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Democrats and Chicken Little Politics

According to the Democrats in my Twitter feed, everything is terrible. Kids are ripped from their parents at the border (true), Trump is shredding 70 years of international order (yep, so it would seem). The Trump administration is embroiled in scandals up to the neck (no doubt). Fierce, large breasted women are suing the president (word!). Dour Robert Mueller is methodically indicting former Trump associates (preach!!). There are daily leaks from the White House about a man so full of idiosyncrasies he seems to have no real syncrasies (wait… what?).  Meanwhile, Trump piss and vinegar dribble nightly over the hungry Twitterverse like so much vinaigrette.

One can forgive Democrats for seeing 280 characters of all-caps handwriting on the wall. This man cannot last as president. His administration is in a death spiral and it’s only a matter of time, right?  If you are a true believer you have to root for your narrative and crush your doubts. You can’t afford an honest critique if success depends on the abject failure of the opposition.

That’s Nice

When I hear a glowing pitch from someone with a startup idea my most important question is about expectations. “What if people react to your product with ‘that’s nice’ instead of reflexively handing you their MasterCard?” The first mistake entrepreneurs usually make is to believe everyone else is as concerned as they are about the problem they are trying to solve. They believe the problem so important and their solution so self-evidently revolutionary that it will sell itself.

For Democrats to win elections with the “Trump train wreck” narrative, it is not enough for a lot of things to be messy in Trump-world. Voters will need to care that things are icky. In particular the voters who shifted back and forth in swing districts will need to care. These are not urban liberals already invested in the narrative. They are probably not avid readers of news and politics. In fact, most people (present readers excepted) only care about Washington when they are feeling angsty – and the president’s behavior doesn’t really impact local elections as much as beltway pundits believe.

This is the problem for Democrats.  All of the comparisons to Hitler, all of the sky is falling rhetoric, all of the breathless coverage of Trump’s mind boggling, inept, RealityTV’esque administration will not force people to feel anxious enough to come in your direction if their lives are unchanged by all the hubbub. What if… and this is the gut punch question… what if it turns out the new normal ain’t so bad?

Setting Themselves up for Failure

Having plan B doesn’t fit this story line.  Democrats expect Trump to fold in upon himself like a Macy’s Thanksgiving Day balloon on Friday. They cannot believe anyone would prefer this circus. It doesn’t look like a strategy. They aren’t “playing the odds”. They are true believers. They look at the Trump administration and see noise and fury and the tearing down of norms. They cannot see anything that looks like strength or success or legitimacy.

In lock step with this narrative, media outlets (leaving Fox aside) play their part in decrying the administration. They roll their eyes, stomp their feet and point out all the ways things are terrible. They treat the public to a never ending deluge of semantic deconstruction of Trumpian hyperbole, doling out Pinocchio noses like they grew on trees. Yet not everyone feels outraged and upset. Democrats risk the label of “the boy who cried wolf” when they constantly predict disaster and it doesn’t materialize.

The elephant in the room? The economy. Democrats struggle to engage on an economy that appears sound in spite of Trump’s naive efforts to tank it. That grand, easy to understand echo is the hum of growth and low unemployment. The more nuanced picture of underlying weaknesses, which could be told, is a tough sell. Unemployment, this number we’ve talked about for a century, is at less than 4%. That’s a pretty loud megaphone that people understand directly. In my view neither Trump nor Obama should not get much credit for an upturn. But every administration hitchhikes on a good economy to claim policy success. Trump is no different, and in spite of Democratic claims that he’s cashing Obama’s residual check, Trump will get increasing credit the longer it lasts.

Rooting for Disaster

Moreover, to win based on an inevitable Trump implosion forces Democrats to root for disaster. This is not an enviable position for a party desperate to define itself as positive and progressive. I have little doubt, Trump being Trump, that he might oblige them and go down in flames. But assuming that the “everything is terrible” motto continues to ring hollow, what’s Plan B?
If Trump succeeds, even in a window dressing sort of way, what will become of the Democratic predictions of the Apocalypse? If the economy keeps humming, if Trump skates by on Russia, if the tariff kerfuffle with the G7 turns out to be a mayonnaise sandwich, or worse, succeeds in resetting a few short-term trade deals in the US favor – what then? What will the Democratic message be? I don’t think “Trump is just such an idiot” is going to work as a slogan any more than “but it’s her turn”. I’m not suggesting I know a winning strategy. I only know that rooting for a “crashing economy“, as Bill Maher has done, is like hoping your NBA team loses it’s last 10 games so you get a higher draft pick. It may work, but it says you love your team more than the game.

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Late blooming political scientist & historian, Net engineer, programmer, technology expert, bad speler, consultant and business owner.

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245 thoughts on “Democrats and Chicken Little Politics

  1. I strain to figure out what exactly the institutional Democrats plan to do with power besides “#resist,” whatever the heck that means. The noisiest wokeists are politically irellavent off campus and the Bernie crew largely failed to gain power on the party level.

    I see a bit of “hey, you like women? Hate the aesthetics of too many old white men in a room? We got women!” I can see how the opportunity to elect the first woman President might get people to the polls (though not enough even then), but the first woman to represent the 84th state legislative district? Yawn.

    Things aren’t looking good. Then again, the teacher strikes give me hope. It’s local, it’s mainstream and so far, it hasn’t descended into infighting. Could Dems learn something from that and go single-issue on the state level? Do they have the message discipline?

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    • And yet the right wing has done very well for itself running on essentially nothing but outrage at ‘liberals’ and ‘elites’ (however they choose to define that) plus a variety of pure identity politics social culture issues. Not to mention constant attacks on Obama, depicted as the Socialist Kenyan Muslim Usurper.

      So why is it impossible for lefties to have similar success with the same tactics?

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      • Because the left and right coalitions are different. The GOP can win with 8% of the black vote and 25% of the Hispanic vote, so they can feel free to go full white identity politics.

        Democrats need blacks and Hispanics, but also Jews and a decent chunk of whites. There’s less of an us vs them because our us is not so much a coherent group as it is a collection of the not-thems.

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          • There are two ways I know of to get cats to move, on their own, in a desired direction.

            One is with crunchies. You wave and crinkle up the bag of crunchies and dump a handful of crunchies on the floor where you want the cats to be.

            The other is to scare them. With a sufficiently loud, sudden noise and visible threat, they might freeze momentarily but will turn and run as fast as they can in the opposite direction. If you can constrain the ways they might run away from the danger — in a hallway, for instance — you can get them to move in the same direction all at once.

            “Trump is terrible” is the second tactic. There are no crunchies on offer so far as I can see.

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            • Not to totally hijack the thread but there is a really good way to herd cats that no one ever considers in such analogies.

              1) Teach them to love you and trust you.
              2) Supply an environment where they can be as non-fearful as possible (given that they are cats, and all).
              3) Go somewhere you want them to be. (If that doesn’t work on its own, assume they didn’t notice, and call them to you.)
              4) Be extremely pleased that they came, and show them that in the ways you already know they appreciate (because 1 is a two-way street).

              It’s a lot harder than crunchies and terror, but it’s also a lot more pleasant in the long run. And my success rates have been higher.

              (Jaybird claims that I am an appointed priestess of Bast and this doesn’t actually work for normal humans. I claim that other normal humans who can’t manage this aren’t working at it hard enough.)

              We need more politicians who are good at people the way I am good at cats.

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              • Jaybird claims that I am an appointed priestess of Bast and this doesn’t actually work for normal humans. I claim that other normal humans who can’t manage this aren’t working at it hard enough.

                There are people (and cats) for whom it is easier. When I was finishing up in graduate school the first time, my housemate and I took a vacation in California. We operated out of his mother’s house in San Jose. Before we got there, he told me, “My cat lives at my mother’s. The cat is scared of strangers and hides. Don’t be surprised if we spend the entire two weeks and you never see the cat.” Perhaps the maddest my housemate got at me in 18 months of sharing living quarters was when he came down the stairs the first morning. I was sleeping on my back on the couch in the living room and his cat was curled up on my chest, also sound asleep.

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              • It looks a little bit like Trump is already doing something akin to that to his own herd of mewling, red-trucker-hat-wearing kitties: love and trust me because only I can solve your problems; I will create a cultural environment where you feel safe saying awful things about (for instance) women and racial minorities that you used to fear saying because they were politically incorrect; follow me to places like “protectionism” and “wall-building” and “acceptance of flagrant corruption”; then reward those who come with praise and punish those who don’t with obloquy (which is the same thing as a reward because, completing the analogy, these cats are sadists who enjoy seeing others suffer).

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                • Arguably, but I’m pretty sure he’s using fear and crunchies in combination on most of the populace, perhaps only his base feels the way you describe. For the rest of the voters, it can look like what I said, and people tend to *think* it’s what I’ve said when they’re experiencing it or watching it from the outside, which is why abusive assholes, y’know, get away with being abusive assholes, but it’s really not.

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      • Because they will need to sway voters. Outrage works when it strikes a chord. Will left outrage strike enough chords to win elections in areas that Dems need? Do they have a message able to subvert in that same way? Maybe…

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        • Motivate those who will vote for you to turn out, motivate those who won’t vote for you to stay home or (less likely) change their minds, and focus on the next generation in between.

          In my case, it’s: Make America Decent Again.

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      • As says – the whole point of right-wing politics, at least in the US, is fear and loathing, and how we need a strong man who is good at shouting and the harsh cruelty called for by a harsh cruel world. That stuff can win swing voters and energise their base.

        The whole point of left-wing politics is unity and that the world need not be cruel if we choose kindness. Campaigning like conservatives could win them done swing voters but lose as many out more get-out-the-base votes.

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      • Because you only think the right wing is solely running on outrage at liberals and elites.

        A lot of people on the right – most, even – have a strong and well thought out philosophy underlying the way that they vote. Nothing either Republicans or Democrats can do will alter that reality. There are actual beliefs here, principles that people hold deeply and even though Republicans in leadership roles are often odious and idiotic, they are better representing that worldview than the Democrats are. Democrats do not represent the beliefs of even relatively moderate, only slightly conservative people like me, and have made it very clear that they have no interest in doing so. Most average left-wing voters have no idea what conservative beliefs even are let alone how to respectfully include us in a conversation about where the country should be heading.

        Many of us true believers are on autopilot. We hold our nose and vote the way we vote not because of anything Sarah Palin or whoever says but in spite of it. The right wing mouthpieces don’t speak to us or for us, but we have no choice. The options are between the Right, who we may not like but we somewhat agree with them sometimes and at least they don’t seem to actively wish us harm, and the Left, who basically tells us to f– off and die faster on a regular basis.

        In this climate, the Republicans could show up, burp and scratch their crotch and still get votes because the Democrats are not doing what it takes to represent us, like, seriously AT ALL. Even if they cannot represent us in good conscience, surely they could at the least reassure us that they don’t intend to wipe out our ways of life. Instead, I’d say all too often, leftists are going out of their way to let us know that they DO intend to wipe us out and they take delight in the concept. Why would we ever vote for you?

        And it’s too bad because it really does give a pass for some Republicans to cater to the lowest common denominator. The Republicans know that no matter what, a pretty substantial chunk of their most principled voters are so terrified (and I believe justifiably) of extremism on the Left that their votes are secure no matter how disgusting R’s are, no matter how inflammatory the rhetoric, because the Democrats are always the worse option.

        Appears to me that the solution is for the Democrats not to be worse than the Republicans, to stop terrifying people and calling them names and wishing them death and the destruction of their livelihoods. Not to go balls deep in the mud. If you want me to believe you’re better than the scumbags, start by acting better than the scumbags.

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        • I assume you are aware that many on the left could write this same post with parties flipped. Partly people feel this way because social media tends to magnify the loudest, brashest voices. It’s up to us to not think twitter or facebook show us the complete truth or to believe whoever is selling us on the worst in other groups.

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          • The question was asked so I answered it from where I sit. This is what it looks like from my perspective, for whatever that is worth (probably nothing) It’s simply not true that the Right is running only on outrage, and thus it’s not a good idea for Democrats to embrace the concept since it’s not true to begin with and is very likely to cost them votes anyway.

            You’re right that every argument can simply descend into whataboutism as everyone turns everything around to make some pointless argument until we all have a big civil war over nothing, but I still have this silly hope that maybe, just maybe there is still some understanding that could be had between reasonable people who just so happen to have slightly different solutions to the country’s problems.

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            • I agree that we can strive for understanding between people who have different beliefs. I think part of that is getting beyond the shallow hyper partisanship that degrades many discussion. That involves listening to the other and don’t’ think either side in general has an upper hand in understanding the other. To much of the partisanship is driven by hearing only the worst about others.

              For instance you don’t want to hear lefties saying they want to wipe you out. Agreed. And i’m sure you can find examples of that. Or if want to hear other lefties we don’t want that nor have we said it. It’s also not like all of us lefties live in elite coastal enclaves or some such pooie. Lots of us have similar mirrored complaints about hard core partisans on the other side. I’d love to have a republican i think would even remotely represent me. So we need to not be led by those who only feed us the worst of the other side.

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        • Most average left-wing voters have no idea what conservative beliefs even are let alone how to respectfully include us in a conversation about where the country should be heading.

          Many of us true believers are on autopilot. We hold our nose and vote the way we vote not because of anything Sarah Palin or whoever says but in spite of it. The right wing mouthpieces don’t speak to us or for us, but we have no choice.

          There’s a lot of tension between these two sentiments.

          Let’s grant that the average left-winger has no idea what conservatives think or how to speak with them. I think this is probably true so stipulating it is not a big lift.

          How is the average left-winger supposed to even know, in that circumstance, that Sarah Palin and other mouthpieces (not least Trump) don’t speak for you? They win elections, they get big ratings on Fox, they get news coverage where thousands of conservatives rapturously [1] applaud and hang on their words… and that’s what the average left-winger sees.

          Even if they cannot represent us in good conscience, surely they could at the least reassure us that they don’t intend to wipe out our ways of life.

          Well, it can be hard to tell which of the claims of “wipe out our ways of life” are, um, serious threats to wipe out actual ways of life. Again, how is the average left-winger to know that “wipe out our ways of life” doesn’t mean “letting trans people pee”, “expecting businesses to obey anti-discrimination laws”, or, “letting us put magazines with capacities greater than 15 rounds in our AR-15s”? Like, I think magazine capacity limits are a pretty silly idea, but they hardly seem to threaten anybody’s way of life. And if they do, well, the, ah, mouthpieces who make their livings off of typical conservatives who pay them (one way or another) to explain such things aren’t going to convince anybody.

          [1] Rather literally, and extremely creepily, in the case of Trump

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          • Ok. I shared my point of view, it’s held by millions of people, you can take it for whatever it is worth. I think that there are some valid points worthy of consideration in what I said, and no one can ever say I haven’t tried over the years to at least try to build some understanding.

            This is why we feel completely marginalized. Because we are just soo wrong and it’s all about these silly things like bathrooms and because we are racist, right?

