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Droning the Libs

Droning the Libs

So, the other day I tweeted disagreement with popular Twitter personality Jesse Kelly, and found myself at the bottom of a dog pile.

It’s not the first time and it won’t be the last. I knew as soon as I quote-tweeted Kelly that my notifications would light up like so many dim Christmas bulbs, and they would not be “likes” or “attagirls.”

I had never heard of Jesse Kelly until I got into Twitter political circles, but he checks all the boxes to attract a large segment of conservative Twitter. He’s a Marine Corps combat veteran and a gun enthusiast. He’s tall and good looking. He has a pretty wife and two sons. His whole shtick is to be the manliest of men, with over-the-top but endearing sexism, a penchant for praising violence and war, and of course, mocking of all things liberal. He can be legitimately funny — one of his running gags is pretending to follow the popular keto diet, posting pictures of hoagies and nachos and other such carb-laden delights with the hashtag “ketolife”, to the befuddlement of those who don’t get the joke.

All of this is in good fun. While no doubt his “women should at all times be cooking while wearing high heels” bit would rankle the more humorless among us, I simply roll my eyes at the cliche and move on. I’m not bothered by his habit of posting photos of his face with only half of his wife’s face visible and captioning it “date night with the love of my life”. It’s meant to be funny and I assume he is in reality a good and loving husband.

What I do take issue with is what is not simply part of his persona: his utter disdain for democrats, leftists, liberals, feminists, and anyone else who doesn’t picture G.I. Joe as the face of the true American. For someone who paints himself as a great American patriot, that is a pretty large chunk of the country to hate.

It’s not shtick; he means it. He has called for the break up of the United States on conservative versus liberal lines, or a second civil war — an actual shooting war — between the two. It is no secret that the country is deeply divided right now, but rather than advocating unity, compromise or solutions, Kelly pushes further division.

Which is what I pushed back against when I quote tweeted him yesterday. His tweet, paraphrased, was that democrats were anti-America. It was accompanied by a clip of New York governor Andrew Cuomo’s statement that “America was never that great” (the context being that the country has not reached the greatness of which it is capable). That is certainly a provocative statement with which disagreement would be expected. But Kelly’s tweet didn’t say Cuomo is anti-America; it said democrats are.

My response was that democrats do not hate America; we just believe in a different definition of America.

Now, usually Kelly says something controversial, gets about 90% positive agreement in response, and ignores the replies that challenge his words. And I was not the only voice of dissent; at least two men that I follow also tweeted disagreement with Kelly’s tweet. But mine must have caught his eye, because it was mine that he quote tweeted (though it is not lost on me that he chose to single out the obviously female dissenter). He asserted in response to me that there is no other definition of America than his. Because I can’t bring myself to shy away from challenge, I volleyed back that he was arrogant to think he got to make that call. He responded with another quote tweet that basically claimed his definition was based on the constitution and the founders. I said I agree with those principles, but that we had different ideas on how to achieve that, and yada yada yada. To his credit, he was not hateful or rude in his replies.

He didn’t need to be; his fanclub had it covered.

Jesse Kelly’s quote tweeting of me broadcasted my disagreement with him to his 65,000 followers. And several dozen of them took the time to engage the enemy on his behalf. My mentions lit up with sarcastic insults regarding my intelligence, attempts to “own the lib”, and bold accusations about what my political beliefs must be. Also, this in my inbox:

Droning the Libs

It was a typical Twitter mob, a weaponized echo chamber fueled by anonymity. None of them knew me or knew my principles; like indiscriminate drones, it didn’t matter. My dissent was all Jesse Kelly’s sycophants needed in order to lock onto their target.

Some, I ignored, because I have a full time job and couldn’t answer them all. But others I chose to engage, knowing full well that it would likely be fruitless. I did so because every now and then, someone hears you through the noise, stops for a considered minute, and gains an understanding. . And at least twice during the deluge yesterday, that happened. Sarcasm and derision turned to common ground and civility. It happens, now and then. I credit my Twitter rules of engagement.

Many of those hurling their words at me were absolutely sure of a few things: 1) I am a proponent of a large and controlling government; 2) I think socialism is a great idea; and 3) I want to drastically alter the constitution. Patiently, and occasionally not so patiently, I repeatedly denied these claims. Well then, they would say, how can you be a democrat?

When things went this direction, it really illustrated the point I had tried to make when I quote-tweeted Kelly in the first place: being a democrat does not make one anti-American. We are not a monolith. Alexandra Occasio-Cortez does not speak for my beliefs anymore than Missouri candidate Steve “Hitler was right” West speaks for those of the average republican. Some accepted my explanations and backed off; others were flummoxed and unable to break away from their steadfast belief that democrat or “liberal” is synonymous with “socialist”. I explained that I believed in personal liberty and limited government, and they could not reconcile how that could be true if I wasn’t a conservative. I explained further that I have a different idea of what limited government should look like, and how personal liberty is achieved. I don’t know if I inspired any light-bulb moments, but I like to think I did.

In the end, I had to use the blessed “mute” function on the few diehard harassers who weren’t going to give up (blocking is for cowards, muting is for the weak!). And there was this delicious slice of satisfaction:

Droning the Libs

But I also earned at least two new followers, including one who started out as a challenger and one who was impressed with the civil debate I had with another “opponent”.

Which brings me back to the man whose tweet I responded to, which started the whole thing. It is not Jesse Kelly’s fault I chose to quote him, knowing full well he has a large following. And I could unfollow him completely and mute him and never see him in my timeline. I don’t, because I like diversity in my Twitter. But I wonder why a person with as much of a following as Kelly has chooses to widen the gap between the citizens of the country he loves, rather than use his platform to heal the rifts. If you ask him, he would likely tell you that healing is not possible because the “democrats are insane”.

But I suspect the answer is that it would damage his brand. To suddenly sing “Kumbaya” would be contrary to his carefully crafted persona, tarnish his reputation as a macho hard-ass, or a warrior among men. His followers enjoy his take-no-prisoners, the-left-is-the-enemy rhetoric, and he is not about to give it up. He has a YouTube channel. He has merch. He is a brand, and his followers are his customers. He is fond of asserting to his conservative followers that “the left hates you”; a call for unity would completely undermine the character he has built.

Twitter is a small world. There are cliques, cool kids, and big personalities with lots of followers (I call them celebretwits). In some ways, it is a microcosm of our country; just as not all democrats believe what Cuomo said, I likewise don’t believe every one of Jesse Kelly’s followers believes all of the things he says.

Sometimes, I’m not sure he does, either.

 


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Em was one of those argumentative children who was sarcastically encouraged to become a lawyer, so she did. She is a proud life-long West Virginian, and, paradoxically, a liberal. In addition to writing about society, politics and culture, she enjoys cooking, podcasts, reading, and pretending to be a runner. She will correct your grammar. You can find her on Twitter.

