Matthew Stoller: The Autocratic Failure


Will Truman

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

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155 Responses

  1. Avatar LeeEsq says:

    I really wish people will start addressing the fact that Clinton won the popular vote by nearly three million and lost by razor trim margins in the electoral states when they make these arguments. This sounds too much like if everybody followed my policy preferences than Clinton would have won,Report

    • Avatar Will Truman says:

      To Donald Trump, and against all expectation, and almost five million more people voted against her instead of for her. Also House, Senate, governorships, legislatures…

      I don’t know if the answer is to be found in these tweets, but there are a lot of questions.

      Questions that would not have gone away had 40k people voted differently, though would be easier to ignore.Report

      • Avatar Chip Daniels says:

        Other questions that are going to become painfully sharp very quickly:
        1. Who voted for Medicare privatization?
        2. Who voted to dismantle Obamacare? No, I mean who really voted to take away the health care act, including all its good parts?
        3. Who voted for an overturning of Roe V Wade?

        Because these questions are similar to the electoral college/ popular vote paradox. They are all very popular programs and decisions, yet we have all 3 branches of government in the control of a party implacably hostile to them and committed to their destruction.

        I expect that tweet about the Leopards Eating People’s Face Party is going to get quite a workout for the next few years.Report

        • Avatar Will Truman says:

          Those are questions for the Republicans and people who want the Republicans to win, rather than Democrats and people who want the Republicans to lose.Report

          • Avatar Chip Daniels says:

            This is the dog who caught the car scenario.

            For years, decades, unionized workers, the working poor, the unemployed and disabled could all vote Republican because there were enough Democrats in power to stymie the most aggressive Republican agenda.
            So these same people never actually had the leopard come to eat their faces.

            But now that check is gone, and like those coal miners in West Virginia who suddenly realized they will lose their health insurance for black lung, there are a lot of people who are going to be told solemnly that this is the
            Will. Of. The. People The Mandate!

            And we must not resist The Mandate but instead we must reach across the aisle, and bipartisan drink with Tip and sensible consensus the Broderite argle bargle gibber squee.

            This is the framing dialogue that arises from the majority party’s claim of legitimacy, to quash opposition as a minority obstruction.

            The fact is, party in power can’t plausibly claim to reflect the actual desires of the people. They’re advancing an agenda that really is only wanted a small minority.

            We need to constantly underscore this fact.Report

            • Avatar Will Truman says:

              I don’t know who you’re talking to here, but you tell’im, Chip!Report

              • Avatar Will Truman says:

                I mean, Democrats should do what they were elected to do, and what will help them win in the future. Which includes what they think is good for the country, which itself includes opposing Trump most of the time.

                They don’t have a whole lot of tools at their disposal to do so, though. Because elections.Report

              • Avatar Chip Daniels says:

                Heh, my rant was pivoting off Lee’s point about how razor thin the election was, how narrow the segment of America it turned on.

                As well as Stoller’s tweets, where he attempts to force the square peg of Trump into the round hole of pre-New Deal politics and paints him as some sort of Worker’s Party hero.

                Its always tempting, but a bad idea, to apply the framing of the past onto the present- things get terribly warped.

                There are good points to be made about the technocratic class displacing the traditional workers, and the resulting resentment.
                But like a lot of leftists, Stoller wants to sort America into two simple groups, the Technocratic Elite and the Proles.Report

              • Avatar Will Truman says:

                FWIW, I liked this comment.

                I think when you’re leaving it in the hands of so few people, and saying to yourself “If only 50k voters would have flipped, everything would be okay”… but it wouldn’t, because nearly half of the country voted for an Agent of Chaos.

                That’s a problem even if you do win. And, of course, you might not win. Right now, the odds of Trump being re-elected are probably greater than 50%. Those odds will go up and down, depending on what happens from here. What the Republicans do from here, I mean… and what the Democrats do from here.Report

              • Avatar Chip Daniels says:

                Oh thats a good point, that the fact there is so much unrest in the country is sobering.
                Which is why everyone is trying to divine some sort of meaning out of the chaos.

                Right now I’m still at the phase where I reject the chorus trying to package Trump into a single coherent agenda, and assert that it is a mandate.

                I think going forward the Dems need to reframe populism, away from the old narrative of Urban Elite/ Rural Proles into something more in tune with contemporary reality.Report

              • Avatar El Muneco says:

                A couple of things regarding the 2020 election agnostic to who’s running:
                – The “demographic inevitability” argument had two forks. The first, that minorities will reliably vote D in greater and greater numbers, turned out to be false. The second, that the R base is much, much, older than the D base, is still true. With a quick look at the DHS tables for a couple battleground states, the number of R voters who will die and be replaced by newbies (which I’m assuming for the sake of argument will be split 50/50) – vs. the equivalent on the D side – will just about eliminate the razor-thin margin in the three key states, and throw a couple more into play. If this were a computer game and we re-ran the exact same election (comments about baskets, e-mail-gate, Comey, and all), with this one difference, Clinton very well might get an EC win.
                – The fundamentals were slightly anti-incumbent in 2016. Regardless of anything President Trump does, they’re likely to be even stronger anti-incumbent in 2020 (I’m thinking primarily of the recession we’re overdue for).Report

              • Avatar Will Truman says:

                It’s worth pointing out that Trump may have won the 18-24 vote in Minnesota (+6) and Wisconsin (+2) (he lost the 65+ in MN -2, won +1 in WI). And while Hillary came close to winning the three states she needed, Trump came similarly close to winning more.

                But it’s not really going to be a replay anyway.

                We tend to re-elect our presidents, usually with more votes then got them there in the first place (2012 was an exception). A lot of the FUD won’t be there. Trump will be normalized. It’s pretty easy to imagine a Bill Clintonesque distinction between “personal” and “job” approval in the polls.

                If there is a recession, then all bets are off. A lot depends on the particulars. But it’s not good to bet on a recession. Or a dreadful war. Or the other side screwing it up. I’m not saying Trump is going to win or has really good odds, but I’m not seeing a whole lot of reason for confidence presently.Report

              • Avatar El Muneco says:

                Oh, I’m not saying there’s reason for confidence – at this point it would sound like Jeff Fisher and the Rams’ locker room has long since tuned him out for the season.
                Just that I don’t think there’s a need to abandon core principles to chase votes. The popular vote is already there. The fundamentals certainly won’t be less favorable. Balancing the incumbent effect against four years of actual media reporting on the actual actions of the incumbent is tough to do (plus, is the incumbent effect overrated in the modern era? The two-term presidents since Nixon have been Reagan, the two most charismatic other than Reagan since Kennedy, and someone who was literally in the middle of fighting the successful war to revenge 9/11 – seems to me that in your first term you have to do something special or be someone special).
                It’s tough. We’re behind. But we can’t change that now. Moving forward, we don’t need to be less who we are, we need to be more who we are. Just find ways to execute better. To be the best version of ourselves.Report

              • Avatar Will Truman says:

                I don’t believe that the Democrats are doomed, but I think they need to be asking themselves where to adjust rather than whether to adjust. Never aim for just 50.1%. (As I say to Chip above, I’d be saying this even if they’d won, though it would likely be falling on deaf ears.)

                None of this requires abandoning core values.Report

              • Avatar El Muneco says:

                Oh, I agree. I don’t think that you’ve been advocating major philosophical changes as well as tactical and messaging changes – but saying that is a thing.
                Frankly, like everyone else on this site and damnably few people in the real world, I think the Ds should be concentrating on 2018, infrastructure, and contesting every race down to dogcatcher with nontrivial resources even if it seems unwinnable (obviously, not excessive resources if it seems unwinnable, but still something).
                And I can’t help except for moral and financial support – my ballot in November had a number of Ds running without opposition, one D contesting against an L, and zero Rs running without opposition. And in the 2% chance I leave it would be for coastal California, Seattle, or Austin.Report

              • Avatar Stillwater says:

                Chip or Will,

                Do you recall if Stoller has a history of championing neoliberal trade policy? I used to read him quite a bit a long time ago and for some reason I remember him as pretty amenable to it.

