Featured Post

For Democrats, Blue-Dogs are the way Forward

I want to say this perfectly clear: the only way Democrats have ever won legislative majorities is to run moderate-to-conservative candidates in red-state Senate and House elections. Notice the period at the end of that sentence? No comma, no parenthetical, no footnote, no caveat, no ifs-ands-or buts.

Hegel said we learn from history that we do not learn from history. I think the political discussion in 2017 is proving him right for the thousandth time. History provides the Democratic Party a fantastic guidebook about how to obtain legislative majorities in the Senate and House.

The party with the biggest tent wins national elections. In a Democratic Republic, coalitions must be built and sustained in order to achieve the end result of preferred legislation and foreign policy. Failure to build a diverse and far-reaching coalition that spans ideologies, issue positions, and demographics is a failure of the first order, because that’s what political parties exist to create.

Since 1981 there have only been two times where the Democratic Party had control of the Presidency, the U.S. House, and the U.S. Senate at the same time (sometimes called a trifecta, although that term is more common in reference to state legislatures) – those times were 1993-1994 and 2009-2010. Those are only four years of my entire lifetime. If the Democratic Party wishes to ever see such days again, the party must learn the lessons of those two periods in time. There may have been blips of liberalism in red states in the more distant past, such as George McGovern in South Dakota, but even that exception requires looking all the way back to 1970’s. Since then, the only Democrats who have won South Dakota are not exactly the darlings of the left: Tom Daschle, Tim Johnson.  Legislative majorities are necessary for the passage of party-line legislation, and even the most modest dreams of liberals across the country are likely going to come down to party-line votes. No Republican, for example, would even vote for the ACA – a law derided by folks on the far left as a half-measure that squandered a serious opportunity for more sweeping reform. So, what does the evidence show about how the party obtained majorities in recent history?

The post-1992 political map would look confusing to anyone only familiar with the current political landscape. Bill Clinton won Georgia, Louisiana, and Arkansas while Republicans nonetheless held on to Florida. Such an outcome would seem wildly outlandish today. When Clinton swept into power, the U.S. Senate had 57 Democrats, and the U.S. House had 258 Democrats (218 were needed for a majority).  It’s the composition of the Senate Democratic Caucus during these two years that is particularly instructive. Louisiana had two Democratic Senators, as did Arkansas, Alabama, Tennessee, North Dakota, and Nebraska. Today none of those states have even one Democrat in the U.S. Senate.

Take the example of Sen. Bennett Johnston from Shreveport. He was a conservative Democrat who wanted limits placed on school busing for integration and who supported Operation Desert Storm despite a majority of his caucus opposing the war. He voted against the President on several budgets, opposed abortion rights, and was a supporter of an anti-free-speech flag desecration amendment. Despite all of his heresy, the grand total of his recorded votes inconsistent with the majority of the Democratic caucus was a mere 17. He apparently never voted against his party in a situation where his vote would have changed the outcome. He aligned himself with even the most liberal of Democrats on foreign policy issues such as lifting certain travel restrictions on Cuba, funding the United Nations, providing foreign aid, and modernizing the energy sector of the economy. He was ahead of his time on recognizing the threat of climate change, and was on the forefront along with Sen. Al Gore of Tennessee of the renewable energy movement. He did not look or act much like, say, Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan – his leftist contemporary from New York, but he was the kind of person his state could support in the Democratic Party. He was the kind of Democratic Party candidate that could run in Louisiana and not go down in a stinking bag of flames. He is the type of Senator the party relied on to sustain its majority even if he was not always their favorite caucus member. He most definitely was not an Elizabeth Warren or a Bernie Sanders.

Senator Johnston was joined in the chamber by other red state Democrats like John Breaux, a Louisianian who bucked his party by supporting a balanced budget amendment and reducing the inheritance tax. Bob Kerrey, a Nebraskan who tacked conservative but defeated an incumbent GOP governor at one point in his career. He famously voted for the repeal of Glass-Steagall. Byron Dorgan, a North Dakotan who served three terms in the senate who was a prescient skeptic of derivative trading, but pretty conservative on immigration, helping quash the proposed 2007 Immigration Reform Act. Ernest Hollings, a South Carolina Democrat and Howell Heflin, a Democrat from Alabama were the only Democrats to vote against the Family Medical Leave Act. And a spate of other conservative democrats: Harlan Matthews (TN), Jim Sasser (TN), Jim Exon (NB), Richard Bryan (NV), Max Baucus (MT), David Boren (OK), Wendell Ford (KY), Sam Nunn (GA), Dale Bumpers (AR), and David Pryor (AR). Side note: of the states listed in just that last sentence, only two currently have a Democrat in the Senate. The red states, in a time of heightened partisanship have become even more loyally red – making it even harder for Democrats to make inroads and perhaps requiring an even more moderate to conservative appeal to come from a Democratic candidate in those places in order to eke out a win.

That’s a lot of Democrats. The Democratic Party of today does not look like the same party it was in 1993, nor necessarily should it – but it is instructive to note the qualities of this group of people if the party wants to learn how to once again attain electoral strength and momentum. The conservative heretics may have annoyed those to their left, but they largely carried water for the party’s ideas in territory that was not otherwise favorable to left leaning ideas, and carried the risk too. It’s nothing for a Democrat to run in Maryland. It’s bean-bag for a Democrat to run in Connecticut. But running in Alabama is different – today a Democrat in Alabama is what they call “target practice” it’s important to be reminded that as recently as the 103rd U.S. Congress, both senate seats in that Kool-AId red state were blue. Indeed, Richard Shelby was conservative enough he actually flipped sides at the end of that legislature. Howell Heflin, his Democratic seat-mate voted against his own party 45 times.

WIth all this rampant moderation and conservatism within the Democratic Party during the 1993-1994 majority, surely they couldn’t pass good legislation, right? Gosh, let’s just take a look:

  • February 1993: The Family Medical Leave Act
  • May 1993: The National Voter Registration Act
  • November 1993: The Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act
  • November 1993: Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell
  • December 1993: NAFTA
  • May 1994: The Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act
  • September 1994: The Assault Weapons Ban
  • September 1994 The Violence Against Women Act

Some well meaning leftists might critique any or all of this legislation as milquetoast half-measures. But this is what was achievable more than two decades ago. This legislation is a time capsule representing one of the two pinnacles of Democratic Party achievement in the past half-century. You can wish for the list to be longer, and you can wish for it to be more liberal, sure. But it wasn’t achieved by liberals – it was achieved by a coalition of both liberals and Democratic moderates.

Now let’s examine the other Democratic Party trifecta of 2009-2010. It’s recent enough for most of us to remember it from the news. The 111th U.S. Congress was bolstered by conservative red and purple state Senate Democrats hailing from sea to shining sea. Landrieu in Louisiana, the two Nelsons – one each from Florida and Nebraska, Baucus and Tester in Montana, Johnson in South Dakota, McCaskill in Missouri, Hagan in North Carolina, and astonishingly two Senate Democrats from the blood red state of Arkansas – Pryor and Lincoln. No red state during this trifecta period had a liberal Senate Democrat, not one. The closest you could get to a contrary answer here is Harkin in the purple state of Iowa. But the deep and broad bench of conservative Senate Democrats bolstered the majority in a manner that permitted the party to pursue good legislation where they had been stymied in the past. The party was not a perfect picture of left-liberalism, but it was a perfect picture of a big tent coalition – the only thing that ever makes any change in this country. What did they achieve?

  • January 2009: The Lily Ledbetter Fair Pay Act
  • February 2009: The Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP)
  • February 2009: American Recovery and Reinvestment Act
  • March 2009: Omnibus Public Land Management Act
  • March 2010: The Affordable Care Act
  • July 2010: Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act
  • August 2010: The Fair Sentencing Act
  • December 2010: Repeal of DADT

The 111st legislature came damn close to passing the DREAM act, immigration reform, and a plethora of other legislation if only they could have expanded their majority by a handful of seats. But, right on cue, the Democratic Party faced infighting from dissatisfied leftists who once again saw incremental progress as too slow, too tepid, and too moderate. The internal party backlash was severe enough that 2008 was the high water mark for Democratic Party turnout in modern times, and many of the 2008 voters stayed home in 2010, and 2012 – ending any hope of a lasting trifecta, and crushing the hopes of DREAMers and people who wanted to see the ACA expanded and improved. The GOP swept in and promptly sabotaged progress at every turn, taking the Obama Presidency and turning it into a paperweight.

But the lesson remains, if only people will look. The composition of the 103rd and 111th legislatures is instructive and history is not an anomaly. Insistence on liberalism from regions of the country already predisposed against liberalism is a pipe dream. States that regularly elect firebrand conservatives are simply not the places where liberals will win. Moderate and conservative Democrats will also find it hard to win there, especially in the current climate. But the blue dogs will always have the greater fighting chance, and always have. History has shown us this, and we ignore history at our own peril.

The backlash against Trump has created some fertile ground for Democrats of all stripes, liberal and conservative. Quist overperformed in Montana. Thompson overperformed in Kansas. Ossoff will likely overperform in Georgia – and those are all very different types of Democrats. But to keep the eye on the ball, we have to keep the following in mind: Quist and Thompson, despite overperforming, still lost. Montana has a moderate Democrat as Governor and another moderate Democrat as Senator, but the Sanders-endorsed statewide house candidates couldn’t eke out a win. Is it instructive to ask what the differences between Montana Governor Steve Bullock and Rob Quist are, and how those differences could be instructive in future attempts to win Montana? I think so. I hope others begin to think so.


Staff Writer
Twitter 

Tess Kovach lives in Hartford, Connecticut. She has experience in various forms of rabblerousing, both in government and outside of government. She tweets at @KStreetHipster.

Please do be so kind as to share this post.
TwitterFacebookRedditEmailPrintFriendlyMore options

256 thoughts on “For Democrats, Blue-Dogs are the way Forward

  1. The problem with looking at the post 1992 political map is that that was the tail end of realignment. As you yourself note, many conservative democrats became republicans. The US is more polarised now than it was 25 years ago. The effect of this is that it would be less certain that more conservative democrats would be able to pull more people from the right than it would lose from their left. While I would like the only sane major party move to the right on a number of issues, I see no way for that to become a political reality in the short term.

    Report

    • The US is more polarised now than it was 25 years ago.

      I can see how that perception might appear persuasive, but it simply isn’t true.
      We are much the same people as we were in the early 90’s, though there are distinct differences, mostly dealing with acceptable limits of government intrusion.

      The parties are much more polarised, and the range of choice restricted, but the people are very much the same.
      We drink from the same waters.

      Report

      • Remember the p***y grabbing thing that Trump said?

        Remember how many Republicans condemned what Trump said by saying that they had wives and daughters and that they would not want anyone saying anything like that about their female kin? Also remember how all sorts of prominent democrats also rather automatically condemned the republicans for condemning Trump only because they have female kin?

        I imagine that 25 years ago, I imagine that the reaction would have been more like “I don’t agree on a lot of things with these guys but I agree with them on this” or at least they would have stated their own reasons and not said anything about the republicans. Maybe there would have been that one purist who says really we should condemn sexual assault because they’re persons and not just because we have female family members

        Report

        • Not sure this is a good analogy. 25 years I think you would have gotten a lot outright defense or minimization of Trump’s described behavior from the mainstream. “Sexual harassment” was just becoming a widespread concern at that point, with Clarence Thomas, the Tailhook Scandal, and Paula Jones.

          The center just moved, and the outright apologism was relegated to a fringe of alt-right/Red Pill scum.

          It’s hard to see that as anything but an improvement.

          Report

          • Sure, the centre has moved. But if the centre moved, why is Trump president? What I think has happened is that it moved a lot less than it appears to have. Thus many of the people who might in some ways be sympathetic to the alt right grew less visible.

            Also, as Jaybird notes below, it sure seems that within each camp, heterodoxy is less tolerated. I remember that about 10-ish years ago, the republicans were all about purging RINOs from the party. The fact that they continued to enjoy electoral victories has encouraged democrats to do the same.

            Report

            • Trump is President because the center has moved from both directions. I recall a lot of left -leaning people being angry at Republicans because it is only female relatives that got them to condemn Trump’s comments and Reps still voted for Trump anyway.

              The Partisan brain reigns supreme. Lots of politicians know you can’t get away with certain things anymore but they are still aganist that and might want to turn back the clock.

              Also Trump is President because of the weakness of the Electoral College.

              Report

            • Sure, the centre has moved. But if the centre moved, why is Trump president?

              In a two party system, being the leader of one of the two parties confers an immense structural advantage. Most partisans are going to vote for their guy no matter what. The Billy Bush tape came out late in the cycle, and the GOP leadership had already demonstrated an incredible degree of cravenness in the face of Trump before they made him the leader of his party.

              So I wouldn’t read quite as much into it.

              Report

              • “the GOP leadership had already demonstrated an incredible degree of cravenness in the face of Trump”

                What the hell were they supposed to do, though? There was a clear preference by the voters for what Trump was presenting to them. Every other candidate had a chance to co-opt that message, and they didn’t. (I bet Walker could have made a go at it, but something something white dudes so he quit.) I mean, if your argument is that the party leadership shouldn’t be listening to the voters, that’s how we got Clinton instead of Sanders and I think we all know how that worked out.

                Report

                • Basically, not be intimidated by his threat to run as an independent, and not let the fear of losing Trump supporters stay their hand.