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            • FWIW, I appreciate your perspective, particularly that you were responding to a question that someone asked.

              I also think that is trying to grapple with it, and to express his perspective / how it is that left-wingers develop the perspective of “what a right winger is”, rather than to characterize you.

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            • Huh? I’m seriously confused.

              How are people who don’t know what it’s about supposed to know what it’s about? How are they supposed to distinguish between what the “mouthpieces” say and what actual conservatives believe when they don’t know which way is up and they hear orders of magnitude more from the “mouthpieces’ who conservatives hold their nose and elevate?

              I’m not saying I’m the average leftist (I’m not along a number of axes) or that your efforts are pointless… but that means you aren’t talking to the average leftist. You can’t, in a way—you just don’t have the kind of platform that would reach them.

              And I did think you had some points worthy of consideration in there. That’s, um, why I read your comment, and responded to it. You were talking about how people from your “side” tend to see things and react, and I was attempting to do the same.

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              • It seems to be a simple point about voting for the lesser of two evils. Many conservatives dont necesarily actively approve of the racism, sexism, etc, and dislike that others accuse them of it. Its just not a priority to them compared to lower taxes and less regulation on business.

                Myself, i feel that if you vote for the goat-fishing party, you cant really complain if someone calls you a goat fisher. And i think that perhaps some conservatives should reflect on why their pokicy choices are attractuve to racists etc.

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                • The last was what I was trying to get at: that “average left-wingers” who don’t have a lot of contact with conservatives don’t have a good idea of what conservatives actually think are going to draw a lot of their information from what national level conservative politicians and high profile conservative media [1] say.

                  The same goes for the “threat to the way of life” aspect. I’ve long ago lost count of the number of times that I’ve seen conservatives (including ones was somewhat high profile platforms) argue that prohibiting bakers from discriminating against gay people is an attempt to wipe conservatives out. Likewise the other two examples.

                  These are not things I made up.

                  I am certain that isn’t what Kristin meant, but that’s because I’ve seen enough of her commenting before to know she wouldn’t mean those things.

                  So what I was confused by her response. But reading what I wrote again a couple days later, I see how it probably read, “This is why conservatives are bad and should be ignored,” instead of, “This is why liberals perceive conservatives the way they do, even if it’s often wrong.”

                  Also, I think the “lesser of two evils” argument only takes you so far. Conservatives really did select Trump out of 16 (17?) primary candidates, really did vote for Moore over two others in Alabama, and just picked Corey Stewart in Virginia. None of those can be blamed on the unsuitability or even raw hostility of Democratic candidates.

                  [1] Fox News is everywhere.

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                • It seems to be a simple point about voting for the lesser of two evils.

                  Partly. You get one vote, you need to make trade offs, there is no perfect candidate nor party.

                  My priority is economic growth. Long term that’s what is important. Compare where we are now to 50 or 100 years ago and it’s crazy.

                  RE: Racism
                  A decade ago we had a Black man, with no resume, become President. Not only was the Black part a first but so was the “no resume”. Every now and then I read of high school students being offered full rides to all the Ivies. They’re always Black and their other statistics are roughly the same as my eldest daughter. I interview people. If my company had two qualified candidates in front of us, one black one white, I’m sure we’d go with the Black.

                  Not only is this not the 1950’s any more, but it’s possible the number of doors opened because of race is greater than the number closed. I get that the nation’s 500 Nazis are obnoxious and they all probably voted for the GOP. I don’t see why this is supposed to be the deciding factor for anything at a national level.

                  “Racism” is now local news, a misuse of statistics, a way to avoid conversations of problems, and a political club to beat people with. “Fighting racism” is now mostly virtue signaling as opposed to virtue.

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                  • His resume was pretty much as extensive as GWB’s (four years governing in a weak governor state) or JFK’s (six years vs. four in the Senate).

                    No, he wasn’t a Bill Clinton, Dick Nixon, or LBJ.

                    Also, the choice you’re making between black and white potential employees don’t seem to account for survivorship bias at all. So I don’t find that line of argument terribly persuasive.

                    Lastly, the problem isn’t that those Nazis (and it’s not a lot but it’s definitely more than 500) all voted for the GOP. The problem is that a lot of the most influential people in the GOP, not least the President, view those Nazis as part of their in-group. That’s also a shift that’s really happened in the past 5-10 years.

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                  • My priority is economic growth

                    So how does a trade war with… just about everyone it seems… figure into that? A trade war that he pretty much promised in his campaign (so you can’t claim to have been blindsided).

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                    • Dark Matter: My priority is economic growth

                      So how does a trade war with… just about everyone it seems… figure into that? A trade war that he pretty much promised in his campaign (so you can’t claim to have been blindsided).

                      Oh, I found this (and immigration, and his general lack of stability) troubling enough that I voted for Johnson. For a while I thought HRC then I dug up her baggage list and listened to her debate.

                      This whole flirting with a trade war is playing chicken with economic nukes, Smoot–Hawley style.

                      Having said that, he played chicken with actual nukes with North Korea and that may have actually been productive.

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        • The right wing mouthpieces don’t speak to us or for us, but we have no choice.

          Yes. You really do have a choice. Voting is literally a choice.

          At the end of it all, how we behave represents who we are, and what we believe more than any book of scripture or principles.

          If someone really thinks Trump is the lesser of the two evils, let them say it loud and proud.
          And own it.
          Elections have consequences. Those terrified children in prison camps are the direct result of 60 million Americans who made a choice.

          “You made me do it” is really not what free citizens do.

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          • We feel that we don’t have a choice. You may think it’s an acceptible choice to let your side win. We don’t. Hence, we feel that we don’t have a choice.

            I tried (with an open heart) to share a perspective that I thought may be of interest to some people, take it for whatever it’s worth.

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            • Right.
              I know they have hurt feelings, and feel excluded, and feel put upon and feel this and feel that and as a consequence they made a conscious willful choice to express those feelings in the form of a vote.

              And as a consequence of that choice, we are living in a world where children are being traumatized for no other reason than to terrify and discourage potential emigres from seeking asylum in America.

              And this is, to the Trump supporters, a preferred state of affairs than letting Hillary win.

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        • Thanks, Kristin. Seeing where you’re coming from is useful information.

          Do you mind if I ask what region of the country you’re from? (I’m not asking for anything more granular than “Northeast” or “Midwest”.)

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            • Thanks. For what it’s worth, I see your anecdata as representative of a larger issue.

              Arguing against you as if it’s downright incredible that you haven’t changed yet strikes me as the wrong tack to take but… hey. Thanks for the info. (I think it’s information that will have been useful in hindsight.)

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              • I think this is right. I think many liberals see things like families being separated, attempts to exclude gay people from the military, blatant corruption, victimisation of minorities (see eg arapaio pardon) , palling with dictators etc. and think that if only they are sufficiently pointed out to conservatives, they will throw up their hands in horror. What they fail to realise is that these are not deal breakers to many conservatives. They might not actively approve, but its not what would shift their vote.

                To be fair to the liberals:
                1. Conservatives have pretended for years that they do care, pretending to be pro-famiky, criticising obama for kowtowing interbationalky, making a thing of clintons emails etc. They werent so confident they coukd get away eith being do blatant previously.
                2. There are many principled conservatives who werent lying. And they are speaking out and rejecting the republican party. I just think that all those who were reachable have probably been reached.

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                • A possible third reason: we see a lot of stuff that comes out of conservative media (as I mentioned in the other comment) and the White House, and it’s screamingly dishonest about a lot of the awful things that Trump is doing. We figure the lies are there for a reason.

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                  • Thats a good point. It implies WH and conservative media also think they would lose support if conservatives realised what they were actually up to. I think my sentiments above only apply to the well-informed, who either know what they are doing or are deeply in denial (which actually i think is why some react so violently to accusations of racism etc. They know on some level that what they are supporting is wrong, but need to be able to justify their actions and maintain their self image as good people. Others seek to maintain an amused detachment, pointing out genuine failings of liberals/democrats, so that they dont have to fully face up to the evil the trumpists are committing by maintaining a false “lol both sides have their problems” false equivalency).

                    But how do you reach people who are imbibing fox news etc. without seeming like a patronising liberal telling peoplecwhats good for them?

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                    • No idea how to get the truth across that divide, even if my perception of what’s going on is correct. The system of parallel institutions the Right has set up (mostly in the media) is still there because it works.

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                • Electorally, what matters more is who actually turns up at the polls. A Kristin might not vote for a Trump, but won’t vote for a Democrat.

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                • many liberals see things like families being separated, attempts to exclude gay people from the military, blatant corruption, victimisation of minorities (see eg arapaio pardon) , palling with dictators etc. and think that if only they are sufficiently pointed out to conservatives, they will throw up their hands in horror.

                  RE: blatant corruption
                  Reasonable people can claim without magic thinking that Trump was cleaner than HRC. This is not the same as expecting Trump to remain clean. Among other things, HRC fixed the Dems nomination, this is probably a problem which should be addressed rather than ignored.

                  We are unlikely to see another Billionaire with 500 LLCs be President, that he breaks the system is a very high bar. The only reasonable solution is to get rid of Trump (he’s term limited and old), but the rest of the system probably doesn’t need to change.

                  Finding another politician who is a lawyer and can start her own private charity (etc) is a much lower bar.

                  RE: palling with dictators
                  I suspect there’s not much difference between the two here. Worse, it’s unclear if there should be. If Trump’s “palling” with Kim results in a nuclear free Korean area then he’ll deserve a nobel peace prize.

                  RE: attempts to exclude gay people from the military,
                  I think you mean trans. And yeah, it’s a problem. I don’t know enough about military culture to comment further.

                  RE: Conservatives have pretended for years that they do care, pretending to be pro-family
                  4 of my pregnant relatives have separately decided to not get married in order to min-max gov benefits. These programs were in theory “pro-family”. I get that liberals mean well, but good intentions only go so far.

                  This seems like a problem not only for a sub-set of a sub-set of law breakers, but for society in general.

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                  • The family separation is about the border, and seems pretty uniquely Trump-y. The other stuff is mostly “normal parameters of wrong” policy disagreements.

                    Also the random tariff stuff, which the Congressional GOP seems terrified to do anything about.

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                    • Also the random tariff stuff, which the Congressional GOP seems terrified to do anything about.

                      An economic horror of an idea, but I’m not sure what the GOP is supposed to do.

                      We’ve constructed an imperial presidency, I assume Trump gets to make this call.

                      The family separation is about the border, and seems pretty uniquely Trump-y.

                      We have a bunch of stupid ideas made into law. It wouldn’t shock me if those laws actually are this and other Presidents haven’t been sociopathic & xenophobic enough to do it.

                      Big picture is we need immigration reform, and that means the Dems need to give Trump a win and sign off on his “deal”. Unfortunately 911 stopped Bush from doing anything on this subject, he would have gone with something a lot close to my solution(*) than Trump. Put something in front of Trump and he’ll sign it.

                      (*) My solution is a mass hand out of green cards to illegals with some very minor exceptions. Forgive them for being illegal and deal with everything else as normal.

                      The other stuff is mostly “normal parameters of wrong” policy disagreements.

                      Agreed.

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                      • We’ve constructed an imperial presidency, I assume Trump gets to make this call.

                        Yeah but this is one of the areas where Trump gets to make the call only because of the way Congress decided to delegate the authority to the President through legislation.

                        They could just as easily legislate that power away.

                        GOP controls Congress. They just don’t want to take the political hit of fighting with the President.

                        We have a bunch of stupid ideas made into law. It wouldn’t shock me if those laws actually are this and other Presidents haven’t been sociopathic & xenophobic enough to do it.

                        It’s not illegal for Trump to do this AFAIK (but who knows what court challenges will arise). But what they were doing before was also absolutely legal. The government is in no way required to prosecute people for committing the misdemeanor offense of unauthorized border crossing.

                        And the stuff he’s doing around asylum is even worse and doesn’t even have the fig leaf of that misdemeanor.

                        And sure, the Dems could give him a win maybe (if Kelly, Miller, et al don’t quash the idea) but Trump could also just not do this stuff.

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                        • They could just as easily legislate that power away.

                          It’s hard for Congress to do something in the best of circumstances, it’s very hard (maybe even impossible) to stand up to members of your own coalition.

                          Moats! really does believe in moats, if the rest of the GOP is going to announce they’re not in favor of moats, then that brings into question why they’re members.

                          And sure, the Dems could give him a win maybe (if Kelly, Miller, et al don’t quash the idea) but Trump could also just not do this stuff.

                          Would not doing this stuff increase or decrease his bargaining position?

                          Trump is threatening to shoot the hostages. If the Dems really want to have him shoot a few to prove he’s serious, then he’ll shoot a few. From his point of view it shows he wants a deal less than they do so they’ll have to deal on his terms.

                          This is where being a pure sociopath is useful. My expectation is he can do this and still sleep soundly at night. He did something similar with Kim, it’s part of his play book.

                          The good news is he seems to be doing it for tactical advantage and not sadism. This is also the bad news.

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                          • Trump is threatening to shoot the hostages. If the Dems really want to have him shoot a few to prove he’s serious, then he’ll shoot a few. From his point of view it shows he wants a deal less than they do so they’ll have to deal on his terms.

                            If I were running a Democratic campaign I would rarely mention Trump by name. I would just run the parade of horribles one by one and I would either point out that the Republican candidate voted for it (Medicaid expansion repeal, for instance) or refused to condemn it when the time came (trade war with China, for instance)

                            Trump doesn’t care about anything but his own position, so you can’t shame him into anything. But I would bet that most Congresscritters would not want to have over and over a conversation about why you want to take Medicaid away from opioid ravaged communities in Appalachia, or why you favor a trade war that is devastating (so says NPR) the hog industry in Iowa.

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                          • If the Dems really want to have him shoot a few to prove he’s serious, then he’ll shoot a few.

                            I can’t believe I have to explain this, but you are aware that Democrats do not control either the House or the Senate, right?

                            Nor are they currently blocking any relevant legislation in the Senate via filibuster.

                            So what, exactly, is shooting a few hostages supposed to get Democrats to do? Why, in fact, are Democrats relevant at all?

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                            • Why, in fact, are Democrats relevant at all?

                              Because 52 votes is less than 60, and you need 60 to pass anything. For that matter I doubt Trump has 52 and he might not even have a majority of the House. Which isn’t to say the reverse of Trump’s position has enough votes to pass either.

                              There are solid minorities for Moats! and OpenBorders! and slivers of groups for every flavor in between, but there is no consensus on what to do. The default is to do nothing (which the Dems can force) so Trump is making “nothing” more painful than “anything other than nothing”.

                              However Trump isn’t just showcasing for the Dems what a bastard he is, he’s also showcasing the same for Moats!.

                              Immigration reform will require amnesty AND it will require Moats!’s blessing. The only way to combine those two is if Moats is totally convinced they got the best deal possible, and they trust the guy running the show.

                              Without this shooting of hostages Trump expects after he signs the deal the Press would announce it was a great failure on his part and a great victory for amnesty. Instead, by making it ugly, he gets more for his team and “favorable” press.