                Add: An all too quick Googlage reveals that for some years he’s been a vehement critic of neoliberalism. (WHic his maybe why I was reading him back in the day!). I musta got him confused with one of the other Matts.Report

              • Avatar Will Truman says:

                Not sure. I’d always associated him with the mainstream left rather than the hyperleft. Couldn’t tell you why, though.Report

              • Avatar Stillwater says:

                Well, he (or a cohort from the old days) aligned with Markos Moulitsas for a wild ride thru liberaltarianism, and that may be why I’m confused about it. It’s hard to keep these progressive liberals straight when they all look the same. 🙂Report

            • Avatar Michael Drew says:

              I completely agree with Chip’s first three paragraphs here, FWIW.Report

            • Avatar Brandon Berg says:

              For years, decades, unionized workers, the working poor, the unemployed and disabled could all vote Republican because there were enough Democrats in power to stymie the most aggressive Republican agenda.

              Assuming nothing changes the results between now and January, Republicans will have the House, the White House, and 51 seats in the Senate. In 2005 and 2006, they had the House, the White House, and 55 seats in the Senate. They do have a wider margin in the House this time, but I think the margin matters more in the Senate.Report

              • Avatar J_A says:

                In the meantime, we had Obama

                For some reason, the existence of this “illegitimate” presidency has moved the GOP to far more extreme positions (at least with respect to certain subjects, like “entitlements”) than the positions they espoused in 2004Report

              • Avatar Chip Daniels says:

                And when they held all that power, one of their first proposals was to privatize Social Security.
                In the decade since, they have grown even more radicalized.Report

              • Avatar Lyle says:

                Note that idea never got to the point of a bill to be voted on, after 2004. It was never reduced to practice partly to the issues of transition from the current system to the future system.Report

        • Avatar Will H. says:

          I think a lot more of it was Status Quo vs. Something Different than anything else I’ve heard from anyone.

          Granted, you’re one of the few of the Lefty persuasion that acknowledges that people can vote for someone without wholeheartedly endorsing every view of the candidate.

          • Avatar Morat20 says:

            I’m of the opinion that voting for someone means taking responsibility for the stuff you like and the stuff you don’t.

            That doesn’t mean you endorse it. It’s just saying “I think the stuff I agree with is worth the price of the stuff I don’t”.

            You don’t get off the hook for the stuff you disagree with by just saying “I disagreed with it” — you were still willing to pay that price, so you’ve still got that on your hands.

            Which is true for anyone voting for any candidate. Left, right, middle, whatever.Report

            • Avatar Will Truman says:

              I agree with this if you add the words “as compared with the alternative(s)” at the end of the quote.Report

              • Avatar Morat20 says:

                You made your choice, you don’t get to excuse it because your own personal Jesus candidate wasn’t there.

                “I voted for Trump because I hated Clinton so much”. Okay, so whatever you disliked about Clinton, it was worse than sexual assault, bigotry, and incompetence? Great. I can see that being your calculus. I’m not going to tell you you’re wrong on that, either.

                But you still voted for bigotry, sexual assault, and incompetence and “But Hillary!” buys you no slack when the bill comes due.

                And the reverse is true. “But Trump” would have bought ME no slack when Clinton did whatever I disliked.

                Jesus ain’t on the ballot, and voting for Clinton because I legitimately thought Trump would be far worse (or vice versa) still means I was voting for what Clinton stood for.Report

              • Avatar Will Truman says:

                That’s a hell of an argument to vote for Gary Johnson, or not to vote at all.Report

              • Avatar Morat20 says:

                Then vote for Gary Johnson. 🙂 (Then again, third party candidates seem to end up having all of the problems of the main ones, once they’re in the harsh lights of ‘being taken seriously by people’.)

                I’m pretty comfortable saying “These are my two real choices, so I’ve got to decide what mix of traits I’m willing to accept”.

                I don’t think it’s a comfortable choice, and perhaps that’s why some people don’t vote.Report

            • “I got what I wanted, which is to piss off the people I can’t stand. I don’t care what happens now, because, that was so worth it.”Report

            • Avatar Will H. says:

              So, you take responsibility for expansion of the drone strike program?
              You take responsibility for blowing up a wedding reception and killing twenty people because it was rumored a suspected terrorist would attend?

              And H. Clinton was going to change all that?

              The whole notion defies the foundation of representative government.
              People are always a mixed bag, plain and simple.

              The Founders never envisioned anything other than retrospective voting, a simple thumbs-up or thumbs-down for whoever was holding office at the time of the election.
              Not to say that the system hasn’t evolved away from that, just that the level of sophistication of today’s average voter was never considered in building the system.Report

              • Avatar El Muneco says:

                Yep. I’m partially responsible for the expansion of drone strikes under Obama. And the foot-dragging on civil liberties, the excessive use of Executive Orders which will come back to bite hard in less than four months, and so on.
                Is it worse than the alternative? I’ll never believe that. Which is why I chose to enable Obama rather than his opponent.
                But the fact that I could have been a part of something worse doesn’t make me less a part of what we have.Report

              • Avatar Morat20 says:

                Yes, I do.

                For the same reasons El Munceo does.

                And I don’t care what the average voter considers, and I don’t care what the Founders considered.

                I’m speaking of my personal beliefs and judgement here, what I think of MY vote and — by proxy — what I think of other’s votes.

                It matters not at all to anyone outside my head, I admit. But for good or ill, I voted for Obama and anything that one could reasonably predict would happen. (Like I said, every President ends up dealing with stuff that was not predictable, making choices no one could forsee. I cut people, and myself, more slack on that. Character and temperament matter a lot, and incumbency votes AFTER encompass that).

                And yeah, I judge Trump voters by that rubric as well. Including those I’m related to. I’m not going to get into their faces about it — what would be the point? — but I’m not going to forget who and what Trump was, and that they felt it was acceptable to vote for.Report

      • Avatar LeeEsq says:

        Clinton lost Wisconsin by a mere 27,000 votes and the other key states by similar margins. I’m not entirely a fan of the lets double down on Identity Politics path that some people are pushing for but I don’t think a grand change away from the current path is desirable either because that will leave many marginalized groups behind.Report

        • Avatar Stillwater says:

          In the Presidential race, the Dems were so close. Nationally, they’re SO CLOSE.

          Ehh, no. Unless the GOP fishes things up at historical levels the Dems are in a period of transition. And they already are, obvs. But either way, identity politics is gonna get knocked down a peg or two, seems to me.Report

          • Avatar Will H. says:

            My state went for Clinton before the votes were cast. I think you would have to look back to the 1800’s to see it going for a Republican.

            That said, every single contested election in my city went to the Republicans: U.S> Senator, Comptroller, 2 Congressmen, 2 State Senators, 3 of the 4 seats in the General Assembly, Auditor, Circuit Clerk, State’s Attorney, and 2 Judges.
            There were two uncontested elections where the Democrat won; Recorder and a seat in the General Assembly.

            I tend to view it in market terms that the platforms aggregate as much of the interest group constituency concerns as the market will hold.

            Of course, the big thing that no one is really talking about is the repudiation of the leadership of both parties.
            The Republicans got the rolled-up newspaper to the nose when Trump won the nomination. The voters rejected the darling of the Democratic funders.
            Both of them need a time-out to think about the errors of their ways.Report

            • Avatar Morat20 says:

              I’m in Texas. Clinton improved on Obama 2012 by what? 6 points? 10 points? I think 6, but I’m too lazy to look it up.

              The last of my county-wide offices went Democratic. The loser blamed “The Hillary Effect” for his loss. (I note that county-wide offices can’t be gerrymandered)

              Texas won’t go Democratic in 2018, I’m comfortable saying that.

              But from a deep-red state, owned at the state level by the GOP, and gerrymandered so hard that those gerrymandering cases filtering up have the potential (assuming the new SCOTUS upholds them) to make a rather significant change in our House representation…..

              Things look different.

              It’s a bit harder to be so despondent when you see a 2.5 million vote win turned into a loss by 100k voters in three states because of the EC. When you see your own deep-red state swing a ridiculous amount from 4 years ago. When you see county offices that were not only all Republican in 2004, but often had no Democratic challengers at all, now all Democratic.

