The Arrow of Time, Lodged Deep in Our Political Posterior

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 food writing website Yonder and Home. Andrew is the host of Heard Tell podcast. Subscribe to Andrew's Heard Tell SubStack for free here:

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137 Responses

  1. Pat
    Ignored
    says:

    “Either Donald Trump or President Biden is going to win this election. We will then, either way, have a lame duck president and immediately start the process of the next presidential election cycle. What would be nice is some reflection on how we got here, why two candidates who folks claim in polls they don’t really want still dominated without any real challenge and to therefore be better prepared when we do this again.”

    This, but it would require us to want to change, so.Report

  2. Chip Daniels
    Ignored
    says:

    “Donald Trump was elected for mostly being not-Hillary Clinton.”

    This is a fundamental misreading of the American public.

    Trump supporters want Trump no matter who he is compared to. They didn’t see him as the lesser of two evils, they aren’t reluctantly holding their nose or any of the other excuses pundits constantly strive for.

    Somewhere around 70 million voters clearly and knowingly want not just Trump the person, but Trumpism, the authoritarian blend of Christian Nationalism and plutocracy.

    This is how we got here.Report

    • Andrew Donaldson in reply to Chip Daniels
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      says:

      Of Trump’s 47 pct of garnered vote, somewhere between 30-40% of that 47% – Trumps “shot someone on 5th Ave” base – are as you say, clearly knowing and clearly wanting. Maybe the numbers a tad higher, that is open to discussion. Then there are the ignorant – willing and otherwise -, uninformed, or just don’t care percentage that have various reasons from grievance to “what the hell” to whatever else the last thing they thought before voting that is the minority of his garnered voters, but are the marginal difference between him winning and not winning.Report

      • DensityDuck in reply to Andrew Donaldson
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        says:

        2016 Trump was a Protest Vote, the same deal as all the woman who voted Leave because she was absolutely certain that Remain would win and wanted to “send a message that not everyone is happy”.

        For 2020 Trump, Chip’s right that people are voting for Trump on purpose. I think he’s wrong about why exactly, but it’s definitely the case that whatever it is they think he is, it’s what they want.Report

      • Chip Daniels in reply to Andrew Donaldson
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        says:

        The reason I think the number is much higher is the electoral success of DeSantis, Abbott, Project 2025, and the GOP figures throughout the country who mimic the authoritarian practices.

        It can’t be explained by a small energetic base and larger apathetic group.Report

        • Andrew Donaldson in reply to Chip Daniels
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          says:

          The state of the GOP as it currently exists since Trump took it over is – if you are still in the Republican Party – you are either openly supportive of all things Trumpian and authoritative, or you are enabling all things Trumpian and authoritative since you would have left by now.Report

          • Chip Daniels in reply to Andrew Donaldson
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            says:

            As we’ve seen throughout history when illiberal regimes come to power, there IS in fact a small energetic base and a larger apathetic middle.

            But in the end, the difference between them is a niggling academic exercise.

            Like even here at OT.

            How many people energetically support Project 2025 and how many energetically oppose it, and how many prefer to shift from one foot to the other, equivocate, and change the subject?Report

  3. Greg In Ak
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    says:

    (early Wednesday, pries eyelids open, opens up laptop) What’s this headline? Something about a painful thing shoved up our national and personal asses. Yes, yes, that is the most Wednesday in 2024 thing ever.

    Good piece. Spot on. Reflecting on our paths and choices has not been an American specialty. Even less so when it might reflect poorly on ones/groups own choices.Report

  4. InMD
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    says:

    Good piece. Lately, and for the first time I can recall, I actually feel a sense of dread about the country’s long term trajectory.Report

  5. KenB
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    says:

    Part of the “how we got here” is the specifics of our primary system. Under the old “smoke-filled back room” model, Trump would never have become the R candidate; and yes, Democratic primary voters voted for Biden for 2024, but that was at least partly because (for a variety of reasons, including individual calculations and likely threats from the top) Biden was the only plausible candidate to vote for.

    So the republicans gave their electorate too much choice and the democrats gave too little…Report

    • InMD in reply to KenB
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      says:

      I think this is a good point and probably the most important take away. The primary system is completely broken and has served to empower the worst elements of our polity.Report

      • Greg In Ak in reply to InMD
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        says:

        That along with weak parties is a huge problem leading to poor candidate choice.Report

      • Chris in reply to InMD
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        says:

        Other than Trump, when have the presidential primaries given us a presidential candidate outside of the mainstream, or hostile to the party establishments? Obama, maybe? Though he was such a rising star within the party mainstream that I’d question that classification. Bill Clinton? Maybe, but like Obama, he was a rising star within the mainstream, and very quickly remade the party establishment in his image anyway. Intersting also that the two candidates who are even close to non-mainstream in the last few decades were also the most popular among voters. Clinton’s end-of-term favorability was through the roof, and Obama was a superstar both within and outside of politics even if his approval ratings weren’t always great.

        Are we gonna throw out even a semblance of a democratic process for deciding who represents the two major parties because one party has continued on its decades-long trajectory and elected a would-be fascist? I’m sure that will give us candidates highly educated, well-off, high-info voters whose only real concern is stability through the maintenance of the status quo (so basically the folks here) love, but will it give us candidates who the rest of the country is more excited about that the sh^t candidates we have now?Report

        • InMD in reply to Chris
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          says:

          It’s currently producing candidates that aren’t even popular with the hoi polloi, so while I can see a defense of it based on democratic principles the juxtaposition you’re posing doesn’t at all reflects whats happening. What’s actually going on is the GOP has continued down its path to its activists nominating clearly deranged charlatans and the Democrats increasingly torn between candidates that appeal to its educated elites and those that can garner sufficient support among its traditional base of voters.

