What’s The Score?

by John Holbo on June 11, 2014

Wow, Cantor out.

So I click over to see the joy at RedState. Erick Erickson is explaining that it’s less crazy than it seems for primary voters to boot a guy with a 95% rating from the American Conservative Union. “Heritage Action for America takes a more comprehensive approach to its scorecard, it does not try to help Republican leadership look good, and is a better barometer of a congressman’s conservativeness.” Cantor only got a 53% from Heritage.

Look at the comprehensive Heritage scoring, from top to bottom. Only Mike Lee gets 100%. A lot of Republicans don’t break 50%. McCain gets 51%. I’m not going to bother, but if you averaged it all out, I think it would turn out America is about 20% conservative, which seems barometrically low. How did they score this thing? There doesn’t seem to be any information on the site about how the scoring was done. (I appreciate that scoring every single vote means it’s pretty complicated, but still, shouldn’t they have guidelines about what ‘conservative’ means to them?) Anyone know?

{ 223 comments }

1

Metatone 06.11.14 at 11:11 am

Heritage scoring: “Votes the Erick Erickson would?”

To be fair, you can see a sort of “Portillo moment” effect (UK reference) – Cantor was symbolic of the perceived failures of the Republican leadership – it’s less about his personal voting record and more about his participation in those failures…

2

Trader Joe 06.11.14 at 11:27 am

The fellow that ousted Cantor – David Brat – is a hard, hard right Tea Partier. Quite possibly to the right of Ted Cruz. His limited campaign, which had little funding, was entirely built around Cantor being a) an insider and b) not to the right enough. The goal was to attract the “oust the incumbent Washington is screwed up” vote and the Tea Party vote.

Virginia primaries are open. Anyone can vote in them not just registered republicans. Democrat voters and tea party voters had every reason to want to dump Cantor and that’s what Brat capitalized on.

In simple terms, the tea party was organized, turnout was low and Cantor didn’t take Brat’s underfunded campaign seriously until a lot of momentum had been generated. The seat is a 100% “Safe” republican seat, the republican candidate has only intermitently even had Democratic opposition in November (both Cantor and his predecessor Bliley)…so the primary is really the election. At this point there isn’t a Democrat candidate slated – maybe there will be now.

Think what you like about Cantor, this is worse for Republicans and the House will have one more very far right conservative to deal with in the next congress which isn’t good for anyone.

3

Keith Ivey 06.11.14 at 11:38 am

There is a Democratic candidate now: Jack Trammell, another professor at the same college as Brat. In 2012 the Democrat got 41%, which was the most anyone had ever gotten against Cantor.

4

SamChevre 06.11.14 at 12:00 pm

That’s my old district.

One absolute key to reading the results is that Virginia has open primaries (any voter may vote in any party’s primary, but only in one), and the Democratic nomination wasn’t seriously contested. It’s quite likely that Brat’s margin of victory over Cantor was Democrats who hate Cantor, and think Brat will be either less effective or easier to beat. (My facebook feed was full of activist Democrats soliciting votes against Cantor.)

5

Anderson 06.11.14 at 1:04 pm

Oh jesus, not the “Democrats ruined the election” excuse again.

Do some Dems vote tactically in GOP primaries? Sure. I voted for the Tea Party loon in Mississippi. (And will vote for him again in the runoff.)

But how many of us are there sophisticated enough and bored, er “dedicated,” enough to get out & do that? Few. Decent GOP turnout wipes out our tricky shit.

And the fact that this race wasn’t thought to be close makes such Dem tactics even more unlikely. We knew McDaniel-Cochran was close (not HOW close). I’ve not seen that anyone predicted the Va. race to be close.

The Repubs would love to blame the Dems here so they don’t have to admit tactical & strategic faults: tactically a GOTV failure due to complacency; strategically, failure to realize the GOP base is now dominated by the Teahadi radicals whom the GOP thought they could use. How’s that ride on the tiger feel now, Cantor?

6

Bloix 06.11.14 at 1:13 pm

“It’s quite likely that Brat’s margin of victory over Cantor was Democrats who hate Cantor”

The facts disagree with you.

“Cantor received nearly 8,500 fewer votes this year than he did in the 2012 Republican primary, a drop that was larger than Brat’s 7,200-vote margin of victory…

“If Democrats showed up in large numbers to vote against Cantor, turnout should have spiked highest from 2012 in Democratic-leaning areas, with Cantor seeing an especially large drop-off in support. In fact, turnout rose slightly more in counties that voted more heavily for Mitt Romney in the 2012 presidential election…

“Cantor saw the biggest drop-off in support in Republican strongholds … “

http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/the-fix/wp/2014/06/11/did-democratic-votes-doom-eric-cantor/

7

Chris Grant 06.11.14 at 1:43 pm

“His limited campaign, which had little funding, was entirely built around Cantor being a) an insider and b) not to the right enough.”

My perception is that his campaign was built around opposition to “comprehensive immigration reform”, which is not well correlated with rightwardness on the political spectrum.

8

MPAVictoria 06.11.14 at 1:45 pm

“My perception is that his campaign was built around opposition to “comprehensive immigration reform”, which is not well correlated with rightwardness on the political spectrum.”

Oh come on.

9

Chris Grant 06.11.14 at 1:46 pm

So Mickey Kaus is now to the right of the Kochs?

10

Chris Grant 06.11.14 at 1:54 pm

11

MPAVictoria 06.11.14 at 2:01 pm

“So Mickey Kaus is now to the right of the Kochs?”

One, Mickey Kaus is a contrarian idiot who should not be used as an example for anything but how to be a contrarian idiot. Two, just because SOME people on the right or the left take a different view does not mean that a policy does not mostly fall on either the left or the right side of the American political spectrum.

12

Phil 06.11.14 at 2:02 pm

shouldn’t they have guidelines about what ‘conservative’ means to them?

I reviewed a couple of books about the Tea Party* the other day. A passage from the review seems relevant here:

supporters are as likely to be mobilised by opposition to illegal immigration or gun control, or by ‘culture war’ issues such as Darwinian evolution or gay marriage, as by the core tax-cutting agenda. The fiscal conservative Right, which originally raised the Tea Party banner, was historically associated with social liberalism; nevertheless, association with the religious and nativist Right now appears to be acceptable. Nor does the purity of the Tea Party’s populist opposition to ‘politics as usual’ appear to have been compromised, in the eyes of its supporters, by its association with well rooted factions – and long-running battles of position – within the Republican Party.

The point of all this is that insurgent populist outsider is as insurgent populist outsider does. The Tea Party is a real thing, and it is making the running at the moment as far as the meaning of ‘conservative’ goes over there – but it’s a real organisational thing. Ideologically, it’s insanely heterogeneous, and trying to define it in those terms is probably futile. Increasingly, ‘conservative’ just means ‘will play with the TP base’.

*And one about the New Party, but that’s not important right now.

13

Chris Grant 06.11.14 at 2:08 pm

Also (and then I’ll shut up before I get banned), Cantor’s anti-Brat campaign spots (still available on YouTube) consistently portray Brat as a “liberal college professor”. If Brat really is to the right of Cantor across-the-board, maybe voters ousted Cantor for (in the words of Big Daddy) his “sheer mendacity”.

14

ifthethunderdontgetya™³²®© 06.11.14 at 2:08 pm

One, Mickey Kaus is a contrarian idiot who should not be used as an example for anything but how to be a contrarian idiot.

He is also infamous for taking advantage of young goats.
~

15

MPAVictoria 06.11.14 at 2:21 pm

“Also (and then I’ll shut up before I get banned), Cantor’s anti-Brat campaign spots (still available on YouTube) consistently portray Brat as a “liberal college professor”. If Brat really is to the right of Cantor across-the-board, maybe voters ousted Cantor for (in the words of Big Daddy) his “sheer mendacity”.”

You mean a politician’s political advertisements might NOT be completely honest?
*Faints from shock.

16

mds 06.11.14 at 2:50 pm

If Brat really is to the right of Cantor across-the-board

That’s a pretty big “if.” I mean, he’s a Tea Party fundamentalist Calvinist anarcho-capitalist fan of Atlas Shrugged who refers to undocumented immigrants as “illegals,” and who had Laura Ingraham and Erick Erickson pulling for him. That could land him pretty much anywhere on the political spectrum.

17

Harold 06.11.14 at 3:01 pm

Didn’t Brat also run as a “Christian” (“Judeo-Christian,” he calls himself), as opposed to Cantor who is a non-Christian? Being “Christian” is a big thing down there and it doesn’t simply mean someone who attends a major denominational church but rather is synonymous with being “born again.”

18

Main Street Muse 06.11.14 at 3:02 pm

An econ professor (and Ayn Rand acolyte) who thinks free markets should rule all is seeking a role in a government that regulates markets. Crazy is what crazy does… and America is by far the King of crazy these days.

19

Rakesh 06.11.14 at 3:05 pm

It seems that the Brat campaign exploited the crisis over the illegal migration of unaccompanied minors and argued hard against amnesty and the Dream Act? Jacqueline Bhabha’s new book may give some perspective as should Aviva Chomsky’s.
Brat has a piece in which he argues for the importance of Protestant-inspired institutions as the crucial explanatory variable to account for economic growth. But see
http://whynationsfail.com/blog/2012/7/5/puritans-and-development.html
Also see this review
http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/dech.12049/abstract

20

TM 06.11.14 at 3:14 pm

Cantor is Jewish. To run specifically “as a Christian” against him is a significant statement. If I remember right, some time ago, Texan right-wingers were praying for a Christian House speaker, when the Texas House speaker was a (conservative Republican) Jew. They weren’t anti-Jewish of course, they just thought a Christian speaker would be more fitting.

21

Anderson 06.11.14 at 3:35 pm

6: thanks for the facts, Bloix!

22

Shirley0401 06.11.14 at 3:36 pm

From the NYT article: “The American people want to pay attention to serious ideas again,” Mr. Brat said, speaking on Fox News. “Our founding was built by people who were political philosophers, and we need to get back to that, away from this kind of cheap political rhetoric of right and left.”

23

Trader Joe 06.11.14 at 3:57 pm

There are lots of ways to parse voter reactions and voter motives, but I can say from first hand knowledge Brat’s campaign was not some deviously clever strategem that drove some major voter bloc of hatred against Cantor…it was very simply that Cantor ignored him and didn’t see him as any sort of threat until it was far too late.

Polls a week ago had Cantor up by more than 30 points. The average upper middle-class conservative who has been Cantor’s meal ticket from the beginning simply didn’t bother to vote – they were no shows since no one thought he would lose. The tea party mobilized their voters and won easily – it was really that simple.

I’d take it as bunk that Democrats had much sway in the numbers. Maybe some more politically active voters might have casted agains Cantor out of spite, but the turnout wasn’t high enough to suggest anything organized and frankly the average Democrat voter would have thought the same as the average Republican voter – why bother, Cantor will win anyway.

24

Barry 06.11.14 at 4:22 pm

Main Street Muse 06.11.14 at 3:02 pm

” An econ professor (and Ayn Rand acolyte) who thinks free markets should rule all is seeking a role in a government that regulates markets. Crazy is what crazy does… and America is by far the King of crazy these days.”

And I’ll bet dollars to donuts that in two years, he’ll have racked up a quite impressive record of voting for crony capitalism, and one law for the rich/another for the poor.
Of course, he’ll have one or two (maybe three) votes where he voted the other way, and those might even be real votes, not symbolic. But in the end the wealthy donors will be OK with him.

25

P O'Neill 06.11.14 at 4:35 pm

Erickson was on CNN saying that among the reasons Cantor lost is because conservative groups in Washington DC felt that he didn’t treat them with due respect. So this one might have to get filed under the It’s All About Hurt Feelings theory of conservative anger.

26

Main Street Muse 06.11.14 at 4:47 pm

Harold @17 “Didn’t Brat also run as a “Christian” (“Judeo-Christian,” he calls himself), as opposed to Cantor who is a non-Christian?”

Have we gotten to the point in America where “non-Christian” is how we define all those who are Jewish, Muslim, etc.? (A question from one who lives in a right-wingnut state that floated the idea of a state religion last year.)

And are wealthy voters in VA really so opposed to a non-Christian representative in Congress that they’d vote in a Randian econ prof? We’re nuttier and more horrible than I initially thought.

27

A H 06.11.14 at 5:01 pm

To understand the modern american conservative movement, you have to realize that the republican party is functionaly a Maoist party. In a Maoist party, legitmacy is judged through political tests of adherence to the proper revolutionary line. The actual policy effects of any position are not important in determining who has political power, as this cultural revolution slogan says,

“A socialist train coming with a delay is better than the capitalist one that comes on time”.

Replace socialist and capitalist with conservative and liberal and you have the modern GOP.

Of course Maoism is not a good way to run a political party. It is very unstable as can be seen from the cycles of political manias that charecterize the Maoist period in China. This seems to be starting in the GOP too, with waves of political ferver peeking at election time and crashing when the lack of governance leads to crisis, like in the debt ceiling debacle.

The GOP does a lack a charismatic leader. Ted Cruz seems like the type to take a shot at getting there. Should make for an interesting presidential election.

28

Bruce Wilder 06.11.14 at 5:12 pm

“Judeo-Christian,” he calls himself

That doesn’t sound like the self-descriptive phrase one would use to motivate antisemitism. Jews might not be thrilled to think themselves part of a Judeo-Christian tradition, but Christians would read it as including Cantor.

If you’ve never been around Christian evangelicals, you might be surprised by how identified some of them are with Jews and Israel.

29

Main Street Muse 06.11.14 at 5:33 pm

Here’s a Tea Partier who stands firm on Biblical morality (has no problem with the idea of stoning gays to death) http://slate.me/UtOAq8

30

The Temporary Name 06.11.14 at 6:05 pm

How scores are calculated

Scores are calculated using both votes and bills. Voting with the Heritage Action position earns percentage points, voting against our position earns nothing, and missing a vote doesn’t affect the score. Co-sponsoring bills earns percentage points, while not co-sponsoring bills earns nothing.

Our formula sets each bill to equal one percent of the total, with the remaining percent comprised of votes. For example, if there are eight bills to co-sponsor, the score would be 8% co-sponsorships and 92% votes.

Click on any candidate, like http://www.heritageactionscorecard.com/members/member/D000604 and there’s a “how scores are calculated” link.

31

MPAVictoria 06.11.14 at 6:16 pm

@29

Holy shit.

32

b9n10nt 06.11.14 at 6:34 pm

Count this particular electoral result as further evidence that the performance of electoral democracy is tenuously linked to consequential policy-making. This wasn’t about “immigration” or anything else. It was about pepsi vs. coke, a consumerist preference wherein identity (a contemporary corruption of self-knowledge) is understood as commodity that is marketed and purchased through electoral politics. This is especially true for Republican primaries because the Republican party is that much more aligned with the non-democratic elite who actually run the country. Therefore, Republican electoral politics must be devoid of any actual policy content. This tension between the explicit purpose of democratic politics (popular self-government) and the context in which these elections are taking place (it’s all been decided by a broad coalition of Ivy League MBA’s and Ivy League PhD’s) produces a vacuum into which the only other template for public activity -market consumption- applies.

