Hal Walker: The Front of the Classroom


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 Oscar Gordan says:

    Stop complaining about smug elite coastal liberals!Report

  2. Avatar James K says:

    Within the party, the leaders and officials become enchanted by expertise. They throw aside easy to understand solutions for thousand page policies.

    The thing is, as someone who knows something about policy design, is that simple policies are often preferable to complex ones. A complex policy is far more likely to have unintended consequences or hidden failure modes. Which makes me wonder who these “experts” actually are.Report

    • Avatar Jaybird says:

      There’s a story about Napoleon that deals with this sort of thing. For any given upcoming battle, he’d get his brief from his generals and, during the briefing, he’d have some corporal or something shining his boots.

      At the end of the briefing, when the generals were looking at him expectantly, Napoleon would ask the corporal if he understood the battle plan.

      If the corporal said that he didn’t, Napoleon sent his generals back to the drawing table.Report

    • Avatar Brandon Berg says:

      Complexity isn’t about making the policy work better. It’s about getting buy-in by making sure all the right people get a turn at the trough.Report

    • Avatar Saul Degraw says:


      There is an easy solution to, say, the health care issue in the United States. It is called Single Payer. American liberals dreamed about it for decades.

      The problems are:

      1. The US seemingly more than any other western country has a large contingent of dedicated people opposed to single payer and/or the Welfare State in general.

      2. We also have too many vested interests like doctors (though they are split) and insurance companies who don’t want single payer.

      So you end up with something like the ACA which is confusing and complicated but still ended up gettting 18-20 million people health insurance coverage despite massive resistance from Day One.

      There were a few lefties who thought Obama could will single payer into existence and they were wrong to do so. You have a good chunk of GOP pols who are chomping at the bit to repeal the ACA. 18 to 20 million be damned.

      People on the right believe that deregulation can give health insurance to all but the left is rightfully skeptical.

      One of the things about the American right is that they can theoretically say regulation may be necessary but the bar is high and always moving.Report

      • Avatar James K says:


        Given how utterly awful your healthcare system is, I actually think Single Payer would be an improvement, precisely because it is more simple. Not that I think its optimal at all but it would be a step up from the Lovecraftian Horror you have right now. There’s a question as to whether the US Federal government could run a programme like that without making a total hash of it, but it would certainly be simpler.

        But as @brandon-berg noted above, complex policies are not the product of pointy-headed experts, but rather political incentives ensuring that favoured constituencies get to benefit as much as possible from the policy, even if it harms welfare overall. The sorts of policies I favour are too simple to bribe people with.Report

        • Avatar j r says:

          There’s a question as to whether the US Federal government could run a programme like that without making a total hash of it, but it would certainly be simpler.

          This is the thing. Proponents of expanding the welfare state always assume that it would be a move towards Denmark and not a move towards Greece.Report

          • Avatar James K says:


            The other thing to bear in mind is that government capability is specific, not general. The US Federal Government doesn’t really do a lot of single-payer style programmes, so there’s no reason to think ti would be very good at them. Now, if you could cure diseases by blowing them up, I’d be a lot more confident that the Feds could do healthcare successfully.Report

            • Avatar j r says:

              Yes. The U.S. government is very good at mailing Social Security checks out on time. It is less good at maintaining Social Security as a sustainable and financially viable program ring-fenced from the rest of the federal budget.

              And I am sure that if we looked at the VA, we could find several instances of health care related tasks that the federal government does well and several instances of things it does atrociously. There is no reason why the feds could not learn to do the bad things better, but let’s admit how aspirational that is. There is a common idea that the only thing standing between us and the social democratic state of our dreams is more political will; that idea is obtuse.

              ps – My own opinion is close to what you expressed above. The U.S. health care system is the worst of both worlds. We would much better off to either commit to a single-payer system and deal with the rationing or commit to a private sector based system and get used to the extra risk. I prefer the latter, but if most Americans want the former, I’ll have no problem getting on boardReport

              • Avatar Damon says:

                “There is no reason why the feds could not learn to do the bad things better, but let’s admit how aspirational that is. ”

                Who wants to be the first group to sign up and be the guinea pigs for aspirational single payer healthcare? Note, you cannot leave once joined.


              • Avatar DensityDuck says:


                There’s everybody on Medicare, to start with.

                “Single payer” does not mean “all doctors are civil servants, all hospitals are government facilities”. Single payer is not the VA.Report

              • Avatar Morat20 says:

                VA would be “nationalized”.

                I forget who uses a public option (Singapore, perhaps?) and I believe Germany uses something akin to the ACA, with tightly regulated minimum requirements to be considered ‘coverage’. (Although theirs is not, I think, tied to employment).

                Basically over the entire first world, you have everything from entirely nationalized healthcare (although even they have this as a floor, wherein you can purchase insurance for further care — like getting private rooms, etc) to tightly regulated free market options (in which there is, in fact, a mandate and definitions of what counts as ‘insurance’) to a bunch of weird mixes in between.

                The only thing they all have in common is they cost between 25% to 60% less than us per person with better outcomes. (This is actually worse, because “per person” means total healthcare spending/population. We cost more per person, yet leave a sizable fraction of people uninsured). (The country that spends the closest per person to us is Luxembourg, whose safety net is built entirely out of gold and platinum. And they still spend less)

                There might be a purely free market approach, unfettered by regulation or mandate, that might work. But nobody has yet thought of it, and the US currently has the distinction of doing the absolute worst while spending the most.

                The silver lining is, well, despite the screams from various corners, it’s not like the US is currently having to solve some novel problem. We could see sizable savings just by switching to someone else’s mature system. Most other countries dealing with the problem don’t have such an easy win waiting in the wings, as it were.Report

              • Avatar James K says:


                Medicare counts a evidence in favour, but it doesn’t do the hardest thing for a single-payer plan to do, which is cost control.Report

              • Avatar Damon says:

                I’m not talking about people on Medicare. I’m talking about the people moving from non medicare who have coverage transitioning. You assume it’ll be a “smooth” transition? Hell the ACA transition is a small thing compared to moving, what, 200M+ people to single payer. And the ACA had zero transition troubles didn’t it? Sure……Report

              • Avatar InMD says:

                We have a hybrid system
                and probably always will. Even if we could import Sweden’s model in whole we would still not be Sweden or get the same results. What I find frustrating about the current climate is that ‘tear it down’ is the operating philosophy of the Republican party. What we should be working towards isnt public or private, its coherence.

                The ACA for all its flaws was at least a baby step in that direction. I’m sad that instead of finding ways to correct it’s problems and internal contradictions we’re probably going to take a step back.Report

            • Avatar LeeEsq says:

              Medicare is single payer for the senior citizen set and that seems amazingly popular. That means its well run enough to satisfy one of the most active political groups in the United States and this group will mobilize if they see Medicare as being threatened. Same with Social Security.Report

              • Avatar James K says:


                That counts for something, but Medicare is popular because it doesn’t restrict treatment, and that would make it far too expensive to give to everyone.Report

              • Avatar Oscar Gordon says:

                IIRC the Norwegians have death panels*.

                *Not really, but they prioritize scarce resources by age. E.g. if there is a doctor who specializes in X, and he only has room for one patient with X, a younger patient will get the slot over an older one.Report

              • fillyjonk fillyjonk says:

                Ignorant question (in the sense of, I don’t know because I have no experience with this): is age the only factor?

