Thomas H Crown on Rubio vs Cruz

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Will Truman

Will Truman is the Editor-in-Chief of Ordinary Times. He is also on Twitter.

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  1. Avatar Zac
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    “The largest cohort in American voting history, immune to the lesson of the gulag’s because of time’s passage, thinks socialism’s A-OK.”

    What a buffoon. That one comment told me nothing this guy has to say is worth taking seriously. Anyone who thinks there’s no difference between Western European social democracy and the Soviet Union is either so ignorant or so ideologically blinkered that I don’t even know where to begin.Report

    • Avatar Chip Daniels in reply to Zac
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      says:

      If I weren’t so lazy a moocher, I would write a book called “The Socialist Tradition In America”.

      Because the more I read history, the more I see how the government was the prime mover and main foundation of most of American progress.

      The Homestead Act was just the government giving away land like Obamaphones. The Ingalls family was the 19th century version of food stamp recipients in Section 8 housing.

      The government gave lands to miners, railroads, and loggers, then forced taxpayers to pay for protection of those lands.

      Independent groups like the Grange and farmer’s cooperatives were explicit and intentional socializing of portions of the marketplace to distort the effects of supply and demand.

      Patent and copyright laws, agriculture subsidies, the GI Bill, VA/ FHA loans, the Federal Reserve and dozen other socialized efforts were what created the American economy.

      Socialism is actually an American tradition, as American as apple pie.Report

      • Avatar DavidTC in reply to Chip Daniels
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        says:

        …erm, yes, and no.

        Your premise is correct, that the government has been a huge prime mover in almost every advance of American society.

        The problem is…most of that is not, in fact, socialism.

        Socialism is when the government owns and operates the means of production. Or, I guess, you should call it socialism when the government operates a large amount of the means of production in a specific category.

        The government redistributing money in various ways is *not* socialism. The government operating a bread factory and giving out bread (Or even *selling* bread) is socialism, the government giving away land it owns is not socialism. (Assuming it’s not hiring people to make land, I guess?)

        Actually, technically, the government making and *giving away* bread is getting close to communism, depending on how it’s done. Socialism is sorta ‘communism-lite’, where the government is running the *production* part of the market, but those goods are sold like normal, and workers are paid with money and buy said goods. (How much private competition is allowed to exist is the question there. You can have socialism that operates almost like a normal market, where the government is just one of many suppliers, and you can have monopolies, either by law or via the government just undercutting everyone.)

        Even something like single-payer is not actually socialism. And I haven’t heard Bernie Sander propose any *actual* socialism. He appears to *actually* be a social democrat.

        What the UK has with the NHS, with government-owned and operated medical facilities, is ‘socialism’. (Well, if you think that word can apply to ‘ownership of the production of services’, whereas originally it just meant the ownership of the production of *goods*. Governments have *always* produced and distributed various services, and it seems odd to retroactively say that, for example, public education was socialism this whole time. But that’s a whole *different* debate, and let’s count it as socialism for now.)

        There have been *startling* few attempts in this country, in recent history, to get the government to do any sort of actual socialism at all, even by the far left. It is a very strange slur for the right to use, considering how rarely it happens, and the few places it ‘is happening’ are governmental functions that actually long predate the word, like education and law enforcement and the military. (Again, if you count services under that term.) Almost all the ‘welfare’ that exists is the government giving people money/credits and having them buy good from *private market producer*, which is *not socialism*.

        In fact, we sorta accidentally did socialism for a bit with the bailout of GM, where the government ‘owned the means of production’ for a bit, and some people on the right pointed out that literally *was* socialism…which quickly got them shushed by others on the right, because that was pointing out a) all the rest of the cries of ‘socialism’ were incorrect, and b) the government having legal ownership of a car company for a few months did not, in fact, cause the end of the world.Report

    • Avatar DavidTC in reply to Zac
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      says:

      Anyone who thinks there’s no difference between Western European social democracy and the Soviet Union is either so ignorant or so ideologically blinkered that I don’t even know where to begin.

      He is aware that no country that actually operating a system called ‘socialism’ has actually had gulags, right? And that the system that the USSR operated under was called ‘communism’, right? I mean, this was not some sort of secret, they were pretty explicit about it, and we also knew it.

      Does he think the name ‘Union of Soviet Socialist Republics’ means they’re socialist? Did he also notice the ‘Republic’ there, which makes his first comment about the decline of the republic rather hilarious.(1) So he’s saying that Republics are *good*? You know who else was in favor of ‘Republics’? The Soviets! What is he, in favor of gulags?

