How to Fix a Broken Elephant: Prologue

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Tod Kelly

Tod is a writer from the Pacific Northwest. He is also serves as Executive Producer and host of both the 7 Deadly Sins Show at Portland's historic Mission Theatre and 7DS: Pants On Fire! at the White Eagle Hotel & Saloon. He is  a regular inactive for Marie Claire International and the Daily Beast, and is currently writing a book on the sudden rise of exorcisms in the United States. Follow him on Twitter.

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313 Responses

  1. Avatar Damon
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    says:

    When might we expect this holy grail solution Tod? I’m waiting on pins and needles.Report

    • Avatar North in reply to Damon
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      says:

      I’m going to steal Tod’s thunder. The cure is loss and losses. The GOP has to get roundly drubbed in a few elections. That should cure what ails them in a cycle or two.

      I have no idea what they’ll look like when they emerge from that crucible; to be honest I’m a little bit scared. Maybe it’ll be some kind of moderated libertarian/conservative fusion. Maybe it’ll be some recalibrated conservative beast. Maybe it’ll be a more centrist/libertarian hybrid. I don’t know what it’ll be but whatever eventually springs forth will be leaner, more coherent and electable. Then it’ll probably be my sides turn to slog through the wilderness.Report

      • Avatar Mike Dwyer in reply to North
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        As a reminder, Republicans are doing pretty damn good in state elections, the Senate and the house. They’ve lost two presidential elections in a row, so I’m not sure it’s time to assume they are on their death bed. If I recall, Dems lost two in a row before Obama.

        Trump is certainly a bizarre blip on the radar but not the first in American politics. It does mean the GOP needs to better understand their base, but I remain skeptical that they need quite as much help as the Left thinks.Report

        • Avatar Don Zeko in reply to Mike Dwyer
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          My concern about the GOP is not that it is incapable of being elected in its current form, but that its incapable of governing in its current state. So the evidence for the prosecution involves the policy failures of the Bush administration and the manner in which the GOP has opposed Obama and governed at the state level where they hold power.Report

          • Avatar Mike Dwyer in reply to Don Zeko
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            says:

            @don-zeko

            I guess it depends on what you mean by ‘govern’. As a progressive conservative I certainly agree they are not governing when they just seem to want to spend all of their energy on rollbacks of liberal policies. I’m not saying that it’s never good to do that (liberals are wrong plenty of the time so their policies should not be beyond review) but as a general rule I wish they were more forward looking. Unfortunately, I think a lot of conservatives see rollbacks and obstructionism as governing, so it’s all in the eye of the beholder.Report

            • Avatar Don Zeko in reply to Mike Dwyer
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              says:

              This deserves a more in-depth response than I had time to give it today, but unfortunately I have a busy weekend coming and might not get to it soon. If not, sorry and I owe you one.Report

        • Avatar Michael Cain in reply to Mike Dwyer
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          Lately I’ve been thinking about whether the Republican governors demonstrate part of the Republicans’ recent “national election” problem. Chris Christie of New Jersey is not Sam Brownback of Kansas is not Brian Sandoval of Nevada. Nor could any of those — at least IMO — win in the others’ states. This year’s primaries, and those of 2012, suggest to me that the Republicans lack a real national identity. That’s good at the state and local level, not so much when it comes to the Oval Office.Report

        • Avatar Morat20 in reply to Mike Dwyer
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          says:

          I’ve said it before — the absolute worst thing for the modern GOP is the see-sawing turn-out patterns between Presidential and non-Presidential years. (Second might be the sort of “built in” advantages the GOP currently has with House and Senate seats. You can blame gerrymandering or the Founders or the whims of Fate, doesn’t really matte.r)

          It really prevents the GOP from properly assessing it’s own problems, much less fixing them. What works in non-Presidential years is killing them in Presidential years, and that sort of reward/punishment cycle is really locking them in.

          I’m sure the movers and shakers see it, but the average GOP voter (heck, the average voter at all — it’s not some special flaw to GOP voters) just sees a specific pattern: RINO/”electable” conservative loses Presidential race. True Conservative wins mid-term race. Ergo, the problem is the candidate isn’t conservative enough. (And again, turnout patterns hurt them because the mid-term elections have lower turnout in primaries too — leading to more extreme candidates).

          What the GOP really needs is for lazy Democrats to turn out during mid-terms. It’d make analysis and re-alignment easier.

          (A last problem is things like redistricting really have created some ‘locks’ on a lot of districts and state legislatures. That’s also providing a cushion against the problem. And they’re moving to restrict voting, as much as they can, to add another cushion between them and certain types of voters. Which again, will just extend the collapse but not prevent it. Then again, in the long run we’re all dead, so….)Report

          • Avatar Kolohe in reply to Morat20
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            says:

            Morat20:
            I’ve said it before — the absolute worst thing for the modern GOP is the see-sawing turn-out patterns between Presidential and non-Presidential years. (Second might be the sort of “built in” advantages the GOP currently has with House and Senate seats. You can blame gerrymandering or the Founders or the whims of Fate, doesn’t really matte.r)

            The first directly leads to the second. If the Obama coalition of 2008 didn’t completely fall apart in 2010, the shellacking of Dem state legislatures right before decennial redistricting would have been averted or mitigated.

            (which also points to the issue of how an electoral victory can hide issues with the political health of a party – but this one is with the Dems)Report

      • Avatar Saul Degraw in reply to North
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        @north

        I agree with you but I think that the GOP going through what is necessary is possibly quite far away. I’ll be a broken record but Mike is right. The GOP has done really well in state legislative and local elections and governorships in the past few years. They have used these wins to create tactical strongholds.

        My cynical prediction is that the GOP can continue on this course for another 15-30 years possibly.Report

        • Avatar Michael Cain in reply to Saul Degraw
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          They have used these wins to create tactical strongholds.

          They’re not alone. Look at the red/blue maps at a detailed level. The Dems hold the NE urban corridor and some of the neighboring states, the Pacific Coast, and the urban core of most big metro areas (as a side note, in the physically larger of those states, the exurb/rural areas are generally solid red). It’s somewhat easier, I think, for the Dems to turn that into a “national” identity than the problem faced by the Republicans.Report

          • Avatar Saul Degraw in reply to Michael Cain
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            @michael-cain

            Maybe but how so. I agree that the Democratic Party has a lock on these areas but the GOP has been able to effecrtively gerrymander and lock the Democratic Party because of these urban strongholds.

            Notice that in safe Democratic districts (which are usually urban), the Democratic candidate usually wins by 65 percent of the vote or more. Often they win by 70 percent of the vote or more.

            In safe Republican districts, the GOP tends to win by 55 percent of the vote which is comfortably safe but by not as much.

            The GOP does this by keeping cities largely as their own Congressional districts instead of having a city suburban one. There are some exceptions but not many. My old district in New York was part NYC and part Nassau County but only because New York is a fairly blue state and there is just not much you can do when part of Nassau County is on the border of Queens. But it was still the most liberal section of Long Island that got included with Queens.Report

            • Avatar Michael Cain in reply to Saul Degraw
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              The GOP does this by keeping cities largely as their own Congressional districts instead of having a city suburban one.

              I’m sorry, I’m from the West — keeping cities intact within Congressional districts as much as possible is in most of the state constitutions, often dating back to the Progressive Era. More recently, both blue California and red Arizona gave those restrictions a prominent place in the requirements laid on their independent redistricting commissions.

              (And yes, I know where you live, but note that you drew your examples from the New York metro area rather than from California.)Report

              • Avatar Saul Degraw in reply to Michael Cain
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                @michael-cain

                I did not know that. I wonder how many state constitutions contain similar provisions like that.Report

              • Avatar Michael Cain in reply to Saul Degraw
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                According to Ballotpedia, 23 states require Congressional districts be contiguous, 19 require that county and city borders be honored to the extent practical, 18 require “compactness” in some form, and 13 require consideration of “communities of interest”. Some of those are constitutional, some statutory. I would be willing to make a modest wager that a majority in each category are western states.Report

            • Avatar Art Deco in reply to Saul Degraw
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              It’s not that difficult to contrive a practice manual for the construction of electoral constituencies which incorporates circumscribed variation in district populations, a general respect for local government boundaries, and very limited use of discretionary cuts. Two problems: the judiciary’s madcap insistence on equipopulousness within pointlessly narrow ranges (see Robert Bork’s account of working as a special master) and the judiciary’s madcap insistence on racial gerrymandering.Report

        • Avatar DavidTC in reply to Saul Degraw
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          My cynical prediction is that the GOP can continue on this course for another 15-30 years possibly.

          And *that* will cost them the presidency for that amount of time.

          The GOP will, never again, win the presidency until they stop only appealing to white men. Period. They don’t have enough voters. The last time they *could* have won with only white men was 2008 or 2012, depending on who you ask.

          Actually, they might even have had problems in 2004…but Bush, for all his flaws, was not a racist, so they did moderately fine with minorities then, before throwing it all away in post-2008.

          And the stuff women dislike has proceeded full bore since then, also.

          By 2030 or so, we’re looking at Reagan-sized wins for presidency for Democrats, as their voters are half dead and extremely outnumbered.Report

          • Avatar Morat20 in reply to DavidTC
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            Trump’s negatives with women are insane. I don’t think they’re going to get better.Report

          • Avatar Saul Degraw in reply to DavidTC
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            @davidtc

            Perhaps but how much damage and polarization can occur when you the Democratic Party keep winning the Presidency but the GOP has a long term lock on Congress and the Juan Linz thesis might be true?Report

            • Avatar DavidTC in reply to Saul Degraw
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              I’m not sure the GOP *can* keep their lock on the Congress.

              The Republicans are not magic. They do not magically win Congressional elections. They have an *advantage* at Congressional elections.

              It actually seems possible they could lose the Senate *this election*. And then win it back in 2018, and lose it again in 2020.

              As for the GOP ‘long term lock’ on the House…I find myself baffled by that talk.

              In 2014, the Republicans got basically the exact same winning margin of 6% of the popular vote as they did in 2010…and got a few more seats. Gerrymandering didn’t do anything there.

              Gerrymandering has, perhaps, altered exactly one election so far, in 2012, where a tiny 1% win in the popular vote for the Dems resulted in a 4% loss…under which we can conclude the Republicans have a small, 5% advantage via gerrymandering. (One sample point is, perhaps, nonsense, but whatever.)

              The problem is…most swings in the House are *way larger* than 5%. Rerun the 2008 election *even under gerrymandering*, and I’m pretty certain the Dems would come out ahead. Not by as much, but ahead.

              Additionally, gerrymandering can turn on you, where a bunch of those 45% Democrat districts you made all slowly swing 6% towards Democrats over the decade…and now you’ve just accidentally gerrymandered a bunch of *pro-Democrat* districts. The *worse* the gerrymandering was, the thinner the margins by which Republicans packed away Democrats where they can’t win, the faster it blows up when vote preferences slightly change…like if they attempt to elect someone like Trump, for example.

              The Republicans can keep trying to build sandbars out of gerrymandering and voter suppression, but the demographic tide is still coming in. It’s already here for the presidency, which has been lost. The House and Senate will be intermediate for a while, but will be lost. (They can perhaps re-gerrymand in 2020 and keep the House intermediate for a bit longer, at least for midterms.)

              The *only* way to fix the structural problem is to appeal to any group other than white men.

              I was going to say that ‘older white men’, but while losing a lot of the white male youth vote hurt them and caused this to happen sooner, but going *after* those people at this point would be running to just try to stand in one place.

              This is assuming, of course, that the American people voting for Republicans at all, if they keep doing things elect nominating Trump. In fact, this is all complete nonsense…the Republicans have shown they are currently winning to go so far outside the political norm that this entire thing is could be moot, because some GOP state government might decide that *they* should pick their Representative than the people, or attempt to restrict the franchise to property-owners, or some equally batshit insane thing.Report

      • Avatar LeeEsq in reply to North
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        I don’t think that loses in American politics have the same moderating force that electoral defeats in other countries do. When you loose in a parliamentary system it tends to be so complete that plausible denial is not possible. Even than it could still take a long time for a party to change. It took Labour eighteen years to reform itself after losing to Thatcher and the Conservative Party in 1979. American politics give more plausible deniability.Report

        • Avatar notme in reply to LeeEsq
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          Or maybe presidential loses don’t really represent what liberals would like them to mean.Report

          • Avatar David Parsons in reply to notme
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            The gerrymander doesn’t work well if the electoral boundaries are hard to move. If state boundaries could be rearranged as easily as congressional districts are, presidential elections might be a much more interesting story.Report

        • Avatar Michael Cain in reply to LeeEsq
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          In a parliamentary system, you have to win one thing: a majority of seats in the legislature, or at least enough that you can buy off a minor party to form a working majority. In a strong-president system, you have to win the legislative majority and the presidency. This is even more true in contemporary US government, where the legislature has delegated a great deal of the detailed law-writing to the executive. Periods where one party has both seem to be getting rarer and rarer.

          Was it here that someone recently pointed at something written by a history of political science type that asserted all strong-president systems except the US have eventually failed because they reach a state where each branch is more interested in denying the other branch the authority to act, than they are in dealing with the problems of the country?Report

          • Avatar LeeEsq in reply to Michael Cain
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            That would be the Juan Linz thesis first articulated around 1991. Linz was a Chilean political scientist who taught at Princeton. He was wondering why the Presidential thesis in the United States was a success while it was a failure every where else he tried. Linz’s conclusion was that ideological distinct parties do not work in a Presidential system because when the Presidency and Legislature are split than there is little incentive to work together. Since the Presidency has a national rather than district based mandate, the President is often to tempted to argue that the people believe with him and forgo procedural niceties. America worked because for most of it’s history, the parties covered a wide ideological range. When the parties became calcified around a particular issue like slavery than things fell apart.Report

        • Avatar Murali in reply to LeeEsq
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          And labour quickly reverted under Corbyn and is probably doomed to relative irrelevance at the national level for at least the next cycle (though if Corbyn is ousted as party leader that may change)Report

          • Avatar Art Deco in reply to Murali
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            If by ‘quickly’ you mean ‘thirty years later’. I suspect Corbyn differs from Michael Foot in that he’s more invested in identity politics and is certainly less educated and less experienced. Foot held a number of cabinet ministries. Corbyn rotted on the back benches for thirty years because the party leadership didn’t trust him (because dopey, one suspects).

            What’s curious about the Corbyn phenomenon is that it indicates that their is an abiding population of repulsive sectaries in the Labour Party (or in the body of voters who take enough of an interest in public affairs to take out a membership on short notice). Tony Benn toadied up to the Trotskyist element who could stay up all night and take over constituency parties, but never quite won the party offices he sought; he was, however, quite the heavyweight compared with Corbyn.Report

  2. Avatar Dan Scotto
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    says:

    This is timely and appropriate. I think the challenge is that the incentives for cynical opportunists like Ted Cruz are just too good, and I think *that’s* the key challenge for principled conservatives: how do you alter those incentives to prevent people like Cruz from using the Senate to grandstand to the misinformed?

    One potential solution: rally to prevent that candidate from using that approach to become the nominee. Which, you know, may well have happened.Report

  3. Avatar Mike Dwyer
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    says:

    I’m going to resist my gut-level reaction to having the facts liberal-splained to me in this series. Also interested to see how far the suggested solutions go. Will Tod be satisfied with the GOP just being a harmless opposition that merely delays liberal plans, or does he want a progressive opponent that actively tries to move the country along using conservative principles?Report

    • Avatar Mike Dwyer in reply to Mike Dwyer
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      says:

      I will also add that it would be cool to hear Tod’s reasons for writing this. Is it just a back-handed way of sharing all the reasons why the GOP is terrible, or something else.Report

    • Avatar veronica d in reply to Mike Dwyer
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      @mike-dwyer — I can speak for myself. I want a stronger libertarian movement, to counter the centralizing tendencies of we technocratic types. In other words, I want to see the “culture war” grind down to a “well obviously” discourse, with the holdouts regarded much as we regard the Amish — weirdos who are fine cuz they keep to themselves. The point is, I want to see a fruitful exploration of the tensions between “let’s make a bunch of smart rules to fix this” and “LEAVE ME THE FUCK ALONE!”

      To my view, the “mixed economy” approaches to regulated market capitalism have worked pretty well for the past 100 years, with the occasional awful blip — such as the recent unpleasantness. But all the same, I don’t want a “revolution,” cuz I’m pretty darn sure that would be catastrophic for everyone. Likewise, I don’t want “full socialism,” cuz that doesn’t work for shit. But at the same time, the post-Reagan “rah markets!” types seem pretty out of touch with how the world works.

      We muddle through. A politics based on “muddling through” is what you should look for, if you want something that might actually work.

      Regarding “conservative principles” — fine whatever. Just stay out of my face with that shit. I’ll stay out of yours.

      Except I get to use the bathroom like everyone else. I might sit next to you at the lunch counter. I’m a citizen too. You gotta deal with that. I deserve to get served. I get to move through the world.

      #####

      Last week I was on a flight from Orlando to Boston. On the plane, I sat next to this Western MA WASPy fuck. The entire flight he was reading National Review on his phone. Judging by his body language and tone, he didn’t like me much. In fact, before the flight began I was being nosy, and I noticed that he texted to someone, “I’m sitting next to a very strange person.”

      Ha!

      But whatever. He left me alone. I left him alone. He perused his right-wing nonsense — and I’m sure it was nonsense. I read (sections of) an unusually good math book.

      The flight attendants were lovely and polite. They called me “ma’am” in an obviously respectful way. I wonder if that bothered him.

      I dunno. He didn’t say anything.

      So goes the “culture war.”Report

    • Avatar Kazzy in reply to Mike Dwyer
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      If liberal-splaining is a thing, does that mean you accept man-splaining and white-splaining as things?Report

  4. Avatar Burt Likko
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    In a comment above, @mike-dwyer refers to “conservative principles.”

    This is a phrase that, in the 1970’s and 1980’s, had coalesced around some coherent and intellectually robust political philosophy. Which, in turn, led to a substantial consensus of what the government should and should not do. The great intellectual hero was William F. Buckley, Jr. Near as I can tell, Bucklean conservatism was a stool with four legs: cultural traditionalism, anti-communism, judicial textualism, and economic libertarianism.

    These days, we’ve rejected the Laffer Curve as not what really happens when taxes are lowered, that supply-side economics leads to a problematic amount of accumulation of public debt. Plenty of Republicans cannot square the circle of the restricted-government-services vision of the low-tax, low-spending vision of the government that the National Review preached in its glory days: they’ve mistaken “this isn’t the government’s job” philosophy for a respectable decoupage atop the ugliness of class warfare and political marginalization of demographics captured by Democrats. This is how we get “real Americans” ostracizing the Others in their midst as welfare cheats and moochers and limousine liberals.

