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A Predictable And Yet Historic Midterm

A Predictable And Yet Historic Midterm

Two years ago, the nation and the Democratic party especially came out of the 2016 presidential election shocked and in awe over President Trump’s historic upset victory. The party of FDR and Kennedy had not only lost the White House to the most unpopular personal polling presidential candidate in recorded history, they also had no power or relevancy left in either chamber of congress and were down to just 16 gubernatorial seats (Later revised down to 15 when their newly elected governor in West Virginia switched parties in the middle of a Trump rally). In just eight years, the blue team had gone from riding a historic Obama wave to getting to a point where they couldn’t even beat Donald Trump of all people.

On election night 2018, Democratic fortunes began to change. With their rivals on the right anchored by a consistently unpopular president since the day he took office and voters having healthcare on the mind instead of the great economy, the blue team took its first big step out of the wilderness when they flipped control of the House, held their own defending a HORRIFIC Senate map, and gained significantly on the governors’ scoreboard. But this time, unlike in 2016 with Trump, the Democratic victory was an expected one. The talk of a pro Democratic blue wave sweeping into Washington DC, powered by a backlash towards Trump, had been theorized for over a year now and likewise had shown itself in polls and forecasts. And while the results were predictable, there was plenty of history to note as well.

In this piece, I will break down how and likely why the Democratic party bounced back this year, as well as looking at what history was made along the way. In other words I’ll be looking back to see which storylines I’ve highlighted before actually played out on election night, and how the historic trends held up compared to the actual results.

A Historic Modern-Day Midterm Turnout

The historic trends pointed to a rise in midterm turnout compared to the previous one. Well, not only did that trend continue, but we saw a peak in midterm turnout not seen in OVER A HUNDRED YEARS. The estimates are still being updated as the final votes are tallied, but we’re looking at anywhere between 49%-50% turnout for this election. Woodrow Wilson was President the last time the electorate came out like that for a non-presidential year. To give you a perspective of how big a jump in turnout that is, the 2014 midterm saw just under 37% turnout nationwide. That’s a huge double-digit jump! Some areas in the country even saw presidential year type turnout, and this will be the first midterm to break 100 million plus in votes.

Of course, the question is where did that jump in participation come from? Speculation understandably is that the Trump backlash helped engaged typically low turnout voters for this type of election. Others point to the fact BOTH sides were engaged and enthused to come out according to the polls. Whatever the reason, the longer-term curiosity is will this be a one cycle fluke? Or has 2016 and its aftermath triggered a new normal in midterm turnout that former President Obama, a big advocate for higher turnout in midterms like these, could have only dreamed of? The question for me, coming off such a huge spike in midterm voter participation, is whether this also teases a new modern-day record in presidential year turnout come 2020. Only time will tell.

 

A Split Congress, Just As Everyone Predicted

One historical pattern that emerged for first midterms for modern day presidents was that they usually resulted in a split congress. As expected, that trend continued this year as Democrats have taken control of the House even while coming up short in the Senate. The table below shows how history predicted that very result along with similar correct trends on the party out of power gaining in governors’ seats.

A Predictable And Yet Historic Midterm

But it wasn’t just history that predicted the results in congress correctly. Pollsters and forecasters, fresh off being declared useless and dead after their 2016 debacle, did well predicting the results. The table below shows the various predictions some forecasters and polling averages made and how they compared to the actual results. You’ll note the margins of error weren’t really too dramatic. The night everyone expected was about what we got.

A Predictable And Yet Historic Midterm

In the end the Democrats didn’t choke away the House, doing about as or a little better than expected, the President’s unpopularity allowing them their best net gain in seats since Watergate. The Republicans didn’t choke away the Senate either, also doing about as or a little better than expected. The nightmarish map Democrats had to defend ultimately proved too much, though coming away with just a net gain of 1-2 seats with such a great map has to sting for the GOP. Everything predicted this overall result, from the historic trends and the pollsters/forecasters; this time around the conventional wisdom was right. The governors’ races did see Democratic gains as expected though Republicans barely held on in some close races to do slightly better than expected during a bad year for the red team.

A Historic Year For Women

Women were set up to have a great year, and they did not disappoint. Over a hundred women will now be part of congress, a record. In various states, women became the first female governors in the history of those states. From coast to coast, regardless of party, women were elected to have the loudest voice they have ever had representing the country’s political institutions.

Exit polls showed a vast majority of voters were ready to elect more women and found it important to have more female representation. Democrats easily won those who felt that way which could have only helped fuel the 2018 blue wave. Women came out to unleash wrath on the GOP and in turn elected more and more of themselves into office.

The Electorate Re-Aligned?

2018 was not 2016, and yet in other ways it was. It was not 2016 in that it was a more Democratic year, but the patterns of polarization and re-alignment of coalitions that showed themselves in 2016 only strengthened in 2018.

Rural areas doubled down on the GOP, helping toss out Senate Democrat incumbents in Indiana, North Dakota, and Missouri. Not to mention the rural dominance by the GOP in Florida, which was a big help to what may be the biggest wins they had during a rough year – the Florida gubernatorial race and the likely flip in the Florida Senate race. While Democrats did well in the mid-west states formerly known as “the blue wall”, showing some signs on how to defeat Trump in these crucial states, they also had some areas of weakness there that could point to how they could come up short in 2020.

But the biggest story of the electorate hands down came from the women’s vote, the youth vote, the suburbs, and the forgotten independents I’ve been harping so much about. Women and youth, Hillary Clinton voters, voted for Democrats by even bigger margins. The suburbs and the independents went from fueling a GOP House win in 2016 to voting in a Democratic majority. Independents, by the way, went from backing Trump and the GOP by 4-6 points to voting Democratic by double digits.

Among those who didn’t vote in 2016, the GOP lost them by massive margins. Among those who backed a third-party protest candidate in 2016? Democrats won them by double digits. Democrats even did better in taking some Trump voters than the GOP did taking some Hillary voters; just as Democrats held their own partisans better than the GOP did theirs. Even Seniors and the male vote shifted towards the Democrats.

This points to the continuing trend of a polarized country divided among gender, race, class, education, partisanship, living locations, generations, etc. Democrats should worry that they continue to have trouble with rural voters, while Republicans should be worried about the backlash they received from important suburban and independent voters they can’t afford to keep alienating. 2018 in some ways may have been 2016 on steroids. It may also be in hindsight what 1994 was, a re-alignment midterm that points to the coalition both parties will have over the near-term future.

Putting A Bow On The Midterms

So did Republicans ever have a chance to make this a better year for them than it was? Well, probably not. As soon as Donald Trump upset Hillary Clinton, negative partisanship and the typical midterm backlash against the White House party went in favor of Democrats. On top of that, even as the economy continued to show great numbers, the sitting GOP President’s unpopularity never went away, only changed in severity. Exit polls show that voters who made up their minds, whether it be a year ago, months ago, weeks ago, or even at the last second, were all trending towards the blue team. The generic ballot only got better and better for the Democrats as time passed and they were consistently ahead. In short, this was always going to be an uphill climb for a party defending an unpopular President, regardless of the good economy.

As I like to say, the election gods come to collect, and after giving the Republicans such a surprising win in 2016 they came for their sacrifice in 2018. One must wonder if under a President Rubio, Kasich, or even Cruz if the dynamics of the good economy would have helped more given those candidates would have been more generic R Presidents than someone who evokes the emotions that Trump does. And there is no doubt in my mind that if those 80K votes in those three very close states went to Hillary, 2018 would have been another GOP midterm wave.

There also seems to be a lot of debate as to whether this was a wave year. As you can probably tell from my tone in this piece, I agree with those who say it was. Democrats made house gains not seen since an angry country punished the GOP over Watergate in 1974, held their Senate losses to a seat or two while dealing with a map so cruel it was almost unfair to the Democrats, and are now nearly at parity in the map of governors just a little over a year after they were at just 15 seats there. There have been many battles between these two political parties over the last 150+ years but there’s no doubt in my mind that this round went to the blue team.

What Does This All Mean For 2020?

The honest answer? We don’t know. History tells us that midterms are not predictive of the next presidential election. Harry Truman, Ronald Reagan, Bill Clinton, and Barrack Obama come to mind as presidents who bounced back and won re-election after getting humbled by voters in their first midterms. But there have been midterms that in hindsight probably sounded the alarm for the party in power such as the weak Democratic performance in 1978. History also says presidents tend to be re-elected, and that’s good news for Trump. We’re also now nearing three decades since a president lost re-election, which means we’re getting about due for a re-election gone wrong.

Where as the structural advantages favored the GOP this year, they will favor the blue team in 2020. Turnout in presidential elections are better for Democrats than in the midterms, and the Senate map next time around will be to the advantage of the challenging Democrats. However, the GOP showed they can overcome such things in 2016, and finding a way to hold on to the Senate while winning a close presidential election is plausible. Republicans are also hoping to take back the House in 2020, but it is very hard to flip the House in presidential years – hasn’t happened since the 1952 Ike victory.

What you get is a sort of pick your own spin. Whichever party you root for, you can claim that 2020 will go your way because so and so. But the reality is the environment and Trump’s standing with the public will likely matter the most.

No president since Truman has survived re-election while posting approval ratings under 50% has won re-election. Trump MUST get his numbers up, as the midterms showed his party suffers when he’s unpopular. Of course, Trump overcame bad favorable polling in 2016, so Democrats would be wise to counter him with a candidate who has positive favorable polling – unlike Hillary Clinton.

Democrats would also be wise to start implementing strategies to win back rural voters and change the trends in the Midwest. Ohio is slipping away from them, and Michigan is becoming swingier. However, Republicans MUST stop the bleeding with suburbanites and independents. Arizona, Georgia, and even Texas are showing signs of becoming more competitive on the federal level thanks to these re-alignments. The 2020 map could end up looking a lot different than what we’re used to the same way 2016’s map surprised us all.

Trump will be able to sit back and watch the Democrats beat themselves up during the primary selection process, with the DNC reportedly bracing itself for a 20+ candidate field. However, what happens if these rumors of some Republicans challenging Trump come to pass?

And of course, there’s the unknown world events to come. What if the FBI investigation ends in a bad way for Trump? What if the economy just gets better and Trump’s approvals start to rocket? What if the economy goes bad and Trump’s floor collapses? We simply have no clue what environment we’re looking at in 2020. How good or bad it is for the sitting President will matter a ton when trying to predict 2020.

Ultimately, in my opinion, the GOP suffered huge setbacks and paid a big price for Trump these past midterms with voters they will need to get better with before 2020. Democrats made a great step forward to getting out of the wilderness, but they still have some work to do themselves, as some 2016 negative trends for them also continued. Ultimately 2020, in my opinion, starts out as a 50/50 proposition for both parties. The Democrats have the momentum, but the Republicans have some history on their side. All I can honestly tell you is to probably expect the unexpected.


Guest Author
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When he’s not writing supernatural stories, Luis Mendez is obsessively following public opinion trends and gauging likely election outcomes. He has written about the subject for various publications and runs a monthly updated website trying to predict coming elections.

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186 thoughts on “A Predictable And Yet Historic Midterm

  1. I’m still waiting for numbers to come out talking about local state-level races.

    My definition of a “blue wave” didn’t hinge on the Federal races, not really, but on whether stuff could be turned around on a state level.

