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Democrats Left Turn Only

No one has captured the media’s attention like Democratic Socialist Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. She’s already known as “AOC” – a sure sign of ascendancy. Bringing down incumbent power broker Joe Crowley in a New York district is a huge boost for the Democratic Socialist brand. She’s pretty, the camera loves her, and she’s in a safe district. Put all this together and it’s catnip for the media. She’s made gaffes, but what first-time candidate doesn’t trip over their tongue now and then? Biden does it all the time and he’s been running since before bell-bottoms were a thing. She’s holding her own and even making inroads.

But AOC’s success and the media attention it brings heightens the fissures within the Democratic party. The debate is over whether Dems should be more socialist. A young, idealistic faction within the party wants to wrestle it further to the left. They advocate big changes in healthcare, housing and education with a primary role for government. An aging “establishment” wing of the party supports incremental changes (or in some case the status quo). It wants to maintain a position nearer to the center. I think this means two things for Democrats. First, the problem is a big one, and second, the “big tent” is in danger.

The Earth is Moving

This schism is large – large enough to fracture the party and create new splinter parties. The socialist wing will burn down the house, even if grandma doesn’t make it out. They don’t believe the rump will be smaller. Like all committed factions, they believe their ideas are self-evident. A properly-educated society will inevitably have its Damascus road moment. This zeal has the establishment center-left running scared. It would be hard to overstate the hand-wringing of traditional party members. The first page of Google results returns Democratic Schism stories from CNN, Vox, The Hill, Washington Post (James Hohman calls it the “Democratic Civil war”), Real Clear Politics, etc. Yahoo news calls AOC’s candidacy Lightning in a Bottle and says the future of the Democratic party is up for grabs. It’s clearly a showdown.

The Big Tent is in Danger

It’s not clear the big tent will survive. Democrats continues to maintain that the party is a big tent. They claim it’s a coalition of interests loosely bound together by a broad progressive tilt. Minor skirmishes inside the tent are a fact of party life, and in the end meaningless, they say. In a recent discussion on Twitter, I said that Dems can have a big tent but they must decide if it’s a teepee or a wigwam. I’m unconvinced internal factions are really compatible. JE BRowne (@effiedog) responded:

#Democrats are the tent. They don’t need to agree on smaller messages. Those are customized & tailored to their constituencies. What fits in NY may not fit in Virginia. Unlike the GOP who’s used identical talking points since Bush-Cheney era. Messaging needs to be “custom fit”.

Of course the problem is, as always, who decides which messages are inconsequential. I suspect the socialist crowd will have problems with business as usual, left of center Dems. Meanwhile user @tyree_48238 shut me down with a single quote:

There is no “but…” BIG TENT!

My view that party cohesion is important to effective action isn’t welcome in Tyree’s tent. And this is the issue. Dems want to embrace a big tent idea but they want cohesion based on ideology. Indeed, there is an increasingly ardent attempt at ideological “purity enforcement” running through Democratic dialog these days. They envy the GOP’s cohesion – those “identical talking points since Bush-Cheney”.  But they can’t duplicate that model without making the tent smaller.

Party Cohesion

Dr. Elizabeth Theiss-Morse’s book, Who Counts as an American, proposes a theory of national identity that ties group cohesion to strong boundaries and helper behaviors. When a group has a clear demarcation between who is in and out of the group (strong boundaries), helper behaviors flourish and become key factors in group cohesion. These boundaries take the form of norms and beliefs that group members share. Members feel more closely interconnected and they are more likely to work in the interests of fellow group members. It helps explain why people with an otherwise strong ethos for helping often fail to see those most at need. Helping is for in-group members.

If cohesion is partly based on strong boundaries, this helps explain why Dems periodically have strong internal conflicts with their “big tent” model, and why internal factions are so willing to play take-the-ball-and-go-home. If the boundaries of a group are weak, then a corresponding weakness in loyalty and helper behaviors emerges as well. People are free to saunter in and out as they please with no penalty. Consider the 13% of Obama voters who voted for Trump.

Is Party Unity Coming?

In the 2016 book Asymmetric Politics by Matt Grossmann (@mattgrossmann) and David Hopkins (@dhopkins1776), the authors argue that the Democratic party is a coalition of social groups acting as discrete voting blocks, while the GOP is constructed around a post 1950s conservative ideological framework and contains few coalitions. The two parties behave differently. Yet analysis proceeds as if they behaved the same. They note that although conservatives are now squeezed out of the Democratic party, “No organized liberal movement has emerged to dominate its internal organization or succeed in shifting its policies toward leftist positions” (pg. 14). That was then, this may be now.

If the far left succeeds in wresting control of the Democratic party from the current establishment, a new kind of party could emerge that is much closer to the GOP model. The transcendence of social democratic ideology could mean a much stronger group boundary. This boundary could be based on government action and enforcement of fairness and social justice for marginalized groups. The big tent would only apply to the interests of marginalized groups who adhere to the party line – no more entree for diverse ideology or privilege. The new discipline would exclude anyone not left enough. The result would be far more cohesion, higher loyalty, greater unity of action and a firmer hand on the policy tiller.

It would also be much smaller. Meanwhile, whither the center-left Democrat? Center left voters and undecided voters are unlikely to flock to the Democratic Socialists. They must suck it up or wander in the wilderness where they can meet up with Bill Krystal and his merry band of never-trumpers. What will be the fate of the coalition groups? They may attempt to hue rigidly to the new ideology in order to maintain their power as a bloc. This will certainly work for marginalized groups who benefit. But the big tent has plenty of fellow travelers. Full social democracy is a bridge too far for educated whites, corporate democrats, traditional working class voters and others. It’s easy to see how these coalitions might splinter off and cast about for a new source of power and influence.

Not a Bad Thing?

Centrists believe this new realignment is a bad thing. In the short term, they are likely right. Dems going full left definitely stokes the fires of the GOP main body. It has the potential to close the enthusiasm gap that currently tilts in the Democrats’ favor. Nothing brings out the hoi polloi like a good red scare. Low info voters will likely shy away from anything with a taint of socialism, and the GOP will be right there to help them conflate “social democrats” with Hugo Chavez and Stalin. In the long run, however, it could provide new life to a party that has struggled with unity for decades.

Speaking with Matt Grossmann on  Twitter I asked him if the socialist turn means new restructuring based on ideology. He was not convinced, but he sees the trend as real (at least that is how I read it).

Democrats Left Turn Only

 

The group interest system is effective, but it has real drawbacks. Democrats might avert their eyes because of past success, but it’s possible such a system has a hard ceiling. Every party struggles with success because politics is about competition for resources. Parties exist to obtain power. A coalition party holds together by making common cause in service to broad goals. Sometimes cohesion comes from circling the wagons against a recognizable enemy. Or sometimes a transformative leader at the top corrals coalitions into collective action.

In spite of these powerful gravitational forces, people are predictable once power is achieved. They fight for control over resources. They work to see their issue or group interest rise to the top. Every party gaining power squabbles for spoils like ill-raised hyenas. This is especially true in a party organized by cobbling together voting blocks through appeals to groups based on their specific interests.

So perhaps a realignment on different terms than coalition isn’t a bad thing?


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212 thoughts on “Democrats Left Turn Only

  1. What if they held a war and nobody came?

    I’m just not seeing anyone fighting here. The main themes Dems are stressing like Fight For 15, college debt reform, protecting Obamacare and even Medicare for All are either supported outright, or at most, tepidly opposed by almost all the party elected officials and candidates.

    Nancy Pelosi, about the most mainstream of Democrats, will likely become Speaker if we manage to take the House; Dianne Feinstein who is about the most conservative Democratic Senator, is holding a lead over the more leftward Kevin De Leon.
    But the news here is how civil and mild mannered this “war” is.

    I don’t see any acrimony, and more importantly, I don’t see any defections or anyone drifting over to become a Trump Party voter.

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    • Shrug… the war comes when the base finally decides that the problem isn’t that the establishment “can’t” deliver Medicare for all (thanks a lot Republican Obstructionists), but that they don’t “want” Medicare for all.

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    • I agree with March above, in part because the Obama/Clinton War of ’07 almost tore the party apart over much less than the Prog v Establishment War on the horizon. And I think Mark is right in the OP that a coalition of discrete voting blocks isn’t a stable, sustainable coalition. It’s ripe for attack, externally of course, but internally as well.

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  2. The problem with a more solidly leftist Democratic Party is that there is too little unity among the further left. As occupy wall street showed, people who wanted to view inequality through the lens of class conflicted with those who wanted to view it through the lens of race or through gender etc etc. If the Democratic socialists lean too hard on the socialism bit, those people may decide to stick with the capitalist/neoliberal wing of the party.

    There’s a reason why Sanders lost and trying to sell the idea that inequality in wealth is the major source of everyone’s problems during an era of Muslim bans, separations of families at the border, a pardoned Arpaio, NFL national anthem shenanigans and Charlottesville is going to be harder than trying to sell the same idea during the era of the fairly neoliberal Obama.

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    • There’s a reason why Sanders lost and trying to sell the idea that inequality in wealth is the major source of everyone’s problems

      Right. From a political pov, the focus shouldn’t be on wealth inequality, but access to and provision of services. The vast majority of people agree with (broadly) Dem positions on healthcare and education. Making college more affordable, increasing grade-school teacher’s salaries, preserving existing condition protections, etc etc are good policies which don’t need to be justified in terms of wealth inequality. They’re just good policies.

      But, the Dems continually surprise me. They can take a perfectly obvious and viable political message and turn it into something even I recoil from. (Looking at you Chuck Schumer…)

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    • – a more “solidly leftist” party would definitely be smaller. It would need to coalesce around ideology and grow it’s support. The resulting party would be symmetric with the GOP – ideological instead of group interest based. That’s the suggestion in the last section above – a reset.

      Such a new socialist Dem coalition could focus on economic equality and fairness while retaining the social justice planks – just not throwing fuel on that fire all the time. Indeed, one of the gems (with a downside) of the Sanders approach is to shy away from race and group interest and claim it’s all about economic inequality – fix that and other problems fade. It’s the equivalent of James Carville’s famous “It’s the economy stupid”. There’s some promise there. But it’s risky.

      Meanwhile, the problem with your list (NFL, Charlottsville, border issues) is that coalition Dems will need to win back or shave off lost voters who are more ambivalent about these issues, but what do you lose when you make that trade?

      Finally, It’s easy to see how minority groups within the “new party” as I’ve construed it would rise up and demand more salience for their issue. Moreover, the DNC leadership comes from just such group interest triangulating leaders. Even if the Social Dems take over they will be working in the weeds to reassemble the coalition. The result is a bit like McConnell and Ryan scratching their heads over what to do with the freedom caucus. :)

      You can see how all roads lead the Dems back to coalition politics.