          Maybe a totally open primary system rather than one run by the parties would be enough to correct. And while I agree with you that the Democrats are in a healthier place than the Republicans I think we got really lucky that the last primary resulted in the only candidate on the stage that could both collect establishment support and win among the normie masses. And even then that person has turned out to be severely flawed as a re election candidate for reasons that were completely predictable.Report

          • Chip Daniels in reply to InMD
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            says:

            Ken B noted that “[T]he republicans gave their electorate too much choice” and the solution to this is…a “totally open primary system”?

            What sort of Republican do you think would emerge from a better, totally open” primary system?Report

            • InMD in reply to Chip Daniels
              Ignored
              says:

              I’m talking about open primaries for the voters. The parties already set the rules for who is eligible to be a candidate for their party and I don’t see how it could be otherwise.Report

              • Chip Daniels in reply to InMD
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                says:

                Right, but in what way would a Republican candidate who emerges from such a primary be different than the ones we currently have?Report

              • InMD in reply to Chip Daniels
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                says:

                I don’t understand the question.Report

              • Chip Daniels in reply to InMD
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                says:

                Well, you and Ken’s comments seem to be saying that if only we had a different primary system, we would get a different result.

                So I’m asking, what would such a result look like?

                Wouldn’t we still be getting people like DeSantis, Abbott and things like Project 2025?Report

              • Jaybird in reply to Chip Daniels
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                says:

                If you throw the mandate of heaven in the trash, you shouldn’t be surprised when the trash somehow overcomes you.

                –Terrible Tao (paraphrased)Report

              • InMD in reply to Chip Daniels
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                says:

                If you’re asking me if I think it would produce candidates I personally would support or vote for, the answer is probably not. But I’m not asking for perfection. I think it would suck if DeSantis (or whoever) won the presidency. But I don’t think it would be constitutional system threatening like I believe it will be if Trump wins.Report

              • Chip Daniels in reply to InMD
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                says:

                No that’s not really what I’m asking.

                I’m asking if a different primary system would produce candidates different than DeSantis, Abbot, or a game plan like Project 2025.

                Would it? What would such candidates look like?Report

              • InMD in reply to Chip Daniels
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                says:

                I think it could change the incentives of the DeSantis’ and Abbotts of the world, and that would be a good thing. Would it is another question. Of course there’s no system that would turn them into Democrats.Report

              • Chip Daniels in reply to InMD
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                says:

                It might, but wouldn’t that necessarily involve overruling the wishes of the rank and file party members?

                I recall in 2016 all those interviews with Trumpists and a common theme was that they hated the GOP establishment for doing that very thing, foisting the Romneys and Jeb!s and McCains upon them when what they really wanted all along was a Trump.Report

              • InMD in reply to Chip Daniels
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                says:

                The hope would be that their potential constituency would grow enough to lessen the influence of those people.

                But look, I’m not calling open primaries the end all be all. As others have pointed out a lot of places already have a version of them. My response way above that we are discussing was to Chris’s suggestion that changing the existing primary system would be anti democratic. My point is that I’m not sure a system producing candidates selected by small sub groups of the electorate is particularly democratic, especially when it’s produced two of the most unpopular candidates ever.

                I’m not entirely sure what the solution is. Maybe we need some sort of ranked choice and run off system. Even then your point is well taken that in a democracy a committed rump of voters can punch above its actual weight and do a lot of damage and ultimately the only fix for it is to outvote them.Report

    • Jaybird in reply to KenB
      Ignored
      says:

      One memory from 2016: Colorado’s Republican Primary.

      A co-worker spent the first half of 2016 being anti-Trump. He was loosely involved with the Republican Party as a volunteer and helped with the whole “counting stuff up” part of the caucuses for either the 5th or 7th district. I remember that, the day after, I went in to talk to him about his experiences with the caucuses and he laughed as he explained that Cruz ran the table because Trump had no idea how caucuses worked.

      Apparently, after winning this or that number of people at the caucus, the Trump folks said “that’s that!” and went home. They didn’t know that there was the whole thing about how delegates vote on national delegates and the people who stayed behind to vote on national delegates were all Cruz people and the Trump folks were left darkling.

      My coworker chuckled, as I recall.

      From Wikipedia: The conventions were seen to be a large boost to Cruz, and Trump’s sloppy organization was seen as a significant obstacle he would have to overcome in order to win the nomination.

      Over the next couple of days, however, Trump leveraged Cruz’s win into a display of how The Republican Establishment is against him and is willing to engage in shenanigans to prevent him from winning.

      Like, instead of a good faith representation of proportional representation of the delegates, Cruz swept all of them based on nothing more than knowing how caucuses worked!

      And so the maneuver kinda backfired.

      Anyway… there were some minor attempts at smoke-filled room shenanigans. It’s just that… they got outplayed.Report

  6. Philip H
    Ignored
    says:

    we are where we are because for five decades the GOP has pursued permanent minority rule (now cloaked in Christian Nationalism) so they don’t have to share the blessings of liberty with anyone. Its why they want to dismantle the regulatory state – which is fundamentally about reminding them of obligations to fellow citizens. Its why they seek to both control and neuter the judiciary via a unitary executive sine they truly believe they are right no matter what.

