America 2017 Is A Bad Marriage


Kristin Devine

Kristin is a geek, a libertarian, and a domestic goddess. She lives in a wildlife refuge in rural Washington state with too many children and way too many animals and works with women around the world as a fertility counselor. There's also a blog which most people would very much disapprove of

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623 Responses

  1. Avatar Road Scholar says:

    I blame the fall of the Soviet Union as an existential threat. We could have our differences but we could all agree that we didn’t care to be vaporized by a Soviet ICBM. There was a tangible external threat and that’s gone now. I believe that’s why some folks are so obsessed with terrorism now, as a substitute for that threat.

    So we turn on each other. Sad.Report

    • Avatar notme says:

      Sure and all the folks killed on 9/11 had nothing to do with it.Report

      • Avatar Doctor Jay says:

        It seems you find it painful that people like me, for instance, don’t share your level of concern over this. Unlike the unifying certainty we had over the threat of full-scale nuclear war with the Soviets.

        Is that right?Report

      • Avatar Road Scholar says:

        Oh, I remember 9/11 quite vividly. I happened to be home and watching CNN when it happened. I remember the — literal, physiological — shock that ensued. I was absolutely furious that my home had been violated. I wanted to fight, so much so that I actually looked into re-enlisting and was disappointed to discover I was too old, even with prior service. I wanted to fuckin nuke Mecca and Medina.

        But, you know… eventually I calmed down. It took a while but I did. And my rational side re-asserted control. And I learned more and I figured out that more dead bodies wasn’t the answer. It never is, it’s just more death.

        It just seems like some people are locked in a kind of PTSD. It’s not a healthy place.Report

    • Avatar Kolohe says:

      There was a significant period where we all agreed that dying in a nuclear holocaust was bad, but during the same period didn’t agree that African American kids deserved to go to the same schools as white kids.Report

    • Avatar Mo says:

      It actually started a bit before that. Basically you had 2.5 parties and 3 big issues, which didn’t align on partisan line. You had the New Deal lovers, this was basically the major dividing line between the parties. Then you had how aggressive to be on the USSR, where opinions differed within the parties. Then you had civil rights, which similarly had differences within parties, though this was the single issue for the half party. Now all the big issues are purely partisan issues. Despite the fact that there’s no reason why your thoughts on gay people, taxes or immigration are ideologically aligned, they are, so there’s no need to work across the aisle.Report

    • Avatar notme says:

      I’d also add that while folks knew that the soviets could nuke us, no one seriously believed that they would due to MAD. Unlike the current Islamic terrorists, that we all know both can and will kill us.Report

      • Avatar North says:

        Except, of course, that Islamic terrorists may want to kill all Americans but have absolutely no way to accomplish that end unlike the soviets who manifestly could.Report

        • Avatar notme says:

          It is true that the Islamic terrorists can’t kill us on the scale the soviets could. However, the Islamic terrorists have killed more Americans than the soviets ever did and did so inside our own country.Report

        • Avatar Pinky says:

          The Soviets could kill 100% of us at the cost of 100% of them. Islamic terrorists may find themselves able to kill 5% of us at the cost of a cell.Report

          • Avatar Mo says:

            You really think that if terrorists killed 15 million Americans we would just take out a cell and call it a day? Did you miss the entire decade following 2001? Also, it’s quite nearly impossible for a terrorist cell to kill 15 million Americans. Even if they set off a nuke, it would be at the ground level and would significantly reduce the destructive impact. You need delivery by missile to get a large, destructive hit.Report

            • Avatar Brent F says:

              Even a properly delivered nuke over the densest spots in America probably top out below 2 million.

              An amazingly and fantastically successful act of nuclear terrorism probably maxes out somewhere in the 5 figures range. Basically an order of magnititude bigger than 9/11, but not two orders of magnitude.Report

          • Avatar North says:

            OBL couldn’t, in his wildest gooiest Allah addled wet dreams, even think about killing a round % number of Americans. Currently terrorists can’t even get up to slipping-and-falling-in-the-bathtub numbers of deaths. We don’t have a war on lightning strikes.Report

            • Avatar notme says:

              OBL couldn’t, in his wildest gooiest Allah addled wet dreams, even think about killing a round % number of Americans

              So you know what his wet dreams were?Report

            • Avatar Burt Likko says:

              If we’re going to talk about OBL and what he dreamed of, well, he dreamed of a great unification of the Islamic world, polarized against the common enemy of the big, bad United States. He may or may not have envisioned himself as Caliph of this newly-reconstituted politically unified Islam, as he could not claim direct descent from the Prophet himself. But he certainly envisioned himself as the leader and founder of a new super-state. And he needed the United States to be the foil against which he could rally the faithful.

              Knowing this, President Bush refused to play the opposite number in the dance. He was careful to respond to 9/11 by announcing, again and again, that Islam was not the enemy and that he sought the counsel, alliance, and friendship of Muslims worldwide in our fight against terrorists, periodically making such announcements at mosques with prominent Muslim clerics at his side.

              (President Obama did these things too, but apparently that was somehow different because, well, you know.)

              Which is why I find President Trump’s rhetoric vis-a-vis Daesh, who has a leader that does credibly claim descent from the Prophet and has actually proclaimed himself Caliph, so reckless and ill-advised.Report

        • Avatar notme says:

          I would also add that terrorists have been researching weapons of mass destruction and trying to get their hands on them. Just b/c they have been limited to airliners in the past doesn’t mean they won’t find better means in the future.Report

          • Avatar North says:

            Yeah and the Soviets were going to pollute our precious bodily essences through water fluoridation. Frankly the pants wetting hysteria of the right over the mass destructive capacity of a passel of Koran fondling goat herders from the Middle east never ceases to amuse me. So far since 9/11 the Islamics haven’t even been able to match our home grown nutcases numbers. Goes to show; Americans are better at everything, even terrorism.Report

            • Avatar notme says:

              So far since 9/11 the Islamics haven’t even been able to match our home grown nutcases numbers.

              On what basis do you make this statement? The gov’t doesn’t publicize every time they stop an attempted Islamic terrorist. Maybe if they did the left might get a clue.Report

              • Avatar Stillwater says:

                The gov’t doesn’t publicize every time they stop an attempted Islamic terrorist. Maybe if they did the left might get a clue.

                Good point. Well, almost a good point. The government must publicize those numbers but only in media outlets the left doesn’t read or watch. Otherwise folks on the right wouldn’t have a clue either. But they clearly do.


              • Avatar Kazzy says:

                So the group we can stop is a bigger threat than the one we can’t?Report

              • Avatar North says:

                Simple math? If the Islamic Terrorists make an attempt to kill people and get busted by the Feds or whomever that’s a failure. They haven’t killed anyone. So far Islamic Terrorists have killed enormously fewer people than home grown non-Islamic Terrorists have killed. Hell, even if I spot you a base and grant the home grown fruitcakes who posted credit to Islamic inspiration before going on their spasm the Islamics still fall short.Report

      • Avatar Kim says:

        Trump is getting a bit nuts, no?Report

      • Avatar Mo says:

        When you consider how close to the trigger actually getting pulled multiple times, that statement is historical revisionism.Report

        • Avatar notme says:

          Are you talking about on purpose or by accident? Even at the height of the liberal fear mongering about the threat of nuclear war in the 80’s, I never believed the soviets would nuke us on purpose.Report

          • Avatar Kazzy says:

            How do we determine the difference between fear mongerers and rational adults rightfully screaming about the impending Islamopocalypse?Report

          • Avatar Mo says:

            So why did we mobilize so hard over the Cuban missiles? Why risk war over nukes in Cuba when we knew they would never fire them at us?Report

            • Avatar notme says:

              Personally I think a lot of it had to do with direct soviet presence in cuba, not necessarily the missiles themselves. Yes they would reduce the time we had to react to a launch so they may have been more destabilizing, however we had missiles in Turkey on their doorstep as well. You should Kennedy for the real answer.Report

              • Avatar Troublesome Frog says:

                This sounds about right. Given that submarine launched ballistic missiles were already a thing at the time, the idea that the presence of missiles in Cuba were a major practical escalation as opposed to a domestic PR problem and an indicator of increased Soviet influence in the region is pretty hard to swallow.Report

          • Avatar Mo says:

            Wait, liberal fearmongering? Both sides used nuclear war as a fearmongering tactic.They just used it for different policy goals. Doves for mutual disarmament, hawks to build more weapons and SDI.Report

          • Avatar Troublesome Frog says:

            Are you talking about on purpose or by accident? Even at the height of the liberal fear mongering about the threat of nuclear war in the 80’s, I never believed the soviets would nuke us on purpose.

            Why would the difference between “on purpose” or “by accident” matter once the missiles are in the air? “You’re just fear-mongering. If we all die, it will be an accident. Chill.”

            If I had to guess, I’d guess that since we went from bombers to missiles, the probability of the end of the world happening by accident has always been a lot higher than it happening on purpose. It takes a really weird leader with bad reasoning skills to decide to start a full scale US/Russia nuclear exchange. All it takes are some relatively minor mistakes by well-intentioned people to make it happen by accident.Report

    • Avatar LeeEsq says:

      This seems like a very ahistorical take on Cold War domestic politics. During the Cold War, you had Americans that thought that building a welfare state and pushing for civil rights for minorities was a big important part in battling communists and Americans who thought that we needed to totally get rid of the New Deal because it was Communist and that the entire Civil Rights movement was also an attempt of the Communists to take over the United States. Americans might have been generally united against the Soviet Union and Communism but we were really divided on what that entailed when it comes to domestic and foreign politics.Report

      • Avatar Road Scholar says:

        I’m not saying that there weren’t serious political differences. I’m talking about the current hyper-polarization in Congress and, perhaps, the country as a whole. It wasn’t that long ago that there was considerable ideological overlap between the parties that simply doesn’t exist now. Just going back to the seventies or so, based on voting patterns, there was as much as a 200 seat overlap between the most liberal Republican and the most conservative Democratic House member.Report

  2. Avatar James Franks says:

    The Democrats tried that with the ACA, pretty much gave up and said fine we will use your plan, didn’t work.Report

  3. Avatar Damon says:

    Even though I knew where this post was going, I’m going to have to take issue with the whole metaphor. Why? Because I can’t be the only person in America who was married and had a completely different experience that what you described. Let’s break it down:

    “Even under ideal circumstances, a significant part of marriage involves being stuck with someone who you like, academically, on paper, and who claims they like you, too, but for reasons that seem almost outside of your control, you can’t get along with.” Bullshit. My ex and I got along for almost 25 years as a couple (10 dating, 15 married). We got along famously. Hell, that’s one reason I married her.

    “The unremarkable events of day to day life are imbued with a prickly significance. Even the happy times are negatively charged. It’s just there, this tension, all the time, ingrained behavior patterns and deeper meanings and a long and tangled mutual history that colors everything ugly. When things are good, you can mostly ignore it, but if the relationship starts to disintegrate, the embers flare into a conflagration and you find yourself shrieking at each other over an imagined slight that occurred in 1993.” Err, no. Our “unremarkable days” were filled with inside jokes and television show references to express ourselves to each other in a way that others wouldn’t understand. We were a team, against the world. Each of us made the other a better person.

    Now we can move on to the rest…

    “We have to stop seeing each other as enemies and start thinking as teammates, as partners. We have systemic problems, serious problems, that we must work together to fix. The first step is stopping the name calling and acknowledging that both Americas are acting in good faith.” I didn’t start the name calling and bad faith actions. You want my help, the other side has to acknowledge their errors and sincerely apologize, because frankly, I’ve lost all trust in that side. Do you think I’ll just agree to this little truce when I cannot trust? I’ve been lied to my face for years.

    “Neither side is evil or stupid. We are all well-intentioned people who love our country and want the best for it. We love each other and we want to be together, but we can’t do that until we stop tearing each other apart.” Oh, I’ll agree that the other side is well intentioned, but that’s irrelevant. Well intentioned actions damage me. The other side made it harder and harder for me to live my life. The other side constantly interferes where it is not wanted. The other side inserts their views and opinions where they are not needed nor wanted, all for “the greater good”, which is achieved, not by bringing everyone up, but by eroding me down. And where there is push back, they claim to be the victim, call people names, and insult them.

    “By trying to destroy the other, we are destroying ourselves.” Oh yes, quite true. But why do I have the suspicion that the “forward plan” will be where I’m expected to compromise again, but the other side won’t want to do the same?

    “We are eating ourselves alive and no one can disengage from the conflict long enough to take a step back and see it.” Some of us did and we saw it. Some decided to take action, some decided to keep our heads down, some decided “whatever”.

    “So many of our problems are not my fault or your fault but OUR faults, both of us”. Err no. I accept ZERO fault. How can I accept blame when I’ve done NOTHING to create it and NOTHING to continue it?
    Sorry, that fault lies with the likes of the other side.

    To do so, we have to accept that we’re fighting a battle that no one can win. We’re walking down a road of mutually assured destruction unless we stand down and sheathe our swords.” The first act of a cease fire is that the side attacking sheathes it sword first. I’m watching and waiting for you to do that. But I’m sure as hell not holding my breath.Report

    • Avatar Pinky says:

      Agreed. The analogy is weak because the article is describing a lousy relationship as if it’s normal.Report

    • A metaphor is only good as far as it goes. You can always find plenty of examples that don’t fit, but there’s a larger point here. To try and stretch a metaphor to include every possible variation of human behavior under the sun would yield a terrible article. I hope any shortcomings can be chalked up to editorial decisions on my part to produce something readable and thought provoking even if it’s not applicable in every case.

      I don’t know your politics, don’t have a clue, but what I do know is that what we’re doing isn’t working. It’s not working! If the only solution on the table is contingent upon “You guys must unconditionally apologize and admit you were totally wrong or else I’m going to hold my breath till I turn blue and pass out from lack of oxygen” then you end up the one on the floor. Both sides seem pretty darn convinced that the other side is the one who started it, they’re the one attacking. Somebody has to blink first or we’re just going to rush right at each other. You don’t have to trust them, and in fact you can’t really, because trust is built over time and is not the result of one probably-insincere apology.

      The one thing I’ve ever heard Dr. Phil say that I thought was kind of smart, was “Do you want to be right, or do you want to be happy?” It doesn’t MATTER if you are right or they are right or some other guy is right, if an insistence upon being right is destroying your relationship or your country. If you want to save it, that has to change. It’s at least in part allowing other people the grace to be wrong. We cannot force anyone to agree with us, that’s not how marriage works or how politics work. So we can choose to live chaotic, angry lives trying to force agreement when it’s simply impossible or bullying people into offering up insincere apologies but what does that accomplish, really? Does it get anyone what they really want – a happy marriage or a peaceful country?

      Doesn’t it just make the other siders stick to their positions even more strongly? Because that’s what I think. The more one party insists “we are totally correct and this is all your fault and I am utterly without blame” the other party digs in and starts saying “nu-uh” to everything. We have to find the things we DO agree on and build from there even though sometimes it feels like a knife to the gut and you’d really rather be pointing out all that sh– they did that caused the problem in the first place.Report

      • Avatar Damon says:

        Yeah, I realize it was a metaphor, but I don’t think it’s a good one. That being said, my politics generally disagree with both left and right, so frankly, I’m the aggrieved party regardless. So, yes, “the other side” started it…regardless of whether we’re talking left or right. Any apology must be perceived as sincere.

        I’d rather be right and happy. I AM right and I AM happy. Because in the grand scheme, politics, of any kind, doesn’t define my life, unlike so many who can’t possibly associate with someone who thinks differently than themselves. As someone who thinks differently than the vast majority of people on either side, I’ve become used to it. Both sides policies come from fundamentally the same place, so the “sides” are really more like clone varients than two separate people.

        I’m the “brother in law” in your metaphor. Occasionally taking the side of one party or the other, in the on going argument. And I’ve opted for a “third way”. At some point, the marital couple will come to blows and one party will be defeated. The victor will be wounded and weak. That’s the time to finish them off. And if the warring parties somehow end up burning the house down around them, with or without me inside it, well, that’s a gamble worth taking.Report

        • Avatar Pinky says:

          Actually, in that analogy, you’re an Oedipal child. 🙂Report

        • I’m with you in the 3rd way, but I do want to express concern with the idea that we can just let em all duke it out and see what happens at the end of the day. Human history has been one long chain of terrible things happening to good people, innocents getting constantly crushed under the wheels of political machines that they had no control over.

          This brief shining moment in modern times where a lot of us have pretty awesome and free lives (even if freedom is not always perfectly enacted in the way we would personally prefer it to be) is not the rule, it’s the exception. It’s much, much more likely that any real shakeup will end up with many of us little people crushed under wheels of theocracy or progressivism or some other -acracy or -ism as the course of human events returns to its natural, pretty sh– channel that it normally flows in.

          So, I want to make peace before that happens. Peace means we can maintain what part of the republic we have now and work through peaceful, political channels to gradually get more of what we want. Peace means we can still affect change, only maybe more slowly than we would like, and it may mean having to compromise and eat some dirt sometimes. That’s a gamble too, no doubt about it. May not pay off, but I do think that it may be a safer bet than having a civil war and seeing what shakes out when the dust settles.Report

          • Avatar Damon says:

            That ain’t gonna happen. The experiment that is “democracy” is on it’s way to failure and I don’t think there’s a fix. Sure, we can slow the speed of the car racing to the cliff, but it will go over the cliff, baring something extraordinary. I simply will not be a part of it. And as for all those innocents? Well, they aren’t all that innocent.Report

            • Avatar Stillwater says:

              The experiment that is “democracy” is on it’s way to failure and I don’t think there’s a fix.

              Too much democracy creates problems. But so does too little (hence, democracies!).Report

            • Avatar Pinky says:

              No political entity can last forever. Democracy is an unstable equilibrium, like one of those old plate-spinning acts. But it’s so much better than the alternative that any effort to keep the plates spinning is worthwhile.Report

            • The innocents are you and me, Damon. We’re the innocents. Unless you’re independently wealthy and live on your own private island that has an invisibility cloak, the odds are very good that any conflagration will sweep us right up into it in one way or the other. Just like how a serf working the land and minding his/her beeswax could be conscripted into the tsar’s army or starve to death because war destroyed farmland or used up so many resources that there is nothing left to feed people.Report

              • Avatar Damon says:

                Yes we are. My solace is that I’ll hopefully see the quislings burn along side me. I hope to see the realization on their faces that their betrayal comes with no reward and that they are expendable. It’s a small hope. But I’ll enjoy the trip to hell a bit more if I get to see it.

                I’m going to live my life and do my thing…we’ll see what happens. “Give me that and let the galaxy burn. I do not care anymore.”Report

  4. Avatar Saul Degraw says:

    I think James Francis has a point even though the ACA is not quite the Heritage Foundation plan. I also think Road Scholar is not right either. There was plenty of violence and hate aganist civil rights protestors in the 1960s, look at photos of sit in demonstrations, people had the entire restaurant dumped on them.

    I get that culture war is tiring. It tires me too. But these are real issues for a lot of people and you have one side that is fighting for a life of equality, decency, and dignity and another side that thinks granting such would invite the wrath of God or they are just shits.

    Federalism will never be a good fit for the left. I don’t see why minorities in California or Massachusetts should have more rights than minorities in Alabama or Mississippi. The right has never been sincerely federalist either.

    Partisanship runs high and always has.Report

    • Avatar Kim says:

      Yeah, but you’ve got the sides wrong.
      Global Warming and Open Borders are two positions that one can’t hold simultaneously with any degree of intellectual rigor.Report

      • Avatar Murali says:

        Why not?
        One is a factual claim (global warming is happening) the other is a normative requirement (we should open borders) that seems to have nothing to do with the factual claim.Report

        • Avatar Kim says:

          In 20 years, America won’t be able to feed its current population. Right now, with open borders, we’d have 1 billion people immigrating to America (this was not the case 20 years ago. Things are getting bad pretty much worldwide).

          That’s four times our current population.

          We can do a lot more to save people if we keep them in third world countries.Report

  5. Avatar Oscar Gordan says:

    It doesn’t help that we have a political\talking head class that gains immediate benefit from keeping things tense. It’s like a friend or family member who enjoys creating strife.Report

    • Avatar j r says:

      This is it for me. Incentives matter and right now the incentives for the political class is to maximize conflict for the benefit of their respective audiences. It’s worse in the media.

      In a marriage, there is some incentive to be seen by the outside world in a certain way, but at the end of the day it’s just the two of you getting in that bed at night.Report

      • Avatar Kazzy says:

        We’ve had several elections where increasingly bad behavior is being rewarded. We should not be surprised that behavior is getting worse.Report

        • Avatar j r says:

          I’m not surprised at all. In fact, I’d go so far as to say that electoral politics is, by its very nature, bad behavior. The difference is that we used to expect politicians to be quick about it, stick withing the agreed upon limits, and have the common decency to feel bad about it when it was all over.Report

    • Yes exactly Oscar – it’s like there are a lot of Iagos out there who are directly benefitting from causing trouble. A lot of marriages have that too – friends or mothers in law (stereotype!) who just seem to love stirring the pot.Report

    • Avatar Pinky says:

      They gain benefit from increasing tensions because we grant it to them. The blame falls on us. If you’ve clicked on anyone “destroying” anyone, you’ve contributed to the problem. On a related note (I probably should have saved this for a different minithread, but it really does tie in), I don’t think that both sides are acting in such good faith. In the spirit of the article, I won’t allocate blame, but at this point, there’s plenty to go around. It takes a generation to go from “I don’t trust them because they’re out to get me” to “I’m out to get them”. I think a sizable percentage of both sides is now out to get the other side.Report

      • Avatar Oscar Gordon says:

        Sure, and the bully wouldn’t pick on you if you didn’t give him/her the reaction they crave.

        The bully is still wrong for being a bully.Report

      • Pinky, I am inclined to agree (neither side is acting in good faith) but I do feel that there is a big psychic benefit in treating everyone involved in a conflict as if their motives are pure, and then hopefully they rise to the occasion. But yeah there is plenty of blame to go around.Report

        • Avatar Pinky says:

          My solution is to engage with their position as good or bad, rather than with their motives as good or bad.Report

        • I like that comment @kristin-devine . I’d add to it and say it’s helpful for someone to ask themselves if they are indeed acting in as good of faith as they think they are. Sometimes a little honest introspection can yield surprising answers.Report

          • I completely agree. Introspection is a lot less “sexy” than shooting first and asking questions later but it’s the only way to really get through a personality conflict (and I’d say most political conflicts are at least somewhat personality-driven). “am I really being fair here? are my positions right? do they have a valid point? do we have any common ground at all?”

            Any argument where one person is a snowflake and the other is a racist and unconditional surrender of one party is the only acceptable outcome…no one would ever bend in that situation. Even if one side lost, it would be a resentful defeat and the problem would just keep simmering to flare up again later.Report

  6. Avatar Doctor Jay says:

    I think the fact that politicians are mostly incentivized to activate their bases is a factor. I think that media gets more views and clicks from controversy is a factor. And I think that we communicate more in text is also a factor, because we no longer hear people’s voices. I just read this piece about this effect.Report

    • Avatar Saul Degraw says:

      I am not sure I fully agree but see what you are saying. There is a lot of unnecessary anger and getting really upset at people you will never meet in real life.

      On the other hand, why not take someone’s hyperbole at face value. What is to gain from listening to someone who calls transgender rights a form of totalitarianism?

      I get the desire to think all political debate can be handed like a very polite tea party but I think it is wrong. Not everyone (including myself) is malleable and some people really do have noxious views and ideas and are authoritarian bullies.Report

  7. Avatar Joe Sal says:

    Good writing Kristin.

    The worthy part of the fight should be to the death. Left anti-authoritarians should not be ruled by right authoritarians. Right anti-authoritarians should not be ruled by anyone. That is a fight of freedom, of which surrender should never come. Despotism is in constant need of a fatal wound, yet a throne is cultivated repeatedly.

    I have for a time tried to figure out where the tension exists, I look to where we perceive freedom comes from. Some of us see freedom as primary, and order flows from that, others see order as primary and freedom flows from order. That conflict can only be resolved by subtracting power, but people who demand the order, by default, demand the power. There is no solution to that aggression. Since we are born this way all that remains is endless conflict.Report

    • Thanks, Joe. I have wondered many times if this may be just part and parcel of the human condition. Maybe we were just so lucky to live at a point in time where things were a little better and now the pendulum will swing back. I hope not, but I don’t feel very optimistic right now.Report

      • Avatar Kim says:

        In 23 years, every single worry you’ve got right now will be something you will laugh about.
        I believe in Global Warming, and therefore, I believe we’ve got a monumental crisis on the way that we’re not even trying to prevent.

        Everyone who does public policy knows better, they just don’t have the will to make Joe Shmuck Believe.Report

        • Hopefully Calvin Coolidge is right and the 10 troubles rolling our way, 9 will head off into the ditch before they get to us.Report

          • Avatar Kim says:

            Well, we managed to not lose the earth the LAST Presidency, so I guess there is hope that 8 more troubles will head off into the ditch (Okay, 7 if you count Hillary).

            Even so, if we don’t manage to head off Global Warming, it ain’t gonna matter all that much if we haven’t broken the entire world — it’ll be almost as bad.Report

            • Avatar Joe Sal says:

              So how do the Smart People propose to enforce the world population to go carbon neutral? I keep thinking that’s going to be a neat trick.Report

              • Avatar Kim says:

                The Powers that Be just want to kill some people (and some of those idiots have some GRAND ideas about eugenics which will lead to preferential treatment for psychopaths… Not a good situation, no).

                The Smart People? They’ve given up on “making sure there’s no problems”, and are trying to see if they can save Civilization in General.

                Because the way we’re going? We’ll have over a billion refugees, with nuclear weapons backing them. We will lose Bangladesh (and that wall’s already built, so fuck all the Bangladeshi good and hard, eh?), we will lose Miami, and we’re going to lose Israel (oh, yeah, MORE nuclear weapons in the hands of people backed against a wall. Never fight a cornered rat applies here).

                The Smart People are letting Donald Trump play the villain (with Hillary and Obama’s invaluable assistance), and maybe if we can keep most people out of America, maybe just maybe we’ll be able to feed the people already here.Report

              • Avatar Joe Sal says:

                That’s pretty well defined, no arguments there.Report

  8. Avatar Reformed Republican says:

    Damon: But why do I have the suspicion that the “forward plan” will be where I’m expected to compromise again, but the other side won’t want to do the same?

    The problem with compromise, when it comes to freedoms, is that is never truly a compromise. Some people believe that all speech should be free, with no exceptions. The other side believes speech should have restrictions A, B, C, and D. The people that support free speech say “No!” The people that support restrictions say “Fine, we will settle for restrictions A and B.” On the surface, it looks like a compromise, but it is not. Speech is no longer free, and the base line is now removed. Later, those who support restrictions say “We want restrictions C and D,” and the compromise is to settle for C. One side gained almost everything they want, and the other side only lost.Report

    • Some things, of course, are worth fighting for. No compromise.

      What I do not like, is this trend where “they” (the powers that be) seem perfectly willing to compromise on freedom, but go to the mat for things that are horrible or pointless. I wish they’d show 1/1000 of the determination they have for acquiring pork projects for their districts, fighting for free speech.Report

    • Avatar Oscar Gordon says:

      Funny, when I make that argument about gun rights, people tell me I’m being silly…Report

    • Avatar J_A says:


      The problem with compromise, when it comes to freedoms, is that is never truly a compromise.

      Once you describe everything as a matter of “freedom” or “right”, and nothing is ever a “duty as a citizen”, then every compromise is indeed surrender.

      For example, is SSM the freedom of gays to marry their loved ones, or is it the withdrawal from “orthodox” people of the freedom to fully embrace a life of morality?

      Every other person is an impingement on one or other of my freedoms, as Asimov taught us in The Naked Sun. Unless we want to end in a planet with only 20,000 fully “free” humans, we need to incorporate the “Others” in our mental maps, and allocate space for their freedoms and rights, too. Any discussion that goes only Me, Mine, and never says You, Yours (*) is not worth having because it won’t produce anything.

      (*) Including “You are a finishing moron and Your proposals are fishing bovine digestive byproducts” regretfully does not countReport

      • Avatar Joe Sal says:

        When your citizens are individually sovereign, there is no duty. Of course you can try to make the case that individual consent isn’t a real thing, but subjective value will eventually eat that lunch.Report

        • Avatar J_A says:


          When your citizens are individually sovereign, there is no duty

          There is the duty to respect the individual sovereignty of others. (Without going on the tangent of “government should not be involved in marriage”) should Kim Davies have the freedom to deny marriage licenses to people that, in her individual sovereign opinion, should not get married at all? Does this impinge on the individual sovereignty of the couples to marry whom they chose?

          If your answer is that “marriage is a social construct” (which it is) and we should abandon all social constructs, you are already in the path towards The Naked Sun’s Solaria (*). The only way to have unlimited individual freedom is to remove any contact with others, and to have a private army (of robots in this case) to enforce that no one is able to use force to make YOU do anything.

          Because we are not 20,000 humans splitting up a planet, its impossible to live without continuos social interaction, and mechanisms to enforce the agreed upon interaction mechanisms. That means rights and duties, and restrictions on my sovereign freedom.

          (*) Why so many places in fiction are called Solaria? There are other names for the SunReport

          • Avatar Joe Sal says:

            “There is the duty to respect the individual sovereignty of others.”

            What does that look like, a individual sovereign respecting the individual sovereignty of another? Doesn’t that involve negotiating what rule of law should look like between those two sovereigns?

            This is where self-governing lives, people negotiating disparities in individual constructs. You can try to form a government and try it top down, you want to know what that looks like? Man, if you want Hobbes you get Hobbes, good and hard.Report

            • Avatar J_A says:

              This is where self-governing lives, people negotiating disparities in individual constructs.