    So far, it looked like *MAYBE* it was? But I’m still waiting on final numbers. (How did people in the 1800’s go months and months before learning who got elected where?)

    (Out of curiosity, do we know what the popular vote was for congress? Do we know what the representation weighting is for that after the smoke cleared?)

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    • The Democrats broke super-majorities in Texas and North Carolina. Beto arguably helped with coattails in Texas even if he lost his own race. Democrats gained ten seats in the Texas House and two seats in the Texas Senate. Democrats also finally took over the NY Senate. They won both houses in New Hampshire’s legislature, etc.

      More importantly in North Carolina, Democrats now have a 5-2 majority on the North Carolina Supreme Court which will help with the state-level anti-gerrymandering lawsuit.

      https://ballotpedia.org/State_legislative_elections,_2018

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      • That’s a good indicator that there was, indeed, a blue wave.

        Why did they lose so many seats between 2010 and 2016?

        Edit: Looks like more than 160 state-level seats were netted by the Dems.

        That plus the National elections puts them as exceeding regression to the mean right there.

        It was, indeed, a blue wave.

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        • My answer is the one that it is deeply unpopular at OT because we don’t want to be too uncomfortable about the implications of it. Racism and sexism. Mainly racism. Lots of people lost their shit that Obama became President and won reelection.

          I’m old enough to remember when white, Evangelical Christians were outraged that Obama wore a tan suit in the Oval Office.

          If anything, the Blue Wave was partially held back because white exurban and rural voters did come out in strong (but not as strong as Democrats) numbers to help their Trump.

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            • I was about to say the same thing. I am comfortable saying that sexism kept Hillary out of the WH. How many female candidates lost their elections this year?

              Not so sure the R word was responsible for Democrats not doing better, but it would certainly not be a day at OT without someone mentioning it.

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              • I am comfortable saying that sexism kept Hillary out of the WH.

                You know, I’m not really. I have a hard time believing there was a non-negligible number of voters that were liberal, agreed with her policies, held none of the hostility toward the Clintons in general, and weren’t put off by her personality, yet STILL couldn’t vote for her in the general because she was a she. That sounds very unicorn-y to me. This isn’t to deny that many of the people who voted against her were sexist, but that the decision of sexists to vote against her was over-determined in that they would have voted against a a male version of her as well for other reasons.

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                • “She being a she” accounts for a nontrivial amount of what you all “put off by her personality” and “hostility toward the Clintons”.

                  I’m not really getting into the individual voters, which loses sight of the picture. It’s not “Bob is sexist and therefore didn’t vote Hillary but otherwise would have”, it’s “Decades of sexism generated and reinforced narratives about Hillary which informed Bob’s opinion of her”. It’s why “emails” could stick so much more than the many far-worse instances of Trump corruption, which were interpreted as in some way “normal” or to be expected.

                  We’re seeing that pattern repeated now the national conversation around Pelosi, which has been going like this even before the election… versus the total absence of one around Chuck Schumer, who is objectively worse than her in almost every way. Does it come down to individually-sexist people? Again, I don’t think that’s a useful analysis.

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                    • I certainly don’t doubt it. And I doubt there’s a single person who dislikes Pelosi from her left but does accept Schumer. The issue, again, is not individuals. It’s that attacking Pelosi immediately picks up traction because there’s a free-floating narrative available. Any yelling in her direction is amplified by the wind. Meanwhile Schumer doesn’t have to deal with yelling no matter how disappointed various individuals are — the wind favors him.

                      Meanwhile, nearly all the Democrats in congress who are arguing for Pelosi to step down are to her right, not her left, but they’re perfectly happy to exploit progressives’ anger to their cause.

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            • Looking at the changes in ’10, and looking at the results from the other day, people are taking the wrong view of these two interconnected elections. What they tell me is that the body politic is not satisfied with the two parties together. That they aren’t working anymore.

              Trump isn’t the answer, but neither was Obama. Not according to the loses that were suffered by the D’s.

              Maybe, just maybe, the whole paradigm isn’t working anymore.

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        • The most interesting question, which has gotten little play in the major media, is that the Republicans still hold the Oval Office and the Senate. So, two more years of nominating and approving federal judges, Cabinet officers, and agency heads who have a much less expansive reading of regulatory authority and use. For the last hundred years, Congress has delegated an increasing amount of “legislative” authority to the executive; if Trump nominates competent* people, a very large amount can be accomplished without any more Congressional involvement than the Senate approval process.

          * Eg, Pruitt was not competent as head of the EPA. He wasted months trying to do things by decree, rather than simply scaling back rules and defending that in court on the grounds of regulatory overreach. The acting director, a former lobbyist who understands exactly how the process works, is going to be much more effective.

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          • if Trump nominates competent* people, a very large amount can be accomplished without any more Congressional involvement than the Senate approval process.

            ‘if Trump nominates competent people’ strikes me as one of those hypotheticals that is actually dependent on information about how the hypothetical happened. (Sorta like the ‘What if all governments were run by women?’ question posed a while back.)

            Did he start nominating competent people because he stopped being a petulant dumbass without any actual political goals? So…he now has political goals? What are those political goals?

            Or did he start nominating competent people by _accident_? If so, is he going to put up with their competency and the fact people will pay attention to what they are doing?

            Or did the people _trick him_? Did they pose as incompetent boot-lickers and then get into power and actually start being competent, while pretending to toady to him?

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        • “Why did they lose so many seats between 2010 and 2016?”

          Here’s a pretty basic combo –

          1. Standard losses that happen to almost every President

          2. People punishing the Democrat’s for not fixing the economy in 18 months – (remember, for all the comparisons to the Depression, FDR took office 3 years after it began – Obama took office basically as it was happening)

          3. A bonus of Democrat’s losing rural legislative seats, largely in the South that legislators were able to hold when races were less nationalized and Republican’s couldn’t connect them to a black man as President.

          4. Actual terrible decisions by the DNC, such as shutting down OFA and letting the GOP run wild in state legislatures, which led to…

          5. Gerrymanders that are even better in the past due to computer modeling and such being passed largely by Republican’s after 2010 – (before anybody responds, yes, Maryland is bad.)

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          • Number one makes sense to me (at least, on a “regression to the mean” level), but I think it’s odd that it seems to coincide pretty closely with the abandonment of Howard Dean’s 50-State Strategy.

            #2 is, I suppose, something that makes sense.

            #3 is what I’m complaining about. You’re using the same explanation as Saul, here. It’s a hair exonerative.

            Oh, but #4 makes sense too.

            Wow. Wacky that those gerrymanders that were so awesome in 2014 were so easily overcome in 2018.

            Computers, I tell you what.

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            • #3 – But it’s also just true, as uncomfortable as it may be.

              There are plenty of moderate (and actually moderate) Southern legislative representatives that were able to hold on through the 2000’s despite the Democrat’s being wiped out on the federal and congressional level, but suddenly in only a cycle or two, went from relatively solid victories to blow out losses. Their opinions didn’t change, their policies didn’t change, hell the Democratic Party didn’t change all that much, but instead of being able to have ads with them photoshopped next to Howard Dean, Al Gore, John Kerry, or even yes, Nancy Pelosi, they could photoshop them next to Barack Hussein Obama.

              #5 – Gerrymanders fail if there’s a big enough wave or if the voters you were counting on as part of your coalition suddenly jump ship. For instance, a bunch of Southern Democratic gerrymanders failed in the late 90’s and early 00’s on the congressional level for that same reason.

              This happened to a certain extent with upper middle class suburbanites jumping ship this year from the GOP. But still, the gerrymandering helped – the DNC gained less seats than the GOP did in 2010, even though they actually won the congressional popular vote by a wider margin.

              But even then, some gerrymanders are still holding – for example, in North Carolina, the Democrat’s actually won the popular vote for legislature 51-49, but the Republican’s hold the State Assembly by 66 seats to 54 seats.

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            • Jaybird:

              How would you react if someone just said “I vote Republican because Republicans are the party of white people and white supremacy is in my best interest.”

              Racism exists on more of a scale than “Guy in a Klan uniform or SS knockoff uniform and not racist.” There are plenty of normal looking people who keep their racism deeply under wraps and can still believe in voting for the white person’s party.

              We just want racist comments to be a despite and not a because. Why? Because none of us here and no one in the media would know how to react if it were a because. This makes us feel deeply uncomfortable and it is an existential threat. But there is a lot of evidence that shows racism can help swing elections.

              We want to think that if a party loses an election it is because they did something wrong or had a message that just didn’t sell. Thinking otherwise just opens up to a horrible void I guess.

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              • “I vote Republican because Republicans are the party of white people and white supremacy is in my best interest.”

                Let’s try that a different way: “I vote [against Democrats] because [Democrats] are [not] the party of white people and [voting for Democrats] is [not] in my best interest.”

                Any guess as to why people would think that?

                “We want to think that if a party loses an election it is because they did something wrong or had a message that just didn’t sell.”

                *ahem*

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                • “Let’s try that a different way: “I vote [against Democrats] because [Democrats] are [not] the party of white people and [voting for Democrats] is [not] in my best interest.””

                  I think that sounds worse than you think it does.

                  In my experience, people who say something like that (and remember I live in Co Springs, I don’t have to imagine) make me nervous as hell. Generally, at best, they seem pretty divorced from reality and full of imagined or vastly exaggerated slights and resentments. That’s at best (I mean, honestly, I’m sure I fit those descriptors to many people) — at worst they are generally saying exactly what Saul said, only in slightly prettier words, but with plenty of vicious, nasty intent – and they’ve got the guns to back it up. At least in this part of the country.

                  Literally none of my friends have ever said something like that in my hearing, even the ones who voted proudly for Trump. I would tend to avoid becoming friends with someone who said something like that.

                  As for any guess as to why people would think that, my first guess is “fearmongering”.

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                    • I don’t know if that is true Will and I will try to articulate here:

                      Many liberal policies are designed to benefit minorities. Sometimes they believe that benefit doesn’t mean harm for whites, but more often they suggest that any harm done is justified based on historic discrimination of minorities. So we have policies like busing or affirmative action. I can tell you from personal knowledge that there is nothing quite as ironic as a married lesbian couple pleading for their child to not be bussed to the bad school across town. There are also plenty of so-called liberals who spend 18 years getting their child ready for a prestigious school and would absolutely lose their shit if they found out it didn’t happen due to AA.

                      How often on this site does a liberal suggest that opposition to one of their pet policies is because of racism and/or prejudice? By y estimation it is roughly every day. It’s getting to the point where they literally can’t see opposition as anything other than the result of prejudice. It’s what I was writing about here when I taked about how authorative arguments have now become moral arguments. Look at Saul’s comments here. He can’t seem to comprehend any other reason for Republican votes other than latent racism. If if we had exit polling from every single Republican voter saying their votes had nothing to do with race he would say they were lying or didn’t know their own hearts. How do we dispute that?

                      At a certain point it starts to feel like intelligent design to me. Can’t comprehend someone else’s votes? Must be racism!

                      So my question is this: Are Democratic policies in-fact pro-minority? And if so, does that mean that are also anti-white? And if those do harm whites, why aren’t Democrats articulating why that is okay and why they should receive votes anyway? How can they teach Americans to be more selfless in their voting habits? Until then, yeah, it’s probably not in the best interests of a lot of people to vote for them.

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                      • I don’t disagree with you with regard to some (many) accusations of racism that are tossed about. There is a non-falsifiable component, often citing data that doesn’t actually make their case very well.