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    • There’s a reason why Sanders lost and trying to sell the idea that inequality in wealth is the major source of everyone’s problems during an era of Muslim bans, separations of families at the border, a pardoned Arpaio, NFL national anthem shenanigans and Charlottesville is going to be harder than trying to sell the same idea during the era of the fairly neoliberal Obama.

      I do not think this is correct.

      And I think one of the weird paradoxical symptoms of the ever-recurring relitigation of the 2016 primary is that basically nobody has examined the way Sanders could have done a better job.

      His partisans think that he was perfect and denied the rightful nomination due to Hillarian perfidy, and Hillary’s partisans think he was a washed-up joke Brocialist, but older.

      He started late in the game, never managed to get even left-leaning wonks on his side, wasn’t even a member of the Party and did a lousy job appealing to the establishment (almost tautologically), and had some pretty dubious campaign officials of his own.

      Framing as a fight between the Dirtbag Left and the SJWs or whatever is simply misleading. With a handful of exceptions who are basically just left-wing anti-anti-Trump now [1], both groups have very similar preferences on both social issues and economic issues.

      I’m not saying it will necessarily work, but the gap between the factions is larger than it looks, and the infighting is less brutal than the ’07-’08 Clinton/Obama split that evaporated almost entirely by November 2008.

      [1] They exist, and what a pack of dipshits.

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      • He also performed horribly with women over 40 whether they were people of color or not. These are core demographics in the Democratic Party. They are also largely absent from this site and tend to be ignored in our conversations.

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        • FWIW the Managing Editor of the site is a non-binary person over forty who tends to include woman in their gender makeup most of the time (i get maybe an average of one non-consecutive month a year where that’s just not happening *at all* and there’s exclusively other stuff going on). Pretty sure some of our other women contributors (not all!) are also over 40.

          Numbers-wise I agree with you, but I always feel uncomfortable being like “gee, the voice of women over 40 is largely absent” because it makes me feel like I don’t *count*, and I apply that discomfort to talking about other groups of people we don’t have all that many of either.

          It helps to specify “there aren’t very many of this type of person” vs “largely absent from the discussion”, I find. Less accidentally dismissive.

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      • Framing as a fight between the Dirtbag Left and the SJWs or whatever is simply misleading. With a handful of exceptions who are basically just left-wing anti-anti-Trump now [1], both groups have very similar preferences on both social issues and economic issues.

        Seconded.

        I keep hearing about a war but…I can’t seem to find it. 90% of ‘the war’ was anti-Hillary stuff, as far as I can tell. A candidate war, especially one that is already over, is not the same as policy war.

        For a policy war to be happening, there would have to be some clearly defined positions that differ. Instead, I see…a bunch of general agreement, plus/minus some levels. There’s people who want to fix the ACA, and people who want to fix the ACA with Medicare-for-all. There’s people who want to tax the rich, and people who want to tax the rich _more_. There’s people who want to fight climate change in one way, and people who want to fight climate change in a bunch of ways, including that one.

        The right is actually having several wars right now, although they’ve mostly reduced down to ‘What Trump wants’ vs. ‘What the Republican party always claimed it wanted’. Actual opposing goals and ideologies. Like tariffs, for an obvious example. Or…not being Nazis.

        The left is just ‘Let’s turn this music up to 7’ vs. ‘Let’s turn this music up to 11!’. People generally want the same music, just at different levels. That’s not a ‘war’, no matter how much political writers want it to be one. Individual candidates can argue over that, and sometimes primary voters will pick a 7, sometimes an 11, and sometimes a 3 or a 16, whatever. But that’s not a party war.

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  3. I used to think that ideological purity was a good thing, until we got it.

    I’ve said that here before, but this post anew reminds us that the fracture we are witnessing is in large part because the two political jugs we own cannot contain the political juice we produce, so they either run over or break.

    So, either we make bigger jugs which contain diluted juices, or we make more jugs.

    Personally, I think we would benefit from more jugs; and for that I think we need state level electoral experimentation. Which is all to say that I’m sympathetic to the AOC’s of the world and could see them advancing good if limited policy debate in some areas, but potentially useless as a large movement.

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      • The republican jug broke. :-)

        The push for purity is what leads to each side taking one (and only one) position on any and every item… regardless of ideological coherence.

        So, yeah, the “purity” is that the Democratic party used to also favor tariffs and improving relations with Russia and no sexual mores… but once Republicans enter the space, the Democratic response is to exit (and vice versa)… its maybe better put as a purity of polarity.

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    • Good comment. Along those lines, we’re seeing lots of interesting developments at the state level wrt healthcare access and affordability. Some red states are experimenting with work requirements for Medicaid and restricting the benefits provided. Some blue states are experimenting with Medicaid buy-in programs to increase coverage at affordable rates, and even exploring state-level single-payer systems. So in one sense the overflowing juice is *already* being caught by state level jugs.

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      • That’s potentially hopeful… if it spurs a constituency that elects politicians that adhere to their local successes over and against the demands of the political brand, then that’s one way to get the birth of a new political faction that can either stand on its own, or change the direction of the existing faction/brand.

        I’m personally a less sanguine on long-term success as our electoral processes tend to kill emerging factions more often than not.

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      • Right… I’m on-board with electoral modifications (no need for constitutional changes, yet).

        States can adjust their electoral processes (within various constitutional limits) that would mitigate FPTP distortions. Of course, we’d potentially be adding fun and exciting new electoral distortions… but I’m ok with that at a localized and incremental way.

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    • Personally, I think we would benefit from more jugs; and for that I think we need state level electoral experimentation.

      Yeah – that’s a fantastic point. Our system is locked into Duvergers law and need some innovation to break out.

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        • I think there’s value in regional variation… but taking VA for example, our 11 districts could be collapsed to 4 with 3 members each (save 1) and some sort of ranked and/or run-off voting system might work.

          I mean, NOVA, The Valley, Central VA, and Richmond/Peninsula have legitimate interests that deserve representation that I think we’d loose with a simple state party managed slate.

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            • Assuming that you mean half regional and half by Slate?

              Otherwise I could imagine awesome fights over: the North half and the South half of the state? Or the East and West? Or the middle and the outside?

              But assuming the former and not the latter… if the goal (at least mine) is to have more coalitions then what are you envisioning for the slate? Slates kinda tilt the scales towards well known brands.

              Can someone stand for both a Region and At-large?

              I’m not necessarily against, but I’m wondering what we’re gaining or protecting against by the additional complexity.

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              • One possibility, if you have 10 congress members, you now have 20 – 10 elected by regular FPTP to make sure people can get their Social Security issues fixed and 10 elected by either state wide or regionally.

                One advantage of this is there will be San Francisco Republicans and Oklahoma Democrats likely elected

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              • Yes. District representation makes sense, but so does having at large representation.

                What I’d really like is to somehow have the German system where the slate is proportional to all the votes statewide in the district elections, which would eliminate most incentives for gerrymandering, but it may be too tricky in a US context.

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                • Eh… throw it in the mix. Let’s ask Missouri, Montana, and Massachuesettses to try it out and get back to us.

                  But not FPTP… I’m ready to take FPTP out back and shoot it… er, rather, imprison it for life.

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                  • Allowing for multimember districts require federal legislation, I believe, and increasing the number of Reps definitely does.

                    But yeah I’m cool with actually using states as laboratories for Democracy as a change.

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                    • Hmmn… yes, but as far as I can tell we’re already laboring under a Federal law (Re-apportionment Act of 1929?) that mitigates the constitutional imperative (Article I, Section 2)?

                      Else? Congress11k

                      I’m sure our legal and constitutional scholars could weigh in, but from my layman’s vantage point it seems we’re squarely within non-constitutional changes to adjust both apportionment and districts.

                      In so far as any of this is practical, I’d say altering FPTP to grease factional flexibility in existing districts is an “easy” experiment (which I think is already happening in Maine and elsewhere).

                      And, from a further practical standpoint, decentralized and incremental experiments in electoral reforms is more likely to succeed vs. attempting to get Team Red/Blue to author their decline.

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        • get rid of geographic House districts (which are dumb anyway.)

          Wouldn’t that result in monolithic representation in most states? If House seats were state-wide affairs California might never again elect a conservative Rep.

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          • Proportional representation. If say, California has 55 representatives, you have 5 regions of 11 congress people, all you need is 9% of the vote to get elected. Even in San Francisco, I think the GOP can pull off 9%.

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          • I believe that the proponents for a one district apportionment usually advocate for proportional representation… so maybe one Republican? :-)

            I have a slightly different issue in that who picks the representatives? Or put another way, it rewards party loyalty (higher ranking on the slate) over voting for a particular person. Pluses and Minuses to both.

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    • So, either we make bigger jugs which contain diluted juices, or we make more jugs.

      Or we can just use one jug and put everything in that.

      For real, I think we’re all going to be better off if the Republicans win everything for the next few years. So much of what we see now is the psychological/spiritual trauma of the white upper-middle class libs who expect to be in charge, or a minimum have some kind of In Case Of Emergency Break Glass failsafe, who are having to confront the failure of those expectations.

      As things stand, we’re in some kind of disequilibrium where the libs are banking on the 2018 elections to restore normal working order. But, if we’re in the same situation next year as we are now, those same expectations will seem to be ridiculous on their face, so libs won’t be nearly so likely to harbor them.

      Therefore, if everything works out well, we can enjoy the benefits of a return no normalcy, just not the one that libs are envisioning.

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      • I appreciate that “Political Jugs” is a silly analogy; but the idea of “One Jug to Hold Them All” is beyond silly; so I stand appropriately rebuked.

        I confess that the discomfiture of a certain kind of Neo-Con/Neo-Liberal politico does not cause me undue duress, but pretending that we know what Trumpism is and where it will take us is sanguine in the extreme. I’ve long said that there’s no such thing as Trumpism… only Trump; and I stand by that… there’s no movement, no people, no theory, no guiding principles just Trump. Put not your trust in Trump.

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        • I confess that the discomfiture of a certain kind of Neo-Con/Neo-Liberal politico does not cause me undue duress, but pretending that we know what Trumpism is and where it will take us is sanguine in the extreme. I’ve long said that there’s no such thing as Trumpism… only Trump; and I stand by that… there’s no movement, no people, no theory, no guiding principles just Trump. Put not your trust in Trump.

          This is actually a very interesting line of disagreement. I definitely believe Trumpism is a thing distinct from Trump, in fact at this point I don’t even think it’s particularly obscure even. I cited a piece from Henry Olsen to that effect in a recent comment (ah, here it is):

          https://amgreatness.com/2018/08/03/the-blue-collar-elephant-in-the-room/

          I am not necessarily a true-believer in Trumpism, but I have no fear of it at all. If we could somehow survive eight years of the Obama Administration, we can certainly work with Trumpism.

          Trump the person is a loose cannon, and I expect that there’ll be adverse consequences of his Presidency that we’ll have to deal with for a long time. But even there Trump really isn’t the bigger problem. I think it was the law professor blogger Glenn Reynolds who wrote that the genius of Trump is how his presence exposes the rot of his critics and their institutions.