    We are where we are because Democrats spent those 50 years lauding their success in the civil rights era instead of hardening them; believing institutions would self police to stay neutral; and then began chasing the GOP donor base without looking at, much less acknowledging the corrupting influence that had on the party. And most certainly, Democrats put us here by continuing to insist that bringing charts and graphs and position papers to a bazooka fight is the correct response.

    We know how and why we got here.

    Now, what are we going to do about it?Report

  7. John Puccio
    Ignored
    says:

    “When the people are saying “we don’t want either candidate,” believe them, even though it is those same peoples’ fault we have those candidates.”

    About 1/3 of registered voters are Democrats and another 1/3 are registered Republicans. The candidates that are emerge from the primary process do so by appealing to the so-called base (which skews further left and right of the center). Of course this is a separate issue to the type of shameless person who is willing to submit to the process of becoming POTUS.

    We have a system that attracts and rewards candidates that are guaranteed to be unpopular with the vast majority of Americans.

    If you have a path forward, I’m all ears.Report

    • Slade the Leveller in reply to John Puccio
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      says:

      We should outlaw public financing of primary elections. These are private institutions that ought to be bearing their own costs.Report

      • John Puccio in reply to Slade the Leveller
        Ignored
        says:

        I agree, but I’m skeptical that it would dramatically change the power dynamics and outsized influence of our two party system.

        The question is: How do you bring 1/3 of the US population (who effectively decide the final outcome of every presidential election yet have no agency in selecting the two candidates) into the process?

        Neither party is interested in this question and will continue to operate business as usual.

        To actually have a democratic system would mean curtailing D & R ‘s pursuit of attaining and keeping power. Fat chance that ever happens.Report

        • Slade the Leveller in reply to John Puccio
          Ignored
          says:

          I don’t want Joe Schmoe involved in picking the parties’ nominees. Hell’s bells, take a look at who’s been president since the primary system has come to the fore.

          The 2 major parties ought to have people at the head of the ticket that they’re not embarrassed to talk about, and right now we have 2 nominees who have been picked by the people Gene Wilder referred to in Blazing Saddles as morons.Report

    • Pinky in reply to John Puccio
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      says:

      But more states have been moving toward open primaries and the problems have been getting worse. Open primaries allow for the possibility of sabotage. In the 2022 cycle, the Democrats donated millions to the Trumpiest Republican candidates.Report

      • John Puccio in reply to Pinky
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        says:

        Spoiler Alert: There is no answer. The current system will continue until finally breaks.Report

        • Pinky in reply to John Puccio
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          says:

          If people are smart enough to game the system, then they’re smart enough to understand the risks of a gamed system.

          As long as there are no costs to party identification, there are no disincentives to sabotage. The back room guys or maybe the state representatives have a stake in the party, and at least a little bit of pragmatism. They need to have a bigger say in the process.Report

  8. Pinky
    Ignored
    says:

    “Either Donald Trump or President Biden is going to win this election.”

    We don’t know if that’s true. Although I’ll admit that that’s nitpicking, because it wasn’t the focus of the article. But if it does prove to be true, it’s another example of the problem being described.Report

    • Philip H in reply to Pinky
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      says:

      We don’t know if that’s true.

      You don’t believe we can say with certainty that one of the two major party candidates will win the presidency?

      Fascinating.Report

      • Jaybird in reply to Philip H
        Ignored
        says:

        I can think of at least one event that could happen between now and November that would have one of the two major party candidates that we assume will be on the ballot in November not being on the ballot in November.

        Heck, it’s even one that would get you to say “I understand why this candidate is not on the ballot and I agree that he should not be.”

        Can you think of one? If you can’t, lemme know. I’ll give you a hint. I’ll even try to make the hint funny. Drop dead funny.Report

        • Philip H in reply to Jaybird
          Ignored
          says:

          Trump won’t be sentenced to anything by then, so he’s still gonna be on the ballot.

          At this point the thing most likely to keep Biden off the ballot would be him dying – because there won’t be an open convention or brokered convention. And he’s crystal clear he’s not stepping aside.

          So while I can conceive of slightly possible, highly improbable events, I don’t lend them any credence.Report

          • Jaybird in reply to Philip H
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            says:

            So that’s your threshold for certainty?

            Do you feel it’s a mistake if others don’t share it?Report

            • KenB in reply to Jaybird
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              says:

              You should’ve just kept it at the first question and then added “Fascinating.”Report

            • Philip H in reply to Jaybird
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              says:

              My threshold for certainty is existing condition. As you saw, I can conceive of several scenarios where one or the other candidate currently on the ballot is not there. Such data as i have tells me the probability of any of those scenarios is vanishingly small. And looking at how politics operate, my conclusion is these are the two men we will pick from in November, no matter how many alternative scenarios I or you or anyone else can come up with.

              Should new data emerge in the form of different actions I’ll reevaluate. But right now there is nothing that tells me to be uncertain about who will be on the ballot in November.