                        But if whiteness is compelling you to vote a particular way… you’re kind of making their point. This is one of those areas of asymmetry between whites and non-whites. Being white just isn’t a part of our day-to-day life in the same way… unless that is chosen to be. The subcategory of white you are might be (you’re evangelical or Mormon or Armenian-American or an immigrant or whatever)… but not whiteness as a thing. Whiteness as a thing may mark you in Guyana or Asia, but not in (the vast majority of) the USA.

                        You mention affirmative action, which brings me to an observation I’ve had over the years. Being white and against affirmative action doesn’t make you a racist. It doesn’t even make you suspect in my book. I believed this before I myself soured on affirmative action.

                        But there are people who not only oppose affirmative action, but for whom it is a central issue. It is the thing that most excites them. That doesn’t make them racist (someone has to take up the banner, I suppose)… but it correlates with racism very strongly in a way that general opposition to affirmative action doesn’t. Their race is very important to them in a way that, in general, is out of proportion with experience (this is what makes them different from Asian-Americans who passionately oppose affirmative action – though there’s often some racism there too – because their race inherently has a greater presence in their life).

                        Could somebody come up with a good explanation as to why their whiteness is really important to them? It’s not impossible but it’s likely to be a heavy lift. Circumstances that come to mind are cases where somebody was in the minority in a particularly environment. But even in the case that comes to my mind… dude was racist and was pre-occupied with racial issues because he was racist. There may have been an origin story there, but it was what it was. And his origin story – being in the minority and that making it matter all the more – is precisely the non-white experience more generally that creates the asymmetry I refer to above.

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                        • Even if we were to lay aside the word “racism” for the moment, its worth probing why we find it objectionable in the first place.

                          Racism is considered a moral evil, NOT because it is some false understanding of human equality.
                          But rather, it is the moral depravity of considering other people as lesser beings, whose pain and suffering is irrelevant to our own concerns.

                          There is this underlying current in most dominant cultures, where the structures we live in are safe and comfortable, even if they create pain and injustice for others.
                          Any action to change these structures creates pain for us in the dominant class, almost by definition.

                          For example, changing from a world where I am the tolerant host of other cultures to where I am the tolerated guest is all by itself painful.
                          It is jarring, frightening, and painful to suddenly realize that I am safe only by the whim and tolerance of some larger group.

                          I think this is at the root of MAGA; the pain of a loss of power, the fear of what will become of us when we no longer hold the whip handle.

                          But of course this just privileges our pain over others, ignoring that what we are experiencing is no different than what others have experienced since forever.

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                              • I would say that is mostly inaccurate. Louisville has one of the most-developed and oldest bussing programs in the country. My wife works closely with the program. She will tell you that the primary complaint is that parents can’t be as engaged with the school because of distance. There’s also a problem with young children being on the bus for over an hour in the morning and then they get themselves in trouble. Once that happens they can be suspended from the bus and the parents are forced to find their own transportation. She will also tell you that she gets at least as many complaints about the program from minority parents as she does from white parents. In fact, her opinion as a social worker is that it harms minority families more than white families.

                                Or you could say it’s about the irrational fears of white people.

                                And that is exactly my point. The liberals on this site think all opposition to their programs is rooted in fear and racism. Dig a little deeper and you will find otherwise.

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                          • Also there are probably a number of people who think that racism is morally wrong but:

                            1. Don’t want to admit grandma, mom, dad, and their brother just might be racist;

                            2. Are still deeply uncomfortable that the solution to racism might involve lots of government action.

                            Lots of people seem to be of the view of “Racism is bad but do the Civil Rights Act and Voting Rights Act need to be the solutions? I really don’t want them to be…”

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                            • Kyle Kinane does a bit on drinking problems, in which he says that he never thought he had a drinking problem because his roommate was worse.

                              As long as you had someone worse than you, that defined “the problem area”, and as long as you stayed out of that you were golden.

                              The punchline is, of course, that he realized that all his friends would say “I’m not as bad as Kyle“.

                              Racism and sexism are pretty much the same way. With few exceptions, there’s always someone more racist or sexist than you. Probably way more.

                              “That’s not racist”, they’ll say, and point to someone worse than them. “That’s racist” and calling me one is just insulting!”.

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                        • Respectfully, I don’t know that you are really refuting anything I said above. There are a lot of reasons why people oppose Democrats and they often have nothing to do with racism. From my perspective it’s intellectually lazy for liberals to not make an effort to understand. Or maybe they do make an effort and it’s back to the notion that they simply can’t get in the conservative headspace. Someone like Sam will say, “There is literally no other reason to oppose X besides racism,” We used to see more nuance from the Left side of the aisle, more attempts at understanding. Now? It’s become groupthink.

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                          • There were (or appeared to be) two arguments floating around in the reply I was talking to:

                            1) Democrats over-rely on racism as a counterargument, and are too quick to attribute racism to positions they don’t understand or don’t agree with.

                            2) It is somewhat understandable that some whites would vote for against Democrats because Democrats – as indicated by their positions such as affirmative action – act against white interests.

                            I don’t entirely disagree with the first (which I was trying to say in my first paragraph). I won’t say that I agree entirely – Trump has demonstrated a degree of rot in the thinking of a lot of people on these issues, and a lot of the nuance-reduction has come from that end – but I agree broadly that there is a degree of laziness going on there in applying these motivations broadly or to specific people where it doesn’t clearly apply.

                            It’s the second that I was taking issue with. It doesn’t matter whether you use Saul’s phrasing or turn it around to use your phrasing. When people use that argument, I become suspicious of their views on race. I mean, you may be right that there is an argument, but it’s not one I find largely defensible.

                            I think where my response was confusing to you is that I was thinking you were arguing an equivalency between whites making that argument and minorities making that argument, and in re-reading your comment it’s not clear that you were. My apologies for the mis-read, assuming that’s what it was.

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                            • When I say that whites are not going to be inclined to vote against their own interests, I think that’s just taking Democratic claims on their face. Democrats cast themselves as the party of minorities. They will imply or say directly that any ancillary harm done to whites as a result of their policies is justified as a sort of forced magnanimity. But if whites are actively being harmed, how do they vote against that harm without being accused of racism? That’s where I think the problem lies.

                              I guess Democrats could also say that their pro-minority policies don’t cause any actual harm to whites, which I think is easy enough to disprove.

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                              • Well, the particulars matter here. There are some issues that either are zero sum or where I don’t look askance at those who would say they are. Affirmative action and busing are two.

                                If those were the only issues in play, though, Republicans would not do nearly as bad with non-whites as they do. Asian-Americans tend to align with white interests on these issues, for example, and their voting patterns are pretty similar to Hispanics these days.

                                And a lot of the other issues simply aren’t zero sum and I would cock a brow at people who would say that they are. If a white person looks at accountability with police shootings and the protests thereof and says “They’re taking something from me”… well. You don’t have to be a racist to be on the other side of the issue (I know African-Americans who are)… but if you’re thinking that it’s zero sum and hurts you as a white person… well.

                                This is the case with a lot of the issues that aren’t zero sum. Further, a lot of them involve questions on whether it is racial or not to begin with. In which case, disagreeing because you don’t think it’s racist is different than disagreeing because you believe that their position hurts you as a white person.

                                That’s why trying to come up with the corresponding argument sets me on edge, and why I talk of asymmetry. It is not the case that if minorities believe that Democratic polices help them that it’s reasonable or okay for whites to think that it hurts them as a general matter (even if it might be true in specific cases).

                                The other thing (maybe the biggest thing) is that a lot of it isn’t policy at all. If one party condemns racist behavior and the other doesn’t, you have a party of minorities and a party that isn’t. Anyone who looks at that and translates it to one party being against them… well. And here, too, is an asymmetry: Very few – if any – Democratic politicians are as hostile to whites as Republican politicians are towards non-whites. There just isn’t. So if that’s the basis of your decision… well…

                                As I said in my original comment on this subthread, there’s just no way that whites voting for Republicans on their racial interests, or the basis of Democratic preferential treatment of non-whites is going to come out favorably (or neutrally). Adding up all of the reasonably zero-sum policies doesn’t really get you there, and turning the others into zero sum is itself a problem.

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                                • “As I said in my original comment on this subthread, there’s just no way that whites voting for Republicans on their racial interests, or the basis of Democratic preferential treatment of non-whites is going to come out favorably (or neutrally).”

                                  You keep characterizing this as ‘whites voting their interests’ but I keep asking, are Democratic policies actually anti-white?

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                                  • Depends on how you define the term. Some of them can be described as being against white interests. Without the next part (voting on the basis of that, or whether people should) I’m not sure how relevant it is to the conversation at hand. That’s why I keep going back to that.

                                    Anyway, if there are Democratic policies that on the whole are against white interests, it does have the benefit of being incidental and there genuinely isn’t much reason to believe that it is the motivation. If racism doesn’t at least factor in to the support of some of the other policies, somebody needs to inform their politicians. And a lot of their voters, for that matter.

                                    This is one of those things you can’t just turn around to the other direction, because there are some pretty critical differences.

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                                    • “Anyway, if there are Democratic policies that on the whole are against white interests, it does have the benefit of being incidental…”

                                      Let’s look at affirmative action… If we agree that the number of jobs at a certain company or the number of spots at a prestigious university are finite AND we agree that minorities getting some of those spots is good for them, then isn’t the harm against whites intentional?

                                      I realize I should probably clarify here that I am personally okay with having some amount of inconvenience done to me in the name of Progress. But at the same time, Democrats shouldn’t get to cast themselves as the champions of minorities and then be outraged that whites might feel like they have become collateral damage and vote elsewhere.

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                                      • I realize I should probably clarify here that I am personally okay with having some amount of inconvenience done to me in the name of Progress. But at the same time, Democrats shouldn’t get to cast themselves as the champions of minorities and then be outraged that whites might feel like they have become collateral damage and vote elsewhere.

                                        This argument seems to prove far too much, since I don’t see how it fails to apply in any way to opposing segregation back when segregation was a going concern.

                                        EDIT: To be clear, I’m not saying that opposing affirmative action is just like supporting segregation. I am saying your argument is badly flawed since it applies to both equally.

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                                        • I’m talking about today. If Saul contends that every vote against Democrats is because of racism, isn’t the subtext that Democrats are the pro-minority party and many white people hate that? And if they are the pro-minority party and we acknowledge that some of those policies cause collateral damage to whites, why does it make those whites racist to not just swallow it? Is the lesbian couple that doesn’t want their kid bussed racist?

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                                          • If Saul contends that every vote against Democrats is because of racism, isn’t the subtext that Democrats are the pro-minority party and many white people hate that?

                                            Not necessarily. It could just as easily be that the Republicans are the anti-minority party and many white people like that. (Opposing an “anti-minority” party is not necessarily “pro-minority”!)

                                            Is the lesbian couple that doesn’t want their kid bussed racist?

                                            How do I know? You’ve just cited one position of theirs without any useful context. If the implication is that lesbians can’t be racist, that’s simply false.

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                                      • It’s intentional in the sense that all collateral damage is intentional. It’s not intentional in the sense that the (implicit or explicit) goal is to hurt white people.

                                        There is supposed to be a factory going up near where I live. The locals are riled up against it. I happen to tentatively support it. The fact that there are going to be smokestacks are incidental to my support. Not unintentional, but not the goal.