    Anti-communism as a defining motive force of conservatism, informing foreign policy and military priorities, fell victim to its own success. There is no more Soviet Union. China and Vietnam are too valuable as trading partners to be thought of as overt adversaries, and at long last we’ve begun to treat Cuba the same way. Venezuela has oil and North Korea has nukes and Iran has been mostly containable. Replacing anti-communism with anti-Islamicism again teetered on the brink of, and eventually fell prey to, the temptation of cultural Othering.

    Buckley carved out a nuance for internal cultural conservatism too: the kind of go-slow, think-about-collateral-consequences, don’t-fix-what-ain’t-broke attitude to social change we can read in, for instance, the Moynihan report. This, too, was seduced into Othering, with a healthy dose of reactionary thought contaminating the quasi-Burkeanism to the point that resisting and reversing change has become an end unto itself rather than a means toward the measured goal of preserving that which was good from the past while incrementally paring away the less desirable.

    Judicial textualism was indeed one of the first things to fall victim to this tendency, at least within the political sphere. Actual textualism judges did what they had intellectually girded themselves to do, but “strict constructionism” turned quickly into code for “will reverse Roe v. Wade“and now includes the codicil “will also reverse Obergefell.” (Edited to add: Textualism is no longer what conservatives actually want on the bench. They simply want results that favor their political agenda and don’t much care what reasoning gets them there. Chief Justice John Roberts used textualism to affirm the individual mandate of Obamacare as a tax, and is thought of as a “traitor” and endured calls for his impeachment for it.)

    So what I see is that where the intellectual foundations of conservatism have not been superseded by experience, they have been corrupted by tribalism to the point that they seem irredeemable. Thus am I no longer a conservative myself, and indeed makes me actively oppose much of what makes the contemporary “movement” tick. The phrase “conservative principles” itself has become so ambiguous and cloudy in meaning as to be more of a spin on the roulette wheel than a litmus test; what someone like Sarah Palin thinks is or is not congruent with “conservative principles” is almost certainly different from what someone like Paul Ryan thinks, which is different from what someone like Rand Paul thinks which is different from what someone like Rudy! Giuliani thinks which is different from what someone like Rick Perry thinks.

    How this gets fixed is beyond me; for myself, I’ve just plain walked away and I have no plans to return.Report

    • Avatar Mike Dwyer in reply to Burt Likko
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      says:

      @burt-likko
      Buckley carved out a nuance for internal cultural conservatism too: the kind of go-slow, think-about-collateral-consequences, don’t-fix-what-ain’t-broke attitude to social change we can read in, for instance, the Moynihan report.

      This is certainly the type of conservatism I subscribe to. I will say though, that the ramping up of rhetoric is often reactive. A good example would be some of the rhetoric around hunting vs. the anti-hunting movement. Hunters were once a well-respected part of the conservation movement. Now they often feel attacked and on the outside and their rhetoric reflects this. This was a direct response to cultural changes that happened in the 60s and 70s, led by groups like PETA, Greenpeace and even the Humane Society. This also gave much more power to the NRA which was seen as one of the only groups fighting for hunters.

      So I think both sides need to take some responsibility there.Report

      • Avatar Burt Likko in reply to Mike Dwyer
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        No argument there, but saying “You have some fault and I’d like you to do something about it,” is not the same thing as “We have some fault and we’re going to do something about it.”

        What I’m seeing written here in these comments is “Liberals need to stop being mean to conservatives, and once that happens, conservatives will get their house in order.” Conservatives need to get their house in order anyway, pointing out that the other side is also flawed is the means by which they excuse themselves from doing it.

        Reminds me a bit of the moatdigger faction’s policy on immigration reform. “First, we have to impose massive amounts of physical security to control our borders and thus prevent even a single illegal immigrant from getting in the country. Only once this is done will we even discuss reforming the work permit, visa, and naturalization processes.”

        #BetterThanHillary is a fine example of this happening right now: “I know Trump is an excerable quasi-racist and an overt misogynist, whose economic policies, such as they even are subject to discernment, would cause a massive recession and call the good credit of the United States into question, and whose proposed foreign policy seems to consist of prosecuting every war that would piss off our own allies, breaching multiple treaties, and inciting our largest trading partners to enter into tariff wars with us. But at least he won’t be Hillary Clinton, who is self-evidently worse than any of this!”

        A cultural leader of our nation of Trump’s moral character ought to be unacceptable, period. An economic agenda like Trump’s ought to be unacceptable, period. A foreign policy agenda like Trump’s ought to be unacceptable, period. The spectacle of Republicans advancing this concept isn’t ringing true for me because it’s not at all clear to me that Clinton’s anodyne corruption and run-of-the-mill political slipperiness would be anything substantially different than her husband’s administration. Bill Clinton as President really wasn’t all that awful until he got impeached, and the impeachment was a creation as much of a GOP leadership defining itself by way of putting tactical reactivity on autopilot, rather than affirmative pursuit of any sort of policy goals.Report

        • Avatar notme in reply to Burt Likko
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          If Repubs gave the amnesty crowd what they want do you think they would ever tighten boarder security? They wouldn’t b/c illegals benefit them. Besides, what is wrong with security first so you can stop the problem?Report

          • Avatar Burt Likko in reply to notme
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            The issue here is not the merits of the policy proposal. It’s the tactic of deflection and avoidance.

            As to the merits of immigration policy, I’m amenable to addressing security concerns as part of a package that also includes streamlining naturalization and the various forms of visas. Streamlining naturalization and visa applications is not the same thing as amnesty.

            But the issue here is a refusal to address problems on your own side of the fence until the other side done what you want first. It’s pretty rare that this is a good faith negotiating tactic (outside of a structured negotiation with a truly neutral and mutually-trusted intermediary, the likes of which do not exist in our political environment).Report

            • Avatar notme in reply to Burt Likko
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              says:

              The issue here is not the merits of the policy proposal. It’s the tactic of deflection and avoidance.

              Just b/c my side wants security before amnesty doesn’t make it deflection and avoidance. Or is it that you simple can’t understand that the other side has different priorities than yours?Report

              • Avatar Kim in reply to notme
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                If you want security before amnesty, vote for Democrats. Both Obama and Clinton have done more for security than the Bushes. [And I’m citing a republican when I say this,not just making up bullshit]

                The Bushes are more in favor of slavery, which might not surprise you so much if you knew who their friends were.Report

        • Avatar Mike Dwyer in reply to Burt Likko
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          I think that mis-interprets the reactionary nature of mainline conservatism. They see themselves as the watchers on the wall. Basically, most of them are Alliser Thorne. What they do, they believe is the right thing for the country, even if they get hung for it.Report

          • Avatar Kazzy in reply to Mike Dwyer
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            says:

            @mike-dwyer

            Can you explain the phrase “the waters on the wall”? I’m not familiar with it and googling turned up a Roger Water’s concert film it appears.Report

            • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Kazzy
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              says:

              (For want of a “ch”, the point was lost. For want of a point, the comment was lost. For want of a comment…)Report

              • Avatar Kazzy in reply to Jaybird
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                says:

                Now YOU’VE lost ME, @jaybird . I am in no way trying to be pedantic with Mike. I’m trying to understand what he is saying here but he has used a phrase I am unfamiliar with and I am hoping he can shed some light on it for me so that I can properly make sense of his comment.Report

              • Avatar Kazzy in reply to Kazzy
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                says:

                D’oh. Now I see it. What a doofus I am.

                Did it always say that? Or did he edit it while I was making my comment? Regardless, my apologies for the confusion to both you and Mike.Report

              • Avatar Don Zeko in reply to Kazzy
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                says:

                Water on the wall was a typo; Mike meant Watcher on the Wall. In other words, Mike thinks that liberals are omnicidal ice necromancers.Report

              • Avatar DavidTC in reply to Don Zeko
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                omnicidal ice necromancers

                The preferred term is ‘ice mages operating outside the traditional vitanormatic paradigm who are unbiased in their murdering’.

                Please note that ‘ice mage’ is currently under review, and in no way indicated that ice magic is in any way better than other forms of magic.Report

              • Avatar Morat20 in reply to DavidTC
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                says:

                They’re people running bruise decks, what do you expect?

                (I’m about 20 years out of M:TG, but I’m pretty sure Blue and Black sums up the Walkers.)Report

              • Avatar dragonfrog in reply to Morat20
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                says:

                The Bruise deck – was that a Renraku product? If they’re running black ICE, that’s some pretty heavy stuff, in any case.Report

              • Avatar Morat20 in reply to dragonfrog
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                says:

                Sadly no, not Shadowrun. Magic the Gathering — decks with blue and black cards (two of the five ‘colors’ used in the game) were known as “bruise”, at least back in the 90s when I was still addicted.

                Black tended to be tied to death, decay, and “zombies” and “skeletons” were common cards. Blue was water — which covered ice (and counterspelling).

                Hence, ice zombies. I’ve had M:TG on the brain lately.Report

              • Avatar Don Zeko in reply to DavidTC
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                says:

                It still blows my mind that there are people in the fandom who think the white walkers aren’t really bad guys.Report

              • Avatar Zac in reply to DavidTC
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                says:

                space awesomeReport

            • Avatar Maribou in reply to Kazzy
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              says:

              Watchers on the Wall is a Game of Thrones, reference, @kazzy – cf https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Watchers_on_the_Wall, though the term predates the episode. Pretty sure it came from the books.

              Basically the guys who are isolated from the rest of society, but see a growing danger that could wipe out ALL of society, that they may or may not be sufficient to guarding against, but dammit, they’re going to try…Report

              • Avatar Don Zeko in reply to Maribou
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                says:

                Like I said, ice zombies.Report

              • Avatar Mike Dwyer in reply to Maribou
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                says:

                In my day job, I work under our Quality group. There’s a constant tension between us and the Operations folks because they see us as needlessly worried, and the guys with grim faces who always have to tell them why their ideas won’t work. Recently, and because many of my team are GoT fans, we’ve started actually referring to ourselves as the Nights Watch. It’s a good morale booster and also highlights that it’s not always fun to be the person that must sound the alarm.

                I’m not saying the alarm is always justified, but perhaps if liberals didn’t always seem to default to, “You oppose this because you are mean/biggoted/racist/xenophobic/etc,” then maybe conservatives could go back to simply standing watch. As it is now, when you are told that all of your concerns are founded in ignorance…it makes it hard not to walk away.Report

              • Avatar Kazzy in reply to Mike Dwyer
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                says:

                Thanks for clarifying all. I was about to start looking up John Waters films.Report

              • Avatar Chip Daniels in reply to Kazzy
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                says:

                Although Watchers On The Wall may be the greatest album Pink Floyd never recorded.Report

              • Avatar Mike Schilling in reply to Chip Daniels
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                says:

                Sounds to me more like a Doors song.Report

              • Avatar Maribou in reply to Mike Dwyer
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                says:

                @mike-dwyer

                “As it is now, when you are told that all of your concerns are founded in ignorance…it makes it hard not to walk away.”

                Yes, I think this is pretty much always true for everybody (and I like how you phrase it) … I have certainly felt exactly that way when my concerns are met with what feels like meanness, bigotry, racism, xenophobia, etc. – felt like the person confronting me thinks I am an idiot for having those concerns. For example ;). And I often do just walk away.Report

              • Avatar Chip Daniels in reply to Mike Dwyer
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                says:

                You see the similarity between the vigilant and faithful Watcher On The Wall, to Col. Jessup in A Few Good Men?

                That is, that the Watcher, by being detached from the society he ostensibly serves, slowly becomes contemptuous of it, and holds himself above it as superior.

                Isn’t that the story of the conservative movement, that by being constantly alarmed at changes to society, wanting to stand athwart the world yelling “Stop”, they have come to hold a majority of their fellow Americans in contempt?

                I would ask anyone here to consider how much of conservative expression is devoted to condemnation of Americans- how Americans are lazy, Americans are weak willed and too cowardly to stand up to The Enemy, Americans are impious and disrespectful of religion, Americans are licentious and scornful of traditional mores.
                American schools are collapsing, American cities are cesspools of crime and dysfunction, American colleges are filled with crybaby brats, the American legal system is infested with cynical lawyers conniving on behalf of greedy consumer, the American government is both totalitarian at home and a paper tiger abroad.

                America, the Watchers tell us, is not great, and needs to be restored to some former glory.Report

              • Avatar Catchling in reply to Chip Daniels
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                says:

                A conservative might square the circle by saying America has become almost entirely un-American.Report

              • Avatar Don Zeko in reply to Chip Daniels
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                says:

                That is a fault where I think BSDI is pretty fair, though. One doesn’t have to look very far to find liberals that essentially agree with the Real America idea: that America is a backwards country full of gun-crazy Jesus freak racists in which they fit poorly.Report

              • Avatar Chip Daniels in reply to Don Zeko
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                says:

                That’s a very valid point.

                The level of despair on the left is not nearly as high as it is on the right, maybe because we have had more victoriesReport

              • Avatar Catchling in reply to Don Zeko
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                says:

                It is interesting how both Red and Blue generally agree that Red America is more American than Blue. Sure, sometimes a liberal tries to paint it the other way — that Real America is about diversity and civil freedoms, a “land of immigrants” and so on. But that’s not the norm, and for some reason can sound like protesting too much.

                I wonder if this is common around the world; are liberals in other countries more likely then their conservative fellows to have a negative image of their nation, with the conservatives being more overtly patriotic and accusing the liberals of insufficient love of country? Or is the USA exceptional (heh) in this? Do French conservatives feel out of place in a Real France that is inherently too liberal for their liking?Report

              • Avatar greginak in reply to Catchling
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                says:

                I’ll just jump in here. No sporking way is Red America more american than Blue. Both are just as American. America is many different and conflicting things and no political or cultural side gets to claim the good ol US of A as there own.Report

              • Avatar Catchling in reply to greginak
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                says:

                America is many different and conflicting things and no political or cultural side gets to claim the good ol US of A as there own.

                Oh, I agree 100%. I’m just observing a tendancy in the culture. Much as cconservatism to “own” God/faith, it also gets to own patriotism. It’s difficult to imagine any conservative being truly on the defensive about his faith, not even the sleazy Donald opposite the devout Hillary. And similarly with love-of-country, although maybe that will change this year?Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Catchling
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                says:

                Trans-nationalism is progressive. Nationalism is provincial.Report

              • Avatar Saul Degraw in reply to Catchling
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                says:

                @catchling

                I think there are a lot of issues going on.

                1. Upper-middle class liberals of the “I have a graduate degree, listen to NPR, like to talk about foreign travel” are just a small part of the Democratic Party. If the Democratic Party needed to rely on the votes of upper-middle class professionals alone, they would half much less power because that is just a small part of the American electorate. Yet this small part seems to have a higher than actually true perceived influence.

                2. Lots of people flee to Democratic strongholds like San Francisco and NYC or other big cities to be who they are. Unsurprisingly it is a lot easier to be openly LGBT in the Bay Area (especially SF) than in a small-town in Michigan. Though there are LGBT communities in many red states and rural locations, a lot of people in areas like SF are transplants and they have strong (usually negative) connotations about their hometowns. Even if they were otherwise white and heterosexual, they were still beat up for being the quiet kids who liked art and books.

                3. I think if you are the party that talks about and believes in the importance of multi-culturalism and diversity. Nationalism/Patriotism can ultimately be something hard to talk about except in a vaguely embarrassed way. I think many liberals are proud to be American but feel kind of sheepish talking about it ways that Hubert Humphrey might have talked about being a proud American.

                4. The Democratic Party, in their own imperfect way, does try and deal with the past wrongs of the United States and this seems to enrage the right. This is not the only country where this happens. The Japanese right-wing is notorious for fighting tooth and nail about keeping all the bad stuff Japan did during WWII out of Japan’s school textbooks.Report

              • Avatar DavidTC in reply to Saul Degraw
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                says:

                1. Upper-middle class liberals of the “I have a graduate degree, listen to NPR, like to talk about foreign travel” are just a small part of the Democratic Party. If the Democratic Party needed to rely on the votes of upper-middle class professionals alone, they would half much less power because that is just a small part of the American electorate. Yet this small part seems to have a higher than actually true perceived influence.

                Both parties are controlled by the wealthiest people around who have a lot of free time. *Everything* is controlled by the wealthiest people around who have a lot of free time.

                It’s pretty much a law of nature of institutions. Figure out who is interested in what that institution does, figure out who has enough free time to pay attention to that, and, pick the richest subset of that group. You’ve discovered who is in charge…either officially, or unofficially.

                This applies to everything from a small non-profit to an HOA to the United States of America government.

                (Well, I lie. Sometimes ‘wealthiest’ is actually some other, very specific, form of power, like the most famous.)Report

              • Avatar veronica d in reply to Chip Daniels
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                says:

                Golly if they keep saying these things about us they might come true (she says while feeling a bit guilty).Report

              • Avatar Mike Dwyer in reply to Chip Daniels
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                says:

                @chip-daniels

                Isn’t that the story of the conservative movement, that by being constantly alarmed at changes to society, wanting to stand athwart the world yelling “Stop”, they have come to hold a majority of their fellow Americans in contempt?

                That seems hard to square. Since we’re talking about policy, I assume you mean how conservatives feel about liberals. Since only about 25% of Americans self-identify in that camp, ‘majority’ hardly seems fitting.

                And the mirror narrative to this is that liberals are the ones that hold people in contempt. Many conservatives believe that liberal policies devalue human potential and seek to tell people the government knows best. So in that sense, I guess that makes you all…the Lannisters? Or if we’re being charitable, perhaps Danerys. At least she means well.

                Isn’t the ultimate point that both sides think they are doing what’s best for society?Report

              • Avatar Francis in reply to Mike Dwyer
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                says:

                Self-classification is tricky. The Democratic Party regularly gets larger aggregate vote totals for various federal offices than the Republicans, so many people who are not liberal vote for Democrats.

                And you also do have to untangle the differences between what Paul Ryan and other major Republican leaders want — major reductions to Soc Sec and Medicare/aid — and what the voters wants — that those programs remain stable or even grow.

                Honesty about budgeting is hard to find. But did any of the 17 Republican candidates get even close to honest?Report

              • Avatar Art Deco in reply to Francis
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                says:

                The Democratic Party regularly gets larger aggregate vote totals for various federal offices than the Republicans, so many people who are not liberal vote for Democrats.