                  The time to derail the Trump Train was as early as possible, just as it was with the Cain Train.

                  And yeah, it might have screwed them during the general.

                  Then again, maybe not! Hillary lost to Trump. She might well have lost to Rubio.

                  Report

            • The center has moved to the Left, if anything.
              It’s just that the Left has become unpalatable.

              Smelling a fart doesn’t sound like a good proposition.
              If the other choice is eating sh!t, it sounds a lot better.
              In this example, the Republicans want to give people their farts, while the Democrats just want people to eat sh!t.

              In the choice of lesser evils, the monstrous is far better than the truly diabolical.

              EDIT:
              It’s actually more like:
              The Unhinged are far better than the Insane.

              Report

              • One thing that I find very interesting about political conversations is that lots of folks on the right contend that the political center is moving left. And lots of folks on the right contend that the political center is moving right. At first blush it would seem difficult to square these to perspectives into a unified model and that one or both must be wrong.

                But on further reflection, maybe there is something here. After all, we know that the universe is expanding. And more importantly, we know that the expansion of the universe isn’t that galaxies are moving away, through space, from a central perspective. Rather, space itself is expanding, with every point moving further away from every other point. And the other interesting thing is that at the level of solar systems and galaxies, gravity is strong enough to counter this expansionary force.

                I think somewhere buried in the cosmology of an expanding universe is a useful model of our current politics; although, I can’t quite work out what it is.

                Report

                • I believe I understand your point.

                  Objectively, the center is moving to the Left.
                  Examples abound. Pick one.

                  Meanwhile, the Left is moving Further Left at a greater pace.
                  The end result is an illusory retrograde motion, that the center is moving Right.

                  This coincides with my own observations.

                  Report

                  • That’s not what I mean. My point is that there is no objective movement of the center. If the center appears to be moving left on certain issues, that’s largely just a function of entropy. Tightly enforced social structures erode over time and give way to increased social freedom. We call that process progress because that is the direction in which the arrow of time points, so to say that society gets more progressive over time is simply to state a tautology.

                    At the same time though, look at other areas, like economics. In the post WW2 period, economic orthadoxy dictated a centrally planned, highly regulated mixed economy, deficit spending funded by high marginal tax rates, and the efficacy of the Philips Curve. Almost no one accepts that sort of vulgar Keynesianism anymore, which is why center-left economists now call themselves New Keynesians. Likewise, there was a point where many on the left considered themselves not just progressive or social democratic but outright communist or proper socialists.

                    Report

                • I think it is a weird combination of a bunch of things. There is an emboldened left especially among younger people (14-39) on a lot of old civil rights/culture war issues. So the kind of Sista Soulja moment that Bill Clinton did in 1992.

                  When it comes to things like SSM and Gay Rights, the right-wing (except a few hardcore redoubts) have largely moved on and/or are in the mitigating damage phase of social change. They don’t think they can repeal SSM, they just want to protect a few institutions.

                  Most people also seem to understand that people have sex before marriage and cohabitation without marriage is going to be a thing now. They aren’t going to change entertainment/culture to be more “wholesome”.

                  But criminal justice reform, drug war reform, and police reform are still proving to be very hard. Xenophobia is running high. The GOP seems to move farther to the right on economics despite the obvious unpopularity of some of their positions on this issue. The Kansas GOP just ended Brownback’s no tax experiment but the Cognressional GOP seems not to notice how much of a disaster it was for the state of Kansas.

                  Report

                  • The GOP seems to move farther to the right on economics despite the obvious unpopularity of some of their positions on this issue.

                    That seems a strange statement to make after the GOP nominated and the country elected a guy who was anti-trade, anti-globalization and arguing for a very retro industrial policy of the government picking champions and using deficit spending to push money at them in the hopes of increasing domestic employment. Almost nothing about that (aside from tax cuts) is to the right on economics.

                    In fact, it’s probably more accurate to say that the whole right-click economics debate has been superceded by a populist moment, that is generally hostile to the mainstream policy wonks on the center right and center left.

                    Report

                    • There is a what someone says and what they do thing. I always go with what they do. Unfortunately a lot of people seem to take what someone says at face value and sticks with it despite all evidence to the contrary.

                      Yes Trump ran on an anti-free trade agenda and said he would not cut Medicare and other social programs. But is budget is the most draconian and right-wing in decades in terms of the social programs he is going to cut for lower taxes. I also think a lot of his keep the jobs here stuff is just talk and Trump is a con man but that is just me.

                      Report

                • “lots of folks on the right contend that the political center is moving left. And lots of folks on the right contend that the political center is moving right.”

                  It’s because both sides believe that they’ve won; that they’ve captured the hearts (if not the minds) of 51% of the voters. And that what needs to happen now is to get that 51% fired up enough to go out to the voting booth. And that needs stories about how the war is over and our side won.

                  Report

                  • This is why both parties are terrified of a viable 3rd party, because they know they haven’t won the hearts and minds of anywhere close to 30%, much less 50%. As long as voters only have two choices come election day, the parties can move as far to the extremes as they want, because that robust center will swing one way or the other.

                    So it’s a race to the bottom of crafting the lease objectionable candidate, rather than finding the best.

                    Report

              • The center has moved to the Left, if anything.

                Sure. There’s always a frame of reference in which progress – not progressivism – is viewed as leftward movement. Take cell phones as an example of reality having a liberal bias.

                It’s just that the Left has become unpalatable.

                That may be, but from my pov the right is even more unpalatable. It’s an empty suit. It’s important to remember that the right emphatically rejected The Right during the presidential primary. Apparently even conservatives thought conservatism had become unpalatable.

                Report

                • It’s just that the Left has become unpalatable.

                  That may be, but from my pov the right is even more unpalatable.

                  Like everything, that depends on the individuals frame of reference. Just as I don’t think tomatoes are food, many feel they are the greatest thing in the edible universe. I left the left as I find their actions, not necessarily their messages, worse that that of the right.

                  You have a different conclusion.

                  Report

                  • Like everything, that depends on the individuals frame of reference.

                    Facts do not materialize in a frame of reference, Aaron. Facts are just reality, irrespective of what anyone believes or perceives, or even if they notice. But if we move to evidence, Trump’s victory in the primary demonstrated that conservatives reject “conservatism”, as that term was – prior to Trump – conventionally defined.

                    Add: unless “conservative” just means “opposing whatever liberals want, updated daily”.

                    Report

                    • Yeah, this. The further left is indeed pretty unpalatable but I remain deeply skeptical that the further left and the rights joint effort to paint the entire left as being part and parcel of the further left is actually reality based. We’ve seen a party and established institutions catering to and captured by wingnuts but it wasn’t on the left.

                      Meanwhile the rights official dogmas are so unpopular that they can’t even say them aloud- they just allude to them. Trump is virtually wearing the former right wing ideology around like a hollowed out suit. The Republican Congress and Senate have to work in utter secrecy to try and enact the rights preferred policies because they’re so publically toxic that they can’t let them get out to their constituents.

                      Report

                      • How do we define the farther left and how many of them are there? Is it the Sanders wing of the Democratic Party? Or is it people who find Sanders too centrist and went straight for Jill Stein? Lee has a good point here. The far left never joined with the Democratic Party in the ways that far right decided to take-over the GOP.

                        Meanwhile the rights official dogmas are so unpopular that they can’t even say them aloud- they just allude to them. Trump is virtually wearing the former right wing ideology around like a hollowed out suit. The Republican Congress and Senate have to work in utter secrecy to try and enact the rights preferred policies because they’re so publically toxic that they can’t let them get out to their constituents.

                        I am also not sure this is true because Trump seems to be allowing Ryan/McConnell/Mulvaney to do whatever they want and these seem to be the ideological ID of unpopular Republican policies. Let’s read Chait:

                        http://nymag.com/daily/intelligencer/2017/06/republicans-wont-impeach-trump-no-matter-what-his-crimes.html

                        While it may seem puzzling to liberals, this kind of behavior is consistent with the method of the conservative movement. The conservative movement takeover of the Republican Party began in the 1960s and took decades to complete. Conservatives still have not lost their sense of being an insurgent movement that might at any moment be betrayed by the party Establishment. Conservatives think of their role as quasi-independent, but they also imagine it as focusing exclusively on enforcing fealty to their doctrine by politicians who might otherwise be inclined to wander. The scenario they are built to fight against is the Republican president who colludes with Democrats, not one who colludes with foreign dictators. If the president is fighting against the opposition party, they assume he is acting correctly. Conservative organs like National Review originally viewed Richard Nixon with hostility, and — perverse as it may sound — came to his defense because of Watergate.
                        Many conservatives opposed Trump during the primaries because they suspected, with good reason, that his conservatism was shallow or insincere. They worried that, once elected, Trump would abandon their priorities and pursue the most expedient course.
                        But Trump has not done that at all. The policies or talking points Trump has abandoned are the centrist ones: He would protect Medicaid from cuts, give everybody terrific coverage, hammer the big banks, spend a trillion dollars on infrastructure, and cut deals with both parties. This week, Trump formally abandoned the last possible area of ideological compromise in infrastructure, “clarifying” that his plan relies on private industry, states, or cities ponying up the money. Trump’s budget actually cuts federal investments in infrastructure. He has positioned himself to the right of even House Republicans on domestic spending, and continues to push for their grossly unpopular plan to cut a trillion dollars from Obamacare. “The Never Trump conservative argument that Trump is not a conservative — one that I, too, made repeatedly during the Republican primaries — is not only no longer relevant, it is no longer true,” points out the popular conservative talk-show host Dennis Prager.
                        Trump is faithfully supporting the conservative agenda, so most conservatives faithfully support him. Their concerns are pragmatic ones about his effectiveness on behalf of their common agenda, rather than moral objections to the legitimacy and propriety of his actions. Trump may have committed impeachable offenses, but the impeachment clock has not even begun to move.

                        Report

                        • Yes that’s my point. Right wing policy positions are so unpopular that not even the right wing masses want them. To wit they chucked the conventional right wing politicians and went with a politician who’s policy positions were an incoherent babble. What does this indicate? The voting masses don’t like right wing policy.

                          Yes, Trump has no real ideology of his own and into that vacuum the establishment right is, accordingly, free to continue to pursue conventional right wing policy desires. How do they do so? In complete secrecy, franticly obscuring their legislation and then breaking out of cover in a mad sprint to vote on it before it can be scored or communicated to the masses. Again what does this tell us? That the voting masses don’t like conventional right wing policy.

                          Report

                        • To answer your first question: My own personal mental map of the left has Sanders occupying a midpoint/throwback branch that is predominantly economically populist and class focused. Kind of like Trump (Bernie and Berniacs are rather incoherent on how to achieve what they’re after). For ease I generally refer to them as socialists and since Bernie himself embraces the term I think it’s a reasonable one.

                          The further left in my own mind represents the branches of the left wing tree where their respective primary ideology merits discarding liberalism itself. Environmentalism over prosperity; political correctness over free speech, purity over principle. Dreher and the right tend to characterize the whole of the left as having been captured by these ideologues. I don’t see it. Outside the hothouses of schools or artistic institutions I don’t see much true believer wingnut ideology being operationally successful. Yeah the centrist leftists don’t thump it- there’s little profit to be found it attacking the true believers to the left- but they don’t pay much beyond lip service to them.

                          Report

                          • “Environmentalism over prosperity” is a hard one because I would say that it is a standard Democratic position that man-made climate change is real and the government has to do something about it. Most Democrats are also probably fairly comfortable with the idea that we should strive to consume less and look into more renewable resources.

                            But there is a small fringe of people who seem to want everyone to embrace radical communal lifestyles and are basically anti-bourgeois living as the developed world knows it.

                            Report

                            • Well of course. We’re talking about real wingers here and out in the fringes it’s a lot more about feeling than reasoning.
                              Your first paragraph is basically what the fringe sentiment turns into when you water it down with reality. The fringe environmentalists denounce that compromise as immoral.

                              Report

                    • Which facts are important, that is the question, and one that divides. Firearms are a fact. Period. Personal ownership is the question. But which facts are germane to/supportive of an argument you are trying to make? That is the frame of reference.

                      And for the last 100 odd days the left has rapidly transformed into the party of no, opposing whatever conservatives want. (And gained the conspiracy theories that go with being out of power.)

                      Report

                      • That last paragraph is ludicrous. The only things that conservatives agree they want right now is things that liberals/Democratic Party supporters hate (as in literally, what do you want? Answer: “Stuff that Liberals will hate”). So that makes the Dems the “Party of no” for not signing on with that?

                        Report

                        • More to the point: the left isn’t even in a position to oppose the right in terms of political power, yet the right can’t get anything done. What does “opposing” even mean in this context? The left broadly opposes the AHCA, repealing Dodd-Frank, overturning Obama’s Cuba policy, etc. Seems to me like the left is right on those issues, and the right is wrong.

                          Unless you think the right’s views are determined by Cleek’s Law, of course. Then it all makes sense.

                          Report

                          • Yes exactly, the AHCA is a prime example. “We’re going to use reconciliation to tear up every piece of the ACA the parliamentarian will let us tear up and then use the freed up revenue to give out a tax cut and set the stage for a bigger tax cut later”. Then shock and horror that no Democratic reps will negotiate on that? Calling the Dems the party of no feels like it goes beyond chutzpa to something that exceeds the grasp of Yiddish to encompass. And that’s an achievement because Yiddish is a tremendously cynical language!

