Jason Kuznicki — Becoming a Democrat

I choose to be a Democrat because people have repeatedly congratulated me about Trumpism, and because Trumpism is essentially the opposite of what I stand for. (I have no great love for Clintonism either, but at this point, Clintonism is the least of anyone’s worries.)

I’ll put anti-Trumpism into a more positive form in a future essay, but for now I want to send a clear message that I am in the opposition. Having a legitimate opposition, and a smart, healthy one, is an essential feature of any functioning democracy, but especially one headed by a populist. It’s roughly the same role that I filled as a registered Republican while Obama was in office, and it’s a role that I enjoy and take strength from.

It’s hard to deny, though, that I feel more urgency in this case. I have the strong sense that we are leaving ordinary political times, and it frightens me.

Jason Kuznicki — Becoming a Democrat, at Clown Town

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66 thoughts on “Jason Kuznicki — Becoming a Democrat

  1. Good reminder. I was going to toss my money at the ACLU while i was watching the Steelers lose yesterday. But the losing was so very absorbing and intricate i didn’t get around to it.

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  2. I still haven’t decided what I’m going to do. My father remained a Democrat through the Clinton years despite a pretty strong loathing for the man and everything he stood for. Eventually, the party came back to him. It’s not an unattractive option. It was more attractive when I thought Trump was going to lose, because then I would at least have some primary effect. But history (if it cares) tells us that there will be no Republican primary for another eight years. And meanwhile, I’m likely to be lined up with the Democrats. And that’s on top of my voting for more Democrats in 2012 than Republicans. (I was disenfranchised in 2014, boo!) A pattern emerges.

    So I’m in wait-and-see mode.

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    • For what it’s worth, I think (always thought) that a Trump victory was the only way to flush Trumpism out of our system. When I was expecting a Clinton victory, my big concern is that that would only entrench Trumpism in the American polity.

      My fear, right now, is that Trump will fail, badly (*), and that Trumpists fear and anger will boil over. “If even Trump backstabbed us, what can we expect from the system? Let it all go down in flames. We won’t survive, but we will be avenged”

      (*) He will fail badly because he promised, implied, or let believe a lot of impossible things.

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      • I had though Clinton would win but that 18 would be another massive R wave as a mid term and in reaction to being out of the prez for so long. I thought 20 could easily be a time when R’s hold both houses and take the prez from the incumbent. The trump wave wasn’t going to just go away so i thought it would just crest a bit later.

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        • If I had to predict right now I would put even money on the Dems retaking the House in ’08. The Senate map is atrocious for the Dems that year so I’d guess no big movement there.

          Maybe I’m being overly optimistic but between Republican over-reach and Trump being Trump this R victory will be short-lived.

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          • It’s too early to say for the House. Senate is, as you say, bad. (We need 150 senators.)

            But I think we’re two years away from getting a lot of Democratic governors. Republicans elected in 2010 are term-limited out, while others are in some pretty hostile terrain (MA, MD, IL).

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          • I agree. Unless Trump stops being Trump and the R’s don’t overreach, both of which are highly unlikely, that gives a solid opportunity for the D’s. House is reachable but hopefully they finally get back to making a strong push at the state level. Each party has managed to achieve victories at times due so much to the failures of the other party. And now Trumpy is talking about finding a strong pro life supreme. Yeah that will really fly high with lots of people.

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              • The problem isn’t appointing a pro-life Justice. The problem is Roe vs Wade being overturned and states actually banning abortion.

                The truth is, there’s lots of middle to upper middle class white women who know somebody or have had an abortion themselves who vote Republican because ya’ know, taxes or whatever.

                Because they know, they’ll always have access to abortion if they need it. However, if the pro-life party starts passing pro-life things that actually effect middle class white women, then they might be in trouble.

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              • Screwing with medicare is certainly a third rail. But if people thing abortion will be illegal that will be a big thing for some swing voters. Plenty of people who dont’ like abortion won’t want to see it illegal and it would drive the kind of enthusiasm that wins elections. People are divided on abortion but the issue has been a sort of stasis for a long time with only the people who see it as their first issue really caring. I don’t’ think making it a big issue for the general public is a winner.