              Two things:

              I would have to individually negotiate every single aspect of my life with a myriad of sovereigns. Stepping out of my house requires me to identify the person who owns the street in front of it and negotiate a toll with her, and then repeat with the owner of the next street, and so on, until I get to my work. And if I want to go visit new a friend, I need to set up negotiations with the owners of the streets between me and him. It’s a great improvement over paying taxes and having the city build and maintain the streets.

              Enforcement. After several weeks my use and toll agreement with the owner of the street in front of my house is signed, but now he is not cleaning the street up to the terms of our contract. Who should I call to enforce him fulfilling his duties? A band of mercenaries? After all, is not as if there is a top down sociatal enforcement of contracts mechanism, that would be Hobbesian and dystopic.

              @joe-sal , in your dreams for a world of freely negotiated individual constructs you are ignoring that most interactions you are having with other humans are interactions that happen in the background (like building and repairing all the streets between your home and your work place). To remove the non-negotiated background interactions, you have to remove yourself physically from everybody else. That was the point of Solaria: a planet cannot have more than 20,000 people before I impinge the sovereignty of my closest neighbour (for instance, by polluting the air donwind with the smoke from the campfire I built to cook the rabbit I captured; do I have my neighbour’s consent to add smoke to HIS air?)

              Show me how you plan to specifically address driving from home to work without relying on social constructs and Hobbesian schemes, and we can discuss.Report

              • Avatar Joe Sal says:

                “I would have to individually negotiate every single aspect of my life with a myriad of sovereigns.”

                In ways, you do this anyway, where you bump into other people. Now some social norms have probably been produced to make this easy, but if those social norms disappeared overnight, you would find yourself re-negotiating.

                Same thing if you travel to a different country or culture, you find yourself negotiating the terrain of other peoples constructs. This is just the way it is and has been since before the noelithic age.

                I can’t figure out why this sounds so new and novel, or even a foreign concept. It’s like step#1 in getting along, and step#1 in self governing. Have people got to a point of dissolution they can’t grasp the concept?

                “To remove the non-negotiated background interactions, you have to remove yourself physically from everybody else.”

                I don’t understand this at all. In capitalist economies where capital formation occurs at the individual means of production, people are connected directly through interaction. Now this gets slowly pushed into social constructs when people don’t want or know how to produce infrastructure through individual means, but this isn’t unworkable through individual constructs.

                It just shows how disconnected the average person is from the infrastructure they rely on. Cascade failure of social constructs often forces people to directly participate to even survive.

                Negative externalities? Again, is it a problem? Is it a solveable problem? What are the available solutions?

                If your not speaking with people about the externality in relation to their individual constructs, then what are you doing?Report

              • Avatar J_A says:

                I notice you remain in high level generalities about societies, and foreign cultures, and haven’t yet explained to me how are you going to manage the practical aspect of walking into a street that you have to pay the owner to walk on.

                I want to know how your world works on the nitty gritty practical level of getting groceries home before we settle the grand metaphysical questionsReport

              • Avatar Joe Sal says:

                Fine lets go nitty gritty.
                Either the road is built by a private individual, and a fee is charged for usage of the road until the road is payed for, or the owner trades value of people adding value to the road by investing materials or labor to compensate for fees. when the cost of the road is payed for, the fees are no longer charged, until maintenance is required, then the fees start again until the maintenance is complete.

                There are plenty of miles of roads in private gated communities that no government had a hand in building, except maybe creating codes.Report

              • Avatar J_A says:


                Either the road is built by a private individual, and a fee is charged for usage of the road until the road is payed for

                And how do we pay for it? Do we sign a contract with him and direct debit a credit card? What about the next block? And the next? How many private streets between your house and your work place? Can you only drive or walk on those streets you have already signed use agreements with? How does it get controlled, is there a barrier that needs to open every time you turn a corner? Otherwise Enpleada would drive my street without paying me. It gets complicated when I drive through hundreds of different blocks on a given week.

                …when the cost of the road is payed for, the fees are no longer charged, …

                Why not? It’s my bloody street. I charge for it for ever, I’m a sovereign, you see. And if I don’t like you, find yourself another way to walk out of your house, pal.

                You cannot refer to laws of general applicability -like “after the road is paid and until maintenance is required”- about how the system is supposed to work because systems are collective constructs. Unless every single individual agrees to the “system”, there is no system. Every sovereign freely does what he wants to. That’s what freedom means.

                There are plenty of miles of roads in gated communities that no government had a hand in building, except maybe creating codes.

                And then those streets are transferred to the city/county (unless it’s a coop gated community). My family built an industrial park in land we owned, and that’s how the rule works. We had to transfer tittle of the streets to the city, who then took care of the upkeep.Report

              • Avatar Joe Sal says:

                Look, I don’t have time to unpack the complete workability of base capital systems, and the fact your pushing me in a corner to try and explain how it works is precious.

                What do you want, you want to hear me say base capital systems are unworkable? The only damn solution is ever increasing public property. Man whatever makes you happy, and sleep good at night.

                I know how private roads are made into public roads, that’s crossed my desk more than a dozen times last year. Guess what, sometimes the public entities don’t want those damn roads because it means more maintenance costs.

                Maybe you can explain to me how the socialist system is more workable, i need a really good chuckle about now.Report

              • Avatar Morat20 says:

                It’s hard when they push you out of the ivory tower and demand you make it work in the real world, ain’t it?Report

              • Avatar Joe Sal says:

                You know what Morat, if you spent the last fourty years watching boom bust towns chew there leg off in bust time and try to sew it back on in boom times I might think you would have something more useful to say than ivory tower bullshit.Report

              • Avatar Joe Sal says:

                Ah to hell with it, let’s go spoon feeding. Is a roadway a product or service?Report

              • Avatar Stillwater says:

                “Phil 5301: The metaphysics of political economy”


              • Avatar Joe Sal says:

                “Phil 5302: We like bright shiny things but don’t want to build or pay for them”Report

              • Avatar Stillwater says:

                “Phil 5414: The Illegitimacy of the State IV: Why returning to the State of Nature is Morally Optimal”Report

              • Avatar Joe Sal says:

                “Phil 5415: How to throw sticks and stones after the nuclear war over who’s social constructs are the bestest”Report

              • Avatar Stillwater says:

                “Soc 2313: Deconstructing the Semantics of Sticks and Stones: A Derridian Reduction of Words to Physical Acts of Violence”

                Add: Oh hell, I blew it on that one. No way in hell that topic could be appreciated by unindoctrinated sophomores…

                Add2: On second thought, thinking about the conceptual scheme employed, I think it’s actually just about right.Report

              • Avatar Joe Sal says:

                “Soc 2314: no longer in inventory or offered due to the fire of 2017”Report

              • Avatar Stillwater says:

                “Crim Just 3311*: Dumpster Fires and Riots: Preserving Property Rights from attack by The Left”

                *Cross listed as “Phil 3311: The Morality of Targeted Dumpster Fires”; and

                “Poli Sc 3311: Dumpster Fires as a Threat to the Social Order”Report

              • Avatar Joe Sal says:

                Uncle, dammit, uncle already!Report

              • Avatar Morat20 says:

                Which has jack-all to do with your fun social theories, but then anytime anyone asks “How would this work in the real world” you start changing the subject hard.

                And sure, I know nothing of boom/bust towns. I don’t live in the Houston area, in the heart of oil refining for the nation. They don’t live or die by oil prices or anything.Report

              • Avatar Joe Sal says:

                I know you live in Houston, not that it appears to have mattered.Report

              • Avatar J_A says:

                Who said I’m a socialist? (Besides you). I’m just a person that has had to work the details of large organizations, and I know that it rarely can be done with great general declarations of principle.

                If the details are too much work, and not important to think about, then the enterprise is doomed from the startReport

              • Avatar Joe Sal says:

                Technically I didn’t say you were a socialist, I just wanted the socialist system that people usually point to when they are all anti-capitalist. If that’s not you then I apologize.

                I avoid getting to far into the nitty gritty because I would completely loose most people. I mean if social constructs were collapsed, we wouldn’t have a official military or the federal government. I mean that right there is enough to distort most peoples train of thought beyond comprehension.

                If you took all the automation technology that has advanced around industrial automation, and instead would have focused that automation to individual means of production, things would look very different.

                Even in the complex organization you are involved in, if that hierarchy was flattened horizontally to individual production, the effectiveness of a general declaration of principles is just as ineffective horizontally as it was vertically, no? So maybe this is more semantics, than disparity.

                But even beyond that if the organization is built of individuals that negotiate their individual preferences to get along versus those that don’t care to get along and expect every rule to be made to fit their comfort, these two different types will produce two very different organizations.

                One of these organizations will likely not even be sustainable.Report

              • Another reason to avoid getting into the nitty gritty is because the simple fact is, who could ever truly predict what would evolve to fill the niche? We can’t predict the type of system that human ingenuity and cooperation and increasing technology would come up with in a less-centrally planned world any more than Henry Ford could tell anyone what the design of a 2017 Ford Taurus would look like. It’s just mental masturbation to do it and a huge waste of time. But just because it’s pointless, does not then mean that nothing would fill the void. Something invariably would.Report

      • Avatar Oscar Gordon says:

        Damn, database ate my comment, let’s try this again…


        But that doesn’t really address the idea of compromise, does it?

        Sure, the total freedom to do X is a fiction. There will always be constraints around the freedom to do X because there are 300+ M people in the US, and enough of them are asholes* that we need some limits.

        So the real issue isn’t that there are constraints. The constraints that exist are a reflection of society and are thus quite fluid. They can, and very often do change. The problem is that some parties are only ever interested in adding more constraints, and are unwilling to discuss examining existing constraints before adding more (a twisted version of Chestertons Gate – do not question the gate!). You can’t find a compromise if one side is unwilling to offer any concession. That’s demanding total surrender.

        *For varying values of assholeReport

        • Avatar J_A says:


          So the real issue isn’t that there are constraints. The constraints that exist are a reflection of society and are thus quite fluid. They can, and very often do change. The problem is that some parties are only ever interested in adding more constraints, and are unwilling to discuss examining existing constraints before adding more (a twisted version of Chestertons Gate – do not question the gate!). You can’t find a compromise if one side is unwilling to offer any concession. That’s demanding total surrender.

          But that looks like “some people are assholes, and until you prove to my satisfaction you are not an asshole, my prior is that you are indeed one, and I will refuse to consider the validity of your arguments until I believe you are not an asshole, by agreeing with my arguments to begin with”, all of which sounds very assholy to me.

          What I’m saying is that your mental map needs to start with “compromise is not necessarily surrender, and I need to consider that other people’s rights matter if I expect them to do the same courtesy to me”. Your prior should be “You are not a per se asshole, until you demonstrate that you are one”.

          And then deal with assholes as the exception, not the baselineReport

          • Avatar Oscar Gordon says:

            You are not a per se asshole, until you demonstrate that you are one

            Sadly, there are an awful lot of people, pundits, and politicians who eagerly demonstrate that they are, and seem to take some twisted pride in it. Makes it hard to treat them as the exception.Report

    • Avatar Pinky says:

      Your example is too misleading to be usable. Neither of the two dominant “sides” believe in free speech without conditions or restrictions. Very few people believe in it that way. There are always libel laws, security concerns, copyrights, and a dozen other things that reasonable people can think about and see a place for reasonable restrictions. I’d need to see a better example, or I can’t buy into your overall position.Report

      • Avatar Joe Sal says:

        Well he did say ‘people’ instead of sides, which takes it out of the context you are using. It puts it in the political spectrum, of which when you take the number of people who do believe there should be no restrictions becomes quite large in number.Report

      • Avatar Reformed Republican says:

        Pinky: There are always libel laws, security concerns, copyrights, and a dozen other things that reasonable people can think about and see a place for reasonable restrictions.

        Which are perfectly good examples of how the baseline has already been moved over the years from Freedom of Speech to Freedom of Speech with examples.

        When I talk about sides, I am not talking about right or left, progressive or conservative, or whatever. I am talking about those who support a right and those who want to restrict the same right. It can be any right: right to vote, right to bear arms, right to due process, or any other right. I kept it vague, because I was not trying to get sidetracked in a discussion about freedom of speech, only making the point that compromises tend to move in the direction of restricted rights and reduced freedoms.Report

        • Avatar Gaelen says:

          compromises tend to move in the direction of restricted rights and reduced freedoms.

          Is that really true though? I can think of a number of ways in which freedom or rights have been significantly enhanced in the last 40-50 years. I think this is true if we are talking either constitutional rights or more general colloquial freedoms or right to pursue your own path as you see fit.

          As an example, the rights of criminal defendant’s have been greatly expanded in recent years. So, right to counsel, expansion of due process, and 4th amendment protections are areas in which individual rights have grown significantly from their original understanding. And this is true even if the right to counsel requires a small imposition on other’s freedom or rights in order to provide that counsel. Even our free speech rights are as robust as they have ever been (though their may be people who advocate for poorly thought out policies, or legislatures who try and pass questionable legislation).Report

          • Avatar Joe Sal says:

            Gaelen, do you see any conflicts of incentive that ‘society’ is supposed to maintain individual rights that it doesn’t agree with?Report

            • Avatar Francis says:

              Not a well-formed question. “Rights” arise only in the context of a society. Otherwise, you have force.

              The neat trick that we’ve pulled in this country is that we’ve taken broad statements of rights, like Due Process and Equal Protection, and through a combination of public action, legislative action and judicial action applied those concepts to groups who were certainly not the original intended beneficiaries.

              This is one part of constitutional interpretation which is simply impossible to resolve. What matters, the intent of the drafters with regard to the then-existing society, or with regard to the concept? Sure, gay marriage was not even a concept in the 1860s. Does that mean that the EQ clause doesn’t apply?Report

              • Avatar Joe Sal says:

                Where is the monopoly of force located again?Report

              • Avatar Stillwater says:

                Where is the monopoly of force located again?

                With whoever can kill with impunity.

                I find it interesting that you (and others! a long list of others…) think that a societal structure in which the monopoly on “legitimate use of force” is constrained by rights is no better than a society in which it isn’t.Report

              • Avatar Joe Sal says:

                Just because I mentioned ‘rights’ above doesn’t mean I believe in them, or that society or anyone outside of those who hold them will defend them.

                That’s part of the problem, I was trying to unpack. It doesn’t really mean anything if society says something is a right, because it can just as easily say something isn’t a right.

                That government thingy quickly becomes a nacho government, which quickly becomes no longer legitimate.Report

              • Avatar Stillwater says:

                Just because I mentioned ‘rights’ above doesn’t mean I believe in them

                Aren’t you the person who argues the merits of individual constructs as they oppose social constructs? What are individual constructs based on such that they have more merit than a social construct? You may not want to call that a “right”, but at that point I think the game is over since your preference needs to reduce to something which holds (by your view) objectively.

                It doesn’t really mean anything if society says something is a right, because it can just as easily say something isn’t a right.

                We’re not talking about what society says, but what you and I say. So, what say you?Report

              • Avatar Joe Sal says:

                The way I see it individual freedom is the primary of which order is derived. That frames rule of law as a individual construct.

                Now we can dance around whether individual constructs are equal to or the same as individual rights, but it won’t matter, because the pivot point turns in individual construction.Report

              • Avatar Francis says:

                ” rule of law as a individual construct”

                This simply makes no sense. The rule of law is based on the community’s decision (a) to establish law, and (b) to demand that the members of the community obey it or suffer the consequences.

                “This is my rule of law” is no law at all; it’s just a threat. “Your money or your life” is the language of the highwayman.

                Sure, there are such things as taxes. But taxes are the price of civilization. A society that functioned on the basis of voluntary taxation — each citizen deciding what taxes he will pay — will soon collapse into anarchy.

                Put it another way — the rule of law means that the members of a community have an agreed-upon way to resolve disputes. In our system of government, disputes affecting everyone, like tax burdens, get resolved in a legislature. Disputes between individuals are resolved in a court system. (Historically, there were no such thing as public prosecutors. If a person committed a crime against person or property, the victim or her family prosecuted the perpetrator.) People who refuse to accept the agreed-upon system of dispute resolution either leave or don’t do well.

                For example, plenty of people in criminal court defy the authority of the court to punish them. It doesn’t go well. But there are no walls keeping you here. If you cannot and will not accept the constraints imposed on you by your fellow citizens, then I encourage you to find a country more amenable to your philosophy.

                Or live in one of the many wide-open spaces that this country has to offer. From Alaska to West Texas, there are plenty of communities with very low population density and very little intersection with mainstream America. Those communities mostly do just fine until they do something that really annoys law enforcement.

                One final note: I know very little about the constitutions of foreign countries. But what little I remember (which is quite possibly wrong) is that the idea of “rights”, especially as seen through our system of constitutional rights, is quite rare.Report

              • Avatar Joe Sal says:

                The country of the policy angels has swooped into many a other country and tried to lay down ‘rule of law’ as seen through the ‘proper’ modern liberal lens.

                They do this without bending to locals individual constructs on many axis. Guess what, after decades of playing this little song and dance yall still haven’t figured out it doesn’t work worth a damn. Either in other peoples nations or in this nation.

                News flash. You don’t own the world. You don’t even own social objectivity. Universal/Ultimate truths died in the era of Premodernism, yet here we are, with the people who can’t put it down.

                Keep imposing, keep aggressing, really keep doing it. Classical liberalism at least had some harmonics to individual sovereignty. This new modern liberalism, no, that’s alright. You can keep it.Report

          • That’s what I was thinking too, Gaelen – just because some unfortunate compromises of late have yielded less freedom it doesn’t mean that they always have or always will. We’ve won some real victories in the liberty department since the country was born, certainly, within the last century definitely, and even within our lifetimes. It isn’t ALWAYS an inexorable march to loss of liberty. I think we sometimes forget about those victories because they are “as it should be” and we focus more on things that aren’t the way we want them to be. Something being the way it ought to be feels like less of a victory, but it is one, really.

            If we’re forced into a compromise to preserve the republic, we can retake that lost ground at a later point in time. If we won’t compromise and instead contribute to an air of division and cultural hate so deep that the republic can’t function or is even destroyed, then we may lose our ability to retake lost ground forever because whatever comes next may not be up to us and it may not be a republic at all.

            I do agree that there’s a concerning undertone of late where an awful lot of people seem to care very little for protecting liberties but I’m not sure upping the ante on them and making neighbors into enemies is going to get us any portion of what we desire here.Report

    • Avatar Saul Degraw says:

      The issue seems to me that as Lee points out, we have highly partisan parties and no one understands what a reasonable compromise is.

      There was a brief time in the 1950s and 60s when there was a true post-war consensus and the Republican Party seemed to make peace with the idea of a regulatory state and some forms of social welfare. Rick Perlstein and others pointed out that this quickly unraveled. A lot of people still really hated the New Deal and any idea that there was a role for government to provide social welfare. This faction decided to take over the Republican Party. The GOP of the Obama years is the logical conclusion of this effort. Total No.

      So you have a party that believes that government has a role in providing a safety net and this party contains everything from full on calls for single payer to people who would use income tax credits and other wonky things and you have a party who believes that welfare is Communism Light and this is unacceptable.

      What is the compromise here?Report

      • Avatar Kim says:

        If we could even get the politicians to understand that there are problems ahead, then maybe we’d be in better shape.
        as it is, I don’t give a flying fuck whether they compromise or not. They’re still the Titanic heading straight toward the iceberg and not trying to turn.

        Both parties, all sides.Report

      • Avatar Pinky says:

        Obviously, your side is not simply guided by the idea that there should be a safety net +/- specific programs. If it was, you wouldn’t have to mischaracterize the other side as being against all social programs.

        Is it not possible that the compromise could be keeping some programs but getting rid of others?Report

        • Avatar Nevermoor says:

          Which social programs (other than social security/medicare for the currently-elderly but dramatically scaled back for others) are republicans for? In answering, I’d be interested to know whether the programs you identify exist in any of Ryan’s various Obama-era budgets.Report

      • Avatar Pinky says:

        My first comment was to the partisan character of your comment. I wanted to make a second point to the idea of compromise in general, and I figured it’d be better to post is separately.

        A compromise doesn’t have to be on a particular issue. It could be a social program for border enforcement, or education reform for gun control. Those aren’t compromises where one side wants 3 and the other side wants 5 so they settle for 4. I think there’s been a change in our politics in recent years – politics defined as the art of the possible – in that those kind of compromises are no longer so possible. People want the social program for border enforcement, except no border enforcement; education reform for gun control, but a filibuster against education reform. Make a flat-out trade and you’ll get primaried.

        The most prominent examples of compromise in recent years have been during budget crises.Report

        • Avatar LeeEsq says:

          I don’t think that this was ever true. During the Cold War, you had Ronald Reagan rallying against Medicare and Medicaid and none of the opponents of Civil Rights said that in exchange for tough anti-Communism and support for South Vietnam, we will accept civil rights for African-Americans.Report

        • Avatar Nevermoor says:

          I agree that politics has changed. My working theory is that it comes from two places: (1) absence of earmarking making it difficult to persuade maybe-voters by funding some project in their district (which is often wasteful but a definite lubricant in deal-making); and (2) the increased ideological alignment within parties (for much of our history, each party was an alliance of multiple ideologies — e.g. the liberal democrats and southern we-won’t-forgive-Lincoln Democrats)Report

  9. Avatar Jaybird says:

    You know that thing where we kept having The Most Important Election Of Our Lifetimes for a while there?

    That ain’t sustainable.
    It feels like we’ve switched from “this is an iterated prisoner’s dilemma” to “this prisoner’s dilemma now has an end point at some point in the future”.

    Which changes the optimal strategies… and hastens “some point in the future”.Report

    • Avatar Saul Degraw says:


      I agree but who gets to say what is and what is not an important election and why. You are right in a big picture kind of way but the big issue is that the parties are becoming ideologically parliamentarian but we don’t have a parliamentarian system. So we need up with one party constantly stating repeal the entire welfare state and another party that wants to expand the welfare state.

      How do you lower the stakes without federalism for reals this time?Report

      • Avatar Jaybird says:

        I didn’t say “an important election”.

        How do you lower the stakes without federalism for reals this time?

        My read of the situation is that we have two choices before us:
        1) Make an offer of what we’d be willing to give up in order to get some kind of compromise
        2) Wait for the pendulum to swing back and then, when it does, get revenge against Trump and Trumpists and make them rue the day they ever thought about raising the stakes to the point where it will never again occur to them without them shuddering at the memory of the last timeReport

  10. Avatar Stillwater says:

    Divorce is not an option, America. We are stuck together, for better or for worse, til death do us part. Right now we’re behaving like conjoined twins in a battle to the death,

    It’s more like a couple who hate each other but, because they feel trapped, accept that their marriage is defined by physical abuse and domestic violence.

    Maybe divorce is an option. Michael Cain thinks it is. 🙂

    Personally, I don’t think it’s that bad. We’re going thru a period of transition, where the fundamental terms of the marriage (as well as what constitutes acceptable behavior!) are being renegotiated.Report

    • Avatar Saul Degraw says:


      I’ve yet to see a convincing mechanism for divorce or scenario that does not result in a really bloody civil war.

      Everyone talks about CalExit but it is not going to happen. The United States is not going to let one of the biggest players in the economy go because it would be a huge resource drain. We are also the access to the Pacific and the US has a lot of military equipment here.

      Now maybe there is a faction that would like Deep Blue California to be gone but the practicality of the lost would not stand up.Report

      • Avatar Michael Cain says:

        Everyone talks about CalExit but it is not going to happen…. We are also the access to the Pacific and the US has a lot of military equipment here.

        But push out a little farther in time. Assume California looks at where its electricity and natural gas come from — there’s some evidence that they’re already doing that, and want to keep their hands on the entire Western Interconnect. California can afford to offer deals, and other states may want to stick with them anyway, so it’s not just California, it’s somewhere between three and 13 other states. Now a partition of the military looks much more straightforward, assuming a peaceful divorce proceeding.

        Oh, I’m sorry, this isn’t the conspiracy theory thread, is it?Report

        • Avatar Saul Degraw says:


          I can see other states joining with California but mainly other blue states. I can see Washington doing it, Oregon holding their nose and doing it, Colorado, New Mexico, and Nevada would join a Western Alliance. But would Idaho and Utah risk losing their power? Wyoming? Those states would just be lost in terms of all their political and social wants.

          I still don’t see the US letting California or any other part of the nation go peacefully. I don’t see Canada or Mexico getting involved. I do see Steve Bannon relishing at the prospect of bombing the Bay Area back to the Stone Age.Report

          • Bleeding Kansas would have nothing on Bleeding Washington. Washington would implode. There would be no way that scenario would end happily for anyone.Report

          • Avatar Stillwater says:

            I still don’t see the US letting California or any other part of the nation go peacefully.

            I think this is due to a failure of imagination, to be honest, both yours and mine. (I can’t see it either). But an easily imagined precondition would be that the cohesiveness of the Union will be challenged if a significant number of states determined they have more power alone (unlikely) or in non-aligned blocks than they do being governed by the Fedrul Gummint. Political isolationism could move the needle in the secession direction. Economic independence could as well. See, for example, Brexit.Report

          • Avatar Michael Cain says:

            Follow assorted trends out 20 years and imagine (emphasis on that last word)… California is eager to go and willing to cut deals. Polling in Alaska, Arizona, Colorado, Hawaii, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, and Washington indicate those states would prefer to go peacefully with California than stay. From a political power perspective, the South, Great Plains, and portions of the Midwest would be as happy as not to see the West go*. So your holdouts are Wyoming, Montana, Idaho, and Utah. The sales pitch includes water, fire, who’s your economy tied to, and funding for maintenance of public lands**. As a public opinion thing, the California group could win in those four.

            Today, lunatic fringe. 20 years from now, maybe not so much. Please note the use of the word “peaceful” throughout. No violent secessions (outside of political thrillers) unless a significant share of the military decides to violate their oaths.

            * The US Census Bureau divides the country into four basic regions: Northeast, South, Midwest, and West. This past November, the West went 98-30 for Clinton in EC votes (ignoring defections). Flip Arizona and it would be 109-19. 2020 reapportionment is likely to add two or three to that blue total. Four legislative chambers went from red to blue. A number of progressive state ballot initiatives (minimum wage, marijuana, etc) passed.

            ** Colorado College does regular polls of the interior western states on matters of conservation and public lands. In the latest, I believe for the first time, a majority in every single one of those states favored (a) don’t open additional public lands for drilling and mining; (b) don’t relax current environmental restrictions on drilling and mining in areas already open; and (c) increase funding for maintenance (eg, fire mitigation and recovery efforts). Overall, support for those was about 2:1. Rumors are that Chaffetz withdrew his “sell three million acres of public lands” bill because he got an early look at the Utah poll results.Report

            • Avatar Francis says:

              I still think that the only way CalExit comes about is through the calling of a constitutional convention by hard-core conservative states ready to go to the mat over putting an end to the current version of the constitution (gay marriage, etc.) and the current version of the regulatory / welfare state (EPA, ACA).

              The red state appointees may feel so strongly about getting their way that they’re willing to kick California and New York loose. So I could see the result of the convention being a constitution that imposes much stricter limits on the powers of the federal government, with the States then being required to re-ratify to join the new Union. If California and New York each quickly voted to reject and open discussions about forming their new Union, then things get very interesting very quickly.

              The rest of New England, Washington and Oregon vote the same way. So does Colorado. Now what does Nevada do? Or Pennsylvania?Report

              • Avatar Michael Cain says:

                Almost absolutely. And you don’t get a convention unless there are 38 (or almost 38) who have become convinced that they see a net gain out of a partition. One of the often unstated difficulties will be difficulties within states: the Philadelphia end of Pennsylvania may want to go with New York, New Jersey, and Delaware; the Pittsburgh end may think it’s better aligned with Ohio and West Virginia; El Paso’s electrical and transportation infrastructure are more closely tied to New Mexico and the West than to East Texas.

                The next two/four/eight years will be interesting, since the levers of power are in the hands of the party that wants to have much stricter limits (in some ways) on the federal government. I am fascinated (in a detached, intellectual sort of way) to see if the national Republicans will really take subsidized health insurance away from ten million people, or roll back auto emission standards. And if they do roll back the emission standards, if they take away California’s privilege to set their own tougher standards.Report

              • if they take away California’s privilege to set their own tougher standards.

                Of course they will. Because federalism.Report

              • Avatar Stillwater says:

                I don’t think they will in this case. But, ya know, wrt gummint some people say that sometimes more is less and big is small. Depending. We live in interesting times. Challenging times.Report

              • Avatar Jesse says:

                Considering state’s have been happy to stop cities from raising the minimum wage or passing other liberal laws, I have no reason not to believe that there wouldn’t be amendments saying ‘individual States may not impose more regulations than the Federal Government’ or just pass laws saying the same.Report

              • If you’re a True Believer in States’ Rights, you say that true sovereignty resides in the states. They delegate power to both the central government and the localities, so it’s perfectly legal for a state to restrict anything about what local government can do, but unconstitutional for the central government to limit the states expect with respect to powers it’s been explicitly granted.

                Then you vote to have the central government tell the states they can’t have their own pollution laws, and the game is up.Report

  11. Avatar Mike Dwyer says:

    I’m finding myself more and more taking comfort in history books, reminding myself how terrible our elected officials have treated each other for 200+ years. Then I remind myself how terribly Americans have treated each other for 200+ years. And it seems like there is nothing new under the sun, except some idealized notion that we can ever improve our discourse, especially when social media exasperates it daily.

    Public policy is also a lot harder when the world provides us much, much more information to consider than it did 30 years ago.

    What makes me feel better about everything though? Settling into a point in my life where this stuff just doesn’t bother me like it used to and rather than spending hours reading political articles, I now spend hours watching woodworking videos and trying to figure out if I have room for a table saw in my garage.