                So, would a (say) 55 year old woman with X, but who otherwise strives to be healthful (eats right, exercises, doesn’t smoke) and has close family connections get bumped out of getting treatment for X over a 25 year old woman who smokes, drives fast, doesn’t exercise, and has no dependents?

                I’m just kind of morbidly curious about this, as someone who tries to stay healthy but sees youth fleeing….Report

              • Avatar Don Zeko says:

                Medicare doesn’t restrict treatment? Why do people buy supplemental coverage, then?Report

          • Avatar LeeEsq says:

            Americans might grumble about taxes more than the Danish but they do pay them. The problem with Greece is a lack of revenue to support their welfare state and a decent amount of corruption or cheating. Unless you imagine an outbreak of tax cheating, America should be fine.Report

          • Avatar Kim says:

            We aren’t greece. We really aren’t. However, I’m pretty sure we aren’t Denmark or France or anyplace else either. Being a melting pot means that we have different constraints on what we want to work, and how we want to get there. (also, I’m pretty sure we’ve got a lot more ruralia than Europe).Report

            • Avatar Will Truman says:

              This is a great comment, Kim.Report

            • Avatar J_A says:

              also, I’m pretty sure we’ve got a lot more ruralia than Europe).

              I think we probably have less ruralia than Europe. But we have a very different kind of ruralia. (*)

              In (western) Europe is practically impossible to stand in a place where you can’t see at least one house. Even in the Scottish Highlands (a very empty area for European standards) you can always walk to the next village and take a bus to the next city, which they probably visit several times a week.

              So the connectedness in Europe is very different. Europeans (and Japanese, in a different context) are very aware of the other people, and the need to find ways to coexist with them (or to massacre them). The idea that you can be away, that your neighbours are far, and that the city is remote, is totally alien in Europe.

              So, rural versus urban in America is a proxy for connected versus (purposefully) isolated

              (*) This link says Europe is 73% urban, and the USA is 81% urban. I have t checked their definition of urban and rural, though. http://www.geohive.com/earth/pop_urban.aspxReport

              • Avatar Kim says:

                J_A yeah, i was thinking more landmass, not people so much. I mean, we have places that you can only reach by train that runs once a day (I’ve been there — on the Northernmost Amtrack transcontinental line).Report

              • Avatar Michael Cain says:

                If your definition of “(western) Europe” includes Norway, Sweden, and Finland, there are large areas that are at least that remote. For comparison, though, those are more like Alaska. What western Europe doesn’t have is anything like the Great Plains or interior Mountain West. The GP are much larger than any individual western European country, have no* cities of 250,000, and outside of three in Texas sitting on top of major oil/gas deposits, none of 100,000. When I carved out a hypothetical Central Great Plains state, it was 80% the size of the UK, had less than a half-million people, and the largest city was 30,000. Toss in the interior Mountain West and you get an area bigger than all of western Europe, a handful of million-plus metro areas, with hundreds of miles of empty between any pair of those.

                * I exclude Front Range Colorado, which sits on the edge of the GP only because that’s the flat spot closest to the mountains.Report

              • Avatar Michael Cain says:

                The US Census Bureau’s 2010 number is 80.9% urban. Comparing figures from different censuses is difficult because the Bureau keeps changing the exact definition based on the availability of different sorts of mapping technology.

                On the Interstates in parts of eastern Montana and Wyoming, it is more common to be out of sight of any houses than to see them. Just before you get to many of the exits, there will be a sign that says something like “Next services 57 miles” as a reminder that you should check your gas gauge.

                I knew a guy from Scotland who was attending a conference in Kansas City who decided to take an off afternoon to drive west on I-80 to see “the plains, like in American westerns”. He told me that he turned around after 40 miles or so because the emptiness made him nervous. I don’t think he believed me when I told him, “Oh, that’s the crowded corner of the state. It doesn’t get really empty for another hundred miles.”Report

              • Avatar PD Shaw says:

                There was a BBC travel show a few years ago about America and I remember the guy was standing in the middle of (IIRC) I-90 in Montanta. He was trying to convey to his English audience, both how large and well made this straight-line road was, but also the astonishment that while they’ve been setting-up this camera shot all morning, they saw no cars on it.Report

            • Avatar j r says:

              We aren’t greece. We really aren’t. However, I’m pretty sure we aren’t Denmark or France or anyplace else either.

              I agree. We are all of those things and then some more. If all the political pieces fell into place and the United States was able to build the social welfare state of progressive dreams, chances are that some places in the country would look like Denmark and Germany and other places would look like Greece and the and the banlieues of France.

              Anyone want to guess as to who would be living in the former places and who would be stuck in the latter?

              This relates directly to the tax issue that @leeesq raised above. Generally, Americans pay their taxes, but America is a nation of different tax jurisdictions. So, Americans don’t register their opposition to higher taxes by dodging taxes. They register their opposition by moving or by changing their behavior or by lobbying for deductions and exemptions.

              You want a bigger welfare state? Fine, figure out a way to sustainably and realistically fund it. Note: “Tax the rich!” is not that.Report

              • Avatar Kim says:

                I can tell you what places currently resemble Myanmar, if you’d like. I think you are assuming that America currently doesn’t resemble other countries… I think it does, and that often they aren’t the countries you’d like to see.

                In America, we have people who burn down other people’s houses as pranks.

                In America, we’ve had (this did actually get fixed! Go USA!) a bunch of white folks treating Native American lands as a place where they could go rape women and get away scot free.

                If we assume that most of the difference between Greece and France is cultural, and not really about the healthcare, or about the politics at all… Well, we aren’t changing our culture by putting healthcare on top of what’s already there.

                Welcome to America. Fee to get your child an “accidental” death is $40,000. (That’s New Mexico and Arizona, dunno about other places).Report

      • I think your problem no. 1 isn’t quite right. I suspect there’s a workable majority for a single payer or something close to it.

        I’d add a problem no. 3: A lot of veto points in our political system make it much more difficult to establish single payer. The people who oppose it or (as in your example no. 2, have an interest in maintaining something like the current system) can use those veto points to their advantage.

        While I’d prefer single payer and therefore would prefer that the veto points didn’t act against establishing it, I have to be at least a little bit grateful for the veto points over the next four years.Report

        • Avatar LeeEsq says:

          Our political class does seem to contain an unusual amount of politicians that are reflexively against universal healthcare or the welfare state though. Holding a position on healthcare like Paul Ryan and many of his other Republicans would be political suicide elsewhere. Even if there is working majority for single payer, there are enough Americans willing to elect anti-welfare politicians into office to prevent this.Report

          • I’m tempted to say that you’re right because of those veto points, that the veto’ers have a stronger immediate interest in denying single payer than the supporters have for supporting it. I kind of believe that, but that risks making my argument a tautology, where it’s all veto points all the time.

            tl;dr: you have a point.Report

        • Avatar Troublesome Frog says:

          In all of the “Why can’t the US do what other countries have done?” arguments, there is one argument that the US is special that I do find potentially convincing. Our system with its veto points makes it possible (easy, even) to cripple any system that requires ongoing attention/funding/whatever.

          The majority pays the political price for mismanagement but often doesn’t have the authority to do proper management. Sticking a wrench into the gears of an otherwise working system is a winning electoral strategy. Or just threatening to do so is a great way to extract concessions.

