are real.

              If you sit down and actually ask people, step by step, what should happen, in what way, and how, people are liberal. Way liberal. Actually more liberal than most elected Democratic pols.

              If you ask people about economic issues, without reference to parties, and without using certain loaded keywords, they’re almost bomb-throwing socialists…that are 100% *certain* they’re conservatives.

              Same with abortion rights…if actually asked who should *not* be allowed to have an abortion, something like 80% of the population ends in with a position that pretty much anyone would have to call ‘pro-choice’. Some of them go even farther than what is required under Roe v. Wade…and then call themselves pro-life.

              America is a far-left nation that has been convinced it is center-right.

              Ironically because it’s what Democrats are currently pounding on, it’s gay rights that people tend to actually be more towards the center! But it’s *now* to the left, but that change is pretty recent. (And I’ve always wondered if this disparity is because it’s almost impossible to talk about gay rights without using loaded keywords.)

              And, sadly, racial disparities in law enforcement annoy Americans *not at all*.

              It’s really odd that the stuff the left tends to harp on is actually the stuff America is sorta divided on, and the stuff that America is absolutely, firmly, in liberal agreement about…no one cares about and doesn’t happen.

              Why? Because of how the news and politics work.Report

              • Avatar Saul Degraw in reply to DavidTC says:

                “America is a far-left nation that has been convinced it is center-right.”

                I don’t know if I would go that far but the general phrase is that Americans are philosophically/politically liberal but operationally conservative.Report

              • Avatar Jesse Ewiak in reply to Saul Degraw says:

                I think this is true to a certain extent, but again, the real reason why progressive change happens so slowly is the number of veto points. If you want big changes in this country, right or left, you’ve got to jump over multiple hoops in multiple ways, then hope it all isn’t struck down by a random judge in Tennessee or Oregon.

                Plus, even if something popular doesn’t go through, you won’t get blamed, since people (I’m not blaming Americans, conservatives, or liberals here – just people) don’t have the time nor inclination to keep track of what the real reason stuff is failing – they’ll just blame the guy in charge.

                In short, if you want things to change, you’ve got to thread the needle perfectly. If you things are good the way they are, you just have to win once, and sometimes, you can win after the buzzer.

                So yeah, I think, because of our issues or race and Protestant work-ethic, we’d never be Sweden when it comes to a welfare state, but with a parliamentary system, I think we could’ve been Germany or the UK (minus the NHS).Report

              • Avatar DavidTC in reply to Saul Degraw says:

                Yeah, I was exaggerating a bit there.

                Using the current definition of the center, America is a left nation. It’s a bell-shaped curve centered left of mid-left. Let’s say it’s centered on 60% of left, or about 80% of the entire spectrum. If you include all policies.

                If you just look at economics, we’re even farther. Most social is back more center-left-ish, with the exception of abortion, which is also pretty far left. (Meanwhile, racial issues are nowhere near as far left as we like to pretend. Americans love saying they’re not racist, but, uh, they don’t seem willing to fix even really obvious stuff.)

                Of course, this is because ‘center’ is completely broken.

                Dem pols, meanwhile, tend to be center-left or just plain center, resulting in the rather interesting fact that both Democrats and Republicans vastly overestimate the conservativeness of their constituents.

                the general phrase is that Americans are philosophically/politically liberal but operationally conservative.

                I’ve heard that before, and knows what it means, but I’ve never actually understood what people are trying to say by it. It seems like it’s exactly backwards.

                Americans say and think they agree with conservative philosophy, but actually wish the government to *operate* far more liberal than it does, or at the very least don’t want it to become less liberal.

                I’m not sure what ‘operationally’ is trying to say there.Report

              • Avatar Saul Degraw in reply to DavidTC says:

                @davidtc

                There is a good chance I had the phrase reversed.

                I have seen studies that show politicians (even Democratic ones in Democratic strongholds) underestimate how liberal their constituents are for reasons that seem frustratingly incurable.Report

              • Avatar LeeEsq in reply to Jesse Ewiak says:

                Politicians might overestimate how conservative voters are but politicians that run as liberals lose consistently in a lot of places. Only when this stops happening will politicians be more liberal.Report

              • Avatar zic in reply to LeeEsq says:

                That’s exactly the Alex P. Keaton problem, @leeesq

                Since the 1982, we’ve been hearing how awful liberals and Democrats are. Even if you support liberal policies, you would never want to call yourself a liberal or a Dem because, you know, dirty word. Smear word. I remember being aghast at the things I’d hear elected officials say about liberals and liberal politics (and in discussions about policy); on national TV, without the least bit of awareness that they were openly insulting half of Americans.

                If you were a old enough to begin being politically aware in teh 1980’s, your view of cool was not being liberal; this is a big part of why liberals adopted ‘progressive.’Report

              • Avatar Kolohe in reply to zic says:

                Was Alex P. Keaton supposed to be considered “cool”? He was supposed to be kinda of a tosser, though a cute one, and ‘oh, isn’t ironic that the kid of hippie parent rebellion is rebelling as a Reagan acolyte’ – but Michael J and the writers gave the character depth over the course of many seasons. I don’t know about “cool” though.Report

              • Avatar LeeEsq in reply to Kolohe says:

                I think the initial premise of Family Ties was supposed to be hip, baby boomer former hippie parents with uncool kids but Alex P. Keaton proved popular with the audience so things changed.Report

              • Avatar Will Truman in reply to LeeEsq says:

                Not “uncool” kids, exactly. More like kids antithetical to their worldview. The Republican son and the consumerist daughter.Report

              • Silver Spoons is another one where the Initial Concept didn’t quite pan out. The original idea was having a boarding-school-mature kid living with his forever young father (in the first episode, Ricky caught an embezzler his father was delightfully oblivious to). A couple seasons in, though, it reverted to more typical form where Dad was helping navigate Son through growing up.Report

              • Avatar LeeEsq in reply to Will Truman says:

                The creators of Family Ties wanted audience sympathy to be with the parents not the kids.Report

              • Avatar Will Truman in reply to LeeEsq says:

                Right. My only point was that it wasn’t that the kids were supposed to be uncool. They were just supposed to be exasperatingly different by virtue of not being rebels.

                There’s actually quite a bit of packaged into the assumption that the audience would side with the parents. It’s not unlike when the WWE decided to make a heel out of a character by making him a Republican. As it turns out, a segment of the audience didn’t think that was such a bad thing, so they had to work at making him worse.Report

              • Avatar LeeEsq in reply to Will Truman says:

                I agree that the creators of Family Ties did not entirely think through their creation. They probably had a very romanticized notion of the counter culture and the 1960s and thought that all boomers thought similarly.

                Its amazing how fast the late 1960s became romanticized and turned into a piece of nostalgia in media. Previous eras the fell to nostalgia like the 1890s took at least a generation or two. People didn’t start really romanticizing the Gay Nineties until the 1930s. The hippie era became a product of nostalgia a mere eleven years, at most, after Woodstock.Report

              • They also didn’t figure that the guy they hired to play the son would have ten times the charm of both parents combined.Report

              • Avatar LeeEsq in reply to Will Truman says:

                @will-truman this might be my own cultural prejudice but WWE would seem to be a form of entertainment with a known Republican leaning audience.Report

              • Avatar zic in reply to Kolohe says:

                Marty McFly was cool; Alex P. Keaton was his doppelganger, becoming cool by proxy. Without McFly, Keaton would have remained a dork.Report

              • Avatar j r in reply to zic says:

                Without McFly, Keaton would have remained a dork.

                Except that Back to the Future was realeased in the summer of 1985 and Family Ties began its run in 1982.

                By the time anyone knew who Marty McFly was, there was already three seasons of Alex P. Keaton.Report

              • Avatar j r in reply to Jesse Ewiak says:

                For proof of what @Saul Degraw is talking about…

                Two reactions:

                The first is pedantic, but studies like this don’t provide proof; they provide evidence for a particular interpretation of empirical observations.

                Following from the first, there are any number of things that this study could be picking up. It could be that constituents just are more liberal than politicians think they are. Or it could be that people answer questions one way and vote another.

                Not to say that there is not some kind of disconnect, but politicians care about public opinion only in so far as it can be used to predict voting behavior. What politicians really care about is revealed preference.Report

              • Avatar Jesse Ewiak in reply to DavidTC says:

                BTW, I’ll add that the problem for the GOP right now is that the current split of electoral officials is 40% people who’ve completely bought the BS (Steve Stockman, etc.) 30% of politicians who were selling the BS, but thought they could still make deals and such (John Boehner), and 30% of politicians who know it’s BS, know it’s causing them problems, but still keep on selling it because it’s helping them (lot’s of Tea Party conservatives running in primaries and Ted Cruz).