      No one tell this guy about the *Democratic* People’s Republic of Korea, he’d have a stroke. Or all the ‘Republican Guards’ wandering around, presumable guarding the people against increased taxes?

      Especially don’t tell him about the *Republican* Guard that works for the *Democratic* Republic of the Congo…he’d probably accuse them of being RINOs, because he’s very very stupid and doesn’t understand that words in names of things do not magically make that thing into the political philosophy also referred to by that word.

      1) In fact, the USSR’s name, hilariously, has *two* references to a Republic form of government in it, considering that a ‘soviet’ means a council, which they meant how we use the word ‘congress’. (Hence the joke that the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics was not united, was not socialist, was not a republic, and wasn’t even a soviet.)Report

      • Avatar Brandon Berg in reply to DavidTC
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        says:

        It had collective control of the means of production, which is the defining characteristic of socialism. In fact, the USSR was more socialist than any of the so-called socialist countries in western Europe.Report

        • Avatar DavidTC in reply to Brandon Berg
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          says:

          It had collective control of the means of production, which is the defining characteristic of socialism.

          And it also had collective control of *every economic transaction*, which put it well past socialism into communism and a planned economy. (As it appeared to understand itself, hence referring to itself as communist.)

          By the same logic we can refer to North Korea as a monarchy, and ask ourselves how people in the UK can put up with the same sort of government. In reality, while North Korea *technically* meets the qualifications to be called a ‘monarchy’, is actually much better described as a dictatorship.

          Likewise, if we’re trying to slur things by associating them with the USSR…the USSR had a market economy. Half of it was flatly illegal, and the other half was favor trading to the people in charge, but it *did* have one. Ergo, people in favor of market economies don’t remember gulags!

          But when we’re trying to talk about the USSR, we don’t say it had market economy, and we don’t call it socialism, because there were more important economic attributes than that, specifically, that the entire damn economy was planned. (And planned by people who couldn’t be removed from power, at that. In a *democratic* planned economy, the people would give the people in charge exactly one election cycle without toilet paper.)

          In fact, the USSR was more socialist than any of the so-called socialist countries in western Europe.

          And way, way, way more ‘socialist’ than anything Bernie Sanders has ever proposed. (Which is, basically, nothing.)Report

  2. Avatar Mike Schilling
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    says:


    The largest cohort in American voting history, immune to the lesson of the gulags because of time’s passage, thinks socialism’s A-OK.

    What a maroon.Report

  3. Avatar greginak
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    says:

    He thinks the current D’s are the party of McGovern?? I believe it has been noted, but he is a maroon.

    As noted, nothing in Bernie’s proposals are Gulag’s are hella cool nor are his supporters looking to that. Classic red baiting crud.Report

  4. Avatar Will Truman
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    says:

    Meh. I had a feeling I shouldn’t have bothered. I actually found it quite interesting due in part to the fact that his prior’s are different than my own. Also, how I think he elucidated where Cruz supporters are coming from, to an extent. I’m not sure if he’s right about that or not, but it has at least some explanatory power that’s lacking from most analysis. And possibly some insights to where things are headed.Report

    • Avatar Zac in reply to Will Truman
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      says:

      ‘Sokay, Will, they can’t all be winners. I don’t hold it against ya or anything.Report

    • Avatar greginak in reply to Will Truman
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      says:

      It’s fine to offer it up Will, but if he seems clueless or just a poo flinger about D’s its a reasonable question whether he knows about R’s. He might though, but he doesn’t think Trump voters are a “meaningful cohort” of R’s. That seems more like projection and desire over reality. He doesn’t think Rubio is establishment? That seems far fetched. We’re not a republic anymore? Meh. There is certainly reasons why people prefer Cruz over Rubio but there is a lot of other stuff mixed in.

      Erickson is certainly channeling, and stoking, some conservative feeling we’re all doomed and the sky is falling. True dat. I’d say that is more a product of fear mongering, old people mad at the kids these days and some pretty big distortions. That doesn’t mean C’s like some things that are happening but “the republic is doomed” seems pretty far out there. YMMV, but i think that is out there.

      What are the good insights you think he has?Report

      • Avatar Will Truman in reply to greginak
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        says:

        A couple of things:

        1) As a general rule, people have more depth of knowledge in their own party than the opposing one. They better understand the factions, mentalities, etc. The understanding is far from perfect, and it’s almost always biased, but it’s usually deeper all the same. His understanding of the GOP actually seems pretty strong to me.