              As to how I feel about others – given the number of not liberals around here I’m used to people not sharing my take on much of anything. You will notice it has done little to stop me publishing or commenting. Any mistake by a person in this conversation would center around not actually looking at the current playing field, like the folks that want Biden to drop out even though the only Democrat who polls better against TFG is Michelle Obama.Report

              • Jaybird in reply to Philip H
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                says:

                Well, I don’t believe that we can, with certainty, say that Biden/Trump will be elected come November.

                I think it’s *LIKELY*… but if I found out tomorrow that this one had an aneurism or that one was speaking at a particular open-air venue and (redacted), I wouldn’t be *SURPRISED*.

                And the fact that I wouldn’t be surprised if either happened tells me that “certainty” ain’t where it is at.

                I do think that it’s probable that it’s Biden or Trump… but if someone told me “hey, I’m not certain that it’ll be either of those two”, I’d spend more time gaming out who I think they think it might be (“Do they think it’ll be Harris? Do they think it’ll be DeSantis?”) than telling them that it’s really interesting that they’re not certain that it’ll be one of the two.

                Because, let’s face it, certainty ain’t called for.

                It’s still July.

                We will have time to be certain in October.Report

              • Pinky in reply to Jaybird
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                says:

                The betting markets apparently have Biden over Harris for the nomination again, but that’s a change from last week.Report

              • Jaybird in reply to Pinky
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                says:

                I would advise someone who was certain that Biden’s going to be the nominee to buy, buy, buy Biden. They’re selling dollars for 54 cents!Report

              • Jaybird in reply to Jaybird
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                says:

                47 cents, now.Report

      • Pinky in reply to Philip H
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        says:

        I would say with more than 99.9% certainty that one of the two major party candidates will win the presidency.Report

    • Slade the Leveller in reply to Pinky
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      says:

      They could both do us a favor and croak some time soon! Enough with the gerontocracy.Report

  9. Saul Degraw
    Ignored
    says:

    I think you are also, perhaps inadvertently, absolving American voters of their agency by making it appear that there is an actual tough choice between mental depravity and corruption and potential physical affirmity.

    One of the things that has been most telling to me in the whole Biden is too old debate (and a tell that will produce howls from known commentators here) is how many people in the Biden is too old category seem to ignore the existence of Kamala Harris? Why is that? If Biden were to fall into a blackhole tomorrow, Harris would become President and also probably the presumptive Democratic nominee for President in 2024. Others have pointed out that she is the only one with legal access to the Biden-Harris campaign war chest and infrastructure.

    But before and after the debate, people like Klein who drum beat on Biden is too old, would never write “And the best thing for Biden to do is resign and pass the torch to Harris and then have every Democratic politician line up behind her.” They would never mention replacement candidates at all. Instead, they would just write replace Biden with an unnamed Johnny or Janey Unbeatable who would immediately curb stomp Trump into a 40 point defeat and then all Republicans would revert back to being just like Jacob Javitz or William Weld.

    For reasons Chip points out, there is no Johnny or Jane Unbeatable that can curb stomp Trump except in fantasy but people will refuse to admit otherwise because they don’t want to deal with the implications of such a thing being true.

    Additionally, when you point out that perhaps behind Biden being too old is people being afraid of “if something happens to Biden, the black lady is in charge”, they will howl and deny.Report

    • Pinky in reply to Saul Degraw
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      says:

      “Additionally, when you point out that perhaps behind Biden being too old is people being afraid of ‘if something happens to Biden, the black lady is in charge’, they will howl and deny.”

      Most people are saying that Biden is “too old” (actually enfeebled), so put the black lady in charge. Only some of the pundit class is talking about putting anyone else in. Let me say this clearly, although you may claim that I’m trolling: Harris should be our sitting president. I don’t know if she’d beat Trump, and I don’t care if she would as long as we have a functional president for the next 4.5 years.Report

      • John Puccio in reply to Pinky
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        says:

        I was told that the President isn’t one person anymore – it’s an executive office – so it doesn’t matter if Biden is senile and suffers from Parkinson’s. Stop talking about it. There’s Jill, Hunter, that guy, that lady, that other guy … We need to save democracy by voting for a corpse!Report

        • Chip Daniels in reply to John Puccio
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          says:

          If I said that Biden, droolng in a cup and incontinent was still a better choice than Trump, would you disagree?Report

          • Saul Degraw in reply to Chip Daniels
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            says:

            I would vote for a beached whale that has been rotting in the sun for a few months before I voted for Trump.

            That being said, I think the number of Democratic politicians or big wigs like Clooney calling for Biden to step aside is a sign of the Hack Gap in action.

            Trump could have shit running down his pants at the debates and Republicans would have stood by him. Democrats, elected or not, are rightfully turned off by this kind of lockstep devotion. Unfortunately, a side effect of the disgust is often over correction to the point of shooting yourself in the foot, a liberal is someone so broadminded that she or he can’t take their own side in an argument, etc.Report

          • John Puccio in reply to Chip Daniels
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            says:

            Biden droolng in a cup and incontinent with Jill and Hunter Biden pulling his strings?

            Or Trump?

            Does it really matter?Report

            • Chip Daniels in reply to John Puccio
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              says:

              Do you think the difference matters?
              Honest question.Report

              • John Puccio in reply to Chip Daniels
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                says:

                To the degree that there is a difference between contracting chlamydia vs gonorrhea, yes.

