Fmr President Obama on Being Always Politically Woke: “You Should Get Over That Quickly”

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.

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226 Responses

  1. Jaybird says:

    His endorsement, which was already valuable, just became a lot more so.

    While this sort of thing might depress the votes of the wokest of the woke, it’ll put a lot of worries to rest in the centristest of the centrists. And if a guy who says this comes out and goes on to endorse, oh, Warren… Warren wins Michigan and might win Wisconsin.Report

    • Marchmaine in reply to Jaybird says:

      I wonder.

      In my counterfactual world, there’s an Elizabeth Warren who’s running against Sanders/Socialism and Biden/Neo-Liberalism in the space occupied by the “Two Income Trap” … but in order to be (really) successful, she also isn’t chasing every Left Liberal Social cause. In which case, I could see her benefiting from such an endorsement. However, that’s not the Elizabeth Warren on the campaign trail as it stands. So, I wonder if such an endorsement would be forthcoming, and if it were, would it be authentically true enough to swing Michigan and Wisconsin the way that “Two Income Trap Warren” would swing it. Someone (either a Democrat or a Republican) will eventually wander into that lane.Report

      • Jaybird in reply to Marchmaine says:

        Driving home yesterday, NPR put out their sotto-voiced hitpiece on Biden. They covered how everybody loves him wherever he goes, but he *DOES* have a lot of gaffes… and he *IS* getting older… Are there concerns?

        “Well, there *ARE* concerns!”

        They pointed out that his numbers are strong and, yes, he’s technically in first place, but if you’re not moving forward, you’re moving backward, and Biden doesn’t appear to be moving forward because Elizabeth Warren’s numbers are getting better and his aren’t.

        So my read on that was that NPR was pushing for Warren… who, with Obama’s help come election day, will do a better job of campaigning in the Blue Wall than Hillary did.

        (I mean, campaigning *AT ALL* would do a better job than Clinton did in Wisconsin…)Report

        • Marchmaine in reply to Jaybird says:

          Well, in the end there can be only one..

          But, there’s a difference being the enthusiastic choice of a broad coalition and the least worst option (or next best thing) after your first choice is sottovoced off the stage.

          In my outsiders view, Warren’s “problem” is that she has no Big Idea to rally around… worse, she’s being defined as the “We can pickle that” candidate. Plans for everything, but support for none… it’s dangerously close to a doughnut hole strategy where she’s circling everything, but falls in the middle with nothing.

          As I say, there’s a theoretical space for her to carve out a brand/plan that echoes her earlier work… but she’s mostly moved out of that space by choice. I’m sure for good reasons – far be it for me to divine the path through the Democratic body politic.

          But, until she stops parodying herself and settles on which plan she’s running on, even if she becomes the eventual nominee, she’ll be running a weak and scattered campaign that desperately hopes Trump is worse – and that might be just enough. As a sales pro, I’ve learned to never aim for “just enough.” Too much left to chance if you do.Report

        • Mr.Joe in reply to Jaybird says:

          I doubt NPR is pushing Warren so much as pushing the horse race. Winners! Losers! Momentum! Excitement! Tune in later for more!

          I genuinely think they would be just as happy if the directionality to swap. Biden consolidating support with centrest ideals! Warren campaign flagging on M4A evasion!Report

      • LTL FTC in reply to Marchmaine says:

        I wish we lived in that world, but I’m concerned her most ardent supporters will sink her by demanding woke nonsense of a campaign that churns out policy content like BuzzFeed churns out quizzes. She’s digging deeper and deeper as the pussy-hatted middle aged white woman contingent who got her to 20% in the polls just keeps clapping louder.Report

    • Oscar Gordon in reply to Jaybird says:

      But the center left doesn’t matter!Report

    • North in reply to Jaybird says:

      I agree, and there are a lot more centrists than wokest of woke voters out there.Report

      • JoeSal in reply to North says:

        I would like to see some calibration certs for that centerism, and not one from two years ago! haReport

      • Jaybird in reply to North says:

        Yes. I got into this argument online a while back.

        What percentage of California/NY are you able to lose by alienating the farthest left by reaching out to the middlest voters?

        By my count: you can afford to lose a lot.Report

        • Aaron David in reply to Jaybird says:

          I think it depends on if there is a planned blackout that week.Report

        • North in reply to Jaybird says:

          On this, at least, you and I agree.

          Now the more sticky question is how much of Milwaukee you can afford to alienate by reaching out to rural and further out suburban Wisconsin. That’s where things get spicy.

          But on the other hand, if you’re paying attention to Wisconsin at all that’s a sea change from 2016 and Trump only took the state by a feeble handful of votes when running as a cipher.Report

          • Jaybird in reply to North says:

            To be honest, I suspect that “Be Yourself” will be sufficient if (candidate) bothers to freaking show up at all.

            Drink some local beer, make a joke about the Fail Mary call, promise to bring jobs back to America, and you’re good.

            (You may want to do this a dozen times, though.)Report

            • JoeSal in reply to Jaybird says:

              I hate to be That Guy but….what about immigration and the economy?

              What’s being brought to the table there?Report

              • North in reply to JoeSal says:

                In Wisconsin? You could offer to scale back the trade war so farmers stop getting actively screwed. That plus actually paying attention to the state would most likely wreck Trump’s odds there even if you didn’t say a word about immigration (and the economy, eh, insert normal pablum that all candidates go on endlessly about anyhow).Report

              • JoeSal in reply to North says:

                I don’t know if that is just saying “we’ll make it like it was before 2016”.Report

              • Jaybird in reply to JoeSal says:

                Joe, the candidate won’t have to swing 3-4% of Wisconsin to win.

                The candidate will have to swing about 1% of it.Report

              • JoeSal in reply to Jaybird says:

                So you don’t have to throw a big ole femur bone with a big chunk of meat on, maybe just a well cleaned 1/2 of a wish bone?

                So me stepping in for That Guy again, what does that look like?Report

              • Jaybird in reply to JoeSal says:

                In the case of Wisconsin, it’s something as simple as showing up.

                I’m going to say something that is going to blow your mind: Hillary didn’t go to Wisconsin once. Not even once!

                DJT won the state by about 23,000. Percentagewise, that’s 0.77%.

                Given my assumption that Clinton lost Wisconsin because she was stupid, I assume that (candidate) would be able to win Wisconsin by merely *NOT* *BEING* *STUPID*.

                The problem is that a lot of the left is, for some reason, invested in Clinton not having made a mistake.

                “She won the popular vote!”, it’s pointed out. That sort of thing.

                If they were willing to say “holy crap, Clinton not only dropped some balls, she scored some own goals!”, I might be willing to say “okay, the dems have it in the bag.”

                But, for some reason, bu bu bu but TRUMP! keeps being yelled. As if that were the point.Report

              • JoeSal in reply to Jaybird says:

                Ah, so just showing up and saying “Howdy folks!” probably does it.

                Hell, even Warren could pull that one off.Report

              • Jaybird in reply to JoeSal says:

                There’d probably have to be *SOME* additional effort.

                “Seahawks SUCK!” would do it.Report

              • George Turner in reply to Jaybird says:

                I’d pay more attention to Minnesota, which Hillary only won by 1.5% and where Trump lost the primary to both Rubio and Cruz, coming in third with only 21%.

                In the general, Evan McMullin and William Weld got 5.6% of the vote, and they’re not going to be on the ballot this time, whereas Jill Stein only got 1.26%.

                Hillary + Stein got 47.7%, whereas Trump and his opponents on the right got 50.56%.

                Another new factor is Ilhan Omar, representing Minnesota’s 5th district. She’s likely alienating moderates and firing up rural folks and Republicans and people who are proud to have Viking blood.Report

              • North in reply to Jaybird says:

                Who represents the left in this? I mean I LOVED HRC but I will readily admit she made a whole bunch of mistakes: She ran a leisurely campaign, she didn’t campaign in the blue wall states much and, more importantly, she stopped polling there early so she didn’t realize the danger she was in.
                Sure external factors helped tip it to trump (Comey chief among them) but that is not and never has been an excuse for her letting it be close enough for it to be tipped over.Report

              • Jaybird in reply to North says:

                The Usual Suspects.

                (And I certainly would not say that *ALL* of the left is invested in the whole “Clinton didn’t make a mistake!” thing. But stick around and you will see them pop up here or there. Would you like me to find a thread or two?)Report

              • North in reply to Jaybird says:

                Not at all, I don’t deny they exist- I merely question that their line of thought represents “a lot of the left” when my own position appears (to my inexperienced eye) to reflect the opinion of most of the prognosticators of the left. Then again it could be observers bias- I could be projecting my opinion on my party at large. Still, I don’t see a thick thread of “Ya know how Hillary did things? We should do it the same way.” running through leftist discourse.Report

              • Jaybird in reply to North says:

                Still, I don’t see a thick thread of “Ya know how Hillary did things? We should do it the same way.” running through leftist discourse.