                Not in the last 20-odd years.Report

              • Avatar Chip Daniels in reply to Mike Dwyer
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                says:

                It is a tricky line to tread, where one scolds society for its failings while lovingly encouraging it for it successes.
                The counterculture of the 1960s lost primarily because they couldn’t find that line- not very many people were impressed with their vision of “Amerikkka”.

                Which brings us to tone and vision- Reagan’s skill- and Obama’s as well- was to find that sweet spot where he could put forward a vision that a broad majority could see themselves in, where criticism was matched by exhortation.

                I am not the only one who has marveled at how perfectly The Onion captured the conservative opposition as a “Shrieking White Hot Ball Of Rage”.Report

              • Avatar Mike Schilling in reply to Chip Daniels
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                says:

                I thought of A Few Good Men too. No doubt we’re both remembering They stand on a wall and say, “Nothing’s going to hurt you tonight, not on my watch.”

                I’m impressed with myself that I remembered the line as clearly as what Demi Moore looked like in that uniform saying it.Report

              • Avatar Don Zeko in reply to Mike Schilling
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                says:

                Guantanamo always seemed like a weird way to illustrate that idea, though. It’s not like Cuba in the 90’s was about to invade the US, so the only people Jessup and co. were protecting were Jessup & Co.Report

              • Avatar Mike Schilling in reply to Don Zeko
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                says:

                If even that: was Guantanamo ever in danger of being overrun by the Cuban military?Report

              • Avatar greginak in reply to Don Zeko
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                says:

                I’m pretty certain in saying most people than and now have no idea where GB is. So they have no idea how having marines in GB didn’t defend the US from anything.Report

              • Avatar Lurker in reply to Mike Dwyer
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                says:

                What if many conservative positions are founded on racism, homophobia, transphobia. and ignorance?Report

              • Avatar Mike Schilling in reply to Maribou
                Ignored
                says:

                The oath from the books includes: I am the watcher on the walls. It also includes I shall take no wife, hold no lands, father no children, so, with all due respect to MikeD, I’m going to keep the job I’ve got.Report

              • Avatar El Muneco in reply to Mike Schilling
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                says:

                Sadly, I think I’ve got all those pretty much locked up. The only thing that might disqualify me is an absolutely morbid fear of heights. I can’t even climb a ladder, much less walk around on a wall with no safety railing.

                If they were the Watchers Sort Of Near By The Walls, I’d be in without an interview.Report

          • Avatar Kim in reply to Mike Dwyer
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            says:

            Does “mainline conservatism” even really exist?
            The way i hear it, the Right always has one head.
            Judging a movement by its decision-makers is always fair game.Report

          • Avatar Francis in reply to Mike Dwyer
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            says:

            How about Rorschach (born Walter Joseph Kovacs)?Report

        • Avatar Art Deco in reply to Burt Likko
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          says:

          A cultural leader of our nation of Trump’s moral character ought to be unacceptable, period.

          Isn’t that cute?

          ‘Fraid that horse left the barn around about 1998, if not a half-dozen years earlier.

          And while you’re complaining about the frying pan, recall that he’s running against the fire.Report

    • Avatar CK MacLeod in reply to Burt Likko
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      says:

      @burt-likko

      You write as though you have determined that the primary sin, the sin of sins, is “Othering.” So, of course, you have to turn your back on politics, since the defining political distinction or the distinction that defines politics remains “us” and “them,” “friend” and “enemy.” collective “self” and “other.”

      The left-liberal notion is that politics is about “policy” for the good of all – “all people created equal” and so on – but no left-liberal politics is able to address the good of all immediately, or to whatever extent it might it passes over into the apolitical or politically irrelevant: Even the further left Bernie Sanders is a protectionist, appealing to the narrowly defined self-interest of the victims of globalization (i.e., universalized economic liberalism), suppressing the extent to which benefit to “us” along such lines must come at cost to and against the evident will of unidentified “thems,” while the anti-othering social justice movement pursues a program of othering the otherers (mostly as “hating/fearing conservatives”), dividing the world up into those to whom such a paradox expresses the highest purposes and those to whom it demonstrates hypocrisy or lack of self-awareness.

      As for the intellectual foundations of “conservatism” and the foundations or potential foundations of a “conservative” governing coalition, they are not necessarily the same thing, and reaching a shared understanding of the relationship (broadly, between theory and practice) will itself entail a complex discussion in which public narratives and sincerely and widely held presumptions may or may not diverge from sensible explanations, with the divergences thought to reflect on participants in different ways, with every possibly significant position factually and morally contestable, and with everyone determined to short circuit the process in a way that, more often than not unless invariably, will just happen to replicate the same self-interested friend-enemy distinctions (under whatever name) with which they began: Every other re-othered, just like we like it.Report

      • Avatar Burt Likko in reply to CK MacLeod
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        says:

        You seem to assume that I like Bernie Sanders. If so, that assumption would be mostly incorrect.

        I fully recognize that politics necessarily requires distinguishing one person from another, one policy idea from another, one political ideology from another. It further requires the making of arguments as to why one person, one idea, one ideology, is preferable to another.

        I’ve no objection to “My idea is better than yours,” or “I have better relevant skills than you.” My objection is “You are the enemy.” No, you are not the enemy; I accept that like me, you want to make the country a better place in some fashion. But you are mistaken; your idea is not going to achieve the result you claim and might even backfire. Here, I’ll explain how. Not to mention, my experience has better prepared me to handle this position than you. Compare how I handled this one problem and it turned out well, with how you handled this other problem and oh man, what a clusterfish that was.

        What I won’t do, though, is say, “You’re evil.” You’re not evil, but you’re also not nearly as good a choice as I am. Vote for me.Report

    • Avatar j r in reply to Burt Likko
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      says:

      These days, we’ve rejected the Laffer Curve as not what really happens when taxes are lowered, that supply-side economics leads to a problematic amount of accumulation of public debt.

      This is kind of inaccurate. We have not rejected the Laffer Curve, because the Laffer Curve is just an accounting identity. It is tautologically true. When the highest marginal tax rate is somewhere around 90%, then yes, a cut in taxes is likely to increase total revenue, because at 90% people either choose to work less or negotiate ways to receive their income in some form other than taxable income. The central issue is and always was, “where is the inflection point?” With the highest marginal tax rate presently in the 30s, we are likely well below the inflection point and further tax cuts are not likely to bring in more revenue. Although, it’s worth noting that the inflection point is likely not static, so for instance, we could probably raise a lot more revenue through corporate taxes if we lowered the statutory rate and simplified the structure (ie raised the low effective rate).

      Also, the economic libertarianism of that conservative movement was about more than taxes. Taxes are just a subset of a economic mindset that can be summed up as “incentives matter.” You can’t just centrally direct the economy by fiat. The de-regulation, which started under Carter, was absolutely key to reviving a sclerotic economy. The EITC is a better poverty-fighting tool than many of the very poor programs of the Great Society era. Stagflation happened and the Phillips Curve broke down. These things all happened.Report

      • Avatar Brandon Berg in reply to j r
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        says:

        The Laffer curve describes a real phenomenon, but it’s not an accounting identity. An accounting identity an equation that’s true by definition, like debits = credits or profits = revenue – expenses, or Y = C + I + G + X – M. The Laffer curve relies on the empirically but not definitionally true fact that people respond to very high tax rates by working less.Report

        • Avatar greginak in reply to Brandon Berg
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          says:

          Tax rates which don’t’ remotely exist at this point.Report

        • Avatar j r in reply to Brandon Berg
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          says:

          @brandon-berg

          The Laffer curve relies on the empirically but not definitionally true fact that people respond to very high tax rates by working less.

          No, it doesn’t. From Wikipedia:

          In economics, the Laffer curve is a representation of the relationship between rates of taxation and the resulting levels of government revenue. The Laffer curve claims to illustrate the concept of taxable income elasticity—i.e., taxable income will change in response to changes in the rate of taxation. It postulates that no tax revenue will be raised at the extreme tax rates of 0% and 100% and that there must be at least one rate which maximises government taxation revenue.

          The Laffer Curve is literally a curve with endpoints at zero tax rate=zero revenue and 100% tax rate=zero revenue. How people respond to a change in the tax rate depends on where you are on the curve. That was true then and it’s still true now. The question is as to the shape of the curve (ie where the inflection point is).Report

          • Avatar DavidTC in reply to j r
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            says:

            Uh, no. @brandon-berg is correct.

            Collecting no taxes at 0% tax rate is, indeed, a mathematical truth. It is tautologically true.

            Collecting no taxes at 100% tax rate is not a mathematical truth, and neither is collecting any taxes at, say, a 50% tax rate.

            It’s sorta how things work *in reality*, at least in general. But it is not tautological.

            For example, try taxing my one-year-old nephew at a 50% income tax rate. You’re not going to collect *any* taxes this year. Why not? No income! (Yes, silly counter-example, but it *is* a counter-example, and tautologies shouldn’t have those!)

            Likewise, the idea that 100% income tax rate wouldn’t produce *any* revenue is based off the strange idea that people will never, ever work for free. As is demonstrated by a lot of charity work in this county, people *will* work for free!

            Granted, we probably have some sort of social resistance to us ‘deserving’ money from work, but the government taking it all…but that’s just how we, as society, think. There’s not some sort of Truth to that, and it’s not impossible to figure out a society where that *is* how charity work happened. Not that such a structure would make much sense (Full-on communism would probably make more sense than pretending to pay everyone but taking *all* their money via taxes.), but it’s not *impossible*, technically speaking.

            In fact, I find it somewhat dubious, that if we, next year, literally change the tax rate to 100%. (And not deductions or anything), that we would actually collect *no* revenue. I’m pretty sure we’re get *some*. Mostly by accident or people who can’t move all their income off-books. At minimum, there’s *politicians*, who are usually in their position for the *power*, not the money. I’m quite certain they would not *all* resign their job!

            So the statement that we’d get *no* revenue at 100% tax rate is not only not a tautology, but is probably not literally true! We’d get *almost* no revenue, yes, but not *none*.

            Of course, another objection to the entire idea is that the thing is a ‘curve’, which is generally thought of a smooth arc. This idea actually has very little evidence, and the thing could be a line upward that sharply drops at the end, or even be jagged, going up and down and up and down. (People have strange interactions with round numbers, and it’s possible that 40% might collect less revenue than both 37% and 42%.) But that’s for another post.Report

          • Avatar Brandon Berg in reply to j r
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            says:

            We can imagine a New Soviet Man who keeps working just as hard at 100% tax rates. He might even work harder, since now all is for the glory of the collective. This is not an accurate model of human behavior, but it’s an empirical question. Accounting identities are just definitions, and not sensitive to empirically-determined values. You can make any assumptions about human behavior or laws of nature you want, but GDP is always the sum of private consumption, investment, government consumption, and net exports, because that’s how we define it. That’s an accounting identity.

            I guess you could say that the Laffer curve is any curve describing the empirically observed relationship between marginal tax rates and tax revenues, but it still wouldn’t be an accounting identity, any more than a supply or demand curve is. That’s just not what “accounting identity” means.Report

          • Avatar j r in reply to j r
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            says:

            Collecting no taxes at 0% tax rate is, indeed, a mathematical truth. It is tautologically true.

            Collecting no taxes at 100% tax rate is not a mathematical truth, and neither is collecting any taxes at, say, a 50% tax rate.

            By that line of argument, the 0% thing isn’t “true” either, because even at 0%, someone is bound to donate a few cents to the government. Congratulations on spending that many words on a reduction to absurdity and missing the point of the comment.

            @brandon-berg

            I’m not that interested in having a purely semantic debate, so fine, I’ll ditch the term accounting identity. The Laffer Curve is still tautologically true. At 0% and 100%, tax revenue is effectively zero. There are points along the line connecting the two where raising the tax rate brings less total revenue. That is the insight of the Laffer Curve.

            I’m also not interested in defending the supply-side position that grew out of that insight, because I believe that the optimal tax rate isn’t necessarily the one that optimizes tax revenue. Rather, it’s the one that justly funds the proper functions of government, while doing the least amount of overall economic distortion.Report

            • Avatar DavidTC in reply to j r
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              says:

              By that line of argument, the 0% thing isn’t “true” either, because even at 0%, someone is bound to donate a few cents to the government. Congratulations on spending that many words on a reduction to absurdity and missing the point of the comment.

              While I disagree with the idea of the Laffer curve in many ways (As I said, there isn’t even technically any evidence it is a curve.), the Laffer curve applies the *tax revenue*.

              And only of a specific tax system….i.e, a 0% personal income tax rate could still have revenue from sales tax, or corporate tax, or whatever. Or revenue from voluntary donations.

              If we’re talking about the Laffer curve of income tax, but the revenue doesn’t come in via *income tax*, it isn’t relevant.

              There are points along the line connecting the two where raising the tax rate brings less total revenue. That is the insight of the Laffer Curve.

              And this is where the actual problem arises with the concept of a ‘curve’. We have no evidence at all it *is* a ‘curve’, or at least no evidence it’s the clean parabola curve that people think it is. (I guess mathematically if it’s not a straight line, it *is* a curve of some sort, but everyone seems to *draw* it as a parabolic arc.)

              It is entirely possible there are points along the line connecting the two where raising the tax rate some amount brings less total revenue, but raising it even *more* brings more total revenue, and then raising it more than that brings less…but there’s a point above that with *even more revenue*. It could zigzag…a lot. Who the hell knows? Likewise, it’s entirely possible that income tax rate has almost *no* effect on the amount of work people do, all the way up to where it becomes unreasonable and they completely exit the market. So it’s more of a linear increase that abruptly drops at the end.

              We have no idea. The entire concept of a Laffer curve is ‘making some basic and rather obvious guesses about how tax rates work and pretend people have a lot more flexibility to ‘work less’ than actual reality would seem to dictate. Then take this simplification as some sort of real rule, and then using that new rule in political arguments’.

              It’s complete bullshit. Yes, you can reduce it down to statements that appear to be mostly true in our society (Although, as we pointed out, not *tautologically* true.), as long as you don’t drawn any conclusions from it…but what the hell is the point of talking about that version of it?Report

      • Avatar Brandon Berg in reply to j r
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        says:

        Also, including Medicare and state taxes, the top marginal tax rate in some jurisdictions is currently in the low 50s, not 30s. The effective tax rate on savings with a sufficiently long investment horizon (e.g. a twenty-something saving for retirement) may be even longer, depending on turnover frequency.Report

  5. Avatar aaron david
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    says:

    You know what isn’t going to fix the GOP? Crocodille tears.

    @mike-dwyer pretty much nails it above, and about the only thing to add is that a I while back I mentioned in some comment thread that if you call someone stupid, bigoted and whatnot for long enough, they will start to believe it. And then they will start to like it and not listen to you anymore. That is the point the R’s are at right now. The left has been calling them names for so long that they don’t care anymore. Every R has been compared to Hitler. They don’t give a shit what you think, and shaming them is a joke. No matter who they put up for president, this would happen.

    So please, no crocodile tears.Report

    • Avatar Burt Likko in reply to aaron david
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      says:

      Though I’m pessimistic about the GOP and its modern articulation of whatever it calls “conservativism” these days, I really hope this isn’t what happened. “Oh, you called me a racist so now I’m going to be a racist and that’ll show you!” is not the stuff from which Buckley and Kemp and Reagan were made. It is the petulant emotional vomit of a thin-skinned fifth-grader who takes Pee-Wee Herman’s “I know you are, but what am I?” as a rhetorical trump card. (E.g., “Democrats are the real racists,” a trope we’ve all seen in various places).

      If it is true, then bad on the Republicans again, for demonstrating such colossal immaturity.Report

      • Avatar veronica d in reply to Burt Likko
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        says:

        @burt-likko — +1

        And you actually say it more charitably than I would. I was tempted to post, “If someone called me a pig fucker all the time, at no point would I ever fuck a pig. If in some fit of madness I did fuck a pig, I don’t think I’d try to blame the jerks who called me a pig fucker. After all, I choose what I fuck.”

        In any case, America has a race problem. We’ve had it a long time, since our founding. In my life, since childhood, that race problem as festered among the American right-wing, particularly its Southern manifestations.

        Keep in mind, I’m old enough to remember Reagan. I remember the “welfare queen” discourse. I was a kid back then, but I was old enough to understand what was being said. I knew what sort of person the term “welfare queen” referred to. The American right-wing has not improved much since then.

        If someone calls you a racist, the critical issue is, are you indeed a racist? When people complain, “Oh noes! This filthy SJW called me a racist! Oh my fee fees!”

        Well, my sympathy is exactly proportional to how much I think they indeed have a “race issue.” So it goes.

        That is the topic, the racism itself, its structure, how it is expressed, sustained, and so on, even in a society that pays lip service to racial equity. Today we have fewer of the cross-burning, hood-wearing, overtly racist types. But all the same, we are lousy with racists.

        When I see through your lip service, I’m gonna say loud and clear what I see. You’re not supposed to like it.Report

      • Avatar aaron david in reply to Burt Likko
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        says:

        That all might be the case and problem @burt-likko, but what is the left doing to stop that? How are they reaching out?

        There has been many article put up lately, by people on the left! even, about how the left is Smug, Bigoted, etc. This makes it hard to hear a message of inclusion and mutual love for ones fellow man. In fact, it is simply bigotry, no better than racism. We are better than them…

        They stopped listening to the left some time ago. And as every bit of opposition to Obama was called racist, wether it was or not. Trivialising it in the process.

        Immaturity indeed.Report

        • Avatar Don Zeko in reply to aaron david
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          says:

          So the GOP is holding itself for ransom? Stop calling us names (while we stay just as polarized and partisan), or we’ll nominate an authoritarian know-nothing reality TV star? You are assigning blame here in ways that I do not understandReport

          • Avatar Chip Daniels in reply to Don Zeko
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            says:

            The strategy was effectively used by Cleavon Little in Blazing Saddles.Report

          • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Don Zeko
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            says:

            “Defect enough times in an iterated prisoner’s dilemma and you shouldn’t be surprised when your opponents cease to cooperate with you.”

            Now we can argue over who defected first. If we hammer that out, we can figure out who has something akin to the moral high ground as we all defect against each other.Report

            • Avatar Don Zeko in reply to Jaybird
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              says:

              Yes, yes. The Donald Trump campaign is proof that the sins of both parties are perfectly proportional to each other.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Don Zeko
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                says:

                Hurray! We now know who has the moral high ground!