                                        It’s something of a different matter, though, if I’m laughing at the people around where it’s going up and expressing joy that it’s going to knock them down a peg.

                                        There are obviously some lefties that do get some enjoyment out of the idea of knocking whites down a peg, but Democratic politicians at least know that it’s best to avoid that goading that mentality. Republicans, meanwhile, have gone all-in with it.

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                                        • “There are obviously some lefties that do get some enjoyment out of the idea of knocking whites down a peg…”

                                          But surely you must realize that many, many conservatives think this is the majority opinion among liberal policy makers. They absolutely believe the collateral damage is something liberals enjoy and liberal policy preferences seem to indicate those conservatives are correct.

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                                          • Mike Dwyer: They absolutely believe the collateral damage is something liberals enjoy and liberal policy preferences seem to indicate those conservatives are correct.

                                            Perhaps I haven’t had enough coffee, but I’m having a difficult time parsing this sentence. I feel like you must have meant to say that these conservatives believe their take on liberal policy preferences supports their weird idea that most liberals enjoy seeing whites as collateral damage. But the last part of the sentence sounds like you are agreeing that liberal policy preferences are anti-white and that most liberals like seeing damage to whites. Surely that’s not what you meant?

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                                            • If liberals are creating policies that cause collateral harm to whites, and conservatives absolutely believe they take some enjoyment out of that, maybe the policy isn’t specifically anti-white, but it’s sort of like a bonus?

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                                              • Or maybe the conservatives are completely wrong about the idea that liberals take enjoyment in that or see it as a bonus in anyway?

                                                Perhaps certain conservative talking heads know they’re wrong about that but see pushing that narrative as beneficial to their side?

                                                Or, to be just as uncharitable as you seem be here in assuming liberals would see harm to whites as a bonus, the conservatives do believe that, not because they’re reading liberals correctly but out of a massive case of projection reflecting how they feel about polices that keep women and minorities “in their place”?

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                                                  • I’m a liberal and take no enjoyment in seeing whites harmed, nor do I take it as a bonus in anyway. I feel confident in saying that all of the liberals I know in RL would say that same.

                                                    Can you prove your assertion that liberals enjoy seeing harm done to whites?

                                                    There are a number of liberals on this site. Are you saying that you believe all of us, or even most of us, take pleasure in seeing collateral damage done to whites?

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                                                    • “Can you prove your assertion that liberals enjoy seeing harm done to whites?”

                                                      The Democratic party is a big tent, which includes plenty of people that would absolutely enjoy seeing whites harmed by policy. If you all aren’t specifically issuing disclaimers, could it be characterized as tacit support for their goals?

                                                      “There are a number of liberals on this site. Are you saying that you believe all of us, or even most of us, take pleasure in seeing collateral damage done to whites?”

                                                      I’m saying how can I really know?

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                                                      • He’s using you as a stalking horse to prove his supposed point about the mistreatment of conservatives by liberals on this site, who supposedly demand that all conservatives disavow Trump at every occasion.

                                                        I mean, maybe you already knew that, but in case you didn’t, I thought you might rather know you’re being treated as a pawn instead of a good-faith conversational partner.

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                                                        • Thanks. Having not read this entire gigantic thread, I did not realize that until his last reply.

                                                          I guess I should give up trying to have conversations with Mike since he can’t think of me as a person, only a generic ‘liberal’.

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                                                      • ::rolls eyes::

                                                        So first, I note that while I specifically made a distinction between GOP and conservative, you apparently are incapable of doing the same for anyone on the other side. You are also apparently incapable of treating liberals as individuals rather some group mind all making the same arguments.

                                                        Second, when a bunch of prominent Democrats start making statements to the effect that they are joyfully celebrating seeing whites harmed, or advocating policies using obvious dog whistles about how they will knock down whites, then I will gladly call those people out on that, refuse to vote for them, and advocate shunning those people and ejecting them from the party.

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                                                        • “So first, I note that while I specifically made a distinction between GOP and conservative, you apparently are incapable of doing the same for anyone on the other side. You are also apparently incapable of treating liberals as individuals rather some group mind all making the same arguments.”

                                                          Bookdragon, my apologies for dragging you into my point. I would have much rather this been one of the other liberal commenters but it is what it is…

                                                          You are absolutely correct that it is unfair to make generalizations but that is where this site finds itself these days. Pillsy is in this thread basically saying that any topic which touches on Trump requires a conservative disclaimer that we know he is a racist and he isn’t alone in that opinion. I’m just trying to figure out how to have a dialogue considering those kinds of demands.

                                                          And while I did lead you into a bit of a trap there, I’m also honest when I say that many conservatives believe that liberals take delight in seeing whites get their comeuppance if they are collateral damage from liberal policies. That’s something the Left should understand. Liberals cast themselves as the side of Good but from the perspective of many conservatives, they see the opposite. They see a political ideology that wants to harm them when they have tried to be good people.

                                                          Take affirmative action… You work hard, you try to raise your kids well, you save for their college and then you find out they may not get an opportunity because of AA. Does that make you feel like liberals are good people?

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                                                          • ” I would have much rather this been one of the other liberal commenters but it is what it is…”

                                                            No, , you made the choice to treat her that way. It isn’t “what it is”, it’s your choice, and any apology that implies you had no choice is a sham apology.

                                                            I’m very capable of remaining friends with someone who thinks they should never ever vote for a woman judge (it may shock some people here but you’re hardly the only person I’ve been friendly with who votes that way), but as it turns out, not so much capable of remaining friends with someone who undercuts apologies with “it is what it is”.

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                                                            • (To be 100 percent clear, as long as I’m making public declarations of when I can and cannot remain friends with someone – it would never be one statement. The statement I’m reacting to here is the last straw in what seems, quite entirely possibly unfairly, to me like a pattern of denying moral agency. And it sucks to find myself not only believing in it, but saying so in public. I don’t like myself very much right now. :/)

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                                                              • Don’t dislike yourself on my account. It’s my fault entirely that the relationships I have with conservatives in RL lead me to keep giving Mike the benefit of a doubt and he keeps showing me that he is not being honest about wanting honest engagement. I should have learned by now that he isn’t interested in anything but using people for his personal game. It’s just sport to him – as long as he gets to dunk on libs, it doesn’t matter who he elbows.

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                                                          • Take affirmative action… You work hard, you try to raise your kids well, you save for their college and then you find out they may not get an opportunity because of AA.

                                                            Just a question: Are we to believe that the hypothetical kid in this situation can’t attend college at all?

                                                            Because I’m gonna be honest, I didn’t get into my dream school. I was a pasty white kid from the suburbs, and goodness I worked hard and saved. And I didn’t get in.

                                                            I didn’t, however, start muttering darkly about how affirmative action must have screwed me, and thinking that some undeserving minority must have taken my god-given rightful place.

                                                            I just picked another college and went on with my life, perfectly fine.

                                                            You point me to a kid who couldn’t attend a decent college at all because of AA, and I’ll admit that’s a freaking tragedy that should be addressed. You show my a kid bitching he couldn’t get into Harvard and deciding it must have been because some black kid took his spot — well, I’d probably feel sympathetic because he’s only 18, and point out that if anyone took his spot, it was a white legacy student who’d surf through on C-averages.

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                                                            • I could flip that around and ask if it’s okay to not have affirmative action because blacks can still go to another college…right?

                                                              I’m talking about your kid wanting to go to a specific school and not being able to, because of liberal policies (proven or not). Or you not being able to participate in PTA meetings because your kid is bussed across town, because of liberal policies. Those are the things that make conservatives feel like they are being attacked. Hand-waving that away by saying, “Go to college somewhere else,” just makes them feel like liberals want to see them suffer.

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                                                              • I could flip that around and ask if it’s okay to not have affirmative action because blacks can still go to another college…right?

                                                                This may shock you, but black students also routinely don’t get into their preferred college and have to go to another school.

                                                                I’m talking about your kid wanting to go to a specific school and not being able to,

                                                                Yeah, like me. I didn’t get to go to that school. You know what I don’t do? Blame minorities. Why would I? I wasn’t owed a spot at a given college. It didn’t have my name on it. I hadn’t purchased it. It wasn’t stolen.

                                                                hand-waving that away by saying, “Go to college somewhere else,” just makes them feel like liberals want to see them suffer.

                                                                What do the cool kids say these days? Feels before reals.

                                                                Do you realize how juvenile you’re making conservatives sound? You didn’t get into your first choice college, must be the evil liberals. I mean Jesus, you’re a conservative — why are you insulting your fellows so?

                                                                I didn’t get into my first choice college. I didn’t blame liberals, minorities, atheists, jews, or aliens. I just went to my second choice college like most people.

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                                                                • If not getting into the school of choice isn’t a problem, then you agree AA isn’t necessary? And of course that also includes jobs too.

                                                                  And if AA doesn’t work for you, feel free to address the concerns that come with bussing.

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                                                                  • If not getting into the school of choice isn’t a problem, then you agree AA isn’t necessary? And of course that also includes jobs too.

                                                                    Do you think AA is designed to make sure minorities get into their first choice college? I mean do you think that was the original problem? “Too many black kids aren’t getting into their first choice schools, gotta fix that!”.

                                                                    While we’re at it:

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                                                                    • I think AA is designed to increase diversity at a variety of institutions. If AA doesn’t provide for creating additional spots, I don’t see how it can be interpreted as anything other than harming someone to help someone else.

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                                                                      • Are you also as upset about kids from out of state, international students, legacy admissions, sports scholarships, or the variety of other ways colleges put a finger on the admissions lever as you are about the idea that somewhere out there, there might be a black kid who got into a college above a white kid with worse grades?

                                                                        There is no college where they just say, “let’s take our best 1000 GPA + SAT scores and go from there.”

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                                                                        • I (Mike Dwyer) and not mad about any of it. I went to a state school and I was also accepted at every other college I applied to. I’m talking about generic conservatives. They believe AA is unfair, full stop. That doesn’t make them racists. They might be misinformed, but that’s something you all can debate. My issue is that in the current climate of this site, opposition to AA is just as likely to be perceived as racism as an intellectual misunderstanding. When that charge is leveled, you all lose the opportunity to educate that conservative because they are now on the defense trying to prove they aren’t a racist.

                                                                          I was opposed to SSM for a long time on intellectual grounds. I was called a bigot by lots of people on this site and others despite professing my innocence of that charge. Luckily for me, there were a few liberals that refrained from that and hung with me, educating me and slowly changing my opinions. For all I know they were thinking I was a bigot the whole time, but they never said that. Eventually I became a supporter of SSM. I can promise you that none of the people calling me a bigot steered me towards that conclusion.

                                                                          It becomes a matter of which is more important to the Left? That you all get to label conservatives as irrational racists/bigots or that you do the harder work of trying to educate them about your policies, even when you suspect they are hiding more nefarious beliefs?

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                                                                        • Coming at this as someone who doesn’t favor affirmative action but isn’t scandalized by it…

                                                                          Are you also as upset about kids from out of state, international students, legacy admissions, sports scholarships

                                                                          These represent different dynamics, though, from one another and from affirmative action.

                                                                          International students: They generally pay their own way (or should be). Which is to say that they aren’t conceivably taking someone else’s spot. So if they don’t meet academic criteria, that’s not fair, but it’s not clear how much anyone is being hurt by it. Except at private schools like Harvard, where international students really ought to meet general admission standards.

