Morning Ed: Politics {2018.02.22.Th}

[Po1] How do non-democracies become democracies? Often, the answer is hubris and the illusion of control.

[Po2] Plurality victor systems are terrible.

[Po3] Sometimes candidacies never end, when there are free dinners involved.

[Po4] Resignation not accepted.

[Po5] Pascal Boyer looks at why politics makes us stupid.

[Po6] How do active-duty candidates campaign?

[Po7] Can the center hold in Germany?

[Po8] If you’re a Republican in Houston who is disinclined to research, the Houston Young Republicans are here to help with a handy chart! I don’t know anything about any of these candidates, but the answers here are really quite interesting.

[Po9] Pew Research looks at voter files and voting behavior.

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Will Truman is the pseudonym of a former para-IT professional who is presently a stay-at-home father in the Mountain East. He has moved around frequently, having lived in six places since 2003, ranging from rural outposts to major metropolitan areas. He is also on Twitter. ...more →

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42 thoughts on “Morning Ed: Politics {2018.02.22.Th}

  1. Po1: Dictators voluntarily sharing power with more and more of the body politic in order preserve the illusion of control is a lot more peaceful and will probably lead to stabler results than a revolution from bellow.

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  2. [Po5] I watched the entire interview. Newmann came off as an idiot with no common sense and/or an ideologue. Certainly not a “neutral” journalist. Hell, she didn’t appear to know the subject, or done any homework to offer a decent rebuttal to Peterson’s statements. If this had happened to me in a conversation, I’d just have just got up and left.

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  3. [Po5] I get the overall complaint about Newman’s interview with Jordan B. Peterson, but his lobster argument was preposterous, and I’m not sure being reduced to spluttering by it is a terribly good example of stupidity.

    Bad interviewing technique? Yeah.

    Stupidity? Nyah.

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      • 1. It’s a straw man, and one that even JBP glosses over, because “is a product of Western patriarchy” is not remotely the same thing as “is only ever a product of Western patriarchy”. I’m reasonably certain I’ve never once seen anyone argue the latter. And I argue with people on the Internet, so it’s not like I don’t see a lot of tremendously silly arguments for all sorts of positions.

        2. The argument for the similarity between lobster brains and human brains, based on neurochemistry shared by almost all animals, doesn’t seem relevant to anything. “Lobsters and humans both use the same neurotransmitter as a vast array of animal species,” doesn’t do anything at all to support the argument that lobsters and humans form social hierarchies for the same reason.

        I think Newman did a terrible job in her interviewer with Peterson. I also think that a better interviewer probably would have made him look worse.

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      • The whole essay comes off as apologia for Peterson and his views more than it does about why politics makes us stupid. Peterson is a controversial guy and a lot of “above the fray” types with soft right sympathies like Conor F can’t help but defend him.

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  4. To be a little more clear than I think I was, while I don’t object to the Russia leak my desire on this thread is that it remain relatively free of Trump and the shooting. I selected links that didn’t involve either for that reason.

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  5. So, in non-Trump, non-guns issues;
    I’m still processing thoughts from a few links I was exposed to here on OT.

    First, Shadi Hamid writing in The Atlantic about Submission, the book by Houllebecq;

    Then Park MacDougald in American Affairs about Millenials (h/t Jaybird);

    Then Dreher in The American Conservative writing about Marion Le Pen at CPAC;

    I’m sensing a common theme here, of a critique of liberalism coming from a non-economic front, from a perspective that isn’t necessarily white ethno-centrism.

    Shadi writes of liberalism in the way Haidt does, the modern faith of “anywheres”, those educated Western cosmopolitan people that are not rooted in a particular culture.

    Dreher remarks that Le Pen’s speech illustrates a sharp divide between the ethical postures of European Catholicism and American Protestantism, of individual liberty versus a communitarian ethos:
    Without nation, and without family, the limits of the common good, natural law, and collective morality disappears, as the reign of egoism continues.

    Park MacDougald explores the angst of Millenials, who live in that liberal world of endless free choice, endless freedom, endless insecurity.