    To circle back to the OP’s analogy, I thought I was madly in love with my wife when we got married all those years ago because I was passionate. Now there’s maybe a little less passion but I care for her in a way that goes right down to my bones. That feels like the kind of love I saw between my grandparents and it’s pretty awesome. I care for my country, my fellow citizens, my pet issues and the future in much the same way. I’m maybe less passionate now, but it’s the kind of love that I know will stay constant.Report

    • Avatar Stillwater says:

      +1 Mike. Your comment reminds me of three things. The first is Jason K’s observation that politics is a mind killer. (It is!) The other is that as I’ve gotten older I increasingly realize that most (not all, but most) of this political stuff doesn’t touch my life and that I’m better off chilling the fuck out. Policy affects my life (of course) but politics doesn’t and it’s important to maintain a distinction between the two.

      The third thing your comment reminds me of is more spiritual in nature – something something peace and contentment mumblemumble – and how often people (including me, as a perfect example) get confused into thinking that contentment can only arise by eliminating every. single. injustice. – perceived or real – obtaining in the world. It just doesn’t work that way. The opposite, in fact. Discontent breeds like a cancer cell. (Or something like that, anyway.)Report

    • Avatar Kim says:

      Be fair. We now have laws AND societal disapproval about beating your kids to death.Report

    • I try to take that lesson from history, but it’s hard to do, at least for me. Still, I’m working on it.

      I admit I am also doing a lot of what you’re doing, “rather than spending hours reading political articles, I now spend hours” doing and worrying about “nonpolitical” things. I’m uneasy about that, if only because I realize that others don’t have that advantage. But it’s what I do.Report

    • That’s really nice, Mike. Very well put, thanks! Fully agree.Report

  12. Avatar Stillwater says:

    Watching Trump presser:

    Is it possible to say that he’s a blithering idiot who cannot string two coherent, consistent sentences together without that being taken as a partisan judgment?

    Man, I hope so or we’re all truly f***ed.Report

    • Avatar Stillwater says:

      Holy shit… The difference between Nixon’s Madman Theory and Trump is that Nixon was actually using it as a tactic.Report

      • Avatar Stillwater says:

        Evidence of a liberal media?

        Shepard Smith, of Fox News, expressed more disdain for and expressed harsher criticisms of Trump’s presser than I saw on CNN.


    • Avatar Jaybird says:

      I think that he’s creating a dialectic.Report

      • Avatar Stillwater says:

        Folks of that predisposition might conclude as much, but I don’t think he is. What he’s doing is appealing – or trying to appeal – to a specific part of the American character which thinks that someone is getting something for nothing, that the reason your life isn’t better is because inexorable political forces keep you down, that those forces are imposed by a propaganda system and institutional structure designed to keep you ignorant of the basic facts of politics and power, that your particular grievances are legitimate and justified and not only emotionally real but objectively correct.

        He’s not creating a dialectic. He’s exploiting one that already exists.Report

        • Avatar Jaybird says:

          Well, when it comes to the media, he’s just gone out and said “they’re on their side, I’m on mine… pick one”.

          And I don’t think that that has ever been explicitly stated before.Report

          • Avatar Stillwater says:

            Yes, I’m aware he said that.

            He actually said “Enemy of the American people” fwiw.Report

            • Avatar Jaybird says:

              Well, let’s go back to this question:

              Is it possible to say that he’s a blithering idiot who cannot string two coherent, consistent sentences together without that being taken as a partisan judgment?

              “Without that being taken”

              Being taken by whom?
              I’m sure you’ll find no shortage of people who don’t find it partisan at all. Hell, try to diagram his sentences! Put the diagrams of his sentences on twitter and point out that they’re 2nd or 3rd grade level sentences. Not even the best 2nd or 3rd grade sentences. Indeed, they are sad sentences.

              They’ll tell you how right you are and how you’re not partisan and any disinterested intellectual person would not be able to come to any conclusion about this man but that he is, indeed, an idiot.Report

              • Avatar Stillwater says:

                Being taken by whom?

                Conservative partisans or “above the fray, BSDI” reductionist partisans or post-modern “every word is a text” partisans. You know, people who understand that the term “inconsistent” has a meaning which isn’t a text or an ideological judgment.Report

              • Avatar Pinky says:

                I’m a partisan, Trump’s a blithering idiot, AND the press is the enemy of the American people.Report

              • Avatar Stillwater says:


                Now THAT’S how the argument gets going!!

                I disagree, but at least we agree to the terms on which the ensuing battle will conducted!Report

              • Avatar Chip Daniels says:

                Apparently the mystical magic of Svengali Trump’s 11 dimensional chess dialectics have failed to reach you.


              • Avatar Stillwater says:

                C’mon Chip. Pinky is more like us here at the OT (probably!) than any of us are like the freaks and weirdos we all like to make fun of from our own frames reference.

                Wait, that didn’t come out right.

                He’s straight up. Hell, he admitted he’s a partisan and that he also thinks Trumps an idiot. That’s got to count for something.Report

              • Avatar Chip Daniels says:

                There is this argument that started floating around after the election that the shocking outcome was due to liberals being in a bubble, and that Trump had tapped into some hitherto unmapped vein of sentiment.
                This has morphed into Trump as being a master strategist, playing a long game of ropadope.

                I’m not buying it.
                The argument relies on taking one leaden insight- that Trump did better than expected among the white working class in the Rust Belt- and spins it into the golden fiber of a new and shining coalition.

                Yet when we hear from people in that coalition, they actually voted for a very different Trump-
                They voted for one who was going to protect Medicare and entitlements, who was liberal on abortion, who would respect unions and mostly, bring back the damn jobs.

                Did they vote for an unhinged paranoid brittle manchild whose primary directive is the soothing of his ego?
                Those people didn’t.
                Oh, Jim Hoft and his crowd did, sure, but they are the 27%.

                But I don’t think his mad King Joffrey impersonation last night is playing nearly as well with the outer layer of support as he thinks it did.Report

              • Avatar Stillwater says:

                I hear ya about the narrative, and I hear about Trump’s demeanor. But I have to say that every time he does something EO-wise (which is apparently the root paradigm of his presidency – to EO his way to Making America Great Again) he indicates that it fulfills a campaign promise. So, even tho you and I might think that easing the regulations on coal won’t bring back the coal jobs, it IS something he said he’d do if elected.

                I don’t know, to be honest. It’s a very mixed bag of mind-blowingly deranged sociopathy and doing exactly what he said he’d do.

                I’m not sure those two things can be distinguished, unfortunately.Report

              • Avatar Pinky says:

                The master strategist argument, as well as the silent majority argument have been around for more than a year now. The fact that you think they just showed up indicates that maybe there is a liberal bubble.Report

              • Avatar Pinky says:

                I’m more an ideologue than a partisan, but I hate what’s happening to my party. As for Trump being an idiot and the press being malevolent, you just need eyes.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                Oh, conservative partisans will definitely see it as a partisan statement.

                As for the latter, they’ll probably just want it hammered out that even if it is not, in itself, a partisan statement, it presents identically to an exceptionally partisan statement.

                Remember your liberal friend?

                “I thought they were confused about the issue and that if I could just explain myself clearly enough they’d agree with me.”

                This is a religious argument at this point, Stillwater.Report

              • Avatar Stillwater says:

                I thought you rejected the church in your youth. 🙂

                Add: Nicely done digging up the exact quote, btw. It is a good one.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                As Luther rejected the Pope.

                Edit: It’s a great quotation. It stuck with me.Report

              • Avatar Stillwater says:

                Hah! Perfect.Report

        • Avatar El Muneco says:

          The most interesting part is that all of those things are actually true, and the genius part is that people have been convinced that it was the other guys who did it. And any evidence to the contrary not only never makes it to the point of being considered, it raises the defenses even further.
          So in thinking that they’re freeing themselves they end up perpetuating the system.Report

  13. Avatar Chip Daniels says:

    I don’t think either America is bad. I don’t think either America is deliberately out to hurt each other.

    I do.
    I do believe that a major motivating factor of the Trump voters is exactly to hurt someone.

    Everything he ever said or says about policy is gibberish, and even his fans admit this, what with the “seriously-but-not-literally” crap, and the “I never expected him to follow through on his promises to gut MY union/ strip MY benefits” complaints.

    Trump spent his entire campaign decrying the villains who are harming his fans, and promising to hurt them and make them pay for the wrongs they have inflicted.
    Immigrants, “Urban” people, NATO, educated elites, secular non-Christians, the Clintons and most of all, liberals…he clearly and specifically wants them to suffer.

    Study after study, poll after poll of Trump voters demonstrated this, the seething rage and resentment that drove his supporters. They adore and share his spastic rage, his dark vision of their fellow Americans. They are the ones whose sole motivation is to “make libruls’ heads assplode”

    He does, very badly, want to hurt the other America.

    We are not in a “bad marriage”; we are in a marriage with an aging jock who refuses to let go of the past, and vents his inchoate rage on his wife and kids.Report

    • Avatar Joe Sal says:

      Well after the 30 years of wifee throwing the socialist hair dryer in the bathtub, all the sudden indoor plumbing doesn’t look very important. In fact, f**k indoor plumbing and nice things like hair dryers.Report

      • Avatar Don Zeko says:

        Oh hey, I think we’ve stumbled upon a metaphor that illuminates even less than the airline pilot one! (i’m not trying to pick on you specifically, @joe-sal , it just seemed like adding the hair dryer to the bath tub was as good a point as any to jump in)Report

        • Avatar Joe Sal says:

          Well Chip used ‘jock’ so pretty much furtile ground for banter from there. 😉

          What was the thing with the airline pilot again?Report

          • Avatar Stillwater says:

            Well Chip used ‘jock’ so pretty much furtile ground for banter from there. 😉

            Hell, even a Trump voter understands you can’t blowdry yer pubes when you’re still in the bathtub.Report

          • Avatar Don Zeko says:

            Something about comparing people who say about how experts have screwed the country so we should put a non-expert in charge to a passenger on an airplane saying that the pilot has screwed the pooch so they should let him fly it for the rest of the way.Report

            • Avatar Joe Sal says:

              Yeah, I didn’t throw a dog in that fight, but do remember it taking place.Report

            • Avatar dragonfrog says:

              Oh I was thinking about the “Saying you hope the POTUS fails (with the definition of ‘fails’ unspecified, but likely closer to ‘is removed from office before his term is out’ than to ‘destroys the country’) is like saying you hope the pilot of an airplane fails (with the definition of ‘fails’ specifically set to ‘crashes the plane and kills everyone on board’),” thing.Report

              • Avatar Kim says:

                Why hope? He’s at 50% odds of not making the end of his term, and that’s climbing.

                Either grab a shovel or start cheering for Trump.Report

    • Yeah, but there’s lots of folks on the other side who think the same. I personally witnessed some deeply ugly trends from the left long before the election. Very nice people who were talking about others that they had known for years, friends and family members, even, with language that I found very troubling. That people’s children should be taken away, they shouldn’t be allowed to breed, they deserved to die without health insurance and jobs, mocking appearance and intellect ruthlessly, etc.

      I believe people do have essentially good instincts. It’s when groups dehumanize each other that these finer instincts are ignored. No one goes out on a pogrom in the middle of the night against their fellow human being whom they happen to disagree with on the finer points of tariffs. Humans commit violence against inhuman demons that they despise, who are utterly unlike them and must be destroyed. The way to prevent this is by not indulging in the demonization of fellow humans, by trying to understand them, by realizing that we want roughly the same things from life and just have different ideas about how to get those things.

      It is probably true that a not-small percentage of people on both the right and left would enjoy active harm coming to their political/cultural enemies. But I find that appealing to people’s better nature often causes them to rise to the occasion, whereas arguing “you’re all a bunch of assholes, you deserve each other” really doesn’t accomplish the end goal. Ideally I would hope that we can eventually bring the country together as much as is possible and then see what, if anything, we can work together on.Report

      • Avatar Chip Daniels says:

        Do you really think the last and right are symmetrical?

        I mean, for all the angry words of the left, you can discern a very clear agenda that claims to benefit all Americans:
        National health care, infrastructure spending, equality among races and genders,taxes to pay for the spending…

        Right? It’s true, isnt it, that liberals actually have an optimistic vision, even if one can argue against it?

        Can anyone here offer a coherent Trump vision? Stress on “coherent”;
        “I’ll make better deals” and “underpants gnomes” don’t count.

        Does anyone dare to argue the point that Trumpism is rooted in revanchism and resentment?

        P.S. for bonus points, can anyone define what a “compromise” to Trumpism would consist of?
        Where is halfway to incoherence?Report

        • Avatar Damon says:

          “you can discern a very clear agenda that claims to benefit all Americans:”

          Operative word: CLAIMS

          Frankly, all I see is hands reaching into my pockets for something that isn’t theirs and “moral crusaders” saying I should live my life according to someone else’s views.Report

          • Avatar Chip Daniels says:

            But saying “national healthcare will make everyone’s life better, including Damon” is a bit different than “Damon and his kind are rapists, have betrayed America, and need to be locked up”, don’t you think?Report

            • Avatar Damon says:

              Yes. But there is a line connecting the two. But don’t try to get me to answer your above questions RE Trump. Get someone who supports him to do it.Report

        • I’m sure that Glorious Leader’s optimistic vision gives people a lot of peace on the way to the gulag.

          Conservative visions are also optimistic. Community, family, self-reliance, freedom, security, charity, pursuing happiness, working hard to get ahead in life. You may not like those things, but that doesn’t mean they’re not optimistic.

          The reason why I became “a conservative” (using term loosely) is BECAUSE I want those things that you list. I want to be able to get health care if I need it, I want decent roads to drive on, decent education for my kids, true equality for all people, and for the government to not spend money it doesn’t have. The idea that conservatives do not want those things is fake news. We just have different ideas about the best ways to get them.

          Personally I think it’s nuts to set up a system where people like Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton are in charge of doling those things out to me but that’s what ya get when a strong government is put in charge of things. Giving them the power to do those lovely visionary things means they also have the power to do things you never imagined they would, and it also means that sometimes a guy or gal could get into power who is actually, like, BAD. And then what? We’re about to find out.

          Conservatives did not want Donald Trump as their representative. If you think DT is representative of conservatism or the majority of the Republican Party, he isn’t. You can’t conflate the two. Donald Trump was a vote of last resort for many people, and we can all debate the reasons why, but it was a confluence of reasons including the media destroying several other legit R candidates and a perceived threat of harm (and I think fully justified) coming from the SJW section of the left.

          The compromise needs to be with some conservative principles and not “Trumpism”. But I see no willingness to even consider that kind of compromise. Just demonization.Report

          • Avatar Chip Daniels says:

            I like these “conservatives” you speak of.

            Fiscally sober, dedicated to the prudent management of public funds, faithful to pious principles of charity and community solidarity. Excellent!

            Where might I see some in power?

            Because from Kansas to Alabama, Texas to Arkansas, what I see are impious radicals, who consider women to be hosts for their fetuses, who are perfectly content to have government prey upon the poor rather than taxing the rich.

            What I see are deranged fanatics who work mightily to ensure that mentally ill people have ready access to guns. Who consider the slaughter of 26 children to be an acceptable price to pay for their access to guns.

            What I see are state governments that would rather shutter schools than levy a tax, that are so fiscally irresponsible it becomes necessary to block the issuance of state financial reports to hide the embarrassing truth. Who are so consumed with hatred of the poor that they will gladly spend millions to drug test recipients, even if it only saves a fraction of the cost.

            Really, I would love to see these people replaced with, what did you call them, “conservatives” ?

            Yeah, I would love that.Report

            • Avatar Jaybird says:

              If I could pick one election for the Democrats to have lost in the last few years that might have kicked the whole cold civil war issue down the road a ways, it’d probably be the one that had Mittler Rommelney in it.

              That one might just prove to have been the most important election of our lifetimes.Report

              • Avatar Don Zeko says:

                So this coming civil war can only be averted by having Democrats lose the correct elections?Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                The coming civil war can only be averted by finding areas upon which to compromise.

                If you can’t find any areas where you’d be willing to compromise, of course, hey. That’s a perfectly defensible position. If you can hold out for an election (maybe two), I’m pretty sure that Donald Trump will do a good job of hollowing out the Republican party.

                The Democrats could then swoop in and win the next couple of elections.

                Heck, setting the groundwork for that just might make 2018 the most important election of our lifetimes.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                I mean, I’m replaying 2012-2016 in my head and I’m trying to figure out areas in which Romney would have been so much worse than Obama that it would make a Romney presidency not worth offering up as a compromise to have been worth making.

                Counter-factuals can’t be measured, of course, but I’m thinking that Romney is pretty much exactly the type of Republican that everybody is saying “Oh, I wish that we had more Republicans like this!”, right?

                Of course, maybe it was more important that we have someone who was as ideally a Democrat (as Obama was the ideal Democrat) in office than have someone who was ideally a Republican in office making Romney’s problem one of timing more than anything else.Report

              • Avatar Stillwater says:

                So this coming civil war can only be averted by having Democrats lose the correct elections?

                Yes! Because the discontent we’re experiencing and discussing wouldn’t exist if liberals were more like conservatives. I mean, that’s obvious, right?Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                If only those people would compromise with us. You know, by surrendering.Report

              • Avatar Stillwater says:

                Wait. You’re making a dark joke about that, right? But it’s actually what you think the (counterfactual) solution to our current problems woulda been. For the Democrats to surrender to the Romney Republicans.

                Seems like your solution arrows regarding compromise consistently point only one direction.Report

              • Avatar greginak says:

                The answer, of course, is to go back to the Good Old Days when everybody shared the same vision and story of America. Because that, apparently, was a thing that people believed existed.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                For negotiation theory, there are theories for when you are
                1) Negotiating from a position of strength
                2) Negotiating from a position of weakness
                3) Negotiating from a position of, more or less, parity

                So it seems to me like the general attitude is that the left doesn’t have to negotiate a damn thing until they’re back in a position of strength. Hell, they *ARE* in a position of strength and the right just doesn’t recognize that. So now it’s a cold war until the left beats the right.

                Does that describe it more or less accurately?Report

              • Avatar greginak says:

                No not particularly. Mostly because “the left” is a meaningless generalization for all sorts of peoples and groups with different aims and means. There is no “left” or “right” to negotiate so the framing is wrong.

                I’m all for compromise. In fact i’m a trained mediator so i’m all for it. Democracy is a constant process of compromise, negation, refusal and obstinacy.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                2012: “We don’t need to compromise.”
                2016: “We don’t need to compromise.”

                Are there ever any circumstances under which we might want to compromise?

                If not, we’re in a weird situation where we’re demanding they do something that we’ve already hammered out that we don’t need to do.

                Which is fine. Hey. We’re in the right.

                Now we just have to figure out how to make them see that.Report

              • Avatar Stillwater says:

                Are there ever any circumstances under which we might want to compromise?

                Who did you vote for in the 2012 election?

                I don’t think it was Romney, right? You didn’t compromise. I don’t recall you ever even arguing anything like “a vote for Romney is a vote for Compromise!!”. So who’s the “we” you think should be doing all this compromising? Other people, maybe?

                And what I’m saying here, btw, is exactly the point Brian was trying to convey to you earlier.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                At the end of the day, the question is “what do I have that you want, what do you have that could get me to give you what I have?”

                And, of course, can we agree that we’d trade those things?

                If the Democrats wanted my vote, they could have done a handful of things for it. None of which, I think we’ll all agree, are reasonable things for me to ask for.

                Hell, same for the Republicans for that matter.

                So we know that I’m one of the crazy people who is asking for crazy things… but what I have to offer is plentiful and of low value: a vote.

                There are plenty of people out there willing to trade their votes for much less than what I’m willing to trade mine for.

                At this point, who should be compromising? I guess the people who most want votes.

                And, on one level, the democrats can argue that they don’t need to compromise because Clinton got the most votes.

                And, on another level, the republicans can argue that they don’t need to compromise because Republican politicians got the most votes* and votes* are what they care about more than they care about votes.

                So, I guess, both sides seem to think that they’re negotiating from a position of strength, with democrats merely acknowledging that their strength is merely deferred by an election or two. It’s right around the corner. So they just have to negotiate later, when they have power that their negotiating partners recognize.

                So nobody needs to compromise at all.

                So there’s no problem.

                Why are we even complaining about this?Report

              • Avatar Stillwater says:

                Why are we even complaining about this?

                Interestingly, I’m not complaining about all this. You are. (And the writer of the OP, of course.)Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                If we can agree that we don’t have a problem, then we have nothing to worry about.Report

              • Avatar Stillwater says:

                Sortuv. The difference is that your “above the fray” commitment to your own principles and clear-eyed view of reality permit you (subjectively speaking) to view the problem as arising from other people and their ideological commitments. So the concession I’d have to make to you in this dynamic is one of obeisance: “you’re right Jaybird, I now see the error of my ways. I’ll change! But you, good man, keep soldiering on fighting the good fight!!”

                And to be honest, I just don’t think I can bring myself to do that. 🙂Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                We’re all mad here.

                I just see that the choice is stuck between compromise, divorce, or war and I would prefer divorce to war if compromise is not on the table.

                And people are telling me that compromise is impossible (what does compromise even mean, anyway?) and divorce is impossible and… sure, I guess, I can agree with them on that.

                So I’m stuck hoping that we can kick the can down the road long enough that either compromise or divorce gets on the table before a war starts.

                Hey, if we manage to hold out, maybe the baby boomers will all die and then we can finally get that government like the one we’ve wanted since college.Report

              • Avatar Damon says:

                For the record, I’m willing to trade my vote for 5,000 USD for each “punch of the chad”

                Please wire transfer said money to an account offshore 24 hours before required said vote.Report

              • Avatar Don Zeko says:

                You don’t compromise by losing elections, you compromise once you’re in office because we have a system with a separation of powers. You know, that thing that Obama tried to do, when he offered a grand bargain on spending and taxes only to have the GOP turn it down, or when he incorporated into his health care plan things that the GOP said they wanted in health care reform until 2010, or when he passed a large tax cut as part of the ARRA. None of that did anything at all to prevent Trump-esqe behavior by Republicans, so I fail to see how having Mitt Romney as President would have done so.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                I’m pretty sure that all a president Romney would have provided was a politician that qualifies as being, let me cut and paste this, “Fiscally sober, dedicated to the prudent management of public funds, faithful to pious principles of charity and community solidarity.”

                Now, if Romney isn’t that, I’m stuck here like Abraham standing outside of Sodom. Ten Righteous conservatives?

                I can’t even find one.Report

              • Avatar Don Zeko says:

                So your argument is that Romney is a non-crazy person who would probably have made a decent enough President, so Liberals, despite hating everything he promised to do on policy and thinking quite highly of their own incumbent President, should have wanted Romney to win? And they should have wanted this because, if he didn’t, then in the future the GOP would inflict an incompetent madman on the country? This is the logic of domestic abuse. Oh, you’d better not go out with your friends or talk to other men, you wouldn’t want to make him angry. See how nice he can be if you just do everything the way he wants?Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                Oh, you’d better not go out with your friends or talk to other men, you wouldn’t want to make him angry. See how nice he can be if you just do everything the way he wants?

                To someone in this situation, I would suggest a divorce. There is no negotiating with such a person.

                If a divorce is not on the table, murder.

                If you don’t like those options, maybe we could try agreeing that we don’t have a problem?Report

              • Avatar Don Zeko says:

                Neither divorce nor murder are options, but we certainly have a problem. The problem is that the conservative movement has been completely successful in their drive to make the GOP incapable of responsible government or the sharing of power. We also have a smaller, but still real problem of people on the other side of the aisle copying some of the behaviors that got the GOP there. I don’t know how you solve that problem any more than I know how to solve the problem of robots cutting the heart out of the labor market, but if we insist that there’s some kind of partisan symmetry here, then we’re definitely not going to solve it.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                Hell. Let’s take partisan symmetry off the table, then.

                Does that make compromise with or divorce from this monster of a partner more likely?Report

              • Avatar Don Zeko says:

                I continue to have no real idea what you mean when you say either “compromise” or “divorce.” Do you mean more federalism? Secession? Policy concessions? National telethons in which a rotating panel of liberals assures conservatives that we never meant to call them racists and that we’re sorry about the KKK?Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                For “Divorce”, I mean something like “Brexit”.

                For “Compromise”, I think we all agree that there’s nothing we’re willing to compromise on. Not with those people, anyway.Report

              • Avatar Don Zeko says:

                Brexit, huh? So do you mean states leaving the Union? Which ones? How would you decide that?

                As to compromise, I brought up a few things on this very thread where Barack Obama attempted to reach compromises on policy with his adversaries, and was decisively rebuffed. What do you think about those? Did he not offer a sweet enough deal? If not, what should he have offered instead?Report

              • Avatar Chip Daniels says:

                I’m still waiting for someone to define what the hell “compromise” would consist of.Report

              • Avatar Stillwater says:

                Jaybird’s recent dip to the Post-modern dark side indicates he may hold a more subjectively defined meaning than you might like. 🙂Report

              • Avatar Chip Daniels says:

                I mean, consider the ACA.
                The Republicans hold all the power, and yet are flailing desperately to even articulate what they themselves want.

                After 8 effing years of screaming about it.

                They can’t even decide what they want to do.

                How to compromise with this?

                There is no coherent conservative vision, on anything really.

                Its all spite and Cleek’s Law,Report

              • Avatar Pinky says:

                The Democrats screamed for federal expansion into healthcare since Truman, and they had “Hillarycare” written 15 years before Obama took office, yet it took them a year to come together on what they wanted.and turn it into the form of a bill – and then another bill to alter that bill, passed at the same time. We used to give the president an arbitrary 100 days to pass his agenda.Report

              • Avatar Chip Daniels says:

                But isn’t it pretty silly for the the commenters here to be demanding that the Democrats “compromise” when the other side can’t yet put even a wish list together of what they would like to do?Report

              • Avatar Don Zeko says:

                My guess would be that the conservative commenters here would ask for status quo ante, plus de-regulation of the insurance market. Whether their congressional representatives have are willing to push for the same thing is an open question.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                Absolutely. People demanding things they have no right to ask for from people who have no power to give them to demonstrate willingness to compromise in theory is decidedly silly.

                But I generally find it illuminating to see if there are corners where people would be, technically, willing to give up something if it were within their power to give it up.

                Because, I suspect, if there is to be a thawing in this cold civil war, some of it will have to do with the attitude that compromise wouldn’t be possible even if it were possible.Report

              • Avatar Don Zeko says:

                Jaybird: But I generally find it illuminating to see if there are corners where people would be, technically, willing to give up something if it were within their power to give it up.

                How are we going to find these areas if you keep talking in generalities and metaphors?Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                It’s not like I have anything to bargain with or for.

                Hell, it not like you have anything to bargain with or for.Report

              • Avatar Chip Daniels says:

                I point out that the Republicans lack a coherent position on issues not because they are new to power or lacking political cohesion, but because what animates the base is cultural grievance and revanchist fantasy.

                This isn’t something that can be compromised, because the purpose isn’t to find common ground, but to destroy common ground.

                The world that is developing, a world where nonwhite, nonChristians hold the dominant power, where same sex marriage is commonly accepted, is a world that much of the Republican Party, the Trump base, views as fundamentally illegitimate.

                Not undesireable, but illegitimate, an abomination that must be resisted.Report

              • Avatar Stillwater says:

                Jaybird, you’re arguing with interocutors who appear to deny the fundamental premise of your argument. So you haven’t yet convinced them that they need to compromise with the opposition for the good of the country (or whatever).

                Since that’s the case, maybe you could prime the well a bit and add substance to your view by identifying some policies you’d compromise on. As a gesture of sincerity to ending this cold civil war and all.Report

              • Avatar Stillwater says:

                Kristen too! I haven’t read the whole thread but I think you and her are the only two advocating this “compromise” solution, yet neither of you have actually offered any. It appears to be something that other people are supposed to do.Report

              • Stillwater, re compromise:

                Sorry about the delay, my husband had 4 days off over President’s Day and I had to make a lot of sammiches.

                I actually think that Republicans have offered up a LOT of compromises over the course of time. They’ve compromised on tons of stuff both politically and culturally. I feel like (especially after reading some of the replies in this thread LOL) Democrats will settle for nothing less than complete surrender on every issue. I honestly don’t feel the Republicans CAN cave in on anything else and remain Republicans. I don’t think I’m alone in this feeling and I believe it to be at least partially why Trump won, he was perceived as someone who was enough of a loose cannon to stand up to both the progressives and the milquetoasts.

                I don’t think that liberal Democrats (at least, not the voters, I think the Dem leadership is more savvy then they let on) can see these Republican compromises any more because they believe that their political successes are simply the natural course of events and the inexorable march of progress. Every time the R’s give in on something it is not viewed as Republicans trying to get along and compromise for the good of the nation, but as an obvious foregone conclusion, the way things “should” be. They get no political credit for it, they get no generosity of spirit, understanding, or time to catch up and get used to the idea, it’s simply onto the next item on the progressive item on the checklist in which Republicans will yet again be portrayed as horrible people who are standing in the way of peace, love, and understanding and want to drown kittens, probably.Report

              • Avatar Stillwater says:

                Thanks for getting back to me. Coupla things,

                First, when I asked what you had offered in compromise I was trying to make a meta-point about folks who offer disinterested advice about the types of compromises other folks need to make without making any of their own. Granted, you view yourself as a non-participant in the battle being waged, just an innocent bystander, so it’s easy to see the faults in others actions. 🙂 Again, just a meta-point.

                Substantively, your comment still didn’t identify any compromises you would be willing to make to end the cold civil war.

                Finally, I noticed that you didn’t give any specific examples of conservatives actually compromising with Democrats over the years (just the suggestion that you think they have) all leading to a state of affairs in which conservatives are pinned down like rats in a corner fighting for their lives.

                Which is strange: the GOP is putting a beat down on liberals/Dems across the country. Doesn’t seem like they’re fighting for their political lives to me. Alternatively, the underlying idea in your comment is that it’s an obvious fact (or perhaps a logical truth?) that liberals demand surrender rather than compromise, yet there aren’t any examples of those actions either. I could offer some: that liberals are opposed to states determining whether marriage is between a man and a woman? Or defending the right of women to choose to terminate a pregnancy? Or that sick people shouldn’t be excluded from insurance because they have a pre-existing condition? Liberals – quite rightly, in my opinion – view those as issues worthy of constant vigilance. But if the current trends continue those policies will be rolled back, and not because of liberal’s failure to compromise but because they didn’t have the political power to prevent it from happening. Which isn’t much of a cold-civil-war, is it?