                Back to defecting.Report

              • Avatar Don Zeko in reply to Jaybird
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                says:

                If I’m reading this thread correctly, Aaron and Mike are the ones talking in terms of blame and moral high ground. The OP is about how the state of the GOP is a problem that must be solved. Apparently getting any agreement that this problem exists, despite the nomination of Donald Trump for president (!!!!!!!) is a big ask.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Don Zeko
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                says:

                Without getting into moral judgment, then: If Donald Trump wins, which I suspect he will do, I think we’ll be in a different place than “the GOP is broken”.

                We’ll be in a “the GOP found a way to self-correct” place.Report

              • Avatar Don Zeko in reply to Jaybird
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                says:

                Only if our only criteria for the health of a political party is electoral success.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Don Zeko
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                says:

                What’s the other measurement that we want to use?

                (Are you going to say something that implies moral judgments?)Report

              • Avatar Don Zeko in reply to Jaybird
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                says:

                See Burt below. A healthy political party should be able to hold political power without creating a significant risk of ending the Republic (hyperbole, but not as much as I wish it was). Trump is publicly promising to commit war crimes and use the power of the state to punish the press for treating him badly. His foreign and economic ‘policy proposals’ are complete insanity according to people on his side of the aisle. He got his start in politics peddlibg birther cobspuracy tgeories. Everyone with any influence in the GOP should have run screaming from his candidacy on day 1, but now he’s the nominee.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Don Zeko
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                says:

                So we’re back to moral judgments, then.

                Fair enough.

                Back to defecting.Report

              • Avatar Don Zeko in reply to Jaybird
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                says:

                Really? What does Trump have to do to get you to admit that he’s not a normal political candidate? This is a parody of BSDI being used to avoid the hard work of reform.Report

              • Avatar notme in reply to Don Zeko
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                says:

                So Trump isn’t normal but someone like Huey Long is? Depends on what “normal” is doesn’t it? The left will use any means to demonize Trump.Report

              • Avatar Don Zeko in reply to notme
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                says:

                Huey Long wasn’t nominated for president, because the Democratic party at the time was healthier and more in control of its nomination process than the GOP is today. Not perfectly healthy, since a demagogue like long did as well as he did, but better than today’s GOP and Trump. Also, notice how far back you had to look to find that counterexample.Report

              • Avatar notme in reply to Don Zeko
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                says:

                What does the length of time have to do with anything? I could say Walter Mondale wasn’t normal b/c he was beaten so badly and humiliated.Report

              • Avatar Don Zeko in reply to notme
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                says:

                Because the state of the Democratic party in the 1930’s has very little to do with the state of the Dems today, and even less with the topic of the OPReport

              • Avatar David Parsons in reply to notme
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                says:

                It’s not really possible to demonize the Donald, because he’s a mirror. A loud & short-fingered mirror, yes, but from this liberal’s POV all he’s doing is saying exactly what the GOP base wants to hear, and when that base isn’t needed to make him win he’ll start saying exactly what other voters want to hear.

                But he’s your dude and your disappointment if he wins and doesn’t bring what he promised you last tuesday.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Don Zeko
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                says:

                Sure, I admit he’s not a normal political candidate.

                Back to defecting.Report

              • Avatar Don Zeko in reply to Jaybird
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                says:

                How, precisely, is your point about the iterated prisoner’s dilemma distinct from Aaron’s “but he started it” up thread? In either case, its an not an argument that a given behavior is wise or will have good results, but that it is justified either morally or pragmatically BT someone else’s behavior.

                If the Dems were nominating Bill Maher for president or trying to implement a $30 minimum wage for non-whites, would it not still be a problem that the GOP is putting people like Trump in power?Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Don Zeko
                Ignored
                says:

                How, precisely, is your point about the iterated prisoner’s dilemma distinct from Aaron’s “but he started it” up thread?

                Aaron’s is containing moral judgments and allows for one or the other side to get all endorphiny.

                I’m being much more of a sperglord about it.

                would it not still be a problem that the GOP is putting people like Trump in power?

                What kind of a problem? A moral problem? Then we’re getting into “a problem for whom?” territory. If the answer is “the people who have been defecting against the people voting for Trump”, then… then what?Report

              • Avatar veronica d in reply to Jaybird
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                says:

                So defect already. I ain’t afraid of bloody knuckles.

                Who thought this would all go nicely?Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to veronica d
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                says:

                This is all part of the process of moving to “I am willing to reconsider what cooperation consists of and I would like to go back to that”.

                I hope.Report

              • Avatar Kolohe in reply to Don Zeko
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                says:

                It’s as good as measure as any.Report

        • Avatar Burt Likko in reply to aaron david
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          says:

          So conservatives are rubber and liberals are glue? This isn’t a problem of the left. It is a problem of the right. If you count yourself a conservative, then you can’t control what the left does. Pointing out that the left does sub-optimal things is avoidance.

          Notice how “We don’t care if they call us racists” quickly morphs into “We don’t care if we really are racists.”

          When I critique the use of the law to promote or repress particular religious points of view in the United States I’m often told, “Go to Iran and complain about religious freedom and the interposition of church and state there.” Or when I complain that our government is far too willing to abridge individual civil liberties and deploy torture to advance its foreign-policy goal of eliminating particular terrorist groups, I’m sometimes told, “Our enemies would, and actually do, far worse than this.” My reply to them is always the same: “They are not our teachers.”

          If you call yourself a Republican or if you call yourself a conservative, and you say, “I don’t like it when some liberal calls me a racist,” that’s fine as far as that goes, but what I hope to see from you is “Here’s why they’re wrong,” because I don’t like racism. I don’t want to hear, “I don’t care if they call me a racist or not,” because that suggests you are indifferent to racism itself rather than just the name-calling attack. I certainly don’t want to hear, “Oh yeah? Well, hey, I guess the shoe fits, so here you, have some racist public policy!”

          If you call yourself a Republican or if you call yourself a conservative, I urge you to take some time to define yourself in positive terms. Don’t tell me what you are against. Tell me what you’re for. Tell me what you’re trying to achieve, how you’re going to make the world a better place. You get to decide if you will allow yourself to be defined by your adversary, or if you’re going to carve out your own identity. In order for a liberal to successfully define you, you have to cooperate with her. What you’re describing here is exactly that: taking up their invitation to do and be exactly what you’re accused of doing and being, out of spite.

          You have the option of deciding for yourself who you are what you stand for and proudly proclaiming to the world why it is good. That is, if you wish to exercise that option. If you wish for me to (re)join you, I remain open to being convinced that this would be a worthwhile thing to do. What you’re describing in your original comment — “We don’t care anymore” — isn’t going to accomplish that.Report

          • Avatar notme in reply to Burt Likko
            Ignored
            says:

            Except that liberals are going to call Repubs racist until we totally give up our beliefs and capitulate to their demands or they can’t get any more mileage out of it, regardless if it was ever true in the first place. Therefore I don’t care if liberals call me a racist anymore b/c you can’t reason with them.Report

            • Avatar Kim in reply to notme
              Ignored
              says:

              All I ask of people is that they pick up a shovel and start shoveling.
              Links available upon request, you too can help poor little orphans earn a living rather than coming to America to freeload.

              Or you can help prevent houses from burning down, or give people clean fresh water.

              I don’t mind if you do this in a more competitive than cooperative sense, if you buy a business or make one yourself.

              Really, I don’t give a shit — there’s work to be done, and if you ain’t doing a goddamn thing, you’re in the way.

              Maybe I’ll have time to go calling people racist some other day. Right now there’s work to be done.

              I say the same about politicians as about anyone else — show me some results, and that’s all I ask.Report

          • Avatar Mike Dwyer in reply to Burt Likko
            Ignored
            says:

            @burt-likko

            While I will not go so far as to say that we should embrace every label thrown at us, I do believe that conservatives will be the bad guys in American politics for many years to come. We can probably thank Nixon for that.Report

          • Avatar aaron david in reply to Burt Likko
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            says:

            Again @burt-likko, @mike-dwyer is nailing it.

            I left the D’s as they clearly showed that they didn’t want to govern. Wait, isn’t that what the D’s say about the R’s? I also left the D’s as they were becoming the party of hate. Wait, isn’t that what the… The place for me was the Libertarian party.

            Right now the R’s cannot govern on the national level, as they don’t hold that seat. They can only legislate, which if they pass laws they like, Obama veto’s. Those laws might or might not be what you want, but there you go. They also don’t hold the same views as the left does, but that doesn’t matter, as they are the party of hate. Oh, wait…

            “Notice how “We don’t care if they call us racists” quickly morphs into “We don’t care if we really are racists.”” Thats interesting, as it is not what I said. I think everyone is a bigot. Everyone hates the outgroup, the other. One party has, until recently, the media bully pulpit. And has used that to say everything regarding the other party is racist, when, as I showed above, they are just as bigoted. Only to other groups.

            Again, I am not a conservative and did not say “We”. And again, like you, I am concerned with my former party, as I would like to see them heal themselves. But as long as they play identity politics, the other side will too.Report

          • Avatar Barry in reply to Burt Likko
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            says:

            Burt: “Notice how “We don’t care if they call us racists” quickly morphs into “We don’t care if we really are racists.””

            I would switch the order.Report

            • Avatar Art Deco in reply to Barry
              Ignored
              says:

              Burt: “Notice how “We don’t care if they call us racists” quickly morphs into “We don’t care if we really are racists.””

              No, he did not ‘notice’ that because it’s in your imagination.

              I did notice that you cannot seem to tell the difference between people fixated on what they call ‘HBD’ on the one hand and the conventional starboard on the other.

              Which surprises me not at all.Report

      • Avatar Art Deco in reply to Burt Likko
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        says:

        If it helps you feel better, go with that, Burt.

        I think it has been pointed out in this thread (and I’ll point it out again) that there has been a gradual shift in dispositions among Republican voters who pay attention to political life. Insults from Democratic operatives are understood as asinine trash talk and not as arguments or accusations requiring a reply. All the epithets in the liberal lexicon are tools in a rhetorical game.

        What’s interesting about Trump is that he does not offer the canned apologies you expect to here when the media call out culture is stirring up trouble. That’s a good thing, and our political culture will be much improved if we see more of that. It’s not good for your side, but your side hasn’t had anything agreeable to offer in 25 years or more.Report

    • Avatar Chip Daniels in reply to aaron david
      Ignored
      says:

      Must…resist…snark….
      Oh what the hell…
      Yeah, conservatives are not to blame for the racism- it was liberals who forced them to nominate Trump by being mean to them!

      Conservatives are just products of their environment, helpless victims of society.

      Look at Trump, liberals! See what you are forcing the conservatives to do? Have you no shame? At long last, have you no sense of shame?Report

    • Avatar Stillwater in reply to aaron david
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      says:

      Thing is, Aaron, the account you provide here, if correct, reflects even more poorly on conservatives than Tod’s critique above since it denies that conservatives exhibit any agency, personal character or conscious self-determination in arriving at their political views other than mere reactivity to liberals’ name calling. If I were a conservative I’d find it personally insulting. Not being a conservative, it just strikes me as condescending.Report

      • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Stillwater
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        says:

        Let’s accept that it is both insulting and condescending. Absolutely.

        Is it accurate?

        If it is accurate, how much is that fact outweighed (if at all) by the fact that it is both insulting and condescending?

        Do we just want to agree that it is an odious truth and move on to nicer propositions that everyone can agree with without hard feelings?Report

      • Avatar aaron david in reply to Stillwater
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        says:

        Well, if conservatives are reactionaries…

        I am not a conservative, so I am kinda indiferent about things, but I would guess from reading Dan Scotto and Dennis Saunders that some don’t like it on a certain level. And that is OK, parties change and the members of them come and go. I did with the Dems, Chip talks about how he did it with the R’s. The party is changing, and many will not like it. But again, YOU thinking it reflects worse on conservatives goes back to the crocodille tears. YOU arn’t going to vote R, YOU aren’t going to support them.Report

        • Avatar Don Zeko in reply to aaron david
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          says:

          There’s a bit of a chicken and the egg problem here, no? So long as the GOP is the kind of party that struggles to choose between Donald Trump and Ted Cruz, you’re damn right I won’t vote for them. But I could see voting for a reformed GOP from time to time. I voted for Pat McCrory in 2008, much to my current regret.Report

          • Avatar aaron david in reply to Don Zeko
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            says:

            Well, @don-zeko I cant say I blame you for not wanting to vote for someone you don’t like. I’m not. I am going to vote Libertarian. Unless Bernie wins, then I would think about voting for him.

            But I live in CA, and I already know which party is getting the states electoral votes.

            A big part of what informs me is that I feel that the D’s moved away from where I stood and I could no longer be on that team, so to speak. But in that moving, I did not move to the right on the issues I cared about. If they represent the ideas that you support, then that is great. Keep voting for what you believe, as that is how the whole thing is supposed to work. But not everyone is going to be on the same page as you, and they will vote accordingly. So, yeah, a bit of the chicken/egg problem. But, hey, if conservatives who don’t like Trump come over, you might find it changing also. (Assuming you are a D and not further to the left, I don’t want to take liberties.Report

            • Avatar Don Zeko in reply to aaron david
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              says:

              @aaron-david That’s not what I meant. If you narrow the tent down to just the truest of true believers, it’s then a bit of a bold move to say that the opinions of former tent-denizens don’t matter because they’re no longer in the tent. So if you’re saying that the disapproval of a liberal like me doesn’t matter, then ok, i more or less get it. But for somebody like Burt, or Andrew Sullivan, or Jim Webb, etc. etc etc, it goes over a bit less well.Report

              • Avatar aaron david in reply to Don Zeko
                Ignored
                says:

                Mmmm, I kinda see what you are saying, and as regards Burt et al, I am in that same boat. Simply from the other side of the fence. Though I was only a pretty standard D, I cannot support that party in its current iteration. They, in my eyes, have moved too far left.* So, I am a bit sympathetic to the Burts and Sullivans, but in the end not too sympathetic.

                * I am pretty sure (from your comments) that you disagree with this. And that is cool. But as far as I am concerned, and this speaks to many of the issues I have with the OP, both parties are moving away from the center due to the impass we have in current politics. YMMVReport

        • Avatar Stillwater in reply to aaron david
          Ignored
          says:

          YOU thinking it reflects worse on conservatives goes back to the crocodille tears. YOU arn’t going to vote R, YOU aren’t going to support them.

          The problem isn’t that I’M tearful about anything. I’m not. It’s that YOU aren’t a conservative either and yet you’ve provided an analysis which is inherently insulting to THEM since it reduces conservative ideology in its entirety as a response to liberal name-calling. I’m actually defending the ideology as constituting more than that. So I’m not sure who’s doing the crying here Aaron.

          Jaybird: If it is accurate, how much is that fact outweighed (if at all) by the fact that it is both insulting and condescending?

          None at all, in my calculus. But I don’t think it’s an accurate description or analysis of what conservatism has become either. Consider the examples Tod presents in the OP: do any of those actions/beliefs result from liberals systematically calling conservatives bad names or telling them they’re stupid? What’s the causal link? What’s the counterfactual?: that if liberals had refrained from calling conservatives stupid they wouldn’t have created the mythology that Obama’s a Muslim Commie plant? I don’t see it, myself.Report

          • Avatar aaron david in reply to Stillwater
            Ignored
            says:

            Well, @stillwater I am not crying, and I am not saying you are either. I am saying that much of the charges that Tod and others of the left are making (where I do put you, sorry if that is not correct) are in directions that many on the right either don’t care about, or feel that they aren’t as important as other concerns. Just below me, here in this thread, @mike-dwyer is agreeing with what I am saying. “Republicans/conservatives are so tired of being maligned that they just sort of don’t care anymore.” is what he said, and that doesn’t strike me a being condesended to nor insulted. And I am not reducing Conservative Ideology to one thing, I am simply presenting one aspect, albeit one thing that often precludes pieces like the one we are commenting on from being effective.Report

            • Avatar veronica d in reply to aaron david
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              says:

              Republicans/conservatives are so tired of being maligned that they just sort of don’t care anymore.”

              If that is a legitimate feeling, then I’m justified in just any politically extreme position imaginable. Do you even have an inkling of what the righties routinely say about me? Like, should we limit ourselves with what Erick Erickson says about me?

              You realize, I’m not a bomb throwing queer radical.Report

              • Avatar aaron david in reply to veronica d
                Ignored
                says:

                Uhmm, I would say that any position is cool, extreme or not. My only real thought is that there could be consequences to it, but something tells me that might not really worry you.

                And that is pretty cool @veronica-d.Report

            • Avatar Stillwater in reply to aaron david
              Ignored
              says:

              Aaron,

              Mike Dwyer is agreeing with what I am saying. “Republicans/conservatives are so tired of being maligned that they just sort of don’t care anymore.”

              Yes, I know. That’s why I said that the only two people on this thread who’ve called conservatives “stupid” are you and Mike. Which is ironic, no?, since the thesis under discussion is that conservatives have been driven to their current state as a result of liberals calling them stupid.

              More to the point, the analysis makes no sense, as Patrick, greg and El Muneco mention. Or at least, as stated it makes no sense. And even more-more to the point, the analysis attributes to individual conservatives an inability to pro- rather than re-actively determine their own belief matrix. It’s as if you’ve attributed to a natural property to individuals – being a conservative! – and then described how individuals with those natural properties naturally react when confronted with disagreement by other folks.

              I mean, it’s a really nice theory. But as El Menuco mentioned it doesn’t seem to apply to liberals, and as Patrick and greg mentioned name calling is part and parcel of political life so conservatives – rather than say, oh, GAYS, for example – aren’t uniquely different in that regard even tho you’re saying conservative’s behavior can be accounted for by appealing to it. Which is nonsense.

              Add: Oh, and Tod’s not a liberal by self-identification; I am. Politically anyway.Report

              • Avatar KenB in reply to Stillwater
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                says:

                Stillwater: Tod’s not a liberal by self-identification

                Tod’s obviously a liberal, by the broad definitions being used here — he’s certainly not a libertarian or conservative.Report

              • Avatar aaron david in reply to Stillwater
                Ignored
                says:

                “since the thesis under discussion is that conservatives have been driven to their current state as a result of liberals calling them stupid.”

                No, that is not what I am saying. What I am saying is that they have been called that for so long that they don’t care that you are calling them that. What they are subsumming is “well, you are calling me racist for X, but you have being calling me racist for everything else, so fuck it, I guess I am a racist now. Whateves.” Much like the R’s calling everyone on the left socialist for years now. They hear it so long they go “and thats a bad thing? Whateves.” That make sense?