    I haven’t formulated a complete thesis yet, but I am sensing that we are witnessing a very big tectonic shift in our politics.
    The 20th century was marked by the epic struggle of two competing economic theories, but I am thinking that our politics is increasingly defined by the terms and issues that the post-Boomer generations are dealing with.
    The splintering of blood families into sub-nuclear units of single parents or adult singles, the rise of economic insecurity, the disappearance of mass industrial work, the acceptance of same sex relationships, the collapse of faith in traditional mainstream religions all add up to something new.

    Conservatives at CPAC may genuflect to Reagan, but who really looks at the Reaganesque model of suburban 1950s familiy as something that holds meaning? Does even Ben Shapiro think he is going to be a a breadwinner dad with a stay at home wife and 2.5 kids?

    But even among young left wing people, who really imagines we will have a nationalized system of heavy industry like postwar Britain?

    The post Boomer generations are trying to create meaning, but so far nothing seems to be emerging.

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    • While we’re on the subject of TAC and Marion Le Pen, I give them credit for running this. The deepest cut is at the very end:

      Marion Le Pen is not a classical liberal, as Schlapp claimed, and by American standards she surely doesn’t count as a conservative either. The core ideological tenet of her and her party is that a neoliberal world elite is out to privatize public services and institute the dogma of free markets. Likening anyone who is even mildly affiliated with the National Front to classical liberalism just means being willfully ignorant of what that term actually means.

      Marion Le Pen will be another voice for the American right against immigration and for Trump’s economic protectionism. But if CPAC was looking for an eloquent and well-known speaker who opposes open borders and free trade and whose big government spending agenda doesn’t matter, then there was someone even closer to home they could have invited. Bernie Sanders would have been an excellent choice. After all, anything goes now so long as we’re anti-immigration, right?

      This guy isn’t a kvetching old school Reaganite conservative. And it’s one of the few critiques I’ve seen from people who aren’t. I was glad to see TAC run it.

      Schlapp has embraced Trump and Trumpism rather completely, to the exclusion of those Republican activists and officials who are not sufficiently on board. Which… okay, at the least post-Trump Trumpism arguably represents the party’s most likely to be successful path to power. But his attempts to paint the Milo and Le Pen invitations as being about freedom of speech and broad-churching ring laughably hollow.

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      • Thanks for that link- if anyone wants to see evidence of the violent ripping apart at the seams I mentioned below, skim the comments to that article.
        But while a part of me roots for injuries in the conservative civil war, I’m actually more interested in tomorrow’s liberalism.

        When I look at young people and their world of splintered single households and economic precarity I wonder how these cultural and economic forces will form their political beliefs.

        I wonder what “solidarity” even means to someone who has never had to share a room with a sibling, but now shares an apartment with 3 strangers? What does it mean to be a “worker” when work is fleeting and ephemeral and wealth is distributed on a lottery style jackpot randomness?

        When we tell conservatives the macro economic and cultural forces that shaped the 1950s are gone forever, isn’t it also true that those same forces at the same time shaped the Scandinavian utopias we admire so much?

        I really don’t know.

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        • From NPR/Pew:

          “[In the age group 18-34], 32.1 percent of people live in their parents’ house, while 31.6 live with a spouse or partner in their own homes and 14 percent live alone, as single parents or in a home with roommates or renters. The rest live with another family member, a nonfamily member or in group-living situations such as a college dorm or prison.”

          I wish they’d distinguished between say, “another family member” and “prison,” but I’m not sure the data fit the picture of young people that you have. If anything, a Millennial living with their parents strikes me as less “alone”, on average, than a young person in the 80s in a starter marriage…

          (Of course, the data also claims that for non-white young people, living with their parents when aged 18-34 was still pretty darn common in the 80s. )

          14 percent rather than “almost never” might seem like a lot for “living alone or with roommates,” but it’s still a very unpopular choice, and not the one that is trending high at the moment.

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    • I read the Atlantic essay very differently. I read the Atlantic essay as saying freedom is more important than meaning. Or meaning is useless without freedom. The essay was saying “So what?” to all the critics of liberalism.

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  6. Are you acquainted with Mr. Hamid? I ask because I noticed that you used his first name alone, and the last names of the other two writers.

    As to your points, I think they are interesting ones, and overall there’s a lot to chew on there.

