What the Houston Astros Teach Democrats About 2020

Brandon Isleib

Brandon has written a baseball book, has playtested a video game for a living, has written a law that gives specific powers to himself, and is proficient at making his bio sound more impressive than it is. He is @restlessmosaic on Twitter for non-baseball content and @baseballspotlit for baseball content.

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79 Responses

  1. Chip Daniels says:

    Three years into his presidency, and we have data on this question.

    10% of Wisconsin dairies have closed. Coal mines in West Virginia are dwindling just as they did before. The factories in Ohio, Pennsylvania and Michigan haven’t reopened. The foreign wars still drag on and young men still come home in a bag.
    The singular delta in this presidency is that the billionaire elite are richer now than before.

    Yet Trump’s base has not abandoned him in any appreciable numbers. He hasn’t gained a single vote, but hasn’t lost much either.

    The question of what sort of pain it would take for his base to abandon him requires us to ask what they prioritize. What benefits does he currently give them, and what price are they willing to pay to get it?Report

    • Marchmaine in reply to Chip Daniels says:

      I’m always mildly interested in the business of farming… having tried my hand at a few small scale projects I learned some interesting lessons about the costs of growing animals and their value in the market.

      It is true that Wisconsin dairy farms are closing (farm products are astoundingly underpriced – producers are profoundly unhappy with the power alignments among giant distributors, but that’s another story)… what’s odd is hearing that tariffs/Trump have something to do with it. The Ur source appears to be this NYT(!) article The money quote(ation) being:

      “Wisconsin is known as “America’s Dairyland,” but the milk makers who gave the state its moniker are vanishing, falling prey to a variety of impediments, including President Trump and his global trade war.”

      However, Kevin Drum in MotherJones does a pretty good job of illustrating that the NYT article is, in his words, innumerate(!).

      Moreover, the NYT article cites a price of $16.80/cwt while the current price is $22.40 (Nov2019)… which is the highest its been since 2014… and, this is important, the “Milk Bubble” which popped in 2015 and has nothing to do with Trump or Tariffs. Here’s a USDA chart of Wisconsin dairy prices since 1909… prices are down since 2015 (Obama) with 2019 showing strong rebound. If prices go even higher owing to the new NAFTA then quite possible Wisconsin will see campaigning on the success of the Trade Wars.

      So if DNC is basing a strategy on Farmsplaining the Dairy situation to Wisconsin farmers via NYT, prepare for disappointment. Apropos the argument of the OP… producers are looking for people who will break-up what they see (and are) giant multi-national cartels of distributors/processors driving down their raw prices. The cartel of distributors are the NYT clients and the audience they are addressing…they have a lot of money, but very few votes – they are the Charlie O. Finleys and Trump is the Steinbrenner.

      Maybe both are bastards, but don’t align with the Finleys… offer a better team than Steinbrenner.Report

      • Marchmaine in reply to Marchmaine says:

        moderation for links.Report

      • George Turner in reply to Marchmaine says:

        The reason for Wisconsin’s dairy woes are all those liberals sipping soy lattes instead of drinking milk. Milk consumption is at an all time low.

        Interestingly, at Trump’s huge Wisconsin rally the other night, only 42% of people in the stadium were Republicans.

        57.8% of registrants identified as either Democratic or Independent.

        Democrats have tried to make him toxic, but they obviously failed with everyone but hard-core coastal elites.Report

        • Chip Daniels in reply to George Turner says:

          Wisconsin does not register voters by party.

          So this is entirely self-reporting, from known liars.Report

          • George Turner in reply to Chip Daniels says:

            Well, at least you seem to acknowledge that Wisconsin is one of the states that will be voting in 2020, so that’s progress!

            Now why on Earth would someone at a Trump rally in Wisconsin tell people there that he’s a Democrat if he’s not?

            Based on those numbers, and state polling regarding impeachment, it’s probably safe to go ahead and put Wisconsin in the “Trump wins” column, probably along with Minnesota and Pennsylvania, and very likely Virginia because after Northram’s antics, even Republican’s on gurneys with IV drips will be rolling into the polling booth.Report

        • Marchmaine in reply to George Turner says:

          Heh… even industry rags cite changing consumer tastes… though they don’t call out liberal soy lattes, rather right-wing sports drinks…

          “Then markets tumbled [2015].

          China realized it had imported too much milk powder. Russia, for political reasons, banned most food imports from the United States and Western Europe. The domestic market was awash in milk, and it didn’t help that consumer tastes were changing to favor a wide range of other beverages such as sports drinks.

          Agriculture, like other businesses, is cyclical. In dairy that has usually meant a year of high prices, followed by a year of average prices, then a year of poor prices. “Report

          • George Turner in reply to Marchmaine says:

            As I mentioned yesterday, Trump’s trade deal with China has them agreeing to up their import of US agriculture products by $12.5 billion next year, and much more the next, so that we’ll sell them almost twice what we did before Trump’s trade war started. The real question is whether American farmers will get tired of so much winning. ^_^Report

            • Jaybird in reply to George Turner says:

              Next year is next year.

              If they start importing in June 2020, that’s good for Trump.

              If they start importing in February 2021, that’ll be awesome for Biden.Report

              • George Turner in reply to Jaybird says:

                Ag products generally don’t sit in a silo for a year or two. The imports shouldl be starting almost immediately because the Chinese market just opened up and perishable and non-perishable food will be moving towards the loading docks. That should have an almost immediate ripple effect as supply and demand rebalance, the futures market shifts, new market forecasts come out prior to planting season, etc.

