RetConning the Tea Party


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

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83 Responses

  1. Avatar Chip Daniels says:

    During the height of the Tea Party, I was active over at RedState and remember vividly how “fiscal conservatism” was even then and there, a sham and phony front.

    I listed the 5 major categories of federal spending from biggest to smallest:
    Social Security
    Debt Service
    Everything Else

    Alongside their then-current figures, as well as the then-current revenue numbers and budget deficit.

    I asked anyone to propose which numbers should move up, or down, according to conservative principles. No one was able to come up with a suggestion, but merely waved and ranted about WastenFraud or the magic beans of the Laffer Curve.

    Because in the end, no one is, or ever has been, a fiscal conservative. No one in the Tea Party wanted to actually cut any form of federal spending except TANF and SNAP.

    Look, the Republicans of 2019 are the same people. The guy who goes to a Trump rally probably went to a Tea Party rally. They care about the same issues now that they cared about in 2010.Report

    • The answer to your five, as best I understand, is 1 and 2 are untouchable until 4 overrides everything and crashes the republic. 3, you could half the DOD budget of superfulous nonsense without affect actual military capability a lick. 5 matters little compared first 4. That’s in theory, of course, not in practice. Report

      • Avatar North says:

        Looking at other first world nations fiscal history I would agree with you entirely. Canada, for instance, hit a fiscal crisis in the 90’s. In the end they eviscerated military spending while more mildly trimming other categories and raising taxes and that generally righted fiscal ship. Europe: generally same sort of story.
        When it comes down to the wire, Defense will presumably face the axe the same way in the US. The thing is that defense’s spending is so politically advantageously spread about the domestic US that I fear that it’ll take an actual fiscal crisis to prompt the necessary cuts.Report

      • Avatar Chip Daniels says:

        Which was my offer, but as you might guess, the “fiscal conservatives” were not keen on such an idea.

        What astounded me when I began to look at it, is the Everything Else category- the FAA, National Parks, TANF, SNAP, Treasury, Commerce…literally, everything the federal government does outside of SS/Medicare/ Defense s the smallest piece of the pie.

        You could completely shut down the entire federal government aside from SS/Medicare/Defense, and still not even cover the deficit.

        What also astounded me was how wide the gap was between revenue and outlay; I think this year revenue is projected to cover about 3/4 of the total spending meaning we would have to raise taxes by 33% just to cover the nut. And a tiny 5% increase in taxes is enough to cause near-rioting by the donor class.

        There just isn’t any way to balance the budget without a massive readjustment of the mission statement of how we do things, everything from taxes to defense spending to our foreign policy.

        I say mission statement because a 25% gap can’t be closed by haircuts or trims. When you cut a budget by that much, you are in effect re-writing the scope and purpose of what the project does.Report

        • Avatar North says:

          Let us not sugar coat it Chip; taxes can’t be raised enough on the “donor class” to cover the costs. Any politically realistic application of fiscal sanity would involve significant tax increases for the middle and especially the (gasp) upper middle class where we liberals find our most devout cohorts. And it wouldn’t just be the wealthy who’d riot over a big increase in taxes.

          That said, I agree pretty much with all the rest o’ what you wrote.Report

          • Avatar Brent F says:

            I think there’s a strong point to be made that America doesn’t really have “small government” compared to other English speaking first world states. Government expenditure as a portion of GDP is pretty comparable to Canada, Australia, the UK etc. What America specializes in these days is cheaply taxed government due to deficit financing.

            On the other hand, with perpetually low interest rates this strategy can be maintained for a significant period of time, albeit probably not at the deficit levels of a Trump-GOP congress.Report

            • Avatar North says:

              I am inclined to agree with you. The US has, basically, a pre-90’s government when you compare it with the rest of its western compatriots.

              On the other-other hand this strategy will produce serious problems when interest rates go back up and/or when another national currency reaches the size/stability necessary to become a global haven. And sooner or later interest rates will have to go back up.Report

        • Avatar Philip h says:

          As someone who deals in federal budgets as part of his day job – total revenues ( including fees, income taxes and payroll taxes) covers closer to 2/3rds of total outlays. Full stop. The Entire “discretionary” side of the budget is about 1/3rd. So, yeah, you could shut down everything on the discretionary side and close the gap. Or you can widely reduce the non-discretionary side and close the gap. Or you could stop giving away a trillion dollars in tax breaks that aren’t paying for themselves and close the gap. Anything else is nibbling around the edges of a hand grenade.Report

      • Avatar Ozzzy! says:

        “You could halve the DoD…without affect actual military capacity a lick”

        This is a little too hawkish for me. Perhaps, the US could cut military spending a lot with no repercussions.