                And I know how AreTod identifies, but @kenb is right on that.Report

              • Avatar Stillwater in reply to aaron david
                Ignored
                says:

                No, that is not what I am saying. What I am saying is that they have been called that for so long that they don’t care that you are calling them that.

                Hmmm. I guess I can see a connection between conservative’s arriving at a point where they really DON’T CARE what liberals think of them and loudly proclaiming that President Barack Obama is an illegal Communist Muslim plant.

                Well, actually, no I can’t. 🙂Report

              • Avatar Art Deco in reply to Stillwater
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                says:

                I guess I can see a connection between conservative’s arriving at a point where they really DON’T CARE what liberals think of them and loudly proclaiming that President Barack Obama is an illegal Communist Muslim plant.

                Well, actually, no I can’t. 🙂

                I’m a participant or have been a participant at a number of sites. The only one where ‘birther’ memes have any currency is called The Conservative Treehouse. An attraction to such things is a psychological disposition, not a political one, and has a scattershot relationship to one’s politics. (See most of the people attracted to Kennedy Assassination literature). The moderator of The Conservative Treehouse is a fantasist who attracts fantasists. It’s a reasonable inference that the people who are telling the pollster they think BO is a Muslim or that BO is a foreigner are largely drawn from the segment of the electorate that Wm. F Buckley described thus, “the 30% who have never heard of the United Nations”, not from the paranoid sector.

                There is a mess of nonsense babble about ‘Marxism’ or ‘Cultural Marxism’ though that sort of discourse is not a majority taste.Report

              • Avatar Chip Daniels in reply to Art Deco
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                says:

                The only one where ‘birther’ memes have any currency is called Donald Trump, the most popular figure in the Republican Party.
                The nominee of the Republican Party is a fantasist who attracts fantasists.
                It’s a reasonable inference that the people who are telling the pollster they think BO is a Muslim or that BO is a foreigner are largely drawn from the Tea Party.
                There is a mess of nonsense babble about ‘Marxism’ or ‘Cultural Marxism’ though that sort of discourse is the staple of Fox News and rightwing blogs.Report

    • Avatar Mike Dwyer in reply to aaron david
      Ignored
      says:

      I think @aaron-david is right here. Republicans/conservatives are so tired of being maligned that they just sort of don’t care anymore. It’s funny how liberals (often on this site) sit around and pat each other on the back for being SO SMART and see this as chickens coming home to roost…but they don’t realize how many smart conservatives sit around and talk about how silly liberals are and what a trainwreck Hillary will be.

      Sometimes you just have to be okay with being the bad guy. Darth Vader just wanted the galaxy to be safe for his kids.Report

      • Avatar El Muneco in reply to Mike Dwyer
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        says:

        The $64 question is why it’s happening on the right and not so much on the left. I’ll grant that liberals can be smug bastards, many of whom can’t tell inherent classism apart from actual superiorly reasoned arguments.

        But still – on race, on gender, on religion – almost every liberal has been demonized (in the case of atheists, that’s in a literal as well as a figurative sense) by rightists with national audiences. On a regular basis. And as veronica would point out, often in person as well.

        Why has the left not crumbled into a quivering mass of reaction when disdain runs just as deep and just as strong in their direction? Why the unique lack of resilience on the right? That’s the interesting question.Report

        • Avatar Stillwater in reply to El Muneco
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          says:

          Why has the left not crumbled into a quivering mass of reaction when disdain runs just as deep and just as strong in their direction? Why the unique lack of resilience on the right? That’s the interesting question.

          I agree. That is to say, I would agree if I took the above analysis, provided by Aaron and Mike D, seriously: that conservatives are inherently weak-willed, characterless and petulant.

          I mean, on this subthread we’ve had two people imply that conservative’s are stupid – Aaron and Mike Dwyer – and neither is a liberal.Report

      • Avatar Patrick in reply to Mike Dwyer
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        says:

        Republicans/conservatives are so tired of being maligned that they just sort of don’t care anymore.

        I don’t buy this, entirely, and to the extent I do buy it, it’s not a -ism based phenomenon.

        Granted, the Fox News crew is not the entirety of conservativism, but if they are an exemplar of anybody (and surely we don’t need to argue that they’re an exemplar of *some* anybodies) then being beat up on for being reactionary is in fact something that they care really deeply about, because they complain about it a lot. Jesus, look at some of the commentors up above: they come here (as near as I can tell) just exclusively to complain about how the site is unfair to their predispositions.

        For the non-Fox-News crew of conservativism, I need to give you a wake up call: being tired that the other side routinely trashes you is universal. Shoot, if you spend time on social media right now and you see the Berner Crowd response to Hillary and the response from the Hillary supporters, you can see that they’re tired of getting shat on by the “more progressive than thou” crowd on the left.

        That’s a universal problem in modern American political dialogue. But Air America tanked and Fox News didn’t, which tells you something about weights on the BSDI measuring scale.

        It’s funny how liberals (often on this site) sit around and pat each other on the back for being SO SMART and see this as chickens coming home to roost…but they don’t realize how many smart conservatives sit around and talk about how silly liberals are and what a trainwreck Hillary will be.

        I think you should spend a little time masquerading as a liberal. Because there’s more conversations about Hillary being a potential trainwreck on my social media feed coming from the left than from the right.

        On the right, I see TVD, a #nevertrumper from the beginning, talk about maybe, because Hillary would be worse.

        Amusingly he thinks Hillary would be worse because he thinks Hillary is too left, and the Berner crowd thinks Hillary would be worse because she’s a Republican.

        Jesus, everybody has to take a politician and figure out a way to put them into a box with the preferred negative label on it in order to be happy.Report

      • Avatar greginak in reply to Mike Dwyer
        Ignored
        says:

        @mike-dwyer I put this somewhere above but i lost track of it. Like Pat says, nasty over the top vitriol has been a part of American discourse for as long as i can remember. I’ve been hearing conservatives( and libertarians) tell me i hate freedom, hate America, want a police state, am a traitor and a billion other things. Conservatives have no sensible way to act like they are the sole victim of ridiculous attacks. That sucks for all of us, but is the way it is. Look at the sh*t the various big Fox or radio talkers regularly say about D’s and liberals. What did actual R pols say about Obama?Report

      • Avatar Lurker in reply to Mike Dwyer
        Ignored
        says:

        ‘they just sort of don’t care anymore.’

        X: Your candidate’s anti Civil Rights bill stance is racist and ignorant. It is racism and ignorance that leads people to support him.

        Y: You’re always saying that. It hurts my feelings. I just don’t care about what you say. Really, it is your fault that we have this anti Civil Rights movement in my party.

        X: Wow. This reminds me of the fallacious arguments that came up on the OT webpage.Report

    • Avatar Kazzy in reply to aaron david
      Ignored
      says:

      In teaching, we often say that children rise to the level of expectations*. But I think a necessary corollary — well understood but rarely stated — is that children will also sink to the level of low expectations. Labels quickly shift from descriptive to prescriptive. Prophecies become self-fulfilling.

      So it doesn’t seem outside the realm of possibility that support of Trump specifically and what he (seems to) stand for more generally might at least be partially motivated by this same phenomenon as described above. To some extent, this tendency is part of human nature.

      That said… I think @stillwater and @burt-likko ‘s critique is valid. We should expect more and better from adults responding to labelling applied by adults on the same level as them. Further, when dealing with actual life and death issues — and let’s be honest and say that much of what Trump is trumping about are life and death issues for some people — you’d hope for something more than knee jerk reactionism when forming opinions.

      * I think it is a bit more complicated than this as expectations need to be both reasonable/achievable and children given the proper tools to reach them.Report

      • Avatar Catchling in reply to Kazzy
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        says:

        Well put. There is something to the notion that Trump supporters and their kin act in racist or quasi-racist ways partly as a backlash against liberal accusations of racism. It’s just not an excuse.

        I actually don’t think it’s because of low expectations so much as a mental association between certain demographics and left-wing values. A Trumpist who was half-honest about his motivations might say he would tolerate Muslims more if only liberals hadn’t tainted tolerance of Muslims by claiming it as a signal of liberal superiority. It’s like buying whichever brand of SUV environmentalists most hate just to spite them, independently of how bad it actually is for the environment. The sort of Trumpists I have in mind aren’t quite trying to be racist, they’re trying to perform racism — which obviously has the same effect in the end, just as a Spite Car will pollute as much as any other.

        That said, mainstream Democratic politicians don’t espouse outright anti-patriotism or anti-Christianity even though conservatives have long held up those things as instances of conservative superiority. (Of course a conservative would say: nope, they sure do, which is the whole reason for holding those values up like that. I guess one can spend all day asking who started it.)

        Regarding racism and backlash, I’ve noticed an interesting pattern recently of conservatives flipping the script on liberals regarding the Civil War — didja know the emancipator Lincoln was a Republican while genocidal Andrew Jackson founded the Democratic Party? This is a kind of spite I very much support; whatever its faults, it arrives at the correct conclusions regarding the villains and heroes of history. But it’s also the sort of argument you’re much likelier to hear from the NeverTrump folks than from Trumpists.Report

        • Avatar Kazzy in reply to Catchling
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          says:

          Interesting perspective, @catchling . It makes me think of another phenomenon I see with my students that I think can be instructive here.

          People want to feel powerful. They want to feel like their existence matters and like they can influence the world. No one wants to feel inconsequential or unable to have an impact. And when people don’t get this need/want met, they often seek it out.

          Sadly, it is often easier to feel these things through negative, anti-social action than through positive, pro-social action. I can walk over and punch you in the nose and see you bleed and watch you scream or cry and think, “Yep… I did that. Me. With my own hand I made all that happen just now. How powerful and influential I am!” I could also walk up to you and tell you that you are attractive and smart and worthwhile. This would likely have a positive impact on you. But it’d be less visceral. I wouldn’t feel the impact of my actions the same way.

          Now, I think this is a pretty common part of the human condition. We see it become really common during children during certain periods of development just based on what their brains are doing, but I don’t think this need or desire ever goes away.

          And in contemporary American society, many conservatives feel disempowered. Whether they are actually disempowered or not doesn’t really matter; they feel that way and thus are seeking to reclaim their power. So some of them actively take on this agitator role, proverbially punching liberals in the face because they know it antagonizes them and, in doing so, they can say, “I did that!”Report

      • Avatar Murali in reply to Kazzy
        Ignored
        says:

        Well, I don’t know about reasonably expect. Moral psychology and self respect are complicated things. Self perception is linked up with how other people perceive you (or more accurately, with you think other people perceive you). I think liberals like @burt-likko and @stillwater who understand how this can go badly when LGBT people are treated badly suddenly become rugged individualists about how conservatives should just not succumb to enormous socio- psychological pressure and accept the labels with which they have been painted. There is a sense in which by accepting the labels they have done something wrong, but it is easy, form the outside, to miss that this is a very human thing to do.Report

    • Avatar greginak in reply to aaron david
      Ignored
      says:

      Hmm Oh goodie. Now i can never ever listen to a conservative or gosh forbid a libertarian ever again. I’ve been called a commie or a traitor or anit-freedom or wanting a police state etc etc by those types for years ( Some of that here but in other places and even in meat space). Those C’s and L’s have been spewing their derogatory terms since i was a kid. Well okay in the 70’s it was just conservatives saying how liberals hated freedom blah blah blah.

      Well that was easy. Now nobody has to listen to anybody ever again.Report

    • Avatar Mike Schilling in reply to aaron david
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      says:

      It’s like how the Democrats got so tired of being called the party of illegal immigrants, communists, and terrorists that they nominated someone who was all of those.Report

    • Avatar veronica d in reply to aaron david
      Ignored
      says:

      tl;dr — thought I’d add a bit. At its core, this conversation has been about the same thing that I have been bringing up repeatedly: bigotry is not symmetric with the opposition to bigotry. They are opposite things.

      #####

      There is plenty of nasty name-calling and snide bullshit in politics. And indeed, BSDI. Blah blah blah. This is not that. It is not mere name-calling to call out someone’s manifest bigotry —

      — even if that bigotry is being expressed through dog whistles, or even if the bigot is in denial, operating behind some tower of cognitive dissonance.

      This is not name-calling. Instead, it is naming a manifest character flaw. It is opposing a great political evil that has been with humanity from the beginning and will probably never entirely go away. Such a fight will never be pleasant. Did you think it would be?

      Not every conservative is overtly racist. Not every liberal is overtly anti-racist. However, the American conservative movement has become a place where racism can thrive. The story is complicated, as with any long stretch of history. It doesn’t rest simplistically on the political parties, when viewed over long periods. After all, we have the “party of Lincoln” and the “southern democrats.”

      ’Cept those things aren’t really with us anymore.

      The American Conservative movements, along with their media and their favored political party, are openly sexist, homophobic, and transphobic. They sometimes try to hide their racism. But they fail, cuz words are not deeds.

      We see through you.

      (This is this thing, where people who don’t want to be bigots end up supporting a bigoted social movement. It’s complicated. But as the conflict rises, as the dust-ups become open fights — did they expect their comfortable bigotry to remain unchallenged? — then people get a chance to set their stakes. Did they really not want to be a bigot? They get to choose.)

      #####

      I expect there is indeed a psychological thing where, after people feel attacked for long enough, they stop trying to please those who attack them. So yes, the underlying psychology that led gays to throw bottles at cops during the Stonewall riots, and later to join ActUp — indeed you might draw a line between that and angry Fox News hosts saying terrible things.

      There is a difference, of course.

      #####

      We are allowed to judge people. Of course we are. How else is society supposed to function, if we engage no judgement at all? It’s nonsense.

      By disposition, some people are more judgemental than others. In my experience, the latter sort, the less judgemental, tend to be nicer to be around. I’d rather foster more of that over more judgement. But that does not suggest we can have zero judgement.

      I’d like to see less mean-spirited judgement about people’s fashion choices, musical tastes, food preferences. I‘d like to see zero judgment on sexuality, race, and other “identity categories.” Sure. Yes. Less judgement.

      The state of “being a bigot,” however, is so obviously different from these things. I do judge people for being bigots. I judge them harshly, with a searing flame. I also insist on naming and opposing their hidden prejudices, cutting through their bullshit excuses.

      Of course I do these things. Duh. Slagging a right-winger for being a racist shit is not the same as trashing their taste in wine.

      #####

      For as long as I’ve heard of him, Erick Erickson has been a mean-spirited little shit. He is openly sexist, homophobic, and transphobic. He makes not the slightest effort to hide these things. In fact, he seems to delight in how much this will annoy people such as me.

      Fine. Whatever.

      So yes, I get it. This is part of a “social cycle” or whatever. Society has changed. What was acceptable has become unacceptable. Those who cling to the unacceptable are being opposed in ways they’ve never been opposed before, and thus they feel “bullied.” However, feelings are not always fact. A person can perceive their circumstances incorrectly, which is what is happening here: these right-wing goons are being rightly judged. But still, feelings are feelings. So it is natural, as part of this social process, for some of them to become emboldened.

      Yep. I understand.

      This does nothing to change the fact that the right-wing is fighting for bigotry, oppression, and hate, while my side fights to stop or mitigate these things.

      I’m gonna judge people according to this. It won’t feel good. Duh. It wasn’t supposed to.Report

      • Avatar Murali in reply to veronica d
        Ignored
        says:

        tl;dr — thought I’d add a bit. At its core, this conversation has been about the same thing that I have been bringing up repeatedly: bigotry is not symmetric with the opposition to bigotry. They are opposite things.

        I think that asserting this just begs the question. Anyone who is not self consciously evil will assert that the values that they oppose and wish to quash are not symmetric with the values that they themselves hold. When Catholics were rounding up Protestants and burning them (e.g. Queen Mary I of England) I’m pretty sure the Catholics of the day thought that opposition to heresy was not symmetric with heresy. Hell, conservatives like Art Deco and notme don’t think that opposition to what on their view is sexual perversion is symmetric with that thing itself. The difficulty is that while you might claim that you are right and they are wrong, neither the Catholics of the 16th century nor you nor social conservatives (or I doubt anyone ever) can make good on that claim. Nobody really has not in any substantive sense.

        So, yes we have to treat bigotry and opposition to bigotry symmetrically. This doesn’t necessarily license bigotry on the part of the state, but the argument for equal treatment by the state has to (and I think indeed successfully does) rely on that procedural and justificatory neutrality.Report

        • Avatar Mike Schilling in reply to Murali
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          says:

          So, yes we have to treat bigotry and opposition to bigotry symmetrically.

          You don’t have to treat burning people and getting burned symmetrically; likewise you don’t have to treat asking for and denying equal rights under the law symmetrically. In particular, when one group is harmed and the other merely offended (as is the case with same-sex marriage), there’s a clear and very pertinent asymmetry.Report

          • Avatar Murali in reply to Mike Schilling
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            says:

            Bigotry is distinct from equal rights. I can be bigoted and still be fine with equal rights. Bigotry extends to things like whether you think women should stay in the kitchen (regardless of what rights they should have) So our hypothetical bigot might for instance say that women should not be legally prevented from applying for and being considered on an equal basis to male candidates for any given job or kept from voting. That is, he can endorse the principle of career open to talents. But, he might then say that women, nevertheless, should not apply for traditionally male jobs and should instead apply for traditionally feminine jobs if they have to work or be stay at home wives and moms. Or he might say something like women should not register to vote. There is no particular reason why a bigot cannot also say that X is immoral for you but I support your right to do it anyway and still remain a bigot.Report

            • Avatar Art Deco in reply to Murali
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              says:

              Bigotry extends to things like whether you think women should stay in the kitchen (regardless of what rights they should have)

              No, a bigot is someone not open to argument. Derived from that is a less utile definition: a person not open to argument (or biased against) certain classes of people. I suppose we can check the OED to find when this second usage appeared. I think the common use today (a person alienated from or critical of the bien-pensant’s chosen clientele) appeared at some point after the war. You’ve now offered a variant of that: someone not on board with your idea of what domestic division of labor should be.Report

              • Avatar Murali in reply to Art Deco
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                says:

                @art-deco

                A few points:

                1. I`m a conventionalist about language. Since bigotry is used to denote any non-progressive views about women and minorities we can bypass debates about whether some particular view about sexual division of labour is sufficiently egalitarian to count as non-bigoted by just accepting the term that is commonly used in these parts.

                2. I really don`t want to get into pissing contests about whether such and such a view about the sexual division of labour is correct. They are pointless and intractable.

                3. I`m personally flexible about who shoulders more of the household chores. When I`m at home more often and my wife works full time, I will shoulder more of the chores. And vice versa.

                4. Given that Mike holds an egalitarian about such things (as do most people, I think) none of the points I`m making depend on whether Mike would be right or wrong about the sexual division of labour.

