Morning Ed: Politics {2018.04.15.Su}

[Po1] A surprising number of people would give up their right to vote in exchange for a pay raise.

[Po2] Tories are improving their standing among gay voters, apparently. There are a lot of similarities between the left and right in the western world, but the gay vote and the Jewish vote are two areas where we tend to deviate. Most likely due to religious dynamics more that differ here compared to elsewhere, I would guess. {Addendum: Piece is old. My bad.}

[Po3] The Atlantic has an interesting article comparing and contrasting “terrorist and criminal” governments in the Middle East and South America.

[Po4] A long (and kind of academic) look at the state of British democracy over the past decade. Also: Killjoy!

[Po5] There are some legitimate concerns here, but a whole lot more political entitlement and racism.

[Po6] John Marini writes more about how the ruling class rules, and how it has ruled over time.

[Po7] I’ve got to give Trump credit for good policy here.

[Po8] At The Week, Damon Linker and Rachel Lu look at the future of the center and right in the new political world. {Via Marchmaine}

[Po9] Good news! It’s no longer as big of a deal for the Dutch to insult their king.


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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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64 thoughts on “Morning Ed: Politics {2018.04.15.Su}

      • That’s a foolish response — one that grows out of a pervasive refusal to accept the legitimacy of the grievances driving the flight from the center and inflaming populist passions all around us. If there’s any chance for a newly revitalized center to recapture the political imagination, it will need to become less defensive, less committed to regaining power without undergoing significant reform, and more willing to reconstitute itself in light of populist objections to the old centrist consensus
        [snip]
        …Until quite recently, the country’s main political parties, mainstream media companies, financial institutions, tech firms, and think tanks and other policy research groups have all been overwhelmingly dominated by people who affirm a relatively narrow range of centrist ideas on economic growth, trade, immigration, financial regulation, and foreign policy. That’s what lends plausibility to the quasi-conspiratorial accusations favored by anti-establishment populist politicians: It really can seem as if the system as a whole is committed to upholding these specific policies, necessitating an assault on that system as the only way of changing course….

        …So favoring free trade, high rates of immigration, and a militarily aggressive approach to international affairs become not only the specific (and contingent) policies that have held sway for most of the past half century but essential correlates of liberal government itself — somehow almost as essential to democracy as the rule of law; individual rights to speech, worship, assembly, and private property; an independent judiciary and civilian control of the military and police; representative institutions founded on the consent of the governed; and free and fair elections.

        Water is wet? Maybe for Bernie and Trump supporters… but he’s writing for the Center where the money and the power (and the dominant consensus) resides. Sure, maybe not the best column in the world (is there one?)… but if you had to pick 2 or 3 things on which to change course from the Centrist consensus… which two would you pick to (re-)build a coalition: economic growth, trade, immigration, financial regulation, and foreign policy? [p.s. and Financial Regulation/Foreign Policy count as 1-pick, even if you pick both – my game, my rules :-) ]

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        • I don’t see how we have economic growth without free trade. There’re good reasons why support for trade has been in the “narrow range of centrist ideas”.

          I get the whole “everything needs to be on the table” but I’ve never understood why the trade policies of North Korea are supposed to lead to good things.

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  1. [Po1] Frankly I’m surprised the number isn’t higher. Would be interesting to see an issue-by-issue breakdown, as people’s price tag no doubt vary by passion. Informative, and a harsh indictment on how we’ve taught civic responsibility. This nugget of depressing dystopian logic sums it up “Nearly ten percent said they would give up their child’s right to vote for life. Very generous of you, making that sort of decision.” God help us.

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    • It does seem somewhat unsurprising, given national voter registration rates and actual voting rates. Why not cash in on a franchise that’s never exercised? I live in a strange state. An estimated 87% of people eligible to vote are registered, and in 2016 72% of registered voters cast ballots. (I credit/blame ballot initiatives, as I believe getting to vote on actual policy is a motivator.)

