Decent conservatives

by John Quiggin on February 26, 2017

Since Trump’s election victory, there’s been a lot of concern trolling (and maybe some genuine concern) that resistance to Trump will alienate decent conservatives who held their noses while voting for Trump, but might be attracted away from him by a suitably respectful presentation of a centre-right Democratic agenda. A notable recent entry is a piece in the New York Times by Sabrina Tavernise, which profiles three such voters, only one of whom has any criticism to make of Trump. The others complain that liberals have been mean to them, but make it pretty clear they would vote for Trump regardless. As is inevitable in such a piece, Jonathan Haidt gets a run – he’s the only expert quoted by name.

A sample of three, along with commentary from a predictable source, doesn’t tell us much. So, what can we say about the strategy of appealing to decent conservatives. A few observations.

  • According to recent polling, while Donald Trump is the most unpopular newly-elected president in polling history, he is the most popular among Republicans, easily beating Ronald Reagan. Republicans and Republican leaners overwhelmingly believe (or say they do) that Trump is trustworthy, caring, well-informed and a good manager. The only favorable quality they are unwilling to ascribe is that of an even temper.
  • During the election campaign, Hillary Clinton relied almost exclusively on the strategy of appealing to decent conservatives. Even her much-criticised remark about deplorables was a clumsy attempt to split the presumed mass of decents from the racist, misogynist alt-right. (While Clinton had moderately progressive economic policies, these were barely mentioned by the press or in her advertising). The result of all this was that Trump attracted virtually the same support among Republicans as did Mitt Romney. It was the failure of any significant number decents to switch to Clinton, rather than large-scale desertions from Democrats, that was crucial factor in Trump’s victory.

None of this should be surprising. Trump is just a logical evolution of the candidates who’ve generated enthusiasm among the Republican base in recent years including Palin in 2008 and a vast crew of not-Romneys in 2012.

I’ve met a reasonable number of US Republicans, and Australian conservatives, and plenty of them are decent enough in their personal lives. But there is no reason to believe that this decency will carry through, in any significant way, into their political choices. If they do, it will most likely require a wholesale conversion, rather than a rejection of Trump in favor of some more tasteful flavor of conservatism.

{ 179 comments }

1

J-D 02.26.17 at 6:37 am

Even without any of the specific information that’s available, I should have thought it was obvious on general principles that if you want to mobilise opposition to Trump, your strategy should give higher priority to appealing to people who did not vote for him and lower priority to appealing to people who did vote for him.

There would be a problem for those priorities if a majority of citizens had voted for Trump. But that’s not the case. The most important piece of specific information available is that a majority of citizens did not vote for Trump. Therefore, a majority is at least in principle available through a strategy of concentrating on people who did not vote for Trump.

2

nastywoman 02.26.17 at 6:52 am

– as Trump might not be a ‘Republican’ or Republican leaning person at all – and he perhaps only decided to pose as a ‘Republican’ -(and not as a Orange Orang Utan) the whole question about ‘Decent Conservatives might be ‘moot’ – as any Conservatives -(or Republicans) who think that they are ‘Conservatives’ and ‘Republicans’ might be something else who fell in love with a Orange Orang Utan?

3

Dr. Hilarius 02.26.17 at 7:58 am

“Oh, those terrible liberals, and after we were so nice to Mr. Obama for eight years.” It’s late, I’m cranky and have little tolerance for people who feel aggrieved at being called out for their support of Trump. It’s just an illustration that everyone wants to thought a good person no matter how vile their politics.

4

J-D 02.26.17 at 8:42 am

nastywoman

You’re focussing on the wrong question. Since we know for certain that Trump is a Republican, it makes no difference whether he’s a ‘Republican’.

5

Manta 02.26.17 at 9:36 am

“Even her much-criticised remark about deplorables was a clumsy attempt to split the presumed mass of decents from the racist, misogynist alt-right.”

Uh? If a conservative politicians were to denounce communists among the left, would you say it was a “clumsy attempt to split the decent progressives from the extremists”, or would you call it red-baiting in order to energize his own base?

6

RichardM 02.26.17 at 11:13 am

There are three possible strategies:
a) impeach now
b) impeach after midterms
c) win in 2022

All of these have some level of dependency on ‘reasonable’ Republicans, e.g. to actually hold the election, let black people vote, let media report, etc. While the first requires the most in the short term, that last requires that support for longer.

7

Loki 02.26.17 at 11:14 am

The argument best applies to people who registered or otherwise identify as independents and voted for Trump. So the polling data on self-described Republicans seems irrelevant.

8

Layman 02.26.17 at 1:09 pm

In a similar vein, a read a piece last week in the Guardian – it was written by one of those Third Way hacks – arguing that Democrats in the Senate should be careful about opposing Trump too much or too often lest vulnerable Democratic Senators lose their upcoming re-elections. The question left unanswered was: If Joe Manchin or Heidi Heitkamp are reliable votes for any Trump nominee or initiative, what would it matter if they were replaced by Republicans? If Republicans are selling the rightist agenda, do we need Democrats to sell it, too?

9

William Timberman 02.26.17 at 1:14 pm

Supposedly decent conservatives these days are either lining up outside Trump Tower or Mar-A-Lago to kiss the plump one’s ring (Mitt Romney, Paul Ryan, Theresa May), or playing a more or less profitable game of footsie with the right wing of the Democratic Party (George Will, David Brooks, David Frum). Decent is scarcely how I’d describe either their conservatism or their behavior in general. Contemptible is the adjective we’re looking for, at least in public. In private, far more accurate, if less polite, adjectives spring to mind when contemplating their anemic re-staging of what is in fact an ancient immorality play. Let the Devil have them as soon as he can get the temperature down there properly adjusted.

10

Lee A. Arnold 02.26.17 at 1:53 pm

Time to start making it fun too. Prior to the State of the Union Address, consider an update on the weird lay of the land, the Land of Fear and Loathing:

Start at the beginning. Trump just wanted to be President so people will finally respect him. He first mentioned running for President in the late 1970s, he has taken both sides on just about every issue over the last 35 years, he just wants to stay in the spotlight and doesn’t care about policy. Trump chooses the best short-term plan from those his most trusted advisors will tell him, no matter how flakey they are, this is true of his business history too, & it led him to declare bankruptcy 4 times, an unusually high number.

Presidential adviser Bannon is leading Trump into a backlash buzzsaw. Main Street just watched Trump stack the cabinet with Wall Street billionaires & they are going to try to extract more profits from healthcare, Medicare, and Social Security. The coal miners sadly realize that Trump isn’t bringing many jobs back. Old allies have begun to refuse the U.S.’s new ideas, & it looks like it could be a rout. Military generals are returning the U.S. to the previous smarter security arrangements: they are the only ones who rank higher than Bannon, to Trump’s ear.

Want to anticipate another political problem? If and when that 1900-sq. mi. iceberg breaks off Antarctica — 1900 sq. mi. is around the size of Delaware, this should be an amazing satellite photo — it won’t raise sea level much but obviously the next one will, and Trump’s appointments of fossils from the fossil-fuel industry to EPA & State will be needing replacement too. A media trainwreck.

So anyway, right now Bannon has Trump still attacking the press, which is a pleasing prospect for Trump, because the New York press always ridiculed Trump’s business moves, failures, and worship of mammon, and he hates the press. But is there any real point to this? What’s the real objective?

Well, Bannon wants a nationalist cultural uprising, to fix all the problems (like THAT would work!). So instead of draining the swamp, instead getting Wall Street out of the White House, instead of finding jobs for the coal workers etc. etc., Bannon needs to find a big bad enemy to blame, & to distract the voters.

Hmmm, let’s see, what enemies do we have? Well, the military & security establishment has taken Bannon’s job away in the terrorist enemies dept., and the enemy Dems got totally kicked out of power, and so who’s left? Answer: the Big, Bad Press. Because obviously they are the bad guys, secretly controlling everybody’s mind!!!