          For all the cacophony of the our political discourse, most of us have lost sight of the reality that the Trump Administration has in almost all respects been a matter of pedestrian governance. This wall of noise surrounding our politics, yeah some of it is Trump, but the vast majority of it are the psychological traumas of libs projected onto our political discourse as objective reality.

          I hope it is not too long before the light bulbs turns on for American where we can see that we can simply vote Republican and get rid of it. At that point, we can just deal with with our actual problems, and those are significant enough in their own right.

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          • Let’s not mistake defining Trumpism by the things Trump does as a substitute for building a Movement of Trumpism that would have informed the things Trump would do. At the end of his presidency there will be some basket of things that he did and we’ll all say/argue that *this* this was Trumpism. Personally I suspect that it will be a toddler’s pocket of random items; but, the only thing worse than a toddler’s pocket? If it ends up being Jeb!’s (Jeb’s! – can we get a ruling?) pocket of goodies.

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            • Let’s not mistake defining Trumpism by the things Trump does as a substitute for building a Movement of Trumpism that would have informed the things Trump would do.

              I’m not, I was hoping that was pretty clear from the comment and the link I cited.

              In terms of an explicit and sort of ad hoc definition, Trumpism is the belief that economic policy should be oriented towards jobs, wage rates and security over entrepreneurship, and that immigration and trade specifically should be motivated on those terms. Our foreign policy and defense posture should be strong but not adventurous. Also, there’s the idea that the arguments of a debate should be spelled out and adjudicated explicitly instead of through appeals to authority, and also a rejection of identity politics and political correctness.

              Trump is sometimes a very good proponent of Trumpism and other times spastic and incoherent. But by this point, it’s hard to get around the reality that Trumpism is an actual thing.

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              • In terms of an explicit and sort of ad hoc definition, Trumpism is the belief that economic policy should be oriented towards jobs, wage rates and security over entrepreneurship, and that immigration and trade specifically should be motivated on those terms.

                I’d like to know what sort of information has resulted in you concluding that Trumpism favors ‘wage rates and security over entrepreneurship’. Specifically, the ‘wage rates’ part. What, particularly, has he done to increase wages?

                Are you under the impression wages have increased? I mean, they have, but basically the same as under Obama.

                Here is an inflation-adjusted chart:
                https://data.bls.gov/timeseries/CES0500000012

                If anything, it looks like Trump taking office stopped wages from continuing to goup, and then they went down and then back up to where they started and continued to rise normally…but, OTOH, they also leveled off or dropped at random times under Obama, so honestly there’s no rhyme or reason to that, and there are no conclusions we can draw from that.

                What does seem clear is that Trump has not had any success at increasing wages more than they normally increase in a meaningful manner, nor does he seem to have any policies intended to do so…unless you want to count the tariffs.

                And I’m wondering if that’s what you’re thinking will increase wages?

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                • I’d like to know what sort of information has resulted in you concluding that Trumpism favors ‘wage rates and security over entrepreneurship’. Specifically, the ‘wage rates’ part. What, particularly, has he done to increase wages?

                  The big thing that Trump has done is to show us where the light at the end of the tunnel is at relating to the possibility of cultural solidarity in America.

                  Henry Olsen wrote about this today even, in the aftermath of the special election in Ohio.

                  https://amgreatness.com/2018/08/07/ohio-squeaker-shows-gop-has-a-lot-to-learn-about-winning/

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                  • The big thing that Trump has done is to show us where the light at the end of the tunnel is at relating to the possibility of cultural solidarity in America.

                    Are. You. Fucking. Kidding. Me.

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                    • Why would I be kidding? It’s right there in the link.

                      In this election, we bring back the Obama to Trump vote, thereby taking the starch out of the blue wave. At that time, the D’s won’t have the energy or capacity to fight us as aggressively as what’s happened over the last 18 months.

                      Then we’ll recover the Romney to Hillary vote, and the antagonism associated with electoral politics and political discourse in general can be taken down a couple of notches.

                      At that point, we can start to deal with out actual problems, which are significant enough in their own right.

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                      • Supporting Trump to build cultural solidarity is like fighting a fire with gasoline. The idea that you could reduce antagonism with him at the head of an electoral coalition is thoroughly ludicrous, as he himself embodies and extols pointless, thoughtless antagonism, and a substantial fraction of his supporters love him for it.

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                        • I’m with on this one. The only way a new “solidarity” emerges under trump is if he somehow becomes completely irrelevant. As long as anyone at all is heeding his voice the result is discord and chaos – and that’s how he wants it.

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                          • I suspect that he will become less important over time, even if he remains in office.

                            The chaos thing is not at all guaranteed. I think there’s a decent chance that after another year or so of Trump, libs will simply change the channel to the Food Network whenever they see CNN or Fox News on their television. And that is a very valuable and positive development if it occurs.

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                            • Koz,

                              I really doubt it. Some people never tuned in to Trump’s chaos, but those that will tune it out are folks who’ve decided to vote against Trump and the GOP. It has, or will, become a settled issue for them, one which no further evidence – and the accompanying irritation, frustration, hair-pulling insanity of it all – is interesting.

                              I really think you’re a bit confused about how people who don’t bleed Red (like you do ;) view Trump and what he’s done to the GOP. He’s a national embarrassment, a disgrace, a malicious mean-spirited spiteful baffoon. What he’s done to the GOP, tho, terrifies people.

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                              • Some people never tuned in to Trump’s chaos, but those that will tune it out are folks who’ve decided to vote against Trump and the GOP. It has, or will, become a settled issue for them, one which no further evidence – and the accompanying irritation, frustration, hair-pulling insanity of it all – is interesting.

                                Maybe, but even so futility is futility. How much energy, time, voting intention, whatever are those people going to have for politics if they expect regular working order to be restored this November and those expectations aren’t met?

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                        • The idea that you could reduce antagonism with him at the head of an electoral coalition is thoroughly ludicrous, as he himself embodies and extols pointless, thoughtless antagonism, and a substantial fraction of his supporters love him for it.

                          I don’t see why not. Futility is futility, Trump or no Trump.

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                            • Because he has created a coalition that requires antagonism from its leadership for continued success.

                              No, not really.

                              That’s what the link was about. In fact, that was the point of my earlier disagreement with March yesterday or whenever.

                              It was credible in say 2015, that there was no such thing as Trumpism. Just Trump, his histrionics, his failures or successes, the people who are either willing to associate with him or repudiate him.

                              That’s no longer credible now. We can see the voters Trump brought to the polls, and what motivates them. Whoever is going to be able to add those to voters, and not lose what they already had, is going to win. As Olsen points out, those voters are in no way the GOP base. We just happened to be blessed with the gargantuan stupidity of Team Blue that they don’t want them.

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                              • We know they’re a crucial part of the coalition for many reasons.

                                That doesn’t mean they’re the whole coalition. There are other elements.

                                But you need all the crucial parts of a coalition to win. Even if the antagonistic idiocy only motivates 10-20% of the Party, you can’t win elections without them, and if you keep winning elections with them (remains to be seen) there’s no way to keep them onside when/if you decide to dial back the rhetoric and policy post-Trump.

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                                • That doesn’t mean they’re the whole coalition. There are other elements.

                                  Surprising no one, I am not willing to be so generous.

                                  Even for the hypothetical GOP voter who has no racial resentment, but likes, say, gun rights, abortion bans, or tax cuts so much they are willing to turn a blind eye to the evil that Trump inflicts, I think it is entirely fair to accuse them of a depraved indifference the fate of other people that is functionally indistinguishable from racism.

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                                  • I think it is entirely fair to accuse them of a depraved indifference the fate of other people that is functionally indistinguishable from racism.

                                    Let me translate that into what the Trump voter hears:

                                    If you don’t make MY issue the priority, you’re a racist! Other people are way more important than You! Your issues aren’t important, your jobs aren’t important, YOU aren’t important, what’s important is my issue!

                                    No, it doesn’t matter if Obama did largely the same thing, just with less Drama. It doesn’t even matter if you voted for him.

                                    I’ve invoked the word racism and that ends all arguments, you have No Choice but to do what I want!

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                                  • I think that accusation is fair, too, but the point I was making to is that no matter what you think of the go-along-to-get-along part of the coalition, the fact that a significant fraction of it responds to Trump’s antagonism and overt bigotry really constrains the ability of the rest of the GOP to simultaneously win elections and move away from antagonism and overt bigotry.

                                    I don’t really disagree with the linked Olsen piece that the Trumpish Ur-fascism isn’t sufficient for the GOP to win, but it sure as hell seems to be necessary.

                                    And as long as it is, no divides are getting healed. The GOP and its affiliated media institutions will drift further and further into outright white nationalism [1], and the Left will continue to be more (and entirely justifiably) horrified and enraged, and lash out with more or less precision in counter-reaction.

                                    [1] Something that’s been happening with both Laura Ingraham and Tucker Carlson, along with many lesser lights at Fox.

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                              • If there’s Trumpism without Trump it’ll be comprised of rabidly ignorant (self-identified) rugged-individualist pussy-grabbers and racists who want everyone to get off their lawn or they’ll shoot ’em. I’m not saying there isn’t a faction of those folks. I’m not even saying certain candidates haven’t been pandering to them for quite a while now. They predate Trump.

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                                • If there’s Trumpism without Trump it’ll be comprised of rabidly ignorant (self-identified) rugged-individualist pussy-grabbers and racists who want everyone to get off their lawn or they’ll shoot ’em.

                                  Blind, unreasoning hatred,

                                  No, I know it makes libs feel good to think this way, but it just ain’t so. Read the fcuking link, you and Mike both.

                                  This isn’t 2015 any more. We know what those voters want. If you can talk with some credibility about your intentions to bring jobs and raise wages to their communities, they will absolutely give you a fair hearing. In no way are they committed to vote Republican, either for Trump or any other. In fact, in their gut they’d probably rather vote D, and have several times in our lifetime.

                                  To be honest, I feel like a moron even bothering to explain this shit. In an ironic way, the worst outcome for me is if you actually listened to what I’m writing and took it to heart. If push comes to shove, it works well enough for me for you to keep on going, drive yourselves out into the political desert and run out of gas there.

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                            • Guns!, Money!, Moats!, God! were the party before Trump and they’ll be the party after he’s gone. By keeping the camera focused on himself, he’s constantly letting people know he’s working for them.

                              Different parts of the country have… not so much different values as different priorities.

                              For example California has lots of people who think sacrificing some jobs, especially jobs in other states, in the name of the environment is perfectly fine (there are enough jobs to go around). Other states have the majority disagree.

                              This is going to generate conflict, other people’s concerns are mostly reasonable. Pretending that “all reasonable people believe what I do and anyone who doesn’t is deplorable” is going to make things worse.