              I don’t think “Where Texas goes, so goes the nation” or anything like that. I just think….it’s complicated, and I’m leery of people trying to apply a one-sized fits all explanation or solution.Report

              • Avatar Will H. says:

                I still think the answer lies not in party identification, but within those coalitions making up the parties.
                And the big story I read into it is widespread discontent.

                A Trump presidency has the potential to be: 1) Good for the nation, 2) reinvigorate the Republican Party, and 3) churn up some new leadership in the Democratic Party.
                I’m hopeful, but skeptical.
                I don’t think things are as bad as many would make them out to be.Report

              • Avatar Lyle says:

                Note that this happened only in Harris, Bexar, Travis and Dallas counties, not in the surrounding suburban counties. Much of Harris and Dallas counties are built up now and counties like Fort Bend and Collin counties are were the growth will be. (and also Montgomery Co) The rural urban split is well shown by the county results map in Tx with the state going for Trump except for the counties with the big cities.Report

              • Avatar Morat20 says:

                Well, you can say that but take a look at the Clinton/Trump top numbers compared to Obama/McCain or Obama/Romney.

                Trump was +9.
                Romney was +16.
                McCain was +12
                Bush was +23 (2004)
                Bush was +22 (2000)

                You have to go back to Bob Dole in 1996 to beat Clinton’s Texas numbers (+5) and that was a year that Perot took 7 points in Texas. (1992 had Bush Senior at +3, with Perot at 22 points). 1988 saw Bush Senior at +12.

                That’s a rather large swing in 20 years. Either Texas is highly urbanizing (massively so) or there’s more going on than a simple rural/urban split finally solidifying in Texas.

                For a race with no third party? A seven point swing in four years? To the candidate that lost? That’s really big.

                That should worry the Texas State GOP, if for no other reason than given their mid-cycle redistricting, they’ve pretty much packed the state and US reps as much as humanely possible already. A seven point swing (or three points from Obama’s own high water mark in 2008) should be worrisome.

                Of course that just makes me wonder: Why was Texas so different? How many states saw a swing that big towards Democrats this year at all?

                (I’d imagine that colored my own perceptions of Clinton’s strengths. She did phenomenally well in Texas for a modern Democrat. It’s really weird seeing such a surge in strength in deep red Texas and it see it being…isolated like that).Report

        • Avatar Will Truman says:

          There is more than one change away from the current path, I’d think. Keep in mind, it’s not just that it was a few votes here and there. It’s that it was even close to begin with. The demographic cavalry that was supposed to be coming isn’t. They won the popular vote, but by less than 2012 which was less than 2008. And they’ve lost everywhere else.

          The current model isn’t working. It’s working less than the Republican model seemed to be two years ago.Report

        • Avatar Brent F says:

          I think you can make a significant distinction between abandoning marginal groups and adjusting rhetorical strategies. Obama had the knack for framing advocacy in terms of American civic nationalism. Which is a great way of getting people to think that they already supported what you want.

          To be fair, H. Clinton attempted this strategy somewhat with things like the Khans, she just wasn’t nearly as good at it and wasn’t nearly as consistent at pursuing it.Report

          • Avatar Stillwater says:


            Going forward, are you suggesting that Dems *will* rely on a change in rhetorical emphasis, or that they *can* do so? Cuz while I admit that they could, I think the party is gonna change, and not merely “top down”, retail-political messaging. It’ll happen on the wholsale side of things. The short term worry is that moderate Dems move (as they always do!) to the Trump right to capture votes.Report

            • Avatar Brent F says:

              I don’t think the current operators are nearly smart enough to get how to do that, there is a reason Obama is so much more popular than his party over 8 years.

              This isn’t necessarily a point about Dem operators being particularly bad, their GOP equivalents got run over by Trump as well, nobody in American political elite is looking smart as of Novermber 2016, but some of them are in a position to exploit the Trump victory despite doing nothing to earn it.

              I think this something that Democratic new blood that seriously looks at how to do politics in modern conditions could pursue this kind of approach to good effect. I doubt the old guard that seems stuck in the 90s know how do this.Report

          • Avatar El Muneco says:

            A potential bright side is that Obama basically stayed out of the 2016 election out of a sense of duty to the dignity of the office. I’ve seen comments that he’s very unlikely to be restrained come January and will likely have words for quite a number of people. How effective this will be remains to be seen, but as the one D who has actually won the campaign this millennium, I doubt if his being more involved would be a negative.Report

          • Avatar Saul Degraw says:


            Obama and Bill Clinton are rare political talents. I hope my party doesn’t need an Obama or a Clinton I in order to show up at the polls.

            I think because of reverse partisanship, the parties get punished for a lot of things said by random activists on the Internet who are not formally associated with the parties.

            “Cultural Appropriation” is a debate that occurs mainly on the Internet is a stance I maintain by. It is people getting into internet arguments with strangers and not backing down and getting upset (realizing the irony of writing this to a stranger on the Internet.) But somehow these people get seen as the vanguard of the Democratic and Republican parties.

            Transgender rights are a harder square to circle because that is becoming a Democratic Party stance and a good portion of the country might not be ready for it.Report

            • Avatar Will H. says:

              It is clear Clinton lost the blue-collar & union vote by association. In one word: NAFTA.
              It doesn’t matter if a ten-pack of socks is $2 cheaper due to trade liberalization to the people losing $60k+ jobs. They would rather pay more for socks, I’m sure.
              The Dems have been steadily losing grasp of that constituency over the years (and they’re not done yet), and having DLC-type corporatist free-trade Democrats as the party vanguards is going to continue to turn them off more and more.
              Those people are leaving the Left not because they’re all a bunch of gun-toting racist bigots. It’s that they’re being starved out, literally.Report

  2. Avatar Stillwater says:

    1. This tweet storm is going to be about why people have such a hard time understanding Trump. It’s because they don’t understand Obama.

    Obama created Trump and liberals are too stupid to realize why. Conservatives agree!Report

  3. Avatar Chip Daniels says:

    Wow, I’m kinda liking this “Trump” fellow Stoller is talking about.

    A real man of the people, fighting against entrenched Wall Street plutocrats. He seems to have a clear vision of an America where ordinary folks get treated with respect and dignity on par with bankers and CEOs.

    Where no one is on government assistance, but like with Carrier, people and companies are self-sufficient.
    I mean, once the Treasury check clears.

    Too bad we couldn’t have made him President instead of the petty manchild we got.Report

  4. Avatar Will Truman says:

    For what it’s worth, I think that the points Stoller raises are quite important. They’re aimed at Democrats specifically, but it’s all part of a broader question. More specifically, the liberal democratic order which includes establishmentarians of all stripes and in a lot of places. Remainers in Britain, Democrats and Republicans who would have preferred a different path, the European establishments (France and Eastern Europe in particular), and so on.

    The most urgent concern is Trump, though, and doing what can be done to keep him at once term without relying on recession, a GOP implosion, or fatigue.

    But that’s not the start and end of it.Report

    • The most urgent concern is Trump, though, and doing what can be done to keep him at once term without relying on recession, a GOP implosion, or fatigue.

      Or a nuclear holocaust, no matter how intent he is on creating one.Report

      • Avatar Stillwater says:

        “Helllloooooo Taiwan!. Good to here from you. Yes of course I recognize your political claims, do you recognize my Golden Toilet claims? A Trump Tower in Taipei is win-win!”Report

  5. Avatar Kolohe says:

    Tweet 5 makes me understand the pushback from quarters like Balloon Juice, LGM, and our own Brothers DeGraw on people like Stoller, DeBoer, and the Jacobin crowd.

    5. The party of the people was assaulted in the 1970s and killed over the next 20 years by the neoliberals. It died with Clinton’s election.

    That’s only true if you remove African American people from ‘the people’.

    (And I’m sympathetic to the argument, made by among others Shaun King most recently, that no voting bloc contributes more to their political coalition for fewer results than African Americans. Heck, the three legged stool of the GOP are poised to get everything they’ve ever dreamed of, and the most of them have nominally opposed Trump from the starter’s gun to the finish line.)Report

    • Avatar Jaybird says:

      Heck, the three legged stool of the GOP are poised to get everything they’ve ever dreamed of

      I did not do a spit-take, exactly, at this, but I did find myself temporarily confused.