                I rejoin: Tom Perez. “Doing it the same way” has a lot of little weird ways to do it the same way.Report

              • North in reply to Jaybird says:

                The DNC chair? The new one? Is he actually Debbie Wasserman Schultzwearing a skin suit? I would have thought she’d choose one with better hair…Report

      • Chip Daniels in reply to North says:

        What is an example of a difference between “woke” and “centrist”?

        From what I can see, “woke” is one of those self-applied terms that doesn’t really describe a position or idea, just an attitude, generally one that is fueled by being extremely online.Report

        • North in reply to Chip Daniels says:

          That’s an interesting idea and I’m mulling it over because I’ve never really seen a “Woke” centrist before nor spoken with one. Like someone Woke yelling “Fuck your Socialism” or something.
          Have you ever run into a Woke moderate? I’m trying to think of what one would even sound like and the comedic centers of my brain keep firing up.Report

          • greginak in reply to North says:

            At this point “woke” is term used primarily by people on the right to describe just about everything to the left of them.Report

            • North in reply to greginak says:

              It sure seems to be the case.Report

            • Marchmaine in reply to greginak says:

              Nah… its like the move from Vegetarian to Vegan. Its not enough that we also provide Vegetarian options, but a) Vegetarian is weak ass shit, and b) if you’re not a weak ass Vegetarian, you’re evil. I mean, roughly speaking.Report

              • greginak in reply to Marchmaine says:

                But in contemporary conservo usage, to carry the metaphor, if you put carrots in beef stew you must be a vegan. And vegan’s are no terrible and horrible.Report

              • Marchmaine in reply to greginak says:

                Heh, points for flogging the metaphor. I guess I’m just not seeing this as something Conservatives are inflating vs. something that the Left is really driving. There’s surely some sort of push/pull going on, but likely we don’t agree on the percentages.Report

              • greginak in reply to Marchmaine says:

                Percentages are Colonialist, oppressive social structures with a weird symbol. Come the revolution we’ll use but a fraction of the percentages and only by state licensed percentagers.

                On the other hand “flogging the metaphor” sounds like a great euphemism for english grad students masturbating.

                Woke has a true meaning and their are people who are truly “woke.” But the strident ones are a small % of the liberal/ leftie side.Report

              • Marchmaine in reply to greginak says:

                “english grad students masturbating”

                Now that you mention it… might be the best definition of “woke” yet.Report

          • Chip Daniels in reply to North says:

            Isn’t wokeness centered primarily around racial and sexual identity issues?Report

            • North in reply to Chip Daniels says:

              IIRC correctly due to intersectionality racial, gender and sexual justice is inextricable from economic and environmental justice.Report

              • Chip Daniels in reply to North says:

                I think wokeness tends to apply to issues of identity, which don’t lend themselves to a “centrist” position.

                Identity issues are binary, where one is either equal or not.

                So calling on candidates to move to the center away from wokeness seems untenable, since there isn’t a center.Report

              • North in reply to Chip Daniels says:

                Hmm interesting, I can’t count the number of times capitalism gets dragged into woke commentary which is definitively not directly based on identity.

                And yes, wokeness definitely appeals to a binary, but in my own limited experience they tend to lump their definition in with that binary. You either agree with the woke on all terms of equality, as they define it, or else are branded an opponent of equality.Report

              • Chip Daniels in reply to North says:

                Capitalism is the sort of term people throw around like sprigs of garnish to liven up an argument.
                But I can’t imagine a “woke” economic policy, can you?

                I mean, Bernie is arguably the most leftist lefty of all Leftland, but is he usually described as “woke”?

                Whereas groups like BLM or various trans activists don’t make the public ownership of capital a centerpiece of their activism.Report

              • JoeSal in reply to Chip Daniels says:

                What are you calling the whole reparations thing?

                This is one of those times, I’m about half serious on what the calibration of wokeness is on that issue.Report

              • pillsy in reply to JoeSal says:

                What “whole reparations thing”?Report

              • JoeSal in reply to pillsy says:

                Is there any way to post a google search of:

                “Democrats support reparations”

                in a comment?Report

              • pillsy in reply to JoeSal says:

                It will probably go to moderation, but is this the sort of thing you were looking for? Because the details of what you found salient in the links would actually be useful for discussion.


              • JoeSal in reply to pillsy says:

                That’s the stuff, and back to the comment up there ^

                “I’m about half serious on what the calibration of wokeness is on that issue.”

                From the outside looking in, there appears to be a lot of wokeness across the board, but what does that look like on the inside looking out?

                I mean is it:

                “well yeah, reparations are a tenet of the entire left”


                “well, reparations are a concern of 5% of the crazy far over woke lefties”

                For some one like me on the far right, there just isn’t bright lines that really show a distinction, and I guess that lends itself to questions of what fraction would be centrist.Report

              • pillsy in reply to JoeSal says:

                So probably the most vocally opposed candidate to the idea of reparations is Sanders, who is also the Leftmost in most (if not all) ways.

                Biden, who has been the frontrunner since entering the race (with fluctuations in the size of his lead) also is opposed to them.

                The most pro-reparations candidates, Booker and Williamson, went nowhere and less than nowhere, respectively.

                Warren and a couple others “support reparations” to the extent of supporting a committee that would study the issue. That’s not nothing, but it’s also not actually paying any form of reparations.

                A lot of the change is, in essence, rhetorical. A number of people are advancing the argument that the best way to deal with the lasting inequities caused by slavery is race-neutral plans to fight poverty and increase class mobility.

                Of course, some literal and self-described advocates of reparations describe exactly those kinds of race-neutral programs as the kind of reparations that they want.

                So I’d say the change is much more about a change in the rhetoric around social spending in (especially) intra-party debates than it is in an increase in popularity of programs that actually specifically direct payments to African Americans.Report

              • JoeSal in reply to pillsy says:

                Thanks for the feedback but it doesn’t really look like any bright lines can be drawn.

                I know when I was looking at the main push of the folks like Democracy Alliance that they were pumping funding into 50 leftist organizations targeting places like Florida, Arizona, and Virginia.

                Is that coming from the crazy wokes, or is that just moderate centrist stuff?

                Do you kinda see how this stuff isn’t really clear?Report

              • pillsy in reply to JoeSal says:

                Do you kinda see how this stuff isn’t really clear?

                I do!

                Nor was I trying to suggest that you were missing bright lines. I would say, in fact, that Democrats are going through an internal debate to determine where they’ll land, and a consensus has yet to emerge.

                However, I’m pretty sure they’ll land on a compromise, where racially-neutral welfare state policies are positioned as a way to remedy the lasting impact of racism, without getting into the morass of racially-specific programs.

                I’m not sure how you would benchmark that in terms of the influence of “wokeness” on the Democratic Party.Report

              • JoeSal in reply to pillsy says:

                Your approach to the truth is refreshing.

                I really wouldn’t know how to benchmark it either, but it may be taken with a grain of salt, that the right has no way of calibrating what to make of it.

                Do you ever think there will rise a classical liberalism out of the mix, that’s one of the few paths I think could make some of this more clear.Report

              • pillsy in reply to JoeSal says:

                I think a lot of that depends on the classical liberals, and how they feel about the compromises that would be necessary to participate as partners in the Democratic Party coalition. I think US parties are too large and unwieldy to be specifically classically liberal in the manner of some European liberal parties.Report

              • JoeSal in reply to pillsy says:

                I’m not talking compromise, just the opposite. An american classical liberalism that can exclude much of the neo-marxism problem that has developed. That could have a lot of potential to make the political lines become much brighter and maybe form some degrees of separation from the crazies.

                I suppose looking at it from the outside in, if I wanted to design a better opponent, that’s what I would do.

                The tough part is, it would have to do what it says it is going to do.Report

              • JoeSal in reply to JoeSal says:

                Hell, maybe pick up the independents. A lot of those folks think they are right wing, but actually plot mostly to the left.Report

              • pillsy in reply to JoeSal says:

                I think the US two-party system really cuts against such bright lines. That doesn’t mean you can’t have classical liberals, but it’s very difficult to imagine a scenario where they aren’t part of a party coalition with somebody else, unless they are just entirely out of power.

                One possibility is to make their compromise with welfare statists, which is, historically, something that classical liberals have sometimes been willing to do.

                If that works out, I suppose it might well check the tendency towards Marxist aesthetics on the US Left, but TBQH I really think that is fundamentally aesthetics: only skin deep and the US Left is not terribly satisfied with it.Report

              • JoeSal in reply to pillsy says:

                If they do compromise with the welfare statist, they will blend into the marxist noise and likely won’t be discernible.

                You said above that Sanders was opposed to reparations, but his reparations are for the ‘proletariat’ which invests fully into the communist class warfare doctrines.

                I’m not sure if yall are seeing things as aesthetics which are principles, and principles which are aesthetics, but there is a lot of noise in the signal.Report

              • Mr.Joe in reply to pillsy says:

                Quick tech note, Google links will not look the same to everyone. Different links for different folks. Google “personalizes” search results. If you want a link that looks the same to everyone… Duck Duck Go does not do that personalization.