This is a stupid move for the President, not only is it childish, weak and useless, it is counterproductive. Some of Trump’s voters are swing voters, and they already know that the press isn’t the problem here. Trump’s job approval ratings are already submerged, averaging at around -5, so the main question on Congress’s mind (on both sides of the aisle) is: Will that number change, and in which direction?

Evidence of the recent “town halls” is that Election 2016 has excited a Democratic-side “Tea Party” that is every bit as angry as the Republican-side Tea Party that arose in 2006. The Fox News nutters are making every attempt to say it is funded by big-leaguers, without ever noting that so was the 2006 Tea Party. Both sides have their billionaires, & in politics they call it “astroturfing” the grassroots. But who really cares — it’s bigger than that. The Moral Stain of Election 2016 is deep and dangerous and under everybody’s skin, in one way or another. The political question is, Have any non-voters awaken to add their new voices, and to go out and vote? Will the numbers change, and in which direction? Here, the Dems are hoping, while the Repubs are disconcerted (make it “doubly disconcerted”, they already floundering over legislative plans).

All of which gets us back to the State of the Union Address. The Constitution does not require this speech, but the Constitution does require an annual report from President to Congress, and so, some measure of respect from the opposition is required, and they need to let a President speak. Even if he speaks more of his campaign/CPAC emotional meandering.

But: if the Dems each quietly flipped up a big sign that says “Falsehood!” every time Trump tells a fib, very quietly, still the cameras would show it, & then the President would also have to appear as if he is ignoring it — which he is constitutionally incapable of doing! That could be more fun than you imagine.

11

Raven Onthill 02.26.17 at 2:07 pm

If you’re only decent to family and friends, are you decent? There were a lot of Germans, once, who were perfectly happy to look the other way. This is not different.

The Democratic leadership are fools.

12

politicalfootball 02.26.17 at 2:12 pm

Trump’s election was a clarifying event. After years of Democrats acting on the argument that the Right could be accommodated, this is the result. Sweet-talking fascist wannabees isn’t going to get us a better result in the future than it has in the past.

Re: Manta at 5: Of course red-baiting is designed, in part, to make moderates embarrassed to identify with the left. Also to energize the base. Also (and this has become more important lately) to justify right-wing extremism in response.

Trump’s absurd incompetence and loathsome ravings got him the presidency. But hey, maybe that’s because liberals have been too insulting to Trump, forcing his supporters to be even more supportive, right? Maybe liberals just need to stop objecting so strenuously.

No.

13

harry b 02.26.17 at 2:20 pm

For what its worth I know people who would, for sure, answer in an opinion poll that they believe Trump is trustworthy, caring, well-informed and a good manager, but believe no such thing (being non-crazy). They are, for now, loyal. Their loyalty is, I think, unstable, and if things get bad enough, it will break. In particular, publicly visible mishandling of actual military/terrorist conflict will destabilize their support. I don’t know how deep this goes.

Trump’s record unpopularity is not unrelated to the close-to-incompatible-with-winning-the-Presidency extent to which he lost the popular vote. He starts at a massive disadvantage relative to most other Presidents.

What is interesting to me about the elected Republicans (Ryan et al) is that they believe that nobody will hold them responsible for their venality. I think this is a correct calculation — when he screws up and loses support they’ll disassociate themselves from him and become the alternative to him, and his supporters will peel off to them because the core Republican vote really is principle-less. (Unlike Democrats who were willing to throw the 2000 election out of fierce loyalty to a sitting President who demonstrably had loyalty to nobody but himself).

14

shpx.ohfu 02.26.17 at 2:42 pm

The so-called decent Republicans are merely those embarrassed by the persona of the man who is enacting bog-standard Republican policy objectives. There will be no revolution from within the ranks because they love the results no matter how tawdry the figurehead who is leading the way.

With Dolt 45’s approval at 85-90% among Republicans, which elected R who wants to be re-elected will stand against him?

15

CJColucci 02.26.17 at 3:51 pm

The vast majority of people who voted for the Republican candidate in 2016 are — drum roll, please — Republicans. We now know that they would vote for Bozo the Clown if he had an (R) after his name because that is what they did. They would have voted in roughly equal numbers for Cruz or Rubio or JEB! And if Cruz or Rubio or JEB! had won, we wouldn’t be talking about how to reach them because there would be nothing to explain. The only way we could reach them would be to become Republicans.
Most of these people aren’t themselves racists, misogynists, grifters, or fascists — by realistic as opposed to aspirational standards — but they enabled obvious racists, misogynists, grifters, and fascists and deserve scorn for it. No tactical downside either, because we can’t reach them anyway.

16

David of Yreka 02.26.17 at 4:22 pm

There’s a pair of articles in the Guardian today (2-26) that articulate a terrible fear: that decency won’t matter. This is one of them. (Sorry, I don’t know how to paste a clickable link) http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2017/feb/26/us-billionaire-mercer-helped-back-brexit

My take on these articles is that a resonant nexus of social media, sentiment analysis, and targeted advertising buys us a statistical but pretty direct read/write access to the emotional structures of targeted groups. And that that has now been done. And that there is at least one company in this business today. The emotional structures cited are those that led us to Trump and Brexit. The striking thing, to me, is the power of this approach, which I attribute to a resonance effect, and which seems to be a step function improvement on previous approaches to advertising.

I imagine that one could find other examples if one looked under enough rocks.

The practical application to the OP is discouraging. If the gut feeling of group A is a passionate intensity and the gut feeling of group B is a weary and doubtful disgust, and gut feelings dominate at the moment of decision, and those feelings can be controlled long enough to win a majority in whatever vote, who is then the electorate?

I’m having trouble imagining any better outcome to this than a psy-ops arms race. I think that the solution, if any, will be social, not technical; and I think it will be some time coming. Any ideas?

17

Stephen 02.26.17 at 4:40 pm

Lee A Arnold @10: as I understand it, when an iceberg of whatever size melts, sea level is not affected at all. Am I wrong?

PS please do not regard this as any sort of support for the unique President Trump.

18

Yankee 02.26.17 at 4:45 pm

decent enough in their personal lives.

Truly. Here in the Oregon Outback, I find that local personal issues are generally easy to deal with, but as the horizon broadens there is less and less concern for what are the facts of the matter. There don’t seem to be any hard and fast facts larger than the County. “We have always been at war with Eastasia” sort of thing.

it will most likely require a wholesale conversion

“Revival” is the word you’re looking for, and Amen to that, Brother! But that only gets us onto the next moral level, a good thing as far as it goes but it will only be the next mountain. Not freedom, although we could be free.

19

Kalkaino 02.26.17 at 4:46 pm

I see absolutely no evidence for this assertion: “Most of these [Republican] people aren’t themselves racists, misogynists, grifters, or fascists — by realistic as opposed to aspirational standards….” I”m not even sure what that means. People who “enabled obvious racists, misogynists, grifters, and fascists” are, to the exact degree they support such, racists, misogynists, grifters, and fascists — otherwise the terms have no meaning. Is one only racist if one actually knots the noose or lights the cross?

We need first of all to face the depressing fact that a huge number of our fellow citizens (and people in general) are in their heart of hearts “racists, misogynists, grifters, and fascists.” Most people are banal, and this is the most fashionable form of banal evil. When we give them the benefit of the doubt they instantly weaponize it.

20

Octavian 02.26.17 at 5:29 pm

I think you and most of your commenters largely miss the point; it’s not a matter of turning down a dial but acknowledging (if one believes it) the distinction between what one disagrees with and what one finds intolerable. E.g., disagreeing with school choice (Betsy DeVos confirmation) or market deregulation or the Hyde amendment (typical conservative positions) vs. finding the travel ban not merely something with which to disagree but something intolerable.

