Playing the Trump Card: The Party Elite, Wonks, the Rest of Us

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  1. Avatar John Howard Griffin
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    says:

    These are some good points and well presented, I think, Mr. DeGraw.

    This bit:

    The problem as I see it is that djw and other wonks don’t know how to enact their policies in an electorate that seems to like suburban and exurban living.

    Is very on point, I think. I’ve often thought the same thing about libertarians. The same reason is why they fail to enact their policies.

    “The problem as I see it is that [libertarians] don’t know how to enact their policies in an electorate that seems to like [things that are not libertarian].”

    Maybe I’m working a little hard to shoe-horn in the word changes, but I think, at the core, there is some real truth there.Report

    • Avatar Jaybird in reply to John Howard Griffin
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      says:

      The problem with most libertarian policies is that they entail ending not-libertarian policies.

      The libertarian policy on the War On Drugs, for example, is not “we need more laws that are efficiently enforced!” It’s “END THE FREAKING WAR ON DRUGS!”

      As for “ending the war on drugs”, there are lots of reasons that the electorate is against ending it. One of the reasons that is most telling, it seems, is that the electorate is really saying “they’re not doing it to me, I don’t see the problem with the policy”. (Evidence for that from DailyKos: here and in the comments here.)

      So I’d amend your point to say that people FREAKING *LOVE* libertarian policies… for themselves. It’s the idea of libertarian policies applying to others is where they get off the train.Report

      • Avatar Stillwater in reply to Jaybird
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        says:

        About that last paragraph, Jaybird, I have to disagree. Recall the heat Jon Rowe took for merely complaining (ok, maybe whining!) about a bureaucratic snafu which might have sent him to jail for merely selling his car. Most of the pushback was to accuse him of not correctly following “the rules” and – here’s the kicker! – if he didn’t then he’d’ve got what he deserved! I mean, no one came out and said it that clearly, but that was certainly a vibe I was picking up on.Report

        • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Stillwater
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          If I said that I saw that example of people demanding other people follow onerous rules (and, as such, wasn’t a perfect counter-example of people loving libertarianism for themselves but not for others), then what would you say that I missed in the example?Report

        • Avatar Tod Kelly in reply to Stillwater
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          @stillwater :

          Recall the heat Jon Rowe took for merely complaining (ok, maybe whining!) about a bureaucratic snafu which might have sent him to jail for merely selling his car. Most of the pushback was to accuse him of not correctly following “the rules” and – here’s the kicker! – if he didn’t then he’d’ve got what he deserved! I mean, no one came out and said it that clearly, but that was certainly a vibe I was picking up on.

          I actually thought the reason people who came down on JR did so was that he framed it as an flaw with a government bureaucracy.

          If we had the ability to travel back in time and could get him to frame the OP as an inherent problem with privatizing the towing, I would bet you a round of top-shelf scotch that most of the people who were coming down hard on him would have been cheering him on.

          That whole thing showed up as 100% tribal warfare on my radar.Report

          • Avatar Stillwater in reply to Tod Kelly
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            Tod,

            I actually thought the reason people who came down on JR did so was that he framed it as an flaw with a government bureaucracy.

            I’ll defer to your better judgment on this since it was a mystery why folks were so incensed by those posts. (I mean, I get some of the psychological stuff the escalated tensions, but I didn’t see any of that myself – even when Jon lamented that the system allowed for someone like him to end up in jail. I think I knew what he meant!)

            So, that said, my own view of his posts wasn’t that he framed it as a flaw in gummint bureaucracy, it was that people perceived him as framing it as a flaw in gummint fully generally. But I didn’t see anything that supported that conclusion, myself.

            ANd more to the point, I guess, I think the foundation upon which he was bitching about gummint was pretty solid in this case. But as I said, that’s just my impression and I’m happy to defer to your view since I still can’t make any sense of the vitriol contained within those posts.Report

        • Avatar DavidTC in reply to Stillwater
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          says:

          Recall the heat Jon Rowe took for merely complaining (ok, maybe whining!) about a bureaucratic snafu which might have sent him to jail for merely selling his car.