                So my bet is that there won’t be any farmland dissatisfaction for Biden (or whoever) to exploit, and thus no chance of using it to flip any farm states.Report

              • Jaybird in reply to George Turner says:

                Until they do, this is just another promise. When the money starts rolling in is when the dairy exporters can officially sigh with relief and look at how things turned around.

                And you probably want the money to be steady enough for long enough for the exporters to say “yeah, I don’t want to switch horses in midstream” than “the pendulum swings too often and the chaos is too nervewracking”.Report

            • This sham of a trade deal only marginally changes the status quo from what it was when President Trump came into office, and also you have to include the more than $30 Billion the president had to dish out to US farmers to cover the self-made losses while this charade was going on last few years. That is a poor definition of “winning”Report

              • George Turner in reply to Andrew Donaldson says:

                If doubling our exports to China isn’t in the win column, what is? Trump didn’t put tariffs on US products going to China, China did, like they always have. Our farmers didn’t like it and Trump said he would change it. He did so, where no other President had stood up to them. The Chinese screamed bloody murder, and then buckled. Trump won that one for our farmers and for our factory workers. Even union people are celebrating.

                The negativity just shows how far out of touch with farmers and factory workers the Democrat party has become. To a great many people, they seem to only cheer when the US loses and working people lose hope. That’s a horrible long-term political position.Report

              • The entire first part of your reply is fantasy. The Chinese got everything they wanted while only giving up things they were going to anyway. I’m not in the Democratic Party nor am I out of touch. I can, however, read, and I do read more than just the soundbites and look at the actual agreement, as well as the both the Chinese and American readouts. You should do so before proclaiming things that are not so.Report

        • This entire comment is wrong, both in premise and facts.Report

          • Aaron David in reply to Andrew Donaldson says:

            I don’t know Andrew, the article George quoted is pretty clear:

            Several days ago, Trump’s campaign manager Brad Parscale posted statistics from last week’s rally held in Toledo, OH, which showed that 43% of attendees identified as either Democratic or Independent. I called that figure “stunning” in a recent post.

            But the same statistic from Trump’s Tuesday night rally in Wisconsin can only be described as staggering. 57.8% of registrants identified as either Democratic or Independent.

            Do you have better info on this?Report

      • Chip Daniels in reply to Marchmaine says:

        I’ll have to take your word for it since I only know what I read in the papers. And of course, there is never a single source for any market woes, from coal to autos to dairy, they all are subject to many sources of success or failure, trade policies being only one.

        But would it be fair to say that Trump has failed to help them, and by “them” I mean coal miners/ faremrs/ factory workers?

        Is there even any sort of idea of a glimmer of a plan to help them?

        Or is the plan to just shake their fist at the liberals and shout at clouds?Report

        • George Turner in reply to Chip Daniels says:

          Trump has gone to extremes to protect American workers. Democrats keep screaming about those things, while the workers keep listening to him, and looking at their bigger paychecks, and looking at their IRA’s.

          But even absent that, even if Trump was as hands-off as George HW Bush, determined to let nature takes it course and content to watch Japan eat into the American auto market because of long-overdue Darwinism, Trump would still have a huge advantage because he wouldn’t be campaigning on throwing American’s out of work because of “fairness” and “responsibility” and “climate change”. Obama laughed at Trump’s plan to bring back American manufacturing jobs, saying “What’s he gonna do, wave a magic wand?” Well, to folks who don’t understand technology and economics, everything looks like magic.

          When moderates watch the Democratic debates, they’re seeing candidate after candidate announce plans to wipe out or badly damage whole sectors of US jobs. “I will ban fracking!” “I will eliminate the health insurance industry!” “I will eliminate the internal combustion engine!” A whole lot of happily employed voters hear that and the back of their mind thinks “If these people win, I’m going to be standing in the unemployment line and applying for welfare and public housing.”

          On one level, Trump is running on hope, patriotism, optimism, and lots of humor, while Democrats are running on gloom and doom, hatred, and resentment. They rarely even smile, and seem to even hate each other. These intra-party attacks are of course a flip from 2016 when Republicans had to stab at each other while Hillary sailed to the nomination because she and Wassermann-Schultz had rigged the primaries. Yet she still lost.

          Obama must be grinding his teeth just watching the unfolding disaster, as “Hope and Change” fades to a quirky period fad that’s not in fashion anymore – except with Republicans who took it to another level entirely.Report

        • Marchmaine in reply to Chip Daniels says:

          Great question. Good news, there’s definitely a strategy that could exploit those concerns.

          As I mentioned above, the biggest concern that separates Producer/Farmers is the consolidated Agriculture Industry.

          “The Trump administration chose meatpacking giants over farmers in USDA proposal”

          “Chicken Farmers Thought Trump Was Going to Help Them. Then His Administration Did the Opposite”

          The tricky thing is that the Agriculture Industry is Neo-Lib NYT constituents (Money)… but the Farmer/Producers are MAGA FoxNews constituents (Votes). So, the answer isn’t MOAR GLOBAL TRADE. It’s going after the moneyed winners… the front row people… the new Democrats.

          That’s a message the Democratic party used to make, could theoretically make… but hasn’t been making. And even when Obama was taking baby steps in that direction, it was fundamentally too little and too deferential to Consolidated Ag interests. So, yes, there are votes to get, but it will put at risk money… and likely will result in higher food costs, which runs contrary to a number of other liberal constituency interests.

