Food for Thought

Aaron David

A fourth generation Californian, befuddled.

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231 Responses

  1. Don Zeko says:

    If you’re concerned about accusations of sexism, perhaps suggesting that a former Senator and secretary of state is only going to be nominated by her party because she’s a woman isn’t the best approach.

    I’m not saying you’re a sexist, by the way. But while there’s going to be some cynicism and unfair accusations, the widespread liberal belief that opposition to Hillary Clinton is often suffused with sexism has a pretty hefty basis in fact.Report

  2. Jaybird says:

    The second we start taking “safe spaces” seriously, we discover that conservatives want them too.

    We’re in for a bit of a rough ride in which we find out that the social contract was put in place to restrain the worst impulses of people rather than to enable the best ones.Report

    • SaulDegraw in reply to Jaybird says:

      I think conservatives and conservatism has always been about wanting safe space from modernity.Report

      • Brandon Berg in reply to SaulDegraw says:

        Really? You’re playing that card?Report

        • Saul Degraw in reply to Brandon Berg says:

          Yup and it is trueReport

          • I’ve criticized you in the past for bringing up some variant of the “conservatism is an evasion of modernity” trope. The reason for my criticism is that while you don’t say so explicitly, you seem to be implying that modernity is all good and anybody who has any reservations about it or who adopts some views that could be construed as anti-modernity are bad. You don’t actually say that, and it’s probably a jump for me to infer that, but that’s why I (and presumably Brandon) raise an eyebrow when you bring this up. I also suggest that phrasing it thus is more likely to close off the conversation than encourage it.

            All that said, I’ll try to meet you halfway. Yes, there are some elements of what we commonly call conservatism in the US that are anti-modernity, and they are so in ways that you and I probably find very disturbing. Some social conservatives appeal to an invented tradition that supposes a strong communal interest, based variously in a religion, a race, a heteronormative monogamous marriage. That tradition, many of them seem to believe, is being attacked or eroded by the twin forces of an anomic social liberalism and an impersonal, bureaucratic state that controls people’s lives. Those “twin forces” are in some ways contradictory, but there’s enough cohesion for them to rally members of a similar (social conservative) constituency.

            I don’t think it ends there or is quite a simple as that, though. Modernity brings some distressing challenges. The story of modernity isn’t all liberation and a movement toward equal rights. Some, but not all, of the story of modernity is also the mass collectivization campaigns elsewhere in the world, or industrial processes used to make killing people much more effective.

            Closer to home, fortunately, things have usually not been that dire, although we could talk about the scientific positivism that informed such developments as forced sterilization in the early 20th century or the Tuskegee syphilis experiment. But even those horrific instances aside, there is something questionable about the government’s efforts to direct people’s lives. The National Recovery Act of 1933, national military draft, school busing, welfare reform a la 1996, the IRS (allegedly) threatening to withhold tax exempt status for those religious organizations that engage in political speech, the ACA–these are all in some ways modernity-related innovations. They’re not all necessarily bad. I support the ACA, and while I think school busing was probably implemented poorly and not well-thought out, it was a response to a real problem. Assuming those claims about the IRS are true, they’re disturbing, but I also have complicated views on whether religious organizations should enjoy tax exempt status.

            I realize I’ve relied a lot on indefinites here. I use “some” with no citations of examples. I don’t define “modernity,” either. I’ve probably broken Godwin’s law, too. But I do think talking about who is and is not “anti-modernity” really invokes a loaded question that needs to be discussed.

            (((Apologies…this is a driveby comment and I won’t be back for quite a while.)))Report

            • Saul Degraw in reply to Gabriel Conroy says:

              People can be suspicious of modernity but why am I morally or ethically required to find their suspicions well grounded? I find that a lot of nostalgia for the “good old days” is misplaced, rose-colored, and suspect. Good old days for whom? Gays who had to stay in the closet or risk getting the tar beaten out of them? Blacks who were treated at best like children being patronized by Southetners who considered the Civil Rights movement to be a “Jewish/communist plot?”

              I am not in complete agreement with the so-called “social justice” movement but I don’t see why special charity needs to be given to people who are gob smacked that they can’t get away with bigotry anymore and don’t like pushback from minorities over uneven treatment. As a liberal, I am highly suspicious of the idea that enforced conformity makes things better and that social conservatism should not be questioned.

              So yes, I will take the radical social liberty of modernity of cities over Dreher’s imaginary shire.Report

              • Will H. in reply to Saul Degraw says:

                Where you go astray is in the assumption that conservatism is a single movement.
                It’s more of a set of principles that are interpreted differently by different groups.

                It seems to me that, were you really out to attack conservatism, you would first identify which type of conservatism to attack, tease out the guiding principle they are working from, and offer a competing interpretation.
                Granted, this is basically what conservatives do when they argue against each other. The big difference I suppose would be that they begin from the position of an agreement on broad principles.

                And really, I see a lot more of “enforced conformity” on the Left.
                In fact, that is a *BIG* reason I am “of the Right” is that I prefer to do my thinking for myself, even if I come out wrong sometimes, trusting it to myself to learn in good time.

                I really can’t think of any serious issues I have with “modernity” right off-hand, other than the increasing potential for mass surveillance.
                In fact, I see modernity largely thwarted by the Reagan presidency.Report

              • LeeEsq in reply to Will H. says:

                Gotta agree with the enforced conformity on the Left. Have a heterodox opinion on a subject and your going to face some fire. I will defer and say the right is equally conforming from my observations.Report

              • Will H. in reply to LeeEsq says:

                “. . . the right is equally conforming from my observations.”

                That has not been my experience, as a former life-long Democrat.
                (One of those “conservative Democrats” long thought to be extinct)

                I was concerned, at first, how the Right would accept me, but they did quite readily.
                Basically, any position is acceptable, as long as it is grounded on one of their guiding principles. There is an incredible amount of variation.

                I would certainly like to hear your thoughts on the matter though.Report

              • Saul Degraw in reply to Will H. says:

                I admit that there can be conformity enforcing on the left and I have gone against LGM’s lockstep and been bashed for it.

                Where I broadly am temperamentally against the right and libertarians is on the importance of first principles. I see conservatives often argue about first principles and returning to them. I can see the grounding importance but it also seems like it can trap people from adapting to changes.Report

              • I guess you and I are at an impasse, then.Report

              • Lyle in reply to Saul Degraw says:

                My contention is that a lot of populist movements are really a form of future shock, the country (and the individuals life) is not turning out the way the folks expected. If you go back to the last election where radical populism was pushed by a major candidate (1896, McKinley vs Bryan) A lot of rural folks felt that society was giving them the shaft in particular the railroads who set prices (in the individuals mind) at just the point where the farmer could stay in business. This was shortly after the 1893 depression. Populism back then was all about reining in free capitalism and its depredations on folks. (i.e. regulate the railroads).
                Or go back to the 1850s and the american party, that was the evil Roman Catholics were going to take over the country and needed to be put back in their place (actually continued till the 1920s and the 20s version of the KKK opposing catholics also).Report

            • Chip Daniels in reply to Gabriel Conroy says:

              You raise very good objections to modernity, pointing out that it certainly has mixed blessings.

              But instead of this being a refutation to Saul’s point that conservatism is a resistance to modernity, couldn’t it be used to argue that conservatism is not all bad, but has valid points to make?Report

              • @chip-daniels

                That’s pretty much exactly what I was trying to say, and also that there are shades of gray.Report

              • Morat20 in reply to Chip Daniels says:

                But instead of this being a refutation to Saul’s point that conservatism is a resistance to modernity, couldn’t it be used to argue that conservatism is not all bad, but has valid points to make?

                I’ve always felt that way about conservatism in general. The problem is modern conservatism is radical, not conservative at all.

                As you note downthread, there’s a huge hostility to much of the modern welfare state. Which has been in place 75+ years. Making big changes to that isn’t “conservative” — it’s radical. It’s messing with the status quo of virtually ever living American’s life.Report

              • DavidTC in reply to Morat20 says:

                I’ve always felt that way about conservatism in general. The problem is modern conservatism is radical, not conservative at all.

                Heh, exactly.

                You want a better example than welfare? Conservative attacks on the *Post Office*. An institution that literally a year older than our country, created by the Second Continental Congress for the ‘United Colonies’ in 1775.

                If I were to state what I thought about how society would operate, I’m actually pretty damn conservative. I think traditions are important, and, while not something we should *enforce* by law, I have no problem with *encouraging* them by law. I think people should be responsible with their money, although I have a less insane definition of ‘irresponsible’ than many conservatives. I think small communities are important, and think decisions should be made locally as long as people are not ignored and suffering. I think marriage is important, although not particular the *gender* of the people in it.

                You guys don’t know this, because it happened before I got here, but it took me a *really* long time to get on board with gun control.

                And conservativism…isn’t. It’s attempting to overthrow social norms because those social norms are wedge issues that the right wing has *invented* to get votes. It’s attempting to change things that work, or just *break them*. It’s the goddamn stupid fight against gay marriage for decades, helping normalize a *lack of marriage*. It’s bailing out institutions and rich people. It’s encouraging irresponsible home ownership. (And, yes, I will admit that Dems went along with that, but aren’t conservatives supposed to *stop* that sort of nonsense?)

                I know I spend so much time here fighting conservative *complete nonsense* that it seems like I’m super-liberal guy. And in some ways, I am, because anyone who steps outside ‘we can hack the free market into fixing this’ box, and suggests ‘Uh, maybe we should just *do* it and, and screw the free market’ is, apparently, a communist.

                But outside that, there’s plenty of things when I would be a pretty conservative guy, as in, I want to keep working things working and use tried and true solutions, and change things *slowly*.

                But apparently ‘keeping working things working and carefully try to fix broken things’ is now…liberalism. Or progressivism. Somehow.Report

              • Kim in reply to DavidTC says:

                I could vote for a conservative in Europe. I have voted, very occasionally, for a conservative in America. But never for a legislative position.Report

          • Brandon Berg in reply to Saul Degraw says:

            I’m not saying it’s entirely wrong. I’m just saying it’s no less true of you, and much of the left in general.Report

  3. SaulDegraw says:

    And liberalism is a result of people thinking conservatism is taking the country in the wrong direction. I know you hate the Democratic Party as an ex-democrat with all the zeal of a convert but….

    Yes Trump has a lot of supporters. Yes they aren’t going away but they are wrong for thinking whiteness is some zero-sum game. The Denocratic Party can support the rights of workers while also being pro-civil rights for minorities.Report

    • Aaron David in reply to SaulDegraw says:

      “Yes they aren’t going away but they are wrong for thinking whiteness is some zero-sum game. ”

      So, @sauldegraw what is the left doing about that? How are they trying to move the needle? I agree with you about liberalism being the result of people feeling conservatism is wrong for the country, but how are you bringing those people along, getting them to see that what you want is indeed right for the country?

      If you don’t bring them along, you leave a power vacuum, the likes of which Le Pen fills, Golden Dawn fills. Trump fills.

      People talked about how the Repubs needed to show they could govern after taking the house. While absolutely true, the same must be said about the Dems.Report

      • SaulDegraw in reply to Aaron David says:

        There is not a universe where total victory is possible for any ideology. The thing about Trump’s supporters and the GOP is that they are older than average. Millennials at the Federalist are the exception rather than the rule.