        But I don’t think we are in the third stage of Asimov’s foundation series (merchant princes). I think we are in the second, and the stick still really really matters.Report

        • DOD, and this is not the only area of government that does this, has an enormous amount of largesse excused under the auspices of “defense” when it really is for various layers of the bureaucracy that have little if anything to do with the actual function of the military itself. But the term “defense” is thrown up to keep it in place, and in fact when cuts do come, certain folks will make sure something essential is affected so they can go “see there what happens when you don’t increase our budget every single year!” It is an old game.Report

          • Avatar DensityDuck says:

            the DoD includes the Coast Guard, weather reporting, satellite operations, and GPS, which are very much not in the “actual function of the military” that people imagine keeping when they talk about cutting the DoD budget.Report

            • I referred, very specifically, to superfluous bureaucracy and in fact all four of those have military components and purposes.Report

              • Avatar DensityDuck says:

                see what I did there, which was identify examples of “superfluous bureaucracy” that have “little if anything to do with the actual function of the military itself” and it turns out that you want to keep them after all

                but, y’know, go offReport

              • You: “You really want X,Y, Z to happen.”
                Me: “I specifically do not want X, Y, X to happen.”
                You: “See, exactly, you fell into my clever trap, here’s my clever quip to celebrate.”
                I was trying to just be polite and move on, instead of pointing out things like how the Coast Guard is not a part of DOD at but under Homeland Security, though they can be tasked to DOD and have DOD responsibilities.
                But, y’know, go off.Report

              • Avatar DensityDuck says:

                “of the four things you listed one of them is not entirely funded by the DoD, therefore your ENTIRE POST IS COMPLETELY WRONG”

                so we can cut the DoD budget by fifty percent without getting rid of GPS, then?Report

    • Avatar Michael Cain says:

      You left out Medicaid, federal spending on which is — currently, at least — somewhat larger than debt service. Probably best to lump it in with Medicare, given the number of dual-eligible people, and the amount of long-term care funded through Medicaid. Proposals to drop out of Medicaid die quickly in the states because if Medicaid goes, the state’s nursing home industry almost certainly goes with it.Report

      • Avatar North says:

        If you’re a politician and you tell your voters their elderly relatives either need to live with them or live in a privately paid for nursing home you’re gonna be out of a job really really fast. No matter how red that state is; maybe even especially.Report

  2. Avatar North says:

    A fine article and generally solid musings which I applaud. And yet, I find myself bridling somewhat at the studious even handedness of your analysis. For instance:
    “The modern history of US politics is that the political party that cares about deficits and spending is the one that is out of power, and that is only to use to subject as a cudgel against the party that is in power.”
    Can you cite for me a time the Democratic party or the left forced a shut down on behalf of fiscal hawkish principles when a Republican was in power? I’m coming up empty here. Sure they have pointed out the towering, flaming hypocrisy on the right when they have been out of power; and rightly so; but when have they come even close to matching the sheer naked hypocrisy of the modern GOP?

    I mean, hell, did the Tea Party even start as a noble cause? Maybe it’s senescence on my part but I recall the Tea Party’s birth as starting with the indignant squalls of a Wall Street trader outraged that the feds were rolling out the HARP program to help under water mortgagers. This, debuting, in the shadow of historic Wall Street bailouts that had saved their entire industry at staggering cost to the tax payer. How dare Obama, having saved their bacon, not pay them the deference they felt they were owed and moreover try and divert federal money away from bailing them out and instead towards helping out ordinary folks who had been flattened by the 2008 fiasco? And it devolved from there all the way down to demanding gummint keep its hands of old peoples medicare and then merely to endless cries for their own supporters to buy gold, sleep number beds, ammunition, MRI’s, National Review Cruises, Anti-Obama contributions. Has ever a people been more predated by their own than the elderly Tea Partiers?

    Personally I recall with some pain the push back I gave to my more lefty and liberal brethren who denounced the entire Tea Party event as merely Obama hatred dressed up in some pretty thin fiscal hawkish sheets. Surely, I protested, the Tea Partiers do care about fiscal hawkishness on some level? Obama certainly tried to engage with the Tea Party as if it cared about deficits. His playing ball during the shutdown fight in 2011 led to the sequester and birthed a deranged notion on the right that they could make the Dems dance to their tunes by threatening to burn the whole thing down with the debt ceiling. It took a lot of bloody fights in subsequent fiscal cycles to disabuse those loons of that notion.

    And then, in 2016, Trump rode down his escalator and, it seems, proved the arch-liberals and lefties right. On the right wing elite level, it seems, the Tea Party was naught but an effort to get the Dems to destroy their own credibility and economy simply to open up fiscal room for the right to cut taxes for the wealthy again as soon as it took power. And on the voter level, alas, the motives driving the Tea Party appear, in hindsight, to have been even more base and vile.

    Was there a virtuous note in the entire enterprise? Looking back, now, I simply cannot see it. The right wing elite, it seems, simply wanted tax cuts; the right wing voters simply wanted Obama gone and the right wing intermediaries simply wanted to grift their own voters and supporters for every dime they had.

    Maybe the actual libertarians? Trump demonstrated how few their numbers truly are as compared to their republitarian brethren.Report

    • Avatar George Turner says:

      And it devolved from there all the way down to demanding gummint keep its hands of old peoples medicare and then merely to endless cries for their own supporters to buy gold, sleep number beds, ammunition, MRI’s, National Review Cruises, Anti-Obama contributions.

      A lot of people, even on the far right, don’t realize that the right=wing media is running a brilliant marketing ploy. Sean Hannity and Rush Limbaugh get you so worked up over the day’s issues that you can’t sleep, and you just lay there tossing and turning, or getting up to shout on the Internet in ALL CAPS. Then you lay back down, toss and turn some more – and remember the My Pillow, the Sleep Number Bed, the Boll and Branch Sheets, and on and on. They’re giving you insomnia so they can sell you high end luxury sleep products. Failing that, they’re ready with Black Rifle Coffee so you can at least get through the next morning.