          TLDR: Tariff shaming plays well in all the wrong circles, because it isn’t the fundamental problem as perceived by the producers/farmers.Report

          • Chip Daniels in reply to Marchmaine says:

            Who in 2020 do you see as “going after the moneyed winners”?

            Biden? Bernie? Warren? Trump?Report

            • Marchmaine in reply to Chip Daniels says:

              Whom do I see? Who cares?

              Who convinces Wisconsin voters that they care?

              I think Trump is very vulnerable on Trumpian terms… but I’m not seeing Team Blue make those pitches. You asked, I gave you specific examples. Trump made those kinds of promises and failed to deliver… should be a lay-up.Report

              • Chip Daniels in reply to Marchmaine says:

                The good thing about such a large cast of Dem candidates is that a lot, a whole lot, of messages have been given a test run.
                UBI, M4A, Neo-New Dealism, Obama-ism 2.0 etc.

                I don’t think any of them have garnered a statistically significant number of disaffected Trump voters. Because Trump hasn’t lost a statistically significant number of votes.

                I don’t see any evidence to suggest that anyone, anywhere, supports Trump because of economic concerns.

                He is a one trick pony. But that pony is pretty strong.Report

              • Marchmaine in reply to Chip Daniels says:

                It is true that I am not wise in the ways of the DNC, but the “Hey, we’ve thrown a lot of (conflicting) national slogans at you” gambit might be as dispositive as you seem to think.

                What *is* the pitch to Wisconsin going to be?

                I mean, I’ve flat out said I think Democrats *can* make a pitch to Wisconsin… I don’t think the problem is Trump’s pony, I think the Democratic party is conflicted on what it’s interests are.Report

              • Chip Daniels in reply to Marchmaine says:

                Wisconsin reminds me of our discussions of coal mines, or steel mills and auto factories.

                Democrats have no shortage of wonkish proposals, and no shortage of Great Big Ideas which would all put more money in the pockets of these people.

                And the people are very responsive to these ideas, and enthusiastically vote Democrat.

                But…only some of the people.

                For example, somewhere in Ohio is a factory where the employees are a mix of white and black, male and female, Hispanic, and Asian, Christian and non-Christian.

                Statistically we know which of these working class people vote Democrat and which vote Republican.

                The Democrats and Republicans pitch their messages at the entire group of employees but some are responsive to Democratic ideas and some are responsive to Republican ideas.

                The idea of some fusion miracle snake charmer idea that draws support from both camps is delightful to dream about but at this point, no one can say it is for lack of effort.

                As we’ve seen in this very thread, for most Republicans the mere fact that an idea would benefit Democrats is itself reason to oppose it.Report

              • Marchmaine in reply to Chip Daniels says:

                I hear ya man… 63M enthusiastic votes; I can’t argue with that and I can’t imagine losing to Trump in 2020.

                Just let me know when you want your beer back.

                But seriously, I think its more than a little odd that you think it would take a “fusion snake charmer” to win a state that voted Blue in the seven (7) previous elections before Trump.

                When you vote in 2020, just remember to pull the lever harder this time.Report

              • Chip Daniels in reply to Marchmaine says:

                Well, I call it fusion snake charming that because no one has any actual ideas, just vague suggestion that will somehow seduce people whose sole motivation is hatred, to put that aside for a moment and remove Trump from office.Report

              • Jaybird in reply to Chip Daniels says:

                “seduce people whose sole motivation is hatred”

                Trump is going to be president forever.Report

              • Chip Daniels in reply to Jaybird says:

                So long as there are just enough people as you and I agreed up above, that are motivated solely by rage at the left, and lacking any positive agenda, Trump stands a good chance of winning.Report

              • Jaybird in reply to Chip Daniels says:

                This is why it’s important for Americans to visit other cultures. Without doing that sort of thing, you’re left with provincial insights like “they live like they do because they’re not as enlightened as I am”.Report

              • Chip Daniels in reply to Jaybird says:

                *Watches a few minutes of Hannity*

                Yeah, that’s about the size of it.Report

              • Jaybird in reply to Chip Daniels says:

                The problem is that people think that “multiculturalism” means “Epcot”.

                What it really means is “Topeka”.Report

              • Chip Daniels in reply to Jaybird says:

                *Glances at the City Council of Topeka*

                Yeah, that’s about the size of it.Report

        • DensityDuck in reply to Chip Daniels says:

          “of course, there is never a single source for any market woes, ”


          so when you said “Three years into his presidency, and we have data on this question. 10% of Wisconsin dairies have closed”, you…didn’t actually mean for that to imply anything about Trump?Report

          • Chip Daniels in reply to DensityDuck says:

            Trump certainly has something to do with it. Not all of it, but some of it. Tariffs are part of it, but also the economic and policy climate that favors massive corporate farms over family farms.

            But yes, I will admit to taking the NYT too credulously.Report

  2. “So what it will take for Trump’s fans to abandon him? The same thing it took this week for people to sit up fully and care about baseball cheating – make it affect them”

    Or … show that it is. Talk about how his tariffs are a massive tax hike on the middle class. Talk about how his health care “reforms” are making their insurance more expensive (if they can get it at all). Talk about how he’s running the country into incredible debt. Quit talking about his tweeting and unpleasantness and talk about how his policies are actually hurting people and setting us up for an economic crash.Report

  3. Saul Degraw says:

    Once again, this avoids the elephant in the room. Racism, racism, racism.

    In 2012, Romney made very tough hardline statements against undocumented immigrants and talked about making life so miserable for them that they “self-deport.” Lots of people did not believe him because he is also Mitt Romney. He looks like a country club Republican out of central casting. He was too fit, too smooth, too neat, too able to speak in full sentences.