                5. I fight with those to the left of me more often for two reasons. Firstly, it so happens that both online and in meat world, though more so in the latter, I`m surrounded by people who are to the left of me. Secondly, I hold the left to a higher standard in part because I expect more out of the left. Obviously social conservatives do a downright terrible job of a) separating their personal morality from politics and b) Being sufficiently self aware about how justified their beliefs tend to be. A lot of socially progressive public policy can be justified on neutral grounds. A lot of leftists do a bad job of actually doing this necessary justificatory work. They too have way more confidence in the rightness of their beliefs about personal morality than is actually warranted Socially conservative policies do not even meet the standard of being possibly justified by neutral reasons. I’m saying this so we can be clear on where we stand.

                6. According to the oxford english dictionary,

                Bigotry: Intolerance towards those who hold different opinions from oneself:

                The word you are looking for is

                Dogmatism: The tendency to lay down principles as undeniably true, without consideration of evidence or the opinions of others:Report

              • Avatar Art Deco in reply to Murali
                Ignored
                says:

                6. According to the oxford english dictionary,

                Bigotry: Intolerance towards those who hold different opinions from oneself:

                I.e. the arts and sciences faculty just about anywhere, not to mention a few characters here.Report

              • Avatar Art Deco in reply to Murali
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                says:

                Point 4 is irrelevant and your point 5 is utter rot.Report

      • Avatar KenB in reply to veronica d
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        says:

        @veronica-d The problem here is that you’re not making any real effort to account for the possibility that you yourself are biased or mistaken in any way. You and the other Hatfields have appointed yourselves judge and jury over whether the McCoys are a bunch of murderers who should be punished, and unsurprisingly the verdict is always “Guilty!”.

        I’m gonna judge people according to this. It won’t feel good.

        It will certainly feel good to you. Judging other people always does.Report

        • Avatar veronica d in reply to KenB
          Ignored
          says:

          @kenb — That is always true for everyone all the time. In other words, you prove too much.

          Myself, I’m an empiricist. I think quite a lot about what I believe. I want to, so far as I can, base my beliefs on sound principles and fact. On the other hand, perhaps my enemies are correct. Perhaps I am the product of demonic influences. Perhaps I am a lunatic or a pervert. But let us please be honest about the terms of conflict.

          Anyway, when it comes to needed self-inspection, perhaps focus you’re energy on those who preach hate. I don’t reject the right-wing randomly, without cause.Report

      • Avatar aaron david in reply to veronica d
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        says:

        “Instead, it is naming a manifest character flaw. It is opposing a great political evil that has been with humanity from the beginning and will probably never entirely go away. Such a fight will never be pleasant. Did you think it would be?”

        You are smart @veronica-d, that is pretty oviouse from everthing you have written here. Other that the fact that I am not a conservative, you have some interesting observations here. I constantly have to point that out, my non-conservativeness, as the commentariate here has tilted so far to the left that we libertarians are seemingly Facists. But whateves.

        As both @kenb and @murali piont out, not only do you get to judge, but the rest of society gets to judge also. (I think Camus had something to say about this.) And here in the states at least, they get to vote. Now, do you want them to vote with you, or against you? And if you want them to vote with you, how do you get them to do that?

        I am pointing out what I see, and some of the barriers to this. @stillwater came back with a very good point, something from the other side of the fence. Namely that if the right wants to get some of the people of in the middle to vote for them, maybe calling our presidant names isn’t helping either. On that I agree, I don’t generally point it out here as the commentors are for the most part quite liberal, with a few conservative exceptions.

        Personally, I want LGBT rights to be not even thought of, as they are just rights our citizens have. I want people of all colors to have the same opportunities in society. I want religious thoughts to be able to be expressed at will. I want conservative thought to be equally repressented in all of our institutions. But most importantly, I want free speach.Report

        • Avatar veronica d in reply to aaron david
          Ignored
          says:

          @aaron-david — Please don’t patronize me. I know that I am smart.

          Of course people are going to judge me. Of course they will vote. Duh. In addition to not patronizing me, please don’t condescend. These things are a manifest reality in my life. They are constant. Yes people judge me. Indeed they vote to hurt me. This is not new.

          That said, you are deeply naïve if you think people judge me according to how I judge them. In fact, it is very much the opposite. People judge me because I am transgender, and I assure you, we LGBT people put forth significant effort toward outreach and education, far more than you probably guess.

          And yet the hate continues, it pours forth from bitter, broken hearts. We cannot have infinite patience, for the problem is not us. It is them, one-hundred percent them.

          Stop demanding that the victims of hate play some bullshit role of mock perfection. Those who hate me are entirely wrong. They deserve 100% of our censure. None should come to me and mine.Report

          • Avatar aaron david in reply to veronica d
            Ignored
            says:

            Well, I was trying to be polite, not condesend or patronize. I am sorry that I came across that way.

            That said, I am always going to vote and care mostly about freedom of speach. Period. That is all I can say at this point.Report

  6. Avatar Kazzy
    Ignored
    says:

    Interesting piece (and upcoming series), Tod.

    I was thinking of a similar issue the other day, namely the claims that Trump emerged because of an incredibly weak field. But was it really? I’m not so sure. Here were his competitors…

    Ted Cruz: A staunch conservative, highly educated lawyer, and apparent “true believer”
    Marco Rubio: Charming, charismatic, engaging, young, good looking.
    Jeb Bush: A Bush with a war chest.
    John Kasich: The grown-up in the room.

    Now, that doesn’t strike me as a particularly strong field but it also doesn’t strike me as devoid of legitimate competitors to Trump the way many have insisted. Each had their weaknesses (Cruz’s likability, Rubio’s inexperience, Bush’s Bush-ness, Kasich’s lack of name recognition) but none seemed fatally flawed if GOP voters were really looking for an electable alternative to Trump.

    The GOP wasn’t left with Trump because there was no one else viable. The GOP voters chose Trump, again and again, over other candidates that the party itself would have greatly preferred.

    And yet Trump one… and seemingly going away.Report

    • Avatar trizzlor in reply to Kazzy
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      says:

      You may recall a flurry of discussion about the GOP’s deep bench of candidates not so long ago. When someone goes into a game saying “our team is so strong we’re having a hard time picking starters” and comes of the game saying “of course we were going to lose, this is a weak restructuring year for us“, which of those statements should we even believe?Report

      • Avatar Kazzy in reply to trizzlor
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        says:

        Good point. To continue the analogy, some teams are depth-laden but lack a super star. Some teams are top heavy. The analogy isn’t perfect because these “teams” were engaged in a weird form of intrasquad competition but ultimately I think the Republican field was a little lackluster but not lacking anyone who could pose as a viable alternate to Trump if they the voters really wanted one. They didn’t have a super star but they had enough legitimate candidates that we can’t say Trump simply won by default.Report

    • Avatar Morat20 in reply to Kazzy
      Ignored
      says:

      There’s also a structural defect in the GOP nomination process. (One, IIRC, they deliberately introduced). The winner-take-all system, combined with a wide field.

      Trump seemed to have a fairly solid core of about 30% (27%? That number pops up all over!) The other 70% was split between multiple candidates.

      Even once the field was winnowed, you ended up with three or four candidates splitting the vote — with whomever eeked out a win getting all the delegates (or close to it). Even as candidates dropped out, their supporters tended split between candidates.

      If the system was proportional (like the Democrats), Cruz and probably Rubio would still be going strong. OTOH, the possibility of a contested convention would be almost 100%.Report

      • Avatar Kolohe in reply to Morat20
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        says:

        I’m curious, though, if we swapped the rules, would Hillary be doing better or worse over Bernie right now?

        (a quick look says Hillary does better, because her early narrow victories become (even more) overwhelming delegate blowouts. Otoh, you change the rules of the game, you change how people play the game – Bernie probably throws more effort into wta than he did when as a underdog, a tie and a split delegate slate was good enough in the early rounds)Report

        • Avatar Morat20 in reply to Kolohe
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          says:

          No telling, really. OTOH, Hillary seems to have done really well in the delegate heavy states (including California, it appears) so I suspect she’d have had a more apparent commanding lead. (The math on “Catching up” would have been more clear, at least). Or possibly already passed the viability threshold.

          One of the reasons Clinton has such a large lead is the string of sizable blowouts she had, which approximated a winner-take-all setup. Sanders always passed the viability threshold, so he always got delegates, but some of those wins were pretty heavily tilted. Sanders had far fewer of those.

          But you’re certainly right, they’d have campaigned differently for certain. In a sense, Clinton lost in 2008 because she campaigned like the Democrats used WTA, whereas Obama campaigned like it was a proportional system. (Clinton has, apparently, learned from that!).Report

        • Avatar North in reply to Kolohe
          Ignored
          says:

          Yeah this is what you’re looking for. She’d be even more decisively the nominee.
          http://fivethirtyeight.com/features/clintons-delegate-lead-would-triple-under-gop-rules/Report

      • Avatar Art Deco in reply to Morat20
        Ignored
        says:

        Trump’s baseline was about 35%, which rose past 40% as the other candidates departed. The four candidates who won at least one contest corralled about 67% of the GOP electorate between them just before the voting got underway, while the 8 other candidates had about 25% between them.

        Some GOP states have winner-take-all distribution, some winner-take-all within electoral constituencies, and some have proportional distribution.Report

    • Avatar El Muneco in reply to Kazzy
      Ignored
      says:

      If you have Phil Ivey, Phil Hellmuth, Victoria Coren Mitchell, Daniel Negreanu, Howard Lederer, and Chris Ferguson sitting around a table, that’s a pretty strong lineup to play poker.

      If James T. Kirk deals himself in for a game of Fizzbin, all bets are off.

      The Rs had a very good lineup for another primary season like all the others – but that wasn’t the primary season they actually got.Report

      • Avatar Kazzy in reply to El Muneco
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        says:

        Which I think confirms my point that it wasn’t the candidates but the voters.

        Which isn’t to say that the voters were wrong or a problem. Only that we really shouldn’t say the voters couldn’t pick what they wanted so they picked Trump instead. I think the voters got exactly what they wanted by picking Trump.Report

    • Avatar Art Deco in reply to Kazzy
      Ignored
      says:

      John Kasich: The grown-up in the room.

      And he qualifies as that why? He’s a year older than Bush? He’s spent 32 of the last 42 years as an elected official or on the staff of elected officials? That he had no children until he was pushing 50? Or is it that he’s indifferent to enforcing immigration laws?Report

  7. Avatar Jaybird
    Ignored
    says:

    a bill to prevent Obama from killing his enemies within the United States with drones

    When Donald J Trump gets elected and begins his process of Making America Great Again, you may find yourself idly thinking “huh… maybe Cruz was on to something”.Report

  8. Avatar Chip Daniels
    Ignored
    says:

    Ok, now that I got some morning snark out of my system, what are the paths ahead?

    A) Suppose, as @mike-dwyer suggests, the GOP looks around and decides that they are doing pretty well just as they are, and maybe Trump just accentuates what is already wining for them?

    Suppose Trump wins or just comes very close, and we get a thousand mini-Trumps across the country running for Congress, state legislatures, and city councils? And winning in various degrees?

    What would “conservatism” or the GOP look like by 2020? What sort of place would America be?

    B) Alternatively, suppose Trump and Trumpism are crushed utterly.
    What does conservatism look like, and what would be its framing issues?

    If the Three Legged Stool made sense in 1980, does it make sense still, or are there other defining issues?

    The 20th century was the story of the epic struggle between the two economic theories, which colored every single issue from civil rights to the environment. Opposition to the Soviet Union defined both our foreign policy, military policy, and our domestic economic policy.
    This was in much the same way that the epic struggle between Catholicism and Protestantism in Europe affected nearly every political issue in the 15-17th centuries where everything was viewed through that polar scale.

    If Socialism as an all-defining political organizing principle is dead (and it is!) then what sense is there in championing something called “Capitalism” Isn’t a mixed economy of regulated markets something that everyone agrees on? So how would that become a defining issue?
    “Small Government” was always just a proxy argument in opposition to socialism.

    So suppose that the size and scale of government is no longer the defining issue; suppose we all agreed that regulated markets was preferred policy?Report

  9. Avatar Mike Dwyer
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    says:

    An additional question worth asking: If Trump wins in November (and I think is seriously possible if the Dems run with Hillary) then what does that mean about the Left? If losing the White House is the repudiation that this post implies, does that mean it’s the American Left that has a problem?

    If Trump is a true reflection of American conservatism, then are Obama, Sanders and Clinton a true reflection of American liberalism? That’s a question for the liberals out there. Do those people accurately reflect your values? Was a return of the Clintons really what you have been hoping for? If not, then it seems something is also askew on the Left.

    This whole exercise might be a cautionary tale for why we shouldn’t make too much of Presidential politics in the 24/7 information age. It’s more a cult of personality than it is a true barometer of American politics.Report

    • Avatar Kolohe in reply to Mike Dwyer
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      says:

      if Trump wins, we’re going to see massive resistance to federal authority from state and local governments, except this time those governments will be from the left side of the aisle (though they’ll still be Democrats)Report

    • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Mike Dwyer
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      says:

      On my twitter feed, I was just shown this Atlantic article and it contains the following really awesome excerpt from Robert Gordon’s _Rise and Fall of American Growth_:

      The lack of competition from immigrants and imports boosted the wages of workers at the bottom and contributed to the remarkable “great compression” of the income distribution during the 1940s, 1950s, and 1960s. Thus the closing of the American economy through restrictive immigration legislation and high tariffs may indirectly have contributed to the rise of real wages … and the general reduction of inequality from the 1920s to the 1950s.

      The guy points out that the Atlantic is saying that the left populist case against capitalism is Donald Trump’s platform. And Hillary Clinton is running on the whole “unfettered capitalism” thing. He calls this “incompetence” on the left’s part.

      I don’t know that I can improve on that take but I sure as hell can add to it: I think it’s the incompetence that follows from being captured.Report

      • Avatar El Muneco in reply to Jaybird
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        says:

        One thing that just struck me… Why was there no Sanders waiting in the wings on the R side before the primary season started? If there’s a deep vein of populist sentiment – and by all indications there is – why did it take Trump to see it and capture it?

        Are populists too inherently uncontrollable for the power structure to be able to swallow? Or – worse thought – would anyone capable of tapping that vein essentially be another Trump or Long? Can that tiger be ridden?Report

        • Avatar Jaybird in reply to El Muneco
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          says:

          At this point, I think that anybody who becomes a politician of any note at any level above dogcatcher in pretty much any township or bigger is a person who has to be groomed. You have to go up through the ranks, learn the kabuki, learn which boutonniere to wear with which tie, learn exactly how to pucker for which donors… and this grooming into the consummate candidate who can sustainably run for re-election indefinitely will, by its very nature, create an Elite Technocratic Politician.

          Iterate this for a generation or two and, next thing you know, you’ve got inbred politicians who are incapable of hearing certain notes, seeing certain colors, or thinking certain wrongthoughts.Report

        • Avatar Art Deco in reply to El Muneco
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          says:

          You had quite a run of Sanders equivalents running. They weren’t catching on. The people implicated in Capitol Hill business as usual were Rubio, Kasich. and Graham. Everyone else was either (1) not a professional pol (Carson, Fiorina) or (2) had spent their entire career in state capitals (Bush, Perry, Huckabee, Jindal, Walker, Christie, Gilmore) or (3) had been a vocational dissident on Capitol Hill (Paul, Cruz) or (4) was now at odds with Capitol Hill (Santorum). Bush is sufficiently conventional, well-connected, and in tune with Graham et al that he’s Capitol Hill for the most part. Christie’s a business Republican and careerist. No one paid much attention to Gilmore, whose reasons for running were poorly articulated.

          That still leaves you with nine choices. Huckabee and Walker saw their base of support largely evaporate in the summer of 2015, Fiorina had only a brief moment in the sun, Carson never pierced a certain ceiling, and four others were ignored by voters. Cruz and only Cruz managed to put himself on the map.Report

        • Avatar Kolohe in reply to El Muneco
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          says:

          Cruz *was* that Sanders waiting in the wings.Report

    • Avatar trizzlor in reply to Mike Dwyer
      Ignored
      says:

      >>If losing the White House is the repudiation that this post implies, does that mean it’s the American Left that has a problem?

      I guess we’ll have to see the rest of Tod’s series, but the way I read this post was that a party is in trouble if: their voters nominate a candidate zero party history; the party brain-trust are refusing to endorse the nominee, with some going so far as to vote for the opposition; the party establishment is seriously threatening a third-party run. None of these things hinge on the outcome of the general election at all.

      >>That’s a question for the liberals out there. Do those people accurately reflect your values?

      This may come as a shock, but most Democrats like Obama and have liked him pretty much the whole way through. So the current primary is actually pretty reflective of the Dem agenda: a majority of folks who want to cement Obama’s policy gains and make incremental improvements where politics allows; a minority of folks who reject incrementalism and want more of a “why don’t you get the bastards” policy; not a whole lot of disagreement on the *aspirational* party platform.Report

    • Avatar North in reply to Mike Dwyer
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      says:

      Speaking as a liberal I’m pretty okay with HRC. Sanders is a bit too GOP-innumerate for my tastes and his sentiments skew to the left of my preferences but I could stand him (I think we’d lose brutally with him at the head of the ticket though).Report

      • Avatar dexter in reply to North
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        says:

        @north, Questions; What exactly is a “GOP-innumerate” and have you bothered to look at any of the polls about a Sanders/Trump matchup?Report

        • Avatar North in reply to dexter
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          says:

          By GOP-innumerate I mean he uses math one typically sees on the GOP side only to advocate for his own preferred left wing policies rather than their preferred right wing policies.

          I have seen all of the polls on Sanders/Trump matchups, he comes in a little better than Hillary does. Considering he’s not been the target of anything approaching a sustained barrage on his background and positions (whereas she’d endured about 20 some years of the same) that’s weak tea indeed.Report

        • Avatar Morat20 in reply to dexter
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          says:

          have you bothered to look at any of the polls about a Sanders/Trump matchup?

          Presidents Romney and Dukakis could tell you all about that polling before the convention.Report

          • Avatar dexter in reply to Morat20
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            says:

            @morat20,The first polling data I Iooked at showed the person leading in the preconvention polls won 12 out of 15 elections. With those odds and if I had to bet I would go with the leader.
            While I am extremely tired of pro banker neocons who think what we call free trade is good for America, I do not think she is a racist, misogynistic jerk with the believability factor of a white guy making deals with 18th century Indians.
            .Report

            • Avatar Morat20 in reply to dexter
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              says:

              The first polling data I Iooked at showed the person leading in the preconvention polls won 12 out of 15 elections. With those odds and if I had to bet I would go with the leader

              That depends on how you define “pre-convention”, don’t it? Does that mean “Candidate has already won, all others withdrawn”? Does that mean “May”? Does that mean “The day before the Convention?”