        1b) I linked to JayFromBrooklyn a while back on Rubio vs Cruz contrast, but I think this one has some bite to it. Most specifically, how despite both clawing their way onto the scene over establishment-backed alternatives, and both having strongly conservative senate records, how they ended up in such different place. Jay cited culture, Thomas cites a different view on the salvageability of the system. I… think there is some merit to that. And though he dodges Trump, I think it may have some explanatory power there.

        2) Rubio as “not establishment” (as in “not establishment Republican”) is not a far-fetched view at all. I personally think that he became the establishment guy, but he’s only in the senate because he ran against the party establishment, who had all lined up behind someone else.

        3) The swipe at embracing socialism was indicative of an off-side perspective, but the McGovern comment has actually been discussed, in large part due to:

        Report

        • Avatar Mike Schilling in reply to Will Truman
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          says:

          When it comes to analyzing liberalism and the Democratice party, I put every bit as much faith in Yglesias as in Mickey Kaus.Report

          • Avatar Will Truman in reply to Mike Schilling
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            says:

            As it happens, I disagreed with the piece that inspired the conversation. Was toying around with writing a post on it, but then realized I was actually more conflicted on it.

            On the one hand, I think it’s incomplete to extrapolate views of people who are twenty into what their views are likely to be when they’re 40. Yes, studies have demonstrated that partisanship alignment won’t change dramatically, but I’m not at all convinced that shifting within the tent doesn’t occur over time. To wit, I think that Clinton third-wayism had at least as much to do with the evolving interests of the lefties as it did with strategy.

            On the other hand, I do think that Democratic moderation tends to be more strategic than ideological and if the electoral chips fall their way and they don’t have to tack center, they’re stop.) And strategy did play a part in the transition from Walter Mondale to Bill Clinton… they certainly pivoted away from it when they could.Report

        • Avatar Morat20 in reply to Will Truman
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          says:

          Eh, Matt’s missing the obvious with the “Clintons were McGovern organizers”.

          You mean people wanting to get into politics were….working in politics? Stop the presses.

          You know what? I betcha lots of people get into politics or cut their teeth on losing campaigns. Especially passionate people wanting to make a career of politics — heck, they might actually be drawn to long-shot campaigns, movement campaigns and the like.Report

    • Avatar North in reply to Will Truman
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      says:

      I’d agree he has some very interesting points about his own party/side. He is entirely deluded about the left which merely illustrates how badly out of touch the right is on that matter. If you overlook his comments about the Dems, though, he has some interesting points about the right.Report

  5. Avatar DavidTC
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    says:

    Interesting, but I find it sad how we are forced to communicate via 140 characters. We should invent some sort of ‘web log’, or blog for shoReport

  6. Avatar Michael Cain
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    says:

    Revolutions don’t have to mean armies and militias marching to and fro. Personally, I think it’s as likely that a revolution (and/or partition) starts from the left as from the right.Report

  7. Avatar Stillwater
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    says:

    This tweetsay strike me as another example of what we’ve all grown moreorless immune to over the years: incessant whining. The GOP – establishment, base, politicians, donors, etc – simply doesn’t care about the type of principle-based government Thomas thinks so important to keep the social contract from “fraying”. Conservatives fail conservatism at such a regular clip you wonder why boneheads like him keep thinking there’s something there to be failed.Report

  8. Avatar CK MacLeod
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    says:

    The reactions of our left and leftish partisan colleagues will surprise no one. They don’t get where this guy is coming from, they don’t want to get it, they are against getting it, getting it is not something they perceive in their interest: There is, in short, for them, no darn getting to be gotten done here.

    For me, one thing that’s interesting is the continued appropriation of class-conscious revolutionism by our so-called conservative, so-called right. The effect may or may not be to turn the world upside down, but it turns political language upside down. The verbal transformation is hardly without precedent, but the precedents are not ones I think our proponents of “conservative revolution” will enjoy having invoked. They are almost the Trotskyites vs the Trump-as-Stalinists, except that, as far as I can tell, they lack any coherent theory of revolution or revolutionary praxis. Of course, Sanders is almost as bad in that respect, but he also happens to be sidling towards a recuperation of “class” for the Left – where, after all, it still really belongs.

