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The Problem with Never-Trump Republicans

The Problem with Never-Trump Republicans

Every so often, someone writes an article about how the Republican Party needs to change. They offer some suggestions and the article gets some play.

And then the article disappears into the ether.

I’ve been around Republican politics for nearly 20 years now, and every so often there is an article or a book that urges the party to modernize and those articles and books fade from the scene.

I’ve been thinking about this with David Frum’s recent article about a “liberal” Republican party. The article isn’t clear if he’s calling for a classical liberalism or a liberalism that was found in the GOP especially from the 50s to the 70s. My guess, based on this quote, is the latter:

A liberal Republicanism should demand reforms that forbid the corrupt practices of the Trump presidency. It should accept that expanded health coverage is here to stay — about time! — and then work to increase competition, incentives, and fair pricing within a universal system, so as to combat the wasteful American habit of spending more health dollars than any other developed country, for worse health outcomes. It should seek fiscal and environmental balance, by cutting spending, by taxing greenhouse-gas emissions, and by taxing consumption more and investment less.

A few months earlier, scholar Geoffrey Kabaservice wrote in the New York Times about the wish for a Republican New Deal:

…the party should approach the elections under the banner of an ambitious program to bring economic revival to the working class. The starting point for such a program would be Mr. Trump’s campaign-trail commitment to rebuild our decaying national infrastructure — including the roads, schools, hospitals and other civic assets that have been squeezed by conservative cutbacks.

A Trump New Deal could also include other elements with strong appeal to working-class voters, such as vigorous support for universal entitlements like Social Security and Medicare (as opposed to means-tested programs that benefit only the poor), robust wage subsidies, a generous child care tax credit and apprenticeship programs linked to specific high-skilled jobs. Republicans might also consider a national version of a California proposal to make housing more affordable.

As someone that wants to see a Republican party that is more active in government and acts as a counterbalance to the Democrat’s leftward shift, I find articles like these somewhat appealing.

Somewhat.

The problem is that I fear this article will stay in the hypothetical and not move into action. There are many people who write articles about how the GOP should change, but there is no one interested in moving from theory to practice. It’s as if we expect the current leaders to somehow wake up one morning and think “Gee, maybe we ought to look at fixing Obamacare instead of just repealing it!” It didn’t happen in 2000 or 2006, and it won’t happen in the age of the Trumpified Republican party. It’s been this way for years; there is a lot of talk about how the party needs to change, but little stomach for actually doing something about it.

In 2009 I wrote an article called “Why Moderate Republicans Suck.” It was a rant, about the wishy-washy nature of moderates in the party who seemed to not have the stomach to fight for change. I wrote back then:

What conservatives in the Republican party have done over time is to create a culture that could sustain them. Think tanks, magazines, organizations and blogs have all been developed to foster this culture. Yes, it has been inward focus and it does have its weaknesses, but what this conservative culture is good at is empowering people, making them believe that it is in their power to change things.

The reason moderates do not feel so empowered is because we have no discernable culture or movement to back us up and give us meaning. The result is that we feel adrift and powerless to make a difference.

What I found way back then was that most moderates tended to not have the stomach for trying to reform the party. In fact, what happened more often than not was that moderates expected someone else (usually the party leadership) to change the party.

I think that is the same thing happening with Never Trumpers. Never Trumpers are not necessarily moderates, but some of the same hesitation to challenge the party is there. Many are rightly appalled by the direction the GOP is taking, but at this point none of them wants to take the time to either reform the party or create something new.

So, why is this a problem? Why is there no one ready and willing to offer a conservative alternative?

First off, is the lure of being independent. Unlike other democracies, Americans tend to prize being “above party,” voting for who is the best candidate. But this belies how humans really act. People have a need to belong to something, to be a part of something bigger than themselves. Americans have this illusion of being independent, but even those who claim no party are, if you scratch the surface, usually more favorable to one tribe than another, and the result is like what Matt Lewis wrote about the “death” of the Never Trumper movement; you either return to the fold or leave altogether.

Then there is what I call the “burn it all down theory.” Some who are upset and have left the party hope that the current GOP will suffer such an electoral disaster that it will destroy the party and a new and saner party can be built.

The problem with this theory is that losing an election isn’t necessarily going to change things. Losses sometimes make a party more reactionary, not less. When Obama won in 2008, instead of a moderating force, we got the Tea Party. After 2012, and the so-called autopsy, there was hope that the party would reach out to persons of color. Well, we know what happened. A loss will not mean that saner heads will prevail. It may keep people in denial.

Add to this is that around the world there is now an audience again for hard right / nationalist / racist parties. Alternative for Germany is now running just ahead of the Social Democrats and just behind the moderate conservative Christian Democrats. In Brazil, the right-wing candidate for president Jair Bolsonaro, who has openly expressed love for the brutal military dictatorship that ruled the nation from the mid-60s to mid-80s, fell short of winning outright, and will go to a runoff where the odds are likely that he will win.

Finally is the belief that providing an alternative either within the GOP or through an entirely new party doesn’t seem to be much of a pressing concern. There is a lot of talk about what’s wrong with the GOP coming from dissident conservatives, but no one seems to want to take the risk and step out with some kind of movement that people can join.

In 2016, Evan McMullin ran an independent conservative campaign for President. As the election wound down, there was talk of McMullin leading some kind of new movement; maybe not a new party but something new. But McMullin never went in that direction. In fact, he and his running mate, Molly Finn, are taking part in a bipartisan effort. But such a move, as important as it is, is not as needed as is a viable alternative to Trump. We already have groups like NoLabels that can do what McMullin and Finn desire to do. What is needed is something, a new party, a new movement like a conservative version of the Democratic Socialists (kind of a political party within a political party), something that can provide a sense of belonging to folk that are turned off by Trump. But I’ve observed this long before NeverTrump was a thing: you can get a thousand folks to complain about Trump and the GOP, but the desire to change the situation-to press for reform in the party or to create something new-is an orphan. No one wants to put in the time.

So while I think David Frum and others have good ideas, I doubt they will ever become real. And I also doubt that there will even be a GOP challenger to Trump in 2020. It’s easier to join the tribe or walk away from it, than it is to press for change. That’s bad for the conservative movement, but even more so, it is bad for our nation and bad for the world.

Crossposted to Medium.com.


Contributor

Dennis Sanders is the Associate Pastor at First Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in Minneapolis, MN.  You can follow Dennis through his blogs, The Clockwork Pastor and Big Tent Revue and on Twitter.  Feel free to contact him at dennis.sanders(at)gmail(dot)com.

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138 thoughts on “The Problem with Never-Trump Republicans

  1. While there are many flavors of “Never-Trump” the main and original practitioners were the Establishment Neo-Cons (mostly Movement Conservatives)… Axiomatic Free-Traders, Aggrandizing Corporate Globalists, Aggressive Interventionists, Ambivalent on social issues, and Pro-Immigration (specifically for business/labor reasons). That’s the David Frum Never-Trump profile… and that was/is the primary NRO/Movement Conservative Republican policy alignment.

    There are a lot of influential people (the ones with Money/Mouthpieces) Center-Right/Left who share those views… I’m not as convinced, anymore, that there are a lot of regular people (the ones with votes) Left/Right who align with that bucket of policies.

    David Frum is a (discarded) set of ideas desperately seeking votes he can’t muster.

    That’s the problem with pure Never-Trump originalists… they don’t understand that *they* are the thing rejected. They can’t save us from Trump because they gave us Trump.