          That whole dynamic makes it much harder for us to build big systems like they do in other countries. Not impossible, but certainly harder.Report

    • Avatar LeeEsq says:

      The American political system with all its veto points make it hard to get simple policies passed into law though. Single payer is a lot simpler than the ACA but nearly impossible to pass. The ACA is a kludge and barely passed.Report

      • Avatar Oscar Gordan says:

        Which supports the assertion that our solutions are complex because of the need to satisfy the desires of key players & constituencies.Report

  3. Avatar greginak says:

    Some pithy snob should come up with a quote about how for every complex problem there is an answer that is clear, simple and wrong.Report

  4. One of the parts of the article I liked best was “You begin to equate the various metrics [of academic and professional success] at which you and your peers excel with virtue in general.” It’s taken me a long time to learn not to do that, and I still haven’t learned it fully.

    While growing up, I strove to get good grades and came to believe they validated me as a person and not just as a student. On some level I probably always knew better. Many, many family members repeatedly did explicit and implicit things to remind me that good grades =/= virtue. But on another level, I continued to believe not only that I got better grades, but that I was smarter than those who didn’t and worse, that I was a better person, too. (I’m using grades here as a proxy for other metrics and because in my case they assumed an outsized importance.)

    I realize now that I’m not necessarily smarter than others who haven’t shared my success in school. I’m certainly not necessarily a better person. Or if I am smarter or “better” (whatever either of those two words mean), it’s not primarily because of my grades. At most my grades were a “metric,” as Walker says, of a certain type of intelligence and perhaps work ethic. Getting them did require a certain amount of a certain type of intelligence, intellectual curiosity, and discipline. But there’s so many other ways to be intelligent and a hard worker. And intelligence, intellectual curiosity, and discipline don’t necessarily make one a good person. One can have all three and be a horrible person.Report

  5. Avatar Damon says:

    “The loss is the fault of every stupid person. The voters were racist and sexist, those stupid hippy millennials didn’t turn up, morons believed fake news. The front of the class don’t need to change a thing, they’ve made good grades their whole lives, they’re never wrong, and they’re going to just keep on being right and losing fights.”

    This describes EXACTLY the reaction to the election my “VERY LIBERAL” female actor friend had, if not, essentially the exact words.Report

  6. Avatar Kolohe says:

    Policy shifts away from the interests of the broad public to the concerns of the “best and brightest.” Education is presented as a solution to every problem. Breaking down barriers to the top of the ladder of success becomes the primary civil rights issue. Women and minorities who are not striving for elite positions do not merit so much consideration. Economic disenfranchisement becomes an issue of who did well at school and who didn’t, not structural forces acting on society. What should be a progressive politics becomes just another version of the bootstraps myth, with grades and scholarships standing in for sweat and prudent personal budgeting.

    Is this a fair assessment of how Hillary Clinton ran her campaign, or how the Democrats in general have framed things in the Obama era?

    No, no it is not.

    I mean, yeah, there’s a prima facie case that the headquarters peeps dun fouled up big time. Nor was it the first time that Donna Brazile, Jennifer Palmieri, and Cheryll Mills have made a botch of things quite publicly – but never this catastrophically (though Brazile barely squeezes past this distinction with Gore 2000)

    There is even I grant a big correlation to upper middle class metro residents and those that loved Clinton the most – (because that’s who Clinton is, and always has been) – but that wasn’t the whole of Clinton or the Democratic Party.Report

    • Avatar Kim says:

      They fired the people who told them they were going to lose. My friend gave honest good advice, and got fired for his trouble. It was only when his predictions started to come true that HQ started panicking.

      Remember, Clinton didn’t even campaign half the days in October.Report

      • Avatar Jaybird says:

        Remember, Clinton didn’t even campaign half the days in October.

        In her defense, she was in a coma.Report

      • Avatar Damon says:

        Hopefully your friend bet heavily on the election and sent a pic to the person who fired him with all that won cash, saying “I was right biatches”.Report

        • Avatar Kim says:

          I think CAT keeps on spamming Silver saying “you are obsolete.”

          He believes more in harvesting the tears of anguish rather than needing to rub people’s noses in it. How do you think I know that Clinton needed SecretService help destroying her hotel room that night?

          He bet on the election, and the investors that pay for his advice bet on the election and now he’s really, really busy. That’s what happens when you’re the only one who got things right.Report

  7. Avatar LeeEsq says:

    Hal Walker’s argument was a straw man argument. Clinton’s campaign did contain a fair amount of the”best and the brightest” problem but her campaign message was nowhere close to anybody who isn’t striving for an elite education could shove it.Report

  8. Avatar Kolohe says:

    Where Hal Walker’s assessment is a bit fair is in the partly perception, partly reality that ‘front of the classroom’ people have more of an edge in the modern economy than ever before. The narrow edge that Trump was able to get in the rust belt, the margin that shifted from Obama to Trump, was due to the fact that Trump played directly into this perception, and that he could somehow fix it.Report

    • Avatar Kim says:

      The midwest didn’t really believe that Trump would fix it, but they figured a 1% chance of winning the lottery is better than Clinton’s “I’m going to screw you seven ways to sunday and You’re going to Like It.”

      I said it once, and I’ll say it again — Trump won by outflanking Clinton on the left on trade.Report

    • Avatar LeeEsq says:

      Aggravating this is that the “front of the classroom” people are not offering many of the back of the classroom people the type of jobs they want. The liberal front of the class people are honest about this and are trying to make the back of the class jobs more remunerative by higher minimum wages or other wealth redistribution policies but a lot of back of the class types do not want service type jobs as fast food workers or home health aids. The want something more traditionally masculine.Report

      • Avatar Jaybird says:

        “Hey, it was inevitable that the factories moved to China. You should learn HTML. Wait, I mean XML. Wait…” is not a message that resonated among the folks who remembered, once upon a time, being able to get a good job right out of high school.

        While I appreciate that these wretched people need to cowperson up and go to law school and move to one of the real cities, they don’t appreciate that.

        We let them vote anyway.Report

        • Avatar J_A says:


          “Hey, it was inevitable that the factories moved to China. You should learn HTML. Wait, I mean XML. Wait…” is not a message that resonated among the folks who remembered, once upon a time, being able to get a good job right out of high school.

          While I appreciate that these wretched people need to cowperson up and go to law school and move to one of the real cities, they don’t appreciate that.

          And….we are back to

          “The mines will not reopen. Automation has replaced the factory floor jobs”

          “Well, the public doesn’t want to hear that. The fact that Democrats tell voters the truth is proof that they don’t respect them. If they really respected the voters, they would lie to them”Report

          • Avatar Jaybird says:

            That’s the mines, though. Sure, we know that the miners would be out of work.

            Was manufacturing just like mining, though? Was it just as inevitable that factories go overseas as mines were to close down?Report

            • Avatar J_A says:

              Check the statistics.

              USA industrial output is at historic peaks, growing, and larger than most any other economy in the world (http://www.marketwatch.com/story/us-manufacturing-dead-output-has-doubled-in-three-decades-2016-03-28). Factories are opening every day. Insourcing, bringing back production from abroad, is a big thing because it cuts freight and inventory costs.

              And all this factories are automated from floor to ceiling.

              Hey, in 1994, Caterpillar proudly automated a 1,000 employees soare parts warehouse in Peoria, amd sacked 90% of the work force. Damn proud they were of how much better the new facility worked, faster, less errors, way cheaper.

              China or Mexico did not kill the factory jobs. Automation did. Factories today run on servers, and the only industrial jobs available are tending the servers. Not a high school graduate job. Now, if the only had learned XML, perhaps there could have been an opening for them…..