      When I was taking public policy graduate classes several years ago, there were a disturbing number of the 20-something students who said in discussions that they would give up a considerable part of their civil rights in exchange for (dubious, IMO) security from terrorists. One evening the two of us who were old enough to have one foot still stuck in the 1960s gave them hell for it.

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      • You raise an interesting dynamic, I’m glad you mention it: I wonder how the counter culture of the 60’s that many of them romanticize would react to them now? Not the actual people now well into their 60s today, but put then 20-somethings in a room with current 20-somethings-I doubt there would be as many similarities as they think.

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  2. Po1: “It does no good for a man to sell his soul for the entire world, but for Wales?” Many people really don’t think a lot about long term implications of what they are doing.

    Po2: I’ve made this point in the past but a big difference between European and American conservatives is that the former did not believe they could relitigate the 1960s. American conservatives spent decades believing they could and still believe this to an extent. This is why more LGBT people are involved in rightist politics in Europe. Many gay men were active in forming the new Far Right parties. A more immediate reason why LGBT and Jews in Europe tend to vote more right is that they believe the leftist parties are too conciliatory to Muslim Europeans, generally perceived to be very homophobic and anti-Semitic.

    Po6: The administrative state is a popular bugbear with a certain type of rightist. This is mainly because you can not have a welfare state and a regulatory state without a civil service to administer them. Decreasing governments administrative capacity is a way to enforce doctrinaire small government policy preferences in perpetuity. Damon Linker had a good article a few weeks ago on why the administrative is a good thing and inevitable at a certain economic level. There are no advanced economies in the world without an administrative state even if they have a miserly welfare system.

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  3. Po6:

    Obviously we can’t function without the bureaucracy, but I do agree that the three main branches have probably given up too much to the bureaucracy. The lack of accountability is the biggest issue, and one no one seems much interested in fixing.

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    • I’m pretty much sure that the “lack of accountability” is the point. It allows the elected officeholder to say, “there’s nothing I can do”, instead of, “Geez, read the rules, loser!”. Or sometimes act the hero, and guide the citizen through the maze, or issue a pardon or something.

      In addition, I think that the bureaucracy is the result of our desire to have the same rules apply to everyone.

      I can’t say that I think a piece that has this sentence is likely to illuminate me:

      Were Kafka and Weber right in their assumption that all modern revolutions are destined to disintegrate into a historically inevitable bureaucratic slime?

      Doesn’t that sound a bit, umm, cliche to you?

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  4. I find it interesting that #NeverTrump conservatives have a zero presence in the GOP but an outsized presence in the press. Rachel Lu is “respectable” I guess.

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    • Perhaps the issue is the term itself. There are a few elected Republicans that will oppose based on issue at hand. The mechanism of the Republican Party probably holds true there are no #NeverTrump at least openly, but why would there be-it is a symbiotic relationship at this point. So dissent comes from outside the “official” party, and #NeverTrump makes a good intro for certain people in certain circles.

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          • That is, as much as anything, a product of who won and who lost. How much influence would Bernie and company have if Clinton had won? Probably less than anti-Trump Republicans would have in that scenario.

            The comparison does break down, though, in that Bernie supporters are a considated group with a degree of unity around worldview. Anti-Trumpism has none of these things. There is a lot of disagreement as to what, precisely, makes Trump bad. So even if Trump had lost, it would be a different environment.

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      • I’m a cynic. I think a lot of the opposition to Trump from within the Republican Party is often more about style than substance. Jeff Flake objects to Trump’s vulgarity more than he does to his policies. Or it comes from people reading the writing on the wall and deciding to exit like Flake and maybe now like Ryan.

        Those “certain people in certain circles” seems to be journalist types at publications with a largely center-left and relatively prosperous (in the upper-middle class professional set) readership.

        Erik Erikson recorded a Republican congressperson going off on a profanity laced rant against Trump this week. The congressperson declare that Trump was like an evil version of Forrest Gump and was dragging them all down in defeat. How many Republicans think like this in private? How many won’t do anything about it?

        I personally see Trump as the logical endpoint to many years of talk radio and Fox News.

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        • To be blunt, this isn’t “cynicism” so much as it is convenient thinking.