                                                                          Out-of-State: Depending on the circumstances, they too often pay their own way. But sometimes they don’t. I think as a general rule they should meet the academic criteria of in-state kids unless you’re Wyoming or something where the economies of scale mean you need just about every warm body you can find… which if true means that admissions standards are pretty low to begin with (as they are at the University of Wyoming). This obviously doesn’t apply to private schools.

                                                                          Legacy Admits: These are among the sketchiest. You can make a pay-their-own-way argument because these are the sorts of things that help a lot with fundraising. So get rid of that and it’s not clear that you can bring in someone else. So maybe zero sum, maybe not. These are harder to justify for elite schools, though, due to the filtering mechanisms being a large part of their appeal. (One other thing to throw in here is that in my experience people who most loudly oppose affirmative action are also not fans of the legacy admits they also don’t benefit from.)

                                                                          Athletes: This one is a problem, really. In my view athletes who don’t meet academic criteria shouldn’t be allowed in. Others might argue that they pay their own way because of the athletics program, but to be honest I don’t really buy it. No difference between public, private, and elite schools here. There are maybe 60 schools where these kids pay their own way, and only a fraction of a school’s student athletes are a part of those particular programs.

                                                                          There is no college where they just say, “let’s take our best 1000 GPA + SAT scores and go from there.”

                                                                          This is true, and also where I think there is potentially trouble down the line with Asian-Americans. As long as the GOP is Trumpsville, they’ll take one for the team. But over time as the Asian-American population grows and their presence in selective institutions isn’t allowed to, it’s going to become quite the toothache. I just don’t know how it’s going to manifest itself.

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                                                                          • “(One other thing to throw in here is that in my experience people who most loudly oppose affirmative action are also not fans of the legacy admits they also don’t benefit from.)”

                                                                            I’d like to believe that, but strangely, there are no multi-million dollar legal campaigns against legacy admissions being funded by the usual array of conservative groups as opposed to affirmative action.

                                                                            “These represent different dynamics, though, from one another and from affirmative action.”

                                                                            See, I don’t see the different dynamic. At the end of the day, all these colleges are making decisions on what their school looks like for various reasons – I may not like it, but the legacy admissions makes sense for Harvard, because Harvard wants to Harvard, not MIT.

                                                                            Same thing for out of state or international students – for both financial and diversity reasons, there are strong arguments for them.

                                                                            So, the point is, if you think there’s a valid reason why a person who gets a 1300 SAT score from Wisconsin gets into college in Illinois above an Illinois native who gets a 1400, but see no valid reason why a black kid from inner city Chicago who gets a 1250 over a suburban kid who gets a 1450, then yes, I think there’s at best, some hypocrisy going on there.

                                                                            It may not be racist, but it leads to being allied with racists.

                                                                            As for Asians and affirmative action – polling all depends on how you phrase the question, but most Asians still support affirmative action. The current group opposing it are largely a small segment of small c conservative upper middle class Asians upset that Harvard is acting like Harvard, instead of like MIT.

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                                                                            • I’d like to believe that, but strangely, there are no multi-million dollar legal campaigns against legacy admissions being funded by the usual array of conservative groups as opposed to affirmative action.

                                                                              One place where an elite school “pedigree” really helps you?

                                                                              Washington DC.

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                                                                              • Do we really want more people who believe they got where they were because they rose to the top in a meritocracy in charge of things?

                                                                                Say what you will about affirmative action, but the people who got to where they were because of it know how important it is.

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                                                                            • I’d like to believe that, but strangely, there are no multi-million dollar legal campaigns against legacy admissions being funded by the usual array of conservative groups as opposed to affirmative action.

                                                                              I was speaking more of rank-and-file-people-we-talk-to than activists. That said, it’s fair to point out that there is a disparity in the intensity, even among people that don’t like either of them. This tracks a bit back to my previous comments about not being suspicious of people who are against affirmative action but being rather suspicious of people who are passionately against affirmative action.

                                                                              See, I don’t see the different dynamic. At the end of the day, all these colleges are making decisions on what their school looks like for various reasons – I may not like it, but the legacy admissions makes sense for Harvard, because Harvard wants to Harvard, not MIT.

                                                                              To me it’s different in the degree and nature of harm done. Does the inclusion of this student make it harder for that student to get in? An important question, from my perspective. So I personally find some of these much easier to defend than others (just as I find some collegiate manifestations of affirmative action easier to justify than others). Along those lines, generic affirmative action seems a lot easier to defend than where “a person who gets a 1300 SAT score from Wisconsin gets into college in Illinois above an Illinois native who gets a 1400” is happening on a systemic basis, depending on the particulars. “We need the money” is the only one I find palatable. Ditto for international students. “It’s good for the student body” is, for any public school at least, highly questionable in all of the above cases.

                                                                              As for Asians and affirmative action – polling all depends on how you phrase the question, but most Asians still support affirmative action. The current group opposing it are largely a small segment of small c conservative upper middle class Asians upset that Harvard is acting like Harvard, instead of like MIT.

                                                                              Polling is frustratingly sparse, and (as with a lot of affirmative action polling) very wording-dependent, but there’s not much to argue that even if it’s not the majority one that the plaintiff’s position is some sort of outlier. That said, there was some pushback in California among some Democratic Asian-American representatives. I expect we will be seeing more of that in years to come. To justify their position, Harvard is making some really off-putting arguments about the personal qualities of academically stellar Asian-Americans.

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                                                                              • I’m not sure “we need the money” is the only palatable excuse for colleges, public or private. An international presence, students from aboard + opportunities to study aboard, are in the top 10 of the things my kid (who is near the top of her class and getting a lot of “We want you!” mail from colleges) considers pluses in deciding on what colleges she wants to apply to.

                                                                                There are other reasons colleges might promote that too, esp. for private colleges. For instance, the sub-Ivy my mom used to work for gave a number of full ride scholarships to students from 3rd world countries. They had originally been founded as missionary college by a large Christian denomination, and while they were not overtly a Christian college anymore, they still considered providing that opportunity a part of their mission.

                                                                                The issues with AA and Asian-Americans for Harvard strike me as Harvard being very Harvard. The place has always had a very classist identity and they really flail when it comes to broadening or stepping outside of that. Though I’ll also say that my daughter’s Asian-American friends who are also looking at colleges right now seem to feel more pressure from their parents than from colleges in terms of meeting certain test score goals since a lot of universities are moving away from SAT/ACT as such a major factor in admissions. Some of that may be due to the Harvards of the world wanting a way to justify not taking as many high-performing Asian-Americans, but there is hard evidence that SAT/ACT are not in fact good predictors of academic success, except for the math portion for math-intensive majors. So for instance, my old alma mater puts weight on SAT/ACT math score for engineering applicants, but has downgraded the importance of SAT/ACT in other areas.

                                                                                Another development that I expect will eventually over take or replace AA, is that colleges are setting aside slots and funding specifically targeted at first generation students – those who will be the first in their families to go to college. In a lot of ways, I think that will do more to accomplish the original goals of AA in ‘widening the net’ of admissions than the approach of only promoting racial diversity.

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                                                                                • Well, it’s the only reason I personally find palatable for public schools. Certainly at a systemic level If we had different schools with different niches then maybe, but our college system mostly didn’t go the specialization route (land grants found humanities, liberal arts found engineering).

                                                                                  Private schools increasingly do need to find their niche, though, and so I tend not to concern myself with them. (Let Oberlin be Oberlin, let BYU be BYU.) The exception to that are private schools where there is a public interest. I will always care what Harvard does because they make tomorrow’s leaders. Not to the point that I would legislate it, necessarily, but that I don’t take the same “live and let live” attitude towards it.

                                                                                  And to clarify, I don’t think everything has to be about hard cutoffs. If schools want to use some other criteria I’m not uniformly opposed to that. If there is a systemic double standard, it’s going to take more than vague diversity arguments.

                                                                                  I mention money, but you’re right that there are others. Hardship, like being from an underdeveloped nation may help… but only if they’re not from the privileged class there. That’s the sort of thing you can look at, but only if you’re looking at the totality of the applicant. Which is another difference between private schools and public ones. A private school that interviews applicants and looks at all of that is different from a college where the inquiry begins and ends with a check box. That said, such interviewing systems can be a backdoor to other biases (like an anti-Asian American one) and we should be aware of that as well. (Though, as I said, if it’s not Ivy or near-Ivy I am not nearly as invested.)

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                                                          • Mike,

                                                            “It is what it is”?

                                                            “Gee, I meant to entrap someone else, but since you happened to be available, treating you like crap seemed like the right thing to do…” is not exactly an apology.

                                                            And if conservatives (who are apparently all white by this logic???) really do think of the left in the way you describe, and you agree, there really is no point in continuing to talk with you, is there?

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                                                            • I don’t think walking someone through a thought exercise that allows them to make your point for you is necessarily nefarious. I mean, I’ve been debating politics with people online since the 90s and this is sort of a bread & butter tactic (it’s also in the Parenting Teenagers 101 playbook and I am not trying to harm my kids). My apology was in reference to you being the one that fell for it, not that I deployed that tactic in the first place.

                                                              And I don’t know that all conservatives feel that way, but I know that many of them do. And I don’t know that I agree except when it comes to this site. The people that participate in online political discussions are the ubers. Do I believe most boilerplate liberals take delight in the harm done to whites by their policies? No. Do I believe that a higher percentage of liberals on this site do? Yeah, probably. If you say you aren’t in that group, I believe you.

                                                              As for having anything to discuss, it’s increasingly becoming likely that I won’t be participating in most of the discussions around here going forward, so we can just talk TV or food and it’s probably a safe topic.

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                                                              • Another non-apology.

                                                                The only thing I “fell for” was your previous declarations of not wanting to lump everyone into categories by political outlook. It seems you only want that to apply to conservatives and see no problem at all with treating any and all liberals as fair game in whatever complaint you’re making or hobby horse you want to ride.

                                                                One thing I won’t fall for again is the idea that you would will ever discuss anything with me in good faith.

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                          • Dude, we think it’s because conservatives lie about racism because a substantial majority love racist liars like Donald Trump.[1]

                            Nominating Donald Trump to the Presidency was a massive, and very possibly unforgivable, rupture of existing US political norms, most especially including the ones against overt violence and keeping dishonesty to ordinary politician dishonesty (mostly fudging promises and fudging numbers).

                            Trump was a huge surprise, and in 2015 basically everybody thought he was a joke.

                            Surprising things carry a lot of information. People update their priors in response, as well they should.

                            And yes I know someone compared Ann Romney’s horse to Hermann Goering or something, but dose-response is a thing.

                            [1] “They don’t really love Trump, they just say so to express solidarity against the hated libs,” or, “They really think he’s racist but deny it because they don’t want to be called on supporting a racist,” may be true, but at that point you’re dragging liberals for believing lies conservatives tell….

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                            • Yeah, you already made the point recently that basically conservatives get to be labeled racist for some time to come because Donald Trump is president. If that’s the case, I’m not sure how there is any dialogue going forward. I mean, serious question, are you interested in actually talking to conservatives or do you just plan to start all conversations with reminding them of their racism?

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                              • I mean maybe conservatives could start by demonstrating their good faith by admitting that Trump is racist.

                                But at this point that’s table stakes for open dialogue.