Now this much is stating the obvious, but it’s valuable to reflect upon because of the tension between the popular knowledge of our “democratic deficit” and the way mainstream media sources portray the “shocking upset” of one empty suit replaced by another. The mainstream media will forcefully pursue a narrative that seeks to establish some popular legitimacy to elections as a mechanisms of governing and disregard the obvious: the vast majority of voters don’t vote to extend their preference for government, they vote to discovery a consumerist identity.

33

Ronan(rf) 06.11.14 at 6:38 pm

The ‘left’ can certainly be as oppossed to immigration as the right, just (imo) for outwardly better reasons. (economic rather than cultural)
The real political battle ahead won’t be between left and right though, as always it will be between the internationalist democrats on the one side and the petty nationalist/nativist authoritarians on the other. (Whether that’s the hard authoritarianism of a jackboot stomping on your face by a neo-Stalinist/fascist, or the soft authoritarianism of the online leftist mobs or the nouveau religious libertarian Tea Party/UKIP nuts,or whether it’s just David Graeber reading poetry on channel ten ad infinitum as the anarchist Utopia descends into communal violence and tedious 10 hour speeches)
The internationalist democrats will lose, as always, because nonsense and nostalgia and all round stupidity and twitter fights and so forth always wins out.

34

LFC 06.11.14 at 7:36 pm

b9n10nt:
The mainstream media will forcefully pursue a narrative that seeks to establish some popular legitimacy to elections as a mechanisms of governing and disregard the obvious: the vast majority of voters don’t vote to extend their preference for government, they vote to discovery a consumerist identity.

What consumerist identity are they “discovering” by voting for “the empty suit” (your phrase) Randian? A consumerist identity as “functional” Maoists, perhaps, i.e., as adherents of some pure, correct line (see AH’s comment upthread)? How is being the adherent of a correct line a consumerist identity, as opposed to a sectarian identity? To affirm one’s identity as a “pure” conservative is not to affirm a consumerist identity; rather, it’s to affirm an ideological identity, albeit one that may have only a tenuous connection to the content of policy.

35

mds 06.11.14 at 7:48 pm

If you’ve never been around Christian evangelicals, you might be surprised by how identified some of them are with Jews and Israel.

Mostly they’re identified with Israel purely in an eschatological “End Times” sense. Since the majority of American Jews are perceived as at least nominally liberal, and they hate liberals, they don’t actually identify very much with those Hollywood deviants who still control the parts of the financial sector which they perceive as doing them wrong. (Yup, all the old tropes bubble up under the right conditions, no matter how much they’ve grafted “Yay, Israel” on top after 1948 … or 2001.) So it’s perfectly possible in Brat’s case for “Judeo-Christian” to signal “Christian,” just as in so many other usages of the term. I mean, how many American Jews actually use “Judeo-Christian” to describe their values? The appropriation almost always flows the other way.

36

b9n10nt 06.11.14 at 8:13 pm

LFC: “To affirm one’s identity as a “pure” conservative is not to affirm a consumerist identity; rather, it’s to affirm an ideological identity”

I don’t really see the difference, at least as I’m defining the terms.

“How is being the adherent of a correct line a consumerist identity, as opposed to a sectarian identity?”

A consumerist identity is more amorphous, more unsettled, more easily changing. The history of the politics of abortion, for instance, makes no sense from a sectarian-identity lens.

37

Main Street Muse 06.11.14 at 8:20 pm

Cantor’s loss is not really about ideology – it’s about paying the price for staying at home instead of voting in a primary election. As much as I hate vox dot com and the glib arrogance of its writers, I think Ezra Klein nails it this time- Cantor lost because no one showed up to vote : http://bit.ly/1n6vYV0

The ones who did show up at the polls are the ones who are passionately enraged (not passionately engaged.) That’s why Cantor lost. So please everyone – vote in your primary elections!

38

roger gathman 06.11.14 at 8:24 pm

Hooray for Brat! As Holbo indicates, what rightwingnessn means is, at a certain point, in the eye of the observer. On the other hand, Canter is a totally obnoxious human being, and he resembles James Wood in the Onion Field – which surely should turn people off. Probably even his own troops just couldn’t take that face and that spoiled sense of entitlement anymore. Brat seems like a rather kooky rightwinger, but he has a strong admixture of Xian in him, which is definitely not Randian. Seems an altogether nicer fella than Canter.
I think that sometimes there are downsides to being a dick. This is what undid Gingrich. Canter is another of that type.

39

TM 06.11.14 at 8:24 pm

One policy difference between Cantor and Brat seems to have been that Brat was an outspoken opponent of Common Core. Education policy has become quite visible recently.

http://dianeravitch.net/2014/06/11/eric-cantor-republican-champion-of-charters-defeated-in-virginia/

40

Main Street Muse 06.11.14 at 8:32 pm

To ™ @39 – Brat (a college professor) is apparently a fan of getting rid of public education, not just common core.

“And he has called for drastic cuts to education funding, explaining, ‘My hero Socrates trained in Plato on a rock. How much did that cost? So the greatest minds in history became the greatest minds in history without spending a lot of money.'” http://bit.ly/1kPl1cp

41

bob mcmanus 06.11.14 at 8:42 pm

Just a thought, not an argument, but we might take a small step away from parochialism, schadenfreude, and cause-I-got-a-job-and-Obama-everything-is-fine and provisionally correlate this election to the recent EU elections and other data (Ukraine) as a general global wave of “throw the bums out” with a shift to the right. Cause the left and left-center aren’t offering anything.

Varoufakis was on this last week, and sentiment is trending toward the right in the US.

I mean, people and pundits with always give reasons but we don’t have to buy them.

42

bob mcmanus 06.11.14 at 8:46 pm

Oh yeah, remembered after posting 41.2.2 is supported here

Kevin Drum citing WaPo

Anybody got more date on incumbents facing challengers recently?

I guess we’ll see in November.

43

Harold 06.11.14 at 8:49 pm

Brat is apparently a Roman Catholic. How he can combine that with purportedly being a follower of Ayn Rand, I cannot imagine. He has written a moral analyses of Rand, it is being reported. I don’t know if anyone has actually read this analysis, or how he can reconcile her writings with the teachings of the Roman Catholic teachings, but some members of Opus Dei of my acquaintance (when my daughter was in music school) have been able to do so.

44

b9n10nt 06.11.14 at 8:55 pm

MSM @ 37: “Cantor’s loss is not really about ideology – it’s about paying the price for staying at home instead of voting in a primary election”

Why do they stay at home?

And what about those who did vote? Are they so very committed to a policy agenda that A) highlights sufficiently meaningful distinctions between Cantor and theotherguy and B) is more likely to be enacted by tossing out the Speaker of the House for a freshmen?

45

Main Street Muse 06.11.14 at 9:06 pm

To B9n10nt – Kind of like the anti-vaxxers – someone else will take care of it. They stayed home because the idea that an unknown guy with no money could win was inconceivable to them. Everyone else will vote so I can stay home.

As to those who voted for the Randian prof, they appear to be (from news reports) fans of right-wing talk radio and TV. Sigh.

And also, don’t underestimate the rage and paralysis people are feeling about the American political system. Some may have stayed home because the choice between Cantor and a Randian prof was simply too awful to consider voting for either one. Really, the quality of American political candidates is dismal these days.

To Harold, Paul Ryan is also Catholic, and he used to hand out Atlas Shrugged to all new employees of his governmental (moocher) office. Quite a disconnect going on there…

46

Ogden Wernstrom 06.11.14 at 9:22 pm

Bruce Wilder @ 28:

[Judeo-Christian]…doesn’t sound like the self-descriptive phrase one would use to motivate antisemitism. Jews might not be thrilled to think themselves part of a Judeo-Christian tradition, but Christians would read it as including Cantor.

If you’ve never been around Christian evangelicals, you might be surprised by how identified some of them are with Jews and Israel.

My evangelical (Plymouth Brethren) mother-in-law is a victim of affinity fraud by votes for Teahadist candidates as listed in the voting guides she brings home from church. She sees the term “Judeo-Christian” as homage to the roots of the one true religion. To her, Judaism was a start on the road to perfection.

In dog-whistle terms, here’s something “Judeo-Christian” is not: Muslim.

Or, maybe that should be Kenyan Muslim.

47

b9n10nt 06.11.14 at 9:23 pm

Harold @ 43: You can’t analyze consumerist identity politics through the lens of sectarian or ideological coherence. Novelty and spectacle wins, and what is won is entirely insubstantial.

To be middle class is to effectively enjoy a post-scarcity world. What to do then with the atavistic urges for power and release from stress? Electoral, mass-media politics is one distraction, and because these vestigial internal sufferings do not refer to any immediate necessity, the practice of politics will merely take any form that satisfies the urges. And that form is consumerist capitalism.

You are a consumer. Now, to give you a sense of agency, i’ll let you choose what kind of consumer you are. Here’s a choice: there’s a whole TV channel for it!

48

Jerry Vinokurov 06.11.14 at 9:24 pm

His limited campaign, which had little funding

This, via Rick Perlstein on Facebook, suggests that the official campaign funding numbers don’t tell the whole story, and that a lot of dark money went into this race.

Brat is apparently a Roman Catholic. How he can combine that with purportedly being a follower of Ayn Rand, I cannot imagine.

“Randian scholar” is not really a position that needs to be taken seriously.

49

mittelwerk 06.11.14 at 9:27 pm

wow, no connection even attempted here between the obvious context of this defeat, and your recent dozen-egghead symposium on the morality of “open borders” (interesting enough on its own terms but i like to get my open borders ontology from bryan caplan and rand paul — don’t you?).

luckily, there are others around who notice what non- (or is it post- ?) theorists are thinking these days

http://www.unz.com/isteve/brookings-hispanics-dont-care-much-about-immigration-reform/

50

Harold 06.11.14 at 9:27 pm

It may be true that Brat was supported by “dark money” but where’s the evidence?

51

b9n10nt 06.11.14 at 9:28 pm

MSM: “someone else will take care of it. They stayed home because the idea that an unknown guy with no money could win was inconceivable to them. Everyone else will vote so I can stay home.”

…and it doesn’t matter anyway.

52

LFC 06.11.14 at 10:05 pm

B Wilder @28 /mds @35
I don’t know how Brat was using or intending to use “Judeo-Christian,” but in ordinary usage I doubt it’s a phrase that many Jews wd find esp. objectionable.

53

LFC 06.11.14 at 10:12 pm

@b9n10nt
Your premises are or seem to be that the U.S. is run (i.e., all decisions of consequence made) by “a non-democratic elite,” that elections therefore don’t matter in any substantive way, and that they are consequently just a way for voters to indicate whether they like this or that brand of soft drink, or whatever. While there are certain similarities of course betw the marketing of candidates and the marketing of consumer goods, and while the US pol system does increasingly display some oligarchic characteristics, the suggestion that elections are entirely meaningless spectacles b.c electoral democracy is a just a shell surrounding a non-democratic elite core is not one that a whole lot of people here prob will agree with, and as a result you and they/us will be talking past each other.

54

LFC 06.11.14 at 10:14 pm

correction:
“is just a shell”

55

b9n10nt 06.11.14 at 10:35 pm

Yes, I tried to clean up any absolutes (electoral democracy is “tenuously linked” versus entirely separate from actual governing).

The reason (especially Republican) politics matters is that elections are having consequences, and the trend towards an entirely (though understandably) narcissistic politics is having negative consequences, from the elite being ever more enabled by a distracted voting public to a right wing authoritarian “populist” surge that seeks only politics-as-entertainment as its actual mode of governing.

56

Tony Lynch 06.11.14 at 11:27 pm

#53 “is not one a whole lot of people here prob agree with”
Well, that’s fine, but the evidence is surely important and pretty much the other way.

See Martin Gilen and Bemjamin I Page, “Testing Theories of American Politics”, Perspectives on Politics, Fall 2014.

57

Jerry Vinokurov 06.12.14 at 12:46 am

I don’t know how Brat was using or intending to use “Judeo-Christian,” but in ordinary usage I doubt it’s a phrase that many Jews wd find esp. objectionable.

There is no such thing as the “ordinary” usage of this phrase, as it only exists as a shibboleth intended to signify the speaker’s righteousness. The “Judeo” part is anyway not even remotely sincere, as those who utter this phrase only care about the rich, conservative sort of Jew. I don’t know if I find it offensive, but the second that phrase leaves a person’s lips my inclination to distrust them skyrockets.

58

Peter K. 06.12.14 at 12:59 am

#56
“Well, that’s fine, but the evidence is surely important and pretty much the other way.”

No the evidence is that elections matter very much. Just look at the Supreme Court or Federal Reserve Bank’s impact. It’s why Republicans have take to disenfranchisement as an electoral strategy. Of course the Democrats are very disappointing but that doesn’t mean that Obamacare doesn’t matter. We’ll see the contrast between states that expand Medicaid and those that do not.

Sorry I don’t have Perspectives on Politics near at hand. Perhaps you could provide a summary.

59

mud man 06.12.14 at 1:36 am

Elections disconnected from policy are way worse than useless. Cantor sowed the wind (to make a judeo-christian point) and reaped the whirlwind … “the standing grain has no heads; it shall yield no flour; if it were to yield, strangers would devour it. [Our nation] is swallowed up; already [we] are among the nations as a useless vessel.”

People calling for a spoiler vote ie #2 should be ashamed of themselves.

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mud man 06.12.14 at 1:38 am

… should say, I mean what TJ was talking about, not (I don’t suppose) himself.

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LFC 06.12.14 at 1:38 am

Ok, b9n did say that “the performance of electoral democracy is tenuously linked to consequential policy-making” (emphasis added). That’s a somewhat more nuanced or qualified claim than I suggested he made, so I was in error on that. Personally I think elections matter for some issues, not so much for others.

@Tony Lynch — My impression, w/o having read his work except for a summary post or two, is that Martin Gilens’ basic argument is that the rich have much more influence on policy outcomes in the current system than anyone else. It’s possible Gilens wd agree w b9n’s formulation, at least w/r/t certain issues.

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LFC 06.12.14 at 1:44 am

than I suggested he made

“he or she,” I shd have written (as I don’t know the gender of b9n10nt)

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roger gathman 06.12.14 at 2:11 am

Nice Lizza piece. My vague impression is that Brat is the kind of free market conservative that conservatives don’t like – a purist. http://www.newyorker.com/online/blogs/newsdesk/2014/06/david-brat-the-elizabeth-warren-of-the-right.html
Not Elizabeth Warren, but he could certainly work with the left wing of the Dem party on certain issues.

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Harold 06.12.14 at 2:59 am

He is careful in his choice of words. He says he doesn’t agree with everything about Ayn Rand but finds her “interesting” (while taking money to spread her teachings).

65

Harold 06.12.14 at 3:05 am

“Judeo-Christian” is another “careful” use of words — a euphemism for Christian — sort of the way people use “Western”.