If progressives begin to equate all conservative (and libertarian) policy positions with Trump and fascism and the other bad isms, they will indeed alienate people who also find some of Trump’s policies intolerable even while they agree with others. It is also insipid, just as it would be to try to make moral comparison between Democrats and Nazis based on similarities in their economic policies. It’s absurd because even if one disagrees with their economic policy, it’s not the core reason why they’re considered evil.

In the end, doubling down on identity politics (‘reverse’ racism and sexism) and anti-capitalism are a losing strategy for the left, imo. As a libertarianism person I’d say the Dems have been less appealing than they are now in the manner of their ‘resistance.’

21

drveen 02.26.17 at 5:37 pm

@11 could have gone further. My history being imperfect, I don’t recall the name for the faction of German Jews who basically said “let’s be nice and accomodating, and maybe they’ll be nice (less awful) to us”. I think that’s the one with which to hit “let’s be understanding” Democrats.

Of course, that assumes said accomodationist Dems actually have principles, other than fear of missing out gravy train opportunities (see also T. Cruz).

Arnade, et al. have some interesting points about front/back row, but ultimately, in order to effect change, one needs more than “understanding”.

22

JRLRC 02.26.17 at 5:38 pm

If you are sexist, homofobic and racist, you are not decent. Period.
The logical extensions are (or should be) obvious…

23

Octavian 02.26.17 at 5:46 pm

@Kalkaino,

What amazes me about people who come to this conclusion is that they don’t seem to realize both the futility an immorality of their own position as a result of this fact.

If half the country is basically evil, isn’t it high time for progressives to abandon their communitarian national politics? If most Americans have fundamental disagreements with you, shouldn’t that lead to become more libertarian, to favor devolution of responsibility away the federal government both for their own good, and because they don’t have the right to drag people kicking g and screaming into the new Great Society without their consent?

Their are two logical conclusions a progressive may reach from Trump’s victory: 1) realize half of Tge country really does not share your vision for the country and let red states be red states and blue states be blue states and accept local politics as the appropriate theater for policy determination; San Francisco can be socialist if it wants, just let Houston stay capitalist. Or 2) work even harder to convert people to your own vision. Inasmuch as progressives choose the second, many of us have little reason to sympathize with their ‘resistance.’ If you’re a Shia who just lost the latest election to the Sunnis, doubling down on the need to Shia-ize the country isn’t going to appeal to people who would rather just have religious freedom (or my other analogy: why should a Republican care about helping the Bourbons overthrow the Hapsburgs?

24

Raven Onthill 02.26.17 at 7:08 pm

@20: the question is why, for instance, breaking up immigrant families, a thing out of slave days, or allowing the poisoning of streams and rivers is tolerable?

One is left thinking that this faction has no imagination or no compassion.

Bannon is a trusted advisor of Trump. Spicer is his trusted representative. They are fascists. It is not a comparison; the Trump administration is fascist, simple as that.

25

EB 02.26.17 at 7:25 pm

What party do you feel welcome in? for most voters, including most Democratic voters, that’s a controlling factor in making the choice of what party to choose at the ballot box. Trump made a slice of middle/conservative white male (and their female family members) voters feel included simply by acting the part. Also by claiming to be able to replace lost jobs, also by validating their questions about illegal immigration (as in, why do they get to break the law when I don’t get to?). I know many such voters who are not alt-Right, not particularly racist (voted for Obama), or heartless about refugees or legal immigrants. They did not always vote for Trump unless they were pro-life purists, but many stayed home. I think they can be won back (Trump is helping in that task by acting so cruel and weird) but it will require better emphasis on and framing of these issues.

26

BenK 02.26.17 at 7:36 pm

An excellent example of failing ethically, politically, and as a human being.

‘Decent’ – consider people who believe they are making the world a better place, striving to meet their own ethical and moral standards. One may not agree with those standards or think that they will make the world a better place, but those people are ‘decent.’
They are not people to despise. It isn’t about agreeing with the concrete ethical and moral standards, its about accepting that they pursue those standards honestly, without evil intent.

If you can’t get beyond that standard to see people who may meet your definitions of racist, sexist, etc – or blasphemer, unclean, deplorable – then your real problem isn’t getting something in the neighborhood of 50% of the nation to be in your tribe so you seize the supposed monopoly on violence. The real problem is you will never have any kind of peace with the large fraction of citizens whom you despise. A couple percent of a society in a state of open war is considered a complete breakdown. A citizenry in a status of mutual disdain is incompatible with civil society, by definition.

27

Ben Alpers 02.26.17 at 7:37 pm

Layman @8:

The question left unanswered was: If Joe Manchin or Heidi Heitkamp are reliable votes for any Trump nominee or initiative, what would it matter if they were replaced by Republicans? If Republicans are selling the rightist agenda, do we need Democrats to sell it, too?

I totally agree about the idiocy of the Democrats generally accommodating themselves to Trump. But Manchin and Heitcamp are (at least at the moment) outliers. And the actual question regarding them is: If Joe Manchin or Heidi Heitkamp are occasional (or even frequent) votes for Trump nominees or initiatives, what would it matter if they were replaced by Republicans?

The answer to the first question is: because there’d be more reliable votes for the Republican agenda. I’m all in favor of primarying accommodationist Democrats who can be replaced with resisting Democrats. But replacing accommodationist Democrats with Republicans is cutting off our nose to spite our face.

Octavian @ 20:

it’s not a matter of turning down a dial but acknowledging (if one believes it) the distinction between what one disagrees with and what one finds intolerable. E.g., disagreeing with school choice (Betsy DeVos confirmation) or market deregulation or the Hyde amendment (typical conservative positions) vs. finding the travel ban not merely something with which to disagree but something intolerable.

Where I disagree with this is that the line between mere disagreement and that which I find intolerable is not the same as the line between typical conservative positions and positions unusual to Trump. I agree that market deregulation and the Hyde Amendment, e.g., are awful, but tolerable, in part because they’re, in principle at least, reversible. However, destroying public education (i.e. “school choice”) or the environment — both also typical conservative positions — are not tolerable.

28

Raven Onthill 02.26.17 at 8:05 pm

@20: also remember that members of the Trump administration, and probably Trump himself, have Russian connections, and that for that, and, because Trump has not put his business in a blind trust, Trump has probably broken his oath of office.

This is not, in the final reading, a matter of policy differences but a matter of corruption. Either we have a government of law and our elected officials obey the laws, or we do not.

29

Sebastian H 02.26.17 at 8:12 pm

Again, imagine you were counseling an Arab country in how to deal with terrorists in their midst.

Do you say “well pretty much any one who adheres to Islam to irrational to ever be dealt with, too racist, and naturally too violent”?

Or do you say “some Islamic adherents get super-radicalized, and you need to work to keep them to a minimum, probably through a combination of co-opting a bunch of them, making lives better for a bunch of them, and helping them feel more rooted so that they don’t think tearing everything down is a good gamble”?

Now that isn’t EASY. But it is pretty much the only approach known to work.

Why shouldn’t it work here? Is there something super-special about the US that makes that excellent advice bad?

30

J-D 02.26.17 at 8:14 pm

Octavian, the thing that strikes me most about your comments is that they don’t offer any affirmative strategic recommendation.

The same thing strikes me about Sabrina Tavernise’s article. She writes ‘if political action is meant to persuade people that Mr. Trump is bad for the country, then people on the fence would seem a logical place to start.’ Fair enough, as far as it goes, although as I’ve already mentioned it seems to me that starting with ‘people on the fence’ should naturally mean not starting with people who voted for Trump, but starting with people who did not vote for Trump. That aside, though, what strategy does Sabrina Tavernise have to recommend as a way of persuading people on the fence? Nothing’s working so far, she seems to be saying (although on the basis of inadequate evidence), but supposing it’s true that nothing’s working so far, what’s her alternative? Implicitly, if she criticises the actions that people are taking but offers no recommendations for other courses of action, she’s advocating inaction: don’t protest (that just upsets people), don’t criticise Trump (that just upsets people), remain silent and do nothing. I don’t understand how that’s supposed to help.