                            Report

                          • Sorry, to me watching the left with Gorshich, the latest round of conspiricy mongering a la Russkies, etc. lead me to this view. A case of placing emphasis on different facts. Obviously YMHV.

                            But do you think that the only reason they are taking many of these actions is for Cleek and his law? Seriously, they hate those things not simply because they are passed by the left, but because they are anathema to how the right thinks things work best. Granted, the left thinks thhings work best with those laws in place, but that doesn’t make Cleeks case, outside of “ya doi.”

                            There is a reason there are fundamental differences between the two groups, and that boils down to world view. And when you cannot accept that their is any account for that world view other than “Thems Hates Us” you are going to end up with a very flawed view of oppositional politics, a view that leads us to what happened in November, where O voters went T.

                            Report

                            • Dude, when your proposed replacement for the ACA is a tax cut dressed in drag as a healthcare bill and your proposed method for passing it is reconciliation and no opposing party members are even invited to participate you don’t then get to label the opposing party as the “Party of No”. Not without being laughed out of the room.

                              The Gorsich issue was black and white self interest: The judicial filibuster had been exposed as a liability that was being used effectively against the Dems so they made the GOP complete the process of getting rid of it. There wasn’t any party of no business there.

                              Report

                              • Exactly. What “world view” prescribes that 13 GOPers ram thru a bill negotiated in secret a bill that effects one sixth of our economy and impacts the lives of every single American? How is that at all equivalent to the passage of the ACA, which was conducted in daylight including GOP amendments? How is all that evidence of a “both sides do it” party equivalence and the accompanying bullshit nonsense?

                                Report

                            • There is a reason there are fundamental differences between the two groups, and that boils down to world view.

                              Exactly. One is based on facts, evidence and argument, albeit with a progressive bent that often over-reaches, and the other is based on a denial of facts, evidence and argument and relies on cynical emotions. In fact, the right’s views are based on a fundamental rejection that evidence and rational argument are at all relevant to a political discussion. Which is fucking bizarre to me.

                              I understand the stipulation that these are the dynamics in play, but I don’t understand the equation of the two, or the attempts to justify one as having equal merit as the other.

                              Report

                              • I understand the stipulation that these are the dynamics in play, but I don’t understand the equation of the two, or the attempts to justify one as having equal merit as the other.

                                Because on many of these issues, not all, I agree with the left less, sometime because of that progressive spin, sometimes because I think they are wrong on the facts. In general I think there are many people like me, in that they don’t particularly like the right, they simply find the left abhorrent. I rather doubt that I will convince either of you, but the last six years make a case for it.

                                The left had eight years to make their case, leading to the loss of over 1000 elected seats. And the rise of Trump.

                                Report

                                • In general I think there are many people like me, in that they don’t particularly like the right, they simply find the left abhorrent. I rather doubt that I will convince either of you,

                                  No, you won’t, until you move from emotion to actual facts and evidence. But if you move out of emotion and get back to facts, evidence and argument, the right doesn’t have a damn thing to offer. Except to the emotion-based voters.

                                  And that’s why we have Trump.

                                  Report

                                • In another universe and an alternate world far away called 2008-2016 an apparently different Aaron waxed rhapsodic to me about the need to build consensus. That Aaron denounced the ACA, passed as it was with a congressional majority, a presidency and a Senate super majority (followed up by a 59 vote reconciliation), as being deplorable because the Democratic Party and its president had failed to build consensus with the GOP and failed to wait to go back to the voters to make their case to get an even bigger majority before passing their healthcare bill. Now, in the orange light of the Trump era it seems that those principles no longer apply, perhaps since this legislation moves in a direction that, if you squint, could perhaps be called a smaller government direction. That’s fine, I feel a certain bleak satisfaction that my cynicism regarding all the consensus building talk was correct.

                                  Report

                                  • I am failing to see how my opinion has changed, as nothing you are saying contradicts what I have posted above. No where have I said that Trump shouldn’t reach out to the left. No where have I said that I like Trump. No where have I said that the R health care plan is good.

                                    Other than that I have no idea what you are talking about.

                                    Report

                                    • Other than that I have no idea what you are talking about.

                                      Well, you should. I mean, it’s pretty clear. You think the Dems are more unpalatable than the Reps, that the Dem message is worse that the message of the right, that Dems are conspiracy-mongering about TrumpssiaGate even tho anyone with eyes to see can see the obstruction and lying present right in front of their eyes. You even equated political support to a matter of taste like believing tomatoes are food, which is an absolutely bizarre way to look at politics and reduces it to merely an emotional appeal based on taste rather than anything objective determinable based on policy. Hence, you’ve undermined your own argument that the Dems are worse than the Reps. All you’ve done at this point is reject the idea that evidence matters in forming your opinions.

                                      Which, again, is fucking bizarre.

                                      Report

                                          • Look one of the sticking points in US politics is the inability to agree on which facts are important. This is why I included the the discussion on firearms above. What is important to you in the discussion may not be important to me. Neither set of facts is wrong, but we place different values on those facts. This is an opinion. Now, I am pretty sure you know all this, but for some reason you are sticking to the point that the facts that are important to you, should be equally important to me. And you seem to be getting frustrated by this, no? Please let me know if that isn’t it.

                                            My tomato analogy was simply a way to demonstrate that people are different and often approach things from an angle that reflects those differences. Nothing more, nothing less (outside the fact that tomatoes are gross.)

                                            And sorry for the “cool story” that was intemperate of me.

                                            Report

                                            • I get all that. My argument is that superficial taste isn’t a rational basis to determine partisan loyalties. You seem to be saying that it is. Ie., hatred of Democrats doesn’t get a person better policy, it only gets them not-Dem policy.

                                              Report

                                              • Well, we need to have the is/ought discussion then.

                                                In our (mostly) binary political system, rational people are going to go for the most positive platform for them. Who supports your desires the most, who fears the same things you fear, etc. Absent that, rational people are going to that which will hurt them less. Now, in that paradigm, we have those binary parties, one of which represents change/progress (LDL) and one represents status quo (RCR). If the former wants to change things, they have to convince enough of the voters to support them. And hope those voters are actually advocating the change the LDL wants. At the same time, the RCR is going to push back, rarely in a coherent manner, but in the actions of institutions and individuals. This might seem to be “they are just opposing us because we are LDL” expessed by Cleeks law.

                                                Now, to me, that is all pretty obvious and banal, but what is interesting is that many of those institutions have been changing, so that we aren’t sure which is on which side in any of these debates. Are unions, the rank and file, still of the left? Are corps still of the right?

                                                We are at a point of inflection, which is why Cleeks law no longer applies, at least in my view. What is conservative? What is liberal? To say that something is opposed simply because it is the LDL suggesting it doesn’t really hit the mark. Sure, there are old, long term wants and needs of each branch that hold (Healthcare, abortion, guns.) But who is opposing it? When the ACA arose, one of the biggest hits were the cadillac plans, which has been one of union workers most important issues. That quickly was dropped, helping unions, but we see many union workers went for Trump. And yet, the top business in the country, indeed the world, are big D supporters. That is a huge change. What seems like Cleek, is in many ways a trial balloon, see who bites on any issue. At the same time, the old paradigm still holds. The duality of man.

                                                I think both groups are trying to find their way in this new world, and what seems like an old, easy sell, is hollow. What seemed obvious is just out of reach.

                                                Report

                                    • You’re not contradicting anything you’ve said in this thread or article, most assuredly!

                                      I’m doubtful I can find the original comment thread where you and I chatted about how paramount consensus building was. I’ll have to give it a whirl when I’m done work.

                                      Report

                                      • Actually , I hope you can, as I am curious as to my growing and changing mind on things (been a crazy decade for me, my son graduates college this Sat. among other things.) Also, misunderstanding are legion, I know I succumb to them.

                                        Report

                              • One is based on facts, evidence and argument, albeit with a progressive bent that often over-reaches, and the other is based on a denial of facts, evidence and argument and relies on cynical emotions. In fact, the right’s views are based on a fundamental rejection that evidence and rational argument are at all relevant to a political discussion. Which is fucking bizarre to me.

                                I understand the stipulation that these are the dynamics in play, but I don’t understand the equation of the two, or the attempts to justify one as having equal merit as the other.

                                This sounds pretty self serving to me. “My arguments are reasonable but yours are emotional…”. The strength of someone’s arguments can vary wildly from situation to situation. There’s no reason a birther can’t also have 30 years of experience is whatever the current subject is.

                                Both sides have their blind spots, both sides have their areas where they’re more rational than the other. Both sides misuse science and use emotion as a club. And both sides are coalitions with some ugly members and/or outcomes.

                                Google: “Economic Ignorance and the Left” if you want a partial list of what I view as the Left’s problems with irrationality.

                                Report

                            • Re; conspiracies. The right indulged in Obama wasn’t born here for years. In the last election many got whipped up into Clinton and associates were part of child sex ring!!!

                              Okay so you say the liberals are getting all conspiracy minded over Russia. But several members of the intelligence community including Comey last week said there is a lot of evidence that Russia did interfere with the election. Maybe they are wrong but if the heads of the CIA and FBI and NSA say something happened then thinking it did happen is far far less then some whacked out pizza parlor based conspiracy. It’s a thing with considerable evidence.

                              Report

                        • The only things that conservatives agree they want right now is things that liberals/Democratic Party supporters hate. So that makes the Dems the “Party of no” for not signing on with that?

                          Tax reform is something the Dems came close to signing onto before. Other economic growth enabling items. Some aspects of medical reform would make Obamacare actually look like it’s working.

                          What the Dems are concerned about is “what happens if the GOP’s policies work and create wealth/jobs”.

                          Report

                          • What the Dems are concerned about is “what happens if the GOP’s policies work and create wealth/jobs”.

                            They’re borrowing trouble. While U-6 is still not as good as it used to be, U-2 is looking pretty close to what economists call “full employment” and the only thing that will create wealth/jobs is a breakthrough on the level of the $999 home computer that can connect to AOL.

                            Report

                            • the only thing that will create wealth/jobs is a breakthrough on the level of the $999 home computer that can connect to AOL.

                              Our tax code costs us growth via its economic distortions. Ditto our healthcare system, the total lack of competition and lack of price comparison implies there’s a lot of waste.

                              Our economic freedom ranking was lowered to 17th as of 2017, lower growth is presumably part of that package.

                              So the way to bet is we could do a lot better where it comes to growth.

                              Report

                              • What you’re talking about is the difference between 2.6% growth and 2.7% growth.

                                If that.

                                We need something on the level of the difference between CRT and LCD.

                                Only also something that increases productivity rather than provides pleasant distractions.

                                Report

                                • What you’re talking about is the difference between 2.6% growth and 2.7% growth. If that.

                                  The HC system has hundreds of thousands (millions?) of “coders”, i.e. people smart enough to understand a hard symbolic system employed to fight with each other (it also has other bureaucrats). The tax system has tax lawyers, programmers, etc, and purely lost time by individuals.

                                  So that’s millions of smart people with good paying jobs working as bureaucrats who only exist to fight with other bureaucrats. Notice your “increasing productivity” issue comes into play because their productivity currently is zero. Filling out tax forms or billing papers doesn’t add value to the economy. As far as I can tell, the amount of overhead is into multiple percentage points of GDP right there.

                                  That doesn’t include economic distortions from the tax code which, judging from the amount of money stranded overseas, also comes to multiple percentage points of the GDP.

                                  At a handwave, we’re taking low double digits of the GDP out every year and setting it on fire. We’re also incurring massive lost opportunity costs from having many of our best and brightest engaged in non-productive work. I.e. the people who should be inventing the next LCD are currently filling out bureaucratic forms.

                                  This is without consideration to what a 17th place for worldwide economic freedom indicates, and without any consideration to the various other bureaucrats whose job is only to deal with rival bureaucrats.

                                  IMHO it would be shocking if our hit to growth from this mess were only 0.1%, so we’re going to have to agree to disagree.

                                  Report

                          • The Dems, and Obama, oversaw a historic recovery from a massive recession both in terms of jobs and the market and they still didn’t get any credit for it. They certainly were not offered any medical reform to sign on to. I’m pretty sure that there’s very little to be gained for the Dems in preventing the GOP from making any constructive policy changes and simply locking in the status quos. The economy is doing pretty well as it is; they didn’t bequeath an imploding mess to Trump. Hell, looking at Kansas the dem’s’d be better off letting the GOP blow up the budget and deficit with their standard tax cut snake oil if the only thing the Dems were focused on was politics. Of course that’d be a disaster policy wise and would be hard to reverse which is why they shouldn’t do it.

                            Report

                            • The Dems, and Obama, oversaw a historic recovery from a massive recession both in terms of jobs and the market and they still didn’t get any credit for it.

                              Historic? The growth rate was technically positive (average annual of 1.48%), but not ever getting above 3% invites comparisons to Hoover.

                              What growth enhancing policies did the Dems roll out? New entitlement(s)? New taxes? New regulations? Attempts to raise energy prices in the name of “Green”? Higher minimum wage and other efforts to fight “inequality”? The only serious effort I can think of is tax reform, which may have fallen apart because Obama didn’t want it to be neutral.