                Now, that doesn’t mean liberals should be calling anyone who opposes SSM a bigoted homophobe. That won’t win over hearts and minds. I’m just not convinced that doing so is what’s engendered the GOP dominance OR that’s it’s the source of our current civil war.Report

              • Avatar Francis says:

                I actually think that Republicans have offered up a LOT of compromises over the course of time.

                Such as? I’m genuinely curious as to the contents of that list.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                Well, way back when, I suggested two things that popped into my head:
                1) Christmas Crèches being allowed in front of the town hall
                2) A walking back of the “Bake The Cake” policy

                You can read that thread to see how *THAT* went.Report

              • Avatar Stillwater says:

                That sounds like you saying other folks need to compromise, not you compromising.

                Fine. Your political religion is apparently to judge the efficacy of other people’s political religions even while they judge the efficacy of yours.

                Civil war!

                Add: You can chase the dragon up the ladder but all your ever gonna grab is the same ole tail everyone else is hanging on to.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                Well, my thought was that #1 would involve very little compromise on the part of freakin’ anybody and #2 was something that caused a huge amount of damage to the Democratic Brand and so it’d be to the Democrats’ benefit to walk that back a little (I can give you the numbers for Brad Avakian again, if you’d care to read them).

                In giving up, effectively, very little but, symbolically, something, I thought that maybe some sort of bridges could be mended, in theory.

                I mean, not that I was offering anything in my power to offer to anyone who had the power to accept, but in kabuki terms within our little petri dish.

                And, well… it seems like my best shot wasn’t even close to being something worth compromising on.

                So we’re back to Trump as the take-home prize in our little home version of The Ultimatum Game.

                Well, just in the short term, of course. He’s bound to be impeached.Report

              • Avatar Stillwater says:

                I mean, not that I was offering anything in my power to offer to anyone who had the power to accept, but in kabuki terms within our little petri dish.

                Nor do I. So, we’re sorta baying at the moon, then, yeah?Report

              • Avatar Don Zeko says:

                You’re writing as if you literally don’t understand why liberals find those things objectionable, and I know you’re too smart for that. The response you’re getting isn’t “no, never, NEVER!” It’s “well ok, what would we get in return?” You still haven’t answered that, unless the answer is that the GOP will stop being crazy and electing dangerously crazy people to office. If that’s the case, this isn’t a normal give and take, it’s a hostage negotiation in which the GOP is holding the country for ransom. If that’s not it, then tell me what the other side is going to give up in return if the Dems decide that we don’t mind business owners discriminating against their gay customers.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                I do know why Liberals find those things objectionable. Trust me on that.

                As for what you’d get in return… oh… let’s say “President Romney”.Report

              • Avatar Don Zeko says:

                So yes, it’s the hostage negotiation. When the GOP chooses to empower someone manifestly unfit for the Presidency, it falls upon liberals to give up their interests in order to sooth the hearts of Conservatives, lest they get riled up again and screw us all. You know what, maybe I should return to the domestic violence analogy.Report

              • Avatar Don Zeko says:

                I never claimed to have a plan, but then I don’t see how a Romney win in 2012 makes the GOP any less crazy. I suppose it might have delayed things, but it wasn’t going to reverse the process.Report

              • Avatar Koz says:

                Certainly it takes Donald Trump out of the equation.Report

              • Avatar Don Zeko says:

                Ted Cruz is an improvement, but not a solution.Report

              • Avatar Koz says:

                I don’t see why not. In any event, it seems irrelevant in the immediate context anyway. Presumably if Romney won in 2012 he’d be running for reelection in 2016.Report

              • Avatar Koz says:

                The sort of things that liberals are doing in terms of the crisis of legitimacy shouldn’t be their interests in the first place.

                In terms of whether they really are or not, it’s something that libs should actually sit down and think about instead of polemic knee-jerking.Report

              • Avatar Brent F says:

                We can argue the other side of that. Rolling over in response to an act of bad faith encourages more bad faith in the future. Thus the only way back to peace is demonstration of sufficient strength to show that the Trump card is ineffective.

                The hard part of that strategy is gauging what is the right display of strength that neutralizes the bad faith actor without being itself a provocation.

                From outside this system, it looks like American national politics needs to find itself a truce and modus vivendi to avoid the three unacceptable options of divorce, murder or surrender. Forming a successful truce between decentralized camps is an incredibly difficult process though and needs a lot of good faith actors on both sides to make it work.Report

              • Avatar Don Zeko says:

                What were conservatives encouraged to give up in exchange?Report

              • Avatar Stillwater says:

                {{Their fear of liberals?}}Report

              • Avatar Chip Daniels says:

                Conservatives yielded, and agreed that Jews and Muslims are not obligated to genuflect before the creche.

                Whether these RINOs withstand a primary is yet to be seen.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                Well, in my thought experiment, those were the sorts of things why Trump won.

                But having won Trump, I’m not sure that they’d take the paltry things that I had to offer.

                Not that they were mine to offer, of course.
                Not that I found anyone else willing to see that as a compromise worth having made in the first place.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                I suppose that that’s the point of the thought experiment.

                What victories did “the left” win over the last however many years that you would be willing to go back and lose, if it meant that Trump didn’t get elected in 2016?

                Can you name anything?
                Is, instead, your response “why in the hell do I have the compromise? *HE* is the guy who sucks!”?

                For what it’s worth, I can think of at least one big victory that, had it been a loss, would have kept Trump out of the White House.

                But what ones can *YOU* come up with?Report

              • Avatar Stillwater says:

                To make the point stick, Jaybird, the question is this, since you’re the one asking it: what would YOU have done differently over the last howevermany to keep Trump from getting elected? Anything? Nothing? You OK with DeeJay? You apparently don’t like cold civil wars and what they entail.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                Well, again, what I see happening in the next decade or so is, sing it with me, “Divorce Or War”.

                And I keep being told that divorce is not on the table.

                So I’m now idly wondering if it’s just a question of thousands dead or of millions dead. Or, God help us, Billions.

                Maybe it’ll start in Europe again. That might save us.

                Anyway, what do I think was the big thing? “Bake the Cake”.

                I’ll provide the numbers again:

                He was running for the position of Oregon’s Secretary of State. He lost to Dennis Richardson, a Republican.

                This is in a state that Clinton won by 10 points. The Democratic senator beat the Republican challenger by more than 20 points. The Democratic Governor won by 7 points. Out of the five Congressional elections, Democrats won four of them.

                Richardson will become the first Republican to win an Oregon statewide office in 14 years.

                Perhaps I’m wrong, of course. And Brad Avakian was, himself, a backlash to a backlash to a backlash to a backlash to a backlash.

                But that strikes me as a lynchpin event that we’re not allowed to notice without being pilloried for seeing it.Report

              • Avatar Chip Daniels says:

                See this is why I made that snarky comment the other day about how I wish white Christians could know what it feels like to be a hated and feared minority.

                That “we can deny you service because you are gay” is the compromise..(the compromise!!), not even their ideal, but the grudging compromise is what is so telling, and galling.Report

              • Avatar Koz says:

                Hopefully nothing.

                Compromise can be a very good thing, in allowing people who have somewhat competing interests to come together in a spirit of harmony wherein there’s a good likelihood that all parties can satisfy their most important wants, maybe at the expense of lesser wants.

                In that context, what we have now is not a failure of compromise. It could be, but it isn’t. What we do have, is libs’ repudiation of the idea of a shared political culture, with the intent of aggravating a crisis of legitimacy. Libs should simply give that up. Not because they traded it away for anything, but simply because it is the right thing to do.Report

              • Avatar Stillwater says:

                Compromise can be a very good thing,

                Especially when conducted on your own terms!Report

              • Avatar Koz says:

                You’re still missing the point. Compromise is a valuable means to mediate a transaction, or a series of transactions. Some things aren’t supposed to be transactions.

                I would hope that you would be too embarrassed to ask your boss for a raise for wiping your ass correctly. It doesn’t matter as much whether he’d give you one or not.

                Libs should appreciate that they can’t expected to trade for the basic rules of legitimacy and civic discourse that they should be following anyway.Report

              • Avatar Stillwater says:

                Not missing the point. Rejecting that it actually is one. Obama invited GOPers into every major policy debate over the last 8 years. Seriously. All he got was obstruction on the premise that even participating in a Dem-signed Bill constituted unacceptable compromise. (What did McConnell say: “Our goal is to make him a one term president”. That doesn’t sound like a person willing to compromise, yeah?) It’s actually worse than that: the GOP acted as tho not blocking Dem leg. and appointments constituted compromise. No retreat, no surrender! {{CoughGarlandcough!}} It was unprecedented.Report

              • Avatar Don Zeko says:

                I can’t even begin to imagine a way to define Koz’s complaint about the left’s behavior towards Trump that doesn’t apply a thousand times over to the way the GOP received Obama.Report

              • Avatar Koz says:

                No Stillwater this is not that complicated. The Republicans opposed President Obama for what he did, or attempted to do, not for who he was. Or more precisely where he was.

                Donald Trump is being opposed, aggressively, for who he is. And he is the President because he was elected as such by the American people. There’s no way, at least there’s no obvious way that I can see, that libs can continue their attacks on the legitimacy of Trump without corroding the foundations of our shared political culture. And frankly, I don’t think libs are trying very hard either.

                Do you disagree?Report

              • Avatar Stillwater says:

                I disagree. 🙂

                Attacking Trump because of who he is (to the extent that is happening) does not “corrode the foundations of our shared political culture” precisely because those people also oppose him because of his stated policy agenda.

                Now, I concede that the “pussy grabbing” and attacks on judges’ character and calling the media “the enemy of the American people” and the Russia imbroglio might incline some folks who aren’t carefully considering the virtues of political compromise, especially as it adheres to our shared political culture, to think he’s insufficient to the task at hand. But personally, I wouldn’t judge those folks too harshly. At least they’re not out on the lunatic fringe, making up stories about “long form birth certificates” and claiming global warming is a hoax perpetrated by the Chinese.Report

              • Avatar Don Zeko says:

                Neither of those things are true. if opposition to Obama was all about his policies, why was Birtherism, which propelled Donald Trump to prominence among Conservatives, a thing? If opposition to Trump isn’t about his policies, how do you explain the protests against his immigration EO or the people showing up at town halls to talk about how they are going to suffer if Obamacare is repealed? It’s obviously both personal and policy in both cases.Report

              • Avatar Koz says:

                Hmm, the birther thing seems to be important so let’s go back to that one.

                First of all, birtherism was a part of the Trump campaign in 2012, which went nowhere. Trump’s winning campaign in 2016 had little or nothing to do with birtherism.

                Furthermore, as a practical matter birtherism didn’t even go very far in right wing circles. There were some activists who cared about it, they tended to ghetto-ize themselves pretty quickly. They tried to put pressure on the GOP political Establishment but couldn’t.

                And in fact, there wasn’t very much the GOP Establishment could have done even if they wanted to.Report

              • Avatar Kazzy says:

                Who continues to attack the legitimacy of Trump’s win? Names, quotes, and dates please.Report

              • Avatar notme says:

                John Lewis comes to mind.Report

              • Avatar Koz says:

                Yeah, forgot about that one already. I just wish sometimes libs could really feel embarrassed for the utter tawdriness of the crap the pollute into our discourse.Report

              • Avatar Mike Schilling says:

                I am bemused the the people responsible for Donald Trump want anyone else to feel embarrassed about tawdriness.Report

              • Avatar Koz says:

                Yeah, that’s always the easy way out. Maybe some day you could find a different road instead. Actually look at the cultural lay of the land and how it got that way. Am I supposed to cheer when President Trump gets in a pissing match with the Australian PM over the phone? I don’t feel any obligation, even an inclination. This is not remotely the same as what mainstream media did for the John Lewis story (which frankly didn’t really merit any coverage anyway) together with the way libs egged it on. Yes it’s tawdry.Report

              • Avatar Kazzy says:


                So… one guy? Who I haven’t seen comment since inauguration day?Report

              • Avatar Koz says:

                One guy, who as a practical matter is irrelevant, gets propped up by the media because he was temporarily convenient. Then they move on to something else. The prior week it was Comey. Now it’s Russia.

                It’s all bullshit. Donald Trump is a lot of things, but he’s not illegitimate.Report

              • If Russia is irrelevant, Lindsey Graham just become a polluter.Report

              • Avatar Koz says:

                I’m not with Lindsey Graham as far as aggressively antagonizing Russia. But there is a difference between stating a case and pollution. The attacks against Trump’s legitimacy and the “resistance” are pollution.Report

              • Avatar Kazzy says:

                Which is exactly why you have zero cites from the last month of prominent or empowered liberals saying as much.Report

              • Avatar Koz says:

                Oh please, learn how to use Google. Paul Krugman comes up on the first page for me.Report

              • Avatar Don Zeko says:

                What we do have, is libs’ repudiation of the idea of a shared political culture, with the intent of aggravating a crisis of legitimacy.

                Again, the sitting President of the United States, a Republican, called the news outlets he disapproves of “[enemies] of the American people” yesterday. Clearly the people creating a “crisis of legitimacy” are the ones peacefully protesting him and his policies.Report

              • Avatar Koz says:

                Well, yeah. Trump is the legitimate elected President of the United States. The fact that it’s Trump complicates things, it gives libs an opportunity for judiciousness caution. It’s not some kind of carte blanche troll license they think it is.Report

              • Avatar Michael Cain says:

                Dude, I love your longer pieces everywhere. You make me think hard about what I believe, and what I’m only assuming, and whether those assumptions are reasonable or not. But you’re out of line here.

                The way you’re coming off is that Tea Party protests were legitimate; that challenging the notion that the President was a citizen, or did not believe in the religious faith he and his family publicly followed was legitimate; that shutting down the government, threatening default on US Treasury bonds, was legitimate. That conservatives were somehow compromising by those actions.

                You’re demanding that liberals surrender, not compromise. You’re better than that, man.Report

              • Avatar Koz says:

                Dude, I love your longer pieces everywhere. You make me think hard about what I believe, and what I’m only assuming, and whether those assumptions are reasonable or not. But you’re out of line here.

                Thanks. Like I said in the context of some of Brian Murphy’s comments, I fear the whole thing is increasingly likely to be a forlorn hope. To the point where I kind of feel stupid just for taking the time to write it out.

                As far as the rest of it is concerned, I think you’re confusing the Tea Party-ers with the birthers, and there might be some overlap between them, but not much. And as far as the birthers are concerned, that effects of that clearly break the other way for me. There was nothing about the birthers that in any significant way changed our governance or even our political culture.Report

              • The thing that is ridiculous about Democrats compromising with Republicans is that it would take so little to make most Republicans happy – or if not happy, at least not feel like the world is coming to an end.

                I’d be very interested to hear what Democrats would compromise on, if anything.

                I actually think this is a bit of a trap in which I’ll now be shredded for giving some ideas but I’ll proceed in good faith. These are things I think would be fairly easily done and would have prevented Donald Trump from having been elected. I don’t speak for all conservatives of course but I do think this is a relatively mid-road opinion that most would get behind.


                I agree with Jaybird that religious symbols being allowed in public places, and “bake the cake” would be small things that conservatives would take as a sign of good faith. There are lots of small things like that. Just a few off the top of my head (and these are not my positions necessarily, just things that I believe would be a good place to start):

                Stop making companies pay for birth control even if only for religious exemptions (make most businesses do it, but offer religious exemption)

                Making it illegal to fire people over political donations or beliefs

                Stop wrangling over the Supreme Court nominee

                A reasonable limit on abortion – allow up to end of first trimester or even 16 weeks, perhaps

                Not continuing to push for more and more gun control

                Admitting that men in women’s bathrooms may not be the greatest idea ever and that having qualms about it does not mean you are a terrible person

                Giving parents some more choice over the school their child attends and also restore more local control over schools

                Allowing people to opt out of controversial taxpayer-funded things like Planned Parenthood and PBS

                Accepting a more reasonable idea of immigration – really, logic dictates we cannot let everyone in, so there must be SOME limits in place, and again, even a non-horrible person can believe this

                Accepting the idea that we may want to give preference for immigration to groups that have more shared cultural values with us than others (this is a biggie, I know)

                And you may be asking – wait a minute, we wanted examples of what conservatives would compromise on!! But the compromise position would be Republicans accepting a lot of those things even though some conservatives would like to see them done away with entirely (and Democrats often portray this to be the default Republican position). But there is a huge middle ground that would be open for compromise. Most Republican voters WANT the compromises and do not want the extreme “get rid of all of it” position.


                If Dems quit pushing for total gun control – which come on, that’s the end game here – R’s would accept background checks and waiting periods (and in fact already have, repeatedly)

                If D’s quit pushing for abortion on demand into the late 2nd trimester of pregnancy, many R’s are ok with the idea earlier on and many more would accept it as lesser of two evils. And of COURSE the life of the mother would ALWAYS take precedence and doctors and patients would have final say over medical terminations later in pregnancy.

                Many conservatives would be comfortable with immigration from Muslim countries provided that they are vetted and are from groups that have more in common with American cultural values as a whole. I am personally very comfy with it but I do understand why some people have some concerns, which we need not to demonize but understand/educate.

                Illegal immigration across the southern border has to end. It’s too much a drain on our social welfare system and we need that for our own citizens. If a wall is what it takes, so be it. A wall is probably better than a police state (right??) Obviously, we need to deport people who’ve broken the law but most favor some form of amnesty for law-abiding illegals.

                Most would accept a compromise gender neutral bathroom in government owned buildings and let private businesses do what they want.

                Keep PP and PBS but don’t make those who choose not to, pay for it. Most still would.

                Keep public schools, let parents choose where their kids go.

                And just as a personal aside, I’d like to see conservatives give up on the drug war and asset forfeiture and this is one area that Dems could come together with many conservatives and get it done, if only the conservatives felt that the Dems were not waging war against them.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                There are so very many policies that I think that both sides might agree on but they can’t abide the thought that the other side get a win.

                It’s got nothing to do with policy anymore.

                “Oh, they want P? Well… ~P is the ONLY MORAL POSITION!!!!”


              • Avatar notme says:

                A lot of those things sound good to me.Report

              • Avatar Marchmaine says:

                Oh noooooo………


              • Avatar Stillwater says:

                I don’t speak for all conservatives of course

                Hmmm. For some reason I thought you identified as a libertarian. Is that incorrect? (Not that it matters all that wrt what you and I have been discussing.)Report

              • Avatar Marchmaine says:

                That’s why we need color coded Badges for what team we’re on. Badges, I say.

                My spreadsheet is getting all messy.Report

              • Avatar Stillwater says:

                Unlike you and I, whose gravatar images signal everything an unfamiliar reader needs to know.Report

              • Avatar Marchmaine says:

                Precisely… not everyone is skilled in the ways of iconography.

                Besides, I only have, what 66 more days left of Trump’s 100-days before I have to change my Rex Icon?Report

              • Avatar Stillwater says:

                Also, bullet point coding:

                Red badge said C3.

                Blue badge responds with L11!

                Think of the time savings.Report

              • I am a libertarian politically. (I started off as a very far left Democrat and mellowed with age) My husband even ran for Congress as a Libertarian.

                Culturally, I live in a very conservative rural area and demographically have a lot in common with conservatives (blue collar, big family, we homeschool although not for religious reasons). I also feel a sense of obligation to speak for conservatives since I feel their leaders have sold them out and they aren’t always good at making their own case. For the most part I have a lot of common ground with conservatives and I think most people would describe me as one, albeit not as far right as many.Report

              • Avatar Stillwater says:

                I also feel a sense of obligation to speak for conservatives since I feel their leaders have sold them out

                Lying bastards that they are. And as a result we have Trump, right?

                Why do liberals need to do all the compromising again? 🙂Report

              • Avatar Morat20 says:

                Republicans won’t, not at the moment.

                If conservatives won’t bend, liberals have to or otherwise how are the lights going to stay on?

                It’s all dressed up in moral language and ideology, because it’s not kosher to just admit that’s the case (and then you’d also be forced to defend rewarding blunt obstructionism and it’s a pretty depressing truth) but it is what it is.Report

              • Avatar Don Zeko says:

                I wish I had time to write a longer reply, but most of it boils down to this: I flatly don’t believe that most of those compromises would satisfy the GOP’s voters. Even if I’m wrong about this, there’s no good way to reassure me of that in advance. There also some reasons that I think a number of those suggestions are practically or legally unworkable, but they’re side shows next to the main event. What you’re asking for is that Democrats partially surrender on a ton of issues in hopes that self-described conservatives will vote for Democrats in the future. That’s an offer you make if you’re confident that your side holds the whip hand, not when your candidate just got 3 million fewer votes than his opponent and GOP congressmen are fleeing town halls full of angry constituents.

                I’m happy to compromise with conservatives in the context of negotiated bargains that lead to legislation where each side gets some of what they want, and there are plenty of places where, in theory, that could be accomplished. But just deciding to accept a quarter loaf preemptively is crazy.Report

              • Yep the adversarial system makes it very tough because you may as well hold out and hope fortunes change.Report

              • Avatar Francis says:

                1. Religious symbols are allowed in public places. But allowing the owner of a public place to select which symbols he wishes to exclude implicates the Establishment Clause. The Democratic Party has no power to prevent the ACLU from filing litigation.

                2. Bake-the-cake: Exemptions to public accommodation laws are largely set at the state level. Also, drafting exemptions for compelled speech, where compelled speech includes photography and cake decorating, but excludes catering and cake-baking, is not as easy as it sounds. Finally, please note that plenty of states don’t have anti-discrimination laws as broad as Washington’s.

                3. Hobby Lobby is a genuinely hard case. But once you open the door for conscience objections to medical services, where does it stop? If corporations don’t want to offer a full suite of medical services, then to me it makes much more sense to put everyone on the Exchanges and pay the penalty.

                4. Increasing the scope of wrongful termination law? Sure! (You recognize that this is anathema to Chamber of Commerce Republicans?)

                5. Sup Ct. nominee — Nope. McConnell broke a long-standing norm. (No, Bork was nothing like this.) Moreover, what reliable assurances can the Republicans give that they won’t pull the same trick again?

                6. Reasonable limit on abortion — these are already allowed. It’s the Republicans who are pushing to narrow abortion rights. (I’m still waiting for a group of young OB/GYN to establish the Christian Brothers and Sisters of Mercy in Texas and challenge the application of state TRAP laws to their religious organization.)

                7. gun control — agreed.

                8. Transfolk rights. I know too little about this issue to comment intelligently. But I am troubled by the idea that a MTF trans athlete can claim the right to compete with women simply by declaring that she is transitioning.

                9 School choice. Also a complex issue that I don’t know much about. But vouchers to religious schools is a no-go for me.

                10. Can I opt out of a portion of the military budget? Would it help if PP renamed itself the [State] Women’s Health Clinic Group?

                11. Immigration — There are plenty of compromises on the table. The easiest one would be to increase the penalties on using undocumented labor — either from an employee or an independent contractor — substantially. Also, this is an issue that splits both parties in odd ways. A lot of Chamber Republicans rely greatly on undocumented labor — ag, construction, hospitality. There’s a reason why comprehensive immigration reform is hard.

                12. Legal immigration. Again, I don’t know much about the existing system. But the Muslim population in this country is tiny, and too much of the rhetoric is flat-out religious bigotry.Report

              • I’m sure there are a variety of reasons why this group or that group would say any or all these things are unworkable. Legal, practical, or otherwise. All I’m saying is there is a huge and fertile middle ground between the claim “Republicans want to ban/defund everything” and the claim “Democrats want government to control everything”. People asked for examples, I imagined some things that I believe that there is room to move together on – at least for someReport

              • Avatar Francis says:

                My point, Kristin, is that both parties are guilty of intransigence.

                Is it really such a burden to allow a menorah next to a creche? Can Pastafarians have their winter solstice object of veneration on display too? Muslims? Why not? According to our federal judiciary, the prohibition on establishment is a core value of our Constitution. Why are you so ready to demand that Democrats sacrifice First Amendment principles?

                Have the Republicans offered to trade LGBT status as a protected class in return for receiving broader compelled speech exemptions?

                Hobby Lobby receives enormous state benefits from being able to organize as a corporation. Why aren’t they willing to sacrifice those benefits in return for demanding sacrifices from their employees?

                Who decides what taxes become optional? (If they’re optional, then they’re not taxes.)

                Your entire point (as is Jaybird’s, and Koz’s) is that the Democrats should capitulate on key aspects of their platform. Maybe they do need to do that to win elections, but maybe not. My own take is that it’s way too soon to tell, because the Republicans are just now finding out at both the state and federal level that their electorate does not like the party platform.

                Senior activists of both parties have written about their coming perpetual majority, but in actuality the Presidential election was whisker-close.Report

              • I’m not gonna go to the mat to defend any of this stuff, because I’m not a Republican, really. I’ve never voted Republican for President, for example, and if it were up to me as benevolent dictator, I’d do things quite differently from the way either party suggests. I’m just trying to toss out some things that I believe (possibly wrongly) that my neighbors and conservative people like my neighbors would take as a sign of good faith.

                RE religious figures in public areas – at some point it becomes majority rule, doesn’t it? I’m fine with a menorah, that doesn’t bother me in the slightest, but most Americans do celebrate Christmas. I see no difference between a tree in the courthouse and a park that I don’t want to pay for, as an example – the majority wants a park, my property tax goes up and I drive by the park every day on the way to work. The majority wants a tree, let’s have a tree. I don’t go to the park, someone else doesn’t appreciate the tree, but the majority does.

                They hang art in public spaces, some of which I dislike or is actively offensive to some people (I know many people were upset at the painting in the Capitol building that portrayed police officers as pigs, for example) and I tolerate that. I don’t love a lot of things that are put on display in public buildings but I tolerate them. Libraries and museums are publicly funded and often have displays of religious/historic import. I don’t believe people’s 1st amendment rights are truly being violated by having to walk past a Christmas tree on the way to renew their car tabs.Report

              • Avatar Francis says:


                There is not a single municipal park in the US where Christmas trees are banned. What is banned is the showing of a Christmas tree on public land without also giving other religions the opportunity to show their symbols.

                The comprise is right there — share and share alike. The problem arises from the fact that culturally conservative Christian politicians don’t want to share, and then claim oppression when they are required to do so.

                This is why I had just a problem with your list. The actual truth of the matter is that so much of what is claimed to be a culture war is the refusal of conservatives to recognize the legal and cultural equality of people who aren’t just like them.Report

              • Well, the thing is, if you want to end a war, telling people that the problem is “your” side refusing to do things “my” way is probably not the way to go about it.

                The past 75 years or more has been pretty much a progressive march and a conservative defeat. Gun control, education, welfare, SS, state’s rights, gay marriage, etc I can’t even find something that Republicans haven’t caved on. But liberals do not see this because it’s “as it should be” and it’s not perceived as a compromise.

                I don’t care about Christmas trees. I’m trying to find small things that people might bend a little on. That’s all.

                I haven’t heard anyone offer a single suggestion that they’d be willing to compromise with Republicans on. Are there any?

                I’m starting to think a fair number of people really are willing to go to war over Christmas trees and bathrooms.Report

              • Avatar Road Scholar says:

                Kristin Devine,

                The past 75 years or more has been pretty much a progressive march and a conservative defeat. Gun control, education, welfare, SS, state’s rights, gay marriage, etc I can’t even find something that Republicans haven’t caved on. But liberals do not see this because it’s “as it should be” and it’s not perceived as a compromise.

                You had it right in your first sentence there. Conservatives haven’t caved nor have they compromised. They just lost. They lost in Congress, they lost in Courts, and they lost in the hearts and minds of the people.

                Let’s go down your list:
                Gun control wasn’t even a loss. It was a conservative law-and-order response to the Black Panthers arming themselves against police brutality and to armed revolutionary leftist groups like The Move, Weather Underground, Symbionese Liberation Army, etc. It flipped sometime in the 80’s under pressure from the NRA.
                Education? You’ll have to unpack that unless it’s your contention that conservatives like to keep people dumb.
                Welfare and SS. Again, they didn’t compromise; they just lost.
                State’s Rights has been poisoned ever since they deployed it against Civil rights. Besides, they don’t really give two shits about it anyway. Two words: Marijuana legalization.
                Gay marriage wasn’t a compromise, just a defeat. They lost some battles in state legislatures, some more in state courts, and in many other places they enacted state constitutional barriers which also barred compromises like civil unions. Finally they lost it all in the SCOTUS; no compromise offered or accepted.

                You’ve just got a funny notion of what the word “compromise” means.Report

              • Many of those issues had/have widespread bipartisan support, and many occurred even when Republicans. Even Reagan came out to support some aspects of gun control – waiting periods, background checks, lots of R’s support those things.

                And in many cases when they had their chance to change things they didn’t. Republicans maintained the status quo, even when it was progressive and big government, and didn’t push back, didn’t undo the progressive laws, didn’t even try. That is partially why true small-government conservatives feel repeatedly betrayed by the Republican leadership. So yes, I feel all those things were compromises. Stopping a fight and accepting the status quo IS a compromise.

                Even something like gay marriage – why did that happen now and not 30 years ago? Because it had bipartisan support among voters in lots of states. Most small-govt. conservatives and younger Republicans wanted gay marriage. It’s a compromise, a good compromise, many Republicans realized that the party line was incorrect and changed their position accordingly. If they really weren’t compromising on gay marriage they’d be trying to amend the Constitution or something dumb like that.

                So using your logic in which the loser loses and the winner dictates everything for ever and ever, maybe Jaybird has a point – why should Republicans compromise now? They won. Tough titties, right?

