The House Knocks Back

Andrew Donaldson

Born and raised in West Virginia, Andrew has since lived and traveled around the world several times over. Though frequently writing about politics out of a sense of duty and love of country, most of the time he would prefer discussions on history, culture, occasionally nerding on aviation, and his amateur foodie tendencies. He can usually be found misspelling/misusing words on Twitter @four4thefire and his writing website Yonder and Home. Andrew is the host of Heard Tell podcast.

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62 Responses

  1. Chip Daniels says:

    Over at Balloon Juice, front pager mistermix references an article in the WaPo about AOC’s chief of staff, who says this:

    “The whole theory of change for the current Democratic Party is that to win this country we need to tack to the hypothetical middle. What I think that means is, you don’t take unnecessary risks, which translates to: You don’t really do anything. Whereas we’ve got a completely different theory of change, which is: You do the biggest, most badass thing you possibly can — and that’s going to excite people, and then they’re going to go vote. Because the reality is, our problem isn’t that more people are voting Republican than Democrat — our problem is most people who would vote Democrat aren’t voting.”

    The incrementalist and radical wings have always been in tension, and until the last few years I’ve been in the incrementalist camp.
    But incrementalism relies on the other side playing by the same rules and norms. When the other side radicalizes, the place for compromise moves further away than is possible to follow.

    Except in our current environment, the compromise place hasn’t moved; It’s disappeared altogether. The Trumpists can’t be compromised with because for them, the very existence of liberalism; that is, equality, rule of law, fair play, a loyal opposition- is considered by them to be illegitimate and must be destroyed.Report

    • North in reply to Chip Daniels says:

      Yeah but AoC’s chief of staff doesn’t mention that the incrementalists notched actual policy achievements with their incrementalism while the lefty absolutists have a list of policy achievements that can be summed up as “bupkiss”. Even more importantly the GOP; which they obviously admire for how its incrementalists indulged, then used, then capitulated to their extremists; has similarly achieved very little policy movement for all their wild extremism.
      Yes, the leftists deride gay marriage as heteronormative, the ACA as insufficient, the various financial regulations and stimulii as propping up capitalism, but they have no achievements of their own, few concrete proposals that can command a majority even within their own party and no plans to correct either of those.

      I’m glad they’re here, for the record. AOC is probably shifting the overton window a bit to the left. She’s making Republicans talk about Pelosi as a moderate which is no small thing and the energy they represent is important to a party and the Dems have, perhaps, suffered for the lack of it. But I am glad that the moderate majority isn’t interested in following the same trail of idiocy and ruin that the GOP went shambling down.

      “But incrementalism relies on the other side playing by the same rules and norms. When the other side radicalizes, the place for compromise moves further away than is possible to follow.”
      There’s an alternative to this though. It’s to move to the center, capture the center and the left and then do the compromising -internally- rather than with the deranged right wing rump. And that seems like a more plausible plan than some twitter based socialist revolution (Talk about waiting for Godot) or trying to bargain with the utterly captured and deranged Republicans.Report

      • Chip Daniels in reply to North says:

        “AOC is probably shifting the overton window a bit to the left”

        There’s your accomplishment right there.Report

        • North in reply to Chip Daniels says:

          That is a political accomplishment; not a policy one. Trump and all the wingbats who came before him shifted the Overton window to the right plenty. I doubt if you time traveled back to the eighties or nineties and told the old GOP crew that indulging their wingers would let their racist, revanchavist and populist demagogues be horrible and become the face of the Republican Party and Conservativism in the USA that they’d be pleased to receive that news.Report

          • JoeSal in reply to North says:

            It’s kind of cute that you fellas think there is still only one overton window, instead of two moving equally in opposite directions.Report

          • Catchling in reply to North says:

            They’d be displeased because they’d assume that a too-obviously-racist GOP would be electorally doomed, which was indeed conventional wisdom until 2016. Buckley would find Trump uncouth, but he’d definitely vote for him.Report

    • Mike Dwyer in reply to Chip Daniels says:

      If you tack away from the middle because you believe you have to fight extremism with extremism, doesn’t that imply the public wants extremism? And yet the polling numbers never show that, nor does the majority of Americans registered as Independents.Report

  2. JoeSal says:

    I’m glad they aren’t yelling ‘RACIST!!!’ at each other, that would just close the circle twerk of a dumpster fire going on over there.