          Oh, look, people are still talking about this, huh? Wait, now it’s become even *worse* and dumber.

          Jon was ‘threatened with jail’ on a *summons* which explains that *failure to show up in court* can result in people ending up in jail. Should the letter *not* tell people that? Should people who do not show up in court be allowed to roam free? What, exactly, is the theory here?

          And ignoring the thing is the only way Jon could have end up in jail. He could *not* end up in jail for abandoning his car, which is not a possible outcome of being found guilty of that crime, despite him constantly attempting to frame that as such. The worse possible outcome of that is a fine and losing his license.

          And he *certainly* could not end up jail for anything to do with his sale process, which even he didn’t claim could happen…but now apparently that’s what the claim has evolved into! He wasn’t ever even *charged* with anything for that, because, duh, nothing he did was illegal.

          Most of the pushback was to accuse him of not correctly following “the rules” and – here’s the kicker! – if he didn’t then he’d’ve got what he deserved!

          Hey, I’ll say it: Jon *did* get what he deserved: Being forced to make a phone call *or* show up in court and be found innocent.

          Look, if this is going to *keep* being used as an example, people need to *actually* understand what happened.

          What happened was not a result of Jon failing to ‘follow the rules’ and being punished for it. What happened was Jon behaved *slightly* lax in a car transfer and didn’t make sure the government knew about it, and *as a result*, became a suspect for quite logical reasons when the car was used in a crime. He was able to clear this up pretty quickly, via the telephone, once the case actually got in court. (Although for some reason he wasn’t able to do that *before* the case ended up in court despite trying really hard. Which is, perhaps, the only legit criticism of the system in this entire thing.)

          That’s it. That’s what happened. The government did not go after him for breaking any rules. The government charged him with a crime because they literally had a piece of paper saying he was the owner of the car that did the crime. When the courts learned he was *not* the owner, that he had sold it, they took his word and *stopped* going after him.

          Yes, a lot of other people (me included) found his laxity in the car transfer kinda dumb, and mocked him about it, because we’ve been warned about *exactly this thing* when selling cars (Or worse!), so we make sure the government knows we did that. But his story, and the criticism of it, has nothing to do with bureaucracy or big government or too many rules.

          And most of the pushback here was against the completely idiot drama he invented about that *horrific* process he was forced to go through of ‘using the telephone’. Along with his weird entitlement and threats against people who had no real involvement in the process at all, along with his ‘I’ll just get a random cop to solve my legal problems’ solution.

          Libertarians might want to make it a rallying cry, but it’s a *really stupid* one, because ‘Guy was quite logically suspected of a crime that even libertarians think should be a crime, but he cleared it up with phone calls before court’ is possibly the dumbest argument for libertarianism I’be ever seen.Report

          • Avatar DensityDuck in reply to DavidTC
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            says:

            Seems to me that the point of Jon’s story was “imagine how this would have gone if I’d been a low-wealth less-educated non-white person without the free time to devote to handling this”.

            Yelling at Jon about how he ought to Just Pay The Stupid Fine and Just Make The Stupid Phone Call and Just Follow The Stupid Rules misses the point–or, perhaps, confirms it, that the children of wealth and privilege who make all these rules don’t understand what it actually means to live under them.Report

      • Avatar KatherineMW in reply to Jaybird
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        says:

        I agree with your first sentence, but the War on Drugs is not the best example you could use. I think you could build decent momentum behind ending the war on drugs; after all, your own state has legalized marijuana and the country can see that no disaster has followed in the wake of that change.

        Libertarian policies do entail ending non-libertarian policies. Getting government out of economic policy and social welfare means getting rid of regulations that prevent our food, water, and air from being polluted and poisoned. Getting rid of social security, Medicare, supports for the poor. Getting rid of funding for higher education, when it’s already tremendously expensive. Getting rid of public schools in favour of charter ones.