      I think it’s far more likely that they’re going to say that they’re pleased somewhat by him… but mostly due to how the people on the other side will be howling in pain rather than because of anything that they’re actually walking away with.

      So could you go into a little more detail? I don’t understand.Report

      • Avatar Will Truman says:

        Pro-life justices, tax cuts, Mattis, school choice, tough talk on China, millionaires all over the place to make sure their interests are covered. Pity about Bannon, and trade, but maybe those things can be worked. They’ve got reason for optimism. It seems that while Trump won the election, Pence is winning the victory. I don’t know if it’s going to last, but they’ve gotta be thinking that maybe they can win this thing.Report

        • Avatar Jaybird says:

          Oh, I understand that they have reason to be optimistic! I just disagree with the “everything they ever dreamed of” optimism and think it’s likely to be closer to “man, those lefties are crying soooo hard!” optimism.

          I’m not seeing Trump accomplishing much of anything in the face of the Deep State.Report

          • Avatar Will Truman says:

            I’m not seeing Trump accomplishing much of anything in the face of the Deep State.

            That’s a feature, not a bug, insofar as the things that Trump would otherwise accomplish. The stuff they’re optimistic about is the stuff the Deep State is okay with. The stuff Pence would do if he were in charge.Report

            • Avatar Jaybird says:

              Pro-life justices is one of those things that seriously remains to be seen.
              Tax cuts? Okay, sure.
              Mattis? Sure.
              China? The deep state *FREAKED OUT* when Trump took a phone call from Taiwan. They’re going to fight him tooth and nail on China.
              Immigration? Don’t make me laugh.
              Trade? He’s going to make deals involving the aforementioned tax cuts and claim that they’re trade victories.Report

              • Avatar Will Truman says:

                On China, I’m not sure they want more than tough talk. More about posture than policy.

                With Trade, it’s more about stopping him from doing stuff than getting him to do stuff.Report

              • Avatar Kolohe says:

                The deep state did freak out over the Taiwan phone call. The deep state can’t control though, what Trump says, nor what the PRC does.

                If the Iraq war (the second one) showed one thing, it’s that the deep state is rather permissive on matters of foreign policy.Report

              • Avatar Kolohe says:

                And the deep state eats its own pretty often when it comes to major geopolitical tension areas.Report

              • There’s going to be a huge and expensive military buildup, which will make the defensecons as happy as the huge tax cuts will make the econocons. As Darth Cheney reminded us, Reagan proved that deficits don’t matter.Report

              • Avatar DensityDuck says:

                “There’s going to be a huge and expensive military buildup”

                Really? Why?Report

              • Avatar Brent F says:

                I think a good chunk of the deep state was either for or neutral to the Iraq war. While it was being pushed as a neocon project, the second gulf war was the exact kind of thinking official Washington tends to favour.

                The upper eschelons of political appointees were incredibly negligent about ignoring their advice about how to do it properly though.Report

          • Avatar Kolohe says:

            Well, take the other topic du weekend, resked of the mary lane.

            The deep state is why is still sked 1.

            Conservatives are mostly fine with that, esp among the socon leg of the stool.Report

            • Avatar Jaybird says:

              I do not know how representative of Conservatives that Colorado Springs is.

              If, however, it is somewhat representative, Conservatives have softened considerably on Medicinal.

              Opinions on Recreational range from “the Feds should get their noses out of it” to “the Feds should arrest recreational users!” but, on Medicinal, they’re pretty much “meh” (as opposed to “it’s the devil weed!” as recently as the 90’s).Report

              • Avatar Kolohe says:

                Fair point – though ‘meh’ is fundamental (so to speak) to how the three legged stool works in the first place.Report

              • Avatar Stillwater says:

                {{If religiously motivated social conservative voters comprise part of the “deep state” then I think I’ve been misunderstanding this conversation.}}Report

              • I’m not sure what “deep state” means in this thread. If it’s the people freaking out the most about the Taiwan call, that would be “The people who have a clue how things work.”

                So, yeah, screw them.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                They’re not. But it’s yet another example of something that will be delivered (or, in this case, *NOT* delivered) that won’t be seen as a reason to celebrate.

                People who like the status quo, it seems to me, will find the Pence Shadow Presidency rather comforting. People who enjoy watching liberals howl in pain will find Trump’s tweets, speeches, and interactions with the press positively delightful.Report

              • Avatar Mo says:

                The tweets directed at China show that you can’t have competent shadow presidency and lulzocracy at the same time. Face-saving is important for a lot of governments and throwing blatant shade at leaders is a good way to fish things up for a lot of folks, whether commercial, military, etc.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                While the Taiwanese phone call was something that I might have been persuaded was him setting the table for a handful of bargaining chips, the tweets about China’s monetary policy were…


                Did China ask us if it was OK to devalue their currency (making it hard for our companies to compete), heavily tax our products going into..— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 4, 2016

                their country (the U.S. doesn't tax them) or to build a massive military complex in the middle of the South China Sea? I don't think so!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 4, 2016

                That’s practically declaring (trade) war.Report

              • Avatar Will Truman says:

                If it makes Huntsman a trusted Secretary of State, it may be a net win. The Chinese seem to be shrugging it off as a Taiwanese plot.

                But it’s gonna be a dangerous four years.Report

    • Avatar LeeEsq says:

      And women, and LGBT people, and Hispanic Americans, etc. For most of the 1960s the Democratic Party attempted to be the party of the people but have African-Americans included in the people part. Many white people would not have this and a majority of White Americans began voting for the Republicans from 1968 onwards. Other social democratic parties faced similar issues during the same time. This caused a change in direction.Report

    • Avatar greginak says:

      Heck Tweet 5 was where his metaphorical car dropped its transmission and started belching smoke. Not only did he remove POC’s from “the people” but there was that whole Clinton won the popular vote of “the people by 2.5 mil. Pretty piss effort and i agree with a lot of his criticisms of the D’s. Neo liberalism has really hurt the D’s and many of their voters.

      FWIW…i don’t think DeBoer fits here.Report

    • Avatar Saul Degraw says:


      Yep. The Democratic Party that Stoller wants to return was massively racist. Even voices in the party that were sympathetic to civil rights ended up needing to be quiet on the issue to get stuff out of the Southern Democrats who dominated Congress and were usually not New Dealers by nature.Report

    • Avatar Michael Drew says:

      @kolohe @leeesq @greginak @saul-degraw

      I honestly don’t see the basis for this critique.

      It may be that Stoller wants to return to a white-focused Democratic Party, but here he is talking about the basic economic vision the party offers changing over time.

      Maybe you can explain to me how neglecting non-white constituencies is necessarily implicated by that. (Maybe it is.)

      But I don’t see why we should think that any view that criticizes certain historical changes over time is one that calls for the restoration of every aspect of the situation that existed before the changes.

      Some historical changes are inseparable from others, but others are separable from still others. Why are these changes inseparable? Why couldn’t the Democrats revisit the evolution of their economic thinking while not at all restoring past neglect for constituencies of color?Report

      • Avatar Kolohe says:

        It’s obtuse? It implies a false consciousness?

        The problem with the premise as stated – as the mechanism for Trump’s victory – is that it strongly suggests that white people were smart enough to see thru Clintons (both them) as neoliberal sellouts, while African Americans were not. (Non hispanic) White people gave the Clintons a minority of their votes all three times while the Clintons earned the vast majority of African American votes all three times. Obama was able to win despite also being a neoliberal sellout because people didn’t ‘understand Obama’.Report

      • Avatar greginak says:

        @michael-drew I agree the D’s can offer a better economic plan while not ignoring POC’s. No problem with that at all. My issue with the tweets is 5 “The party of the people was assaulted in the 1970s and killed over the next 20 years by the neoliberals.” Yeah neolibs are the problem for D’s but “party of the people” is a very loaded phrase in this context. D’s are still the party of lots of people and at the national level they got more votes. They are a party of different people than in the 70’s. While the D’s got worse at the econ level since the 70’s they have also the part of POC’s and other minorities. On one hand they got worse and on the other they got better.