                These are very bad choices for very different reasons.Report

              • Chip Daniels in reply to John Puccio
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                says:

                In your view, is either one of the candidates a threat to democracy and the rule of law?
                Are both of them?
                Neither of them?Report

              • John Puccio in reply to Chip Daniels
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                says:

                I don’t know who or what the Democratic nominee/POTUS actually is at this point (and neither does anyone else not directly connected to the White House).

                That said, in my view, both Trump and the people propping up Joe Biden are a threat to the rule of law. Both administrations have demonstrably proven that during their respective terms.

                You’d have to be specific about what you mean by threat to democracy. I’m not worried about elections being suspended if that’s what you mean. This isn’t Ukraine after all.Report

              • Chip Daniels in reply to John Puccio
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                says:

                So this just clarifies your comments.
                You’re engaged and a high information citizen.
                You’ve looked at both parties, witnessed how they have behaved with respect to recent events like Jan 6, the impeachment, the criminal trials, and their plans for the future like Project 2025, and in your view they are both a threat to the rule of law.

                But in this view, there really isn’t much difference between the two and it doesn’t really matter very much who wins or loses in November.

                This is a position, a stance which other people can then use to compare to their own experiences and viewpoints and decide if it matches or not.Report

              • John Puccio in reply to Chip Daniels
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                says:

                Can you really not articulate one example of the Biden Administration disregarding the rule of law in the past 4 years in your extremely partisan reframing of my previous comments?Report

              • Chip Daniels in reply to John Puccio
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                says:

                Tell you what, I will gladly just stipulate any criticism you want against Biden. Knock yourself out.

                Even then, he is a vastly superior choice over Trump.
                Because in the end, the Biden administration and the Democrats support free elections, the Republicans don’t.Report

              • Jaybird in reply to Chip Daniels
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                says:

                There are additional options to Trump and Biden, Chip.

                Report

              • InMD in reply to Jaybird
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                says:

                I thought this was going to be another link to the hawk tuah girl.Report

              • Jaybird in reply to InMD
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                says:

                She’s getting a reality television show, twitter says.

                It’s 2016 all over again.Report

              • Chip Daniels in reply to Jaybird
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                says:

                Absolutely.
                But since it is a certainty that either the Democrat or Republican will become the next president, voting for a third party means logically, that you regard both the main parties as equally dangerous to freedom and democracy.

                Like I said, that is a declarative sentence that establishes a point of view, and a filter through which all other statements can be viewed.Report

              • Jaybird in reply to Chip Daniels
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                says:

                voting for a third party means logically, that you regard both the main parties as equally dangerous to freedom and democracy.

                Nah. One can be worse than the other.

                It’s just that “not being worse” isn’t sufficient to get me to vote for them.

                On top of that, pragmatically? It’s not like I live in a swing state anymore.

                I can go into my booth, vote for my nutterbutter candidate, and go home walking on the sunny side of the street.

                The thing I always hope for, more than anything else, is that the vote for 3rd Parties exceeds the gap between the real ones in every single swing state.

                It gives me hope that, someday, the real parties will try to steal votes from the people who communicate “I showed up and you were wanting.”

                Now *THAT* election will be the most important election of our lifetimes, I tell you what.Report

              • Chip Daniels in reply to Jaybird
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                says:

                Right, but even “worse” in your formulation doesn’t rise to the level of “OmiGod I have to work to prevent this guy from getting elected!”

                Voting third party means that while the worse one might be elected, in the end its not really “the most important election in our lifetime.”

                Which, again, is a statement that we can all look at and decide if it comports with our own views of recent events.Report

              • Jaybird in reply to Chip Daniels
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                says:

                Oh, you want me to vote for your guy?

                Would you like me to tell you what your guy needs to do to get my vote?

                Are you willing to push your guy to do what it’ll take to get my vote?

                If not… is it really the most important election of our lifetimes?Report

              • Chip Daniels in reply to Jaybird
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                says:

                No, see this is why it was important to clarify things.

                If you look at all that Trump did during his term, and Jan 6, and the criminal convictions and now Project 2025 and all it entails, and you’re still at the “I don’t see any danger here” stage, you aren’t in the persuadable category 3 of voters; You’re in category 2, “Won’t vote for my guy no matter what”.Report

              • Jaybird in reply to Chip Daniels
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                says:

                If you’re seeing Donald Trump as an existential threat but aren’t willing to run anyone more qualified for office than a senile old man and you’re unwilling to push him to pass legislation that you support and you agree will improve the lives of the citizens of this nation well…

                Chip, you should understand why some people might see you as being the person who isn’t taking the election particularly seriously.

                And if you’re not taking it seriously… well, arguments that other people should take it seriously fall a little flat.Report

              • Chip Daniels in reply to Jaybird
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                says:

                When did I say I wasn’t open to anyone other than Biden?

                I was a Warren fan, remember? And I have said I will crawl over broken glass to get Harris elected.

                And I have no idea what you’re talking about wrt pushing him on legislation.Report

              • Jaybird in reply to Chip Daniels
                Ignored
                says:

                Have you pushed for Biden to be replaced?

                Or have you explained that “what about Trump?” in response to people talking about replacing him?Report

              • Chip Daniels in reply to Jaybird
                Ignored
                says:

                Because as I’ve said several times, even drooling in a cup and incontinent, Biden doesn’t pose the threat to America that Trump does and so is the best choice.

                I’m not even arguing with you here.
                You look at Project 2025 and Trump and don’t see an existential threat to America.

                Well OK, its an opinion someone can take.