        But yes, people do like things like social security, medicare, public education. They like being able to access medical care when they get sick without going bankrupt. They like the idea of being able to graduate from college without a mountain of debt. They like having safe food, water, and air. They like the national parks system. They like labour standards, weekends, and a minimum wage so that we don’t devolve back to the working conditions of the 1890s. Those are all things created by deliberate government intervention. Even if you say “I don’t want to get rid of those things”, those things are all directly contrary to libertarian ideology, because they involve government intervention and regulations, and many require taxation to fund them.

        Libertarianism isn’t “this particular regulation is onerous, and causes people more hassle than it’s worth; let’s reform or remove it”. Any party can do that. If government is a house, libertarianism isn’t having the carpets cleaned or buying new furniture. It’s a wrecking crew.Report

        • Avatar Jaybird in reply to KatherineMW
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          The War on Drugs is one of the biggest things that preoccupies the libertarians in whose orbits I find myself. That’s usually the number one example they give for the dysfunction in society (seriously, you wouldn’t believe how much it comes up in BLM arguments).

          And arguing against Libertarianism because they support ending National Parks is like opposing the Democratic Party because they support Police Unions. (Don’t get me wrong. I totally see how someone could do it. But I also see how someone could get all huffy and say “but what about all of the other stuff they’re talking about including the most important issue in the country today?”)

          (And that’s without getting into the perverse incentives of all the other stuff you brought up as being, presumably, better examples of Libertarian policies than ending the War on Drugs.)Report

          • Avatar KatherineMW in reply to Jaybird
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            You don’t need to be a libertarian to support ending the War on Drugs. The left supports ending it, and also supports all that other good stuff I mentioned instead of supporting tearing everything down. That’s why I’m on the left.Report

      • Avatar greginak in reply to Jaybird
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        The problem with “end the war on drugs” is that it is a slogan. A good slogan and a good idea, but it doesn’t say what we should have. Should every drug be completely legal for sale? Well try selling that policy to most people who believe the WOD is bad and you will get no where let alone with people who aren’t against the WOD. I’ve known plenty of ex addicts and there families who think the laws should be way lighter on addicts but still think some drugs are too dangerous to be legal.

        Should there be some regs for some drugs? The slogan doesn’t answer that. And that doesn’t get back to Saul’s point about how you sell the policy to skeptical people.Report

  2. Avatar LeeEsq
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    says:

    Democratic Party elites tend to be a lot more honest with the Democratic base than Republican Party elites. It’s not like Obama ran on single-payer and delivered the ACA instead. He pretty much said that single-payer was only possible if we are starting from scratch. Republican elites tend to offer a lot of red meat to their base but often fail to deliver. This is why the disconnect between the Republican base and elites is bigger than the one in the Democratic Party.Report

    • Avatar KatherineMW in reply to LeeEsq
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      Obama ran on change. Obama ran on closing Guantanamo. Not done. Obama ran on redressing the mass surveillance and abuses of the Constitution under the Bush Administration. Instead he made it worse. Obama ran on open government. Instead he increased attacks on whisteblowers and went to great lengths to bullshit us on drones (aparently any Middle Eastern man over 15 is by definition a terrorist). Obama ran on economic progressivism. Instead, he bailed out the banks and left them utterly uncontrolled, while abandoning homeowners facing foreclosure. Obama ran on avoiding ill-thought-out wars. Instead, he intervened in Libya and created a destructive spiral that’s plunged Mali into civil war and strengthened radical Islamists. Obama ran on offering something different from Hillary, and instead carried out essentially the same policy programme she would have, only likely in a less effective manner due to his insistence on expecting good faith from Republicans who, from the start, stated outright that their only objective was to make him fail.