    Trump by contrast is a vulgar slob and a blowhard in a bar. This does repeal some but it is also a feature too many. The distillation of own the libs. Plus it makes his threats seem real and there are tens of millions of people who agree with his corrupt view of things. This week we learned that Trump ranted against the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act in 2017:

    An example of large news: They report that in the spring of 2017, Trump implored Rex Tillerson, then secretary of state, to help him jettison the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act. “It’s just so unfair that American companies aren’t allowed to pay bribes to get business overseas,” Trump whines to a group of aides. Nearly every line from Trump, in “A Very Stable Genius,” is this venal.

    Lots of people think like Trump on this one. It is a kind of blustery, why are you so naive act to hide stupidity and ignorance.

    Then there are the existential crisis people. Rod Dreher wrote something recently about finding Democratic presidential contenders more decent than Trump but he is sticking with Trump because of abortion and he thinks gay people are icky. What he seemingly does not want to do is reexamine his views on abortion and LBGT people?

    The good news is that these people are a minority in the U.S. A large minority but a minority. Plus Trump’s vulgarity turns off enough people that Democrats won big in 2017-2019. But people who think like the above are not going to become Biden, Warren, or Sanders voters overnight.Report

    • Chip Daniels in reply to Saul Degraw says:

      Yes, per my comment above, racism is the benefit Trump feeds his base.

      In truth, almost no one feels any effect of the President on their experienced lives.
      From 2008-2016, for everyone here, how much of your life changed, and when it did, how much was attributable to Obama and how much to the governor of your state, or the mayor of your city, or any politician at all?

      But the bully pulpit is easy to feel and experience. Trump hurts and insults the people his base hates, so even if their farm is going bankrupt and their factory still closed, they can still savor the reality show style drama.Report

    • Lee Ratner in reply to Saul Degraw says:

      We avoid the elephant in the room because nobody wants to deal with consequences of acknowledging it. A lot of Americans are terrible.Report

  4. Aaron David says:

    Trump fans will give up on him when he stops fighting for things that they think are important.

    No more, no less.

    All the hand wringing bullshit that comes out of the left and never-Trumpers is just that. Bullshit. And until those groups figure that out, he will still be supported. All that could be effective gets lost in BS that spins up those two groups; impeachment, emoluments, Russia, piss hookers, etc. Indeed, those things go so far as to confirm to them that he is doing the right thing, and I can’t say I blame them. The actions of the left don’t make me like him, only serve to say that they are so unhinged as to be unfit for governance.

    50%-60% of all complaints about Trump are positional; “how dare my opponent do what I did 3 years ago!.” Those complaints are barely worth an eye roll. A further 25% are simply leftist complaints about anyone not on the left doing things that aren’t leftist. I am not a leftist, so I don’t care. 10% are aesthetic, which have no real bearing on the job. And yes, that leaves a handful of troublesome things. But, that is about par for the course of any president. I have never agreed with any president fully, and I am sure that I won’t in the future.

    Coming out of the wreckage of the Obama presidency, which included such things as assassinating US citizens, spying on the American people, spying on Congress, spying on the Media, invading Libya, it is no wonder people are not inclined to listen to “their betters.” Especially when those self-styled betters are so spun up with hatred that they cannot see straight.Report

    • Philip H in reply to Aaron David says:

      Oh please. He’s not fighting for his base at all. Tariffs drove dairy farms out of business and led to steel plants continuing to close. No new coal mines have opened and solar still employs ten times the people coal does. He gave massive permanent tax cuts to the rich and corporations, and temporary tax cuts to the middle class that are so small survey after survey finds people didn’t notice they had received them. His Justice Department is fighting hard to torpedo the Affordable Care Act without any replacement on deck, and it was House Democrats who had to bully him into worker wage protections in the new agreement with Mexico and Canada. And he’s about to ride the coat tails of the obama recovery into the ground with another recession (if economists actually are capable of predicting anything). The man is literally stealing money from Defense to build a wall that smugglers are cutting through regularly, and while there is steady job creation under his watch, Obama presided over 75 straight months of job creation. And sadly most of those jobs are low wage, which don’t mitigate any of effects of the growing wealth and income inequality in the US.

      But yeah, he curses like a sailor and he’s willing to call all sorts of people all sorts of names. We actually have names for people like him, but most liberals actually care enough about other people’s feeling to keep from using those names publicly.Report

      • Aaron David in reply to Philip H says:

        Who am I gonna believe? You? Or my lying eyes…Report

        • Philip H in reply to Aaron David says:

          An overweight, underintelligent blowhard isn’t fighting for anything except attention to sooth his own ego. And that’s the problem. Trump supporters have SOME valid economic grievances. They do need economic relief. They do need help adjusting to the rapidly changing world around them. But he’s not giving them any. He doesn’t care about them, only power and accolades. Which is why all he has for them is loud course words.Report

    • Chip Daniels in reply to Aaron David says:

      Aaron, you’re demonstrating exactly our thesis.

      That instead of Trump feeding his supporters anything tangible or positive, he feeds their hatred of the liberals and Democrats.

      Trump has exactly one benefit, and that is that he shares your contempt for the left.Report

      • Jaybird in reply to Chip Daniels says:

        Imagine arguing against this by lamenting.Report

        • Chip Daniels in reply to Jaybird says:

          Who is doing the lamenting here?

          The side whose President’s inaugural address was termed “American Carnage”?
          Whose rally speeches are like some bizarre free form poetry of incoherent rage?