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194 thoughts on “Droning the Libs

  1. Well if you are going to get blocked, getting blocked for correcting grammar and spelling is the best reason.

    Grammar Nazis are the only good Nazis! :-)

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  2. It was accompanied by a clip of New York governor Andrew Cuomo’s statement that “America was never that great” (the context being that the country has not reached the greatness of which it is capable).

    Well, this is one of those things where people want to say “controversial” (or “edgy”) things and then, when people get rankled, they fall back on “hey, hey, hey… if you understood my context, you’d quit quoting what I said and you’d see that I was using strong language to make a much weaker and infinitely more supportable point!”

    The problem is that, from a distance, it looks a lot like heightening contradictions if you don’t know what you’re looking at.

    But I wonder why a person with as much of a following as Kelly has chooses to widen the gap between the citizens of the country he loves, rather than use his platform to heal the rifts. If you ask him, he would likely tell you that healing is not possible because the “democrats are insane”.

    In any relationship, there has to be give and take. Not necessarily “compromise” (because “compromise” has some weird failure states that include nobody getting what they want) but a willingness to “take one for the team” from time to time and give up some less important things in exchange for keeping stuff oiled and running smoothly.

    Jesse seems to think that he’s in a relationship where he has taken one for the team too many times and he’s started seeing disagreements as defections.

    How do you heal a rift with someone who sees the request that he take one for the team as defection?

    I’m not asking rhetorically. I think that this is The Problem that we, as a country, are facing. Jesse is a symptom of that. As are his ardent followers.

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    • Don’t follow him on Twitter?

      I’m not actually joking.

      All the problems you state are made worse by him being exposed to a large liberal audience on Twitter. Because just like Andrew Cuomo influences Kelly and Co’s view of Team Blue, Kelly and Co affect our view of Team Red [1]. It’s availability heuristics all the way down.

      Maybe we should just be in each other’s faces less.

      I don’t mean secession or civil war or any of the rest of it. I just mean, like, maybe bringing back the old and now-mostly-defunct civility norm about not discussing politics in diverse social groups which aren’t really there for that purpose.

      Let’s be cliques. Let’s be subcultures. Let’s maybe cross the streams less. Maybe we don’t have to do this to each other or ourselves.

      [1] And really, both teams are the worse for their respective associations.

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        • I don’t think federalism is a solution [1] because the fault lines don’t really align well with the administrative divisions called “states”. Redrawing all the state borders would be a ton of work that wouldn’t solve the problem, because a lot of the split is urban vs rural with the suburbs being a sort of liminal battleground.

          And yes, it might require turning a blind eye to bad stuff, but let’s start with… I dunno, practicing turning a blind eye to stuff that isn’t so bad, or is only bad through context collapse.

          Even that is difficult (obviously I’m not super great at it myself) but why isn’t there room for incremental improvements?

          The only reason I even know Kelly exists is because people I know talk about what an asshole he is.

          [1] Regardless of its other problems or virtues.

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          • Part of the problem with “okay, we can turn a blind eye to stuff that isn’t so bad” is that it’s not so bad *FOR YOU*. For me it’s intolerable. And so you’re effectively taking the side of the bad guys.

            And just iterate that a kabillion times.

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            • Sure that happens.

              But it cuts both ways.

              Like, consider someone takes offense over something that is not something most people would regard as offensive. Well, if you aren’t persuaded it’s offensive, go ahead and let it go.

              But if they get a few dozen, or a few hundred, friends to write angry letters? Let that go too.

              “Writing a strongly worded letter” used to be the hallmark of ineffectual anger, and now somehow it’s become tyranny.

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          • Except it’s not ‘turning a blind eye’, it’s ‘this thing is none of your G-D business’.

            Sure, there are things that are ‘everybody’s business’, but an awful lot of what causes the divide is people everywhere deciding that other people are living/having fun/doing something wrong[1], and they must be stopped (through (at the very least) social pressure, and up through legal and legislative action).

            [1] For various values of ‘wrong’.

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            • I considered that argument and ultimately rejected it on the basis that a lot of the irritants in question are very public, and deliberately so. I think that really scrambles the way people think about what is, and is not, their business.

              Like, Jesse Kelly very much would like everybody to know his views on liberals. He would like it to be my business, and I have to consciously decline his offer should I come across it.

              Which is not easy, at least for me, but even doing it half the time would help prevent a lot of viral outrage pandemics.

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        • Coming back to this, and thinking back to the most recent flareup of the cake-baking thing, I think a real solution is going to involve both sides of the Culture Wars recognizing that Jesse Kelly represents (in an annoying fashion, to be sure) another subculture, and that subculture deserves the same measure of accommodation and toleration as everybody else’s.

          I think this will be an easier pill to swallow for Team Blue than Team Red, but I have to say just saying it makes me metaphorically retch a bit.

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          • Yeah, the cake-baking thing was something that I thought of too.

            And wondering “what does ‘compromise’ look like?”

            I think that “denying the baker a win” seems to be high on the agenda among a subset of people. Telling them “leave him alone” looks a hell of a lot like standing in solidarity with the baker.

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            • Denying the baker a win is a priority for a subset of people, but you can splinter that coalition pretty effectively by making it very clear that giving this win doesn’t mean it snowballs into a bunch of other wins.

              Which means a cultural understanding that it’s a weird religious preference that’s pretty gross when you think about it, but maybe we won’t think about it because that’s what we try to do with other people’s weird religious preferences.

              The underlying compromise would be a cultural one.

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          • I dunno. The cake thing is going be out of radar range for vast majority of people in about 3 hours, mostly because they simply don’t care. The culture war is almost entirely a fabrication created by the right to motivate the base’s fear. (“The War on Christmas will end with the left murdering Christians!” “Allowing same sex marriage will end with the left forcing you marry a transgender goat!”) So while the politics of the most recent case are interesting, it borders on a mere curiosity, or pure academics.

            Nevertheless … is there something *real* underlying all this fear? Something substantive which the hysterical rhetoric reveals? I dunno, to be honest. Most of the talking points used to express the right’s worries are demonstrably false, yet – for them – they *feel* true. So I find myself going back to Corey Robin’s thesis that contemporary conservatism is primarily centered around maintaining a set of traditional (ie., white, male, Christian) privileges which they view as threatened by “progress”. And they’re correct to think so. But rather than try to justify maintaining those privileges via argument they instead do the only thing they can do: try to maintain them by force, political or other. Arguments that western european values made the world great, and that the US is a Christian nation and yadayada are rationalizations for an already-made commitment to protecting and preserving a narrow set of self-serving privileges. And THAT is what conservatism in the US has become.

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            • I realized in my arguing about the cake thing that in my head I was juxtaposing two different cases: Mastercake, and Arlene’s Flowers.