                              If the Dems had returned growth to 4% all this economic anxiety would be manageable, and so would our entitlement funding problems. And yes, I know 4% would be Hard, and to do it you’d need to make growth a priority… or at the very least not be so openly hostile to the concept.

                              “Credit” for the “recovery” is a big reason why HRC lost the election.

                              Report

                              • No only that, the MASSIVE number of people who left the job market and thus fell off the unemployment rolls. All the news reporting is how the UR has gone down. We’re no where near the levels of economic activity that would pull those no longer looking to try and come back into the labor force. Yeah…”recovery”.

                                I’ve seen several crashes and highs and I live near DC, a gushing river of money so the employment is pretty decent regardless of the “real world”. The only way you could think that was if you lived in this area and assumed it was a proxy for the rest of the us. It ain’t.

                                Report

                  • I’m struggling with this tomato analogy.

                    Google tells me that a food is “any nutritious substance that people or animals eat or drink, or that plants absorb, in order to maintain life and growth.”

                    To argue that tomatoes are not food is to deny reality.

                    Now, you can argue that tomatoes are awful. That no one should eat tomatoes. That in your personalized universe, tomatoes are not food because they are not eaten.

                    So the claims, “Tomatoes are not food” and “Tomatoes are the greatest thing in the edible universe,” are simply not equivalent.

                    Report

                      • HA! I remember that…

                        But cleverness aside, if we are dealing with claims predicated upon non-facts, untruths, or things that are simply not based in reality… I can understand questioning whether facts are what should be the determining factor in all cases… but it does not then follow that non-facts are facts.

                        Tomatoes are a food. Full stop.

                        You might argue that you’d never sell tomatoes in your food store because of your feelings on them… that your feelings on tomatoes matter more than what they definitionally are when deciding what to stock in your food store.
                        “They’re a food! Sell them!”
                        “I’m considering more than whether they are or are not a food.”
                        We’re still kosher here.
                        “But they’re a food! It’s a food store!”
                        “They are not a food.”
                        Ummm… no.

                        Report

                        • Working on that thesis, if I go out to the cabinet, and in looking for a drink pull down a bottle of red wine vinegar, am I having a drink?Its liquid, would it not settle my thirst? Or salt water…

                          These things meet the requirements but don’t work, For Me. If someone else were to say that they are drinks, full stop, who am I to judge?

                          For me, tomatoes are food in the sense that garlic is food. Not that I would chew on a bulb.

                          Report

          • I don’t think this is a good example, but not for the reasons here stated.
            It’s just that posturing is as important, if not more so, than substance.
            The change is that people are more stretched for time, and less likely to seek extensive extrapolation.
            Part of the connectness of the digital age: Everyone, and everything, is more shallow, though there is a lot more of it than there used to be.

            Report

    • “As you yourself note, many conservative democrats became republicans.”

      If I am reading this correctly, the argument is to grow the Democratic tent so that those people feel more at home there than in the GOP tent. I’m not sure that this would have been a winning strategy prior but with Trump alienating so many folks, now might be the time.

      We can hem and haw over why the Dems have to shift their center. But practical reality and history as outlined in this piece seem to show why that is the case.

      If you are the party seeking to make grand changes to social order, you tend to need more wiggle room and margin for error.

      Report

  2. I’d love for either party to learn to love their moderates… but you get power in Congress by being there forever, and the Blue Dogs aren’t. Giving Blue Dogs seats is giving power to Nancy Pelosi (or whoever), and she’s going to use that power like she wants and has big clubs to make the Dogs fall into line.

    I don’t see any mechanism for either party to say “no” to it’s own extremists.

    Report

    • Aside from remembering that for all their noise, they’re still extremists, and by definition are a minority.

      How often does the fringe manage to unseat a safe* Politician in a primary?

      *Not already in trouble for other reasons.

      Report

      • In 2010, my state legislator had an 83% approval rating going in to the election, and lost to a Tea Party candidate.
        That was an extraordinary period of widespread discontent, and I attribute that to the Democratic Congress. The way I call it, the first two years of the Obama presidency, Congress slapped him around like he was still a junior senator from the Midwest. Toward the end of his second year, he came into his own, and made a good president (the best I remember to date, and Ford is the first president I remember).

        Report

      • Aside from remembering that for all their noise, they’re still extremists, and by definition are a minority.

        The big parties are collections of extremists. Often they’re core members of the party with big payrolls and are owed lots of political favors. Often they’ve managed to appoint their true believers into positions of power. Much worse, since the big parties are by definition a subset of society, often that “minority” is magnified inside the party.

        Starting with the GOP, actually outlawing abortion would probably make the party unelectable. Declaring war on hispanic immigrants in California actually did.

        Bernie Sanders, whose solution to every problem is to ask “what would Venezuelan do”, almost became the Dem nominee.

        My expectation is Obama doesn’t think he’s extreme on gun control, it’s just the rest of the country. We could have a large discussion on what “extremist” means on this issue with everyone trying to brand the other side as unreasonable… and everyone taking part would probably be an extremist for one side or the other.

        Report

  3. Agreed on all counts, well said. Also the fact of the matter is that the Democratic Parties more extreme wing is more fractured and weak than their compatriots on the right. The Liberal left has collected very few scalps over the recent past whereas the Tea Party has an entire chest of them and just recently got their preferred nominee into the Presidency.

    Report

    • I used to think that I wanted ideological consistency from the two parties… then I got it and was proven wrong.

      Mostly I think the structural two-party regime is to blame… but it’s easier to dilute the parties than adjust the regime.

      Report

      • Well sure, but I dare say it’d be easier to pass a constitutional amendment than it would be to bust up the two party system (and I say that as a half Canadian who thinks the US could use more than two viable parties).

        Report

        • Zoinks… we’re in worse shape than I thought if passing a Constitutional amendment to change the Regime to proportional representation or other power allocation systems is easier than allowing pro-Choice Republicans and pro-Life Democrats into the parties.

          Now personally, I think I would like a new multi-polar Power allocation system… maybe until we get it, then I can be proven wrong again.

          Report

          • No no, I mean instituting a multi party system. The thing is, and correct me if I’m wrong because my edumacation on the US political system was from a Canadian slant, the US constitution doesn’t have anything about parties in it. They founders, some of them at least, preferred that there not be any. So there being two parties is kind of an organic development that crusted on over the original constitutional structure. That unwritten set of rules strikes me as being a lot harder to change to make a multiparty system short of chucking the constitution and instating a parliamentary democracy instead.

            Report

            • Right… organic, but also structural… maybe structural in an unintended sort of way. There’s certainly no prohibition on multiple parties… just nothing for them to do – especially compared to a Regime committed to proportional forms of power allocation.

              Which is another way of saying that maybe the answer is for regional center-left folks to start a party in their own image… except that’s really hard to do, so it isn’t done. Much.

              The Libertarians, like the poor, we shall always have.

              Report

              • Agreed, it’s crusted on like seaweed on dock pilings. There’s no simple constitutional change that’d invalidate the existing duopoly system.

                Sure, center leftists could make a genuine effort to start their own party and thus relegate the left (including themselves) to electoral impotence for generations. Maybe the center right, or theological right should go first? Of course that brutal calculus is why neither party is in danger of breaking up and why libertarians and greens etc remain passionate electorally irrelevant outsiders shouting at the clouds.

                Report

  4. Hegel said we learn from history that we do not learn from history.

    Hey, now, just because a Democratic coalition capable of winning a legislative majority needs to make room for moderate and conservative members doesn’t the tradition of Democratic Presidents appointing Republican Secretaries of Defense is a good one.

    :holds earpiece:

    Never mind.

    Report

  5. If I may bring up the “Matter of Taste” vs. “Matter of Morality” distinction again, I’d say that the Democrats have moved a number of things into “Matter of Morality” and that creates purity tests in a whole bunch of areas.

    The easy and obvious example is abortion. How much wiggle room is there on abortion? It seems to me that the two positions that the Democratic Party allows are “keep everything exactly the same as it is right now and people who want to add restrictions are Evil” and “we need to move things so that we have even fewer restrictions on abortion!”

    And that’s it. A Democrat who argues that it would be fine to put bans on abortion in the third trimester (with a handful of exceptions for the litany) but first trimester abortions should be On Demand No Questions Asked (oh, let’s say that this would be a Democrat running in one of those flyover states) is one that would get attacked by real Democrats in real Cities.

    And, you know what? Maybe that’s okay for Abortion. Abortion *IS* a very important political hot button, after all. But what other issues would go in here? What other examples can we think of where one person might say “you know what, we need wiggle room on this issue” and it would inspire such discussions as “So you think it’s okay to discriminate against (people)? Do you think it’s okay to put (people) in camps? Burn them alive? Have the ashes rain down among the (people) who haven’t been burned alive yet while camp guards would make jokes about the (people) being ‘snowflakes’? Would you apply for a guard job or would you be hoping to be camp overseer in this system you’re proposing?”

    Or Climate Change, perhaps. Health Care. The Minimum Wage.

    Which of these important causes are you willing to trade away in order to get from losing 48% to 49% (with 3% going to nutball candidates) to winning 49% to 48% (with 3% going to nutball candidates)?

    You’re going to get accused of something like “you’re trading away the stuff that you don’t care about and doesn’t affect you, you’re only trading away the stuff that I care about and affects me!”, after all. What’s the best way to deal with that?

    Report

    • I’m also reminded of the Republicans who also tried to make everything an issue of purity… for example, Abortion. The debates between the Republicans who thought that Abortion Should Always Be Illegal (and IUDs, for that matter!) and the Republicans who thought that there should be exceptions for the litany. (Hell, even some Republicans who asked “is this an appropriate use of government power?” but they tended to be called sinners and got themselves cast out into the outer darkness.)

      Hell, Todd Akin wasn’t *THAT* long ago.

      Report

        • It was more because of them.

          There was the instance of a man wrongfully convicted of killing his mother making big news in the state, while the Armitage murder appeal was going on, which was pretty nasty.
          In the latter, a prominent KC atty was accused of beating his law partner to death with a brick in a downtown office, and was convicted. The appellate court found wrongful withholding of exonerating evidence, the surveillance footage from the building, which showed Buchli arriving after Armitage was already dead.
          That was what the Jackson Co. prosecutor’s office was all about under McCaskill. And presumably, that is very much the way her Senate office is run, on half-truths and hiding the tell-tale trailings.
          I had advised an advisor from that office on the whole “campus rape” thing. I was willing to overlook the past in order to make progress on important issues,* got turned off real quick when I found out the authors of the study cited had written a piece for Time stating that this was an inappropriate use of their study, and it was over three years old by then.

          The money and support came in from the outside to shore up McCaskill, who just barely squeaked out a win.

          Akin was competent but misinformed; McCaskill is insidious though well-briefed.

          Some code words make people lose all sense of reason or perspective, which I believe was Jaybird’s original point (or among them).
          _______________
          * I, myself, was also the victim of McCaskill’s office during her time at the County, one of those hide-the-recording type of things. No telling how many others.

          Report

        • Well, on one level, it makes sense. Todd Akin didn’t only cost the Republicans one seat. He cost them multiple seats in multiple districts.

          If Todd Akin is causing a 1-2 point shift in New Hampshire, it makes sense to turn that issue into a national issue and a national litmus test.

          I’m just not sure that such is as smart a thing to do with, say, the handgun issue.

          Report

      • “Hell, Todd Akin wasn’t *THAT* long ago.”

        Well, Jaybird, as I’m sure our own Tod will be happy to tell you, nobody cares about Akin and nobody much cared at the time and it’s only stupid conservatives like you and me who keep bringing him up and suggesting he’s an example of anything that means anything.

        Report

    • The easy and obvious example is abortion.

      Of all the possible examples of Democrats taking a matter of morality and turning it into a matter of taste, this one is such an obvious non-example I’m a bit stunned.

      It’s precisely backwards! ISTR you yourself expressing a bit of frustration over people who take the liberal line on abortion dismissing the possibility that it might have a moral dimension.

      Abortion is an example of the parties getting ideologically sorted, to be sure, but, well, not like that.

      Report

      • Hrm. Rechewing over it, yeah. You’re right. That’s one where these moral intuitions are in conflict with those moral intuitions and the problem comes when someone chooses those moral intuitions over these moral intuitions.

        It’s the people who argue “it’s a skin tag!” who create all kinds of weird dynamics.

        Okay.

        Report

        • But how to describe the dynamic where the *ONLY* allowable discussions are between “we need to hold the line” and “we need to double down” with no room, whatsoever, for “it’s okay to give a little on this issue”?

          Report

          • I’m not sure what the best way to describe it is.

            I do think the dynamic is more rooted in a lack of trust between factions than the particular details of the disagreement.

            Report

            • I believe that the only agreement we get on abortion or gun control threads is just this – there isn’t enough trust of the respective banners to even float moderate restrictions because they’ve demonstrated both by word and by deed that they (at least the extremists) can’t be trusted to ever stop pulling at threads.

              Report

          • ” how to describe the dynamic where the *ONLY* allowable discussions are between “we need to hold the line” and “we need to double down” with no room, whatsoever, for “it’s okay to give a little on this issue”?”

            How about this very conversation?

            “You keep talking about this in the abstract, Jaybird! Why won’t you pick a specific example?”
            “Okay, abortion!”
            “OH MY GOD, JAYBIRD, HOW CAN YOU EVEN SUGGEST WE ENTERTAIN THE IDEA THAT THERE MIGHT BE ROOM FOR DISCUSSION ON ABORTION?!”