          “I saw the best dudes of my generation destroyed by political correctness, starving hysterical naked,
          dragging themselves through the negro streets at dawn looking for an angry fix,
          angelheaded hipsters burning for the ancient heavenly connection to the steam powered catapults on aircraft carriers
          who poverty and tatters and hollow-eyed and high sat up smoking in the supernatural darkness of cold-water flats flushing ten times, I say ten times ten times floating across the tops of cities contemplating jazz,
          who bared their brains to Heaven under the El and saw Mohammedan angels cheering on tenement roofs illuminated by the fire of the Twin Towers…Report

          • Jaybird in reply to Chip Daniels says:

            You misunderstand.

            Your criticism of Aaron’s comment was to respond by agreeing with what he said, just rephrasing it in a way that made you feel like you weren’t agreeing with what he said.

            Because you didn’t disagree with him. You just didn’t like his framing.Report

            • Chip Daniels in reply to Jaybird says:

              So, we are all in agreement that the Trumpists are motivated solely by rage at the left, and lacking any positive agenda?Report

              • Jaybird in reply to Chip Daniels says:

                Yes. And that “50%-60% of all complaints about Trump are positional; “how dare my opponent do what I did 3 years ago!.” Those complaints are barely worth an eye roll. A further 25% are simply leftist complaints about anyone not on the left doing things that aren’t leftist. I am not a leftist, so I don’t care. 10% are aesthetic, which have no real bearing on the job. And yes, that leaves a handful of troublesome things. But, that is about par for the course of any president. I have never agreed with any president fully, and I am sure that I won’t in the future.”Report

              • greginak in reply to Jaybird says:

                If by handful of troublesome things you mean unprecedented corruption then it sounds like its’ time for a big ol group hug. But otherwise this is the endless minimization and excuse making for all of the things trump does. Even some of the aesthetic complaints are actually serious issues. Repeatedly calling the opposition traitors, mocking disabled people, etc are not nothing. The prez, for better or worse, is prez of us all and is a leader. There are things he needs to do as prez of us all. So even some of the aesthetics are part of the problem. And the massive corruption and attempts to manipulate elections. But other then that it’s just superficial stuff.Report

              • Jaybird in reply to greginak says:

                Without getting into the amount of precedent, the problem you have is that your moral arguments assume a shared moral base and your aesthetic arguments assume a shared aesthetic sensibility.

                And you don’t have the moral or aesthetic vocabulary to communicate about the disjoint, let alone the persuasion ability to persuade people to change even if you could speak to them using their language.

                Your best bet, barring figuring out how to communicate, is this impeachment going on right now.

                And if that fails, you’ve got an election coming up.

                Better figure out how to argue for your candidate. I’m not sure you know how to attack your opponent.Report

              • Chip Daniels in reply to Jaybird says:

                When someone’s entire message is “We hate you and refuse to treat you as equals”, I don’t think there exists any argument for persuasion.

                And given how badly our side wants to get to the polls and strike back, I think Trump himself is making our attacks for us.

                But hey, thanks for the concerned advice! We’ll take it from here.Report

              • Jaybird in reply to Chip Daniels says:

                I’ll ask you to re-familiarize yourself with this.

                When someone’s entire message is “We hate you and refuse to treat you as equals”, I don’t think there exists any argument for persuasion.

                I agree with this 100%.

                When someone defects against you, it makes perfect sense for them to start defecting back.Report

              • Chip Daniels in reply to Jaybird says:

                What’s funny is most of the complaints about Trump have nothing whatsoever to do with policy.

                Because, as everyone here agrees, he has none.

                There is no Trump economic policy, no Trump foreign policy, no Trump education policy, industrial policy, crime policy.

                Trump’s entire agenda is to use his power to enrich and empower himself, and he uses racism and cultural resentment as a tool.

                This is the gist of the articles of impeachment, and the gist of nearly any comment or tweet or blogpost about him.

                When abusing the power of your office is a “troublesome thing” you are pretty much giving up the ghost of having an argument.Report

              • Because, as everyone here agrees, he has none.

                The environment would like a word…Report

    • InMD in reply to Aaron David says:

      Here’s the thing and this echoes Michael’s point above; has Trump actually done anything for those people who seem most devoted to him?

      As far as I can tell the answer is mostly no, and that whatever his true intentions are, he lacks the competence and political skill to actually move the ball in the executive apparatus he’s in charge of. His own agencies won’t do much of what he campaigned on (certainly nothing they weren’t already doing or capable of doing under past precedent) and the Republicans in Congress won’t do anything he wants either except for the things they would in all cases do anyway (cut taxes for the rich, confirm boilerplate conservative judges).

      I don’t see how any of the ‘deplorables’ are doing any better than they were in 2015, yet this line of attack for some reason seems verboten.Report

      • Aaron David in reply to InMD says:

        I would simply say, Ask them. Don’t look to your own feelings, biases, and wants, but start honestly looking toward the right side of the aisle. Too many here don’t do that, indeed, too many of the left and never Trumpers. Because when I talk to my family members who are Trump supporters, they are very happy with him, for a variety of reasons.

        My brother, an architect, raves about the tax cuts, and he is no millionaire. He likes all the regulations that have been slashed, the judges. And, one of the main reasons, he fights. Many here take that as “owning the libs” or some such childishness, but as opposed to the last few R’s that have come up, this means a lot to them. This fighting back against the ever-encroaching blob that is the (to them) media/gov’t industrial complex.