              • Chip Daniels in reply to Mr.Joe says:

                So everyone here isn’t getting links to Japanese tentacle porn?Report

              • DensityDuck in reply to Chip Daniels says:

                wait, are you really Kurt Eichenwald?!Report

  2. DensityDuck says:

    Huh. An interesting choice for a Sistah Souljah Moment.Report

  3. JoeSal says:

    I guess these are his tomato picking years.Report

  4. LTL FTC says:

    The reason cancel culture and Obama’s brand of politics (by which I mean winning and being genenerally-liked by apoliticals) are fundamentally incompatible is the misanthropy and solopsism of the latter. The worldview that says “my uncharitable motivated misreading of your statement means your content should be chased off the ends of the earth so it does not contaminate our deeply racist brains” is not one that can live in Obama’s “one America.”Report

  5. George Turner says:

    “Japan will continue to struggle as long as giant radioactive lizards from the bottom of the ocean keep trampling Tokyo. They need to put an end to that” – Harry S Truman.

    I’m not saying that Obama’s complaint is like a fake quote of Truman telling the Japanese that they have a Godzilla problem, because Truman never actually said that.

    I also don’t think Obama created wokeness, but he did leverage it to his advantage and had a hand in growing it. And what is wokeness? The idea that you are socially aware and broad minded, and everyone to your right is a primitive backwards racist, blindly sleepwalking through life, not caring about the other’s they harm. People like Joe the Plumber, who bitterly cling to God and guns. People like the Harvard policeman who acted stupidly. Men who have binders full of women. Obama got a rodeo clown fired. That is wokeness.

    Whether Obama just indirectly benefited from wokeness, leveraged it, or had some hand in nurturing it is for future historians of wokeness to decide, however, all such historians will be oppressive white males so nobody is going to read their books. They’ll just be shouting into the wind.

    I’ll just note that few of us were having to deal with wokeness before he was elected, and we were swimming in it when he left office. That could be almost entirely coincidental, a product of the way online conversation evolved on Facebook and Twitter, and the natural inclinations of the judgmental woke people who’ve always plagued us but who never had such a broad platform before. Such people would naturally support someone like Obama, and to such an extent that if he didn’t exist, they’d have created him. One could even argue that Obama was their first unwitting victim as they put him in a cute little frame, hung his picture on their walls, and then felt empowered to berate the heck out of absolutely everybody.

    It’s going to be a complicated story, and one historians and sociologists need to unravel at this critical juncture right before everyone deletes their Facebook profile and Twitter feeds to destroy all the self-incriminating evidence out there.


    • InMD in reply to George Turner says:

      Obama didn’t create it and, while I think he may have benefited from woke/PoMo culture some on the margins I think the connection to his presidency is coincidental.* It’s been around for decades, mostly relegated to small corners of college campuses and activist ecosystems operating on the fringes and not more than tangentially connected to the Democratic party. What’s changed is the maturation of social media and fusion of it with radical academic theories and mainstream media, which was ripe for takeover since its hollowing out by 21st century market forces. Now that faction is doing all that it can to take over the Democratic party the same way the Know-Nothing Populist Talk Radio faction of conservatism did with the GOP.

      I used to think the woke stuff had a much lower ceiling than populist conservatism. Now that its being embraced by parts of corporate America I’m not nearly as certain of that as I once was.

      *This isn’t to say some of his appointees weren’t bathed in it and advancing the cause. The Title IX madness on college campises comes to mind.Report

      • pillsy in reply to InMD says:

        What changed is that a lot of people, many of them UMC, white, liberalish, and relatively sheltered, got a series of particularly noxious reminders that bigotry is a much more powerful force than they’d previously thought, culminating in the GOP nominating a guy who spread racist conspiracy theories about Obama to the Presidency, and then, during and after the election, insisting every flagrantly racist thing he said and did was totally fine and not racist at all.Report

        • InMD in reply to pillsy says:

          I don’t agree. If it was really all about things that happened over the last 10-12 years PCU wouldn’t exist. More recent events have, at most thrown gasoline on the fire. No, I blame the internet.Report

          • pillsy in reply to InMD says:

            Oh it’s not that it didn’t exist before. It existed when I was in college.

            But it mostly stayed there.

            I think it was the repeated shocks, in the form of open racism and the defense of same, that drove it into the big time. Especially because one of the key tenets of is privilege theory, which is actually very useful if you’re a relatively sheltered white person wondering how it is that the country is way more racist than you thought it was.Report

            • InMD in reply to pillsy says:

              I’m still not convinced it wasn’t coming by virtue of cyclical trends in fashion, the great sort, and the creation of the types of online culture North talks about below.

              Though I can see how being sheltered might contribute. Sort of unrelated but my wife and I listened to S-Town when it came out. The funniest part to us was how shocked and unfamiliar Brian Reed seemed to be with what could broadly be called redneck culture. Now for all I know that aspect of the show was intentional or played up but maybe there’s more to it than I realize.Report

              • pillsy in reply to InMD says:

                Not just being sheltered.

                The explosion of overt racism on the Right played a big role as well. The comfortable bubble that a lot of Leftish folk enjoyed collapsed pretty rapidly.

                Of course, this part of the story means that you can’t just write “woke” impulses off as purely stupid and illiberal, and may even have some foundation in reality.Report

              • InMD in reply to pillsy says:

                I guess I’d be interested to see how you’re calculating an explosion of overt racism, and even defining it. My experience is that even with Trump in office, what I would define as overt racism is way less commonplace than when I was growing up. Yes, there are still uncles and grandparents who make remarks behind closed doors, and the periodic summoning of tens to a couple hundred members of committed hate groups but in meat space I just don’t see much of it. The challenge IMO is how to handle a world of lingering disparate impact based on race when de jure discrimination has become illegal.

                Of course I also don’t spend my time going at it with alt right trolls and similar people on the internet where all manner of sludge is available for those who seek it out. Maybe that’s part of the disconnect.Report

              • pillsy in reply to InMD says:

                I’ve actually seen a real increase in meatspace, and have encountered more open anti-semitism in the past three years than I did in my entire life until that point.

                But beyond that, there’s a third place to encounter overt racism, and that’s in media. And since the nomination of Trump, and even before, there was a significant uptick in that because, well, they would report the fucked up racist shit Trump says.

                And as Trump has consolidated support from the Right, one of the major projects of the Right has become defending his racism and often emulating it. That is out there, and people are exposed to it without mud-wrestling with alt-right fuckheads.Report

              • Marchmaine in reply to InMD says:

                Just yesterday SSC posted a long form article that obliquely touches on this.

                Short form: Transformative intellectual movement pivots to new movement in and around 2012. Its worth reading because it captures what you describe and plausibly addresses the uptick and the timeframe. Which also squares with my experience when you expand the time horizon back to 1970s.

                Its also broadly germane to the original post…Report

              • Jaybird in reply to Marchmaine says:

                Thanks to the neckbeards, r/Atheism, and other assorted autists, Atheism now signals Low Status.

                Look for The Next Big Thing to pop up. (Woke Catholicism?)Report

              • DensityDuck in reply to Jaybird says:

                Look for The Next Big Thing to pop up. (Woke Catholicism?)

                Well. The thing here is that Jesus wasn’t preaching against Roman Imperialism, he was preaching primarily against the Pharisees, who–in the name of moral purity and justice–enforced extremely-strict laws regarding behavior and Acceptable Speech, with strong ostracism and occasional direct physical punishment against those judged to be sinners.

                It maps pretty well to Cancel Culture.Report

              • Jaybird in reply to DensityDuck says:

                But will it be High Status?

                I don’t care about morals and all that bullshit. I care about what philosophies I can adopt for a decade or so and signal sophistication.Report

              • Marchmaine in reply to Jaybird says:

                If Kanye actually accepts instruction in the Armenian Orthodox church.. then that.

                If he goes Protestant, then not.Report

              • DensityDuck in reply to Jaybird says:

                The Catholic Church could gain quite a large status boost if it let women be priests.Report

              • Jaybird in reply to DensityDuck says:

                For a week and a half.Report

              • Marchmaine in reply to Jaybird says:

                “For a week and a half.”

                In the age of twitter? At most.Report

              • Marchmaine in reply to Jaybird says:

                You mean RadTrads? Already here. Still kinda low status though. I don’t know how the Bruenigs define themselves on the Woke spectrum (identifying more, it seems, with the Class axis)… but they are a niche thing.*

                *at the moment they score higher on my Tradinista Liberal vector with less pull/crossover on the Catholic side… but hey, they’re young still.Report

              • Jaybird in reply to Marchmaine says:

                Still low status? Surprising. Is it the fecundity thing?Report

              • Marchmaine in reply to Jaybird says:

                I think the fecundity thing keeps them in check by the secular left, the (un)reconstructed 70’s socialism everywhere else. That’s what makes me wonder whether they are more Tradinista than RadTrad… also, I don’t know their positions on various other churchy things. If sister Bruenig were to return and publish a manifesto, I’d be most interested.

                RadTrads are (typically) Latin Mass types that are, well, Radical when it comes to Community Issues (not, I should note, the same as what we call Social Issues)… which puts them outside simple Conservative mainstream. But in such a way that it scrambles the simple left/right American political axis.