                                And the refusal of even conservatives who detest Trump to grant his racism, and the extent to which that appeals to constituencies in the Republican Party is a tremendous bar to dialogue IMO.

                                Because I don’t see why I should want dialogue if dialogue means, “Pretend Donald Trump isn’t blatantly racist and pretend that it’s perfectly OK to say he isn’t for (at best) the sake of holding the Team Red Coalition together.”

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                                • So Trump just announced that he is supporting criminal justice reform. He’s also on record as being pretty okay with marijuana legalization which is a step forward in ending a Drug War that especially hurts minorities. Can I talk about that being a positive sign without first saying Trump is a racist? And even if I do admit he is a racist, how does that affect our conversation about those ideas simply on their merits?

                                  I’m probing here because I am truly getting to my breaking point on this topic. I’m trying to figure out the actual conversational logistics of how I participate on this site without having to talk about racism every single day for the next 2 years.

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                                  • You can do that, but why would you want to? I’d say that it’s relevant context one way or another [1,2]. And of course I’ve written probably hundreds of words over the last few weeks about why I think evaluating the merits of policy independently of the rhetoric used to sell it, or the structure of the coalition that implements it, is misguided.

                                    Which isn’t to say that the specific coalition pushing the FIRST STEP Act is such a coalition or is using that kind of rhetoric. Indeed, they don’t seem to be as of yet [3]. But that’s a contingent fact.

                                    [1] Including possibly, “Even some good can come out of working with someone super-racist if it’s towards anti-racist goals.”

                                    [2] And indeed I’ve seen more than one commentator do just that.

                                    [3] And it doesn’t seem entirely coincidental that this is coming after the defenestration of Jeff Sessions as AG.

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                                    • “You can do that, but why would you want to?”

                                      Because I believe in Progress. If Trump advances a policy I support, I’m going to get onboard with that specific policy. I did the same thing with Obama despite (mostly) thinking he was much more Leftist than he admitted.

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                                        • So seriously, walk me through that conversation. Trump announces a policy tomorrow that I like. Let’s say he is going to provide funding for a big archaeological dig in my hometown. I’m stoked and I want to talk about it. How do I start that conversation with you? Do I issue a disclaimer up front about his racism or does that happen later when you or someone else on the Left inevitably finds some way to link the two?

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                                          • “Look, I think Trump is a racist asshole, but I’m glad he’s doing this thing I like….”

                                            Otherwise you’re expecting folks on the Left to ignore what they believe (with no small bit of justification) is the most salient aspect of Trump and his Presidency. This isn’t exactly being open to dialogue IMO.

                                            And, really, it matters a lot more when the President is racist than when your grandma is racist. At least unless your grandma is also President.

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                                            • Otherwise you’re expecting folks on the Left to ignore what they believe (with no small bit of justification) is the most salient aspect of Trump and his Presidency. This isn’t exactly being open to dialogue IMO.

                                              But does his racism have anything to do with funding for an archaeological project?

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                                                • Many archaeological projects absolutely DO have something to do with race, but wouldn’t it be far more interesting if we let the conversation end up there naturally? If I address it up front because Trump supported it, then we’re absolutely going to have that conversation, even if it’s not warranted. That skews every conversation we have.

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                                                  • Many archaeological projects absolutely DO have something to do with race, but wouldn’t it be far more interesting if we let the conversation end up there naturally?

                                                    We could almost certainly have more interesting conversations if we didn’t have this elephant in the room, but given that the elephant is here in the room, well, acting as if it isn’t is more annoying than useful IMO.

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                                            • Depending on the venue, better than that can be having a track-record of having criticized Trump. I’ve been accused of having Trump sympathies a couple of times, but it’s pretty rare because I register my protest with reasonable regularity.

                                              If I’m at a venue where people don’t know my track record, or have no reason to, I do state my general opinions on Trump in the process of supporting whatever it is I support.

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                                              • I think this is a good point Will. What I keep trying to suss out of Pillsy and others here on the site is whether or not conservatives have to issue disclaimers in this specific place? Pillsy keeps indicating that yes, we do, regardless of our track record or the relevance of race to a specific topic. If that is the standard, I’ll accept it, but I’m just going to stop participating in those discussions.

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                                              • That’s fair and true.

                                                But it’s not just Trump, it’s the coalition that he built. A lot of more right-leaning people (here and elsewhere) will readily concede that Trump himself is terrible, and even say that his terribleness has partly or completely ruptured their willingness to support the Republican Party… but when I (or other leftwards) suggest that Trump reflects badly on his coalition, there’s incredible resistance (not from you personally, but in general).

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                        • Asian-Americans are not a monolith and as far as I can tell from reading essays, a lot of Asians have a deep ambivalence towards the Harvard lawsuit especially if they are our age and younger.

                          I find it hard to dispute that Donald Trump, Steve King, DeSantis, and Kemp are anything but stone-cold racists. At the very least they are willing to exploit racial tensions and bigotries for electoral gain. In my opinion, racism by effect is just as bad by racism by intent. “Ironic Nazism” (hello all white Wisconsin high school seniors seig heiling) is still Nazism.

                          Also I think it possible that a lot of people deluded themselves into thinking that racialized campaigning does not effect them. There is a lot of evidence of various BBQ Bettys calling the police on black people for everyday actions and then insisting that they are not racist.

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                          • If a non-racist supports a racist politician who happens to advance a policy they like, is that any different than what Civil Rights advocates did under LBJ? Johnson was absolutely a racist, but he advanced the cause of Civil Rights, so people looked the other way for the greater good. How is that any different than a non-racist conservative looking the other way on Trump’s xenophobia and race-baiting because they believe in other causes he champions?

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                              • So when Democrats talk about the Civil Rights act, should they always preface their remarks by saying, “LBJ was a racist but…”

                                My grandmother was absolutely racist, but when I tell stories about her awesome cooking, I don’t preface those remarks either. It just becomes an issue of what we allow to dominate the conversation. McConnell was rightly criticized for saying he would oppose every policy put forward by Obama. It feels to me that Democrats are doing the same thing with Trump but using his racism as cover.

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                                • I don’t control democrats. I don’t control Trump. I control me. If either of them, or anyone else, does something racially prejudiced I will condemn and call it out. What policy the person who does it has no bearing on it. Race has been used as a tactic by many for many years. Doesn’t excuse anyone on the right who cozies up, or ignores, or worse with the racially hateful fringe right. Doesn’t excuse the left when some through out the racist charge at every little thing when it doesn’t apply, and thus hurts the conversation about the very real race issues we face.

                                  Since you used it as an example, my uncle worked in the LBJ White House, traveled with him, had daily interactions with him, was in the East Room when the civil rights act was signed. LBJ was a hateful, crude, awful person in many respects. Hateful, awful, crude, and racial prejudiced people occasional do great things despite it. a person with known and provable racial prejudices like LBJ, still managed to do something important to make those same prejudices not acceptable. He was still hateful, awful, crude and racially insensative at best and perhaps racist at worst. I have no problem if someone prefaces something with the truth. Worrying about what other people are using to “dominate the conversation” is chasing a vapor through a windstorm. You will never control that.

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                                  • “Worrying about what other people are using to “dominate the conversation” is chasing a vapor through a windstorm. You will never control that.”

                                    You are right, but I also don’t have to participate in the conversation and unfortunately I am quickly arriving at the point of making that decision.

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                          • Asian-Americans are not a monolith and as far as I can tell from reading essays, a lot of Asians have a deep ambivalence towards the Harvard lawsuit especially if they are our age and younger.

                            Wasn’t intending to say that all Asian-Americans oppose affirmative action. Just that the implications are different for those who do.

                            That said, I do strongly suspect this is going to become a bigger and bigger fault line as colleges have to go further and further out of their way to keep Asian-American enrollment down… and try to justify doing so. Not saying that Asian-Americans are going to go vote Republican or anything, but these sorts of things manifest themselves in different ways.

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              • How would you react if someone just said “I vote Republican because Republicans are the party of white people and white supremacy is in my best interest.”

                “Oh, crap. I was wondering when people would start saying that shit out loud. This will end in divorce or war.”

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                • I mean, “what if White People started voting for “their” political party in numbers similar to (other ethnic group) voting for “their” political party?” is something that we do *NOT* want to have happen.

                  (I know, I know. It’s completely different when (other ethnic group) votes for “their” political party in those numbers.)

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                  • The message of both Trump and the NRCC was “The brown people are coming and the Jews are behind it.” Until the murders in Pittsburgh, at which point they — didn’t change the message at all.

                    The GOP is the part of Nazis, or at least not minding Nazis so much. Look at all those non-white people voting their selfish interest by opposing that.

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                      • There are a handful of minorities in the GOO does not negate Mike’s claims. Fox News, Ben Garrison, a lot of Republican politicians tried to gin up fears of the caravan and claim Soros’ was funding it. Garrison has done political cartoons featuring the Rothschilds manipulating Soros who was manipulated Mattis like a puppet.

                        If that isn’t anti-Semitism, I don’t know what is.

                        Miller is vile. Lots of his fellow Jews think he is vile. His own uncle among them. Most minorities, including Jews, vote Democratic because they feel unwelcome in the GOP. Yet by all accounts, absolve the GOP because the number of minorities voting Democratic is not 100 percent.

                        This is wrong.

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                        • I think that Mittler Rommelney is less racist than Der Trumpler by a damn sight.

                          I think that there was some bigoted stuff about the caravan but the stuff I noticed was all “brown people bad” rather than “Jewish people bad”. The only thoughts I had that were vaguely Jewish related about the coverage was “Huh… the Palestinians should try something like that.”

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                          • I agree that Mitt was a good deal less racist than Trump. So I’m not sure why you’re bringing him up.

                            As for the anti-semitism, well, “Jews like George Soros are engaged in a sneaky conspiracy to undermine the nation by smuggling in foreigners,” is a very common talking point on the extreme Right. And a lot of what the allegedly somewhat respectable Right had to say on the subject just omitted the first two words.

                            Nonetheless, quite a few anti-semites on the extreme Right got the message loud and clear, one to the point of deciding that the allegedly somewhat respectable Right was sitting on its hands so he had to murder a bunch of Jews.

                            All of this happened. And after it happened, the allegedly somewhat respectable Right didn’t stop spreading its gross conspiracy theories. It only did that after the election was lost.

                            Now I’m open to suggestions on how to appear more credible.

                            I’m not open to suggestions that I pretend that shit didn’t happen.

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                            • So I’m not sure why you’re bringing him up.

                              Because he was called a Nazi too. Like, 4 years earlier than Trump was. This is something that happened.

                              While I can appreciate that “Jews like George Soros are (whatever)” is an anti-Semitic sentiment, “George Soros is (whatever)” is one of those sentiments that is either true or false. The dude wrote a book, after all, and he talked about stuff that he wants to see happen.

                              Now, the guy who shot up the temple was a deplorable anti-Semite. But one of the things he was angry about was Trump being a tool of the Jews.

                              Lumping everybody involved together is… well. It’s whatever the term we use for lumping everybody together is.

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                              • While I can appreciate that “Jews like George Soros are (whatever)” is an anti-Semitic sentiment, “George Soros is (whatever)” is one of those sentiments that is either true or false.

                                In this case, it was ludicrously false. George Soros was not funding a caravan of people from Central America to undermine the United States.

                                Lots of anti-semitic arguments are couched as statements that in principle are true or false, but are in fact ludicrously false.