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Neil Levy 06.12.14 at 3:18 am

Brat’s CV:
http://faculty.rmc.edu/dbrat/BRAT2012-CV.pdf

Can someone who is more knowledgeable about economics confirm or deny my impression that he has zero genuine publications (a lot depends on the status of the *Virginia Economic Journal*).

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bad Jim 06.12.14 at 3:33 am

It’s a little odd that Brat’s now Catholic, since he has a degree from Princeton Theological Seminary, which is Presbyterian. “Dark money” is questionable, but he apparently got quite a bit of attention from prominent right-wing personalities like Laura Ingraham and Glen Beck. There was extensive advertising which raised his name recognition, but Eric Canton paid for that.

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bad Jim 06.12.14 at 4:00 am

More hits from Brat:

On climate change, from Mother Jones:

If you let Americans do their thing, there is no scarcity, right? They said we’re going to run out of food 200 years ago, that we’re goin’ to have a ice age. Now we’re heating up…Of course we care for the environment, but we’re not mad people. Over time, rich countries solve their problems. We get it right. It’s not all perfect, but we get it right.

Reduce Social Security by 2/3:

Currently, seniors are getting about three dollars out of all of the programs for every dollar they put in. So, in general, you’ve got to go to the American people and just be honest with them and say, “Here’s what fairness would look like.”

Economic theology, via Raw Story:

“I think the main point is that we need to synthesize Christianity and capitalism,” Brat concluded. “Augustine synthesized Plato and Christianity. Thomas Aquinas synthesized Aristotle and Christianity. Calvin synthesized all the rest, but capitalism was still coming. There is a book in here somewhere for the next Calvin. Go. God Bless.”

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Martin Bento 06.12.14 at 4:55 am

FWIW, I think this comes down to a show of power. The leadership, including Cantor, bowed to reality and raised the debt ceiling twice, in alliance with Democrats and over the dead bodies of most Republicans. The Tea Party demanded that they not do this. Not doing it, of course, would have been utterly insane, but at this point the crux isn’t the action, it is showing who is boss.

70

adam.smith 06.12.14 at 5:12 am

@Neil Levy:
The Virginia Economic Journal is not, best I can tell, peer reviewed, so in terms of a standard econ CV it wouldn’t “count” — it also appears to be a bit of an RMC house journal, so it counts even less.

Brat has, from skimming his CV, two “real” publication from around the time he got his PhD, one in Kyklos, one in Eastern Economic Journal, neither, obviously, top journals, but both reputable, peer-reviewed publications.

I don’t know much about RMC, but it seems to be a decent, but not outstanding liberal arts college. That means teaching loads are likely heavy and publication requirements for tenure, especially if you have a good teaching record, very low. I don’t think a CV like Brat’s is unusual at a place like that.

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Neil Levy 06.12.14 at 5:16 am

Thanks, Adam Smith.

72

Tabasco 06.12.14 at 5:23 am

This guy Brat seems truly awful, but not more awful than most Republicans. He also seems like a naive small time college professor who will be eaten alive in Washington, very easily manipulated, or both.

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Roy 06.12.14 at 5:40 am

On Brat as a Christian:

He is Catholic but says he is also a Calvinist, he has written an approving paper on the Prot work ethic and associates Protestantism with economic dynamism, he thinks Ayn Rand is interesting.

You could easily say he is very confused, but there are way to many of like mind to dismiss it so.

I am a conservative, liturgically and theologically, Catholic and I see a lot of these converts, especially from Prebyterianism, who are basically still Calvinists. While I am happy they have come over, I am not so happy with their influence. They are basically neo-Jansenists, and they are everywhere. Brat seems to be an extreme one of these.

These are the crowd who don’t grasp the social gospel is an integral part of Catholic teaching the same as pro life issues, devotion to Mary, and transubstantion. These are the prople who are worried about Francis being a Socialist when he repeats what every Pope since Leo XIII. Opposition to Immigration is shibboleth of this sort of new Catholic. If their conversion didn’t teach them that the Universal Church teaches a Universal man that transcends borders, they won’t get the hard stuff that actually requires hardship.

Often these types move on to Orthodoxy, which they also clearly don’t understand, but we all have to live with them. They are driven across the Tiber by the superficial reactionary appearance of the Church, hopefully they will learn some humility over time.

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Meredith 06.12.14 at 6:45 am

It’s about how electoral districts get carved (within our now-it-looks-weird-though-historically-it-makes-sense system of states, districts within states). The rightwing of the last 40 years has been much smarter on this front, more dedicated to long-term plans. May I call them fascist pigs? “Them”? But who’s that? Perfectly decent and kind people are caught up in choosing between Cantor and Brat. What a feat of the rightwing plutocrats. If only the dems (on the whole) were an actual Left.

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Meredith 06.12.14 at 6:51 am

I would add that my best friend from 7th grade through 12th in NJ went to RMC (mostly to be near her boyfriend at UVA — they married, divorced — long story; she’s since become a Canadian). Anyway, a good liberal arts college, at least once (it seems to have succumbed to the allure of an outside-funded institute or some such). Just saying, you don’t have to be from Virginia to have heard of Randolph Macon.

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bad Jim 06.12.14 at 7:40 am

Although I can’t quickly find a source, I’ve read that the turnout in this election was rather low. If that’s the case, there’s not much point in trying to discern the will of the gods from the entrails of the sacrificial victim. Small sample size, scant predictive power.

If so, it’s puzzling that so powerful a politician came from such a negligible and negligent district, the more so since he seems to have been disliked by a great many of his colleagues [citation needed]. The unbridled anger and disdain the increasingly extremist right exhibits towards its own candidates is a resource the rest of us might be able to exploit.

However, Lindsay Graham, the target of too many homophobic slurs from our side, coasted through his primary in the heartland of the Confederacy despite advocating immigration reform. It’s hard to make the argument that Cantor’s district in Virginia is more rabidly anti-immigrant than South Carolina.

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Ed Herdman 06.12.14 at 10:00 am

Politicians must come from powerful and ardent districts? That’s a new one on me. We have the seniority and patronage systems in Congress – no doubt Cantor’s fortunes relied on being favored by some who thought he would make a good whip, and then he was unanimously elected House Majority Leader. In some sense, this is just a reflection of the Connecticut Compromise – entire states get a chance to exercise outsize influence. In another sense, it’s a reflection of the need of political parties – not just the Republican – to continually reinvent themselves. They thought the “young gun” Cantor would be a good face for the party.

I am not really surprised that his strong identification with the government shutdown last year was apparently not remembered by the voters in his district.

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Daniel 06.12.14 at 10:36 am

@ Harold 65

>>Judeo-Christian” is another “careful” use of words

It’s a careful use of words that Jews demand. While of course necessary, most of us Christians don’t care too much about the Judeo part. It’s old news.

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soru 06.12.14 at 10:57 am

See Martin Gilen and Bemjamin I Page, “Testing Theories of American Politics”, Perspectives on Politics, Fall 2014.

Doesn’t the figures in that book rather support the case that elections are fundamental in US politics? The claim made is that the 20% richest have vastly more influence than the bottom 20%. But then they vote twice as much as the average, and infiitely more than the bottom segment who aren’t allowed to. Consequently, you don’t have to got below perhaps the top 30% by wealth before you find the median voter; a 50-something white guy with enough money to never work again, providing the stock market just slightly beats the historical average.

And for lower-turnout elections like this, that effect is only strengthened, until you get the situation where a politician who can be shown to at one point have compromised with the interests of 70% of the populace is generally going to lose a fair election.

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Ed 06.12.14 at 12:41 pm

“‘All of the investment banks, up in New York and D.C., they should have gone to jail.’

“That isn’t a quote from an Occupy Wall Street protester or Senator Elizabeth Warren. That’s a common campaign slogan repeated by Dave Brat, the Virginia college professor who scored one of the biggest political upsets in over a century by defeating Majority Leader Eric Cantor in the Republican primary last night.

“The national media is buzzing about Brat’s victory, but for all of the wrong reasons.

“Did the Tea Party swoop in and help Brat, as many in the Democratic Party are suggesting? Actually, the Wall Street Journal reports no major Tea Party or anti-establishment GOP group spent funds to defeat Cantor. Did Cantor, the only Jewish Republican in Congress, lose because of his religion, as some have suggested? There’s no evidence so far of anti-Semitism during the campaign. Was Cantor caught flatfooted? Nope; Cantor’s campaign spent close to $1 million on the race and several outside advocacy groups, including the National Rifle Association, the National Realtors Association and the American Chemistry Council (a chemical industry lobbying association) came in and poured money into the district to defeat Brat. The New York Times claims that Brat focused his campaign primarily on immigration reform. Brat certainly made immigration a visible topic in his race, but Republic Report listened to several hours of Brat stump speeches and radio appearances, and that issue came up far less than what Brat called the main problem in government: corruption and cronyism.”

From

81

Ed 06.12.14 at 12:43 pm

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Harold 06.12.14 at 1:05 pm

“Judeo-Christian” is not old news. I don’t notice other conservative politicians using it –yet. I did notice it in Whit Stillman’s latest movie, Damsels in Distress, where the characters use it semi-ironically of themselves, identifying as “Christian” and then self-correcting to “Judeo-Christian”, as a concession to the inclusiveness of the zeitgeist.

So far, and with the denunciations of corruption, so good. But I don’t think Brat is going to see Catholic theologians incorporating libertarian capitalism as he fondly anticipates or US citizens going along with reducing social security by two thirds.

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Barry 06.12.14 at 1:40 pm

Phil: “The fiscal conservative Right, which originally raised the Tea Party banner,…”

Bullsh*t. They weren’t holding rallies when Bush and Cheney were using the open model ‘Reagan proved that deficits don’t matter’. The real crowds came out *after* the GOP lost the House, Senate and White House.

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Barry 06.12.14 at 1:41 pm

“‘All of the investment banks, up in New York and D.C., they should have gone to jail.’

Ed: “That isn’t a quote from an Occupy Wall Street protester or Senator Elizabeth Warren. That’s a common campaign slogan repeated by Dave Brat, the Virginia college professor who scored one of the biggest political upsets in over a century by defeating Majority Leader Eric Cantor in the Republican primary last night.”

And what precisely has the Tea Party even tried to do, to punish those people?

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BenK 06.12.14 at 2:14 pm

Seems to me that there are several splits here: socially conservative, small gov’t socially, small gov’t fiscally, pro-business main street, and pro-business international high finance.

Cantor was only really one of these, from my perspective – and it wasn’t the most popular with conservatives overall.

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Sancho 06.12.14 at 2:52 pm

And what precisely has the Tea Party even tried to do, to punish those people?

Matt Taibbi, in Rolling Stone:

So how does a group of billionaire businessmen and corporations get a bunch of broke Middle American white people to lobby for lower taxes for the rich and deregulation of Wall Street? That turns out to be easy. Beneath the surface, the Tea Party is little more than a weird and disorderly mob, a federation of distinct and often competing strains of conservatism that have been unable to coalesce around a leader of their own choosing. Its rallies include not only hardcore libertarians left over from the original Ron Paul “Tea Parties,” but gun-rights advocates, fundamentalist Christians, pseudomilitia types like the Oath Keepers…and mainstream Republicans who have simply lost faith in their party. It’s a mistake to cast the Tea Party as anything like a unified, cohesive movement — which makes them easy prey for the very people they should be aiming their pitchforks at. A loose definition of the Tea Party might be millions of pissed-off white people sent chasing after Mexicans on Medicaid by the handful of banks and investment firms who advertise on Fox and CNBC.

The individuals in the Tea Party may come from very different walks of life, but most of them have a few things in common. After nearly a year of talking with Tea Party members from Nevada to New Jersey, I can count on one hand the key elements I expect to hear in nearly every interview. One: Every single one of them was that exceptional Republican who did protest the spending in the Bush years, and not one of them is the hypocrite who only took to the streets when a black Democratic president launched an emergency stimulus program. (“Not me — I was protesting!” is a common exclamation.)

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Nine 06.12.14 at 3:01 pm

“I think the main point is that we need to synthesize Christianity and capitalism”

Hasn’t Max Weber already done this ?

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Theophylact 06.12.14 at 3:53 pm

Jerry Vinokurov @ #57: Gotta be careful when using the word “conservative” in conjunction with the word “Jew”. Capital-C-Conservative Jews tend to be liberals; lower-case-conservative Jews tend to be Orthodox. On the average, the former are richer and less fanatically pro-Israel than the latter, although there are well-known exceptions.

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Bruce Wilder 06.12.14 at 3:57 pm

The billionaire money is critical to keeping the brand together nationally, of course, but like any “populist” movement, it combines leaders with followers, and I suspect the leaders are different in kind from the followers. The followers may be the politically addled, modelled before the cameras by the persona of, say, Michelle Bachmann, but the leaders are aspirant local notables, who long to be the John Galt of the neighborhood, and know in their hearts the critical importance of extracting all they can from low-wage workers, and protecting the grift.

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Bruce Wilder 06.12.14 at 4:27 pm

Matt Taibbi:

Every single one of them was that exceptional Republican who did protest the spending in the Bush years, and not one of them is the hypocrite who only took to the streets when a black Democratic president launched an emergency stimulus program.

I guess the usually extraordinary Taibbi knows his audience well enough to pander to it, a bit, but I cannot help notice how this juxtaposition lets Democrats off the hook for supporting a pro-plutocracy President, who enhanced the power of Wall Street and left millions to suffer foreclosure, who has built up the power of the surveillance state and claimed the authority to murder anyone he wills.

I noticed Erik Loomis at LGM, speaking for the Scott Lemieux theory of politics (Lemieux alone knows what is politically “possible” and anyone, who doesn’t support that and wants better, should, shudup, shudup, shudup) opined that the Tea Party has been politically impotent: “they’re terrible at winning power”.

It makes me wonder what Democrats see in the mirror of the Republican Tea Party right. Is it really just hidden racism and foolishness, as they often claim? Or, is it their own fecklessness?

Billionaires may be paying for the Tea Party, and feeding them the poisonous ideology of the Cato Institute as if it were the ambrosia of the gods, but billionaires paid for Obama, and the country has been fed neoliberal crapulence. Where are the liberals or progressives or socialists even, who can win a primary in the rain?

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Jacob McM 06.12.14 at 4:45 pm

Guys, you’re way behind the times. Libertarianism is passé. Being authentically right-wing these days means being as close to outright fascist as possible:

http://thebaffler.com/blog/2014/05/mouthbreathing_machiavellis

One day in March of this year, a Google engineer named Justine Tunney created a strange and ultimately doomed petition at the White House website. The petition proposed a three-point national referendum, as follows:

1. Retire all government employees with full pensions.
2. Transfer administrative authority to the tech industry.
3. Appoint [Google executive chairman] Eric Schmidt CEO of America.

This could easily be written off as stunt, a flamboyant act of corporate kiss-assery, which, on one level, it probably was. But Tunney happened to be serious. “It’s time for the U.S. Regime to politely take its exit from history and do what’s best for America,” she wrote. “The tech industry can offer us good governance and prevent further American decline.”