                              It’s kind of brilliant if your conscious lets you sleep at night.

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                              • Because 52 votes is less than 60, and you need 60 to pass anything.

                                Are they filibustering a bill of any sort?

                                No? Then what do they have to do with this?

                                Nothing. This isn’t a “both sides!” problem. It’s a one side problem.

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                                • Are they filibustering a bill of any sort?

                                  To the best of my knowledge, there is nothing to filibuster since they’re still writing it. And in any case serious social bills of this nature really should have buy in by both parties.

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                • Well, the argument that I see is that there is a lot of “that’s different” going on.

                  Let’s say that someone with children breaks some sort of law that even libertarians (let alone liberals) would agree ought to be a law. Let’s assume that this person is guilty for real, in addition to being found guilty in a court of law. (There’s video, let’s say.)

                  Should this person go to jail?

                  If your answer is “yes”, then aren’t you separating this person from their children?

                  (Instead of agreeing that they ought to go to jail, are you instead trying to game out a crime that they might have done that wouldn’t deserve prison so you could ask “what if they’re merely guilty of *THIS*?” so you can yell at me for arguing that people guilty of that ought to go to prison? I mean, maybe we can turn this around and turn it into an argument against prison in the first place.)

                  And if you want to yell “that’s different!” and explain how immigration, even if undocumented, is different from things that even libertarians would agree ought to be a crime, we’re stuck in a situation where we’re talking about a law on the books being enforced by the government.

                  If we want to go the libertarian route and argue that the government shouldn’t have this much power, that’s fine. I’m on board. If we want to argue that prison shouldn’t exist, that’s fine. I’d be willing to have that conversation (again).

                  But we’re in a conversation where a conservative told us her point of view and people are jumping all over her and accusing her of all sorts of bad faith just for telling us why she votes the way she does and coming at it from the position of how she must be bad because she doesn’t disagree with the good people on what the rules that should be enforced should be. (Overstatement? Scroll up and scroll down.)

                  You want to read something funny? Check this out. It’s a tweet from Peter Daou in which he says:

                  FELLOW DEMOCRATS, LET’S BE HONEST

                  Our party has:

                  Droned babies.

                  Practiced indefinite detention and extrajudicial killing.

                  Kept immigrant children in cages.

                  The GOP is morally bankrupt, but we don’t have a monopoly on conscience. Let’s strive to do better.

                  The funny part isn’t that he says that. That part is pretty sobering. The funny part is the responses he gets to that.

                  That’s the environment we’re in. The claims to moral authority that you claim to have due to how ‘conservatives drive like this but liberals drive like that’ that are so very obvious and self-evident to you are not quite so self-evident to others.

                  To the point where someone can be honest about where they’re coming from and the response is to… well, scroll up and scroll down.

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                  • This is the latest talking point I see, that “we separate criminals from their children”.

                    First off, what we are talking about are people who show up at our border, oftentimes asking for asylum.
                    They have broken no law, done nothing wrong.

                    Second, this is not a case where parents commit a crime while the children do nothing.
                    There is an entire family unit of immigrants. There is no rationale for separating the children from the parents.
                    The express purpose is to terrify them, and serve as a warning to others.

                    There is a vast history of nations accepting refugees and keeping them in refugee camps or shelters while their cases are being sorted out. This happened after WWII, the Vietnam war, and others.
                    None of what is going on has any basis in reason or purpose, other than the deliberate infliction of cruelty.

                    Stop trying to make Fetch happen.

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                      • Whoever was saying it for years was lying, and they’re lying now.
                        It hasn’t “always been done”, and there isn’t any reason for it to be done now, other than a desire to inflict suffering.

                        All the “whataboutism” and “well actually” isn’t going to conceal this fact.

                        Oh, and per Peter Daou:
                        You are aware that FDR and the American government did everything they accused the Nazis of, right?

                        No, seriously this is a favorite talking point of Holocaust deniers and unhinged leftists, when they want to either downplay the guilt of the Nazis or inflate the guilt of the Americans, they “whatabout” the Native genocide, eugenics, slavery and anything else they can get their hands on.

                        The purpose varies depending on the speaker, but it is always for malevolent, to conceal and distract, never to enlighten or bring justice.

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                  • Well, sometimes things are different!

                    To be clear, I dont think i am what an american would call a liberal. I would call myself a libertarian, but US libertarians dont seem like me. Im pro- free markets, free trade, and life. I’m anti poverty, borders, and discrimination on grounds of sex, race, or orientatiin. In the UK it is not clear who i shoukd vote for. In the US, the democrats are the clear choice on all criteria. Still evil, but far and away the lesser evil.

                    (I recognise the prolife one may need explaining there. My view is that the most effective way to reduce abortions is easy access to contraception. Republicans instead promote abstinence only education and fight to exclude contraception from healthcare).

                    Just to explain where i come from.

                    So, yes, i support prison (not death penalty – prolife, remember) for people convicted of serious crimes. And i accept this can result in breaking up families. Lesser evil. I do not support imprisinment and breaking up families for minor offences. And even more strongly, i do not support breaking up families who legally attempt to claim asylum. Yes, the law gives the govrrnmrnt tgat power. I do not thinj it shoukd. And the republicsns have used that power more tgan the democrats.

                    Yes, both parties do evil things. But the difference is still real.

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                    • Fundamentally, Trump seems like a college liberal’s parody characterisation of what a conservative is.

                      And yet he and his ilk (i mean – half of thr conservatives turned out to vote for Roy Moore rather than the democrat) are considered by republican voters to be preferabke to a) the democrats (why? On what single axis is trump better than even the horrifically flawed clinton?) and, tellingly, b) other conservatives

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                      • It’s the second one that’s really damning.

                        And while I know (again, from past interactions) that this doesn’t apply to Kristin and lots of other “hold their nose” Republicans, part of the reason the Trumps, Moores, and Stewarts get the traction they do with the GOP is there’s a substantial number of Republicans who view their eagerness to say things that appall liberals as a good thing.

                        wrote a good piece about a possible mechanism for this right after Trump was nominated. But no matter how you slice it, if a party has “deliberately enrages liberals” as a selection criterion for its elected officials, it is not a great mystery why liberals might come to loathe that party and the voters doing the selecting.

                        And that’s even without the depravity of the Trump Administration.

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                      • On what single axis is trump better than even the horrifically flawed clinton?

                        1) Trump was cleaner and not as openly corrupt.

                        2) Trump seems to get it as far as economic pain and lack of growth are concerned.

                        3) HRC ran as this ultimate insider/elitist.

                        4) After that you have normal GOP package, i.e. The Supremes, Guns!, Money!, etc.

                        tellingly, b) other conservatives

                        Trump has the media in his pocket. No one else got any oxygen.

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                          • “Political corruption occurs when an office-holder or other governmental employee acts in an official capacity for personal gain” (wiki)

                            So HRC selling pardons, accepting payments via her charity, & fixing the DNC to favor her are all corrupt even if she didn’t technically break the law. For pre-President Trump to be corrupt he’d have to bribe a judge or have a gov official to use the power Eminent domain for him.

                            Since Trump had a near total lack of ability to be corrupt, any measurement of corruption would favor him unless he were running against someone like Obama or Romney. It was possible to say he’d be incorruptible because he was already so rich… although granted, since greed has been one of his defining characteristics for decades that seems unlikely.

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                            • You didn’t say politically corrupt in the previous comment, just corrupt.

                              I’m still going to give that round to the guy that routinely stiffs the contractors that work for him and always gets away with it, as well as running a charity that’s almost entirely devoted to self dealing. (And also took credit with handing out the ridiculously big check for a charity he never contributed to)

                              Edit:also https://twitter.com/Grey_Obelisk/status/1008148052195016704?s=19

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                              • Looking up the definition of “corrupt”… I hadn’t realized it was a general term and had only been thinking of it in the political context.

                                And sure, Trump is basically constantly unethical (and all the other synonyms of corrupt). Thing is I’m not sure in this context it’s fair to use the expanded definition, or if just focusing on political corruption is what to do.

                                I think I have to yield on the general point, but if I amend everywhere I said “corrupt” to “politically corrupt” then it still stands.

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                      • A comedian used to do a bit that Trump was a poor person’s fantasy of a rich person. I think as well that he’s a liberal’s parody of a conservative, a socialist’s worst impression of a capitalist, and a woman’s biggest nightmare of a man.

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        • Appears to me that the solution is for the Democrats not to be worse than the Republicans, to stop terrifying people and calling them names and wishing them death and the destruction of their livelihoods. Not to go balls deep in the mud. If you want me to believe you’re better than the scumbags, start by acting better than the scumbags.

          I don’t doubt your sentiments, and your honesty, but your comment is, regretfully, too short of data to let me know how can I address your concerns.

          From the center-left where I stand, we are for things like:

          1. Some sort of universal health care. It can be insurance based like in Germany. Actually, I’d like it to be more like Germany than the UK

          2. Higher minimum wages, and improved protections for labor vs ownership

          3. Taking climate change seriously, and applying incentives/regulations to reduce our carbon foot print

          4. In the same vein, environmental and health protections should be strengthened. No more Flints or Elk River, WV.

          5. Legal and practical equality for ethnic and sexual minorities.

          6. Recognizing that there are 12 million illegal immigrants and that rounding them up and putting them on buses to the border will disturb families, communities, and the economy, and that we should bring those immigrants into the open somehow.

          7. Reduce the temperature in the Middle East conflict by reducing our unrestricted support to Israel and Saudi Arabia.

          8. Reduce the War on Drugs to something that can be drowned in a bathtub

          9. Stronger regulations of finance: Glass Seagal, Too Big to Fail, Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

          I fail to see what of the above can be interpreted as death and destruction towards anyone. And I would, in the name of productive dialogue, encourage you to address actual policy positions and how they correlate with your feelings.

          Finally, Like you, I am not represented by SJW that fight for truthity and against cultural appropriation at the Oberin cafeteria, or for reparations and white man burden, so I deserve the same respect as you, that you take the time to find out what I am for, and where I am coming from, rather than calling me and mine and existential danger.

          But the biggest difference I can see is that, whoever in my side is threatening you, they belong to the fringe. They are students, college professors in the humanities, the odd blogger. They are powerless. Ta Nehishi Coates is perhaps the “most important “ of them

          But those conservative mouthpieces that you disavow, well, a lot of them are Senators, Cabinet Secretaries, Governors. They have real power. What they say and what they do is very similar. So, if you truly disavow what they say, you shouldn’t be ok with what they do.

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          • And if this is again about the mines, or the hollowing of the old industrial towns and cities, then, I’m sorry

            We’ve gone over this many times: automation killed the industrial towns. Caterpillar automated away 90% of the personnel (from 1,000 to 100 employees)in their spare parts distribution center in Peoria in the mid 90s.

            And natural gas and renewables killed the coal.

            None are coming back.

            We can acknowledge that, and find ways to mitigate the damage and help the communities (the second part of the Clinton famous quote Because we’re going to put a lot of coal miners and coal companies out of business, right?), which reads:

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

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

            Inaptly said, most likely, but this is not a threat to destroy you and your way of life. It was a hand offering help.

            And the offer was rejected, because people were scared. And thus, help is not coming anytime soon (*)

            (*) This is a feature, not a bug. As long as people remain scared, they may be manipulated (**). Can you imagine how many Christians would vote for Trump and the GOP if abortion was already illegal? They will make sure that day never comes

            (**) I hate this word. Apologies, but couldn’t find a better one.

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          • But the biggest difference I can see is that, whoever in my side is threatening you, they belong to the fringe. They are students, college professors in the humanities, the odd blogger. They are powerless. Ta Nehishi Coates is perhaps the “most important “ of them

            Government unions seem to have interests sharply different from my own, i.e. more government, more taxes, less accountability, less efficiency, and also seem to have a major impact in expanding prisons, the WoD, and the slow moving pension crisis. They are hard members of team blue and are hardly “powerless”.

            With the possible exception of #6, no where on your list is anything that smacks of economic growth (which includes job creation). I assume you’re not outright opposed to jobs and growth but my expectation is you’re willing to sacrifice it for, well, anything.

            I view “legal” equality of minorities as a good thing, but “practical” equality requires serious socio-economic status “adjustments” which suggest massive gov intervention with lots of ugly side effects. Checking the color of someone’s skin before giving them a promotion or letting them into college would be some examples. Worse (because it’d be more broad) would taking bad numbers (women get 79 cents) created by rhetoric and implementing bad ideas (the free market will not be allowed to set salaries). It’s also where we get forced busing.

            One underlying narrative is socio-economic status is determined by the gov and/or discrimination (as opposed to things like parents and culture) so we can measure discrimination by checking population percentages in various activities/professions/etc… so any difference in population percentage in anything can be used for the gov to step in to “save” people… and move others to the bottom rungs of society.

            The left has general philosophies which are perfectly willing to sacrifice jobs on any scale for any reason (even natural or imaginary reasons), view job creation as a privilege to be handed out sparingly, and doesn’t want to be responsible for a lack of economic growth.

            The door is clearly open to sacrificing jobs for ideology, it’s question is less “whether” and more “which” jobs are being sacrificed. The coal miners have been told their jobs need to be destroyed because of GW. Their jobs are in fact being destroyed.

            Part of that is clearly the dance of economics, natural gas is on the way up (and so forth). But there’s a disconnect between claiming the gov should have it’s thumb on the scale for the sake of fighting GW, and claiming the gov doesn’t have it’s thumb on the scale. Various places really do mandate various percentages of energy be “green”. I don’t know if we also have things like requirements for scrubbers that can’t possibly be done economically and so forth.

            (Apologies for wandering around a bit with that post).

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            • Government unions seem to have interests sharply different from my own, i.e. more government, more taxes, less accountability, less efficiency,

              “Seem” seems to be doing a lot of work here. I don’t know much of any specific government employees union, but I’ve never seen picketing for “less accountability”, or “less efficiency”. I’m sure that some of their proposals might be “less efficient”, but then efficiency was what Caterpillar was aiming for when they fired 900 people in the Peoria spare parts distribution center in the 90s. The quest for efficiency killed the Rustbelt.

              On accountability, the EPA has relaxed the obligation to disclose to fire departments the content of chemical or explosive substances in storage areas. You can google West Fertilizer Company to know how that went.

              And the idea that Government Unions are comparable with Cabinet Secretaries in terms of power, let’s say we agree to disagree.

              With the possible exception of #6, no where on your list is anything that smacks of economic growth (which includes job creation). I assume you’re not outright opposed to jobs and growth but my expectation is you’re willing to sacrifice it for, well, anything.

              To paraphrase, whenever I hear about job creation, I want to grab my gun. I am very much in favor of economic growth. I work in energy and utilities, as you might know, and we are very sensitive to economic growth.