        I don’t think it is morally or ethically right to abandon civil rights to appease Trump supporters who think of America as a white nation.Report

        • Aaron David in reply to SaulDegraw says:

          I don’t think it is morally right to abandon civil rights either, but if compromises arn’t made, than CR will fall away. It has to been seen as benificial to the majority of people. Of course some people will disagree, thus it always was. But when disagreement is this high, when the disagreeing are simply called names and not worked with to at least try to dispell fears…

          There is the feeling that the conservatives are just old people and that the young will eventually take them over demographically. That is simply foolish, as it forgets that everone gets old and not everyones politics stays the same. They wont be the same conservatives as they are now, but they will be conservatives nontheless.Report

        • Will H. in reply to SaulDegraw says:

          A tupenny here:

          The thing about Trump’s supporters and the GOP is that they are older than average.

          I was just reading last night that 80% of the American workforce will be over age 50 by 2018.

          Cultivating the codger vote appears to be a winning tactic.

          Also, get off my lawn!Report

          • Saul Degraw in reply to Will H. says:

            It is a short term advantage but the problem is that you are turning off replacement voters. The silent generation is more conservative than the boomers and they are largely dying because the silent generation is in their 70s and 80s. The greatest generation is largely deceased. Generation X seems split.Report

            • Kolohe in reply to Saul Degraw says:

              Silent generation was small, Gen x is small. Boomers are huge and millenials are huge. Boomers are going to be a dominant political force until the 2028 prez election and then we’ll go right to millenial dominance.Report

      • I agree with you about liberalism being the result of people feeling conservatism is wrong for the country, but how are you bringing those people along, getting them to see that what you want is indeed right for the country?

        If you’ll grant me the assumption that there’s a strong correlation between the liberal/conservative split and the urban/rural split, then… Crop price supports, subsidized crop insurance, subsidized infrastructure from electricity under the REA to broadband under RUS and everything in between. School district equalization funds that keep rural schools going. More states than not have been running programs to try to maintain or increase rural health care services for decades. As an interesting one, satellite television at the same price everyone pays (you wouldn’t believe what the satellite companies originally intended to charge customers who were beyond the reach of cable). There’s at least an arguable case for liberals saying, “If you want us to help you pay for the parts of modernity that you like, you have to accept some parts that you’re not so fond of.”Report

      • Kim in reply to Aaron David says:

        Better Trump than Walker.Report

  4. LeeEsq says:

    If you start America at Jamestown or Plymouth Rock than we have a lot more real and imagined history than many European nations like Belgium, Luxembourg, Norway, and Romania. Even with 1776 as a starting point we have a lot of real and imagined history compared to many European nations.

    Trump’s schtick is basically bringing European style national front politics or as you call it populism to the United States. He basically supports the programs of the New Deal and Great Society and even warns his followers that other Republicans are going to damage them, which is true. At the same time he is xenophobic about immigrants in a way that European national front politics are. There was always a strain of this in American politics, it was just oppressed by the Republican and Democratic Parties for different reasons. Trump is tapping into that strain.Report

  5. Doctor Jay says:

    I’m pondering what you could mean by saying Hillary has “done nothing her entire life”. I think you’re informed enough to know the kinds of jobs she’s done, and that she’s been effective at them. The statement seems more of a sort of emotive hyperbole, intended to compare her to … ?

    But that’s just a guess.

    Just for the sake of argument, Donald Trump has built lots of hotels and golf courses and put his name on them. He’s been on TV shows. That’s not beanbag, and I would never call it “having done nothing his entire life”. But I wouldn’t rate it as a greater accomplishment, either.Report

    • Kolohe in reply to Doctor Jay says:

      Hillary Clinton married well, kept her mouth shut & was the good wife when her husband was acting recklessly abominable, had the good fortune of all her credible opposition dropping out of her Senate race, voted for a disastrous war as Senator, then spearheaded yet another war as Secretary of State.

      That’s her resume.Report

      • Saul Degraw in reply to Kolohe says:

        Trump is pretty big on the Hawk stuff. Is fans are not exactly doves.Report

        • Kolohe in reply to Saul Degraw says:

          Ascribing any sort of philisophical constiency to Trump is a prima facie mistake itself but Trump is the only one aside from Paul to go on the record and say that the Iraq war II was a mistake. Everyone else is still of the opinion it was worthwhile and worth doing.Report

          • Will H. in reply to Kolohe says:

            “. . . to go on the record and say that the Iraq war II was a mistake.”

            Then encouraging thing about that is that they still have broad support from Republicans even after taking such a position publicly.Report

      • Doctor Jay in reply to Kolohe says:

        Well, you’ve given a set of things that certainly happened, though you would define her with them, when she’s done a lot more than that. Starting with working as a lawyer. I don’t think Bill got her that job.

        However, in what universe is that “doing nothing”? I don’t see how that flies at alReport

        • Kolohe in reply to Doctor Jay says:

          “Clinton ’16 – She’s Done Stuff. It’s Been a Disaster, but it’s Stuff.”Report

          • North in reply to Kolohe says:

            A disaster? What disasterous stuff has she done?Report

            • Zac in reply to North says:

              Vocally supported welfare “reform” in the 90s? Voted for the Iraq War? Helped spearhead the inarguably disastrous Libya campaign? That’s just off the top of my head.Report

              • Chris in reply to Zac says:

                Don’t forget health care reform in ’93!Report

              • Zac in reply to Chris says:

                Does that count if it didn’t actually end up happening, though?Report

              • Chris in reply to Zac says:

                That it didn’t happen, in any shape or form, is what makes it a disaster. We had to wait another 16 years to get health care reform that’s basically what Clinton opponents were offering in response to their abortive plan.Report

              • Zac in reply to Chris says:

                Ah, okay, I think I misunderstood you. I thought you were saying that was a point in her favor. I think we’re on the same page now.Report

              • Jaybird in reply to Zac says:

                But if a Republican is President, he’ll nominate someone to the Supreme Court who will reliably take the side of the Police over The People, Corporations over The People, and Government over The People!Report

              • Chris in reply to Jaybird says:

                Well, if people are Supreme Court voters in presidential elections, it’s likely government over wombs, and for the folks who vote that way, forced pregnancy is not a trivial thing.Report

              • Jaybird in reply to Chris says:

                Which could make this coming election the most important election of our lifetimes.Report

              • Chris in reply to Jaybird says:

                Given the makeup of the court since the early 90s, for that purpose it’s made pretty much every presidential election that important.Report

              • Zac in reply to Jaybird says:

                Sadly, that is absolutely true, which is why I imagine many folks on the left will hold their noses and vote for Clinton. I personally plan to abstain from voting for president altogether next year (since my state will go blue regardless) because I find Secretary Clinton to be representative of pretty much everything I dislike about the Democratic Party, but I agree that at an absolute minimum she will have infinitely better SC picks than anyone on the other side, and that really is important given that it’s just about the only functional branch of government anymore.Report

              • Chris in reply to Zac says:

                I’m quite firm on my commitment to never vote for anyone who voted for or supported the Iraq War, so Clinton is out, but I’d be pretty anxious if I lived in a purple state. Perhaps this is why I stay in Texas: so that I don’t ever have to worry about my principles clashing with political reality.Report

              • Zac in reply to Chris says:

                I feel pretty strongly about not letting the Democrats take my vote for granted because I believe that encourages bad behavior on the part of the party (I think this is true of both parties, but you couldn’t get me to vote for the modern GOP short of a gun to my head, so the other half of that doesn’t matter as much for me). So withholding my vote for candidates I can’t support is the only form of direct political protest available to me.Report

              • Chris in reply to Zac says:

                Right. I’ve taken to mostly paying attention to local and (some) state issues, because I can’t stomach anyone at the national level. It turns out that this is no more sanity-inducing, as state and local politics (especially local!), at least here in Austin, are pure madness.

                “We are looking at major transportation and housing crises in the next decade. We have to do something!”

                … 5 committees and a dozen well choreographed hearings later…

                “OK, based almost entirely on input from single-family home owners in this wealthy neighborhood, and business owners in this particular corridor, we’ve chosen to take the following steps, which will have no impact whatsoever on housing or transportation, but will at least manage not to piss off our most powerful constituents:…”Report

              • Zac in reply to Chris says:

                Man, you’re telling me. Just someone mentioning the name Tim Eyman sends me into a fit PTSD-esque shakes, which only good scotch can ameliorate.

                *shudders, reaches for bottle*Report

              • Kim in reply to Chris says:

                They’re not total madness here, but my extent of paying attention is to note that we just lost American Gods, and curse the entire state legislature.
                [Brinksmanship and gerrymandering. Plus an election year!]Report

              • Will H. in reply to Chris says:

                I’ve taken to mostly paying attention to local and (some) state issues, because I can’t stomach anyone at the national level.

                Same here.
                Additionally, I believe that many of the needed reforms in government are more viable at the state level.Report

              • Morat20 in reply to Will H. says:

                I live in Texas. I can assure you, it sucks all the way to the bottom. Whatever despair you might feel over federal elections, when you look at the lesser of two evils…

                Realize that that “greater evil” is, frankly, the best you’re gonna do in Texas.Report

              • North in reply to Zac says:

                I dunno, Libya sure didn’t turn out lovely but I wouldn’t put it in the disasterous collumn personally.
                I grant voting for the Iraq war like everyone did, her hawkishness does put her to the right of the party now though it seems mostly poll driven. I am confident she wouldn’t want to put boots on the ground now.

                I don’t think Kolohe would consider her supporting welfare reform to be disasterous.Report

              • Zac in reply to North says:

                I was trying to answer your question more generally; I don’t presume to speak for Kolohe.

                I am confident she wouldn’t want to put boots on the ground now.

                Ah, this is where you and I differ, then. I am not confident of that. At all. Between that and her dogged refusal to do anything serious about the criminals on Wall Street, I cannot in good conscience give her my vote.Report

              • North in reply to Zac says:

                Ah, a Bernie supporter? Good on you. We’ll check back in after the nominations are decided and see where you stand then.Report

              • Zac in reply to North says:

                I’m under no illusions about who will win the Democratic nomination, or, for that matter, the presidency. I decided I couldn’t vote for her well before Bernie even declared. The two things are wholly unrelated, at least for me.Report

              • North in reply to Zac says:

                I can see it not being a hard choice to make since, as you indicated, you’re in a safe blue state.Report

              • Zac in reply to North says:

                Yeah, I’m not going to pretend it wouldn’t be harder choice for me if I weren’t a Washingtonian.Report

  6. Doctor Jay says:

    On the main thesis, I more or less agree. Admiration of Donald Trump comes straight from a huge sense of anger at the establishment Republican Party, who has been winding these people up with implied promises for years, and then disappointing them in the name of winning elections.

    I pretty much agree with every main point of the piece you linked. I’m just as tired of Donald Trump Hate as I am of Trump Love and Trump himself. Not that I agree with him.

    A friend, who describes himself as independent, told me this story about Trump:

    At a debate, the moderator asked the candidates, “what is your greatest flaw?”. Most of the candidates, on their turns, ignored the question and said why they should be president. Trump answered the question with, “I trust people too much, and when they let me down, I never forgive them”

    Which seems to me to be a pretty honest answer.Report

  7. greginak says:

    Trump, or his fans, were not created by the “the Left” or Dems. As others have noted there are always strains of conservatism in countries. Trump is riding the wave of a strong nativist feeling that has pretty always been present in the US and has had hugely popular radio broadcasters, authors and federal level elected pols as their leaders. There is nothing new or surprising about them. Just like the Tea Party wasn’t some new group out of no where, they were base republicans. The only surprise is that someone like Trumpy, with all his history and style, has been catapulted to his current position.