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                                  • Even regional might not be sufficient. I’m fond of Colorado College’s annual state-by-state conservation survey of the Mountain West states. The differences between adjacent Colorado and Wyoming are pretty stark. Eg, 59% of Wyoming residents approved of the Trump administration’s handling of issues around land, water, and wildlife. In Colorado, only 36% approved. Interestingly, people in both states disagree strongly with the statement “Elected officials in Washington, DC generally reflect my values”: 82% in Wyoming disagree, 78% in Colorado disagree.

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                                    • Eg, 59% of Wyoming residents approved of the Trump administration’s handling of issues around land, water, and wildlife.

                                      Yet on specific issues they seem to go the other way. From the Star Tribune:

                                      66 percent consider the loss of fish and wildlife habitat to be a serious concern, up from 50 percent last year.

                                      Cowboy State residents were also overwhelmingly supportive of national monuments, presidential designations that have come under fire by Trump and Zinke.

                                      Ninety-five percent of Wyomingites agreed that national monuments were “important places to be conserved for future generations” and 88 percent agreed that they help “the economy of nearby communities.” Just 22 percent thought that monuments tied up too much land that “could be put to other uses.

                                      Fifty-two percent of voters in Wyoming thought those cuts [to Bears Ears] were a bad idea, while 35 supported the move.

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                                  • IMHO most voters have little clue what “economic growth” even is, and these polls would have a lot more meaning if it was phrased something like “are you willing to sacrifice jobs”, or even “are you willing to sacrifice your area’s jobs or maybe even your own”.

                                    Further, Opinion Polls are not markets. I’m in favor of getting myself two new cars, I’m not willing to spend the money because I’d be spending money.

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                                    • or even “are you willing to sacrifice your area’s jobs or maybe even your own”.

                                      Might as well flip it the other way and ask people the opposite question: if your job weren’t at risk from this provision, would you support it?

                                      I also imagine that anyone whose job is actually jeopardized by opening up/closing down (say) drilling in a wilderness area (or whatever) has already baked that self-interest into their answer.

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                                      • Might as well flip it the other way and ask people the opposite question: if your job weren’t at risk from this provision, would you support it?

                                        I doubt many people are self aware enough to distance themselves like that.

                                        But… “your area’s jobs” is pretty darn close to “economic growth” in terms of actual definition and it’d bring home exactly what the trade off is.

                                        Even “some other area’s jobs” would be better.

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                                          • This is part of the asymmetry in our partisanship. People are often ideologically conservative (i.e. I think people should earn their way. I want a limited government. etc). This is what pundants mean when the say “America is right of center”. But they respond operationally as liberal on a host of issues (i.e. Keep national parks pristine). And this is what pundits mean when they say “America is clearly moving to the left.” And oddly both things are true – both sides can stake a claim to an electoral majority.

                                            The 2 things are not dissonant per se because a high percentage of people do not hue to pragmatic policy choices based on ideology. They do it based on practical considerations bereft of “is this a conservative/liberal position”.

                                            In other words, they are more likely to ask, “do I want the park where I camp to overrun by drilling or logging?” rather than decry “corporate policies that are ruining our environment.”

                                            Note this is true of the 80% – the low info, just-living-my-life voters. It’s clearly not true of the readers of this blog. :)

                                            This asymmetry is a major premise of the book by Grossmann and Hopkins mentioned above.

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                                            • I very much wish I could say I understood that comment. :)

                                              I was pointing an apparent inconsistency in the presented data: that

                                              1. 59% of Wyoming residents approved of the Trump administration’s handling of issues around land, water, and wildlife

                                              seems to be in conflict with

                                              2. at rates of 66%, 95%, 88%, and 52% across 4 issues Wyomingites support policies which the Trump admin rejects and is actively undermining.

                                              My own best-guess at reconciling this (apparent) inconsistency is to introduce the role partisan identification plays in our judgment of politicians (not policies). From what I gather in your comment, tho, you’re saying that 1 and 2 actually *aren’t* inconsistent. ??? Is that right?

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                                              • Ha. Your example is a good one. I would never say these 2 views are “consistent”. What I’m trying to say (imperfectly) is that they do not result in the cognitive dissonance – the internal intellectual struggle for resolution – that high info elite voters think aught to be there.

                                                As a conceit let’s assume that point 1 is a proxy for support of Trump himself. So I’m reading it as, “do you support Trump on the environment” vs. “do you support these specific actions and policies”. In other words, they support Trump but have problems with specifics – and these 2 things seem to be in conflict yes?

                                                We thinkers (those of us who follow politics as an intellectual pursuit) expect voters to use reason when analyzing positions – to noodle them out. Consequently (or “Converse”ly :) we expect there to be a firestorm in the head of someone who is inclined both to support Trump on ideological basis (he’s the “type” I want), and support policies that Trump rejects (these are the activities of gov. I approve of). This is the old liberal trope of “why do working class people vote against their interests”.

                                                I’m suggesting that searching for such dissonance is a fool’s errand. Cognitive dissonance doesn’t often emerge within the framework of low info voter decision making. They have a perfectly reasonable (to them) disconnect between a symbolic “world view” where Trump may be a poster boy, and pragmatic, operational “policy” positions where they may want existing regulations enforced. Confronted with the “fact” that Trump may be the architect of the demise of said policy they will have little problem dismissing it using a handy permission structure (He has to do it to please thus and so, it’s only temporary, he has a larger plan, this other thing is more important etc.). Mundus Volt Decipi – the world winks at deception.

                                                Their responses are intuitive and they don’t necessarily sense the distance – the lack of “consistency” between these two poles as you describe. It’s not keeping them up at night.

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                                                • Hmmm. I thought you might give me some hope that low information conservative voters had internalized the lesson they supposedly learned during the Trump campaign about rejecting politicians who lie to them and institute policies they don’t want. But no.

                                                  So, thanks for clearing that up for me. I guess. (throws up a bit in mouth)

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                                                    • Ehhh. Low information Dem voters during Obama’s first run (as an example) got policy pretty much mapping onto expectations (healthcare reform, consumer protections, bank regulation, tax increases on wealthy to fund social programs, etc etc) not almost entirely divergent from them. Which is one reason the issue of the environment is so interesting: most *conservatives* want more restrictions, regulations, etc., than current policy, even as Trump is rolling it all back. The lesson to me? Conservatives are a faith-based political party immune to empirical evidence. :) (Just kidding. Really!)

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                                                    • Ha – well to be clear (and keep my centrist credentials) there are just as many “low info” voters on the left as on the right.

                                                      I’ve become pretty well convinced that the vast majority of voters are basically ‘zero information’ voters, and they are motivated by things almost completely disconnected from any sort of logical decision-making process.

                                                      At some point we need to realize that politics is basically sports. There’s a) a very small percentage of people who follow it ‘intelligently’ and can make accurate predictions and whatnot, and has things they would like to happen in it. And everyone else is either b) a team loyalist with a dedicated team that basically repeat whatever they are told, by promoters, about their team and other teams (aka, the base) c) someone who hops on bandwagons when a team seems to be having a good seasons (aka, swing voters), or d) literally doesn’t care about it at all.

                                                      And (a) is probably about 2% of the population. (And most people here.) We keep pretending some others are in (a), we have a very large fascination in pretending that (c) is, but they simply are not. Or (d) were in (a) but got disgruntled. No. They are not. And a lot of people pretending to be (a) are (b)!

                                                      Trump made this _really_ obvious because, well, the (a) people on his side completely freaked out, and then freaked out some more when it because obvious that they were a lot more scarce than they thought. I’m not saying all every (a) must be a #nevertrumper, it’s clear there are some ‘Trump supporters’ who have made decisions that putting up with him is worth it for policy outcomes. The (a) classification is not ‘Are they right?’, just ‘Did they actually put any serious thought in their position?’. Some did. But the majority of voters for him…did not.

                                                      Heck, a lot of the people who voted _against_ Trump did so for somewhat lesser reasons like ‘The man is an asshole’, instead of the blatantly obvious (to me) fact that the man simply could not be president due to his business ties and overseas dealings and how he tended to act towards them and really obvious money-laundering ties. Like, he was completely _incapable_ of being president, the man could literally be pressured by foreign countries due to his _known_ business dealings, and who the hell knows what else there is? This, I figured, trumped any personal shortcomings. It’s like electing a goat to the presidency…who cares about the goat’s personality? But…everyone seemed to hate the goat’s personality, which…I mean, yeah, the goat is a fascist jerk, fair enough, and probably shouldn’t be elected president, a job that requires diplomacy and ability to lead. But ‘incapable of being trusted with the office’ seems to win in my book.

                                                      This means both sides are basically correct when they accuse voters on the other side for voting for dumb reasons. Democrats are right that Republicans vote against their interests, Republicans are right that Democrats are voting just how they feel without any actual thought to practicality. Or whatever. This doesn’t mean there _aren’t_ good reasons to vote for a specific side, I have a side I think is better, but those _aren’t_ the reasons people are using. They have never been.

                                                      The entire way we (a)s think politics works is basically bogus.

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                                                      • – Interesting.

                                                        It’s clear that voters do not vote based on clear eyed information. They do so based on intuition and follow up their intuition with post hoc justifications (a la Haidt), conveniently supplied by the campaigns. Dozens – probably hundreds – of studies point this out.

                                                        Moreover any startling or new information that rises in salience quickly fades in impact over a short period of time. That’s one of the reasons Access Hollywood had a limited affect while the Comey “reopening” of the email case had an outsized effect in 2016. Information effects are temporal, intuition is intractable – and it’s the intuition that matters.

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                                          • 1) If the reality is that the people of Wyoming overwhelmingly favor making trees a priority over jobs, they have all sorts of local levers to pull and don’t need the federal government.

                                            2) It’s possible this is a nonsense survey, either because it doesn’t make it clear the trade offs or because they’re asking/taking an urban sub-set of the population and then extrapolating that onto the rurals.

                                            3) There should be serious concerns between the extreme popularity this supposedly has and how the locals affected by this sort of thing can be opposed to the point of taking up arms against the gov. There are times this sort of thing is appropriate (building a national nuclear waste storage site), most others it’s not, i.e. Tyranny of the majority.

                                            Unlike a single point site like a nuke waste site (or the top of Mount Rushmore) some of these “national monuments” are bigger than many states and cover the bulk of the state affected.

                                            Quoting Wiki about “Tyranny of the majority”.

                                            The scenarios in which tyranny perception occurs are very specific, involving a sort of distortion of democracy preconditions:

                                            Centralization excess: when the centralized power of a federation make a decision that should be local…

                                            Abandonment of rationality: when, as Tocqueville remembered, a decision “which bases its claim to rule upon numbers, not upon rightness or excellence”….

                                            It seems abusive to let the people of California and New York decide they’re willing to sacrifice jobs in Wyoming in the name of preventing economic development, a policy they’d never tolerate if it were to be inflicted on themselves.