                I’d put more money in RadTrad busting busting out than Tradinistas (kinda passe from the 80s) becoming a thing – esp. after Francis dies. He’s kinda the Tradinista’s last hope.Report

              • Jaybird in reply to Marchmaine says:

                Hajnal lines everywhere.Report

              • Marchmaine in reply to Jaybird says:

                Pro-Natalism is the new hotness.Report

              • Jaybird in reply to Marchmaine says:

                A million years ago, I picked up “The Cosmic Wisdom of Joe Bob Briggs“. I recommend it. It’s got a collection of Joe Bob’s columns and it included a lovely little one called “Pol Pot’s Love Connection”. (Apparently not available online… I’d love to link to it.)

                It basically talks about what Pol Pot did when he realized that he had killed 2 out of every 7 people in his country and needed more.

                Well, you make yourself an anti-natalist movement, soon you will be a bunch of Shakers complaining about all of the Hutterites running around.Report

              • Marchmaine in reply to Jaybird says:

                To be fair… well… Hutterites. But I think your point stands.Report

          • North in reply to InMD says:

            My own theory is about communities. The internet let a lot of marginalized people with specific identities connect over vast distances and not be alone. A very good thing. It also let them create online communities. Also a very good thing. And those communities created tailored rules to make their spaces safe and welcoming for people of that identity- a good thing for those communities but not reliably a liberal thing.
            Now, gradually, people in those small communities have begin wondering “why can’t we expand our safe communities and their rules that make them comfortable and safe for us to encompass the real world?”
            Which is laudable, certainly, but the rules that make those individual little, internet based communities comfortable for their members? They don’t scale well. And they aren’t liberal and when you try and apply them broadly to the real world with so many people and so little option for exit those rules go from nice little little fuzzy rules to make people feel good into capital T tyranny or capital I idiocy. And, on top of that, they’re holistic little rules and there’re hundreds of them (many many for each little community), generally unwritten and some of them contradict each other.

            And thus Wokeness.Report

            • LeeEsq in reply to North says:

              I think its a combination of what you and pillsy said. Many of the rules regarding woke behavior started among online communities of marginalized people. As more people went online you had a lot of affluent, well-educated UMC liberal people notice these rules and like them. Both groups decided to apply these rules to the real world or at least attempt to for various reasons. Pillsy is right that none of this would have happened but for the Republican Party going off the rails to Protestantist White nationalism.Report

              • North in reply to LeeEsq says:

                It could be. I honestly don’t know if PC woke ism would have escaped the rarified hothouses of academia to flourish online in the absence of the Republican right losing their damned minds. I think it would have but at the very least a sane Republican party would have better retorts to it and wouldn’t probably invest so much energy in magnifying and strengthening it.Report

              • pillsy in reply to North says:

                Not only would the Right have been in a better position to argue against it, the Right wouldn’t have been almost wholly dedicated to proving the basic tenets of PC woke ism correct.Report

              • LeeEsq in reply to North says:

                Of course I’m struggling to figure out an alternative history where we get a sane Republican Party, which I imagine would be something like the European Christian Democratic Parties or the British Tories before or even under Thatcher. The thing is that our anti-Communists were always a lot more rabid than European anti-Communists and wanted to resist any social legislature hook, line, and sinker. There were also too many White Americans going off the rails because of Civil Rights, etc. to ignore. The political temptation to pander was too great.Report

              • North in reply to LeeEsq says:

                In my mind it is around 2009. Obama is elected and the political wilderness is beckoning to a party that Bush II led to ruin. It was at that time that McConnell formulated his strategy that they could bring Obama down simply by opposing everything he proposed regardless of its merits and denying him the bipartisan cooperation he had campaigned on. Shortly after that came the tea party plutocrat tantrum and then the GOP leaped astride that tiger.

                If they had eschewed McConnell’s gambit and instead bargained Obama to the right in exchange for their votes (and lets be real- Obama would have moved his policies VERY far to the right to get GOP votes, look at the sequester negotiations) all of history would be very very different.*

                But instead they went with total obstruction, and that required all the obfuscation they spun out to try and conceal that obstruction and the demonization they indulged in of Obama which led to Trump etc etc…

                So yeah, I think the most recent crossroads was 2009.

                *But let us not be pollyannas… Obama and his party would quite probably have done very well in the 2010 elections in a world where the Republicans played ball and I have utterly no idea how they’d have done better in 2012 either. McConnell’s gambit yielded enormous electoral benefits for his party in the near term.Report

              • LeeEsq in reply to North says:

                I’d also imagine that a sane Republican Party would compromise more on issues. Liberal stridency is increasing because Republicans are saying no to everything, so many people on the other said say “fish it, might as well go for the whole loaf then.”Report

              • pillsy in reply to LeeEsq says:

                It’s not just that. Building a coalition to the right in support of any remotely progressive change is impossible, so the only alternative is to try to get the Left fired up.

                And they aren’t going to do that with moderate compromise policies.Report

              • George Turner in reply to LeeEsq says:

                The right remembers Obama saying “You lost” and that he didn’t have to listen to any Republicans at all. Nancy said we’d have to pass her bill to find out what’s in it. So the Republicans did well in 2010.

                As things went on, the base became frustrated with McConnell’s “fake fight” strategy, where he’d give Obama whatever Obama wanted in return for an opportunity to go on the floor to tell us how much he opposed whatever he was allowing Obama to do, such as the Iran “treaty” that required 2/3rds vote to stop it instead of 2/3rds vote to pass it.Report

    • North in reply to George Turner says:

      Ehh, I’m told Wokeness was a rampaging monster back in the early 90’s too so it’s hard to ascribe too much fault to Obama for that. It appears to be a cyclical phenomena and its modern incarnation is most assuredly super charged by the new vector of the internet.Report

      • George Turner in reply to North says:

        Wokeness was much easier to avoid in the 90′ unless you were involved with or following academic or campus culture. Throughout most of Obama’s terms liberals were rarely its victims, so the bulk of complaints came from the right and Democrats ignored them. But in the past few years the monster has started feasting on liberal icons and celebrities, such that the epitaph of the left is either going to say “suicide” or “died of self-inflicted wounds.” Perhaps a better parallel would be between “You can’t be morally pure enough,” with an anorexia sufferer thinking “You can’t be thin enough.”

        There was an interesting survey out last week that found that just 6% of US adults are responsible for 75% of political tweets, and that most of them were on the left. It would be interesting to see a similar study of woke tweets. It wouldn’t surprise me if 5% to 10% of people are causing all the problems, maybe even less if you discount retweets caused by fear.Report

        • North in reply to George Turner says:

          Yes, it’s mostly a twitter phenomena and mostly, like libertarians (but without the sugar daddies), an internet beast with little real world clout. Hell, if the right wing and the woke didn’t make so much dough ginning up outrage and feeding off each other it’d probably be even more marginal than it is. The vast majority of the left isn’t woke.Report

  6. Saul Degraw says:

    Obama is one of the worst read Presidents in American history. I say this not as a critic but a huge fan. He was not the further lest guy ever. His politics are reasonably center-left but he was never an anti-capitalist. He is a moderate reformist by nature and belief. He got misread by the left and the right as being more radical than he is because of when he was elected (Great Recession) and because of his skin color.
    Probably his skin color overwhelmingly.

    That being said, I still think the whole “cancel culture” thing is amplified on the Internet and between the very political* and is not so much a thing in real life. I also think it is a thing most of its adherents will age out of as they get older.**

    *This includes OT. If you spend your time talking about politics on blogs, you are not normal. This includes OT, LGM, The Federalist, Jezebel, whatever.

    **This is not to say that they will become conservative or Republican though. And I think a lot of people like Haidt freak out over youngs believing in different things and having different ideals.Report

    • Chip Daniels in reply to Saul Degraw says:

      2010 Obama was going to herd all the Real Americans into FEMA camps for mandatory sex transition;

      2019 Obama is the wise voice of centrist reason.

      The conclusion is clear, friends.

      Repeal the 22nd Amendment and Obama/Biden 2020!Report

    • Mr.Joe in reply to Saul Degraw says:

      I think cancel culture is the end result of our current money/goods focused culture. The idea that all that matters is money is pervasive. Charity is now heavily tied with consumerism. Kids these days get told on the regular that their opinion is invalid, but their buying and spending habits is important. Tons of examples of peaceful protest not seeming to result in any meaningful change. So, it should be little surprise that when they want to see social change they see money and commerce as the place to exert their efforts. And guess what? They seem right to me.

      Cancel culture probably has more effect in bringing social change than any sign holding on the side of the street.Report

      • Saul Degraw in reply to Mr.Joe says:

        The thing is that it is not even that powerful most of the time. There are some noted exceptions but they are still exceptions. Based on the way everyone talks and shits their pants, you would think hundreds of billions of dollars of wealth had been destroyed by cancel culture. People overreact way too much to this.