              So, now, what is your recommendation to a Democrats? Should they prove their respect to voters by lying to them, or it’s better to tell the truth? It’s a binary choice, and inquiring minds would want to know @jaybird ‘s position.

              Of course the answer may vary if your objective is win elections or solve the country’s issues.Report

              • Avatar Kazzy says:

                It’s not about facts. It’s about feelz. The GOP is now the feelz party.

                (Cue Jay responding to my snark instead of answering your question.)Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                It’s not about facts. It’s about feelz. The GOP is now the feelz party.

                And the democrats can now be the sober party. The adult in the room. The one who explains the way the world works, that money is required to purchase goods and services, and that there ain’t no such thing as a free lunch.

                Hey, if we want the democrats to get really into the whole “personal responsibility” thing, they could explore Libertarianism. There’s a whole bunch of books that Republican leaders appear to have left in a pile by the dumpster and I think that if the Democrats are going to start making their mark in the elections to come, they should really start embracing those concepts.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                Of course the answer may vary if your objective is win elections or solve the country’s issues.

                How possible is it to solve the country’s issues without winning elections?

                If it is possible to solve the country’s issues without winning elections, great. We now have open eyes and a clear path.

                If it’s not, well… maybe we should start exploring things that might have been done differently and whether it would have been possible to do these things while telling the truth.

                I’ll point to Clinton’s comment about putting a lot of miners out of work. I can find the sound file for you, if you’d like, and we can discuss what she sounds like as she says it and whether what she said could have been rephrased and, if it couldn’t have been, whether it could have been said with a different tone.

                I mean, and that’s without asking whether Bernie would have won.

                I mean, if all we’re talking about is advice for democrats.Report

              • Avatar Kim says:

                It’s not possible to solve our country’s problems until we know what they are.

                Can you find me a fucking politician who will discuss the “food crisis” of us not being able to feed two thirds of our population in the middle term future?

                Seriously. Dems.Reps. I don’t know of a single one who’s actually thinking towards the future enough to fix a damn thing.

                Clarke maybe. Maybe Mattis will manage something. I’m doubtful though. Only so much the military can fix, even with the budget we give ’em.Report

              • Avatar J_A says:


                You mean this speech, don’t you?

                So for example, I’m the only candidate which has a policy about how to bring economic opportunity using clean renewable energy as the key into coal country. Because we’re going to put a lot of coal miners and coal companies out of business, right?

                And we’re going to make it clear that we don’t want to forget those people. Those people labored in those mines for generations, losing their health, often losing their lives to turn on our lights and power our factories.

                Now we’ve got to move away from coal and all the other fossil fuels, but I don’t want to move away from the people who did the best they could to produce the energy that we relied on.

                The speech where she said

                but I don’t want to move away from the people who did the best they could to produce the energy that we relied on.

                Just making sure we are talking about the same speech (http://www.politifact.com/truth-o-meter/article/2016/may/10/context-hillary-clintons-comments-about-coal-jobs/ ) because the only part you seem to have heard is “….putting a lot of miners out of work.”

                And that’s not how I heard the speech, but it is how I heard A lot of people describe the speech.

                So it’s seems that lying to people is your preferred route. Because, of course, you have to be elected so you can solve the country’s problems, so what better way to be elected than to lie about what you are going to do.

                That way, when they elect you, and you don’t open the mines, and you don’t bring industrial jobs, people have to take jobs at McDonalds (because for sure you are not going to teach them XML), they are going to be real happy.Report

              • The GOP loves the white working class. It doesn’t think they’re capable of surviving in the modern economy or facing the real world, but it loves them.Report

              • Avatar switters says:

                Right, JA. Because the part of Jaybird’s “you need to empathize” argument that never gets expressed is that you also have to do it in a way that Breitbart/Rush/Glen and on and on can’t even twist into being unempathetic. Which is essentially impossible.Report

              • Avatar Morat20 says:

                The empathize argument always feels like abusive relationship rhetoric.

                “If you’ll just shut your darn liberal mouth, maybe they wouldn’t have to slap it shut”.

                Good advice. I’m sure many marriages have been saved that way.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                Because the part of Jaybird’s “you need to empathize” argument

                I wouldn’t call it my “you need to empathize” argument as much as my “you need to not shit the bed on national television” argument.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                Oh, that’s the full context of her quote, is it?

                I’d never seen it before.

                I just heard the “we’re gonna put a loooooooooot of coal miners and coal companies out of business!” clip.

                And over.
                And over.
                And over.
                And over.Report

              • Avatar El Muneco says:

                So you’re suggesting we flat out just tell every audience exactly what they want to hear, turn around and contradict what we just said in front of the next audience five minutes later, talk only in vague generalities in interviews and speeches because specifics won’t allow listeners to project, then, once elected just go ahead and do what we damn well please regardless of what the voters thought our mandate was?
                This is better than what we have now, exactly? The caudillo being a D and not an R makes it right?Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                While what you’re suggesting that I’m suggesting is different from what I’m suggesting Democrats not do, I’m not sure that it’s accurate to read my “STOP DOING THAT” as an argument for “therefore, do what Trump did.”

                That said, Bernie would have won.Report

              • Avatar Jesse Ewiak says:

                “Crazy Bernie wants to raise your taxes, not rich people like, but your taxes, and take away the good health care you work for, and give you bad bad bad government health care, and make you and your family wait behind illegal immigrants and criminals just to get a check up!”Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                Would Bernie have won Wisconsin?

                Would Bernie have won Michigan?

                Would Bernie have won Pennsylvania?

                Are there more states that Bernie would have won that Hillary lost? Maybe. We can game that out. I don’t know how Ohio would have swung but it might have.

                Now, would Bernie have *LOST* states that Hillary won?

                New Hampshire, definitely.
                Um… do you have another? Colorado, maybe?

                What does that do to the map? What does that do to the electoral college vote totals?Report

              • Avatar Jesse Ewiak says:

                If Bernie would’ve won Wisconsin, why did Bernie-like Senator Russ Feingold get less votes than Hillary did?

                As for as Pennsylvania goes, the central PA voters that Trump won would’ve gotten two messages – increased taxes, expanded social services, opposition to free trade. Or decreased taxes, anti-immigration/anti-BLM, opposition to free trade.

                Plus, add in a less amped Philly vote and Bernie loses there too.

                As for Michigan, OK, he probably actually wins that.

                But, he loses Virginia, Colorado, New Hampshire, and possibly Nevada since the Reid Machine won’t be geared up as much to get out the vote.

                That doesn’t even get into the possibility of somebody like Bloomberg jumping into the race.Report

              • Avatar Will Truman says:

                It was often said that anybody but Trump would have kicked Hillary’s butt and anybody but Hillary would have kicked Trump’s.

                The problem is that the runners up were Ted Cruz and Bernie Sanders, both of which had huge liabilities.

                Each of the top four candidates this time were likely weaker than each of the top two were four years ago.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                Because the Democrats considered Wisconsin in the bag and Hillary Clinton didn’t even campaign there.

                I like to think that in my happy little hypothetical that Bernie would have bothered to campaign in Wisconsin. Maybe even have referred to Feingold as his friend and held his hand aloft at a rally.

                With regards to Pennsylvania, you know one of the things that tipped it over? The Amish coming out to the polls in droves. The Amish all voted for Trump.

                You think they would have come out to vote for Trump against Bernie? I’m not so sure. As for the two real cities in PA, I’m not so sure that the Union vote would have turned out for Trump over Bernie.