    What have the D’s done for WWC voters? Well plenty of them can get health care or at least cheaper health care now. But there is only so much any one party can do to please every group. At some point coalitions can only be so big. What have SoCon’s done for me as an agnostic/atheist liberal other than call me names since the 80’s.

    Pissed off WWC voters aren’t going away no more than BLM supporters are going away. Neither section of the population is new, but the labels we attach to them or leaders/group names they fall under.

    I know on the right, which i’m sure you’ll bristle at Aaron, it’s boiler plate to say all the “left” does is call people sexist or racist as an answer to everything. But if that is what you think then you really aren’t hearing plenty.Report

    • Aaron David in reply to greginak says:

      “I know on the right, which i’m sure you’ll bristle at Aaron, it’s boiler plate to say all the “left” does is call people sexist or racist as an answer to everything. But if that is what you think then you really aren’t hearing plenty.”

      I don’t bristle at that at all, as I am not a conservative. (I am a libertarian) But, yes, the right does bristle at that, as that is all they are hearing at this point. So I will ask you the same question I asked Saul, How is the left trying to move this needle? How are they trying to get the “WWC” to listen to them and feel that the policies of the left are good for them?Report

      • greginak in reply to Aaron David says:

        I know you are a libertarian but you are channeling straight right wing talking points. “The Right” gets plenty of substance based arguments from “The Left” and to often equates that to “you just call us names” instead of responding to the arguments.

        What is the “Left” or D’s doing? Obamacare. That has led to millions more people getting health care especially poorer and working class people and those with pre-exsisting conditions. Unemployment is low. Those are two easy things to name. They certainly aren’t doing much to calm nativist sentiments but i’m sure what the D’s could do given the rest of their coalition that could calm those fears.Report

        • Aaron David in reply to greginak says:

          ACA is still underwater

          Polling on the economy is underwater.

          So, how are you changing minds on these things? Or are they not really helping some people?Report

          • LeeEsq in reply to Aaron David says:

            Just because a politician does the right thing, doesn’t mean that the electorate has to reward that politician with votes.Report

          • greginak in reply to Aaron David says:

            Unemployment is at 5.%. Many millions have health insurance now. Polling….so you are using a metric based partly on information and narratives pushed by the media you say is terrible. What you do conservatives think of Ocare or the economy. I can tell you Trump and plenty of other conservatives think the low employment number is a conspiracy or that the economy is doing terrible and that everything about Ocare is a disaster or, for that matter, the murder rate is going up. The polling data you are pointing is partially a product of conservative media and pre-exsisting conservative beliefs. Should we be freaking out over the non-exsistent rising murder rate and not talk about police brutality because people are wrong or the media has its own narrative?Report

            • notme in reply to greginak says:

              Unemployment is at 5% but the number of Americans not in the work force is at a record and unemployment would be higher if those folks were counted, so it’s not as if unemployment is so low b/c Obama is doing such a great job.Report

              • greginak in reply to notme says:

                Why people are out of the workforce is a reasonable question but haven’t heard a data based answer. The Unemp rate is what is. If a Repub had that unemp rate R’s would be over the moon. Is that number everything, no siree bob. But if you guy got us to 5% i know what you would say. The economy has been producing jobs, that is a good thing as far as it goes.Report

              • notme in reply to greginak says:

                Do you just not get it? Unemployment isn’t at 5% b/c of all the jobs the economy has created. It’s at 5% b/c folks have stopped looking for jobs and aren’t counted. If a repub pres was touting 5% unemployment under these same circumstances I’d think he was foolish for doing so.Report

              • greginak in reply to notme says:

                No not seeing that since you haven’t shown that actually proves that. The economy has been creating jobs at pretty rates, higher then the basic minimum needed to hold steady. Given the baby boomers are starting to retire there will be more people joining the ranks of those not looking for work. You need to show how many of the people out of the workforce aren’t there due to retirement.Report

              • Jaybird in reply to greginak says:

                Here’s some stuff from Bernie.

                Real unemployment is over 10%.”

                Bernie also has some statements on the more-than-50% unemployment rate of African-American high school dropouts but Politifact only gave his statements a “Mostly True“.Report

              • greginak in reply to Jaybird says:

                It isn’t news that unemployment is higher among the young minority communities. Good thing i never said anything denying that.

                I like Bernie. This is campaign pablum. The real unemployment rate is the actual rate. The problem for D pols is we haven’t had rising wages and many people are struggling. That doesn’t change the fact that the unemployment rate has dropped farther then even Romeny promised and it is low. The country has problems that is not denied. I’d call it inequality caused by laws and a system to favor the rich, but that is just me.

                If Notme’s favored candidate or yours had a 5 % rate you would be shouting it. Simply, by one metric, which is a good one but far from the entire story, things have improved under Obama. I do recognize neither you or notme will accept that.Report

              • notme in reply to greginak says:

                You clearly didn’t read what I wrote so i’ll repeat it for you.

                “If a repub pres was touting 5% unemployment under these same circumstances I’d think he was foolish for doing so.”Report

              • greginak in reply to notme says:

                Then you would be silly. Like i said to Jay, the unemp number is one metric of how well the country is doing. Not the only one and not perfect. But it’s still good to see it going down and to see the economy creating new jobs. Those are good things.Report

              • notme in reply to greginak says:

                So in your view there is no difference b/t the unemployment rate going down b/c the economy is creating jobs and the unemployment rate gong down b/c people are leaving the workforce b/c they can’t find a job? Either way the unemployment rate is going down, right?Report

              • greginak in reply to notme says:

                Wrong. The economy has been creating jobs. That=Good. We can probably all agree on that.

                Why are people leaving the workforce, how much of that is people retiring or even not needing to work full time because they can get HI without having to work FT. We would far more granular info on the people leaving the workforce to really know about them.Report

              • Morat20 in reply to greginak says:

                U3 is the standard. When it’s convenient, politicians, pundits, and commentators will “discover” U6. There might be dark conspiracy warnings.

                For politicians, you can backtrack and see whether they used U6 before, or only when convenient. With random posters, of course, one simply has to make a guess as to whether they’ve always cared about discouraged workers….or whether they’ve an axe to grind.Report

              • greginak in reply to Morat20 says:

                Geez when i was a kid U2 was all the rage. Now we gots U3’s and U6’s. I think i’ll go listen to UB40.

                But yeah i agree. You got it.Report

              • notme in reply to Morat20 says:

                Sure b/c there is no difference in an unemployment rate of 5% with a labor force participation rate of 67% and a labor force participation rate of 63%.Report

              • Morat20 in reply to Jaybird says:

                What you have to be aware of is the shell game.

                People who suddenly find other metrics of unemployment, who in the past were perfectly happy with the standard method, are basically fishing for partisan purposes. (I have no idea which metric Bernie prefers, so I can’t speak to whether his sudden interest in the labor participation rate is due to his campaign or a long-standing view).

                Employment, measured and spoken of in the way used by pundits, politicians, and economists for the past few decades is at 5%. I have little patience for those who swap between definitions to match whatever their talking point of the day is.

                I try to keep that in mind, because otherwise you’ll find people who swap unemployment definitions (looking for, of course, the worse/best number) depending on who holds the White House.

                In short: Beware of those who flip-flop between U3 and U6. Especially if they’re pretending they’re not. And most especially if they’re phrasing U6 as a conspiracy theory. (“The government is covering up unemployment! The “real” unemployment is far worse!”. The official figure has ALWAYS been U3. Don’t be an idiot.)Report

              • Jaybird in reply to Morat20 says:

                Back in the heady days of the Bush Administration, I got into the whole U3 vs. U6 debate more than once. My rule was similar to yours insofar as I wanted to compare apples to apples and I didn’t care which apples we were comparing so long as we were sticking with them.

                This *IS*, however, the first time I’ve seen a Demmycrat appeal to the U6 when a non-Republican is in the White House. I think that that is, in itself, somewhat notable.

                The U6 numbers are back in line with something approaching historical norms. We had a spectacularly bad stretch there for a while.

                You’d think that Romney would have been able to capitalize on those numbers, actually…Report

              • greginak in reply to Jaybird says:

                I can’t really tell what you are arguing against. Is the 5% number not a got thing even if it isn’t’ the only metric. Is creating 2 mil jobs per year pretty good although not great?Report

              • Jaybird in reply to greginak says:

                The only thing I was arguing against was the whole idea that there is no foundation for the whole 10% thing.

                There is a foundation for it.

                Now, granted, if you start talking about 10%, you have to talk about how it was recently 16% rather than talk about how U6 measures something more accurately than U3 does… but U6 *IS* one of those numbers that is worth keeping in mind when you start feeling good about U3.

                If only because the other side is going to point it out whenever the other other side points out how great U3 is.Report

              • greginak in reply to Jaybird says:

                Fair enough. The “real” unemployment part of Bern’s bit was the silly part. All the data are real, they each have uses and specfic names. But picking the larger number and calling it the “real” one is overly political stretching of words.Report

              • Morat20 in reply to Jaybird says:

                Hey, I think U6 should be discussed. Discouraged workers are a thing, and especially off the Great Recession, a bigger thing than normal. I know one older guy who went from a 6-figure job to…nada. He’s in his 50s, and once he got laid off he couldn’t find anything close. For awhile, he couldn’t find anything at all. Now he’s got a giant gap in his resume, and ‘good luck’ in the job market was a pair of gigs as, effectively, seasonal management.

                He’s never getting a job that pays half as much as he was making before. His savings are gone, I’m not sure what’s left of his 401k — if anything.

                And employers look at him and think: Why hire him when you can hire someone half his age, for less? Or hire someone who managed to keep roughly in the same type of job, rather than forced to take what work he could get?

                That’s not exactly an unknown case, and given the depth of the Great Recession, that’s a continuing issue. He was upper middle class, with a lot of buying power and disposable income. Now? Not so much.Report

              • Kim in reply to Morat20 says:

                U6 is the better metric, and puts things more in line with the numbers we had in the Great Depression.

                U6 measures slack in the workforce.

                THAT said, most of the time U6 is a set amount above U3, and it looks more impressive to say unemployment is at 5%. When numbers people start bringing up a divergence between U3 and U6, they’re right to do so.

                McBride’s been positive on the economy for a while, and the Fed is starting to say “the party’s rolling”. Look at the beige books if you don’t believe me.

                notme can say the economy is bad all he wants, but… it’s just not the case.Report

          • Doctor Jay in reply to Aaron David says:

            It’s quite true that more people disapprove of Obamacare than approve. But it’s also the case that significantly more people want to improve the law than want to repeal it.

            The disapproval is split into two camps – those that think there should be no federal healthcare, and those who think it doesn’t go far enough.

            This doesn’t particularly support the narrative of “rammed down our throats against the will of a majority”.Report

            • Morat20 in reply to Doctor Jay says:

              There’s also the new Governor of Kentucky, who has run flatly into reality about ditching Kynect. And the creeping acceptance of the SCOTUS-created ‘voluntary’ Medicaid expansion, despite spittle-flecked rhetoric.

              The facts on the ground seem to be that whatever the ACA polls at, the actual implementation seems….unpopular to remove.Report

              • notme in reply to Morat20 says:

                Of course, no politician ever went wrong by offering free stuff or stuff subsidized by the govt to the masses. I guess except for those that are going to have their taxes raised to pay for it.Report

              • Kim in reply to notme says:

                The bridge to nowhere springs to mind.Report

              • Jesse Ewiak in reply to notme says:

                I agree, so when can we get rid of the deduction for home mortgages and charitable donations again?