Welcome to the latest political fashion among the California Confederacy: total corporate despotism. It is a potent and bitter ideological mash that could have only been concocted at tech culture’s funky smoothie bar—a little Steve Jobs here, a little Ayn Rand there, and some Ray Kurzweil for color.

Tunney was at one time a prominent and divisive fixture of the Occupy Wall Street movement. Lately, though, her views have . . . evolved. How does an anticapitalist “tranarchist” (transgender anarchist) become a hard-right seditionist?

“Read Mencius Moldbug,” Tunney told her Twitter followers last month, referring to an aggressively dogmatic blogger with a reverent following in certain tech circles.

Tunney’s advice is easier said than done, for Moldbug is as prolific as he is incomprehensible. His devotees, many of whom are also bloggers, describe themselves as the “neoreactionary” vanguard of a “Dark Enlightenment.” They oppose popular suffrage, egalitarianism and pluralism. Some are atheists, while others affect obscure orthodox beliefs, but most are youngish white males embittered by “political correctness.” As best I can tell, their ideal society best resembles Blade Runner, but without all those Asian people cluttering up the streets. Neoreactionaries like to see themselves as the heroes of another sci-fi movie, in fact, sometimes boasting that they have been “redpilled,” like Keanu Reeves’s character in The Matrix—a movie Moldbug regards as “genius.”

In 2007, he reemerged under an angry pseudonym, Moldbug, on a humble Blogspot blog called “Unqualified Reservations.” As might be expected of a “DIY ideology . . . designed by geeks for other geeks,” his political treatises are heavily informed by the works of J.R.R. Tolkien and George Lucas. What set Yarvin apart from the typical keyboard kook was his archaic, grandiose tone, which echoed the snippets Yarvin cherry-picked from obscure old reactionary tracts. Yarvin told one friendly interviewer that he spent $500 a month on books.

In short, Moldbug reads like an overconfident autodidact’s imitation of a Lewis Lapham essay—if Lewis Lapham were a fascist teenage Dungeon Master.

Yarvin’s most toxic arguments come snugly wrapped in purple prose and coded language. (For instance, “The Cathedral” is Moldbuggian for the oppressive nexus of liberal newspapers, universities and the State Department, where his father worked after getting a PhD in philosophy from Brown.) By so doing, Moldbug has been able to an attract an audience that welcomes the usual teeth-gnashing white supremacists who haunt the web while also leaving room for a more socially acceptable assortment of “men’s rights” advocates, gun nuts, transhumanist libertarians, disillusioned Occupiers and well-credentialed Silicon Valley entrepreneurs.

When Justine Tunney posted her petition online, the press treated it like comic relief that came from nowhere. In fact, it is straight Moldbug. Item one, “retire all government employees,” comes verbatim from a 2012 talk that Yarvin gave to an approving crowd of California techies (see video below). In his typical smarmy, meandering style, Yarvin concluded by calling for “a national CEO [or] what’s called a dictator.”

This plea for autocracy is the essence of Yarvin’s work. He has concluded that America’s problems come not from a deficit of democracy but from an excess of it—or, as Yarvin puts it, “chronic kinglessness.” Incredible as it sounds, absolute dictatorship may be the least objectionable tenet espoused by the Dark Enlightenment neoreactionaries.

Moldbug is the widely acknowledged lodestar of the movement, but he’s not the only leading figure. Another is Nick Land, a British former academic now living in Shanghai, where he writes admiringly of Chinese eugenics and the impending global reign of “autistic nerds, who alone are capable of participating effectively in the advanced technological processes that characterize the emerging economy.”

These imaginary übermensch have inspired a sprawling network of blogs, sub-Reddits and meetups aimed at spreading their views. Apart from their reverence for old-timey tyrants, they espouse a belief in “human biodiversity,” which is basically racism in a lab coat. This scientific-sounding euphemism invariably refers to supposed differences in intelligence across races. It is so spurious that the Wikipedia article on human biodiversity was deleted because, in the words of one editor, it is “purely an Internet theory.” Censored once again by The Cathedral, alas.

“I am not a white nationalist, but I do read white-nationalist blogs, and I’m not afraid to link to them . . . I am not exactly allergic to the stuff,” Yarvin writes. He also praises a blogger who advocated the deportation of Muslims and the closure of mosques as “probably the most imaginative and interesting right-wing writer on the planet.” Hectoring a Swarthmore history professor, Yarvin rhapsodizes on colonial rule in Southern Africa, and suggests that black people had it better under apartheid. “If you ask me to condemn [mass murderer] Anders Breivik, but adore Nelson Mandela, perhaps you have a mother you’d like to fuck,” Yarvin writes.

His jargon may be novel, but whenever Mencius Moldbug descends to the realm of the concrete, he offers familiar tropes of white victimhood. Yarvin’s favorite author, the nineteenth-century writer Scot Thomas Carlyle, is perhaps best known for his infamous slavery apologia, “Occasional Discourse on the Negro Question.” “If there is one writer in English whose name can be uttered with Shakespeare’s, it is Carlyle,” Yarvin writes. Later in the same essay Yarvin calls slavery “a natural human relationship” akin to “that of patron and client.”

As I soldiered through the Moldbug canon, my reactions numbed. Here he is expressing sympathy for poor, persecuted Senator Joe McCarthy. Big surprise. Here he claims “America is a communist country.” Sure, whatever. Here he doubts that Barack Obama ever attended Columbia University. You don’t say? After a while, Yarvin’s blog feels like the pseudo-intellectual equivalent of a Gwar concert, one sick stunt after another, calculated to shock. To express revulsion and disapproval is to grant the attention he so transparently craves.

Moldbuggism, for now, remains mostly an Internet phenomenon. Which is not to say it is “merely” an Internet phenomenon. This is, after all, a technological age. Last November, Yarvin claimed that his blog had received 500,000 views. It is not quantity of his audience that matters so much as the nature of it, however. And the neoreactionaries do seem to be influencing the drift of Silicon Valley libertarianism, which is no small force today. This is why I have concluded, sadly, that Yarvin needs answering.

If the Koch brothers have proved anything, it’s that no matter how crazy your ideas are, if you put serious money behind those ideas, you can seize key positions of authority and power and eventually bring large numbers of people around to your way of thinking. Moreover, the radicalism may intensify with each generation. Yesterday’s Republicans and Independents are today’s Libertarians. Today’s Libertarians may be tomorrow’s neoreactionaries, whose views flatter the prejudices of the new Silicon Valley elite.

In a widely covered secessionist speech at a Silicon Valley “startup school” last year, there was more than a hint of Moldbug (see video below). The speech, by former Stanford professor and Andreessen Horowitz partner Balaji Srinivasan, never mentioned Moldbug or the Dark Enlightenment, but it was suffused with neoreactionary rhetoric and ideas. Srinivasan used the phrase “the paper belt” to describe his enemies, namely the government, the publishing industries, and universities. The formulation mirrored Moldbug’s “Cathedral.” Srinivasan’s central theme was the notion of “exit”—as in, exit from democratic society, and entry into any number of corporate mini-states whose arrival will leave the world looking like a patchwork map of feudal Europe.

Srinivasan ticked through the signposts of the neoreactionary fantasyland: Bitcoin as the future of finance, corporate city-states as the future of government, Detroit as a loaded symbol of government failure and 3D-printed firearms as an example of emerging technology that defies regulation.

The speech succeeded in promoting the anti-democratic authoritarianism at the core of neoreactionary thought, while glossing over the attendant bigotry. This has long been a goal of some in the movement. One such moderate—if the word can be used in this context—is Patri Friedman, grandson of the late libertarian demigod Milton Friedman. The younger Friedman expressed the need for “a more politically correct dark enlightenment” after a public falling out with Yarvin in 2009.

Friedman has lately been devoting his time (and leveraging his family name) to raise money for the SeaSteading Institute, which, as the name suggests, is a blue-sea libertarian dream to build floating fiefdoms free of outside regulation and law. Sound familiar?

The principal backer of the SeaSteading project, Peter Thiel, is also an investor in companies run by Balaji Srinivasan and Curtis Yarvin. Thiel is a co-founder of PayPal, an original investor in Facebook and hedge fund manager, as well as being the inspiration for a villainous investor on the satirical HBO series Silicon Valley. Thiel’s extreme libertarian advocacy is long and storied, beginning with his days founding the Collegiate Network-backed Stanford Review. Lately he’s been noticed writing big checks for Ted Cruz.

He’s invested in Yarvin’s current startup, Tlon. Thiel invested personally in Tlon co-founder John Burnham. In 2011, at age 18, Burnham accepted $100,000 from Thiel to skip college and go directly into business. Instead of mining asteroids as he originally intended, Burnham wound up working on obscure networking software with Yarvin, whose title at Tlon is, appropriately enough, “benevolent dictator for life.”

California libertarian software developers inhabit a small and shallow world. It should be no surprise then, that, although Thiel has never publicly endorsed Yarvin’s side project specifically, or the neoreactionary program in general, there is definitely a whiff of something Moldbuggy in Thiel’s own writing. For instance, Thiel echoed Moldbug in an infamous 2009 essay for the Cato Institute in which he explained that he had moved beyond libertarianism. “I no longer believe that freedom and democracy are compatible,” Thiel wrote.

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Daniel 06.12.14 at 5:27 pm

@ Barry 54

>>And what precisely has the Tea Party even tried to do, to punish those people?

It would certainly help matters if they received some assistance from the current attorney general, Holder, and his boss.

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Luke 06.12.14 at 5:38 pm

“Brat is apparently a Roman Catholic. How he can combine that with purportedly being a follower of Ayn Rand, I cannot imagine.”

Nothing new about Christian hypocrisy. Take for example the Protestant theologian Gerhard Kittel, who managed to write all kinds of pro-Nazi nonsense. Kittel was unusual in his vitriol, but not in supporting the Nazis agaisnt the left.

Having grown up around certain conservative Christian milieux, it seems to me that the New Testamant does not exist for these people, outside of miracles, salvation and lakes of fire. Even biblical literalists (especially these, in fact) seem to be completely oblivious to things like the Beatitudes. My guess is Brat simply associates Rand’s critique with ‘collectivism’, of which his personal Christianity is now purged. ‘God helps those who help themselves’ alongside ‘you can’t legislate altruism’, etc. ad naus. Conservative Christians have had thousands of years to learn such contortions, and they’ve got quite good at them.

@bob and others discussing ‘populism’. Richard Seymour has a pretty good line on this; he’s been writing about the subject for years. His most recent: http://www.leninology.co.uk/2014/06/populists-against-elites.html

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Main Street Muse 06.12.14 at 5:47 pm

Bruce Wilder @90: “I noticed Erik Loomis at LGM, speaking for the Scott Lemieux theory of politics (Lemieux alone knows what is politically “possible” and anyone, who doesn’t support that and wants better, should, shudup, shudup, shudup) opined that the Tea Party has been politically impotent: ‘they’re terrible at winning power.'”

Those who disparage the abilities of the Tea Party to attain positions of power need to check out NC, Kansas, Wisconsin, etc.

95

MPAVictoria 06.12.14 at 5:58 pm

“Those who disparage the abilities of the Tea Party to attain positions of power need to check out NC, Kansas, Wisconsin, etc.”

Well too be fair they were speaking about the federal context not state.

96

Main Street Muse 06.12.14 at 6:14 pm

To MPA Victoria, all politics is local… and the destruction of Tea Party politics on locals is extreme. (Speaking as one in NC, where Tea Party ideology is destroying the state.)

97

MPAVictoria 06.12.14 at 6:16 pm

“To MPA Victoria, all politics is local… and the destruction of Tea Party politics on locals is extreme. (Speaking as one in NC, where Tea Party ideology is destroying the state.)”

I am not saying you are wrong. In fact I bet S.L. would agree with your statement that the tea party is wrecking many states. However he has a point when speaking federally. The Republicans would probably be in control of the Senate right now if it wasn’t for the Tea Party.

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mds 06.12.14 at 6:40 pm

(Speaking as one in NC, where Tea Party ideology is destroying the state.)

Oh, come now. Things wouldn’t be all that different if the Tea Party weren’t in charge. They’re a useful bogeyman and nothing more. Art Pope would be getting his entire agenda implemented even with Democrats at the helm. Which is why he, uh … helped fund the Tea Party takeover in the first place. The point is, you need to remember that there’s not a dime’s worth of difference between the two major political parties. If North Carolina Democrats had been more progressive, there wouldn’t have been an opening for the Tea Party to exploit by offering a virtually indistinguishable agenda wrapped in a mantle of “throw the big-government big-spending liberals out.” Sure, in practice their governance has been worse for most of the state’s residents, but not in theory.

99

Bruce Wilder 06.12.14 at 7:11 pm

Yes, MPAVictoria, Obama and the bought-and-FIRE-paid-for Dems are destroying the country federally, and their excuse is the Tea Party (they have to have someone to be less-evil-than, and given how evil the centrist faux-liberal Dems are determined to be, the “alternative” has to be made-for-teevee scary), but, hey, the Tea Party are delivering the country into the hands of the Democratic Party, so score one for the good guys “our” team.

I pretty much know your schtick on partisan politics — you might as well be a robot, so predictable are your responses — so let’s just skip the usual, usual. What I want to know is if any lukewarm Dem / liberal or progressive ever looks on Tea Party political effectiveness with some envy, some awareness of what electoral power looks like, of some inkling of how useless and superfluous they themselves have been made by their own unwillingness to hold “their” representatives and leaders accountable.

100

Bruce Wilder 06.12.14 at 7:19 pm

mds @ 98

People with a genuinely populist or social-welfare agenda are not willing to pay for the politics necessary to deliver it. I think many Dem pols would want to be the heroes of such a politics, but know better than to think they could deliver it and survive, in the absence of mass-membership political organization able to back them and reward good governance.

101

John Garrett 06.12.14 at 7:21 pm

Or, Bruce Wilding, do the modliberals look at the Tea Party and say, “Wish some of us cared as much as these undereducated morons do.”

102

MPAVictoria 06.12.14 at 7:33 pm

“I pretty much know your schtick on partisan politics — you might as well be a robot, so predictable are your responses “

Wow Bruce. I am predictable? Look in the mirror friend.

103

Bruce Wilder 06.12.14 at 7:36 pm

A lot say, “racist” and stop thinking. Some are very happy, as on this comment thread, to extend that to an accusation of anti-Semitism

Too few are willing to look at issues, which might call into question what their own support is used to enact.
http://www.nakedcapitalism.com/2014/06/cantors-loss-triumph-anti-corporate-right-wing-populism.html

104

Ed Herdman 06.12.14 at 7:37 pm

There were many dimes worth of difference in October. Or are you saying the landscape changes significantly in state politics from federal politics?

I get the point that the current Administration seems pro-plutocratic (which I somewhat disagree with) but there’s still a wide amount of difference between the two. The subtle bits matter because this is politics – no serious student of history is going to say that Nixon or Carter were in exactly the same places politically as the evolving evangelical political movement, because that’d be useless and just silly.

Did anybody have a topical response to what other-Ed posted, that the Brat campaign focused more on corruption and cronyism? From the snippet there, it’s not clear that the other media outlets are reporting with some special insight into what the voters actually voted on, or what they think the issues are (wouldn’t be the first time).