    As for the other Non-Trumpers… there’s room to forge a political movement that addresses a number of the imbalances from the old Neo-Con/Movement Republican consensus… and that movement will have elements of the “left” and “right” in a new sort of fusionism that might fuel a real realignment… but Trump is stifling that growth as well. So, I encourage Party-within-a-Party talk as well as New Party talk… but Never-Trumpism is a sort of political malpractice that I hope dies along with Trump.

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    • I agree in part and dissent in part.

      What is missing here is that a lot of the more consistent #NeverTrumpers are Jewish. People like David Frum, Bill Krystal, Jennifer Rubin*, the rest of Commentary, etc. It isn’t like Jews as a people lack experience with demagogues willing to use inflammatory rhetoric. I don’t consider this a Godwin. One of the more powerful things about Trump’s America is the reassertion of out and out anti-Semitism. There were always Jew Haters in the United States but I’m of an age where I can remember when the Republicans actively tried to court the Jewish vote and worked very hard to suppress anti-Semitism in the right-wing/conservative.

      Now stuff like this is more normal:

      https://www.jta.org/2018/10/09/news-opinion/flyers-uc-davis-campus-blame-jews-kavanaugh-assault-allegations

      That being said, I think you are basically correct about the fact that a lot of money holds views that are not seen in a lot of voters these days. The Atlantic always strikes me as kind of pathetic for all their articles on the need to bring back bipartisanship and comity. They seem lost in the fog and unwilling to admit that the old ways are gone. I wonder if they have fainting couches and smelling salts in their offices.

      However, most Democrats are still pretty pro-market and pro-capitalist. AOC calls herself a Democratic Socialist but she is not the second-coming of Trotsky unless we define anything slightly to the left of the Koch Brothers or Milton Freidman as Communism.

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      • Saul Degraw: However, most Democrats are still pretty pro-market and pro-capitalist. AOC calls herself a Democratic Socialist but she is not the second-coming of Trotsky unless we define anything slightly to the left of the Koch Brothers or Milton Freidman as Communism.

        Not that I should need to say this…

        Since when does AoC need to be the second coming of Trotsky for me to find her grasp of the economics/markets/healthcare subjects I know well to be problematic? She doesn’t. She can end up trending closer to Warren or Sanders and that’s bad enough for me.

        I don’t care what you or anyone else thinks they are. I care about their positions on issues and that drives my judgment, as it should for you when it comes to me.

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        • Since when does AoC need to be the second coming of Trotsky for me to find her grasp of the economics/markets/healthcare subjects I know well to be problematic?

          Alexandra Ocasio-Cortes is not the second coming of Trotsky. She’s also not the leader of the Democratic party, nor will she be one any time soon. If she wins (likely), she will be one of 534 representatives, many of whom, in both sides of the aisle, might have little to no grasp of economics, markets, or healthcare, probably even less than her.

          AOC’s only claim to fame is that she defeated in the primary an entrenched incumbent that didn’t even bother to campaign, and complained later on on the unfairness that AOC and her team handed flyers to voters, and -gasp- had store owners allow them to be placed in store windows. Her political positions match the district she wants to represent, just as the Founding fathers intended. To the extent she’s not in your district, she should not be worrying you

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          • Last I checked, I’m allowed to disagree with someone’s views right? That was the point I was trying to make to Saul, that and to point out an issue I had with his framing of the issue.

            Thanks for the civics lesson though.

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            • You are allowed to disagree with AOC, or with Saul, or with me. That’s also enshrined in the Constitution (more free Civics lessons).

              But somehow AOC has been blown up as the coming avatar of the Democratic Party by both the left and the right, from Trump downwards, since her surprising primary win. She is not.

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    • I like this take. Trump represents a big shift. A conservative friend of mine says Trump isn’t really a conservative (“but I sort of like him” he says. “He has his own way of thinking about things” It was considerably less than a full-throated endorsement.)

      The big shift, as best I can tell, is blowback over the fact that there’s a bunch of people the government (federal and state) has turned its back on, saying, “there’s nothing we can do”.

      So there’s been tons of scapegoating – It’s the fault of Muslims, or Jews, or Liberals, or Environmentalists, or Gay People, or Godless Values, or Black People, or whatever.

      Meanwhile, when they said, “there’s nothing we can do”, what the meant is, “there’s nothing we can do while keeping our revenue stream going”. Globalization has an impact. Automation has an impact. I read a heart-rending description of Western Kansas. Almost nobody lives there, a lot of the farming is done via satellite controlled robotic machines. The people who do live there have very few government services, and have seen their communities wither away.

      I don’t have an answer, but I can understand the frustration and unhappiness of the people there who feel left behind. But it’s got nothing to do with Muslims, or Jews, or Blacks, or Gays, or Trans people, or decadent liberal values.

      So it isn’t an accident that they have turned against the aggressively globalist neocons.

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      • “The big shift, as best I can tell, is blowback over the fact that there’s a bunch of people the government (federal and state) has turned its back on, saying, “there’s nothing we can do”.”

        There are two problems with this. The first is that the main group of leaders who push that line are Republicans, especially the Tea Party.

        Second is the fact that economic anxiety didn’t drive Trump voters; resentment did.

        Or let’s call it what it really is – evil. Trump was the guy who loudly said all of the evil which they wished for, but didn’t openly say.

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    • That’s the problem with pure Never-Trump originalists… they don’t understand that *they* are the thing rejected. They can’t save us from Trump because they gave us Trump.

      Elegant, concise, accurate. {{golf claps}}

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  2. I think I mentioned just the other day, that articles about a hypothetical moderate conservative party inevitably describe the actual existing Democratic Party.

    Which makes me wonder in all sincerity- What does Dennis see in the Democratic Party that prevents him from supporting it?

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    • Identity dies hard. Look at Justice Stevens who maintains “I did not leave the Republican Party. The Republican Party left me.” There are probably more people like this than zeal of the convert types.

      The Democratic Party is seen as the liberal party regardless of the policies they espouse. So people who generally see themselves as Conservative might always be inclined to react against.

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      • The other part of the equation, which I am developing, is that the Democratic Party isn’t, really, all that liberal when in power.

        As you and I know as California residents, the state and city governments, almost all Democratic, pretty much govern as the middle of the road centrist that Dennis describes.
        We don’t have Antifa fixing potholes or BLM patrolling the city parks.

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        • A year or so ago Kevin Drum had a post on how Democrats/Californians see Nancy Pelosi and how red America sees Pelosi. We see a practical grandma. They see someone who represents San Francisco in all its allegedly freaky glory.

          To a lot of people, San Francisco will always be the Folsom Street Fair which does happen and a lot of people will always see as immoral. Don’t know if this is Dennis or not.

          A few months ago I was in OKC for a deposition and my lyft driver said he thinks we do “weird things” in California that he doesn’t approve of because he is an “Iowa boy.” You can read that he still thinks we are weirdo drug fueled hippie sex freaks.

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            • It should be blatantly obvious that I don’t have a high opinion of the Republican Party and don’t think it is worth saving or defending. I don’t see why everyone bends over backwards to be especially nice to them because it makes us seem like more open in the debate sphere.

              And I’m not a conservative and don’t accord them any special place as being super-serious, sincere, or important in political discourse. I think the #NeverTrumpers are the ones on to things here and Jennifer Rubin realizing it was all a graft for the uber-rich to steal more money and for the authoritarians to boot stomp everyone is the correct view.

              We always seeming willing to doubt liberals and/or Democrats here but conservatives most always be deferred to when they say “But Trump doesn’t speak for meeee!!!!” It is his party. The GOP base spent years making it and feeling butt hurt at those damn liberals in the cities and college campuses. I don’t see why they should be accorded mercy for the logical endpoint of their beliefs which is Trumpism.