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                                            • 1) If the trees are on federal land, they kinda do need the feds. “40.7 million acres of federal mineral estate in Wyoming” and half that in public lands (which includes forested areas) according to the BLM home page. And that’s just the BLM before we even start looking at National Parks, National Forests, etc which are usually administered by other depts. From what I remember, and if I’m wrong hopefully Michael Cain will correct me, Wyoming is basically a) empty (600,000 people on nearly 98,000 square miles) b) majority-owned, landwise, by the feds.
                                              2) As I think you’ve said to me on many occasions, paraphrased because I don’t remember it exactly: Well, but this is the data we HAVE, so if you don’t like it, maybe find me some data with better details from a more methodologically thorough source. Otherwise I’m gonna stick with this because I’m a numbers kinda guy.
                                              3) What incidents are you talking about here? To the best of my knowledge, the only one like that comes to mind was the Bundys, who were mad that the feds wanted to be paid the rent on *federal land* and took to arms to demand they didn’t have to pay it. I would think that *I* would be way more supportive of people taking up arms against their landlords than you would, as a general rule, and I’m not very supportive of it at all (maybe 1.5 percent supportive in the best possible scenario, less than that for this instance). Plus it was in Nevada. Or are you thinking of something else?

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                                              • PS In case anyone is wondering 98,000 square miles = about 62.7 million acres. Not a lot of land the feds don’t have their hooks into… granted I’m not sure how much overlap there is between the 40 million acres of FME and the 20 million of public lands. Nor how much non-BLM federal land there is (even if the parks ARE blm, there’s still military bases, etc., to account for).

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                                              • Hey! I found a useful table!
                                                https://ballotpedia.org/Federal_land_ownership_by_state (from a congressional research service report. <3)
                                                here's the full report if anyone's curious: https://fas.org/sgp/crs/misc/R42346.pdf , from 2017.

                                                half of wyoming belongs to the feds.

                                                AND that doesn't count land that only has federal mineral estate claims, when the surface belongs to someone else, even though those federal mineral estate claims, being subsurface, are relevant to saving trees or not saving them.

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                                              • Dark,

                                                what Maribou said. I couldn’t have responded any better. Especially to point 2. Your reluctance to accept data inconsistent with your ideological and policy preferences is sort of stunning to me.

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                                                  • To be fair, Wyoming is kind of hard to grasp if it isn’t literally “right over there”. I didn’t understand it at all until I moved to the west.

                                                    Based on my time on the staff for the Colorado legislature, I feel quite comfortable saying that in any of the 11 contiguous western states, the legislature will bang its head against the feds over some matter that ought to be simple every year. It’s difficult when the largest by far land- and water-rights-owner in your state can tell you to go pound sand.

                                                    I have been told that the unofficial motto at the Western Governors Association is “Do you know what those d*ckheads at BLM did now?”

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                                                • @dark-matter FWIW if the survey actually used the phrase “approved of the handling of”, based on my limited conversations with Wind River Valley residents about the blackfoot ferret projects up there, which were directed by federal biologists and federal wildlife manager types, they may not be interpreting that as “agree with the policies of” at all.

                                                  Like, what really mattered to them about the administration’s behavior at that point (2009) was *how they were treated as people* and the respect that was shown (or not shown) to them by the various government agents who came in and did things. They didn’t like the one they had until … some or other year, then they did like the next fella, and face-to-face *respect*, which is not at all the same as civility of language, was what they were trying to evaluate the people on. According to rural Westerner standards, which is not always culturally transparent to folks elsewhere (I still screw it up sometimes and I *grew up in the country and mostly overlap with them respect-wise*.) Even though the guy they didn’t like seems to have let them run rough-shod over him and the guy they did like was making them deal with stuff they didn’t like one bit at the time (“though it worked out”)…. it really had little to do with their policy opinions at all.

                                                  It’s entirely possible they “approve of the Trump administration’s handling of” because they “approve of the guy who seems to be in charge of this stuff in my part of the valley” right now, even if that guy is doing all kinds of stuff the Trump administration doesn’t even like, in defiance of said administration (because when you live that far from D.C., there’s only ONE federal gov’t no matter what)… OR he’s doing stuff the people don’t like, but he’s a stand-up kinda guy so they approve of how he’s handling things because just disagreeing about what gets done isn’t what matters to them, they’ve been disagreeing with the feds on principle for the last several decades.

                                                  That’s my take on it anyway. Could be a wrong guess, doesn’t account for any supposed “city” folk in Laramie or Cheyenne, but it seems true to me.

                                                  BTW, I would just like to point out one facet of Laramie that brought home the point to me that a university town in Wyoming is a little culturally different from a university town in, say, Colorado. Or Massachusetts.

                                                  The librarians there took me to the local hipster bar. It was, in many respects, a hipster bar. Fancy brews, curlicued writing on the chalkboard, literary accoutrements, etc. However:
                                                  1) There were many many people in there drinking PBR and wearing trucker hats, but as far as I could tell, NONE of them ironically. (The hipsters here are quite clearly ironical, and so those I’ve seen elsewhere in the country, as well as in Canada, so I think my irony-dar is pretty good.)
                                                  2) The barback was shirtless, bearded, wiry, and his *entire* upper body was covered with tattoos. Like a sleeve, but hipbone to Adam’s apple.
                                                  It’s… not exactly the case that they could’ve just skewed the sample by not talking to the ranchers enough.

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                                              • @stillwater
                                                (Sorry to take this long and be brief, RL is getting busy).

                                                Well, but this is the data we HAVE, so if you don’t like it, maybe find me some data with better details from a more methodologically thorough source. Otherwise I’m gonna stick with this because I’m a numbers kinda guy.

                                                Let’s take a step back and talk about “polling”.

                                                Good polling has the polster attempt to be neutral in terms of presentation, i.e. they try to gather data without affecting the outcome. It has large data sets and serious money backing it. It has the polster’s personal ass on the line because whatever he’s trying to measure will be measured in the real world.

                                                So all those polls claiming HRC was going to win the election? The best of that was “good polling” (yes, really), the rest showcased how hard/rare “good” polling is.

                                                Bad polling is the opposite of all that… and the result of bad polling isn’t so much “bad data” as “propaganda”.

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                              • Oh I see why conservatives who don’t go for Trump’s brand of antagonistic idiocy go along with him with more or less reluctance.

                                I’m not saying I approve, but is it hard to understand? Not at all.

                                But it’s not a tradeoff which is going to foster more unity and national solidarity.

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                  • The big thing that Trump has done is to show us where the light at the end of the tunnel is at relating to the possibility of cultural solidarity in America.

                    ‘shown us where the light at the end of the tunnel is at relating to the possibility of cultural solidarity in America’ is what you think Trump has done to increase wages?

                    Please explain how ‘wages’ relates to ‘cultural solidarity’. Or, ‘showing how cultural solidarity is possible’.

                    (redacted – maribou)

                    Everyone else: Guys, this is why, when Koz says (redacted – maribou) stuff with no justification (redacted – maribou) you ask him exactly one question on that. One question. (redacted – maribou)

                    (redacted – maribou)

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                    • As should be obvious from how I just redacted your comment, that really wasn’t appropriate for this commenting section. I actually thought about cutting it a lot more than that but I decided a *small* amount of invective – way less than you used originally – was allowable considering your perspective on his response.

                      Do it again and you’ll be suspended (length determined by gravity of offense, allowing that subjectivity means it will also be affected by the annoyance level of the moderator).

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                      • What?

                        I mean, I can get the first redacted paragraph being a problem. If jokingly implying that commentors are not normal human beings but instead science-fictional things is now out of bounds in the comments, sorry, I’ll stop doing that. I’ve been joking about that WRT Koz for years, didn’t know it wasn’t okay anymore.

                        And the last two paragraphs you cut at the end is me pointing out Koz tends to do a very specific thing in discussions, and how to avoid helping that. I get how there might be a problem there of me generalizing. Except he then responded by saying I tend to do a certain thing in discussions. Which you didn’t redact, despite actually editing out a specific word. Or does he get a pass under the theory I started it? I don’t mean that as a joke, I mean is that actually how it works? If he’d just said that by itself, it wouldn’t be acceptable? Or no? Was it because I didn’t direct the comment toward him but towards others? Somewhat confused there.

                        But it’s the first phrase you redacted in the middle paragraph I cannot fathom. I normally would obviously avoid saying things that have been redacted, like I did above, but I literally cannot comprehend what you found wrong with me saying ‘when Koz says very unbelievable stuff’.

                        Is the word ‘unbelievable’ towards someone’s position no longer okay? The thing is, I picked that word very carefully not to be insulting, not to be over any line. Same with ‘weird’ in the last sentence of that paragraph. I didn’t even call his position ‘false’, I specifically picked a word that was an opinion.

                        Honestly, your marked redactions make that sentence look _worse_, like I’m calling his positions stupid or crazy or even worse, instead of what I actually called them. I’d really rather you just delete that sentence then leave it up.

                        And on top of that, I’m not sure why you’re okay with me telling people _how_ to respond to Koz when he says [things I have no idea how you want me to describe] but not _why_ they should respond that way! Or if it’s okay to tell them why, and I was just uncivil about it.

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                        • You were being very rude/uncivil in how you talked about him as an individual, and the level of completely unnecessary analyze-Koz-vs-argue-with-Koz you had going on. Honestly I don’t remember more than that because I’ve had a lot going on today, my middle-term memory is crap. I redacted until it didn’t feel disproportionate, then put a little back. Perhaps it would have been better to leave less in – I briefly considered it but TBH I was trying to do about 5 other things so I didn’t give it a ton of thought.

                          And yes, given that you started it, I gave him a lot of latitude to respond.

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                    • Guys, this is why, when Koz says…

                      David, cut the crap. You’ve done this move before, where you think I’m being nonresponsive or incoherent. I ain’t. You just ain’t payin’ attention.

                      To be honest, I’m not pearl-clutching at the (hey, we don’t use that word in that way here but no harm, no foul – redacted – maribou) shit but I do wish you’d fcuking pay attention instead. You have, in the past, routinely written multi-thousand word comments here on this site. I don’t mind that, but I don’t do it. People probably aren’t paying attention for that long, and even if they are, I probably should be doing other stuff anyway. If something needs to be elaborated on, for the most part I’m willing to elaborate on it.

                      In this case, yes David, the most important thing Trump has done relating to the economy (at least wages, taxes might be different) has been to prioritize jobs, wages, and economic security in economic policy, in a way that’s credible to those Americans who are going to swing their votes on that basis.

                      That doesn’t have to mean that Obama or W or Nancy Pelosi all think that wage rate outcomes are irrelevant as a consideration of economic policy (though it could). What it does mean is that for these voters, none of them have any credibility so it doesn’t make any difference what they say. Donald Trump, for good or ill, legitimately represents the fiduciary interest of the American electorate ahead of any plausible rival at this point.

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      • For real, I think we’re all going to be better off if the Republicans win everything for the next few years.