    Good stuff AndrewReport

  3. George Turner says:

    I think AOC, Omar, Tlaib, and the others will be as vital to Republican success in 2020 as Newt Gingrich and Karl Rove ever were. Republicans ran against Nancy in almost every district, but running against AOC is even better.Report

    • North in reply to George Turner says:

      So now Pelosi is the moderate and AoC and her small gang are the dangerous radicals. Looks like having some wingers about is already paying dividends.Report

      • George Turner in reply to North says:

        Note that when there’s a few Congressional Republican nutcases running crazy, Democrats across the country run against them in campaign ads, and ignore McConnell or Hastert or Boehner, because it works.

        The they didn’t risk getting caught, the RNC would fundraise for ACO, Omar, and Tlaib.Report

        • North in reply to George Turner says:

          Hah! McConnell and Boehner were the sane ones in the right wing loony bin. Their wingers were scuttling their own legislation. The sane congressional GOP members appear to be the exception now; the loons are the rule and are ruling on the right.Report

    • Mr.Joe in reply to George Turner says:

      Team blue said the same about the tea party. How did that work out for them?Report

  4. Saul Degraw says:

    I am basically going to just copy what I said on LGM under my other num de internet:

    1. The Watergate Democrats were still coming in strong from the tailwinds of the New Deal coalition. Yes Nixon creamed them in 1972 but his victory was not enough to turn either house of Congress to the Republicans. Wikipedia tells me that the Democrats gained one Senate seat in 1972 and only lost 12 House seats.

    2. Nancy Pelosi entered in 1987. At this point, they had just regained control of the Senate and lost to Reagan twice and badly.

    3. She was around for the grand shellackings of the 1990s and 2000s. She did gain a few huge majorities but saw them go away quickly. Since 1994, Democrats controlled the House in 2007-2011 and then 2019 until ???.

    4. I suspect she is quite liberal but remembers all too clearly for most of her political career, liberal was a very dirty word. As I said yesterday, I remember in the mid 90s to early 2000s when it was a thing to say “I am a progressive, not a liberal” because people thought that world act as a shield.

    5. AOC is nearly a decade my junior. I think her cohort is going to be much more important politically than my generation of late Generation Xers. This nine years can make a huge difference. My first political memories are the 1992 Presidential election and the 1994 Republican revolution. Her political development around the same age would be 9/11 and Iraq II.

    6. This is a very long way of saying she is from a cohort that does not remember decent Republicans, constantly getting kicked during the blowbacks to the New Deal coalition and liberalism of the 1980s through 90s, etc. So they want more action.

    7. Nancy Pelosi in learning the lessons from the last war has beecome Bartelby the Scriviner. She thinks any dramatic action can lead to a huge blow back and lost majorities. So this is where the “self impeachment” and “just not worth it” comments are coming from. She thinks letting Donald Trump stay around will help Democrats politically. A failed impeachment means losing the House.

    There are some things I suspect. I suspect Pelosi might not have the votes for impeachment in her own caucus but doesn’t know how to say it. The GOP is losing support from college-educated suburban white women who could theoretically go back GOP but might not. My view is that her comment about how Trump is “just not worth it” used to be that she was referring to impeachment and was a major unenforced error. Now I think “it” means losing the House. I still think the comment was poorly phrased and the “self-impeachment” comment is eye-roll worthy.

    This being said fights over go big or not have been things since I was in high school and college and I graduated from high school in 1998. I suspect that a lot of newer Democrats learned the lessons of go big.Report

    • LeeEsq in reply to Saul Degraw says:

      Pelosi can’t tell the truth without making the Democratic Party seem impotent against Trump and the Republicans.Report

      • Morat20 in reply to LeeEsq says:

        There is, bluntly, an entire chunk of the left (I think heavily concentrated online) that seems to think control of the House means “won government” and is confused Pelosi hasn’t ordered the Congressional battalions to storm the WH and drag people before Congress.