      No, that’s not party elites being honest.Report

      • Avatar Damon in reply to KatherineMW
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        says:

        Silly voter, thinking any politician running as an “outsider” for change really is 🙂Report

        • Avatar KatherineMW in reply to Damon
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          says:

          Even my long-favoured third party is disappointing me. Likely as a consequence of no longer being a third party and deciding it has to place winning above principles.Report

          • Avatar Damon in reply to KatherineMW
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            says:

            Indeed. After all, you can’t get anything done IF you’re aren’t elected (I’ll not delve into the “but the bureaucrats CAN and they don’t have to run for office, just spend a lot of time actually “working”) so compromising your alleged principles to win seems totally worth it. History says the odds are that you can lie with impunity and still get reelected.

            The electorate: suckers.Report

      • Avatar DavidTC in reply to KatherineMW
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        Liberal mind-control active….must…defend Obama…

        Obama ran on closing Guantanamo.

        That failure isn’t actually his.

        Obama ran on redressing the mass surveillance and abuses of the Constitution under the Bush Administration. Instead he made it worse.

        I dunno, I have to suggest ‘a lot of unconstitutional spying’ is probably less bad than ‘torture’ and ‘imprisonment for no reason’.

        And the amount of mass surveillance is probably the same. I’m not sure we have any reason to conclude it’s worse. (Now, it is *legal*, which is ‘worse’ than just breaking the law, but that became true under Bush.)

        So…he’s better, but, seriously, those were impossibly low standards to start with.

        Instead, he bailed out the banks and left them utterly uncontrolled, while abandoning homeowners facing foreclosure.

        It was clear he was going to bail out the banks and ignore homeowners (and in fact that already started) *before* he was elected. So *that* one is really on the voters.

        But I can’t argue with the rest of that. Dumb intervention in the middle east, drones making us tons of new terrorists in the future. All sorts of attacks on whistleblowers.

        Obama ran on offering something different from Hillary, and instead carried out essentially the same policy programme she would have, only likely in a less effective manner due to his insistence on expecting good faith from Republicans who, from the start, stated outright that their only objective was to make him fail.

        And that, really, was the problem. I supported Obama over Hillary because I was sick of Clinton triangulation to meet the Republicans in the middle…and instead I got Obama deciding to pre-compromise to meet them in the middle, and the Republicans don’t even participate anyway!

        How would Hillary have reacted? I don’t know exactly, but I do know she’s *already* seen all that, and, thus, everything else being equal, would have started off with a lot shorter fuse. Like a five week fuse, instead of the five year fuse Obama had.Report

  3. Avatar LeeEsq
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    says:

    Wonks do better in a parliamentary political system like those in Europe because there tend to be more ways of implementing policy in a top down manner. European civil servants tend to have a lot more power than their American counterparts.Report

  4. Avatar Saul Degraw
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    says:

    @leeesq

    I am not sure about this. There are politicians in both parties who have done the whole “those factory jobs aren’t coming bach” routine/speech. The elites in both parties like to present themselves as saying nothing but “hard truths”. But what makes something true, is it an actual unbreakable law like the laws of physics or is it true because the elites hold the reigns of power and they are going to work hell and high water from making otherwise happen?

    Hard truths tend to mean “Someone else needs to suffer for my preferred policy goals.” Just like austerity is just the poor and middle-class paying for the mistakes of the financial class.Report

  5. Avatar Stillwater
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    Well, if nothing else it’s good to see both you and Chait coming around on the actual dynamics undergirding Trump’s current position in the polls. I’m not sure about all this elite-based policy-wank stuff, since from my pov Trump’s support rests on the fact that he’s anti-establishment, anti-wank, anti-intellectual, and transparently thumbing his nose at the entire establishment, wanky, intellectual culture that has very consciously kicked so may conservatives (the new base!) to the curb for so many years.