        He just sort of missed something important but given the format was a tweet storm, that was inevitable and foolish by him.Report

        • Avatar Chip Daniels says:

          Also too, the embrace of neoliberal policies was very popular especially among the Reagan Democrats that the Clinton DLC types were chasing after.

          Stollers tweets just sort of gloss over the Reagan revolution and the Gingrich conquest of Congress.Report

          • Avatar greginak says:

            It’s almost like a tweet storm is not a good outlet for discussing complex history.Report

            • Avatar Chip Daniels says:


            • Avatar Will Truman says:

              It’s not a place for a defensible dissertation, but it’s not a bad way to get some interconnected thoughts out there for consideration, though.Report

              • Avatar greginak says:

                Back in my day we had to put links to wikipedia pages in our posts to back up our thoughts… kids these days and your tweets and hula hoops and fizzy drinks.Report

            • Avatar DensityDuck says:

              If only there were some kind of Spot where people could keep a Log on the Web.

              Too bad nothing like that exists. It would probably be pretty useful, too, because people could control who commented on the things they said (and also wouldn’t be subject to people bothering them by filling up an inbox with notifications.)Report

              • Avatar North says:

                I also miss the Blogosphere.Report

              • Avatar Will Truman says:

                (But seriously, while I am actually wearing a Blogspot hoodie right now*, don’t use Blogspot.)

                * – When they got rid of their Blogspot Plus model, they sent us hoodies. It was really cool because the hoodie cost more than my subscription. However, the Blogger logo looks disturbingly similar to the Breitbart logo.Report

      • Avatar DensityDuck says:

        “I honestly don’t see the basis for this critique.”

        It’s more of the “yes, but, racism” we’ll be hearing for the next four years.Report

  6. Avatar Chip Daniels says:

    I suppose if I were to reframe populism I would begin with who the “workers” are.

    We have this stale vision of worker cast in the Depression era, of steelworkers, factory assembly line workers, shipyard riveters and longshoremen.

    All of whom exist still, but are actually pretty well off, thanks to the unions and New Deal.

    But when I look at the actual field of work I see mostly clerical work, service and retail jobs, pink collar jobs, and dirty jobs untouched by unionization.

    Its tough to cast hotel maids into the heroic On The Waterfront type of image, but its actually backbreaking work. As is the scorned barista, who either works long hours with short turnarounds or is left hanging on call, unable to live a life and not getting paid for it.

    I would bet money that Trump gets his support more from the first type of worker than the second.Report

  7. When did “job retraining” become dirty words? One has to conclude that

    1. There is a right to do the same work you do now, forever, and
    2. Whatever expense is required to allow this is completely different from “the dole”.Report

    • Avatar El Muneco says:

      Old news.
      Farmers are the backbone of the country. There is virtue in the honest labor that brings bounty from the harsh, unremitting soil. The resilience to take whatever baking heat, bitter cold, and storms can unleash is the steel from which our military is forged.
      Massive federal subsidies are irrelevant to this narrative.Report

  8. Avatar Chip Daniels says:

    23. This is now the attitude of the financial and business elite. That law is for little people. They can just hire smart lawyers.
    24. It is ALSO how the Clinton and Obama frameworks were organized. There is a difference though b/n them and Trump.

    Please, governor, do go on.Report

  9. Avatar Zac Black says:

    Just had a pretty horrifying thought (I’ve been in state of deep horror since the election which is why I haven’t been doing much but lurk lately):

    Remember when we were all worried what would happen if citizen Trump refused to concede the election if he lost?

    Well, does anyone honestly think that President Trump will concede if he loses the next election?Report

  10. Avatar North says:

    It’d be a useful and interesting tirade if it A) wasn’t a stream of tweet gibbers and B) it actually talked about what leftward solutions there are over the current liberal status. But as a five minute hate on market liberalism it worked well enough.Report

  11. Avatar trizzlor says:

    I highly recommend this piece from rortybomb which talks similar concepts but through the prism of what liberals can do right (or at least what Clinton did wrong).

    There’s been a lot of gnashing of teeth about Clinton but I think her team made some reasonable assumptions that simply proved insufficient:

    1. That Trump’s statements would be off-putting enough to Republicans for them to stay home or even cross over.
    2. That Trump’s statements would be motivating enough to minorities to sweep the vote.
    3. That they could run a campaign without any unifying policy themes except a vague continuation of Obama’s agenda, because Obama is popular and people are generally optimistic about the economy.
    4. That having a rich set of policy proposals on the campaign web-site (or a similar medium) makes up for not being able to articulate these proposals in venues that voters see: ads, debates, conventions, etc.

    My guess is that a lot of this hubris came from underestimating just how unique and talented a campaigner Barack Obama was in being able to either overcome or side-step similar assumptions (as an aside, a lot of people who second-guessed Obama “you can keep your doctor” line should re-think how effective it would have been for him to instead try to explain the intricacies of how the ACA grandfathered in doctors). The upside is that we now know what doesn’t work, whereas if Clinton squeeked through the DNC would have doubled down on these structural weaknesses. The other upside is that abandoning these assumptions in no way contradicts the fundamental Democratic party ideals; it just means fiddling with the weights that the party assigns to policy, outreach, and messaging for various groups. Compare that to the existential crisis the RNC is facing by having tossed aside their core positions on limited government, interventionism, and moral character to get a sense of what a real party revolution feels like.

    By far my biggest fear is that the Democrats continue to think that Trump will just defeat himself. It now appears that he will inherit a healthy, steadily growing economy from Obama. Please, Democrats, do not underestimate the kind of leeway a president gets in that of environment. And for God’s sake do not assume that even a single voter will give a shit about comparisons to the economy Obama inherited.Report

    • Avatar Will Truman says:

      I think there’s a lot of truth to this.Report

    • Avatar North says:

      Yeah that’s really good. Obama’s term was especially policy heavy politics light and I think we’ve definitely been seeing the downsides of that perspective for some time.Report

    • Avatar Stillwater says:

      Good article trizz. From the linky:

      the divide among economists on trade is driven by the fact that labor economists study the real effects of unemployment on real people, where trade and macroeconomists treat people as just another commodity.

      Boom. I’ve been saying as much for years. (So I got that going for me, anyway…) Which is the whole neoliberal story in a nutshell.Report

    • Avatar Saul Degraw says:

      @trizzlor @north

      Another thing that has been bugging me about a lot of the post-election analysis is that it seems to treat HRC and the Dems as if they lost in a landslide instead of losing by razor-thin margins in three states. It seems that no matter who you read, the map is being treated like Reagan’s stomping on Mondale in 1984 and the Democratic Party needs to commit to ultra-change. Shouldn’t a razor thin defeat imply some tinkering around the edges should be sufficient for better performance?Report

      • Avatar Will Truman says:

        I think this gets to a broader question. If Clinton’s votes had been differently distributed, would everything be great?

        I’d argue that the answer is “no.”

        I don’t think the party needs to reinvent itself, but even if they’d won they’d be needing to ask themselves why a race against Donald Trump was as close as it was.Report

        • Avatar Saul Degraw says:

          Fair enough.

          I think your observation on high amounts of reverse partisanship go far though combined with the Big Sort. There is so much bad blood on both sides of the aisle that I think almost anyone with an R or a D next to their name is going to get at least 40-42 percent of the popular vote. I don’t know if Donald Trump’s infamous brag about being able too shot someone on 5th Avenue is true but I think we are close.

          The big sort also makes things close.Report

          • Avatar Stillwater says:

            I”m coming to the conclusion that the Big Sort isn’t any such thing at all. I think the Sorting is based on geographical perspective rather than choice, and the perception of a conscious sort results from a contextually driven perception of policy, culture and governance. Ie., place determines identity more than identity determines place.Report

          • Avatar Will Truman says:

            Not this close, not getting closer each election, and not against a candidate that only 37% of voters liked.