        They talk about “inherent contempt” and the “Sergeant at Arms” without ever asking themselves “Why have those powers fallen by the wayside in favor of using subpoenas, civil contempt and the DoJ and Courts as mechanisms” instead of sending whatever poor guy is currently SAA with a pair of capitol police to get turned away from wherever their subpoena target is.

        They think that, apparently, the mechanisms for inherent contempt have been kept oiled and ready for action for the last 90 years or so, and that it is a magic bullet that will strike forth.

        But mostly, they’re impatient as hell and can’t count to 67. They think the House should be able to get the work of weeks done in hours, that this is Nixon again (even though, in the next breath, they’ll quote ‘If fox news had been around, Nixon wouldn’t have resigned’), and frankly that if Pelosi just showed enough willpower, she’d Green Lantern this whole mess into shape.

        And when asked to choose between their fantasy that it could all be fixed tomorrow if they just wanted it bad enough and a reality that is ugly, complex, and doesn’t give them the results they want — they go with the fantasy.

        “It can’t be done that way” is met with “Of course it can, but it won’t because [insert conspiracy here]”. Whether it’s why subpoeaning and contempt citations took a few months rather than hours or why the President can’t legalize pot via EO. It’s the same from left and right and center.

        People don’t like to hear that, well, what they want and what they can get aren’t often the same.Report

        • LeeEsq in reply to Morat20 says:

          The debate among saner liberals and leftists recognizes that the Senate isn’t going to convict. However, many still believe that there are ethical, legal, and strategic reasons to impeach Trump. The other side believes that impeachment with a failure to convict is a big win for Trump but can’t quite say that without giving Trump another win.

          I’m growing more supportive of the impeach Trump even though we can’t get a conviction in the Senate or at least hold a series of very loud and very public hearings on Trump’s various wrong doings. Its clear that he is simply one of the vilest if not the most vile man ever to hold the office of the President. Even Nixon wasn’t a plausible child rapist. Trump seems to have committed many vile and base ordinary crimes, extraordinary political crime, and is racist misogynistic demagogue and a thief. There is simply nothing redeeming about him. TLDR for once “we have to do something, this is something, let’s do it” might be correct.Report

          • Jaybird in reply to LeeEsq says:

            I agree with this.

            I think that the House should have started impeachment hearings in March or April and, barring that, need to do it the *SECOND* they get back from August recess.

            If it’s too close to November 2020, it’ll look like a stunt and they very, very much want it to not look like a stunt.Report

            • Michael Drew in reply to Jaybird says:

              It’ll also look pointless and futile to the point of silliness to do it basically in the election year when it was obviously justified a year or years sooner.

              (Additionally, I agree with everything you and Lee said.)Report

              • Chip Daniels in reply to Michael Drew says:

                It is a truth universally acknowledged that impeachment cannot happen in the first year of a term, because it looks premature, like a political stunt;

                It also cannot happen the next year, because that is an election year, which of course makes it look like a political stunt;

                Further, it can happen in the third year, but not if the crimes were obvious in the previous year, because then it looks like a political stunt;

                Finally, it cannot happen in the fourth year, because, well, this too is an election year and it will look like a political stunt.

                These are universal truths revealed by the Cult Of The Savvy, the High Priests of Sophistry.Report

            • Dark Matter in reply to Jaybird says:

              If it’s too close to November 2020, it’ll look like a stunt and they very, very much want it to not look like a stunt.

              The cameras will give time to whoever is saying the most outrageous thing.
              That would be AOC (etc) accusing Trump of running death camps, making children drink out of toilets, etc.

              And as Vile as Trump is, he isn’t running death camps, he didn’t create the crisis on the border, the drinking fountain is next to the toilet because they both use water pipes, etc.

              So we’ll have many months of the Dems looking insane and Trump looking like the reasonable man in the room.

              And then the Senate will pass on the whole thing.