              Of those two, Arlene’s is the one I want going before the SCOTUS (it got sent back to WA after Mastercake was punted).

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              • No, I wouldn’t. Broadly speaking, the left wants to expand existing rights and protections to everyone, the right wants to prevent those expansions. The left’s “fear” (I don’t think that’s the correct word here) is that the right will do what it says. The right’s fear (correct use of term) isn’t that the left will do what it says, but that *something else* of great value will be lost as a consequence, something ill-defined but ever-present and insidious. So the right’s fear is one step removed from actual Dem policy.

                Alsotoo, what Pillsy said. Fox News, Rush L, others. I think conservative politicians and pundits on the right realized quite a while ago, but certainly this was in full effect by Obama’s inauguration, that the Democrats policy positions in general are really popular with the electorate, including (often) a majority of conservatives. Because of that, they have increasingly shifted GOP/conservative politics away from presenting positive policy proposals to almost exclusively motivating fear in their base of the Dem/liberal “agenda”.

                Trump’s incessant ranting that Hillary and the Deep State Dems are the real colluders is a perfect example of this. But the examples are almost endless.

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                • “Broadly speaking, the left wants to expand existing rights and protections to everyone, the right wants to prevent those expansions.”

                  I don’t know that I agree with how benign this sounds. Quite often, expansion of rights for some mean a reduction in rights for others. Also, when a general goal of the Left is more government involvement in our daily lives, that means private companies have less opportunities to do the same things.

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                  • I concur with this, from of course a different angle.

                    Quoting Saul Alinsky (cuz you know I gotta): “Politics is about power; Who has it, and how to get it.”

                    Which sounds bloodcurdling and cynical at first, but consider that liberalism, the original 18th century version, was taking power away from kings and aristocrats and delivering it to the bourgeoisie, then later to the peasants.

                    Free speech literally takes power away from the rulers and churches, leaving them worse off than before.

                    We dress it up by saying they didn’t lose any “rights” because censorship is not a right, but the fact remains that it is in fact a win-lose proposition.

                    #metoo is women seeking to increase their power, and decrease the power of men to control women.

                    BLM is black people trying to secure their power to be free of fear of arbitrary policing, and decreasing the police power to inflict it.

                    If the goals of liberalism were painless and win-win, we would already have it.

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                    • I agree that it’s not win-win, however even if we’re talking about giving people more rights as a net good, there’s always a subtext with the Left that those granted rights will naturally gravitate towards liberalism themselves. To quote Gloria Steinem, liberals believe that, “…children are blank slates on which society can write anything.” so there is always a conservative suspicion that liberals want to create citizens that serve the state.

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                      • This is where the vague generalizations about groups is really unhelpful. Do liberals believe kids are blank slates? Steinem isn’t exactly a topical reference but i have no idea why libs are supposed to believe this. I certainly don’t but that is anecdata of course. But really, ascribing much of anything to libs or conservatives is pretty darn hard, will often leave out the actual important parts to create an overarching narrative and be not truly descriptive.

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                              • Gender and what you do with it are two different things.

                                A multiplicity of genders is only one of several possible resolutions.
                                Another (more viable, IMHO) is the expansion of the present handful. (Note: Not holding anything over here– I’m typing.)

                                There were still many people who would say that “Women don’t fly!” even after Amelia Earhart, despite all evidence to the contrary.

                                I find much of the concept of gender itself to be staid stereotype.
                                A multiplicity of same does not appeal to me.

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                              • Oh, the Nature/Nurture debate aren’t individually “liberal” or “conservative”, but it lines up along ideological lines.

                                Even when the time comes for everybody to yell “SWITCH PARTNERS!”, it seems that everybody (instinctively!) manages to line up as appropriate.

                                To the point where names (slurs?) get generated for the people who refuse to tear down the Oceana posters.

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                          • Mike,

                            You’re generalizing from a single Gloria Steinem quotation about children being blank slates as if it were a belief held by all liberals, and then using that generalization to justify why conservatives are worried that liberals will indoctrinate children to be subservient to the state. There is absolutely no logic there, just fear. Whether or not children are blank slates or not is an interesting issue of course, and obviously one which plenty of conservatives *also* believe else they wouldn’t want Creationism taught in school.

                            Add: I mean, jeepers. What you wrote is a perfect example of the fear-based anti-liberal political rhetoric I was gettin on about above.

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                            • And this isn’t generalizing?

                              “Broadly speaking, the left wants to expand existing rights and protections to everyone, the right wants to prevent those expansions.”

                              I can tell you right now that as a conservative I have no problems with people having ALL THE RIGHTS. I just disagree with what that looks like and how they are delivered. The reason I generalized myself was to make the point that both sides have legitimate reasons to fear the other.

                              It really comes down to this: Conservatives generally believe that the path to a better world is through the betterment of the individual. Liberals generally believe that the path is through the betterment of society. Nothing wrong with those two approaches on their face, but both obviously have pitfalls. Libs would charge that the conservative strategy takes far too long and ignores how the deck might be stacked against people. To my earlier point, conservatives fear that libs want to ‘improve’ society in a direction they prefer.

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                              • Not a generalization. An *observation*, not based on generalizing from a single lefty/righty crank instance or by appealing to various ideological groundings, but by observing what the two political parties – their bases, the representatives who attain power – are actually *doing*.

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                    • was taking power away from kings and aristocrats and delivering it to the bourgeoisie, then later to the peasants.

                      This assumes that power is always being relieved from the powerful and given to the powerless. I suggest that this is often enough not the case. That often enough it’s about stripping away power from people and granting it to government because those people are ‘living wrong’ (see: Drug War, etc.)

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                        • Ergo, when looking at any given ideal, one needs to look at how the power shifts, who loses, who gains, and whether or not that shift is healthy in the short or long term.

                          Too many (of every stripe) seem happy to shift power back to the powerful not because it’s a healthy thing to do, but because it allows them to direct the powerful to gore someone else’s ox.

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                          • Long before Lord Coke, before the Magna Carta, before even Alfred’s Domboc, the over-arching tendency has been to grant more and more rights to the people.
                            Julius Caesar was no innovator in this.

                            Concurrently, though it began somewhat later, there is an independent tendency to define more and more persons as “people.”

                            The phenomenon of the Drug War, et al., are but mere echoes.
                            Low tides are to be expected.

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                • This reminds me of a story that Michael Medved told. (I may have told it before.) Back when he was a movie reviewer, he was waiting to do a segment on a morning show, and watched an interview with a celebrity. She was asked about her activism, and she responded with a story about banning land mines, IIRC. At that moment he realized that the left believes its politics is neutral activism, and the other side is political.

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      • This. Social media has really blurred the lines where we feel like we are just one well-crafted argument away from changing someone’s mind and we think that engaging random people actually moves the ball. I mean, I have had my mind changed on the internet, but not that often.