            This isn’t aimed at you, or even Democrats (though I could throw in some stuff about Bernie Sanders’ primary performance and the lack of attention it’s given by many as well), but I’m generally getting tired of everybody looking at the topline and only caring about who wins. 46% of Austrians just voted for a guy from a party founded by Nazis and almost everybody I read is talking about this huge victory. Huge victory? He got 46% of the vote! It was the second closest election in forty years! And he lost to a guy from another outlier party.

            And people who looked at Brexit and thought if Remain could just eek out a victory or and-run around the results with another PM election then it would be settled. As long as you win, you can simply ignore the losers. Everybody is just so divided and all, there’s just nothing else to do but box them in. It’s their fault for being wrong and not shutting up and going away.

            This is all headed to a bad place, here and abroad. Above and beyond the damage that has already been done and is unfolding.Report

          • Avatar trizzlor says:

            I agree with Will’s comment but I’ll add one thing. A big part of the problem is *how* Clinton lost. If she had run on a full-throated liberal agenda or on a blunt platform telling the working class that their jobs are never coming back or something similar, she would have at least constructed the framework for an opposition. Once Trump’s promises started coming up empty, Democrats could point to that framework and say “this is what we told you would happen and how we would solve it, now are you listening?”. This is why Sanders – for all of my frustrations with him – is now in a very strong position as an opposition leader: He ran on a clear policy narrative that contrasted with Clinton’s, and that he can now pivot against Trump. He actually has something to offer people that’s more than Not Clinton.

            The problem is that Clinton fucking ran on “America is already great!” and a platform centered entirely around Trump’s temperament . So, sure, whenever Trump says something stupid or racist we can point to her campaign and say “see, she said Trump would be stupid and racist”. And that’s it. We can rub it in their face and offer them no compelling counter-narrative. Terrific.Report

      • Avatar North says:

        What Will said. Even had HRC eked out a narrow win the Senate and House results were not good. There’s clearly something generally wrong. The GOP is literally eating itself out from the inside turning into a hollow shell and it’s still smacking the Dems around. There is obviously some level of disconnect.Report

    • Avatar Morat20 says:

      I’m not sure how the economy’s going to do once we go full Kansas.

      Which does appear to be the direction it’s going.

      On the other hand, this won’t be the first time I’ve seen a popular Democrat turn over a functioning economy and fairly healthy budget to a Republican who lost the popular vote. I’m not really expecting it to go any different.

      I mean at least Bush had some governmental experience and actually tried to win the Presidency. He had some plans.Report

      • Avatar El Muneco says:

        And Bush was, by his own lights, a good person who sincerely wanted to help people and do what was best – he just turned out to be wrong about what that was. Trump is none of these things, except most probably for the last one.Report

      • Avatar North says:

        Yeah that’s my fear. Not Kansas. The GOP would start going Kansas and the Dems would go to the mat with the filibuster. Either the GOP would kill the filibuster and go full Kansas or would work around it. Either way once the safety net started getting gutted they’d get landslided out of office in 2018 and there’d be a reset and on top of that the new Dem majority wouldn’t have the filibuster holding them back anymore.

        My own fear is more along the lines of the icecream party. The GOP does a GWB or Reagan, jacks up military spending, cuts taxes, runs the deficit up, generally has a fine ol’ time and then gets the icecream party votes until the bill comes due. If nothing else this past cycle has shown the utter hypocrisy, emptiness and powerlessness of the budget hawk faction.Report

        • Avatar Jaybird says:

          But Obama supporters told me that Dick Cheney said that Reagan said that deficits don’t matter!Report

          • Avatar Stillwater says:

            True. But now, weirdly, libertarianish supporters are telling me that Obama supporters said that Cheney said that Reagan said ….Report

            • Avatar Jaybird says:

              The first few years of the Hugo Chavez government were actually pretty good.Report

              • Avatar Stillwater says:

                See how crazy I am? I’da thought you’d be trying to support fiscal conservatism rather than reducing it to a political football.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                I also fully support the rights of women to support their own sexual destinies.

                That seems about as relevant to the topic.Report

              • Avatar Kazzy says:

                Fiscal conservatism isn’t relevant to this talk?Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                Insofar as I believe that there are a number of ways to make things work and most of those involve fiscal conservatism and a number of ways that will break down pretty catastrophically and most of those involve abandoning any pretense of fiscal conservatism, I suppose it’s relevant.

                But the whole “man, when Republicans get in power, they spend like Democrats! I thought they were fiscal conservatives!” thing is not particularly relevant to this talk.

                The LOL Hypocrisy! argument is not going to work. Not even close.

                Though it will be nice to see Democrats re-pick up the freshly abandoned arguments in favor of fiscal conservatism. Many of them are pretty good.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                But it feels like asking me if I think that Colin Kaepernick should run the option.

                We’re past that.

                We’re waaaaay past that.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                Put another way, there is nothing *BUT* political football now.Report

          • Avatar North says:

            And all things considered the Dems have been pretty fiscally conservative. They operated, under Obama, as if taxes generally had to be raised to pay for spending. They brought all of W and the GOP’s off the books spending onto the books (and then got blamed for boosting the deficit when they did).
            I grant you the Dems certainly don’t prioritize like the GOP pretended to but frankly, other than under Bush Pere, it doesn’t look like the GOP ever gave a fish about fiscal conservatism.Report

            • Avatar Jaybird says:

              it doesn’t look like the GOP ever gave a fish about fiscal conservatism.

              I agree.

              Does this strike you as a devastating criticism of the GOP?
              How about Trump? Does it strike you as a good criticism of Trump?Report

              • Avatar North says:

                Devastating? No, since one of the various things we’ve discovered is that fiscal conservatives have roughly the same voter support as, say, libertarians it’s far from devastating on political terms. Ideologically it’s a tougher blow since fiscal conservatism was supposedly one of the GOP’s things but it’s far from debilitating since noone’s honestly believed it since the aughts.

                As for Trump? The man barely gestured at fiscal conservatism. It is in no way an effective criticism of him- it’s never been central to his campaign and, in fact, if he has any hope of keeping any of his campaign promises he’ll have to jettison it.Report

              • Avatar Kazzy says:

                Yes. Not because hypocrisy because some segment of his/their supporters genuinely do want fiscal conservatism and sooner or later the gig will be up and they’ll either pressure Trump/the GOP to actually be fiscally conservative OR they’ll look elsewhere.

                Unless you think all those folks are ALSO just posturing.Report

              • Avatar Chip Daniels says:

                Agreed, because at some point the Trump voter in Kansas is going to have to accept that an activist president who intervenes in the marketplace to stop offshoring is not compatible with “let the market handle it” which has been the mantra of conservatism since 1980.

                Its often forgotten that up until the late 70’s, what we call vulgar Keynesianism was the street level conventional wisdom that everyday nonpolitical people woul despouse, and regularly vote for.
                Since then, what took hold was vulgar Lafferism, which is why you still regularly hear low info voters spouting bromides about “getting the government off the backs of industry” and “cutting regulation”

                Mr. Low Info Voter didn’t arrive at these ideas by himself. It took years of editorials, barnstorming speeches, and the hard dedicated work of activists to drum these ideas into the public consciousness to where they became Accepted Wisdom.

                It will take years of hard work, political activism, and public debate until Mr. L.I.V. begins mock the idea of “let the market handle it”. until “cutting taxes and regulation” becomes a punchline like “I’m from the government and I’m here to help you”.Report

              • Avatar Chip Daniels says:

                Jay, you seem to have this weird thing going on where you alternately speak in your own voice, and in the voice of some invisible Average Low Info Voter to whom you make appeals as a way of arguing against liberals.

                Like you agree that Carrier deal doesn’t make sense, but the Invisible Man thinks the optics are great, so our arguments don’t matter.

                And yeah, you agree the conservatives never cared about fiscal conservatism, but again the Invisible Man doesn’t care so our arguments aren’t holding water.

                Nothing is ever a good criticism of Trump because the Invisible Man won’t hear of it, and he doesn’t care about facts and thats why Trump won because liberals insist on facts.

                It seems to be arguing both from a position of fact, then dodging to a meta level of political posturing, then diving and rolling to take cover behind facts again, depending on where the fire is coming from.

