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AvatarComments by Chip Daniels in reply to LeeEsq*

On “Sarah Huckabee Sanders Running for Governor of Arkansas

A good exhibit in how the Flight 93 type discourse of violence has become the new normal for Republicans at all levels.

From her announcement: "Everything we love about America is at stake. And with the radical left now in control of Washington, your governor is your last line of defense."

In Huckabee's view, we Democrats are not fellow Americans, but enemies to be destroyed. Our policies are not just unwise, or will lead to bad outcomes, but literally will destroy America and everything they love about it.
In previous years someone could laugh this off as wildly exaggerated but empty rhetoric.
But coming on the heels of an insurrection in which the heads of Congress were attacked by a murderous Republican mob, its hard to see her words as anything but endorsement of political violence.

On “Rebuilding from Ashes

"We mustn't allow a Democrat win! Why must this be a partisan issue?"


The Republicans have it within their power to ensure that fixing the problems with Congress does not become a partisan issue.

Will they take it, or fail yet again and be in disarray?

On “The Perils of Impeachment

IMO the goal of impeachment is not Trump but the future Trumps and just as importantly, the enablers of the future Trumps.



There are a lot of comments about how Trump was just a warning sign of worse things to come. If this is true then logic holds that the peril of not impeaching is certainly worse than impeaching.

If Trumpism is a cancer, then any treatment short of death is preferable.

On “Rebuilding from Ashes

A good analysis, but any technical recommendations for how to avoid this in future always run into the same problem which you refer to in the last two paragraphs; Namely, that any reform will require the support of some portion of that 40% of the American electorate who voted enthusiastically for this wretched mess.

Trump was in fact a bullet dodged, a warning sign, a symptom. He wasn't a rogue individual acting against the interests of the overwhelming majority. He legitimately represented the desires of a very large minority of the citizens.

That is the problem to be addressed. How does a democracy survive when about a third of the citizens would happily subjugate the other two thirds?

On “The Perils of Impeachment

IMO, this is a feature not a bug.
If the Republican Party wants to rebuild its image as the party of normalcy, the best thing the Democrats can do is inflame and provoke the MAGAs into a frothing rage.

On “Impeachment: A Briar Patch With No Rabbits

See, every time you get close to making an actual argument, you end up parroting vaguely Democratic Party boilerplate (in this case, about mitigating the pain of economic disruption).

Which drives you farther away from your Big Claim that Trump was a better gamble than HRC.

Why not drop the contrarian stance and just say "Yeah, the Democrats are better than Republicans"?

Because ultimately it seems to be where you end up.


Again, you're exemplifying my argument.

You say she shouldn't have said that remark about coal miners.
But you also say she shouldn't have lied.

You see what's missing here, right?

On “Profiling Joe Biden in 1972

Funniest line from Biden: "I hope people will judge me on my merits rather than my age."

On “Impeachment: A Briar Patch With No Rabbits

This is why I say that contrarianism strips you of the ability to make an argument.

Your Big Claim against Hillary was that she was so malevolent and her foreign policy was so dangerous that even Donald Trump was a better risk despite his threat to our democracy.

Yet, you come out and propose what is a slightly bolder version of the Obama/Clinton policy of "Don't Do Stupid Stuff".

My focus here isn't on the details of policy. My focus is that your Big Claim seems bizarrely exaggerated compared to the actual distance between you and her.

You find Trump's destruction to our democracy preferable to HRC, all over a small niggling difference in foreign policy?

That would require some sort of explanation or argument which you aren't making.


The beauty of contrarianism is that you don't need to actually propose anything or support anything or any party or idea or candidate.

The weakness is that it strips you of any ability to make an argument for or against anything.


Are we going to get four years of Rose Twitter Jaybird attacking Biden from the left?

I'm not objecting. I just want to set my expectations.


My argument is that this piece assumes a Murc's Law, where only Democrats have agency and worse, that Democrats are responsible for Republican behavior.

There is no possible leverage that Democrats possess to force Republicans to do anything. A howling mob was only minutes away from murdering the Republican leadership, and yet they will still defend the one responsible.

I understand the logic of not tilting at windmills but what we have seen is that a pre-emptive surrender is taken by pundits and the general public alike as acquiescence and acceptance of the behavior.

We hear a lot, even on this very blog, comments to the effect of "both sides are the same". We hear a lot of comments that the Democrats needs to show what they stand for and what their values are.