              And then we’ll have the election.Report

              • Catchling in reply to Dark Matter says:

                A border agent literally told the Washington Times, not exactly a liberal publication, that at least one detainee drank from a toilet. He added the preposterous assertion that the woman didn’t know that was the toilet part of it.

                This notion that the fact of double units somehow “explains” it all is just erroneous. Everyone in this conversation is perfectly damn aware that it’s a combo; the further allegation is that people are drinking from the toilet part, and even that is being admitted.

                Further, the horrible Facebook group is an absolute smoking gun for a culture of abuse — leading members of the agency were in it. They do not perceive their wards as having anything like human rights, the way good Americans do.

                Anyway, you really wannq bet money that Trump won’t, at any point, rant that toilets are too good for these people?Report

              • Dark Matter in reply to Catchling says:

                Anyway, you really wannq bet money that Trump won’t, at any point, rant that toilets are too good for these people?

                It takes a lot of work to make him look like the sane person in the room. Arguing that agents were forcing everyone to drink from the toilet in the face of those photos is a good way to start.

                …the horrible Facebook group is an absolute smoking gun for a culture of abuse

                And now you’ve arguing we should impeach Trump for things we’re going to find out existed under Obama. That the toilet/sinks/drinking fountains have been standard since then. That facebook was a thing then.

                No doubt Trump made it worse, but giving Obama a total pass on this sort of thing while claiming Trump should be impeached will look grand.

                I don’t think impeachment is the tool you want here, I think defeating him at the ballot box is.Report

              • Catchling in reply to Dark Matter says:

                That the toilet/sinks/drinking fountains have been standard since then.

                The point isn’t that it’s a fucking double unit. It’s that multiple detainees told multiple members of congress, not just AOC, that they were made to drink from them. One of those congresspeople found no water to go through at least one sink, which corroborates what was going on, and again, a border agent literally said that toilet water was drunk by somebody, so yeah, it happened even if you think everyone but the guards are liars.

                Why does this point not go through? Why do people say “Oh, but see, it was a double unit, that’s what you’re talking about, you’re just talking about the fact that the sink overhangs the toilet part. You really thought you had us there, but guess what — it’s actually a double unit! Checkmate!” I don’t even understand it.

                I’m torn on impeachment, but we have to have hearings just to discuss what we even stand for. “We can’t do better because Obama is the best that can be expected” isn’t an answer.Report

              • Dark Matter in reply to Catchling says:


              • Jaybird in reply to Catchling says:

                “We can’t do better because Obama is the best that can be expected” isn’t an answer.


              • Catchling in reply to Jaybird says:

                Is “deported” supposed to be read as a catch-all term for all forms of mistreatment? For instance, none of the children taken from their parents were deported, by definition. But I guess if Obama “deported more people” his immigration policy must be crueler.

                As for a link, I’ve been saying Washington Times but it was the Washington Examiner:

              • Jaybird in reply to Catchling says:

                I don’t know. I didn’t read the article either.Report

              • Chip Daniels in reply to Dark Matter says:

                What are you even trying to argue here? That the detainees aren’t being subjected to cruel and inhumane conditions? And that this is being done deliberately?

                When people hear accounts like this and then seize on one minor anecdote to litigate, it makes you sound insincere, like you want to discredit the entire story but can’t.Report

              • Dark Matter in reply to Chip Daniels says:

                What are you even trying to argue here?

                That the BULK of the problem is bad policy, which is also known as “unrealistic laws”. Laws that Dems and Reps got together and agreed upon.

                Yes, Trump is trying to implement them from a xenophobic point of view, but the reason there’s so little practical difference between him and Obama on this issue is because the law itself is screwed up. The big difference is the press gave Obama a pass on “children in cages” etc.

                With current budget restrictions, the current law results in subjecting the detainees to cruel and inhumane conditions. Increase the budget, and the results will be less cruel and less inhumane… but we’re still going to be doing things which in other contexts would be considered outrageous.

                Trying to impeach Trump for this will quickly degenerate into a farce.Report

              • Chip Daniels in reply to Dark Matter says:

                No, this is not even close to true.