                Its just not the sign of a persuadable voter, that’s all I’m saying.Report

              • Jaybird in reply to Chip Daniels
                Ignored
                says:

                If you’re willing to run someone drooling in a cup against an existential threat to the republic and then sputtering in confusion when people say “Nah, not for me”, then it ain’t the other people not treating this like it’s not the most important election in their lifetimes.Report

              • Chip Daniels in reply to Jaybird
                Ignored
                says:

                Again your opinion of my choices is an opinion someone can have.

                I’m just saying I am in category #1, and you are in category #2.Report

              • Jaybird in reply to Chip Daniels
                Ignored
                says:

                “I would vote for a senile old man before I’d vote for Donald Trump!” should be a rhetorical grandiose statement rather than an active demonstration of loyalty.

                If you’re not taking this election seriously enough to run a serious candidate, why should people on the fence be persuaded by your arguments that they should take it seriously?Report

              • Chip Daniels in reply to Jaybird
                Ignored
                says:

                Even drooling in a cup Biden won’t try to murder the Vice President and Speaker of the House and overturn a free and fair election.

                But hey, that’s just my partisan opinion.Report

              • Jaybird in reply to Chip Daniels
                Ignored
                says:

                Well, if that’s how seriously you’re taking this, then I too shall vote for someone who won’t try to murder the VP and Speaker and overturn a free and fair election.Report

              • Chip Daniels in reply to Jaybird
                Ignored
                says:

                Great!

                Make sure to also vote for someone who will :
                Support women’s reproductive rights;
                Support same sex marriage and LGBTQ rights;
                Support NATO;
                Provide aid to Ukraine and;
                Respect the independence of the judiciary;

                All of which Biden can do while drooling in a cup.

                Or not, if you don’t happen to share these priorities.Report

              • Jaybird in reply to Chip Daniels
                Ignored
                says:

                If you’re not treating it like an existential threat but, instead, an opportunity to get stuff on your wishlist, why do you expect me to treat it like an existential threat?Report

              • Chip Daniels in reply to Jaybird
                Ignored
                says:

                I don’t.
                You’re a category 2, remember?

                There really isn’t any such argument that would get you to treat it as an existential threat.

                Other people, category 3 people, maybe different.Report

              • Jaybird in reply to Chip Daniels
                Ignored
                says:

                Well, be sure to explain: “This is an existential threat!”

                And then, after you do that, explain all sorts of reasons that you want them to vote for your guy instead of asking “what could my guy do to earn your vote?”

                I mean… heck. Maybe they’ll say something that Biden could pull off.

                But if you start talking about how this is an existential thing and then start talking about secondary or tertiary concerns, you may come across as merely partisan.Report

              • Chip Daniels in reply to Jaybird
                Ignored
                says:

                I wonder if having a woman explain how she was forced to bleed out in a parking lot to the point of death would convey that this is an existential threat, and that our guy will zealously protect their right to get the medical treatment they need to stay alive would earn their vote.

                Lets try it.Report

              • Jaybird in reply to Chip Daniels
                Ignored
                says:

                “Sorry, lady. But I needed to not replace the drooling guy.”

                Could work.Report

              • Michael Cain in reply to Jaybird
                Ignored
                says:

                Have you pushed for Biden to be replaced?

                No, and I’ve told a lot of people that the ability to come up with a clever 90-second soundbite to a random question in real-time is not a core competency for being a good president.Report

              • Jaybird in reply to Michael Cain
                Ignored
                says:

                Having had it and then no longer having it is another thing entirely.Report

              • Michael Cain in reply to Jaybird
                Ignored
                says:

                And yet… Biden’s reputation has never been that he’s a stand-up comic class comeback guy. None of the names that might replace him — Harris, Newsom, Whitmer, Warren, Booker — have called for him to step down. Nor the majority leader in the Senate, nor the minority leader in the House. None of the NATO leaders who just spent a few days with him said that they don’t think he has what it takes. His whole cabinet appears to be standing with him.

                All of that said, if George Clooney had filed the paperwork and said, “Joe hasn’t got it, I declare that I’m running for the Democratic nomination, and will pour all of my personal fortune into it, and to hell with the party rules,” I might buy that there’s someone who’s not Biden that has a better chance. But Clooney didn’t name names, did he?Report

              • Pinky in reply to Michael Cain
                Ignored
                says:

                You won’t trust Clooney’s observation unless he suggests a name or runs himself? No one would trust him if he did either.Report

              • Jaybird in reply to Michael Cain
                Ignored
                says:

                He was pretty much the “gaffe” guy, sure, but he was a classic bullshitter (said in the affectionate way, not the scornful way) and was capable of giving one heck of a 90 second soundbite that, sure, had a couple of insensitive things in it but some other stuff that was downright charming.

                Two months ago, I’d have agreed that Biden was the hands-down best shot the Dems had at this point.

                I mean, maybe in 2022, I’d have said that Biden should step down and then I’d probably have argued for Pritzker or someone like that. A big beefy guy who was charismatic and could talk to Midwesterners.

                But after the debate, I’m gaming this out and Biden’s less likely to win today than he was yesterday and I’m guessing that he’s going to be even less likely tomorrow.

                I stretch that out into September and there I will be asking “could there have been someone that we could have swapped out in July that would have been better in November than Joe-in-September/October/November?” and thinking that I am quite likely to say “it’d have been a risk worth taking”.