    On the other hand, the Trots often developed very elaborate and seemingly irrefutable theories of radical change, and look where it got them, or didn’t.Report

    • Avatar Stillwater in reply to CK MacLeod
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      says:

      The reactions of our left and leftish partisan colleagues will surprise no one. They don’t get where this guy is coming from, they don’t want to get it, they are against getting it, getting it is not something they perceive in their interest: There is, in short, for them, no darn getting to be gotten done here.

      In my own case, that’s not true. If I thought that on an empirical level that conservative’s cared about the issues animating Thomas’ above, I’d conclude that his ostensible goals are at least politically possible; but I don’t, so I don’t.

      If I thought that his goals actually prevented the fraying of the social contract (in any way other than circularly) I’d think that goal was worthy. But I don’t, so I don’t.

      If I thought that instituting the policies which derive from principle-based conservatism would lead to better outcomes for the majority of people or could lead to outcomes consistent with the ostensible goals justifying implementing them, I’d agree it was a programme worth pursuing. But I don’t, so I don’t.Report

    • Avatar Mike Schilling in reply to CK MacLeod
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      says:

      The reactions of our left and leftish partisan colleagues will surprise no one. They don’t get where this guy is coming from, they don’t want to get it, they are against getting it, getting it is not something they perceive in their interest: There is, in short, for them, no darn getting to be gotten done here.

      Who was it that was citing the commenting policy yesterday against this kind of attack? Oh, but that’s entirely different, it’s just not in my interest to see how.Report

      • Avatar CK MacLeod in reply to Mike Schilling
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        says:

        That is an absurd intepretation, Mr. Schilling, both of my comment and of the commenting policy – although I guess by your interpretation my responding and disagreeing would amount to another such violation.

        Yesterday, an individual directed (intermittently foul, and a bit bizarre) remarks at me personally, and threatened to escalate. If you can’t tell the difference between that and this, I can’t help ya.Report

    • Avatar DavidTC in reply to CK MacLeod
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      says:

      The reactions of our left and leftish partisan colleagues will surprise no one. They don’t get where this guy is coming from, they don’t want to get it, they are against getting it, getting it is not something they perceive in their interest: There is, in short, for them, no darn getting to be gotten done here.

      See, this is a very interesting comment when compared to what people have *said* here. Because…almost no one here is actually dissecting what Crown said in that manner. Or any manner.

      Here are the things that *actual* people were talking about in the discussion before that point:

      General mockery that Crown thinks Sanders-support somehow close to gulag-support.

      Stillwater asserting that Republican voters simply do not care about the sort of things that Crown thinks they care about, and Crown really should understand that by now. (At which point the conversation wandered off into what *Yglesias* said, which is hardly relevant to Crown.)

      greginak making some rather reasonable points about how Crown seems a bit clueless about the certain things, like claiming that Trump supporters are not a ‘meaningful cohort’ of R or that Rubio isn’t establishment. And then he moves on to claiming this is just basic ‘sky is falling’ stuff.

      Which of these, *exactly*, is ‘not getting where this guy is coming from’? It’s not the group that was just pointing out obvious red baiting. It’s not Stillwater, whose point seems to be that Crown doesn’t seem to understand Republican voters and didn’t comment on what Crown actually said.

      The only person that could possibly be describing is greginak, in his second paragraph.

      That basically means this entire post about how ‘the left commentators don’t get where this guy is coming from’ is basically referring to this paragraph, by itself:

      Erickson is certainly channeling, and stoking, some conservative feeling we’re all doomed and the sky is falling. True dat. I’d say that is more a product of fear mongering, old people mad at the kids these days and some pretty big distortions. That doesn’t mean C’s like some things that are happening but “the republic is doomed” seems pretty far out there. YMMV, but i think that is out there.

      Actually, the last two sentences of that are basically him quoting the guy and saying he disagrees, so really, it’s the first half of that that is, possibly, a misunderstanding of what Crown is saying.

      I’m not sure it *is* a misunderstanding, but it is certainly possible that I am one of the people who do not get it…but that is not the point. The point is that the rest of us are looking at a discussion where one guy said ‘This is sky-is-falling conservative paranoia’, and CK decides this is some sort of general ‘reactions of our left and leftish partisan colleagues’ proving they just don’t get it.