                                Not really sure why I would want to pretend otherwise.

                                But one of the things he was angry about was Trump being a tool of the Jews.

                                This would be a stronger defense if he weren’t angry about exactly the conspiracy theory that Trump (and a lot of the rest of the Rightward media and political establishment) were promulgating to scare their voters to the polls.

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                                • I’m not sure that I’m up to hammer out the difference between false and ludicrously false.

                                  If anything, I’m reminded of arguments of the form:

                                  First person: “I think we should X.”
                                  Second person: “I don’t think we should X.”
                                  Third person: “NOBODY IS ARGUING THAT WE SHOULD X.”

                                  Describing any of those positions (no matter the X) as ludicrously wrong strikes me as, well, a matter of perspective rather than of fact.

                                  Lots of anti-semitic arguments are couched as statements that in principle are true or false, but are in fact ludicrously false.

                                  Sure.

                                  This would be a stronger defense if he weren’t angry about exactly the conspiracy theory that Trump (and a lot of the rest of the Rightward media and political establishment) were promulgating to scare their voters to the polls.

                                  And it failed and failed *HARD*.

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                                  • I realize that last part would benefit from hammering out what “it” is.

                                    The conspiracy theory, from where I sat, wasn’t that that Soros was financing the caravan, but that the caravan was deliberately orchestrated to whip up… something.

                                    I mean, my assumption was that the caravan was deliberately orchestrated to get the Republicans out to the polls. “Look! Here are some Democrats who want to abolish ICE! Here are some others who want Open Borders! HERE IS A CARAVAN COMING UP FROM *CENTRAL AMERICA*!”

                                    And then you just have them stopped before they get here (with the assistance of Mexico, of course) and everything dies down.

                                    The conspiracy that this was Soros at work was a conspiracy that didn’t even make sense to me (outside of the “a group of people this large requires logistical support” issue that struck me as aligning somewhat well with “billionaires are capable of providing logistical support” idea).

                                    When I found out that the caravan was trying to embarrass the Honduran Government rather than the US government, I found myself vaguely confused to be involved in an international drama that was using the US to embarrass a government rather than an international drama that had the US as an actor.

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                                    • Sure. But the level of “OMFG CAN YOU BELIEVE THIS” is lower for me because I saw it as transparently not true and I saw it transparently fail to accomplish anything (and, if anything, the silliness of the theory helped get more Democrats to go to the polls than Republicans).

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                                      • can you see that if you believed it “accomplished” being a contributing factor to some crazy guy going out and shooting up a synagogue, you might have a few more caps-locked words to spare?

                                        or perhaps it being part of a more generalized attitude that has led to hate crimes increasing for the past 3 years in a row?

                                        (i realize there are arguments as to why these things don’t necessarily flow one from the other, including for eg the argument that people are currently less likely to sweep hate crimes under the rug, etc etc; that’s not what I’m asking, it’s “if you believed those things, as many of us do, can you see why we would not take kindly to being told we’re overreacting and/or need to be more credible?”)

                                        (edited to fix name. that was me, not JB, obviously)

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                                          • You were saying you had a lower level of OMFG.

                                            I was responding to you saying that you did by requesting some empathy / imagination as to why one might respond with a higher one.

                                            Not sure why you think it was on me, in that conversation, to assume you weren’t telling the truth about having a lower level of OMFG.

                                            Perhaps if you said your divorce or war thing in response to that sort of news more often and in response to people being upset about that sort of news less often (combined with acting like you’d not really taken notice of the stuff they’re upset about), you would be clearer.

                                            Or perhaps not.

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                                            • Oh, I absolutely understand why someone would respond with a higher OMFG to this event. So let me say that right now.

                                              I understand why someone would look at that sort of thing and freak out.

                                              Certainly if they are among the “no, we’re not going to have a civil war” group of people.

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                  • Ok, but what if *Women* voted for “their” political party, putting gender ahead of race in determining which party to vote for?

                    Honestly, the idea that race is the only factor that matters is stupid, but not because parties don’t play to it. It’s stupid because it’s far from the only factor that determines whether a party represents one’s best interests. I’m white, but the GOP stopped representing my best interests when it got into bed with the Moral Majority and other species of Patriarchal Evangelicals. They became antithetical to my best interests after electing Trump.

                    (And please note I am saying GOP, not conservatives. There may be significant overlap in those categories, but I do not use them interchangeably).

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                      • For me, gender is. I can’t speak for anyone else, though I believe my fellow white college-educated women might be taken as an indicator that race isn’t the better indicator in all cases.

                        But the question was a ‘what if’, based on the idea that the GOP was pro-white so whites should vote for them, which struck me as silly since from where I sit, the GOP is at best pro-white people who are also straight cis-gendered males in the top tiers in terms of income.

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          • You forgot: 2006 and 2008 were massive, back to back, blue wave elections, placing the Democrats at a ridiculous high water mark.

            Some people strangely pretend that’s not the case, decide the measuring stick should start in 2010 and pretend confusion.

            The Dems did end 2008 with 60 Senate Seats, 257 House seats, and the White House. IIRC, local and state races followed fairly closely to that pattern in both 2006 and 2008. Reversion to the mean alone in 2010 should have cost Democrats 5 or 6 Senate seats and at least 40 House seats.

            Without a single other factor — not the economy, not unified control of government, not the usual mid-term losses, etc. I mean, Jesus, 60 Senate seats in 2008 should have told you the results were way the hell out of whack with the country and thus a massive outlier.

            But I guess that’s not as fun as shouting “1000 SEATS!” and feeling profound.

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            • It’s more that I’m shouting “THESE SEATS WERE FREAKING WINNABLE” and moving on from there that “THESE SEATS WERE FREAKING *KEEPABLE*”.

              But, you know. Gerrymandering through use of computers that gives Republicans a leg up for three elections but not the fourth.

              Hey, maybe it was inevitable. Maybe decisions made by politicians in the meantime had nothing to do with wins or losses or anything.

              Maybe it’s because of Fox News.

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              • It’s more that I’m shouting “THESE SEATS WERE FREAKING WINNABLE” and moving on from there that “THESE SEATS WERE FREAKING *KEEPABLE*”.

                Do things like the Cook Partisan Index measure anything real? Or is that concept completely wrong?

                Because if it does, that shout of yours is flat-out contradicted by basic statistics.

                If it doesn’t measure anything real, then you simply have a much different view of how the American electorate works than everyone who does it for a living — pundits, politicians, pollsters, etc.

                So which is it? Is there no such thing as a state, or House district, or county that is more Republican or Democratic than average? Or is there?

                And if there is, how can a wave do anything else but wash candidates into seats that, statistically, they are unlikely to keep as the situation regresses to the mean?

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                • Hey, I’m down with the argument that stuff ebbs and flows and goes back and forth and We The People are a lot more interested in throwing the bums out on their patooties than letting them continue to lie to us.

                  But that argument is not the argument that we lost and kept losing for multiple elections because our opponents used computers to help them make maps that could guess what the trends would be over the next three elections.

                  They won elections because of the choices they made and because of the backlash to the choices Democrats made.

                  Not gerrymandering. Not computers.

                  Howard Dean’s 50 State Strategy worked and the backlash began, coincidentally, the minute that it was abandoned.

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                  • The two are not incompatible, you know.

                    I mean gerrymandering is rarely a cost-free decision. It can be undone and even rendered counterproductive by a sufficient swing [1] or by a shift in coalition structure [2]. This doesn’t mean it’s fair or good or cool, just that it’s not the whole ball game.

                    [1] As a bunch of “safe” districts which are, say 55% GOP is no longer safe, for instance, flipping all at once, which IIRC happened in 2006.

                    [2] As a bunch of affluent suburban Republicans decide that they hate this Trump guy and vote Dem, which seems to have happened just now.

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                    • As a bunch of affluent suburban Republicans decide that they hate this Trump guy and vote Dem, which seems to have happened just now.

                      Which is the real point JB is making (I think).

                      Send better predators.

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                      • Send better predators.

                        Which goes back to the question: Do things like the Cook Partisan index measure something real?

                        If it does, then there is a limit to skill, technique, message, charisma, policy, or whatever. There’s a massive built in handicap (or advantage, depending on your side of the index), that is unreasonably difficult to surmount.

                        And saying “Find better predators” is like telling someone “Okay, so you’re starting a chess match with half the pieces your opponent does, play better” and expecting that to work reliably. Yeah, sometimes you’ll win — your opponent may show up drunk, or his whole team suffering from the worst hangovers of their lives, or may accidentally knock over half his own pieces as an opening move.

                        But statistically, you’re going to lose, game after game. Because if you’re in a chess match, you’re generally up against someone roughly your skill level. You might have one genius on your team that can hack it, but he can only play one game at a time.

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                  • Sweet, trifecta. Failed to answer the questions, shifted the topic away from the problems I highlighted, and then repeated his slogan.

                    I mean it wasn’t a hard question: Does the Cook Partisan index measure anything real?

                    Why’s that so hard to answer? Why the deflection?

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                    • Does the Cook Partisan index measure anything real?

                      In hindsight? Yes.

                      Is it good at predicting things? Well…

                      You’d think that Hillary would have won, if it were good at predicting things.

                      All in all, a tool that is good at explaining what happened rather than explaining what is going to happen is not as useful as I’d like. But, after the fact, it *IS* good at explaining What Happened.

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                      • In hindsight? Yes.

                        That’s a no then. You don’t think states, districts, what-have-you have a partisan lean.

                        That stuff like that is just a measurement of how much a given party won by in the last election.

                        Well, that explains your views allright. I mean if you honestly believe Texas and California are true toss-up states that either side could win, any election, “if only they had better candidates” you would draw some fascinating conclusions indeed.

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                        • I mean if you honestly believe Texas and California are true toss-up states that either side could win, any election, “if only they had better candidates” you would draw some fascinating conclusions indeed.

                          Yeah, my term for this is “Howard Dean’s 50 State Strategy”.

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                          • “Yeah, my term for this is “Howard Dean’s 50 State Strategy”.”

                            Howard Dean’s 50-State Strategy didn’t actually plan on California and Texas being as easily swingable as each other. It planned on having as many candidates as possible and funding state parties, even in long shot states, just in case something insane did happen.

                            The Howard Dean 50 State Strategy realized that 9 times out of 10, the GOP would win an Alabama special election. OTOH, 1 out of 10 times they nominate Roy Moore _and_ accusers about his weirdo past come up.

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                          • Yeah, my term for this is “Howard Dean’s 50 State Strategy”.

                            Then you neither understand politics nor Howard Dean’s 50 State Strategy.

                            Which explains why you have such ludicrous beliefs. You’re the man who measured at high tide, panicking over the draining oceans and wondering why no one else is as worried as you.

                            You’ve made a fundamental error, and you have spent pages avoiding addressing that error. If you literally cannot admit that a Republican running for Senate in California faces huge problems a Republican running for that office in Texas does not — practically unsurmountable problems, why exactly should anyone listen to you talk about politics?

                            You’re ignoring basic facts when you do your “analysis”, to the point of refusing to engage people on those facts when they bring them up, which means you picked your conclusion first, and just cherrypicked any facts that fit it.

                            If you want to talk about 1000 seats lost in 2010, but you don’t start by figuring out how many of those were heavily Republican seats to begin with — like, for instance, the one Jones holds in Alabama — how can your conclusions have any actual validity?