        For those of us who live in the American West, air quality, pressure on water supplies, and overall health of the vast federal land holdings will all be significantly worse under current national Republican policies. As I’ve said before, with tongue only partially in cheek, President Trump looks like he’s secretly helping me with my plan for western secession.

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        • I’m not entirely certain he’s actually aware of anything west of Ohio. Like, he’s been west of Ohio, but the only way he had any awareness of where he was was a Foley file or the like. He wouldn’t be able to look around and get a rough feel for where he was.

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  4. What the Democratic party isn’t already raging socialist commies? Someone must not have mentioned it to the right.

    I am skeptical about the reality of this “threat” for an assortment of reasons. As Murali noted the far left is splintered in a manner the far right isn’t. Fushionism may be dead on the right but it’s after effect is that each of the rights sub groups still have the language to interrelate their priority with the other priorities of different right wing factions. The left factions don’t have that same language.

    Also are we just pretending Connor Lamb doesn’t exist? Nor the new young moderates like him? I suppose we must since they present a gaping hole in this dems shift left and shrink the tent narrative.

    Finally i am not sure this doesn’t help the centrists. Having some wacky nationalize medicare for all schemes rattling around out there;along with the trump republicans revealing that their own position remains the old libertarian “go broke and croak” standbye makes the centrist offerings look pretty good in contrast for example.

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    • I think that’s really a great question for the Democratic party, “Does Connor Lamb Exist?”

      And its corollary, how many Connor Lambs can we (er, you) elect before we have to ask whether the Democratic Party exists?

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      • Or Senator Jones? Frankly my impulse is to snark and say the number of moderates we can elect and remain ourselves as a party is infinite since the crazy left wing Democratic Party is mostly a figment of right wing media imagination.

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    • Connor Lamb – well that remains to be seen and duplicated. He seems more of an outlier to me. I like your point about letting the extreme plans of left and right for health policy play out and butt heads leaving room for moderate policy making in the middle. Could be… but I’ll have to think about that some more. ;)

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        • I mean, Doug Jones is pro-Medicare expansion, pro-choice, etc. Again, he’s pro-gun (I think), but he’s not exactly Richard Shelby or anything. If every Democrat “moderate” is pro-Medicaid expansion, pro-choice, anti-Social Security cuts, etc., I, as a social democrat will be perfectly happy.

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        • He is also anti Pelosi and he doesn’t talk like a coastal liberal. But really what I would love to see are some examples of the national party sinking local Dem candidates for being insufficiently liberal.

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          • I mean, he’s anti-Pelosi, but will likely either –

            a.) support a speaker candidate that has no chance (Tim Ryan) or
            b.) If Pelosi doesn’t run, support a speaker candidate with nearly the same views as Pelosi, but who won’t be from Sod – I mean, San Francisco.

            Also, yeah. If anything, most of the Bernie fans I know are upset at the Democrat’s supporting too many “moderates” in primaries over liberals.

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    • I think you may be right. I’m watching the gubernatorial race in my own state with great interest. The Democrats rejected the establishment candidate in the primary for Ben Jealous, who is by all accounts more in the mold of AOC. His opponent, Larry Hogan, is the only type of Republican who could ever win a statewide election in Maryland i.e. one that is almost anti-ideological. There are signs that important chunks of the state Democratic establishment are either aligining behind Hogan and/or only giving the most tepid support to Jealous. If Hogan wins I think it’ll send a pretty clear message about who is still in charge and where the high watermark sits.

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  5. Democrats in disarray is a pundit cliche that I would like to go away!

    Yes the rhyme was intentional:)

    Seriously, I am on Chip’s side here. I am just not seeing it. Yes the Democratic base is moving to the left but Crowley was a man out of time in his district and he never faced a serious challenge in his electoral career. But even the so-called moderates are anti cuts to entitlement and pro increase to health care access.

    I think everyone in my party sees the main goal is getting majorities in the government.

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    • How is Medicare for all a hairbrained idea?

      I think this article from Vox is illuminating

      https://www.vox.com/policy-and-politics/2018/8/3/17636430/ohio-special-election-2018-democratic-socialism-danny-oconnor-troy-balderson

      Yes Democratic voters in a deep red district in Ohio are supporting a moderate who scoffs at Medicare for all as an empty slogan. But they also don’t think that Medicare for All is horrible. One 81 year old voter called it basic compassion.

      Matt Y also wrote that Democratic centerists are out of ideas and running on fumes. I think this is right. They overlearned the lessons of the 80s and 90s and are now deeply stuck. Plus they love themselves some Morgan money. There is a blatant careerism in these types that younger Democrats won’t put up with.

      AOC is 28 and I think speaks more to the experience of younger voters in the party than Rahm Emmanuel. Plus she is more likely to advocate policies that help them.

      A lot of Dems moving to the left essays feel like people worried about their taxes going up.

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      • If health care above a certain point is a positional good, you’re going to see that only the top X% have access to The Good Stuff.

        Thinking that The Good Stuff will be Available to All is the harebrained idea.

        Personally, I think that Medicaid for All is achievable. I just don’t think that MFA *in practice* will look like Medicaid looks like now.

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            • Proposals are mostly moving in the opposite direction.

              Liz Warren’s new plan is basically the Swiss plan.

              In principle I like it better. In practice I worry that Medicare for All is less likely to be broken by the courts and GOP White Houses trying to wreck the shit out of it every 4-8 years.

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              • Bingo. I’ve said it before. I’m fine with any Western European or Japanese plan. Throw a dart, spin a wheel, whatever.

                When it comes to political reality, universal benefits are hard to get rid off.

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                • This is possible, but weird and counterintuitive to me.

                  I do want to actually have some internal consensus about what the party is gonna go with coming out of the 2020 primary, which means having people propose a bunch of plans and letting them fight it out.

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          • Would the endgame of both end up being in more or less the same place?

            I’m kinda thinking that they would.

            And we’d quickly find out that what we wanted was *NOT* that. What we actually wanted was what we have now only paid for by the gummint.

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              • Do they poll approval of insurance companies? I imagine that they’re somewhere around “Congress”. It’s pretty much inertia and government capture that is keeping something else from kicking in.

                As health care gets even more and more expensive, though, we’re going to see more and more support for what we have now only paid for by the gummint.

                And some people will be better off and others will be worse off and then we get to deal with the issues of whether the people who are worse off are more likely to vote than the people who are better off. (And there’s not even a good way to measure that… if 100 people are marginally worse off and 1 person’s life is saved who would otherwise have died? That’s pretty good! But I wouldn’t want to have a vote that involves those same 101 people about whether we should go back to the old way…)

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            • What we actually wanted was what we have now only paid for by the gummint.

              Agreed.

              The problem is that I, personally, am paying too much for HC.

              Ergo I should be subsidized… just like everyone else.

              So all we need is a way for everyone to subsidize everyone.

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              • The problem is that I, personally, am paying too much for HC.

                No, that’s not the problem. That’s how the problem is phrased by people who oppose the proposed solutions. Most of the problems motivating people to support single-payer (which ain’t gonna happen, maybe we get two-tier universal tho) are objective: individuals can’t afford the premiums; individuals can’t afford their deductibles; reducing the total cost of healthcare in the US*; preserving Medicaid and Medicare; etc.

                *You’ve cited a study claiming that the total price tag for single payer is $33 trillion over ten years. What you haven’t quoted are passages in the same study claiming that that price tag is slightly lower than total cost projections of the current system even tho more people are covered.

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                • Most of the problems motivating people to support single-payer are objective: individuals can’t afford the premiums; individuals can’t afford their deductibles; reducing the total cost of healthcare in the US*; preserving Medicaid and Medicare; etc.

                  So it’s more “”I, personally and objectively, am paying too much for HC”?

                  IMHO the bulk of our current problem is cost, not coverage. Reduce cost and many doors open, including expanding coverage. However reducing cost is going to be politically painful because it intrinsically means burning down well entrenched special interests, i.e. firing millions of people and eliminating businesses.

                  Expanding coverage is ethical, popular, and strikes a deep cord into various people’s ideologies (paying for it is a different issue). Reducing cost is very painful if we’re going to use a command+control model. So most efforts at reform are sold as “reducing costs” but then end up just expanding coverage. Bush’s drug benefit and Obamacare are good examples.

                  What you haven’t quoted are the passages in that study which show that that price tag is slightly lower than total cost in the current system even tho more people are covered.

                  I wasn’t the one who brought in the study. IMHO these sorts of studies are shockingly unrealistic when/where they expect our political establishment to eliminate Trillions of dollars of the economy in order to fund their utopia(*). It’s like death panels, I view them as a good and needed thing if a single payer system is going to work, but I also view it as so totally impossible because of politics that anything which depends on it is also unworkable.

                  If the supporters of “Medicare for all” can’t bring themselves to describe how death panels and burning down Trillions of dollars of the economy are good things, then this can’t possibly work as described.

                  How do you intend to squeeze inefficiency from the system? Establish [happy spin name] panels which prevent hip replacements and cancer treatments for bedridden 90 year olds with dementia?

                  (*)There are other problems on top of this. Shifting Trillions is intrinsically messy and it’s also hard to avoid inappropriate cultural comparisons, i.e. taking one aspect of someone else’s HC system is unlikely to give us the same results, but that’s often the underlying reasoning.

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                  • So it’s more “”I, personally and objectively, am paying too much for HC”?

                    People in the US objectively DO pay too much for healthcare, even when they receive it, certainly when they pay premiums but don’t get care, especially when they pay out of pocket because the deductible on their overpriced premium is too high, but not necessarily when they can’t get health insurance or health care at all.

                    Given the per-capita expenditure we should be leading the world in every healthcare metric. But we, like, don’t. For example

                    Our iinfant mortality rate is a national embarrassment

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                    • Given the per-capita expenditure we should be leading the world in every healthcare metric.

                      Laughably wrong.

                      First world HC systems are good enough that Healthcare metrics no longer measure healthcare, they measure the lifestyle of the population.

                      The USA is the fattest, more murderous, most multicultural first world nation, these drive most of our stats.

                      For example Infant mortality is influenced by SIDS (sudden infant death syndrome), and we do very poorly on that metric. The way to prevent SIDS is to have the baby sleep on it’s back, so “cost” is hardly the problem.

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                      • Dark, I really don’t understand why you’re so committed to denying basic facts. The US leads the world in percapita spending and our healthcare comparatively sucks. New Zealand, which spends 1/3 of the US percapita, ranked 4th, while the US ranked last of eleven countries in the study. Canada ranked 9th (two ahead of the US) at half the percapita cost.

                        For the life of me I don’t know why you’re defending such an abysmal, horrible, wasteful system.

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                        • our healthcare comparatively sucks

                          The big metrics in your “comparative study” at which we’re terrible at are… (universal) access and “equity”.

                          So yes, if we had universal HC we’re score much better in studies which judged us on whether or not we have universal HC. Of course we’d still be fat and murderous but whatever.