          You accept, almost without thinking about it, that the only genuine opposition is policy-based. And it’s not even Trump’s marquee policy, his anti-immigration stance which Flake does actually oppose, but his general Republican policies. So, by that standard, of course any Republican is going to fail your test. There is no reason for any Republican anywhere to care about your test. Or any non-liberal.

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        • I do not think I can agree to Trump being the “logical endpoint to many years of talk radio and Fox News”, though I can see the temptation to think so. Everything about the first 69 years of Trump ran counter to what that same talk radio proclaimed. It was they that modulated more so to him than the other way around. The right is not a monolith, and many had various reasons, but the common thread was people change their long held positions in the name of buying into Trump the personality.

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          • So what is this magic that drew them all to Trump, and in the darkness, bound them?
            It wasn’t free market capitalism.
            It wasn’t traditional morality.
            It wasn’t a hawkish foreign policy.

            What did he offer them, that they found so appealing they were willing to modulate?

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            • Well done on the turn of phrase there…Tolkien is always appropriate.
              To your point, I have trouble believing anyone can honestly defend Trump strictly on policy as it changes based on his whim, never mind he ran and won on positions counter to all of his previous life. There are endless theories and each no doubt had their reasons but the further we go the more I personally think simplest answer is they made Trump into an aggrievement avatar: whatever your complaint about the world is, project it onto him, and he played into it perfectly. Once you make that mental leap, regardless your original position, hard to talk someone back up the hill.

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          • I disagree. Trump has a 40 plus year history of racist actions. Anyone who paid attention should know this. The first-time he appeared in the media was to defend his father against accusations of racist housing practices from the Nixon HUD. Then he bilked black casino workers in the 1980s. He also called for the lynching of the wrongfully accused Central Park 5 in the 1980s.

            I don’t think talk radio/Rush Limbaugh is about pious and Calvinist living. I think it is about “We deserve a party hard good life. You don’t. Fuck you.” There has always been a strain of party hard, frat boy conservatism.

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            • I suspect the percentage of voters, let along Trump supports, who know any of that is incredibly low. For that matter, even Trump supporters on the whole probably have no idea about the man pre-Apprentice. That the considered such things as part of their support doesn’t seem likely. Your description of “party hard frat-boy conservatism”-and you are right it has always been a strain-is, to be fair, more of an elitist mindset that transcends particular sides than a conservative one.

              I find talk radio host, Rush is an example, who built an audience with one message then excuses Trump from being held accountable to it, to be the hypocrites they are.

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            • Then he bilked black casino workers in the 1980s.

              There’s a saying about never ascribing to malice something that can be explained by incompetence.

              The Trump equiv would be never ascribing to his racism something that can be explained by his greed, narcissism or general sociopathy.

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              • I tend to agree with this. I believe he filters things like race and class like he does everything else, through a lens of helping/hurting whatever his goal is at the moment. This is the limits of being pragmatic instead of principled, if your goal is self serving, plenty of things get abused in the process.

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        • I agree that Trump is the natural end point of Fox/Rushism. I don’t doubt that many conservatives were always that way specifically on race, craving cultural dominance and not ever really caring about “conservative” policies.

          I’m also sure there are conservatives who hate Trump and want better options. Certainly we’ve had a few of those people here. Sure plenty of R pols are craven enough to keep sucking up to Trump, that is until some unpredictable event ( or Mueller) occurs and all that anti Trumpism will come out. Good. Lets have the NeverTrumpers speaking out so the craven or the lost have someone to talk to them as a member of the same team. It’s good to magnify the NT’s so that R’s see an option for themselves.

          There will be time, maybe not all that far out. When admitting being pro Trump will be embarrassing for lots of people. Heck lots of strident R’s started calling themselves libertarians in 06-07 out of disgust with Bush.

          R’s aren’t going to turn D (well most of them at least) due to Trump. It would be just as good if they could, at some point, start dragging the R’s back from Trump because this country needs two parties. More would be better of course but that isn’t the system we have.