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                            • And you seem to be unable to admit that Howard Dean’s 50 state strategy was about more states than Alabama and Texas and that the 2010 losses happened in more than Alabama and Texas and that there were more than 600 of these losses the first election after Howard Dean’s strategy was abandoned for your own.

                              And that the losses continued for years after the strategy continued to be abandoned.

                              And it took Trump being president to make your strategy seem a decent alternative.

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                              • My strategy? Jaybird I don’t work for the DNC. I don’t have an electoral strategy. And as far as I support any, I was a huge fan of Dean’s 50 State strategy.

                                But how you think it applies is at complete odds with the facts, You don’t even seem to understand what it was, or how it was applied,

                                I say this as a proponent of Dean’s strategy that you’re wrong, that what you think applies here doesn’t. That you’re naively mistaking Dean’s strategy with creating a blue wave in 2006 and 2008, instead of simply being an excellent way to take advantage of one.

                                And it was not lack of that strategy that caused the 2010 red wave, nor cause Democratic losses in 2010. How could it? Do you think Democrats had a ton of incumbents decide not to run? Or decide not fund them?

                                Seriously Jaybird, take a step back here: You’re basically accusing me of opposing something I support. Which means you’re not listening. You’re certainly not engaging me in honest conversation.

                                So once again, back to my point: Are Texas and California “toss-up” states, in which a Democrat or a Republican has an equal chance of winning the Senate seat on skill, or message, or charisma, or some combination thereof?

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                                • Are Texas and California “toss-up” states, in which a Democrat or a Republican has an equal chance of winning the Senate seat on skill, or message, or charisma, or some combination thereof?

                                  They were once. They are likely to be again.

                                  They sure as hell won’t be if people take your attitude.

                                  Here’s a recent and relevant question:

                                  Is Wisconsin a toss-up? How about Michigan? Pennsylvania?

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                                  • Wow, you literally cannot admit that some states and districts have a built in advantage for one party over the other right now.

                                    Which remains the basic problem, Jaybird. And you know it — why you refuse to admit it I don’t know, perhaps you just like shouting your favorite little slogan too much.

                                    If you can’t admit that Texas is R+16 and that affects the basics of whether Democrats can win state-wide races heavily, how the hell can anything you say about the horserace of politics be taken seriously? It’s like arguing about the solar system with a man who claims there’s only 4 planets, and Luna doesn’t exist.

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                                    • They do. Of course they do.

                                      But the attitude that they cannot be surmounted with something like “trying to win them” is, in part, what lead to Democrats not worrying about somewhere on the order of 1000 state level seats.

                                      Please don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying that every one of these seats was keepable.

                                      But the attitude that none of them were strikes me as an argument that’d be a strawman if it weren’t for the fact that, holy crap, we’re still having this conversation.

                                      If you can’t admit that Texas is R+16 and that affects the basics of whether Democrats can win state-wide races heavily, how the hell can anything you say about the horserace of politics be taken seriously?

                                      Because I’m not just looking at Texas.

                                      I’m looking at all 50 states. Hence my discussion of a “50 State Strategy”.

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                                      • But the attitude that none of them were strikes me as an argument that’d be a strawman if it weren’t for the fact that, holy crap, we’re still having this conversation.

                                        I know. It’s staggering you can’t admit that using 2010 as a benchmark is pretty dumb, because 2006 and 2008 were back-to-back blue wave elections, so 2010 represented a ridiculous outlier in terms of Democratic seats held, and thus drawing conclusions based solely on 2010 was incredibly foolish and certainly would lead to a number of wrong conclusions.

                                        But you keep doing it, so I don’t know what to tell you. Your constant “1000 SEATS” statement, which I’m sure you find incredibly profound, really does suffer from failure to note that.

                                        Your stubborn refusal to even acknowledge that 2008 represented a ridiculously high water mark for Democrats, possibly only through a four years of an incredibly unpopular Republican President (he was polling over 60% disapproval in the end), is…weird.

                                        Like you want a conclusion to be true so badly that your attitude is “Screw the facts”.

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                                        • I’m not drawing conclusions based on merely 2010.

                                          Also 2012.

                                          And 2014.

                                          And 2016.

                                          You know what the flipside of “we can’t win that state” is?

                                          It’s “we can’t lose this one”.

                                          Here’s a fun 8 minutes.

                                          *THAT* is what “some states can’t be won/lost” looks like when it goes up against “maybe we could win this state, if we tried to.”

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  2. “But the biggest story of the electorate hands down came from the women’s vote, the youth vote, the suburbs, and the forgotten independents I’ve been harping so much about. Women and youth, Hillary Clinton voters, voted for Democrats by even bigger margins. The suburbs and the independents went from fueling a GOP House win in 2016 to voting in a Democratic majority. Independents, by the way, went from backing Trump and the GOP by 4-6 points to voting Democratic by double digits.”

    This. I suspected we were going to see this, but it was good to be correct. In the suburbs I think you have a very centrist electorate when taken as a whole. Lots and lots of moderates slightly left and slightly right of center. I think white women were shamed enough after being blamed for putting Trump in office that they had something to prove this year. If they continue to stay motivated, that’s a powerful force.

    I will also note, somewhat off-topic, that the cracks I have seen just in the last week are heartening. Fox News actually stands up for journalistic freedom. Pushback from the Senate on the Mueller probe and wanting to make sure he is allowed to finish his work. Pelosi seeing opposition and we maybe get a younger and more antagonistic Speaker of the House. Rumors are that Trump is locked in a ‘circle of bitterness’ and that he is starting to crack even more. I’m looking forward to a full-on meltdown, but hoping it happens late enough that Pence doesn’t somehow end up carrying the banner.

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  3. Another somewhat underrated bit of news out of this cycle is basically – no, Generation Z are not secret conservatives, even if 15 year old boys on the Internet are kinda terrible.

    https://medium.com/@yghitza_48326/what-happened-last-tuesday-part-2-who-did-they-vote-for-e3a2a63a5ef2

    “There was an increase in youth turnout (18-29) between 2014 and 2018, from 8 to 9% of votes cast[2]. Just as importantly, Democratic vote margins increased substantially since 2016, going from +25 to +44 Democratic. This is especially true among young white voters. In 2016 (and 2014), Democrats and Republicans were essentially tied. In 2018, there was a huge shift and Democrats won them by 26 points. There was also a large shift among 30-44 year olds, who showed a 2-point boost in share, and a 13-point shift in Democratic margin. Again this was bigger among white 30-44 year olds, who voted for Republicans by 21 points in 2014 and 9 points in 2016; they supported Democrats by 9 points this year.”

    https://cdn-images-1.medium.com/max/800/1*eMaAhGef1OGXtCDlq9bZaw.png

    If these numbers hold in any appreciable way (and remember, this is the first group of young votes – even if 30-44 is pushing it to be ‘young’ – to be as liberal as old people think young kids are.), this is the real looming tsunami coming for the GOP.

    So, the interesting question if with the big shift left among White 18-29 which of the following things –

    1.) A bunch of former non-voters showing up in 2018?

    2.) Hillary Clinton was so bad a candidate for the White Youth vote that they sat out 2016

    3.) The radicalization of unmarried white women

    4.) Young white Trump voters shifting back to the Dem’s because Trump was worse than they thought?

    Also, seems like if the choice is Trumpism or SJWism that supposedly hates white people, the kids will choose the SJW’s and like I said, it goes against the “secret conservative Gen Z” idea that’s seen on the Internet at times because Jordan Peterson is mildly popular, some wonky polling on personal ideals, and teenagers acting terrible.

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    • This.

      People think demographics are dooming the Republicans. And they are, in some manner.

      What is really dooming Republicans are that a good percentage people pick up political voting patterns when they’re…let’s say 14-23. And stick with them their entire life unless some _really specular_ thing happens. I’m not talking about the ‘center’, I’m talking about _everyone else_.

      The Republicans, for example, had Reagan, building an entire generation of Republicans.

      And…that was it.

      If you’re 40-ish, you came of age under Clinton, and thus you’re somewhat Democratic. If you’re white, you’re…slightly Republican.
      If you’re 30-ish, you came of age under Bush, and thus you’re somewhat Democratic. If you’re white, you’re…slightly Republican.
      If you’re 20-ish, you came of age under Obama, and thus you’re mostly Democratic. If you’re white, you’re…slightly Democratic
      If you’re under 20, you will come of age under Trump, and thus you’re really Democratic. If you’re white, you’re…mostly Democratic

      Democrats have had two exceptionally charismatic leaders.

      Republicans have had shitty non-charismatic leaders, hell, Trump has actually anti-charisma.

      Forget Demographics, forget the changing population, forget anything except the passage of time itself: Republicans are in a lot of trouble, because they keep electing presidents that people who are deciding who to be do not like, and Democrats keep electing presidents they do like.

      It’s a bit cliche to assert young people are the future, and perhaps it is so cliche that we have forgotten it is, quite literally, true…young people are future voters, and old people are future dead people, and thus unlikely to be voting.

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      • “Republicans are in a lot of trouble, because they keep electing presidents that people who are deciding who to be do not like, and Democrats keep electing presidents they do like.”

        This is actually somewhat underrated – of every President since 1900, if you ask your average person their general view of them, which Republican’s will they have very warm feelings for – Teddy, Eisenhower, and Reagan most likely. Maybe Ford was sympathetic reasons. But aside from that, not much.

        Now for the Democrats – we’ve got FDR, JFK, Bill, and Obama. Depending on the person, even Truman or Carter.

        More and more, Republican’s have to basically turn around and ignore their last standard bearer and pretend he doesn’t exist, then move on and treating the next one as perfection. I mean, George W. Bush still had a 70-ish percent approval rating among Republican’s at his lowest point – yet, it’s very hard to find those people today. Same thing with Nixon.

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  4. Since there seems to be a lot of litigating over the “Nazi” charge, I think its a good time to explore what the charge means, why it is either appropriate or not.
    The best description I’ve read is this one by Yonatan Zunger
    In the essay he describes that the word “Nazi” isn’t just a casual slur, and it doesn’t just mean “really really conservative”; It has an actual meaning.

    The nut is here:

    Nazism conceives of the world as a struggle between races. That’s not “race” as in the 20th-century American “black/white” sense; in the Nazi vision, Jews, Slavs, Britons, and so on are all “races,” too. Nazism believes that races have certain characteristics, which are passed on through the blood, and that they are bound to some land, which it is their right and duty to rule.
    [snip]
    The “National Socialism” is a very real idea, too: it means socialism for members of the nation. And they decide who’s in and who’s out. Government subsidies for “good, decent people?” Sure! Just don’t give it to those parasites.

    The thing is, these ideas aren’t binary. They have fuzzy edges, and show up in lots of other political ideologies, to greater or lesser degrees.
    Which only makes sense since the Nazis didn’t invent this stuff out of whole cloth. They just sharpened and refined it to a greater degree than before.

    There are liberals who are emphatic that Trump is no different than any other Republican from Mitt Romney to Richard Nixon. I’m not fond of that notion since it seems to artificially compress a lot of dissimilar things into a high contrast binary world.

    But is completely fair to say that blood and soil nationalism has a long pedigree in American politics, mostly (but not entirely) on its conservative side.

    This idea that it is “crying wolf” is IMO, silly since there really have been wolves, always and everywhere in American politics.

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