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        • I try to strike a balance, follow diverse opinions so that I don’t have an echo chamber timeline. I want to hear the other side- I may change my thinking or at least refine my argument. I mute occasionally when a normally decent follow annoys me.
          I’m not sure why I haven’t pulled the plug yet on Jesse; I think it’s because some of his stuff is funny and the interactions in the replies to his tweets can be interesting.

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          • I think the desire to not have an echo chamber is a reasonable one, but people who are going to be good representatives of the other side are… a fairly rare breed.

            I don’t think it’s really that bad to not be a good representative of your ideological and partisan affinities for members of the other teams and tribes [1], but I unfollow a lot of people for much less than what Jesse posts.

            [1] I’m not, and make no particular effort to be on Twitter, and I’d be lying if I thought my performance as such here was anything to write home about.

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            • And even the people who’re good follows usually end up posting a Loss meme.

              (it’s interesting seeing who gets mad at me when I tell them that I’m blocking them over it. Like, the strongest liberal, believes super hard in microaggressions and trigger warnings,he’ll tell me that it’s just a pattern and the joke has lost all meaning and I’m being weirdly sensitive about the whole thing.)

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    • It might be that. I can’t say it isn’t. It might also be that by saying the things he does, he gets a lot of applause and praise from the people in his camp. This reinforcement amplifies his behavior.

      People who try to bridge disagreement don’t get tens of thousands of followers cheering them on on Twitter. Or Facebook.

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  3. When I first saw Kelly’s name and the headline, I thought he’d been actually advocating drone strikes on liberals. Well, “advocating” in that it would be the same sort of hyperbolic trash-talk that all his Civil War II Electric Boogaloo crap is.

    And Twitter is a small world, but one where the cliques are usually isolated from each other from semi-permeable membranes that often only let the most irritating particles of idiocy from the other cliques through, often stripped of the context and subcultural understanding that might at least make it somewhat less irritating.

    I sort of have this theory that the problem with social media isn’t that it creates bubbles, but that it breaches them, and often breaches them selectively, in the ways that are most harmful and upsetting. And the doofus-swarm thing makes it worse, and I know as a dude I probably don’t get a tenth of what women get.

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    • The last paragraph is an intriguing philosophy. I never heard of Jesse Kelly until today and now I feel my life is sadder. There is a former OTer whom I don’t always agree with but can have reasoned debates with. However he has people on his friends list and many of them make me think “Fuck. Are your beliefs really this atrocious and moronic?”

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  4. But I wonder why a person with as much of a following as Kelly has chooses to widen the gap between the citizens of the country he loves, rather than use his platform to heal the rifts. If you ask him, he would likely tell you that healing is not possible because the “democrats are insane”.

    In any relationship, there has to be give and take. Not necessarily “compromise” (because “compromise” has some weird failure states that include nobody getting what they want) but a willingness to “take one for the team” from time to time and give up some less important things in exchange for keeping stuff oiled and running smoothly.

    Jesse seems to think that he’s in a relationship where he has taken one for the team too many times and he’s started seeing disagreements as defections.

    How do you heal a rift with someone who sees the request that he take one for the team as defection?

    You don’t. I’m a liberal who feels the same way he does but from the other side. I feel Dems are constantly “taking one for the team”. It seems to be their preferred state of being.

    I also believe we’ve reached a point where compromise and “working things out” are increasingly impossible and it’s time to let states secede from the union if they so desire. The American experiment is deemed a failure by me. Let it end. Let us all go our separate ways. Irreconcilable differences is what they call it in divorce proceedings.

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    • “Divorce or War” is how I see things ending up as well.

      A year and a half ago, Sister Kristen wrote an essay comparing the US to a bad marriage.

      Using that analogy, I’m stuck wondering how to turn a bad marriage into a good one. Or, at least one that isn’t toxic.

      The analogy pretty much immediately breaks down when I start thinking about the solution that strikes me as most likely to work: Federalism For Real This Time. (If you’ve seen the Laverne and Shirley episode where they put tape down the middle of the room, it’s that. Kinda.)

      The other options include “one side moving out” (the “Somalia” option… you’d think libertarians would be more enthusiastic about this one), “one side killing the other”, and “one side capitulating/surrendering”.

      The pleasant ones aren’t likely and the likely ones aren’t pleasant.

      But let’s say you want to avoid a divorce and you don’t want a war. How do you deal with a bad marriage?

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      • And in thinking about that, I’m reminded of Ogden Nash:

        “Which the Chicken and Which the Egg?

        He drinks because she scolds, he thinks;
        She thinks she scolds because he drinks;
        And nether will admit what’s true,
        That he’s a sot and she’s a shrew.”

        –Ogden Nash

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      • The problem with your “Divorce or War” thing is you seem to be thinking in terms of Red States vs Blue States unless I’m reading you wrong. The real division is between the cities and the countryside with the suburbs as the active battlefields (or DMZs, depending). A division along state lines wouldn’t really settle much except leaving a whole lot of folks of both persuasions stranded on the wrong side.

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          • Most people thought Trump getting elected was a fantasy too, look how that turned out. The middle ground needs to be found again and compromise needs to stop being the dirty word or separation is where we’re headed. I am not at all hopeful we’ll get there (to the middle ground).

            The economics of divorce are not impossible, just difficult.

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            • I don’t really know if a middle ground is the answer, because the conflict doesn’t boil down to one where both sides can get half a loaf. What would compromise with Kelly’s position even look like? He says half the Democrats hate America and the other half thing it’s good? He says that Democrats just think America is kind of OK?

              But then again, who cares? Why do we even need consensus over whether America is great, was great, or will be great in the future?

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              • Kinda what I was thinking.
                For a bunch of middle class middle aged white guys yakking at each other on Twitter, I bet it does seem like meaningless bickering like two old codgers in the park.

                But the entire American conservative movement is fueled by white ethnic resentment.

                This is what I referred to where I said Kelly doesn’t have any actual policy to talk about; his is entirely a belligerent statement of identity and culture.

                “My identity is the only rightful one” is not something that has compromise available to it.

                Multiculturalism, the compromise position of mutual respect and acceptance, is exactly his enemy, the thing he most resents.

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              • “But then again, who cares? Why do we even need consensus over whether America is great, was great, or will be great in the future?”

                Apparently a lot of people really do need this to matter

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            • The other thing about “divorce or war” is that we might be in a situation of “If conservatives/liberals did not exist, we would have to invent them.” I don’t think the new countries would be with out strife

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      • I dislike the marriage analogy that gets used for this discussion based on the fact that a marriage is not really comparable. A marriage you have two poles, that once they go opposite cannot be brought close together again. The assumption for that to be applicable is there is only the two extreme sides and leaves out a vast swath of people that fall on the spectrum somewhere in between. In our politics and culture the two edges are the loudest, but are not wholly representative. The edges are growing and hardening with less overlap but there is still the middle, and any divorce analogy seems to leave them out.