        I am nearly less than a year from 40 and I find it mystifying and disheartening about how many middle-aged people (often dudes) get crazy about college students using hyperbole. Most of the kids will just grow out of it themselves, leave them alone.Report

        • DensityDuck in reply to Saul Degraw says:

          “I hardly ever see anyone get cancelled! That’s because most people know how to not be assholes!Report

        • Chip Daniels in reply to Saul Degraw says:

          The funny thing is that “cancel” culture is really just a modern version of the traditional culture of morality that conservatives like Burker, Russel Kirk, and others valorize.

          In fact, its their biggest complaint, that young people are priggish Puritans.

          The difference, of course, is that the conservatives now find themselves on the receiving end of a dominant culture.Report

          • JoeSal in reply to Chip Daniels says:

            “Power grows from the barrel of a pussy hat!”

            hahaha, nice story bro.Report

          • DensityDuck in reply to Chip Daniels says:

            Chip, all we’re trying to do is play by the rules you told us for decades that you’d prefer, and now that we’re doing it you tell us you don’t like that game and would rather not play. We can go back to the age of oppression and social-shaming and Conform To The Norm if you like. I don’t think you’d like, but maybe if that’s true then you shouldn’t cheer quite so hard when it happens.Report

            • Chip Daniels in reply to DensityDuck says:

              I’ve said more than few times here that I really do favor a society of social etiquette and enforced norms.

              Obviously there is a vast expanse of possible versions of what sort of society that might be, but I’m amenable to the basic concept.Report

            • pillsy in reply to DensityDuck says:

              Remember folks, telling a conservative that they’re racist for cheering on unarmed black people being murdered by the cops is just like kicking someone out of the military for being gay!Report

  7. Saul Degraw says:

    I will ask this for the one millionth time. Why do people take George seriously? He is not going to change and will just spread his delusions.Report

    • pillsy in reply to Saul Degraw says:

      I have a theory about why you haven’t seen a good answer yet!Report

    • North in reply to Saul Degraw says:

      He’s not violating the commenting policy and it probably is salutary to see the quality of thinking (or lack thereof) coming out of the conservative side of the internet and even bat it down a bit from time to time if one feels the inclination. Also he’s very often quite funny, sometimes intentionally so.

      But you could ignore him and no one would think less of you for it Saul. Hell, you might feel more relaxed if you ignore him.Report

      • Saul Degraw in reply to North says:

        We used to frequently have threads that went into hundreds of comments. We still do but it is much more rare. Now many threads get six or seven comments. How many people are pushed away from stuff that does not technically violate the comments policy but is still insane and rough to deal with? George came along after I started posting here and I am not going to let him push me away but if I came here after George, I might not have stayed.Report

        • greginak in reply to Saul Degraw says:

          But this place is designed to be for people all over the spectrum. It’s not meant to be a mono culture. There are plenty of those. I’ve been reading Balloon Juice for years. It’s great for a lot of things but not for a variety of ideas. Sadly the right side of aisle is well represented by the fox/talk radio fever swamp. It is what it is. I find more voices from the right worth listening to on twitter or Arc Digital/medium. If we are going to avoid being a mono culture then that will mean having some of the median right voter.

          Really, just scroll on past. It is a skill we all need. Does that mean some people might not stay here. Sadly true, but every site isn’t for everyone. There are days when i don’t want to read fever dreams and deliberate obfuscation and bull shit. There are plenty of options for that. We are going to have to learn to cope and deal with all the BS tactics that are thrown at us because they aren’t’ stopping when trump loses.Report

        • LeeEsq in reply to Saul Degraw says:

          I’m not sure that this is right. We had longer threads when we had more posters like George and more doctrinaire libertarians than we did with fewer of them. Its because there were real big disagreements. The core commentariat is still roughly in place. People left for reasons that seem unrelated to George.Report

        • North in reply to Saul Degraw says:

          I dunno Saul, a lot of the resident conservatives got driven away by liberals, not by George, and the same with a good number of libertarians. I can remember when we had the whole “It reflects badly on the League that X or Y is allowed to post here or shows up on the masthead” and those allegations weren’t coming from right wingers.Report

          • pillsy in reply to North says:

            Hard to see why I should shed a tear for the likes of Deco, notme, and Dand. The comment section is strictly better for their absence.Report

            • Chip Daniels in reply to pillsy says:

              “First you win the argument, then you win the election.”
              Margaret Thatcher

              Are only conservative commenters who are driven away?
              Why does Sullivan’s Law exist?

              If I said that in a clash between conservative and liberal arguments, it is the liberal ones that hold the field would I be wrong?

              Yes, I’m cheerleading.
              But I remember when this wasn’t the case.

              In the late 70s and early 80s, it was conservative arguments that won the most support and had the most power to persuade people. This was followed by the rise of Thatcher and Reagan.

              In this age, where are the conservative arguments and popularizers who are winning converts and expanding their base of support?Report

            • JoeSal in reply to pillsy says:

              Well what happens when we lose folks like that is there is less incentive for the the ‘good folks’ to show up and set those lost souls back on the path of goodness.

              Actually without those lost folks, it kind of becomes a echo chamber/bubble that is as ridiculous and predictable as LGM.

              What’s funny is when they are gone, yall will probably seek out other lost souls that need to be set straight. Probably not so much you pillsy because you got your head screwed on straight and a relative high value on truth components.

              I have a theory that if the entire right of center disappeared off the internet, that yall would go find us in meatspace, tie several of us to a chair and spend hours telling us how wrong we are, and feel justified because it’s for our own good.Report

              • JoeSal in reply to JoeSal says:

                Also the optics on the supposed ‘diversity is good’ tenet looks a little duplicitous when the reaction is to stomp it out when it arises.

                [Maybe a deficiency in reciprocity?]Report

              • pillsy in reply to JoeSal says:

                Diversity is good, but it’s difficult to construct environments where you specifically have diversity of opinion to create discussion because there are so many failure modes that undercut it.

                Monocultures are either boring or turn into circular firing squads over tiny disagreements and alleged heresies.[1] But multicultures need to be managed with some degree of care to avoid burning up due to internal friction and to avoid simply being self-defeating as the message people take away from them becomes, “Wow the people I disagree with are assholes!” instead of, “Wow the people I disagree with have a valuable perspective!”

                As for the basic question of diversity, I think it depends in part on being able to have/form voluntary associations and being able to find “third spaces” where one can comfortably relax among people who are like-minded, but not necessarily completely like-minded.

                For a bunch of reasons, such things have become thinner and thinner on the ground recently, and a lot of the norms that allowed for their creation have eroded.

                [1] This is most famously parodied by Life of Brian, but also functions as a centrifugal force in “woke” online (and even offline) spaces, which is part of why I think @InMd’s question as to whether it can be a huge consumer success in the manner of conservative media should probably be answered in the negative. Something along those lines might take over, but it would have to be much less exacting.Report

              • JoeSal in reply to pillsy says:

                I think the problem is, this isn’t a ‘third space’ world, it’s a ‘warts and all’ world.

                And this stuff shouldn’t be as difficult as you make it out to be.

                Should Deco, notme, and Dand be allowed to speak?Report

              • pillsy in reply to JoeSal says:

                Yes that’s exactly the problem IMO. “Warts and all” is a crappy way to go through life, both horribly constraining the warts you can have, and exposing you to lots of other people’s really gross warts.

                As for being allowed to speak? Sure. There are a billion places where they can do that, and for the most part I will deliberately avoid those sort of places.Report

              • JoeSal in reply to pillsy says:

                How interesting would your life be if it went exactly the way you wanted it to? In a ‘no warts ever’ context?Report

              • pillsy in reply to JoeSal says:

                It wouldn’t. Hence the need for the ability to construct spaces where people can reveal parts of themselves without revealing all of themselves. What we have now is pretty much all or nothing.

                Some folks around here analogize America to a marriage (Jaybird with “divorce or war”, for instance). That may be how it feels now, but it is, in fact, an insane relationship to maintain with a third of a billion people, the overwhelming majority of whom you’ll never so much as see on the street.Report

              • JoeSal in reply to pillsy says:

                I guess the kernel of truth I am trying to ask; is if you would prefer in a all or nothing context, to be shielded from reality or exposed to it.

                In a way it’s a little unclear, because there appears to be a ‘unmet condition’ of longing to live in a partial unreality in order for people to be themselves.

                And I don’t use this in a context to be ugly, just that it looks unhealthy from my perspective.

                Institutions aren’t people so they aren’t a device of human scaled relationships. I suppose it could be argued that negotiations of individual constructs of rule of law aren’t recognized by institutions.Report

              • pillsy in reply to JoeSal says:

                Given the choice between “all” and “nothing”, I would prefer nothing, and I think that I’m far from alone in that.

                It’s a false choice, and we have hundreds of years of evidence to back that up, but the conditions that allow people to make the kinds of compromises that are superior to either extreme don’t happen automatically.Report

              • JoeSal in reply to pillsy says:

                I agree it is a false choice.
                Maybe it would be better framed:

                You would prefer to sacrifice portions of reality for portions of comfort?