                What if anything are Democrats willing to compromise on?Report

              • Avatar Stillwater says:


                According to your own account, conservative voters and politicians didn’t change their minds about SSM as a compromise to Dems. They did so because the recognized that restricting the right to marry to tradmar was bad policy. Claiming that the Dems and liberals failed to compromise on that issue would require what you said didn’t happen: imposing it thirty years ago at the national level. But interestingly, most Dems back then didn’t support that view either. 🙂 Same goes for SS and Medicare and UI benies, btw, which may have been a liberal initiative but also received wide bi-partisan support over the years.

                To Road’s more central point: These issues are determined at the national level by winning elections and passing legislation and so on. I agree with him. No one compromises on they’re individual pet issues, least of all conservatives.

                On the other hand, conservatism has changed quite a bit over the years, so maybe the problem is viewing the past thru a more contemporary filter and concluding, from that perspective, that conservatives have taken it up the yin yang for over a century!

                Adding: I’m still not sure what problem you see which requires liberals to compromise in order to solve. Liberals are losing all across the country! {{But I’ve already said that a couple of times. 🙂 }}Report

              • Avatar Francis says:


                “Gun control, education, welfare, SS, state’s rights, gay marriage, etc I can’t even find something that Republicans haven’t caved on.”

                Gun control — massive Republican success.

                Education — You realize that Common Core is voluntary?

                Welfare — The Clinton administration compromised hugely with the Republicans. You got the compromise you wanted.

                SS — yep, when Bush II proposed privatizing SS, you got totally beat down. Because the voters didn’t want what the Republican leadership wanted. It was so bad the Republicans couldn’t even get a bill out of committee. When your own side doesn’t want what the President offers, there’s really no basis for blaming the other side for failing to compromise.

                States’ Rights — **snicker** To reiterate, the only person in American politics of any power deeply committed to States’ Rights is the Senate Minority Leader, irrespective of party.

                Gay marriage — yep, another total beatdown, but this one was legal not political. When the straights changed the definition of marriage and family so radically from 1900 to 2000, they had no legal basis to deny it to gays. By the way, compromises were on offer for years. Remember all the fights about civil unions? Republicans came out strong against them.

                Seriously, if a compromise is on offer and it’s rejected by your own side, you really have no basis to come whining about the subsequent beat-down.

                And since we’re talking about compromises, where were the Republican compromises on health care, on the Obama jobs program, on the stimulus package, or on the Supreme Court nominee?

                To be perfectly clear, I still don’t know what you want the Democrats to give up. All you’ve done is point to some issues, but you haven’t stated what a compromise would look like.Report

              • Avatar Chip Daniels says:

                at some point it becomes majority rule, doesn’t it?

                Um, thats exactly the fear of conservatives. They read the papers, they see the polls, they know the world is changing.

                The office buildings here in downtown LA all have, in December, a gigantic Christmas tree in their lobbies. And off to the side, somewhere in a corner, is a little menorah.

                When there are fire drills, I’ve looked around at the building occupants. Judging from appearances, there are a lot of brown faces, a lot of Asians, South Asians, Middle Eastern people. White European faces are somewhere at, or below 50%.
                And we know that the fastest growing religion is “None”.

                So someday soon, there will be an event, a December in which the management decides no one cares enough to erect a huge tree.
                Or maybe the building will send out a memo stating the lobby will be closed for Tet, or Eid, and occupants can enter thru the side door if they wish to work that day.

                Or something. Something that announces the end of white Christian cultural hegemony.

                And there will be wailing and gnashing of teeth, but like you say, it is majority rule.

                The purpose of crosses on hills and creches in city halls isn’t to reflect reality, but to deny it, to stand athwart history and yell Stop!Report

              • If you think that Christians are all white I think you may need to do some more research.

                If it’s gonna die a natural death, let it. But it’s not happening yet. As it is here and now, most people, the majority, even many non-Christians celebrate Christmas. Countries like Japan and Turkey celebrate it. A lot of atheists celebrate Christmas. It’s a shared cultural thing, like a neighborhood park or art in the courthouse.

                The tree is meaningless to me. I like them, but I’d live without it.
                What is important is some sense of a shared culture, something that we all enjoy, that isn’t a political football. But I fear if we can’t even agree on small things, maybe we really will go to war over chicken sandwiches and an inability to compromise over anything ever. Dumbest civil war ever.Report

              • Avatar Chip Daniels says:

                I just read that Sean Spicer has declared that we can expect stronger enforcement of marijuana laws.
                And they seem to be making common cause with the law enforcement who like asset forfeiture.

                Since neither of these affect me, I’m willing to compromise on both of these.

                I’ll give them making pot a felony again, and confiscate the houses and cars of pot smokers, in exchange for keeping Medicare.Report

              • Yep, and I”m not happy about that. I think it’s a terrible idea. But people didn’t vote for DT because he was in any way anyone’s ideal. They voted for him because they perceived the other alternative was worse. And that’s not the voter’s fault.Report

              • Avatar Jesse says:

                “And that’s not the voter’s fault.”

                Sure it is. It’s not completely their fault, but this infantilzation of Trump voters acting as if they had no choice but to vote for Trump by their defenders is in a way, a lot more disgusting than the simple hatred some people on the Left have for them.

                At least the Left is granting them the agency that a lot of voters are racists or sexists and wanted to vote for the racist or sexist candidate. Instead of making up tales about how Trump voters had no choice but to vote for Trump.Report

              • Avatar Chip Daniels says:

                One of the things I liked about the Laurie Penny article about the Milo crowd was how she showed how these young white men lived in a world where they were in perpetual adolescence, forever unable to be held accountable for their own actions.

                Even as they savagely snarl and tear at those who are powerless, they have a hypersensitivity to their own pain and suffering.

                Notice my response a moment ago to notme, in his callous shrug of indifference to a woman suffering brain tumor.

                Compare his response to the endless stories of the suffering white working class male who is so richly deserving of our pity and compassion, that no matter what awful and cruel act he does, can never be criticized, only cajoled and begged.Report

              • It’s not the voter’s fault that the Republicans couldn’t come up with someone better than Jeb Bush or Marco Rubio as their “anointed one”, and it’s not the voter’s fault that the Republican leadership refused to get behind Ted Cruz (I think Hillary would have cleaned Ted’s clock, honestly)

                It’s also not the voter’s fault that the Democrats nominated Hillary, it’s not the voter’s fault that Hillary has been the person she has been for the past several decades, it’s not their fault she put a computer program in charge of her campaign and never bothered to speak to working class Americans, and it’s not the voter’s fault the Democrats have moved so far left that it is next to impossible to find common ground with them for the average person.

                It’s not the voter’s fault the media gave tons of free press to Donald Trump and also not the voter’s fault that the media and celebrities behaved so odiously in the weeks before the election that it turned a lot of people off who might have voted Hillary otherwise.

                Voters did the best they could do in a terrible situation that was created by the powers that be. And that is in no way an infantilization. If anything it took a lot of courage to do, a lot of individual thought and introspection. And I’m not yet convinced they did the wrong thing, given all input both pre and post election. Time will tell.Report

              • Avatar Morat20 says:

                It’s not the voter’s fault that the Republicans couldn’t come up with someone better than Jeb Bush or Marco Rubio as their “anointed one”, and it’s not the voter’s fault that the Republican leadership refused to get behind Ted Cruz (I think Hillary would have cleaned Ted’s clock, honestly)

                You do realize that the GOP candidate was the guy who got the most votes, right? That’s how the primary works? Nobody in dark rooms picked and chose who won, it was all the Republicans who came out to vote?

                So yeah, it IS the GOP voter’s fault that Trump was their nominee. That’s not on Republican leadership or space aliens or liberals somehow. That’s on the GOP’s own base, who selected him with a majority of their votes.Report

              • There is a lot of unpacking to do on the Republican side that has unfortunately gotten lost in the shuffle of the unpacking to do on the Democrat side.

                People didn’t want the status quo. That much is clear. The status quo was not desired. The Republican leadership should have seen that coming early on and gotten behind one of the “outsiders” be it Paul or Cruz and started pushing them as an alternative to Trump immediately.

                But maybe they couldn’t see that, maybe they didn’t want to believe it, maybe they thought Trump would lose badly and Hillary would win and it would be business as usual and they thought that President Hillary would be better than Cruz. I don’t know, but it was a series of huge missteps from the Republican leadership during the early days and even right down to the wire, dangling Kasich out there like through some sort of terrible booby prize – I truly think a large % of Republican leadership were more afraid of Ted Cruz than Donald Trump, and way more afraid of Cruz than Hillary Clinton. (Ironically, I think Hillary would have totally smoked Ted so if that was their strategy.)

                I don’t blame people for being completely disgusted with the Republican leadership. My suspicion is that a lot of early voters went Trump in protest of the inevitability of Bush Clinton 2, and then suddenly it snowballed. We’ll probably never know.

                But no, I don’t blame the voters. Not one bit.Report

              • Avatar Morat20 says:

                No, there’s no unpacking. There’s frantic handwaving, but there’s no unpacking.

                Either Republican voters are grown up adults, responsible for their choices — or they are not. It is not the fault of Democrats, or shadowy elites, or space aliens.

                Trump became the candidate because more grown-up, fully realized adults, pulled the lever for him than anyone else. He then won the election because more people (in swing states at least) pulled the lever for him than his opponent.

                You don’t get to pretend that choice was forced on them. You don’t get to pretend some shadowy cabal was behind it.

                Not unless you actually believe Trump voters, each and every one of them, are incapable of making choices on their own.

                All I see here is a frantic and desperate attempt to deny agency to Trump voters, as if they were ignorant children rather than actual adults.

                Ironic, given that it’s liberals that are supposedly smug and condescending. This liberal, at least, recognizes that Republican adults are grown-ups who own their vote.Report

              • Avatar Stillwater says:

                They coulda voted for Kasich.Report

              • Avatar Don Zeko says:

                Well maybe if the Democrats were to nominate a liberal, sure, but a devoutly Christian Liberal who was deeply committed to bipartisan cooperation? Oh, and perhaps he could have campaigned on healing our partisan divides, let bygones be bygones when people in his party demanded that the war criminals in the previous administration face some repurcussions for their actions, things like that. Maybe he could have avoided a radical break with his predecessor’s foreign policy and pushed hard for a fiscal grand bargain that would reduce the debt by cutting spending and raising taxes. Oh wait, we did, and it then the right went insane and nominated a deranged sexual predator that they saw on TV for President. Oops.Report

              • Avatar Chip Daniels says:

                Look at Kristin’s list again of “conservative” virtues:

                Community, family, self-reliance, freedom, security, charity, pursuing happiness, working hard to get ahead in life.

                I know a guy like this, who exemplifies all these virtues. He was elected to the Presidency twice. His name is Barack Obama.

                And the conservatives hate his guts.Report

              • Avatar Pinky says:

                Again with the revisionism. Obama supported policies that undermined all those things.Report

              • BTW, Chip, I did not say they were “virtues”, I said they were a conservative optimistic vision (which you claimed conservatism lacked). You would agree, I’m certain, that the optimistic vision of liberalism is very often not embodied in some individual liberals’ behavior, and additionally this vision can be at times embodied in the behavior of non-liberal people.Report

              • Avatar Pinky says:

                No, we nominated a semi-stable and then a very stable experienced politician in response. You labelled them both racists. It was when you nominated the deranged wife of a sexual predator that we lit our hair on fire.Report

              • Avatar Don Zeko says:

                Did you watch the press conference? I understand disliking Hillary Clinton; she’s hardly my favorite politician. But if you think there’s any reasonable comparison to be made between her faults and that horror show, then I don’t know how to convince you.Report

              • Avatar Stillwater says:

                It was when you nominated the deranged wife of a sexual predator that we lit our hair on fire.

                But what about the primary?Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                Man, the primary should never have been rigged.Report

              • Avatar Stillwater says:

                The GOP primary was rigged? Has anyone told Trump? He’ll go ballistic.Report

              • Avatar Stillwater says:


                You cannot coherently say that people are entitled to their own views about politics and governance because at the end of the day those beliefs are like religion (and therefore beyond rational challenge!) on the one hand and then blame your own perception of dysfunction on the failure of folks to rationally compromise their politically religious beliefs.

                Dude, you just can’t rationally do that. And you know it.

                Add: IOW, you gotta pick a side of the fence to make your stand. You can’t have it both ways.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                You cannot coherently say that people are entitled to their own views about politics and governance because at the end of the day those beliefs are like religion (and therefore beyond rational challenge!)

                This isn’t exactly my position.
                It’s more that their beliefs are not under my jurisdiction beyond my ability to get them to change their minds (which is *SEVERELY* limited).

                How else?

                I mean, I suppose I could say “they should believe something else!” and then you and I could agree that they should.

                But I don’t see what that has won us.

                your own perception of dysfunction on the failure of folks to rationally compromise their politically religious beliefs.

                I’m coming to the realization that I didn’t rationally compromise my politically religious beliefs, they just evolved and I came up with reasons after the fact that most of the people in my peer group agreed were rational enough for jazz and I spent the next decade or so under the impression that that mean that it was rational in the first place.Report

              • Avatar Stillwater says:

                Some people really, REALLY, don’t like jazz.Report

              • Avatar Mike Schilling says:

                -Trump Acts Like a Nut!-
                -Trump Tells Outrageous Lies!-
                -Trump insules War Hero!-
                -Trump Brags About Assaulting Women!-

                “You know, I might just vote for that Trump guy. I’ve been seeing his name a lot.”Report

              • Avatar Pinky says:

                Of course I didn’t watch the press conference. If I have to watch mentally ill people yelling at each other, I’d rather be volunteering at a hospital. I’m saying that you guys are revising the heck out of history. You can’t depict Obama as a champion of conservative virtues without ignoring his record on welfare reform, racial animus, and federal expansion. Blogging is the second draft of history, and you guys are creating a narrative (or repeating one) that’s unrecognizable to me.

                As for the primaries, it was clearer that Clinton was going to win than Trump. Again, this wasn’t that long ago, so there’s no good reason for you guys to be distorting it.Report

              • Avatar Stillwater says:

                Of course I didn’t watch the press conference.

                You really should. Like, really. It’ll change your life. I’m not being sarcastic. It was that …. unbelievable.Report

              • Avatar Don Zeko says:

                Neither did Mitch McConnell. What a coincidence!Report

              • Avatar Don Zeko says:

                Let’s look at that list again:

                Community, family, self-reliance, freedom, security, charity, pursuing happiness, working hard to get ahead in life.

                What do those things have to do with welfare reform, racial animus, and the size of the federal government? It sure looks to me like that’s a very good question that reasonable people will disagree upon. Barack Obama obviously isn’t a conservative and it made perfect sense for the GOP to have a number of points of contention with him. What doesn’t make sense is that they reacted to him as if he was a wild-eyed Leninist bent on destroying America, and that was never true or even plausible outside the paranoid ravings of talk radio.Report

              • Avatar Pinky says:

                If you believe that reasonable people can disagree on these things, then you can’t cite them as proof that Republicans were unreasonable toward Obama.Report

              • Avatar Mike Schilling says:

                But we only nominated the deranged wife of a sexual predator after you spent 8 years calling the decent family man we elected president a socialist pro-terrorist Muslim extremist who lied about where he was born and hates America.

                So there!Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                Another thing that might have prevented Trump: Clinton/Obama 2008.

                I understand the argument that Clinton would have lost in 2012, but I’m not certain that that’s the case.

                Trump certainly wouldn’t have won against Obama in 2016. And, hell, Maybe Democratic losses wouldn’t have been so bad from 2010-2016.Report

              • Avatar Don Zeko says:

                You know what else would have prevented Trump? If Republicans cared about whether or not their leaders lied to them, or whether or not their leaders had any experience in government, or whether their leaders courted the support of fringe hate groups. In other words, Democrats need to change.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                Well, just wait for the pendulum to swing back. Surely Trump will hollow out the Republican party even worse than Obama did. And, hey, 2020 is a redistricting year. You guys will be able to gerrymander the hell out of the states. Plus you have computers now.Report

              • Avatar Stillwater says:

                Surely Trump will hollow out the Republican party even worse than Obama did.

                Obama caused Trump!!

                I’m absolutely amazed by how entrenched you are in this narrative. Primarily because the narrative is so patently absurd and that you’re an otherwise very intelligent person.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                I don’t know how else to describe the 1,000 elections lost by the Democrats in 2010, 2012, 2014, and 2016 than a “hollowing out”.

                Even if we say that 200 of those elections were regression to the mean and another 300 were due to gerrymandering, then that’s still 500 elections lost over those 4 elections.

                That’s not me clinging to a narrative. That’s me looking at the numbers and saying “crap… that’s 500 elections lost by the Democrats.”

                And given that 2018 is an off year election, there will be an abundance of narratives for democratic leadership to cling to if they don’t make some serious headway… narratives that translate to “I don’t need to change! *HE* needs to change!”Report

              • Avatar Stillwater says:

                I didn’t know we were supposed to have our Dem Strategist hats on in this discussion. For some reason I thought we were talking about something else.

                Let me get my hat! brb.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                Did you really prefer to argue deontology? I suppose it provides firmer footing…Report

              • Avatar Stillwater says:

                Not for me. The foundations are too sandy.

                Look, if all you’ve been doing is giving advice to Dems and liberals on how to reverse their electoral fortunes, then that’s fine. But that’s not how I understood anything you’ve said in this thread. Maybe that’s on me.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                My take is that something has gone awry and it’s getting awryer. The Republicans are Republicans and half of them have proven incapable of taking Trump on even with all the tools in their belt and the other half have proven to be down with Trump so long as he keeps winning (for definitions of “winning” that include “driving Democrats/The Media/Hollywood nuts”). The latter can’t be reasoned with, the former? Mmm. Do we have any of those? Romney types? Scotto, I guess.

                As such, we’re left with the tools that we have. If we want things to not be awry, where do we even begin?

                Well, one interesting place (as far as I can tell) is “well, did *WE* make any mistakes?”

                If the answer comes a resounding *NO* WE MADE NO MISTAKES, then I’m stuck concluding that things are going to get worse.

                The only arguments that I’ve seen have to do with how the Democrats don’t need to change because the Republicans are worse.

                I’ve even seen arguments that things are more or less going fine because of the underlying demographic numbers.

                I’m looking around and saying “THINGS ARE NUTS THINGS ARE BROKEN WE NEED TO ADJUST COURSE” and people are telling me that, no, we don’t. The other guys do.

                We’re on the cusp of some huge change. A game change.

                We either need to compromise, divorce, or go to war and I can’t get people to acknowledge something (ANYTHING_ that they’d be willing to compromise on nor that divorce is a real option.

                I hope I’m wrong, but I don’t see how the numbers don’t add up to the Democrats making huge mistakes in the last 4 years or so and I can’t get the little samples of Democrat DNA in our little petri dish to acknowledge anything that should have been done differently.

                This is nuts.Report

              • Avatar Stillwater says:

                My take is that something has gone awry and it’s getting awryer.

                The contradictions are heightening, aren’t they?

                How much damage to the business/investment class do you think Trump can inflict before this little experiment in reactionary isolationism gets rolled back?

                How much damage to the labor economy to you think Trump can inflict before the same experiment is rolled back?Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                One of the things that was hammered into me during our inequality arguments was that inequality is a positional relationship between actors, not an absolute relationship between an actor and Nature.

                If the damage Trump does is to the right people and they scream loudly enough, Trump will be doing exactly what he needs to be re-elected.

                And we’ll be able to puzzle over why so many demographics that never used to vote Republican have started voting for Trump.Report

              • Avatar Chip Daniels says:

                Or…we can puzzle over why the working white class suddenly left without health insurance or jobs, and the agricultural interests damaged by the trade war, and the tech companies left without talent due to xenophobia, have all swing back to the Dems.

                You’re assuming that a candidate who built a fragile coalition by promising wildly incompatible things to different people, can hold this coalition together even as he has shown himself utterly incapable of so much as finding the light switches.Report

              • Avatar greginak says:

                Does the ACA count as a compromise? It was far less than most liberals wanted and it was a close version of Romney Care. That Romney guy you have mentioned. How about the big stimulus package that was a one third tax cuts. Just spit balling some obvious things that might have been compromises?

                Maybe you could give us some specific examples of possible compromises or failure to compromise and which group ( not “the Left”) did so.

                Because despite your exasperation plenty of us D’s seem to not to be saying “we will crush you.”Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                As far as I recall, the ACA was a compromise among Dems.

                I remember hearing that not a single Republican voted for it.

                As compromises go, I guess I can see why we think compromise isn’t possible.Report

              • Avatar greginak says:

                So the D’s start with a plan based on Romney Care. Start with a plan based on an R plan which was far less than what many liberals wanted. Many libs were hugely torqued we weren’t going for a more expansive national health care plan. So that is your myopia. The D’s, led by Obama, started with something close to an R plan but that wasn’t good enough.

                I’ll also note i repeatedly asked R’s what they would have compromised with on HCR. Lord knows i asked TVD like many many times over multiple threads. The only answer i’ve ever gotten was R’s would have settled for the basic R plan that Romney offered. So nothing, that was the R compromise. As others have said to you, it seems like compromise for you is all about D’s and nothing about R’s.Report

              • Avatar DensityDuck says:

                “I’ll also note i repeatedly asked R’s what they would have compromised with on HCR.”

                Medicare for all.

                “but Republicans won’t accept that!”

                Well. Did anyone ever ask them?Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                “What do you mean that we’re playing a variant of the ultimatum game and the other guy refused my offer?”Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                As others have said to you, it seems like compromise for you is all about D’s and nothing about R’s.

                Who is negotiating from a position of strength?
                Who is negotiating from a position of weakness?

                In 2008, would it make sense to you for someone to argue about the various things that the Democrats in the House, Senate, and White House would need to compromise on?

                It seemed to me, at the time, that the Dems were negotiating from a position of Strength and, at best, the argument could be made that we have to work together in the future, you may want to not to not engage in shenanigans because the pendulum swings.

                At the time, I argued that Republicans ought to change their tune on the whole gay marriage thing, if I recall correctly.

                I didn’t argue to the Democrats that they should give up things.

                As for the Republicans now? Hey. The pendulum swings. All you have to do is wait and the democrats will be in power again. Maybe even with a permanent democratic majority!

                And in the meantime, all you have to do is obstruct, obstruct, obstruct. Play your cards right, and Trump won’t be able to accomplish anything that you don’t want him to.Report

              • Dumbest thing the Republicans ever did (and that’s saying a lot) was not see the way the wind was blowing on gay marriage. SO unbelievably stupid.

                Jaybird, I think you’re saying that the Republicans don’t need to give up anything right now, because they’re winning, right? I don’t want to put words in your mouth so just making sure. But in a longer game, I think it is time for the R’s to start thinking further beyond the next election because I think the D’s are playing by a different set of rules than the Republicans are, or at least have been in the past.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                Jaybird, I think you’re saying that the Republicans don’t need to give up anything right now, because they’re winning, right?

                Not exactly. I’m more saying that they’re negotiating from a position of having advantage.

                Which is not to say that they don’t need to give anything up. There are a number of things that I think they ought to give up. Don’t get me started.

                But… at this point, they’ve got advantage and they will continue to have advantage until the pendulum swings back.

                So hold your breath until 2018. It’s that election that will provide an indicator (among other indicators, of course) that what Democrats are doing is working.

                But, and here’s what worries me, if Republicans hold the line in the 2018 elections, there’s more than enough cover for Professional Democrat Types to say “well, you have to understand, it was an off year election, those always go for Republicans, Democrats are still trying to pick a gameplan after losing Debbie Wasserman-Schultz as chairperson of the DNC, and the Berniebros showed their true colors by not showing up to the polls…”Report

              • Especially when the “mistakes” that the other guy supposedly made were simple silly political BS. Obama is born in where-ever. Dan Quayle can’t spell potato(e). Michael Dukakis is depressed. Grover Cleveland had a baby out of wedlock. Andrew Jackson’s wife was divorced. I mean seriously – some things are just politics. Politics is ugly but that’s not what matter at the end of the day. Everyone understands that.

                Silly political demands about Barack’s birth certificate are just not on the same level as, oh, I don’t know, sending drones to kill people, or having the NSA spying on private citizens, or having the IRS investigate political opponents, or any of Obama’s actual other issues that Dem’s seemed ok with ignoring. (and I voted for Barack Obama!!)

                Honestly if I were a Democrat, I’d be darn relieved that a bunch of idiots were obsessing over a birth certificate instead of the actual pretty serious things that were occurring during the Obama administration.Report

              • Avatar Stillwater says:

                Silly political demands about Barack’s birth certificate are just not on the same level as, oh, I don’t know, sending drones to kill people, or…

                I disagree. It actually is, tho it perhaps ought not be. Those types of demands and characterizations are the essence of politics. Why, one might make the argument that challenging Obama’s citizenship is precisely why we have the President currently holding the office. (Or that John McCain didn’t beat Bush because of he fathered an illigitimate black child in SC…)Report

              • So it’s just as bad to demand Donald Trump’s tax returns as it is for him to send ICE around deporting illegal immigrants?Report

              • Avatar Stillwater says:

                At the level or retail politics, no one gives a rats patooi about drone strikes in Pakistan. But they do care that no one has ever proven that Barack Obama is a US citizen.

                Hey, I didn’t make the rules.

                Add: Those are your people who feel that way, right? You’re a conservative???Report

              • I have never heard or seen any actual person talk about or discuss Obama’s birth certificate.

                I have seen them talk about a lot of other, much more serious things, including drones.Report

              • Avatar greginak says:

                FWIW i’ve heard plenty of real live conservatives talk about Obama’s birth certificate, say his a Manchurian Candidate and is a secret Muslim. Real people fervently believed those things.Report

              • Avatar Chip Daniels says:

                Weren’t there, like actual polls done that showed something like a third or more of all Republicans believed Obama was either a Muslim, born in Kenya, or both?Report

              • Avatar greginak says:

                Yup. Many of them.Report

              • Avatar Chip Daniels says:

                Maybe its my liberal POV here in California, but I don’t see Trump as the leading edge of some triumphant coalition.

                Here, we have made the GOP virtually extinct. Orange County, the very heartland of Reagan conservatism, just tipped blue in this last cycle, with Dem registration topping GOP for the very first time; Darryl Issa barely survived, clinging to his seat by a fingernail.

                I caution my fellow Dems not to rely entirely on demographics, but they are in fact trending our way.
                So were I a Dem strategist, I would ask, why give away on the bargaining table what we can win outright on the battlefield?

                Georgia, Texas, No. Carolina…they are all trending purple on their way to blue.

                The evidence for this is in the GOP itself, and their desperate attempts to gerrymander and suppress the vote, and go full fledged White Nationalist.

                Their best hope is apartheid, to be the minority that governs the majority, but even that doesn’t last forever.
                A lot of the trump 2016 voters will be deceased in 2020, while the Dem coalition will be larger.

                Especially once the Rust Belt Trump voters get a taste of what privatized Medicare is like.

                But again…I am a Dem partisan.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                Well, then. I suppose you have nothing to worry about. You just need to hold out long enough for the Republicans to die out and be replaced by fecund Democrats.

                Trump was little more than a hiccup on the way to the inevitable.

                Nothing to worry about, just something to be irritated by, as one is irritated by the need to take a detour on the way home from work. You’re still going to end up in the same place, it’ll just take a little longer.

                No reason to change.Report

              • Avatar Koz says:

                Yeah, I’m not buyin’ it either. I think there’s some probability it could go down the way Chip says, but much less than a year ago at this time, let alone January of 2009.

                Specifically, I do think that Trump represents an ongoing winning coalition, though in a way Trump doesn’t lead it. As things stand, I think our partisan coalitions are in more flux now than they have ever been in a long time, kinda like the tectonic plates moving around before an earthquake.

                As a default, my best guess is that the GOP keeps a huge majority of the white working class, they lose the Bernie’s back to the Demos, but pick up the Romneyite white upper middle class (and maybe even some minorites, specifically black and Asian). Add all that together, just in horse race terms I’d rather be us than them.

                Really, all the Demo’s have for message is how much the don’t like Donald Trump. There’s a lot of mileage to be milked there, but it has an obvious vulnerability in that once Trump is gone what can they say? They didn’t have much to say in 2014, that’s for sure.Report

              • Avatar Mike Schilling says:

                I can’t begin to understand what might have prevented Trump, or even if “prevented” is a word that makes sense.

                To the first point, it really is hard for a party to win three in a row. The GOP has done it once since 1928, and the Dems not since 1948, and Hillary is not the candidate to inspire unusual victories. But that the GOP, given a crew that, while not the deep bench they described, was still the usual mixture of more or less competent conservatives, would reject them all for a serial vanity candidate who was a vulgar, preening, clearly unhinged bad joke — well, I can’t begin to explain what made so many of them lose their minds all at once.

                To the second, while we can tell ourselves stories about what caused it, no one knows. Historians will write about it years from now, given more far perspective than we have, and they won’t know either. There are lots of very good reasons that the Roman Empire collapsed, but why specifically in 476? (Yes, I know that’s kind of a fake date, but something big happened in the last half of the fifth century, and no one can explain why it wasn’t earlier or later.) Add to that the fact that it was a very close election, and small differences in things we’re not thinking about might have resulted in Hillary in a squeaker. (This is why complaining about Comey, while not particularly useful, isn’t crazy. ) That we can at his point say with any confidence “OK, so if they nominate Newt in 2012 and he loses badly, that gets blamed on Newt, so someone like Rubio is still plausible” is just not true.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                I’m remembering us swinging from “Clinton is inevitable” to “How did Trump win?” over the course of a couple of days.

                I suppose it’s good that we’ve moved to “we have always known that she’d had a tough row to hoe…”Report

              • Avatar Mike Schilling says:

                What I meant was, she would have had a tough row to hoe against a normal candidate like Jed! or Rubio. By all normal logic, she should have won against Trump, because he’s a disgrace, By the same normal logic, he should never have gotten near the nomination.