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      • Term limits for everyone who serves in local, state, and federal government. I believe this is how you fix the sickness in American politics today. Too many are stuck in perpetual campaign mode, stoking the fires, playing to the base.

        I’ve talked to many Dems and Repubs and it seems to be one of the few things both sides enthusiastically agree on. I don’t think the founding fathers envisioned being an elected official as a career path.

        While term limits won’t fix everything necessarily, it would free up officials serving a last term to be able to do the right thing (compromise or “take one for the team”) rather than what’s going to get them re-elected.

        This was the *ONE* thing that Trump was for pre-election that I supported, but which quickly got dropped.

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        • I don’t support term limits. The perpetual campaign problem is real but term limits are not the solution. It is only a cosmetic change. Other countries deal with the perpetual campaign problem by having really strict laws governing campaigns and campaign financing. If you look at most Parliamentary systems (maybe all), there is a short amount of time between the call for an election and the actual election. Usually something like 2-3 months. The problem seems to be that having a fixed date in November plus really loose campaign finance laws puts everyone into campaigning mode nearly all the time.

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          • I also am opposed to term limits, because it removes those with expertise and skill.

            The idea that the politicians are corrupt, while The People are noble and virtuous is nonsense on stilts.
            The politicians we elect pretty clearly represent our values and priorities, for better or worse.

            While my fellow lefties like to display polls showing most Republicans favor all sorts of social welfare programs, the fact they regularly vote to slash these same programs shows that their actual priority is something else.

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            • I’d feel better about “no term limits” if I felt that the long-serving politicians were long-serving because they were effective servants of their constituents, and that they could easily and quickly be replaced if they became not-effective.

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              • Do you really think there are a bunch of long-servicing politicians getting elected because their constituents don’t think they are effective servants? Given that “effective” often means different things to the median constituent than to someone outside the district/state. Eg, “kept the Air Force base open”, “approved the new weapons system so McDonnell-Douglas hired 500 new people locally”, or “got federal dollars to rebuild our city’s obsolete sewer systems tacked onto the budget.”

                The national media love them some high-level national stories. But “effective” is often judged on a very local basis.

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                • Well, part of it is the whole “seniority” thing. One of the things the South did for a long, long time was send its senators up to the senate for approximately FOREVER. So even the three term senators were “the new guy” when it came to committee stuff.

                  I don’t know the extent to which that has changed, of course.

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                  • 20 or so years ago the House Republicans changed their rules to term-limit committee chairs when they were in charge. It was for the express purpose of deepening the bench — eg, Paul Ryan would never have been chair of the Budget Committee at age 40 under the old rules. I believe it’s a factor in the number of Republican retirements from the House this year. If you’re going to lose your chairmanship whether your side wins or loses the majority, why put up with the hassles of running and serving?

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        • I don’t think term limits are wholly the answer. The logic doesn’t work; they are too corrupt to allow to remain in office, yet that limitation will spur them to making the right decisions? Limiting out the good with the bad would be a leveling, but also a lowering of what we have.

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        • The Founding Fathers didn’t think there would be a big role for parties, either.

          Colorado has had term limits on local and state officials for a bit over 20 years now. It simply doesn’t work the way you think. Almost no one can get elected without the backing of a major party. It’s a rare person who, owing those sorts of favors, will turn on the party on critical votes. The system has also adopted rules that give party leadership enormous power. In very large part, Ryan and McConnell control who gets to write meaningful bills, whether a bill will come to the floor, and the terms of the debate (eg, whether amendments can be offered, and who can offer them). Colorado’s legislature isn’t as bad as Congress. Over the years, because of ballot initiatives and state supreme court interpretation of the constitution, every introduced bill gets a hearing in committee with an opportunity for public testimony (with a guarantee that if present, opposing opinions are aired) and a recorded vote. Every bill passed out of committee(s) is supposed to reach the floor. Every member can offer amendments (within some limits) to a bill that reaches the floor.

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          • The Founding Fathers didn’t think there would be a big role for parties, either.

            Which goes to show even the Founding Fathers could be blind and foolish. Parties are inevitable in any system. I find it darkly amusing when people speculate about ranked choice voting or parliamentary democracy somehow breaking up the “parties”.

            Any democratic system has a stable state: Two parties, compromised of those who vote. There is the majority and the minority. How big the majority is, or how small the minority, will vary over time — and they will often switch sides — but the ideological divisions will last for decades between significant changes.

            This should be obvious — 50%+1 gets you control. Therefore, everyone is incentivezied to find enough people they can make deals with to get to that 50%+1.

            In a parliamentary system, they’ll form stable multi-party coalitions — where tiny edges will occasionally get an outsized voice. In systems like the US, that negotiation is done as part of the primary itself for each party, as they struggle to incorporate a wide enough array of elements to hit that majority.

            Democracy requires parties. It’s just people making deals with other people, trying to get a bare majority. They system teeters back and forth, but that’s the equilibrium.

            If, for instance, the GOP were to commit abject suicide tomorrow over Trump — within a decade or two, another party would spring forth — it might start as Democrats slowly splitting, or rise from the ashes having changed enough to reclaim voters, or whatever.

            There’s always issues that “split the nation” because if it wasn’t this it’d be something else that Americans split over, some battleground for that 50%+1, some other collection of issues that break the country into two factions of rough parity.

            Because that’s the point of voting, of democracy — to argue over the crap we really, really disagree about and figure out which way we jump. I mean how else would it work?

            Parties, politicians, political arguments — they stake their ground where people disagree, because it’s literally a choice. Which requires different things.

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            • : This ignores the very basis for political parties.
              Parties are made of platforms.
              Platforms are made of planks.
              Planks are interest groups which have ascended to the level of party-level politics.

              The focus on the electoral transactions of political parties is not where the meat-&-potatoes of politics lie.
              It’s the lobbyists who represent the interest groups, working both sides of the aisle to shepherd desired legislation through a legislature for a client.

              “Politics” is talking over dinner.
              $40 to $100 a plate, from what I’ve seen, but that’s where the true “politics” lie.

              Politics is salesmanship undertaken by the truly motivated (i.e., paid).

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    • I concur here. I think the reason a lot of conservatives and a good chunk of other assorted people are shocked is because many liberals in the base are pushing back. This isn’t just about AOC and the rise of “socialists.” Even the so-called rust belt moderates or consummate professional politicians like Andrew Cuomo are pushing back or moving to the left. It wasn’t too long ago that even Obama tried to do a grand bargain that involved some entitlement cuts. Now these are a no go even among Democrats who are skeptical about things like “Free College” or “Medicare for All” as slogans.

      I think a lot of Republicans and possibly Republican-sympathetic people really don’t understand how big Democratic contempt is for Trump and how the GOP embrace of Trump has really put our contempt of them even further down.