    Another way to say it is that Trump has created support by simply rejecting so much of what constitutes status quo political culture. He’s effectively stolen a base. 🙂Report

    • Avatar Stillwater in reply to Stillwater
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      says:

      And thinking about it a bit more, it seems to me that without Palin coming before Trump wouldn’t be here now.Report

    • Avatar Saul Degraw in reply to Stillwater
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      “I’m not sure about all this elite-based policy-wank stuff, since from my pov Trump’s support rests on the fact that he’s anti-establishment, anti-wank, anti-intellectual, and transparently thumbing his nose at the entire establishment, wanky, intellectual culture that has very consciously kicked so may conservatives (the new base!) to the curb for so many years.”

      I think this is what Chait is saying and i am saying. I added the wonk and elite part to show how wonks might be able to come up with theoretically good policies (let’s just give them that they might be right on paper) but they can’t come up with ideas that they can sell to the masses or ways to sell their ideas.

      FWIW I think the urban and transit wonks are probably right that it is better (from an environmental standpoint and some psychological standpoints) if we lived in denser communities and used public transit instead of cars. Yet there is a lot of space in the U.S. so this is a tough sell.Report

      • Avatar Stillwater in reply to Saul Degraw
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        Ahh, OK. Maybe I’m arguing for a distinction without a difference here then. Ie., that it’d be wrong to think the Trumpbase is comprised of folks who reject the currently fashionable Establishment Certified wonky policies. It’s that they reject wonkyness. And Establishmentarianism. And the Oppression imposed by PC-Culturalism. And so on. So I tend to think that his appeal is more culturally motivated (and that sorta requires placing the current moment in an historical context, seem to me) than policy oriented.

        If that makes any sense.

        Adding: I DO find it interesting and ironic that Elites and Pundits struggle so much with making sense of the Trumpentum. The fact that it doesn’t fit into their cultured, well-trained, Elite worldviews is precisely why – it seems to me! – that Trumpentum is on the rise!Report

        • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Stillwater
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          The fact that it doesn’t fit into their cultured, well-trained, Elite worldviews is precisely why – it seems to me! – that Trumpentum is on the rise!

          While I’d quibble with “precisely”, the disconnect this describes has been heralded for a while. Ron Paul was one of the symptoms. The Tea Party was another.

          There’s a storm a’brewin.Report

      • Avatar Stillwater in reply to Saul Degraw
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        says:

        FWIW I think the urban and transit wonks are probably right that it is better (from an environmental standpoint and some psychological standpoints) if we lived in denser communities and used public transit instead of cars.

        A really long time ago there was a movie called Singles about a bunch of Yuppies living in Seattle (I believe) and one of Our Yuppies, who worked for the city, pitched a transit proposal to the Mayor (IIRC) to expand urban train-based systems for a bunch of wonky reasons. And the response from the mayor [played by Tom Skerritt!!, if memory serves], who was attuned to politics in a way the wonk was not, was simply: “Americans love their cars.” And that’s true. I don’t know that that’s the end of the story, but it’s pretty much a deal killer if correct.Report

        • Avatar LeeEsq in reply to Stillwater
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          Demand for transit has grown considerably since Singles came out. There are many more light rail systems. This includes many places where people that would be forever dependent on the car like Houston, Dallas, Phoenix, and Salt Lake City.Report

      • Avatar Michael Cain in reply to Saul Degraw
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        FWIW I think the urban and transit wonks are probably right that it is better (from an environmental standpoint and some psychological standpoints) if we lived in denser communities and used public transit instead of cars.