                Is that a fair statement?Report

              • DensityDuck in reply to JoeSal says:

                I’m thinking more like James Hanley or Jason Kuznicki.Report

              • JoeSal in reply to DensityDuck says:

                Yeah I miss those guys, but I also miss BlaiseP, Kimmi and that ole codger MA. TVD was a kick as well.

                We have lost a lot of diversity.Report

              • JoeSal in reply to JoeSal says:

                And as much hell as I give Chip, greginak, Stillwater, Lee and Saul, my intent is never to run them offReport

    • greginak in reply to Saul Degraw says:

      Do people take him seriously? Don’t. Ignore or mock are the two solid options. We aren’t’ stopping the delusions here. We aren’t in some grand combat between two sides here. We’re just having conversations of varying degrees of heat and seriousness. Scrolling past comments also works well. Not everything needs or deserves our time and attention. It is the key skill of our age. Learning to ignore all the extraneous or excessively ridiculous or crap that brings us down.Report

      • pillsy in reply to greginak says:

        I don’t want to speak for Saul, but I find it requires active effort on my part to ignore text I’m scrolling past. Effort that I somewhat resent exerting over and over on Turner’s account.

        We used to have a feature built into the forum software that allowed us to ignore certain posters.

        I really wish that we had that back.Report

        • greginak in reply to pillsy says:

          Yeah i get that. But it is a tactic of “provocateurs” or as they are known in regular person language, trolls, to just try to rile people up. Not that George doesn’t believe in his stuff. But poopposting or just throwing out all sorts of silly arguments is a tactic. It may take work to avoid that tactic. But falling for it is worse.Report

        • Michael Cain in reply to pillsy says:

          There’s a little “x in a box” next to commenters’ ‘nyms that hides the text from comments by the person whose ‘nym appears first on the line. Blank boxes are left behind with the name and a green x in a box that will bring back the comment text. It’s a global setting, so all comments by the commenter in all posts will be blanked until the reader unblocks them.

          Some care is required in interpretation. If the comment begins with the text

          pillsy in reply to greginak

          The x after greginak actually applies to pillsy. I haven’t solved this positioning problem yet.

          We have two pieces of code that want to modify the comment author string. One piece (mine) adds the “in reply to [comment-link]” string. The other (the plugin) adds the x in a box. I haven’t figured out how to tell WordPress to apply those pieces in the other order. I think I know how to fix it, I just have to find some time to try the experiment.

      • Saul Degraw in reply to greginak says:

        We used to have a lot more threads that went up to more comments. Now this is much more rare. Why?Report

        • InMD in reply to Saul Degraw says:

          I actually think that has more to do with the increasing number of posts about niche interests. Which is great, the more good essays the better, but I don’t think an article about comic books or super heroes is going to regularly drive long debates in the comments. Not when the dedicated folks are here for the politics.Report

        • Marchmaine in reply to Saul Degraw says:

          In 2020 people who have zoned out a bit will return with a mission… the presidential election. It’s happened that way the past couple of cycles… plus the regular ebb/flow of writers and commenters.Report

        • North in reply to Saul Degraw says:

          On a macro-environmental scale the blog-o-sphere, of which OT is a tiny part, has dwindled in importance on the internet in favor of the newer flavors of the day. There’re fewer people on our part o’ the internet. And I’d also endorse Marchmaine’s opinion too; things are cyclical.Report

    • JoeSal in reply to Saul Degraw says:


      Sauls supposed liberal ideology: We are all equal and have to learn to live together in blissful harmony.

      Actual Saul: Why are we putting up with these people!!!!Report

    • Mr.Joe in reply to Saul Degraw says:

      I take him seriously because there are a seriously lot of hims out there. It is an opportunity to see what I am later going to hear from other folks. It is useful to me to see what happens when there is pushback. If you can move George even a little, you have an argument that can be reused elsewhere. I don’t expect to convert George, just learn from him and better move about the world.Report

      • Mr.Joe in reply to Mr.Joe says:

        I realized that may come across condescending. It is not meant as such. I find the back and forth interesting, informative, and helpful. I would totally go have drink with him.Report

    • DensityDuck in reply to Saul Degraw says:

      I mean, why do we let people stay when all they do is post things like “Christ, you’re as pathetic as Joe was earlier. Seriously, how do you love with that amount of bullshit just, spewing”? I mean, you’re wondering why there isn’t as big of a commenting community, and here he’s chasing people away by being such a shit to them.Report

  8. Jaybird says:

    Andrew Yang knows what’s up:


    • InMD in reply to Jaybird says:

      Yang strikes me as the kind of leader we need but is so far from the one we deserve it isn’t even funny. Except maybe in a gallows humor sort of way.Report

      • pillsy in reply to InMD says:

        Yang needs to spend a couple terms in Congress.

        Has talent and some good ideas but needs to actually do some normie politics. I think he’d actually be good at it.Report

      • Marchmaine in reply to InMD says:

        If he’s the kind of leader we need, then he’ll spend the next 4-yrs building a political movement with people, policies and plans. One of the downsides of our current Party System coupled with the independent Presidency is that offers a sort of false prize thinking that the Presidency is key to all… so if you grab it the rest will follow.

        The opposite is true… the Presidency is only strong when it is the capstone of a movement, not the first step. That’s my not-so-secret critique of Obama… and it is made obvious by Trump. If one relies on the status quo of either party, then one can be a perfectly fine status quo president of middling power (but not transformative in any way).

        If Wang wants to be a transformative president, he needs the front of a pre-existing movement… not try to use the Presidency to create a movement.Report

        • North in reply to Marchmaine says:

          Endorsed without reservation. The Yang Gang is trying to skip doing their homework.Report

        • InMD in reply to Marchmaine says:

          I agree with all of the comments that followed mine, and I wasn’t being totally serious. One does not just become president, and one most certainly does not just become a president that is transformative.

          But I do appreciate the forward looking vision. It’s something that I find really lacking among the front runners. Maybe he will turn his 15 minutes of fame into a successful run for some other office. I think that would be a good thing.Report

          • Marchmaine in reply to InMD says:

            Hey, there’s no agreeing on the internet… so you take that back right now.

            My conundrum as I contemplate what new political parties would have to do to get traction is that its not at all clear to me that a guy like Yang should go to congress or even the senate. Those things certainly burnish one’s personal credentials (though honestly I think we over value them), but they don’t do the heavy lifting of putting the pieces in place for governing well should one convince enough people to let them try.

            So, there’s a decent chance the next “movement” might be some sort of Yang (or other person) led Silicon Valley thing… complete with think tanks, funding for policy experiments, candidates, and such… but that’s more what it would look like vs. the Yang Gang goes to Congress.Report

  9. LeeEsq says:

    Cancel culture sounds like something out of Stalin’s Russia, where a person is literally whipped off the face of the earth. Not only are they killed but every trace of them is gone. No more records, photos, works, etc. We haven’t seen that. Instead we have a bunch of relatively to very high status people freaking out that somebody is being mean to them on twitter.Report

  10. Saul Degraw says:

    Garret Epps writes about America’s goodly veneer being stripped away:

  11. pillsy says:


    Just yesterday SSC posted a long form article that obliquely touches on this.

    Short form: Transformative intellectual movement pivots to new movement in and around 2012. Its worth reading because it captures what you describe and plausibly addresses the uptick and the timeframe.

    That is a good take. There are, of course, holes to be poked, but still I think there’s a lot that’s right about it.

    Since one good take deserves another, I feel like I should offer a take on the subject of my own. However, I don’t think I have a good take, so I’m gonna roll with this bad one:

    The reason New Atheism went away is “Elevatorgate”.

    This was something of a numbing controversy over a male convention-goer inviting a female convention-goer up to his room in an elevator, a move that she found rude and creepy. She complained about it the next day and for whatever reason all hell broke loose.

    ISTR this was actually one of the things that inspired the whole “Atheism Plus” bit, but I could have my timelines scrambled.

    Now, I’m not going to bore you with my opinions of the object level controversy, since you can probably guess them with reasonable accuracy.

    What I will say is that it indicated that there was a critical flaw in the ability of New Atheism to sustain itself as a subculture, especially one that might be expected to fill at least some of the social role that religion often does.[1] In particular, social functions devoted to New Atheism were a terrible place to find a date.[2]

    This made it unfit for purpose for its young-skewing audience, especially as they graduated from college and moved away from many of the other networks that would allow them to find dates.

    And look, while I don’t think this theory is likely to hold up, I think it would explain a lot about what the remnants of the movement turned into.

    [1] My ongoing contention is that religion provides a thick bundle of benefits (and some drawbacks to go with them) but the metaphysical and moral beliefs are among the least important.

    [2] I think this conclusion follows from the existence of the controversy, regardless of where your sympathies lie.Report

    • Marchmaine in reply to pillsy says:

      Sure… he’s kinda just restating Durkheim and providing an origin story to this new religion.

      “A religion is a unified system of beliefs and practices relative to sacred things, that is to say, things set apart and forbidden – beliefs and practices which unite into one single moral community called a Church, all those who adhere to them.”

      The irony, of course, it that the new religion still can’t solve virtue problems.