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  5. Rachel Lu offers a great example of the incoherence of the modern conservative movement.

    She can’t articulate any vision of conservatism, whatsoever, that can distinguish it from bog standard Democratic Party centrism, or that aren’t rooted in it being forever 1979.

    Her proposals are almost all either plagiarisms of centrist New Deal style idea- wage subsidies, a UBI,or “pro-natal benefits” (psst Rachel- this was called “welfare” where the gummint paid women to have babies).

    Or they are vague retreads of past stances- what exactly does a “security minded hawkish” policy mean and how would it differ from the status quo, or the Obama stance? How would a culture of “traditional morality” not hold up the Obama family as its exemplar?

    There just doesn’t seem to be any sense of what animates her to call herself a “conservative”.

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    • I have a general theory that many people choose identifiers based on aesthetics. People call themselves conservative or liberal or progressive or whatever based on their connotations of the word. They don’t call themselves these things based on the philosophical/policy ideas or they change their policy views after they find their label.

      I include myself in this too. My image of liberal is someone who is urbane, sophisticated, open-minded, elegant, secular(ish), etc. I like that image and would like to be seen that way.
      I say this even if my personal life can be somewhat boring and I have no problems going to bed at 9:30 on a Saturday night if I am tired. I don’t buy the Burkean conservatism that lots of conservative pundits like to pontificate about. But lots of people still think they are part of a grand tradition of restraint and caution going back to Burke and Oakeshot and call themselves conservative for those reasons.

      Plus party identity can be as strong as family identity. I come from a long line of New York, New Deal, Great Society Democrats. It is as much a part of my family identity as being Jewish. I imagine the same is true for many Republicans/conservatives. People whose families have been voting Republican since Lincoln are probably loathe to give up the identity.

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      • I also agree.
        I think a lot of Republican identity was formed when it was in reaction to “Abortion, Acid, and Amnesty” culture, or as you put it, re-litigating the culture wars of the 1960s.

        I know it was for me. I identified in 1979 with the self image of a guy who was hard working and self reliant, devout, sober and proudly patriotic. I bought the political ideology because it fit my worldview.

        Which is why it was so hard for me to shake it off.
        It was the combination of personal life and the near-decade long madness of the Gingrich Republicans that caused me to slowly but firmly see how wildly divergent the party line was from my observed reality on the ground.

        It was only by 2008 that my worldview finally saw that it was people like Obama and the Democratic Party that best embodied those same values I liked in 1979.

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      • I think this is spot on, especially in countries that tend towards fewer than more political parties. In the Anglophone world, who you voted for and what you called yourself depended just on your geography, class, religion, and a bunch of other identity issues than what you believed in. During the mid to early late 19th century, the Liberal and Conservative parties passed roughly the same type of legislation and had roughly the same foreign policies. Voting patterns depended a lot on geography. Non-conforming Protestants like Methodists, middle class do-gooders, and people on the Celtic fringe voted Liberal. Church of England members, rural dwellers, and people in south and central England voted Conservative.

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      • I’ll join the others in agreeing with ‘s comment here.

        It also works for reverse or negative partisanship, and for me at least, it works more strongly that direction than not. I’ve found it much easier to reject the Republicans and reject “conservatism” than it’s been to embrace the Democrats or embrace “liberalism.” Perhaps that’s a matter of upbringing/culture from my immediate family, especially my father, who was always more anti- (a certain sort of) liberal than he ever was pro-Republican or pro- (a certain sort of) conservative.

        Regardless, my votes–for a while, and likely for the foreseeable future–have been and will be more for Dems than for 3d party challengers.*

        *I may still vote for Republicans at the local’ish level, if only to remind the Dem’s where I live that they shouldn’t take their safe seats for granted. But even that’s getting harder for me.

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    • I think you’re kinda missing the point… if the portions of the Right defect from Trumpism (possibly leaving behind the Republican brand)… it won’t be to some sort of Democratic enlightenment… unless the siphoning of some democratic factions into different coalitions counts as enlightenment.