                The “law” does NOT force them to do this.
                The overcrowding, the lack of facilities, the cruelty of separating children…these are all the result of conscious policy choices, done specifically to inflict suffering.Report

              • Dark Matter in reply to Chip Daniels says:

                We have something like 10+ million immigrants. Something like half of them came through the southern border.

                The law, as previously implemented, didn’t work.

                I’d argue it’s along the line of prohibition, but that’s me saying the law needs to change. Back in the day, staring at the failure of prohibition, law-and-order types would say the issue was with not enough enforcement or not stern enough enforcement. That the solution was to punish their way into making the law work.

                So you’re right in that the law doesn’t say “make Y happen by doing X”, but it does say “make Y happen”, and everything but X has failed.Report

              • Jaybird in reply to Chip Daniels says:

                When people hear accounts like this and then seize on one minor anecdote to litigate, it makes you sound insincere, like you want to discredit the entire story but can’t.

                I’ve no desire to discredit the entire story.

                My point had to do with what I was responding to.

                The line I quoted? I was showing how “We can’t do better because Obama is the best that can be expected” is an answer.

                CNN made a story about it.Report

          • Morat20 in reply to LeeEsq says:

            There’s also the problem that, in am impeachment, everything gets run through one Committee — the rest of the business grinds to a halt. (And anything that is ongoing, is utterly lost in the news cycle).

            So pragmatically: Is it best to focus your efforts on one Committee and one set of investigations, or continue letting every relevant Committee conduct oversight on it’s own particular area of control?

            Pelosi seems to lean towards the latter — she doesn’t think the likely focus of the Judicial Committee (the Obstruction charges Mueller was very careful not to exonerate Trump on) will do the trick, and would prefer to continue to have multiple lines of inquiry making the news.

            In the end, the “Let’s make a statement” stance is quite understandable. Except the statement that’ll get made is “We totally disapprove of Trump, but the GOP don’t care” — which everyone already knows.

            I think the real problem is the truth is depressing — Trump could shoot a baby on TV, and you couldn’t find enough GOP Senators to successfully impeach over public murder.

            That doesn’t make people who want things to get better NOW happy.

            Me? I find symbolic gestures…well, pointless here. It’s not going to change anything. Might as well keep digging so that the public has the most possible information on Trump going into 2020, and that if the Democrats win, they have a lengthy list of things to start codifying into law. The “Crap Trump Pulled That Was Only Possible Because We Never Thought We Had to Codify This Crap Into Law” bill. (With the Rider of “Things That Were Legal But Never Subject To Such Abuse, So We’re Putting Our Foot Down” bill).

            No concentration camps, no you can’t declare a national emergency and spend money however you want, yes you really DO have to give your tax returns to Congress, we mean no nepotism even if it’s unpaid, you can’t just keep shuffling Cabinet members around to avoid Senate oversight, you can’t just run on “Acting” heads, you have to offer X years of tax returns if you want to run, etc….Report

            • Saul Degraw in reply to Morat20 says:

              It isn’t like much of the business gets done anyway with McConnell in the Senate. If Democrats keep the House, win the White House, but not the Senate in 2020, not much will get done then either. Perhaps even less.

              The thing about living in the Trump era is that it is vastly demoralizing. The man does not have a rock bottom. He seems able to take every low and then say “hold my beer” to himself. Such as this week’s wonder:


              Or the “social media summit.” I almost hesitate to bring this stuff up here because I can predict who in this group will basically say “suck it lib” because I called living in this presidency demoralizing.

              All this said, I think Pelosi’s language on the subject has not been good. I now get that “it” means “lose the House” when she said “Trump’s just not worth it.” But the comment was ambiguous and easy to misread. It could easily be impeachment and if Trump isn’t worth impeachment, who is? The “self-impeach” line just reads like wish-thinking.