                I mean, even, if you think folks like LWA and I are complete loons who need a long reeduction of economics to embrace the loving Invisible Hand, the truth is, we don’t control the Democratic Party, and likely, never will.

                The worst that would happen (in a the DNC becomes electorally dominant due to demographics and a self-destructive GOP) is that the DNC would abandon policy to basically, appease certain groups.

                But, nobody with any power is going to call for the collectivization of major industries that are currently working fine (ala say, the computer industry), nobody with any power is going to call for a 90% tax rate, nobody with any power is going to try to ban cars and ban all drilling in the US, nobody with any power is going to mandate mandatory gay experiences for teenagers, nobody with any power is going to call for the legalization of all drugs, including crack and PCP. Nobody with any power is going to call for actual reparations.

                Hell, even the vaunted socialist here in Seattle’s actual campaign platform is largely the 1972 Democratic platform with some extra buzzwords and with demographical changes, McGovern would’ve come pretty close with the same exact coalition in 2012.Report

              • Jesse Ewiak: nobody with any power is going to try to ban cars and ban all drilling in the US, nobody with any power is going to mandate mandatory gay experiences for teenagers,

                I guess you could try a ballot initiative.

                (Seriously, someone somewhere is seriously advocating this? (Maybe I do need to get out more.))Report

              • Avatar Jesse Ewiak in reply to CK MacLeod says:

                Not that anybody is advocating this (I mean, I’m sure somebody on Tumblr or at a hippie meet-up in the woods of Oregon has), but I was just trying to reverse the extreme official platform of the GOP – after all, the current platform of the GOP is largely on cars to never raise the gas tax, cut all funding of alternative fuels, give the oil companies whatever they want, and largely find mass transit abhorrent (which is a Republican thing, not a conservative thing.).

                On drilling again, the official platform is largely “wherever the oil companies want to drill, they should be able to drill, including protected federal land.”

                And on gay rights, again, the official platform right now is against gay marriage, the GOP largely voted against DADT repeal, has been against any advance in rights for gay people (with Democratic help sometimes before somebody runs in!), and until very recently, basically wanted to shove gay people back in the closet with whatever cultural power they had.

                So, I just tried to think of the extreme ideas on the other side – after all, no matter your opinion on the policy, I don’t think say, a carbon tax, approving of gay marriage and comprehensive sex education, and opposing an expansion of most offshore drilling is a hard-left position.Report

              • Avatar Zac in reply to Jesse Ewiak says:

                Oh, interesting, I never realized you were a fellow Seattleite. There seem to be more of us here than I’d initially thought.Report

              • Avatar zic in reply to Jesse Ewiak says:

                Dealmaking happens in odd ways, now. It provides cover. For most-pass legislation that the GOP base doesn’t like, it will pass with a majority of Dems and a few Republicans who aren’t at risk losing their seat due to the legislation, allowing most to take vote against what needs to pass.

                This allows Republicans to continue to demonize government while at least getting the bare bones done that’s required.

                And there’s a great amount of negotiation about who’s going to cast those risky votes that allow something to pass.

                I freakin’ miss earmarks.Report

              • Avatar LeeEsq in reply to DavidTC says:

                @davidtc Jonathan Chait describes this as Americans being ideologically conservative and operationally liberal. When you ask poll questions in a general way, you get conservative answers. When you ask more specific questions, you get liberal answers. Its apparently been this way for a long time. There was apparently a poll right before FDR’s massive landslide reelection in 1936 that asked if people had to chose between a party identified as conservative and a party identified as liberal. Most Americans said they would vote for the conservative party. Than FDR smacked Alf Landon into the ground in the 1936 election. Today it seems that most people vote their ideology though.Report

              • Avatar j r in reply to LeeEsq says:

                @davidtc and @leeesq

                If you sit down and actually ask people, step by step, what should happen, in what way, and how, people are liberal. Way liberal. Actually more liberal than most elected Democratic pols.

                Jonathan Chait describes this as Americans being ideologically conservative and operationally liberal. When you ask poll questions in a general way, you get conservative answers. When you ask more specific questions, you get liberal answers.

                Have you guys got any specific examples of this? I admit that I am suspect.

                If you ask a bunch of people if they want the government to provide them with things (health care, education, retirement benefits, etc.), you are going to hear a lot of yes. Once you start talking about how to pay for these things and to whom those benefits should be extended, the conversation is going to start to change. My guess is that what people want is a state that is generous to them and people like them, but that puts the bill to someone else. Or put another way, people want the worst parts of the left and the worst parts of the right.Report

              • Avatar LeeEsq in reply to j r says:

                @j-r that is a plausible explanation.Report

              • Avatar DavidTC in reply to j r says:

                If you ask a bunch of people if they want the government to provide them with things (health care, education, retirement benefits, etc.), you are going to hear a lot of yes.

                Well, then, the obvious example to use is things that don’t have any money distributed to people.

                Take, for example, the government breaking up monopolies. People loath monopolies with the intensity of a thousand suns. They loath them so much they *got politically active* to make the FCC stop the Comcast/Time Warner merger, and that’s a bit amazing. Likewise, you ask them if only a few corporation should own all the media outlets in their market, they emphatically yell ‘No’. The general population is so far left on that issue, or, really, the political system is so far right, they can’t even *see* each other. (Although I will admit I have no surveys to back this up. In what I’m sure is an amazing coincidence, no one actually pays to survey the American people on this, and the media somehow forgets to ever ask the question. Seriously, I just spent like thirty minutes looking.)

                You ask them how much to break up monopolies, it’s near absolute…not just abusive monopolies, *all* monopolies. They don’t even like the giant banks, insisting they have too much power, and those are nowhere near monopolies.

                The same problem with military spending…some people want it lowered, other people want it ‘raised’ to 20% of the budget?!

                Estate tax…people utterly dislike the very concept of it, and if you ask them, they’ll demand an exemption for all the way up to…a million dollars?! Take that, Democrats!

                Abortion…people appear to have no idea any of the regulations around abortions exist, and often people call themselves pro-life and end up demanding regulatory regimes that would result in abortion being much easier to get than currently, like ‘have to talk to a doctor beforehand’ and ‘have to have it in a medical facility’ and nonsense like that.

                Once you start talking about how to pay for these things and to whom those benefits should be extended, the conversation is going to start to change.

                The conversation is pretty consistent on that: Almost everyone, in general, wants lower taxes. Almost everyone, in *specifics*, wants the tax rate on the rich and on corporations to be higher. In fact, they sometimes want it to be higher *while thinking* they want it to be lower, because they have no idea what it currently is. (Hence the Democrats starting to harp on the actual rates, to try to fix this.)

                People stand there and repeat whatever their party has taught them to say about the direction things should be changed in. But when you skip that, when you don’t give them the current laws as a starting point and just ask them to *state* where they want things, people end up picking positions that are so liberal as to be outside the *Democratic* party norm.

                However, I won’t argue that what you’re saying could certainly be *part* of it. People often want things that literally cannot work, and money to appear out of thin air. Just because Americans want to soak the rich doesn’t mean that’s a good idea.

                But even once you discard the things that might be financial self-interest…Americans are still milling around to the left of Democrats, while wearing ‘conservative’ hats.

                Have you guys got any specific examples of this? I admit that I am suspect.

                And it’s there we run into the problem. Almost no one *polls* this way. Polls ask ‘Should this be higher or lower?’ or ‘Should we do more or less of this?’, asking people to guess their position relative to current laws…laws, it must be pointed out, it is easy to demonstrate they have *absolutely no idea of*.

                There have been polls the other way, but they’re really hard to find. You can find a few, though. The media likes to call these sort of poll results ‘incoherent’. Here’s one, but only for Millennial: http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2014/07/millennials-economics-voting-clueless-kids-these-days/374427/ (Millennials have their own special kind of wackiness, because they’re the least likely to buy into the liberal=bad framing, but still end up repeating conservative talking points *while* still supporting liberal policies in specifics.)

                And there have been a bunch of recent-ish surveys about ACA that do the same thing…pointing out how everyone appears to like every single part of the ACA (Include, barely, the mandate, depending on how it’s phrased.), but not the ACA.

                Now, it is a somewhat valid point to argue that, often, people are idiots, and want things that are just implausible. That we can’t really spend only 20% of our budget on the military. Not only would that cause possibly security risk, it would be economically problematic if not phased in very slowly. And that’s a reasonable point.

                But then the question becomes ‘If people are so ignorant as to propose dumbass things when not given a reference point, because they have no idea what the reference point is…why should we trust polls where we ask them based on the current reference point, without even telling them what that is?’

                So, okay, we shouldn’t take these positions as something we literally should put into law, and I’m not saying we should…but we probably should still notice that these positions are really, *really*, liberal.