              My list focused mostly on actual policy proposals that would protect and improve the livelihood of lower and middle class Americans of all ethnicities and genders. These are actual policies that the Democratic Party espouses (which is not the “Left”, being probably to the right of most center right European parties, including the UK’s Conservatives and Spain’s Partido Popular). None of this policies benefit me personally. Being white, male, upper middle class, urban, earning well above average, and with substantial investment income, I benefit disproportionally from the GOP tax cuts,I have a job that can’t be automated or outsourced, and the only policy goal that personally would affect me would be more bike trails.

              But I live in this country, that I’ve made mine for the last twenty years, I know a lot of my fellow Americans do not enjoy the benefits I have, and i believe that’s not onl6 ethically wrong, I think it’s dangerous to our society. So, like Kansas, I vote against my interests, higher taxes for me, more health benefits for people in the Rustbelt. I hear there’s an Opioid crisis going. More health benefits can probably help them.

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              • It never makes any sense to be pulled into any discussion about “more government” or “less government”.

                Because this makes it completely detached from any desired outcome or policy with which to get there. It turns the mechanism of how we enact policy into a goal of its own.

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                • It never makes any sense to be pulled into any discussion about “more government” or “less government”.

                  I think there’s a logical fallacy at play, but darned if I can remember it. But basically if, say, you’re a conservative and you’re ideologically predisposed to “less government” or “minimal government” than the urge to automatically decide a liberal is for “more” government as an ideology is pretty strong.

                  You’re on opposite sides of a divide. If you want less, they must want more.

                  And the obvious counter: “Liberals want government where government makes sense, but not when it doesn’t” is pretty easily countered with “Well duh, I want government for government stuff like, oh, the Army too”. The nuance that liberals want just enough government, or “minimal government like you, we just think “minimal” covers a lot more” gets lost in “I’m black, you must be white” thinking.

                  You see it in abortion rights discussions as well — I’m always very surprised to hear a pro-life person act like pro-choicers are trying to drive up abortion rates (when, in reality, they’d prefer someone to simply never need an abortion in the first place, relying on cheaper, safer, more effective birth control).

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                  • The nuance that liberals want just enough government, or “minimal government like you,

                    This is the claim. So… where is this magical point at which Liberals become tired of expanding the gov?

                    In practice, what Liberals want is “more”. Liberal politicians get elected by pointing to an unmet need and promising to full fill that need with taxpayer money. And after that, there’s no review of whether or not it worked out in practice, and there’s certainly no dismantling of programs that don’t work out as well in practice as they do in theory.

                    Efforts to shrink the gov, even where it probably makes sense by anyone’s standards, get demagogued.

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                    • The point is “more than we have now”, but varies from liberal to liberal. Look at how it played out with the ACA under Obama.

                      Good or bad, it was not the “most possible government” solution. And one of the major constraints on it was that even modest attempts to do more would slough off enough Democrats that they couldn’t pass.

                      It’s not uniform, but a ton of liberals would be delighted to accept (say) the Northern European model you allude else thread either as a compromise or even as just a genuinely better policy approach. I don’t know how to build our way to that given the structure of the parties we have, or the mix of ideologies underlying them, though.

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                  • My point was that it is an impossible discussion to have, since it is rooted in dishonesty.
                    For example consider the opening premise:

                    “We need less government!”

                    OK, lets do away with civil court system. If two businesses have a contract dispute, let them settle with pistols at dawn or something.

                    Well, of course that’s not what anyone means.

                    OK, so like, lets go through the code of regulation and rip out every third page?

                    No, not that either.

                    OK, so the desire here is not some random or arbitrary reduction in size of government, but a specific targeting of certain laws and regulation that the proponent finds annoying.

                    So my point is, rather than debate abstractions, lets talk about what is driving this.

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                    • OK, so like, lets go through the code of regulation and rip out every third page?

                      No, not that either.

                      That’s not far off from the “for every new regulation, two must be removed” logic, or “no bills longer than two pages” logic. \

                      Which is something actual politicians, not just Trump, have pushed.

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                      • “no bills longer than two pages”

                        Due largely to term limits, the incoming class of new state legislators every two years in my state typically runs 20-25. (In January 2017, it was an unusually large 33.) A disturbing number of them arrive with zero idea about how the paperwork is done. Generally speaking, the non-lawyers among them have no idea how the state statutes are organized, and the vast number of linkages that have grown over the years. The staff that draft bills — and the rules require that all bills be either drafted or reviewed by the drafters — all tell stories about new members who show up with a “two page” bill, and watch in horror as it expands into 25 or 50 or more pages as the necessary parts get added on.

                        I did budget stuff, and new members were generally more ignorant about how revenue flowed through the system into all of the expenditures than they were about bill structure.

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                      • That’s not far off from the “for every new regulation, two must be removed” logic, or “no bills longer than two pages” logic. Which is something actual politicians, not just Trump, have pushed.

                        My expectation is not every regulation is worth the cost but figuring out which ones are is hard, and the people best suited to do that are also the people who lose if we get rid of them.

                        So put those people in charge of handling this. Rather than simply “more”, decide what’s good, what’s worthless, and trade for them.

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                  • I think “more/less government” is a pretty silly framing really.

                    I want to abolish ICE and put all 20 000 ICE employees out of work.[1] That would leave a smaller government by, I think, most straightforward metrics. Tons of conservatives who say they hate “Big Government” think doing that is self-evidently absurd.

                    [1] I understand that this would probably require additional legislation since many of these employees are unionized.

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                    • I think “more/less government” is a pretty silly framing really.

                      So do I, but I don’t see the size of government as some sort of ideological requirement. Government should do the things government can do best, and nothing more.

                      To me, the argument is over “what are the things it can do best”, followed by “And how can that best be done”, and that shapes the size of government.

                      But to someone who has an ideological commitment to “Less is always more”, no communication really happens. One side is holding as a given what the other is considering a variable.

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                      • Yeah. I mean part of what I’m getting at is that I don’t think “size of government” has an actual meaning that allows you to distinguish between policy proposals.

                        It’s an applause word, not an ideological commitment.

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              • I don’t know much of any specific government employees union, but I’ve never seen picketing for “less accountability”, or “less efficiency”.

                Are we really supposed to think the police union has nothing to do with why police reform is hard? And why picket when you can elect your boss? The union “negotiates” with the union elected politician and the taxpayer picks up the bill.

                …efficiency was what Caterpillar was aiming for when they fired 900 people in the Peoria spare parts distribution center in the 90s.

                So… you’re saying the purpose of government is to supply jobs to government employees? They don’t actually serve the taxpayers? We taxpayers don’t deserve more efficiency?

                On accountability, the EPA has relaxed the obligation to disclose to fire departments the content of chemical or explosive substances in storage areas.

                What’s the cost/benefit evaluation for that one? Every regulation can be justified if it stands by itself. Unlimited regulation means both duplication and no business.

                And the idea that Government Unions are comparable with Cabinet Secretaries in terms of power, let’s say we agree to disagree.

                There are more ants than bears, collectively I’m sure they eat a lot more. Cabinet Secretaries look impressive, but they come and go. Gov unions ramp up spending permanently.

                I work in energy and utilities, as you might know,

                I’m sure you’ve mentioned that but I forget between posts. :(

                …policy proposals that would protect and improve the livelihood of lower and middle class Americans of all ethnicities and genders.

                I’m in favor of that too. Of course every policy has trade offs and there’s the broken window fallacy to be wary of, and sacrificing growth is extremely painful in the long run. Many goals are desirable, many means are much less so, getting a good balance is hard, if growth isn’t in there as a concern then that’s a problem.

                I hear there’s an Opioid crisis going. More health benefits can probably help them.

                Sure, absolutely. So… is every dollar the gov currently spends more important than this? If not, shouldn’t the first thing to do be to cut those and funnel those dollars there?

                Or if we’re going to talk about HC reform in general, imho throwing money at the problem without actual reform won’t fix the long term trends. For Zero money the gov could force all HC providers to publish their prices, which would then allow competition. That’s not as sexy as riding in on a white horse and spraying problems with taxpayer money, but there’s probably a lot more benefit to society as a whole.

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        • Well, I see being away from the internet last night means I missed a lot. ;)

          I think J_A further down this thread gave an extremely good answer to you, but let me give you some perspective on who I am, since you seem to think I have no idea what conservatives believe. First, I was raised in a family that was Republican since Lincoln. My grandfather was born in the panhandle of WV and his grandfather died in a coal mining accident. The other side of the family worked in the steel mills in Pittsburgh. I mostly grew up in rural Ohio. So, yes, I know what conservatives believe and am familiar with the way of life you claim lefties are out to destroy.

          And I am going to say flat out that to me that claim is pure unadulterated BS. In fact, it is prime supporting evidence of what I said about the right running and winning on nothing but pure outrage at liberals and so-called elites. Further, after this:

          atomickristin: Many of us true believers are on autopilot. We hold our nose and vote the way we vote not because of anything Sarah Palin or whoever says but in spite of it. The right wing mouthpieces don’t speak to us or for us, but we have no choice. The options are between the Right, who we may not like but we somewhat agree with them sometimes and at least they don’t seem to actively wish us harm, and the Left, who basically tells us to f– off and die faster on a regular basis.

          I’ll add outright demonization of the left as a successful GOP tactic.

          Now, I am not a leftie. I am voting Democratic now, but it is as much because the GOP has given me no other choice as your claim that you have to vote R no matter what. I will hold my nose and vote D from now until the GOP returns to the principles I was taught conservatives were supposed to hold (you will notice I hope that I make a distinction between conservative and GOP), both for the good of the country and in hopes that losing elections will finally force my former party to return to those principles.

          To me those principles are patriotism (not the jingoist stand for the flag BS, but actually putting the good of the country of first – ahead of the good of party or personal profit), fiscal responsibility, defense and national security (which would include protecting us from foreign powers interfering in or manipulating our election system), and standing up for the principles the country was founded on: Liberty, Equality under the Law, Justice for All.

          So, since I’ve shared my conservative principles, what are yours? Because I don’t see any of the above that are more threatened by D’s than by R’s right now.

          What ‘way of life’ is being actively threatened? Because, yes, the steel mills are gone in Pittsburgh, but the city is thriving and my relatives back there have better and safer jobs (particularly considering the GOP push to do away with labor and OSHA protections) than if they were still around. Also, from my pov, it’s the GOP’s union-busting, anti any&all regulations, that is telling coal miners to just go ahead and die. Worse, they’re telling them to thank them and reward them for that message.

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            • you can’t call bullshit on someone’s feelings. Facts have nothing to do with it.

              That’s true, and that’s part of the problem

              How can I convince that I, and the party I vote for, do not want to destroy her way of life, without resorting to facts?

              If I ask “why do you think I want to destroy your way of life?” I’m being patronizing.

              If I point out that Democratic policies are about minimum wages and health care, I’m denying her deeply felt experiences.

              So this becomes a content-free discussion. It’s all about triggering, and being triggered. Whatever I say, either asking for facts, or offing facts of my own, is disrespectful. We had this conversation already in 2016, when pointing out that the mines would not reopen. There was no way to talk about the mines that was acceptable, except to say “I will reopen the mines, and make them produce even more”. In other words: lie.

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          • Another point in the B’s category are the choices being made by Republican voters. Corey Stewart and Roy Moore? Donald Trump?

            That argument rapidly loses creditability.

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    • Good take – indeed If I had one piece of advice it would be a la Tip O’Neal – “all politics is local.” Dem strategists need to stop nationalizing every election. They should dig into the optics of local district elections and work build a stronger bench. Their penchant for big solutions and big tents seems to constantly focus their attention on Washington. Meanwhile GOP owns a majority of statehouses and state legislatures. I think that’s a winning long term strategy – it’s certainly worked well for GOP.

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      • In fairness the Dems have been doing pretty well at not nationalizing races. Lamb was not some California Liberal and it was not a Sanders clone who denied Moore a seat in the Senate.

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  2. What makes anyone think that the economy is sound?
    For those of us in well compensated professions, sure.
    Is it sound for younger people, recent college graduates, blue collar workers nearing retirement?

    And why is it that in interview after interview after the 2016 election, the main cause of Trump voters was anger, sometimes called “economic anxiety”?
    Anger at what? If the economy is humming along so nicely, where is all this anger coming from?

    Why would anyone think the Democrats don’t have an economic message aside from hating Trump? Even the most casual low information voter should have heard about our support for raising the minimum wage, regulation of credit card companies, proposals for free college and student debt reform.
    They should know that we stand opposed to tax cuts for billionaires and destructive trade wars.

    But even after all this, it strikes me as a bit blinkered to assert that the “elephant in the room” is the economy when the very notion of democracy is under assault.

    Like I’ve said before, fascism always seems normal, for a surprisingly large number of people.
    If you were a Russian middle management worker in the days of Stalin, your lived experience was actually not so bad. So long as you were not political, kept your head down and went about your daily business you really had little lived experience with the KGB or the ugliness.

    Fascism isn’t some binary, where we live free on Monday and enslaved on Tuesday. Like every sort of evil, it creeps up in tiny imperceptible steps, and always at the margins, first with the marginalized outcasts and works its way in. And it relies on those in the center to become willfully blind to pretend they don’t see or hear.

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      • “When your neighbor loses his job, it’s called a recession. When you lose your job, it’s called a depression.”
        Ronald Reagan, 1979

        The measurement of unemployment rate doesn’t seem to capture what is happening, where everyone is working, but for less. It doesn’t capture the precariousness, the instability and uncertainty.

        So I would update Reagan’s axiom to say that when your neighbor works two part time gig jobs and still has to take in a roommate to pay the rent and student loan payments, its a recession. When you have to do it, its a depression.

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        • Is that measurable? Like is there a chart that we can point to and track whether there is more of that or less of that than in previous years?

          Edit: I mean, say what you will about unemployment, we track, like, six different flavors of it.

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        • You illustrate part of the problem here. The headline “unemployment at 3.9%” is an easily understood optic yes? Indeed we have been following this number for decades and politicians on all sides (as well as news broadcasts, economists etc) have told us it’s an important indicator. Dems have told us many times that it is THE important indicator.

          So the unemployment number is a succinct data point encapsulated in a single simple sentence – unemployment is very low. To defeat that narrative – or make inroads – you have to make more complex arguments like those you make above. I’m not disputing that there is underlying weakness (as I said in the piece). I’m saying that the messaging is tough – problematic. Whether you like it or not Trump will get a bump on the economy. Every administration benefits from low unemployment news – even wannabe fascist administrations. :)

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            • Fair question well put. I will struggle to answer that. Those folks felt – still feel – a lot of anxiety about the economic (and it must be said social) direction of the country. In the rust belt and upper Midwest there was an undercurrent of angst about trade.

              They wanted someone to arrest that direction and turn back to a mythical time of less inter dependence. But to be honest I’ve never heard average Trump voters articulate this. To them it boiled down to drain the swamp and maga. But you make me think. :)

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            • Why did those workers enjoying the remarkably low unemployment rates in 2016 vote for a man who promised to burn it all down?

              Economic numbers average differences. One expects the coasts are doing very well while the rural interior is not.

              Obama averaged a growth of 2%, half of which is population growth. That probably means a boom for the coasts and deep recession for other places.