                          For the life of me I don’t know why you’re defending such an abysmal, horrible, wasteful system.

                          I’m not. I’m condemning command and control solutions, especially ones which insist our politicians will bavely fire millions of voters for the good of the nation.

                          The normal economic laws apply. We’re not going to lower prices by increasing demand and/or lowering supply. Similarly we’re not going to throw money at this until it’s cheap, nor by importing one aspect from some other system.

                          Magic thinking isn’t a solution, it’s just a way to add to the problem.

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              • Dark Matter: So all we need is a way for everyone to subsidize everyone.

                That is in fact what exists in every first world country other than the US. And all of those countries manage to get significantly better health outcomes for significantly less money than the US.

                But, you know, it’s an impossible utopian dream and something something death panels.

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                • Oh, we can get there. We just won’t get there by trusting our brave, selfless politicians to burn down multiple Trillions of dollars of the economy. We need a market solution to reduce costs before we can even consider paying for universal anything. Publishing prices would be a good start.

                  And even if we do all that, IMHO we’ll STILL have much worse outcomes than the rest of the world. I very much consider it a Utopian dream to think better access to HC will make us less fat, exercise more, be less murderous, etc.

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    • Saul – I respect your opinion and the Dems have always tolerated a certain amount of infighting as a necessary evil that comes with being a coalition party. But if the far left (like the tea party) puts it’s foot down it will begin to force the issue yes? Bernie folks certainly foreshadowed that attitude in 2016. What then? Moderate Dems don’t automatically turn into true believers just because Social Democrats won’t budge.

      My point is that this may not be about policy. It could be about the structure of the party – that’s a different sort of battle.

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      • Umm Bernie? You mean Nader? The far left puts its foot down every two presidential cycles or so and then rediscovers that it was holding its foot over a nail, wrenches the nail out and then forgets again after eight years of center left presidencies.

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      • I do agree that the Democratic Party is a big tent party and one where coalition politics are tricky but not as tricky as you make it out to be.

        My view is that the Democratic Party has become the “not insane” party because the GOP has gone over the edge. Paul Campos from LGM had some interesting research where he showed that a good number of lawyers (including top-tier corporate lawyers) supported Mitt Romney and/or donated to Mitt Romney in 2012. Trump’s support among lawyers is basically zero because he is an ignorant doofus who disdains professionalism.

        San Francisco has a reputation for being a kooky town but we almost always (or always) end up electing the “business-friendly moderate” in City Wide elections. Jane Kim might be a left-wing darling but she can’t seem to win an election beyond Board of Supervisors. She lost easily to Scott Weiner for the State Senate and then again came in a distant third for Mayor to London Breed and Mark Leno.

        Yes in theory it can be very hard to get a consensus where the party consists of working class politicians like AOC and also voters/politicians who aim for a partnership at Perkins Coie. In reality, a lot of upper-middle class professionals that I know who vote Democratic are not hostile to the welfare state, want more money for universal childcare, family leave, health insurance, more humane and immigration friendly policies in that field, more environmental regulation, etc.

        I admit we need to compromise a bit to win Senate seats in places like Montana and Indiana and Alabama but as others pointed out here and other blogs, Tester and Doug Jones are more reliable votes than the most liberal/moderate Republican. I think most Democrats view this as true. Also “today’s put your foot down” does not necessarily blow back in your face. See the GOP. See Gay Marriage.

        The average California Republican has more in common with a Republican from Alabama than a Democrat from California. The same is true with Democrats from Montana and Oklahoma, they have more in common with me than many pundits want to let on.

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        • This is a reasonable and thoughtful view from the left. If I read you correctly you simply do not see any faction willing to “destroy the party to save it” angling from the left. You could be right – it’s entirely possible that it’s overblown and in the end the party will come together as it always has around it’s coalitions with a further left bent than before. I think that’s what Dems are hoping.

          I’m certainly not rooting for the party to fail. My larger point is that this may not be “more of the same” but a fundamental restructuring of how the DNC operates as a party. If I’m right, as leadership ages out and new blood takes over the party will reflect a more rigid world view rather than a coalition with a general leftward tilt. Either way I’m buying popcorn. :)

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          • The type of people who get paid to pontificate about politics tend to be older, whiter, maler, and richer than the country as a whole. I don’t think they are necessarily Republican supporters or sympathizers but they were at their political youth and/or middle-age prime during the eighties to aughts when the world was all about free trade, globalization, deregulation, and making gobs of money. They are more comfortable at Aspen or Davos than Conor Lamb’s district and NY-14. They do think universal healthcare is something too far out because it was for most of their lives.

            The far left in the United States never tried to take over the Democratic Party from within.

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      • A war within a party isn’t disagreement over issues. That’s just ordinary politics.

        A war is when people defect, or sit home disenchanted.

        We aren’t seeing that now. We are seeing increased turnout and massive enthusiasm among Democrats.

        There aren’t any defections. The Trump base hasn’t grown an inch since November 8, 2016.

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      • Saul – I respect your opinion and the Dems have always tolerated a certain amount of infighting as a necessary evil that comes with being a coalition party. But if the far left (like the tea party) puts it’s foot down it will begin to force the issue yes? Bernie folks certainly foreshadowed that attitude in 2016.

        I think the overall train of thought here is correct but the timing is wrong. As things stand, the Dems are going to more or less successfully sweep their internal problems under the rug for the sake of beating the Republicans in November.

        After that, especially if the blue wave disappoints, I suspect this will be more topical. In a lot of ways the Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez movement is the populist flip side to what we’ve seen from the Trump enthusiasts on the right, and before that the Tea Party. And on those terms, you have to say that the populist Left is pretty weak.

        But that equilibrium is pretty fragile imo. The idea that the white professional upper-middle class libs get to run the Obama coalition only holds if it wins, or at least has some measure of credibility that it can deliver for its constituents. I don’t think it’s going to last very much longer tbh.

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      • But if the far left (like the tea party) puts it’s foot down it will begin to force the issue yes? Bernie folks certainly foreshadowed that attitude in 2016.

        I’d say it goes back some bit further, to 2009 when a very energized progressive community threatened to primary Dems who didn’t support a public option in the ACA bill. It took years for them to get over what they viewed as a betrayal. I’m not sure they ever did. Seems to me Bernie merely picked up that ball and ran to the left of HIllary with it, and only after looking over his shoulder realized how big that constituency was.

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  6. Excellent post, Mark. I particularly like this part of the post:

    the authors argue that the Democratic party is a coalition of social groups acting as discreet voting blocks, while the GOP is constructed around a post 1950s conservative ideological framework and contains few coalitions.

    I share that view of the Democratic Party, and have since Dubya’s run against Gore. (I disagree with those writers view of the GOP, however, :) I think that’s key to understanding the trouble Dems are in.

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  7. I’m pretty sure AOC got where she is because Joe Crowley DNGAF about his constituents and didn’t even maintain the appearance of it by campaigning a tiny bit, knocking on some doors, shaking hands, etc.

    If the lesson for the Democratic party is that more of them need to demonstrate that they are fishing interested in their own party members in individual districts, and not just in national-level questions, well, yes, I concur with that.

    Not seeing the rest of it just yet though I do agree it’s something to keep in mind, and you do a great job of laying it out.

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    • Seems to me what you say here is akey to understanding the Dems as well. Crowley was apparently more interested in accumulating individual power then representing his constituents. Personally, I think that’s part-and-parcel of Mark’s critique of Dems over-reliance on coalitions. Ie., it’s only *because* Crowley thought discrete coalition support was in the bag that he could pursue his own quest to accumulate power at his constituent’s expense. An opening AOC very effectively exploited.

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  8. There’s a lot to be said here. On the narrow point, AOC seems like a very nice person, though pretty badly ill-informed. And as politicians go, the ones who are associated with this movement are ok. The “borderline bourgeois” activist class supporting this movement is really nasty though, and that will come out once this movement matures or faces any kind of adversity.

    The bigger issue for me is that the white upper-middle class hold on the Democratic Party and therefore the center-Left of American politics is slipping. There’s been a lot said about the possibility for a Blue Wave in November. On the other hand, it’s gone largely unremarked that this election is the Last Chance saloon for the Obama coalition. If they can’t win enough to justify their existence this year, I don’t think they can recover.

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  9. “How do you feel about The Young Turks?” is a good indicator.

    I’ll quote something I said a million years ago:

    Conservatism as a brake, as a voice that says “let’s do things the way my parents did them (but not my grandparents, because that’s crazy talk)”. A conservatism whose job it is to lose every battle, but lose it slowly, and with dignity.

    I can see why we’d want those people to be like that.
    I just don’t see why they’d agree to it.

    In response to the Republicans abandoning their dignity, they seem to have won a handful of important elections (including the most important election of our lifetimes).

    A Young Turkism in response to Trumpism seems to be the “we should do that!” that is manifesting following the loss of Clinton.

    I just don’t know that Cenk’s version of populism will appeal to the people that he needs it to appeal to more than Trumpism will…

    But AOC will win the ever-living crap out of her district. Believe it.

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  10. I’m not seeing any big schism in the Democrats either. I think the young people are using a different political language, but if you drill down with them, they aren’t that different in what they want. They say they hate “capitalism”, but if you ask them what that means, to them it means “rich people getting the government to do their bidding”. They don’t want the government to own the means of production, they just want the economic game to be less rigged. We have enormous wealth available, but it isn’t being mobilized to solve our problems.

    You could argue, and some are arguing, that this could lead to problems in the future. That’s true, but I’ve found that breathing can lead to problems in the future. I was of the opinion that ignoring people of color and doubling down on white voters would lead to problems in the future for the Republicans. We know how that turned out.

    So, I’m on board with a campaign based on “Medicare for All” as a slogan, even though I think Obamacare may well be better policy. My personal campaign slogan would be “make things better, even if only by a little bit”, but I don’t think that’s as punchy. The voters have been really clear about what sort of message they prefer, and how literally they take it (not very literally).

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  11. Here’s the thing – this is a recent poll from Morning Consult

    2020 National GE:
    Generic Dem 48% (+13)
    Donald Trump 35%

    Now yes, Generic Democrat is not a good thing to poll if you want to compare it to actual results, but this does show something – it shows what people would vote for in theory, if they had to vote for the idea of the Democratic Party. Now inevitably, candidate quality gets in the way, but if the country things the Democrat’s are turning far to the left, it doesn’t seem to be showing up in actual polling, compared to Trump

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  12. To the entire center-slightly-right all the way to rank socialist:

    Talk to me when the Dems control Ways and Means.

    Until then I’ll take a big tent, thank you, and if you’re going to be fixated on a smaller tent y’all need to check in your big person pants because not controlling the House committees means we get nothing… and controlling the House committees means we get a lot, including deciding to appoint more lefty (or centristy) folks to those committees.

    You want to argue about ideological purity when you control nothing, you’re literally an impediment to progress.