                There’s a theory I sorta have about all this, but I don’t know if this is the space for it. Basically, the right has spent decades insisting every single aspect of American governance is currently extremely liberal and thus completely out of control, which has resulted in a lot of the oddities we see. It’s why everyone thinks they’re conservative, (Which, in turn, is why all elected politicians think their voters hold much more conservative position than the voters really do), it’s why everyone misguesses the current positions of the government, it’s why (getting back to where this thread came from) people believe downright delusional things about what Democratic politicians want to do, etc, etc.

                On a political scale of 0-100 of liberalness, if where our government currently is is defined as 50%, the right has spent a good deal of time convincing the American people it’s at 90%, and elected Democrats want a 100%, or even more. The American people, meanwhile, want it to be about a 70%, which (because they think we’re 90%), should be accomplished by moving us 20% rightward.

                It’s sorta my grand unified theory to explain political positioning.Report

              • Avatar j r in reply to DavidTC says:

                @davidtc

                But when you skip that, when you don’t give them the current laws as a starting point and just ask them to *state* where they want things, people end up picking positions that are so liberal as to be outside the *Democratic* party norm.

                You have restated the claim, but you have given me no means by which to evaluate the claim.

                Also, my contention is not that people are stupid or even scatterbrained. Rather, I think that human beings are efficiency maximizers. We want the greatest benefit for the least amount of effort. The problem arises when politicians pander to their base and tell them that they can have a lot more at very little cost. When you put people in a position to actually evaluate tradeoffs, you are likely to see an actually coherent point of view emerge.Report

              • Avatar DavidTC in reply to j r says:

                I found some articles about it:

                http://www.psmag.com/politics-and-law/america-not-as-politically-conservative-as-you-think-26845 (The link to study in that is dead, but it’s at http://www.unc.edu/~jstimson/Working_Papers_files/Pathways.pdf )

                Article by one of the same people:
                http://www.publicopinionpros.norc.org/features/2005/nov/ellis.asp

                Charts to notice, on the first page: 63% of liberals being liberal both economically(Which they call ‘scope of government’.) and socially, another 24% being just economically liberal, 9% just socially, and 4% neither.

                Meanwhile, an astonishing 26% of so-called conservatives do not appear to *either* socially or economically conservative.

                Their premise is that ‘conservative’ can actually mean three different things, which is an interesting conclusion…but not actually the one I’m trying to make. I’m just saying the data shows Americans want the government to do things that are pretty liberal.

                However, annoyingly, I haven’t been able to find the actual *questions* and the results for this study.Report

              • Avatar j r in reply to DavidTC says:

                I’m just saying the data shows Americans want the government to do things that are pretty liberal.

                The questions are pretty important. And even then, what I am saying still relevant: which is, if you ask people what the government ought to be doing absent any stipulations on constraints or costs, then yes, you are going to get some very expansive answers.

                Like if you asked people what kind of car they would like to drive, chances are they are going to respond with cars much more expensive than what they actually drive.Report

              • Avatar DavidTC in reply to j r says:

                The questions are pretty important.

                The list of questions are here, along with why they divided them up into two axis. (Social issues, and what they call ‘scope of government’.)

                http://www.publicopinionpros.norc.org/features/2005/nov/ellis_suppfa.asp

                And even then, what I am saying still relevant: which is, if you ask people what the government ought to be doing absent any stipulations on constraints or costs, then yes, you are going to get some very expansive answers.

                Well, yes. But liberal and expensive are not the same thing. And I just found a good example.

                Gun control is not (that) expensive. And people generally dislike it…but specifically love it: http://www.pollingreport.com/guns.htm

                Do you favor or oppose stricter gun control laws? Oppose: 50%
                Would you support or oppose a law requiring background checks on people buying guns at gun shows or online? Support: 83%
                Requiring gun owners to register with the state or local government and provide a set of fingerprints. Favor 66%

                Yes,logically, at least ~16% of Americans want *all gun owners to register their guns and fingerprints*, but, uh, are opposed to stricter gun control. WTF?

                It’s like people have no idea of the words coming out of their mouths. Seriously, read that page. The closer a question is closer to a specific policy, the more people are pro-gun-control. Zoom out a bit, and they’re all 2nd amendment absolutists.

                And you get the sort of complete WTF-ness on *any* policy.Report

          • Avatar Oscar Gordon in reply to DavidTC says:

            True. I know lots of gun owners who are very liberal but who hold their nose & vote R because of gun rights/control.

            I’m feeling that this is actually a very bad thing. (Thinking out loud here) My feeling is that such wedge issues are really bad because it skews the political response. When I write to one of my legislators with a D, asking them to oppose some gun control measure, the canned responses I get back tend to be extremely dismissive. I get the impression that the politician does not know me, has no idea how I feel on other issues, and because I am voicing a pro-2A opinion, I would not vote for them in any case, so I am safe to ignore.

            This despite the fact that I probably did vote for them, because I pull the lever for D far more often than R. These wedge issues can effectively take large chunks of the population out of the political process with regard to those issues, & force them to donate money to PACs, etc. that they might not otherwise want to.Report

            • Avatar DavidTC in reply to Oscar Gordon says:

              Yeah, and that gets to another problem. The insane slippery slopes that everyone seems to assume exist in politics, usually due to, and I really do have to point fingers here, right-wing blather-spewing media personalities.

              You, despite disliking gun control, are willing to vote Democrat because you’re aware that ‘gun control slightly past the point you want’ is not the end of the world. It is a law, and it can be reversed, or modified, or whatever. No elected official is going to support *exactly* the laws you want.

              If everyone you elect moves makes fifty laws you like, and five laws you don’t like, well, laws will slowly go in the direction you want. And maybe the bad laws won’t be as bad you think, or maybe they will be, which will cause the next group of elected officials to repeal them. Whatever. Legislating is supposed to be a *process*.

              But often these ‘wedge issues’ end up being wedge issues because they somehow become the entire of the world. Either they’re presented as something that *already* is horrible, or any direction whatsoever is presented as immediately causing America to fall off a cliff and be destroyed. If we limit the amount of bullets in a clip, the next week the government will take all our guns and send us to FEMA camps!

              As you say, this completely screws up the political process.

              And, to be fair, both sides *try* to make wedge issues like that. It’s just only the right seems to succeed. (Hell, the left didn’t manage one about *torture*.)Report

              • Avatar Oscar Gordon in reply to DavidTC says:

                DavidTC: are willing to vote Democrat because you’re aware that ‘gun control slightly past the point you want’ is not the end of the world.

                Well, this and the fact that more often than not, the R candidate makes a bit too much effort to establish their god-fearing, or conspiracy fanaticism, bona-fides, and as much as I dislike gun control, politicians who filter everything through a lens of religion or insanity scare the bejesus out of me.

                As you say, gun control I can lobby against, fanaticism is a trickier devil to undo once it’s made law.Report

              • Avatar DavidTC in reply to Oscar Gordon says:

                Well, this and the fact that more often than not, the R candidate makes a bit too much effort to establish their god-fearing, or conspiracy fanaticism, bona-fides, and as much as I dislike gun control, politicians who filter everything through a lens of religion or insanity scare the bejesus out of me.

                Ah, so your wedge issue of gun control is overpowered by the wedge issue of ‘completely crazy people shouldn’t be in office’. 😉Report

              • Avatar Oscar Gordon in reply to DavidTC says:

                It’s difficult quandary, I admit.Report

    • Avatar Jaybird in reply to zic says:

      I think the problem here is what does ‘conservative’ mean; it’s become a really vague thing.

      It seems to me that ideas such as “gay marriage” and “end the war on drugs” are really conservative ideas.

      Now, they aren’t RELIGIOUSLY conservative ideas.

      The greatest trick the devil ever pulled was getting people to think that conservativism and religious conservativism were co-extensive.Report

    • Avatar DensityDuck in reply to zic says:

      “I think the problem here is what does ‘conservative’ mean; it’s become a really vague thing.”

      Oh, you know, the usual racist/sexist/homophobic cocktail of stuff like “belief in the inherent value of productive effort” or “the general idea that thrift and temperance lead to financial security and a happier life overall”. FYIGM garbage like that.Report

    • Avatar Murali in reply to zic says:

      @zic

      You know, I really do not like the way the term “epistemic closure” is misused here (even though the guy who first used it in that way is from my tribe, i.e. Julian Sanchez).

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Epistemic_closureReport

    • Avatar Will H. in reply to zic says:

      Farmer was and is a libertarian. He ran a site called “The Libertarian Blog,” though it’s been dead about a year now.
      I never thought Turner was a conservative.