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  3. I think the special elections of 2017 and 2018 show that Democrats can do very well by being not Trump.

    I also think it is an old horse argument to say that Democrats are niot running on anything. Several Democratic Congress members protested ICE yesterday and their policy to split children from parents. When you are out of power, this is something you can do. It seems to be working.

    I also contain that Trump’s policies are really bad if you are not white and make. Lots of white guys want to argue otherwise though despite all evidence.

    What the Democratic Party is saddled with his civility trolls who get a high from civility. But civility is nothing compared to children being ripped from their moms while breastfeeding.

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      • I would be very wary of going for heartstrings over purse strings.

        Remember how long it took from when people were genuinely affected by those Sarah MacLaughlan sad abused shelter pets ads to just annoyed that they had to sit through a long guilt trip? Not long. They’re a joke now.

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        • And yet, again, on the other side of the aisle, playing heart strings wrt the abortion issue has worked spectacularly well to drown out purse string issues for large %s of their voters.

          Yes, yes, Dem voters are different… but are they less compassionate, less concerned with justice, human suffering, or even simple human decency?

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          • I always pictured anti-abortion politics as more of a rear-guard action following the sexual revolution than some kind of squishy concern for fetuses. It was really more about getting mad at sluts and abortionists with a “won’t somebody pleeeease think of the children” gloss.

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            • I think for the people running the political action groups and a lot of the church leadership it was. But I grew up in the Bible Belt, and even if controlling women’s bodies is very much subtext, there are a lot of people – people who consistently turn out and vote too – for whom it really is THE over riding issue, and one they see as a moral dividing line.

              I don’t agree with them at all on that, but I don’t think most of them are lying about their gut level reaction to abortion or that it is a huge factor in what motivates them to vote for one party over the other. Though in some ways, I think a lot of evangelicals *have* to cling to it now – it is literally the only moral excuse they have left wrt supporting Trump. So consider that for at least some of them their faith isn’t a cynical exercise in political power and imposing a conservative social order. And because of that, they are reachable, especially with stories like the one today about a baby literally being ripped away from a nursing mother’s breast by immigration officers.

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      • See, this is what I find so objectionable to the cult of the savvy.
        We aren’t talking about what we believe to be true, or what is the right thing to do, or what is best for America and the world.
        Instead the conversation is about what the most effective sales pitch is, how to most slyly beguile people.

        Except that approach already has a track record that was spectacularly smashed in 2016.
        The most devastating critique of the GOP lineup from Trump, was that they were timid, focus grouped marketing shills fixated not on speaking the truth, but on strategically positioning themselves from a nowhere center.
        This was the same critique made by the Democrats of the Clintons, mostly Bill, but also Hillary.

        Can we stop, just stop, talking like we are all a bunch of Frank Luntzes sitting around a conference table trying to invent the next cool buzzword or killer tactic?

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      • Saying don’t overplay your hand is vague.

        I don’t see evidence that it is happening. See special elections. See Democrats doing very well in November 2017.

        I do seeRepublicans doubling down on Trump candidates and it failing. The Republicans lost a Senate race in Alabama by nominating Roy Moore! Alabama! They might lose one in Tennessee too! On Tuesday the GOP went further Trump!

        Yet very few people are discussing how the GOP is going off the deep end and alienating voters. The California GOP is a rump party. They can probably be successful if thru adopted old-Fashioned liberal Republicanism. Fiscal moderation and socially liberal to moderate. But the California College Republicans insist on going full Milo and alienating their peers.

        Yet we see countless threads tut tutting the Democrats. Why is this? Are there just a lot of guys who hate the GOP but can’t bring themselves to vote Democratic yet?

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        • Saul Degraw: Saying don’t overplay your hand is vague.

          People can be callous when nothing personal is at stake. Outrage becomes boring after a while. People will respond with sympathy for a time, but they will not necessarily rush in droves to the border to reunite immigrant families. See my comments on startups above.

          Clearly I think this is a reprehensible policy and cruel for little reason. But that doesn’t mean it will have the salience of say, property tax issues in a governors race or common core adoption in a local school district.

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          • Which is why middle class people were completely indifferent to the estate tax.

            See, this is why leftists were so befuddled by Kansas. Why would people vote against their own economic interest?

            Because the Maslow Hierarchy is only a rough guide, not a perfect predictor.
            The priority of many voters isn’t pocketbook issues, but also a sense of justice and the correct ordering of the world.

            Donald Trump appeals to people who want to punish the evildoers, even if it costs them their job.
            The Democrats are appealing to the idea of a just ordering, of fairness and dignity.

            We each see the world differently. Your elephant in the room may be sensible economic issues.

            But for many others like me and my fellow Democrats, this unjust order is the elephant in the room.

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            • See, this is why leftists were so befuddled by Kansas. Why would people vote against their own economic interest?

              The idea that you can tell other people, en masse, what their economic interests are is the very definition of hubris. And not being able to see pass your own hubris is generally a recipe for befuddlement.

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            • The Democrats are appealing to the idea of a just ordering, of fairness and dignity.

              The problem with this is a lot of people have this idea in their head that dignity is a zero sum game. E.G. I have to give up some of my dignity so that the gays or illegals can have some. Trump loves to stoke that idea.

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              • Actually, I am going to dissent on that

                There was a strong sense of trying to remove someone dignity with the whole bake the fishing cake, bigot!! and couple that with the baker not trying to remove the couples ability to get a cake, and this round was the opposite of what you are postulating.

                Now, to be sure the right has tried to do that also, but that only makes both sides guilty of this.

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                • To people on the Left, they largely perceived this as gay people looking to get a wedding cake should benefit from the same sort anti-discrimination protections that everybody else does. And there was a tremendous amount of overreaching where stuff like “they shouldn’t have to bake the cake” got tied to “also firing people for being gay is ok” or “trans people shouldn’t be able to use public restrooms”.

                  I’m not saying there wasn’t some degree of wanting to see ideological enemies humiliated so much as I’m saying that the entire history of opposition to gay rights in this country seems designed to stoke that kind of anger (and, indeed, inflict humiliation), and the way the Right conducted itself in this particular skirmish was no different.

                  FWIW, I am ambivalent whether cake-bakery should be required on the merits. But a lot of the hand-wringing over it (being the last bastion of freedom of religion instead of, you know, a corner case where the tension between anti-discrimination and free association is resolved differently) really was ridiculous.

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          • I agree that talking about local or state-wide issues is also important. Except I see very little evidence that outrage is taking over Democratic talking points except in the armchair theories (no offense) of internet pundits.

            We just had a mayor’s election in San Francisco and the big issue was housing with the pro-build moderate eventually winning (thanks IRV). But it is a big deal for Congressional races where the GOP seems destined to kiss Trump’s ass until it becomes cyanide.

            What do you make of the special election victories? They have been going really well for Democrats. But this never seems to count in pundit playland because it is boring maybe? Do pundits need the idea of Democrats “overplaying their hand” in order to generate things to talk about? Or is the average pundit just out of step with the average American at this point?

            A former OTer just posted a story from New York magazine on how Trump needs to hold a job fair this week because no one wants to work at the White House. It seems pretty obvious to me that a lot of Americans see Trump as a tire fire and this includes people who would normally lie, steal, cheat, and kill to work in the White House. Yet in pundit land it is always “Democrats overplaying their hand!!!!” and scolding to minor or major degrees.

            I find this puzzling to say the least and I admit to being a partisan Democrat.

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        • Why is this? Are there just a lot of guys who hate the GOP but can’t bring themselves to vote Democratic yet?

          It’s not just about the voting Democrat, it’s about joining your team. Trust me when I say you wouldn’t want me on your team.

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  4. The Democratic Party has a clear platform besides non-Trump. Anybody who believes otherwise is being extremely uncharitable and cynical. The Democratic Party has so far made it known that they stand for gun control, ending sexism and sexual harassment by how it treated Democratic politicians and that it is nominating women, LGBT rights, pro-immigration, anti-racism, expanded healthcare, and more. The Democratic Party isn’t going to run on these things, get elected, and see the citizenry “what you really get is more GOP.”

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  5. There are little hidden areas that make me think “yeah… this is not someone yelling in mortal terror, this is someone involved in the stampede to be the most alarmed person in the room (and they’re using ‘being alarmed’ as a proxy for ‘being moral’).”

    “The police are corrupt! We need to completely reform the police from the ground up! and the government is best analogized to Nazi Germany!”
    “So… do you support a broad reading of the 2nd Amendment?”
    “Oh, get your gun nut fantasies out of here.”

    That’s my own personal bellwether for when things are actually getting real, for what it’s worth. When gun control is not only dropped but the 2nd Amendment is actually embraced, it’s then that I have reason to believe that we’re no longer in “effective rhetorical device” territory. (Or “why isn’t this rhetorical device effective anymore? It worked so well against Romney, Bush, Dole, Bush, Reagan, Ford, Nixon…” territory.)

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    • “The police are corrupt! We need to completely reform the police from the ground up! and the government is best analogized to Nazi Germany!”
      “So… do you support a broad reading of the 2nd Amendment?”
      “Oh, get your gun nut fantasies out of here.”

      Have you noticed that the country’s premier gun rights advocacy group has gone from, “Guns are a tool to protect us from tyranny!” to, “Fight the violence of lies with the clenched fist of truth.” All while conflating calling people racist with destroying property.

      Oh, and while Dana Loesch is out there hinting around doing some Freikorps cosplay, we’ve got Ted Nugent (still an NRA official, very popular on the pro-gun right, and a Trump guest of honor) talking about how people should just shoot Democrats like coyotes.

      Maybe people on the Left would be more comfortable embracing gun rights if they weren’t, very much rightly, absolutely freaked out by the deranged, repulsive, and bigoted freak show that is the NRA.

      But judging people’s sincerity about being scared on the basis of their willingness to embrace a coalition represented by a bunch of absolute shitheads who constantly talk about how they can’t wait to start shooting at us? That’s some absolute bullshit.

      I actually do believe in a broad reading of the Second Amendment. But expecting my to fight for it alongside a bunch of people who engage in endless public jerk off fantasies about using those gun rights very literally against me and mine?

      No. Fuck that.

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      • Maybe people on the Left would be more comfortable embracing gun rights if they weren’t, very much rightly, absolutely freaked out by the deranged, repulsive, and bigoted freak show that is the NRA.

        So would you say that the NRA is actively making people anti-gun?

        But judging people’s sincerity about being scared on the basis of their willingness to embrace a coalition represented by a bunch of absolute shitheads who constantly talk about how they can’t wait to start shooting at us?

        No, that’s not what I’m talking about at all. I was talking about taking a broad reading of the 2nd Amendment.

        There are plenty of coalitions out there that aren’t the NRA that are worth investigating. I, myself, am a fan of the JPFO.

        I actually do believe in a broad reading of the Second Amendment. But expecting my to fight for it alongside a bunch of people who engage in endless public jerk off fantasies about using those gun rights very literally against me and mine?

        No, of course not. But I wasn’t talking about the NRA. I was talking about the 2nd Amendment. Here, let me cut and paste what I said again:

        That’s my own personal bellwether for when things are actually getting real, for what it’s worth. When gun control is not only dropped but the 2nd Amendment is actually embraced, it’s then that I have reason to believe that we’re no longer in “effective rhetorical device” territory.

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        • So would you say that the NRA is actively making people anti-gun?

          I think it’s a lot more plausible than, “Oberlin freshmen are making people racist by complaining about cafeteria food.”

          Yet people keep telling me a bunch of Tumblr kids and college SJWs and Chick-fil-A boycotts are the reason they have no choice but to support Donald Trump Roy Moore Corey Stewart.

          I, myself, am a fan of the JPFO.

          Oh yeah, they really seem to be diametrically opposed to the madness of the NRA leadership. Why, here is what the founder of the JPFO had to say about Ted Nugent:

          Ted Nugent running for office gets an “A+” grade from the NRA. That’s the standard they must start with. We cannot grade on a bell curve when it comes to our freedom.

          Oh, well, that was a long time ago. Maybe JPFO has substantially changed its position about him and the rest of the NRA’s leadership. I couldn’t find much sign of that from Googling, however.

          No, of course not. But I wasn’t talking about the NRA.

          I don’t believe there is a way to meaningfully support Second Amendment rights without materially increasing the power and prestige of the NRA.

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          • So you support X in theory, you just find Organizations that Officially Support X to be odious?

            Yeah, I suppose I can see that.

            I will still tend to see “Support for X is more important than whether or not I’m associating with Card-Carrying Members of the Support Organizations” as a tipping point, though.

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            • I feel you really missed my point. The tenor taken by these organizations, their aggressive support for Trump, and the way they often conflate “right to own guns” with, well, “right to use guns against political opponents” is part of what’s scaring people. Your suggestion that if people were sincerely scared, they’d be more willing to work alongside, and in solidarity with, some of the people who are scaring them the most is absurd and kind of offensive.

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              • Your suggestion that if people were sincerely scared, they’d be more willing to work alongside, and in solidarity with, some of the people who are scaring them the most is absurd and kind of offensive.

                I’m not bringing up the NRA! I’m literally not talking about the NRA at all.

                My example was over interpreting the 2nd Amendment broadly. Conflating “interpreting the 2nd Amendment broadly” with “supporting the NRA to the point where you’re standing in solidarity with its members” is something that you’re doing.

                I am not doing that.

                Heck, would it be better if I softened my position from “supporting a broad reading of the 2nd Amendment” to just saying something like “okay, we’re going to drop gun control as a thing”?

                Or is saying “okay, we’re going to drop gun control as a thing” the equivalent of giving aid and comfort to Ted Nugent as well?

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                • Heck, would it be better if I softened my position from “supporting a broad reading of the 2nd Amendment” to just saying something like “okay, we’re going to drop gun control as a thing”?

                  I dropped gun control as a thing years ago!

                  I’ve had success on an individual level getting other liberals to drop it, but it’s hard to make it stick in the face of atrocities like ${MOST_RECENT_MASS_SHOOTING} [1] and they hear arguments that gun control will make it stop from other people they trust and believe. And at this point I know that most of them will treat it as caping for the NRA coming from me, and asking them to sacrifice their safety and the safety of their children [2] for the sake of things that, in Blue America, are most visible as instruments of mass murder and, failing that, LARPing props for some of the most egregious right-wing shitheads in the country. Some of whom seem eager to stop LARPing and start shooting, and indeed quite a few of them have done exactly that.

                  It’s an incredibly bad proxy for sincere fear and anxiety people on the broad Left feel. And not least because no matter how you feel about your triad, most people on the Left genuinely believe that guns aren’t going to protect them from the government or even the police. We just think that if we try that we’ll get a Hellfire missile in our living room. Like seriously I’m pretty much fine with people owning guns for whatever, but I also think the ones who think they’re deterring tyranny or genocide or something by doing so are completely wrong. That’s fine; if it’s a right, it’s a right even if you’re exercising it for very silly reasons.

                  But again, bad proxy for sincerity.