        They love the fact that he is not of them and their machinery. And if you don’t spend time with people who actually think and discuss and ponder ideas such as this, you won’t get it. If you just spend time reading the news that is generally against him, or don’t read what his supporters say, and read it honestly, not hate-read, you will never get to the point of understanding. And, if I am right, you will lose in ’20.Report

        • InMD in reply to Aaron David says:

          Oh, I don’t think I’m in such a bubble. On balance more of my relatives voted for him than didn’t, even here in my ultra blue little enclave of the world.

          But you’re talking about perception, whereas I’m talking about substantive improvements in their lives and his specific promises. I think the perception from his true supporters is mostly positive and his more reluctant voters, while finding him crass, would still take him over the alternative in heartbeat. My dad is one such person, and when I asked him why he voted Trump he simply said ‘who else was there?’

          But the truth is those tax cuts for the middle class are miniscule, temporary, and do nothing towards the fundamental precariousness in which the working and middle class live. A few more bucks is always nice but household savings hasn’t changed a bit nor has preparedness for emergency expenses. He’s still the tool of a GOP establishment that would gut Medicare and Medicaid if it had the votes (and he’d sign off on it) despite specifically promising not to do that. We’re as involved in the ME as we were the day Obama left office, another broken promise. The regulatory environment is mostly at a stand still, and while that may make some people happy in a philosophical way I’m sure your brother knows that the vast majority of regulations that impact his life are state and local not federal. Also what happened to that healthcare plan that was to replace (and be better than) Obamacare? Oh yea, even his own party wouldn’t touch it and it turned out they had nothing in the first place. The media is paying more attention to the treatment of detained illegal aliens but it’s far from clear anything new is happening other than a massive influx overwhelming the system.
          Otherwise it probably isn’t that different from the last 2 administrations (you yourself have noted this).

          By any honest assessment of his accomplishments based upon his promises and stated agenda in the campaign he’s been a huge meh. But yes, he’s good at triggering the easily triggered, the pearl clutching intersectionalists (read respectable racists and sexists) stuck in their own class bubble. Indeed the perception of the people who support Trump is quite positive based on that alone. In that regard he himself is a true post modern president. He gets nothing done, helps no one, and his core supporters love it because they themselves, like most Americans of all stripes, just aren’t that smart or tuned into the world of public policy. He affirms their feelings no matter how irrational, is a star at drawing the boos and hisses of the enemy tribe, and Americans eat that shit up. They (We?) do it all at their own expense, while our government fails to adapt to a quickly coming globalized future.

          So to be clear about where I stand, I’m not against Trump because I’m liberal and he hurts my feelings. Real liberals are made of sterner, more principled stuff than the mewing critical studies class. And I’m also not so far removed from the average Trump voter as to find their motivations inscrutable.

          If you read my comments the last few days youll see I’m hardly certain the Democrats will win the next election. The way I’d fight Trump is very different than the way the leading voices in the Democratic party are. No one cares about Russia or Ukraine or his twitter feed. But I do think people care about the fact that the state has turned into a means of siphoning wealth upwards and prioritizing interests remote from those of the average citizen. In that respect Trump, for all his bluster and promises to shake things up is no different than the rest nor has he proven himself capable of doing anything new. He’s a sham just like the people he said he was out to defeat. If establishment Dems and Republicans hadn’t spent decades compromising principle there would be much better vehicles of opposing him.

          But please, let’s not pretend his supporters know jack that other people don’t. They’re being taken for a ride like the rest of us, and they hoot and holler and love it the whole way.Report

          • Aaron David in reply to InMD says:

            You say your father is going to vote for him, how does he feel about these things you bring up? The other members of your family? “But I do think people care about the fact that the state has turned into a means of siphoning wealth upwards and prioritizing interests remote from those of the average citizen.” When do those family members think this started? Soley with Trump? Or did it extend back further, Biden, Bush, Clinton and so on? Why do you think he is a sham? Do your relatives think about that? Or maybe they feel that is all part of the game, so why not a guy sticking it to the other team?

            But, honestly, why do you think Trump voters went that way? Say it is all a sham, are they confused? Are they as evil/bad as Chip and whatnot think? Did the country backslide on racism?

            Or do those things even matter to the ones who voted for him at all? Do they, your family, place the same values on them, racism and whatnot, as you do? And most importantly, do they think its a grift?

            (on a side note, there is one actual con-man in my family tree, my great grandfather. Thus, I generally have a very tight definition of the terms surrounding it.)Report

            • InMD in reply to Aaron David says:

              The big distinction you’ll see between me and Chip (and others with similar opinions to Chip on this issue) is I don’t think there’s some single, simple factor motivating Trump voters or that makes them particularly unique among the wider electorate. Some of them love his schtick, some of them see it as a deal with the devil, still more are just habitual R voters who have been and will continue to vote R forever. He did catch lightning in a few strategic corners of the Midwest/rust belt where successive administrations have been promising and failing to deliver help but they’ve been a semi-sleeping factor since Clinton was president.

              Most of my relatives who voted for him fall into that last category. They cast R votes for Trump in a safely blue state for presidential election but would probably all be perfectly happy with Larry Hogan or some other ‘RINO.’ It’s their team and they’re committed to it (interestingly my mother did defect, but that’s probably been a long time coming).

              As for the siphoning of wealth thing it depends on the sophistication of who I’m talking to. I would say there’s a general consensus that government resources are spent, lavishly on things from which they don’t benefit and by people who look down on them and their interests. Beyond that though these are individuals so when I ask what should be done you get all kinds of answers, from things that wouldn’t sound out of place at a Bernie Sanders rally to a vintage ‘anywhere but those people’ rant about welfare queens. I can say no one has been able to show me one thing they have now they didn’t before or how their lot has improved. Maybe deep down everyone knows they aren’t getting anything?