                Oh right, you mean free stuff for those people? Ya’ know, the non-home owners or people who get things donated to them. Got ya’.Report

            • Lyle in reply to Doctor Jay says:

              To boot if you ask folks not about Obamacare but about parts of it you get a different answer than if you ask about the whole thing. Many of the parts are better liked than the whole. (Such as the kids on parents policies to age 26, and I suspect the no pre-existing conditions clause)Report

      • DensityDuck in reply to Aaron David says:

        “How is the left trying to move this needle? ”

        You’re assuming they care about moving the needle.

        Maybe they figure that the needle has tipped to 51% in their favor and that’s as moved as it needs to get.Report

    • Saul Degraw in reply to greginak says:

      Right. The Democratic Party has done a lot for the WWC but it can’t and won’t address some of their real and imagined grievances as Stillwater outlined below.

      The Democratic (and Republican) parties can’t make economically distressed rural areas vital again. What Government can do is relocate people and offer their children education and training for the new economy but this is not what the WWC wants as far as I can tell. Lots of guys in trades got their because their family was in trades. Just like lots of people with professional parents become professionals. Lawyers beget lawyers. Doctors beget doctors, etc.

      The Democratic Party also cannot and will not support coal and fracking over environmentalism. The GOP can and does.Report

      • Jesse Ewiak in reply to Saul Degraw says:

        +1. As a child of the white working class, I’ve got no problems helping them.

        But, I’m not going to toss out 11 million people, continue the slow destruction of the environment to save a few thousand jobs that are dying off anyway, or eliminate the laws that have helped to create the small bit of wealth non-white people have in this country.Report

      • James K in reply to Saul Degraw says:


        Well said, and yet when I point out that restricting trade in an attempt to preserve US manufacturing jobs is screwing some of the poorest people in the world to try and breath life the corpses of dead industries, I am accused of lacking compassion.Report

        • Saul Degraw in reply to James K says:


          I think there are a lot of hidden implications that no one talks about because they will lead to dark places and might not be tactical.

          I mentioned above that James Hanley goes on cri de ceour’s about how the American middle class is doing fine and not disappearing. He talks about how the American middle class is disappearing into wealth. There are a bunch of problems with this.

          1. Middle Class is incredibly hard to define because it is probably more about the social and cultural components than the economic components. I have mentioned this a million times but no one knows what we are talking about when we talk about middle class. IMO when people talk about “disappearing middle class” (whether left or right) they generally mean the ability to have a decently comfortable existence without getting a college education and mainly through low-skilled to semi-skilled work. Legal secretaries, HVAC workers, pipefitters, etc. They probably don’t mean people like me with salaries in the high 5 figures and advanced educations.

          2. What if the middle class is disappearing because half of it is getting wealthier and half of it is getting poorer?

          3. The unsaid implication in your rising global poverty is potentially “Maybe there will need to be a forgotten generation or two of American unskilled and semi-skilled workers that reverts back to real economic insecurity.” There is a tension between free market economics and democracy because politicians get elected by the now. They can’t get elected by saying “A generation or two is going to really suffer but your grandchildren and great-grandchildren will do great!!” The problem I have with a lot of neo-liberalism and good for you technocratic wonkery is that they often pretend to be democratic and ignore their anti-democratic tendencies or inconveniences. Lee noted that it took about 40-50 years for the Industrial Revolution to create better paying jobs for the displaced weavers and agricultural workers. However during those 40-50 years, there was real suffering and real starvation. No one wants to have this conversation except maybe the most callous.Report

          • North in reply to Saul Degraw says:

            Well that’s why neo-libs and technocratic wonks support safety net and retraining support.

            And what is the alternative? Slapping tarrifs back onto things won’t ressurect those kinds of jobs you’re talking about. Trade wars don’t have a particularily good historical pedigree. Further liberals on economics sound like right wingers on social policy. They look into the past and imagine we can just cram ourselves back into some imagined ideal of the 1950’s through sheer will and good intentions.Report

            • Saul Degraw in reply to North says:


              I question whether a lot of technocrats support the welfare state. There are certainly a lot of technocrats on the libertarian and right side that don’t. I was just debating this today. TNR published an article on older folks on fixed incomes who are being displaced in Silicon Valley. The Technocrat I was arguing with was of the “Who bears the cost and how much money?” school of thought.

              Now we can argue that the young and healthy can move if displaced but it should be a no brainer that it is probably impossible and bad policy to think a couple in their 70s and 80s can easily relocate to Fresno. Especially if one or both of them suffers from health problems like renal failure and on-setting dementia.

              You have even argued before that it makes sense for neo-liberals to go long with GOP on deregulation even if no safety measures come into place as stop-gaps because of a belief that deregulation will help.

              So I am not so sure on how much of a welfare state neo-liberals and technocrats actually support. Maybe in theory than in practice it seems.Report

              • North in reply to Saul Degraw says:

                I’d argue that any clear eyed technocrat should probably eye libertarianism the way a turkey would eye Thanksgiving.

                I read that article, lots of stuff in it but it bears calling out that the couple in question basically fished themselves over taking out extra mortgages on their home (potentially due to the onset of dementia) and bluntly there’s no public policy in the world that can patch for that level of human error nor does the article ever make clear why moving to a neighboring county is so devastating. On an emotional level it’s a good story. On a principle level it’s an indictment of the hypocrisy of the liberal residents and liberal regulatory bodies who get played like instruments by NIMBY’s to drive these people out of the community. What I don’t see is a policy proposal that has any grounding in reality.

                As to how much safety net neo-liberals support in case you missed the memo neliberals have been running the show in the first world across most of the world for going on around twenty to thirty years now roughly. I’d say they support quite a bit of safety net in practice. A neoliberal (Obama) and his neoliberal dominated party just significantly expanded said safety net.Report

            • Saul Degraw in reply to North says:

              And I didn’t say it was easy. I still think a lot of people make neo-liberalism sound like the only solution especially because they are well-educated and in positions to benefit the earliest and quickest from free trade. They are also in positions that are least able or likely to be outsourced. Can Dylan Matthews, Matt Y, and Ezra Klein be victims of outsourcing?Report

              • North in reply to Saul Degraw says:

                That cuts both ways: is it coincidental that young educated white liberals happen to support regulatory expansions that just happen to spawn slews of comfortable fashionable urban government jobs which primarily allocate inexpensive fashionable housing to people who are well connected and capable of navigating modern governmental red tape?

                It’s certainly not easy, but with non-capitalism liberalism still drowning in the ideological detritus of the failure of the last set of non-capitalist projects in the world, with conservatives basically ceding the field in the US and with libertarianism still unable to escape from the niche it occupied as the electorates say “You wanna privatize what?!?!” and then tuning out a muddled neo-liberal order basically sits at the levers of power by default.Report

        • Kim in reply to James K says:

          Any comment about our petro-economy screwing the future to raise people out of poverty? Figure after we kill the petro-economy, everyone will go back to digging in the dirt? We’re obviously running an unsustainable economy… but what will the future hold when the Greatest Fool gets stuck holding the bag? Will that Greatest fool be the global South?Report

    • Kim in reply to greginak says:

      “Trump, or his fans, were not created by the “the Left” or Dems”
      … i wouldn’t be so sure about that, if I were you.
      Publicity may not be the only thing, but it does a damn fine job of seeming like it is.

      What do Quaker Hand Signs and Donald Trump have in common, again?Report

  8. Morat20 says:

    Conversly, as society starts to drag behind, liberals will put forth candidates such as Hillary, who really have done nothing in their entire lives, other than “It’s time for a woman to be in there.” And everyone who remotely critizes her will be called sexist and that will be the left’s big Fish You.

    Senator and Secretary of State is not “nothing” — that’s a stronger governmental resume than Obama’s — and at least as strong or stronger than half the GOP field. Stronger than Trump’s, Cruz’s…Rubio, depending on how you count Governor. Certainly as strong as Dubya’s or Jebs. And of course, IIRC, she had a law career back in the day.

    So running headfirst into THAT makes the rest of your post, well — it makes it clear you have an axe to grind so hard you’ll ignore basic reality. Maybe you’re right, maybe you’re wrong — but you’ve shown on a basic, easily checked fact, that you’re willing to completely distort the truth. For nothing more than a throwaway attack that really doesn’t enhance your point.

    You should probably strike it out or something. It’s detracting from your post, not adding to it, and is pretty much immaterial unless you meant to sound very partisan.Report

  9. Stillwater says:

    Conservatism is a reaction to liberalism.

    Conservatism at its core is a reaction to change which manifests at the political level as advocacy for policies and positions that prevent or slow down or oppose change, where “change” is (loosely) any deviation from the status quo which might result in unfavorable or undesirable outcomes. Liberalism, insofar as we’re viewing these things as binary (which isn’t correct but let’s roll with it for convenience), is the acceptance of change when those changes are regarded as leading to favorable or desirable outcomes. This dynamic could play out exactly as described above without the primary focus of the distinction resting on the role of government and gummental policy. That is, conservatism’s fundamental opposition to liberalism could result from the dynamic nature of economic, social, interpersonal, educational, etc – that is, non-governmental – processes over time.

    The problem we’re in right now, especially with Trumpism, it seems to me, is that conservatism has increasingly viewed change as resulting from gummental sources (or more generally, liberals holding power in important social institutions) to the exclusion of any recognition that normal social life, in all it’s vast complexity, WILL entail change irrespective of gumment’s role in either fostering or inhibiting it from arising. So on this view, which is to me the fundamental danger in conservative thought, it’s only because of a vast “conspiracy” (perpetrated by The Scientists, academics, the media, the government – ie., liberals!) that anti-conservative thought has gained traction in social life and which manifest as policy or norm.

    Trumpistas fit into this paradigm by thinking (as do other types of conservatives) that government can “fix” the problem of undesirable changes in American social and political life by implementing a set of policies, policies which from the outside appear to be (often enough) either unconstitutional, or practically impossible, or wildeyed fanstasies which no one with actual power would advocate for pragmatic reasons, etc. For conservatives, enacting them is a matter of “will”. (Carly promised to “will” her 3 page tax code into existence…)

    This is all of a piece with Cleek’s Law, of course, in that conservatism’s positive picture of American political life is defined exclusively by opposing what Democrats or liberals want, updated daily or hourly as needed to fit the new narrative. So the problem with conservatism, seems to me, to exist at the meta-level, precisely because conservatism defines itself, in practice, by meta-terms (ie., not-liberal). And the roots of this “change” in conservatism can be found in conservatism itself: Rush and Rove and Fox News, as well as the tacit acceptance of crazy conspiracy theories because those views fit so nicely into the Law as defined by Cleek.

    Which brings me to this: you wonder about what Democrats and liberals can do for working class whites and Trumpistas in general to appease some of their anger, and I’d say, pretty simply, “nothing”. There’s nothing that can be done for them since their grievances are constructed on a confusion, one created and fostered by conservatism itself. And gummint can’t solve their substantive problems, it can only inflict some pain on the groups and institutions those people think caused their discontent. The myth has over-run reality at this point.Report

    • Stillwater in reply to Stillwater says:

      I just have to highlight this once more, in case my views weren’t clear in the above comment:

      Conservatism is a reaction to liberalism.

      This is fundamentally a mistake. Conservatism is a reaction to (the perception of) change, full stop. The opposite of conservatism is radicalism, not liberalism. Your framing, tho, is very amenable to a Cleek’s Law definition since it reduces conteporary American conservatism to a meta-ideology defined by a single meta-metric: opposing liberals. And if that’s the case, then liberals policy proposals could never appease Trumpistas since, by definition, they’d oppose whatever was offered. Cleek’s Law!Report

      • Will H. in reply to Stillwater says:

        I think where you go astray here is this:

        Conservatism is a reaction to (the perception of) change, full stop.