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              • It’s fine. I wouldn’t dream about asking you to defend the Republican Party.

                I was boggling at your implication that Dennis Sanders, a gay dude, might want to speak up on whether he sees San Francisco as being represented by the Folsom Street Fair.

                How’s this? I assume that, as a black dude, he sees San Francisco as a “progressive” city in the way that only Privileged White People can be progressive: screaming and shouting about the importance of “diversity” while living in Lily White Zip Codes sending their children to schools that are effectively segregated.

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      • There are a lot of us who agree with that Stevens’s line. I’ve been saying “I did not leave the Republican Party. The Republican Party left me.” for almost 20 years now.

        I’m currently registered Dem because 2008 was the first time PA had a chance to make any difference in a primary and I didn’t want to pass that up, but had been an independent for decades and still am (I’m just lazy and don’t want to take off during the day to go change my registration). I find that I do tend to agree more with moderate Democrats on policy, but the party as a whole still strikes me as feckless and unable to organize anything but circle firing squads, so I’m not exactly a convert. :P

        That said, I’ve seen a number of neighbors who had always had GOP candidate signs in their yards during election years go from Never Trump to ‘Fish the Whole Fishing GOP’ over the last couple years. One of them even volunteered with GOTV for local Dem candidates last year. That may still count as anecdote not data, but from where I’m sitting it looks like a trend among people who are not pundit class like Frum.

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        • I think the Democratic Party also suffers because of the GOP’s hard lurch to the right.

          The Atlantic runs a lot of articles ruing the death of the Golden Age of Consensus and Bipartisanship (TM). The problems here are:

          1. The Golden Age of Bipartisanship was the exception to the rule to anyone who pays attention to American history. It is just an exception that was around for most of living memory;

          2. Bipartisanship requires a homogeneous political outlook with arguments around the margins and anyone who knows anything about history is that the Far Right went about taking over the GOP slowly and surely since they were really upset at Wilkie, Dewey, and Eisenhower.

          Anyway, since the GOP is going so far to the right on nearly all issues, a lot of people end up as Democrats because they see Democrats as the “not insane” party. So you have a party filled with working-class activists like Bryce and AOC whom feel like the Great Recession destroyed the economic chances of their generations and have negative feelings on banks and Wall Street and want to represent the gig workers. And then you have people hoping to making Managing Director at Morgan or Partner at Bain Capital whom are generally more pro-business (no duh) but don’t like all the crazy social conservatism of the GOP and probably believe that Climate Change is real.

          Democratic politics are the politics of fragile coalitions.

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    • I have long wondered that about David Frum, actually. I read him and I wonder why we support different parties. In my imagination, it’s about abortion, but I really don’t know.

      As to Dennis, he can answer for himself, so I don’t want to speculate.

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    • Many people simply can’t abide by the Democratic Party. Years of Republican and other conservative propaganda against the Democratic Party have convinced millions of Americans that the Democratic Party is some far out radical hippy party dedicated to the destruction of all that is good and true. Other people at least nominally possess liberal beliefs but believe the Democratic Party is a far right party in liberal guise preventing true liberalism from being a thing in the United States.

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  3. I think this is an incomplete analysis

    There are two things, and two things only, that the GOP (and any party in the USA) cares about: votes, and the MONEY needed to access those votes.

    We live in permanent campaign mode. Every politician’s first concern is to be (re)elected, hence every politician’s fist concern is about message. What will bring voters out to vote for him, and/or against his opponent.

    Do observe that rallying the voters and acting on the voter’s preferences are not aligned. If Roe vs Wade is ever repealed, abortion voters will become free agents, available to vote for any other matter that catches their fantasy. So, the GOP will probably never do anything to actually fully eliminate abortion (they didn’t even hint at it during these two years of complete control of the government).

    The other, even more important element is money. Campaigning and elections in the USA are probably the most expensive in the world, an industry requiring billions of dollars every two years. Every politician in the USA is beholden to their donors. The only government program they truly have is whatever their donors demand in exchange for their money. This could be direct benefits to the donors (like tax cuts, the only thing the GOP really cared for and really worked for in this Congress), or just catering to the donors cultural/political preferences (LGBT rights for Dems, Iran bashing for the GOP, for instance). Unlike voters, donors do require results. A politician that does not deliver of their tax cuts or LGBT rights commitments will find their campaign funds cut drastically.

    Do notice that Trump campaigned on different proposals than the traditional GOP tax cuts and neo conservative policies, but it is the latter that the GOP implemented. To the extent the GOP does not change their policies, it is because the donors are not interested in any changes, and the party cannot risk defying their donors.

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      • Repealing Roe v. Wade is like putting an NBA team in Seattle

        Being one of the least sporting people in this site, and finding basketball particularly boring as an spectator sport, I’m embarrassed to say the comment flew way over my head

        :-(

        can you make, I don’t know, a physics analogy,

        :-)

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        • The Seattle NBA team moved to Oklahoma City back in 2008 because Washington state wouldn’t spend a few hundred million dollars to upgrade their arena, but Oklahoma City was happy to spend a similar amount of money to upgrade one there. Seattle has since made it clear that they’ll spend whatever is necessary to attract another team. But it remains without one, which is very handy for the NBA; any team whose city won’t spend money on their arena can threaten to move to Seattle.

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    • “Do notice that Trump campaigned on different proposals than the traditional GOP tax cuts and neo conservative policies, but it is the latter that the GOP implemented. To the extent the GOP does not change their policies, it is because the donors are not interested in any changes, and the party cannot risk defying their donors.”

      Trump also abandoned those policies, with the exception of trade war and cruelty.

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  4. Trump’s op-ed in USA Today is another data point.

    However filled with lies and distortions it may be, it reveals a big fundamental truth- Namely that the Republican base, the conservative base, loves Medicare as it currently stands.

    True, the funders of the party, the AEI think tank types who propel elected Republicans hate it, but the base loves it.

    And as Greg Sargent points out, his op ed also reveals another truth- that the fiscal battles aren’t about high concept ideas of markets or size of government, but merely a squabble over who gets what and how much.

    [Trump] knows that his base is made up almost entirely of the gray—older white people—and he is attempting to scare them by suggesting that those young (primarily brown) people are coming for their Medicare.

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  5. I am not a Republican, I am not a conservative. But, I am someone who found his party, the D’s, to no longer have room for him. So I feel your pain.

    That said, like me, you may no longer be a proper fit for your old party and the direction that it is going. This is hard news to hear, but hear it you must. Whether this is because you have changed or the party has changed makes no difference, only that it has. The current make-up of the GOP is not crazy, nor unrepresentative of voters, as it has and indeed does, win elections. Which, at the end of the day, is all that matters. How it wins elections, that is a different story and one that you might not choose to be a part of at this time or any time in the future. That was a hard reckoning for me with the Dems, but as much as I hoped they would eventually see things in a direction that was acceptable to me, the last two years have shown me that they are no longer interested in my vote, nor I in their leadership.

    For you see, I was a moderate Dem, a Blue Dog if you will, not too dissimilar from a moderate Repub. But we were removed from the party on the second Tuesday in 2010. And no move has been made to recover us. Since then I have found a home in the Libertarian party, as they seem to agree on many of the things I hold dear, things that horrified me during the Regan years and still horrified me under Obama.