              I suspect the other thing that frustrates younger Democrats is that there is a real generational divide over struggles. I suspect even a lot liberal Democrats are guilty of Old Economy Steve thinking. Biden made some comments towards that way. Erik Loomis related on LGM that liberal democratic representatives in Oregon just don’t understand the student debt issue because they are old and went to college in the age when it was free or at least very cheap. The Boomers are still a very large cohort that are not going away anytime soon (because the youngest boomers are only 54) and even if the Democrats win the trip prize, there is a good chance of Old Economy Steve lectures and playing to Joe Manchin.Report

    • Michael Drew in reply to Saul Degraw says:

      If Pelosi doesn’t have the votes (and couldn’t get them if she were whipping it) it doesn’t much matter what she personally thinks, but for what it’s worth I absolutely think she’s wholeheartedly with the cowards.

      She’s not a secret impeacher who’s just letting her caucus get there on its own time. She’s a no. She’s been signaling that since November 2006.Report

  5. Mr.Joe says:

    This sounds quite a bit like the articles I read as the first waves of tea partiers were arriving in congress. Blah blah actually have to govern now… blah blah Regan rule… blah blah. Turns out the upstart kids had the right strategy. Many are still there and those that followed the above advice got thrown out, Eric Cantor being the most notable.

    2020 will be a good test. If this portion of the party sees gains or manages to primary more centrist democrats, I would expect team blue to move strongly in their direction as team red moved in a tea party direction in 2012 and beyond.Report

    • the tea party failed so completely that a few short years most of those focus enthusiastically embraced Trump, the antithesis of most of what they proported to hold important.Report

      • Mr.Joe in reply to Andrew Donaldson says:

        I would disagree on the failure part. They are getting a healthy share of what they want with Trump. Large tax cut, de facto deregulation, going hard against immigrants, small government minded judges, expansions of religious liberty definitions. They have positive movement on like 80% of their agenda and nearly no negative movement. He may be a crass asshole, but he is getting it done for them. I expect them to turn out in force for him next year.

        The extreme wing of team blue would be over the moon happy to fail that in that policy is stable or moves in their direction for 80% of their agenda.Report

      • Chip Daniels in reply to Andrew Donaldson says:


        I think I found the problem right there, mister!

        What the Tea Party purported and what they really cared about is demonstrated exactly by their embrace of the man who shared their hatred for Obama.

        Taxes, schmaxes, they hated Obama and liberalism with a passion and found in Trump a kindred soul who was unburdened by the need to drape himself in the decorations of Federalist Society gibberish.Report

        • Thank you Chip.

          To your point, Evidence demands a verdict.Report

          • Saul Degraw in reply to Andrew Donaldson says:


            It’s worth dwelling on that idea for a moment. One way to think of conservatism is as an ideology, a philosophy that exists separate and apart from politicians and political parties. Another way to think of it is as a social identity, in which being a conservative means identifying with the group of people who call themselves conservatives.

            What Barber and Pope figured out was a way to test that precise question. If conservatism was an ideology first and foremost, then a stronger attachment to that ideology should provide a stronger mooring against the winds of Trump — in their formulation, you should see more “policy loyalism” and less “party loyalism” among people who saw themselves as committed conservatives. Instead, “we observe exactly the opposite: strong ‘conservatives’ are the most likely to be partisan loyalists — following Trump in a liberal direction when told of his support for a liberal policy.”

            What this experiment suggests — and what Amash, Sanford, and other philosophically conservative politicians have found — is that the Republican form of conservatism is first and foremost an identity group. That identity group sees Trump as their champion, and his critics, be they left or right, as threats to the group’s interests.

            Shortly before he left Congress, I sat down with Mark Sanford for an episode of my podcast. I asked him how his constituents expressed their anger at him for his criticisms of Trump. His reply has stuck with me. “People would come up and they say, ‘Look, he’s the quarterback. You got to go with the quarterback.’”Report

            • George Turner in reply to Saul Degraw says:

              When viciously and repeatedly attacked by some party, people often end up identifying with all the other people who are being attacked by that same party.