                When did things stop being normal? How did they get that way? I don’t think anyone knows. I suspect it isn’t because we called Romney a robotic, insincere, out of touch rich guy. (I’m sure that someone, somewhere called him a racist, but that wasn’t common. Certainly much less so than birtherism.)Report

              • Avatar Kolohe says:

                Couple of days? It was like 4 to 5 hours – 7 pm eastern time was the first thing, midnight the second.Report

              • Avatar DensityDuck says:

                “I can’t begin to understand what might have prevented Trump, or even if “prevented” is a word that makes sense.”

                You know, you’re right. Cruz was ugly, Rubio was a blowhard, Carson was a religious idiot, Kasich was too boring, Walker was , and there just wasn’t anyone else who could possibly have been supported. Everyone had something wrong with them, but it turned out that what was wrong with Trump was that he didn’t give a fuck that anything was wrong with him.

                How magical a power one derives from not giving a fuck.Report

              • Avatar Mike Schilling says:

                Trump ran several times before, and was always treated as the joke he is. Something changed, and it isn’t that people started being mean to the opposing party.Report

              • Avatar Kolohe says:

                Hillary Clinton over performed the ‘fundamentals’ of a third consectutive term for a party and the unemployment/american servicemember dying in war rate during the campaign.

                She just didn’t over perform in the correct states.Report

              • Avatar Jesse says:

                In other words, @jaybird, conservatives are so unhinged liberals are not allowed to win more than one election in a row or they’ll go crazy and nominate an unhinged unqualified nominee?Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                Sure, let’s go with that. That’s how bad they are.

                There’s no living with those people, is there? I mean, it’s not possible. Divorce is pretty much the only option, don’t you think?Report

              • Avatar DensityDuck says:

                You can only call people irredeemable racist bigot homophobes so many times before they start to believe you. And once you believe that you’re an irredeemable racist bigot homophobe, well, why not vote for the guy who definitely is one and doesn’t seem to care?Report

              • Avatar Chip Daniels says:

                Which is why I am voting for the Communist/ Sharia Law Party candidate in 2018;

                Hey, you made me do this!Report

              • Avatar Kolohe says:

                “I’m ticked off at the Shah and so am voting for the Communist/Sharia law candidate” is the story of the Iranian Revolution in one sentence.Report

              • Avatar Don Zeko says:

                Funny how this logic only works if you assume that you don’t care at all about actual bigotry, but are deeply concerned about the possibility that you might be accused of it.Report

              • Avatar Koz says:

                That could be, but who’s really going to care what polluters think anyway?Report

              • Avatar Brent F says:

                Guys who supported the party that picked Trump don’t get to complain about pollution to the public discourse. There are limits to the hypocrisy you can get away with in polite company.Report

              • Avatar Koz says:

                We can, and we are.

                The accusation of hypocrisy doesn’t hold water anyway, because Republicans and/or conservatives have shown that they can oppose President Trump, especially in terms of his public discourse.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                “this logic only works if you assume that you don’t care at all about actual bigotry, but are deeply concerned about the possibility that you might be accused of it”

                (looks at demographics of zip codes)

                If I would recommend removing the word “only” from the above.Report

            • Avatar Damon says:

              Yeah, and where are these sensible liberals I keep hearing about?

              You know, the ones that wanted to “do their own thing” and were cool with other people doing that too, even if it was different from their thing?

              Where are those folks who think that just making a law will change things, especially criminals who don’t obey said laws.

              Where are those people who agree that the billions spend on various programs, that achieved so little, might need a bit of reform?

              Where are those people who think that not everything is about race, or sex, or whatever?

              I’d like to meet those liberals. “Cause they ain’t where I currently reside in the mid Atlantic. Those guys? They just accused me of being a “white, male, heterosexual, christian, for saying “I don’t care anymore.” Can you believe it? Judging me on how I present myself?Report

            • Chip, your examples of “impious radicals” and “deranged fanatics” are all things that many conservatives and libertarians, myself included, have genuinely-felt moral convictions on. So I’m rather confused how out of one side of your mouth, you’re calling out conservatives for betraying their principles in some arenas but at the same time calling them out for not caving in on other principles. Doesn’t quite add up.

              It appears to me that you’d have this view whenever “conservatism” departed from what you personally agree with. Anything that Republicans compromise on (because while they have not been fiscally prudent, the Democrats by and large would spend even more), you’d criticize them for bastardizing their principles, and anything they won’t, you’d criticize them for being inflexible and dogmatic. Because you’re more interested in demonizing the other side than any kind of agreement. You want the Republicans to basically lay down and surrender and let your side have their way. And that’s fine, your prerogative, but you’re not going to win any converts to your cause that way.

              Now, I personally enjoy holding the Republican leadership’s feet to the flames and demanding better from them. I think that many of their policies are wrongheaded, but I can work with them. I hope that I can help influence them towards more liberty, more fiscal responsibility, in some miniscule way. I can’t work with the Democrats as they exist in the here and now.

              And yes, there are many good, principled Republicans in elected office all across the US. They aren’t perfect and they have to work with the coalitions and system that they have, and the results are not always what I’d like or many others would like.Report

          • Avatar Jesse says:

            So, @kristin-devine, if Trump isn’t representative of the Republican Parrty or conservatism in 2017, why does he have a 90% approval rating among self-described Republican’s?

            Sorry, even if I disagree with some of his actions, I can’t deny that Barack Obama who has a similar approval rating among Democrats is representative of the Democratic Party in 2016.Report

            • Avatar Don Zeko says:

              Yup. If Conservatives cared about Trump’s conflicts of interest, his incompetence, his potentially compromising contacts with Russia, etc etc etc, they could call their Senators and demand that they force Trump to change course. Actions speak louder than words, and it’s clear that with a few notable and admirable exceptions, Conservatives find all of Trump’s faults to be perfectly acceptable.Report

              • Avatar Koz says:

                I disagree. They just think that they are less of a problem than the civic dissolution represented by the “resistance”. Given that, it makes things very difficult.Report

            • Avatar Chip Daniels says:

              And the “We had no choice” excuse doesn’t work either.

              Evan McMullen is a real live conservative Republican who appears sane and represents values close to what Kristin listed.

              He was resoundingly rejected by the Republican Party.

              Republicans all across America looked at Donald Trump, looked at Evan McMullen, and made their choice.Report

            • Avatar Koz says:

              So, @Kristin Devine, if Trump isn’t representative of the Republican Parrty or conservatism in 2017, why does he have a 90% approval rating among self-described Republican’s?

              Probably because libs are making such an ugly show of throwing their toys out of the pram.Report

              • Avatar Stillwater says:

                Ahh. So they don’t really support Trump afterall, then, yeah? They just hate libs so much they pretend to. Good argument!Report

              • Avatar Chip Daniels says:

                I feel sorry for Cleek.
                The political scientific discovery of the century, and he receives no royalties at all.Report

              • He lives on his royalties from creating the 1-iron.Report

              • Avatar Koz says:

                Not really. It’s more that they’re afraid of libs. And given what’s happened before and since the election, it’s hard to say that those fears aren’t justified.Report

              • Avatar Don Zeko says:

                Afraid that “libs” would do what, precisely?Report

              • Avatar Koz says:

                That libs will sabotage the machine of our political process and their adversaries’ ability to participate in it. And in parallel, they will use nongovernmental cultural positions of power as leverage against the private interests of their cultural or political adversaries, or even apolitical Americans for that matter.Report

              • Avatar Koz says:

                Like this from Rod Dreher just today. This particular incident isn’t necessarily the fault of the libs politically, but you can clearly see (or at least ought to see) the consequences of the lib cultural energy behind political correctness.


              • Avatar Chip Daniels says:

                Imagine millions of nasty women in pink pussy hats, mocking you to your face, forever.

                That is the terrifying face of liberalism.Report

              • Avatar Koz says:

                Yeah, who wants engage this on a regular basis?


              • Avatar Don Zeko says:

                Do I have to find a clip of Ted Nugent or whoever, or can you google it on your own?Report

              • Avatar Koz says:

                I probably could if I knew what I was looking for.Report

              • Avatar Don Zeko says:

                I googled “ted nugent crazy racist video” and found this helpful list of 13 things I probably can’t repeat without violating the terms of use of this site. It’s Media Matters, sure, but they’re quoting him verbatim. I’m happy to stipulate that both conservatives and liberals have their share of celebrities that make stupid, offensive arguments not worthy of engagement, but that aren’t a good reflection of their larger camps. If you ask me this is being more than fair.Report

              • Avatar Mike Schilling says:

                You might as well quote them. “T*d N*g*nt” is already enough to get you banned.Report

              • Avatar Pinky says:

                Too many great Ted Nugent videos to watch to bother with that one.Report

              • Avatar Koz says:

                I dunno, the difference in representation seems obvious to me, maybe it isn’t for you.Report

              • Avatar Chip Daniels says:

                Mr. Sulu’s comment: “Oh, My…”Report

              • Avatar Kolohe says:

                Chip Daniels: Imagine millions of nasty women in pink pussy hats, mocking you to your face, forever.

                That is the terrifying face of liberalism.

                If only that was the face of November 8, 2016, we wouldn’t have the President we do now.Report

              • Avatar Stillwater says:

                It’s more that they’re afraid of libs.

                Oh man, I’m so sorry. Really. No one should live in fear. If I’d only known you guys were merely scared of liberals I’da been right there in your corner all these years.Report

              • Conservatives hate liberals more than they love freedom or conservative principles.

                Man, I wish I disagreed.Report

              • Avatar notme says:

                Yes republicans are so awful. Boo hoo hoo.Report

              • Avatar Mike Schilling says:

                They nominated and elected Donald Trump.

                So, yes.Report

              • Avatar Koz says:

                Oh bullshit. There’s a tendency among at least some libs to retreat some formulaic bullshit to make your antagonisms feel more comfortable. And as far as the League goes you and Chip are among the worst of the active commenters.

                The worst part of it isn’t so much that it’s wrong (which isn’t that big a deal) as much as that it’s some momentary thought bubble that can justify all sorts of things, but something that you never intend to hold yourself accountable for.Report

              • Avatar Mike Schilling says:

                Who’s worse, me or Chip?

                Consider your answer carefully, since there are important bragging rights at stake.Report

              • Avatar Koz says:

                I don’t know who’s worse, but Chip is the more humorless doctrinaire. You are just as lib, but you can throw a curve once in a while, analogous to whichever Giants pitcher that applies to.Report

              • Avatar Koz says:

                I wish we could have a mini-Godwin taboo against accusations of hate, especially in contexts like this. Or at least to show some nuance about it. There were real Nazis of course, but that doesn’t mean that everyone on the internet is one.

                The problem with hate is tends to amplify and distort any other kind of antagonism or opposition.

                For this context, more than anything imo libs disdain conservatives, especially in cultural terms. Conservatives fear libs, but libs don’t fear conservatives. That’s what’s got us into the box we’re in right now.

                If libs did fear conservatives, we would be in much better shape since there would be a mutual interest in dialing down the hostility. But as things stand, libs believe they are better off escalating things.Report

              • Avatar Chip Daniels says:

                I have this vision of night riders all wearing pink pussy hats terrifying the local Trumpets.Report

              • Avatar Koz says:

                Yeah, when all else fails never underestimate the effectiveness of cheap trolling.Report

            • Because I think many people perceived that this was the point in which they had to win at all costs or lose forever. The NSA is collecting our personal information, the media is actively colluding with a presidential candidate – shit is getting weird.

              And post-election, many people proved that all our worst fears about liberals were true by having this bizarre meltdown on Election Night and pretty much every day since. Something is very WRONG here and as it sits, it appears to us yokels that the Republican leadership are cavers and placaters and the Democrats are actually, really, truly crazy (at least enough of them to be scary and threatening to us out here in Flyover Country).

              So that leaves us with what option? Tossing in our lot with the only person who seems willing to stand up to the status quo. And in between all the bizarre tweets and cringeworthy moments, we may actually get some of what we want – a conservative to replace Scalia, for starters.

              The option was never Romney vs. Clinton. It was Trump vs. Clinton. That was the option, and what they’re trying to tell you with Trump’s approval rating is that a whole lot of people think it’s a fine trade. Better than the alternative.
              Now I would hope that Democrats would take a moment of reflection and think, “My God, they would really have preferred that guy to our candidate?” and ask themselves some hard questions about why that is.

              Or, you can just keep on demonizing half the country. Whatever works.Report

              • Avatar Jesse says:

                @kristin-devine, hey you can continue to think modern day Democrats are truly crazy (and if you think the current day Democratic Party is crazy, have fun with the 2024 version), and I’ll continue to think the modern conservative movement is bankrupt and full of white supremacists and greedy Ayn Rand worshipers who are OK with hitching their wagons to white supremacists if it means taking chunks out of the welfare state and lower taxes.Report

              • I think the idea of how crazy Democrats will be in 2024 is very likely the main driving factor behind Trump’s win.Report

  14. Avatar Brian Murphy says:

    The fact that each side has about 100M people makes it difficult to process this analogy. If I’m fighting with my partner, changing my behavior has a decent chance of deescalating the situation.
    But in the political dynamic, misbehavior by even a fraction of my side makes deescalation impossible.

    As a historical matter, civil wars are almost always resolved by one side decisively beating the other.

    We’re in a Cold Civil war, and our only options are victory, defeat, or surrender.Report

    • Avatar Jaybird says:

      We’re in a Cold Civil war, and our only options are victory, defeat, or surrender.

      Maybe we can kick the can down the road a ways first?Report

      • Avatar Brian Murphy says:

        Who is “we”? This is a collective action problem on two levels: intra-partisan and inter-partisan coalitions. The idea that individual acts of decency or gestures of grand compromise will solve the problem is happy-talk.Report

        • Avatar Chip Daniels says:

          I think the term Cold Civil War is about right.

          The notion of a shooting war just doesn’t seem plausible yet. From history of places like Yugoslavia things would have to get a lot worse before we can discuss that sort of scenario.

          But a long political struggle seems to be where we are, with the underlying conflict coloring virtually everything in our culture.

          Part of me wants to compare it to the struggles of the Gilded Age, but that seemed more rooted in economic stress spilling over into culture, whereas this seems more rooted in culture, spilling over into economics.

          Trump does seem like the rear guard defensive posture of the Boomer culture, where its always 1976, there are plenty of pussies to be grabbed at the disco, and white people could congratulate themselves on being hip because they have a black friend at work, but one of the good ones, y’know?

          A world where they have to be deferential to a black woman confuses and enrages them.Report

        • Avatar Jaybird says:

          The same “we” that you used in your sentence that I quoted?Report

          • Avatar Brian Murphy says:

            How do we address the collective action problem? In theory I might be open to a compromise offered in good faith, but that seems like wishing for a unicorn. Any such offer would be attacked as treason by the other side, and any acceptance would face the contrapositive incentives.
            If the OP is correct about her diagnosis, the best possible solution is total victory by one side…. and this is from someone not confident his side will win.Report

            • Avatar Chip Daniels says:

              As I asked upthread;
              What would a “compromise” with Trump be, on just about any issue?

              “We will deport 1/2 of Mexican aliens”;
              “We will ban 1/2 of Muslims”;
              “We will build a wall, but give Mexico a 50% discounted price”;
              “We will applaud mocking handicapped people, but only some of them”
              “We will ban abortion but only for poor women, in half the states”;
              “We will say ‘Merry Christmas” but alternate with “Happy Holidays”
              “We will bring the good jobs back, but only for white people in the Midwest”
              “We will eliminate Medicare, Medicaid, SCHIP and Social Security, but only for Those People in the inner cities”
              “We will eliminate the Obamacare, but protect the ACA”

              “Compromise” assumes there are two rational agendas which can be modified into a coherent whole.

              What we have is a centrist party versus maddened rage.

              Please, disagree with me- show me what a compromise, bipartisan, mingling of Trumpism/ Warrenism America would look like.Report

              • Avatar Brian Murphy says:

                I’m a partisan skeptical of compromise, but I am in theory open to it.
                The problem is that every partisan has red lines, whether they be gay rights, immigration, or entitlements. If partisans of good will on both sides could sign a compromise both sides buy into, I’d be the first to sign on.
                In the meanwhile, I’ll be wishing for a pony.Report

            • Avatar Stillwater says:

              How do we address the collective action problem?

              Do you mean the collective action problem arising between competing collectives? If so, then the problem is one level (an order of magnitude!) more complex than a first order problem. And those are only resolved by force (voluntary, codified, or otherwise).Report

              • Avatar Brian Murphy says:

                Exactly! That’s why I find the OP to be insipid advice. Neither side can voluntarily disarm, even if a subset on both sides wanted to do so.Report

            • Avatar Jaybird says:

              Divorce, then. Split into (at least) two countries.

              Let the Good People live in Good Country and the wicked can live in their wicked one.

              And neither country gets to tell the other what to do.Report

              • Avatar Brian Murphy says:

                Here, the cure might be worse than the disease. Any actual splitting of the US would almost certainly only arise as a 2nd best solution to civil war.
                Here, left, right, and libertarians should hope one side wins the cold civil war. Otherwise, we can ask Syrian orphans about their opinions of political stalemates where both sides are right/wrong.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                Well, what were your three options?

                victory, defeat, or surrender

                I don’t like two of those.Report

              • Avatar Jesse says:

                Except this isn’t a North/South, East/West or even Coast/Flyover issue where things can be split.

                Austin no more wants to be part of Trumptopia than Eastern Washington would want to be part of Clintonia.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                Well, if “moving” isn’t on the table, I guess it’s war.

                Couldn’t be helped.Report

              • Avatar Brian Murphy says:

                War isn’t the only or even most likely option. Hopefully one side will decisively win the cold civil war. Optimically, this might happen when the Boomers die off. Pessimitically, this could happen if a major terror event empowers der Trumpfer to solidify support for his brand of soft authoritarianism.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                My experience with cold wars is limited but, as far as I can tell, the whole “decisively winning the cold war” thing has false positives.Report

              • Avatar Brian Murphy says:

                The conflicts over Civil Rights in the 50s/60s is an example. Here, the South decisively lost. Although racial tensions persisted, the conflict between the two sides of that political battle died down because one side won.
                The conflict between Federalists and Democratic Republicans is another example. Adams was locking up his political opponents, and at the time it might have felt the republic was ripping apart.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                Those were the two examples you thought of when using “Cold War”?

                I was thinking of a different example. The USSR vs. US one.

                I imagine that, 4 years ago, it would have even been a good example for the point you’re making.Report

              • Avatar Brian Murphy says:

                I was talking about a Cold Civil War. Wars sometimes end in stalemates, and in theory the Cold War could have gradually worn down through a continuation of glasnost and detente, rather than the sudden collapse of the USSR.
                By contrast, civil wars are much less likely to end in stalemates according to the empirical research I’ve read on the matter.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                Well, all you have to do is just hold out longer than the other guy. If you play your cards right, you can make them think that they won and then, WHAMMO, 20 years later make a huge comeback.

                “Where did that come from?”, the winners of the previous cold war can ask. “But we won!”Report

              • Avatar Brian Murphy says:

                Russia can play the role of a spoiler, and mess with weak non-NATO neighbors. But comparing it to the USSR is absurd.Report

              • Yep. In all but the most partisan communities you’ll see the vote regularly going 35-65. That means a good third of people living most places are opposed to whatever the Red State or Blue State image is and would highly protest at finding themselves being handed over to a country where they’re going to be the minority.

                That’s why you can’t just say as an example, ok let’s send Eastern Washington off to live with Idaho and everyone will live happily ever after. When all those old loggers come out of their trailers in the trees and the cranberry farmers set down their berry scoops, there would be bloodshed that is hard to envision when you look at Washington all colored in nice and blue.

                Let’s avoid civil war if we can.Report

              • Avatar DensityDuck says:

                ” In all but the most partisan communities you’ll see the vote regularly going 35-65. ”

                So the 35 move and the 65 stay, and everyone’s happy where they are (especially in comparison to that shithole right across the border) right up until the part where the government kills millions and burns cities to make sure we all Respeck Mah Authoritah.Report

              • But they won’t. Would you? Would you pack up, disrupt your life, move someplace you’d be an exile, along with 35% of the population of a bunch of other places? Even if not a civil war, that would be chaos that could easily become a civil war and would ruin the lives of a generation of people.

                I know this is meant tongue in cheek but several people have seemed quite ok with the idea. I am assuming that they are not “land-lovers” who are very attached to their home because some people would rather die than move. Even if it makes more sense to live somewhere else (Palestine)Report

    • Avatar Koz says:

      The fact that each side has about 100M people makes it difficult to process this analogy. If I’m fighting with my partner, changing my behavior has a decent chance of deescalating the situation.
      But in the political dynamic, misbehavior by even a fraction of my side makes deescalation impossible.

      As a historical matter, civil wars are almost always resolved by one side decisively beating the other.

      We’re in a Cold Civil war, and our only options are victory, defeat, or surrender.

      That absolutely is a problem. I still think there is another way out, though, I’m increasingly feeling like a fool for suggesting it. That is, we should appeal to the libs in the best interest of America as a whole. And to that end, it’s important for libs to be able to appreciate the consequences of their acts. And this is not really a debate about policy as much as much as a relational thing between people.

      Sometimes there’s some controversy between libs conservatives and depending on the context conservatives call their opposite numbers thugs, snowflakes, moonbats, whatever. I’m not a big fan of those words. I prefer to call libs polluters, and that’s not necessarily nicer or meaner than any of the other words but it is more accurate imo.

      Our civic discourse is a shared resource and libs are polluting it. That’s common thread between the Milo riots, the wedding cake lawsuits, the bullying of ex-gov McCrory on a Washington sidewalk, shunning Tiffany Trump at a fashion show, and a thousand other things.

      The key thing is, imo, that libs really don’t want to be polluters. This hasn’t really entered libs’ heads yet, but there’s no reason why it shouldn’t. The most important thing is to create the opportunity and the expectation of being able to interact with people in a fairminded way.

      When I was younger they used have these commercial for the cartoon shows featuring Smokey the Bear, “Give a hoot, don’t pollute.”

      If we can do this, there’s a chance we can settle our differences through civic discourse and the political process, which is what those things substantially exist for in the first place.Report

      • Avatar Brian Murphy says:

        Civil discorse is virtuous, but we shouldn’t delude ourselves into thinking that personal virtue will solve the problem identified in the OP. Ultimately, this is a numbers and turnout game, and a peaceful solution can only be achieved by one side beating the other like a rented mule.Report

        • Avatar Koz says:

          It could be that way, maybe it’s probably that way. But it’s not inevitable.

          And strictly speaking it’s not a matter of virtue either, it’s a matter of perception. Libs really don’t want to be polluters. They want to think of themselves as stewarding our resources not abusing them. They want to think of themselves as respecting other people not diminishing them.

          It’s why the idea of pollution is so powerful even if people don’t use the word. It allows us to appreciate the continuity of abusive lib behavior. It lends itself to fairly obvious metaphors to help understand issues like legal vs social sanction, cumulative harm, etc. It also serves as a guide to good behavior if the libs ever do get motivated to get there.

          Somewhere in the thread there’s a comment by Don or one of the other libs about how can we give the resistance to Trump when the GOP was nasty to Obama, blah blah. It’s simple. Quit polluting.Report

          • Avatar Brian Murphy says:

            I agree we should stop polluting. I disagree about whether this will stop polarization.Report

            • Avatar Koz says:

              I think it will stop a lot of it. If there are no more Eich’s, if there are no more Berkeley riots, if there are no more nasty tweets at Jimmy Fallon for hosting Donald Trump, the world looks a lot different than it does now.

              Off the top of my head two big things would likely happen. White Middle Americans, upper middle class and working class both, would be much less polarized to the right wing and the Republican Party because they would not fear that the multiculturalist inclinations of the libs as a threat. So the relatively apolitical parts of that group would either not vote, or the upper middle class would glacially move right and the working class would glacially move left.

              The second thing is that the libs’ motivations would profoundly change. They would have to think more in terms of substance and less in terms of political manipulations. For example, right this second the libs’ basic thought on immigration policy is that they disapprove of Donald Trump. Great, but what does that have to do with immigration? Nothing.

              If they actually had to think about immigration on its own terms, there would be disagreements with conservative restrictionists, but things would look a lot different.

              In terms of the Trump EO, first of all, they can say well, what about greencard holders and dual citizens? Then we can say, good point, take them out, now what? Well, we think the refugee and travel ban is unfairly discriminatory against Islam.

              And there would be some substantive disagreement there. And as libs would have to articulate their own case, things would become uncomfortable for them. How many Iraqis, or Pakistanis, or Mexicans, should we be allowing to enter here and why?

              If libs ever actually tried to answer this from the ground up, they would run into a lot of the same things that conservatives worry about. Libs definitely want to live in an English speaking country, they definitely want to have access to a high-wage skilled/professional labor market, they certainly don’t want to live under the nastier forms of Sharia law. On the other hand, they also want more foreigners in America for economic development and cultural diversity. Add all that together and you they’d come up with some rules and some numbers. They wouldn’t be the same rules or the same numbers that we’d come up with, but they would be apples to apples and we would have a chance to talk back and forth to each other.

              But because of libs’ pollution, this is exactly the process that we don’t have. We don’t have it because libs have rationalized that their pollution gives them a political advantage so they always go back to it. But even more important than that, I think, is that libs don’t want to have to admit to themselves that the other side has a point and they have to engage with it.

              TL,DR: libs’ pollution is actually very important and if we got rid of it it would change things.Report

              • Avatar Brian Murphy says:

                You’re right that if all men were angels, we could all ascend to heaven in harmony. But as I explained above, we have a two-level collective action problem.
                There will always be bad actors giving partisans mutually supporting excuses for acting out.
                Thus, individual acts if virtue are just that… INDIVIDUAL acts of virtue.
                We’re in a cold civil war, and civil wars usually only end when one side decisively beats the other.Report

              • Avatar Koz says:

                The collective action thing is a problem, there is no doubt about that, at least from me. But it should be understood that this frame of reference has at least the possibility of the solution. Not that it’s guaranteed to solve anything, but it does at least address the collective action issue.

                For the most part people don’t litter on the public highways any more. Part of it might be the signs that say $1000 fine and so on, but I don’t think it’s a big part. Really, it’s more that people don’t want to pollute, they don’t want to be the person who who dumped their Burger King sack by the interstate. It’s not too hard to just to throw in the garbage when you stop for gas. So with special relevance to your point, we should note that in at least one small context the collective action problem has already been solved.

                Libs imo, really don’t want to be polluters. When it’s made manifest that they are polluting, they will be conflicted of course, but to a substantial extent they’ll want to stop. They’ll want to police the other libs around them who want to continue polluting.

                At that point, when the pollution in our cultural discourse gets cleaned up, we’ll still differences. But there’s at least a decent chance that we’ll be able to resolve them without war or divorce.Report

              • Avatar Brian Murphy says:

                It only takes one liberal polluter to provider fodder for the latest right-wing outrage machine (or vice-versa). To hinge one’s hopes that in ai movement of 100M people, not a single one acts out…that seems beyond delusional.Report

              • Avatar Koz says:

                I’m not buyin’ this, for a couple of reasons. First of all, many examples of lib pollution require action or even coordinated action from several parties, otherwise either they don’t work or they just fade into insigificance. Including, I should note, the examples above: for Eich, the Milo riots, and Fallon, none of those have any relevance if it’s just one lib being a crank.

                The other thing is that we can also hope that the collective action thing works in our favor. As libs perceive that pollution is a bad thing, they will be motivated to police the libs who are still inclined to pollute.Report

              • Avatar Francis says:

                Ok, I’m Reporting this one. This goes too far. It is not acceptable for a regular commentator to be making repeated accusations of “pollution” against an entire social movement, and, critically arguing for its elimination.

                The rest of the comment — the ignorance, the magical thinking, the assignment of collective responsibility for the acts of individuals — is typical. The commentator likes to throw hard elbows. But in my view the hosts here should be setting limits on allowing this kind of eliminationist rhetoric.

                (ps: If the Republican party is actually interested in moving a significant immigration bill, they could easily get several Democratic votes by focusing on (a) increased funding for immigration courts, (b) increased workplace enforcement, and (c) dedicating the funds intended for the Wall to useful infrastructure — maintaining, repairing and replacing deficient roads and bridges would make a huge difference in overall quality of many American lives. You see, “libs” do have something.)Report

              • Avatar Chip Daniels says:

                I must have missed something.

                I honestly have no idea what “polluting” means.

                How would one “pollute” the civil discourse?Report

              • Avatar Stillwater says:

                I understood that to be a vague reference to the epistemic closure of liberal ideology. That it’s just a bunch of ideologically driven, circular, self-serving virtue-signaling pablum, when in fact, if you cut through the bull, liberals and conservatives just aren’t all that different (except for the ideological pollution, anyway). It’s not a new or unfamiliar idea.Report

              • Avatar Koz says:

                Sort of, but not quite. In the grandparent comment, the examples are all disruptions. That’s not the only form of lib pollution of cultural discourse, but it’s one of the bigger ones.

                Ie, that libs attempt to disrupt a conversation or a meeting or some of other kind of participation in the public political/cultural sphere (often times quite indirectly at that, like in Fallon’s case) that would be ok except for libs’ desire to censor content.

                There’s other kinds of lib pollution and examples of those as well but this is a good place to start. Libs’ epistemic closure is certainly a problem but it’s not pollution, at least in the context I’m talking about.Report

              • Avatar Koz says:

                The same way you pollute anything else, by putting toxins into it, the disruptions, distortions, abuses and lies that keep us from being able to use a collective resource as it’s intended and preserve it for our posterity.Report

              • Avatar Chip Daniels says:

                Why do you hate America?Report

              • Avatar Koz says:

                ….the assignment of collective responsibility for the acts of individuals…..