                WI, PA, MI. The blue wall holds for Bernie. Ohio could go either way.

                As for Virginia, I don’t know. There are a number of votes that Hillary did not win in Virginia that Bernie would not have lost in the first place. And given the horrid choice between Bernie and Trump, I can see a lot of those who held their noses to vote against Trump doing the same thing when Bernie was running.

                WI, PA, MI. That’s 46 electoral votes flipping sides.

                NH is 4. CO is 9. NV (and let’s agree Nevada is a coin flip) is 6. 19.

                307 Trump Electoral Votes becomes 279.

                That doesn’t get Bernie across the finish line… but what happens with Ohio?

                Nevada going heads rather than tails doesn’t get us to the finish line… but 279 electoral votes becomes 273.

                You think Bernie couldn’t have won Colorado? He won the caucus. You think Bernie couldn’t have won Ohio? He might have. He might not have. But he might have.

                In hindsight, it’s not crazy to think that Bernie could have won.

                In hindsight, it’s crazy to think that Clinton could have.Report

              • Avatar Will Truman says:

                Err, no. As awful a candidate as I think she’s been, she almost won. This outcome was not at all preordained.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                Okay, fine. She almost won.

                I just think that if we re-held the election again, she’d almost win it again.Report

              • Avatar Don Zeko says:

                With or without the FBI and Russian intelligence working for the other side?Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                I suppose that there’s nothing to be done about Russian intelligence but, as far as the FBI is concerned, I believe that an announcement that Anthony Weiner’s laptop had been found with Hillary Clinton’s emails from her controversial server coming out in the home stretch of the election *MIGHT* have been avoided by Bernie.Report

              • Avatar Don Zeko says:

                Sure, Bernie has entirely different liabilities. But then this is I think side-stepping the fact that Comey’s behavior was completely inexcusable, most likely swung the election, and is generally a big fishing deal.

                Oh, and of course there may well have been something to be done about Russian intelligence if, say, the FBI that was so busy sabotaging Clinton with something that turned out to be entirely bogus knew that Trump’s campaign was cooperating with Russian intelligence and said nothing about it during the campaign.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                When it comes to Bernie’s entirely different liabilities, though, none of them involve being under active investigation by the FBI.

                I mean, if we’re talking about the FBI and Russian Intelligence in our alternative Bernie scenario. Which we were.

                If you’d rather re-litigate Comey’s Weiner Announcement, um, okay.Report

              • Avatar Michael Cain says:

                less errors

                Too little attention is paid to this aspect of automation. In some cases it’s not that buying and maintaining the machines is cheaper than the human labor, it’s that the testing, rework, and return efforts are slashed because the machines do repetitive work better than humans. It’s why Foxconn is looking at automating away millions of assembly jobs in China.Report

              • Avatar J_A says:

                Double yes

                And of course, once you automate the factory, the capital costs are the same in China or here, and you want to be as close as possible to your customer. Hence you open your new automated factory in the USA.

                And nary a high school graduate in sight ….Report

              • Avatar Francis says:

                less errors

                fewer errors.

                There, now there’s one less error.Report

              • fillyjonk fillyjonk says:

                *golf clap*

                (The less vs. fewer thing is one of those things that raises my hackles. Along with the folks who use “your” and “you’re” as if they are interchangeable)Report

              • I *feel* the same way even if I know that in the scheme of things, it doesn’t really matter. (Your/You’re probably matters more, perhaps because it’s so obviously more wrong…..but I’m sure that I’ve made that error without knowing it.)Report

              • Avatar El Muneco says:

                So much this. When I was in fab automation, practically all of the bottom line gains came from even slim reductions in scrap and rework. Hell, in some cases if a project saved one single lot, just one, it could pay for itself.Report

          • Avatar DensityDuck says:

            “And….we are back to

            “The mines will not reopen. Automation has replaced the factory floor jobs” ”

            You’re saying this like it is somehow an argument against “Clinton told people that angst over losing your job was inappropriate, and this message did not inspire the people who’d lost their jobs”.

            I know that you just love the red-meat flavor of “your job woulda been gone anyway” but it has the same bootstraps culture-argument feel of “stop having so many kids out of wedlock and you’ll have fewer problems”.Report

            • That job is gone. It’s not coming back. The guy who says otherwise is lying to you.

              Vs. today’s GOP: The party of “Hey, man, don’t harsh my buzz”.Report

              • Avatar DensityDuck says:

                “That job is gone. It’s not coming back. The guy who says otherwise is lying to you.”

                I am so amused by the way that “quit crying, suck it up and deal, and anyone who says otherwise is lying to you” is suddenly the tolerant, intellectual, empathetic progressive position, and “you got screwed over and it wasn’t your fault, I’ll work on fixing it” is the bloody-minded, market-driven, survival-of-the-worthy, bastard Republican position.Report

              • Avatar Kazzy says:

                “…quit crying, suck it up and deal…”

                What liberals said this?Report

              • The classical liberals. “Hey, man, I know your family’s future got destroyed, but it was a creative destruction. I mean, sure in theory there could be a safety net and maybe some job retraining available, but that doesn’t maximize return on invested capital, does it?”Report

            • Avatar Gaelen says:

              That sounds remarkably like how her opponents characterized what Clinton said, as opposed to what she ‘actually’ said.Report

              • Avatar switters says:

                I was gonna question that too. Any cite for that Duck?Report

              • Avatar DensityDuck says:

                So, your argument against “Clinton told people that angst over losing your job was inappropriate” is “nuh-uh“?Report

              • Avatar Gaelen says:

                Right, your ‘paraphrasing’ of her statement is not accurate.Report

              • Avatar Marchmaine says:

                c’mon guys, stop arguing silly semantics… she’s got this thing in the bag.Report

              • Avatar Gaelen says:

                You’re right, I should just let these casual misstatement of what she said go, it’s not like people would take these inaccuracies seriously and DJT could actually win right?

                Now that would be crazy!Report

              • Avatar Morat20 says:

                Why try when you can be cynical like the cool kids?

                Seriously, Marchmaine basically just said truth and accuracy doesn’t matter, just believe what you want to believe.

                Welcome to the Trump world.

                Who cares what really happened? Believe whatever you want to believe. It’s just as good.Report

              • Avatar Marchmaine says:

                No, Marchmaine pointed out that there was ample time for the Clinton campaign to address any possible mis-perception prior to election day; that they couldn’t is the story. Or maybe that was Comey’s fault too.Report

              • Avatar Morat20 says:

                We have the whole quote there. You’ve read it. I’ve read it. You and I both know it doesn’t mean what they claimed it meant, and the Clinton campaign pushed back on it.

                But for some reason, you want to pretend a deliberate lie about it’s meaning is somehow just confusion that Clinton should have cleared up.

                Sounds like a fun game. I’m sure it’s a net positive for you, somehow.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                There wasn’t a problem with the messenger.
                There wasn’t a problem with the message.

                There was only a problem with the people who deliberately chose to not listen and then voted ignorantly.

                Oh, and gerrymandering.Report

              • Avatar Kazzy says:

                Who’s saying that?Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                Was it only this morning (for you) when you said that I was more likely to answer your snark than the legitimate question?

                Well, I did what I could to answer the legitimate question.

                See the answers that are pushing back to my legitimate question.

                And there is your answer.

                Kazzy, let me say again: across the nation, Democrats lost 1000 elected positions over the last 8 years.