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  6. I like the idea, but there are so many litmus-tests for moderate Republicans out there that even wealthy, entrenched incumbents like Corker and Flake didn’t even bother to make a go of it in the primaries this year despite being pretty darn conservative on policy. “RINO-hunting” has long been a fun sport that’s far more prevalent on the R side than the equivalent on the D side and once you get branded with that label you’re essentially persona non grata in the party. Of course, the goalposts for what makes someone a “True Republican” have moved so often that it’s dizzying to try to keep up and impossible to remain consistent.

    I agree though that it makes far more sense to stay within a party rather than leave; you can stay in a party and vote against it/not vote, but leaving it means you’ll just drive the primary electorate further to the extremes. That said, I don’t know where one would find the funding for moderate R infrastructure, especially in the states (I guess AEI and maybe Niskanen, which is more libertarian, would fit, but they are unique creatures of DC). The Chamber of Commerce is probably the closest equivalent, but as this post points out a lot of the business-friendly policies the Chamber supports are some of the things most hated by Trumpism (the Chamber has also gotten the RINO tag in many races lately). And while I suppose you could run a lot of primary challenges that would get 20-30% of the vote to try to get an alternative message out there, the current media environment of rewarding the horserace WINNERS and disqualifying the ideas of the LOSERS regardless of the actual merits of each would probably make moderates and their ideas more hated than the current situation.

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  7. Frum’s Republican New Deal is indistinguishable from centrist democratic thinking, quite possibly somewhat to the left of it. Most Democrats, even those considerably to the left of that position, would take it in a heartbeat over the current alternatives.

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  8. ?

    Aaron David: For you see, I was a moderate Dem, a Blue Dog if you will, not too dissimilar from a moderate Repub. But we were removed from the party on the second Tuesday in 2010. And no move has been made to recover us. Since then I have found a home in the Libertarian party, as they seem to agree on many of the things I hold dear, things that horrified me during the Regan years and still horrified me under Obama.

    ??

    I am utterly confused by this part.

    First, I’m a moderate. Previously Republican, so likely was more left leaning than you were, and I cannot think of anything that happened near the beginning of 2010 to remove moderates from the party. As far as I can tell, there are still quite a number of them in the party and even serving in elected office.

    Second, the last sentence is baffling. The Libertarians agree on many things you now hold dear but that were horrifying to you in the years from Reagan to Obama? That’s quite an about face on …whatever it is you’re talking about. I have mixed feelings on Libertarian policies (partly perhaps because no two Libertarians ever seem to agree on what their core values are) but can’t think of much that’s horrifying. Nor can I think of anything horrifying in the few policies shared by both Reagan and Obama.

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      • I have always been a strong believer in civil liberties, and the two administrations where pretty bad on that front, though I would give Obamas team the edge in horribleness.

        It’s perfectly reasonable to say you don’t like the Dem’s record on civil liberties, and you’re giving up on both parties and going libertarian.

        But you have to have some _amazing_ calculations going on to think a single instance of a targeted attack of an American citizen is worse, civil liberties-wise, than literally torturing multiple people to death.

        Also, I will remind everyone, again, that 501(c)(3)s cannot be operated for political purposes, and thus, _by definition_, whoever the IRS looked at had _explicitly declared they did not exist for political organizing_.

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        • But you have to have some _amazing_ calculations going on to think a single instance of a targeted attack of an American citizen is worse, civil liberties-wise, than literally torturing multiple people to death.

          Where are you getting your numbers? According to the Senate’s report on the CIA torture program, the CIA held 119 detainees between 2000 and 2008 and about 40 of them were subjected to “enhanced interrogation.” Of those 40, 1 died.

          Reports of the Obama administration’s targeted assassination program give the number of militants killed at ~2,000; although yeah, only one was an American citizen. Of course, the government has a funny way of classifying anyone on the battlefield as a militant and defining the battlefield by where the missiles land. Estimates of civilian deaths range from the tens to the hundreds

          Also, not only did the Obama administration assassinate an American citizen without a trial, two weeks later they killed his 16yo son. And when asked, Obama adviser Robert Gibbs quipped that he should have had a more responsible father.

          What exactly are your calculations?

          Source: https://www.intelligence.senate.gov/sites/default/files/documents/CRPT-113srpt288.pdf

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          • Where are you getting your numbers? According to the Senate’s report on the CIA torture program, the CIA held 119 detainees between 2000 and 2008 and about 40 of them were subjected to “enhanced interrogation.” Of those 40, 1 died.

            Here you go (Incidentally, there are indications this wasn’t the CIA, but JSOC.):
            https://harpers.org/archive/2010/03/the-guantanamo-suicides/

            Another fake suicide: Abdul Rahman al-Amri

            And the suicides of Mohammad Ahmed Abdullah Saleh Al Hanashi and Adnan Farhan Abd Al Latif are firmly on the government’s hands, also, for torturing them into mental illness. (Assuming that Al Hanashi actually committed suicide.)

            Reports of the Obama administration’s targeted assassination program give the number of militants killed at ~2,000; although yeah, only one was an American citizen. Of course, the government has a funny way of classifying anyone on the battlefield as a militant and defining the battlefield by where the missiles land. Estimates of civilian deaths range from the tens to the hundreds

            If we’re getting into ‘needless deaths of civilians in other countries’, Bush sorta has Obama beat there, too, for the obvious reason of ‘starting entirely pointless Iraq war’. Which raises the odd question: Was it somehow worse for Obama to _declare_ an area a battlefield, resulting in a few hundred civilian deaths, when Bush _literally_ made an entire country an actual battlefield, resulting in over a hundred thousand civilian deaths?

            But we are actually discussing ‘civil liberties’, not civilian deaths in war in general. Generally, the government’s actions in a war resulting in the death of civilians is not considered an issue of ‘civil liberties’.

            Now, I actually can make the argument that the assassination of someone, even an American citizen, that the US has no way to capture, is a much _less_ civil liberties violation than the US government behaving in a tortuous and murderous manner towards people it has already safely contained. That killing people in a war is actually a legitimate government function, even killing _specific_ people in a war. Maybe in this specific instance, it crossed a line, maybe this specific instance doesn’t count as ‘a war’, and we shouldn’t do this specific thing. It’s a reasonable point, and I…basically agree, and I’m glad we stopped. But the point is there’s a line and ‘the government’ can be on the correct side of that line, unless the argument is that literally the entire concept of war is illegal.

            Whereas torturing people is literally _never_ a legitimate government function, period, end of story. The government is not allowed to cause people pain for the purposes of causing them pain. Not as punishment, not as incentives, not for any reason at all. It can cause _incidental_ small amounts of pain while trying to accomplish something else, but no actual pain-to-cause-pain. At all.

            I think of it as the difference between the worst police shooting we’ve ever had, a totally unjustified shooting of an unarmed man in circumstances where there was no possible danger…and a police officer raping some people and accidentally killing a few of them during it. The former of those is at least operating within some sort of framework in which their actions _could_ be legal, even if they are not specifically legal in this instance. The latter of those…no. Just no.

            But let’s pretend they were analogous. I’m just pointing out that the Obama administration did it _once_, whereas the Bush administration set up an entire systematic torture system. That killed several people. Including repeatedly and systematically lying about it. (I remember when it was only ‘three’ people who were tortured or some single digit number like that.)

            Also, not only did the Obama administration assassinate an American citizen without a trial, two weeks later they killed his 16yo son. And when asked, Obama adviser Robert Gibbs quipped that he should have had a more responsible father.

            Yeah, it’s too bad the kid wasn’t a decade younger, than the Obama administration could have tried to capture then both, then tortured the kid by crushing his testicles until the father talked.