    Just to pick a little, not to be annoying but because I think it’s relevant to what will end up happening, I do actually know some breadwinner dads with stay at home wives and 2-3 kids. (Or to be more accurate, I know the moms, for the most part, but in one case the dad is a close friend.) I also know some breadwinner moms with a parallel situation. Young people, I mean. Late Gen X or younger. Mostly the ones I know don’t have much money, so it’s not a matter of being able to roll around in cash, either – it’s not a boutique existence that they’ve chosen.

    I think what will end up shaking out is a far more existentialist and particularized set of options, rather than there being options that are completely off the table. When anything is possible (as per Millennial angst) and everything is absurd, the answer to happiness seems to lie partly in embracing and committing to SOME particular model – rather than in the particular model chosen. I do think the model chosen needs to included kindness and space for other people to go their own ways, of course.

    But then, I would think all that.

    (It seems not irrelevant that Camus’ _Myth of Sisyphus and Other Essays_ has checked out more in the last 2 years of my employ than in the 8 years previous… Meanwhile, Doctorow’s _Walkaway_ also circulates like hotcakes, I suspect more because of the arresting title than because the younguns have any real sense of who he is in the way that GenXers generally do.)

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    • Sadly no, I am not a friend of Mr. Hamid, perhaps because I type lazily.

      I made a point elsewhere that the Reagan conservative movement has as its founding myth, that there was an Edenic Golden Age, until the socialists and hippies took over in the 60s and led us into The Fall From Grace.
      Dreher is a part of that movement. In the linked passage he quotes Gustav Mahler: “Tradition is not the worship of ashes, but the preservation of fire.

      I don’t know exactly how the religious right like Buckley were able to make common cause with the capitalist right. But those two cultures are I believe, now violently ripping apart at the seams.

      For someone who wants to tend the fires of universal tradition, the world of Travis Kalanick and the tech bros who want to “move fast and break things” cannot possibly be reconciled.

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      • “For someone who wants to tend the fires of universal tradition, the world of Travis Kalanick and the tech bros who want to “move fast and break things” cannot possibly be reconciled.”

        And yet, without even *being* on the right, I want those things, in tension though they no doubt are (and as little as I have in common with Kalanick other than “move fast and break things,” which I only want in its proper places), I would say that if you look at my life I’m doing, and supporting, a lot of both — and I’m far from alone. It’s true that you can’t have an unmixed extreme of both, but most people (who aren’t party officials) aren’t ever trying to do that.

        Reconciling paradoxes and finding a way to live in harmony between them is a fundamentally human pathway, among many other pathways, I think.

        It may be that seams will be resown in different and surprising places, but it’s not inevitable that the world becomes more and more fragmented and painful.

        Anyway, I didn’t mean to try to refute your not-quite-formed thesis by my comments, purely to communicate that (some) people very much can want – and *have* – stay-at-home-parent, working parent, picket fence, 2-3 kids, traditional this and that, and still be very willing to move fast and break other parts of tradition with abandon. Not every person under 40 (or under 25) is drifting lost and confused in the choice paradox.

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  7. Here’s something that I honestly didn’t see coming:

    Diane Feinstein has lost the California Democratic Party’s endorsement.

    From the article:

    California Democrats rebuked Sen. Dianne Feinstein at their annual convention this weekend, denying her the party’s endorsement in this year’s Senate race and giving a majority of their votes to her liberal primary challenger.

    Just 37 percent of delegates to the statewide convention, held this year in San Diego, backed Feinstein in her bid for a fifth full term. More than 54 percent backed state Senate leader Kevin de León, who entered the race in October and has run to Feinstein’s left on health care, taxes and immigration. Candidates needed 60 percent of the vote to win the party’s endorsement, making Feinstein the first incumbent senator in recent memory who will run in June’s primary without official backing.

    Bernie was a warning. The Democratic Convention seemed to communicate that this warning was actively being ignored.

    This primary is one to watch. Look for shenanigans. If shenanigans happen, look for “get on board anyway, losers” kinda messages.

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      • It’s not that the outcome would itself necessarily constitute shenanigans. It’s that the apparatus along the way might be used shenaniganly.

        But my assumption is that DiFi already has the seat won (assuming she still wants it). That may be a bad assumption.

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  8. This primary is one to watch.

    It has been since De Leon declared about 5 months ago.

    Look for shenanigans. If shenanigans happen, look for “get on board anyway, losers” kinda messages.


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