      Once you realize that, everything makes sense. 🙂Report

      • Avatar North says:

        Oh I didn’t say that it isn’t a good money making scheme! It’s basically a generational movement to sell out conservatism’s future for lucre. They learned it from the movement Christians in the 80’s and 90’s I gather.Report

        • Avatar greginak says:

          Yeah…the grift has been obvious and noted for, literally, decades.Report

          • Avatar George Turner says:

            You know, if it’s been worrying you, have you considered getting a Sleep Number Bed? They have a Sleep 360 Smart Bed that lets you adjust the comfort setting on both sides. It will help you fall asleep faster after Trump tweets…

            *sends note to Trump to resend SN bed/border crackdown tweet #32*

            Lots of naive lefties think American politics is controlled by big oil or military contractors or whoever the Soviets figured must be secretly running our government, such as the farm tractor industry.

            Ha! It’s pretty much just Big Bedding.

            Did you pause to wonder why, in the middle of the huge border fight with AOC over immigrant facilities, Trump placed a giant luxury bed order with Wayfair?

            Swing by Mattress Firm and whisper “Frumious Bandersnatch” to the manager. He’ll take you into the sub-basement and you’ll see stuff more eye popping than MiB headquarters.Report

            • Avatar North says:

              I believe it!Report

            • Avatar greginak says:

              Hmm….well at least this is more lucid and in contact with reality then all that kool aid iv trump defense guff. It’s also under a 1000 words and without a digression about the Treaty of Ghent or whatever. Excelsior.Report

    • Avatar JS says:

      If I remember it correctly, there was also something of a squall over the massively immorality of jingle-mail, which I found to be quite an interesting protest as it seemed to come from the most pro-business voices.

      Surely deciding to allow the bank to repossess an underwater asset is the sort of cold, calculated move that would be applauded in a business, but somehow got tangled in moral arguments when it was an individual with a house worth only a fraction of his loan’s value.

      It was quite interesting how some attempted to cast the Great Recession as failure of individual morality. “How dare homeowners take out mortgages they can’t repay”, rather than “How dare banks make loans they know can’t be repaid”.

      I’ve taken out many loans over my life, and casting the banks as victims is quite a stretch, since by the end the bank generally knew my financial situation better than I did — and had reams of statistical data to back up my likelihood of repayment, and full flexibility in offering interest rates to cover their risk.

      There was indeed fraud on a massive scale, but it wasn’t as if millions of homeowners woke up one day and decided to lie on their mortgage applications, nor as if banks had been scammed via some arcane application loophole. Any bank approving a NINJA loan knew exactly what they were signing.

      And unlike a homeowner, they were making this mistake on an industrial scale.Report

      • Avatar North says:

        Heheh, I still remember McMegan’s indignant article about Jingle Mail. It was definitely one of her dumber ones, along with the ones where she couldn’t restrain her outrage that the Dems, contra her predictions, elected to pass the ACA.Report

        • Avatar Mike Schilling says:

          I remember that ACA piece well. She thought the D’s passed it just to mess with her.Report

          • Avatar North says:

            I’ve never seen her write so indignantly. She was utterly gobsmacked and has never really gotten over it. I’m not a reflexive McMegan hater; but the ACA is an area where her galtgirl roots really color her perceptions.Report

      • Avatar Saul Degraw says:

        What I’ve discovered and been working on in my head that a lot of policy fights and political fights can be translated into who bears the burden, when, and how. Big issues in American politics and policy making are because various factions (almost always on the right but also “neoliberals” when the critique applies well and is not used in a void for vagueness way) decided that the burdens should always be born on the individual because it is much easier to say “tough luck” and “caveat emptor” than come up with a set of policy solutions that revolve around sometimes the bigger fish needs to carry the burden. Mainly because this means regulation, potentially higher taxes, but our right-wingers are convinced that the cure-all for any and all problems is that the free market needs a total untapping and then all problems will be free.

        The other issue I think is that political memories seem to form young (teens and twenties) and fast and hard. So there are still lots of people out there who view everything through the lens of the political problems of the 70s to early/mid 80s and think the solutions offered by the Right-wing then can always be applied forever. Even if the solutions from back then, caused the current problems now.Report

      • Avatar LeeEsq says:

        AS Krugman points out “the wages of sin are death” happens to sound a lot more morally compelling than shit happens.Report

    • I take studious evenhandedness as a compliment for a piece I wrote in 10 minutes on the fly.

      Anyway, it is plain from the historical record that, to use a Game of Thrones reference, just because their holding certain banners dont make them loyal soldiers.Report

      • Avatar North says:

        I think you should take it as a compliment. Also I am consumed with envy that you dashed that off in ten minutes! Fie!Report

    • Avatar Mike Dwyer says:

      “Personally I recall with some pain the push back I gave to my more lefty and liberal brethren who denounced the entire Tea Party event as merely Obama hatred dressed up in some pretty thin fiscal hawkish sheets…And then, in 2016, Trump rode down his escalator and, it seems, proved the arch-liberals and lefties right.”