      I think Lu is still hoping to salvage the Republican brand after Trump (she has been in the past a Republican of the Movement sort)… but still a Republican party that reorients its political aims away from (certain elements of Trumpism) while embracing certain reform principles (see also Linker’s post)… is not a “win” for the Democratic framing of (some) of those ideas. In fact, in that theoretical universe, I think it’s potentially devastating to large portions of the Democratic agenda.

      I think the articles interesting because I’m starting to see some notions that the Republican party might just become a pure party of Trump… and that’s (possibly) one way the *brand* goes the way of the Whig party.

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  6. Po2: There is a note under the dateline stating “this article is over three years old.”

    I think Lee’s observations are largely true. American conservatives/right-wingers still are relitigating all the social changes that happened in the 1960s. They think we can go back to an era where people (especially women) lived with their parents before they married, where cops would spy on college students trying to have sex in motels*, where Griswold never happened, etc. My general impression is that the center-right parties (the true center-right parties) often don’t fuse about these issues at all and are more about economics. They are also not as hardcore Randianite. Tories might want to introduce some privitazation into the medical industry but they would never dare dream of dismantling the NHS.

    San Francisco is a one party town and has been as such since 1948 or 1964 depending on how you count. That being said, there are divisions in San Francisco politics and those divisions are mainly on economic and regulatory issues. The best example of this is the fight over housing and whether you are a Jane Kim type or a Scott Weiner type. Jane Kim largely being against landlords and developers and Scott Weiner realizing that you need to build housing to reduce rents and housing costs. Obviously I am biased here.

    The contrasts are too stark here. There are too many Randian hardies and social conservatives for the GOP to be really competitive among minorities.

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    • They weren’t as strong as our social conservatives but the United Kingdom’s conservative party under Thatcher had more than a few social conservatives that believed they could turn back the clock. This meant re-criminalizing homosexuality, bringing back the Death Penalty, and maybe decreasing hedonistic pleasure seeking in general. The difference between the Conservative Party and the Republican Party was that the libertine, free market branch of the Conservative Party was less willing to put up with social conservatives than the libertarian faction of the Republican Party.

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    • You also forgot your asterisk. What Saul is referring to is something Roger Ebert noted in his autobiography. During his days as a college student, cops really would go to motels and check out the license plates in the cars. If the cars belonged to university students, cops would report this to the university. The university would then take some sort of disciplinary action against the students.

      Apartment buildings used to have strict rules about entertaining guests of the opposite gender in your room if you were single. Many apartments didn’t allow single people to bring in guests of the opposite gender at all in the building. Others had designated and public entertaining areas but did not allow you to bring your guest into your room. There was a time when guests had to leave. American society really did try to prevent pre-marital sex from occurring before the Sexual Revolution.

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  7. Po6 –

    A professor of history at Hillsdale College,

    This is going to have to do some heavy lifting to overcome my own preconceptions.

    he writes as a historian but also a citizen

    This is not helping

    he nonetheless judges historical and political changes in light of an unchanging standard of the public good, or justice, an idea inherent in the founding documents, the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution.

    This *really* isn’t helping.

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    • I’d be sympathic to the overall theme (heck, I normally *am* sympathetic to the overall theme) even if the history wasn’t dodgy and long periods of abrogation of civil rights weren’t handwaved away – if this sort of argument ever took itself seriously and was applied to say, a 700 billion dollar a year standing military, or the ICE agents currently swarming the country and getting in everyone’s business.

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    • The rhetorical stance of that piece seems to be “Of course you agree with me and the author of this book, so I’m not even going to discuss why we think that, I’m just going to throw a bunch of citations of Smart People(tm) that appear to endorse what we both believe.”

      The alternative to having a bureaucracy, as far as I can tell, is to have a different set of laws for every jurisdiction in the country. At the extreme case, we have a different set of laws for each individual, as administered by autonomous judges. Or something like that.

      Let’s take the FAA and private pilot licenses (I have one). Should it work differently if you live in CA versus ND? Should the tests be different? No? Then we need a bureaucracy and a set of rules.

      It’s pretty clear that in most of these areas, we don’t want that.