                Ah yes, this is a big part of it actually. It is possible for one lib to legitimately disclaim responsibility for the pollution of another. But it doesn’t happen enough. When people make a good faith effort at honest discourse, the trolling, the cheapshots, the tawdry stunts tend to fade away because they prevent the other parties from hearing what’s being said.Report

              • Avatar Francis says:

                So I can expect you to preface all your comments from now on with a long apologia about all the flatly racist comments coming out from various conservatives?

                Because, it doesn’t happen enough (or ever.)Report

              • Avatar Stillwater says:

                The binary (!!) reduction of partisan politics to shared-identity is really bizarre to me. For example, I believe in animal rights (they have thoughts and feelings, ya’ll!) but I don’t subscribe to ALF’s practices. But apparently if they continue to engage in violent acts I share the blame.

                Which is weird. I don’t even know those people.

                I’m not even on their mailing list….Report

              • Avatar Chip Daniels says:

                I don’t subscribe to ALF’s practices.

                You don’t eat cats?Report

              • Avatar Koz says:

                Well yeah, you’re not responsible for whatever ALF does. Nobody is afraid that the butcher section at the local Albertson’s is going to get bombed. If they were, that would mean that ALF has deeper logistical support that we thought. And we would be right to ask where that support comes from and how it could be neutralized.

                This is where the pollution thing helps. If one guy throws his hamburger wrapper on out of the car, it might not be that big a deal. On the other hand, if the place looks like the aftermath of Earth Day, we can make some reasonable inferences regarding the “environmentalists” who attended the event.Report

              • Avatar Koz says:

                Why? Where are these comments, who do they circulate to, what consequences do they have?

                There’s simply no comparison between this and the obvious pollution dumped by libs on our civic discourse.Report

              • Avatar Don Zeko says:

                The President of the United States campaigned explicitly on banning Muslim immigration, and you’re demanding citations for the notion that some conservatives are racists and say racist things?Report

              • Avatar Chip Daniels says:

                Well pfft.

                In this context, “pollution” just means “I need a safe space”.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                Of all the effing things to effing normalize, why in the hell did we decide to effing normalize effing mockery of effing safe effing spaces.Report

              • Avatar Koz says:

                Yeah, I’m not getting this one at all.

                The lib’s pollution of our shared discourse is about not having my freedom of association gratuitously interfered with, not being lied to, not having information I have a right to know hidden from me and used against my interest, etc. etc.

                Safe spaces, as I understand them, are about avoiding unpleasant words and subjects.

                The former are things that anybody should be able to expect in normal circumstances. There’s no real way to prevent the latter.

                In fact, in the typical university context which is where it is most prominent, safe spaces are a way to declare an adversaries ideas or worldview to be triggering thereby imposing on him the burden of silence or avoiding you. This is obviously not workable for society at large and for that not really even workable for the whole of a university even.

                So I don’t see where you’re going with this one.Report

              • Avatar Chip Daniels says:

                about not having my freedom of association gratuitously interfered with, not being lied to, not having information I have a right to know hidden from me and used against my interest

                I bet there’s some explanation for this string of cryptic gripes.Report

              • Avatar Francis says:

                “not having my freedom of association gratuitously interfered with” — the Washington Supreme Court upheld the lower court’s decision that Baronelle Stutzman violated state anti-discrimination law.

                “not being lied to” — like your doctor, keep your doctor.

                “not having information I have a right to know hidden from me and used against my interest” — Obama’s kill list?

                The larger point being that Koz sees that he bears no responsibility for using the word “pollution” here, but libs generally bear collectively responsibility for public messaging that Koz doesn’t like.

                Citing to the Brendon Eich incident is, I think, particularly notable. Eich made a public contribution to support Prop 8. Certain individuals felt that this conduct was inconsistent with the values of his corporate leadership position and launched a boycott, quite publicly. Given the choice between telling people to pound sand and resigning, he resigned.

                Read one way, the problem is that a private political decision cost a qualified individual his job. On the other hand, are you kidding? Boycotts are a potent way for people who are individually powerless but collectively powerful to shape the behavior of corporate leadership in a capitalist society.

                If conservatives are so infuriated by the success of the LGBT community (for example) in moving public support way in their favor in the last couple decades, they’re welcome to try to do the same. Koz would rather accuse them, and those who have supported them, of pollution.Report

              • Avatar Chip Daniels says:

                I know.

                I know that “right to free association” has meant variations of “I shouldn’t have to serve ni**ers at my restaurant”, or “I shouldn’t have to let Jews in our club”, or “I shouldn’t have to serve faggots at my photo studio”, or some such.

                But nobody likes to say it that way, so they drape themselves in the language of Thomas Paine and declare themselves to be martyrs to America.

                The tipoff is always that weird cryptic language of abstract platitudes and code words like “pollution”.Report

              • Avatar Koz says:

                I know that “right to free association” has meant variations of “I shouldn’t have to serve ni**ers at my restaurant”, or “I shouldn’t have to let Jews in our club”, or “I shouldn’t have to serve faggots at my photo studio”, or some such.

                Libs’ minds tend to head that direction, which is unfortunate and a little discouraging. Consider that the things you seem to be worried about are before my lifetime and probably before yours, whereas we’ve like 10 Milo riots since the election.Report

              • Avatar Chip Daniels says:

                Before my time…

                Heh, good one.Report

              • You’re 12, right?

                But Koz’s comment is perfectly in line with CJ Roberts’s explanation about how the VRA isn’t needed any more.Report

              • Avatar Koz says:

                “not having my freedom of association gratuitously interfered with” — the Washington Supreme Court upheld the lower court’s decision that Baronelle Stutzman violated state anti-discrimination law.

                I was thinking more of Milo. The litigants against Miss Stutzmann have been disgraceful imo, but there is at least a tiny fig leaf of public interest in the idea that she represents a public accommodation, and the things that follow from that.

                But Milo isn’t a public accommodation. And you might come up with rationalizations that it’s not that bad or there can be some workaround, but that’s not the point. All of the anti-Milo activism is cultural pollution. It is the attempt to prevent people from doing things that they have every right to expect to be able to do.Report

              • Avatar Chip Daniels says:

                All of the anti-Milo activism is cultural pollution.

                This is what you mean by the arcane term?


                A guy whose stock in trade is to be the bombthrowing iconoclast, who shocks and appalls with a river of filth is the civil discourse you are afraid of being polluted?

                Its like saying the Flint Water system is in danger of contamination, or that the Howard Stern Show is in danger of becoming vulgar.

                What is really sounds like is “We get to talk, and you get to listen silently”.Report

              • Avatar Koz says:

                A guy whose stock in trade is to be the bombthrowing iconoclast, who shocks and appalls with a river of filth is the civil discourse you are afraid of being polluted?

                Quit being dense. Milo wants to talk to 200 people or whatever. Those 200 people want to listen to Milo. Where do libs fit in? They don’t of course, they just have bad motives. Of course it’s pollution.Report

              • Avatar Chip Daniels says:

                Here’s a link to somebody I can’t stand, Patterico, with a link on his site of Milo defending sex with underage boys.

                This is the civil discourse you want to keep pristine?Report

              • Oh, *that’s* what “freedom of association” means.Report

              • Avatar Koz says:

                No, I want Milo and his audience at major American universities to be able to find each other, wherein Milo can say many things that could make libs uncomfortable, such as fairly basic critiques of immigration policy, feminism, multiculturalism, transgenderism, etc.Report

              • Avatar Don Zeko says:

                Milo was tapped to headline CPAC two days ago.Report

              • Avatar Dave says:

                All of the anti-Milo activism is cultural pollution.It is the attempt to prevent people from doing things that they have every right to expect to be able to do.

                You mean the sort of “pollution” that has been calling him out as a vile piece of shit only to see that they’re being proven correct?

                I don’t think Milo’s having a particularly good day today, and if I were you, I’d pull your head out of wherever you have it and acknowledge him as a source of pollution because that asshole is toxic.

                Not that I expect you to or anything because you’re a sideshow act lacking any kind of character or integrity, but one can only hope, right?Report

              • Avatar Koz says:

                I don’t think Milo’s having a particularly good day today, and if I were you, I’d pull your head out of wherever you have it and acknowledge him as a source of pollution because that asshole is toxic.

                Not at all. The Milo riots weren’t about pedophilia, and I can see nothing about Milo that justifies the libs’ pollution of our public discourse. But even if there were, it’s not like the phenomenon were confined to Milo anyway. In fact, this was the incident that made me think of “polluters” anyway.


              • Avatar Koz says:

                “not being lied to” — like your doctor, keep your doctor.

                No, that wasn’t a good thing but it’s not really pollution in the sense I’m talking about. I was thinking more of the Gleick/Heartland fraud and incidents like that.

                “not having information I have a right to know hidden from me and used against my interest” — Obama’s kill list?

                No, I certainly don’t intend to endorse the kill list but I’m thinking more like Journolist. There’s an implicit or explicit division of labor among libs who are situated differently or have different personal or institutional responsibilities. One guy commits a fraud or breaks laws, another covers it up, a third propagates the lies, others mitigate or minimize adverse consequences for the perpetrators, etc., etc.

                The larger point being that Koz sees that he bears no responsibility for using the word “pollution” here,

                Not at all. I’m taking full repsonsibility for using the word pollution because that’s what it is.

                but libs generally bear collectively responsibility for public messaging that Koz doesn’t like.

                There is pollution in lib public messaging but that’s not all of it, in fact I’d say it’s not even the worst of it and most or all of my examples haven’t been about that. Eich, Milo, Fallon, etc., are about libs polluting the discourse of their private associations.Report

              • There’s an implicit or explicit division of labor among libs who are situated differently or have different personal or institutional responsibilities. One guy commits a fraud or breaks laws, another covers it up, a third propagates the lies, others mitigate or minimize adverse consequences for the perpetrators, etc., etc.

                Is this like how when a particularly stupid conservative meme arises (the most recent one being about how the Syrian refugees should stay home and fight instead of running away), it appears on talk radio, Fox shows, and right-wing blogs all at the same time? It seems too quick to be simple plagiarism.Report

              • Avatar Koz says:

                Forgive me, but I have no idea what you’re talking about here.Report

              • Mr. Fish, what do you think about water?Report

              • Avatar Koz says:

                Citing to the Brendon Eich incident is, I think, particularly notable. Eich made a public contribution to support Prop 8. Certain individuals felt that this conduct was inconsistent with the values of his corporate leadership position and launched a boycott, quite publicly. Given the choice between telling people to pound sand and resigning, he resigned.

                And those certain individuals were polluters.

                Read one way, the problem is that a private political decision cost a qualified individual his job. On the other hand, are you kidding? Boycotts are a potent way for people who are individually powerless but collectively powerful to shape the behavior of corporate leadership in a capitalist society.

                IIRC Eich’s resignation from Mozilla had little to do with a boycott but was the consequence of a pogrom against him by some of his colleagues at Mozilla. A boycott would be a little more complicated. Certainly the conduct of his colleagues was disgraceful. But above that, and everything else, it was pollution.Report

              • Avatar Lenoxus says:

                I’m with you on some of this. But the “sharia law” bit really sticks in my craw. This is something on which the other side does not have a point, any more than if we were discussing Jewish immigration and had to “debate” on how much we were willing to risk the country becoming Taken Over By the Jews. Or likewise with Catholics and fear of Papal Domination of the government. It’s ugly nonsense.

                By all means I’m happy to argue against Islamic fundamentalism itself, but not in the context of an immigration debate. It’s like debating sanctuary cities with one issues being “all the people those illegals kill”. Again: ugly, destructive nonsense.

                Pollution of the dialogue can happen in forms other than one side accusing the other of being racist. And the Fear of Sharia Law certainly did not arise out of some backlash against SJWs.Report

              • Avatar Joe Sal says:

                There doesn’t have to be outright fear of Sharia Law to expose it as problematic. In America although Christianity was a majority of the religion pouring into the continent, classical liberalism did a lot of work in moving religion to individual constructs. This wasn’t entirely successful, but did help in aspects of different religions living next to each other without continued all out war of the factions.

                Sharia Law is different in that it combines two social constructs of religion and a justice system into one larger rigid social construct. The combination of the two makes it much more difficult in classical liberal decentralizing to move Sharia law into individual constructs. You might see some success in the margins or on the fringes,(#not-all-Islam) but the core of the thing is pretty solid.

                What you might see as Sharia Law escalates and gains in power as a social construct in America, that all the work to make Christianity a quasi-tolerable individual construct could very well be undone, and a escalation of Christianity into more of a social construct than has been observed in the past. In a mirroring escalation Christianity may start reinforcing and building power of it’s own social construct of justice system.

                There doesn’t have to be fear to acknowledge the risk of doing a particular action. The acknowledgment of setting up the parameters to start a religious war appears beyond the comprehension of the modern liberal faction. Maybe they will be successful in some future campaign to ban religion or something.Report

              • Avatar Chip Daniels says:

                You are going to need to do a bit of work to explain how the tiny mote of Sharia Law, which is favored by a small percentage, of the very small percentage of American Muslims, is somehow going to catch on in popularity and rise to overwhelm America.

                Meanwhile, this requires ignoring the beam of fundamentalist/ nativist Christianity which is held by a large (if shrinking) percentage of Americans, including an outsize representation in government.

                The rise of fundamentalist Christianity was not a “mirroring” rise; it was on the march long before anyone heard of Sharia Law, starting in the 70’s when school busing and abortion were linked and fused with Republican party politics.Report

              • Avatar Joe Sal says:

                I agree with you on much of this. Maybe it is a nothing burger. So we can say it isn’t a big deal until enough people demonstrate it is a big deal. I’m good with that.Report

              • Avatar El Muneco says:

                See also: the infamous e-mail circular of court cases “imposing Sharia Law!” on America…
                Which had been garnered through someone doing a text search for “Sharia” from publicly-available decisions. Nearly all of which had actually either circumscribed the applicability of Sharia or denied it entirely.
                So while it was actually documentation of why it actually can’t happen here, it was waved like a bloody flag to support exactly the opposite conclusion.Report

      • I really like this approach Koz and it’s the spirit in which my original essay was intended.

        WE have a problem. Both Americas (inasfar as the analogy goes, since we are of course millions of individuals). The solution is not that one side is forced into unconditional surrender, it’s detente. And it will take the actions of lots of people on both sides, actively choosing to be kinder and listen more and bend a little, to undo it.Report

        • Avatar Koz says:


          As far as the general approach goes, that’s why I think the emphasis on pollution is so important. That way, we can deemphasize policy, and even politics in terms of elections, candidates and campaigns. Instead we can think about public discourse, and the social relations between the Right and Left in America at the grassroots level.Report

  15. Avatar Francis says:

    A few thoughts on recent comments:

    JayB proposes that libs give ground on creches and anti-discrimination laws. The first is, of course, constitutional law by now and therefore enforceable by anyone. The second probably does have some wiggle room, but different states already have very different laws. The compromise exists. If a florist cannot live under the crushing oppression of Washington state laws or a photographer under Arizona’s law, they can (a) lobby for broader conscience exemptions, (b) move, (c) endure. But both sides get far more mileage out of making a very big deal out of a very small number of cases.

    As to what additional compromises can be made, that’s very difficult to debate in this environment, because I don’t know what the Republicans want. I know that the Republican party wants to cut the ACA taxes and eliminate a big chunk of the rich-to-poor and well-to-sick transfers. But I also know that the biggest complaints about the ACA are the lack of subsidies and the lack of price controls. I know that the Republican party wants to eliminate the Obama Administration’s Clean Power Plan, but I don’t see a single Republican policy on addressing climate change, except to argue that it doesn’t exist.

    As to Koz’s comments about liberal pollution, I find it very difficult to take them seriously. Counter-examples are far too numerous, from “Lock Her Up” to “Rope, Tree, Journalist, Some Assembly Required” to death panels to the death tax to the Tea Party rallies to birthers to all the accusations of being traitors and evil to … well, I’ve made my point.

    The larger point, though, is that partisans of both sides are deeply entrenched in the righteousness of their cause. Putting aside the larger society, if this site is going to maintain itself over the next four years, we may have to agree to a few rules of debate. Such as, never attack a side as such. “Libs are X” and “Republicans are Y” need to be taboo. Argue with what individual people are saying.Report

    • Avatar DensityDuck says:

      ” If a florist cannot live under the crushing oppression of Washington state laws or a photographer under Arizona’s law, they can (a) lobby for broader conscience exemptions, (b) move, (c) endure.”

      This is 100% a libertarian argument and it always gets shot down on the grounds of the oppressed minority lacking the political power to effect change and the economic power to move, and being forced by default to accept an unpalatable situation, justifying government mandates and interventions.Report

      • Avatar Koz says:

        It also overlooks an obvious alternative, in that concerned Americans could just vote for Donald Trump and hope he’ll take care of it.Report

      • Avatar Francis says:

        I would swear that people on this very blog have been talking at length about the success of the Republican party at the state level over the last 8 years. Shouldn’t the Republican state be beacons of freedom by now, with the LGBT community being the oppressed minority? (yes, actually.)

        In other words, hasn’t JayB already gotten the compromise he wanted, but since some SoCon somewhere living in a DeepBlue state hasn’t gotten the outcome she wants, liberals now need to give more ground?

        My personal take on this entire comment thread is that it presumes a level of engagement in politics on the part of the average voter that does not and has never existed. Most people really don’t care about politics. Divorce or war the only options? Nonsense. The most likely result is that the country carries on the same way that is has for a couple centuries. Public policy these days impacts only along the margin, even if the public policy is war.

        Seriously, how many immigrants can the Trump admin possibly deport in four years? A million more over the baseline? Two million? We’re a country of over 300 million. Similarly, how many additional people will die / suffer needlessly if the ACA is abolished. Two-three million? How many were casualties of the Iraq war? 4,500 dead / 32,000 wounded. These are dust specks measured against the lived experience of all our citizenry.Report

        • Avatar Jaybird says:

          In other words, hasn’t JayB already gotten the compromise he wanted, but since some SoCon somewhere living in a DeepBlue state hasn’t gotten the outcome she wants, liberals now need to give more ground?

          You’re not understanding what happened in the case, then. Let me read you the numbers again:

          Brad Avakian was running for the position of Oregon’s Secretary of State. He lost to Dennis Richardson, a Republican.

          This is in a state that Clinton won by 10 points. The Democratic senator beat the Republican challenger by more than 20 points. The Democratic Governor won by 7 points. Out of the five Congressional elections, Democrats won four of them.

          Richardson will become the first Republican to win an Oregon statewide office in 14 years.

          I’m not arguing that liberals need to give more ground.

          I’m pointing out that liberals have lost ground.

          This isn’t a case where I’m saying “If you don’t repudiate Brad Avakian, you’re going to lose the Oregon Secretary of State election!”

          I’m saying “you lost the Oregon Secretary of State election. (Also something about 1000 elections over the last 4 elections mumble mumble.)”

          And I’m pointing at the elections and the election outcomes.

          And you’re pointing at me.

          Seriously, how many immigrants can the Trump admin possibly deport in four years?

          Enough to get other, adjacent, immigrants to start self-deporting?

          (Paragraph about how Obama deported more immigrants than Bush.)

          (Paragraph about how I don’t have per capita numbers for deportations.)

          A million more over the baseline? Two million?

          (go back, delete per capita paragraph)

          Similarly, how many additional people will die / suffer needlessly if the ACA is abolished. Two-three million?

          Death and needless suffering are two different things.
          I mean, one is measurable.

          If we’re looking at the latter, how many people experienced some form of existential pain when they saw how much their insurance increased?

          More than two-three million?

          How many were casualties of the Iraq war?

          This isn’t intended to be said to you as much as it’d be intended to be said to “the media” but I’d seriously avoid starting to pay attention to “grim milestones” again. At least for the first year.Report

        • Avatar Chip Daniels says:

          Which is why I think the term Cold Civil War is about as far as I would go.

          And even then, what that term really means is just a protracted political struggle without a broad national consensus, like the kind that was in effect during the New Deal years.

          I don’t think us Americans really have a grasp of the sort of upheavals and violence that other nations have experienced- the European wars, revolutions, coups.

          So the divide between Trumpists and the rest of America seems shocking to us, because its a more radical divide than most of us can remember.Report

        • Avatar Stillwater says:


          Excellent comment. I was just about to mention that in the context of a cold civil war, it looks like the GOP/conservatives are not only winning, but winning decisively: the GOP controls Congress and POTUS and dominates at the state and local level across the country (you beat me too it!).

          Here are some not-very-well formulated thoughts about how that relates to the current discussion:

          And in the context of this debate – begun by the writer of the OP and furthered by some of the commenters – the suggestion that Dems/liberals need to compromise to achieve a valuable goal makes absolutely no sense when it’s just a demonstrable fact that the party holds very little power right now. In other words, as a country we’re not experiencing a cold civil war, we’re experiencing a massive beat-down by one party on the other.

          Given that, the suggestion that Dems need to “compromise their views” for the good of the country is unsupported by the political reality we live in. That is, supposing current trends continue, if Dems choose to pursue the policies and strategies which brought them to this very political weak place, both as a party and ideologically, its political power will continue to wane, and what folks right now want to describe as a “cold civil war” will be easily identified as the skirmish that it in fact is. The war would effectively be over and the Party of Clinton (or whatever) will go to the dust bin.

          Given all that, what’s the basis for claiming that the Dems should change their political platform, tactics, objectives and goals? One answer is purely tactical: if the purpose of a political party is to win elections and a party’s current methods don’t get the job done, change your methods. (I think that’s what Jaybird is more recently arguing.)

          Another reason might be this: since the US political culture is a powder-keg of tensions on the brink of going Boom! Democrats and liberals need to tone it down for the good of the country and the marriage we all can’t escape from. (I think that’s basically, +/-, what Kristen is arguing and Jaybird earlier in the thread.) But the premise strikes me as just plain false: politically, the country isn’t a powder keg about to explode. The GOP is massively more powerful across the country than the Dems. The only contested office is the one Trump holds, but that’s part and parcel of winning that office.

          Which brings us to a final reason: that because the GOP is more powerful at the state and federal level, liberals/Dems need to chill out, for the good of us all!!, and allow, without resistance, conservatives (and Trump!) to shape policy and practices as they see fit. But that’s sorta incoherent, since it means liberals should (for the good of people who aren’t liberals, presumably) support policies they fundamentally disagree with. (It’s also inconsistent with democracy, but I’ll leave that aside!)

          Maybe there’s another take on this that I’m missing, of course. But I can’t really identify a reasonable position on the “pro-compromise” side that doesn’t reduce, one way or another, to the political analysis equivalent of baying at the moon.Report

          • Avatar greginak says:

            Good stuff Still.

            The cold war stuff is overblown a bit. We aren’t’ on the verge of blowing up or divorcing. The late 60’s seems far more disrupted than we are now and they also had a war going on and the continuing stress of civil rights era. Things mellowed for quite a while.

            Of course D’s will change some of their messaging, tactics and policies. It’s what you do after losses. Plenty of D pols including all the people running for DNC chair are saying that. If you pay attention to the obstreperous twitter folks it may not feel that way but those aren’t exactly the entire party.

            It’s amazing Jay thinks we haven’t noticed D’s have lost a lot. Just amazing.

            Finally compromise is great but needs to be discussed with more detail. Who is giving up what to get what? Does compromise mean gay folk can’t get married? What would have compromise meant in the civil rights era? Who are the D’s selling out by compromising? Without an actual issue to discuss the whole discussion is just to vague.Report

            • Avatar Francis says:

              I agree with all of this. My preference is for Democrats to win because I think that they have better policies (ACA, global warming). I also recognize that the Dems have lost a lot of ground in recent years.

              But I’m really not sure why the Dems have lost ground. Over-reacting to electoral defeats caused by both national and local issues and sacrificing core goals of the party can be just as destructive as under-reacting.

              Also note that the Republican Party lost the Presidential election too. The messaging of both parties failed at the polls. (Boy it would have been interesting had Trump decided to run as a Democrat. I think he would still be President today.) At some level of analysis, the classic Republican party of the Reagan era has also lost enormous ground. What happened to the balanced-budget, pro-Main Street, pro-environment party of my youth? It’s not all Newt Gingrich’s fault, is it?

              Many components of Trump’s message were not all that far from Sanders’. He just added a note of white nationalism.Report

              • Avatar greginak says:

                Yeah i think there are several reasons the D’s have lost so much electoral ground. The solutions to each of them don’t quite overlap. One of the reasons we lost has been solved: energy. The out party often has a lot more drive and energy to get out to vote and run for office. The TP had that but now the D’s have it. That on it’s own won’t radically change everything but it’s a start. It also seems like the D establishment has realized how stupid it was to drop the 50 state strategy that had worked well for them in the past.Report

              • Avatar Stillwater says:

                But I’m really not sure why the Dems have lost ground.

                Here’s my short take on that: for quite a while now the Democratic party is identified and aligned with national-level policies which are implemented by the federal government. From a conceptual pov, those policies have the effect of imposing a rule fully generally. The GOP, on the other hand (beginning at about the same time) changed course and began to develop its party and resulting ideological commitments by doing the exact opposite: start with school boards and work yer way out.

                All that on it’s own doesn’t account for why Dems are doing so poorly, tho, so obviously something else comes into play, and I think it’s the perception (real or imagined, tho lots of evidence suggests it’s real) that wages and earning opportunities (not to mention the perception of other cultural freedoms…) have been effectively flat since the early seventies. So what you have is a situation where the flexibility of GOP policy prescriptions (“Hey, we can pass local laws, repeal stuff at the federal level, even impose stuff at the federal level! We can do it all!!”) have allowed the party to gain ground in a way Democrats, committed to national-level stuff, can’t.

                Just a thought, anyway.Report

              • Avatar Stillwater says:

                Adding to that: And insofar as the above DOES capture some of the current dynamic, I think it accounts for why Bernie’s message struck a chord with so many Dem voters: his policies, while still being national in scope, were tailored to individual needs in a way the normal Dem policy suite didn’t. Ie., people heard his message as addressing their concerns directly (not their concerns about other people’s concerns, or whatever).Report

              • Avatar Saul Degraw says:

                @francis @greginak

                I don’t know how poorly the Democratic Party is doing except because of gerrymandering. Democratic candidates do receive more votes than Republican candidates. The issue is gerrymandering and voter suppression and the fact that the Democratic base is urbanized largely, this makes it easy to jam pack us. San Francsico should probably have more congressional seats than we do.

                And HRC did receive 68 million votes to Trump’s 65 million. But the razor thin margins and freak nature of Trump’s victory are causing Republicans to think he has a Mandate from Heaven and Democrats to freak out and be demoralized.

                We did lose a lot of state seats and governorships. I think part of this is because of stuff Francis mentioned but also the extreme radicalization of lots white people in the United States. Whether they admit it or not, the GOP is largely a white identity party and is fueled by feelings of resentment and lost privilege.Report

              • Avatar Chip Daniels says:

                He just added a note of white nationalism.

                Ding ding ding!

                I really think we have underestimated how potent and primal the fear of ethnic tension is.

                I know for a lot of people like me, we see the civil rights struggles as a settled issue, part of history in black and white.

                Except it never really went away, the battleground just shifted.

                I see it in how the Trump movement consists of a grab bag of things that appear to be unconnected, except by the straight line of the decline of white Christian culture.

                We mock the things they complain about like “dial 1 for English”, “Merry Christmas” The Pledge of Allegiance, droopy drawers, transgender bathrooms, Sharia Law.
                Except what they are have in common is the reaction to a world where white Christian culture is waning, and the way the conservatives have chosen to react.

                This is why there is no compromise that can satisfy them short of full apartheid, where a small dwindling white minority holds power over a nonwhite nonChristian majority.

                Also, this whole “Whats the matter with Dems” discussion is IMO premised on the pundit fallacy of taking the last election and extrapolating it in a straight line to infinity.

                I remember in 1976 after Watergate and Carter’s election, Time had a cover story asking “Can The Republican Party Survive?”.
                Then again, in 2004, we had Karl Rove talking about a permanent Republican majority; then in 2008, a spate of articles about the impending extinction of the Republican Party after the Democrats won the Presidency, the House, and Senate with a filibuster-proof majority.

                Lets take a lesson from the civil rights struggles. Politics is never over, the battles are never won, just paused.Report

              • Avatar Stillwater says:

                Lets take a lesson from the civil rights struggles. Politics is never over, the battles are never won, just paused.

                Let’s also, tho, take a page from Jaybird’s message: when is enough enough? If championing civil rights issues entails trying to achieve the impossible, then it’s self-defeating, no? It also might result in backlash entirely outa proportion to the initial offense. Trump’s rise is very much wrapped up in that dynamic.Report

              • Avatar Don Zeko says:

                Which civil rights struggles do you think Trumpism is a backlash to? Where should Dems step back to blunt it?Report

              • Avatar Stillwater says:

                That failing to frame the civil rights debate in terms of the subjective experiences of “black bodies” means you’re a racist. Amongst others.

                Secondarily (and more importantly) I’d like to see Democrats pull back from basing policy, but more importantly norms, from viewing subjective experiences as a decisive consideration. Policy should be based on a language and evidence which is, in principle, shared by the community. If it isn’t, we’re in for hella hurt.Report

              • Avatar Saul Degraw says:

                Well Jaybird isn’t exactly part of a group that will ever be denied or has ever been denied civil rights….Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                You should totally make that a plank in the Democratic Platform.Report

              • Avatar Chip Daniels says:

                When I think of the civil rights struggles, it seems like every advance is followed by a backlash.
                Slavery abolition was followed by Jim Crow; the VRA was followed by Nixon and the Southern Strategy; Obama was followed by the Tea Party.

                The opponents of equality never rest, are never satisfied, can never be mollified.

                You realize, right, that there is a significant and growing number of people who believe the wrong side won the Civil War?

                In 2017!

                That same refrain, that it is not time for equality, that we cannot handle so much equality so soon, that we must wait..
                God, that was an old tired song that MLK was tired of hearing when I was a child.

                Black civil rights, same sex marriage, transgender rights, immigrants, refugees, Anti-Semitism, feminism…its all a single piece, the struggle for people to be treated with respect and dignity.