                Because soon it will be August. And then it will be September.Report

              • John Puccio in reply to Chip Daniels
                Ignored
                says:

                What would be the point?

                You’re not interested in any interpretation of current events that deviate from Donald Trump being an existential threat to the Republic.And anyone who sees more nuance beyond your black & white view – or [gasp] disagrees with you – is a white supremacist.

                And I get it, you will vote for a ham sandwich and the unknown deli workers who put it together for President as long as they were a team of democrats running against a republican.

                It’s your right to do that and nothing anyone can offer is going to change your mind.Report

              • Jaybird in reply to John Puccio
                Ignored
                says:

                I got it from the toilet seat
                I got it from the toilet seat
                It jumped right up
                And grabbed my meat
                Got it from the toilet seatReport

              • John Puccio in reply to Jaybird
                Ignored
                says:

                Is that Justin Trudeau?Report

    • Chip Daniels in reply to Saul Degraw
      Ignored
      says:

      I even see this among liberals, that “If Only” we had some other structure, maybe abolition of the electoral college, a parliamentary system, maybe a radical worker’s syndicalist commune, Then Of Course things would be better.

      Which flies in the face of actual American history, where the deeply illliberal authoritarianism faction was never far from winning a majority.Report

    • Andrew Donaldson in reply to Saul Degraw
      Ignored
      says:

      Additionally, when you point out that perhaps behind Biden being too old is people being afraid of “if something happens to Biden, the black lady is in charge”, they will howl and deny.

      Its fair point, there is “Biden is too old” discourse that doesn’t stray into that, but all the folks that are doing “Biden is too old and should be replaced by Whitmer/Newsom/Pete” definitely are by denying Kamala Harris is the only alternative should something happen to Biden.Report

      • Saul Degraw in reply to Andrew Donaldson
        Ignored
        says:

        I disagree. I think if your point is Biden is too old, you need to name names for alternatives and not just imagine another candidate unnamed would be crushing Trump.

        The polling, FWIW, that I have seen still has Biden largely doing better than others against Trump. Biden is down but down within the margin of error.Report

        • Jaybird in reply to Saul Degraw
          Ignored
          says:

          “Biden is too old.”
          “You need to give me an alternative!”
          “Okay… um… Trump.”Report

          • LeeEsq in reply to Jaybird
            Ignored
            says:

            It is the burden of people who want somebody besides Biden to be the Democratic candidate to name that candidate. That they all aren’t saying Kamala Harris speaks volumes.Report

            • Jaybird in reply to LeeEsq
              Ignored
              says:

              There are volumes of volumes being spoken.Report

            • Pinky in reply to LeeEsq
              Ignored
              says:

              That’s just not true. The most popular scenario being discussed is Harris taking over the presidency and the campaign, with the second most popular being Harris taking over the campaign.Report

              • Jaybird in reply to Pinky
                Ignored
                says:

                But there is also a guy on twitter who keeps saying that the Democrats should nominate Al Franken for president at the convention!Report

              • Pinky in reply to Jaybird
                Ignored
                says:

                OK, then let’s put all the Constitutional and procedural considerations aside and talk about that, then complain that no one’s talking about the reasonable Constitutional and procedural choice.Report

              • InMD in reply to Pinky
                Ignored
                says:

                I think everyone engaged understands that if Biden is to stand down she is the easiest choice, in that it involves the least procedural shenanigans and lowest risk of a schism over legitimacy of process.

                The misgivings about her are also well founded. She’s never really won anything* and her persona of west coast, striver, corporate type Democrat may not work for the voters she’s going to need to pitch in the upper mid west. The strongest case for holding onto Biden IMO is that even in his seemingly compromised state he might still be better suited for Pittsburgh and Milwaukee and Detroit suburbs than she is.

                *Yes I know she won a close race against a Republican in CA in 2010 but one can also argue that no statewide races in CA not involving celebrities should be close for a Democrat, even 15 years ago.Report

              • Jaybird in reply to InMD
                Ignored
                says:

                The argument for Harris is that the second it’s hammered out that Biden has stepped down/aside, the media will start a full court press on how amazing that it is that America will finally have a female president and, more than that, a *BLACK* female president and, more than that, a Black female president FOR THE COUNTRY’S BISESQUINCENTENIAL!!!

                WE HAD A DEAD WHITE MAN FOR THE 200TH BIRTHDAY! WE HAVE A LIVING BLACK WOMAN FOR THE 250TH!!!

                And Trump will get, more or less, the same votes he got in 2020 and Harris will pick up undecideds.

                So the argument goes.Report

              • InMD in reply to Jaybird
                Ignored
                says:

                That’s the worst argument I’ve heard since 2016.Report

              • KenB in reply to InMD
                Ignored
                says:

                Speaking of, apparently HRC polls better than Harris as a Biden replacement.Report

              • Philip H in reply to KenB
                Ignored
                says:

                And according to 538, Biden has moved ahead (but still inside the margin of error) of Trump in Wisconsin and Michigan. Biden is inside the margin of error in Arizona, Nevada, North Carolina and Georgia.