              The Allies in WW-II agreed on virtually nothing except defending each other against the Axis, whereas the Axis had broad philosophical, social, and political agreement on a wide range of issues. The Americans disagreed strongly with Britain’s colonialism and retaining a monarchy. Both were wildly anti-communist, but got in bed with Stalin, and China even joined too. Yet they didn’t start out identifying as a group at all.

              Everybody who’s been attacked as a hick, a racist, a bitter clinger, and a deplorable has ended up in the allied camp, dedicated to fighting National Socialism, international socialism, pan-Arab socialism, and eco-socialism.

              Ideological purity is completely secondary to winning the war, because if the war is lost then all hope is lost.Report

              • greginak in reply to George Turner says:

                Yeah Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan really had a lot of social agreement. Strong work there. And lord knows Britain and America had no, NONE AT All, social similarities. That’s just history amairight?Report

              • Chip Daniels in reply to George Turner says:

                When a guy reacts to being called a racist by embracing the party of racism, yeah, that’s pretty much where his head was at all along.Report

            • Chip Daniels in reply to Saul Degraw says:

              The “high ideology” types never had any traction with either party.

              A lot of liberals have mocked the Tea Partyiers for riding around in Medicare hovverrounds, but it isn’t hypocrisy, because they never really believed in “small government” crap to begin with, no one does or ever did.

              Jonathan Haidt may get a lot of crap from liberals, but I think his perception is more or less correct, that liberals and conservatives care about different moral foundations.

              What I think motivates conservatives is less and less the foundations like Authority and Patriotism, and more and more Tribal groupishness and yes, revolving around white culture.Report

              • Saul Degraw in reply to Chip Daniels says:

                One of our libertarians admitted to me recently that very few people are sold on “princepled inaction.” The number of people that do are small and largely exist to make scholastic dancing on a hairpin arguments for billionaires about how Republicans are the party of real liberty.

                FWIW I don’t think Haidt gets a lot of crap from liberals for his moral foundations argument. I think he gets crap from liberals for being the kind of middle-aged white guy liberal who decided that fortune awaited on the wing-nut welfare circuit by being the guy that says “I’m a liberal college professor and college students these days sure are coddled.”

                The issue with broad left is that we are a coalition with some overreaching sentiments (everyone should have adequate access to healthcare, food, shelter, clothing, education, civil rights, etc.) but very different ideas on how to get there including whether you can have those sentiments and still have capitalism. Chait would say it is necessary. Others, not as much.Report

              • Road Scholar in reply to Saul Degraw says:

                FWIW I don’t think Haidt gets a lot of crap from liberals for his moral foundations argument.

                Did you ever read his book? This liberal is willing to give him some crap, not about the conceptual basis of the theory but about the execution. The problem is he identifies a handful of moral values — he doesn’t explicate how he chose those particular values — and then constructs his survey instruments around those. When he graphs those results out he ends up with more of those values running low to high from liberal to conservatives and a smaller number running the opposite direction.

                The end result is a graph, x-axis for liberal/conservative and y-axis for values, with liberals being very high on a few, like 2 or 3 categories, and low on the rest, while conservatives are about the same on all of them. Big spread on the left (liberal end) converging to middling-high values on the right end. From this he concludes that conservatives generally hold all or most of these identified values more or less equally and liberals only value a certain small number of them.

                He places way too much faith in the cardinal numbers coming out of his survey instrument, assuming that the a three on one scale, say Purity, is the same as a three on another scale, say Care. He also doesn’t seem bothered by having 3 or 4 value scales directly overlapping on the graph. He never considers that maybe he actually isn’t measuring 3 or 4 separate things but 3 or 4 aspects of the same thing.

                Finally, he’s also well entrenched in the uni-dimensional left/right, liberal/conservative paradigm. Libertarians are mentioned only twice, once as libertarians where they’re basically dismissed as oddballs, and later as “economic conservatives” who again don’t really fit into the paradigm. The existence of communitarian types — who are the exact opposite of libertarians in being economically liberal and socially conservative — is completely ignored.