                Yes, we will be waging these fights in various forms forever.

                Buckle up.Report

              • Avatar Stillwater says:

                Racism, like the poor, will always be with us. No one has a solution to that problem. But I’d start with criminal justice reform, myself (Bernie’s platform). That’s something the state could get right even if culture lags behind or never catches up.Report

              • Avatar Stillwater says:

                And adding to that a bit, since I don’t want you to think that comment was too short, my view on racism is that lambasting perceived opponents for failing to accept a set of normative principles isn’t going to end racism. It probably won’t even help mitigate racist actions. So the question seems to me to be this: given that negative judgments aren’t cutting the bigotry mustard, what other mechanisms can be employed to achieve a greater level of parity? Seems to me focusing on criminal justice reform would be a really good and all-too obvious start. And you don’t even need to call your opponent a racist to make the argument!Report

              • Avatar Stillwater says:

                Aaaan, since I’m a roll…

                One of the things liberals, especially those who think they’re on the cutting edge of capital L Liberalism, might do is think a bit more strategically. For example, advocating criminal justice reform because it pulls the heavy hand of White Supremacy off African Americans their backs is quite different than advocating criminal justice reform because the system is broken and needs revising, for reasons A, B, C, D….

                One of the most disappointing aspects of the Dem primary was watching people attack Bernie for failing to specifically address the specific grievances of African Americans even tho all his policies promoted their interests without his ever reducing himself to identity politics. Personally, I gave him credit for that. But I’m a white guy. (Tho not a Jew… OR an east-coast liberal. 🙂Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                (*I* agree with you, Stillwater.)Report

              • Avatar Stillwater says:

                I made a mistake at the end. I shoulda said “I’m a non-Hispanic Caucasian guy.”

                Which is why we have Trump!Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                I remember in 1976 after Watergate and Carter’s election, Time had a cover story asking “Can The Republican Party Survive?”.
                Then again, in 2004, we had Karl Rove talking about a permanent Republican majority; then in 2008, a spate of articles about the impending extinction of the Republican Party after the Democrats won the Presidency, the House, and Senate with a filibuster-proof majority.

                And, by this measure, we can probably prepare ourselves for the pendulum to swing back starting in 2018.

                And if it does, exhale.Report

              • Avatar Chip Daniels says:

                Which would be the “due theory”, which would be wrong again.

                The pundit fallacy isn’t just making facile extrapolations from meager inputs.
                Its also posturing as the oracle who can divine the future.

                Its entirely possible that America does become a full fledged apartheid state, where a small minority of white Christianists hold power by brute force over the larger majority.

                Or the emerging majority creates a stable generation of liberal democracy that is respectful of the rights and dignity of all citizens.

                Or the emerging nonwhite nonChristian majority reacts in a symmetrical fashion, and establishes some sort of illiberal regime based on racial spoils and cronyism.

                Or, or, or…Look, the possibilities are endless.

                What I’m reacting to here is the confident assertions of which way the winds are shifting. You don’t know.

                And your prescriptions seem suspiciously aligned with your own preferences, which is yet another pundit fallacy.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                Well, there’s also the whole falsifiability thing.

                “I think that this is going on!”
                “Is there anything that could happen that would convince you that something else is going on?”
                “Is there anything that you could do to not be racist? Oh, I see that there’s not.”Report

            • Avatar Jaybird says:

              It’s amazing Jay thinks we haven’t noticed D’s have lost a lot. Just amazing.

              I might be willing to believe that you’ve noticed.
              I’m just not sure that I’m ready to think that you’ve noticed that this is a problem that ought to be addressed to the point where it involves changing anything.

              You know what I’ve seen people acknowledge as mistakes made by Democrats on this board?

              1) Clinton not campaigning even once in Wisconsin
              2) Not running local candidates in districts that Hillary won

              Um… I think that’s it.

              That indicates to me a level of unwillingness to look at the problem that could only be analogized to The Smartest Republicans In The Room looking at Romney losing and saying “okay, we need to get behind Jeb Bush.”Report

              • Avatar Stillwater says:

                You know what I’ve seen people acknowledge as mistakes made by Democrats on this board?

                Don’t forget anointing Hillary! Lots and lots of us thought that was a yuuuge mistake.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                It was her turn! Do you hate women?

                Er, I mean, yes. You’re right. There should have been more than two and a half people in that primary… but that’s an indicator of a whole bunch of near-mistakes and each individual act can’t be narrowed down on its own to be, in itself, a mistake. Was it a mistake on the part of the democrats to not have Biden run?

                Erm. Well. Jeez. It’s complicated.

                Hillary should not have been anointed and they should have known that if she needed outside help to win the primary then that was going to be a *HUGE* indicator for the general…

                But there is not a single mistake to point at, there. Just a whole bunch of individual acts that, individually, made perfect sense.

                But, yeah, Clinton should never have been anointed.Report

              • Avatar Stillwater says:

                It was a mistake on a whole bunch of levels: Hillary is a terrible candidate (objectively, I can pull up data), it exposed the DNC and Dem-powerbrokers as the insidery con artists that they are, it was anti Democratic!, etc and so on.

                I’ve mentioned this before, but I used to mock (RIDICULE!) the GOP for accepting anyone with a chip and a chair into the Presidential Primary. Clown Cars! But on reflection (in a circumspect moment induced by being beaten massively about the head and shoulders…) it’s actually the most democratic way to not only determine your party’s standard bearer but get a temperature-reading of the room. “Is Carson doing well? You’re kidding. Really? Hmmm, we gotta figure out why.”Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                Okay. I’ll add a 3rd entry to there (mentally).

                (But I also know that you’ve seen a bunch of people argue against the premise that nominating Clinton was a mistake. I wonder at how many of them would concede the (weaker?) premise that anointing her was one…)Report

              • Avatar Koz says:

                It was a mistake on a whole bunch of levels: Hillary is a terrible candidate (objectively, I can pull up data), it exposed the DNC and Dem-powerbrokers as the insidery con artists that they are, it was anti Democratic!, etc and so on.

                This is a useful subject to think about for it bit in our current context. In my view, the Demo’s who supported Hillary in the 2016 primaries were roughly:

                20%: feminists and others who actually liked Hillary
                10%: Clinton Administration-era family and machine loyalists
                30%: people who view the Demos as their vehicle to express and establish their antagonism to Republicans and supported Hillary because of her credibility in that way.
                20%: people who wanted a candidate early and avoid a long primary process
                20%: people who accepted the fait accompli of the other Hillary supporters

                Other Demos supported Bernie (and maybe a few for Martin O’Malley, etc). The point being, is that at least from here, relatively few Demos actually liked Hillary, though the vast majority found her acceptable. The key demographic that won her the nomination is her credible antipathy to and from Republicans, in a way that the other candidates didn’t have.

                The was running a race for 2012, when the electorate had moved on and she didn’t have the personal pull of Barack Obama.

                The Demos need to figure out something substantive to say beyond just not liking Republicans. The voters have heard that one already and it’s not enough. And specifically, they should appreciate that if they do want to be a party of multicultural point-scoring, that’s going to forclose them from being anything else.Report

              • Avatar Francis says:

                Interesting break-down. Any evidence to support it, esp on a state-by-state basis?Report

              • Avatar Koz says:

                I’m sure there is, but none that I can point to offhand. Basically a seat-of-the-pants estimation.Report

              • Avatar greginak says:

                Then frankly you’ve missed a lot of responses. D’s need some changes to their tactics, messaging and policies. They need to go back to Dean’s 50 state strategy, they need to try to compete at every level of electoral government, they need to improve their ideas for helping the WC and middle class, they need to explain the good ideas they do have better, and they need to recruit a new generation of pols. All this stuff has been said more than a few times in the last couple of months. Oh and they need to get out the vote better next time.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                I notice that everything you’ve mentioned there is either something that they should have done or something they should do.

                I was specifically talking about “mistakes”.

                What I’ve seen, over and over again, is a bunch of explanations that vindicate the explainer.Report

              • Avatar greginak says:

                Mistakes. Well Hillary didn’t’ work out that well, they stopped trying to compete at local and state levels nor did they try to reach some sub sets of voters ( some of that was Hillary, some of that has been D’s for a while). They were overconfident of demographics. Is that enough? Stuff they should have done is sort of pointing out mistakes.Report

              • Avatar Stillwater says:

                From my pov, the entire Democratic party is in a state of disrepair. Not the keystone policies and objectives, mind you, just what constitutes “the Party”. While the GOP has gobbled up local and state level share, the DNC (etc) merely watches. Why? I mean, seriously, they just stand by watching the disaster unfold.

                At the Presidential level allowing Hillary to throw her hat in the ring was of course a wise, prudential, principled thing to do. To create a situation in which she had no competition (until Bernie got so pissed he decided to run against her to – merely! – try to pull her to the left) is not only bad for her but incredibly bad for the party. According to the internal logic of the institutional decision-makers no mistake were made. It was her turn, good soldier that she’s been all these years. According to the logic of the purpose of the institution, tho, it looks like chaos and dysfunction.Report

              • Avatar El Muneco says:

                Running the ball from the one yard line with your borderline HOF back behind your pro bowl left tackle in the last minute of the Super Bowl is the thing you should do.
                “Something else” is a mistake.
                Analysis shouln’t focus on the minutiae of the wrong thing – but on why you weren’t doing the right thing.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                Analysis shouln’t focus on the minutiae of the wrong thing – but on why you weren’t doing the right thing.

                You know what? Fair enough.

                The main thing that I’m looking for is day-after analysis that does not flatter the analyst. I’d be down with analysis that concludes that, hey, the Dems had a good gameplan, they just failed to take into account some of the things on the ground… so long as the analysis done to reach that conclusion doesn’t rely heavily on kabuki and an institutional need to vindicate institutional practices.

                Did you see this one yet?


                Something like that makes sense to me.Report

              • I really, really think the Dems made a huge mistake in snuggling up to celebrities, particularly the last few weeks before the election. That went over like a lead balloon. And the celebrities themselves only made it about 1000% worse by coming out seemingly en masse in favor of Hillary.

                It largely happened at the same time as the Comey letter (Lena Dunham video was at the start of Nov, I believe) and I think it had a much greater effect on people but I find few acknowledging it as a mistaken tactic. In fact they doubled down on it using the celeb videos to the EC and stuff like that.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                I’ll give this formula again, there are three things you want to do with more or less any given thing that your campaign does:

                1. Get Your People Energized To Vote
                2. Depress Your Opponent’s People From Voting
                3. Get Swing Voters To Vote For You Or Stay Home

                With that in mind, it’s more than possible to use celebrities well.

                The best example I can think of is this one:

                People heard this song and cried. They were moved and, dad gum it, they were going to get out and VOTE.

                You don’t need to avoid celebrities. You need to avoid celebrities that fire up your opponents *AND* depress your supporters and get swing voters to say “what the hell were they thinking?”

                I mean, I mocked Clinton’s using the cast of The West Wing to campaign for her in Ohio but, at the end of the day, I don’t think that it changed a single mind one way or the other so at least it wasn’t downright harmful.

                But the Lena Dunham thing? Running Clinton’s Instagram? What the hell? Had no one on the staff actually *READ* her stuff? Seen her comedies? What in the hell were they thinking?

                Clinton would have done less damage by calling Skrillex and requesting a “Why am I not 50 points ahead?” remix!

                The Democrats are going to learn all the wrong lessons from this…

                And, in that, I suppose “yeah, let’s avoid celebrities next time” will actually help, insofar as it won’t result in the equivalent of someone waltzing in to a fancy dinner party and giving a large wet raspberry. (“Did you see his mouth move?” “Um. No. I didn’t.”)Report

              • Avatar Saul Degraw says:


                “they need to improve their ideas for helping the WC and middle class,”

                Is this really true? Again this seems to go with a form of fallacy. Obama and the Democrats proposed infrastructure spending which would create a lot of really good working class jobs with benefits. The GOP blocked them for eight years and for some reason it is the Democratic lack of plans.

                We also passed the ACA, the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, Dodd Frank, etc.

                Yet some how, even people on the left and Democrats complain about this not being good enough and refuse to blame Republican opposition.

                Erik Loomis at LGM has a lot of faults but one thing he is very good at is American Labor History and writing on these issues in a historical and contemporary context. When he discusses the failure of organized labor in the South (as opposed to the North and Upper-Midwest) and building trades siding with Trump, he will always point out that you can never separate Labor from Race in the American context. His view (and I think he has a lot of facts here) is that the white working class has always put racial solidarity over class solidarity.

                Why not say that white identity and power are big problems for the Democrats? Why not say that a lot of white Americans vote GOP because they see it as the white party? Why do we have to pretend that the powers of reason and rationale debate and infinite and endless? Is it because this just leads to defeat? bad feelings and ill will? something else?

                Why do we have to pretend that white privilege is something invented by college students instead of something with a long history that saw itself manifest in most of American history, apartheid South Africa, Ian Smith’s Rhodesia. White privilege and structural racism are still strong players in American history. Yet it is kids criticizing Milo Y that are wrong…..Report

              • Avatar Stillwater says:

                Is this really true?

                Yuh, it is. In an unfair fight Bernie almost kicked Hillary/the DCN/the Dem Establishment’s ass. In a fair one he prolly woulda pummeled her/it/them.Report

              • Avatar greginak says:

                Of course D’s have proposed things to help the middle and working class that the R’s stonewalled even stuff that Trump and many Trumpets want. But how many of them know that. D’s should have been hammering on R’s for years for that but they were generally mealy mouthed or focused on other things. That is messaging and D’s haven’t been good at it.

                Whatever generalizations about the WWC there are, some will vote for D’s. Not all but enough will to win. The message to them is economics and D’s need to win a few of those back over to the D side. Race is a huge barrier but that is the playing field so we still need to win some of those folk back over.Report

              • Avatar Chip Daniels says:

                Interesting reference to Romney.

                Remember how after 2012, the whole Autopsy thing, and all the pundits confidently asserting that unless the Republicans moderated by being more welcoming of immigrants, they were doomed?Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                Oh, yeah. I was one of them! I was preparing myself for a Bush/Clinton fight and had a couple of pictures of Clinton and Bush in a folder on my desktop ready to make into funny memes.

                And then Trump kept not losing.

                It falsified a number of my hypotheses.Report

              • Avatar Stillwater says:

                Which is ironic on a number of levels. I wish I could find it right now, but I remember reading story suggesting that right around that time the polling within the conservative base had immigration as the number one priority of GOP voters. Trump read that story, according to the story, but the story concludes that none of the pundits or GOPinsiders did.Report

              • Avatar Chip Daniels says:

                The autopsy was correct, except for its conclusion that there was no life left in the White Christianist strategy.

                Which is the pundit oracle fallacy I am talking about, that we can make confident assertions about the future of the electorate and elections.

                How to explain the difference between the 2004 Permanent Republican Majority, to losing the House only 2 years later?

                Or the 2008 Dem triumph, and losing the House only 2 years later?

                Politics is fluid and has a lot of moving parts.

                Will the GOP actually repeal Obamacare? Or privatize Medicare or Social Security?
                How will the working white class Trump voters react?

                What foreign events will transpire in 2017?
                Will these events make Trump look more or less attractive to voters?

                Will all these factors combine to flip the Senate in 2018, and the House in 2020?

                No one knows the answer to these questions.Report

              • Avatar Stillwater says:

                Apparently there was one person who did. He read that immigration was the number one priority of the conservative base and came out with guns ablazen, pointed directly at all the rapists and murders Mexico sends our way.Report

              • Avatar El Muneco says:

                I don’t think you were looking closely enough.

                I mean, just off the top of my head there was a pretty clear acknowledgement that, in general, D messaging was crap up and down the line. It’s ok to be a technocratic wonk with a wide national view of issues, but at a town hall talking to desperate people fearing what the next few years will bring their town – the last thing you want to sound like is a technocratic wonk with a wide national view of issues. Which Clinton did.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                I remember arguing about “We are going to put a lot of coal miners and coal companies out of business” and getting pushback. Stuff like “oh, you want her to *LIE*?”

                Here are the threads. Go back and look through them yourself. You might be surprised at some of the folks pushing back on the argument that she shouldn’t have said that.Report

              • Avatar El Muneco says:

                Probably less surprised than you think, because I remember saying that myself… However, there’s an important middle being excluded, and that specific question and that specific answer don’t necessaruly correspond.
                Stating it that baldly was a mistake. Not stating it in her listener’s terms was a mistake.
                Shying away from the underlying issue would have been both a mistake and a betrayal, of both D principles and the listener’s intelligence.Report

          • Avatar Jaybird says:

            the suggestion that Dems/liberals need to compromise to achieve a valuable goal makes absolutely no sense when it’s just a demonstrable fact that the party holds very little power right now

            Even if it were possible to have a table where negotiations could take place and deals could be made, I don’t believe that making a deal is something that either side would want to do.

            “Giving something up in order to have something close to détente” is not on the table in the first place.

            In other words, as a country we’re not experiencing a cold civil war, we’re experiencing a massive beat-down by one party on the other.

            Could this have been said in 2009? I see reasons that people might have said this, I see reasons that they might have said “eh, the Democrats have peaked, we’re going to regress to the mean and soon.”

            What troubles me is that I don’t see any out from the dynamic where we work to where it is our turn to beat down the other guy.

            Here is what is currently troubling me:

            I can see the argument that the Republicans have peaked. It’s all downhill from here. They’ll lose a couple of Senate seats come 2018 and they’ll lose control of the House outright. Come 2020, the Democrats will win and win big and Republicans will know to never play with populism ever again! ONE AND DONE, DON! ONE AND DONE!

            But I can also see the argument where the Republicans don’t have that happen.

            Come 2018, the House doesn’t move much. A couple seats this way or that way. The Senate doesn’t move at all. Maybe the Republicans even win a couple.

            And then, come 2020, Trump wins again. Like, with the popular vote this time as well. The Blue Wall holds. The map looks identical. Except with New Hampshire flipping. Maybe Nevada. The House doesn’t move much. The Senate doesn’t move at all. Maybe the Republicans even win a couple.

            I could see that happening.

            But there’s another option: Maybe Trump gets impeached. Maybe he resigns in disgrace. Maybe there’s some weird non-standard game over that happens and we wake up and Pence is Prez. (Or Paul Ryan! Spiro Agnew had a son. Is he doing anything?)

            We find ourselves in the same situation, only without Trump.

            But Trump isn’t the problem.
            Trump getting elected is the problem.
            And that problem isn’t going away. Not for a long, long time.

            That’s the problem that requires a solution. An election where your guy wins won’t fix it.

            Which brings us to a final reason: that because the GOP is more powerful at the state and federal level, liberals/Dems need to chill out, for the good of us all!!, and allow, without resistance, conservatives (and Trump!) to shape policy and practices as they see fit.

            In about 33 of the 50 states, “chilling out” is not an option because it pre-supposes any other temperature being an option.

            Wanna go for 35?

            Hey. Maybe the Republicans have peaked. If the Democrats play their cards right, they’ll win the House back. One and done for Trump.Report

            • Avatar Francis says:

              My understanding is that Brownback-supported politicians did quite badly in Kansas in the last cycle. Perhaps there is a limit to low-tax / high-growth magic thinking.

              In two years from now, I expect a charismatic Latino politician to run for President on a very basic message of restoring dignity to the White House. That message will have greater resonance if the Democrats keep putting pressure on the press for the next two years that having a President talking about things that never happened is just embarrassing.

              Koz, presumably, thinks that this approach is pollution.Report

      • It is indeed a libertarian argument. The problem is, when we seem to pick and choose the libertarian arguments to embrace and end up ONLY embracing freedom in the arenas that seem to cause the greatest hardship to the most vulnerable people, while maintaining the status quo on anything that would cause even the mildest hardship to the least vulnerable people.

        It seems to be standard Republican procedure, unfortunately – the first thing we’re gonna do is cut single moms’ welfare and take away her food stamps. But corporate welfare? Naw, we’re gonna be keeping that…Report

  16. Chip Daniels:
    Imagine millions of nasty women in pink pussy hats, mocking you to your face, forever.

    That is the terrifying face of liberalism.

    You try to make them look harmless and innocent but they aren’t. There’s no way to explain why they aren’t harmless or innocent without appearing overwrought so I won’t even try, but to try and paint Trump being elected as “those women in funny hats are mocking us” is disingenuous.Report

    • Avatar Morat20 says:

      ’t. There’s no way to explain why they aren’t harmless or innocent without appearing overwrought

      Just to be clear, and make sure I’m not missing a prior reference, you are stating that the Women’s March protests are not “harmless and innocent”? They are some form of intimidating threat?

      But you can’t explain why without appearing overly emotional? Really? Why is that? I’m pretty skeptical of any non-technical argument that starts with “X is true but I can’t explain why”. (And even with technical arguments, I can ask for dumbed down explanations or sources to go to or even crude analogies).

      Occam’s razor would suggest, of course, that the reason you can’t explain it without appearing overwrought is because you are, in fact, overwrought on that issue. (And indeed, my experience with “X is true, but I can’t explain why” is that they have no logical reason to believe X, no evidence, facts, or chain of thoughts, just instinct and emotion. Doesn’t mean they’re wrong, but it does require further digging.)Report

      • Avatar Kim says:

        You missed a double negative, I think.

        (I’m still pissed with the protestors who decided to steal my microwave — and the truck it was on at the time. Not that those were at the Woman’s March — but, really? leftists? I’m not going to like you more if you do destructive stuff.)Report

      • Ok. I’ll try.

        A mass of people who hold political and cultural views that are at least partially centered on destroying or minimalizing someone’s personal way of life, political party, culture, religion, etc is a scary thing for people and harmful for discourse. Regardless of how they’re dressed or their gender or their stated motivation being innocent, it feels threatening. If the shoe had been on the other foot and Hillary had won the election and millions of Trump supporters took to the streets dressed like snowflakes and claimed to march for some innocuous reason like “family values”, it wouldn’t matter that they were wearing cutesy outfits, people would find it threatening. The press would have reported on it as a threat.
        Just like people thought the Tea Party was threatening and the press reported on it in a negative light. It’s utterly disingenuous to claim “this is just some dear, sweet women in pink hats”.

        Additionally, as Hillary and her supporters stated repeatedly before the election occurred (when Trump made noise about possibly not accepting election results) it’s harmful to our country as a whole when an election has occurred and people don’t accept the results. It is a troubling development. Possibly it’s temporary, but I don’t think it should be normalized and certainly not celebrated. Do people have the right to do it, yes, of course, but that doesn’t mean it was a wise move politically or for the good of the country.

        The warlike and violent language and imagery being so widely used in addition to actual violence breaking out at some protests – this is something that the Democratic leadership and the media should be speaking out against and trying to calm things down, and they aren’t. In fact, they’re fanning the flames. They aren’t Trump. Trump is a loudmouth blowhard. Of course he uses inflammatory rhetoric. The Democrats and especially the press, should have been better and expected better from their supporters – if in fact they’re better than Trump themselves. They said that they were better than Trump. They said that’s why people should vote for Hillary. But are they, really? Are they any less volatile, any less unhinged, any less narcissistic? I’m having my doubts now. It appears to me that things were just going their way before and so they didn’t show this side of themselves.

        And if they’re not better, if they’ve simply been more practiced and polished and sneaky about their fascist tendencies than Trump all this time, but now they’re showing their true face, then it reveals that maybe, just maybe, people’s fears about the left are actually justified. Many people voted Trump not because they had any love for the man whatsoever but because they perceived a very real threat coming from the far left. They looked at two evils and thought Trump was the lesser one. That means something. It means something that I think the Democrats ought to reflect on rather seriously. But instead, they decide they’re going to put on matching costumes and take to the streets protesting a free and fair election like this is some kind of banana republic or something. And their leadership and practically everyone in the media is going to act as if this is some sort of wonderful, enlightened thing instead of a huge act of passive aggression against all the people who voted Trump. It’s all very deceptive, it’s creepy, it’s threatening. And yes, I know this sounds overwrought, but this is how a good many people are perceiving it.Report

        • Avatar Morat20 says:

          Liberals are the real facists? Disagreement is intimidating? Protests are banana republic things? The women’s march was some sort of denial of a free and fair election? Democrats aren’t accepting the election results? The Tea Party was unfairly maligned by the media?

          Jesus. Yeah, I don’t even know where to start with that.Report

          • I answered your question (which I did not want to) in good faith and honestly. Now, I don’t feel that your response was in good faith, but I’ll proceed as if it is.

            Since you asked, I attempted to let you into people’s heads a little bit about why the Women’s March was not perceived by some as this cutesy harmless thing. It’s not paranoia, it’s actually how it is being perceived by some people. Even people who didn’t vote for Trump like myself. When Chip says that it’s harmless and cute and “oh look those people are scared of women in hats” people perceive that statement as dishonest and disingenuous and mean.

            Am I saying the Women’s March shouldn’t have happened? I don’t know. I don’t think it was the wisest strategic move. But saying it is harmless and that Republicans are scared of women mocking them in pink hats – now that I think is a strategy that will hurt you in the long term. And why do I care? Because it’s inflammatory and it is taking an already tense situation and making it even worse.

            What no one seems to understand here is that I don’t care about liberals winning, or conservatives winning. In the long term I want libertarianism to win. This minute, I care about not having a civil war or a totalitarian regime within the next century. We’re headed that direction. The reason I seem to be coming down against liberals in this thread is because liberals are feeling more scary to me. If I have to get in bed with conservatives to stop a civil war, I’ll get my jammies.

            It’s a shame because I think liberals have some power to fix the disconnect in the country and they’re choosing not to use it. And not only are they choosing not to use it, they’re actively aggravating the situation. Both their leadership and individually.


            To answer your points:

            Liberals are behaving in some fascist-y ways. Yep. Not sure that’s a unique opinion.

            Protests aren’t banana-republic things, of course. But protests that are specifically about the outcome of an election (because come on, that’s what this was) are something that happens in a banana republic where elections are rigged and the people’s votes really don’t count. People take to the streets in outrage that Dictator-for-life won the rigged election again. IMVHO it shouldn’t happen in country with a free and fair election – and I’d say the exact same thing if Trump supporters had been protesting.

            Did you miss the part where people were demanding recounts and looking for Russian hackers? #Notmypresident?

            Point about the Tea Party was that people did find that threatening. Right? Do I have that wrong? The Tea Party made people nervous, yes? And the media reported on it in a negative light? Those were things that happened, I didn’t dream that? So why is it so difficult to imagine that people of another political persuasion may find a movement with millions of people walking around in matching uniforms also somewhat hostile? And then to see the media reporting upon it like it was something universally good and wonderful…it’s disturbing to people. Is that not impossible to imagine or empathize with? Even a little?Report

            • Avatar Stillwater says:

              Ahh. Finally, eh? Whew!! I know I feel better. I bet you do too. 🙂

              Personally, I wish you woulda just posted this argument as your OP to begin with. Woulda saved a lot of confusion and so on. And the great thing about the internet is that you still can!Report

            • Avatar Chip Daniels says:

              Have you ever actually met a conservative?
              Because really, you seem completely unfamiliar with them.

              Here, let me introduce you to notme; read his comments about that woman with a brain tumor.

              Here, let me introduce you to conservative Glenn Reynolds who famously said he wanted to run down liberal protesters with his car; and conservative legislators who introduced a bill allowing people to do just that.

              Let me introduce you to Rush Limbaugh, Jim Hoft, Erick Erickson, Andrew Klavan, Ann Coulter, Newt Gingrich, and Pat Buchanan, all of whom have built a reputation on being the snarling attack dogs who call liberals fairies, traitors and God knows what else.

              Let me introduce you to the conservatives at that townhall debating the ACA, who cheered lustily at the prospect of uninsured people being allowed to die for lack of treatment.

              Perhaps spend some time on Youtube viewing the Tea Party protests, and notice the signs saying “We came unarmed (This Time), or “Soapbox, Ballot Box, Ammo Box”; Or Sharon Angle calling for a “Second Amendment Solution”.

              Finally, let me show you conservatives walking around schools and grocery stores with assault rifles.

              Really, you need to get to know these conservatives you seem to want to speak for.

              Because honestly, if these guntoting macho manly men in the pride of their manhood feel intimidated by a bunch of unarmed women marching in the street, there isn’t any insult I can direct at them worse than that simple observation.Report

            • Avatar Francis says:

              “why the Women’s March was not perceived by some as this cutesy harmless thing”

              It wasn’t supposed to be harmless. It was intended to serve as a rallying point to build opposition to the new President and his platform. (Note: for some people dependent on the ACA, the March represents a matter of life-and-death. So, no, not cutesy harmless at all.)

              So far, it appears to be working. Congresscritters are running away from town hall meetings. The current version of the ACA replacement talking points has medicaid rollback and an increased Cadillac tax on employer-provided healthcare — two issues that will kill the bill. The Trump administration has yet even to nominate over 500 sub-cabinet appointees who require Senate approval, and his approval rating continues to drop. The early transition days should be over by now, but Darrell fishing Issa just called for an independent prosecutor!

              Moving forward, the Republicans are facing some very difficult votes in order to implement their platform: tax cuts, increased military spending, ending the budget sequester, the ACA alternative and more. All within a commitment not to explode the deficit.

              Opposition works, and the earlier the better. The Republicans will have a much tougher time getting those tough votes passed after the Women’s March.

              Marches also send signals to members of one’s own party. The Tea Party effectively used primaries to move the Republican Party to the right. Events like the Women’s March put Democratic politicians on notice that they can face primaries from the left if they fail to uphold core values.

              If the Republicans want Democratic votes, which they will need in the Senate, then they’re going to have to put compromises on the table. I find it quite interesting that any discussion about what the Republican Party should be willing to give up in order to get immigration reform (for example) has been noticeably lacking the last several days on this blog.

              One final point: If the Republicans are so scared of women voters that they have to draw analogies to 20th Century fascists (“millions of people walking around in matching uniforms”), then I think that our electoral chances in 2018 should be really pretty good.Report