      This. I’ve been thinking a lot about what Democrats are going to coalesce around in the general election next year. Will they simply run as the anti-Trump vote? Several of the liberal commenters here have suggested that we must vote for whomever Democrats nominate because of the existential threat of Trump, but a conversation does need to happen on the Left about what they actually want to be. I think, to their credit, the candidates themselves would actually like to talk a lot more about that but I fear they are going to be pushed to just rail on the president 24/7 when honestly, who needs to be convinced at this point? I’d much rather find out if the Progressive caucus is going to drive policy or if the Sanity caucus (i.e. Everyone Else) will set the agenda.Report

      • Avatar North says:

        Well, so far the legislative agenda has been set by Nancy Pelosi and the vast moderate expanse of her caucus. The messaging agenda has been set by the Gang of Four, their eager allies in the media and their salivating enablers on the right. If ever you needed proof that the media is -media- aligned, not liberal aligned, this would be it.

        I mean, hell, the Dems didn’t run and win in 2018 on some wild impeach Trump message. They ran on substantive policy issues along with milder substantive critiques of Trump* (of which there are many). And most of the candidates have policy briefs now that’re longer than the GOP has produced in four years of control of government.

        *For which they were roundly criticized by the left and right alike.Report

    • Avatar Richard Hershberger says:

      I recall fondly a certain op ed columnist in my local paper. I remember, before the Tea Party movement was ever dreamed up, that she was a total loon, and the sort of person who would smile sweetly as she put a shiv in your kidney. When the Tea Party movement popped up, she immediately recognized her own and was a leader in its local incarnation. So yeah, no: The Tea Party never had any noble origin.

      I was encouraged about my fellow citizens when she ran for local office, and got nowhere. We have some barking mad local politicians, but she apparently was too much. It gives me hope.Report

      • Avatar North says:

        Despite everything, I remain pretty optimistic. We may not be in the click click click stage of the liberal ratchet but I don’t believe the gears have broken yet during this part of the political phase.Report

        • Avatar Richard Hershberger says:

          My red county in a blue state has been known to elect some barking mad local politicians. In the seventeen years I have been living here, they have never held a majority on the county council, but they had two of five seats for a couple years. But this trend seems to be fading. What we have mostly is what I call Main Street Republicans. I disagree with these guys on just about all national issues, but we agree that roads need to be plowed, potholes filled, and even that good public schools are a Good Thing. They even seem to understand that these things need to be paid for from taxes, even if they aren’t quite willing to say this out loud. Certainly none has breathed such heresy as to point out that if we raised taxes a bit, we could have even better roads and schools. But I get the sense that they might admit this over a beer, so long as there were no microphones around. Also, the level of casual corruption seems to be pretty low. I can’t say that about some of the other counties in the state. I get the feeling that if these guys were separated from exposure to Fox News and its ilk, a lot of them would be mainstream Democrats.Report

          • Avatar JoeSal says:

            Raising taxes is a tough one if people in the local tax base have approx. 80 million in personal debt.Report

          • Avatar DavidTC says:

            I’ve always wondered if it’s weirdly even better in single-party counties. I live in a place where elected Republicans can’t actually complain about elected Democrats. Because there aren’t any. Not at the local level, not at the state level. At least not enough to have actually _done_ anything.

            And no matter how gullible voters can be, they aren’t quite gullible enough to let politicians blame bad roads and schools on Democrats in Washington. We’re even far enough from Atlanta that they can’t really blame any problems on the Democratically-tilted City of Atlanta government.

            No. Anything that is wrong is the Republican’s fault, and everyone knows that. And, thus, they can’t run around pointing fingers at Democrats. There’s no _excuses_ when things fail to work.

            Addition: I mean, would I want to have, say, a Democratic governor? Or legislature? Yeah. That’s how I vote, and think it could even happen. Hell, it probably should have happened this time with Stacey Abrams. But…it’s just nice for no one to be able to point fingers. I know the second we get Democrats anywhere near the government, everything will magically be their fault.Report

            • Avatar Road Scholar says:

              I’ve always wondered if it’s weirdly even better in single-party counties.

              This. I’m out in KS first District. When I voted in the ’12 election literally the only Dems on the ballot were Obama/Biden. No Dem candidates at the municipal, county, or state level. Mostly just Republicans running unopposed with the exception of one lone Libertarian, who I voted for just on the principal that an L sucks but is better than an R.

              Our House Rep was Tim Huelskamp, a big Tea Party guy, I believe the leader of their caucus. I think it was in ’16 that he got primaried out from the relative center by our current Rep Roger Marshall, the deal being that Tim didn’t sufficiently support farm price supports due to his Objectivist leanings. I mean, there was plenty of support for general TP nuttery, but you don’t go messing with the Farm Bill in the most agriculturally oriented district in the country.Report

            • Avatar JoeSal says:

              “There’s no _excuses_ when things fail to work.”

              So making the wage rate in an entire nation to be non-competitive in the global production world has nothing to do with Democrats. Nice fairy tale bro.Report

            • Avatar Mike Dwyer says:

              “I’ve always wondered if it’s weirdly even better in single-party counties.”

              Awesome idea. Can we talk about this?


              • Avatar Jesse says:

                Places with lots of poverty have lots of crime.

                By the same token, Democrat’s have also been largely in charge of cities as they’ve had massive drops in violent crime.