                Does this represent a problem, at all?
                Can it just be chalked up to gerrymandering and, hey, every political party has a bad year here or there?Report

              • Avatar Morat20 says:

                The imaginary people he’s talking to. I think he uses actual conversations to springboard into the imaginary ones.

                The gerrymandering stuff is me. In reality, Jaybird likes to talk about how Democrats have lost a thousand seats. (I think the round number makes him feel it’s a great point. He also seems to think that the mere existence of that number makes him right, but whatever)

                I pointed out that, in terms of how bad the trouble Democrats are in, that gerrymandering is a factor. I referenced a few times in the last 6 years that Democrats have had more votes for House seats than Republicans, but ended up with fewer seats as an example.

                Then I suggested using an alternative set of elected offices to determine how bad it was, offices that weren’t subject to redrawn districts, as this would remove gerrymandering as a factor and give him a more precise picture of how bad the problem is.

                He has decided that means that I think all democratic losses are because of gerrymandering and spending a lot of time explaining how gerrymandering can’t possibly be a problem.

                Actually using the changed data set and seeing how the numbers alter, or even explaining why he thinks that data set would be insufficient to describe the problem, has not occurred to him.

                It will now be forever in his head that I think Democrats only lose because of gerrymandering. I don’t know why. Perhaps he doesn’t think of me as a person, just a liberal-shaped object whose views he can change to fit his preconceived notions. Perhaps he’s a troll.

                Who knows? I’m done talking with him. I’ve tried to do so in good faith many times, and it’s very obvious he has no plans to reciprocate.

                He doesn’t want a discussion. He wants an audience to lecture to, to tell them how they’re wrong and how right he is.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                In reality, Jaybird likes to talk about how Democrats have lost a thousand seats.

                Have they? This is measurable. I mean, I’m either right about this or wrong about this.

                I think the round number makes him feel it’s a great point. He also seems to think that the mere existence of that number makes him right, but whatever.

                1024 is a round number.
                1000 is merely 4 digits rather than 3.

                Wait, you said “mere existence”. That means that we agree that the democrats *DID* lose that many seats over the last 8 years, right?

                Actually using the changed data set and seeing how the numbers alter, or even explaining why he thinks that data set would be insufficient to describe the problem, has not occurred to him.

                I wasn’t given a changed data set.

                I was given a set of requirements for what a data set that you would accept would look like.

                It will now be forever in his head that I think Democrats only lose because of gerrymandering. I don’t know why. Perhaps he doesn’t think of me as a person, just a liberal-shaped object whose views he can change to fit his preconceived notions. Perhaps he’s a troll.

                No, it’s that I think that, when presented with a handful of measurable numbers for how badly things have changed over the last however many years, you will instead explain that things weren’t as bad as the numbers indicate, don’t indicate that mistakes were made, and don’t mean that there was a problem with the message or with the messenger.

                You’d rather talk about gerrymandering.

                He doesn’t want a discussion. He wants an audience to lecture to, to tell them how they’re wrong and how right he is.

                We’re nowhere *NEAR* how right I am.

                We’re still in “The first step of the 12 steps is to admit that you have a problem.”

                “I don’t have a drinking problem! You have a problem with people who drink! Besides, my circumstances are such that drinking is an appropriate response!”Report

              • Avatar Marchmaine says:

                Sure, she even had a plan, a $30B investment plan… it was written down and everything.

                But we’re not talking about the election anymore, this is about framing the next election… and its unlikely I’ll be invited to team Blue’s planning conference, so, yeah, I should bow out and let the 2020 internecine fights play out.

                The good news is that the 2020 election is in long-form essay format… so should play out differently than the last one.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                As far as I can tell, DJT’s operatives at Buzzfeed, the Golden Globes, and at CNN aren’t getting paid half as much as they’re worth. They seem to be sewing up 2020 already.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                Man, Trump’s team just put out this video and they nailed it:


                Seriously. he might not be kidding when he says that he hires the best people.Report

              • Avatar Jesse Ewiak says:

                Shorter @jaybird – Any liberals upset about the results of this election, especially women and minorities, especially if you’ve been successful in any way, should feel terrible for expressing that opinion as it will make it easier for Trump to win next time around. So, just sit down and don’t actually express your opinions, because it may upset a laid off blue collar white working class worker in Wisconsin, who as we all know, are the only people allowed to express any pain about their life.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                Snort. Yeah. Free speech is exactly what I’m criticizing here.

                The pendulum swings and, when it swings back, the democrats will win elections and win seats and win power.

                This is something that is going to follow as Clinton followed Bush, as Bush followed Clinton, as Obama followed Bush, and as Trump followed Obama.

                Back and forth, back and forth.

                I’m just saying that this looks a hell of a lot like what people voting against an establishment looks like rather than like what people voting *FOR* an establishment looks like.

                So doing nothing and refusing to change will, technically, work.

                I mean, if your goal is either regaining power or making Republicans no longer have power, your goal is achievable with no effort required. You just have to sit and wait.

                I’m saying that if those are your main goals, videos like this one aren’t helping you achieve it.

                If your goals are merely the joys that follow from primal scream therapy, well. Forgive me for getting in your way.

                May I suggest the Chewbacca?Report

              • Avatar KenB says:

                You might want to bone up on the “shorter X…” technique — you got the “reductive” and “uncharitable” bits down, but it’s actually also supposed to be, you know, short.Report

              • Avatar greginak says:

                Don’t worry those sinners will get theirs. How dare they criticize Fearless Leader. Like reporting bad things about him will ever be a good idea.Report

              • Avatar Kolohe says:

                Reporting bad things about him *in a bad way* is a bad idea, because it makes it harder for people to internalize that the leader is bad and take action to get a better leader.Report

              • Avatar J_A says:


                There wasn’t a problem with the messenger.
                There wasn’t a problem with the message.

                There was only a problem with the people who deliberately chose to not listen and then voted ignorantly.

                Oh, and gerrymandering.

                Finally, you got it. It took a while.

                Yes, voters were told the truth by one team, and lied to by the other, and, after hearing both lies and truths, they voted accordingly.

                And, yes, gerrymandering, the art of getting more seats with less votesReport

              • Avatar J_A says:


                I’m not sure I understand your comment

                Who got more votes? The Democrats? yes

                Who got more electoral votes, and seat? the GOP? yes

                That lying is a good way to get elected? We knew that at least since Athens. But is it the recommendation of the Honorable OT House that Dems also start lying to the electorate?

                I don’t know how to square the circle. I want Dems to be elected, but I feel that lying to be elected and then doing the opposite is not a stable strategy. Other countries have gone that route, and then they vote out the liars just to vote in more egregious liars. Rinse, repeat, collapse (*). The country will end the worst for it.

                (*) Venezuela is a great example. Less egregious: Turkey, Argentina, Brexit (just you wait),Report

              • Avatar Will Truman says:

                Republicans got more votes for the House.Report

              • Avatar Gaelen says:

                They also got more seats than their percent of votes would imply. In 2016, it was roughly twenty more seats.Report

              • Avatar Will Truman says:

                Yeah, Republicans do have a house advantage (due to gerrymandering, among other things). I just took issue with “more seats with less votes” and a common misperception that 2016 was like 2012.Report

              • Avatar Gaelen says:

                Fair, enough. I’m apparently in a pretty uncharitable mood todayReport

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                Well, if you reach that conclusion, then I guess the dems don’t need to change at all.