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      • This isn’t just about AOC and the rise of “socialists.” Even the so-called rust belt moderates or consummate professional politicians like Andrew Cuomo are pushing back or moving to the left.

        I swear, it’s like as soon as the Republicans nominated Trump, Democrats got all insecure and had to prove to the world that they’re still the stupid party.

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      • I think a lot of Republicans and possibly Republican-sympathetic people really don’t understand how big Democratic contempt is for Trump and how the GOP embrace of Trump has really put our contempt of them even further down.

        Au contraire lib. If there’s anything at all in this world that we Republicans get, it’s that.

        The thing that libs aren’t getting (maybe not for conservatives in general, but at least for me) is the extent to which libs’ posture and maneuvers of antagonism toward us is fueled by their psychological and spiritual need to express that contempt, as opposed to their actual substantive beefs against us.

        Once libs can cure themselves of their contempt, or the need to express it, we’ll still be substantively opposed on a lot of things, but the world will look a whole lot different.

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  5. I had never heard of him either until one of the posters over at LGM likewise tweeted about him.

    Notice how Kelly, like most of the Trumpian base doesn’t really have anything to say, other than identity politics and culture war grievance.

    This isn’t something that can be argued, or negotiated or compromised with. It doesn’t come from a place of confidence and desire for cooperation and shared values. It comes from a place of fear and anxiety.

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  6. I’m seeing more and more of this behavior lately from both sides of the aisle. I’ve witnessed several female hunters recently that have been crucified by the animal rights crowd lately simply because they hunt. It’s like they put out the bat signal and everyone runs to that corner of the internet to make their life miserable. I get the whole team mentality, but I have never understood going after random strangers just because you noticed your fellow tribe was doing it.

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    • It’s really easy to do with Twitter, and people will actively search for various slights on their tribal honor to find people to grief. It’s some of the most annoying and pointless behavior out there, and it’s easy to get swept up in it because there’s often a couple degrees of separation between the people getting virally outraged and the original griefer.

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  7. Although I’m of a somewhat conservative bent, there’s a line I’ve drawn on Twitter between those I’ll follow and those I won’t. Some conservatives are reasonable, some are borderline and some are just too anti-liberal for me. Jesse is on the other side of it simply because of this sort of thing. I occasionally laugh or roll my eyes at something that gets RT’d into my timeline. But I just can’t follow because I’ll get annoyed.

    And I don’t think the America most Democrats wants is that different from the one most conservatives want. There are some stark policy disagreements — on healthcare, guns,etc. But on many important things like free speech or free religion, we’re mostly in accord. We don’t notices these things because … well, we agree about them so they don’t come up as much.

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    • @hal_10000

      “And I don’t think the America most Democrats wants is that different from the one most conservatives want.”

      At this point, the GOP needs to go the way of the Whigs and then split the DNC. 20 years ago I would have been considered a mainline Republican. Now I’m a conservative Democrat at best (maybe even a center-Democrat) and my politics haven’t changed that much.

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      • I was thinking about this recently, and I’m glad you brought it up, .

        Three of the longest-lasting R’s at this very site came from *YOUR* old site: You, me, and Dennis.
        Of course, there, we all chummed up about how we hate “de ghay,” our plans to keep women down, and whether turning civil rights back to c. 1500 would be sufficient, or if we should target 1200, or even 900 A.D. Typical Republican stuff.
        ( Let them wonder )

        The thing that struck me is this: None of those three, as I remember it, voted for Trump.
        I voted Green. IIRC, you went 3rd Party too. I can’t remember what Dennis said, but I think he went 3rd Party as well.

        Why are all these “conservatives” defecting from the Republican Party?
        And just as the R’s are in an upswing?
        Odd, that.

        And do you think this says more about the Republican Party, or the company that you keep?

        It just strikes me as odd.

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    • I mean we kind of just realigned into this (pretty awful, to be sure) arrangement, as we’ve had party affiliation trend towards being a better proxy for various highly salient aspects of one’s identity over 50 years. Not sure how to even begin realigning out of it.

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  8. As much as the post makes we want to despise the Jesse Kelly brand, he mocks the keto zealots. That makes a fan!

    Just kidding…sort of. Social media sucks, and people are more concerned about promoting their own brand over facts or rational discourse. I see enough of that in the YouTube fitness community to assume it’s just as bad everywhere.

    Thank you for proving me right.

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    • Since I did not bring up the YT fitness community, I will say that I saw a video of Al Snow on his new training regimen, which has certain features I would like to incorporate.
      However, I haven’t found anything similar on stretches, and I am convinced a thorough before-&-after regimen of stretching is critical.

      ?

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  9. Perhaps a bit off topic, but you mention extending the assumption that Kelly’s performative sexism is just a front, that he’s not actually sexist to any great degree.

    Why would you make that assumption? Is it just because it’s not worth getting into for you and that assumption lets you engage with other statements of his that do seem worth engaging with? Or something else?

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    • I would not say that he isn’t sexist to any degree. On the contrary, I believe he is quite sexist.
      But I think his over-the-top sexism is a put on. I don’t believe he requires his wife to wear high heels at all times or that he thinks women are only valuable for their looks. I think he exaggerates for what he thinks is comedic effect.
      But yes, he no doubt has sexist ideas about gender roles and what women are capable of, and his “jokes” are not funny.

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        • Generally speaking, what are some things that conservatives like Kelly might have to put up with?

          If Kelly were to explain to a foreigner what he fears about a liberal government, what would be his grievances?

          It isn’t oppressive taxes because fiscal policy isn’t even a big issue any more in conservative circles. It isn’t regulation because they love regulation when it suits them.

          The big issues are feminism, BLM, same sex marriage/ trans bathrooms, and mostly, immigration.

          Which of these issues forces Kelly to “put up” with something?

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          • “Which of these issues forces Kelly to “put up” with something?”

            A bunch of things which I’m sure all good, kind, empathetic smart people agree are no big deal.

            As opposed to his rotten bullshit which, like, whoa man, how are you even a person.

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  10. The fact that this guy as 65K+ followers (yes, this is a vanishingly small percentage of the U.S. population, I know) bespeaks the dangerous glorification of the military going on in this country. I wonder if all of his armchair general followers are aware of the Founders’ beliefs regarding a standing army?

    That said, excellent work getting blocked by that idiot. He’s probably off giving his plants what they crave.

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  11. Social media is just the worst.

    I’m generally a go along guy, but some folks just can’t leave well enough alone. Had a date once where my “match” ahem considered anyplace not on the left coast, or bos-wash, to be infested with “retrogrades”. Yeah…no. Out of politeness I refrained from tearing into her, given that I grew up in that zone–it’s a damn big zone–and telling to to go f herself, but I knew any “relationship” would be short term, and while that might have been fun, I’m sure it would be emotionally draining. I had enough of that with “theater chick” who wasn’t as dogmatic, but close. If you can’t, at least, see the other side as human, screw you.