31

Chet Murthy 02.26.17 at 8:39 pm

@Octavian:

San Francisco can be socialist if it wants, just let Houston stay capitalist. Or 2) work even harder to convert people to your own vision.

The exit-polling from the election tells us that *both* SF and Houston (Harris County) went blue. ISTR there were (something like only) two major cities that did NOT go blue. So some sort of “partition” would have to be between the cities and the “heartland” (as the rubes call it).

Re: Shia-vs-Sunni, you’re onto something there, scary as it sounds. The racism animating Trumpism (and the Rs since the 70s) is deeply rooted — right back to slavery. What to do? Well, for starters, there’s a lotta decent folk in the heartland, too. [One of the major cities that voted for Dampnut, so I have read, is Fort Worth, TX] I was heartened to see how much resistance there was even in Fort Worth. And in small towns all over. Maybe there’s hope. Maybe not.

32

JimV 02.26.17 at 8:45 pm

“I see absolutely no evidence for this assertion: “Most of these [Republican] people aren’t themselves racists, misogynists, grifters, or fascists …”

As far as I know, I’m the only one in my immediate family who has ever voted for a Democrat, and most of my friends from work seemed to be Republicans. In many ways they are better people than myself, at least within their social circle – one of my nephews is in El Salvador as I type, doing pro-bono medical work for a couple of weeks there. There just seem to be loyalties or instincts that they can’t reason their way out of.

I don’t know what the percentage of such people is among all Republicans, but my anecdotal evidence is sufficient to establish at least that it is not zero.

Of course I agree with the post that the NY Times piece was worthless: it could have been written based on human nature without the need to interview anyone (it was not news) and it offers no plausible way forward.

33

Chet Murthy 02.26.17 at 8:52 pm

@Octavian [20]:

it’s not a matter of turning down a dial but acknowledging (if one believes it) the distinction between what one disagrees with and what one finds intolerable. E.g., disagreeing with school choice (Betsy DeVos confirmation) or market deregulation or the Hyde amendment (typical conservative positions) vs. finding the travel ban not merely something with which to disagree but something intolerable.

I’ll take one of your examples (b/c long comments are bad): You may find that the Hyde amendment is sufficiently different from the travel ban, that you wish to not equate them. But for many progressives, they’re just as bad.

Here’s the thing: many progressives look at libertarianism, and see neo-feudalism. Many see an infantile embrace of a naive understanding of economics. And many see the way that libertarians refuse to properly account for spillover (“oh, can’t get rid of the corporate barrier”) and see “socialism for me, libertarianism for thee”.

It’s fair for a conservative/libertarian to argue that there are good policies/positions on their side, that are unfairly demonized. It is, after all, the hill they chose to die on (metaphorically). It is equally fair for progressives to argue that each and every one of those policies, when examined in detail, is immoral and evil.

Let’s return to the Hyde amendment. As the feminists say, “If men could get pregnant, abortion would be a sacrament”. That a conservative could deny women the right control their bodies is to many feminists the proof of their evil nature. And to say that it’s identity politics is balderdash. Frankly put, it’s about the money. Let Dampnut subsidize every baby that would have been aborted with a $10m trust fund, and I’m sure there’d be a lot fewer abortions. Ta-Nehisi Coates has pointed out (in excruciating detail) just how much of the policies of Jim Crow and segregation (e.g. redlining, contract houses) were a form of -economic- repression.

To sum up: cons/libs can believe that progressives are squishy and soft and all cuddly teddy bears. We’re not. We have carefully reasoned and detailed arguments supporting our positions. And as far as we can tell, all cons/libs have is “FYIGM”.

34

mojrim 02.26.17 at 8:53 pm

@Octavian: Sure, except that you’ve reversed the poles on that. The bog-standard positions (e.g. school vouchers) are intolerable while the travel ban is disagreeable. That may seem morally backward to some, but the former can do permanent damage to the republic while the latter can only inflict a few years of misery on some.

35

Chet Murthy 02.26.17 at 8:56 pm

@Octavian [20]: I should have added, re: the Hyde amendment, that even a cursory examination of maternal mortality rates in Texas should be sufficient to convince one that access to abortion, contraception, and reproductive services, is a matter of fundamental human rights.

It is a -right- to not die in pregnancy/childbirth. And that is at this point in question, for poor women in Texas.

36

roger gathmann 02.26.17 at 9:00 pm

I agree with the proposal that moderating criticism of Trump for fear of alienating Reps is stupid. Instead, he should be hung around the neck of Reps permanently.
I do disagree with this piece of analysis: “It was the failure of any significant number decents to switch to Clinton, rather than large-scale desertions from Democrats, that was crucial factor in Trump’s victory.”

I wish policy and politics were so entangled that one could clearly vote for policy. But I think they aren’t. I think Clinton lost because her campaign’s GOTV sucked in the Midwest, and she took the advice of those who claimed that this time, we dems could swing Arizona and Georgia. The failure to go after Obama’s voters in the midwest also contributed to the most shocking thing, actually, about the election: the failure of the Dems to take the senate. From Bayh to Feingold, those who went to the polls weren’t buying it. Perhaps this is, really, where C’s concentration on decent Rs was pernicious. Getting them to go to the polls meant getting peeps who vote R to the polls.

37

bob mcmanus 02.26.17 at 9:12 pm

If half the country is basically evil, isn’t it high time for progressives to abandon their communitarian national politics?

The US experimented with that for a couple centuries. Besides some minor social issues that bothered the conscience, like slavery and Jim Crow, the politics and policy ran into some other very serious problems due to geographic separatism and that kind of tolerance, eg the South was a strong national force for militarism, anti-unionism, fiscal conservatism etc and tended to cost more than they gave.

But since progressive solutions like the elimination of the electoral college and Senate are simply not going to happen, and would likely generate a civil war in the process anyway, Democrats and progressives do need to seriously think about what devolution (already here) and de facto separation would look like, whether it would be manageable and tolerable. Really too many aspects to handle in a blog comment, from the depressing abandonment of the liberal political project to the material questions of resource areas vs finance/intellectual areas. Kansas provides grain, Montana and Texas energy, and neither really would die without HBO and critical theorists.

Metropole/periphery post-colonial problems are not unique to the US and probably are a useful analytical resource.

38

Lee A. Arnold 02.26.17 at 9:42 pm

Steven #17: “when an iceberg of whatever size melts, sea level is not affected at all.”

You are correct, I am writing too fast. What happens with Antarctic ice is that a floating shelf break-off may unlock or destabilize the higher land ice behind it — which, if and when it moves after being unlocked, would raise sea level noticeably. As I understand it, this is not a big concern with the cracking Larsen ice shelf, which doesn’t lock in as much land ice behind it as at other locations in the Antarctic. But I am guessing that the effect in U.S. climate politics and energy policy would be to put an end to the cautionary denialist propaganda.

39

bob mcmanus 02.26.17 at 9:44 pm

Just a couple more, and I will try to keep them short:

As we look forward to 110+ degree summers: the wind farms, solar arrays, and nuclear plants are not going to be built in central Manhattan; it is very likely much cheaper energy-wise to cool a small house surrounded by trees than a 17th floor apartment; and the urban liberals decided they didn’t want guns. Besides construction materials of wood versus steel and concrete. Now the rurals will need combines and transformers, but the coastals decided to ship heavy manufactures overseas, or at least out of the cities.

Conservatism, hard variety may be based on a deep pessimism, trying to sustain what is existentially necessary under catastrophic conditions. Stuff like democracy, diversity, tolerance, equality are luxuries of a rich high-energy, high-productivity society.

40

John Quiggin 02.26.17 at 10:40 pm

Octavian: The libertarian embrace of Trump (“with notably rare exceptions” ©), which you exemplify, is striking. More on this soon.