An impeachment, even a failed one, clearly displays what the Democrats find acceptable and what they don't, and just as importantly, what the Republicans find acceptable and what they don't.


Democrats move to hold the President accountable for his crimes.
Republicans en masse defend the criminal.

Pundits: Democrats screw up again!

On “Electoral Trends: Into The Biden Era

And into the Biden era we go:

California attorney general launches civil rights probe of L.A. County Sheriff’s Department

California Atty. Gen. Xavier Becerra on Friday announced he is launching a civil rights investigation into the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, an agency beset by allegations of deputy misconduct, controversial shootings and resistance to oversight from Sheriff Alex Villanueva.
Calling Beccera’s investigation “a step forward in the names of people like Dijon Kizzee and Andres Guardado and so many others” killed by L.A. deputies, Melina Abdullah, co-founder of Black Lives Matter Los Angeles, applauded the move. “We would like to see an end to sheriff gangs, we would like to see an unveiling of the corruption of the L.A. County Sheriff’s Department,” she said.

Xavier Becerra was my former Congressman, and moved up to AG when Kamala Harris won the Senate spot. This investigation isn't directly tied to BLM, but the changed political climate which allows this to be a career-enhancing move by the AG is definitely thanks to BLM and the protests.

My point is that protests work and elections do have consequences.


But the term is being used arbitrarily.

If I said, as many conservative writers do, that the people who support bike lanes are the elites and those who prefer wider auto lanes are populist, would that be an incorrect use of the term?

What logic tells us how to apply it?

Because everyone here notices how the term "populist" is always used to confer moral superiority right?
Pinky likes conservative morality, so his views are social populism; You prefer bike lanes so these are environmental populism; A Bernie fan likes economic redistribution so it is economic populism and so on.

The word just becomes a packaging label like "Authentic" that doesn't have any real meaning but seeks to elevate it above some unknowable but latent moral inferiority.

Populists, like Real Americans, are always very, very careful to avoid speaking openly about who is excluded from their circle, but they are vehement that a circle exists and the forces outside it are not to be trusted.


How valuable is a word which has any one of infinite number of meanings, each equally valid? Where populism can mean two flatly contradictory things?

And as for your last paragraph, the very essence of populism is to claim a special knowledge of what "The People" want, the vox populi.

Without that special claim of having the power of The Voice Of The People, populism is just "what I think is good for youse all".


See, now the boundaries of the word are pushed yet further with the adjective "social" populists, when what it really means is just "conservative views on sexual morality".

I mean, try to define the opposite number and you see what I mean.
The opposite of the populi, that is, "the People", are the aristocrats.
If I support transpeople's rights, does that make me somehow an aristocrat? Am I no longer one of the plebians?

By your definition, a billionaire who attends a megachurch is a populist and a homeless transwoman is an elite.

How is the word "populist" doing any useful work in this sentence?

I might as well call them "social Madisonians" for all that matters.


Indeed, the desire to rule by an imperious wave of a hand is the mark of a true Tribune of The Plebs.


OK, but this definition includes Mitt Romney, Barack Obama, Mitch McConnell, Hillary Clinton, AOC, Ted Cruz and Bernie Sanders, that is, everybody.

We see it right here on this blog with claims that tax cuts on hedge funds will produce jobs for the common man or that rolling back government regulation will benefit hair braiders (as well as global corporations).

Populism, and adherence to small r republicanism and small d democracy is a prerequisite to being elected to any office in American politics.

And even more so, claiming to be a member of The People is mandatory for us all as citizens; Who on this blog is not a member of We, The People?

This is ironically why European style leftism failed in America; Even our wealthiest elites declare themselves to be jus' folks and the peasants bristle as being called such.

In my experience, "populist" in American usage is a word that seeks to draw boundaries around some group or another and declare them to be outsiders, not of The People, but alien, and unwanted.

For leftists, its people like bankers and CEOs, and for the Trumpists, its nonwhite people and nonChristians.


What does the word populist mean to you?
Who is included or excluded from its meaning?


I don't follow your logic.


So am I.
But doesn't address the point.


So Biden voters aren't part of the populi?

Serious question.
Because the entire Trumpian mindset is that there are two groups of people, the Real American People whose votes count, and the unreal people whose votes don't count.

By saying that the Trumpists are "populists", that is "of the people" it accepts the rightwing viewpoint.

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