      A few different dynamics at play here, and I’ll do my best to tease out a few:

      First of all, Pew found that liberals are far more likely to unfriend someone due to conflicting political beliefs than conservatives are. Or, to re-phrase the matter, intolerance is part and parcel with the Big Tent.

      As far as what “conservative” means, the waters get a bit muddied without distinguishing the political class from the citizenry. Polarization is a phenomenon which is seen with the political class. This is shown by absence of party overlap. Party sorting is demonstrated in the general populace, and there are now more people who identify as independent than ever before.
      Now, the Tea Party is something of an anomaly. I think the people that take them the most seriously are the media, because these are the people that tend to say newsworthy things (as opposed to “sane.”)

      Frankly, this conservative is happy with Obama. I voted for his opponent on two occasions, but those were what I view as the only instances in my adult life (i.e., since the Reagan-Mondale match-up in ’84) where there were two really good candidates running for president, and a few of those there wasn’t even one.

      I don’t care to overthrow the government, but rather to see it work right, and that means doing things in a different way. If that’s revolutionary (and it probably is), let there be revolution.Report

  5. Avatar greginak says:

    I’ll add that in the spirit of being open to new ideas i still have my cousin who posts ” THE ACLU IS COMMUNIST” on my FB. Because a good laugh is always worth while. There was also that Hillary FB post that has been around for ages about her having big thighs, smalls breasts and lots of left wings. Solid stuff.Report

  6. Avatar Damon says:

    I had read about Rebecca Roache’s posting somewhere else previously. I did get a chuckle.

    Another reason to avoid facebook. Really, you have time to argue politics on FB? Really?
    Everyone has bubbles. Few want to actually listen. Isn’t that similar to this?

    https://ordinary-times.com/blog/2015/05/13/a-100000-joke-or-why-it-doesnt-pay-to-be-misogynistic-jerk

    ’cause reading through that a while ago, it sure seemed like quite a few folks were talking past each other.
    And I actually wonder how “conservative” those conservatives are that are her “friends”. Brits, in general, being a bit more left of americans. And what does “friends” mean on FB. FB only friends, or people you actually hang out with? I suspect it’s actually the former.Report

  7. Avatar KatherineMW says:

    This is ironically an illustration of the lack of openness on the part of liberals. Roache apparently believes that the true desire of conservatives is to hurt the poor, sick, foreign, and unemployed.

    Jaybird often questions whether the goal of a policy even matters, and recommends we just focus on the result. The consistent and preponderant result of conservative economic policies is to hurt the poor, the unemployed, and immigrants, and to further enrich the already wealthy.Report

    • Avatar j r in reply to KatherineMW says:

      The consistent and preponderant result of conservative economic policies is to hurt the poor, the unemployed, and immigrants, and to further enrich the already wealthy.

      Right. I guess that explains why the economy was in such great shape in the late 1970s and in such terrible shape in 1992. I remember, as a kid growing up in the late 70s and 80s, NYC was this really safe economically booming place and by the late 1990s, after 20 years of Republicans and so-called neo-liberals in the White House and 12 years of Republicans in City Hall, it had become this really scary, blighted place were you were afraid to go to all but a few safe neighborhoods.

      Wait, I’m sorry. That’s the exact opposite of what happened.Report

      • Avatar North in reply to j r says:

        On behalf of neoliberals I object vigorously to being lumped in as some kind of semi republican group. I also think it’s base stealing to give current conservatism credit for what they accomplished thirty to forty years ago while ignoring both that liberals contributed to it and what conservatives accomplished about eight years ago.Report

        • Avatar Jesse Ewiak in reply to North says:

          Don’t worry, we get the difference.

          Conservatives want to get rid of the welfare state. Neoliberals just want to hand it over to the private sector since they’ll be more “efficient” at it and likely will be able to get rid of those pesky unions in the public sector.Report

          • Avatar North in reply to Jesse Ewiak says:

            Or I could say Liberals just want to set something up, pour money into it and so long as the department name is “Help the unfortunate department” it doesn’t matter what it costs or what it actually achieves whereas neoliberals actually want the resources we allocate to a cause to achieve liberal ends and preferably more effectively than any alternative solutions. I don’t believe that, liberals have more brains than that, but I think it’s in tone about equivalent to accusing neoliberals of just wanting to privatize everything.Report

      • Avatar Jesse Ewiak in reply to j r says:

        What actually happened to New York in the 90’s and 00s is lead abatement, technological advancement in policing, Wall Street making a bunch of money, and a generation of people growing up with New York being seen as this mysterious thing, and as a result, moving there in the 80’s and early 90’s when it was still cheap.

        As for the economy of the 70’s into the 80s, a Carter appointee fixed it, not Reagan’s optimism.Report

        • Avatar James K in reply to Jesse Ewiak says:

          @jesse-ewiak @j-r

          Your posts show the heart of rational disagreement between ideologies. We can all see the same outcomes but we don’t agree on which causes led to those outcomes so we’re all fitting different curves to the same points.Report

      • Avatar zic in reply to j r says:

        I think you better go check your economics against a time line of leadership.

        Because what you’re blaming on Dems was on R’s watch. And we’ve had more years of Republican leadership than we have of Democratic leadership. (27 years of Republican president vs. 17 Democratic). The deficit has increased in Republican presidents, and the economy has shrunk.

        But it’s nice to have a really clear example of the magic thinking even reasonable people are capable of.Report

        • Avatar Kolohe in reply to zic says:

          naturally, who controls Congress doesn’t matter a wit.Report

        • Avatar j r in reply to zic says:

          I notice that you make the magic thinking claim in response to my response to @katherinemw and not to her original. That makes me think that your definition of magical thinking only works in one direction.

          Anyway, no magical thinking from me. My point was that there was sea change in economic thinking that happened in the late 70s that was responsible for the economic recovery that followed. That change was as much about Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton as it was about Reagan. I don’t care about the labels. I care about the policies. I have no interest in doing some kind of D vs R scorecard, unless it is as a corrective of the sort of original statement that Katherine made.

          Also, tracking the economy against who was in the White House is a pretty meaningless exercise. For one thing, the economic policies that presidents can actually deploy all have pretty sizable lags. And more importantly, the state of the economy at any given moment is dependent upon so many factors, of which economic policy-making is only one. The real question to ask is whether the folks at the wheel were making the best decisions for the conditions they were facing and would likely be facing in the future.Report

  8. Avatar Jaybird says:

    When I was a kid, I wasn’t allowed to play with non-Christians.

    Good to see the tradition is still alive.Report

  9. Avatar Kim says:

    “Roache apparently believes that the true desire of conservatives is to hurt the poor, sick, foreign, and unemployed.”

    I find this a fairly accurate representation of many people who are rich and deign to call themselves conservative (I do believe the actual term ought to be reactionary, as they want to destroy our public school system, veterans benefits, etc).Report

  10. Avatar nevermoor says:

    ” I rarely see liberal thinkers flirting with the merits of conservative ideas”

    I rarely see conservative ideas (by which I mean ideas proposed by actual national political figures on the conservative side) that actually have merits. Instead, I see furious pretending that things like the Ryan budget are anything other than firm promises to give massive tax cuts to people who don’t need or deserve them and a vague/impossible promise to then do other things that would make the whole thing not transparently awful. Or, furious pretending that there is an alternate health care reform option out there that does all of the good ACA stuff with none of the unpopular things.

    Am I missing some conservative ideas with merits I should be assessing?Report

    • Avatar Vikram Bath in reply to nevermoor says:

      As Greg has mentioned, the ACA probably should be considered an example.Report

      • Avatar nevermoor in reply to Vikram Bath says:

        Wait just a minute. Your support for the argument that liberals don’t address the merits of conservative ideas is a policy liberals just fought bitterly to enact over unrelenting conservative opposition complaining not that the idea was copped but that the idea was an existential threat to America?!?Report

        • Avatar Vikram Bath in reply to nevermoor says:

          No, sorry about the miscommunication. I meant that the ACA would be an example of liberals considering an idea that was formerly considered conservative. That particular data point contradicts “the argument that liberals don’t address the merits of conservative ideas”.

          Though Will’s counter is worth noting too:

          Will TrumanReport

          • Avatar nevermoor in reply to Vikram Bath says:

            Ah, got it. That we agree on.

            As for Will’s comment, I get where he is coming from but I think the adopter gets full credit where the adoptee was clearly never going to implement it’s own (better than status quo) idea.Report

  11. Avatar nevermoor says:

    “This is ironically an illustration of the lack of openness on the part of liberals. Roache apparently believes that the true desire of conservatives is to hurt the poor, sick, foreign, and unemployed. This hurting is an end goal in their utility functions. But they can’t say that out loud though, so they come up with a plausible excuse that will still let them do the same thing. That plausible excuse is “austerity”.”