                Hey, did you see that picture of Donald Trump with a double chin? Pretty funny!Report

              • Avatar J_A says:


                Very good, I give up. I want the Dems to win, so I’m fine with them trying your alternative, and lying, too.

                So instead of having one party that lies, we will have two. I can’t see anything going wrong for the country about that.

                Or is there anything besides the lying to voters that Dems need to do?Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                Or is there anything besides the lying to voters that Dems need to do?

                From my perspective? They need to realize that they’ve got a problem on a local level and that their national successes have come at a cost of doing very poorly in about 2/3rds of the country.

                Now, granted, the 1/3rd of the country they do well in is the 1/3rd of the country that has more than 50% of the population… but, as that has played out so far, it means that they have control of the Executive and both state branches of the legislature in… 6 states. Short enough to list here: California, Oregon, Hawaii, Rhode Island, Delaware, and Connecticut.

                Check it out for yourself and make sure I ain’t lyin’.

                By comparison, Republicans have control of the executive, the house, and the senate of 25 states. Granted, these 25 states are the crappy states. I’m pretty sure that the population of these 25 states doesn’t even add up to the population of California, let alone the population of all six of the Democrat-Trifecta states.

                Now, granted, when I originally started researching this, I recalled that there were only 4 Democrat-Trifecta states and, so, already!, things aren’t as bad for the Dems as I thought they were.

                But it seems to me like a very strange dynamic where I’m arguing that the democrats have a problem and the problem is, like a 7… maybe an 8 and they need to change if they are going to fix this problem and the argument comes back “it’s not an 8! We don’t need to change! The problem is the voters! The problem is the Republicans! The problem is gerrymandering!”

                For what it’s worth, I might be willing to agree that the problems the democrats have are only a six or so… but the counter-arguments don’t come of the form “Democrats need to change in the following ways, they need to do X, Y, and Z and that’s what will help them in the next election” but “you’re a freaking troll if you think that the democrats problems are an 8!”

                Dude. The Democrats have a problem. Maybe not all of it can be addressed by changing, but an important non-zero amount of it can be and if they’re more interested in maintaining some internal narrative that Clinton did nothing wrong and that the American People didn’t reject them, the problems that can be solved won’t be solved and, get this, become *WORSE*.

                Six will become five and 25 will become 26 or 27.

                Heck, I even put together a small formula of how very many seats have been lost over the last 6 years (between the elections that took place in 2010, 2012, 2014, and 2016) and the 1000 seats that had been lost and put together a handy measurable number that, above this number, we’d be able to say that the Democrats’ plans and strategies could be said to be working and below which we’d have to acknowledge that, okay, the plans and strategies were not working and the arguments against were not that 10% was way too high to be a dead-cat bounce, I should use 5% or that if they lost 1000 seats over 4 elections that the only reasonable measure is 25% in 2018… it was that I didn’t take gerrymandering into account for those 1000 lost elected positions.

                The narratives all have the same thing in common:

                They seem to be the ego defending itself against charges that it has made a mistake and needs to change.

                This is not healthy.

                If your explanations for why you lost make you feel better, you are screwing yourself up.

                And the people who are telling you that you’re doing just fine and you don’t need to change are not your friends.Report

          • Avatar Kim says:

            Havne’t you figured out that the Democrats are lying?Report

            • Avatar J_A says:


              Havne’t you figured out that the Democrats are lying?

              Do they lie, as in “have they at any point said something that it was not completely true” ?

              Yes they have, plenty of times

              Do they lie as in ” their whole, complete, total strategy and approach to politics is lying left and right” ? No, they don’t lie.

              There is one party that lies about having plans for replacing health care that will be cheaper and better, that lie about where people are born, that lie about opening mines, that lie about predators in bathrooms, that lie about being so concerned with women’s health that they find every single abortion provider is a a threat to public sanitation, taht lie about never having said things that they are caught in camera saying, and I got tired of typing lies.

              And that party is not the Democrats

              [Actually, I’m trying to think of something in which the GOP is more honest than the Democrats, and I’m coming out with a blank. Honest bleg, there must be something, can someone please suggest a couple of examples (things that can be verified or at least are backed by a preponderance of evidence – being honest by saying that gays are really immoral does not count)]Report

              • Avatar Kim says:

                Trump says that American jobs will come back.
                They will. It’s inevitable.

                Free Trade is cooked.

                (And this is a large portion of the neoliberal democratic economic platform — the idea that the jobs aren’t ever coming back, so don’t tell me it’s not important).

                I wasn’t trying to say that the Democrats lie about everything.Report

              • Avatar J_A says:

                Industrial production is coming back already. It’s been for years. Industrial production is at historical highs, and will just go upwards.

                Free Trade is not cooked. But for many things it’s cheaper to manufacture in USA than to manufacture in China, when you add transportation cost

                The jobs no longer exist. They do not exist in China, they do not exist in Mexico, they won’t exist in America.

                They have been automated out.

                Any analysis that does not recognize that is just like ignoring gravity when building a houseReport

              • Avatar Morat20 says:

                As I saw someone once say: “It’s buggy whip makers and automobiles all over again. Except this time we’re the horses”.

                It’s not that the jobs have moved, or disappeared, or been replaced. The job is still there, being done. It just doesn’t require a person.

                We’ll replace three million truck driving jobs – day-in and day-out labor with automated trucks, and we’ll count ourselves lucky if a sector that once employed millions manages to employ tens of thousands.Report

  9. Avatar Jesse Ewiak says:

    Also, I’d like to push back on the whole “the Democrats are doomed downballot” thing.

    Yes, it’s been bad. It’s been real bad. It’s been historically bad. But, it’s also frankly, a long time coming. A lot of those state legislatures that Democrats lost in 2010 and 2012 were long-time Southern legislatures that were only kept because moderate to conservative Democrats could completely disconnect themselves from the national party – in the Internet age, that simply wasn’t possible.

    Also, I’m well aware it’s horrible and wrong to bring this up because they are the true Real Americans, but there’s a difference between putting BIll Clinton’s face up next to a Southern state legislator and ya’ know, Barack Obama.

    In addition, for a variety of reasons, midterm turnout sucks for the modern Democratic coalition and a lot of Governors are elected in midterms, so there plenty of blue states with Republican governors, but also have Democratic legislatures. It doesn’t help that we nominated some real turkeys in the big states recently (OH, FL, IL, etc.).

    For instance though, in Maryland, Illinois, and Massachusetts, there are Republican Governors. Which is bad, because any policy passed will be less liberal than it needs to be, but let’s look at some numbers.

    Illinois Legislature – 71 Democrats, 47 Republicans
    Massachusetts House of Representatives – 125 Democrats, 35 Republicans
    Massachusetts Senate – 34 Democrats, 6 Republicans
    Maryland State House – 90 Democrats, 50 Republicans
    Maryland State Senate – 33 Democrats, 14 Republicans

    I’d also point that in 2016, 4 legislatures went from Republican to Democrat, but only 3 went the other way. Weird that happened on the same day that Donald Trump killed the party forever.

    Again, I’m not saying things are hunky dory. There are some real issues, especially when it comes to midterm turnout and winning state legislative seats in swing and lean-blue states. But, sometimes, the way the numbers look at 1st blush look worse than they are, even if the real numbers are real bad.

    Also, just for example, here’s every President’s legislative numbers. Basically if you’re not Ronald Reagan, it doesn’t go great downballot.