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            • Now, I actually can make the argument that the assassination of someone, even an American citizen, that the US has no way to capture, is a much _less_ civil liberties violation than the US government behaving in a tortuous and murderous manner towards people it has already safely contained.

              You could. I’m not sure why you’d want to. It’s an argument that is poorly reasoned from an ethical standpoint and just plain dumb. The only purpose it would serve is to find a way to say that Obama was better than Bush on civil liberties. And since that’s an argument based almost entirely on opinion, why not just skip the rationalization? It would save you from having to do ridiculous things like failing to deal with the killing of a 16yo kid, because you want to preserve some fiction of Obama as the good guy.

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      • I remain confused as to how the GOP winning so many seats in 2010 amounts in your mind to the Dems removing moderates from the party. As I recall 2010 was largely a Tea Party wave and those folks are anything but moderate.

        On the second point, I can understand being strongly in favor of civil liberties (you must be truly horrified by the current administration!) Having lived through the Reagan years, I’m not so sure about giving the edge to Obama, though I agree the drone strike on a US citizen was appalling. I also agree that the Risen case was wrong, though I have mixed feelings given the nature of the classified information that was leaked. The last thing you cite however does not strike me as a big a civil liberties issue, unless you consider being able to sexually harass women without consequence to be a civil right. Universities have in several cases overreacted or over reached in response, but this was hardly the Obama administration “using Title 9 as a tool to deny civil rights on campus.”

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        • There are a couple other discussion threads going on right now where the difference between ‘liberal’ and ‘progressive’ has come up. I demur as to whether or not those are the right terms but one thing the Democrats in their progressive form have done is abandoned principled defense of civil liberties. Some of them have adopted the intersectionality religious cult, some of them are corporatist stewards of the welfare state, but old school liberalism isn’t really represented in the leadership (Bernie has some flashes here and there but he’s still an outsider).

          Regarding the ‘going too far’ on Title IX, according to KC Johnson (a former Duke professor who has been tracking these things since the lax scandal), universities have had 118 adverse rulings in court for civil liberties violations arising out of the Lhamon ‘Dear Colleague’ letter. That says something.

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        • Yes, it was a tea party wave, arising from the passage of the hated ACA. The passage, as you surely know, was on party lines and it hung out to dry, metaphorically, the moderate Dems. That, in my eyes at least, is a sure sign that the party leadership did not care about the fates of the moderates as the country was showing signs at every point of the ACA’s travels through Congress of its disapproval. Again, YMMV. But I am reminded of an old description of Science Fiction “Hubris clobbered by Nemesis.” Seems quite apropos.

          No, I don’t consider being able to sexually harass women to be a civil right, but being accused should trigger the rights; to counsel, evidence, etc. as anyone else accused of a crime. Enacting kangaroo courts is an unacceptable action. As InMD states above, 118 universities have been sued due to this.

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          • I think it shows the party cared about what the people who voted them in in 2008 said they wanted, and had been saying they wanted for decades. You may hate the ACA and the tea party might, but my mother and my husband are cancer survivors. Doing something about the insurance industry’s abuse of people with pre-existing conditions (which used to include me simply because I’ve given birth) was and is an issue I care about. ACA might not be perfect, but it is a helluva lot better than what we had, which was ‘oh, you got cancer …well, sucks to be you.’

            In fact, my mom and a good chunck of the family left the GOP in 1992 because we watched the GOP convention full of rich politicos saying how great our healthcare system is and how the market would fix any bad stuff just as we were also watching my mom fight for her life and fight Aetna for every scrap of treatment she needed – and knowing she had no choice but to keep paying them since with a pre-existing condition she could not ever get other insurance. So in my eyes, passing the ACA was a sign of actually giving a fish about real people rather than political advantage – something the GOP notably does not do.

            As I said, some colleges went overboard, but while 118 sounds like a big number, given that there are over 5300 colleges in the US, it’s barely over 2%. How many women at colleges report rape and get brushed off? During just the 4 years in one college where I did my undergrad I know there were at least 3 because I knew them personally.

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            • To clarify, 118 is the number of adverse holdings by a court (i.e. this went to trial and they were ruled against), not number of claims, settlements, or situations where people decided it was easier to go on with their lives after the kangaroo campus proceedings did their thing.

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            • “As I said, some colleges went overboard, but while 118 sounds like a big number, given that there are over 5300 colleges in the US, it’s barely over 2%.”

              That is some… interesting… logic. Let’s apply it to something else. There are approximately 42 million African-Americans in the US. In 2017 police shot 17 unarmed black males. That is much less than 2%! They shouldn’t mind having their rights and lives taken away!

              “How many women at colleges report rape and get brushed off? During just the 4 years in one college where I did my undergrad I know there were at least 3 because I knew them personally.”

              Indeed, it is far too many. But creating kangaroo courts and removing other peoples rights not only won’t fix that, it quite possible damages the cause of changing this.

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                • No, they don’t. But neither do colleges have a right to federal or state money.

                  In all seriousness, civil rights aren’t a zero-sum game, and when they are treated as such, then they are just politics, another form of cultural warfare. And who wants to support that shit.

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                  • I agree, it is cultural warfare to tell a woman that her rapist’s continued college admittance is a civil right, but her rape is something that if it can’t be proven without a shadow of a doubt, she’ll just have to deal with learning about Calculus in the same classroom as him.

                    Somebody accused of rape as far as continued college admittance goes has no more “due process” rights than some stoner kicked out because he was accused of selling pot in his dorm room.

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                    • Ugh….Rape victims in colleges need better protections and support. Pushing poorly done investigations in venues not suited for them and causal nastiness towards the accused doesn’t actually get justice or safety for victims. If anything it creates a long term worse situation since it does not put in a place a good system and provokes a back lash by creating obvious abuses.

                      There are things colleges can do to protect victims. They should not have to be in the same classes with the people they have accused. They should not have to be in the same dorms if they have mixed sex dorms. Class schedules can be changed to keep people apart.

                      But FFS the regular CJ system hurts poor and POC people now through the bail system. The accused can lose jobs, housing, schooling if they can’t make bail even when they are innocent. Why the hell replicate that system in colleges?

                      If we want justice for victims then we want a fair system that protects every bodies rights. That is the kind of system that gets buy in from everybody, that people listen to instead of fighting against.

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                      • “If we want justice for victims then we want a fair system that protects every bodies rights. That is the kind of system that gets buy in from everybody, that people listen to instead of fighting against.”

                        This is where we fundamentally disagree. I think the vast majority of people supposedly worried about false accusations are perfectly OK with the current system where the vast majority of those who commit rape suffer no sanction for it and will bitterly fight against any system, such as Title IX, which helps in any way.

                        The backlash is going to come anyway, so why compromise with those who basically think every sexual abuse survivor has a decent chance of being a liar unless she immediately calls the police the moment after the rapist finishes?

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                        • The backlash is a problem if is clear and obvious enough that it convinces middle of the road people there is a problem. There have been enough problematic cases of accused being harmed yet seem to be innocent. Especially POC students who have had claims made against them.

                          I’m all for helping victims and want T 9 to work.I’ve worked as a therapist and, in various venues, with many DV and sex assault victims. Systems that poorly protect the rights of the accused are going to have fundamental flaws in protecting the accuser. Poor systems are full of jerking knees and capricious decisions. That doesn’t help survivors.

                          And i’m really f’ing not talking about accusing survivors of being liars. I’ve actually seen a few, very few, false accusations and whole bunch that seem hard to believe. Most are believable.

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                    • If someone has raped a person, then a crime has been committed. And if a crime has been committed then the police need to be informed and a real, honest investigation needs to be started. And that start should be listening to the accuser AND the accused.