      Seriously…it would have been entirely possible for ‘left and leftish partisan colleagues’ here to *be having* a discussion about what Crown was trying to say and, (in CK’s opinion), not understanding what Crown was getting at…but they literally were not doing that. They were pointing at red baiting and questioning Crown’s understanding of the voters, neither of which can possibly be ‘not getting it’ due to some sort of partisan bias.Report

    • Avatar Saul Degraw in reply to CK MacLeod
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      says:

      Where is Crown coming from? The basic issue is that he made a swipe at the Democratic Party and Sanders supporters that is risible and merit less. There seems to be a complete inability on the right to use any sense of proportion when it comes to the Demicratic Party and the left.Report

  9. Avatar trizzlor
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    says:

    Crown makes a good point that Rubio appearing more “establishment” is just a matter of marketing. But isn’t he also falling for for the same marketing in concluding that Cruz is a revolutionary (whereas Rubio is a gradualist)? What specific revolutionary proposals does Cruz have? Are there specific voting blocs that he wants kicked out of the party? Does he want the party to start campaigning in a revolutionarily different way? I don’t see anything from Cruz like the structural changes proposed by Goldwater or McGovern. Is being disliked by party elders all it takes to be a revolutionary in the GOP?Report

    • Avatar Will Truman in reply to trizzlor
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      says:

      Cruz would be revolutionary in the sense of tactics. A willingness to go to war rather than negotiate. Shut the government down, keep it shut down. Don’t try to make change, but *force* it. Bring everything to a crashing halt and they won’t have a choice. All we have to do is stand together and all you have to do is stand with me.

      Not sure I buy it in large part because I think Cruz is more of an actor in search of a role and that role would change if he became president. But that is the role in which he is casting himself, and the role many if his supporters want to see. And if he’s not who I think he is it could well be his role in history if he could accomplish it.Report

      • Avatar trizzlor in reply to Will Truman
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        says:

        I totally agree that this is the role Cruz projects, and the role that Crown seems to have internalized. But is it actually supported by the positions he’s taken as candidate? Is there any actual tactical proposal beyond “we’re gonna force it”? Because, by that token, we could say that Trump’s promise to make Mexico build our wall is a “revolutionary new direction for the GOP to force other countries to build our infrastructure”. Of course it obviously isn’t, it’s just sloganeering … so what makes Cruz different? Crown claims there’s a great debate going on, but he hasn’t presented a single non-rhetorical difference between the two sides.Report

        • Avatar Will Truman in reply to trizzlor
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          says:

          It’s supported by the fact that he shut down the government practically before he’d gotten his couch into his office. He has directly taken on party leadership, Obama, and all of that in a way that comparatively few others have. He has more cred in this regard than almost anybody. While I think he would change directory because he’s mostly a phony, that’s speculation on my part. There are indications that if elected as the head of our government, he’d wreck the place quite intentionally.

          Now, that’s not to say he would succeed. His shut-down was not successful. But I don’t blame anyone for thinking he might try.Report

          • Avatar trizzlor in reply to Will Truman
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            says:

            Fine, let’s take Cruz at his word that the gov’t shutdowns were a failed attempt to pass conservative policy, rather than a successful attempt to promote Ted Cruz. I still don’t see what a president Cruz would do that a president Rubio would not do. The president’s power to “wreck the place” is actually pretty limited. Would he promise to veto very bill unless his demands were met? Would he attach signing statements that nullify the laws? Would he issue executive orders that Rubio would be too gradualist for? None of things seem to me to be particularly effective, and they certainly don’t add up to the large-scale *cultural* shifts that Crown is predicting. In contrast, it would not be difficult at all to find cultural, structural, and tactical differences between Goldwater or McGovern and their contemporaries. The fact that Crown can’t really provide a single example of this makes me suspect he’s spinning a just-so story.Report

            • Avatar Will Truman in reply to trizzlor
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              says:

              He makes no apologies for shutting down the government (and failing). He considers it an accomplishment in disrupting business as usual. As president, if he has 1/3 of either house, he can keep a shutdown going indefinitely.

              He’d fail, in the end, but a lot of revolutionaries do.Report

  10. Avatar Saul Degraw
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    says:

    Let’s talk about Socialism shall we? Has Bernie Sanders said anything about public ownership of the means of production?

    No. He did say that taxes on the middle class might be raised and laughed at HRC’s notion that 250k was middle class.

    Contra Matt Y, Sanders in many ways is the Democratic Party returning to New Deal economic roots. Yet to the GOP it is Stalin. What the hell is going on in their fever dreams? How is it that they still think it is 1953? Yes Sanders calls himself a Democratic Socialist but he is talking about a welfare state. Sweden has not abandoned universal healthcare.Report

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