            Report

    • Abortion isn’t a matter of taste, it is a matter of morality.

      The thing I dislike about your variant of this is that you seem to treat everything that is important to center-left to further left voters as being a matter of taste. Meanwhile on the right, it all seems to be ultra-morality.

      Abortion is a matter of morality because making it a matter of taste makes illegalization possible. The right wing certainly sees abortion as a matter of morality. Why can’t the keep abortion legal crowd?

      Report

            • Doesn’t parse since there’s no strong pro-polyamory movement in either party. Hell there’s more organized support for polyamory on the right in terms of “Now that SSM is legal polyamory is next!” than there is on the left in terms of “We want polyamory, here’s how it’d work, let’s fight for it!”

              Report

              • I think I’m seeing it better now… the disconnect between “The Left” and “The Democrats” and whether that disconnect is something that ought to be expected/tolerated/celebrated versus seeing it as something troubling that needs to be overcome.

                Report

                • Do we want the Dems to look more like the GOP in terms of how they operationally and ideologically relate to their true believer fringe? I personally don’t. Also I struggle to imagine it because the lefts ideological fringe seems considerably more fractured to my eye than the rights ideological fringe.

                  Report

                  • Again, I think the true believer fringe of the left is not interested in the Democratic Party. The LGM crowd are weird in being realistic leftists in that most of them seem to be farther left than many in the Democratic Party but also realize that it is better to vote for HRC than be a Stein voting purity pony.

                    There is a substantial liberal base that is tired of being condescended to by the Rahn Emmanuel types though. I suspect that DWS and Rahm Emmanuel and co over-learned the lessons of 1988 and 1994 and are now facing issues from overlearning those lessons.

                    Report

                    • “The LGM crowd are weird in being realistic leftists in that most of them seem to be farther left than many in the Democratic Party but also realize that it is better to vote for HRC than be a Stein voting purity pony.

                      Hey, I resemble that remark!

                      Report

                        • Stein voter here.

                          I saw a speech she gave, and she quoted Debs.
                          That was all it took for me. She had my vote right there.

                          A lot of things I might think are good for the Democratic Party, and a lot of things they might think are good for me.
                          They don’t listen to me so much, so I think it’s only right I don’t listen to them.

                          Report

                          • Will,
                            We don’t have time for Third Parties Anymore, not when the Powers That Be are playing 52 Card Pickup and grabbing as much as possible. If the Powers that Be don’t have faith that we’ll see another election, I’m sure as Sunday not gonna vote for a 3rd Party Candidate.

                            Report

                    • I’m old enough now that I’m beginning to see the rhythm in American Politics. Al Gore lost by the width of his fingernails and it was (partially) because there’s a liberal intensity that fades after being eight years out of the presidency. I definitely saw that again with Hillary*.

                      *Which is not to say she hadn’t multiple other failures, some her fault and some others fault, any one of which encompass the margin of her molecule thin defeat.

                      Report

                      • If you look back to Lincoln, you will see that, with the exception of FDR, the Presidency is a Republican institution marked in continuity by only the occasional Democrat.

                        Not that I don’t care for Democratic presidents (I even like Carter), but I believe the focus of the Democrats is properly on retaining the House.
                        Not only does the government function better like that, but I believe the Democratic Party functions better like that, in theory anyway.
                        Leadership positions for California & New England Democrats would be better restricted to committee chairmanships.

                        Report

              • What did the ad have to do with his mom buying the rifle or the kid killing his mom and taking the rifle? Nothing that I can but it was used as a convenient point of outrage, for liberals.

                Report

                • What did the ad have to do with his mom buying the rifle or the kid killing his mom and taking the rifle?

                  Nothing.

                  That’s why I thought it was such a good example of what Jaybird was talking about: liberals conflating matters of taste with matters of morality.

                  Report

        • Dont know that guns is a better example. Bernie is out of alignment on guns, but hasn’t been stressed too much about it by the far left.

          Best example may be school choice and anything that smacks of being out of line with the teacher’s unions. Look at how Corey Booker has had progressive credentials questioned, in part, for being too close to the education reform camp. And then there is the other thing that gets Dems attacked from the left, not saying mean enough things about the financial services industry.

          Report

            • Sanders’ campaign had a pretty centrist position on gun control. So, if the point of this thread is to highlight areas where having a centrist position will get you censured by the left wing of the party, not sure how it’s a very good example.

              But maybe I’ve misunderstood Jaybird’s entire point.

              Report

              • Looking back at his actual position again, my knee kind of jerked with his support for a federal Assault Weapons Ban, which is probably a bad proxy for a position on gun control in general.

                Report

              • I think my point is the attitude towards the whole “Let’s just agree to disagree” attitude.

                “Let’s just agree to disagree.”
                “Oh, you want me to agree to disagree on whether children dying is a problem? No thanks, baby-killer!”

                Report

                • I think that you are on to something But the more I think about it, the more I think that “taste” is the wrong word. The thing that has become obvious is that the main mode of failure on the left is the insistence that it is a moral failing to be insignificantly progressive. There is a narrow range of issues in which you can authoritatively hold such a position.

                  So, I don’t think it is about taste or even agreeing to disagree. Rather, it’s about some folks on the left being unwilling to entertain the idea that they might be wrong and that there might be better, more efficient, and or fair ways of bringing about their own preferred policy goals.

                  There is a similar mode of failure on the right, where reactionaries have become so used to defining themselves in opposition to “the left,” that they’ve pretty much forgotten what they actually want. But this is our present political landscape. People’s identities are more tied up in what they opposed than in any positive aspiration as to what they want to be. If you want to go deeper than that, start asking yourself who benefits from such a state of affairs.

                  Report

                  • One thing I think Americans on the left share with people on the right is a profound distrust of the party they’re affiliated with, which they see as ready to betray them at the drop of the hat. This leads to a demand for costly signals of loyalty.

                    wrote a great piece about a not-so-dissimilar kind of reasoning driving support for Trump from the anti-immigration wing of the GOP.

                    Report

            • I think Bernie had the appropriate policy view on guns and actually helped cut thru some of the cultural noise liberals create around the topic. Seems to me most of the complaints liberals have regarding guns – me included – don’t revolve around ownership rights as much as a culture of violence which the gun-rights debate exemplifies. As he said on the campaign trail, the second amendment ain’t going nowhere, so let’s move on. And from a practical pov that seems like good politics. Insisting on the impossible is not only a distraction, it’s a liability as well.

              Report

        • I think the problem is that a lot of our choices do have political implications unfortunately unless you just really narrow cast what it means to be political.

          I like eating meat. So do a lot of people. But there are a lot of people who find eating meant and/or using animal products is highly immoral and can be very cruel to animals. I know some people like this and they will often show the most shocking variants of animal abuse in distinct details. I admit that I find these photos hard to look at sometime but I doubt I will give up eating meat anytime soon. What does this say? Am I immoral or weak for refusing to go vegetarian/vegan? Should we just make meat more expensive even though that would be politically unpopular/palpable?

          Likewise I’m pretty open here but my like of nice clothing. Erik Loomis runs posts on LGM about the health issues that happen to garment workers of nice clothing (or clothing in general) and the low pay. There is also the income inequality angle. What does it mean that I am willing to pay a few hundred dollars for a nice pair of shoes when people are going hungry. Pete Singer would argue that I am committing an act of immorality. So this also becomes an issue of morality instead of an issue of mere taste.

          I’d like it to be no sweat like you say but it seems very complicated to me.

          I think a big issue is that symbolism seems to matter a lot to people and people react strongly against things that say “this is not for me and my kind.” Housing is a good example here. My view on affordable housing is now build as fast as you can while maintaining safety standards/good engineering. But there are still a lot of people protesting against yuppie-condo developments. My view of this is that people look at the yuppie-condos and symbolically reject them because it says “This building is not for me and turning this city into a place that is not for me.” These are people who are never going to be techies or professionals.

          The argument that building housing even if it is just yuppie-condos is just too much like trickle down economics and too many defuse steps away. The reason why people go on about building affordable housing is because of the symbolism. It is housing built for the working class, people who never went to college, people who still think SF in 1967 is a thing, people who couldn’t get along in a corporate atmosphere.

          Report

          • Saul,
            If you’re willing to acknowledge that you build your fancy shmantzy life on slavery, on the heedless destruction of Planet Earth, and that small bandaids won’t really fix the issue, you’re about 100 steps ahead of most liberals, who “feel guilty” and thus do small things to “feel better.”

            Facing the truth and owning the truth means that you can actually seek big solutions, if you want.

            Report

                • Kim
                  That presupposed there is an area that won’t burn.
                  Also, that I’d choose to live in that area, post the burn.
                  Neither may be palatable to me.
                  I could also do the calc that I’ll run the risk of not sacrificing anything on the chance I’ll not live long enough to see the burning.
                  I could also, just not give a shit either way.

                  Way to many variable to take into consideration.

                  Report

                  • Damon,
                    The Powers that Be need somewhere to live, after The Fall of Civilization.
                    I mean, if you’d rather live somewhere without medicine and shit, and possibly without solid ground (those places exist. We in America call it Miami), or if you want to live in the concentration camp… Well, that IS your choice.

                    You could, I suppose, believe that you’re more likely to die of something else than make it to the End. Seems unlikely, though. Humans love to think they’ll live forever.

                    Report

                    • Kim,
                      Well, a luxury fallout shelter/refuge in New Zealand is out of the question. I live in the future “capital wasteland” if you get the Fallout reference :)

                      If I manage to survive the conflagration, I expect, after getting settled, I’ll be on the hunt for “payback” aimed at those “powers that be”. But I’m certainly not going to attempt to stop the greatest Darwinian cull of humanity in history.

                      Report

                      • Damon,
                        You don’t mind us deliberately losing entire genepools?

                        It’s not that I particularly mind the idea of a cull… it is that the Powers That Be want to cull out people who aren’t like them.

                        And they’re paranoid psychopaths.

                        Somehow, they think a society with a lot of THEM would be a good thing.

                        I’d select, in so far as I can (and I’ve put money towards this), for intelligence and flexible thinking.

                        Report

      • I believe this “morality vs. morality” thing is really about tastes.

        Both sides of the death penalty debate could easily state things as a matter of morality.
        But saying it is so doesn’t make it so.
        The same with abortion.

        Report

      • “Abortion isn’t a matter of taste, it is a matter of morality.”

        I think Jaybird’s distinction is not about where your feelings come from, but what you do about them. Do you think it’s important for abortion to be legal because making things like that illegal does more harm than good, or should it be legal because it’s just not right to control women that way? Do you think abortion should be illegal because it encourages moral-hazard behavior, or do you think it should be illegal because killing babies is wrong?

        “The thing I dislike about your variant of this is that you seem to treat everything that is important to center-left to further left voters as being a matter of taste.”

        I think he picks center-left-to-further-left issues because he’s speaking to his audience, here. Despite some commentors’ best efforts the group here is still mostly center-left.

        “Abortion is a matter of morality because making it a matter of taste makes illegalization possible.”

        Or maybe it means that it shouldn’t be a legal matter at all, because legalizing matters of taste is not justifiable (and is pretty hard, in fact, without the crusade-building sense of Fierce Moral Urgency to work with.)

        Report

      • Abortion isn’t a matter of taste, it is a matter of morality.

        Everything is a matter of “morality” to someone. It’s a strong way to say “you must do what I think you should do”.

        If memory serves abortion used to be a matter of taste, or religion, or whatever on both sides.

        If the question is whether they’d be stronger as a party if they allowed “taste” on abortion, then imho the answer is “yes”… and the party in charge can arrange for “special” votes to provide cover for such members which do much signal and have no effect.

        If the question is how to make red states blue for the sake of things like committee chairmanships (which do things like control policy) then absolutely the Dems should be allowing pro-life, pro-gun, and anti-gay, and whatever else is needed.

        That’s just tactical advice. None of that would get my vote (I’m pro-Choice), what I’d prefer is if they dropped their socialism and became a party of economic growth but that’s probably a bridge too far.

        Report

    • And that’s it. A Democrat who argues that it would be fine to put bans on abortion in the third trimester (with a handful of exceptions for the litany) but first trimester abortions should be On Demand No Questions Asked (oh, let’s say that this would be a Democrat running in one of those flyover states) is one that would get attacked by real Democrats in real Cities.

      I don’t know. That’s not. Very convincing example. Here’s a Politifact story showing quotes from HRC going back to 2000 either defending or suggesting that she would be open to a third trimester abortion ban: http://www.politifact.com/truth-o-meter/statements/2016/feb/10/marco-rubio/marco-rubio-says-hillary-clinton-supports

      And Clinton was attacked from the left on a bunch of issues, but not so much on abortion. In fact, she prettied much had full control of the feminist left. That tells me that something else is going on and that you may be misapplying this whole taste v. morality thing.

      Report

  6. Another dynamic I noticed. The twitters had a film running around it yesterday where Black Lives Matter was interviewing a guy at a Pride Parade complaining that this wasn’t a Black Lives Matter Parade but a Pride Parade and he wanted to celebrate Pride and not Black Lives Matter.

    The interviewer, of course, was asking the guy if he cared about Black Lives Matter, if he thought Black Lives Matter, and the guy was exasperated and talking about how today was about celebrating Pride.