        So do I. Where I differ from most of those wonks is that I think it’s a very, very complex nuanced problem. For the 25% of the US population living in rural areas and small towns, density and public transit are largely unworkable options. Cities have to sit at the center of large transportation webs for commercial and industrial purposes that aren’t going to go away. There are different end-state goals (eg, is it just low-energy no matter how dirty, or is it low-carbon?). The time frame over which goals are to be accomplished matters. It’s a classic complaint, but too many of the wonks let “perfect be the enemy of better”.Report

        • Avatar LeeEsq in reply to Michael Cain
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          Public transport might be unworkable in small towns but density isn’t. You can build a small town on walkable, human scale. The United States used to be filled with them and you can see their remnants everywhere. People on outlying farms will need cars and so will people in small towns to get around outside the walkable area but small towns themselves can be doable without cars.Report

          • Avatar Michael Cain in reply to LeeEsq
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            This brief paragraph is full of contradictions. Small-town America has been dying slowly for well over a hundred years. No one knows how to put together a small town that is successful and walkable in any meaningful sense that works in an economy providing a contemporary set of goods and services.Report

            • Avatar Damon in reply to Michael Cain
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              I’m not sure “small towns” are viable anymore. Much of the need for them was related to being local hubs of economic activity. Do you really need a lot of that now when you can order most things by mail and have it delivered?Report

              • Avatar Michael Cain in reply to Damon
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                Even today there are advantages to concentrating services and specialized goods inventory into a central location — the bank, the farm implement dealer, the licensed welder, etc. Those support a second tier of services — the doctor, the dentist, the public school, a laundromat, a drug store, a grocery, and so on. There are limits to the size of the town, dictated largely by the underlying ag industry (or resource extraction, or whatever). The small Iowa town where I spent my childhood in the 1960s had some other things that let it grow somewhat larger — a Presbyterian-associated college, the county seat, a meat-packing plant. But those things came at the expense of walkability for most of the population.Report

              • Avatar Damon in reply to Michael Cain
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                Indeed, the small town that I grew up in had about 5K people and it basically supported one heavy industry, cattle ranching, and wheat farming. The heavy industry supported a lot of hourly workers that often came from some distance since it was really well paying work vs the other opportunities.

                As to walk-ability…it was always spread out…there was no need to be so close to each other. Land was cheap and some of the services were not ones you wanted to be near.Report

            • Avatar Will Truman in reply to Michael Cain
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              How are we defining “small town” here? 400? 4000? 40,000?Report

              • Avatar Stillwater in reply to Will Truman
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                I’d think a better definition of “small town” for MC’s purposes would be more operationally than populationally defined. Economic complexity would probably be a relevant metric.Report

              • Avatar Michael Cain in reply to Stillwater
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                @will-truman
                This settlement heirarchy divides villages and towns at 1K, towns and large towns at 20K. I’m probably cutting “small town” off somewhere between 5K and 10K — the point where, based on my experience, it stops being walkable for a majority of the population much of the time. To @leeesq ‘s comment, it’s certainly possible to build a town that size that’s walkable. Towns that grew to that size organically tend to be too spread out for various reasons. I suspect there are some rather marked regional contrasts, though.

                @stillwater
                Another metric involves “degree of isolation” or some such. When I lived in NJ, people talked about living in a “town” with a population of <10K — which met the definition of what I would call a town, possibly even a small town — but neglected that there were a dozen towns that abutted one another, with no recognizable buffers between them. In effect, it was a multi-centered small city of 120K or more.Report

              • Avatar Will Truman in reply to Michael Cain
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                That’s fair. I’m curious if that’s the definition Lee is using. Not to hash out the perfect definition. Just to make sure you’re taking about the same thing.Report

              • Avatar Stillwater in reply to Will Truman
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                Will,

                I’m not sure what Lee is talking about upthread – I mean, surely back in the day, there were all sorts of walkable (ie., didn’t need a horse to get around!) – small towns in the US, but a modern of conception of “walkability” means something radically different, seems to me. It means, in part, that the majority of a contemporary person’s needs and desires can be met within a walkable distance from their residence. So part of what constitutes a walkable town will depend on what sorts of goods and services people are innersted in. Hence, the suggestion that an operational definition is relevant here, since the cultural conception of the IDEAL of walkability is defined MOSTLY by access to luxury goods, seems to me.