              As for my dad specifically? Lets just say I’ve been asking him since the W days when he last benefited from a Republican tax cut. He sees the humor in this but he’s been a Republican since the 70s and will be until he moves on from this life, which brings me to your ‘when did this all begin’ question. My view is it began well before Trump, probably approximately the end of the Cold War. Instead of adapting to a new world we’ve been stuck naval gazing and here we are now with the king of the knaves.

              I’m doing my best to hit all of your points so if you think all of this is a non-answer feel free to tell me and I’ll try to elaborate more. The thing you’ll notice I haven’t brought up is racism. That’s not because I don’t think that racism exists, or that it doesn’t still play a role in America politics. But I don’t really see it as a particularly decisive factor in the election of Trump. More important is the completion of tbe transition of politics to a big money media spectacle and the over-empowerment of the two big parties. When someone asks me if I think Trump voters are racist I say ‘well, which one’? Some definitely are and I don’t think Trump himself is exactly enlightened on the issue. But as I said in my last comment, I also think PoMo intersectionality is a highly racist, sexist ideology, no less so than the alt-right bogeyman (it doesn’t take much to see how many of the assumptions both of those camps share). None of this is helpful but in practice I think hyper-focus on the race angle misses the mark. The whole western world is going through a crisis of legitimacy in its systems of government, this is just our flavor of it. We have to find a way out.

              Hopefully this helps illustrate where I stand on this. By happenstance I’m going to a gathering this evening and I’m told a hardcore Trump fan acquaintance of mine will be there. I haven’t seen him in a year or so but maybe I’ll ask him how he thinks Trump is doing, as long as it doesn’t look like it’ll ruin the evening. As always drinking will be involved and while I like OT I won’t get a black eye on its account.Report

              • Chip Daniels in reply to InMD says:

                I have Trumpist relatives and friends as well.
                You’re right that overt racial hostility isn’t evident in many Trump supporters.
                But it never was, anywhere ever.

                Which becomes sort of a distinction without a difference.

                These are the Letter From Birmingham Jail people, the people Col. Jessup refers to when he says these people need him to do ugly things even if they don’t talk about it at parties.

                I read an anecdote once about a Jewish Holocaust survivor who moved back to her town in native Poland and a neighbor came to her and said “We’re so sorry to hear what happened to your people; But we never knew anything about it.”

                And the other woman said “Where did you think we all went?”
                The first woman shifted uncomfortably and mumbled “We just…thought..well, you left and went away somewhere.”

                That’s what we’re dealing with here. That Polish woman was very nice, very kind and totally not anti-Semitic. But she wasn’t about to lift a finger in opposition to it either.

                Somewhere one of these very kind non-racist and sweet-natured Trumpist’s gardener just, well, disappears along with his wife and kids. And they cluck their tongues sadly, and then check Craigslist to see how they can get another one who will work as cheaply.

                Injustice doesn’t need everyone’s participation, just their acquiescence.Report

              • InMD in reply to Chip Daniels says:

                Chip, I like you man but this is one of the reasons we can’t have nice things. You just compared sending foreigners who skipped our legal process back to their home countries to annexing a neighboring state, slaughtering its political class, then shipping its minorities to extermination camps. That’s seriously nuts.

                Now I happen to believe we should be humane to people in the country illegally as we send them home and am not happy with what’s happening at the border. But the comparison you just made is so histrionic, so ahistorical, and so disconnected from the actual issues in play as to be a complete derailment. It does not get us anywhere.Report

              • Chip Daniels in reply to InMD says:

                The analogy fits or not depending on what your takeaway lessons from the fascist regimes are.

                If your lesson from them is so narrow as to only allow comparison when there is industrial slaughter of ethnic groups, then yeah, its totally nuts.

                But if your lesson is that the Holocaust is but one of many such episode in history, where a group of people is segregated out as Unpersons, beings without humanity of dignity, then it fits.

                Episodes like the ethnic cleansing of Natives people in the Western hemisphers; Slavery; The Japanese internment; Ethnic cleansing in the Balkans; The Rohinyga genocide; The Rwandan genocide.

                None of these are exactly the same as the Nazi slaughter, but they all have that in common.
                And here it fits.

                The Trump administration isn’t simply enforcing a law. The point here as is often pointed out, is the infliction of cruelty and suffering.
                They don’t have to do this, but they eagerly choose to to demonstrate their superiority, and the powerlessness of the hated other.

                They don’t have to refer to them as murderers and rapists, but they do that too, as a way of stripping them of their humanity and dignity.
                In the eyes of the Trumpists, immigrants are Unpersons, dangerous and unworthy of being treated as equals.

                The Nazi regime was unique only in regards to how efficient they were in accomplishing their work; Otherwise, they were really not much different than a hundred other dismal cruel unjust regimes before or since.

                The Trump administration is- so far- limited only by the feeble resistance within the state, and the hard work of the outside resistance of American citizens.

                Once those barriers fall, there is no limit to what they would do.Report

              • Aaron David in reply to InMD says:

                Gah! I hate swiping keyboards! I just lost the start of my answer to you. But, in any case, thank you for writing a nice, in-depth reply. In many ways, since I wrote my first few pieces on this, I am still struggling to find out what is going on. Your answer helps greatly with that.