        That certainly is not the case.

        I believe it is more accurate to say that conservatism is reveling in the Now, with worry toward The Future, while liberalism is more reveling in The Future with worry toward the Now.

        As long as you believe some external force is necessary for conservatism to exist, you just don’t get it.Report

        • Stillwater in reply to Will H. says:

          Well, it’s certainly possible to define “conservatism” any way each of us, idiosyncratically, desires, and a useful dialogue could still ensue, but only insofar as people agreed upon that definition, even if only for the sake of making discussion possible. But I don’t think your definition is at all standard given the roots of conservatism as a political philosophy nor its conventionally agreed upon meaning. Surely in an political context arriving at a precise definition is difficult at best, and often the definition is a list of policy-positions or platitudes (whatever) that are currently accepted by people who identify as conservatives.

          Which is why Cleek’s Law, to a great extent, provides a perfectly appropriate definition of “conservatism” anymore. 🙂Report

          • Will H. in reply to Stillwater says:

            Definitions have no power to create a thing out of nothing.
            While the above may be non-standard, I believe it to be more workable.
            Granted, I’m not about to justify the likes of Texas, or even attempt to. There are a good many conservatives out there that I simply cannot understand. It seems to me that many of them have a guiding principle of “Being Mean.” I don’t agree with that sort of thing.
            Below you list a number of things conservatives, generally, are unhappy about or dislike. But I think it’s all a matter of degrees, and disagreements over appropriate solutions.
            When you look at what they (both sides, that is) actually want, I believe the definition I stated is much more accurate.

            For example, police brutality.
            Conservatives, generally, are happy with things the way they are, no more and no less– just the right amount of police brutality going on.
            Granted, most conservatives have never sat in a criminal justice class. In fact, a lot of the views I describe above as “mean” are simply horribly ill-informed.
            Liberals, generally, OTOH, are not content with the current level of police brutality, and look to The Future ( /reverb ) to fulfill heir dreams.
            I truly admire the optimism, the notion that “We can do better.”
            Implementation is another matter.
            Implementation typically occurs by magic in liberal thought.Report

            • Stillwater in reply to Will H. says:

              Definitions have no power to create a thing out of nothing.

              Of course not. A definition is merely the meaning of a word, which we use in discourse and arguments and such to identify states of affairs in the world and permit certain types of analyses and whatnot. Conservatism as a political philosophy is a thesis about reaction to change; conservatism as a party identification is a set of principles and practices and policies and such that are currently held by self-identified conservatives.

              Aaron’s sentence contrasts conservatism with liberalism, which are (presumably) political philosophies. Perhaps he meant contrast conservatism as a contemporary US political party with its liberal counterpart. But if so, then I think he’s effectively conceding that Cleek’s Law is the currently operative definition of “conservatism”.Report

        • Stillwater in reply to Will H. says:

          I believe it is more accurate to say that conservatism is reveling in the Now

          Well, if that were the case, conservatives would be reveling in Obamacare, and pro-choice policies, and teaching evolution in school, and SSM, and federal power over “states rights”, and broad regulatory regimes, and the hoped-for changes of Social Justice Warriors, and welfare for the po’, and illegal immigration, and so on and on and on….Report

  10. Chip Daniels says:

    Re: conservatism being a rejection of modernity.

    Sort of. Sort of not.
    Because “modernity” itself is now tradition. There is virtually no one alive who has an adult recollection of a pre-New Deal America. Anyone who came of age before Medicare is now in their dotage. Civil rights, feminism, Vietnam…these were the battles of those who are now senior citizens.

    If I defend Social Security, aren’t I a conservative defending a tried and true traditional form of community? If I want to replace it with individual accounts, aren’t I proposing something radical and untried?

    Where are the liberals proposing new and novel transformations of our society? SSM, okay, but what else? Which liberal is calling for radical overhauling of our economy? Our standard bearers of radical liberalism are calling for a restoration of the New Deal.

    The modern conservative movement exemplified by Trump remind me of the zealous jihadists. The jihadist muslims calling for a caliphate are oftentimes calling not for a restoration of what was, but what they imagine once was.

    The movements both have a cherished, imagined Golden Age which never existed. Their vision if implemented would be a radical overturning of the status quo.Report

  11. Rufus F. says:

    A theory: If people on the left weren’t so intent on enforcing stricter and stricter social etiquette norms, people on the right might not find it so liberating to support a presidential candidate whose platform is that he’s unafraid to be an asshole.Report

    • greginak in reply to Rufus F. says:

      Or rephrased: people on right supporting an asshole, liberals to blame.

      Supporting theorems would include people on the right don’t have their own beliefs beyond reacting against people they don’t like. Also people on the right can’t tell the difference between overly strict social norms and actually being an asshole.Report

      • Rufus F. in reply to greginak says:

        To the first one: yes, I would say quite a few people have beliefs that don’t go far beyond reacting against people they don’t like, on the left or right. To the second one, I’d say it’s more that liberals have no juice to respond to someone like Donald Trump when they react the same way to trivial violations of social norms.Report

        • greginak in reply to Rufus F. says:

          A couple weeks ago His Trumpness mocked the physical disability of a NYT reporter. On stage. That is being an asshole. If that doesn’t juice someone, then oh well. It takes all kinds. If not being able to call Mexican immigrants rapists is an overly harsh norm then that sucks. That is the problem with whinging about PC, there are some picky things that seem silly ( Ze) but plenty of it is just treating people with respect and consideration. The Trumpets dont’ really see that.Report

          • Rufus F. in reply to greginak says:

            The ideal of PC is treating people with respect and consideration. The practice is quite often about calling out other people for failing to do so, and in a way that assumes the absolute worst about their underlying beliefs and intentions. The Trumpets give their candidate the benefit of the doubt far too often about having been misquoted, misinterpreted, or having momentarily misspoken. They’re dead wrong about him. And they’re also reacting to a mindset that doesn’t give anyone the benefit of the doubt. Having been on the receiving end of PC vilification a few times based on grotesque misinterpretations of things I’ve said or put into songs, I can see where one response would be to extend the benefit of the doubt more than is realistic to others on the receiving end.Report

            • greginak in reply to Rufus F. says:

              Oh i can see what you mean. However there are a lot of people who thing PC is an insidious destroying force that has stopped them from speaking the Truth. Of course the truth they think is being suppressed is often spoken very frequently by many people up to pols and radio hosts. PC has at least a couple definitions and depends on who is using the term. His Trumpness and his fans use it in the manner of the most oppressed people in the world and as a term to denote that treating some people with respect is to difficult.Report

              • Rufus F. in reply to greginak says:

                This is true. Well, let’s say that his “fans” consist of 80% of the people who now plan to vote for him. In that case, his opponents need to pick off the other 20%. Will they find a way to do that? Let’s hope so.Report

    • Rufus F. in reply to Rufus F. says:

      A secondary thought: embracing “modernity” is a way of enforcing the status quo.Report

    • Saul Degraw in reply to Rufus F. says:


      What do we mean by social etiquette here? Yeah the Right rallies against “political correctness” but they also still are opposed to civil rights laws including those that say “no you can’t be a bigoted dick with your private business.” I don’t see how you have true civil rights without allowing minorities to fully participate in all aspects of civil and economic life. The idea of private businesses being allowed to say “We don’t want to hire or cater to Blacks, Jews, Asians, LGBT people, Hispanics, whatever is not allowing for full participation in civil and economic life.

      I don’t see why I should be moved by the fact that the Right is saying “We like this guy because he is an unrepentant asshole.” Aren’t they just saying that they would also like the ability to be unrepentant assholes and not participants in civil society?Report

      • Rufus F. in reply to Saul Degraw says:

        Saul, can we just assume that I’m not arguing that the left took it too far by passing civil rights legislation?Report

        • Jesse Ewiak in reply to Rufus F. says:

          Considering that’s what a large percentage of people are still pissed off that they have to be “PC” about their feelings of the intelligence and general standing of non-white people, then I don’t get what your argument is.

          Yes, sometimes, people are a little overboard in reacting to the umpteenth sexist or racist thing said to them. As a white guy, I’m not going to be like, “oh come on, just explain how it’s totally not racist to ask ‘where you’re from'” for the 15th time.Report

    • Kazzy in reply to Rufus F. says:


      I don’t think you are wrong entirely but I do think too many people the world as a binary with righteousness on one side and wickedness on the other. For the folks on the right whom you speak of, they are likely to cast any and all calls for decency and respect as “enforcement of stricter and stricter social etiquette norms”. They put red Starbucks cups and shaming of words like fag and retard and outcries over legitimate use of the word ‘niggardly’ as all equally awful. And they really aren’t. Furthermore, they often interpret some campus group somewhere saying, “Let’s give rape survivors some extra pillows in the lounge. Hell, we’ll even buy them,” as, “They’re coming to take our guns and are going to rape us with them before cutting off our dicks and forcing us to wear pink to the Commie death march!”Report

    • Will H. in reply to Rufus F. says:

      Not unrelatedly:

      For some time, I have been making the argument (re-casting a much older argument, actually) that the Democrats are too beholden to interest groups, that too many issues which should have remained at the level of interest group politics have made their way into party politics; whereas fewer planks catering to interest groups has the potential to rally overwhelming support.
      I have come to the realization that this is not a failing of the political system, but the sign of an efficient market. Interest groups are able to have their issues addressed at the party level in easy access to Democrats at multiple points, while the Democrats are able to compromise their platform through disparate specialized issues only to the point where public opinion leans toward the Republicans.

      In other words, the reason that the Democrats are so beholden to interest groups is because they can do so and still remain viable as a party because the Republicans are who they are.
      And that’s where the equilibrium stands.Report

      • greginak in reply to Will H. says:

        This doesn’t’ directly address your idea, but interest groups are also called citizens. The D coalition is made up of citizens. Calling them interest groups rings odd, like somehow those groups are not just basic people who are trying to get their ideas enacted through electoral politics like the R’s.Report

        • Will H. in reply to greginak says:

          The reason is that citizens do not negotiate party planks.
          And yes, the R’s certainly have interest groups, but they are less numerous and tend to be less organized; e.g., “small business.”
          The NRA and FOP are exceptions to the rule.Report

          • greginak in reply to Will H. says:

            Interest groups are just groups of citizens. Organized groups. Both parties respond to organized groups of people. This just strikes me as the silly way people hiss about “special interests.” Special interests, in practice, are just any group of citizens whose influence you don’t’ like.

            Tea Party and many religious orgs would be interest groups.Report

            • Will H. in reply to greginak says:

              An interest group is two or more people with a common purpose.
              Interest groups are the mechanism by which citizens are able to affect policy.
              Whether I like or dislike their goals is irrelevant.

              For the record, I love interest group level politics.
              Position advocacy. That’s why I’m looking to do an internship with a lobbying firm.Report

              • greginak in reply to Will H. says:

                Agreed. But that is also why i think the D’s are beholden to IG’s doesn’t really make sense. Parties are beholden to voters. Every party is and no party is more than any other.Report

              • Will H. in reply to greginak says:

                The notion that parties are somehow obligated to voters is factually incorrect.
                This is a feature of the single candidate district system.

                Candidates, not parties, are subject to voter approval.

                I had a hiccup a minute ago, and the system missed my first edit.