    Report

    • This I admit is a problem I often see in left of center protests movements. We have a hard time being single-issue focused and a left of center protest often becomes a free for all on everyone’s pet issues but left of center if a very diverse coalition.

      You have everyone from North to me to people who make both of us look like Country Club Republicans. This sometimes leads to an “injury to one is an injury to all” dynamic which can lead to some weird contradicitions and contortions to make work like Lee’s general feeling that Jewish culture is excluded from discussion on cultural appropriation and intersectionality.

      Report

      • On one level, I appreciate the whole “Free Speech Is Important!” thing that results in, among other things, the “Free Mumia” people showing up to a protest at the courthouse where the nuns are being sentenced for chaining themselves to the fence at the nuclear plant.

        On another level, hey, hey, ho, ho, those Mumia signs have got to go. Ho, ho, hey, hey, we’re protesting nuclear power today.

        Report

        • It was a big problem with the protests against Iraq II. Iraq II would have happened regardless but the anti-Iraq II protests would have demonstrated wider opposition if regular middle of the road people weren’t scared away by the lets make this a condemnation of the West crowd.

          Report

      • As an LGM poster noted yesterday when discussing Corbyn, way too many liberals and leftists are willing to look the other way when it comes to anti-Semitism if you wrap it up in a thin veneer of leftist economics and anti-colonialism. This isn’t even a new problem. Ms magazine had an article on anti-Semitism in the feminist movement during the early 1980s. It arguably goes back to Karl Marx and the early anarchists who had no problems with Jew hatred.

        Report

        • It’s very annoying. I know I’ve been very reluctant to comment online about how creepy Corbyn and many of his “friends” when it comes to anti-semitism, because it’s the sort of thing that causes a hundred stupid fights when you even mention it.

          And then of course if you do bring it up, within five minutes someone is going to try to help hold up your “side” in a way that makes you want to chuck your computer out the window and take a shower.

          Report

            • In Corbyn’s case in particular, it really doesn’t help that most critics want to just argue, “Oh he’s Trump but British and on the left.” He’s almost the exact opposite of Trump.

              The reverse of a vice is rarely a virtue.

              Report

              • Slavoj Žižek put it like this:

                Although critics like to emphasise how they reject normativity (“the imposed heterosexual norm”, and so on), their stance is one of ruthless normativity, denouncing every minimal deviation from the PC dogma as “transphobia” or “fascism” or whatsoever. Such a tweet culture which combines official tolerance and openness with extreme intolerance towards actually different views simply renders critical thinking impossible. It is a true mirror image of the blind populist rage à la Donald Trump, and it is simultaneously one of the reasons why the left is so often inefficient in confronting rightist populism, especially in today’s Europe. If one just mentions that this populism draws a good part of its energy from the popular discontent of the exploited, one is immediately accused of “class essentialism”.

                Report

                • Nails it right on the head.

                  The Right tolerates dissent within its own ranks much better.
                  They also understand the difference between arguing amongst themselves and arguing with the other side.

                  I don’t consider myself to have “switched” parties so much as being forcibly removed for considering the Unconsiderable.

                  One of those rare Republicans that actually likes Obama.
                  I like Trump, too.
                  Not sure if that can be explained in terms of Left/Right. The vocabulary is insufficient.

                  Report

                  • The Right is not better at handling dissent within in its own ranks, it just policies its members in a different way than the Left. They might permit some rumbling illusions of dissent at times. When it comes down to decision time, everybody is expected to be on board though, especially if you hold elected office.

                    Lets assume for the sake of argument that the Left really does police its members harder than the Right, that doesn’t necessarily mean they are wrong for doing so from their moral perspective. If you really believe that racism, sexism, and homophobia form some type of original sin of society, it makes perfect sense to be vigilant against them in all forms. Its the only way to combat what you see as evil.

                    Report

                    • When it comes down to decision time, everybody is expected to be on board though, especially if you hold elected office.

                      That’s what I meant by the Right knowing the difference between arguing amongst themselves and tangling with the opposition.
                      I believe the Republican House with Delay as whip set the record for any Congress for votes passed within five of the minimum.

                      There is true dissent on the Right. Having been both sides of the fence, I can tell you the Right is much more intellectually robust.
                      The Right is very much a principle-based movement, and whatever particular position any given person may take is fairly inconsequential, provided they arrive at that position by means of assiduous application of principle. There is some expectation there that people will weight various concerns differently.
                      The Left is much more position-based, and cares little for what principle any given person might apply, provided they arrive at the approved position on any given issue.

                      It isn’t that the Left is less stringent in policing its members.
                      It’s that the effort is directed at each other rather than the opposition.

                      I believe that was actually one of the primary underlying assumption of the article.

                      Report

                      • The Right is very much a principle-based movement, and whatever particular position any given person may take is fairly inconsequential, provided they arrive at that position by means of assiduous application of principle.

                        Oh come on.

                        A movement that makes Donald Trump its leader is not a movement that’s interested in assiduously applying principles.

                        Report

                        • A movement that makes Donald Trump its leader is not a movement that’s interested in assiduously applying principles.

                          That’s not quite right. Trump very obviously won over his voters by appealing to principles, principles of white ethnic nationalism and economic populism and know nothing anti-elitism. The fact that Trump presented no meaningful plan on how to bring about any of the things that he promised is further evidence of a reliance on principles.

                          This is another way of saying that the right tends to operate on deontological ethical frameworks, while the left tends to operate on consequentialist frameworks.

                          Report

                          • Trump did a complete reverse heel on economic populism after getting sworn in though. It really isn’t much of a principle if you do an about face right away.

                            Report

                            • Hey, a leader doesn’t need principles to get a principled bunch of people to vote for him. He just needs to appeal to those principles and gamble that the people listening to him are as gullible as the people he’s fleeced in the past.

                              Report

                              • Which is what should *REALLY* worry people.

                                I used to think that Trump was a release valve for the steam that was building up.

                                As it is, he’s now making a good case that Post-Trump will be able to run on “But Economic Populism has never been tried! Trump sold out *SECONDS* after being sworn in!”

                                Report

                                • We’ll see. There’s a fine line between, “We were sold out so it’s never been tried,” and, “Well, that was a total disaster so let’s definitely not try that shit again.”

                                  Sure, there are people who are still self-identified Maoists. But there aren’t a whole lot of them.

                                  Report

                          • This is another way of saying that the right tends to operate on deontological ethical frameworks, while the left tends to operate on consequentialist frameworks.

                            Excellent observation. Co-sign.

                            Report

                            • I would disagree about the left being consequentialist. They don’t do consequences. They don’t even consider them. If you bring up the horrible consequences of their decisions, they say that consequences are less important than motivations.

                              For instance, decades ago I was talking to a friend who was thrilled that the greens had won and forced McDonald’s to abandon foam clam shell burger boxes for paper ones. I pointed out that the paper ones are vastly more destructive to the environment than the foam ones were. He responded that it didn’t matter because what matters was changing the thinking. I said that if the thinking changed in the direction he wanted, they should push McDonald’s to go back to styrofoam.

                              This has long been my complaint about many on the left. Their activists don’t know enough to avoid causing tragic harm, they’re highly motivated to intervene in things they don’t understand, and often they blithely create a disaster and walk away, patting themselves on the back and boasting how virtuous they are.

                              The parable of Chesterson’s fence also comes to mind.

                              For a current example, they were focused on destroying the coal industry (to be virtuous), and completely ignored the fact that the lights would go out if they did, or that electricity prices would necessarily go up, at times dramatically because natural gas prices are very unstable. That would hit poor and minorities the hardest, of course.

                              Report

                      • Bullshit. The Right is no good at handling dissent and they are not any more intellectually robust than the left. They like to say they are but that is not the same thing as actually being intellectually robust.

                        And Lee has a strong point, the Democratic Party is made up of varying minority groups who have determined to fight of civil and equal rights and that their existence should not be a matter of being some kind of second-class only allowed to live and be because of “toleration” from the majority.

                        I’m Jewish. I don’t think there is anything wrong, secondary, or inferior about being Jewish. How am I being intolerant of dissent for not responding kindly to someone like Spencer who calls Jews evil or some Christian fundamentalist who thinks I am needed to bring forth the apocalypse but still asks if I have horns. Same with someone who is Black, or Asian, or Latino, LBGT or any of those things.

                        I really don’t get the idea that I am intolerant of dissent because I refuse to believe that someone should pontificate on why I am second-class without challenge. Same with any other minority.

                        Report

                        • :

                          Bullshit.

                          I kinda thought you were the kind of guy that would stretch a four-letter word into as much as eight.

                          However, I am not convinced you actually know this word, much less use it.
                          I think you probably were saying “Boole’s shit” and the dictation software filled in the rest, entirely unaware that you don’t know that word.

                          That’s what I believe.

                          Report

                            • There really isn’t much of a point.
                              It’s an aggressive position based on supposed slights, which you’re in a well-off enough position to where they truly have little, if any, effect on you.

                              You pretend to empathize, but you are too insulated to actually feel its effects.
                              That’s why you have the luxury of being upset by ideas.
                              Some others are not so fortunate.

                              Report

                              • Oh, you mean the basket of deplorables? I was deplorable before it was cool. The Ivy League had special scholarships for us. We were always stereotyped in movies.

                                But now it seems like most of the country is deplorable, too. What good is being the special thing at the bottom of the heap when almost everyone else is right down there with you?

                                We’ve been stripped of our status, our cachet! Now we have to go out of our way to emphasize how much more deplorable we are than all the newly minted deplorables who were formerly respectable.

                                Report

    • My Issue is the most important, everything must be interpreted as how it effects my issue, every other issue is subordinate to my issue, every other issue must advocate for my issue or they’re evil.

      If it works, then it works well (witness abortion). Thing is there’s only room for a few “top” priorities and there are going to be resource conflicts or worse, ideological ones (looking for new antiques).

      Which is how everything becomes more important than job creation and economic growth.

      Report

  7. If you can find me a politician that can save America, well, do that, I’ll vote for him.
    As of right now, though, everyone’s got their heads in the sand, and I’ll damn you to hell with the lot of them.

    Our American food supply (once the pride of the world, and a source of soft power to boot) will be dramatically slashed in the upcoming years (we’re talking unable to support current population). I doubt we’ll be able to import the difference.

    We don’t need politicians at this point, we need generals, or someone with an ounce of strategic sense.

    Paint yourself red, paint yourself blue, nobody really is going to care.

    Report

        • Trade is always an option. You should be growing food only if growing food is the most productive thing you could do with your time and money. Otherwise do the most remunerative thing and exchange the money for food. #comparativeadvantage #capitalism101

          Report

          • Murali,
            Hard to trade with India when they’re all dead.
            Slightly less hard to trade with a collapsed China.

            If America is to lose 10 days of growing cycle, and significant portions of the world are going to be rendered uninhabitable… well, I don’t like our chances for feeding who we do have now.

            Report

      • What on Earth is a threat to the US food supply? As it is, we have to pay farmers not to plant so the prices don’t collapse from over supply. We’ve taken a lot of farmland out of service since the 1980’s. The area of reduction is almost as great as the entire area we use to grow wheat (57 vs 63 million acres).

        We have 1.9 million acres of total area in the lower 48, and although over 900 million of those acres are farms, 788 million of those acres are just grazing for livestock because we’ve got too much food.

        All our vegetables are grown on just 4.5 million acres. All our fruit orchards take up 5 million acres. Barley, the most important cereal crop because it’s used to make beer, takes up on 3 million acres, while the entire US potato crop only uses 1 million acres, with Idaho only devoting 320,000 acres to them, which is 0.6% of the land area in Idaho. But even that can be too much for the number of Lays we consume. A couple of years ago Idaho potato farmers offered their potatoes free to anyone who would pay for shipping.

        Report

  8. This article says that blue dog Bennett Johnston was nothing like leftist Daniel Patrick Moynihan. But would either of them be Democrats today?

    Report

  9. I’d like to say “Yeah, I dunno what happened to ‘reach for the center’ as a political strategy.” Except I do know what happened to that. Karl Rove proved way back in 1988 that given a choice between: A) pumping up your own partisan base, or B) broadening your appeal towards the center, A) was at least as effective as B).

    Bill Clinton, IMO, proved that A) still worked in 1992 and 1996, though especially in ’92 Perot’s involvement clouds that picture. W, Obama, and Trump all basically won with variations on the Rovian type A) strategy. Debatably, W’s campaign in 2000 was a hybrid, but his re-election strategy in 2004 was much more “screw the center, they’re not voting for me anyway.”

    Which doesn’t mean that the reach-for-the center type B) strategy can’t work. It’s just that it hasn’t worked at the Presidential level for the past five cycles.

    Report

    • One of the currrent manifestations of that view is that moderate Republicans on the hill or the campaign trail will always cave to pressure in a right-ward direction. No correlated ideological dynamic occurs on the left, seems to me. If anything, it’s the exact same caving towards the right when the pressure rises.

      Report

      • The elites of both parties believe – or act as if they do, same effect -.that the average person is significantly more conservative than they actually are.

        One effect of this is Ds tacking to the center when even when third-party estimates are that pushing left would be more of a win.

        Nothing to do with Silver.and Wang’s isues last year – the effect predated last year.