                I don’t know what the point is to all this.Report

              • Avatar Saul Degraw says:


                Maybe he will also tell us about the conversation he had with a taxi driver in Mumbai.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                Here. Let me make an analogy. Imagine if I were arguing with a bunch of fitness buffs about Trump.

                And they kept making arguments about how Trump was not suited to be president because he was not physically fit. They kept linking to pictures that showed Trump has a double chin, for example. “Look! Look at him! Just look!” and they laughed.

                Now, on one level, I can look at him and say that, yeah, he’s overweight.


                And so I’m being asked “What’s the deal? Why do you have two opinions?”

                Because whether I think he’s physically fit is beside the point and, quite frankly, exceptionally uninteresting. (Hell, asking what I think would be a good exercise plan for him strikes me as being downright silly but that sort of thing seems to show up.)

                On top of that, I think that the arguments being wielded against Trump are going to be ineffective in general and, on top of that, are likely to communicate to the very people you need to win over in order to cooperate with you that you are not someone that they’re going to want to be collaborating with.

                My ideal outcome from Trump’s presidency? Increased Trust and Collaboration between countrymembers.

                How do I think we will get that? Well, at this point in time, I think that really looking at why Clinton lost the election is very, very important. I think that the Democratic party has a serious problem and that serious problem needs to be addressed if we’re going to actually improve trust/collaboration because the only two other options (after we decrease collaboration enough) are those two that I won’t shut up about. And, for some reason, the one of those two that I won’t shut up about that does *NOT* involve people dying seems to be universally agreed upon as being less preferable than the one that does.

                You know what? I’d like to get to the point where we can make good criticisms of Trump too.

                And, in the absence of *GOOD* criticisms, “well, whadya got?” kinda criticisms will do more harm than good when it comes to actually increasing the trust and collaboration impulses of the people who turned their back on Clinton.

                So I think we should avoid those.
                Even if Trump is fat.Report

              • Avatar J_A says:


                This is one of very few times you are truly making sense and you are making your point totally clear.

                But, like some other times in the past, I will revert to my same criticism. To wit: At some point, facts have to matter, too.

                You are right about the politics. Dems, in general, fail on the politics. They fail to make click with roughly half the country. Their message is not trusted by half the country. And every time they open their mouth, half the country feels more alienated from them. I stipulate to all that, too.

                But why is communication broken? I would say because Dems have embraced facts and reality (*), and the half of the country that voted for Trump is trying to run away from a set of facts that make them uncomfortable, to say the least. Facts like:

                – The Formerly Good Working Class Jobs are disappearing, and won’t come back.
                – The traditional roles of women and men in and out of the house are no more. Women not only have to work to sustain the household, but a lot “want” to work. My boss might be a woman. My Sargent might be a woman.
                -There are lots of people that are not Christian (even after begrudgingly accepting Catholics as Christian) and I have to accept that they have holy days too. Hell, they might want to have a temple in my town.
                – Gays don’t hide in shame dark basements anymore.
                – America is not the sole Great Superpower; yellow and brown people control vast amounts of money and resources and dare to dictate commercial terms to us (plus the ungrateful Europeans we saved -twice- dare to contradict us)
                – My hard earned benefits are being misspent on people that don’t deserve them; the school my kids go to, they are letting those people in.

                …. we can go on, but you get the idea.

                On one side you have a group of people that want those things to go away, that just voted for a man than promised to change what they don’t like.

                On the other you have a set of wonkish people that start every conversation with “this is how it is, and you have to deal with it”.

                I agree that the latter sounds smug and condescending. Perhaps there is a better way to say it. Perhaps Dems could say instead “I’ve got a feeling we’re not in Kansas anymore”. Because that, in essence, is the problem. It’s not Kansas any more. But the message cannot be “I, too, will make those monsters go away”.

                Because the monsters aren’t going away. The mines will not reopen. Carrier is still moving away from town.

                (*) And the wonkishness of Hillary Clinton (or J_A), who wouldn’t use three bullet points where fourteen would be more accurate, only exacerbated this fetish for facts.Report

              • Avatar Will H. says:

                Let me help you out with that.
                It’s not like any more people are going to think I’m a complete d!ck for doing this.
                So, what do I have to lose?

                – The Formerly Good Working Class Jobs are disappearing, and won’t come back.

                The big question is: Why?
                Unrestrained Free Trade seems to be leaving a lot of people behind. In fact, the market liberalizations of the Washington Consensus through South America were largely responsible for the widening of the gap between the rich & the poor.
                Now, guess what we’re seeing here.

                As stated above-thread, a $2 savings on a 10-pack of socks doesn’t mean a whole hill of beans to the people that got cut out of $65k+ jobs to save those $2.

                Maybe we need to re-examine economics from other than the aggregate.
                Because it’s the individuals that seem to be hurting.
                Accumulation of wealth at the top isn’t doing much for anyone really, except people funding Democratic candidates, and, well . . . Trump.

                – The traditional roles of women and men in and out of the house are no more. Women not only have to work to sustain the household, but a lot “want” to work. My boss might be a woman. My Sargent might be a woman.

                A common misconception.
                The Leave It to Beaver family model as taken on by families who chose a one-income model, where a two-income model was available.
                They undertook hardships to do it, but they felt, by and large, it was better to have someone be at home with the kids.
                Now, we’re moving back to that model in the form of single-parent households.
                The big difference is that the family as a unit goes largely unconsidered this time around.

                -There are lots of people that are not Christian (even after begrudgingly accepting Catholics as Christian) and I have to accept that they have holy days too. Hell, they might want to have a temple in my town.
                I think most people get the notion of multi-culturalism.
                Separation of church and state, and all that.
                It takes a little more than smearing oil from the lamp to make a religion, let’s say.
                I think most Christians are more worried about anti-Christian governmental creep rather than religion creeping into our government.
                The one is more inherently dangerous than the other.

                – Gays don’t hide in shame dark basements anymore.
                Did they ever?
                I mean, really?
                Or were they down there doing something else?
                Honest question.

                – America is not the sole Great Superpower; yellow and brown people control vast amounts of money and resources and dare to dictate commercial terms to us (plus the ungrateful Europeans we saved -twice- dare to contradict us)

                Go tell that to the IMF.
                Dollar diplomacy still works.

                – My hard earned benefits are being misspent on people that don’t deserve them; the school my kids go to, they are letting those people in.

                Hope that helps.Report

              • Avatar J_A says:


                – The Formerly Good Working Class Jobs are disappearing, and won’t come back.

                The big question is: Why?
                Unrestrained Free Trade seems to be leaving a lot of people behind. In fact, the market liberalizations of the Washington Consensus through South America were largely responsible for the widening of the gap between the rich & the poor.
                Now, guess what we’re seeing here.

                Most Formerly Good Jobs are not lost to Unrestrained Free Trade, but to automation. I keep mentioning that Caterpillar was able to fire 900 people out of a 1,000 people Soare Parts Handling Facility in Peoria in bloody 1995. That’s Caterpillar’s bloody corporate seat. That’s the town where their CEO sits. And bloody proud the Caterpillar guys were when they were showing this to me to entice me to build power plants with Caterpillar generator sets. Because they had this magnificent streamlined Spare Parts distribution center in bloody Peoria, which meant my Soare Parts would come fast AND CHEAPLY.

                The $2 socks are a red herring. The Formerly Good Jobs were not making socks. They were building cars, they were mining coal, they were stocking spare parts in bloody Peoria.

                The USA’s industrial and manufacturing output is at record high. We build and manufacture more things than ever, and we export more high end manufactured goods than ever. We are even bringing back manufacturing that had been outsourced before. Why? Because you know what is cheaper than a Chinese factory worker? No factory workers at all.

                You know how many people you need to run a wind power generation farm? None. One of the USA’s largest wind plant owners run all their plants from a little office in Houston downtown with two guys overseeing the output of about twenty plants all over the USA. That’s eight guys to cover the three shifts. The local plant only hires security guards, and a guy to handle the mail and call Houston is something or someone in town has an issue.

                We can go on on anecdotes all day long. But your beef is with technology, not with bad people that outsource jobsReport

              • Avatar Kim says:

                Malden Mills has good jobs (that’s Polartec).
                So can we please stop it with the idea that the garment industry doesn’t come up with cool stuff that pays good?Report

              • Avatar Chip Daniels says:

                Yeah I get it, that you are saying we need a better message because we didn’t convince the Average Low Info Voter.