              Statistics are tricky. You don’t even have to be trying to lie to mislead.

              (I’d bet money it was door number 1, wherein you had two established candidates).Report

              • Avatar dexter in reply to Morat20
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                says:

                @morat20 You are correct. The poll talking I saw was talking about a one on one race but every poll I have seen shows Sanders beating Trump handily and Clinton winning but having a much harder time.
                If I was given a choice I would prefer to be ahead in the polls all the time.Report

  10. Avatar Saul Degraw
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    says:

    The problem is that I don’t think the Republican Party can change.

    I know Lee has mentioned this at LGM and am not sure if he mentioned it here but you can see stuff like this happen through out history. Lee’s favorite example is from the Labour Party in the 1970s. Labour could not adapt to the times because their base was still adamant in believing in public-ownership. A good example according to the historian Dominic Sandbrook is over public estates. The British people wanted some kind of lease to own plan that would eventually turn the estate into private property. Labour leadership wanted to go along but could not because the backbenchers and the base still believed in public ownership. This was a sincerely held belief. The Tories came in and embrace a lease to own scheme. This along with other factors caused Labour to be in the wilderness from 1979-1997. Even then it still took a heroic effort to modernize the Labour Party because in 1984, they doubled down on old-school Socialism and wrote a platform that was famously dubbed “the Longest Suicide Note in History.”

    I think this tension is always going to exist in political parties and with political ideologies. Do you abandon sincerely held beliefs when they go out of fashion or are unfavorable with a majority of the electorate? Or do you stick to your principals and ideals and accept a position in the political wilderness or as a semi-permanent minority party until the winds change?

    Erick son of Erick seems to be maintaining his Never Trump beliefs. He even wrote a piece demanding that the GOP apologize to Bill Clinton for impeaching him because Trump is also an adulterer or something like that. The problem is that this is the same Erick Erickson that tweeted his parents did not allow him to have Asian food on December 7th because of Pearl Harbor (never mind that the Chinese were our allies and his mom called him out on the lie.) He is also the same right-wing firebrand who called Justice Souter a “goat-fucking, child molester.”

    In short, I am having a hard time not showing Schandenfreude about how clueless these right-wing pundits are. They spent years stroking the flames of populist and racist resentment and now are shocked, shocked, and shocked about Donald Trump. I have a hard time feeling sorry for Erick Erickson right now.

    The problem is as our right-leaning members stated above. The GOP has done pretty well in state and Congressional elections over the past few years. I do think that Gerrymandering is a good part of this (regardless of what anyone else says) but they played tactical politics well and this might give them a shield that allows them to avoid reality for a bit. Again Labour spent nearly twenty years in the minority before they were able to modernize and moderate the old socialist tendencies that went out of style. I think the more fractured nature of American politics and elections can delay this even more.

    The GOP has turned itself into a permanent minority in California or at least seemingly so. But the GOP here is not changing and seem content on this status. I guess good for them for sticking with their ideology?Report

    • Avatar LeeEsq in reply to Saul Degraw
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      says:

      Yeah, this. Political parties with a definite ideology, even if you can’t really articulate it, are going to have a hard time adjusting to changing times because the base is going to be filled with true believers. In this case, several aspects of the Republican ideology is holding them back. It should be really clear that anti-LGBT is big political loser with the electorate as a whole. It might be popular in heavily Republican areas but lightly Republican to very Democratic districts are really behind LGBT rights. Republicans can’t move forward and still have to pull off stunts like the North Carolina bill because the base wants it really badly. There are other things that are preventing the Republicans from adapting but LGBT issues are the most salient one.Report

      • Avatar TrexPushups in reply to LeeEsq
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        says:

        Going forward I think the real question is will Trump californiacate the national electorate.

        If so maybe those statehouses and mid-terms might start looking very different.Report

        • Avatar Morat20 in reply to TrexPushups
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          says:

          I doubt it. Trump is so clearly “Trump” that the GOP will be fairly untarnished. That outsider vibe can protect, you know? He’s clearly not a “party member”.

          Ted Cruz, on the other hand….if it had been him at the top, it would have stuck more cleanly to the party.Report

          • Avatar Saul Degraw in reply to Morat20
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            says:

            @morat20

            I can see purplish states like Colorado going more for the blue column depending on how Trump Trump gets during the election.

            Though I am just a liberal who is absolutely slack-jawed that the GOP nominated Trump. We are talking about someone who is a cartoon. Or as one tweet I saw remembered, we are talking about a guy who as participated in the clownish aspects of the WWE and body slammed someone on TV while wearing a suit.

            Is that an unironic voting of “America, Fuck Yeah”?Report

          • Avatar TrexPushups in reply to Morat20
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            says:

            Will they abandon the things that got Trump the nomination?

            And no one should doubt the effort we democrats will expend throwing Trump shaped anchors to every republican as they drown.Report

    • Avatar Art Deco in reply to Saul Degraw
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      says:

      I do think that Gerrymandering is a good part of this (regardless of what anyone else says)

      You lose statewide races with fixed-boundary constituencies as well. And there isn’t much disjunction between popular voting and the balance of seats in the House, no more than you’d expect in a first-past-the-post system. Take your fingers out of your ears.Report

  11. Avatar trizzlor
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    says:

    Based on his repeated references to Fox News Corp, I’m guessing Tod will focus primarily on party culture. Which makes sense. But, as some folks have pointed out, this is the first modern election in which the debate will no longer be about the size of government but about redistribution. That’s a huge loss for the GOP establishment and I think it’s something the party desperately needs to come to terms with to figure out where they’re going.Report

  12. Avatar Francis
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    says:

    I will reiterate Burt’s point. What are the principal policy goals of the Republican party, including the rank and file?

    A. Lower taxes, offset by a reduction in govt spending. What spending? I honestly don’t know what cuts would be acceptable if honestly explained to the American people.

    B. Repeal of Obamacare. OK, you don’t have to have health care insurance. Now what? Who besides the taxpayer pays for the delivery of health care to those who can’t afford or even obtain insurance?

    C. Strong military. Stronger than we have now? At what cost?

    D. Immigration. You still need the vote of the 60th most liberal Senator. He’s likely to insist on a substantial penalty on employers for hiring undocumented labor. And deporting 11 million people in four years is going to be (a) really expensive and (b) really divisive and (c) unlikely to capture that Senator’s vote.

    I am willing to concede all day long that the Democrats are smug, mean, unwilling to compromise and also rely on magic numbers for their budgets. But the Kansas and Louisiana appear to show that the Republican magic beans aren’t working.

    Cruz ran on fighting the culture warsReport

    • Avatar Art Deco in reply to Francis
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      says:

      D. Immigration. You still need the vote of the 60th most liberal Senator.

      You only need that if you have someone preternaturally ineffectual as Republican caucus leader. Someone with sense replaces AM McConnell, the idiot parliamentary rules go in the trash where they belong.Report

    • Avatar Art Deco in reply to Francis
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      says:

      B. Repeal of Obamacare. OK, you don’t have to have health care insurance. Now what? Who besides the taxpayer pays for the delivery of health care to those who can’t afford or even obtain insurance?

      Why not come up with something which (a) does not incorporate pre-paid everything and (b) does not incorporate federal rationing boards or a raft of esoteric manipulations? It’s not horridly difficult if you begin with the understanding that first-dollar coverage of medical services is not sustainable absent central planning.Report

      • Avatar Francis in reply to Art Deco
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        says:

        As to point A — Please note that PPACA-compliant policies can and do require co-pays.

        As to point B — True enough. An unregulated health insurance market can exist. And the Bush administration could have canceled Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. But it turns out that your fellow voters don’t actually want any of those things. One essence of a market is those who cannot afford do without. And since people are largely emotional and illogical, it won’t be long after the repeal of the PPACA that the Democratic party will have ads running with people dying at home from a treatable disease that they couldn’t afford.Report

  13. Avatar Morat20
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    says:

    I think we’ve got a solid set of examples here about how GOP reform is gonna be a long time coming.

    So far, the most ardent response has been, literally, “It’s the liberals fault”. Which neatly sums up a lot of things, I think.

    I mean putting on my conservative hat, I’d say one of the real problems with the GOP is it’s not conservative: It’s reactionary. I, once upon a time, used to be a pretty conservative fellow (not kidding! Voted for Bush Senior. Couldn’t quite get behind Dole, though). But you know what “Getting rid of Social Security” is? Reactionary. It’s getting close to a century in age. There isn’t anyone alive today who remembers a time without it. Massively changing Social Security (like private accounts) — that’s not conservative — that’s a humongous change to a giant, core program. (And that’s ignoring all the reactionary rhetoric).

    Starting wars of choice isn’t conservative. Invading Afghanistan? Yeah. Iraq? WTF? Running up giant deficits with tax cuts paid with tooth fairy money (Bush Senior was right about “Voodoo Economics” — but ask Kansas if the GOP had admitted that) isn’t conservative.

    What’s left? Screaming about gays, for a decade there. Holding hearings on the Clintons (“THIS TIME!”). always more tax cuts, especially on the top. Always more deregulation, even as the banking system burns. There’s nothing….pragmatic…about the GOP. Nothing conservative. Nothing prudent.

    What did the last two GOP Presidents run on? “Drill, baby, Drill”? “Bomb Iran”? “Gays suck!”. How’s that going to appeal to people?

    I appreciate the demographic trap they’re in. But honestly, I think the real problem is the GOP doesn’t have any ideas that fit the modern world. They don’t even seem to have much of an ideology anymore.Tax cuts? Deregulation? They’re slogans, not targeted at problems — they’re cast as a panacea. Ask Kansas how that’s working.Report

    • Avatar veronica d in reply to Morat20
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      says:

      On this topic, has anyone around here read Corey Robin’s stuff, such as this: https://leiterreports.typepad.com/files/raritan-essay.pdf

      Anyway, that got linked today on my Tumblr feed, and it seems — well, on point for this conversation.Report

      • Avatar veronica d in reply to veronica d
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        says:

        A teaser:

        As the forty-year dominion of the right begins to fade, however
        fitfully, writers like Sam Tanenhaus, Andrew Sullivan, Jeffrey Hart,
        Sidney Blumenthal, and John Dean have claimed that conservatism
        went into decline when Palin, or Bush, or Reagan, or Goldwater,
        or Buckley, or someone took it off the rails. Originally, the argu-
        ment goes, conservatism was a responsible discipline of the govern-
        ing classes, but somewhere between Joseph de Maistre and Joe the
        Plumb er, it got carried away with itself. It became adventurous,
        fanatical, populist, ideological. What this story of decline—and you
        see it on the Right as well as the Left—overlooks is that all of these
        supposed vices of contemporary conservatism were present at the
        beginning, in the writings of Burke and Maistre, only they weren’t
        viewed as vices. They were seen as virtues. Conservatism has always
        been a wilder and more extravagant movement than many realize—
        and it is precisely this wildness and extravagance that has been one
        of the sources of its continuing appeal.

        Report

    • Avatar North in reply to Morat20
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      says:

      I agree with this though it says something about us liberals if we can’t route the GOP if all they’re peddling is this. Something uncomfortable I think.Report

      • Avatar Morat20 in reply to North
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        says:

        Eh, my team is always better than your team. My coach make suck, my players may suck, but at least I’m not a filthy [YOUR TEAM] fan.Report

        • Avatar North in reply to Morat20
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          says:

          Err we have the same team last I looked.Report

          • Avatar Morat20 in reply to North
            Ignored
            says:

            Yeah, I know. My point is that “routing” the GOP has a lot to do with team loyalty. Which cuts both ways.

            Part of the “stickiness” in political parties boils down to that sort of loyalty. It takes a pretty sharp shock to know most people out of a party, even the mushy middle that may or may not vote.Report

    • Avatar Kolohe in reply to Morat20
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      says:

      Today I learned that Afghanistan was a war of choice that all Democrats hate and Obama deserves no credit for the fact that US oil production has almost doubled between 2009 and 2015.Report

      • Avatar Morat20 in reply to Kolohe
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        says:

        Honestly? I need to clarify I meant “Iraq” and not “Afghanistan”?

        And you can’t tell the difference between “Drill, baby, Drill” (sold as the panacea to American woes, promising complete energy independence as well if I recall my Palinisms) and Obama’s platform regarding domestic energy?

        You know better, or would if you’d given it a half-second’s thought. Good lord.Report

        • Avatar Kolohe in reply to Morat20
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          says:

          My mistake, I didn’t originally parse “Invading Afghanistan? Yeah.” as Yeah, we should have done that, but now I see what you meant.

          All I can tell from Obama’s petroleum energy policy is that America was indeed drillin’, baby, over the past 7 years. More than any of the years when the ostensible oil guys were in charge.Report

          • Avatar Morat20 in reply to Kolohe
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            says:

            True, but it wasn’t sold as anything more than what it was. He was accused of being anti-American and such, but he didn’t pretend we could drill our way to energy independence — or that oil was a long-term solution to our energy needs.Report

    • Avatar El Muneco in reply to Morat20
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      says:

      I, once upon a time, used to be a pretty conservative fellow (not kidding! Voted for Bush Senior. Couldn’t quite get behind Dole, though).

      One of the things I find most interesting about this site is the relatively high percentage of libertarians who are former liberals, and of liberals who are former libertarians and even conservatives (me, my first Presidential vote was for Reagan, the second for Paul, who I met in person when he was stumping).

      I think it adds to both the nuance of the conversations, and the empathy within. Kind of like the differences you see between sites where deconverted fundies hang out vs. New Atheist hotspots.Report

  14. Avatar Kolohe
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    says:

    Morat20: What’s left? Screaming about gays, for a decade there. Holding hearings on the Clintons (“THIS TIME!”). always more tax cuts, especially on the top. Always more deregulation, even as the banking system burns. There’s nothing….pragmatic…about the GOP. Nothing conservative. Nothing prudent.

    One of the weird things about Trump is that he is more LGBT friendly than the other candidates that ran for Prez this time; has on occasion talked about rich people paying more taxes; and was pretty good friends with Hillary Clinton.Report

  15. Avatar Mike Schilling
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    says:

    The GOP seizes on the tragic event as a possible winning political strategy: to make the presidential election all about replacing Scalia with an equally and appropriately gifted and intellectual conservative justice.

    Mitch McConnell literally did not pause between saying that Scalia had passed away and announcing that he would refuse to even consider an Obama nominee to fill the seat. Nothing about what a fine man Scalia was, what a loss this was for the country, or how his thoughts were with Scalia’s family. The GOP: the party of family values NOT, religious values NOT, partisan politics 24-7 YES.Report

  16. Avatar Mike Schilling
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    says:

    One party is about to nominate Donald Trump for president. Think about that. If someone had told you that a year ago, you’d have thought they were idiots, like if they’d said it would be Jeb! but his running mate would be Sarah Palin.

    The other is about to nominate Hillary Clinton. If someone had told you that a year ago, you’d have thought they were tedious, because it was obvious, like if they’d said that the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles wasn’t going to do any of that.

    One side did an insane thing and the other did not. You can’t BSDI your way out of that.Report

    • Avatar Stillwater in reply to Mike Schilling
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      says:

      One party is about to nominate Donald Trump for president. Think about that.

      We’re one thin vote away from electing the guy who single-handedly destroyed the USFL to be Leader of the Free World. Sports fans, at least, oughta know what’s at stake here.Report

    • Avatar Art Deco in reply to Mike Schilling
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      says:

      One side did an insane thing and the other did not.

      Nominating Hellary is not ‘insane’ if you fancy it’s perfectly normal to have a grotesque crook who has not one accomplishment to her name which is not tainted. That you think Hellary has any business in any office where she exercises discretion is an indicator of how rancid the intramural culture of the Democratic Party is.Report

  17. Avatar Brit
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    says:

    MuraliSo, yes we have to treat bigotry and opposition to bigotry symmetrically. This doesn’t necessarily license bigotry on the part of the state, but the argument for equal treatment by the state has to (and I think indeed successfully does) rely on that procedural and justificatory neutrality.

    Well, yes, no one is a villain in their own mind. But some of them are wrong. Would you suggest that we should treat murder and opposition to murder symmetrically? If not, why are you willing to condemn murder, but not racism? (Genuine question)Report

    • Avatar Murali in reply to Brit
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      says:

      If not, why are you willing to condemn murder, but not racism? (Genuine question)

      The argument is not fully worked out yet, but I’m fairly confident that something along the following lines is true:

      No stable social code could ever tolerate widespread killing. And given that I can’t tell whether group A killing group B is murder or group B killing group A is murder, allowing both to murder would be worse than preventing both from murdering. If we could have a publicly acceptable basis for determining who needs killing that might work.

      Once we get groups A and B tolerating each other we don’t have to care about what they think about each other. Let me put it another way.

      Disagreements about these sorts of things seem intractable. Trying to resolve these disputes by presupposing that one side is correct doesn’t actually resolve them, it just asserts one side over the other. Behind a veil of ignorance where I don’t know who I am or which side is correct, I can neither choose to benefit myself specifically nor choose the “correct” side because I don’t know which side it is. But, I can nevertheless, at the very least, choose rules that protect the basic liberties. And while we may conclude from this result that there is something asymmetric about killing and not wanting to be killed, and assaulting and not wanting to be assaulted, the same cannot be said for individual animus against particular groups of people.Report

      • Avatar greginak in reply to Murali
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        says:

        I’m not so sure about the last bit. It probably depends on exactly how it is phrased. But it seems like “those people are deviant and should have second class status” should not be equal to “that group isn’t hurting others so leave them alone and they shouldn’t’ be second class citizens”. Those differences get back to getting group A to tolerate B. But if A won’t tolerate B but B will tolerate A, then we a problem of non-equivalence.Report

        • Avatar Murali in reply to greginak
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          says:

          Right, so all we have to do is not listen to the last bit where they say that the other group should have second class status. Not everyone gets everything they want. Group B doesn’t get to unilaterally make group A second class qua citizenship. But once we secure that bit about equal citizenship, do we need to then go any further? Given the kind of scepticism I’m pushing, equal citizenship makes sense because it is the safest choice. (We don’t know if A should be second class or B should so lets split the difference) But I don’t think that takes you much further than that. It gets you some kind of thin liberalism, but nothing so robustly egalitarian or progressive as to justify the more ambitious claims that some on the left wish to make. The good thing (form your perspective) is that it also doesn’t justify any of the robustly hierarchical and regressive stuff that those on the right want. And moreover, at least if my argument works out right, it doesn’t rely on premises that those on the right (even the alt-right) can reasonably reject.Report

          • Avatar Brit in reply to Murali
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            says:

            But there is not currently equal citizenship. For example, i see conservatives on this very site (including some who want to disclaim Trump) who explain away police shooting of black people as being because said black people dont show enough respect to the police as a cultural thing. These conservatives dont like to think of themselves as rascist, but their arguments need to be called out for what they are.