        Report

        • I think this is more complicated. There are polls that show what you are saying is true. However there was also a lot of polling that showed even among the most hardcore Sanders supporters, support for the Sanders budget/plan dropped a lot when they were told how much taxes would need to increase to pay for it. This includes taxes on groups that were traditionally not part of raising tax plans like people making 50K-250K.

          Report

      • There isn’t a GOP congressperson or Senator around who can’t be primaried from the right. By contrast, there are very few Democratic politicians who can be beaten from the left including in deep blue places like San Francisco, Portland, New York, etc.

        San Francisco is a good example here. The highest I have ever a farther left Democrat (like a Sanders style Democrat) get elected is to the Board of Supervisors. When it comes to bigger positions like State Senator, Mayor, State Assemblymember, Congress), San Francisco always goes with the more moderate and corporate friendly candidate.

        Housing is a big issue in the SF Bay Area and was a big issue in the 2016 State Senate campaign. The primary and general election was between Scott Weiner and Jane Kim. Scott Weiner is a more moderate Democrat who drew ire for writing a Medium essay on housing called “The Laws of Supply and Demand Apply Even in San Francisco” and also for suggesting “Hey, maybe people shouldn’t be allowed to walk around naked with just a sock around their private parts.”

        Jane Kim was a former Green party supporter who only became Democratic to win a seat on the Board of Supervisors. She ran on a much more “Boo evil techie-yuppies and condo developers” platform for affordable housing and she lost.

        See how our last mayors were also Gavin Newsome and Ed Lee. In my district the more build friendly candidate won reelection for her Board of Supervisors seat over the Sanders-style landlord/developer hating progressive.*

        *Complicated by the fact that the builder-friendly moderate is an African-American woman and the Sanders-style friendbrand is a white dude. I live in a historically African-American district.

        Report

        • Housing is a bad example to use since it’s functionally a deeply powerful elitist FYIGM economically self interested ideology that is very effectively camouflaging itself using leftist and populist rhetoric.

          Report

          • I am not sure I fully agree. I agree with the effects but there are a lot of people who seemingly have no to little money and would benefit from a build, build, build program but remain sincerely opposed to it for the reasons I mentioned above.

            It doesn’t even need to be housing. There is an old movie theatre in my neighborhood that has been abandoned for decades. It is finally getting turned to a hipster-yuppie entertainment building. But the local anti-gentrification/anti-condo activists are against it. The woman handing out protest fliers yesterday was a young African-American woman who seemingly represents the old neighborhood and not the newer techies.

            The people who are part of the build build build coalition largely seem to be young or youngish college-educated professionals with good incomes and jobs but not enough income to afford a place of their own. See the woman who angrily announced that she and her husband (both professionals with high incomes) were moving to Santa Cruz because they could not afford housing in Palo Alto and were tired of renting with another couple.

            So when I see anti-yuppie condo protests, it is a combination of people of color and/or otherwise minority/bohemian San Franciscans (the true hippies and punks) and/or working class people. But they combine with the FYIGM crowd above.

            I’ve tried arguing with the low-income/working-class members of the no yuppie condo brigade that they are being duped by homeowners but no such luck. I think there is a real issue with the symbolism of the yuppie condo and people looking at it and not feeling wanted and valued. Where is my San Francisco? Portland? New York? etc? Why does everything have to be about professionals who like fancy things?

            Report

            • Oh for sure Saul but the fact of the matter is that the minorities and poor people are being used and they are the minority of that coalition, like a coat of photogenic paint on a beat up old car. The real mass of voting support comes from the self interested local home owners who can vote against building more content in telling themselves that they’re doing it for protecting the poor or the minorities and certainly aren’t doing it to prevent more traffic or more density or more people or an impeded view from their backyard, heavens no!

              Everyone would love to be able to live in a fancy locale but pay low income housing costs. Who wouldn’t like to have their cake and eat it too? That’s the brutal power of the NIMBY side; it weds the naked self interest of the property owners to the desperate dreams of the poor to potent effect.

              Report

              • Only 30 percent of San Francisco are home-owners and I imagine that similar cities have similar home ownership rates. This means that there are a lot of people like me who rent but are also first in line on the if/when of new condos being built for homeownership.

                If we are talking the burbs, I agree that the naked self-interest is more apparent but in a city with a 30 percent ownership rate, it is harder to say that a majority of votes come from that arena.

                What’s the plan for convincing lower-income people that they are being used by older and richer homeowners?

                Report

                • I’d bet ya good money that those 30% vote in very large numbers. Also the renters come and go in and out of the city but the home owners stay, and vote and donate, and remember.

                  As for the plan to reach the lower income people? I honestly do not know. I live in Minneapolis so it’s not quite the same problem for me.

                  Report

              • Based on what I’ve seen, the FYIGM and the Social Justice anti-building crowd rarely interact with each other. I can’t really see that the FYIGM is using minorities and poor people as even a thin veneer of respectability. From what I can tell, the Social Justice side believes that affordable housing can only come through complicating legislative measures that screw landlords and developers rather than building housing.

                Report

    • That seems slightly unfair to Obama, whose whole shtick was moving beyond the partisan. Obviously, a big part of that was marketing, but he did win a bunch of working class voters that did end up voting for Trump this time around or staying home and. Ot voting for Hillary.

      Report

    • I think Obama’s first run was definitely a run to the center. It’s just that so many of the further leftists thought he was left, for no good reason that I could tell. Clinton was definitely to the left of him in the primary, and they spurned her as too conservative.

      Of course, a year or two later, they discovered, with shock, that he was the guy he said he was, and not nearly so leftist as they thought.

      Report

  10. Trump has at least two decentralizing realists near him, which are two more than Obama had. Democrats are continuing the escalation into authoritarianism. If you look at the two freedoms, Clinton fell way inside the order camp. Everyone she would have kept or brought in would have been on the order side.

    Democrats reaching over to the authoritarian right conservatives at this point and time is likely to backfire. Authoritarian conservatives are likely to take a beating from the right.

    How do you get Democrats to take the position that it’s none of governments business to do or be involved in X? Their out in the wilderness, get used to the trees, find a water source, it’s going to be a tough 8 years.

    Report

    • That’s a fine ideological view to hold, Joe. But when trade agreements and other treaties, our domestic political-economy, our autonomy, become compromised in deleterious ways impinging on not only our prosperity but our individual freedoms, liberties and opportunities, will you be so cheerfully advocating the dismantling of the administrative state?

      Add: What model are you basing your anti-statism on? Seems to me there are exactly zero instances of the type of governance you advocate having been successfully realized in the world.

      Report

      • 1.)trade agreements/treaties: what use are international/national trade agreements to individual freedom in regards to preferences in individual preferences in means of production? Sure one can argue cheap goods and and all on the consumption/demand side, but state-corporatism/neo-liberalism/neo-globalism has been detrimental on whole to the average american worker with regards to availability of the full spectrum of the means of productions.

        2.)our autonomy: please define what you mean here

        3.)prosperity: please define

        4.)individual freedoms: please define

        5.)liberties: please define

        6.)opportunities: please define

        Let’s see how you are defining those to parse if there should be some cheerful dismantling.

        Report

        • Joe, I don’t have to define any of those terms. I’m using them in the normal, conventionally agreed upon way. It’s called “speaking English”. If you want to re-define them, have at it. But realize you’re going all Post Modern by doing so.

          Report

          • Hell man, I was just trying to see how you were using these to make sure we don’t talk past one another. I have no reason to continue the discussion without defining parameters because many people of this day and age have come up with some really fuzzy meanings and suggest they are pragmatic about un-pragmatic issues.

            Report

            • Joe,

              I appreciate the concern regarding ideological priors and how they determine a person’s semantics. But personally speaking, I don’t approach a conversation thinking that my interlocutor isn’t speaking normal English until some bizarre usage triggers a confusion.

              But more to the point, the fact that you think I need to delineate my semantics, in this case according to what I would call “conventional meaning”, strikes me as implicit confirmation that you view these issues thru an ideological filter which reflexively rejects conventional semantics as being ideologically determined.

              That said, you have (in my view) really bizarre views about how the world works. I find discussion hard precisely because of that. Reality is what it is. We can define it as anything we like by our own standards of correctness, but reality doesn’t care one wit about that. It just is. If we really want to make the world a better place for ourselves and others, we should focus on what’s right in front of our noses more than trying beat down folks who don’t share our ideology.

              Report

              • The problem is, even when you start using ‘ideology’ or even applying it to me you appear to assume a lot in that.

                You appear to be really quick to assume there is a agreed upon convention of social objectivity. I have rarely found that two people agree on what that objectivity is. So from the start, in making those assumptions can lead to errors and talking past one another.

                To even say it is what it is, and then say it is normal, is frought with error.

                It appears you are making a stand that current trade agreements and treaties in their current normal form were ‘good’ but now they are being compromised in deleterious ways.

                There is a astronomical amount of ideological priors and more than significant quantum of possible errors involved in the social objectivity if not subjective views involved in that position.

                I think you often use the terms ‘question begging’ about logical fallacies, and I do not much care for that term. I like logical fallacies much better because I think it leaves it open to discussion, where deploying question begging is almost a claim without possibility to discuss the logical errors involved.

                Report

        • I believe the issue with trade agreements is acceleration of the rate of change.
          The changes are, themselves, inevitable, but accelerating the change disallows the needed worker adjustments (e.g., re-training) that would prevent the benefits from being one-sided decidedly in favor of a few wealthy sorts who are currently holding.

          Report

          • How do you rank these in importance:

            Subjective theory of value

            Comparative advantage

            Individual ownership of a means of production

            Individual consent/disconsent to trade agreements/policy

            Access to means of survival

            Report

      • At some point, I realized that the doctrinaire libertarian who contends that “taxation is theft” is pretty much an inversion of the doctrinaire socialist who holds that “property is theft.” There’s not much external validity at work, rather just a system of trying to manipulate semantics to try to make a point that no one who doesn’t already share those priors, or who can be converted, will ever accept.

        Report

            • Good point. That’s the sentiment Trump tapped in to when he appealed to urban-core black/minority voters by saying “what do you have to lose?”. It was viewed by liberals as cynical and racist, but it struck me as the most compelling political position offered in 2016 on that topic. Cuz really, if you think about the state of play as it is right now, what do inner city black folk have to lose at this point? The Dem response that it will get even worse if conservatives win isn’t the most compelling GOTV narrative. They’ve already given up on the game at that point.

              Report

              • Cuz really, if you think about the state of play as it is right now, what do inner city black folk have to lose at this point?

                The usual, and probably best, way to get an answer to this question would be to ask some of them.

                Report

                • The usual, and probably best, way to get an answer to this question would be to ask some of them.

                  What I’d ask them is why they didn’t vote for the one candidate who advocated for serious criminal justice reform in the primary.

                  Report

        • @stillwater

          “no one who doesn’t already share those priors, or who can be converted, will ever accept.” Who CARES? I can agree with the leftists that marijuana should be legalized since it fits in to my world view that what I inject is no one’s concern, especially the state’s. And I can side with folks far on the right about massive gov’t debt and the countries ever expanding portion of servicing that debt in the yearly budget. My world view doesn’t necessarily mean there isn’t a damn lot of overlap on whole host of issue. Anyone who have libertarian/anarchist views knows this country will never get to a point of embracing those views. or they are an idiot.

          Report

          • And I can side with folks far on the right about massive gov’t debt and the countries ever expanding portion of servicing that debt in the yearly budget.

            By caring about the size of the debt you’re not aligning with the right. They’ve demonstrated that every time the get power they blow it up. The left has a better claim to your policy preference on that topic than the right does.

            Report

            • Yep, it’s still a decent example, or was pre 1992.

              The left doesn’t really Still. Both sides view their mandate as telling me how to live, and taxing me to enforce that view. I can’t abide that. I have more in common with the lefties of the 70s than i do the current lefties.

              Report

            • The ideology of the Left includes expanding the gov without limit. That they don’t when they’re in power is because they normally don’t have a super majority and the Right, when they’re out of power, follows their own ideology. Of course you’re correct, the Right has been much more concerned with that sort of thing when they’re out of power than when they’re in power. Many of the gov expansions have been the GOP betraying their principles or making “compromises” when they are in power.

              Which is one of the big reasons why the Tea Party exists, to keep the GOP from betraying their promises the moment they get power.

              Report

        • At some point I start giving the libertarians a quantum of regard not so much in that “taxation is theft” as much as “what am I getting for my money, and do I really want that” type of analysis. I find blind faith that using taxation or tithes as a default problem solving mechanism to be the start of many errors. If the analytical position constantly denies that, we have bigger fish to fry.

          Report

  11. I agree with the overall argument, but wouldn’t draw too many lessons from the 1993 Democratic coalition. At that time, the parties had not yet completed their post Jim Crow re-sorting.
    Thus, the path forward is not Bill Clinton voters in Arkansas or Teneseee, but disaffected Romney voters in the sunbelt and suburbs of prosperous southern cities like Atlanta.

    Report

  12. The topic of Blue Dogs are interesting because the Democratic Party has two lefts trying to control the direction of the Party. You have the Social Justice/Intersectionality crowd and the Bernie Sanders/Class Not Race crowd. I actually think both are in general agreement over overall goals but come from very different demographics and have very different ideas about how to achieve those goals. They hate each other. Its a hatred born out of small differences.