                      If the man is not found guilty, then guess what? He gets to go to calculus also. If the police don’t want to investigate, then that is who you go after. Get NOW, the AAUW and any other groups who propose to speak for women. I will support that completely. But the man must get his day in court, with a lawyer if he wants, access to evidence, and every other thing that the accused in any other set of circumstances are entitled too. That is what a civil right is. We don’t want black men shot for no reason, we don’t want women raped, and we don’t want the innocent to be railroaded. In any case.

                      If what happened was not a crime, change the culture. And that won’t happen if people feel innocents are being railroaded.

                      **********

                      And one last point. Movements such as #metoo rely on the credibility of the accusers. If they lose that credibility, then the whole thing comes to naught. This is from a conservative woman gun blogger about last week:

                      You know what pisses me off about this whole situation?

                      My conservative friends keep bringing up Bill Clinton and The Evel Knievel of Chappaquiddick, and they don’t grasp that the #MeToo movement was in *response* to that environment in the past.

                      People don’t understand how common sexual assault and straight-up rape is…and, yes, #MeToo…and this groundswell happens where now we’re not going to sweep it under the rug, we’re not going to let it slide with a “boys will be boys” or “she should have been more careful”.

                      But somehow the movement got shanghaied, first by people who diluted the meaning to “someone at work said my ankles were fat”, and now finally we’ve come to this.

                      DiFi’s smug little last-minute “Aha! I’ve got a ‘gotcha’ that’ll stick it to the GOP but good!” expression…its blatant politicization…is in danger of becoming the Pickett’s Charge of the #MeToo movement. Movements have backlashes and pendulums swing both ways. Thanks for f$cking it up, Diane.

                      That is the sign of a movement losing half the country. From the feeling that it has been politicized.

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                      • If someone has raped a person, then a crime has been committed. And if a crime has been committed then the police need to be informed and a real, honest investigation needs to be started. And that start should be listening to the accuser AND the accused.

                        And when an investigation _isn’t_ started? When do the police refuse to actually do one? What then?

                        There are _hundreds of thousands_ of untested rape kits in this country. When the police even bother to collect one.

                        If the police don’t want to investigate, then that is who you go after.

                        The left can’t stop the police from _shooting unarmed black people_, what makes you think anyone can get them to actually investigate rapes?

                        And that won’t happen if people feel innocents are being railroaded.

                        Maybe if people feel innocents are being railroaded, they should make sure that rape allegations are _fully investigated_ so that colleges haven’t had to invent their own systems to keep from being sued?

                        Seriously, the system for investigating rapes in this country is horribly broken, and it’s really weird how people get concerned about this only because the victims have realized it’s _so_ broken they’ve started making an end-run around this system and operating within whatever legality they can cobble together.

                        And now people say ‘No, the system they are inventing is broken! They should use this other broken system instead!’

                        At some point, the justice system becomes so broken for specific people that they don’t use it anymore. It happens in poor neighborhoods all the time. And the system they cobble together will have very little protections for the wrongly accused. I’m _really_ surprised it’s taken women this long, and I’m actually rather surprised women have mostly just limited themselves to ostracising people.

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                        • Some places do better with investigating rape then other places. Just like police brutality, some places are better or worse than others. What we need are more specially trained sex crimes investigators and for all beat cops to have a better understanding of trauma and rape.

                          Story time: I used to be therapist and had a young woman i’d worked with for years since i had worked at a shelter for runaway teens. She was a street kid with a boat load of behavior problems. She loved to antagonize the cops: yell “PO-PO’s” and run hoping to get chased. Well she called me one day saying she had been raped. She had already called the cops and they wanted her to have an exam/interview with the SART team. She asked me to take her. The cops were very professional and appropriate. They had clearly been well trained. I talked to her the next day and asked her what she thought of the process. What did the street kid who hated cops say. She said it was very respectful and felt treated well.

                          You want better cops you need to focus on that. You want crappy half ass investigations, then have colleges do them. They sure as hell aren’t’ trained for it and have not done well. The faults of cops, of which there are many, don’t justify the problems with the way colleges are handling sex crimes.

                          I know all the stats about rape prosecutions and stuff. However the cops investigate the hell out of some rapes. Lots of cops take it very seriously. The problems are more with poorly trained cops and with crimes at marginalized populations.

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                        • Given that Ford wrote her letter at McLean’s house, possibly at the insistence of a whole bunch of top FBI people who are already in the news, those “beach friends” who did want the accusation public or they wouldn’t have pushed Ford to write the letter. Did Ford write the letter on her own laptop or one of McLean’s PC’s? Did McLean or other FBI agents, undoubtedly skilled in inserting thumb drives while Ford was distracted by a distraction that FBI agents are skilled at making, make copies or even edits of what Ford wrote?

                          They wouldn’t have been pushing her to write the letter if they didn’t want the letter to have a major impact. If Feinstein sat on the letter then it wouldn’t have an impact, and they’d go ahead and make sure that it did by sending a copy to the press. They are not necessarily Ford’s friends.

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                            • Sorry, but Ford’s own testimony says she wrote it at the urging of McLean and her beach friends. McLeans’s coworkers were pretty much everyone you’ve heard about in the FBI who went nuts on Trump, such as Andrew McCabe.

                              This is not nuts. This is who Ford’s “Beach Friends are”. This would be the same Ford that claimed a Supreme Court nominee sexually assaulted her in some year, in some place, where someone drove her there and drove her home, though she can’t remember any details other than flying to the East Coast, even though she’s too afraid to fly, to go to McLean’s beach house.

                              If you don’t get how badly you were had by people who were ridiculuously inept, I can’t help you, but on the bright side, I and everyone on the right will be throwing this in your face for the next 40 to 60 years, so getting you used to it early should help you cope.

                              Ford lied. She lied about everything. She lied willfully and with malice aforesight. She lied at the behest of friends in the federal government, to bring down a nominee for the Supreme Court of the United States.

                              There’s no going past that. Her life is basically over. She should get in the witness protection program and take an nice job at some Save-A-Lot in Boise. Anyone connected to her should do the same.

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                              • I remind everyone that Ford’s ‘beach Friends’, as per the testimony of Ford, lives in _California_, where she lives on the beach. All the friends who have come forward and said she talked to them are _Californian_.

                                McLean lives in _Deleware_, in a community that is coincidentally called Rehoboth Beach.

                                The fact that Ford did not explicitly add ‘in California’ to _every_ mention of her ‘beach friends’ does not change the fact she added it to _most_ mentions of them, and she was clearly always talking about the same beach friends.

                                And thus the right wing conspiracy that McLean is one of Ford’s ‘beach friends’ is total nonsense. You’ll find it everywhere, but it’s still total nonsense.

                                George has yet to acknowledge that point. He weirdly keeps making it.

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                                • If you recall, in her earlier statements to the Washington Post, she’d said she never told anyone except her husband and her therapist about the assualt. The beach friends were added later. Having such a flexible version of the past is handy for people making false accusations, but it leaves her story full of holes.

                                  For example, she said the assault caused her to struggle badly at North Carolina, which would match up with her earlier versions where she was assaulted in her late teens (when Kavanaugh was long gone to Yale). An assault in her late teens would also mean she could walk out of a party, get in her car, and drive home.

                                  Now, if she was assaulted in her late teens it wouldn’t have affected her high school performance, only her college performance, whereas if she was attacked at age 15 it should have drastically affected her in high school as well as college. Her high school performance was excellent. Go figure.

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                                  • None of your post has anything _at all_ to do with the fact that the beach friends she referred to were in California.