                Your mileage may vary.Report

              • Pinky in reply to KenB
                Ignored
                says:

                Most of the possibilities are polling within a couple percent though.Report

              • KenB in reply to Pinky
                Ignored
                says:

                Yeah I know, I just thought it was morbidly amusing.Report

              • CJColucci in reply to KenB
                Ignored
                says:

                And Al Gore is younger than either Biden or Trump.Report

              • Slade the Leveller in reply to CJColucci
                Ignored
                says:

                Boom! Problem solved.Report

              • John Puccio in reply to InMD
                Ignored
                says:

                Harris is the only alternative at this point and if the Democrats are serious, Biden needs to not only drop out of the race but resign as President.

                1. Harris has a much better shot at beating Trump as the sitting President.

                And 2., let’s face it, Biden isn’t really the President anymore anyway, so it’s the right thing to do from a governance perspective.

                The executive office needs to build back trust with the American people and that needs to start immediately.Report

  10. Em Carpenter
    Ignored
    says:

    “All those “we don’t want either candidate” folks could have prevented these two candidates, at multiple points in multiple ways…”

    How? HOW? Please elaborate on what meaningful, impactful action I and the rest of the Joe Schmo electorate “double haters” could have done to stop this? I have never voted for either of these men. I don’t want them to be my only options but the powers that be only allow certain limited choices.
    I might want a steak, I might loudly demand steak, I might threaten to starve myself if I can’t have steak, but if I’m at Pizza Hut, there isn’t a thing I can do that will make them put steak on the menu.Report

    • Saul Degraw in reply to Em Carpenter
      Ignored
      says:

      You could register for a political party and vote for candidates in primaries. Your preferred candidate might not win but at least you did something.

      American political parties are very weak, not strong and this seems to be a fact that escapes everyone because Americans can never be given agency.

      The UK has strong political parties where you actually have to pay money to join and be a Tory or Labour or Lib-Dem and attend the party conference and vote for the potential leaders of the Party, etc. Those parties tell people “Here are your candidates for Liverpool East and you will like it.” Those parties actually have the power to punish stray members who fuse.

      The United States has no such thing. We have weak political parties where people if they have the gumption can go out and collect signatures, raise funds, and appear on primary ballots in an attempt to make it to the general election. This is how AOC got into Congress. She did hard work, pounded pavement, and toppled a moderate Democrat in a safe district in a primary. It is also how Trump became the GOP nominee in 2016. A strong political party like the Tories could curb stomp him in ways the GOP could not.

      There were primaries in 2024. Nikki Haley and DeSantis tried to run against Trump in the 2024 primaries and GOP primary voters decided they wanted Trump. Phillips and Williamson tried to run against Biden in the 2024 Democratic primaries and also lost. There was no conspiracy that strong armed Newsom, Whitmer, Shapiro, whoeever into not running, they were being team players and standing by their incumbent.

      But most Americans don’t seem to want to do this and then they want to complain about the candidates and wahhh pox on both their houses.Report

    • Chip Daniels in reply to Em Carpenter
      Ignored
      says:

      I agree with your analogy, that given a democracy where 50%+1 can decide things, being in the minority can leave you with unpleasant choices.

      The analogy breaks down though, because the current choice isn’t between Pizza Hut and say, Chili’s.
      The current choice is, to paraphrase John Cole, between a meal of pizza, and a meal of tire rims and anthrax.

      The two choices aren’t symmetrical or even remotely equally unpleasant.

      Liberals aren’t forcing women to have abortions, but conservatives will force a woman to carry her pregnancy to term
      Liberals aren’t preventing straight people from marrying, but conservatives want to prevent gay people from marrying.
      Liberals aren’t, in any way, preventing conservative people from living their lives freely, but conservatives are determined to force everyone to live as they dictate.

      Maybe someone wants steak instead of pizza, but unless they accept pizza today, they may find that the choice of steak is forever closed.Report

      • CJColucci in reply to Chip Daniels
        Ignored
        says:

        In my 50-plus years of voting I can’t think of a seriously competitive presidential primary in which my preferred candidate won. There were one or two where I didn’t have a strong preference, but that’s about it. That the party doesn’t pick my preferred guy or gal has long ceased to bother me.Report

        • Chip Daniels in reply to CJColucci
          Ignored
          says:

          In 2000 I was still nominally a Republican but didn’t like W one bit, but wasn’t sold on Gore either, so I wrote in Jack Kemp.

          The thing about voting 3rd party though, is that it relies on the two other choices as being equally unpleasant, and neither one being particularly alarming.Report

  11. Saul Degraw
    Ignored
    says:

    Perhaps Democratic voters want Biden to stay and Democratic politicians are listening to their constituents: https://www.thebulwark.com/p/upset-at-biden-sticking-it-out-blame-votersReport

  12. Marchmaine
    Ignored
    says:

    Most of the challenges of electoral reforms start and end with the States being States and not merely Federal districts/departments.

    Still, the best medium-/long-term improvements involve small to medium changes in the electoral process that don’t require opening up the hood and tinkering with the Constitution.

    Introducing ‘simple’ measures like RCV and even Proportional Allocations are all doable… another overlooked change that could ‘probably’ be driven by the Feds (for National Elections) would be setting floors and ceilings that States require for New parties to have Ballot Access. In some states it’s stupidly lax, while in others it’s prohibitively difficult… the upshot is a strong bias against new parties. Which, of course, is made worse by FPTP.

    But really, there are other electoral schemes that work (with their own different downsides) that would at least get us out of the bad place we’re in… if you want to be RADICAL on something that might actually help… be radical for electoral reform projects.Report

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