41

Layman 02.26.17 at 10:54 pm

Sebastian H: ‘Or do you say “some Islamic adherents get super-radicalized, and you need to work to keep them to a minimum, probably through a combination of co-opting a bunch of them, making lives better for a bunch of them, and helping them feel more rooted so that they don’t think tearing everything down is a good gamble”?’

Every time you try out this argument on a specific issue, where you claim that it is a small minority of Republicans who hold extreme views on that issue, someone shows you that you are wrong, and that most Republicans actually hold extreme views on that issue. We just had that exact exchange last week, and here you are again.

42

Chet Murthy 02.26.17 at 11:23 pm

@Sebastian H:

Or do you say “some Islamic adherents get super-radicalized, and you need to work to keep them to a minimum, probably through a combination of co-opting a bunch of them, making lives better for a bunch of them, and helping them feel more rooted so that they don’t think tearing everything down is a good gamble”?

To follow Layman, there are two further things wrong with your argument:

(1) these “super-radicalized adherents” and their political leaders specifically work to vitiate and defeat every attempt that Dems have made, to make their lives better. [two examples: WWC folks also benefit from ACA (and the people who are in the individual market were invariably previously only able to afford catastrophic care insurance, which is well-nigh useless); CFPB was about protecting average Americans from being gouged by the folks who destroyed the world economy — and showed tangible benefits.]

(2) much of what these “adherents” want isn’t just for their own lives (much as that also is horrible, since it includes their families) — they wanted to foist it upon all the rest of us. When ISIS wants to impose an insane version of Sharia law on Syrians, those Syrians fight back (cf. YPG), they don’t say “oh gosh, maybe we can meet halfway”.

3) [bonus point!] Perhaps you should look at the CNN exit polls of the 2016 presidential election. You’ll find that poorer voters skewed to Clinton, and that so did people of color. Black and Latino americans are poorer than whites, and yet they voted Dem. Gosh, why could that be? Maybe it wasn’t economic uncertainty after all? [after all, black people in America have suffered with that for centuries.]

Dude, it’s the racism. All the economic uncertainty is a stalking horse, a beard, for the unadulterated, unremitting racism.

43

Sebastian H 02.26.17 at 11:30 pm

“Every time you try out this argument on a specific issue, where you claim that it is a small minority of Republicans who hold extreme views on that issue, someone shows you that you are wrong, and that most Republicans actually hold extreme views on that issue. “

So you’re from the “we must kill all the Muslims because they just can’t be dealt with group”. Ok. Everyone else agree or is it just Layman?

44

Sebastian H 02.26.17 at 11:41 pm

That was too curt. I apologize.

Layman, you don’t distinguish between different kinds of support. Is it “I won’t vote for anyone who disagrees with me support”? Is it “I want to kill people who don’t agree with me support”? Is it “I think it is wrong but not one of my top priorities support”? Is it “If I lose on this issue I want to tear everything down support”?

Politics is always about priorities. Taking a poll and finding lots of things you disagree with on the other side is normal. They don’t have all of that as their top priorities. Pretending that they do is not understanding how politics works.

The whole recent series of threads on crookedtimber seems to involve a bunch of people not willing to differentiate between levels of support, and just putting everyone in the “we can’t deal with them at all” area that is normally reserved for hardcore terrorists.

You can’t expect a country to run if you put 20-30% or more of people in that category unless you are willing to take away their right to vote, or kill them.

So are you willing to take away their right to vote?

Are you willing to kill them? Genocide based on political party?

If not you should probably think about de-radicalizing them, just like we ask Muslim countries to do with their radicals so they become less dangerous.

Do I have a brilliant plan for making that happen fast? No I do not.

That doesn’t mean it isn’t the right approach.

45

J-D 02.26.17 at 11:43 pm

EB

Do you think it’s good strategy to give priority to trying to win over people who voted for Trump ahead of trying to win over people who did not vote?

46

J-D 02.26.17 at 11:51 pm

BenK
You give the impression of placing far too much value on sincerity. I suppose maybe it is worth a little (that is, in and of and by itself), but it’s only worth more than a very little if it’s coupled with good beliefs or attitudes. The greatest sincerity committed to harmful falsehoods doesn’t stop them from being harmful falsehoods.

Still, for what it’s worth, what am I to make of your own sincerity when you write the following?

An excellent example of failing ethically, politically, and as a human being.

… The real problem is you will never have any kind of peace with the large fraction of citizens whom you despise. A couple percent of a society in a state of open war is considered a complete breakdown. A citizenry in a status of mutual disdain is incompatible with civil society, by definition.

How does describing people as having failed as human beings not count as disdaining and despising them?

47

Heliopause 02.27.17 at 12:30 am

“decent conservatives…I’ve met a reasonable number of US Republicans, and Australian conservatives, and plenty of them are decent enough in their personal lives. But there is no reason to believe that this decency will carry through, in any significant way, into their political choices.”

Let’s make sure we know what we’re talking about here. Obama’s share of the white vote was 43% in 2008, Clinton’s was 37% in 2016. In terms of American national electoral politics that’s actually a pretty hefty difference. So what are we talking about here? Strictly ideological people who self-identify as conservatives? Republicans? Or the several million who are conservative-ish to moderate who voted for Obama a mere eight years ago?

Those people aside, it’s worth noting that the U.S. is at the ass end of voter participation in the “developed” world, meaning that there are tens of millions of people who aren’t particularly liberal or progressive or socialist but could probably be persuaded to vote that way if given a compelling, positive reason to do so. But since both our major parties are hellbent on not appealing to these people, there we are.

48

Omega Centauri 02.27.17 at 12:31 am

David of Y. I think your point is underappreciated on the left, the instruction manual for the brain being written by cognitive science is very important, and it is becoming increasingly powerful. Right wing think tanks have appreciated this fact, and are using it to effect. Lefties think utilizing such techniques is socially dangerous (I heartily agree), so come to an artillery dual with a knife, and are increasingly defeated.

Now my answer is partly, that this brain instructional manual is something belongs all humanity,
not just to advertising professionals, and highly dedicated political partisans. It is essential that all adults be exposed to the various cognitive weaknesses by which they can be manipulated. That is of course a longterm project, that probably won’t bear fruit in time to change for example to 2018 midterms, but at least its one avenue of approach.

To the question of whether you can be a decent person and vote for someone who ny your own standards falls short. I know I’ve certainly done that is the past, i.e. voted for a candidate who I think is wrong on point A because point B is more important to me. So for these Trump voters, the prospect of Hillary -or the desire for tax cuts overrode the horror at Trumps obvious ethical problems.

49

John Quiggin 02.27.17 at 12:39 am

harry b “What is interesting to me about the elected Republicans (Ryan et al) is that they believe that nobody will hold them responsible for their venality. I think this is a correct calculation -when he screws up and loses support they’ll disassociate themselves from him and become the alternative to him, and his supporters will peel off to them because the core Republican vote really is principle-less. “

I’m in two minds about this. I suspect that you’re right. OTOH, I think the mainstream media are just about cured of reflexive centrism, and will want to see some new faces before they grant Repubs the benefit of the doubt again.

50

Omega Centauri 02.27.17 at 12:42 am

And no, I don’t think a giant iceberg off of Larson C will have any real impact on climate change politics. The other side will just say, these events have been happening for a long time -climate changes…, and your side are simply alarmists. And we will be right back where we were the day before, with accelerating effects and decelerating efforts to mitigate it. Of course sea level rise from
loss of Antarctic and Greenland ice will play out over centuries, and the political cycle is orders of magnitude shorter than that.

51

bob mcmanus 02.27.17 at 1:16 am

OTOH, I think the mainstream media are just about cured of reflexive centrism

The mainstream media no longer matter, or matter in some way that needs to be recalculated, like Democratic enthusiasm. But there is no longer a national consensus. Trump voters, Republicans, and conservatives are no longer listening. At all.