            I think this is what veronica was getting at. There’s conservatives now claiming hurt feels for being called on their bigotry, and either therefore supporting Trump or blaming liberals for those supportinh Trump. But the alternative to calling them out is to allow them to maintain a narrative that keeps black people, gay people as second class citizens, even in matters of life and death.Report

            • Avatar KenB in reply to Brit
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              says:

              Brit: who explain away police shooting of black people as being because said black people dont show enough respect to the police as a cultural thing

              And this is what I was getting at in my response to Veronica. First, you’re treating this belief as self-evidently false, even though there’s an empirical component of it that you don’t seem to have made any effort to actually research; and second, even if we grant that it’s false, you assume that the belief is motivated solely by “bigotry”, excluding any other kinds of evaluation that might be involved in the conclusion (people can be wrong about things involving race & culture without necessarily being “bigots” or “racists”).Report

              • Avatar Brit in reply to KenB
                Ignored
                says:

                Its true i dont have experience of US black culture, but I do know something about policing. the point here is that if you are entrusted with the authority of the state and the ability to use lethal force, you do not use it simply because you feel someone is disrespecting you. Here in the UK, procedures and policies try to keep lethal force to a minimum (We still get it wrong sometimes). It is apparent – and this i have researched – that in the US, it is resorted to more readily.

                At the end of the day, people of any colour should be able to freely walk down the street however they wish. The agents of the state should respect that.

                To do otherwise is to prioritise state power over freedom. When you only make that prioritisation when the victims are black, you are making a distinction on the basis of race. Thus, a racist distinction.

                As you correctly say, i dont know what is in someone’s head or heart, so im certaunly not intending to say this is conscious racism. Indeed, the person concerned may well not see it that way. But it doesnt change what it is.Report

              • Avatar Art Deco in reply to Brit
                Ignored
                says:

                Those of us who observed Theresa May’s idea of riot control have some reserve about taking lessons from the UK on order maintenance.Report

              • Avatar Brit in reply to Art Deco
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                says:

                You will need to explain further what you are referring to in your reference to conservative politician Theresa May because im not clear what you meanReport

              • Avatar aaron david in reply to Brit
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                says:

                I am with @brit on this, in the What are you talking about? way.

                But, counter to your point above, my last experience with policing in the UK was North Ireland in the late ’80’s. With many comparisons to US issues of violence.Report

              • Avatar Brit in reply to Brit
                Ignored
                says:

                To be crystal clear:

                Even if it is empirically true that the way some black people behave provokes the police, the ones who need to change their behaviour are still the police.Report

              • Avatar Art Deco in reply to Brit
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                says:

                Brit, the police deal with violent criminals as a matter of course. It isn’t the police who need to change their behavior.Report

              • Avatar Brit in reply to Art Deco
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                says:

                Im talking about black people, not violent criminals.Report

              • Avatar Stillwater in reply to Brit
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                says:

                {{Could be that one participant in this discussion is collapsing the distinction between black people and violent criminals…}}Report

              • Avatar Murali in reply to Brit
                Ignored
                says:

                @brit

                You’re in the UK? whereabouts are you? I’m in Coventry.Report

              • Avatar Brit in reply to Murali
                Ignored
                says:

                South Wales, mostly.Report

            • Avatar Art Deco in reply to Brit
              Ignored
              says:

              For example, i see conservatives on this very site (including some who want to disclaim Trump) who explain away police shooting of black people as being because said black people dont show enough respect to the police as a cultural thing.

              The actual argument is that social relations being what they are, there will be lethal encounters between the police and public from time to time. We have a police force because we have a criminal population, some of whom are quite impetuous and violent. A subsidiary point in that argument is that its only to be expected that the demographics of the population of those shot by police officers will match the demographics of the criminal population.

              Police shootings are police shootings. Most are justifiable, some are not. People who argue for the police in case x, y, or z are not in the business of ‘explaining away’ shooting of ‘black people’. That is your fancy you maintain for your own purposes.Report

              • Avatar Brit in reply to Art Deco
                Ignored
                says:

                Well, I do think you need to explain quite how the police manage to shoot so many people.

                People killed by police in US 2015: 1145
                People killed by policd in UK 2015: 3

                Granted, the US is bigger, but this isnt even close.Report

              • Avatar Art Deco in reply to Brit
                Ignored
                says:

                No clue where you ginned up the figure of 1145 per annum. That’s 3-4x typical figure. A metropolitan region of ordinary size in this country (containing a dense settlement commonly about the size of greater Sheffield) will have 1 or 2 police killings a year while patrolling a slum population that runs to about 100,000. Where I grew up, rural and small town homicide rates run to about 1.14 per 100,000; those in the suburbs and better core city neighborhoods run to 3 per 100,000. The slums and shady areas adjacent have rates around 35 per 100,000. Difficult areas, lots of difficult people. The reasons are not that obscure.Report

              • Avatar Slade the Leveller in reply to Art Deco
                Ignored
                says:

                A quick search of the Google suggests a figure of ~1000, though some sources put it in the 1100-1200 range.

                http://www.killedbypolice.net/kbp2015.html says 1207.

                https://www.washingtonpost.com/national/final-tally-police-shot-and-killed-984-people-in-2015/2016/01/05/3ec7a404-b3c5-11e5-a76a-0b5145e8679a_story.html says 986.

                There are plenty more links to look at, but I’ll leave that to you.Report

              • Avatar Kazzy in reply to Art Deco
                Ignored
                says:

                Shorter AD: I’ll make up stats to insist that cops aren’t shooting people but then insist that the people they are shooting totes deserve it.Report

              • Avatar Art Deco in reply to Kazzy
                Ignored
                says:

                The Bureau of Justice Statistics conducted a retrospective study of police use of force covering the years running from 1976 to 1998. The number of justifiable homicides by police officers bounced around a set point of about 375 during the entire time, with no upward or downward trend to speak of. Another study of arrest-related deaths conducted during the calendar years 2003, 2004, and 2005 found a median of 366 people per annum shot dead by cops.

                The number of justifiable homicides by civilians has seen a secular decline, falling to about 200 per annum by 2005.Report

            • Avatar Murali in reply to Brit
              Ignored
              says:

              A few points:

              1. Well, does calling people out on their bigotry actually do anything to get people closer to equal citizenship? Or is it more about venting and putting the boot in the crotch a bit now that you are on top?

              2. Supporting Trump is wrong because Trump promises to treat some groups in ways that violate certain basic rights. My pure procedural account doesn’t leave Trump intact either. We can and should criticise Trump on the way he promises to not separate his personal biases from public administration. It may seem like a sin everyone is guilty of, but he promises to commit it to a greater degree than anyone else and perhaps in particularly bad ways. (Sanders and Clinton are better, but that doesn’t mean that they are good in any absolute sense on this issue)

              3. There are two ways in which we might object to Trump. The first way is by saying that Trump is a bigot because he believes that homosexuality is deviant but its not. This is a lot like saying that Queen Mary is a Catholic and Catholicism is false. Alternatively we might say that Trump wants to impose his vision of the good on the rest of us and that the mere fact that doing so is divisive, intolerant and not a way for all of us to live together peacably in a way acceptable to everyone regardless about their beliefs about the deviancy of homosexuality. That’s a lot like telling Queen Mary to lay off and let everyone live in peace regardless of which the right religion isReport

              • Avatar Brit in reply to Murali
                Ignored
                says:

                1. The conversation shifts. And others watching know they are not alone.

                2. Agreed.

                3. This depends on which freedoms are fundamental. I agree with you to an extent, but all govt is about imposing a vision of the good, as all rights conflict to an extent (eg why shoukd my taxes pay for a war i disagree with).Report

              • Avatar Murali in reply to Brit
                Ignored
                says:

                Regarding 3, two points

                1. Part of this is perhaps terminological, but rights can’t conflict. Interests conflict. Claims conflict. People’s rights just are the ways in which these conflicts ought to be settled.

                2. Even if rights do conflict, government need not be about imposing a vision of the good, the whole point of neutral procedural justification is that you bypass the questions about whether a given way of life is objectively good or bad (or if you want to define good sufficiently widely, not all government is about conceptions of the good that cannot be made good to everyone)Report

              • Avatar veronica d in reply to Murali
                Ignored
                says:

                Part of this is perhaps terminological, but rights can’t conflict. Interests conflict. Claims conflict. People’s rights just are the ways in which these conflicts ought to be settled.

                OMG this is the veriest nonsense.

                Rights are not “natural kinds.” You won’t find them in a test tube or under a microscope. They will never be observed in a large particle accelerator.

                They are, of course, social constructs, of a sort. They emerge as we develop political theory and political structures. That said, they don’t have an essentialist definition, such as how a physical scientist might define “carbon.”

                Which doesn’t mean they are entirely arbitrary or perfectly flexible. Money also is a social construct, but socialism doesn’t work very well, and economics might be a fuzzy batch of theoretical wishes, but it is something rather like a science.

                You can say what you wish rights were. But so what? We can talk about how rights actually work, how they emerged, what boundaries we think they might have. All of this can be observational.

                For example, what people say about rights is often quite silly, such as the belief that rights are given by a supreme lawgiver — what a quaint idea! But all the same, I think we can tease out a meaning for rights. One thing that I heard suggested, it turns out on this forum, is that rights are where people draw the line. In other words, these are the terms past which people will not compromise. It is what they demand for themselves, and what they will fight for, struggle for, the denial of which they will not accept.

                And then this hits against actual social and political processes, and those who win the fight encode their notion of rights in some document, and thus we get a “bill of rights,” custom designed for white property owners. For those who disagree, there is the violent power of the state.

                TADA!

                Actually, the US Constitution did pretty good, considering what a mess the colonies were. But anyway…

                The idea that such rights cannot “conflict” is very silly. Thus, that cannot possibly be what you mean.

                Are we constructing an ideal notion of rights?

                I mean, obviously that is what you are doing. It’s a fun game. Philosophers have been creating their ideal political systems literally since Plato. Enjoy.

                Just try to be a bit realistic. Wisdom is not found through blindness in a dark cave. It’s out in the world, in the actual political processes. Whatever rights we end up with, as codified, will be the result of a messy political process, and indeed they will “conflict,” unless you think some ultra-powerful “lawgiver” is going to step in and cut the knot.

                It doesn’t work that way. We muddle through.

                #####

                I have a right to pee in public toilets. Wanna fight?Report

              • Avatar Murali in reply to veronica d
                Ignored
                says:

                @veronica-d

                A few points

                1. As I said, its a terminological difference. The reason I prefer my way of using the words is that when we say that you have a right to, for instance, use the women’s toilet, it usually means that I have a correlative duty to refrain from stopping you from using the women’s toilet. Since duties are prescriptive and it is incoherent to tell me to both do X and not do X at the same time, I cannot have conflicting duties and therefore cannot have a right that conflicts with your right to use the female toilet. So, my way of using the words fits better with this phenomenon of rights and duties.

                2. No argument about your right to use whichever toilet you want

                3. I’m 6’3″ but somewhat out of shape. Give me a month to get back in shape and maybe I could take you given that you’re on oestrogen

                4. But, I’m old fashioned and don’t hit women. So, no we won’t fightReport

              • Avatar DavidTC in reply to veronica d
                Ignored
                says:

                One thing that I heard suggested, it turns out on this forum, is that rights are where people draw the line. In other words, these are the terms past which people will not compromise. It is what they demand for themselves, and what they will fight for, struggle for, the denial of which they will not accept.

                Well, sometimes.

                Rights, in context of the government, seem to be ‘Things we shouldn’t deny by simple majority vote and should think long and hard before restricting in any manner at all’.

                These overlap somewhat with…I don’t know what to call it except ’emotional rights’, (A term that seriously trivializes it.) which is what you’re talking about. This latter group sometimes is not quite in sync with the first group…for example, this latter group includes the right to vote, which is not really a legal right in the US. Likewise, people rarely run around failing to compromise with soldiers being quartered in their homes, although that’s possible because the government never tries that.Report

              • Avatar veronica d in reply to DavidTC
                Ignored
                says:

                @davidtc — Well, yeah. The thing is, rights are all of these things, because rights are not a single, coherent concept. They are a cluster of ideas that have emerged within human government. But there is no essence behind them.

                Which, there are certainly things that rights are not. Likewise there is a general sense of meaning when people talk about rights. However, these are “theory laden” concepts, and seldom do you find someone with a theory that is both 1) coherent and 2) remotely true. So it goes. We muddle through.Report

              • Avatar El Muneco in reply to DavidTC
                Ignored
                says:

                Likewise, people rarely run around failing to compromise with soldiers being quartered in their homes, although that’s possible because the government never tries that.

                It’s been noted to happen.Report

              • Avatar Brandon Berg in reply to veronica d
                Ignored
                says:

                You misunderstand. Murali’s point is that rights can’t conflict by definition, because “rights” are the rules we establish for how conflicting interests are supposed to be resolved. If two rights conflict, then at least one of them isn’t actually a right. People may disagree on which is and which isn’t, but at most one conflicting claim about rights actually corresponds to a legal right.Report

      • Avatar Alan Scott in reply to Murali
        Ignored
        says:

        No stable social code could ever tolerate widespread killing. And given that I can’t tell whether group A killing group B is murder or group B killing group A is murder, allowing both to murder would be worse than preventing both from murdering. If we could have a publicly acceptable basis for determining who needs killing that might work.

        Once we get groups A and B tolerating each other we don’t have to care about what they think about each other.

        @murali , but continuing on that course, you quickly run into Anatole France’s majesty of law, which prohibits both rich and poor from sleeping under bridges.

        If group A is murdering B and group B is murdering group A, you do well to prohibit murder. But when group A is burning down B homes and group B is stealing from A businesses, you simple solution only works if you’re careful to outlaw both arson and theft.

        Further down in this blog, you suggest that it’s impossible for rights to conflict with each other. I think that very narrow conception of rights is fundamentally at odds with the notion of rights as a ceasefire or stalemate.

        Because the rights-as-ceasefire view is inherently practicalist. If it doesn’t actually address the way that group A harms group B, then it does nothing to actually promote a ceasefire (and, depending on how it addresses the reverse, may simply be promoting a one-sided massacre).

        Consider the fundamental, widely accepted sort of rights that we can all agree on, the narrow framing of rights that can’t conflict with each other, as expressed in such statements as the US Bill of rights. From a practicalist point of view, those rights are just defenses against the way that White Christian land-owning gentlemen were attacked by other White Christian land-owning gentlemen. If rights are to be a ceasefire mechanism that addresses today’s conflicts and the multitude of interest groups involved in them, they will either need to expand beyond their specific and sometimes anemic origins, or they will result in ceasefires that prevent no bloodshed.Report

    • Avatar Murali in reply to Brit
      Ignored
      says:

      @brit

      Granted that Veronica is not talking about coercion per se and is just talking about being mean to bigots. Scott Alexander’s article pretty much says the things that need to be said about this.

      http://slatestarcodex.com/2016/05/02/be-nice-at-least-until-you-can-coordinate-meanness/Report

      • Avatar Brit in reply to Murali
        Ignored
        says:

        This is a totally valid point. However, calling out bigotry isnt necessarily being mean:

        1. Genuinely, it can be about consciousness raising. I grew up with a lot of sexist and homophobic prejuduces i just didnt see and it took strong challenge from others to make me confront them. Challenge can often be a mark of respect – a belief the challengee will listen.

        2. On a public board like this, one is also talking to the broader audience. Often, the person challenged will show their true colours when pushed. Ive seen the mask slip quite badly on a number of the commentators here who try to present themselves as reasonable and moderate. And so the broader argument is won.Report

  18. Avatar Lurker
    Ignored
    says:

    1. You literally can’t fix a broken elephant. A broken elephant is a dead one, and you can’t fix a dead animal. You can bury the rotting, dangerous carcass of a dead elephant. Then you can get a different animal to replace it. I think this is an apt aspect of Tod’s broken elephant metaphor.

    2. The elephant had been sick with racism, homophobia, transphobia, ignorance of science, willfull ignorance towards expert consensus for decades. Maybe it has been dead and rotting a long time.Report

    • Avatar Stillwater in reply to Lurker
      Ignored
      says:

      I’m willing to read Tod’s post before rendering a judgment about that myself. I mean, I hear ya, of course, and I think that in one sense of the ideological term conservatism – or at least the GOP – is now dead. In another sense it’s been dead for quite a while, with politicians feasting on its rotting corpse.

      In another sense, tho, conservatism is has been dented and Tod has some ideas on how the parts that aren’t broken can sustained during the reparative body work.Report

  19. Avatar Slade the Leveller
    Ignored
    says:

    This may be the most interesting discussion I’ve ever read here at the League. Though I’d be hard pressed to think of a Republican I’ve voted for in my lifetime, I think it’s a good thing for our country to have a healthy opposition, if only to force the side in power to curb some of its excesses. So, it seems to me that the party that nominates the likes of Donald Trump has a bit of self-reflection to engage in to assess just how healthy it is.

    Tod offers us a number of examples of non-serious activity (Ben Carson as Speaker of the House of Representatives? Really?) as evidence of the unhealthy state of the party on the right. I’d like to offer one more: the embrace of the Christian right. The causes of the Christian right, such as abortion, preserving their versions of the family and the institution of marriage, have led the Republican party down paths which no governing party ought to tread. These issues are not the stuff of government, but of conscience. It is an unhealthy contradiction in governing philosophy for the party of small government to so interested in enlarging government’s role in the lives of ordinary Americans.

    Every new & successful example therefore of a perfect separation between ecclesiastical and civil matters, is of importance. And I have no doubt that every new example, will succeed, as every past one has done, in shewing that religion & Govt. will both exist in greater purity, the less they are mixed together.

    I would suggest the leaders of the Republican Party check the writings of the Founding Fathers they so revere for more examples, such as the one above from James Madison, of advice they can heed to rid themselves of an often divisive and, frankly, non-Christlike ally.Report

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