105

Jerry Vinokurov 06.12.14 at 7:39 pm

Jerry Vinokurov @ #57: Gotta be careful when using the word “conservative” in conjunction with the word “Jew”. Capital-C-Conservative Jews tend to be liberals; lower-case-conservative Jews tend to be Orthodox. On the average, the former are richer and less fanatically pro-Israel than the latter, although there are well-known exceptions.

Indeed; if there’s any confusion, I wrote small-c-conservative to point to political, rather than religious conservatism.

What I want to know is if any lukewarm Dem / liberal or progressive ever looks on Tea Party political effectiveness with some envy, some awareness of what electoral power looks like, of some inkling of how useless and superfluous they themselves have been made by their own unwillingness to hold “their” representatives and leaders accountable.

I’m not sure why the Tea Party should be our standard here, especially since there’s basically no such thing as “the Tea Party,” there’s only the Republican party. To whatever extent that the even-more-rightwing-than-normal Republicans have managed to gain any ground against their internal party opponents, they have yet to translate it into electoral dominance.

106

Jerry Vinokurov 06.12.14 at 7:41 pm

I’ll believe there’s such a thing as “anti-corporate right-wing populism” about the same time I’ll believe in unicorns.

107

MPAVictoria 06.12.14 at 7:45 pm

“I’ll believe there’s such a thing as “anti-corporate right-wing populism” about the same time I’ll believe in unicorns.”

+1

108

Ed Herdman 06.12.14 at 7:56 pm

Why would you find it hard to believe? Many people consider themselves traditionalists, and many people think the Democrats are a party of elites (as noted by many people above, there’s a lot of ways in which the two parties are similar; service to elite preferences even over common consensus is one of them). For a long time Republicans have been trying to straddle this divide by focusing so much on “small businesses,” in the hopes that the rhetoric will be pleasing to conservatives in all income brackets.

Saying this says to me that you don’t listen to many real people.

109

MPAVictoria 06.12.14 at 8:00 pm

“real people.”

Who would you consider not a “real person” Ed?

110

mds 06.12.14 at 8:09 pm

“Anti-corporate right-wing populism?” Seriously? It’s great that Mr. Brat wants to end ill-defined “corporate welfare,” but he also wants to virtually eliminate the federal regulatory state. He claims the big banks should be held accountable for their criminality, but apparently not by the government. He thinks rich people and businesses pay too much in taxes. He wants to gut what remains of the social safety net, leaving ordinary people even more at the mercy of corporate power. He’s for a strong military, which apparently magically happens without giving corporations any public money. He’s certainly populist in the same sense that the Thatcherite UKIP are populist, which is not what I consider the good kind. But “anti-corporate”? That’s not just a unicorn, that’s a flying unicorn that poops platinum.

111

Barry 06.12.14 at 8:15 pm

Me: >>And what precisely has the Tea Party even tried to do, to punish those people?

Daniel “It would certainly help matters if they received some assistance from the current attorney general, Holder, and his boss.”

Too bad there’s no such thing as state laws against fraud and suchlike.

112

geo 06.12.14 at 8:28 pm

Those who doubt the existence of anti-corporate right-wing populism should check out The American Conservative magazine, especially the current issue, with an essay by Ralph Nader called “Who Owns America?”

113

Ed Herdman 06.12.14 at 8:32 pm

@MPAV: People who actually exist, and not just in your imagination, perhaps. This kind of conservative is out there and you just sound smug and uneducated when you say they don’t exist.

A point like mds’ @ #110 is fine but it really doesn’t address the question of what these people are running on, and whether it wins elections. We all are old enough to know that politicians don’t care about what actually works in government; they just care about getting elected and staying incumbent.

114

Bruce Wilder 06.12.14 at 9:00 pm

The article by David Dayen, which I linked to @ 103, is pretty good, and he makes the point that Brat is unlikely to deliver anything that a liberal or progressive would recognize as genuine anti-corporate reform.

The political point, though, is that these people — the followers if not the demagogues and grifters hired to lead them — are angry and available. If there were only liberals and Democrats available to push an ideology and an agenda of anti-corporate, anti-plutocrat reform.

But, alas and alack, there’s only a Democrat pro-plutocrat neoliberalism. Also, cooties! undereducated morons racists!

115

Bruce Wilder 06.12.14 at 9:06 pm

Just an historical note: the Glass in Glass-Steagall — the cornerstone of New Deal banking reform and financial repression — was Carter Glass, a senior member of the Harry Byrd organization that dominated Virginia politics for decades and as conservative a conservative as you’d ever want to meet.

116

Main Street Muse 06.12.14 at 10:40 pm

MDS@ 98 “Art Pope would be getting his entire agenda implemented even with Democrats at the helm.”

This is a laughable notion. The NCGOP swept into power in both Senate and House in the 2010 election; got the governor’s office in 2012. Since then, a RADICAL change in pretty much everything, a deliberate shredding of the social contract, with policies that focus on the destruction of public education, destruction of environmental protection, voter suppression, the “regulation” of abortion clinics leading to them being shut down, guns now allowed in parks, bars and on college campuses, a refusal to expand Medicaid, limits to unemployment benefits leading to people simply dropping out of the job market. North Carolina is a “right to work” state with a very high level of poverty, including the working poor.

When the Daily Show wanted to showcase how racist Tea Party tactics are, where did they go? North Carolina. http://bit.ly/1dovzw7

“Sure, in practice their governance has been worse for most of the state’s residents, but not in theory.” This is nonsense. The changes the NC Tea Party/GOP have implemented are vast, sweeping and destructive. It is blindness – absolute blindness – to say that the Democrats would be doing Art Pope’s bidding.

117

Jerry Vinokurov 06.12.14 at 10:49 pm

I don’t believe that “right-wing anti-corporate populism” is a real actual force in today’s political climate mostly for the reasons that mds already covered. At the top level, there simply are no anti-corporate elements at all; anything that Brat says can be dismissed as posturing and not an actual serious anti-corporate agenda, which of course would look nothing like his Randian ideal. At the bottom, there certainly exist plenty of people who have been fucked over by corporations and are angry about it, but there’s no “anti-corporate” philosophy unifying them in any real sense, since these are also people who hate unions, environmental and safety standards, and any actual anti-corporate interventions. So anti-corporate right-wing populism just doesn’t exist as a motivating force, and Dayen article gets it wrong by cherry-picking a few pieces of red meat that Brat threw before the primary voters. You can draw any kind of curve you like through a single data point.

118

Jerry Vinokurov 06.12.14 at 10:55 pm

The political point, though, is that these people — the followers if not the demagogues and grifters hired to lead them — are angry and available. If there were only liberals and Democrats available to push an ideology and an agenda of anti-corporate, anti-plutocrat reform.

But, alas and alack, there’s only a Democrat pro-plutocrat neoliberalism. Also, cooties! undereducated morons racists!

Yeah, actually the racism is a pretty big impediment to this strategy. There are many planks in the progressive platform besides anti-plutocracy: civil rights and reproductive freedom are two big ones, and they are inextricably linked with economic justice. Unsurprisingly, there are plenty of people out there willing to scuttle programs or initiatives that make economic sense if a black person might benefit or if somehow a woman somewhere receives subsidized contraception. Spite, nose, face, etc.

119

The Temporary Name 06.12.14 at 11:13 pm

We all are old enough to know that politicians don’t care about what actually works in government; they just care about getting elected and staying incumbent.

This is standard right-wing rhetoric, but there’s good evidence against it in the form of my ice-cream-free freezer. That stuff is actually believed in should be obvious, money=justice for instance.

120

roger gathman 06.12.14 at 11:25 pm

If Brat campaigned against the corporate-government gravy train, that is the thing to try to ally with. And if he also campaigned against say medicare or social security, that is the thing to oppose. That’s politics. The alliance between left and rightwing populism is about picking and choosing. But the same thing is true about all politics. When I read about moderate republicans that the President can work with, presumably the writer is not saying that all the positions of these Republicans should be embraced by the moderate Dems, but some of them can be.
I would say that from the leftwing perspective, Brat will surely make a better congressman than Eric Cantor in what is going to be a heavily Republican dominated House (and probably a less heavily Republican dominated Senate). Brat doesn’t seem like the type who will be multi-term, but he might be in the House long enough to introduce some embarrassing bills for the GOP, as well as voting sedulously for the embarrassing bills the leadership is always passing.

121

adam.smith 06.12.14 at 11:29 pm

What I want to know is if any lukewarm Dem / liberal or progressive ever looks on Tea Party political effectiveness with some envy,

I’m not really a political liberal, but I’m generally firmly in the “art-of-the possible” camp on policy, so I’m sure I’m included in Bruce’s lukewarm group—and yes, envy (or something along those lines) was exactly my first reaction to this.

I think primary-targeting corporate liberal members in relatively safe districts is a lot more interesting as a strategy than targeting moderates in swing states or districts, so especially if people want to primary, say, Charles Schumer or Dianne Feinstein, I’d be very happy. It would almost certainly be possible to elect people further two the left in their respective states.

This, though, I believe is nonsense:

are angry and available. If there were only liberals and Democrats available to push an ideology and an agenda of anti-corporate, anti-plutocrat reform.

From what I’ve seen in terms of research, Tea-party supporters are firmly Republican. They’re not potential swing-voters. They also don’t appear to be particularly similar to, say, European protest voters, which really do seem to be up for grabs between right-wing and left-wing (and whatever Beppe Grillo is) populism.
I’m not sure if there is such a group of potential voters in the US. I’m skeptical, but even if they do exists, I’m pretty sure they’re not a factor in Tea-party primary victories.

122

mds 06.12.14 at 11:49 pm

Uh, Main Street Muse @ 116, I had hoped that my sarcasm was sufficiently obvious. I apologize for failing to make it clear. My point was precisely that Art Pope felt it necessary to engineer a change in political control, even though politicians of both parties are supposedly equally for sale. Similarly with the notion that any apparent unpleasantness due to Tea Party rule is largely imaginary in order to provide corporatist Democrats with a convenient enemy. In places like North Carolina and Wisconsin, things really did become worse. Yet apparently we need to leave both states that way until sufficiently worthy progressive politicians come along, lest we be acting as mere partisan robots.

123

Sancho 06.13.14 at 1:20 am

@Bruce Wilder

I cannot help notice how this juxtaposition lets Democrats off the hook for supporting a pro-plutocracy President, who enhanced the power of Wall Street and left millions to suffer foreclosure, who has built up the power of the surveillance state and claimed the authority to murder anyone he wills.

Except that Democrats and the left have, for years, been directing a torrent of protest against Obama for those very reasons. While the right is bubbling with conspiracy theories that just make Republicans more unelectable each day, the criticism that really harms the administration comes from the progressive side.

Compare that to the tea partiers Taibbi’s talking about, who supported Bush without a hint of dissent right up to the day he lost the presidency, at which point he became their Voldemort and they all started calling themselves non-partisan libertarians.

124

Ed Herdman 06.13.14 at 1:35 am

I’m not sure “the criticism” is what harms the Administration. If the recent reports are accurate, they’ve decided to dig in and have a fairly poor sense of what’s legitimate criticism and what isn’t, all the while the President’s allowed his vision to narrow, so much so that he now defines his foreign policy as “don’t do stupid shit.” But beyond this question of tone, I agree with you; the Democratic Party hasn’t traditionally been known for its unity.

125

Ed Herdman 06.13.14 at 1:56 am

@ The Temporary Name:

A minor oversimplification on my part, but I find it a bit hard to believe that you wouldn’t have guessed the context of my comments, which makes your own response seem patronizing at best. The context is simply this – let’s find out what the guy believes (or, perhaps more accurately, what the guy is going to do once in office) for the sake of better understanding the political landscape. That’s a matter of truth, not politics or morality. Politics as “the art of the possible” implies maneuvering around various obstacles with some goal in mind, but don’t put the cart before the horse. It also means not driving blind; looking at actual behavior and distrusting our own tendencies to believe in a set story about what outcomes we get from what intentions.

For example, take your “money=justice” example. We certainly have heard noises in that tone from (certain) conservatives (who may or may not be relevant to the politicians at hand), but in actual practice, anybody in office who wants to stay in office is going to be giving some special consideration to powerful (i.e., moneyed) interests. So far that’s fine, but we should go a bit further. What happens when we find (as we do) that even Democrats in Congress have a tendency to vote with elites over mainstream voter interests? It’s jumping the gun to say that we’re immediately spouting a Tea Party talking point, because we haven’t said anything about policies or intentions yet. From the standpoint of somebody who thinks this is one of the signal issues of our times, hearing the appropriate dog whistles isn’t very interesting. Getting results is what matters.

Yes, it’s a generalization, but sometimes generalizations help wash away the muck so we can actually see what’s settled in the bottom of the tank.

126

Lee A. Arnold 06.13.14 at 2:21 am

John Holbo: “Anyone know?”

John, go to the Heritage scoring link in your post and hit “Votes”. There is a list of about 80-90 pieces of legislation with brief descriptions, which Heritage either crosses out No or checks Yes.

127

MPAVictoria 06.13.14 at 2:57 am

“so much so that he now defines his foreign policy as “don’t do stupid shit.””

You know that is actually a huge improvement compared to the average US president.

128

Bruce Wilder 06.13.14 at 3:09 am

Sancho @ 123: Except that Democrats and the left have, for years, been directing a torrent of protest against Obama for those very reasons. . . . the criticism that really harms the administration comes from the progressive side.

Apparently, if we’re looking at the same recent history, we evaluate it very differently.

In whatever alternative universe you inhabit, I urge you to vote. Let’s leave it there.

129

Ed Herdman 06.13.14 at 4:08 am

@ MPAV: Perhaps. But it reflects a collapse in this Administration’s ambitions over the really not very out-there promises he made years ago. I don’t fault the Administration for not delivering on some of those promises, but “don’t do stupid shit” is less than they are capable of, in reality or rhetoric at least.

130

Sancho 06.13.14 at 4:43 am

@Bruce Wilder

It’s not complicated. Choose your poison. Nominate an online den of the leftiest lefties, and I’ll show you persistent criticism of Obama there. Then I’ll pick a far-right website and you can point out some examples of trenchant criticism of the George W. Bush administration during its term.

I’m confident that the capacity for criticising a sitting president of its own “side” is far, far more prevalent on the left. We know this precisely because of the emergence of millions of newly-minted “libertarians” after Obama was elected, who happen to believe the exact same things as Republicans, but don’t accept the errors – or even the existence, it seems – of the Bush years.

131

LFC 06.13.14 at 4:57 am

@B Wilder
If there were only liberals and Democrats available to push an ideology and an agenda of anti-corporate, anti-plutocrat reform.

Putting aside for the moment the question of the content of such an agenda, I suspect that a look at the members of the Progressive Caucus in the House wd disclose at least a few willing to support “anti-plutocrat reform.” (Also, Sanders in the Senate, though an independent, caucuses w the Dems, I believe.)