Isaac Simpson

“The heavily pro-Trump subreddit r/The_Donald has become one of the most powerful forces on the Internet, with almost 400,000 highly-active subscribers and tens of millions of readers each day.

The result is a dangerous disconnection between what we’re being told is going on and the beliefs of a substantial portion of the citizenry. Not a substantial portion like a couple million. A substantial portion like 100 million. This week’s Rasmussen Poll, for example, found that 45% of voting Americans believe America is on the “right track.” This is down two points from the record high, which was recorded two weeks ago, and is higher than any week during the Obama presidency. “

The NY Times could definitively prove Trump was a Russian spy, and half the country wouldn’t believe it, if they ever even heard it.

52

T 02.27.17 at 1:17 am

Well it’s nice to see some of the regulars back. Seems Corey has disappeared to his own site since his prediction went terribly astray. And D^2 is busy tweeting and outsourcing jobs from London and New York to India. As for the commentators, I’m not sure if it has to do with the comment policy or what…

As for HRC, 52% of White women voted for Trump. She didn’t understand Republican women at all. Neither did her team. And millions who voted for Obama just stayed home. Biden, of course, would have crushed.

Now we get to see the level of inequality reached in 2007 (and we’re back within a hair’s breadth) definitively broken. With the market reaching new records and a massive high-end tax cut in the works, it is inevitable. I hope the near term is only indecent. It’s the best we can hope for. This is what happens when median wages stagnate for 40 years. And White folks face their crack epidemic equivalent with opioids and heroin. By the way, Pence is worse than Trump if you think there’s some salvation there.

53

J-D 02.27.17 at 1:17 am

Sebastian H
What leads you to the conclusion that the approach you describe is ‘pretty much the only approach known to work’? Can you give some examples of its working?

54

JRLRC 02.27.17 at 1:20 am

“In many ways they are better people than myself, at least within their social circle”… So, are they good or better people (when) outside their circle? Raven Onthill: “If you’re only decent to family and friends, are you decent?”. Exactly. If you´re willing to support the indecent (because of party loyalty; no matter what they say and do), are you decent? Can a truly decent person support the indecent? If she does, is she still decent?
And: can “decency” and “racist” mean anything? (Because of comment 26). Playing “anything goes” is going too far… And wrong. Not all “moral” standards are decent -of human decency. Pursuing those standards “honestly” is not the equivalent of a decent act. You can´t be trying to “make the world a better place” if you are trying to make it better only for your race and/or race subjectivity.

55

John Quiggin 02.27.17 at 2:10 am

BenK @26 presents an argument I see a lot. In its Shorter #copy; form “If 50 per cent of the population are racist bigots according to some definition, then the country is in a very bad way, which can’t easily be fixed. To avoid this conclusion, it is necessary to change the definition.”

But, pretty obviously the election of Trump means that the US and the world is in a bad way, which can’t easily be fixed, particularly not by the use of new euphemisms for “racist”.

56

Layman 02.27.17 at 2:32 am

Sebastian H: ‘So you’re from the “we must kill all the Muslims because they just can’t be dealt with group”. Ok. Everyone else agree or is it just Layman?’

No, I’m from the “Sebastian should stop manufacturing crap analogies, right after he stops making false claims about Republicans” group, and I’m not advocating killing anyone, but thank you for playing.

57

Chet Murthy 02.27.17 at 2:55 am

@BenK [26]: while I agree with John Quiggin’s response, this bit here deserves more pushback:

‘Decent’ – consider people who believe they are making the world a better place, striving to meet their own ethical and moral standards.

*Absolutely* not. Your definition basically says we must take sincere people at face value. It says there is no objective morality in our society, much less in the world. [Recall that for both slavery and segregation there were supposed religious arguments well-founded in the Bible.] And when we combine that with the fact that the Rs want to impose -their- morality on -us-, you’re really saying “capitulate in order to preserve domestic peace”. Bollocks. Also, I think you should read _On Bullshit_, wherein Harry Frankfurt demonstrates that

In the end, sincerity is bullshit.

58

engels 02.27.17 at 3:21 am

“an argument I see a lot”

Lord Denning’s version may have been the best/worst:

http://www.irishtimes.com/news/appalling-vista-observation-stuck-1.160004

59

J-D 02.27.17 at 3:29 am

Sebastian H

The whole recent series of threads on crookedtimber seems to involve a bunch of people not willing to differentiate between levels of support, and just putting everyone in the “we can’t deal with them at all” area that is normally reserved for hardcore terrorists.

You can’t expect a country to run if you put 20-30% or more of people in that category unless you are willing to take away their right to vote, or kill them.

What makes you think that? How is the approach of the present Trump Administration different from ‘putting 20% of the population in the “we can’t deal with them at all” category’? Is that approach preventing them from running the country?

60

Omega Centauri 02.27.17 at 4:23 am

What Bob say’s @51, unfortunately. Alt-news means Alt-Realities.

61

nastywoman 02.27.17 at 4:55 am

– there was this theory before the election that an erection of a F…face would made ultimately obvious for everybody how important it is NOT to be a F…face – and NOT to believe in the stuff a F…face believes in – and so called conservatives – and I believe this theory is also working very well in practice – as the pushback against the F…face and conservatism and nearly everything they stand for – is so powerful – and so GREAT and so moving – as nearly as moving as Meryl Streep NOT liking Trump – and we now all experience every day how great it feels NOT to belong – and having nothing to do with ‘conservatives’ are people like the F…face!

62

LosGatosCA 02.27.17 at 5:20 am

At the risk of ostracization let me refer everyone to Peter Drucker’s truest comment on business that applies to life more generally:

“Culture eats strategy for breakfast.”

The Republican culture is focused on tax cuts/money and hate. A sense of responsibility to others or consideration of anything that interferes with tax cuts/money or their hate is simply a non-starter.

63

Longtooth 02.27.17 at 5:35 am

I note only that nobody can define “decent” in terms that both conservatives and liberals will accept as the correct definition in political terms. There are also two general forms of “decent”: Public behavior and internal beliefs. They are not necessarily the same kinds of decency.

I find that unless and until “decent” is defined by mutually agreed definitions by both conservatives and liberals the subject of “conversions” rests on different ideas of what “decent” conservatives means at all

Quiggins post is thus simply a proposition to convert one’s values that you don’t like to values you do like.

In my own value system I can only say that those who were decent conservatives didn’t vote for Trump. That only means that they would vote for some other conservative republican or libertarian. One can say that any conservative in the white house is better than having Trump there (Cruz? Rubio? who were next in line after Trump)… but for a liberal there’s not a lot of real difference in terms of getting policies and laws passed that liberal want.

Trump isn’t the issue or problem. It’s the conservative value system that appealed to voters.. that it’s far more reactionary that one might have previously thought is only because, imo, most liberals don’t understand conservative’s basic value system. If you spend a moment though you can begin to get a pretty good idea by looking at Alabama’s Republican voters, or Oklahoma’s or Mississippi’s Conservative voters South Carolina’s as well. That’s as close to what the conservative value system is now and has always been (back to the constitutional convention and before).

The other option is to believe that those conservative voters in those states were voting “against” Hillary, as opposed to against Democrats. That’s fantasy.

64

John Quiggin 02.27.17 at 6:11 am

“The other option is to believe that those conservative voters in those states were voting “against” Hillary, as opposed to against Democrats. That’s fantasy.”

To amplify this point, recall that the vast majority of them also voted against Obama.

65

Sebastian H 02.27.17 at 6:29 am

“How is the approach of the present Trump Administration different from ‘putting 20% of the population in the “we can’t deal with them at all” category’? Is that approach preventing them from running the country?”

Yes, it is preventing them from running the country.

On a more important level there is a lot of culture capital to spend in the institutions of the United States. The Trump Administration burning through it makes me appreciate what was there a lot more than before. Trump is in the process of breaking the United States. The fact that he hasn’t yet completely done so shouldn’t be taken as evidence that his practices are “running the country”.