                                    You are a believer in a flat-out absurd and lunatic conspiracy theory that takes two words out of context and decides that McLean, who lives on the other side of the country, is in the group Ford consistently calls her _California_ beach friends. (Even if she doesn’t append ‘in California’ to every utterance of ‘beach friends’.) Those friends live on the beach near her. We actually know who they are, at least two of them have come forward and said she talked to them, like she said.

                                    They do not live in a town called ‘Rehoboth Beach’ on the other side of the country.

                                    It is an entire conspiracy theory that has, at this point, graduated to ‘She wrote her letter at McLean’s house’ with literally no evidence. Entire grand conspiracy theories, built on nothing.

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                                    • Entire grand conspiracy theories, built on nothing.

                                      Which brings us back to “demand proof”. There’s literally no proof, whatsoever, that can pass the muster of someone determined to ignore it.

                                      There are people that don’t believe we landed on the Moon, there are people that believe the Earth is flat — they are, by and large, un-convincable by any evidence whatsoever. That don’t wish to be convinced, and they will find any loophole, conspiracy theory, or deliberate misunderstanding to continue to maintain their prior belief.

                                      Honestly, the ones that change their mind do so not through some new piece of evidence or some singular epiphany — they simply stop hanging out in a self-reinforcing bubble, and sort of…slide away.

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                    • Ha ha, don’t be silly.
                      There is no discrimination against conservatives in academia.

                      Instead it is the natural distribution of intelligence among humans, a bell curve as it were, resulting in high IQ people going to college engaging in Deep Thoughts, while low IQ people tend to go into business and spend their lives on pecuniary matters.

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                        • Either way it’s not a position that Chip should be happy with. If he is making the claim seriously, then he should be equally willing to infer from the under-representation of certain minority groups that those groups have lower IQs. That puts him up there with all sorts of HBD racist types.

                          If he is making it facetiously, then he is really conceding that political conservatives are discriminated against in academia, and given the context of discussion, implies that he does not care. I don’t know what to say about a view that says its ok to discriminate against people so long as they are the outgroup simply because they are the outgroup. But certain forms of ethno nationalism are like that.

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                          • Or its that the sort of “scientific” claims about the natural and self-evident order of society, when applied to conservatives at university, sound ridiculous.

                            If I were to write an entire book on this thesis, would it even find a publisher, outside of The Onion? Much less, would I be rewarded with countless chin stroking essays by Very Serious People?

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                              • I saw this comment and did, admittedly some hurried, digging. I could not find one credible source for the belief that conservatives are discriminated against in academia.” Tons of anecdata are out there. The fact that liberal profs outnumber conservative profs does not constitute discrimination.

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                                • Two points:

                                  1)

                                  I could not find one credible source for the belief that conservatives are discriminated against in academia

                                  Well, I suppose this depends on what you take to be a credible source.

                                  If you systematically discount anyone who says that conservatives are the subject of discrimination as not being crediible, then sure, there are no credible sources.

                                  Otherwise, here is a list of potentially credible sources

                                  https://heterodoxacademy.org/resources/library/

                                  2)

                                  The fact that liberal profs outnumber conservative profs does not constitute discrimination.

                                  Sure, under-representation does not constitute discrimination. The question is whether under-representation is good evidence of discrimination. There are very few consistent positions to be had on this issue.

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                              • I wonder if conservatives would enjoy my blithe dismissal of their anecdotes and personal experience, and instead demonstrate with statistics and mathematical models why conservatives are not the victims of discrimination.

                                Or maybe it is again, a case where arguments that are made about minority groups and taken seriously by Very Serious People, are viewed as just obviously absurd when used about conservatives.

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                                • Or maybe it is again, a case where arguments that are made about minority groups and taken seriously by Very Serious People, are viewed as just obviously absurd when used about conservatives.

                                  Maybe we should wonder why this is the case. And perhaps we should ask ourselves what could justify such different treatment.

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                                  • How much is “discrimination” is how much is self-segregation?

                                    There is plenty of anecdata available, too, which points that conservative college students are more inclined towards other areas, including: business, finance, medicine, theology, and the military.

                                    If your pipeline of potential candidates is heavily tilted towards the left, you will end with a disproportionate proportion of left leaning professors in sociology, the humanities, English, history, or philosophy departments. But do you see the same proportion in the departments that attract a large percentage of conservative undergrads?

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                                    • We still take it to be a problem when women and minorities self segregate out of philosophy. We take this as indicative of the field actually being hostile to them.

                                      Even the ideology of business schools is not really conservative except perhaps in an economic* sense. Business schools are basically centrist democrat in outlook. There may be a higher proportion of conservatives in economics, business and STEM fields but that is higher compared to the humanities, not higher compared to the national average. Outside the humanities, you get the numbers you would expect if political ideology did not matter.

                                      Within the humanities, this does not hold. Somehow, conservative students in other fields are as likely to want to pursue graduate school and are as smart as non-conservative students. There is a question of what is different about English, sociology, history and philosophy.

                                      *Given the kind of dirigisme advocated by Trumpian conservatives it is hard to call pro-market beliefs conservative any more.

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                                        • If you consider think tanks as a whole, they still overall lean left.

                                          https://www.usnews.com/news/articles/2011/03/03/think-tank-employees-tend-to-support-democrats.

                                          Perhaps not quite as much as humanities departments, but overall employees there tend to be democrats.

                                          And note that at least some of these places which are labelled conservative are really more libertarian. They are not interested in banning abortion, or having the 10 commandments in the courthouse or continuing the drug war.

                                          And the claim here is not that libertarians are under-represented in the academy. At least in philosophy departments, the proportion of libertarians seems to be what I would expect in the general population. Some places like the University of Arizona have a lot more libertarians while other places might have less, but at least partly due to Arizona’s graduate program, recent PhD graduates who have been getting tenure track jobs have been more libertarian leaning than previously. But this might be purely anecdotal. The data might still show that Libertarians are under-represented. Since libertarians form such a low percentage of the actual population, it is difficult to eyeball the level of representation of libertarians just by looking at a few departments.

                                          I will not comment on how libertarians fare in other humanities departments.

                                          But the question concerns conservatives, not libertarians. Once we exclude libertarians from the list, conservatives are even less represented in academia even if we were to include think tanks.

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                                      • Here is Sean Welsh, over at Quillette, reviewing a book by Emily Chang about female underrepresentation in Silicon Valley:

                                        [Chang] claims Silicon Valley is a “Brotopia” where “men hold all the cards and make all the rules.” Women are “vastly outnumbered” and face “toxic workplaces rife with discrimination and sexual harassment” where apparently “investors take meetings in hot tubs and network at sex parties.” Her call to action is to break up the “boy’s club” and establish gender parity in software.

                                        Alas, such argument as the book offers is colourful mud-slinging on the basis of anecdotes. The book does not support its claims with any statistical or causal analysis. When such analysis is done Chang’s claims can be dismissed as lurid gossip based on harmful stereotypes.

                                        You can practically see the eyerolling finger quotes around her “claims” to “discrimination”, and then the condescending blizzard of data to contradict her “anecdata” and “gossip”.

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                                      • We still take it to be a problem when women and minorities self segregate out of philosophy. We take this as indicative of the field actually being hostile to them.

                                        A fundamental problem of this sort of comparison is that woman _are_ women and minorities _are_ minorities, whereas ‘conservatives’ are just people who have certain opinions. Those opinions can change.

                                        So in addition to discriminatory reasons, there could be _other_ reasons they are not in those fields.