                The whole western world is going is of legitimacy in its systems of government I think this is at the heart of the matter. From Brexit and Bosenario to Modi and Xi, what we once took for granted, the post-WWII paradigm is being renegotiated. Trump isn’t so much a bad guy as an agent of change. And those who are not being rewarded by this change, which I definitely think includes both of us as it is our “class” that is being hit the hardest by this, are acting out against Trump. This, from the ATL fed illustrates where the wage growth under Trump has been felt, and I am not sure that people in our positions and economic groupings are feeling it as much as others*
                Now, I don’t talk to my old union buddies very often anymore, but with the breakdown of numbers there, it looks like they are feeling pretty good about things over the last three years. And, if the POTUS is speaking directly to them, and not calling them deplorable or talking about putting them out of work… You can get a 90% approval rating pretty quickly, as Trump has among Republicans. And it really doesn’t matter which of the several reasons you cited that motivates them, as long as they feel they are getting something along those lines; revenge, laughs, respect and so on.

                I agree with you on the effects of POMO and intersectionality, in that it is creating a negative space in which many of the resentments on the right can be defined and grow. And, yes, there is a strong correlation between the ALT-right and the POMO crowd.

                As far as fathers go, mine would be right there with yours (Republican since the early sixties) but his disease has progressed that there is no conversation about this anymore. In any case, please don’t get a black eye over this, as nothing in politics is worth that.

                *Looking closely at the Fed’s info, you can make a solid case that the economic crisis was made infinity worse as the result of many of Obama’s policies. I know that I was laid off into that recession, and it took the whole presidency to recover.Report

  5. I learned something today, several somethings as a matter of fact. Great piece, very much enjoyed it.Report

  6. LTL FTC says:

    Trump-as-Steinbrenner has a lot going for it as a very visceral comparison. I wonder, however, if the dictatorial style required for his tight ship style of management is not all that Trumpian. His appointments don’t seem to be well-supervised, or even informed of what the boss wants. Steinbrenner had a singular goal and directed everything to achieving it, whereas Trump takes credit when good things happen and seems content to keep the unbuilt wall as a motivator for his base.

    On the other hand, like the Yankees, Trump seems to feed off of everybody’s antipathy and frustration at failing to defeat him.

    If there’s a Democratic team, it’s the pre-World Series Cubs. In love with their suffering while expecting plaudits for waiting a long time to put in lights. The grand forces that explain away every failure: the billy goat.

    And I say this as a Democrat and a Yankees fan.Report

    • Brandon T Isleib in reply to LTL FTC says:

      That hits at why I think Trump is Finley wearing a Steinbrenner mask. Steinbrenner’s stated goal was the same as his actual goal – winning and the prestige from winning. Trump wants that prestige regardless of winning; he wants loyalty regardless of competency (I think Steinbrenner would, on a sane day, call competency loyalty – he had a very complex version of competency, but that ruled all). He grasps the form of Steinbrenner without understanding how to make any of it work.

      My grandfather worked in the aerospace industry during the Cold War, and he’d speak of Soviet replicas of Texas Instruments calculator that were completely accurate – right down to copying the logo like idiots. They didn’t know what parts were essential; they were just good at copying. Trump lacks the internal value engine for a Steinbrenner attitude to work – he just copies some parts. This is probably part of why his fortunes have gone up and down all the time, while Steinbrenner stayed rich – none of what motivates him enables sustainability.Report

  7. LTL FTC says:

    So if Trump is a poor person’s idea of a rich man, Trump is Mr. Burns’ idea of George Steinbrenner in that one episode.Report

  8. Pinky says:

    I know this article isn’t about Mike Pence. I know it’s a pain when someone in a comment section tries to make a whole case out of a single, minor point in an article.

    Here I go.

    I’m no fan of Trump, or of Pence. But if you’re going to make the case that Trump needs to be removed from office because he’s a singular blot on our political system, then you should consider Pence a singular improvement. It’s hard for me to believe Democrats who fail to do so.

    Again, I’m not saying that this article is all about Pence. I think you could even make the case that this article seems to, that Pence might not appear as an obvious change from Trump to the average voter. But that claim should be on everyone’s lips, and if anything, the opposite is the case. I hear people saying that Pence would be worse because he hates gays, or that Pelosi needs to figure out a way to get rid of both of them and take the White House.

    Back during the Clinton impeachment, I believed that he should have been removed from office. I disagreed with Gore on a lot of issues (and still do), but he was the Constitutional successor, and I believed that he should be in the presidency. More than that, on a practical level I thought that a removal of Clinton would have guaranteed Gore a victory in 2000. But that was a political price I would have paid for the Republic. The integrity of the office was paramount.

    If Trump were removed from office, I don’t see Pence winning in 2020. I wouldn’t even see him getting the nomination. And I don’t see the Senate actually removing Trump, anyway. But that’s what’s at stake here, and that’s what the Democrats are saying should happen. If I don’t hear the Democrats make the case that Pence is better than Trump, then how do I accept their primary argument as being in good faith?Report

    • Philip H in reply to Pinky says:

      Pence isn’t likely to steal funds from congress to build a wall that smugglers keep chopping right through or tunneling under. Pence isn’t going to insult generals to their faces because they can’t win an unwinnable war started two administrations ago as an ego exercise. Pence won’t stop trying to get conservative judges on the bench, but after the Republicans loose the senate it won’t much matter.

      Do we want s Pence presidency form the left? No, we don’t. Would we tolerate one briefly post-impeachment in order to begin rebuilding the republic? Sure. Because it might well be the things that saves the Republican Party for a generation.Report