132

bad Jim 06.13.14 at 5:02 am

It looks as though Cantor is going to be replaced as House Majority Leader by Kevin McCarthy.

133

Bruce Wilder 06.13.14 at 7:08 am

Sancho @ 130 . . . who . . . don’t accept the errors – or even the existence, it seems – of the Bush years

Do you accept that Obama continued many of the errors of the Bush years?

Lefties are big talkers, I’ll give you that. But, you seem to be missing my point entirely. It isn’t about competitive critiques. It’s about power, and power is about organization and acting in concert, strategically. The vast majority, including liberals and progressives — maybe especially liberals and progressives — are scarcely respected in American politics, because they vote at random, or might as well for all the organization and discipline involved. Even when the Left get all upset and angry, they cannot get it together to actually win a critical election or discipline a politician, who betrays them, as Obama and the Senate Democratic majority has. The Left has a lot of excuses for its own impotence, its inability to reverse 30+ years of conservative and neoliberal economic policy despite the manifest consequences, and for the betrayals and failures of the politicians served to them from the political menu bought and paid for by billionaires and corporate business. The Left also has a lot to say about its own scruples as far as representing and leading the ordinary people, whose interest they sometimes purport to champion, but whom they despise as racists, religious fools, undereducated or self-destructively stupid.

I will repeat my summary @ 100:

People with a genuinely populist or social-welfare agenda are not willing to pay for the politics necessary to deliver it. I think many Dem pols would want to be the heroes of such a politics, but know better than to think they could deliver it and survive, in the absence of mass-membership political organization able to back them and reward good governance.

134

bad Jim 06.13.14 at 8:14 am

It’s instructive that there appears to be no competition for the job of House Majority Leader. McCarthy is not well-regarded by either side, but there seems to be general agreement that the game’s not worth the candle. It used to be a rather important office, but now that the job of Congress is merely to obstruct and object, it hardly matters who the leaders are.

There used to be a saying, “This is no way to run a railroad”. It sounds anachronistic to Americans, since we forgot how to run railroads a generation or two ago. A recent poll revealed that Californians are acutely aware of the threat of drought, and utterly unwilling to spend any money to mitigate the consequences.

I’m certain that a poll would show that most voters would prefer not to elect politicians.

135

MPAVictoria 06.13.14 at 1:27 pm

” I don’t fault the Administration for not delivering on some of those promises, but “don’t do stupid shit” is less than they are capable of, in reality or rhetoric at least.”

If the US government avoids touching off another major war I will be happy.

136

William Timberman 06.13.14 at 2:33 pm

Bruce Wilder @ 133

Harder to do than to say — for all sorts of reasons, not all of them self-serving. Mass-membership political organizations are notoriously difficult to conjure up at will; they depend on a consensus about what’s important, on an interpretation of events and their consequences which, in the first instance, at least, is most definitely self-serving. I have to wonder what Bruce Wilder would give up of his hard-won understanding of history, of social and political movements, and of justice, to found an effective and enduring progressive interest group in, say, Cottonwood AZ, the nearest town of any size to my present hidey-hole.

In 2006, canvassing local Democrats about the upcoming vote on a minimum-wage increase in AZ, I talked to one yellow dog Democrat who told me, in essence: Hell yes, I’m for it, but not if they give it to them damned Mexicans. This kind of crap is hard to put up with day after day after day. Given who and what I am, for which I paid the usual price, what part of it should I abandon in order to reach the necessary compromises with that guy, and on the odd chance that we might actually win an election, what would I have to show for my effort?

Individual solutions to these sorts of moral difficulties may be an illusion — in fact I’m as convinced as you are that they are — but at least at present they’re of some comfort. A life of ambitious demagoguery might be more effective in your sense, but I’m not convinced it would lead to anything significantly different from what we’ve already got. Unless we have a very high resistance to schizophrenic breakdowns, sauve qui peut is often the best we can do.

137

Bruce Wilder 06.13.14 at 3:28 pm

MPAVictoria: If the US government avoids touching off another major war I will be happy.

From your keyboard to the Deity’s ear!

William Timberman @ 136: [Mass-membership political organizations] depend on a consensus about what’s important.

I would say that they create a consensus about what’s important, and such a consensus, more durable than the mob’s fickle instinct for fashion, is a pre-requisite to obtaining and exercising power: educated public opinion, the ol’ raising of consciousness, is the root of political will. It’s not just prioritizing an agenda. It is about extending horizons and idealizing an enlightened standard for self-interest, about valuing a genuine public interest above and beyond the narrow confines of the self. Even for we hermits, there’s no way to an ideal of the general good or the public interest, but the social way. Just as the Christian is admonished to love the sinner, the liberal must love the authoritarian follower, which is to say, the bigot, and, yes, the casual racist. (The Meatheads of the blogs must learn to love the Archie Bunkers, to use a terribly out-dated reference.) We cannot continue to abandon them to the hypnotic power of Fox News, hoping for spontaneous improvement in a younger generation, raised on tales of vampires and zombies and happy gay marriage. And, we liberals need them, need those good soldiers. We think we are highly principled and steadfast, but our surfeit of good ideas blows in the wind and never leaves committee, without them. There’s no bob mcmanus option without them. They get mad and go out in the rain and vote. And, other things, if it comes to that. We occupy, and scatter at the first sign of trouble. We need each other, ’cause they tend to find the wrong leaders and our leaders have a lot of trouble without followers.

138

Glen Tomkins 06.13.14 at 3:49 pm

As to your question (And the beauty of this site’s discussions is that no one seems to stick much to answering the question. What would be the fun of that?), if you click on the “votes” tab above the table of rankings, it gives you a list of votes and how the Heritage people think Congresscritters should have taken them. It looks like approx 100 (and no, I’m not going to waste my time counting), which gibes with the presumably resultant ratings. It looks like the ratings are just a % of times you voted the way Heritage thinks you should have.

Yes, that does seem a pretty simple-minded way to define conservatism, and obviously creates a Hawthorne Effect. But, what, you expect thoughtfulness from these people?

Oh, and probably someone in this thread has already given this straightforward answer to the question posed in your last para, but another internet tradition is to only read and respond to the entries in a thread to which you have handy a prepared response, and I respect all internet traditions.

139

William Timberman 06.13.14 at 3:50 pm

Bruce Wilder @ 137

As has been obvious to me for some time now, we’re more or less on the same page, even if you’re il miglior fabbro when it comes to writing it out. It winds up being more talk after all, though, doesn’t it? Justified, if it can be justified, by not preaching just to the choir, and if as a consequence interests and our stars align, then we call on bob, or he calls on us, which amounts to the same thing, more or less.

Here’s yet another paltry attempt. Not exactly Democracy Now! but as poor a thing as it is, it does exist, and it is on every Monday, right after Fox News:

Democratic Perspective

Too much in the way of Blue Dog influence on display for me, but I have partners who aren’t the flaming leftists that I am, and as you say, it’s the social way. Once in a while some genuinely good stuff leaks out, for which I suppose I should be grateful — especially since the station is a notoriously right-wing a.m. broadcaster in Northern AZ, which means that we’re definitely not preaching to the choir here. The station owner makes a few bucks in a tough market, so what does he care? Having his traditional listeners foaming at the mouth probably doesn’t hurt the bottom line so much as it increases the buzz. Another compromise….

140

The Temporary Name 06.13.14 at 3:58 pm

Yes, it’s a generalization, but sometimes generalizations help wash away the muck so we can actually see what’s settled in the bottom of the tank.

That’s no less naïve than trust.

141

MPAVictoria 06.13.14 at 5:10 pm

“the liberal must love the authoritarian follower, which is to say, the bigot, and, yes, the casual racist.”

Any movement that appeases racist, bigots, sexists, and homophobes is not one that I want any part of. They are the fucking enemy Bruce not potential allies. And including them in any mass movement will lose you the most important parts of the democratic coalition.

In short you are 100% wrong and 0% right on this one. You are letting your hatred of Obama blind you to the true nature of these people.

142

Jerry Vinokurov 06.13.14 at 5:34 pm

the liberal must love the authoritarian follower, which is to say, the bigot, and, yes, the casual racist

This is total bullshit. These people are not potential liberal allies; the name for them is “fascists” (oh, I’m sorry, “right-wing anti-corporatists”) and they are never going to be on board with any significant part of the progressive agenda. We have to tolerate these people on some (legal) level, because we’re committed to the rule of law and all that, but asking progressives to love them is ridiculous.

143

SamChevre 06.13.14 at 5:55 pm

And in 141, we get a straightforward statement of the obvious: the modern “Left” is only concerned with the top 10% (people with incomes over about $75k) and their problems.

This is, of course, obvious by looking at where the Left’s efforts are focused–on getting the courts and senior bureaucracies (strongholds of the elite) to overturn/ignore democratic legislation, especially popular referenda (influenced at least some by the non-elite).

144

bob mcmanus 06.13.14 at 5:58 pm

Aw, Timberman, I am mostly staying out of this one, while I read Benedict Anderson and watch Iraq and Ukraine.

What do these liberals think, that identity is genetic or transcendental instead of contingent, constructed and partially chosen? Or is their anti-racism a choice and therefore a virtue, and the racists also made their choice and can never change? Eveeeel.

We have seen it happen a billion times, make the ideologue, nationalist, bigot, a offer they can’t refuse and they can at least pretend to be a cosmopolitan liberal long as long as the checks keep coming. After long enough, some even forget who they were. I won’t bother with the examples.

Projection. It is the liberals who refuse to compromise, who refuse to give anything, any least little thing to make a deal. Religious fanatics for whom politics is redemptive.

145

Jerry Vinokurov 06.13.14 at 6:04 pm

And in 141, we get a straightforward statement of the obvious: the modern “Left” is only concerned with the top 10% (people with incomes over about $75k) and their problems.

Yes, because racism and homophobia are strictly problems of the top 10%. Leave it to a conservative to project his own agenda onto his opponents.

I have a great idea for all of you political geniuses who just can’t hold in their love for the bigots and homophobes: go out there and go ahead and try and build a coalition premised on attracting those people. Go ahead and tell Hispanics and African Americans and sexual minorities that you don’t give a fuck about their problems and they’ll have to take a back seat so you can attract gay-bashers and racists to your side. And then please come back with a trip report about how well that works for you and how successful you’ve been. Can’t wait to read it!

146

bob mcmanus 06.13.14 at 6:12 pm

And the lesson of Iraq and Ukraine is another very old lesson: it only takes 10-20% to screw a country all the way up. You are not going to outnumber the jerks…enough. Ever.

I would, rather than have them compromise, that the liberals moved in my direction and bust this place up and tear it apart and burn it down. At least for a while.

Let’s turn Vinokurov’s rage and hate into something real and material, rather than self-righteous entertainment.

Red states are killing poor people (Medicaid). You are just gonna get mad about it? Your passion is so scary.

147

SamChevre 06.13.14 at 6:21 pm

go ahead and try and build a coalition premised on attracting those people.

I think the coalition is called “FDR’s Democratic Party”

148

Jerry Vinokurov 06.13.14 at 6:26 pm

I think the coalition is called “FDR’s Democratic Party”

There’s a little thing called historical context, you may have heard of it.

I would, rather than have them compromise, that the liberals moved in my direction and bust this place up and tear it apart and burn it down.

Sounds like an awesome idea, I can’t imagine why no one wants to go along with this obviously brilliant plan.

149

Bruce Wilder 06.13.14 at 6:30 pm

William Timberman @ 139 il miglior fabbro

Flattery, which also serves to remind me (since I didn’t immediately get the reference) I should probably read more and write less — bob mcmanus becomes more my hero every day ;-) [I’m still only a liberal, though.]

150

MPAVictoria 06.13.14 at 6:35 pm

“And in 141, we get a straightforward statement of the obvious: the modern “Left” is only concerned with the top 10% (people with incomes over about $75k) and their problems.”

Oh? Are there no blacks, LGTBQ folk or women who make under 75K a year? News to me.

“This is, of course, obvious by looking at where the Left’s efforts are focused–on getting the courts and senior bureaucracies (strongholds of the elite) to overturn/ignore democratic legislation, especially popular referenda (influenced at least some by the non-elite).”

And the truth comes out. The big, mean courts overturned your gay marriage ban and you just can’t take it.

151

MPAVictoria 06.13.14 at 6:37 pm

“I think the coalition is called “FDR’s Democratic Party””

Oh? Are you posting from 1933?

152

MPAVictoria 06.13.14 at 6:44 pm

“Red states are killing poor people (Medicaid). You are just gonna get mad about it? Your passion is so scary.”

And it is the fault of gay and minorities somehow?

153

SamChevre 06.13.14 at 7:11 pm

Are there no blacks, LGTBQ folk or women who make under 75K a year?

I’m not sure if you are missing the point on purpose or not, so I’ll make it clearer.

There are lots of blacks, women, LGBTQ folks, and so on who make less than $75k a year. I think if offered the choice between “you can make enough to support a family comfortably” and “you can keep trying to get a job, and when you get one it will just barely pay for rent, food and a broken-down car, but you won’t be treated any worse than an equally-poor white man,” a fair number of them would take option one. And a lot of white men would too.

154

MPAVictoria 06.13.14 at 7:18 pm

“I’m not sure if you are missing the point on purpose or not, so I’ll make it clearer.”

What is your point Sam “I oppose decisions allowing gay marriage” Chevre? That we try and convince are blacks, women, LGBTQ folks to accept being discriminated against because treating them like people makes some white redneck uncomfortable?

Do you really think that would even work? Because I sure as hell don’t.

155

Jerry Vinokurov 06.13.14 at 7:58 pm

I think if offered the choice between “you can make enough to support a family comfortably” and “you can keep trying to get a job, and when you get one it will just barely pay for rent, food and a broken-down car, but you won’t be treated any worse than an equally-poor white man,” a fair number of them would take option one.

It’s amazing that you think this is even a real choice that real people are actually offered.

156

MPAVictoria 06.13.14 at 7:58 pm

Sorry reposting because of a few typos that were driving me crazy.

“I’m not sure if you are missing the point on purpose or not, so I’ll make it clearer.”

What is your point Sam “I oppose decisions allowing gay marriage” Chevre? That we try and convince blacks, women and LGBTQ folks to accept being discriminated against because treating them like people makes some white redneck uncomfortable?

Do you really think that would even work? Because I sure as hell don’t.

157

Jerry Vinokurov 06.13.14 at 8:02 pm

What is your point Sam “I oppose decisions allowing gay marriage” Chevre? That we try and convince are blacks, women, LGBTQ folks to accept being discriminated against because treating them like people makes some white redneck uncomfortable?

There is no point. These alleged political “allies” are fantasy elements that don’t exist in real life except in token amounts. In reality, the moment these people get a whiff of the fact that they won’t be allowed to exclude minorities from the gains that this putative political coalition is sure to win, they will bolt. You know, just like they did when it turned out that they wouldn’t be allowed to monopolize the gains of the New Deal.

158

Ze Kraggash 06.13.14 at 8:48 pm

The top 10% is one pattern, but there is another pattern: race messes up the natural hierarchy, the natural order of things. Oprah is not served humbly enough in Zurich. Forest Whitaker is frisked at a deli in NYC. Danny Glover can’t get a cab in Manhattan. Outrageous.