Layman, “Sebastian should stop manufacturing crap analogies”. This would be a lot more convincing if you actually attacked the analogy instead of attacking me. What is it about the analogy that is so bad? It seems to me that if we can look at actual terrorists and say “you know what, the best thing to do would be to try to de-radicalize their support communities” the same is doubly true of anything extremely harmful but less so than actual terrorists.

It is easier to say that to far away countries, because we don’t feel the hate directly. But that doesn’t make it incorrect.

But if you don’t believe that about Republicans, you seriously need to question the advice regarding Islamists. Islamists groups are highly racist, religiously intolerant, misogynistic and promote violence. To the extent that Republicans are those things, they are less so than Islamists. So why such different advice?

I would suggest that it feels different largely because you are personally involved. So either we need to put aside the cloudiness of personal involvement and take our own good advice on the subject, or admit that personal involvement suggests that our advice was terrible. If there is an easy path to avoid one of those choices, I’d love to see it.

66

Raven Onthill 02.27.17 at 6:43 am

I will briefly remind everyone that, in fact, roughly half of Trump voters were as much deplorable as Hillary Clinton said. There also seems to have been a kind of future culture shock; they are unhappy about the changes in the USA and a substantial spite vote as well. Sam Altman went out and interviewed 1,000 Trump supporters and reported Trump voters truly didn’t understand that Trump is a fascist, or what that meant, and therefore did not understand why they were treated with revulsion. The people Altman quoted seem to be more wrong than evil but, wow, are they wrong and determined in their wrongness. Sample quote: “Based on Trump’s history before politics I don’t believe he is racist, sexist, homophobic or bigoted.” Trump’s on-going crusade to execute the Central Park Five (they are innocent, the actual murderer confessed) wasn’t enough for you? The massively documented evidence of his malfeasance in business? His “pussy grabber” remarks?

67

Raven Onthill 02.27.17 at 7:07 am

Sebastian, it wasn’t a small number of Trump supporters who were deplorables; Clinton said it was about half, and the data seems to bear her out.

Chet, in the short term, Clinton lost to sexism, racism, bad press, and bad luck. But in the longer term many of those voters remember being turned out of their homes and being unemployed for years. Just about everyone knows someone who has been there. Too early for statistics, but it’s hard to see how that could not have made a difference. In the even longer term, how could the vast expansion of income inequality and economic uncertainty of the past 30 years not have made difference?

I don’t think sexism, racism, and economic inequity are separable. Marx and Engels didn’t think so, and neither did Martin Luther King. Forgetting this, it seems to me, was a huge mistake on the part of the Democratic centrists like William Clinton.

68

J-D 02.27.17 at 7:42 am

Sebastian H

If in fact it were true that the Trump Administration has adopted a strategy which prevents it from running the country, then there wouldn’t be a need to mobilise opposition; they’d do the job themselves. However, I’m not persuaded that it’s true. It only makes sense do discuss which strategy would work best for their opponents on the assumption that they’re not completely self-sabotaging.

I’m also not persuaded that the strategy you recommend for dealing with terrorists is, as you assert, the only strategy that works. So far you haven’t given any example of its working.

69

Chet Murthy 02.27.17 at 8:08 am

@Sebastian H [65]:

It seems to me that if we can look at actual terrorists and say “you know what, the best thing to do would be to try to de-radicalize their support communities” the same is doubly true of anything extremely harmful but less so than actual terrorists. […]
But if you don’t believe that about Republicans, you seriously need to question the advice regarding Islamists. Islamists groups are highly racist, religiously intolerant, misogynistic and promote violence. To the extent that Republicans are those things, they are less so than Islamists. So why such different advice?

There are two things wrong with this, and I will illustrate with the example of the misogynist beliefs of Trumpists (and their christofascist brethren) (I could do this with racism, or homophobia, but one example suffices):

(1) Nobody is contemplating changing our societies to conform with what takfiris want. Instead, our governments and NGOs are trying to teach them that their beliefs are incorrect, so that they can be reintegrated into Western society. WHEREAS in the case of these Trumpists, what is contemplated is to actually compromise with them? Because for sure, we’ve been trying to teach them that women’s rights are human rights for …. what? 50 years? Longer? When did Betty Friedan write _The Feminine Mystique_? And we know that whenever we compromise with them, bad things happen: whenever it’s been attempted to give ground on abortion, in hopes of preserving contraceptive access, it’s turned out that nooooo, contraceptive access was the next target in their sights. We’d all love to teach them to be better human beings. That seems difficult to achieve.

[In this next point, I want to state up-front, that I DO NOT mean to discuss Muslims, and if anybody mistakes me, I’ll point at the FLDS, and (from my own heritage) some of the more misogynist Hindus. There are nutjobs of all religious faiths.] (2) In the case of takfiris, salafists, etc, their -number- is very small. ISTR the low-end number is around 30k, and the high-end estimate is around 100k. By comparison, there are >1B Muslims. And certainly the number of Muslims with these radical beliefs in Western countries is minuscule. WHEREAS manifestly massive number of misogynists and christofascists who voted for Trump -specifically- because he would gut abortion protections (recall that preachers were -specifically- calling on their flocks to vote for Trump, for this reason). If there were even 10% or 20% of the US population consisting of takfiris/salafists [not Muslims — takfiris], there’d be alarm bells ringing everywhere …. in every town. Nobody would be talking about “reasoning with them”. It’d be out-and-out civil war. And yet, with massive, massive numbers of Americans who are manifestly religious misogynists, we’re supposed to … what? Try to convert them one-by-one?

So no, your analogy is inaccurate and doesn’t apply.

70

John Quiggin 02.27.17 at 8:55 am

Sebastian @^5 “To the extent that Republicans are [highly racist, religiously intolerant, misogynistic and promote violence], they are less so than Islamists.”

Setting the bar a bit low, aren’t you?

Taking this analogy more seriously than it deserves, if a large minority of the population were Islamist (rather then Christianist) theocrats, my response would be the same: to try to outnumber them rather than attempting a compromise with them. I don’t see any inconsistency here.

71

Z 02.27.17 at 9:59 am

Both for US Republicans and for adherents to radical Sunni Islam, I think that Sebastian H’s advice to “help them feel more rooted so that they don’t think tearing everything down is a good gamble” is actually very good. That emphatically doesn’t mean giving either of these groups anything politically or ceding an inch of the ideological ground (I think that part of the resistance to the suggestion stems from a conflation of the two), but that could mean trying to address the structural causes of their sense that the social structures they inhabit is under attack which can be addressed in a positive way.

As Sebastian H said, that isn’t easy, but it does sound like a good idea. Funnily, I personally completely understand how some youths in Tunisia or France can end up listening to a radical Imam on YouTube; I am actually less clear on how American right-wing college students could have lost so much intellectual taste and basic self-respect to listen to Milo (at least until his minimization of pedophilia became widely known).

72

MFB 02.27.17 at 10:53 am

It seems to me that there are several different things being conflated in this
discussion (by which I mean the entire “Crooked Timber” response to the Republican
victory in last year’s election). These are:

* Expressing Democratic Party anger, resentment and anguish over losing the
election;
* Expressing solidarity with the Democratic Party and its rhetoric;
* Expressing solidarity particularly with the Democratic Party’s view of the
Republican Party;

and last and least

* Attempting to understand what has changed about the American political system
which enabled the Republican Party to win last year’s election. (Mr. Holsclaw,
ironically, seems to be the man doing this the most.)

I hear a lot of reiteration of “Republicans are fascists/Republicans are Russian
agents”, which alarms me because the former is based on ignorance of what fascism is
and the latter is based on mendacious propaganda from a thoroughly unreliable media
drawing on the American spy and assassination services. This is solidarity with the
Democratic Party line, but it is singularly dumb solidarity because it expresses support for everything which is unattractive about that party; its intolerance for dissent, its support for armed solutions for anything, and so on.