                                        For the most obvious one, perhaps causality is other way around. Perhaps being in those positions, or being interested in those positions, makes people less likely to be conservatives. (Whereas it can’t make a person less likely to be a woman or minority.)

                                        Perhaps it is even more indirect than that, and simply having the level of education required to be in those fields makes people less likely to be conservatives.

                                        You can’t blithely compare two things, one of which doesn’t change, with two things where _both_ of them can change.

                                        Here’s a question: How come no one ever compares the average political leanings of college professors with the average political leanings of people who have the level of education eligible to be college professors? (Not even ‘in the correct field’, just ‘same amount of college’.)

                                        Because people with _any_ level of post-grad education lean 2/3 towards Democrats.

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                                      • Isn’t this the same argument conservatives have been making in opposition to Affirmative Action for decades?

                                        I’m not saying that self segregation is the answer. I’m saying it’s plausible.

                                        Anecdote follows (singular of data)

                                        I love history. I know more history than probably 95% of the population. There are hundreds of history books in my house, tables, and the floor. I rarely read anything else. But I would have never thought about studying history in college (in the 80s). I’m a STEM graduate.

                                        And I went from graduate student directly into (STEM) academia, for ten years. I left academia because I got fed up of the petty politics of academia (who gets what office, who gets to give lectures at 7 am vs 10 am, etc.), but I was sad to leave, I loved teaching, the interaction with students, the intellectual environment.

                                        Why didn’t I go into history, which I love substantially more than engineering? I self selected, because my temperament didn’t match being a professional historian.

                                        And I’m itching for Nov 6, when I get to vote for Beto

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  9. Saul Degraw: However, most Democrats are still pretty pro-market and pro-capitalist. AOC calls herself a Democratic Socialist but she is not the second-coming of Trotsky unless we define anything slightly to the left of the Koch Brothers or Milton Freidman as Communism.

    This is my exact problem with those on the Right who decry the leftward swing of the Democratic Party. Thanks to their decades long pursuit of the same big money that all but destroyed the Republicans, most modern Democratic politicians are, classically, centerists. Their economic policy is neoconservative and corporatist on a good day, and they long ago ceased to really defend labor. The Democratic Socialists (like Bernie) are more to the left of that location, but are by no means aggressively leftist.

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    • I was listening to a podcast the other day and the host (a liberal) was saying that the problem with the Dems is that they get so caught up in the culture war issues. He specifically mentioned guns and basically said Dems just need to drop it for a while because they are expending way too much energy and capital on something they are not going to change anytime soon.

      Then you have HC calling for people to be more aggressive in the way they protest, and a bunch of other Dems saying roughly the same thing, and Michelle Obama just had to respond today and tell them to dial it back. Geez.

      National Review made a good point today as well:

      Hillary Clinton is 70. She, 69-year-old Elizabeth Warren, 75-year-old Joe Biden, and 77-year-old Bernie Sanders are the party’s liveliest, most dynamic figures, right up there with its Capitol Hill leaders: 78-year-old Nancy Pelosi, 79-year-old Steny Hoyer, and 85-year-old Dianne Feinstein, who is running for reelection. If the party is going to reimplement the New Deal, why shouldn’t it be led by people who lived through it?

      Isn’t it fair to say that the reason the Dems do so bad is they are ultimately terrible at politics? I mean, I would love an alternative to the GOP, but Democrats are the perennial crap team. Completely obsessed with the WH to the detriment of thousands of local races.

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      • …but Democrats are the perennial crap team. Completely obsessed with the WH to the detriment of thousands of local races.

        I always recommend this. Sometimes you just have to ignore the national party and take things into your own hands. The lesson got hammered home in 2014 when Udall, the incumbent Dem US Senator, let the national party dictate his campaign and lost. It was the single worst Colorado campaign I’ve seen in the 30 years I’ve lived here.

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      • “He specifically mentioned guns and basically said Dems just need to drop it for a while because they are expending way too much energy and capital on something they are not going to change anytime soon.”

        The problem with that is the core of the GOTY and turnout operations for Democrat’s in many places are black women – who are the most anti-gun portion of the electorate. So, for every “centrist” gun owner vote you get, you lose 10 votes because a GOTY organizer decides not to volunteer this election, when, as they see it, the Democrat’s decide to stop caring about their cousin who got shot because white suburban dudes are scared of tyranny.

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      • If the party is going to reimplement the New Deal, why shouldn’t it be led by people who lived through it?

        Say what you will about conservatives, they will always have the upper hand when it comes to snark.

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  10. Mike Dwyer: Isn’t it fair to say that the reason the Dems do so bad is they are ultimately terrible at politics? I mean, I would love an alternative to the GOP, but Democrats are the perennial crap team. Completely obsessed with the WH to the detriment of thousands of local races.

    Quit cribbing from my blog Mike. You know full well I’ve been saying this for years. The Democratic Party gave up the long game under Bush 41 and started after the WH – I have always thought because they believed the SCOTUS stole it from Gore (Fun fact – I was a Florida voter during the hanging and pregnant chad debacle). Even in this latest election, after Sec. Clinton secured the nomination she was campaigning on “I’m not him” almost until the end. Republican politicians have told a consistent story for 40 years. Its full of factual holes and lacks the support of data, but they have stuck to it. When Democrats have told a story they generally win – though over that same time span they have moved farther right every election. This is nothing new.

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  11. Mike Dwyer: I was listening to a podcast the other day and the host (a liberal) was saying that the problem with the Dems is that they get so caught up in the culture war issues. He specifically mentioned guns and basically said Dems just need to drop it for a while because they are expending way too much energy and capital on something they are not going to change anytime soon.

    I pulled this out separately because – as you and I have also discussed – there are more gun owners in the Democratic Party then is commonly believed, and thus the Dems actually have an opportunity to have liberal gun owners present a case for gun control. They never come calling however. And it irks me because then you get hard right nuts prattling on and on about seizing guns from citizens. Which is horse hooey. It is a symptom of the larger issue of Democrats forgetting the long game however.

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    • Can you point me to all these “liberal” gun owners? Because I actuall regularly visit the /r/liberalgunowners subreddit and mostly, they just complain about how the Democrat’s support any kind of gun control and how they might have to vote for Trump.

      Also, I’ll be blunt – I think putting a gun owner to try to gin up support for gun control isn’t really going to matter because other gun owners already consider him a traitor, moderates are already with us on most ‘moderate’ ideas many gun owners are for, and so on, and so forth.

      Stopping talking about reasonable gun control with wide majorities of support will only lessen turnout on our side, while not actually moving many voters.

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    • Liberal gun owners probably need to find better partners. I belong to Backcountry Hunters & Anglers and they just released a poll which shows the members being split almost evenly between Dems, Republicans and Independents. It’s a very sensible group. i would describe them as ‘hipster outdoorsmen’ and Progressive (they worship TR almost as much as I do). Something like BHA, but a think tank willing to look at gun crime and suggest ways to combat it would be great. I will say though that most of the solution is probably going to actually be outside of gun ownership and more focused on mental health, urban poverty, etc.

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  12. Liberal gun owner jokes should just write themselves, broken down by ethnicity, genre (mafia, drug cartel, burglar, street gang, rapper), or situation (So these two liberal gun owners go into a [bank | liquor store | aroma therapy spa]).

    For example, stealing a line from above:

    Straight man: “I pulled this out separately because – as you and I have also discussed – there are more gun owners in the Democratic Party then is commonly believed…

    Snarky partner: “Oh, I’m sure da cops believe it. They even got pictures of most of ’em!” *rimshot*

    But sadly, we no longer live in a world where SNL will do skits like that.

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