                Could be wrong!Report

              • Avatar Saul Degraw in reply to Stillwater
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                says:

                I think this is partially true but not completely true.

                I think Walkability means the ability to walk to all things including grocery stores (not just a little bodega), laundromats/dry cleaners, parks and recreation, other places you might need to do chores and also fun stuff like restaurants and bars.Report

              • Avatar Stillwater in reply to Saul Degraw
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                says:

                Saul,

                I hear ya on that. I guess what I’m saying here is that *that* definition of “walkability” has existed since urbanization began, and isn’t new. But part and parcel of that older definition is that Rich Folk didn’t want to live in those areas (since they were largely populated by the wrong kind of people), whereas the New Urban Culture of Walkability is about finding or creating urban areas where folks who could otherwise choose to live somewhere else can – and will! – choose to live in a high density area.Report

              • Avatar Kazz in reply to Saul Degraw
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                I would think this varies somewhat person to person. The places I want to walk to are different now that I am a father (of two!) than they were when I was younger. So Saul and I could look at the same neighborhood and come to very different conclusions about how walkable it was.Report

              • Avatar Kazz in reply to Michael Cain
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                @michael-cain

                Where in NJ were you?

                I had an interesting conversation with Chris behind the scenes. We were comparing the different places we grew up in. He kept talking about “the edge of town”. This was a foreign concept for me. Where I grew up, towns had “edges” insofar as they had borders, but crossing the border just put you into another town, one probably somewhat similar to your own. Folks who lived near the border had no qualms crossing it to take advantage of businesses or other offerings there if they were closer/better than those in your own town.Report

              • Avatar Stillwater in reply to Kazz
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                says:

                That’s a good point Kazzy (or Chris, whoever made it): the edge of a small town is the point at which you have to drive to get to it. I’ve lived in towns like that, beyond the edge and within it. Makes a big difference in terms of how you conduct yer business, no doubt.

                Adding: Course, the towns I’m referring to are tinytiny. Like, really small. So the logic doesn’t automatically apply to a more urban concept of “small”.Report

              • Avatar Kazz in reply to Stillwater
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                When Chris showed me a map, there was a clearly build up “town area” and then a relatively dense residential area that got less and less dense and then eventually nothing. Those who lived near the “nothing” were on “the edge”.

                Where I grew up, there is no “nothing”. Yes, some people live farther from the commercial areas than others but that puts them closer to another town’s commercial areas.

                Where I am, you have lots of towns packed tightly together. My town was 6.2 square miles. So nothing is ever really that far apart. Everything is pretty much walkable.

                But what I’m calling a town most people would really just call a subsection of a huge urban area. Population density over 6K/square mile. But because we are outside of a massive, hyper dense urban area (NYC, Manhattan specifically), we call ourselves a suburban town.

                Which is why I consider all this terminology relative.

                I now live in Yonkers. Yonkers is the fourth largest city in New York. The population approaches 200K, density over 10K/square mile. We are a city and are titled as such. However, ask anyone around here and we’ll identify ourselves as a suburb of New York (even Wiki does this). But if you took someone from rural America and dropped them in downtown Yonkers, they’d think they were in a huge city and would scoff at you calling it otherwise.Report

              • Avatar Stillwater in reply to Kazz
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                Kazzy,

                For some reason this discussion reminds me of the gummint definition of a “small business”, something like “less than 500 employees”. Which, for most people out there in the world, is a pretty f***ing huge business!!Report

              • Avatar Kazzy in reply to Stillwater
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                says:

                “Dude… our town is so boring. The movie theater isn’t showing anything good and I’m tired of eating at Subway and KFC and Popeyes and the different Indian restaurants and the new Korean fried chicken place and all the pizza joints are the same and don’t get me started on the delis and the diners and it is too hot to go to all the different parks and I already worked out at the gym this morning and I’m not walking back there and there’s NOTHING TO DO HERE! FUCK SMALL TOWN AMERICA!”