    I note you don’t confront what she actually says, or defend austerity (on which, at this point, the evidence is overwhelming). Contractionary policy is contractionary, which in fact punishes the poor and rewards the rich and has now done so for seven years. One doesn’t believe that conservatives actually WANT to harm the poor to believe they are intentionally doing so. One only needs to believe that conservatives (here, again, meaning politicians aligned with conservative parties) WANT to help the rich at all costs, and don’t care that doing so harms the poor. For analogy, assessing whether Reagan campaigned explicitly to obtain support of racists (which he obviously did) does not need to consider whether Reagan the person obtained pleasure from racist thought.Report

  12. Avatar nevermoor says:

    “I see articles about libertarians changing their views to support action on climate change. I don’t see liberals becoming climate skeptics. We’ve seen huge, meaningful changes in public opinion on miscegenation and gay marriage happen in a couple of decades. For all their presumed openness, I don’t know a single liberal who went the other direction.”

    It’s almost as though there is, in fact, right and wrong (or true and false). You also don’t see liberals changing their minds on whether tax cuts raise revenues (because they objectively do not) or on any of the other cut-and-dried issues on which facts have a liberal bias.

    On less clear-cut issues, you absolutely do see liberals change their minds. Kansas, for example, has long been a leader on penal practices to reduce recidivism and liberals are more than happy to learn from the state’s success. Hell, on health care liberals abandoned their own ideas and fought bitterly to implement what was at root a conservative market-based set of reforms (as they also did on cap/trade and other national issues). Not, of course, that conservative politicians could even begin to acknowledge as much.Report

  13. By the way, this is my second attempt at a live-blogging post. If anyone wants to advise me to stick with my regular sort of pieces, please let me know.Report

  14. Avatar Doctor Jay says:

    Anger drives clicks. It is much easier to get the approval of like-minded people than to change the mind of someone who disagrees, and so the popular way to do it is to express anger with the “other” and make them seem silly and weak to the “right people”, thus gaining their approval, and with it, more status within the group. This has been true since the time of cave drawings.

    Social media is not a force for good, it is a magnifier of human tendencies, both good and bad.

    And, and, AND, ….

    I truly do want a world with less oppression, less hate, less suffering. What to do?Report

  15. The right in the US has its own version. It typically invokes Hitler rather than racism

    The right invokes slavery, too, e.g. “PPACA is slavery”. But since it celebrates the Confederacy, I don’t know if that’s supposed to be a bad thing.Report

  16. Avatar Saul Degraw says:

    @vikram-bath and all else of course.

    I want to focus on something that @sam said above and also on something that I debated with Aaron David a while ago on.

    We seem to have an intent/effect problem here and it depends very much on world view.

    Conservatives and Libertarians (at least of the American variety) say that they dislike welfare programs and other big government programs because they lead to government overreach and the erosion of liberty. I would consider this an intent prong to conservative and libertarian belief on the size and scope of government and what it should be.

    Corey Robin thinks that this is just a clever ruse and that talk of liberty is mere pre-text for maintaining various privileges by a dominant group whether white people in general (Sarah Palin) or the wealthy. I don’t think this is totally wrong but it might not be totally right. A lot of welfare programs and federal programs do help people who had historical disadvantages. It is true that lots of Republican politicians and conservative talk-show hosts do like to talk about assaults on liberty and freedom but those liberties and freedoms always seem to be the right to bigotry or just about the rights of businesses and property owners. I don’t see them have much concern for social liberty like the right to do as one pleases during ones free time as long as it does not hurt others. We do have at-will employment in this country (business freedom) and that means my boss can fire me for attending an ACLU meeting if he wants. Or even for wearing a shirt he does not like to work.

    But say I believe conservatives and libertarians at the intent of their opposition to government welfare and safety net programs. That still leaves the effect prong. Here I am with Sam. The effect of cuts to various programs or opposition to them often hurts the poor and the middle-class the most in my view. Sometimes conservatives will say something about how self-esteem can only come from work/labor but I am not sure that I believe that or why I should take on that world view. I remember that Rich Lowery (or someone else at the NRO) wrote a gob-smacked op-ed piece after Obama’s reelection in which they were shocked, shocked that people honestly believe in the Welfare State measures and other government programs.

    The conservative world view and effect that is that the nation and people will be better if all is done without assistance. The liberal worldview is that this is an impossibility in a complex post-Industrial society. You can have Google and Apple or a nation of yeoman. You can’t have both.

    Likewise @greginak pointed out that Bleeding-Heart Libertarians largely just seems like a ruse to liberals because they never seemingly can find a welfare program or other big government tool that they like.

    Say I give conservatives the benefit of the doubt and agree to their intent and potentially to their desired effects. Am I supposed to stop being a liberal? All of this “conservatives just don’t understand liberals” stuff always seems to me a short hand of “Stop it. Stop it right now. Stop being liberal. Stop believing in single-payer and the rights of unions. Read the WSJ. Maybe start talking about Anarcho-Capitalism as a great ideal.”Report

    • Avatar aaron david in reply to Saul Degraw says:

      Well, first of all, thank you for the shout out @saul-degraw

      Second-
      “Say I give conservatives the benefit of the doubt and agree to their intent and potentially to their desired effects. Am I supposed to stop being a liberal? All of this “conservatives just don’t understand liberals” stuff always seems to me a short hand of “Stop it. Stop it right now. Stop being liberal. Stop believing in single-payer and the rights of unions. Read the WSJ. Maybe start talking about Anarcho-Capitalism as a great ideal.”

      I will say again, no you should not give up on what you believe. Ever. My suggestion is to take your opposition seriously and in good faith. Invite them in to your conversation, your circles. Listen to what they have to say, just as you wish they would invite you into ranks you have never been and would listen to your words and thoughts.

      Because, if you don’t, if we don’t, good ideas will be lost. Good, useful criticism will be lost. Viewpoints will go unseen. Bad ideas will linger, fester until they become open sores.

      As a society, we need multiple perspectives on all problems, because these problems affect all of us. Some of these viewpoints are dead wrong, such as the conservative view on SSM and the liberal view on Citizens United. Others are very right. But at the very least we need to know what those opinions are, so that society can see what ideas need to change, and equally important, what things need to stay the same.

      I am a libertarian. I think gov’t is a necessary evil. I cannot think of anything that has been used for greater horrors. But I do think it is necessary. What I often need in these conversations is the push/pull of both the future (liberals) and the past (conservatives.) Without both of those it is only an echo chamber.Report

      • Avatar Oscar Gordon in reply to aaron david says:

        aaron david: Am I supposed to stop being a liberal?

        OK, show of hands, how many liberals here actually think anyone in this forum seriously wants this to happen? Because I don’t. I’m pretty sure most people who have not closed off their minds, locked the door, & swallowed the key want this.

        Solutions are not an ideological all or nothing. The solution to poverty or racial inequality is not just a liberal policy, just as the answer to terrorism is not something the right has a lock on.

        The answers are found in the overlap of a massive, multidimensional venn diagram. It’s a venn diagram that is hard to see & hold in a conceptual space, and it’s one that is constantly shifting, from both the movement of ideas, as well as the changing definition & parameters of the problem.

        Being able to talk to each other & respectfully consider each others ideas is the only way we can get a feel for not only the entirety of the diagram, but also try to find that sweet spot of overlap that gives us an answer (with the recognition that the answer, once found, will not necessarily be static).

        I don’t want you to stop being liberal, I want you to be an intelligent, thoughtful liberal who spends time & effort with your ideas, who accepts the imperfections of those ideas, and who is open to hearing about other ideas from other quarters. Just as I try to do with my libertarian views.Report

        • Avatar nevermoor in reply to Oscar Gordon says:

          “Solutions are not an ideological all or nothing.”

          They certainly don’t have to be. They currently are (at the national political level), in that it really is the case that any solution proposed by Obama (no matter how conservative its roots) must be rejected out of hand due to a (probably correct) application of game theory to the goal of winning future elections.

          If the national-level GOP wants to propose a solution to, well, anything I would be happy to review its merits and determine whether I think it will be better or worse than the status quo. I’m sure this is exaggeration, but the last time I remember that actually happening was in regards to privatizing social security (which would have been an absolute cluster**** on the merits).Report

          • Avatar Oscar Gordon in reply to nevermoor says:

            Let me rephrase, “Effective solutions are not an ideological all or nothing.”Report

            • Avatar nevermoor in reply to Oscar Gordon says:

              Again, true in theory. But us liberals are being criticized for failing to address ideas on their merits so its fair to point out that those ideas (as actual proposed policy) don’t exist.