    • Avatar Jaybird says:

      I see signs for hope:

      Yes, it’s been bad. It’s been real bad. It’s been historically bad.


      It doesn’t help that we nominated some real turkeys in the big states recently (OH, FL, IL, etc.).


      You know what? Getting into the weeds and arguing whether the problems the democrats face are an 8 or whether they are a 5 is not even an argument I care about having.

      Just coming out and saying “okay, we have a problem and we’ve made mistakes” tells me that, maybe, all is not lost.

      Good on you, Jesse.Report

      • Avatar Jesse Ewiak says:

        The basic issue, @jaybird, is that we’ve been hearing from you since Election Day is that Democrat’s shouldn’t be Democrats anymore. Middle or even upper middle class white women? Don’t talk about abortion, it’ll scare white dudes. Hispanics? Don’t talk about immigration, it’ll scare white dudes. Black people? Don’t talk about cop shootings, it’ll scare white dudes. LGBT people? Don’t talk about bathrooms, it’ll scare white dudes.

        Literally every Democrat I know understands the party has severe structural problems. But, you’re not talking about GOTV operations, targeting state legislature seats, candidate recruitment, PAC’s to shore up funding, reorganizing the DNC, etc. I would’ve all happily agreed that those things need to be shored up or heavily overhauled.

        You’re saying, “identity politics are over. Even mentioning them guarantees Trump’s reelection” when the truth is, if Hillary had shown up in Michigan or Wisconsin a few times, James Comey would’ve kept his mouth shut, there were a few more ads on economic policy, and there were no deplorable remarks, we’re all having a fun time talking about Hillary’s corporate tax deal with Paul Ryan.Report

        • Avatar Jaybird says:

          Don’t talk about abortion, it’ll scare white dudes. Hispanics? Don’t talk about immigration, it’ll scare white dudes. Black people? Don’t talk about cop shootings, it’ll scare white dudes. LGBT people? Don’t talk about bathrooms, it’ll scare white dudes.

          Um… you’re not talking to me at this point.

          You’re talking to someone else.

          I’m in team “Bernie would have won” and “Hillary was a horrible, horrible candidate”, not in team “The Democrats have policies that Real America doesn’t care for”.

          I think that the Hollywood Elite does a great job of alienating middle America, yes… but I don’t equate “Lena Dunham is not helping” with “Democrats should not be Democrats”.

          And neither should you.Report

          • Avatar Don Zeko says:

            How then might Democratic politicians that agree with your prescription get Hollywood folks and twitter eggs to stop alienating swing voters?Report

            • Avatar Jaybird says:

              We haven’t gotten to my prescription yet.

              I’m still in “maybe it’s worth exploring whether there is a problem?”

              At this point, the inability to say “Lena Dunham is not helping” is the fundamental problem.

              Way back before the election, I said that there are three things that you want to do with regards to voters:

              1. Get the people who, if they voted, would 100% vote for you to show up at the polls in the first place.

              2. Get the people who, if they voted, would 100% vote for you to be demoralized enough to forget to show up at the polls on election day.

              3. Get the people who are on the fence between voting for you and not voting for you to swing your way.

              Stuff that actively depresses the hell out of your own side, pisses your opponent’s voters and puts a fire under their asses, and turns off swing voters?

              Well, that’s a problem.

              Maybe it’s not a solvable problem.

              If it’s not, I suppose giving an impassioned monologue regarding the importance of living in a society where there is Freedom of Speech for everybody, even celebrities, is the best of a slate of bad options.Report

              • Avatar Don Zeko says:

                For something to be the problem that must be solved, it seems to me that that thing must be different from the times when the party was successful. Maybe Lena Dunham wasn’t alienating anyone in 2008, but George Clooney and the Dixie Chicks and will.I.am were. It’s like saying that the problem is that rich conservative Christians don’t vote for people that support gay rights and progressive taxation. It’s true but not helpful. Sure, dems would do better if they got more votes there, but it doesn’t really make sense to blame a particular election outcome on the basic contours of the political landscape.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                True enough. This particular catastrophic failure was overdetermined.

                There were oh-so-very many things that went wrong for one side that, technically, were avoidable in theory and so many things that failed to go wrong for the other side (as well as so many things that went right that, you’d think, wouldn’t have) that it’s exceptionally easy to look at any one given thing that went wrong and say “hey, it’s this”.

                Maybe we could look at “why didn’t we notice that so many things were going wrong? Why weren’t we able to tell that we needed to change course?”Report

              • This particular catastrophic failure was overdetermined.

                That word doesn’t describe outcomes that are close, and this one was very close. “Overdetermined” is like your high school team football losing to the Patriots: there are lots of factors, any one of which would be decisive, and they all favor Brady & company. The election was close. Yes, lots of things went wrong, but it required only one or two of them not to go wrong to arrive at a different outcome.Report

              • Avatar Don Zeko says:

                Also, the catastrophic aspect of it comes from the choices Republicans have made, not the margin of defeat.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                Yes, lots of things went wrong, but it required only one or two of them not to go wrong to arrive at a different outcome.

                Chief among which was the inability to tell that one or two of the lots of things were not, in fact, not going wrong.Report

              • Avatar Don Zeko says:

                Where exactly was the evidence that things were going wrong prior to the Comey letter?Report

              • Avatar Kim says:

                The hysteria about Trump grabbing pussies.
                That’s a classic “oh, shit, he’s getting too popular” move.
                They kept that in their backpocket,but trump was too incompetent at playing the heel.Report

              • Avatar Don Zeko says:

                So the GOP nominee on tape bragging about committing sexual assault was a sign that something was wrong with the Democrats?Report

              • Avatar Kim says:

                Yes. Pulling out the big guns as an October Surprise is a sign that Trump was getting too popular.

                That’s standard dossier crap you pull on a guy. Isn’t it a tad suspicious it got held that long? Happened when Trump was sliding up in the polls?

                You should have heard Trump apologizing to the Powers that Be for not being able to be enough of a heel.Report

              • Avatar Don Zeko says:

                Thanks for teaching me so much about how the world worjs, I guess. Also, “hysteria” is an absolutely inspired choice of words in this case.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                Is this one of those things where I’m going to link to something and then you’re going to say “that’s not proof!”?

                I’m still very tired from yesterday and I don’t think that I could handle that today.Report

          • Bernie would have won because a Jewish socialist from New York has no negatives? I’m dubious,Report

            • Avatar Kim says:

              The lifelong democrat from New York won on the Republican platform.
              “Communist” as a slur only works on Boomers and up. Millenials say, “wait, what’s socialism?” and when you tell them, they say, “I kinda like that. Why haven’t we done that already?”

              He had plenty of negatives. But polls said that even republicans liked him (“At least he’s honest.” was the moneyquote)Report

            • Avatar Jaybird says:

              My take on Bernie is that he would have won states that Clinton lost and won enough of them that it would have overcome the states that Clinton won that Bernie wouldn’t have (e.g., New Hampshire and perhaps Colorado).

              The argument isn’t that Bernie has no negatives.

              It’s that he had different negatives. Negatives that weren’t as bad as Clinton’s negatives.Report

              • Arguments for that:

                We know that Hillary lost and we don’t know that Bernie would have lost
                We know that someone who would have been unthinkable two years ago won, so to beat him we needed to find a Democrat (kind of) who would have been unthinkable two years ago.

                Anybody who isn’t the worst candidate in the would beat Trump. Thus Hillary is the worst. Since there can only be one worst, Bernie wasn’t it. QED.Report