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      • I think (always thought) that a Trump victory was the only way to flush Trumpism out of our system.

        Yeah, exactly. I wasn’t worried about Trump, exactly. He struck me as a buffoon who happened to hit at exactly the right moment.

        I was *TERRIFIED* of the guy who showed up after Trump.

        But that guy? Meh. Nobody will vote for him now (when they might have voted for him in 2020).

        As such, I saw Clinton as the true accelerationist candidate.

        And now the Trumpists can go back to sleep.

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      • I think (always thought) that a Trump victory was the only way to flush Trumpism out of our system.

        I guess the question is whether Trumpism is merely a rightward oscillation fully within the range of our political-economic dynamic equilibrium, or if it constitutes (or signals) a shift to a new, radically less liberal, one. Given social media and the protests, lots of people think we’re already there, of course. But it remains a real possibility that Trump(ism) disrupts things in a bleak, chaotic direction which reestablishes as something we might not really like all that much.

        (Hmmm. I wonder what Scott Adams has to say about this?)

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        • One of the crazy people I follow says that this is mistakenly seen as Trump vs. Clinton.

          It is actually The Legacy Media vs. Social Media.

          If that is the case, Twitter and Facebook are the most powerful tools in the world. And they’re screwing it all up by censoring stupidly and obviously.

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        • As bad as i think the trumpy era will be i very much doubt its a shift to a new much less liberal time. The R base is on the old side while younger folk are more POC and less prone to the things that drive trumpism. Yeah that is the demographic argument but i don’t’ see how its wrong over the next 10-20 years. Also this country is closely divided when you look at peoples beliefs and votes. The R’s dominate at this time in gov but that doesn’t change how narrow the divide. This country has been in worse straights but was able to bend toward a better arc.

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          • greg,

            I mentioned a few days ago that I have enough faith in the stability of American institutions than to think Trump – or worse, the worst elements of Trumpism – can radically disrupt our current norms and practices. They’ll certainly nibble at the edges, tho. But the thing about sensitive dependence is that it doesn’t take much change in baseline conditions for things to get outa whack.

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    • Will Truman,

      But history (if it cares) tells us that there will be no Republican primary for another eight years.

      I’d bet better than even money that Trump will be a one-termer. I figure he either declares himself to have achieved his goals (winner!) and declines to run again, or, equally likely he gets primaried by Cruz (probably), or, less likely but entirely possible, he does something so… Trumpy, that he gets impeached by his own party.

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      • I very much doubt he will be primaried.

        Now, if the Trumpist base anger is big enough in 2020, I can see Cruz doing it. He will avenge the Trumpists from the Trump backstabbing.

        I don’t see anyone else, though. Unless he resigns himself, which would be out of character.

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          • Being prez is above everything else, really fishin hard. Lots of meeting and boring stuff. I can see him being a partial figure head doing big rallies and speeches and letting Pence and the gang run stuff. But its still a lot of work and i can see him just getting tired of it and wanting his easy rich guy life back.

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          • Trump declaring victory and retiring after one term is definitely believable, though still low probability in my mind. He’s also reaching the depressing part of the actuarial tables, and while he doesn’t have two of the big lifestyle problems (drinking and smoking) he still seems to manage a pretty unhealthy lifestyle (fast food, little exercise, stress).

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          • Listened to talk radio today for the first time in a while, a bit of Limbaugh and a bit of Savage. They both were already in the mode of ‘the Republican establishment is trying to take this victory away from us’.

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          • Polk probably wouldn’t have had the sing written about him if, after having done all this, he had sought a second term.
            If you care about your legacy above all else, there’s an argument that re-election is big risk for little return.
            If you doubt, consider our perception of JFK if Oswald hadn’t been such a bad shot that he missed Jackie by as much as he did…

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      • Yeah, this. Except for the Cruz part. I don’t see a whole much future for Cruz, except that he can probably stay a Senator for a while if he chooses. His platform is fine for where we are, but for whatever reason he’s just turned too many people away, both personal acquaintances and among the voters.