                So he’s ignoring data that doesn’t fit his model and that model itself is a bit sketchy, not so much the notion of “foundational values” but the identification and selection of those values. So in the end he concludes that conservatives are fundamentally more moral — or at least hold more moral values — than liberals as opposed to just holding different values. I find that highly questionable.Report

            • Road Scholar in reply to Saul Degraw says:

              I think the real deal here that’s being exposed by Trump is that “conservatism” isn’t one thing but actually two in a lose coalition called “Republicans”. Similarly, the 2016 primaries also showed liberals (or the Left) as being composed of two distinct groups in a coalition called “Democrats”.

              The social cons are indeed motivated primarily by tribal instincts, which explains the phenomenon of certain Evangelicals (not all Evangelicals, h/t Mark Kruger) going all in for very clearly morally bankrupt Trump. For that group, Protestant Christianity is just one aspect of tribal identity, not terribly unlike the way you’re culturally Jewish but not particularly religious.Report

  6. Damon says:

    This fight with in the dems is almost as good as Trump winning the pres election. *makes popcorn–sits down to watch*Report

  7. Jaybird says:

    37 has an insight:


  8. Kolohe says:

    Well, Trump patched up this rift with some really racist flex-sealReport

    • Jaybird in reply to Kolohe says:

      Gaming this out in my head:

      “I hope you youngsters read Trump’s tweets and realized that you have to stand in solidarity with us.”

      “What the heck? How in the flying heck did you not read Trump’s tweets without realizing that you *BOOMERS* have to stand in solidarity with *US*?”

      If I’m wrong about this by Friday, please throw this comment back in my face.Report

  9. Jaybird says:

    In vaguely adjacent news, Beto O’Rourke has announced that he and his wife are descended from slave owners.

    Could have been worse.
    Could have been Elizabeth Warren.Report

    • George Turner in reply to Jaybird says:

      Well, I guess now he’ll have to have that uncomfortable conversion with the black community in which he explains that he’s not actually Mexican.

      In any event, I’m surprised that there were any slaves available for his family to own, given Kamala Harris’s family’s bulk buying habits.

      The ongoing circular firing squad will likely get much uglier.Report

      • Jaybird in reply to George Turner says:

        I know that the main joke being made today about Trump’s tweets was something to the effect of how he is absolutely desperate to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. The democrats are infighting but his name isn’t being used… so he tweets out some racist bullshit which, as Kohole joked, flex-seals up the rifts in the infighting.

        So in the wake of Trump tweeting racist bullshit, Beto announces that his ancestors were slave owners.

        Can’t anybody here play this game?

        Luckily, nobody gives a crap about Beto… But if I wanted to pick a worse day to make this announcement, I don’t know that I could.

        Maybe if Beto won the nomination and he announced this a week before the election. Maybe.Report

        • DensityDuck in reply to Jaybird says:

          It’s like that episode of “Beavis And Butthead” where Butthead gets stuck in a sewer pipe and the whole town turns out to rescue him and it makes the news, and the end of the episode is Beavis crawling into the pipe and screaming about how he’s stuck.Report

  10. Mark Kruger says:

    @andrew – I wonder if you might update this post or post a follow up. You outline the issue so well here. But recent events have driven these two D wings back together in common cause against Trump and his racist arrows. I’m now hearing 2 takes on that:

    1) As Jaybird put it – Trump is snatching defeat from the jaws of victory by providing glue for Democratic cohesion in the middle of an implosion.

    2) This is a bad thing for Ds because it forces Pelosi to defend her progressive wing and keeps them in the center of attention – and the RNC is thirsty to make the “squad” the center of the 2020 campaign.

    For myself I’m not sure – I certainly think when your enemies are sniping at each other that the best course of action is to stand back and let them. But Trump can stand to NOT be the center of attention. 🙂 On the other hand…

    What do you think?Report

    • Both points are true. Trump drove them back together with his vile comments, but also you just had a national press conference with 4 freshmen, something not other combination would get break-in news coverage. And not being able to help themselves used it to not only defend themselves but to demand impeachment which Pelosi has avoided like the plague. They will use the coverage to push their agenda, which is what Trump wants. This is symbiotic now and will continue, and get worse. Report

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