                But in discussions about marketing, it becomes tempting to prop up the invisible LIV like the wise cabbie and start to ascribe to him all the beliefs we wish he had, and them mingle those with positions we favor to where it becomes this constantly shape shifting exercise of framing our arguments based on ghostly illusions.

                Which, as @j_a points out, is what Trump is doing.

                I don’t have a clever sure fire marketing plan to convert millions of Rust Belt Trump voters into Democrats.

                But I can at least offer an honest opinion based on facts and logic, even if someone doesn’t wish to hear it.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                But I can at least offer an honest opinion based on facts and logic, even if someone doesn’t wish to hear it.

                And doing this without figuring out why you’ve lost the trust of others is going to result in you being seen as being yet another sneering, condescending liberal.

                At least you will have your facts and logic to trust and collaborate with.Report

              • Avatar Kim says:

                Are you so sure about that?
                Mansplaining person of significant privilege that you are.
                (I do not say that in serious, but as a rather pointed jest at certain aspects of the left that have been fostered by the Powers that Be in an effort to make facts and good arguments obsolete.)Report

              • Avatar J_A says:

                …South America were largely responsible for the widening of the gap between the rich & the poor.

                I spend half my life in different countries of Latin America, from Argentina to Mexico, and I would respectfully argue that you have a misconception about this relatively tangential point

                Yes, the gap did open, and it is a problem, but it opened because when these societies grew, the top echalons of society (including the middle classes) rose more than the lower rugs, relatively.

                But both groups rose from their original positions. And a lot of people moved from being poor into being middle class.

                Different rates of growth is not really good, but is not as if only one group grew. Everybody did.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                One thing I constantly notice is that explanations that take the form “I was too Good, my opponents were too Evil, and the populace at large is too Ignorant” are explanations that make people feel better about having lost without requiring them to self-reflect.

                Another analogy: A friend of yours gets dumped by her girlfriend. She explains “I was too good to her, she had too many issues from her childhood, if only I had been more willing to yell at her instead of giving her enough slack to make the mistakes she made…”, I’d hope you’d know that this friend of yours is full of shit and she is lying to herself.

                I would say because Dems have embraced facts and reality (*), and the half of the country that voted for Trump is trying to run away from a set of facts that make them uncomfortable, to say the least.

                J_A. You are lying to yourself.Report

              • Avatar Gaelen says:

                Since you are such a fan of made up conversations, I think this hits a little closer to the mark.

                “I was good to her, I explained that she was over 40 and her looks weren’t coming back. And that, maybe, she should branch out from being a commercial actress. The other guy offered her some cut rate plastic surgery and told her she’d make it big with him. She chose the other guy.”

                The fact of the matter is that if you go to my home state of Kentucky and tell people that the coal jobs are coming back you are lying to them.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                Now imagine a guy saying that. You believe him? Read it again.

                “I was good to her, I explained that she was over 40 and her looks weren’t coming back. And that, maybe, she should branch out from being a commercial actress. The other guy offered her some cut rate plastic surgery and told her she’d make it big with him. She chose the other guy.”

                I would suggest that, maybe, we disagree on what being “good” entails.

                For the record, I know that coal isn’t coming back and the best that the coal-adjacent businesses could hope for is a somewhat softer crash.

                But the democrats lost for reasons other than that they were willing to embrace “facts and reality”.

                I’d say that they lost because they weren’t willing to embrace “facts and reality”.Report

              • Avatar Gaelen says:

                Now imagine a guy saying that. You believe him? Read it again.

                If they had documentation of it? Yeah, I would.

                I would phrase it as they were constrained by facts and reality from lying/pandering/bullshitting as hard as Trump.

                At the national level they lost (the EC) because they nominated a presidential candidate who Republicans despised, and who ran as (and is) The Establishment, during a anti-establishment election year. That is the reality they didn’t embrace. It is a political reality, but a reality none the less. The Republicans ran on a campaign in which crime rates are at an all time high, voter fraud is an epidemic, Obama is an ISIS sympathizer and the only reason they are not defeated yet, and, of course, all those good manufacturing and coal jobs are coming back! (to name a few). Somehow pointing out that all of this doesn’t match reality is the problem? (ed.Report

              • Avatar DensityDuck says:

                “This is one of very few times you are truly making sense and you are making your point totally clear. ”

                He’s always clear.

                People just get very frustrated that he’s being clear about the fact that he doesn’t agree with them.

                “How can you be so smart and yet still not agree with me?????Report

              • Avatar rmass says:

                No we get perplexed, puzzled, irritated, because dear sweet jay can almost never say what he means. Oh, if you care to parse and engage, you may find a fuzzy positional attachment, but jay is so of the people, he can speak their voice to us, even when the us drives a fishing truck for 35k a year and really really can understand policy and the fact that media is terrible and yet still comes down on the “Mexicans not all rapists and drug mules” camp.

                So yeah, argue your own point, or be willing to have people react in kind.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                a fuzzy positional attachment

                And we’re back to what workout plan I think that Trump ought to do, because he’s fat. Look at this picture of his double chin.

                For the record, I think that the most important things that he can do is work out three times a week. And by “working out”, I mean “exert himself to the point where he is sweating and maintain this exertion for, like, a half hour or something”. He doesn’t smoke and he doesn’t drink alcohol so that’s good.

                But what I think isn’t interesting to *ME*. God knows why it’s interesting to you.

                These arguments that you find so frustrating are the ones that recently won the election.

                Let’s call Donald Trump “fat” again. Hey, hey! I saw online that someone called him “doll hands”.


              • Avatar Gaelen says:

                You’re equating an argument for fiscal conservatism made to try and persuade all of those nose holding Republican Trump voters that they made a mistake with calling the president fat (standing in for useless/counterproductive critiques).

                It’s like we are different planets. On my world there are a decent number of Republicans (some of who I am work friends and neighbors with!) who voted for Trump because they are Republicans and they hated Hillary Clinton. To convince them not to make the same mistake again you make argument based on issues they care about–eg. things like fiscal conservatism.Report

              • Avatar Autolukos says:

                Yeah, there is a reason my dad was willing to give Gary Johnson a shot but not Clinton or Stein.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                To convince them not to make the same mistake again you make argument based on issues they care about–eg. things like fiscal conservatism.

                Sure. Absolutely.
                But there are ways to do this that work and ways to do this that do not work.

                But the argument that takes the form “This thing that I don’t care about, and have never cared about, is something that Trump is currently doing. As someone who cares about this thing, shouldn’t you be upset right now?” is not going to work.

                I’m not talking about whether it should work.
                I’m not talking about whether the people you make it to ought to say “my god, you’re right!”

                I’m just talking about whether it will work.

                And it won’t. Oh, sure, you’ll find a handful of people here or there who are groggily waking up after their schadenfreude hangover who are now saying “wait, what?” and are going to be looking at Trump’s proposed spending with slowly dawning horror and they’ll agree with you.

                But they won’t agree that Clinton would have been better.

                Just that they have tons of reasons to vote against Trump come the 2020 primary. Maybe vote for the Democrat, if they can nominate a fiscal conservative.Report

              • Avatar trizzlor says:

                @jaybird: “How about Trump? Does it strike you as a good criticism of Trump?”

                The argument “Paul Ryan talked about balanced budgets but now Donald Trump doesn’t care about balanced budgets” will never work. Agreed. The few people who have a clear idea of who Ryan is and what he stands for will say “I never liked the guy anyway” and their view of Trump will probably improve.

                But the argument “Trump doesn’t care about balanced budgets and here’s why that’s bad” could be effective. As could the argument “Trump and Ryan lied to you about budgets so they could reward their cronies”.

                It’s just, for some reason, I get the sense that what you’re actually saying is that accusing Trump of X will blow up in your face for any X.Report

              • Avatar greginak says:

                I heard lots of pro trump conservatives talk about how furious they were about the budget deficit. Some were bordering on apoplectic about terrible it is and they want Trump to do something about it. Fun times.Report