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  8. I’ve read a few takes on the Philadelphia Starbucks incident.

    I’m struggling to blame anyone other than the Starbucks employees in this moment, in particular because their behavior and quotes seems to fly directly in the face of of Starbucks policy — both on paper and lived. Starbucks are well known to be the public bathrooms of the city. I’ve never been turned away from a Starbucks bathroom, regardless of whether I’m purchasing something or not. They routinely have long lines since this is a common behavior, partially invited by the company’s broad acceptance of this practice. Layer on top of that I’ve never seen Starbucks attempt to get people to leave for, well, any reason. So, for whatever reason, these Starbucks employees did something that seems to never happen and that the company itself seems to indicate pretty clearly to be against policy and unacceptable.

    Beyond that, if the cops are called regarding a trespassing incident and the person making the complaint has legitimate standing to identify trespassing, I’m not sure what else they’re supposed to do. They at least seemed to treat the gentleman with respect and decency (at least from the videos I’ve seen).

    But maybe I’m missing something…?

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  9. For those of you still interested in stuff that happened a million years ago, David Hogg announced yesterday that he was going to announce a new boycott this week.

    Well, he made the big reveal today:

    [email protected] and @Vanguard_Group are two of the biggest investors in gun manufacturers; if you use them, feel free to let them know. Thanks (winky emoticon)

    So if you’re interested in joining in the boycott to help protect our children from guns, please boycott Black Rock and the Vanguard Group.

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    • Vanguard has always hit the radar as being very well run, meaning they’d view it as unethical to sacrifice money in their clients’ pensions for their own moral posturing.

      Black Rock I have no experience with.

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      • Vanguard is a passively managed index fund. If their algorithms said they could reflect the market without being invested in gun manufacturers and Hogg actually made enough noise to show up on Vanguards radar they’d dump the gun manufacturers in a cold second. They’re not looking for max returns; they’re looking for market returns.

        I suspect the former is a yeah but the latter? I doubt Hogg can make enough noise or disruption for Vanguard to take notice though you can be sure the hedge funds will cheer him on; they HATE Vanguard.

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        • The worry about what happens when you pull your investments on this basis is that it starts to become an implied endorsement of those companies you don’t pull your investment from.

          So my question is… where do these guys stand on tobacco companies? If they’ve already gone down this road with them, I can see it. If not, they’d have to be at least a little concerned that oil companies are next, I’d think.

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    • If I had a time machine, there are lots of things that I would want to do with it. Right up near the top of that list would be to fast forward ten to fifteen years and see what early-30s David Hogg has to say about his time in the spotlight. Really, beyond Hogg there a whole cohort of young people who may are unwittingly involved in a big experiment about the supremacy of social media and politics-as-everything. I hope that it ends well.

      On the merits of calling for a boycott of Blackrock and Vanguard, I’m all for it. I own some of a Vanguard fund and I think that my wife has some Blackrock funds in her company retirement account, but I have no interest in divesting for political reasons. We invest for retirement and that’s my number one priority (plus I have no ethical qualms with manufacturing firearms). That said, if some people want to put their political/ethical beliefs above their financial and economic well-being, then they should. That’s how democracy is supposed to work; there are supposed to be tradeoffs. Empty political gesturing is meaningless if you’re not willing to pay a price.

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      • I think when Hogg is thirty he’s going to be a talking head on MSNBC or something. If he didn’t know before, I’m pretty sure he’s figured out what he wants to do when he grows up, and he’s pretty good at it (grading on a curve)..

        Some of the other kids might be interesting case studies.

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        • Your comment could be liberally translated as don’t worry about his future, he’s going into a career in journalism, which implies that you are way more optimistic about the future of journalism as a career than I am. If you start from the assumption that Hogg has a headstart on every other young person who envisages a career in political journalism or activism or community organizing or non-profit management, then I guess there is a good chance that he would land somewhere relatively comfortable. But what does failure look like?

          And my larger point is what happens to a generation with an oversupply of people whose primary skillset and ambition is to influence other people on the internet?

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