                So, if you’re going to use the ye olde conservative argument of “Democrats are in charge of cities with crime issues so they have to hold the bag for all those issues,” then also, largely Democrats get the credit for the massive and continuing drops in crime for the past 25 years in basically every major city in the country.Report

              • Avatar DavidTC says:

                In addition to what Jesse pointed out, it’s worth pointing out that Democrats _in_ those cities are often not allowed to fix problems because their _state_ is run by Republicans, which you’d think would be an obvious thing to consider when adding something unrelated to my post, but no.

                For example, the most violent city is St. Louis. Care to guess what sort of gun control laws the Democratically-operated St. Louis is allowed to pass by the Republican-operated state of Missouri? Or how much money the state gives them?

                I live in Georgia, which has, over the past fifty years, had all the white people flee Atlanta, refused to expand mass transit out of Atlanta for racist reasons, build a bunch of businesses out in the suburbs, and then mostly ignored Atlanta except a few specific areas and a bunch of highways. No shit it’s not doing that well.

                Democratic cities in Republican states have way more crime, on average, than Democratic cities in Democratic states. Because Republicans simply don’t care about Democratic cities.

                Likewise, at a state-level, Republican states are much worse off. The most violent state is New Mexico, then Louisiana, then Mississippi, then Arkansas, then Alabama, then South Carolina, then Tennesse, then North Carolina, then Oklahoma, then Missouri, and then _finally_ we get an arguable swing-state with Florida…and back to Republican states

                Part of this is because Democratic states are nowhere near as poor as Republican states. Now, it’s possible this isn’t the Republican’s fault, they”ve merely randomly been put in charge of the poorest states and didn’t cause it…but then you can hardly turn around and blame Democrats for operating the poorest and densest cities.

                Edit: And it is also worth mentioning that states are, in theory, _soveriegn_ in some sense, so what sort of results elected politicians get from them is logically more telling than cities, which literally are an invention of states and subject to whatever rules they want. States have rights, cities do not.Report

              • Avatar Mike Dwyer says:

                All of that sounds like a big ol’ bucket of excuses. Our city has a Democrat mayor and a Republican governor, the latter of which is a complete asshat, and yet we still manage to get stuff done. Weird…

                But if you;re right that these Democratic mayors have been neutered by the GOP governors, maybe the easiest thing would be to elect Republican mayors and see how things shakeout.Report

              • Avatar DavidTC says:

                Uh, no. States are bigger than cities. While, hypothetically, replacing them with Republican city leadership might make the _cities_ better, those cities still be in extremely poor _states_ and clearly changing who runs a major city won’t fix that.

                Basically, here’s bow it works on crime rates:
                Democratic state/Democratic city=Low/Medium
                Republican state/Democratic city=Medium/High
                Republican state/Republican city=Medium/High
                Democratic state/Republican city=Don’t really have enough info to tell.

                The problem is not who is running the city. The problems, very clearly, is who is running the state, which not only affects the state in general, but that then obviously further lowers the city crime rate.

                I mean, pretending that’s how the causality works. Like I said, it’s _actually_ poverty and density that causes a difference in crime rates, but if you want to pretend otherwise, then be aware the blatantly obvious conclusion that everyone will come to is ‘Republicans should not be in charge of states.’.Report

              • Avatar George Turner says:

                Actually you can just use a formula for the expected homicide rate that’s something like 1 + 8 * HL + 15* AA, which on average is accurate to about 1 per 100,000 for state homicide rates that vary from 1 to 11 per 100,000. It does produce a few outliers like Mississippi whose homicide rate is quite a bit lower than predicted, or Missouri whose homicide rate is much higher, but the metric’s median error is about 0.5 per 100,000.Report

              • Avatar DavidTC says:

                Well, yeah, I don’t actually think replacing the leadership of anything is going to fix the crime rate.

                I was just pointing out Dwyer’s silliness about how ‘cities run by Democrats have high crime rates’, which is actually just density attracts crime and also makes people vote more Democratic, by pointing out that Republican leadership of _states_ has exactly the same problem.

                Both of which is just because what sort of places tend to elect what sort of people, and it’s not _caused_ by the people elected.

                And, honestly, if it was, the obvious conclusions are: Democrats are causing density (Thus increasing crime), and Republicans are causing poverty (Thus increasing crime.). Seriously, if you actually sit down and look at who runs what, that seems to be the division. Dense areas are Democratic, poor areas are Republican. Places that are _both_ are a bit of a toss up, as are places that are neither, but if it’s just one or the other, that’s who will end up in charge.

                Which is…probably not the conclusion that Dwyers wants us to reach, although it does lead to the funny idea we should put Republicans in charge of cities to undense them and Democrats in charge of states to make them wealthier. Alright, everyone, flip around! (Of course, making places less dense leads to other problems, like horrific traffic, and Democrats can’t magically produce economic growth.)Report

              • Avatar George Turner says:

                Well, the trouble with that idea is that the Republican areas are better off due to the much lower cost of living. Median home prices in red states are about half as much per square foot, and a house is most people’s greatest expense.

                Forbes article on that

                It’s not necessarily poverty driving crime, it’s criminal culture, which tends to perpetuate in poor urban areas, but can also take root elsewhere based on circumstance (rural pills mills and meth labs, or rampant smuggling in the boonies).