      I look forward to a future Socrates querying a future Glaucon on what Racism really is; and why is it if we know what it is that we cannot avoid it; or having identified its counter virtue why a mother cannot pass it to her daughter.

      Coming up with the sacred things is the easy part.Report

    • Jaybird in reply to pillsy says:

      Yeah, here’s what I said then:

      To put a finer point on it, Christianity provided a Schelling Point. Having a Schelling Point that allows strangers to coordinate with each other is one of those really, really, really, really good things.

      There were some really, really, really, really bad things that were going on in Mainstream Religion but, we’re finding out, those bad things are sort of part and parcel with people being in the same room as each other rather than part and parcel with religion.

      So we damage religion and keep the “being in the same room as each other” and we find that religion provided a handful of good things and now we don’t have that handful of good things anymore.

      Which is, of course, not to say that Mainstream Christianity is the only thing that could have provided a Schelling Point.

      Just that there are no new Schelling Points that are similarly noticeable from a distance. The old Schelling Point wasn’t good because it represented Truth. It was good because it was a Schelling Point.Report

    • LeeEsq in reply to pillsy says:

      I think what made the New Atheism go away is that the more liberal and left-leaning people in it were growing uncomfortable with the strident anti-Islam elements in it. They weren’t necessarily believers but lots of liberal and left-leaning folks felt a lot of sympathies towards what Muslims were going through in the West at the time and didn’t like the entire debacle with Iraq II. Many of the more strident New Atheists wanted to go after Islam with the same vigor that they went after Christianity and saw no reason to give Islam or any other religion quarter.Report

      • DensityDuck in reply to LeeEsq says:

        in other words, Exactly What SSC Said, that it stopped being “atheism is how you are Against Sin” and started being “anti-racism is how you are Against Sin”.Report

  12. InMD says:

    @pillsy @marchmaine

    Going down here for threading. As much as I appreciate Scott Alexander this part of @north’s comment gets closer to why I don’t find this particular post 100% convincing:

    ‘I honestly don’t know if PC woke ism would have escaped the rarified hothouses of academia to flourish online in the absence of the Republican right losing their damned minds.’

    Maybe some of the rules of discourse came from the New Atheism. I don’t really know. But what the analysis misses is the media environment and economic forces driving it that helped these concepts get a foothold outside of universities.

    What I see is market forces working to build a profitable brand to rival the brands built around conservative identity as literally sold by Fox News, talk radio, and Conservative ™ media. This is where I differ from North some. The Republican strategy towards Obama was probably an accelerator but I see the roots as the successful and very profitable creation of the conservative media ecosystem in the 90s. Woke-ism is a means of creating a Pepsi to battle conservative Coca Cola.

    Think about what right-wing media does. It doesn’t cater to a coherent politics or one that really cares about the practical policy outcomes or principles in play. It does however turn its consumers into hardcore brand evangelists, to the point that they’ve successfully taken over the GOP. Woke-ism appeals to the same narcissism of identity and touches all of the same buttons.

    Whether it can be as successful as the conservative brand is not yet clear to me, but it’s no coincidence that the PoMo/intersectionality/identity obsessed stuff is a cornerstone. Like the other brand its important that the adherents (really we should say consumers) have their tummies rubbed and are told they must at all times be catered to and anyone who doesn’t must secretly be in cahoots with the other brand.

    What I’m about to write sounds more melodramatic than I mean it to be but I think this is very much our politics on 21st century consumerist capitalism. Someone asked what woke capitalism would look like and I think this is it. Elevation of consumer identity above everything else to the point that the mere suggestion that your personal identity might not be catered to at all times is shocking and offensive.Report

    • Chip Daniels in reply to InMD says:

      Interesting idea.

      If we define our politics as a clash of identities, then the immediate question is what are these identities, what defines their boundaries?

      I think its clear that the right wing identity is defined by a belief in hierarchical society where white males are at the apex.

      What would be a definition of their opposite tribe?Report

      • InMD in reply to Chip Daniels says:

        I think this misses the mark on what the conservative brand actually is, and part of the new woke brand (maybe we can call it New Woke) depends on not being able to see clearly what the conservative brand actually is.

        But it isn’t race-based hierarchy in any policy sense, it’s adherence to a certain set of cultural norms, priorities, and ways of talking about the world. This includes some big, in a lot of cases willful blindness on the complications of race in America but it isn’t building apartheid South Africa or rebuilding Jim Crow. Those would be coherent political goals and I’m not sure they really have any beyond electing people who talk about the world the way their media ecosystem talks about the world, regardless of what they actually do with power. See Trump, Donald.

        Which is how you can look at what the New Woke would probably do if it ever achieves anything like the success Conservative(tm) has. It would empower people who talk about the world the way they do, but attempts at policy would look as dumb as the Green New Deal and be complete non-starters as they crash headlong into reality. My guess is they’d eventually stop doing much policy altogether, not unlike how the GOP has, and put primary focus on selling the brand and being a brand spokes-gender-identity-pronoun.Report

        • Chip Daniels in reply to InMD says:

          You may not believe that Republicans are engaged in white supremacy, but white supremacists sure do.Report

          • InMD in reply to Chip Daniels says:

            I don’t know what that means or how it matters in context of this discussion.Report

            • Chip Daniels in reply to InMD says:

              What I’m saying is that the conservative brand IS white male supremacy, in either open or camouflaged versions.

              The woke brand doesn’t seem to have a matching symmetrical version.Report

          • Oscar Gordon in reply to Chip Daniels says:

            Please read this line again:

            “… I’m not sure they really have any beyond electing people who talk about the world the way their media ecosystem talks about the world, regardless of what they actually do with power.”Report

            • pillsy in reply to Oscar Gordon says:

              I mean they seem to be pretty enthusiastic about the cruel and bigoted way that Trump is managing immigration enforcement, which is one of the areas where the power of the Executive Branch is barely constrained.

              Trump’s a terribly inept President, which is mostly better than the alternative, but where he has been able to use power, he’s used it in a way that white nationalists find very cromulent, and they don’t seem at all indifferent to that fact.Report

              • Oscar Gordon in reply to pillsy says:

                Right, Trump is doing that. And the GOP is backing him because of brand loyalty. But if some other GOP was in the Oval Office, who didn’t want to be cruel to immigrants, etc., I doubt the rest of the GOP politicos would be pushing for that kind of cruelty, because my guess is that it’s not a driver of political engagement/voting/contributions.

                In short, being cruel is not what the majority of Conservative brand followers care about. They won’t go to the polls and donate money over it. A vocal subset may take a disturbing amount of enjoyment in it, but it’s not a driver.

                Much like the left might enjoy seeing conservative politicians who oppose gay rights and pound the gavel over ‘family values’ being outed as LGBTQ or as adulterers; but they won’t go to the polls to push for laws or investigations into every such politician in order to dig up the dirt they know is there (because every accusation is an admission).Report

              • pillsy in reply to Oscar Gordon says:

                I mean you say that they won’t go to the polls or donate money over it, but Trump went up against a bunch of other Republicans who weren’t offering that and beat them handily in the race for the nomination.

                Now some of this was due to institutional rot and cravenness on the part of his opponents. But at the end of the day he got a sizable plurality of the Republican primary vote.

                And since then, the needs of brand loyalty have eaten away at the norms against racism and xenophobia on the Right like acid.Report

              • Chip Daniels in reply to Oscar Gordon says:

                “I doubt the rest of the GOP politicos would be pushing for that kind of cruelty,”

                Where would we see evidence of this assertion?

                Wherever Republicans hold uncontested power, e.g. Georgia and Alabama, the infliction of cruelty is precisely their brand.
                Drug testing welfare applicants, transvaginal probes, bathroom laws…Joe Arpaio ran a gulag system of tent prisons enthusiastically based on tormenting prisoners with pointless cruelty.
                These are all places where Donald Trump has absolutely no legal power.

                These laws are invented and enforced by non-Trump Republicans.Report

              • InMD in reply to pillsy says:

                I think they (hate groups, neo-nazis, etc) are enthusiastic about the cruelty.

                But even where they are consumers of the brand they aren’t the ones who run it or even who its primary marks or adherents are.Report

              • pillsy in reply to InMD says:

                The fact that Trump won the nomination on the strength of his explicitly cruel and bigoted immigration policies suggests otherwise. Roughly 40% of the GOP is racist AF, and they’re the part of the party that is holding the whip hand in the post-Trump era.Report

              • George Turner in reply to pillsy says:

                I remember the hilarity when Trump said he’d have INS buses ship all the illegals to woke cities. Hearing them scream bloody murder was golden. ^_^Report

              • pillsy in reply to George Turner says:

                OK can someone explain how George’s rank dishonesty on this subject, as with so many others, is helpful for avoiding a monoculture?Report

              • JoeSal in reply to pillsy says:

                Which part is dishonest?

                that Trump said he would do the action.

                that there was ever a option to do the action.

                that the action was ever done

                the screams of bloody murder

                or it was goldenReport

              • pillsy in reply to JoeSal says:

                The screams of bloody murder (those mostly originated from within DHS, not from the targeted districts) and that it was ever an option (since the internal objections suggested that it was illegal).Report

              • JoeSal in reply to pillsy says:

                I think there were forms of protest, but not out and out screams of bloody murder.