    That makes you not progressive.

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  13. Another issue is that I think a lot of Democrats are pissed off about the civility racket because it more or less involves left leaning voters being told to shut up.

    A good example is the cottage industry of essays telling liberals to support Judge Kavabaugh because:

    1. He is a good carpool dad;

    2. He was nice to Amy Chua’s Daughter and gave her a job;

    3. A self described liberal feminist (who also happens to be a big time corporate lawyer) is being coy on how Kavanaugh would rule regarding Roe.

    I think a lot of liberals realize the game for what is and say fish this crap. I am old enough to remember in the 1990s when it was a thing to complain that Clinton was running as Republican lite. I think the marginal utility has passed for this kind of moderation. Does Claire McCastkill really gain anything from supporting Kavanaugh? Heidi Heitkamp? I don’t see it.

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        • The Garza case is mixed evidence at best. At most it shows that he is not fond of abortion. His dissenting opinion accepts the precedent established by Roe (and hence the right to an abortion) but relies on Casey to argue that not all burdens on abortion are unreasonable (according to the law even if not according to justice). That does not show that he wants to reverse Roe. It shows that he thinks Roe is a hard limit. With each ruling that affirms Casey, Roe is further entrenched even as its protections are pared down to a minimum.

          We can grant that a judge’s willingness to follow precedent may change when he or she ascends to the supreme court, but that does not warrant the level of hysteria I’m seeing about Kavanaugh’s alleged propensity to overrule Roe. He may want to pare down abortion rights until they are the bare bones protected by Roe, but more needs to be said to show that he will override Roe.

          The question, as I have mentioned before, is not whether there is enough “there” there to worry to some degree or another. We may have to worry to some degree or another over any conservative judge. But there are still at least two more years of a republican presidency even if not necessarily Trump one. Democrats cannot realistically expect to delay confirmation for 2 years. The republicans barely managed to pull off doing so for one year. Kavanaugh seems to be among the most reasonable picks given a republican presidency. The ratio of outrage to either actual* or relative** likelihood of threat is inordinately and it seems to me inexplicably high.

          *This represents the actual chance that a Kavanaugh addition to the supreme court will result in an overturn of Roe. I take this chance of him personally voting to do so to be marginal at less than 5%. The chances of a Roberts court of doing so is even lower.

          **This represents the actual likelihood of any outrage doing any good. If not Kavanaugh we might get Amy Barrett and she is more likely to be opposed to Roe than Kavanaugh.

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          • OK, but you’re saying ‘hysteria’ when Saul’s talking about pissed-off-ness and I’m talking about a worry about what Kavanaugh might or might do which… quite frankly… is really not even near the top of my list when it comes to my concerns about abortion rights. I’m far more worried about shifting public opinion, and shifting congressional behavior, than I am about shifting Supreme Court decisions right now.

            Likewise when it comes to Kavanaugh himself, I’m far more worried about the evidence that he finds Trump *admirable* to the point of swooning (mostly from watching him talk about 45) than anything else on the table. And yes, I realize Trump is president and presidents gonna propose Supreme Court Judges and it is what it is, but still, watching him talk about someone that awful that glowingly, with no sign of not meaning it, makes it hard to trust in his probity.

            You just asked, so I told you “enh, this is the best answer I can find, I’m pretty murky about whether it’s actually convincing or not”.

            *shrugs* See it as the reference librarian in me, sneaking in the back door.

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          • If the Dems can delay confirmation for 6 months, and retake the Senate, they absolutely can delay confirmation for two years, or force Trump to nominate someone different.

            Or just give Kavanaugh a vote and vote him down.

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            • When the Dem’s get back the senate, is it going to be a permanent majority? If not, do you like the precedent that this will set if the democrats don’t confirm a justice for 2 1/2 years? Do you think the republicans won’t hesitate to stall for 3 years or more if the democrats do this?

              The senate is already tilted against the democrats. They shouldn’t go about setting precedents they don’t want the Republicans to follow.

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              • this is an argument that can only be made by someone who hasn’t watched the last 15-20 years of American politics where the Republican party will set on fire every Norm Rule and regulation there is in order to secure themselves power and get the rich an ever larger slice of the pie.

                so no I don’t think we should like play nice and try to work for that invisible judges vote because there is no invisible judge there’s just power and what you do with it and if you don’t do something to aid your constituents with power you don’t deserve power

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                • there’s just power and what you do with it and if you don’t do something to aid your constituents with power you don’t deserve power

                  And this attitude will tear the country apart. This is a classic case of being stuck in a mutual defection trap. The only way out of the trap is for one side to cooperate repeatedly even when the other side defects in the hope that eventually it will stop defecting and start cooperating. Admittedly this will suck a lot. but I see no other way out.

                  You tell me how you see things 30 years down the road if things continue on their current trajectory.Well ultimately its your country and you are going to live in the mess you guys are making out of it.

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                  • well I can tell you that near enough 30 years ago the Democrats decided that the Third Way between the left and the right was the correct idea and to always play conciliatory politics and it’s gotten us here.

                    how much worse could actually having a Sack be?

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      • This is (redacted – basically “not a good” – maribou) argument.

        Besides what pointed out, there is also the fact that Trump has been very good at making Evangelicals happy. If there is one thing that they want it is the overturning of Roe v. Wade. They might have preferred other candidates before Kavanaugh but anti-Roe credentials are now a necessity to be a Republican appointee to the Court of Appeals and/or the Supreme Court. I suppose there is always the chance that Kavanaugh becomes a Souter but you are not presenting any argument about why liberals should take this at face value (redacted – maribou)

        You are also ignoring the points re piss off ness. The “Liberal Feminist” is named Lisa Barrett and you don’t find out until the end of her essay that she is a partner at Arnold Porter Kaye Schiller. Further more, her little bio says that she argued 35 cases in front of the Supreme Court.

        Don’t you think more needs to be explored here? Arnold Porter is a big Law powerhouse that defends big corporations from liability. Among her clients are Big Tobacco, Big Pharma, and she also defended the Redskins in keeping their racist name from the Trademark office.

        Now I suppose you can difine “liberal feminist” as meaning “Women have a right to defend Big Tobacco as much as men.” However to many liberals (including myself), the Politico essay came off as barely hidden careerism. Judge Kavanaugh is more likely than not to rule in favor of Ms. Blatt’s client than not. You can see this from decisions in the DC Circuit where Garland ruled against her and Kavanaugh did not.

        If you think that Kavanaugh would make a good Justice and you defend his more corporate friendly decisions, just say so. But don’t do the thing where you ask for evidence, are given a response, and then just dismiss the response. (redacted – maribou)

        Judge Kavanaugh might be a really nice guy. That’s great! But it isn’t a reason why liberals need to shut up and be happy or accept his appointment.

        As Jason K often says it is clear that a lot of libertarians hate the left more than they love liberty.

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    • A good example is the cottage industry of essays telling liberals to support Judge Kavabaugh because:
      1. He is a good carpool dad;
      2. He was nice to Amy Chua’s Daughter and gave her a job;
      3. A self described liberal feminist (who also happens to be a big time corporate lawyer) is being coy on how Kavanaugh would rule regarding Roe.

      The (imho correct) assumption is that if Kavabaugh isn’t a monster then liberals have no argument, i.e. the GOP expects liberals to try to paint him as a monster (because they’re not going to paint him as incompetent).

      We’re not allowed to actually ask about Roe, and he’s a really nice guy, so you have no legit reason to keep him off the court.

      (To everyone) Any thoughts on whether the venom of the SC nomination process will be lower after Roe is overturned and the issue is handed back to the states?

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        • There’s something to be said about picking your battles. They’ve been dealt a bad hand, they’re into (or should be into) damage mitigation.

          Three Dem Senators are up for reelection in states where Trump won big. The last thing they want is to run while they’re standing against a popular President and his popular SC pick, i.e. keeping this issue alive showcases that.

          Which raises the question on whether dragging out the process is actually in the interest of the Dems as a whole. “Damage mitigation” probably involves “protecting three vulnerable seats” as opposed to trying to drag out the process.

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        • Doesn’t meant that Democrats have to be subservient about it though.

          No, but they should. It looks like our team is going to be in charge of the Senate for a while, ie longer than the next election cycle. Mitch McConnell has a very credible threat imo, to simply ignore or refuse to confirm in some other way any Demo nominations to SCOTUS, ever.

          Dems should be voting to confirm Kavanaugh according to their own assertions of norms surrounding such confirmations. Let ’em do it then.

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      • Since you ask, I don’t think Roe will be overturned – not in the slam dunk way people seem to assume. Or if it is “overturned” it will be with a pointer to Casey.

        So I think we’ll see “Caseyfication” at very different degrees on a State by state basis… up to, but not including an outright ban. I doubt anyone will be happy, but the net result will be something closer to first trimester only in Red States, and up to viability, say 22 weeks in purple states, and something much broader in blue states. Likely with explicit exemptions for Rape, Incest and to protect the life of the mother. Conscience protections for medical personnel will be explicitly affirmed at a constitutional level (e.g. the 14th amendment standard will be affirmed as bi-directional). So abortion will become a medical procedure that can be regulated by states, but not banned… while states that want to offer and even subsidize the procedure may do so, but can’t compel medical personal to be complicit. Access to abortion will be uneven, but access (and to a certain extent “undue burden”) will be less of a compelling legal standard.

        I suspect both sides will experience it as a loss, and the net number of abortions per year will not be affected, but the “debate” will have ended with the lines of legality drawn unevenly across the states.

        That’s my prediction, along with the Senate remaining in Republican hands and the House flipping Blue… I’ll have to see what transpires economically/militarily between now and then and who the Dems pick for 2020 – and their overriding narrative – before making that bold prediction.

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  14. Speaking of Democratic victories:

    1. Give Em Hell Harry came back from the grave and MO’s right-to-work law was struck down hard;

    2. Democrats narrowly lost OH-12. This is a district Trump won by 11 points and one that has had a Democratic rep for about 10 years in the period from 1920-2018. I’d have preferred a win but this is a margin of defeat that should make Republicans sweat.

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  15. I thought I’d share a follow up from Dr. Grossman. After asking in a followup if there was a point where the socialist wing could gain enough “critical mass” to gain ideological control, he responded:

    If the leftists drove out others or integrated all other Dem groups under their umbrella, they could potentially serve a similar role to conservatives. But I don’t see them succeeding (or even trying) to reduce the institutionalized role of blacks, women, unions, etc in the party.

    In his view then, the institutionalized role of interest groups would prevent restrucuturing even if such a critical mass were to occur.

    So… after having consulted Dr. G and having read the reviews I have to conclude that no one buys my 2 arguments – that this is a larger schism than in the past, and that splintering or restructuring could occur.

    I will return to this article to either crow or eat crow when the situation develops further. :)

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  16. Pingback: About Last Night: The Democrat Center Holds in Primary Results, For Now - Ordinary Times

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