                Arizona’s crime rate is far more than predicted because there’s a lot of cartel activity and such, otherwise it shouldn’t be all that different from Colorado. Missouri’s homicide rate is probably an artifact of some bad part of St Louis.

                During the 80’s there was a massive uptick in homicides as urban gangs battled to establish turf and markets, and then in most areas that settled itself out. The Mafia used to be responsible for an enormous amount of violence but over time they found better jobs, built legitimate businesses, and retired.

                At one time the homicide rates in Appalachia were driven by the rich people, as poor people didn’t have anything really important to fight over. After that we had homicides driven by labor disputes, and once we decided that maybe the people doing all the killing should go to prison, they quit.Report

              • Avatar Chip Daniels says:

                I love how these airy hypotheses are stated with scientific certitude, in sort of a mix and match Norm from Cheers monologue:

                “At one time the homicide rates in Compton were driven by the rich people, as poor people didn’t have anything really important to fight over.

                It’s not necessarily poverty driving crime, it’s criminal culture, which tends to perpetuate in poor rural areas.”Report

              • I’m sorry but this comment is nonsense.Report

              • Avatar George Turner says:

                Well, states’ average income to homicide rate has a Pearson correlation coefficient of -0.28, which is very weak. It correlates moderately to poverty rate, at 0.63, though this begs the question as to whether the poverty caused the crime rate or the crime rate caused the poverty, since there’s a feedback cycle involved.

                Uncomfortably though, the Pearson correlation coefficient on even the simplest demographics is 0.82, which is strongly positive and can’t result from feedback.

                Basically, the crime rate is a function of the number of active criminals and how active each one is. Different groups can go through different phases of that as trends sweep through or different social and market niches open and close.

                “For a while it was mostly Indians, then cowboys, then hillbillies, then Irish, then Italians, then bootleggers, then growers, then Colombians, then Chinese. Now it’s Replicants.”

                There are also correlations that point to diversity as a driver, as increased diversity lowers the levels of trust and creates zones of friction where different ethnic groups defend their home turf from other ethnic groups. The Irish gangs would fight Italian gangs and redneck gangs and black gangs and Chinese gangs and Puerto Rican gangs, and the amount of fighting was a function of how many sides there were in close proximity.

                There are other ways to slice it up. It’s almost always young males, never folks in retirement homes. It tends to be from small subcultures that settle confrontations with violence, or which engage in illegal trade so they can’t rely on law enforcement or contract law.

                It’s a whole field of study with numerous publications, since it has so many disparate impacts on society, law enforcement, public spending, business, and government.Report

              • Avatar DavidTC says:

                Well, the trouble with that idea is that the Republican areas are better off due to the much lower cost of living. Median home prices in red states are about half as much per square foot, and a house is most people’s greatest expense.

                My point was that Republican states tended to have more crime than Democratic states. I figure this is because they were poorer, but if you want to argue they aren’t poorer, whatever. Honestly, that just makes Republican state leadership look worse at running their state, they have a higher crime rate _without_ the state being poorer!

                It’s not necessarily poverty driving crime, it’s criminal culture, which tends to perpetuate in poor urban areas, but can also take root elsewhere based on circumstance (rural pills mills and meth labs, or rampant smuggling in the boonies).

                No. Cultures do not ‘take root’. Cultures are just what we call ‘things everyone does in one place that are different from other places’. Cultures are not outside forces. They cannot be ‘changed’.

                They are, to put it how others here would put it, the finger, not the moon. The word ‘culture’ is merely a way to talk about the behaviors of a group of people. We anthropomorphize these to ‘do things’, but they do not actually. There is no way to change ‘the culture’ besides changing what people there generally do in that place, because that is literally what culture means.

                What drives crime is hopelessness and a perceived lack of alternative in life direction. What’s really absurd is we have managed to come close to this concept at least twice:

                First, with tough on crime nonsense that tried to show just how bad the criminal lifestyle was, but forgot to actually ask, “Hey, wait, what’s the _other_ side look like?” Getting locked up for years looks pretty bad from a rich lawmaker perspective, it’s not really that bad when it’s a social norm.

                Second, with nonsense like ‘programs to life people of poverty’, but the problem is those programs are all designed to lift ‘smart and deserving’ people out. Instead of just _finding the median population a moderately okay job_.

                I’ve actually ranted about similar things before, how we make sure ‘Kids who do good in schools can get scholarships to good college’…like, how about making sure that somewhat average kids can afford a bad college or a trade school, instead! The problem isn’t the lack of opportunities for really smart people. They’ll probably figure something out. The problem is everyone else, the average guy, or even the below average guy, who needs a steady job making $12 an hour at Target.Report

              • Avatar Mike Dwyer says:

                “The great thing about cities these days is that success doesn’t exist in a vacuum. More and more, the first thing I see happening with new mayors is them reaching out to other mayors. That’s what I did when I entered office, and that’s what other mayors are now doing with me. The reason we had four years of double-digit reductions in shootings is that we approached crime as more than just a police issue. We have the first-ever pro bono legal service for ex-offenders. We have one-stop centers for youth coming out of prison; we have a fatherhood program that’s gotten a lot of national attention. If you think someone’s carrying an illegal gun, all you do is call a tip line. You get four digits, you call back and see if we’ve made an arrest—we don’t need a conviction, we just want to recover the weapon—and then, if we have, you get another four digits that you can use to get $1,000 from a number of local banks. It’s just those eight digits, no questions asked. Many of these are ideas we took from other cities and tried to improve on.” – Cory Booker, 2010