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  12. Twitter tends to bring out the worst groupish instincts in people.

    30 years ago I spent 3 summers as a youth camp director. The first thing we did was divide campers into teams using the simplest convention we could think of – color. Each kid got a red, or blue or yellow or purple cloth ribbon. They were required to wear it all week to show what team they were on. The teams competed all week – a pizza party at the end of the week was the prize.

    On Monday kids were standing around saying “this is stupid”. By Wednesday the blues were ready to burn down the reds cabins and the yellows wanted to rip out the purples throats. This is who we are – competitive, extremely groupy and prone to ugly hatred for folks not like us – even when the “not like us” is totally contrived. Once we commit to a team all we need is a permission structure to hate and we are off and running. Any excuse will do to otherize our opponents.

    Twitter is like a giant social experiment in this very thing. It’s like a group loyalty magnifying glass. Clever branders like JK know how to build a coalition – and I think you are right that he uses the “I hate Dems” as a mantra for his brand.

    Like you I follow an evenly divided group of twitter folks from even keeled and thoughtful centers to honest conservatives and/or liberals all the way to a few on the extremes. The biggest challenge is to find conversations that aren’t tired, cliched and predictable. :)

    Actually folks on this site who are also on Twitter are a pretty good start.

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    • The paradox is that this groupish nature might have also helped humans survive and thrive.

      I am far from an expert so hesitant to delve too far but Red and Blue districts are not new things. Some of them are quite old. The recent special election in Ohio occurred in a district that has almost always sent a Republican Party since the 1920s or 30s. San Francisco hasn’t sent a Republican to Congress since 1946. They haven’t elected one as mayor since 1964.

      Maybe you are proving Pillsy right and Twitter doesn’t enforce bubbles but breaches them in unfortunate and selective ways.

      I think there is a fallacy to assume that many people pick their politics because of deep thoughtful research. Maybe we need to be more cynical here. Maybe party identity comes first and then belief. Maybe party identity forms because my grandparents were in party X, my parents were in party x, I am in party x. I remember being for Dukakis in 1988 because my grandparents and parents supported Dukakis.

      Now this raises the question of whether the above is preferable to “My dad is in party X so I will be in Party Y because fuck you dad.” I knew people who seemingly formed their political identity for that reason too.

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    • Realistic Conflict Theory” is the wikipedia page that you go to when you google “Boy Scout Camp Experiment”. (I was thinking of the Robbers Cave Experiment.)

      The Robbers Cave thing was what I was originally going to talk about but the Wiki linked to this, which I thought was even better. (Well, I can’t find a non-academic copy of the paper… so I can’t excerpt it… but here’s what the Wiki said):

      Lutfy Diab repeated the experiment with 18 boys from Beirut. The ‘Blue Ghost’ and ‘Red Genies’ groups each contained 5 Christians and 4 Muslims. Fighting soon broke out, not Christian vs Muslim but Blue vs Red.

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  13. Jesse Kelly has a post on his web site called, “In Foreign Policy, Donald Trump Is The Powerful Man Barack Obama Never Could Be.” In normal times, people who go out of their way to signal their unseriousness would be treated… well, not very seriously. I guess this ain’t normal times.

    There are two things worth pointing out:
    1. The conservative movement has almost wholly handed its leadership over to cosplayers;
    2. This phenomenon is due, in part, to the fact that the left takes these cosplayers way more seriously than they ought.

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    • Yeah, that’s why Mitt Romney aggressively sought Donald Trump’s endorsement in 2012: because the Left took Trump way too seriously.

      EDIT: What is the mechanism even supposed to be here? “Oh, yeah, I know this guy is a complete rodeo clowns who no one should take seriously, but since the hated libs take him seriously, I not only should we take him seriously, but make him President!”

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      • The mechanism? This is a post about twitter. About the goings on in a made-up space of cosplayers. Since this is a culture space for a bunch of folks who sort-of know each other… its ok to talk about your LARPing weekend. But I don’t really think you are wizards slaying dragons on the internet.

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        • Yeah and if the phenomenon of the Right elevating cosplayers to positions of leadership were limited to Twitter dingbats getting a ton of followers, that would be a plausible argument.

          Trump indicates that the phenomenon is not limited to Twitter.

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              • Heh, good one. I’ll have to branch the analogy… 1. Jesse Kelly and internet normies are the original target… changing to Trump is good prestidigitation. 2. Even wizard Trump requires material cooperation from other parts of the government to make the spells bigger than Tenser’s work.

                But still… the non-allegorical point is that Twitter is a sort of augmented reality that distorts more than it clarifies. From outside the twitterverse a lot of effort is focused on illusion rather than real things (not exclusively, of course, but a lot of wasted energy – or possibly counter-productive energy, IMO). But returning to the mechanism question, don’t mistake twitter for politics.

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      • That’s a very strange response for such a benign proposition. Trump was able to win the Republican nomination, in part (and, as with my original comment, the “in part” is there for a reason) because he was the best at enraging the left. Is this a controversial statement?

        You likely wouldn’t have commented, if I had said something like, “the conservative movement has abondoned any pretense of principles except for ‘trigger the libs!” And yet, for that statement to make any sense, it has to acknowledgethe left being triggered.

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        • Yes, because being appalled, angry, and even frightened when the forerunner for a major parties’ presidential nomination is Donald Trump isn’t “being triggered” or taking him too seriously.

          The Dems’ initial response to Trump (back in the ’11-’12 primary cycle) was derision and mockery, culminating in Obama ridiculing him at the White House Press Correspondents’ dinner.

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          • You mentioned Trump, not me. I mentioned Jesse Kelly.

            But whatever. I mentioned a phenomenon that is absolutely real and that others recognize. But you don’t like the language I used because it doesn’t say nice enough things about your tribe. Fine. Change the language to something that makes you feel better. That won’t change the fact that we are having this exchange about 150 comments deep on a post about Jesse Freaking Kelly.

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            • You mentioned Trump, not me. I mentioned Jesse Kelly.

              You mentioned the “leadership” of the “conservative movement”: why you think that wouldn’t include Trump is beyond me.

              But you don’t like the language I used because it doesn’t say nice enough things about your tribe. Fine. Change the language to something that makes you feel better.

              Sure, why not.

              Since I’m on the Left, I’m responsible for Kelly getting attention and Trump being President. I might as well be responsible for your words, too.

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      • I think it’s a sign of our politics getting way too meta. Living 2 blocks from a DC metro station is quite illuminating. The weekend before last was another good example. Less than 20 ‘neo-Nazis’ provokes thousands of counter-protesters complete with black clad ‘antifa’ jabronies spoiling for a fight. It’s a giant nothingburger despite weeks of hysterical media predictions (I’m almost convinced the taling heads want some bloodshed for the evening news).