                I said that all of the lobbyists & representatives that I met at the Red Mass of the St. Thomas More Lawyers’ Guild were Democrats.
                This is my support for the statement that religious organizations are not reliable R voters.Report

              • greginak in reply to Will H. says:

                People who want to get elected need to garner the approval of voters. Parties, like Soylent Green, are made of people.Report

              • Will H. in reply to greginak says:

                Parties, like Soylent Green, are made of people.

                It is people, not persons, that are the concern of political parties.
                Public goods are distributed to people, not persons; the source of the free rider problem.Report

          • Saul Degraw in reply to Will H. says:

            I wonder how much of this is based on perceptions and preferences of the beholder.

            Also “small business” should be void for vagueness and overly broad. The GOP likes to portray themselves as the party of small businesses but is this actually true? Does it include small clothing boutiques, indie record stores, and other socially liberal businesses? Does it include small law firms and solo practioners?

            From my view, there are Democratic interest groups but they are more disorganized and possibly at odds. Labour and Environmentally minded upper-middle class professionals do not often have much in common. The various campus protest movements are not wandering the streets of Congress. The Right has more of an ability to get their cases through the courts via small groups that will fish for people like Kim Davis and Abigail Fisher.Report

            • Will H. in reply to Saul Degraw says:

              “[S]mall business” should be void for vagueness and overly broad.

              I think so too, but they keep talking about it. Maybe it’s code for something else.

              Anyway, the groups that go out looking for people is a particular phenomenon of interest groups in a certain stage of development.
              Michelle Alexander addresses this in the civil rights context in The New Jim Crow, and cites Lani Guinier in support.
              This is what happens when an interest group becomes separated from the community which it serves, part of the process of transformation from a grassroots movement to a “professionalized” movement with a focus on litigation.

              The same with Sandra Fluke.
              It’s quite a common phenomenon these days.Report

  12. Don Zeko says:

    Sorry for the drive-by earlier; I was busy installing a floor and didn’t really have time to engage. So on to the substance of the post! My trouble here, @aaron-david , is that this symmetry you’re describing doesn’t look particularly symmetrical to me. Sure, Trump’s campaign is made possible by people that feel like the economy screws them over and nobody in Washington is willing to listen to them. But it seems to me that the Democratic side of the aisle has plenty of such voters. Black Lives Matter springs to mind, for one. Heck, I might suggest that however bad working class white voters have had it over the past few decades (and I think there’s definitely some screwing over of such people going on), poor black folks have almost certainly had it worse.

    But look at the difference between the political manifestations of these disaffected voters. Black politics definitely includes nutty conspiracy theories, politically or substantively nutty ideas for changing things, and widespread skepticism of the efficacy or legitimacy of the existing power structure, but avatars of those views haven’t come anywhere close to mainstream political success since at least the 80’s. It’s can you possible imagine a Louis Farrakhan or Al Sharpton circa 1993 type doing as well as Trump on the Democratic side, to the extent that the rest of the party is hatching desperate schemes to keep him away from the nomination via a contested convention?

    The difference between Trump voters and other voting blocs that might be receptive to this sort of demagoguery is that the whole Republican Party and all of their party aligned media has been telling them to persist in their craziness since the Reagan Administration. They’ve been told over and over again that the way to win is to be more conservative, that budget numbers don’t have to add up, that you shouldn’t trust anything you hear from sources the movement doesn’t approve of, that Muslims and other undesireables are being pampered by the lily-livered PC police, that everyone is thinking the offensive stuff you are but can’t say it because of PC, that compromise with the other side is selling out rather than governing, etc. etc. etc.. People have been making money and winning elections by training the right side of the aisle to be incapable of responsible governance, and now they’re just shocked that a guy like Trump could show up to help them reap what they have sown.

    Dems didn’t do that for various reasons, and so we have disaffected voters that will still participate in normal politics and vote for center-left candidates that make compromises and, you know, govern. So yeah; BSDI.Report

    • Aaron David in reply to Don Zeko says:

      Thanks for the reply, @don-zeko

      One of the differences between us on this (and why I ended up as a libertarian) is the feeling that the left is governing. I don’t think they are, and that is why I left the left. Up above I show two poll results, one for the ACA and another for the economy. In both polls a majority of the country doesn’t feel that we are succeeding in those area’s. Now, I am not going to place the blame for the economy solely on the shoulders of the left/Dems, but I am not going to give them a pass on it either. Congress works with the executive branch, and while the president is going to take the heat if something goes wrong on that, it is the two working in tandem. As far as the ACA, that is all on the left/Dems. Now, they seem to feel that it was an improvement on the previous status quo, but most Americans don’t. Further, when many people have complained about it, the often got called racist (here is a google search, and you can see what I mean.)

      Now, you might feel that what was passed is an improvement. Thats cool. But looking at the support, most people don’t. So, I feel that the left isn’t governing at this time, on those items, and other things as well, such as terrorism. Now, that is one thing. But at the same time, as I just showed, its that people arn’t allowed to disagree anymore, they have to be racist. They have to be bigots, etc. Or, as you put it, they have to ” persist in their craziness.”

      Problem is, they don’t think it’s crazyness.

      But they do know that they have been refered to as “fly over country’ for so long, and that if they like NASCAR they hate culture, etc And they are sick of it.

      Are they wrong? /shrug

      But they do vote, crazy and all.Report

      • Don Zeko in reply to Aaron David says:

        We must be talking about different things when we use the word “governing.” When I say the R’s have trained themselves to be incapable of it, I mean that they have made it an article of faith that taxes cannot ever be cut, that budgets need not be balanced, that no foreign or domestic adversaries can be bargained with, etc. These notions are why the second Bush Administration was such a disaster, and it’s also why a Rubio administration will likely be a disaster too. This is what worries me so. Public opinion ebbs and flows, and parties in power lose popularity over time. The Republicans will get control of the Presidency again, sooner or later, and I think the party as it exists today will do exactly what Bush did: run up huge deficits, get us into unnecessary overseas wars, and manage the machinery of government incompetently.

        This is awfully distinct from your indictment of the Dem’s, which basically consists of them being unpopular. There’s definitely a correlation between policies being unpopular and being unsuccessful, but it’s pretty messy. In this case I’d suggest that the polling is less conclusive than you make it out to be, that for reasons both intentional and unintentional polling is a poor guide to how successful Obamacare and such have been, and that you’re cherry-picking examples. Obama has also overseen a slow but steady economic recovery, killed OBL, negotiated a nuclear deal with Iran, normalized relations with Cuba, achieved a multilateral climate deal, reduced the budget deficit dramatically, etc. etc. etc..Report

        • Aaron David in reply to Don Zeko says:

          Well, we are going to have to agree to disagree then, as I do not see the D’s as having been competent governers during the last 7 years. Like I said, there is a reason why I am no longer on/of the left. You are of the left, visible by your support of this admins policies. That is cool. That is why we vote.

          The point of my post is not how good Obama is, nor how crazy Trump supporters are. It was that they aren’t going away soon, and that Hillary won’t (from my point of view) really change the political calculus even if she wins.Report

          • Morat20 in reply to Aaron David says:

            Well, we are going to have to agree to disagree then, as I do not see the D’s as having been competent governers during the last 7 year

            Really? Let’s just tick down the list:
            1) Economy: How did the Democrats do? They started with, of course, the Great Recession. We still in that?
            2) Spending: They started with a huge deficit (the Recession + massive amounts of war on the credit card). Have they made that worse or better?
            3) Health Care: Double-digit increases in insurance rates, year after year, for more than a decade. 15 to 20% of the populace under insured or not insured at all. How’s that working?
            4) War: We had what, a hundred thousand troops deployed in multiple theaters? That still going on?

            Now maybe you have a high bar for competence, and obviously compared to Dubya a corpse would probably make better decisions (mostly because, being dead, it would be unable to listen to Dick Cheney’s advice) but the last eight years have shown a rather steady improvement over the state of affairs on Jan 1, 2009.

            Which strikes me as fairly competent.Report

            • DensityDuck in reply to Morat20 says:

              “They started with, of course, the Great Recession. We still in that?”

              My niece’s height increased nearly 200% during the years that Barack Obama has been President. Clearly Democratic administrations are greatly preferred for children’s growth.Report

              • Zac in reply to DensityDuck says:

                I don’t always agree with ya, Double D, but this cracked me the hell up. Well played, sir.Report

              • Morat20 in reply to DensityDuck says:

                So basically you’re just chalking up the last eight years to “coincidence”?

                Cool, man.Report

              • DensityDuck in reply to Morat20 says:

                “coincidence” is a massive oversimplification of the idea of economic cycles but hey if that’s the word you want to use I guess I can’t stop you.Report

              • Glyph in reply to DensityDuck says:

                I actually have an enormous amount of sympathy for the point you are making; I only ask that you remember it the next time the economy completely goes in the crapper and your political opponents happen to be holding power when that happens. If they can’t get credit for expansions, they can’t get blame for contractions either.Report

              • Mike Schilling in reply to Glyph says:

                If they gave birth to the recession, of course the contractions are theirs.Report

              • DensityDuck in reply to Glyph says:

                “I only ask that you remember it the next time the economy completely goes in the crapper and your political opponents happen to be holding power…”

                So far I haven’t seen much daylight between Team Red and Team Blue when it comes to things that constrain economic activity, so I guess I’m acting how you’d like by default.Report

              • North in reply to DensityDuck says:

                So then your position is that Obama’s economic performance has been that he did not cause nor did he impede a significant recovery from the great recession? And if we agree that Obama couldn’t have had a significant positive influence on the economic cycle then that’d put Obama’s performance at about the best it could realistically be. That’s not bad for gummint work and puts you well apart from Aarons opinion on O’s economic stewardship.Report

              • Brandon Berg in reply to North says:

                To his credit, Obama has been much less awful on economics than his supporters had hoped he would be. That said, imposing a new mandate/tax on low-wage employers during a recession was pretty bad policy.Report

              • North in reply to Brandon Berg says:

                Ah well the mandate was paired with a subsidy that basically paid for them to get insurance so really you mean he imposed a mandate/tax on middle income and uppper income wage employees. I agree choosing to do that was risky but he’d previously piled a lot of ill advised tax cuts into his stimuls bill so maybe he thought it’d balance out. The economy seemed to take it in stride anyhow.Report

              • Brandon Berg in reply to North says:

                Ah well the mandate was paired with a subsidy that basically paid for them to get insurance so really you mean he imposed a mandate/tax on middle income and uppper income wage employees.

                The problem with the tax isn’t that it took money out of the pockets of low-wage workers—it’s that it made it more expensive to employ them, at a time when firms were already somewhat reluctant to hire.

                The economy seemed to take it in stride anyhow.

                The economic recovered, as economies are apt to do after recessions, albeit considerably more slowly than usual. We can’t see what happens in the alternate universe where that policy wasn’t enacted, so there’s no definitive way to say one way or another whether it hindered the recovery.Report

              • Jaybird in reply to Brandon Berg says:

                NPR was talking this morning about how the fines for being uninsured double this year and how last year’s steam valve (a special enrollment period) will not be used a second time.

                My first thoughts were on how ugly this was going to get.Report

              • notme in reply to Jaybird says:

                I heard that segment as well and was thinking that folks will really start to squeal between the plan rate increases as well as the fines.Report

              • Morat20 in reply to DensityDuck says:

                Hmm. If only the Recession were world wide, and there was some sort of split in approach that roughly mirrored the US Republican/Democratic policy split on what to do.

                If we were lucky, then say….as Obama became President in 2009 and chose ‘stimulus’, someplace big and vaguely close in size economically– like, say, Europe under a unified currency — could choose ‘austerity’ (the preferred GOP response, as I recall). Since both sides claimed their methods would work to end the Recession and return to growth, and that their opponents would deepen it , destroy the budget, or possibly end life on Earth (or all three. There was much rhetoric) — we’d be able to see if there was a difference.