                Seriously amazing what a city government can do when they aren’t making excuses. If Booker could see that kind of improvement and even Chicago can see a reduction in crime by implementing good ideas at the city level, then why are you so interested in laying the blame for lack of progress elsewhere at the feet of Republicans?Report

              • Avatar DavidTC says:

                If Booker could see that kind of improvement and even Chicago can see a reduction in crime by implementing good ideas at the city level, then why are you so interested in laying the blame for lack of progress elsewhere at the feet of Republicans?

                Uh….Illinois is an utterly nonsensical counter to my point that ‘Democratic cities often want to implement things (like for a very specific example, gun control) that Republican states block’.

                If Illinois had had a Republican leadership, not only would Booker not been able to do what he did, but the state wouldn’t already have some of the harshest gun control laws in the country. Like, he didn’t even have to _create_ gun control, anything more than what Illinois started with risks court challenges.

                But, hey, you have a point! Instead of saying that states with high crime rates should elect Democrats to change things, I’ve changed my mind! Those states instead should elect people who want guns as illegal as possible and crack down on them as much as possible, they should elect people who create at-risk youth programs, they should elect people who set up pro bono legal service for ex-offender, and youth centers!


  3. Avatar greginak says:

    Tod had a good thread on the twitter machine about the tea party and who they always were. A bit more on the TP race/ ethnicity obsessions and wing nut conspiracy theories.

    • Avatar Saul Degraw says:

      Racism is of course the big issue and elephant in the room. In his bigot thread, Will discussed having a scale for racism. Vox had an article today with George Wallace of all people essentially saying the real racists are those who accuse others of racism. One of the big things that the left has discussed is the existence of “systematic racism.” The idea that because of slavery and Jim Crow and redlining, the system is just set up against black Americans in particular and browner Americans in general in ways that makes it hard for them to succeed.

      I think systematic racism is very real but there are lots of people (including non-racists) that don’t want to deal with it as a concept because the solutions and remedies requires real sacrifice. There are no easy solutions here.

      The tea party are who Tod states they are though.Report

      • Avatar Pinky says:

        A proposition: “To understand a political movement, one should ask its opponents to identify its motivations”. Is there ever a case in which we’d endorse this proposition?Report

      • Avatar Mike Dwyer says:

        I saw a meme the other day that showed a glass of water. It said:

        Optimist – Glass half full
        Pessimist – Glass half empty
        Liberal – Glass is racist

        Unfortunately you all are starting to become a satire of yourselves. Like, seriously, I hope someone is studying this issue as an historic example of mass hysteria for future generations to learn from.

        What you posted above has almost zero to do with Andrew’s OP. It would just be nice if there could be one thread where racism doesn’t have to be discussed. There are a bunch of people here that know quite a bit about the fiscal side of things. How about we just let them focus on that and not muddy the waters? Geez…Report

        • Avatar Marchmaine says:

          John McWhorter has an interesting article in the Atlantic today which – I think – expresses the challenge of using the term Racisim today.

          One of the reasons I don’t usually engage in the current Racisim discussions is, if you take McWhorter seriously, because the word is (has?) shifting meaning. It isn’t the simple, if you call everyone a Racist then no-one is a racist… I think there’s a real sense that everyone *is* a Racist … in so far as the word not connotes a different understanding of Racism. So to the extent that many on the left talk about Racism, I’ve come to see it as authentic rather than simple partisan posturing… though I think that the lack of awareness (charitably) does get weaponized, though often in a sort of feedback loop.

          I’ll stop short of, “and therefore we should all…” and instead just point back to McWhorter as something to think on a bit.Report

          • Avatar Mike Dwyer says:

            I like McWhorter a lot. He had declared a while back that he was avoiding discussions of race for 5 years because people were losing their minds over it, but I also understand how easy it is to get dragged back in.Report

          • Avatar InMD says:

            Pretty sure I’m well to the left of you and Mike and I don’t disagree with the assessment. It’s becoming similar to a certain form of vulgar libertarianism, where all problems have but one solution and there is but one solution for all problems. Here there is but one lense through which all issues must be assessed (not ever solved or wrestled with in any kind of complex way, mind you, but merely assessed).Report

  4. I think, at the beginning, there was a lot of genuine conservatism. But most people who are not political junkies don’t have clearly formed ideas. And a bunch of grifters and shysters got in, drew out their worst instincts, and made money off of it. It’s like Will said in his post: Trump (and other others) bring out the worst in people.

    And here we are, ten years later, with a movement that has all the power they wanted and has no idea what the hell to do with it. Other than pwning the libs, I guess.Report

  5. Avatar JoeSal says:

    Comical stuff when the faction that invented the gas pedal on social spending lament so much when another faction has a lead foot. It’s not like the economy is going to make it out alive, socialist useful idiots have been insuring that for 80 years or more.