                The option probably gets into legal weeds that some would say oh yeah it’s def legal, or illegal, and then when put through the actual process would likely resolve in a unexpected way.

                So the truth component of screams of bloody murder are for sure questionable.

                I think the option part would be a ‘yet to be determined’ as far as a truth component.Report

              • pillsy in reply to JoeSal says:

                No, I mean he actually had the DHS and ICE refusing to implement the policy because they thought it was illegal. That’s why it never happened, not protests from the Dems.

                Which were, I would point out, rooted (quite accurately) in the costs that would be inflicted on the actual immigrants being bussed into the cities without any sort of accommodations or social networks.Report

              • InMD in reply to pillsy says:

                This kind of gets at what I mean and is a really good example of ‘talking like people in their ecosystem.’

                But it isn’t really policy or clearly feasible, even at the helm of the executive branch of the federal government.Report

              • George Turner in reply to pillsy says:

                If illegals are so great, and more is better, why would Trump’s statement be a threat? Ponder on that.Report

              • pillsy in reply to George Turner says:

                Because he was going to be releasing them without funding or housing in places where they had neither family nor social connections to provide them with employment, et c.

                You fucking imbecile.Report

              • DensityDuck in reply to pillsy says:

                “You fucking imbecile.”


                guess this is one of those failure modes that undercuts discussion in environments specifically constructed to have diversity of opinion, huh?Report

              • pillsy in reply to DensityDuck says:

                Precisely so. I have zero inclination to play nice with George when he pulls his dishonest MAGA bullshit.Report

              • North in reply to pillsy says:

                Eh, so setting George’s inaccurate and poinless trip down non-sequitur lane aside I think it boils down to the GOP being composed of 4 groups:
                1-The racists who actually believe racist shit.
                2-The post-racists who don’t believe racist shit but think racism is so overused by liberals that they either ignore the charge or think the reverse when it’s levied (probably also includes the own the libs faction).
                3-The users who don’t believe racist shit and believe what the racists believe is racist but either know or intuit that their coalition is defunct without those appeals and so either remain silent or fall in with the post racists in order to win.
                4-The low info voters who don’t believe racist shit who vote republican out of habit and just don’t pay attention to most of the racism charges.
                How the party divides up between the four groups is hard to say. I’d definitely hazard to guess that group #4 is the largest and group #3 is the smallest but I don’t know where to guess groups #1 or 2 land or how many of them there are.Report

              • JoeSal in reply to North says:

                Just for the record, which of these groups is least likely to be tied to a chair and told how wrong they are for several hours by the Good Society?

                asking for a friendReport

              • North in reply to JoeSal says:

                Since Good Society doesn’t exist and isn’t tying anyone to chairs and telling them how wrong they are (the woke think rope is colonialist and racist); I think the answer to your question is that all four groups are equally likely to have that happen- which is to say not likely at all.Report

              • InMD in reply to North says:

                I think #4 is by far the biggest, followed by #2 who are the drivers of the brand. #3 are the country club RINOs still overrepresented in the power structures but virtually non-existent in the rank and file. The #1s are out there and cheering on the worst inclinations of the #2s but are electorally insignificant and of questionable loyalty (to the GOP), intelligence, and sanity.Report

              • JoeSal in reply to North says:

                Woo, that’s good to know, as it being 2019 the thought of re-education camps existing might be looked on as a grim marker in time.Report

      • Jaybird in reply to Chip Daniels says:

        what defines their boundaries?

        School districts.Report

    • JoeSal in reply to InMD says:

      The problem is that capitalists cracked the code and the code doesn’t match what the left wants it to be. Subjective value exists, and it does so whether the Good Society wants it to or not. Subjective value is individual based.

      American classical liberalism had a much higher subjective value when it included a higher degree of subjective values based around individual sovereignty. As it has drifted away from those tenets, it has lessened in value. Every degree of separation liberalism adopts away from individual sovereignty for all, the quicker it loses it’s subjective value.

      The GOP doesn’t have to be especially good at what it offers, but it just has to keep it’s subjective value a marginally bit higher than the current forms of liberalism, which of late is becoming easier as liberalism picks up tenets of punition.

      Even in the progression of law, if one looks at what Bastiat writes in The Law, what we have now is very much the opposite. Also in his descriptions of the choices of plunder, he predicted how this would play out.

      Ayn Rand somewhat echoed this in her thoughts on Objective Law. We went from basic bundling of individual rule of law to a never ending multitude of preventive laws, which makes the decay of our Justice systems inevitable. It brings in direct conflict the rule of laws of the individuals, with the iron laws of institutions, decreasing the subjective values.Report

    • pillsy in reply to InMD says:

      Whether it can be as successful as the conservative brand is not yet clear to me, but it’s no coincidence that the PoMo/intersectionality/identity obsessed stuff is a cornerstone. Like the other brand its important that the adherents (really we should say consumers) have their tummies rubbed and are told they must at all times be catered to and anyone who doesn’t must secretly be in cahoots with the other brand.

      I think the argument that Obama is making here explains why it won’t be. In its current form, it’s too exacting and exhausting for its participants to keep up with. I mentioned this elsethread to JoeSal, but if you look at actual SJ Left-focused communities, both offline and (especially) online, they tend to explode into fiery ruin over small disagreements.

      That part, the unforgiving demand for purity, is genuinely bad, but it’s also self-limiting. Most people just aren’t going to be eager to sign up for it, and the folks who really do go that route will often come to regret it.

      “Woke capitalism” will, of necessity, be watered down, so that people can comfortably consume it. We’ve already seen signs of that.

      I don’t know if it will ultimately be tenable, but if it isn’t, it will probably have more to do with the desire to make money in a global marketplace that’s inhospitable to the values of liberals than anything else.Report

      • Oscar Gordon in reply to pillsy says:

        The benefit the Moral Majority (whose legacy is at the heart of the Conservative brand) had was hierarchical authority. If there was a disagreement, it lasted until Billy Graham (or equivalent) stepped in and settled it, then everyone else fell in line.

        New Woke doesn’t have that kind of authority.Report

        • Jaybird in reply to Oscar Gordon says:

          New Woke doesn’t even have required reading.Report

        • pillsy in reply to Oscar Gordon says:

          Right, and without that kind of authority, you will, of necessity, need something milder and less exacting.

          Of course, for all that people complain that this stuff is essentially unknowable and ever-changing, once it gets to the point where it’s popular enough to affect people outside of the SJ Left, it’s actually pretty freaking straightforward. It’s just that a lot of people don’t like the underlying norms.Report

          • Oscar Gordon in reply to pillsy says:

            Let’s face it, people like being dicks to each other. Nobody likes it when their preferred method of being a dick is de-normed. That requires work to find new ways of being a dick that are acceptable.Report

      • North in reply to pillsy says:

        I definitly agree with Pillsy that new woke ism is likely too ill defined to survive in our liquid modern world in any dangerous degree. The fact that school administrators, businesses and other authority figures leap all over woke social stuff is kindof the proof. It is really really easy.

        Cutting costs for people or improving things materially? Making trade offs between competing goods? That shit is hard! Mouthing a few popular nostrums and indulging some some vacuous dumb virtue signalling that boils down to “be nice and courteous to people even if you think they’re behaving crazily?” That is so fishing easy! Businesses are all over it because it’s cheap! They can print wokeisms and require a few toothless classes for their employees and *ding* they’re woke! Hurrah! Add in that the only victims are basically unpopular declining social right wing constituencies that the “elites” are already inclined to be not particularly nice to? It’s a no brainer for people in leadership positions to coddle the woke.

        So woke is easy, and ill defined, which is why modernity will dissolve woke like food coloring into a bathtub. It’ll just be a little different branding.Report

    • Marchmaine in reply to InMD says:

      The Republican party is post-modern. [Sotto voce, so are Evangelicals, they are the first post moderns].

      I think there’s an unexplored implication that all (Political?) thought is post-modern and that both parties have in fact lost their minds. If Alexander is correct (or at least on to something) what we’re experiencing is the post-modern creation of the new sacred ideas around which our politics will coalesce.

      If I were to push on Alexander a bit, I’d suggest that the New Atheists didn’t just convert to Atheism+ and go off in another direction… they managed to also destroy core elements of conservatism and they’ve converted to Atheism* (usually post-modern Alt-right).

      So, like the original analogy of Sparta… when we look back we won’t see any New Atheist structures, we’ll just see the same brands: Liberal/Conservative but they will be Atheist+ and Atheist*

      Both parties are PoMo/Intersectional/Identity based… but the problem with those politico-philosophical habits is that they never (because they cannot) refer to “good” as anything other than what you can instantiate via power. Good has been deconstructed. Personally I put consumer capitalism in the “effect” category, not “cause” category… it is powerless to do anything other than gratify wants. What we want? That’s going to be determined by Atheist+ and Atheist* and their fight over the “good”… possibly emerging as some sort of synthesis Atheist$.

      Melodrama is the theme for this new thread.Report