    Both groups aren’t really able to field candidates for office but they have a big but indirect effect on the Democratic Party platform. It doesn’t really help them that they keep their distance from the Democratic Party and electoral politics for many reasons.

    Report

    • It’s definitely a Judean People’s Front v People’s Front if Judea situation.
      While i’m sure people make angry comment on the internet, the vast majority of Bernie voters support BLM and the vast majority of BLM supporters have positive feelings about Bernie.

      Report

      • Bernie Sanders did very well with people of color who are under 30 or 35.

        Bernie Sanders big problem was that he did horribly among older Democrats especially women and/or people of color over 35 or so. The big issue here is that this is the big base of the Democratic Party.

        The Sanders wing is real and sizable but they are more of a strong plurality of the base than a majority of the base.

        Report

        • This is because millennials of color are still naive enough to believe that progressive politics could be largely a out them Older people color mostly understand that it will never be about them, but mostly choose to line up on the left side, because the folks on the right side won’t even pretend.

          Report

          • “Older people color mostly understand that it will never be about them, but mostly choose to line up on the left side, because the folks on the right side won’t even pretend.”

            Which is interesting, because we keep hearing about how Republican voters are dummies for believing in the fake promises that lying liars pretend they’re going to keep. Meanwhile the hard-nosed Democrats tell it like it is, not giving a fig about your fee-fees, and that’s why we should vote for them.

            Report

  13. I think a big issue with looking at 1993 is that a lot of those Democratic voters have already become partisan Republicans. There is also an issue that there are entire waves of new voters that are much more liberal generally.

    In 1993, almost no politician had a base where they could talk about Marijuana legalization/drug war reform seriously. Clinton had to do his famous “I didn’t inhale” bit. 15 years later, Obama was able to say “Of course I inhaled, that’s the point” and the only group that opposes marijuana legalization really is Republicans over 50. Republicans under 50 are largely pro-legalization.

    Likewise, gay rights was a dead end for most politicians in 1993 and possibly a killer issue. It was only starting to be palpable among the most liberal Democrats to support gay rights. Now even the most blue dog Democrats are safe in saying “love is love.”

    That being said, I think the Democratic Party does do more micro-targeting than people give it credit for. Jon Tester could not win a Senate seat in New York, Oregon, or California but he can win in Montana and I don’t see Chuck Schumer putting too much pressure on him to be less Montana.

    Report

    • I think the main thrust of Tess’s post was to give aid and comfort to that tendency in the party against those who’d seek to undermine or reverse it. I agree with her points and her intention.

      Report

  14. The point here is well-taken.

    However, those “trifecta” years mentioned were not so rosy for the Dems.

    The R’s won Congress in 2010 mainly by running against “the Obama-Pelosi-Reid coalition.” Obama was not unpopular at the time, and the only way they could undercut his stumping was to tie him to Pelosi (fairly unpopular nationally) and Reid (neither particularly liked nor disliked nationally).

    In ’94, Gingrich capitalized on the Perot phenomenon to re-tool the message, and imposed strict discipline.
    A lot of Reagan Democrats in the House at the time, and that had lost its savor.

    Report

  15. As an update to this, Ralph Northam, who voted for Dubya twice and went to VMI who was backed by the Virginian establishment and the Washington Post beat Tom Perillilo, who was backed by Obama folks, Clinton folks, and Bernie folks in tonight’s Democratic primary.

    Also, Corey Stewart, he of defending the Confederate statues came within a point of beating former RNC Chairman Ed Gillepsie despite Stewart raising almost no money. But, ya’ know, the Democrat’s are the one being taken over by extremists.

    Also, turnout was tilted toward the D’s by nearly fifteen points despite both primaries being competitive.

    Report

  16. Simple question in response to this post: is the Republican party the party with the biggest tent? Because it is they who currently hold majorities in both houses.

    Report

    • I believe that the official counter-argument to that would be something to the effect of “that’s only because of the two kinds of gerrymandering”.

      The first kind is the cynical and calculated districting of the state leaving districts like North Carolina’s 4th and 12th district, Maryland’s 3rd district, Pennsylvanias 6th and 7th districts… there’s seriously a lot of seriously bullshit districts out there.

      The second kind is the more accidental gerrymandering when it comes to the states themselves.

      Report

    • It’s complicated. The Dems have extremely deep support in certain groups, those groups are narrow regionally. To a first approximation the Dems are the party of big cities with lots of people imposing their interests over everyone else.

      Thus we have things like gun control; Which make a lot of sense if you live in the middle of a large city, and less sense if a fox getting in the henhouse is a reasonable concern.

      Both parties have focused on getting out their core supporters in recent decades, which for the Dems has tended to narrow but deepen their support.

      Ideologically the groups have traded setbacks. Bush created problems with the GOP with the war (and the crash) a decade ago and Obama created problems for the Dems by failing to create growth.

      Report

      • “Ideologically the groups have traded setbacks. Bush created problems with the GOP with the war (and the crash) a decade ago and Obama created problems for the Dems by failing to create growth.”

        This is enlightening with regard to the different standards it implies each party is held to. Bush created problems by fishing things up. Obama, despite a near complete turn around of the economy, created problems by not being even better. Yep, that’s pretty much how i see it.

        Report

        • :Amusement:

          Bush, by GOP standards, was terrible. Yes, he tried to ward off the crash by reforming Freddy and Fanny, he failed. If the wars needed to be fought then they didn’t need to be so expensive. Bush also presided over substantial expansions of the gov.

          Obama, by Dem standards, was apparently great. He created massive new entitlements… and who cares about growth or jobs? Multiple people on this forum are willing to argue growth is impossible, and it’s clearly not a priority.

          Trying to spin Obama’s record on growth as a rousing success is a disservice for Dems. In terms of growth Obama was up there with Hoover. If this is what economic success looks like, then what does failure look like?

          What pro-growth and pro-job reforms do the Dems even support?

          Report

          • Like I said. Bush made a mess. Obama cleaned it up, although apparently not to your liking. So….. they both suck equally i guess.

            And I forgot that you actually expect the Trump admin to deliver 4% growth. Easy to shit on Obama and the last 8 years when you convince yourself 4% is easily attainable. I’ll happily pass on that manure flavored kool-aid. Its not for me. A surprising number of people do appear to like it though, so enjoy.

            Report

            • Easy to shit on Obama and the last 8 years when you convince yourself 4% is easily attainable.

              I’ll repeat. What pro-growth policies do the Dems support?

              As far as I can tell, one of the big reasons 4% isn’t “easy” is because the Dems (and other groups to be fair) are opposed to those sorts of policies.

              Report

              • Stimulus, which at the time, and in retrospect, was pro growth.
                Bank bail outs, which while I was not in favor of at the time (I wanted blood), I do believe created growth that would have not been seen if we let the banking sector continue their death spiral
                The auto bail out
                Wall st reform could certainly be argued to be pro growth, although perhaps not for the banks themselves. Reducing the risk the banking industry can destroy the economy is a good thing, right?
                Investments in green technology, which whether the right wants to admit it, is where the future is. Somehow goovernment investment only has an ROI when it comes to defense and law enforcement thought, right?
                Fought the for-profit colleges ripping young americans off. Not a large effect, but sure, it could work on the margins.
                TPP, a trade deal, which I guess all of the sudden the right hates as anti-growth, because some of the left embraced them and they elected a guy who disagrees with their previous policy pillars, so now, free trade deals bad bad bad.
                Infrastructure, which was a bad idea when he proposed it but apparently kicks ass now that trump is talking about it.

                What is trump proposing? Lower taxes, gut regulations. HMMMM, hows that going and where have i heard that before? Build a wall, that will be paid for by the solar power panels we’ll put all over it. Maybe he can hector CEO’s into acting like everything they were going to do anyway is a result of his administration. He could kill what are thought off as collectively good trade deals to better appeal to the now victimized, unable to even find their bootstraps, down and out, middle americans. Invest in COAL, COAL, COAL. That’s where the jobs are. He could point to jobs and stock market numbers he acted like didn’t matter 6 months ago. Build up the military? Genius, just what we need. He could provide certainty, remember when uncertainty was a big thing the left was causing, and how it was hampering growth. Trump’s consistency, a hallmark of his administration, provides the economic certainty industry needs to thrive, right? Infrastructure? That’s a good idea now, right? He does bring all the tech CEO’s to talk to him and Jared. And Jared, just being there, is boosting the economy.
                Trump and the right wing in congress could give two shits about anything other than messaging, and holding on to power. And they’ve discovered, over and over again, they can talk out of both sides of their mouth and not suffer for it. Sooner their voters realize it the better. But I’m not holding my breath.

                Report

                • Stimulus, which at the time, and in retrospect, was pro growth.

                  Paying someone to dig a hole and then paying someone else to fill it in is not “pro-growth”. It may be necessary for social stability, but that’s a different issue.

                  Bank bail outs

                  Yes, this is pro-growth, in the sense that letting the banks burn down would have been terrible for the economy. I also think it could have been handled better (firing the top two ranks of management) but that’s a different issue.

                  Fundamentally Bush’s TARP was indeed necessary to keep the economy going.

                  The auto bailout

                  Probably not. The gov picking winners and losers is normally a bad thing and substituting politics for economics. It’s a mistake to think the automakers would have simply vanished. The airlines declare bankruptcy every now and then without it destroying them.

                  Wall st reform could certainly be argued to be pro growth… Reducing the risk the banking industry can destroy the economy is a good thing, right?

                  First, it’s seriously unclear risk has gone down. We increased regulation, these regulators are the same ones who were asleep at the switch last time.

                  2nd, There’s been a fair amount of squeaking that this regulatory handcuffing has reduced growth. There are better ways to do this, my expectation is Wall Street is smarter than its regulators.

                  Investments in green technology…

                  There are arguments in favor of green tech, but wanting to do this doesn’t means it’s “pro-growth”. The gov is taxing economically efficient industries to subsidize economically inefficient industries. What it should be doing is creating a level playing field.

                  Picking winners and losers is nearly always anti-growth, ditto gov boondoggles. Get rid of gov support and most of these green technologies disappear.

                  Somehow government investment only has an ROI when it comes to defense and law enforcement thought, right?

                  I’m unaware of either of those activities having an ROI. They’re basic gov functions.

                  TPP, a trade deal, which I guess all of the sudden the right hates as anti-growth,

                  The Right is wrong. Trade deals are pro-growth, but normally it’s the Left which opposes trade.

                  Infrastructure, which was a bad idea when he proposed it but apparently kicks ass now that trump is talking about it.

                  Infrastructure is something the gov does well and which which has a decent ROI. That the stimulus mostly ignored infrastructure was a lost opportunity, especially in the context of the construction industry being hurt the most by the recession.

                  However, given how the stim was advertised as being for “shovel ready jobs”, we’ve already purchased that horse once. I doubt Washington has the ability to spend well large one-shot moneys. Everyone lines up with their hands out and what gets funded has much to do with politics and little to do with economics.

                  Nor do I think this should be “new” money. Infrastructure is one of the gov’s basic responsibilities. That infrastructure has been starved speaks to fundamental problems with entitlements crowding out all other spending, but that’s a different conversation.

                  What is trump proposing? Lower taxes, gut regulations. HMMMM, hows that going and where have i heard that before?

                  Reagan. It worked so well then in terms of growth that lots of politicians have copied his rhetoric, although I can’t think of any who have actually attempted to follow through on it.

                  Trump, to his discredit in terms of growth, is opposed to immigration and trade. To his credit, he’s at least paying attention to the issue… and he’s steadily walked back the bulk of his anti-growth promises.

                  Report

              • You can quibble over whether the economy recovered enough under Obama’s presidency. But you can’t argue it didn’t. So you’ll forgive me if, after 8 years of not only hearing that XX policy will slow growth, but that it will destroy it, forever, and kills jobs (whether it the deficit, or health care, or stimulus spending, or cutting defense, letting too many brown people in, and on and on), all while reality pretty consistently disagreed, I refuse to entertain an argument that Obama’s presidency sucked economically. Bush’s did. Obama’s didn’t. We can argue why that is, and how much credit or blame either is due. But you can’t argue its not so. Not honestly anyway.

                And I’ll take you blaming Obama for not producing 4% growth (and thinking Trump will) as a tacit admission that he had the power to do so, and also as tacit admission that what growth did occur on his watch was due to him.

                Report

                • switters,
                  Bloody hell. you can’t tell me a single thing about the current housing bubble, and you can’t see history rhyming between Bush and Obama’s economy.

                  Please. Clues exist all around you. Find a few.

                  Report

                • So you’ll forgive me if, after 8 years of not only hearing that XX policy will slow growth, but that it will destroy it, forever, and kills jobs (whether it the deficit, or health care, or stimulus spending, or cutting defense, letting too many brown people in, and on and on), all while reality pretty consistently disagreed,

                  If “destroying growth forever” is your measure of failure, then even 911 was fine.

                  And some of the things on your list are “I don’t like this, so it must be anti-growth”. Letting people into the country (regardless of color) is largely good for the economy.

                  I refuse to entertain an argument that Obama’s presidency sucked economically.

                  Then you deserved to lose the election.

                  …tacit admission that what growth did occur on his watch was due to him.

                  This is like claiming that a doctor who does NOTHING is responsible for a patient’s successful recovery. Under Obama, at best growth wasn’t a priority, at worst it was something to be sacrificed for more important priorities.

                  Report

Comments are closed.