159

The Temporary Name 06.13.14 at 9:13 pm

And there’s the racist to make common cause with I guess.

160

bob mcmanus 06.13.14 at 9:14 pm

157:”There is no point. These alleged political “allies” are fantasy elements that don’t exist in real life except in token amounts. In reality, the moment these people

Having been flattered, I will inject just one Anderson quote:

The nation is imagined as limited because even the largest of them,
encompassing perhaps a billion living human beings, has finite, if elastic,
boundaries, beyond which lie other nations. No nation imagines itself
coterminous with mankind. The most messianic nationalists do not
dream of a day when all the members of the human race will join their
nation in the way that it was possible, in certain epochs, for, say,
Christians to dream of a wholly Christian planet.

LGBTs and Afro-Americans do dream of a world without prejudice.

These white anti-racists and feminists etc OTOH do not want to either convert their enemies or completely destroy or assimilate them. Like France and Germany, they want their enemies to continue to exist so as to provide an identifying boundary. They just want their enemies to submit, show deference, accept defeat.

I am mostly interested in the rise of these new constructed identities not in themselves, but because they show a cultural pathology analogous to the last Gilded Age, and are a possible indicator of the collapse of the older identifiers, a new social disorder, and possible social revolution.

161

David 06.13.14 at 9:52 pm

The idea of attracting disaffected white right-wingers as the “solution” to the lack of progressive action in this country? Seriously? The “Blue Labor” solution? I mean, really, seriously? When the demographics are shifting so decisively?

162

The Temporary Name 06.13.14 at 10:16 pm

The idea of attracting disaffected white right-wingers as the “solution” to the lack of progressive action in this country?

Worked in Iran, right?

163

MPAVictoria 06.13.14 at 10:28 pm

“These white anti-racists and feminists etc OTOH do not want to either convert their enemies or completely destroy or assimilate them. Like France and Germany, they want their enemies to continue to exist so as to provide an identifying boundary. They just want their enemies to submit, show deference, accept defeat.”

And your evidence for this ridiculous claim?

164

bob mcmanus 06.13.14 at 10:40 pm

163: Your response

165

David 06.13.14 at 10:52 pm

It is like some pop psych Faux-Nietzscheanism.

166

SamChevre 06.13.14 at 11:05 pm

It’s amazing that you think this is even a real choice that real people are actually offered.

It’s not a choice people are offered in life–it’s a choice people are offered in choosing which politics to pursue. Do you want to help the working class (of all races), or do you want to pursue racial/sexual equality even if that means destroying the institutions that the working class uses to pursue its interests (like the trades unions). It’s the Old Left/New Left conflict continued.

167

Ronan(rf) 06.13.14 at 11:10 pm

““These white anti-racists and feminists etc OTOH do not want to either convert their enemies or completely destroy or assimilate them. Like France and Germany, they want their enemies to continue to exist so as to provide an identifying boundary. They just want their enemies to submit, show deference, accept defeat.”

I’d agree there’s a faction, for sure, and they are quite obnoxious. (As was the case in the old labour/Marxist movements etc ) But I really dont think you can generalise too ‘white anti-racists and feminists ‘ as a totality (or even majority)

168

Ronan(rf) 06.13.14 at 11:13 pm

“It’s not a choice people are offered in life–it’s a choice people are offered in choosing which politics to pursue. Do you want to help the working class (of all races), or do you want to pursue racial/sexual equality even if that means destroying the institutions that the working class uses to pursue its interests (like the trades unions). It’s the Old Left/New Left conflict continued.”

Larger soci-economic/technological changes made that happen, not a split among the left.

169

roy belmont 06.13.14 at 11:13 pm

“LGBTs and Afro-Americans do dream of a world without prejudice”
McManus
-
Far be it from me to get in people’s heads and poke around, especially when they’re dreaming, but experience says oppressed minorities are not uniquely configured aside from their identifying minority characteristics and some insight from the perspective of being outside the majority comfort zone, when it comes to irrational negative prejudicial judgments everbody’s got ‘em.

I doubt seriously that all prejudice vanishing is anyone’s goal or dream, though claimed so vocally by so many.
Just the prejudices that “we” don’t approve of, mostly because they’re directed at “us”, the ones we see because they bother and harm “us”.

In the day, Bob, as I’m sure you must remember, there was almost no crossover whatsoever between the movement toward black liberation and the movement toward gay liberation, as those movements were termed at that time.
There was a weighty amount of homophobic prejudice in the black community generally, and quite a bit toward the front of the struggle.

Which is to say it is likely that hidden prejudices, which the afflicted tend to think of not as prejudices but as perfectly sensible negative judgments, will continue to exist as long as humans make judgments about each others’ behavior.

So that a dream of a world without prejudice really should be seen merely as a world where the accepted prejudices match those of the dreamers. They’re still going to be there, just not recognized by the prejudicial.

As they are not recognized, even in this enlightened moment, by some many poor benighted souls, in themselves.

170

Ed Herdman 06.13.14 at 11:13 pm

Bruce makes a good point above – who can deliver on the populist, anti-plutocratic desires of voters and survive?

But it’s better to try than to just throw our hands up in the air. Or, worse, we could pretend that political coalitions aren’t a thing and that there is no possible way to make it work, because some people are irredeemable or whatever. We just want the votes, that’s all.

Don’t agree with Sam’s particular formulation here; there’s probably the possibility of micro-coalitions or even larger coalitions (for example, the anti-wiretapping consensus has often united the left and right, though only for that issue so far – let the surveillance state get much bigger, and that could possibly change) beyond just that one. However, the general idea is sound. Though coalitions aren’t always necessary in politics, I doubt a lot of the fury expended by the far left is going to be matched by electoral prowess any time soon.

171

geo 06.14.14 at 3:24 am

Ed@170: there’s probably the possibility of micro-coalitions or even larger coalitions

As usual, Uncle Ralph is on the case. See his new book: Unstoppable: The Emerging Left-Right Alliance to Dismantle the Corporate State.

172

MPAVictoria 06.14.14 at 4:02 am

Shorter Roy: Oh when will leftists learn to stop discriminating against racists?

PS I am not a crank.

173

roy belmont 06.14.14 at 4:11 am

Even shorter and far wittier shorter Roy:

Prejudice can’t see itself.

174

Ed Herdman 06.14.14 at 4:49 am

Thanks, geo!

It would be great to see Ralph Nader accepted as a new ‘elder statesman’ in politics. At this point, people are questioning everything to come out of the ’60s (especially with liberal-ish politics) and I’ve even seen some now dismissing his report on the Corvair as a paid hack job against one particular automobile company. That’s no way to treat this major figure for ethics and equality who’s still working hard at a time when most other figures from that era are dead.

175

MPAVictoria 06.14.14 at 4:53 am

True Roy. You really can’t see.

176

godoggo 06.14.14 at 5:21 am

Maybe that’s because he keeps getting shorter.

177

godoggo 06.14.14 at 5:31 am

178

MPAVictoria 06.14.14 at 5:57 am

Well that is how I imagine roy….

/i kid, I kid.

179

Bruce Wilder 06.14.14 at 6:31 am

roy belmont @ 169: there was almost no crossover whatsoever between the movement toward black liberation and the movement toward gay liberation

There was James Baldwin and there was disco. Seriously. I think there was actually loads of cross-over, deep cultural cross-over as well as tactical political imitation. I mention disco, because long before the horror of John Travolta, or even Stonewall, gay culture and socialization got started in sharing and then imitation of the underground black club scene, even adopting Motown as its theme music. Gay liberation took many cues from the civil rights struggles of blacks, particularly the creation and celebration of a subculture and community. Gay Pride was an obvious mimicry of concept, based on a adapted analysis of the role of shame and humiliations in creating oppression, including self-oppression. Gay liberation was a by-product and a component of the Sexual Revolution, and formed a cultural bridge to feminism, and issues as diverse as abortion and miscegenation, which deeply affected black communities.

I’m not sure how the facts of that history should affect the valuable points roy was making, but I offer it anyway.

180

godoggo 06.14.14 at 6:53 am

Joke correction: what I was thinking of was actually the Incredible Shrinking Man ending, which is also on youtube.

181

godoggo 06.14.14 at 7:05 am

“Gay Pride was an obvious mimicry of concept.” So was White Pride.

I have no serious point to make by that, but, well, it is true.

182

bad Jim 06.14.14 at 8:11 am

The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends … and twists. It goes every which way. There’s no point in complaining that it’s not taking the shortest possible route to your preferred goal; we’re exploring a vast state space, and our trajectory is necessarily multidimensional.

Since we’re liberal, our allies are diverse, and since the notion of justice is diffuse, the end-point is ill-defined. Some of our goals naturally clump, like economic and racial equality, but the opposition comparably clumps economic royalism with racist populism.

We are inescapably an unmanageable horde of fractious factions. Women are our largest group (trivially true for adults past a certain age). Apart from them we’re a minority majority, united by our differences. We’d all be better off reducing socioeconomic insecurity, but we have to take care of all these pesky racial and sexual issues at the same time.

183

Sancho 06.14.14 at 8:36 am

Bruce Wilder, #133

Do you accept that Obama continued many of the errors of the Bush years?

Of course! That’s largely why Obama attracts criticism from the left. Progressives are guilty of evangelising about him initially, but when the character of his centre-right administration became obvious, lefties criticised him from where they stood, instead of blithely pretending they’d always been at war with Eastasia and at peace with massive deficits, as conservatives did with Bush, then suddenly re-discovering their principles when the same policies were continued by the Tweedledee Party.

The left’s ongoing impotence is from the same source: lack of hierarchies and obedience. While the left is sorting through ideas and arguing over which ones deserve support, the right takes orders from HQ and gets marching.

tl;dr: Left! Right! Argle! Bargle!

184

Ronan(rf) 06.14.14 at 11:49 am

on the video theme, this is my dream for leftist politics

185

J Thomas 06.14.14 at 12:24 pm

#122
My point was precisely that Art Pope felt it necessary to engineer a change in political control, even though politicians of both parties are supposedly equally for sale.

We can’t assume that everybody is equally for sale, can we?

As an outsider I’m not sure what’s going on with the Tea Party. If it’s true that nobody is in charge and the inmates are running the asylum, then they will do things with a certain I can’t say what — yes I can, the word is randomness.

But if somebody is in control, this could be his way to tell Tea Party politicians that they don’t get a free pass by being Tea Party, he will replace them whenever he feels like it so they better do exactly what he wants.

When my list of possibilities includes both of those, IU really don’t know much. Maybe I should just shut up. Except, who else knows what’s going on? Who told you? Why do you believe them?

Similarly with the notion that any apparent unpleasantness due to Tea Party rule is largely imaginary in order to provide corporatist Democrats with a convenient enemy. In places like North Carolina and Wisconsin, things really did become worse.

I don’t really know what’s going on, but if there are impersonal economic forces or evil manipulators who want to make things worse, it’s possible that the particular politicians only affect some of the details about how things get worse. Like, maybe one set cuts funding and passes repressive laws, while the other set sells bonds and spends the money which puts them more at the mercy of the people who can withhold the money…. I don’t say that’s true, but if you’re fighting a hydra it would be good to find some vital point and not just whack away at disposable heads.

Yet apparently we need to leave both states that way until sufficiently worthy progressive politicians come along, lest we be acting as mere partisan robots.

For myself, I’ll vote for a center-right democrat over a far-right Republican. I’ll vote for a far-right Democrat over a crazy-right Republican. But if you want me to get excited, show me somebody who actually has an idea beyond just trying to hold the barbarians at the gates.

186

J Thomas 06.14.14 at 12:34 pm

#134

A recent poll revealed that Californians are acutely aware of the threat of drought, and utterly unwilling to spend any money to mitigate the consequences.

Not so! An increasing number of Californians are making arrangements to save rainwater in special cisterns, so they will be less dependent on the system.

187

J Thomas 06.14.14 at 12:45 pm

#135

If the US government avoids touching off another major war I will be happy.

Ah, the gentle tyranny of low expectations.

Still, I have to admit that one of Obama’s major accomplishments has been putting off war with Iran.

188

J Thomas 06.14.14 at 1:04 pm

There are lots of blacks, women, LGBTQ folks, and so on who make less than $75k a year. I think if offered the choice between “you can make enough to support a family comfortably” and “you can keep trying to get a job, and when you get one it will just barely pay for rent, food and a broken-down car, but you won’t be treated any worse than an equally-poor white man,” a fair number of them would take option one.

But who’s offering them that choice?

Is there somebody who’s offering blacks etc the opportunity to be materially comfortable but legally discriminated against?

And a lot of white men would too.

Yeah, maybe. Make me that offer, I want to at least give it a close look.

189

MPAVictoria 06.14.14 at 1:47 pm

I an sure women, minorities and LGTBQ folk are comforted by your eagerness to throw them over board to pick up the bubba vote.

190

J Thomas 06.14.14 at 1:50 pm

These white anti-racists and feminists etc OTOH do not want to either convert their enemies or completely destroy or assimilate them. Like France and Germany, they want their enemies to continue to exist so as to provide an identifying boundary. They just want their enemies to submit, show deference, accept defeat.

I first read that as “These white racists and anti-feminists” and it made perfect sense to me. I was thinking, wow, Bob McManus is a sensible guy, he’s really thinking about this stuff. Of course they don’t want to (for example) kill all the blacks, and it’s completely impractical to send them all back to africa. They want to have them around, showing deference and accepting defeat, always a possible threat to help keep the good guys unified. I don’t see that they necessarily want to have a few defeated feminists around, it would probably be just fine if all the feminists became real feminine women, but sure it would be OK if there were a few of them left sputtering in incoherent rage that they had lost everything.

Then I went back and read it again. Oh. I guess there’s a kind of truth to that side too. If everybody gave up racism etc, then it wouldn’t be an issue any more, it would be completely lost as a rallying point. Of course, we already mostly lost slavery as an issue. There aren’t enough people who advocate that we go back to official slavery to be a worthy opponent.

But these issues do help to fortify the line between liberals and conservatives. When you figure that conservatives are largely racists and male-supremacists, it makes it harder to do even limited cooperation with them. It isn’t a compromise with people who have some evil ideas and some good ideas. It’s a compromise with evil.

Liberals don’t *need* to have evil people to avoid compromising with. But it does firm up the identity.

I am mostly interested in the rise of these new constructed identities not in themselves, but because they show a cultural pathology analogous to the last Gilded Age, and are a possible indicator of the collapse of the older identifiers, a new social disorder, and possible social revolution.

Yes. I agree. People are trying to grab onto new identities as the old ones wear out. This is a giant market opportunity for somebody.

The demand is there, if you can provide a product people will buy into.

191

bad Jim 06.15.14 at 5:46 am

J Thomas @ 186: the local water district has promoted the use of rain barrels, and if we actually were getting appreciable amounts of rain my roof is big enough that I could collect quite a bit of water. Integrating it with the sprinklers wouldn’t be easy. It might be easier to use it to flush the toilets, but I’ve decided just to piss on the pomegranate tree instead.