    Another typical OT piece, Trump is bad/doomed, Tea Party wasn’t ever really a thing, conservatives are the baddies.Report

    • The piece said none of those three things. You are welcomed to write and submit a non-typical OT piece which we will be happy to run for everyone’s consideration if you like. Report

      • Avatar JoeSal says:

        —Trump is bad/doomed:
        expiring corpse of fiscal conservatism as a man who made his fortune on debt and bankruptcy descended his golden escalator and rose to the White House.

        —the Tea Party wasn’t really a thing:
        dancing on the grave of the right’s last populist movement
        (followed by)
        “The truth is that the tea party was on its way out before Trump emerged on the scene.”
        (followed by)
        The Tea Party was a populist movement. No matter what noble goal such movements start with – and deficit and spending is one – populism always fragments from the sum to the various interests of its parts.

        —conservatives are the baddies:
        We saw it this past week in the so-called National Conservatism conference, where the successes of Trumpian Populism is starting to be shaped and molded into a new spin on an old argument that culture and national identify must be saved by the righteous power of a populist movement demanding it to be so, and of course controlled by folks ready to be voted into office based off it. The only logical conclusion for this next movement will be a demand that government step in and make their wishes come true, a well-trod path in the era of executive action and congressional gridlock.


        Maybe that stuff was supposed to read differently.

        There is no need for me to write an entire piece as a couple of sentences I wrote above would be all I need to express a very different view:

        Comical stuff when the faction that invented the gas pedal on social spending lament so much when another faction has a lead foot. It’s not like the economy is going to make it out alive, socialist useful idiots have been insuring that for 80 years or more.

        I don’t even care if Trump is X or Y about social spending, as that became a fatal wound decades ago.Report

        • I’m sure you read it exactly how you intended to read it. You are free to do so. But it is your interpretation Report

          • Avatar JoeSal says:

            I don’t have to interpret it, it’s actually written, with words, up there.Report

            • Avatar North says:

              Sorry Joe, your interpretation and spin is just a social construct.Report

              • Avatar JoeSal says:

                edit:-wrong thread-Report

              • Avatar North says:

                I certainly wouldn’t outsource my personal description of racism to Chip or anyone else.

                But really, the whole conversation from the original post all on down is moot because virtually everyone in the country is a socialist from your own esoteric position. That’s fine, but it’s not very useful from an a discussion standpoint.Report

              • Avatar JoeSal says:

                That last reply was to a different post, my apologies.Report

              • Avatar North says:

                No worries, I mis-thread all the time myself!Report

              • Avatar Michael Cain says:

                No worries, I mis-thread all the time myself!

                Sigh… Do you know what I had to go through to get a reply link on EVERY SINGLE COMMENT? And to have a little daemon that runs in the wee morning hours each day to make sure the patch hasn’t been overwritten by a system upgrade?Report

              • Avatar North says:

                You are my personal electronic savior Michael and I have nothing but praise and love for you. Thank you. Thank you for all that you do. Without you I’d have to seriously consider consigning myself to twitter (shudder).Report

              • Avatar JoeSal says:

                This is the first serious one I can recall in what is it.. nine or ten years.

                Of course I was giving Andrew a bunch of hell today that he doesn’t deserve, but he’s doing pretty good with it.Report

              • I assure you I’ve had much worse over much more important things. All good.Report

              • Avatar JoeSal says:

                Did I mention we are going to have problems with social truth?

                Without social truth there is no social objectivity. CheckmateReport

              • Avatar North says:

                Yeah but when it comes to the Tea Party there was no fiscal conservatism and never was. Not even an iota of it. Merely socialists (as you have often noted the GOP are, if anything, even bigger socialists than the Dems) hypocritically hooting about spending once they were no longer in power to do anything about it. What I find odd is that you’d be so annoyed by someone pointing that out since Tea Partiers and Republicans certainly don’t come close to your standards for fiscal rectitude and haven’t since, probably, Coolidge.Report

              • Avatar JoeSal says:

                North, I have to give you a bunch of credit here. Your correct, IMO the GOP are as much socialist in social constructs as the Dems. Standing armies, special organizations, any number of alphabet agencies, all of it.

                I would say they departed the freedom tribe when they formed a party and started seeking power through it. Creating copious amounts of laws. The Tea Party folks as well.

                The economy might as well have died December 23, 1913.

                Even if the conservatives dug their heals one time during this entire heat death of the nation, it should be noted. Even as post modern socialism casts its darkness on every state in this no longer union it should be noted. That a few people stood up against this idiocy early on.

                Everyone is the Super Moocher now, one faction no better fiscally responsible than the other. The right can buy just as expensive social furniture as the left does, and doesn’t owe a damn thing to anyone as far as explanations go.

                I guess that’s why I get a little annoyed at the whole “look they aren’t the fiscal blah, blah, blah they pose to be!”. Nobody is that anymore.Report

  6. Avatar DensityDuck says:

    Here’s at least one source from 2009 which goes on about economic issues and doesn’t really talk about social ones (and, as a bonus, calls out “Taxed Enough Already” specifically). I mean, make of it what you will, but it didn’t start being Just The Usual Cishetwhitemale Racist Homophobia.

    (also: articles from that time talk about people burning Nancy Pelosi in effigy, just in case you thought rotten public behavior was something that didn’t exist prior to January 20 2017)Report