        The right is ideologically bankrupt to the point that all it knows is how to troll. The left, constantly in search of a righteous crusade can’t help but take the bait and wastes energy and credibility on phantoms. Right wing media then uses these episodes to miscast the stupidest voices on the left as mainstream to scare up support. Rinse repeat.

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        • Just because the Right might be ideologically bankrupt to the point of only knowing how to troll, doesn’t mean that they will loose elections. The political and electoral structure of the United States allows them to win despite being utterly ridiculous. There is a belief that if the Democratic Party drops this social justice stuff and performs the civility and seriousness issue long enough, the spell that Republicans cast over White America will be broken. Its the political equivalent of a cargo cult. Politics doesn’t work that way.

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          • I’ve never said be civil. I’ve said chasing after neo-Nazis and Russian bots and porn stars while dawning hats shaped like female genitalia is mostly a waste of time and sometimes also counterproductive. All the electoral structure (at least around the presidency) means is that the Democrats need to be competitive in the upper Midwest/Great Lakes area.

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        • I am of the opinion that the single worst thing the left, and by extension Democrats, can do is consider their political opponents ideologically bankrupt. It gives you an out from having to actively engage with their ideas and achievements, while at the same time tacitly approving of your own failures.

          This isn’t to say you should like those ideas, but at a time when the right hold all three branches of power and have a hold on governorships, I don’t think they are the ones missing the point.

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              • So, what will that say about the left if he wins reelection?

                I don’t think it says much about the left* at all, to be honest. Or at least, not without additional context. Politics is a dynamic process, like a sword fight on rocky terrain, which includes a strictly “go negative” offensive approach, usually based on deception. (McCain fathered a kid with a black woman while married to his white wife, dontchhaknow.) Might just as well ask what it says about the GOP that a record number of Republican CCers aren’t running for re-election this term.

                *The fact that you’re calling Democratic candidates for national level offices, in particular the Presidency, “the left” strikes me as laughable but indicative of how trivially folks analyze politics.

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                • *The fact that you’re calling Democratic candidates for national level offices, in particular the Presidency, “the left” strikes me as laughable but indicative of how trivially folks analyze politics.

                  Please keep in mind that this is a conversation in which it was pointed out:

                  You mentioned the “leadership” of the “conservative movement”: why you think that wouldn’t include Trump is beyond me.

                  If we want to decouple the democrats from the left, we need to be prepared to have republicans (even Trump!) decoupled from the right.

                  And if we want to shackle the conservative movement to its elected officials, we will quickly find ourselves complaining that everybody else is accusing us of “stacking the deck” when we talk about how our progressive ideals and our democratic elected official shouldn’t be assumed to be aligned.

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                  • We use terms like “the left” and “the right” to distinguish two voting blocks which are represented by Democrats and Republicans, respectively. Trump *isn’t* decoupled from the right. In fact, he’s represents the ascendancy in the party of its furthest-right elements. As the GOP has transitioned into Trump’s party there is increasingly no place left for right of center-ists. Left of center-ists still dominate the Dem party, and the supposition that Bernie (as an example) represents the furthest-left elements of the lefties is – to me anyway – laughable. But whatever.

                    One of the weird dynamics in US political commentary is that a lefty like AOC (who has not yet held an elected public office) is identified by very serious people as a standard bearer for All Things Dem (or liberal, left, whatever) leading the same very serious people to begin gnashing their teeth and rending their garments over how awful her ascendancy is for America, *whereas* (eg) Trump’s Stasi-like Deportation Force – which is literally kidnapping children and deporting their parents among other horrors – is accepted by those same very serious people as a new political baseline which portends nothing awful for America. Strange dynamic, to me.

                    The purpose of running a candidate is to win an election. But I disagree that Dems losing in 2020 says anything about the left broadly viewed. If the majority of Americans desire policies like Trump’s ICE agents are executing, and more restrictions on voting access, and more destructive trade policies, more collusion with the Russians, etc etc, then *that’s what the people want*.

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          • I am of the opinion that the single worst thing the left, and by extension Democrats, can do is consider their political opponents ideologically bankrupt.

            Of all the times to abandon a soft cultural relativism, when dealing with your ideological opponents is probably the worst time to do that.

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          • To clarify, I mean ‘ideologically bankrupt’ in a very literal sense. I think they are out of ideas and rely on a bunch of media personalities and vague cultural totems to fire up a lot of voters who know what they aren’t much more than what they are. The fact that Trump finally killed the zombie Reagans with the right’s own version of identity politics sans actual policy coherence is IMO an illustration of that.

            How the broader left and center left should respond is a different matter. I’ve always thought that taking on the Republican party and Trump on the policy merits makes the most sense because it’s where they’re weakest. Smarter people than me though seem to think elevating Stormy Daniels and sketchy intelligence agents and the threat of racist redditors is the way to go.

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            • +1.

              As a political party the GOP *is* ideologically bankrupt. Trump exposed that during the primaries. As President, Trump has adopted a mix racism, ethnonationalism, isolationism, anti-liberal/anti-Obama animus, and norm-shattering, institution-crushing authoritarianism as his governing ideology, all corrupted by his overwhelming incompetence and ignorance, but which GOP CCers (and the base) have enthusiastically embraced. Which has about as much money in the account as Trump’s failed casino.

              I totally agree with you about what the Dems should focus on. Sadly, Dem leadership disagrees.

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            • I think they are out of ideas and rely on a bunch of media personalities and vague cultural totems to fire up a lot of voters who know what they aren’t much more than what they are.

              As someone who left the left, so to speak, I would say the exact same thing about the left and Dems.

              Smarter people than me though seem to think elevating Stormy Daniels and sketchy intelligence agents and the threat of racist redditors is the way to go.

              Couple that with the number of losses that the left has suffered over the last 8 years or so, and I feel I have been proven correct. Yes, the Regen coalition needed to go, not least of all because its time and conditions have run their course. But that said, the left/Dems haven’t really brought anything worthwhile to the table to mitigate the right. Hence losses. Or they have brought things to the table that caused even greater losses, such as the ACA. Blaming it on conservative media, when most of the influential media lean liberal (think NYT, Wa Post, CNN, and on and on), speaks more to a failure of L/D ideas to counter those ideas, than any strength of cons/Rep ideas.

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  14. Speaking of fun Social Media happenings, there’s THIS:

    A furry became an intern for NASA and got instantly fired after telling someone on their council to suck their dick because this is 2018. pic.twitter.com/XL7jvCKFFj— Michelle Catlin (@CatlinNyaa) August 21, 2018

    Well, Homer Hickam wrote a blog post about it in which he sort of explained what happened from his perspective.

    I’m not seeing the social utility of this much social media.

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