In Southern California, the issue isn’t avoiding dependence on the system, which actually works pretty well for us, it’s lessening our impact on the distant places our water comes from.

192

roy belmont 06.15.14 at 6:02 am

Ronan:

193

Area Man 06.16.14 at 5:32 pm

@12:

The Tea Party is a real thing, and it is making the running at the moment as far as the meaning of ‘conservative’ goes over there – but it’s a real organisational thing.

As near as I can tell, Brat received no organizational support whatsoever, which is why he had almost no money to spend. He did receive moral support from radio hosts and from Eric the Redstate, but these guys aren’t grassroots and everything they do should be understood in terms of self-aggrandizement.

Brat got labeled as “Tea Party” purely because he ran against a powerful incumbent and because he tried to position himself to Cantor’s right. Of course, all Republicans try to position themselves to each other’s right these days, so the Tea Party label in this case, like in all cases, merely means “extra-dickish Republican”.

194

The Temporary Name 06.16.14 at 8:24 pm

195

roy belmont 06.17.14 at 1:20 am

I have found some kind of temporary sanity in this:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=klOnDr9Xrvc

lyrics here:
https://tinyurl.com/3t4ol

The incarceration rate in the United States of America is the highest in the world
https://tinyurl.com/c6uzt4e:

196

The Temporary Name 06.17.14 at 1:43 am

Yes, a little positive news makes you worry about ass-rape. How utterly mysterious.

197

Val 06.17.14 at 11:14 am

@160
“These white anti-racists and feminists etc OTOH do not want to either convert their enemies or completely destroy or assimilate them. Like France and Germany, they want their enemies to continue to exist so as to provide an identifying boundary. They just want their enemies to submit, show deference, accept defeat.

I am mostly interested in the rise of these new constructed identities not in themselves, but because they show a cultural pathology analogous to the last Gilded Age, and are a possible indicator of the collapse of the older identifiers, a new social disorder, and possible social revolution.”

I won’t comment on the “white anti-racists” because that’s another whole very long discussion, but are you seriously suggesting that being a feminist is a ‘constructed identity’ and “cultural pathology”, presumably in contrast to being someone like you who is totally real and authentic and culturally healthy? Because lol.

198

bob mcmanus 06.17.14 at 1:13 pm

197: Neil Davidson (Bourgeois Revolutions) on the Tragedy of Thomas Nairn

“Nationalism” is the pathology of modern developmental
history, as inescapable as “neurosis” in the individual, with much the
same essential ambiguity attaching to it, a similar built-in capacity for
descent into dementia, rooted in the dilemmas of helplessness thrust
upon most of the world (the equivalent of infantilism for societies)
and largely incurable.’ …Thomas Nairn, quoted by Benedict Anderson in Imagined Communities

The imagined (or nostalgically re-imagined) communities of post-modernism and post-capitalism are so febrile and impotent as to generate nothing but rage and frustration.

199

LFC 06.17.14 at 2:19 pm

The ‘conflict’ mentioned, in a somewhat exaggerated way, by SamChevre @166 is one that can be bridged; it’s not something one has to assume is a permanent feature of politics in ‘advanced’ capitalist countries. J.M. Schwartz’s The Future of Democratic Equality is relevant on this point (and to some other aspects of this discussion).
http://www.amazon.com/The-Future-Democratic-Equality-Rebuilding/dp/0415944651/ref=tmm_pap_title_0?ie=UTF8&qid=1403014167&sr=1-1

200

William Timberman 06.17.14 at 2:36 pm

bob mcmanus @ 198

Largely incurable? Perhaps. The problem is that the organizational principles and the technologies that have always promised us agency have bequeathed to most of us Davidson’s powerlessness and learned helplessness instead, and even the blessed few who appear to have power seem trapped in the very inevitabilities they’ve helped create. Have the Project for a New American Century, or the worldwide IMF interventions, or the Koch Brothers’ many well-funded avatars actually conferred any benefit on their creators apart from a bit of luxuriously furnished ego gratification? Hasn’t the World Wide Web which promised us agency instead enmeshed us just long enough for the spider(s) at the center to find and consume us? Do any of us, cop or little people, actually know what we’re about?

Much of the time we look pretty lost, but I suspect that anything we learn can be unlearned in time, including the feeling of helplessness that plagues so many of us. This unlearning isn’t something, however, that can be managed by individuals working in isolation on their own souls. It has to be a collective enterprise, and if it ever does come to pass, it’s likely to be at least disruptive, and quite possibly violent, even if we get lucky, and the violence proves largely metaphorical.

I’m continually reminded these days of the passionate Trotskyist arguments I tried to make sense of some fifty years ago about what did and didn’t constitute pre-revolutionary conditions. I remember thinking something like Jesus, Mary and Joseph, here I am sitting on a folding chair in the cinder block basement of a Unitarian church, listening to someone who’s way smarter than I am spouting absolute nonsense. What’s wrong with him? What’s wrong with me? What’s wrong with us?

Not a lot has changed since. If we could actually identify pre-revolutionary conditions, I suspect we’d all be a lot more cheerful, but no matter what our judgments on the present and how it came to be that way, I have a feeling that, as revolutions tend to do, any revolution which comes in its wake will somehow manage to sneak up on us.

201

LFC 06.17.14 at 3:29 pm

I need (for certain values of “need”) a McManus-made-intelligible cheat sheet, to the extent such a thing wd even make sense.

Much of the time I can’t make heads or tails of his perspective or argument, if indeed he has one. His comment @198 is somewhat typical — a link to a long piece by one Davidson, criticizing Nairn, whom McManus then proceeds to quote (he’s quoting Nairn, as quoted by B. Anderson), followed by some cryptic utterance in the last graph.

B. Anderson’s Imagined Communities (2nd ed 1991) is worth reading, though one probably wdn’t know it from McManus’s comments here. Anderson, btw, is critical of Nairn’s statement that “nationalism is the pathology of modern developmental history,” though, again, one wdn’t know that from McManus’ comment.

202

LFC 06.17.14 at 3:33 pm

W. Timberman:
Have the Project for a New American Century, or the worldwide IMF interventions, or the Koch Brothers’ many well-funded avatars actually conferred any benefit on their creators apart from a bit of luxuriously furnished ego gratification?

Um, probably.
Btw I think I saw a headline about the Kochs’ giving money to — was it a fund to help historically African-American colleges, or something like that? Anyway, it seemed somewhat out of sync with their ideology and usual contributions.

203

MPAVictoria 06.17.14 at 3:38 pm

Okay I am just going to say it. Roy is a pretty obvious bigot.

204

William Timberman 06.17.14 at 4:16 pm

LFC, I don’t find bob’s reasoning to be at all obscure, probably because I broke with liberalism many years ago. The cause which, as the Declaration of Independence styles it, impelled them (me) to the separation was liberalism’s often desperate, and very nearly always hypocritical attempt to preserve at all costs the gains it believes it has made. (At all costs here should be taken to mean that liberalism prays lugubriously over the bodies of the dead it has sacrificed — usually those who’ve had no choice about being sacrificed — while assuring those who will die for it in the future that they’ll be offered up only on the most sacred of altars.Yes, the Vietnam War — and my almost participation in it — had a great deal to do with my disenchantment. So sue me.)

At first glance, liberalism tricked out in its customary robes of incremental progress may indeed seem preferable to the alternatives, but it is so in fact only if it can credibly offer more than a well-ordered exploitation of the many by the few. To anyone who’s been paying attention for the last fifty years, that is certainly questionable. If bob looks elsewhere for enlightenment, I’d say he’s entirely justified.

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LFC 06.17.14 at 6:33 pm

W Timberman:
Started to write a long reply and lost it. Shorter version: I think this is less about liberalism (either in the political-philosophy sense of the word or the contemp.-US-politics sense) and more about *where* Bob M. is “looking for enlightenment.” (The bk I linked at 199, btw, is by a democratic socialist.)

206

roy belmont 06.17.14 at 8:35 pm

“makes you worry about ass-rape”

This is an astonishingly inaccurate reading, and a revealing inability to get at the song itself and its aesthetic intent.
As well as being smugly void of compassion.

Blindness is a wonderful thing. It keeps you from having to see!
And allows you to pretend that the world is not the way it is but the way you want it to be.
I’m so far from being anything like a bigot it feels like being accused of being a Scientologist.
But I do hate mindless attitudes,idiotic vanity, complacency.
Straight-up hate it.
Not prejudicially though, it’s based on overt performatives. And personal experience.
Smugness, superficial shallow viciousness. And most of all the harm resultant from collective intentional blindness. Cowardice and its reasons.

There’s a Pride Parade coming up in Tel Aviv.
Marching across the broken lives of Palestinians.
Who are mostly Islamic.
Which is a religion of hatred and bigoted sexual intolerance.
So there you go.
Played.
Grrr.
Idiots.

207

bob mcmanus 06.17.14 at 8:43 pm

…and more about *where* Bob M. is “looking for enlightenment.”

You know one place I look? National Cinemas, the original movies and academic work about same. Isn’t it interesting that we have had a surge in idiosyncratic wonderful art cinema in eastern Europe, New German Cinema, Taiwan, South Korea, Iran among others, and I look at the relationship to the waves of national art cinemas in the 50s and 60s.

You know, people mark neo-liberalism from Latin America, The USA of Reagan, the Britain of Thatcher, maybe the failure of the 1st Mitterand term, but a lot of other stuff happened in the 80s and 90s. Was what happened in Taiwan and South Korea and Poland “liberalism” or “neo-liberalism?” Naomi Klein says Poland for instance, pretty much skipped right to neo-liberalism.

Iran? Well goodness, so repressive. Still, some terrific art. Thing is, I do not necessarily believe the full panoply of institutional freedoms are a necessary part of the neo-liberal individualistic empowerment political economy. Neo-liberalism is partly about making some kinds of resistance ineffective and harmless therefore tolerable.

I also try to place this art in a context of local and global political economies.

208

The Temporary Name 06.17.14 at 8:54 pm

I’m so far from being anything like a bigot

I’m totally great too!

209

bob mcmanus 06.17.14 at 9:13 pm

Oh, I always have 4-5 books going, one of which looks like this, Taiwan Cinema: A Contested Nation on Screen, Guo-Juin Hong, italics hers, spacing mine:

New Taiwan Cinema contributed to, if also complicated and
troubled, the notion of Taiwan’s national cinema. The quest for a Taiwan
nation inevitably implies and, as we shall see in the remainder of the
book, requires a double movement:

temporal retrospection and spatial displacement,

both of which are already evident In Our Time.

But, I ask again, What exactly is new about New Cinema? For
Chiao Hsiung- Ping, New Taiwan Cinema was “new” in four important ways.

First, New Cinema, like new literature or theater, played
an important role in helping to develop and reexamine Taiwan’s
culture. Second, with its continuous success in various international film
festivals, New Cinema broke diplomatic barriers and became one of
the most powerful vehicles to promote Taiwan’s image. Third, New
Cinema reestablished confidence in its local audiences, making them
aware of the artistic, historical, and cultural significance that cinema
is capable of conveying. And, finally, a new film critic system was
instituted that rejected being a mere agent for the dominant Western
culture, but stood firm in creating and advancing a distinct cultural
identity

Uhh, identity? Why should I privilege or give a pass to some forms of constructed or imagined identities and not others? Are they all emanations of neo-liberalism? Or just Tea Parties and Salafism? I don’t hate or oppose identity-formation, I just want to understand how it works, and how it works with and against neo-liberalism.

210

MPAVictoria 06.18.14 at 12:28 am

“The gay community has no obligation to value cultural norms that support their imprisonment or demise….. Of course, LGBTQ rights aren’t the only marker of social change or human rights. But suggesting that they’re separate from any other universal human right is dangerous. An accusation of pinkwashing presumes that gay human rights causes are less salient than Palestinian human rights causes, when in fact they’re all equal. (And sometimes the same.)”

http://www.slate.com/blogs/outward/2014/06/17/pinkwashing_and_homonationalism_discouraging_gay_travel_to_israel_hurts.html

211

MPAVictoria 06.18.14 at 12:29 am

“I’m totally great too!”

Me too!

212

roy belmont 06.18.14 at 1:39 am

*introduces post 194 to post 209. steps completely out of frame*

213

roy belmont 06.18.14 at 1:40 am

And now for the up:
http://t.co/qDFVuavLov

214

MPAVictoria 06.18.14 at 2:01 am

Well since we are posting videos Roy

215

MPAVictoria 06.18.14 at 2:03 am

Of course we already know who’s side you are on and it isn’t mine or anyone else whose demands for equality make you feel uncomfortable or icky.

216

MPAVictoria 06.18.14 at 2:20 am

It also should be pointed out that Bruce, Roy, Bob and Sam are not just wrong on the morality of the left abandoning its commitment to equal rights for minorities, women and the LGTBQ community, they are wrong on the politics. A Democratic Party without the support and votes of these groups simply cannot win an election in 2014.

217

subdoxastic 06.18.14 at 2:29 am

Looks like lgm is missing a few of its scolds.

218

J Thomas 06.18.14 at 12:44 pm

What is LGM?

I looked it up and got:
Malaysian rubber board.
Laser Guided Munitions.
Last Glacial Maximum.
Linear Gauss-Markov.
Logistics Guidance Memorandum.
Etc.

219

The Temporary Name 06.18.14 at 6:31 pm

http://www.lawyersgunsmoneyblog.com/

The idea is that MPAV and I frequent LGM (seen by Real Leftists™ as a non-stop Obama-justification site and therefore unworthy of Real Leftist™ attention). Deeply wounding. Being a scold is not so bad.

Back to the OP: a Goldwater moment?

http://america.aljazeera.com/opinions/2014/6/eric-cantor-davebratgopteaparty.html

220

J Thomas 06.18.14 at 7:23 pm

Ah! A blog named Lawyers, Guns, and Money. That makes sense.

221

Ogden Wernstrom 06.18.14 at 7:36 pm

I’m a little late to this party, but…
MPAVictoria:

Any movement that appeases racist, bigots, sexists, and homophobes is not one that I want any part of. They are the fucking enemy Bruce not potential allies.

J Vinokurov:

These people are not potential liberal allies; the name for them is “fascists” (oh, I’m sorry, “right-wing anti-corporatists”) and they are never going to be on board with any significant part of the progressive agenda.

I am now becoming quite curious about this shunning therapy, which apparently allows exposure the reactionary reich-wing echo chambers to continue. I hope this turns out to be a revolutionary therapy for curing fear of “the other”, but it just seems so counterintuitive.

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roy belmont 06.18.14 at 9:28 pm

From a song called “Lawyers, Guns, and Money”.
The excitable boy himself

223

MPAVictoria 06.19.14 at 1:50 am

http://youtu.be/iTB1h18bHlY

“At some point in our lifetime, gay marriage won’t be an issue, and everyone who stood against this civil right will look as outdated as George Wallace standing on the school steps keeping James Hood from entering the University of Alabama because he was black.”
― George Clooney

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