              I’m, of course, happy to engage on ideas that interest me at a lower level (and have done so here) but “that interest me” is a pretty big limitation.

              Given this disagreement I figured I’d share a link on an actual GOP proposal being analyzed on the merits: Guess what, the Price HCR plan is terrible.Report

              • Avatar j r in reply to nevermoor says:

                Again, true in theory. But us liberals are being criticized for failing to address ideas on their merits so its fair to point out that those ideas (as actual proposed policy) don’t exist.

                Am I reading this correctly? Is your contention that conservatives and libertarians really have no ideas that are not “NObama!”?Report

              • Avatar Kim in reply to j r says:

                I think the contention would be better put as:
                their ideas are so politically unpalitable, that rather than raise them, they’d rather stuff together nonsense and hope the press doesn’t call them on it.

                I mean, I know that certain powerful conservatives want Acadia back in their hands and out of the public’s… That’s a concrete policy proposal, ain’t it?

                “Veteran’s benefits are the new welfare” is another — turning people against veterans because they get so much better healthcare/retirement.

                Still politically unpalitable, but what did you expect?Report

              • Avatar nevermoor in reply to j r says:

                My contention is that the national-level GOP isn’t proposing policies that require much evaluation because they aren’t even really intended to pass. Just to appeal to their base. I’m not saying that no adherents to right-wing political movements have any ideas.

                If you disagree, please point me to some examples. I’d be interested.Report

              • Avatar j r in reply to nevermoor says:

                No. You are not likely to hear many defenses of the current GOP from me.Report

              • Avatar nevermoor in reply to j r says:

                So it sounds like we agree that GOP ideas (as actual proposed policy) don’t really exist. Given that, it seems like a short leap to agreeing that liberals aren’t failing some duty to consider opposing policies or being unfair in treating national-level policy making as an all-or-nothing affair.Report

    • Avatar DensityDuck in reply to Saul Degraw says:

      “Sometimes conservatives will say something about how self-esteem can only come from work/labor but I am not sure that I believe that or why I should take on that world view. ”

      It’s entirely possible that it’s a matter of class consciousness.Report

      • Avatar Saul Degraw in reply to DensityDuck says:

        @densityduck

        What ever happened to your cousin, Disco Duck?

        More seriously, I don’t think so. I like working but I am still hesitant to hang my own shingle for a variety of reasons including the fact that I feel like I sort of know what I am doing and that is just enough knowledge to make me think that I can fish things up pretty badly. My like of work does not make me more opposed to the welfare state and I would rather do a traditional rise through the ranks from associate to partner (maybe with some lateral moves) over starting my own firm and being a solo practioner. Does this make me some kind of lazy slack about undeserving of anything? Why is it better or more moral to start your own firm and be ultra-successful 20 years later over rising through the ranks?Report

        • Avatar DensityDuck in reply to Saul Degraw says:

          “Why is it better or more moral to start your own firm and be ultra-successful 20 years later over rising through the ranks?”

          …um, I didn’t say anything like that, and neither did the essay that I linked. In fact, it’s not what *you* said, either.Report

      • Avatar Saul Degraw in reply to DensityDuck says:

        There are times I feel like the GOP and Libertarian Wing has a real contempt for people who don’t want to own their own businesses.Report

          • Avatar morat20 in reply to Tod Kelly says:

            Probably the constant drumbeat of ‘small business owners’.

            I don’t WANT to own a business. I have no urge to be a small business owner. I don’t even like the idea of contract work, I’d prefer full time employment.

            I sometimes get the feeling, from listening to GOP stump speeches, that this makes me a freak of nature, some weird offshoot of the human race that doesn’t want to own and run a business unlike everyone else.Report

            • Avatar DensityDuck in reply to morat20 says:

              “Probably the constant drumbeat of ‘small business owners’. ”

              You’re right, a world of giant megacorporations that own the planet is by far the best situation. We should definitely not do things to encourage people to start and own their own businesses; mindless cogs is far preferable than all that bothersome independent thought and frightening personal investment.Report

              • Avatar morat20 in reply to DensityDuck says:

                Excellent way to illustrate the point!

                You see, because I don’t WANT to own a business (nor do contract work), to Density there I obviously yearn to be a mindless cog, lacking independence and hating to invest into my job.

                Seriously, bravo. You managed to take my very simple statement (“I have no desire to own my own company nor do I like contract-to-contract work”) and basically decry me as a mindless, cowardly cog hoping for handouts from the corporate master’s of soulless mega-corporations.

                I literally don’t think you could have given a better example of Saul’s “There are times I feel like the GOP and Libertarian Wing has a real contempt for people who don’t want to own their own businesses” without resorting to outright parody.

                That wasn’t parody, was it?

                Anyways, Tod Kelly, Density Duck there gave a perfect example.Report

              • Avatar DensityDuck in reply to morat20 says:

                Bro, you’re talking like it’s the most ridiculous thing in the world that someone might consider small business ownership and entrepreneurial spirit virtuous and worthy of encouragement. Did you honestly not expect pushback on that?Report

              • Avatar zic in reply to DensityDuck says:

                I did get a modifier — “I don’t.”

                I wrote about small business for 15 years; that was my beat; starting with small regional magazines and progressing to big magazines; there are hundreds of published pieces with my by-line on them; and if I had any desire to, in about a month, I could be up and running my own gig-economy business at a profit because I’ve already proved I’ve got the chops to do it and can produce reliable and accurate work on deadline. (So yes, I’ve run my own small business as a freelancer writer; also as a designer, and a food service business; my husband as a musician, IT expert, and teacher.) Plus we have angel investments in several start-up businesses that we’re actively engaged with, not passive investors. (And my FIL was a founding father of the modern venture industry.)

                So I think I know something about small business, entrepreneurial spirit, and success.

                And for 15 years, over and over and over, I saw people who thought they should/would/could/oughta because the magic and holiness of entrepreneurial spirit had been drilled into them as the holy grail of being an American. But they didn’t/couldn’t/shouldn’t/failed because they did not have some of the essential ingredients required to be successful.The very first one is the ability to question if you got it, and the wisdom to recognize when you don’t. The second is recognizing that starting a gig-economy business (self-employment) is not entrepreneurial; it’s creating a job for yourself. Now start a new news bureau, record label, or some other small biz that you intend to grow rapidly, and we can call you an entrepreneur.

                but not for making a job for yourself.Report

              • Avatar morat20 in reply to DensityDuck says:

                You obviously didn’t read, and simply projected your own issues on me.

                Because the simple question is: “Pushback on what?”. Nothing I said should demand pushback. The fact that you think it did means you…didn’t read it, and jumped to conclusions which led you to savagely attack. As I said, it did provide an excellent example for Saul though.

                You obviously didn’t read what I wrote, because your synopsis is…totally inaccurate would be the polite way to say it. After all, what I said was I — me, myself alone — had no interest in owning my own business, and then pointed out that the GOP’s small-business owner heavy rhetoric (and general silence on worker’s who aren’t their own bosses) meant yes, indeed, I could see how Saul felt that way.

                After all, since I don’t want to own my own business — what relevance does the constant drumbeat of ‘small business owners’ have for me? Indeed, why is there no drumbeat about what they’ll do for workers? Why is small business owners worthy of being singled out, but employees aren’t?Report

            • Avatar zic in reply to morat20 says:

              Probably the constant drumbeat of ‘small business owners’.

              Just to be clear here, @morat20 remember that that constant drumbeat is to actually give cover to big businesses in the business of rent seeking. It’s kind of like “think about the children,” only with small businesses at the end.Report

              • Avatar morat20 in reply to zic says:

                However, as DD just pointed out — apparently not wanting to own my own business or do contract work (“work for myself”) is a contemptuous thing.

                I’m mindless and cowardly, and am kowtowing to our corporate overlords as we speak, hoping they don’t further reduce my wages. Since I don’t want to work for myself, I therefore must love being a browbeaten slave to the powerful.

                Employment is positively Gorean, really.Report

              • Avatar zic in reply to morat20 says:

                Now that’s a series of books worth forgetting. I can’t think of anything I enjoyed reading less that was marketed as sci-fi/fantasy. I burned the first book after I read it. I’m more a white lotus kind of girl.Report

              • Avatar Oscar Gordon in reply to morat20 says:

                I can’t remember how many of those (Gore books) I made it through, but I remember being so utterly bored with them that I stopped at some point.Report

    • I don’t know that I could successfully pass any ideological Turing tests. I did an opposite day post here, but I don’t know how an agreeing audience would read it.

      I personally like Arnold Kling’s model:

      Progressives, Mr. Kling thinks, typically express opinions using an “oppressed-oppressor axis”: societal problems are envisioned mainly as forms of oppression of the weak by the strong. Conservatives favor a “civilization-barbarism axis” and worry about how to defend traditional values and institutions. Libertarians use a “freedom-coercion axis” in which the threat is governmental encroachment on individual choice.