                  [1] And when the JPFO, who you did mention, goes on about how we shouldn’t call them “mass shootings” because that stigmatizes owners, well, come on.

                  [2] Do I think the arguments are good? No. But they’re sincerely held.

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                  • It’s not an attack on sincerity.

                    It’s a bellwether. When I see this sincere fear and anxiety about the evil government cease to manifest itself in calls for giving the government more power and see it transform into calls for individual empowerment is when I will believe that stuff is getting real.

                    Until then… eh. It’s difficult for me to take the comparisons to Nazi Germany as anything but attempts to communicate exactly how distasteful people find the opposition.

                    most people on the Left genuinely believe that guns aren’t going to protect them from the government or even the police.

                    The protection that guns provide is more in the realm of “prior restraint” on the part of the government or even the police. That’s because guns, in practice, are used for destruction.

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                    • When I see this sincere fear and anxiety about the evil government cease to manifest itself in calls for giving the government more power and see it transform into calls for individual empowerment is when I will believe that stuff is getting real.

                      “I’ll believe them when they all become libertarians,” isn’t really any better. And it also seems to be the precise dual of the, “I’ll believe you oppose Trump when you become a liberal Democrat,” line.

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                      • There’s a lot of stuff being compressed into “I’ll believe them when they all become libertarians” that should be unpacked.

                        It’s not that “I will believe that they oppose Trump when they join with me on my pet issue of marijuana legalization.”

                        It’s more “I will believe that they believe the whole Nazi Germany thing when they stop arguing that non-party members shouldn’t be allowed to own guns.”

                        When they start arguing for individual empowerment? That is when I believe that something will have changed.

                        Until then, eh. Business as usual.

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                        • They don’t believe guns are individually empowering, at least not the substantial majority of the ones I know. They believe they’re dumb and dangerous and pointless. They mostly don’t live in environments or have life experiences that would lead them to equate “having a gun” with “having a useful tool” let alone “being empowered”.

                          What you’re saying isn’t really a lot different from saying, “When they start publicly praying to Jesus Christ to save them, I’ll know something has changed.” Well, sure, something would have changed. But not the thing you’re talking about.

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                          • Here is my prejudice: When you’re going up against Nazi Germany you either need guns or you need religion.

                            If you’re not willing to grab either? I’m guessing that it’s not Nazi Germany that you’re going up against.

                            Lemme know when people stop saying “those people need to change!” and start saying “huh… maybe we need to change”.

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                            • I remember about a year and a half ago someone dared to hit a Nazi with their fist and people had around here were… not pleased.

                              Guess they should have just shot the fucker instead.

                              One of the most important objections raised, though, was one that a lot of people on the left, right, and center believe: that doing so hastens the sort of breakdown in order that Nazis will exploit (and at least arguably did exploit during their rise to power).

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                                • I must admit that I was sufficiently persuaded by the argument that you serendipitously linked to that I thought it was a broader consensus than it was. Though I am probably drawing in some stuff from elsewhere about this being the environment Nazis benefit from.

                                  The original Nazis were big street fighters, though, and they benefited a lot from the (not inaccurate) perception of violent chaos in Weimar Germany.

                                  Trump, no matter where he falls on the ideological spectrum (this week he’s a tankie fergawdsake) is always going to be an authoritarian. A lot of people will perceive arming themselves in defense or preparation as inviting the chaos that he wants.

                                  Maybe they’re naive, but, well, when you actually are dealing with Nazi Germany, guns aren’t the thing you need. Armies—plural—are the things you need.

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                        • Have you considered that your view of guns and government is not shared by those people?
                          That very few people of either party actually think in terms of “size of government “?

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                          • Oh, I am 100% fully aware that my views are not shared.

                            I’m not even really talking about getting people to change their own views. I’m just saying that, in my view, if you’re talking about taking on Nazi Germany in one breath and then talking about making sure that we have better gun control laws in the next, then you’re not going to change my view that you’re using “Nazi Germany” as shorthand for “my opponents”.

                            And I laid out what would need to happen to get me to change my view on that.

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                • Define “drop the gun control thing”.

                  Look at the turn out by MomsDemand at hearings in Texas (Texas!) and then tell me that “Sure, let anyone have any gun and carry it anywhere with no restrictions” is a winning position. Because that is the position the GOP seems to take in response to marching orders from the NRA.

                  Now, I know the immediate reaction to that observation is likely to be that I’m a ‘gun-grabbing liberal’, but I’m not. (In fact, when I read your first comment in this thread I thought you were talking about liberals going out and buying guns and forming their own militias to fight back if the govt goes full fascist, which is a sentiment I understand since I have become better armed in proportion with the growing evidence of neo-Nazis in my area).

                  Otoh, I know that proposing any sort of sensible limits – even keeping guns out of the hands of people with restraining orders against them – gets met with howls of anger about ‘gun control’ and infringing on 2A rights.

                  So long as gun right advocates (NRA or not) take a hard No Control Whatsoever line, the side I’m forced to choose is the one against them because (to me) that is is the side representing sanity.

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                  • Now, I know the immediate reaction to that observation is likely to be that I’m a ‘gun-grabbing liberal’, but I’m not.

                    For what it’s worth, my immediate reaction is that that is an interesting data point.

                    Otoh, I know that proposing any sort of sensible limits – even keeping guns out of the hands of people with restraining orders against them – gets met with howls of anger about ‘gun control’ and infringing on 2A rights.

                    For this, I’d ask if there are any sensible limits right now and ask if those sensible limits are working.

                    Have you read this story? It’s pretty funny. Well, if you have a weird sense of humor, I guess.

                    So long as gun right advocates (NRA or not) take a hard No Control Whatsoever line, the side I’m forced to choose is the one against them because (to me) that is is the side representing sanity.

                    What about the one that says “you cannot do what you’ve promised to do in the past”?

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                    • I think I must be misunderstanding your argument here because it seems like you’re saying “because laws don’t always work or govt officials fail to enforce them properly, we should give up.”

                      I mean, if that’s your argument, okay… it’s is one I’ve heard from gun guys before, but the rejoinder is so obviously “Stalkers still manage to harass and even kill their targets, so why bother trying to make laws to prevent it?” that I can’t quite believe you’d use it.

                      As to sensible limits being out there and working, I’d say the fact that we are one of very few 1st world countries that have the problems we do with gun violence suggests that someone out there has come up with laws that work. Personally, I tend to favor Israel’s approach, but I already know how Americans respond to the idea that gun owners should be physically and mentally sound and actually know how to use a gun properly…

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                      • No, it’s not.

                        It all ties back to the whole “we’re up against Nazi Germany” thing.

                        My argument is not “Gun Control Won’t Work!” (though, granted, I think it will work about as well as Prohibition did in the 30’s… which should be read as me saying that it will have some very visible victories in some areas but, overall, it will be a failure) but that in a situation where the democrats are arguing that Trump is creating a Nazi Germany that arguing about how gun control might work is doing a good job of communicating that the arguments about the Nazis are less than perfectly persuasive to me, personally.

                        If you’d rather I not use gun control, I suppose I could swap it out with stuff like a $15 minimum wage or some other litmus test for whether someone is truly an “ally”.

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                        • I agree you on that actually, though I do understand the historical argument that violent opposition to Nazis was used by them to advance their cause (just as the alt-right and their fellow travellers are making much of the threat of violent Antifa). It was just difficult based on your initial post and subsequent arguments to tell that that was what you meant.

                          I’ll add though that the gun issue also cuts against the argument made in the main article. After all, how many times did I hear over the 8 years Obama was office that he was going to come take all our guns? And yet, no one on the 2A side ever seemed to weary of it despite the NRA cranking the sky is falling rhetoric up and up and up.

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                          • After all, how many times did I hear over the 8 years Obama was office that he was going to come take all our guns?

                            Well, I’d make a comparison to the abortion debate. Off the top of your head, would you say that the US has harsher abortion restrictions than (most countries in) Europe or would you say that (most countries in) Europe’s are more liberal than the US’s?

                            And Europe has some restrictions after the first trimester that are, like, weird to read about because, at least for me, my assumption is that (many countries in) Europe has more liberal laws than the US.

                            If some pro-lifer argued that US law should be more European, from what I understand, the argument is that pro-choicers should not take that deal because it’s just a stepping stone to prohibition.

                            Right?

                            Anyway, so too for gun control. Any attempt to limit was seen as a step on the road to prohibition. Whether this argument is paranoid probably depends on the reader.

                            (It’s not like they’re doing sweeps of people who are in the gun registry, right?)

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                            • Actually, since I have cousins in Ireland, I have a pretty good idea of the range of abortion law in Europe. So, yes, ‘more European’ on that issue is a term that requires specification of which country in Europe. However that would be a lousy excuse from either side wrt not actually defining what does and does not make sense in terms of women’s health, life, and autonomy vs the health and life of a fetus.

                              The same may be true of gun laws, and crying slippery slope on either side is just as lazy and inexcusable.

                              I’ll admit I have no idea what you’re hinting at with your last parenthetical comment. I can’t keep up with all the news (and I even tried googling a couple variations on the phrasing, but came up empty). Depending on the reason, I’m not sure it’s cause to be alarmed though. If for instance FL has now figured out that it let a bunch of people who should not have guns get a small arsenal, then I have no problem with them going through the registry and finding those folks and removing their guns. It might prevent the next mass shooting, or the next case like the guy who just murdered 4 little kids with a gun he should not have been able to get legally.

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                              • The same may be true of gun laws, and crying slippery slope on either side is just as lazy and inexcusable.

                                One man’s slippery slope is another man’s modus ponens.

                                As for my last parenthetical, there are tricks that only work once. Establishing a perfectly reasonable policy that could logically lead to a perfectly unreasonable policy is reasonable if there is no reasonable reason to believe that the slope is slippery.

                                If, however, you do something like actually go down to do the unreasonable thing, the argument that you shouldn’t call it a slippery slope evaporates.

                                And doubly so when you argue against slippery slopes in the first breath and then explain “and anyway, wouldn’t that be better?” in the second.

                                (And the story I was thinking of was this one.)

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                                • I re-read your middle paragraph four times. I think I haven’t had enough coffee…

                                  As to the news article though, this isn’t nearly as sinister as “It’s not like they’re doing sweeps of people who are in the gun registry, right?” sounded.

                                  Dude tried to follow a law to register “assault style” rifles and uploaded a pic of one that was sporting illegal modifications. So someone goes to his house to look into that. Now, if all he had was this one issue, I doubt there would have been any charges. They might have taken the gun, but otherwise at worst a warning. HOWEVER, once there they find many other items he shouldn’t have had and enough ammunition to wonder if they haven’t run across a guy prepping for a massacre. So, yeah, they take him in.

                                  Frankly outrage over this strikes me as silly. It’s like complaining about laws against fireworks because police went to investigate a report on that and found a basement full of bomb-making supplies.

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                            • , the “Europe is actually stricter about abortion than the US’ is such a fallacy, it’s kind of silly.

                              In order to get something like European abortion law, you’d have to repeal the Hyde Amendment, make every state accept the Medicaid expansion that would now pay for abortions for poor and working class people, repeal the various regulatory laws on abortion clinic that have been created to make abortion clinics close, and realize how exemptions are actually put into practice are a lot different, between say a secular French judge and a bible thumping Alabamian judge.

                              I mean, even in countries where it’s more restricted like Germany, you can get one at a hospital or a doctor’s office and health plans pay for it. In Sweden, it’s free through 18 weeks. The truth is, if a European 12-year old, rape victim, or or a woman carrying a fetus with some terrible disease shows up after the deadline, I bet a way can often be found to quietly take care of them. Even if not, they can go to Britan or the Netherlands, where 2nd trimester abortions are fully legal.

                              That’s not even getting into the part where there are no parts of Western Europe where the only sex ed is abstinence-only propaganda, there are no “crisis pregnancy centers’ even in countries with mandated counseling, no fetal heartbeat, mandatory ultrasound, or other laws that are basically guilt trips on pregnant women.

                              European doctors are not made to read false scripts about the danger or abortion giving them breast cancer, causing suicide, or having to say it’s a “unique living being.”

                              Even in countries that have waiting periods, distances are not only smaller, but abortion is widely available and part of the health system – it doesn’t require a multi-day trip to deal with the waiting periods because it isn’t hundreds of miles between abortion clinics.

                              Oh, also, there aren’t dozens of people outside clinics screaming about how you’re killing a baby, screaming about how you’re a harlot, going to hell, etc. That probably helps matters as well.

                              So, give us all the above and sure, we’ll pass “European abortion restrictions.”

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                              • So you agree that someone who is calling for “more European restrictions” on abortion are eliding a lot of truths and probably have something up their sleeves? Hoping to set up a slippery slope or something?

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                                • Yes, but most gun control opponents are open about what we want – unfortunately, most people aren’t like me in that we want to actually lessen by a large amount the number of guns in circulation.

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                  • I never used to be a gun grabbing liberal, but after those smug heartland folks kept calling me that, I decided screw it.

                    They should really do some soul searching and find ways to reach out to us.

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                    • If the “NRA is a terrorist organization” folks wind up in power, they really should. ;)

                      Actually, this I think is a lot more true than the ‘smug liberals made us vote for Trump’ argument. Since I have teens, I have at least some window on their views and those of their peers. Despite living in an area where at least a plurality have parents who own guns, the prevailing view on the NRA is right up there with how my generation viewed the Tobacco Institute.

                      “Having my Precious is more important than letting you feel safe in school.” may not be what gun right advocates are trying to say, but it is how it is coming across and it will do them no favors when this generation starts voting.

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                      • As a random aside — I’ve mentioned my father-in-law many times when it comes to guns and gun control. Lifelong hunter, owns many guns (plenty of them inherited), very responsible, very safety conscious, etc.

                        Over the last 20 years, he’s moved to only going shooting with family or people he knows, eschewing public ranges whenever possible.

                        A few weeks ago we were visiting, and the news was covering Yet Another School Shooting. He mentioned, in passing, that he hadn’t taken a gun out in over a year. Every time he looks at them, he thinks about dead children. He’s considering selling them, but worries they’ll end up in the wrong hands. And several of the people he used to hunt and shoot with feel the same way.

                        So they rot in his gun safe. Maybe he’ll change his mind, maybe not. I don’t know. But this man’s been firing guns since he was a child.

                        I was shocked. It was the last thing I’d ever expected to hear from him.

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                        • Bless your father. I know how hard this must be on him.

                          If he decides he doesn’t want his guns (or just wants to pare down to a hunting rifle or two) but doesn’t know what to do with them, there are a few organizations that are trying to do a ‘swords into plowshares’ thing for such gun owners by melting down old guns and turning them into gardening tools, or in one case, using the metal to forge jungle gyms for kids’ playgrounds. He might find some comfort in going that route.

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                        • It’s a horrible paraphrase of April’s recent article “The Moral Authority Hierarchy of Loss”, but it’s a true statement nonetheless, isn’t it? I mean, I haven’t read through the whole thread, but wouldn’t you agree with the statement itself?