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      • It’s non-zero, but I suspect he doesn’t want to be a quitter and I doubt he will be impeached.

        If we assume that he is not on the ballot in 2020 and I am laying odds on why, it’s:

        60% Chooses not to run
        20% Dies in office
        15% Resigns during term
        5% Removed from office

        Now, the chances that he’s on the ballot are probably 70-80%, so we’re dealing with fractions of 20-30%. But it’s non-zero.

        And also, what the hell do I know?

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  3. The best case scenario for the Trump administration is that its going to be a incompetent and corrupt administration. The fact that Trump’s children are playing a big role is not a good sign. It shows that Trump is treating the Presidency as a family concern like his businesses. Whats worse is that Trump seems to be lack even the most basic knowledge of how the Presidency works including that he needs to restaff the entire White House administration because Obama’s people are not staying.

    Trump seems to be staffing his administration from the worst parts of the Republican party and the alt-right movement. John Bolton might be Secretary of State. Steve Bannon is going to be part of the White House staff. The worst case scenario for Trump is that he signs everything the Republican Congress puts in front of him and the dream of not only undoing Obama but the entire New Deal, Great Society, and Civil Rights comes to fruition. Evidence is that many of the most active bigots in the United States are feeling emboldened by the Trump administration.

    And welcome Jason, welcome to the Democratic Party.

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  4. I posted this on Jason’s blog, but I’ll repost it here; since I’ve been away I want to be clear where I am – inasmuch as any of us can be sure where we are anymore. I always knew the future would be weird, but I never suspected it would be this dumb. I have a high tolerance for absurdity, but I have been pushed past my breaking point.

    I’ll be watching your reception and experiences with interest – as Freeman says, from my anecdotal experience, “Few are loathed more intensely on the left than Libertarians.”

    As you may remember, I describe myself as “libertarianish”, and some graphs I’ve seen of my sympathies and positions put me somewhere in the left-libertarian zone. I’ve been registered Independent all my life, and I’ve voted R, D, 3rd party, and None Of The Above/Abstain in the past.

    This election, I did something I’ve never done before, and that was straight party-line D voting, all the way down the ballot.

    I know that’s not great, and it goes against my priors, but it was not only an effort to hold my nose and vote lesser of two evils (a tactic I have sometimes criticized in the past and one that I half-suspect helped bring us to this sorry pass), it was the strongest protest I could register at the booth against not just Trump, but a GOP so corrupted, debased and/or chaotic as to have enabled a Trump.

    I won’t be joining the Democratic party (I’m just not a party joiner), but my wife and I have been talking and have agreed that if there are local opportunities for protest or resistance (we live in a heavily-immigrant and minority-populated area), we plan to help however we can. We can do no less for our kids, and the brown-skinned kids that are their friends and classmates.

    I’ve always thought of myself, perhaps wrongly, as a centrist – maybe a little farther out toward the edges of the center than many, but a centrist all the same. Cautious by nature, able to often at least see the other side’s point, and willing to compromise.

    Recent developments indicate to me that I’m NOT in the center, or if I am, then the center is no longer where I want to be. Odd to think that I may be becoming somewhat radicalized at this late date, well into my middle age, but here we are.

    Strange times, indeed.

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    • As I think you and I shared on the Twitter the other day, I look around the re-aligned world and find myself feeling oriented well to the left of the spectrum’s new center. I know there are commenters here who have always thought me liberal, but for me the realization that this is where I’m at right now is a novel and not entirely comfortable sensation.

      I’ll probably get used to it, though, and I suspect you will too. And it’s not “radicalization,” unless you start advocating actually radical policies. It is, however, a new orientation.

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    • @burt-likko

      My experience about why liberals and the left dislike libertarians is over issues on the welfare state and the role of government. I think (I know I feel this way) that a lot of libertarians are often extremely connected to the small or no government side even if they profess that there is some need for government intervention.

      We see this on OT from time when you have libertarians who refuse to make the barest concession to any aspect of the welfare state except to say that even our mild Social Security and Medicare is a breath way from Mao and Trotsky. One of the things I am curious about with Jason is whether he will start to advocate for aspects of the welfare state. I don’t expect to give up on free trade but it will be interesting to see if he changes to “Of course free trade is important to a free society but it is necessary for people to be protected from the blows of Capitalism and universal healthcare is a way to do this.”