      And yeah, sorry, that link is from the WSJ. 🙂 http://www.wsj.com/articles/SB10001424127887324659404578500982819923700Report

      • Avatar LeeEsq in reply to Vikram Bath says:

        Where do modern liberals, the people that feel that welfare state and economic regulation is actually necessary for freedom fall on this Axis? Many people do not support things like universal healthcare or anti-discriminatory laws because we think it will alleviate oppression. We support them because we think it is necessary to provide freedom to as many people as possible and that more libertarian definition of freedom could lead to a lack of freedom for many because of private discrimination, prejudice, and poverty. As FDR put it in the Second Bill of Rights, a “necessitous man is not a free man.”Report

        • Avatar Vikram Bath in reply to LeeEsq says:

          I hate to try to talk too much about a book I haven’t actually read, but let me take a stab.

          1. Not everyone will fall into one of the three categories.
          2. As the link mentions, not every issue fits the 3-axes model.
          3. While health care can be framed as being about freedom, which you do well here, it’s most naturally framed around compassion for people who don’t have access to health insurance or find health care prohibitively costly. That was certainly how most supporters framed the issue. So, while people may have had other justifications that don’t fit the oppressor-oppressed axis, that axis nevertheless does a lot of lifting.

          [Repeat disclaimers about not having read the book]Report

    • Avatar LeeEsq in reply to Saul Degraw says:

      Corey Robin’s arguments regarding conservatives always struck me as the progressive equivalent of conservatives that simply can not grasp that liberals believe that sometimes the free market is just a horrible distributor of certain public goods. Its just a way for progressives to pat themselves on the back and do some enlightenment preening.

      I’m not going to go as far as @aaron-david and say you should always treat the opposition in good faith. At least with mainstream American politics, there is a lot of what I consider bad faith action on the part of Republicans that Democratic politicians and voters responded to with good faith for a long time. If your opponents are obviously acting in bad faith than you have no obligation to respond with good faith. In terms of intellectual debates online, there is a stronger reason to believe the opposition is acting in good faith, keeping things as an actual discussion rather than as a heated argument.Report

    • Avatar Road Scholar in reply to Saul Degraw says:

      Saul Degraw: Likewise Greginak pointed out that Bleeding-Heart Libertarians largely just seems like a ruse to liberals because they never seemingly can find a welfare program or other big government tool that they like.

      I gave them a good go of it. I’ve long been interested in a kind of Liberal/Libertarian fusion. Basically pursuing liberal aims in a libertarian-friendly fashion. And their stated aims in the initial posts (I spent a good month or more catching up from the inception of the site.) seemed promising.

      Unfortunately it pretty quickly devolved into making sympathetic noises towards the poor, minorities, etc while always, miraculously, coming to the “conclusion”* that the interests of whatever underclass was under consideration that day were best served by bog-standard, undiluted, libertarianism. Followed up with an imprecation for liberals to just abandon our silly ideas and follow their particular pied piper if we “really” cared about the poor and downtrodden. It was all a bit much to take after a while. Fortunately I spotted O.G. on their blog roll and I’ve never looked back.

      * Perhaps I’m overly cynical but I’m pretty sure the conclusion was reliably foregone.Report

      • Avatar Jesse Ewiak in reply to Road Scholar says:

        Yup, liberals (even nominal centrist liberals such as Obama) can work with libertarians when they’re out of power and conservatives are bombing random countries, but the moment liberals get in power, and ya’ know, actually do anything, said alliance falls apart.Report

      • Avatar Saul Degraw in reply to Road Scholar says:

        @road-scholar

        I think they had a few people who were libertarians but basically became garden-variety liberals and left the site. Timothy B. Lee comes to mind especially when he does stuff with Vox where he discovers that it might just be impossible to support oneself as a Lyft driver.

        For the rest of this I agree with you. The same thing happens at Slate Star Codex where the answer to all the problems just happens to be the Anarcho-Capitalism of the author of the blog.

        I wrote about it this week but I think this is the tragedy and expected irony of the neuroscience coming into pop knowledge. Everyone knows what cognitive bias and dissonance is but can’t quite figure out when they are not applying it to their own side.

        @vikram-bath, I think Road Scholer shows why liberals are kind of in a pissed mood. We are tired of being condescended to by people who self-describe themselves as the “real adults” and say we have valid concerns but our solutions are just so darn precious.Report

        • Avatar LeeEsq in reply to Saul Degraw says:

          Iron Law of Politics: Every side that does not self-describe itself as extremist sees itself as the realistic adult and the other side as idealistic children.Report

        • Avatar LeeEsq in reply to Saul Degraw says:

          Scott Alexander’s politics are interesting because it switch too anarcho-capitalism was fast and very recent. As late as October 2014 he had a post reviewing Red Plenty and wondering if better computers and information technology could make central planning work. He seemed honest and sincere with this. I think he turned to anarcho-capitalism because he thinks it would be the political-economic system somebody like him would flourish best in.Report

        • I tend to read Scott Alexander for the diagnosis, which tends to be better than the prognosis or treatment.Report

      • Avatar j r in reply to Road Scholar says:

        @road-scholar

        That raises a question: did you ever actually stop to consider whether many of the big government, top-down solutions might actually do more harm than good to the very people that they are supposed to be helping?

        Not to say, that you should have come to that conclusion. I’m just curious to what extent you ever actually gave it serious consideration.Report

        • Avatar Road Scholar in reply to j r says:

          j r: That raises a question: did you ever actually stop to consider whether many of the big government, top-down solutions might actually do more harm than good to the very people that they are supposed to be helping?

          Sorry for the late response; got kinda busy the last couple days. There’s a lot to unpack in your question so bear with me here.
          1. I guess the short answer to your question would be a qualified, “Well, yeah.” I thought that was implicit in my phrasing, “… pursuing liberal aims in a libertarian-friendly fashion.” To be clear, by disposition I’m solidly liberal. But I spent the decade of the nineties self-identifying as a libertarian and I think I have a pretty fair grasp of libertarian thought. I’m well aware of the libertarian critiques of the modern welfare/regulatory state and I take them seriously. I’m also no naif to economic theory as I informally minored in econ in college and was invited by my econ prof to change majors (which maybe I should have). All that being said, I sincerely wish more libertarians would similarly take critiques of free-market capitalism seriously. Like most liberals I know, my main disagreement with libertarians lie in the economic sphere.

          2. I find the phrase, “big government, top-down solutions” annoying for a couple reasons. First, along what dimension(s) and by what metric(s) is government “big?” Size of the budget? Number of employees? Pages in the Federal Register? Your personal effective tax rate? We’re a big country with a huge, diverse economy. It seems inevitable that the government for such a country will be, by some measures at least, similarly “big.” Or is it, as I suspect, more of a subjective feeling of … claustrophobia is a good a word as any … of constantly encountering government at every turn?

          Then there’s the bit about “top-down” solutions. As opposed to what? Bottom-up solutions? What does that even mean? How am I to distinguish bottom-up from just doing nothing and hoping the problem goes away? Government is the administrative arm of a society. It’s how “we” deal with certain kinds of collective action problems. Not all problems are collective action problems and government isn’t necessarily always the only or best way to tackle them, but it is the only way in which “we” as opposed to “I” or “they” or “somebody” or … well, “nobody” deals with a problem.

          3. Economics, and indeed all the social sciences, are tricky beasts when it comes down to quantifying stuff like “harms” and “good.” So to answer your question, yes, I’m perfectly willing to consider that some solutions have done more harm than good. I’m just not sure how to answer that question in any particular situation given that you only rarely have a good counter-factual or control to compare.

          For example, it’s widely accepted that the big-block housing projects were a mistake, at least in the sense of being a non-ideal solution to low/no income housing and in having some unanticipated negative consequences. But it should be pointed out that the problems they were meant to address were real and were not being solved by some hypothetical bottom-up thingy. Also, at the time, it could be argued that they were a “good governance” approach in that they were a relatively inexpensive way to provision so-many square feet of living space.

          But having acknowledged the deficiencies of that approach, I still don’t know that you can honestly claim they did more harm than good. What’s the counter-factual? Slums? Shanty-towns? Living on the streets and sleeping under bridges? Or perhaps, just maybe, a different big government solution in the form of housing vouchers?