                Oh wait, that happened. The US did much, much better than Europe. On all metrics. Considerably so.

                So, I guess since it can’t be the Democrat’s policies and actions that did it, it must be some crazy coincidence. Unless there was some economic cycle unique the US in the middle of the worst, world-wide, recession in almost a century?Report

              • North in reply to Morat20 says:

                Also all that inflation the libertarians and conservatives were screaming about never got around to showing up. Maybe Obama locked it up in Guantanamo or something; fascist that he is.Report

              • Kolohe in reply to North says:

                It went to the stock market and back into real estate, helping to widen the gap between the haves and have-nots.

                (as a have, I say, “Thanks, Obama”)Report

              • North in reply to Kolohe says:

                So all that currency destroying inflation… … went into real eastate and the stock market with nary a burp and overheated NY and California urban housing prices. Color me underwhelmed.Report

              • j r in reply to Morat20 says:

                If we were lucky, then say….as Obama became President in 2009 and chose ‘stimulus’, someplace big and vaguely close in size economically– like, say, Europe under a unified currency — could choose ‘austerity’ (the preferred GOP response, as I recall).

                Not sure where you are getting this from, maybe Krugman, but this is one of those areas where Krugman just isn’t making a consistent set of arguments.

                You don’t judge fiscal policy post-global financial crisis by a one-time stimulus. You look at total government budget figures over a period of multiple years. And when you look at those number you realize that the U.S fared better than most European countries despite the fact that we had, on average, more fiscal consolidation.

                From the literature that I know, all attempts to say something definitive about austerity and growth have found no demonstrable effect one way or the other. The relative performance of the U.S. is most likely a function of monetary policy and better structural conditions.Report

              • Morat20 in reply to j r says:

                And when you look at those number you realize that the U.S fared better than most European countries despite the fact that we had, on average, more fiscal consolidation.

                What you see is a serious flattening out of the Recession after the US government, over the screams of the GOP, enacted a standard (if rather small) straightfoward stimulus bill.

                Which led to a brief spike in the deficit and debt (stimulus money ain’t free) but a quicker and better recovery from the recession than Europe managed, which allowed better deficit management later (a bigger economy brought in more money in taxes, which allowed for adjustments later).

                Europe, which chose to cut government spending and fast as their receipts fell, saw a deeper recession with a much slower recovery, and has seen far, far worse unemployment figures, deficit numbers, and economic growth.

                Your statements only make sense if we assume the economy is entirely acausal, or perhaps works backwards in time, and generally just ignores the effect of economic growth (and shrinkage) on tax receipts. I mean sure, if we don’t realize that a growing economy generates more money in tax receipts for the same rate as a shrinking one, AND ignore automatic stabilizers (things like unemployment) that grow and shrink in opposition to the economic cycle, your argument might actually be vaguely convincing.

                However, ignoring those things would be pretty dumb. Instead what we see is the US has more luck shrinking it’s deficit by (1) climbing out of the economic hole, despite higher up-front costs and (2) dealing with budgets later.

                A path that, we were told repeatedly, would lead to fiscal Armageddon and the death of America.

                I like how you named checked Krugman, though. Obviously I can’t have lived through this and watched it, it’s not like the various floundering European countries were on the news as austerity failed hard, leading to massive unemployment. I had to have just cut-and-pasted Krugman.

                Thanks for explaining it to me! Maybe next you can explain how government spending is like a household budget, or where babies are from!Report

              • j r in reply to Morat20 says:

                I mentioned Krugman because there is an ongoing debate among a number of economics bloggers about the role of fiscal policy and the U.S. recovery. Thought you might be familiar with it, but if you want to assume that I’m making some random knock at you, go for it.

                I am curious what exact numbers you are basing this claim. Of you look at various countries fiscal policy between the GFC and now, you just don’t see the link that you are claiming. Stimulus aside total government spending after the crisis actually shrank (including state and local governments, which also shed a number of jobs). Also, the recovery in employment didn’t really start until ~2013, around the time of the government shutdown and various other contractinary fiscal measures.Report

              • Kim in reply to j r says:

                jr and morat,
                Krugman deserves a mention, as Lost Decades are a research interest of his.
                That said, I’m not going to take for granted that America and the EU had anything close to similar recessions, even if they had the same reasons (I know there were housing bubbles in the EU, but the LIBOR thing can’t have helped).Report

              • Stillwater in reply to j r says:

                After reading a few articles (5) on this it seems like a recurring theme everyone agrees on (even the Weekly Standard) is that the US recovered more quickly and more robustly than the EU, given the structural differences, due to the stimulus, low-to-zero interest rates and QE over here, while the EU’s persistent low-growth/stagnation is due to choosing austerity policies.

                The way some folks phrase it was more like “given the already bad policies over there, austerity made things worse while given the already bad policies here stimulus made things better.” Wevs.Report

              • Kim in reply to Stillwater says:

                I blame the “shovel some money at everything in sight” fed, personally.

                JR, you got some numbers on M3? Did we actually still have a contractionary MONEY SUPPLY? I get that the stimulus was a sop that didn’t fix the Government Money Shortfall, but what’s up with the money supply?Report

              • Stillwater in reply to Kim says:

                You “blame” the fed for our recovery? What does that even mean, kim?Report

              • Kim in reply to Stillwater says:

                Too big to fail — we bailed out a bunch of large banks, and then kept them in business doing “no” business (disclaimer: I got a loan during that time), by making the interest rate so low. Throw money at everything in a desperate attempt to stave off deflation (which is really, really bad).

                I’m not sure there was a better solution, mind. But I think the fed bears a lot of responsibility.Report

              • j r in reply to Stillwater says:

                After reading a few articles (5) on this it seems like a recurring theme everyone agrees on…

                That is far too vague for me to give any sort of real response. What I will say is this: if there is a real relationship between fiscal policy and growth, then we ought to be able to point to it in the data. We should not have to rely on what a bunch of pundits say. And if the relationship is there, but too complex to see directly, then there ought to be research that demonstrates the effect.

                From what I know about this topic, neither of those things is there. The effects of fiscal policy after the global financial crisis simply give no clear indication as to what the effect on growth or recovery is. If you’ve got something that suggests otherwise, I’d love to see it.Report

            • Kim in reply to Morat20 says:

              it’s nto a great recession. it’s a lost decade. There is a HELL of a lot of difference between the two, not in the least which experts (notably Krugman) one should actually ask about policy.Report

      • North in reply to Aaron David says:

        Frankly considering that a political movement that represents slightly less than half the electorate has been calling the ACA “worse than fascism” since before the ACA was even passed I think it’s surprising it doesn’t poll worse.Report

        • notme in reply to North says:

          Perhaps you can tell me when previous to the ACA has the federal gov’t ever claimed the power to force the public to purchase a product or be fined (not taxed b/c this isn’t a tax)?Report

          • North in reply to notme says:

            Start with drivers liscences and work your way down the list.Report

            • DensityDuck in reply to North says:

              You aren’t required by law to have a driver’s license.

              You’re correct that the driver’s license is often considered a convenient method of identification since it’s a photo ID issued by a government entity, but you don’t HAVE to have one.Report

              • But you do need insurance if you drive a car on public roads.

                And, of course, the Bush plan for “personal” [1] Social Security required people to put their money into approved retirement accounts. I don’t recall anyone on the right denouncing it as unconstitutional for that reason.

                1. Originally “privatized”. That name polled badly, so the Bush administration changed it, and considered anyone who continued to use the original name an enemy.Report

              • notme in reply to Mike Schilling says:

                Yes the states can require that you have insurance but I said fed gov not states, or don’t you know the difference b/t the two? My statement still stands.Report

              • Jesse Ewiak in reply to notme says:

                We fought a war. The people who wanted states to be sovereign little fiefdoms lost.Report

              • notme in reply to Jesse Ewiak says:

                The civil war has nothing to do with this. Your ignorance at the most basic principles of federalism and separation of powers b/t the fed gov and the states is surprising.

                Since you claim to know so much, maybe you can tell us when previous to this has the fed gov ever claimed the power to make citizens purchase anything?Report

              • North in reply to notme says:

                Selective ServiceReport

              • Dave Regio in reply to notme says:


                Since you claim to know so much, maybe you can tell us when previous to this has the fed gov ever claimed the power to make citizens purchase anything?

                Perhaps in the same place where the fed government found the power to regulate a specific abortion procedure and ruled out a health exception?

                Yeah, I found the Commerce Clause arguments for the individual mandate to be lacking, and it gave me great pleasure to see liberal legal academia get slapped across the face given its arrogance and overconfidence on the point.

                However, 1) Roberts’ tax argument was legit under current doctrine which is why the decision should stand; and 2) conservatives don’t get to play the Commerce Clause card on anything unless they denounce Gonzales v Carhart, which few have done. Originalists my ass.Report

              • Stillwater in reply to Dave Regio says:

                I think Scalia at one point said something to the effect that it was obviously a tax and it was constitutional under federal taxing powers, but he rejected the guvs position because no one defending the legislation made that argument.


              • Dave Regio in reply to Stillwater says:


                I remember hearing that as well. I suppose the issue here is one of judicial review. Can/should a judge vote to uphold a statute if there exists a constitutional basis? The answer may appear obvious (yes), but I wonder if that goes beyond addressing the specific issue. For example, was the question whether or not the mandate was constitutional or whether or not the mandate was an appropriate exercise of the government’s power under the Commerce Clause?

                In the former, a judge can find grounds to justify a law even if an argument is invalid. In the latter, the question gets answered and the decision rendered accordingly.

                I prefer the latter, but I also understand why CJ Roberts did what he did in the ACA case. I always and still view the law as too big to fail. If you heard collective sighs of relief after the decision was announced, the loudest ones came from the healthcare industry.Report

              • Gonzales should be about the right to a speedy trial.Report

              • Dave Regio in reply to Mike Schilling says:


                Even if one isn’t granted, it’s not like anyone’s going to catch the little bastard.Report

              • Will H. in reply to Dave Regio says:

                re: Originalism.

                I would like to see the dunking stool come back as a test for witchcraft among elected officials.
                Surely the Founders never intended for witches to hold elected office (appointed office is an open debate . . . ).

                Until I see elected officials being put to the test by the dunking stool, I’m going to have a hard time accepting the basic premise of originalism.Report

              • Dave Regio in reply to Will H. says:


                I wouldn’t accept that premise of originalism. However, I accept a different one. I pulled this quote out of one of the posts I wrote a while back. Published 30 years ago, It was taken from one of the most influential if not fatal critiques of 1980’s style originalism:

                As understood by its late 18th and early 19th century proponents, the original intent relevant to constitutional discourse was…that of the parties to the constitutional compact – the states as political entities. This original “original intent” was determined not by historical inquiry into the expectations of the individuals involved in the framing and ratifying the Constitution, but by a consideration of what rights and powers sovereign polities could delegate to a common agent without destroying their own essential autonomy. Thus, the original intentionalism was a form of structural interpretation. To the extent that the historical evidence was to have any interpretive value, what they deemed relevant was the evidence of the proceedings of the state ratifying conventions, not the intent of the framers

                I know I’m a bit biased, but I think this is a rock-solid premise. It’s also based on what can be called a constitutional value.

                Hell, let’s just say that the Living Constitution began in 1789!Report

              • Will H. in reply to Dave Regio says:

                “That’s evolution, baby!”