      Other sites like Bleeding Heart Libertarians profess to share liberal concerns but in my experience often just exist to concern troll liberals about why the free market, no welfare state, free for all way is a better way to help the poor than the welfare state.

      There is a reason many liberals view libertarians as being Republicans who like to smoke pot and have kinky sex. It is because they are not willing to make any concessions when it comes to the welfare state and seem to share Paul Ryan’s zeal for destroying Medicare and Social Security.

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      • “We see this on OT from time when you have libertarians who refuse to make the barest concession to any aspect of the welfare state except to say that even our mild Social Security and Medicare is a breath way from Mao and Trotsky.”

        Shouldn’t be too hard to find quotes where that actually happened, sir. Google works pretty well for this site’s archives.

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      • I think it’s important to distinguish between the libertarians at OT, those at Bleeding Heart, and those elsewhere.

        Here at OT, they run the gamut, but the majority strikes me as pretty firmly on the side of supporting at least some form of welfare state (and I don’t just mean UBI): Jason (sometimes), James Hanley, James K., Brandon, Jaybird….I just don’t see them arguing against it in principle even if they spend time criticizing how it’s implemented or reminding us about the perverse incentives they create. Or if they do argue it, they seem to say undoing them should be among our lower priorities. Maybe I’m wrong, but I think what they bring to the table is different from the notion of anti-welfare state all the time.

        The Bleeding Heart Libertarians are not primarily concerned with being libertarians-lite in a manner that friendly to welfare-state supporting liberals. Rather, they argue for libertarian policies and try to demonstrate how in their opinion such policies help the more marginalized and less affluent. I don’t have a cite, but I seem to recall at least one of them saying dismantling welfare supports ought to be the lowest priority. And Matt Zwolinski has taken some of his fellow libertarians to task for over-relying on or taking too far the “state power is coercion” argument. Not that there isn’t much to criticize–I’m not a fan of how Jason Brennan tries to use “satire” to make points he doesn’t seem to know how to by straight-up argument, and I do see a more reflexive anti-welfare state bias there than I see among (most of) the OT libertarians.

        Aside from welfare state issues, for both the bleeding heart libertarians and the OT libertarians, there is the civil liberty angle that most of them seem pretty consistent about supporting. More robust support for civil liberties is something we may (sadly) need pretty soon.

        As for libertarians elsewhere, as a group–outside the ones I know online–the greater number of them seem to be the Republican-lites you describe. That’s anecdotal, though, based only on personal acquaintances and Libertarian party candidates whose names aren’t Gary Johnson (though some of the Sangamon LP candidates on the ballot struck me as pretty reasonable, too).

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  5. Maybe you can bring some sense to the insanity in the Dems. The knives are already being sharpened in Congress. Talk of challenges to the existing order.

    Long ago I decided that working within the system was pointless. I grew tired of the lies and the meddling. My political outlook excludes the two major parties. I’m content to observer from the outside, laugh, and point fingers. Maybe if I lived in a more competitive state I’d show some more interest, but here, there’s no need. I’m resigned to watching it all burn down.

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    • Damon,
      Pardon, but I’m pretty sure you’ve just decided that working is pointless.
      People who are serious about not working within the system start new things.
      (My devil-may-care friends are quite enjoying the new chaos. Quite good for business).

      I… thought… I was in a nice, noncompetitive state. Apparently not.

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      • I’m talking about participating in the political system, voting, campaigning, etc. Since neither of the major parties represent my views, I choose not to participate in them.

        Sadly, I do choose to work for money. Dude’s gotta eat. However, if I could not work, I could sit in my rocking chair holding my shotgun and tell those damn kids to get off my lawn.

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  6. Personally, I think that the sneering of the libertarians at “liberaltarianism” was completely unjustified but I hope that, after Trump’s election, libertarians be open to at least looking at it again.

    That is, if they can stop pushing for sexual harassment to be decriminalized for 20 minutes.

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