          Anyway, I’m not dismissing the possibility or shrinking from the question. I just don’t believe you can necessarily point at some negative consequence or undesirable side effects and conclude “more harm than good” given the mathematics of summing two apples, three oranges, two turds and a hairball. I’m also entirely out of patience for arguments at the 35,000 ft. level of abstraction with no reference to particulars. That’s just people screaming past each other.Report

          • Avatar DavidTC in reply to Road Scholar says:

            @road-scholar
            For example, it’s widely accepted that the big-block housing projects were a mistake, at least in the sense of being a non-ideal solution to low/no income housing and in having some unanticipated negative consequences. But it should be pointed out that the problems they were meant to address were real and were not being solved by some hypothetical bottom-up thingy.

            I.e., the common liberal logical fallacy, and very very strange conservative response to it. The logical fallacy goes something like this:
            1) A problem exists, and something ought to be done.
            2) The thing proposed is something.
            3) Therefore, the thing proposed ought to be done.

            And that is, indeed, a common fallacy on the left. That is entirely true, I’ll admit it. But there is sort of strange logic from the right there, also, in their common response to it:
            1) A problem exists, and something ought to be done.
            2) Government solutions ought not to be done.
            3) The thing proposed is a government solution.
            4) Therefore, nothing ought to be done.

            Which is, of course, just as much a logical fallacy, as it’s blatantly ignoring one of the premises. Basically, the right ends up basically arguing that a problem doesn’t exist, or shouldn’t be solved, because they’re opposed to how the solution works.

            The logical thing would be for them to propose a different solution. But they can’t because, as you pointed out, the government is actually how ‘we’ do things. There really isn’t any other ‘us’ out there that can take action. Their theory that the solution might magically show up some other way, such as the free market, is often very strange, considering they rarely propose a way of making that more likely, and it obviously hasn’t happened yet or people wouldn’t be trying to solve the problem via the government.

            But having acknowledged the deficiencies of that approach, I still don’t know that you can honestly claim they did more harm than good. What’s the counter-factual? Slums? Shanty-towns? Living on the streets and sleeping under bridges? Or perhaps, just maybe, a different big government solution in the form of housing vouchers?

            Well, the common cry these days is that the solutions are what is *causing* the problems, so if we just remove all previous government solutions, the problems will magically go away.

            I’m not sure whether the claim is 1) that the problem never existed at all and the left were a bunch of crazy people or fascists for proposing them, 2) that the problems used to exist, the proposed things that made them worse, and we’ve never noticed that, or 3) that the problems used to exist, and the solutions used to solve them, but now they do not and make things worse.Report

            • Avatar LWA in reply to DavidTC says:

              Likewise I have been in undated the past week so missed much of this discussion.
              But I also believe that the “top down big government” stuff needs to be fisked.

              My angle is that even the most ardent conservative/ libertarian support a national defense, a system of land claims, a court system to regulate and adjudicate those claims, a system of contracts and the court system to go along with it, a police force to enforce all of it.

              All of this edifice, in the conservative/ libertarian scheme of things, every bit of it, is monopolistic, compulsory with no opt out, paid for by coercive taxation. Its all top down, government run stuff and they like it that way.

              When they propose that the government should be shrunk, what parts do they mean, and how big are those parts?

              Turns out, its only the tiniest most insignificant parts of government.
              SNAP/ food stamps; barbershop regulations; taxi medallions; food safety regulations.

              Assume everything on the CATO hit list were whisked away to the cornfield- how much smaller would the local, state and federal governments be?

              Not much because all the things they hate are so tiny to begin with. (I will give them props on the drug war- that would make a true and immediate improvement in the lives of millions. So they get that.)

              But in the main, its like those studies where people on the street are asked to describe the federal budget, and they answer that something like 80% of the budget goes to foreign aid and welfare.

              Most of the laws and regulations we have are about property what it is, how it is handled, how it is protected; Even if government did absolutely nothing but defend the shores, protect property and enforce contracts, it would still be a massive Leviathan.Report

      • Avatar DavidTC in reply to Road Scholar says:

        Unfortunately it pretty quickly devolved into making sympathetic noises towards the poor, minorities, etc while always, miraculously, coming to the “conclusion”* that the interests of whatever underclass was under consideration that day were best served by bog-standard, undiluted, libertarianism.

        I think that’s a bit unfair to BHL. Yes, that often was the conclusion, but they, at least *acknowledged that poor people exists and that problem needed solving*. And their conclusions often would wander over into universal guaranteed income and stuff, things the left could actually get behind, in theory.

        And the group of people over there are almost the only libertarians I’ve run across where I haven’t had to constantly explain that ‘taxation is theft’ are just words they are saying, and is not some sort of actual fact. The only group of libertarians where lower taxes did not appear to be biologically attached to their hindbrain. Where I did not feel their actual *entire goal* was to lower taxes, and all the ‘libertarian’ stuff was just a way to explain that.

        That said…they could never tear themselves away from their favorite libertarian philosophers, and the things they *did* agree with the left on, hilariously, were exactly the sort of anti-corporate pie-in-the-sky stuff that our right-wing Republicans and our centerist DLC-ish Democrats will never support. Or reducing the size of our military. Or reducing drug laws.

        This is *always* the problem with any left-libertarian alliance…most of the stuff we agree on is disliking the bullshit ‘common wisdom’ that everyone in politics agrees on but is clearly very very stupid.Report

    • Bleeding-Heart Libertarians is the political equivalent of Jews for Jesus.Report

  17. Avatar Tod Kelly says:

    “Maybe things are different in Britain, but here in the colonies, Tod Kelly wrote a 2,247-word rant scolding a conservative outlet for using overly clever reasoning to get readers to reconsider their views.”

    Dear Britain:

    Please be aware that Tod Kelly can be loaned out to you for two week periods for the cost of airfare, luxury hotel and restaurant accommodations, a small daily stipend, and one arranged round of drinks with John Oliver, any Rolling Stones members currently conscious, and Naomie Harris.

    (Note: Please have all meals brought in from any country outside of the UK.)Report

  18. Avatar Michael Drew says:

    In the US, I rarely see liberal thinkers flirting with the merits of conservative ideas.

    I would suggest you maybe just need to look for it a bit more intently. Depending, I suppose, on your standard for what counts as “flirting with the merits.” I’m sure there are ways you can operationalize that where you can be sure that it will be true. How rare must it be to be “rare”? What actually qualifies as “flirting? This is an utterly vague construction.

    And really, for some values of “rare,” (and for some values of “flirting,” because I suspect you have high standards about how much charity/good faith must be demonstrated to count as flirting… which isn’t wrong) …why shouldn’t this be a bit rare? Liberals are liberal for a reason; conservatives are conservative for a reason, etc. Perhaps ideally in your world no one is an anything, and if that’s the ideal, then we should be clear about that. But if people are actually allowed to be liberal and conservative (“allowed” in the sense of where we’d say, “Yes, that’s an okay thing,”) then by some values of rare and some values of flirting, flirting with ideas with which one disagrees will be rare. It would be better the less rare it were – you’re not wrong that this is a good thing to do as much as you can – and it shouldn’t be completely absent, but it probably will be less common than people, like, thinking their own thoughts, which are likely to be liberal if they’re liberal, conservative if they’re conservative, etc. So are we defining those tendencies as problem in and of themselves? Or can we identify some amount of flirting with the opposition that is sufficient for people if we are also going to allow them to be liberals, conservatives, etc? (And define what counts as flirting?) So… it all depends on the values of the terms, no?

    Liberals do engage in a lot of political debate, but it is exclusively debate about which type of liberal one should be. This is a form of openness, but the options are carefully curated. Any view can be tolerated as long as they can all be collapsed down to a vote for Hillary Clinton at the end of the day.

    So is it exclusive, or is it just rarely not the case?

    By the way, is any of this your actual views about how things are here? Or are you just snarking the article (which, btw, is written by a Brit about UK politics)?Report

  19. Avatar Barry says:

    Vikram: “For all their presumed openness, I don’t know a single liberal who went the other direction. ”

    And we are so intolerant of intolerance! Why aren’t we more tolerant of intolerance, given that we’re always talking about tolerance!Report

  20. For all their presumed openness, I don’t know a single liberal who went the other direction.

    Tradeable emissions permits? More broadly, generally abandoning command-and-control pollution strategies (eg, dictating deployment of particular technologies) in favor of market-based approaches favored by conservatives.Report

  21. Avatar Pyre says:

    Personally, the only thing that I thought of was an incident in Marvel Avengers Alliance back when it was on the Playdom site. Dude announced in General Chat that he wanted anyone who voted Obama for the second term to un-ally with him because he didn’t want to be allies with socialists (I think. Might have been Communist or something like that.).

    To me, this was funny because, even more so than the Facebook version, you weren’t really exposed to other people’s views. Your allies were nothing but a source for resources and multi-boss battles. As such, cutting those people off actually was a self-damaging course of action.Report

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