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                          • I mean sure, but I don’t see why anyone would expect being such an egregious ass would do anything but repulse and alienate people who are, almost surely, not really sold on the “Constitutional rights” part to begin with.

                            And really, the highest profile gun rights advocates—so the ones a lot of people on the Left are most familiar with—do that sort of thing routinely. It’s really dumb and IME it makes nudging people away from gun control dramatically harder.

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                          • No, I don’t agree with it.
                            And it seems kinda weird that I need to explain why.

                            If we accept the logic of the Preamble, that the entire purpose of the Constitution is to

                            …form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity…

                            then doesn’t that mean that these things are wholistic, that they work to enhance each other?

                            In what logic does the right to own a gun trump domestic tranquility, or general welfare? How do you secure the blessings of liberty when everyone is walking around in fear of being shot?

                            See this is why we call guns “The Precious” because the gun nuts have taken this one single item and made it a religious icon, venerating this to the exclusion of everything else.

                            The First Amendment gives me the right to speak, but we don’t go around saying “Your slandered reputation doesn’t trump my Constitutional rights” because, yeah, it really really does.

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                            • The First Amendment gives me the right to speak, but we don’t go around saying “Your slandered reputation doesn’t trump my Constitutional rights” because, yeah, it really really does.

                              No, it doesn’t. I mean, it wasn’t like Joe the Plumber shot anyone. (I should look that up, but for now I’m going to stick with my assumption.) Some other shooter, or his victims, doesn’t affect Joe’s SA rights, any more than my slander of you takes away Joe’s FA rights.

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                              • If you want people to be more respectful of your Second Amendment rights, telling them that Joe the Plumber was right (regardless of whether he is on some level) is a lot less likely to be effective than showing them that you are pretty much on their side by not treating a total asshole like Joe the Plumber as part of your in-group.

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    • I disagree Jaybird. There are plenty of countries where the police are not rampantly out of control and they still have gun control. I think lots of Democrats would argue that we can emulate these countries successfully. At least implicitly, your response is no.

      A lot of these threads seemingly become gripes about “Why won’t the Democratic Party embrace my pet causes?”

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    • Even if we had a very expansive definition of the 2nd Amendment, I imagine that most civilians that shoot at law enforcement agent, even in legitimate self-defense, are going to find themselves on the defendant’s side of a criminal case.

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    • Jaybird, that’s bullshit and I think you know it.

      The Left are never going to support more gun rights as a defense against facism and the police state–because we know who have the guns and who are going to most quickly get more if they become more available. I have no interest in further arming people who hate me because I’m queer or hate my friends because they’re Non-White or immigrants or Jew or Muslims.

      At the same time, the theme you’re trying to get at is the willingness to resist oppression by violent means–and I think you’ll find that has increased on the left, pretty dramatically.

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      • The problem is that I don’t know that it’s bullshit.

        At the same time, the theme you’re trying to get at is the willingness to resist oppression by violent means–and I think you’ll find that has increased on the left, pretty dramatically.

        Oh yeah. I have noticed that. I’ve got a handful of theories about how that plays out, even. One of them involves the left dropping the gun control thing and deciding that it’s time for the people to be armed.

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  6. I am enjoying writing for Ordinary-times. You’all make me so much better at thinking and writing. The hardest thing to find on the internet is any sort of tough and fair critique that you can trust. Thanks folks!!

    Now that I’m thoroughly bruised I’m prepared for my next article. I’m thinking of writing on fishing rights in territorial waters off of Newfoundland. :)

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  7. Great article Mark; this is obviously right up my alley. In 2016, I was one of the people here in the comments arguing that the idea that HRC was going to ride into the White House on a wave of overwhelming female, Latino and black anger at Trump didn’t make a whole lot of sense. It generally wasn’t well-received.

    I think part of what is going on has to do with the nature of social media and the larger media landscape. It is really easy to lock yourself into a silo of viewpoints that only accord with your own, which gives the false appearance that everyone, at least everyone smart, agrees with you. And that makes you think that you ought to be winning. At the same time, social media is really good at echoing bad and alarmist news, which can give the impression that you are constantly taking losses or in imminent danger of taking a loss.

    That’s probably the worst combination. If you take a loss and you recognize why you lost, you can make the adjustment necessary to set you up for a win next time. If you believe that you shouldn’t have lost or that it’s only a matter of time before you get the win that matters, there’s no incentive for closer self-examination. Rather, the incentive is to find excuses and mitigating factors on which you can blame the loss. The result is that a bunch of people are stuck in a cycle of false hope followed by a gut punch. It’s obviously not a cycle that can go on forever, but it can on longer than it ought to.

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    • Parties are about winning elections (or at least they used to be :). At some point they have to abandon their positions and adopt ones that work to that end. That’s why the center never truly disappears.

      There are a few here that feel like the Dem ship is headed in the right direction. They point to special elections and the inroads made in nominating women as well as some of the terrible choices made by GOP primary voters (Roy Moore, Corey Steward). I would say they may be on to something… maybe. I’m not thoroughly convinced however.

      Moreover, if Dems are fully invested in the blue wave coming what happens if fails – or even if it’s tepid? High expectations are usually a recipe for disappointment – that’s why the Yankees hate their team any time it misses the playoffs and the cubs love theirs no matter what (don’t at me!).

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      • It would be easy to find solid polls showing many D positions are popular. The D problem has been more about selling those positions, hyper partisanship and other election “irregularities.”

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      • Once more…
        This is the “win the morning” approach.
        Following this model would require the Democrats to recognize that white supremacy and misogyny is a winning chemistry, and become the white supremacy Pepsi to the Trumpian Coke.
        This is literally advising us to stand for nothing.

        The example is the 2012 GOP autopsy that counseled them to dial back the racism and welcome Hispanics.
        Trump recognized that this would mean abandoning their chief identity and won by doing the exact opposite.

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        • Oh I don’t think it’s quite so binary choice as that. I’m hoping that’s hyperbole Chip. :)

          Bill Clinton himself decried that the Dems ignored the white working class – an important part of their coalition. But it doesn’t follow that catering to an important constituency within your coalition is racist on the face of it – does it? Are you saying that any move in the direction of local concerns by white working class voters is racist on the face of it? There’s plenty of ground in the middle that appears empty to me.

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            • Not really. I mean come on Chip, lets be charitable here. I loved HRC but she really did drop the ball on that faction of the electorate and she didn’t need to focus on white males to do it. She could have had polling going on in Wisconsin and Michigan. She certainly could have had proxies working those states. Hell she even had a perfectly acceptable line of attack “remember how we saved the car industry? Trump said it was a horrible decision and the rest of his party are Romney clones who also said it was horrible.”
              It wouldn’t have taken much attention to make up the margin of difference here- though granted there’s a huge element of Captain Hindsight* involved in these kinds of prognostications.
              An appeal could have been made that wouldn’t have thrown any other parts of the coalition under the bus but HRC didn’t do it. The resources weren’t allocated in that direction and the appeal wasn’t made.

              *the only mitigating factor is that Bill himself intuited the threat.

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              • She made mistakes. All campaigns do, including successful ones like Obama in ’08 or Bush in ’04.

                She was also fucked by the FBI. Which is sort of a new thing and a bolt from the blue. And I agree with whoever it said about people needing to assess their losses and move on or whatever, but she was actually fucked by the FBI. That makes it harder to work around

                Finally, she targeted the wrong chunk of the electorate to win.

                Not ineffectively: it seems her appeals to affluent center-to-center-right suburbanites, especially women, actually worked quite well.

                It’s just that they didn’t live in the right states, for the most part.

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                • She made mistakes. All campaigns do, including successful ones like Obama in ’08 or Bush in ’04…. She was also fucked by the FBI. Which is sort of a new thing and a bolt from the blue.

                  How many different explanations did she come out with regarding her email server? One a month for a year? Always self-serving, never a realistic explanation as to ‘why’, and always claiming this was the last of it.

                  She tried to use the FBI to whitewash herself, the AG got caught with her husband privately “discussing his children” a few hours or days before the AG was supposed to come out with a decision.

                  The FBI believed the press’s claims that HRC was so far ahead that it wouldn’t matter, and since it didn’t matter, they refused to let the FBI be thrown under the bus for HRC’s career. Trump would still lose and the FBI’s rep would remain untarnished.

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                  • I mean look, she absolutely blew the handling of the email server thing in a pretty normal way.[1]

                    The FBI blew the handling of the email server in an absolutely abnormal way.

                    That last, and the incredibly close nature of her loss, means that the loss is multi-factorial, but one of the factors was an exceptional and unprecedented fuckup.

                    And the decision to release the letter in the last days of the campaign really doesn’t, in any account I’ve seen so far, seem to amount to “refusing to be thrown under the bus for the sake of HRC’s career”. It wasn’t HRC that was going to be doing the throwing. That doesn’t even make sense.

                    [1] She isn’t the first Presidential candidate to blow their handling of a minor scandal, and it isn’t always a campaign death sentence.

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                    • The FBI blew the handling of the email server in an absolutely abnormal way.

                      All trails for the “abnormality” lead back to the Clintons.

                      Because of Bill and the AG, the FBI was put in charge of deciding whether to go forward, which is exceptionally unusual and unheard of. They also promise Congress to keep them informed of the details, which is also exceptionally unusual and unheard of.

                      HRC’s chief minion’s husband is a criminal, his computer ends up in FBI hands, they find more of her emails on that computer.

                      At this point do they break their word and not inform Congress (which WILL be controlled by the GOP and this WILL get back to them at some point). Isn’t breaking your word to Congress a crime?

                      Worse, assume that when HRC sanitized her emails before handing them over, she covered up some criminal activity. Since the minion’s husband didn’t sanitize that computer, they’re potentially looking at the real reason behind the server. These emails are in FBI hands before the election, but because of the time needed to process them, they’re not released until after HRC is elected.

                      So in other words (as the GOP congress will make painfully clear) the FBI will have engaged in a cover up for President HRC.

                      [1] She isn’t the first Presidential candidate to blow their handling of a minor scandal, and it isn’t always a campaign death sentence.

                      The impressive thing about her midhandling is how many times she mishandled it. She managed to convince lots of people that she really was hiding serious crimes because she behaved like she was hiding serious crimes.

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            • Troublemaker eh? (ha) Your idea of the middle is a little further left than mine, But I’ll give you that Bernie has carved out a spot – and largely based on economic ideas rather than identity politics. He and/or his movement is going to be a wildcard in 2020 (assuming his age doesn’t catch up with him).

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              • His failure to consistently caucus with a party and the reality of what would need to be done to the American tax structure to support his domestic goals probably always put a ceiling on him. But he was the only candidate of any party in 2016 who I felt could actually be called moderate. None of the weird charlatan stuff, reactionary fanaticism, and zombie voodoo economics of the GOP and none of the elitism and viciously nihilistic identity politics that the mainstream Democratic party has become. Just a flawed but not impossible plan for what might keep the whole experiment in liberal democracy chugging along awhile longer.

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                • This drives me nuts. Bernie very much played identity politics, but because the identity he catered to was white working class guys it somehow doesn’t count.

                  I’m highlighting this because it very much encapsulates a fairly major fissure on the left that I suspect a lot of more Rightwards folk aren’t really aware of.

                  And I don’t blame them. I’m aware of it but find it extremely difficult to entirely assess which side is right. Sanders himself is a bit of a klutz with this stuff, but he’s of a generation where that kind of klutziness is endemic, and Hillary Clinton is also a bit of a klutz with it.

                  (Bill Clinton was worse, I think, but also such a naturally gifted politcian that he could get away with it.)

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                • I continue to be a little puzzled by this take. I mean yeah sure if you want to stay Bernie then almost exclusively on class base policys sure but I don’t believe he ever did anything even close like being vote for me I’m a white guy like you.

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              • I’m massively skeptical that Uncle Bernie could get much oxygen at all absent an environment where he’s the only left wing alternative to HRC and is running after 8 years of a Democratic administration.

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        • Following this model would require the Democrats to recognize that white supremacy and misogyny is a winning chemistry, and become the white supremacy Pepsi to the Trumpian Coke

          Honestly, that’s just a strange either/or. And while I know you are 100% committed to the Race/Identity unifying theory… and I’m happy to leave you to it… but surely you can see that its leading you to rather absurd conclusions.

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          • You’ve seen the history of the New Deal, that it had to subordinate the interests of civil rights so as to get the Dixicrat vote?
            And how Steve Bannon is explicitly calling for white populism?

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            • Also, you know, all the American Nazis popping up, all coincidentally supporting one party, one candidate, and occasionally even running for office — for one party.

              There’s the rise of the alt-right, the rising wave of xenophobia.

              It’s really hard to look around and see “white male resentment” isn’t a really big driving factor of American politics. It’s ugly, but ignoring it isn’t a solution.

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            • Thank you, that helps me see where your head is at; though I’m not sure internalizing Hoover’s loss will give you much of a path forward.

              Sure, you would think that anyone could beat a Russian Strongman loving, moral compromising, Judicial threatening, media manipulating, white identity public works, executive megalomaniac President who unconstitutionally separated and interred actual American Citizens and their families… but sometimes these things are just harder than they look.

              I mean, you gotta admire the purity of Landon in 1936 for doubling down against Social Security for not taking into account the costs to business and the workers. And that line about spending the money now?

              There is every probability that the cash they pay in will be used for current deficits and new extravagances.

              Its like he could see into the future. No idea why he didn’t win. All I do know is that we are the bad, ignorant, unenlightened people of tomorrow’s history.

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  8. I do think there’s been a lot of crying wolf but I have no idea what it does to the Democrats’ electoral prospects. Trump has always struck me as much more Berlusconi than Hitler. I’d like to believe that if people really thought he was Hitler the #Resistance would be advocating much more radical measures. Maybe this is what is getting at above. If we were really facing fascism a shaky alliance of Clintonites with a vanguard of online and media SJWs advocating standard 21st century Democratic policy would be a remarkably milquetoast response.

    My guess is that the people picking strategy have decided Godwins law is the best way to get turn-out. It’ll be tested in a few months but it does feel like doubling down on a strategy thats already failed. Of course the Republican party did manage to make some gains by casting Obama as a Marxist when he was basically Bill Clinton with the ability to keep it in his pants. Maybe the partisan audiences are more similar than I think they are.

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    • It will be tested indeed. And as I made clear above, it may well work, at least in this cycle. I’d love to write an article sometime about this whole comparison to Hitler thing. I find that pretty silly – but I don’t know if I could stand the comments. :D

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    • Using the word “Nazi” to describe people who wear swastikas and joke about pushing (((globalists))) into ovens may be the crazy, risky, outside the box strategy we need.

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        • No, he just said that people who do that are very fine people, seems to have a habit of hiring them, of signal boosting them, and finding ways to indicate that such people are very much part of his in-group.

          I don’t think this is because of an ideological commitment to Nazism [1], but his love of people who shower him with adulation, with people who share his belief that acting like a dictator is a demonstration of strength, and his general thoroughgoing illiberalism.