                Still, I haven’t ironed out the issues of the presumption of a single unified interpretation with the Living Constitution model.
                A lot easier to refute Bork with it.Report

              • Joe Sal in reply to Will H. says:

                Yeah, someone reaches for the ‘true’ interpretation I start to grin. This damn battle has been going on for awhile now. Notice when we talk constitution it’s nearly always about the bill of rights?

                It’s like it all started there, instead of being a echo from the English Bill of Rights, which was a echo from the Magna Carta, which was a echo from first order unwritten rule of law.

                The battle between controllers and those not wanting to be controlled reaches back to the cradle of civilization. Blood was routinely spilled on Sumerian lands over just this issue.

                And for those damned control freaks who don’t like this Bill of Rights, the next ones going to be a lot more explicit.Report

              • Dave Regio in reply to Jesse Ewiak says:


                We fought a war. The people who wanted states to be sovereign little fiefdoms lost.

                In other words, your argument lacks intellectual merit so you resort to an act of violence to resolve it.

                That’s lovely. I can’t wait to hear how the General Welfare Clause justifies the welfare state because of the Civil War and Helvering v Davis.Report

              • DensityDuck in reply to Dave Regio says:

                Hah. We’ll make an argument that Sherman’s March to the Sea was justified by the General Welfare Clause. “We had to burn Atlanta in order to save it, sir.”Report

              • DensityDuck in reply to Mike Schilling says:

                “you do need insurance if you drive a car on public roads.”

                Or I could take the bus.Report

          • Stillwater in reply to notme says:

            not taxed b/c this isn’t a tax

            Errra, you didn’t hear about the SC ruling on that issue?Report

            • notme in reply to Stillwater says:

              The ACA as written said the penalty wasn’t a tax but the S.Ct. said it was a tax. That was one reason why the ACA passed in the first place b/c it was sold as not being a tax.Report

      • DavidTC in reply to Aaron David says:

        As far as the ACA, that is all on the left/Dems. Now, they seem to feel that it was an improvement on the previous status quo, but most Americans don’t.

        That is quite possibly the dumbest political reason to be on the right I’ve ever seen.

        As has been pointed out dozens of times, by dozens of polls, Americans *love* basically all but one aspect of the ACA. They love the ban on preexisting conditions, they love exchanges that people can buy health insurance on, they love the subsidies, they love the Medicaid expansion, they love the medical loss ratio. All those individual pieces have over *65%* support.

        Now, they *are* on the fence about the mandate, depending on how you phrase the question. You can phrase it where it’s people ‘required to buy health insurance’, and people don’t like the mandate, and you can phrase it where it’s people ‘required to be responsible for their own health care costs by having insurance’, and people like the mandate. But let’s be fair and call that 40% support. So one unpopular aspect of the law, one that is needed to make the law work.

        But what Americans actually *dislike* appears to be the entire concept of the law, because they have been, for lack of a better word, brainwashed into thinking it’s a horrible law.

        We can argue what that actually means for politics and the American people and all sorts of things, but it’s really stupid reason to claim ‘Democrats are failing at governing’. They have made a *really popular* law that is, in fact, working. The only thing the Democrats have failed at is *messaging*.Report

        • Stillwater in reply to DavidTC says:

          Also, the disapproval of Obamacare is higher than the disapproval of the ACA. Which educated folks like us might find inconceivable, yet, that’s where we’re at as a nation.

          But yeah, the polling on the specific provisions contained within the ACA have very high approvals while the penalty that makes those provisions possible (sorta …) has high disapprovals.Report

          • DavidTC in reply to Stillwater says:

            But yeah, the polling on the specific provisions contained within the ACA have very high approvals while the penalty that makes those provisions possible (sorta …) has high disapprovals.

            I’m not sure about ‘high disapproval’.

            Polls that explain that people with other forms of insurance don’t pay it, and the subsidies available, and that there’s an exception if you can’t find affordable insurance, can reduce the disapproval all the way down to below the crazification level of 27%. Even down to 18%.

            It’s why the disapproval has been going down generally. People who assumed it was going to matter have discovered, duh, they already have health insurance so don’t have to do anything, or that they could just *get* health insurance, or it wasn’t really important.

            I’ve run across a few people who, hilariously, complained about the mandate last year, and told me how bad it is and how they can’t get insurance or afford insurance and now they have to pay a tax on top of that…and I suggest they, uh, actually try go getting insurance at and see what happens…and they come back later and sheepishly say ‘Oh. Well, now I’m insured.’.

            People sorta just dislike the mandate on principle. (Which is, at least, a more rational reason for disliking a law than the imaginary reasons they dislike ‘Obamacare’.) As they interact with it, or, more often, *don’t* interact with it, opposition sorta goes away.

            That said, it is, in fact, a tax, and there will always be people who think they don’t need to be insured and resent paying taxes for that opinion.Report

            • Morat20 in reply to DavidTC says:

              Eh, my brother is pretty screwed. But not by the ACA. The Chief Justice of the Supreme Court screwed him with the Medicaid expansion bit. Then Texas screwed him by not taking it.

              Then the GOP Congress screwed him by preventing any sort of patch. So he falls into an area where subsidies are insufficient because Medicaid was supposed to cover it. And it can’t get fixed, because the GOP needs to hold a vote to repeal the entire ACA for the ten millionth time.Report

            • DensityDuck in reply to DavidTC says:

              “there’s an exception if you can’t find affordable insurance”

              Didn’t we just have a Supreme Court case about that?Report

          • The benefits are popular but the cost of them isn’t? Astounding.

            You know, if there had been a tax hike to pay for invading Iraq, I bet that would have been unpopular too.Report

            • North in reply to Mike Schilling says:

              IIRC didn’t Bush and his cronies keep it off the books by shenanigans until Obama put a stop to it in 2009 then they blamed the cost on Obama?Report

              • Morat20 in reply to North says:

                Yep. It was funded as “emergency appropriations” which aren’t included in the budget, because they’re “emergency” costs that can’t be predicted. Except Bush put entirely predictable occupation costs there. It wasn’t like they needed more bombs or something, just flat-out ongoing costs.

                Which is why it was easy to put into the real budget. Which Obama did, and got blamed for the giant leap in spending. (Which was partially paying for the ongoing occupation and partially a one-off stimulus).

                Of course the deficit scolds had to stop shouting about that pretty quickly, and have moved onto imaginary inflation. They’ve been hitting THAT for almost a decade now.Report

              • Mike Schilling in reply to Morat20 says:

                Right. Unlike the Democrats who tax and spend, the Republicans borrow and lie.Report

            • Stillwater in reply to Mike Schilling says:

              if there had been a tax hike to pay for invading Iraq

              Wolfy told us the cost would be covered by Iraqi oil revenues and that it’d be over in like 2-3 months, so the idea the invasion would cost US taxpayers money never really came up.Report

      • Dave Regio in reply to Aaron David says:


        Now, you might feel that what was passed is an improvement. Thats cool. But looking at the support, most people don’t.

        That’s fine, but keep in mind that one of the goals of the ACA was to transform the healthcare landscape by transitioning it away from the unsustainable fee-for-service model with less regard for patient health to outcome-based model that places considerable emphasis on preventative care.

        I can see people being upset with some of the initial consequences of the new law. The critics of the law that were saying that insurance premiums would go up given the coverage requirements may not have been 100% correct on premiums going up, but I know plenty of people that were on HMO and PPO plans that no longer have access to them as companies moved away from them in favor of high deductible plans (my out of pocket health care costs have increased even if my premiums declined).

        Also, there was a provision in the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2015 (Section 603) that effectively cut the reimbursements that hospitals were expecting to get from ambulatory/outpatient facilities they were going to build down to the same level as physician-owned facilities. It was a pretty big kick in the pants because the operating environment for hospitals under the ACA gives hospitals an incentive to move the base of their care away from the acute care hospitals and off-campus via outpatient facilities.

        The decrease in expected future revenues caused many hospital systems to shelve their plans and go back to the drawing board once again. Plenty of people were unhappy about that (although it may have been the right call by the gov’t).

        What we don’t see are all of the investments being made by hospitals to streamline care, reduce costs, improve the patient experience and use every means available to keep people out of the acute care settings. I would say the majority of this is driven by the need for a sustainable model in the ACA-world. These changes in healthcare delivery are going to take time to come online and I’m pretty confident that the quality of care is going to improve, especially if healthcare providers have a greater incentive to keep people healthy.

        Sorting all of this out is going to take time.Report

  13. StevetheCat says:

    Apropos of the comments on this post, I would reference this article: WaPo
    You gave the White Trash free healthcare, something they never demanded.
    They never demanded free healthcare because they see no future for themselves.
    Instead, they kill themselves; but not at high enough rate to be ignored.

    They are the largest demographic group in the United States, by far
    You can tell them that they are only upset because of resentment and loss of white privilege.
    I fear that only strengthens their sense of resentment and loss of white privilege

    Trump is a shameless demagogue, of little concern.
    The person that captures the White Trash resentment vote, maybe Cruz; will be very dangerous.Report

  14. KatherineMW says:

    “Trump isn’t a fascist. He is a populist.”

    This is rather like saying “Monkeys aren’t primates. They’re mammals.”

    Fascism is typically populist.

    I don’t think Trump ticks all the boxes of fascism, but there is definitely something incredibly ugly in what he represents. He’s already called for expelling a large group of people from the US and banning members of an entire, large, religion from entering the country.

    It doesn’t surprise me to that Americans are upset with their government. They have plenty to be upset about. But it’s deeply disturbing that Trump is where they’re turning.

    (Also, I don’t get why you say Hillary has “really never done anything in her entire life”. I’m not a big fan of her, but she’s clearly done more than Obama had before he became president, or than a good portion of the Republican candidates have done. She’s got plenty more positive accomplishments than Trump. So I’m not sure why she’s singled out in your post as having her gender be the only important thing about her, when none of the other candidates are.)Report

    • DavidTC in reply to KatherineMW says:

      I don’t think Trump ticks all the boxes of fascism, but there is definitely something incredibly ugly in what he represents. He’s already called for expelling a large group of people from the US and banning members of an entire, large, religion from entering the country.

      The right already has a strain of fascism sitting inside it, and I’m not saying that to be insulting. It’s literally true.

      One of the things that distinguishes fascism from general authoritarianism is the promotion of violence, at all level. Fascism believes, basically, that might makes right. Violence between countries, violence by the government against ‘problematic’ people, and violence by civilians, which are really seen as an extension of the state.

      And how a lot of the right in America (Not commenting about elsewhere.) seem to feel about both government and civilian violence has *always* been edging on fascism, and then shying away at the very last minute. You can see it in how they frame the gun control debate (Always need to be ready to do some violence.), it leaks into the abortion debate, and then, barely, no, of course they aren’t promoting violence!

      Trump…*stopped* shying away.

      He’s had, at this point, about half a dozen rallies (I’ve honestly stopped counting) where his supporters and protesters got in a fight, including few where Trump condoned the violence afterward. This is…beyond unprecedented, and something the media seems to be happy to ignore. Fights at a campaign rally used to be huge media-events, and the responses were almost always ‘regret’ by the candidates. Now, they just…happen, for some reason, at least at Trump events.

      Well, when I say ‘unprecedented’, I mean in recent American politics. It’s not unprecedented in other contexts, *cough*cough*.

      I’m not sure exactly if there is any sort of definitional-level where we call thing ‘fascism’, and I have no idea if Trump is past it, but Trump’s doing pretty good with the whole ‘angry violence’ part of fascism, at least at the street level.Report