                Actual sentiment among my peer group growing up.Report

              • Avatar Michael Cain in reply to Kazzy
                Ignored
                says:

                …and there’s NOTHING TO DO HERE! FUCK SMALL TOWN AMERICA!

                I can hear my kids’ generation saying something similar (to which I was known to respond, “You have no idea what an actual backside-of-nowhere small town is like”). It will be interesting to see what the next generation in this suburb says; for them, it’ll be an 18-minute train ride to downtown Denver — faster access than a lot of people who live in Denver have.Report

              • Avatar Michael Cain in reply to Kazz
                Ignored
                says:

                Various places in Monmouth County.

                The one that always got me was that I could start from our house in Freehold Township, drive to the Metropark at Iselin, ride the train to Manhattan, maybe 50 miles total, and never be “out of town”. Then think, “Yeah, I could go at least as far beyond Manhattan the other way and still not be out of town.

                Granted, what with the Denver area’s insane growth for the last 25 years, I could drive from Boulder to Parker, also about 50 miles, and never be out of town.Report

              • Avatar Kazzy in reply to Michael Cain
                Ignored
                says:

                Heh… I’m from Bergen County. And what you describe is exactly what I’m talking about. This idea of “the edge of town” is foreign to me.Report

        • Avatar Damon in reply to Michael Cain
          Ignored
          says:

          Oh, I’m SURE that it’s better from an environmental standpoint, but that thinking fails to take into consideration choice. Lots of people don’t want to live in high density metospaces. I sure as hell don’t.Report

          • Avatar Michael Cain in reply to Damon
            Ignored
            says:

            Nor should you be forced to. OTOH, Denver and its inner-ring suburbs are still growing but the cost of additional lane-miles to carry the traffic has gotten prohibitive. So light-rail to take up some of the traffic makes sense. And light rail is driving denser housing everywhere it runs for people who prefer that but didn’t have the option before.Report

        • Avatar Saul Degraw in reply to Michael Cain
          Ignored
          says:

          @michael-cain

          The wonk argument seems to be that better is not even good.Report

  6. Avatar Barry
    Ignored
    says:

    Saul: “They want to feel like their wages are going up or have their wages go up. People are often seemingly unconcerned or unconvinced by arguments over cheaper goods and services.”

    Remember, most people fall under *being* ‘ever cheaper services’. They are seeing their workload increase, while their wages at best hold steady, and their schedules turn into a nightmare of ‘on demand’.

    “But the disconnect between working class Republicans and the party elite is huge. While “Keep government out of my medicare and social security” might be inchoate and misdirected rage, it does show how popular and well-loved those Democratic legacies are. The Republican elite can talk about why we need to raise the retirement age and privatize Social Security because it is much easier to be a white-collar worker until 70 as opposed to a construction worker who stands in the elements and develops a minor to moderate case of arthritis from swinging a hammer for eight to twelve hours a day.”

    Being a white-collar worker at age 70 is IMHO impossible for 90% of the labor force, because they won’t be employed as white-collar workers. At best, they’ll be WalMart greeters. Frankly, it make sense for a young fool fresh out of an Ivy League school to think that (hello, Matt Y!), but the rest of us should know better.Report

    • Avatar Saul Degraw in reply to Barry
      Ignored
      says:

      @barry

      I would say that opinion journalists and columnists like Matt Y and Thomas Freidman are more likely than not going to be able to keep their writing schedules into old age. Barring diseases and/or massive changes in taste.

      For other white-collar workers, I think the calculus is more complicated. Mandatory retirement ages have gone out the window in most places. Many law firms used to make lawyers retire when they hit somewhere between 63-67 but now you still have senior associates, partners, or of counsel lawyers in that age range. The same is true in academia. Professors used to have mandatory retirement in their early or mid-60s. One of the complaints I hear about Gen X and the Millennials being screwed relates to Boomer’s not retiring and opening up positions in business, finance, medicine, law, etc.Report

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