          I think he’s racist as hell, and at least equally misogynist, but the overall package? Not so much. But he’s at least as obviously not a Juchist, and look at what he’s saying about Kim Jong Un.

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          • Trump isn’t a Hitler, but only by virtue of laziness.

            He is more of a Ferdinand Marcos, Pinochet, or any one of the petty African Presidents-for-Life whose main skill is in looting the treasury, torture of dissidents, and vacationing at swanky hotels.

            But for the children whose parents were disappeared the distinction isn’t very important.

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          • I don’t think this is because of an ideological commitment to Nazism

            To me this is a really important distinction though on how to approach the problem of Trump. I agree with the rest of what you said, that he tolerates and even subtly encourages support from Neo-Nazis and similar groups, as well as wannabes and internet trolls with racist views and affinities for racist symbolism. Whether he does this because he thinks it helps him politically or because he likes his ego stoked or both is hard for me to tell.

            But I still think it’s important that he is not one of them, people know he’s not one of them, and for that reason attacks based on it tend to miss the mark. These groups are still not mainstream, IMO are unlikely to become mainstream, and aren’t even critical to the Trump coalition. What they’re really useful for though is drawing fire and creating a useful distraction from all the perfectly mundane but awful governing decisions.

            This is why I think the Berlusconi example is so relevant. The opposition spent years and years trying to discredit him by unearthing personal scandals and corruption accusations with way more merit than anything Trump has actually been proven to have done with little effect (yea it finally caught up with him but only after decades of damage). The one thing no one has tried since Trump’s rise is taking on Trumpism on the merits. Fighting it on the reality tv show level is playing to all his strengths.

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            • From the liberal point of view, the Republicans have gotten bolder in the rhetoric they use. Many neo-Confederates and outright Nazis have been winning Republican primaries. A decrement portion of the Republican Party seems to have decided that White nationalism is the way to go for electoral victory.

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          • I’ve been having trouble finding the original statement, but I believe it was in reference to all the protests in Charlottesville. Do you think that there weren’t good people who marched in support of Confederate statues?

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            • I do not believe there were good people who marched in support of Confederate statues in Charlottesville. The whole march was explicitly set up by the alt-right to advance their neo-Nazi worldview, and anyone who can see a Tiki torch wielding mob marching through the Virginia night chanting, “Jews will not replace us,” and think, “Hey, maybe some of those guys are all right!” is really not someone I have the faintest interest in talking to, or granting the benefit of the doubt to.

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  9. The singular problem (at least through my eyes) is that Trump is a utilitarian, and that doesn’t play well with either of the factions of globalism, post-colonialism or neo-conservatism. And as we watch globalism fail worldwide; Brexit, the Five-Star party, Austria’s prime minister, Australia’s immigration policies, etc, it is only natural that the advocates for it would howl in rage.

    But the utilitarians are OK with all that is going on, as they don’t care about the global ramifications and the damage to the previous world order. They simply want to “set back the clock” to a time that things worked for them, whether that time is real or imagined makes no difference. The chaos that you see is them getting down to brass tacks, in their eyes. This is why things such as the border issues probably have little resonance with the Trumpintariat, as they see it as following the law. And the same goes for some sort of ”white supremacy” thinger-bobber. If you don’t subscribe to some notion of the global community, it is pretty hard to get worked up about this. From every Trump voter I have talked to, and my family has a few, it seems to be more of a “this was working, in the main. Yes, there were problems, but culturally it was not too bad”. Whether that is wrong or right is immaterial.

    The D’s do have a platform other than rage, but it has been drowned out by the latter, just as the rage from the R’s drowned out the sound of their platform. And yes, they have always had one, but the media in the country is urban and upper-middle-class for the most part, which as a class defaults to center to far left. And this has contributed to the bubble that has left the D’s with bad elections over the last several periods, witness ’10, ’14 and ’16. ’12 only held the line for them. The hardest thing to fight against with a utilitarian is that you need an argument against each action he takes individually, it can’t be left to the winds of ideology to explain everything.

    As I said yesterday, we are at a point of realignment. The old order did not work for enough people to keep skating by as it had been.

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    • Aaron David: The hardest thing to fight against with a utilitarian is that you need an argument against each action he takes individually, it can’t be left to the winds of ideology to explain everything.

      This is an interesting take. I’ve often said Trump really lacks any sort of ideology at all – by which I really meant that his moral view is auctioned off to the highest bidder in service of his ego. But you are suggesting something different here. I have to think about that.

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      • Certainly, kicking off a trade war with Canada, spurning our allies, and constantly promoting Russian interests is very….utilitarian.

        Actually I’m confused. I must not understand the word “utilitarian” like I thought I did.

        OTOH, I hear his kids have made like 80 million bucks since he took office, and that seems to fit the definition….

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    • But the utilitarians are OK with all that is going on, as they don’t care about the global ramifications and the damage to the previous world order.

      You seem to be using the term “utilitarian” in a very different sense than I’m familiar with, where it’s an ethical system where someone tries to maximize the total good felt by everybody.

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      • u·til·i·tar·i·an
        yo?o?til??ter??n/Submit
        adjective
        1.
        designed to be useful or practical rather than attractive.
        synonyms: practical, functional, pragmatic, serviceable, useful, sensible, efficient, utility, workaday, no-frills; More
        2.
        PHILOSOPHY
        relating to or adhering to the doctrine of utilitarianism.
        “a utilitarian theorist”
        nounPHILOSOPHY
        1.
        an adherent of utilitarianism.

        Nothing in there about everybody.

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        • It’s customary for “utilitarian philosophy” to be pithily summarized as “the greatest good for the greatest number”. There’s some (OK, incredible amounts of) debate about how you define those terms, but the basic thrust of it tends to be universalizing.

          It’s not the same thing, in that context, as pragmatism. I could conceivably buy Trumpists as pragmatists, though.

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          • “the greatest good for the greatest number”

            You are assuming that he doesn’ believe this, that indeed, many others don’t believe this; the Brexitiers and all that I listed in my first post. That, in my opinion, is a fools game. I get that you don’t like him, in that I get the right hated Obama. Doesn’t mean that they think what they are doing isn’t the right thing for the majority. It doesn’t mean that what he is doing is right, either of them. I don’t think either of them are on the right track, but that is neither here nor there.

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            • I believe that Trump has no conception of “good” beyond naked self-interest and emotional need. I don’t apply that to Trump supporters generally. Or for that matter George W. Bush, who I think was an awful President who mostly did awful things.

              I do believe that very few of them are utilitarians, however. That doesn’t mean I don’t think they don’t think they’re doing the right thing! It means I think they define the right thing differently from the way a utilitarian would.

              A lot of deeply moral people (in terms of both having a strong sense of morality and in terms of behaving in ways that people generally find admirable) aren’t utilitarians at all. I’m not a utilitarian myself! I’m a consequentialist of some sort, but am really dubious of the sort of arithmetical approach taken by utilitarians.

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  10. This is a great post and is making me really rue my own logistical constraints for commenting. Why god(ess?) Why?? I can access LGM and baloonjuice but i cant get onto here? Fate is cruel.

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    • North you see Democrats winning special election after special election. Do you think this is despite or because of rhetoric against Trump?

      I see a lot of middle aged white guts upset tactics going against their priors are successful electorally in these essays.

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      • Yeah, what I’m largely seeing is a bunch of middle aged pundits in general who act like Hillary lost by ten points to Trump, that Trump has approvals in the 60’s, etc. In reality, despite having a 3.9% unemployment rate and even a somewhat successful foreign policy, Trumpians are highlighting that Trump is now hitting 45% approval in some non-Rasmussen polls. The truth is, under a similar situation, without the same dumb downsides, but similar policy wins, somebody like Rubio or Jeb would be humming along with high 50’s approval at the worst.

        My biggest mistake on Election Day 2016 was assuming Republican’s had a fundamental core of decency. I’ll never assume that again and bake in the fact that literally, a Republican could murder a baby on TV, and still get 44-46% of the vote as long as the babies parents were avowed liberals and/or the baby wasn’t white.

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        • My biggest mistake on Election Day 2016 was assuming Republican’s had a fundamental core of decency.

          Oh, you shouldn’t assume that of either side.

          Both Trump and HRC hit the radar as pretty serious sociopaths, and do whatever they can get away with without caring about ethics. If you view that as a bad thing, then both should have been thrown out much earlier in the process so it wasn’t one vs the other.

          Trumpians are highlighting that Trump is now hitting 45% approval in some non-Rasmussen polls. The truth is, under a similar situation, without the same dumb downsides, but similar policy wins, somebody like Rubio or Jeb would be humming along with high 50’s approval at the worst.

          Hold the re-election tomorrow and he’ll pull people in like high 50’s. It wouldn’t be close.

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  11. So to summarize after a day of comments:

    There’s some difference of opinion on Nazism – although generally most readers who are not busy fishing appear to agree on the principle that “it’s bad”.

    There’s a lot of energetic discussions surrounding utilitarianism which I did not realize was such a hot topic on OT. I’ll have to Mill that around for a while.

    A number of people really want to talk about gun control. I’ll need more ammunition before I shoot off my mouth about that.

    Finally, all this talk of fishing on here oddly makes me want to measure my fish by inches instead of weighing them. What’s that about?

    Carry on!

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  12. @north

    I will add that the “chicken little” stuff cuts both ways and I think a lot of Republicans or “libertarian” middle-aged and older white guys (sometimes younger) are really, really clueless about how they are shooting themselves in the foot.

    I don’t identify as socialist. I don’t identify as communist. I think the profit-motive is generally good but that you can also have private property and capitalism combined with a strong social safety net that prevents people from debt and destitution because of an uncontrollable illness or some other calamity beyond their agency like a massive recession (Hi, 2007-2009 and real estate crisis!!)

    But there are seemingly a lot of, usually, middle-aged and older white guys out there who think that the smallest bit of social welfare state legislation is nothing but absolute communism and the second-coming of Lenin and Trotsky. This might have worked for a while but I was 8 or 9 when the Berlin Wall came down and we have a lot of American adults who were born after the Berlin Wall came down. But they do remember being screwed over by Bush II and the Great Recession.

    A lot of younger voters are attracted to “democratic socialism” not because they are actually socialist or even anti-capitalist in my opinion. I don’t think they want communal living or the abolition of private property. I think they are just fed up with constant screams on how anything remotely social welfare is “horrible horrible Communism” and they don’t believe it.

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      • Northern European style welfare statism is very high taxes and also very low intervention in the economy. That means things like no min wage, allowing mineral extraction, etc.

        If you’re trying for very high taxes and also high intervention in the economy, then probably “socialism” is the appropriate word.

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    • – I agree on the labeling of democratic socialism. It’s an unfortunate choice (borrowed from EU parties) that get’s folks hackles up. If it were called something else it would be more palatable.

      I am working on a chicken little post regarding the GOP as well. I don’t want anyone here to leave happy. :D

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      • I think there’s something to that. I also think a lot of people who are left-of-center have sort of picked up the right’s habit of calling any sort of government spending or welfare program “socialism”, it’s just that socialism is an applause word for them.

        I can just imagine a Mirror Universe Basil Fawlty eating a delicious Belgian Waffle and saying, “This is wonderful. It’s called ‘socialism’!”

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      • You’ve already triggered the CrossFitters of political discourse here so I don’t know if a GOP post will be enough to make things right.

        Not that I care. After some of the crap I’ve read in this particularly awful comments section, I may need to enter the fray.

        Me being a libertarian that can’t help but shoot myself in the foot and/or a left-center individual quick to use the term socialism and all sorts of batshit stupid things said in my direction that don’t represent me at all.

        This is getting tiresome.

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    • I have a personal mission to replace the noun “socialism” with the verb “socialize” as a way of demonstrating how common and harmless it is.
      As in, we have vast swathes of our economy already under public control. I am sitting here bathed in socialized electricity and drinking socialized water for instance.

      I think that the DSA vision of a European style mixed economy is a much needed shift in how we think about things.

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      • Sounds like someone who’s never had to live in “socialized housing” or gone to or had to spend much time contemplating sending their children to a failing “socialized school.” But as long as it works for you, though.

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        • Every suburban tract house was socialized in part, with the government backed secondary mortgage market, HUD, FHA and VA loans, subsidized infrastructure and government confiscation of land under eminent domain.

          This is my point. Very few people realize just to what degree they have benefited from socialized actions.

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          • This is my point. Very few people realize just to what degree they have benefited from socialized actions.

            First, that is a completely unfounded assertion. I’m not claiming any certainty here, but it seems like you’re setting up a straw man to justify your belief that if people just realized what you want them to realize, they would all have your preferences. Lots of people realize exactly what role the government played in establishing the current geography and that is exactly why they don’t want more socialized action.

            Second, my point is that your story is nice and all, but it leaves out a whole lot. It erases the history of the people swept aside to make room for those nice suburban housing tracts or the people instead herded into large, isolated public housing tracts. Again, not certainty here, but the likely reason that you can do this is that you’ve taken all the blame for the failures of socialized and placed it outside of your particular set of preferences. That tends to be how people deal with the failures of their preferred policies (e.g. the public schools in that neighborhood are failing, because the conservatives won’t give them enough funding).

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            • To be fair (and only speaking personally), his comment right before you suggested he’s potentially straw manning was only made in response to your almost certain albeit probably not intentional ad-hominem, given that you pivoted from “sounds like someone who hasn’t lived in socialized housing” to “well I didn’t mean THAT kind of socialized housing, I meant the other kind and also your kind was socialized, it’s true, and that was just as big a problem,” pretty quick. I mean, if you say someone sounds like they haven’t lived in socialized housing and their point is that they *have*, just not the kind we usually think of…. they’re gonna clarify that. Not exactly a straw man to do so.

              That said, it’s a darn good point that the history of American social projects has not been an unalloyed good and has not hesitated to sweep plenty of people under its push, from either side of the government aisle.

              There could be an entire litany of First Nations, cities, neighborhoods, and even wildlands (which i know some of us care about that last one more than others, but they do matter to me) that the government patently did not give a crap about in its rush to abet the socalled public good for only some favored part of the public, starting before the New Deal (*cough* Homestead Act, Trail of Tears, ugh, it’s too depressing to keep going) and rolling right along up till the last time I checked…

              I would think that if a government or Party wanted to build people’s trust in its social programs, acknowledging those centuries of wrongs and establishing reasons why what they are doing is *different* and will include *mitigation* to folks who legitimately do suffer some harms might be somewhere to start, rather than pretending they didn’t happen.

              But I keep hoping someone will do that and someone almost never does.

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            • It is very true that socialized action has negative consequences, just as privatized action does.

              The other current hobby horse of mine is to stress how irrelevant economic systems are to outcomes.

              The harmful effects we saw with low income housing had less to do with whether they were market mechanisms or socialized mechanisms and more with the cultural and social attitudes towards the people involved.

              Whatever system we use, it usually gets rigged and weaponized to favor a certain group of people.

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