More to the point, it doesn’t make any difference to anybody. Not a single
Republican will be made to turn away from their party by lying about its politics; on
the contrary, this is much more likely to make those who are not Republican
supporters suspect that Democrats are demented crazies.

It is likely that the easiest way to win back the Senate and House of Representatives
in 2018 would be to appeal to people who are not currently voting for some reason. As
far as I can make out, these people are not being appealed to by frenzied and ill-
advised propaganda against Republicans. Instead, what seems to be happening is that
Democrats are circling their wagons against imaginary enemies. It seems possible that
the end product will be a Republican victory again in 2018. This is surely not
desirable, for loathesome as so many Democrats are, the Republicans appear worse.
Might it, then, not be useful to try to develop a strategy for expanding support,
rather than rhetorical efforts to make existing support terrified and docile?

73

Layman 02.27.17 at 11:30 am

Sebastian H: “This would be a lot more convincing if you actually attacked the analogy instead of attacking me.”

This is quite funny given that I was responding to yours @43 & @44.

In any event, you didn’t respond to this: “…right after he stops making false claims about Republicans…”

That’s funny, too.

74

Lee A. Arnold 02.27.17 at 11:45 am

Longtooth #63: “I note only that nobody can define ‘decent’ in terms that both conservatives and liberals will accept as the correct definition in political terms…”

I think about this a lot! I think the next question is Why? Why can no one do this?

The answer I have found is very interesting (to me), but totally unrelatable to others, at least in words. (Which is why I usually comment about the pure politics of any specific situation, instead of casting off unmoored into opinions and philosophy, the endlessness of which is illustrated once again in some comments above.)

Anyway I will try to outline my own conclusion briefly in words. 1. It is a tussle that is settled at the level of politics; there is no superstructure of philosophy above that level, which would reign over all. (There are attempts to impose such a superstructure, of course.) 2. The difference is largely emotional and trying to use words is like settling a family argument by throwing the dictionary at each other. 3. It has a “pitching and receiving” dynamic, similar to the dialogue in a theatrical narrative, and so the meanings are submerged in offensive and defensive maneuvers, depending upon who is on top. 4. Underneath it, the emotional substructure is the personal narrative of expecting social agreement on preserving the available coping mechanisms to deal with the uncertainty of the future: how and when to preserve individual choice, how and when to preserve private accumulation of property, how and when to preserve social ameliorations & environmental protections, etc. (There is a philosophic tendency to choose between individual and governmental solutions, but it is never absolute except among some juveniles.) 5. There are also fears, real and imagined, which bleed onto the personal calculations of uncertainty: fear of crime, fear of war, fear of gender, etc.

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RichardM 02.27.17 at 11:51 am

Taking this analogy more seriously than it deserves, if a large minority of the population were Islamist (rather then Christianist) theocrats, my response would be the same: to try to outnumber them rather than attempting a compromise with them.

It is presumably uncontroversial that that sounds like a recipe for civil war?

Functioning multi-cultural societies will, on acquiring a new cultural minority, begin a process of negotiation looking for areas where the implicit budget allocated for such things is best spent, and where the universally-applicable rules need interpretation in the context of that particular culture. They may even straight waive the rules in particular cases (classically Sikhs and motorcycles helmets) where none outside the culture gets harmed, and ensuring compliance would be more difficult than it was worth.

And then, in the ideal at least, they will look for issues that the new-t0-them culture has which require new laws against things previously not worth legislating about (e.g. FGM).

Non-functioning ones will take universal principles and turn them into an excuse for oppression, a story about how We are the good guys and the Other is bad.

76

Layman 02.27.17 at 11:56 am

Sebastian H: ‘Yes, it is preventing them from running the country.,

In fact, they are right now running the country. That you’d dispute that is, well, bizarre.

‘Trump is in the process of breaking the United States. The fact that he hasn’t yet completely done so shouldn’t be taken as evidence that his practices are “running the country”.’

The executors of public policy are hand-picked, approved, and in place actually executing policy. Examples: Striking a labor department rule requiring that financial advisors act as fiduciaries with respect to their clients, striking an EPA rule which prohibits mining companies from polluting steams, and so on.

Congress passes bills which the President signs. Example: A law which repeals a Dodd-Frank provision that requires oil companies to report foreign payments to the SEC.

The President is exercising executive authority to advance his objectives. Examples: Changing ICE priorities to target misdemeanor (or less) offenders for deportation, directing CBP officers to harass and detain travellers, ordering military attacks in Yemen and so on.

I get that you think they’re doing the wrong things – I think so too! – but they are actually running the country.

77

James Wimberley 02.27.17 at 12:04 pm

The guru of political organisation Marshall Ganz has pointed out that Republican politics now relies on dense networks of community organisations that do other things than politics and are accordingly more rooted in society, like evangelical churches and gun clubs. The parallel institutions for Democrats – Catholic churches, unions, big – city patronage machines – have faded or become unreliable.

It will be very hard for Democrats to rebuild such institutions. At all events, the insight shows the folly of the centrist strategy of throwing the rainbow coalition under the bus in the hopes of appealing to the WWC. The rainbow coalition do have community roots: feminists, blacks, Latinos, gays, greens. Abandoning these groups does not rebuild unions.

78

Lee A. Arnold 02.27.17 at 12:14 pm

Longtooth #63: “close to what the conservative value system is now and has always been”

Didn’t the conservative value system used to include the value of compromise? It seems to me that your fine comment leaves out the culpability of the Republicans in Congress to simply blockade everything they don’t like for a couple of decades now (starting with the antics of Speaker Gingrich) thus causing increasing frustration in the whole body politic, and increasingly reactionary outrage in their own voting base. There is enough intellectual failure in both parties and in all of their voters to cause dysfunction, but Mann and Ornstein, “It’s Even Worse Than It Looks” (2nd ed. 2016) makes the case that this uncompromising extremism has been caused by the Congressional Republicans.

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JimV 02.27.17 at 12:25 pm

I got a small amount (one specific mention) of pushback on my anecdotal depiction of decent Republicans, so I’ll add a few details.

I used the qualifier “at least in their social circles” because they live in a mostly white-occupied suburb and I don’t have a lot of evidence outside of those confines except this: the doctor has done volunteer work in Africa and Latin America, and the retired music teacher (whose students still ask after him when they see me because I resemble him) volunteers as a teacher of USA citizenship to prepare immigrants for the citizenship exam.

I should also note that I do not know that they voted for Trump. However they have a very low opinion of HRC and one of them told me that he wrote in his son’s name. Abortion is one of their highest-priority issues.

The Earth has a limited carrying-capacity for humans; I personally wouldn’t care if I had been aborted (tongue in cheek but I think there is a serious philosophical point there); only a very, very small percentage of potential humans (egg and sperm combinations) will get born with or without abortion; nature (god?) aborts humans (miscarriages); animals with large litters often can’t feed them all and have to sacrifice some of them (apparently part of the plan, if there is one); and the Bible doesn’t treat loss of a fetus very seriously in Leviticus. It seems to me the religious issue could be debated in a reasonable way – and that if a compromise could be agreed on, we would have better elections.

80

nastywoman 02.27.17 at 12:38 pm

– and it’s like in school –
finding out that you belong to the ‘cool’ – the ‘good guys’ and NOT to the opposite.

And watching so called ‘conservatives’ slowly realizing how much they don’t belong to US -(the Streeps the Kimmels and every open-minded Human) – is such a relief.

81

Faustusnotes 02.27.17 at 1:13 pm

It’s worth noting that the republicans (and many conservatives from other countries) have been campaigning for years for the right to publicly call people niggers and faggots and to say that those people are emotionally, morally or spiritually damaged, with impunity and without consequence – even the consequence of being called racist for saying those things. They were willing to entertain a pro paedophilia guy in the service of that campaign. How can we dredge any decency out of a movement with those stated goals and those proven actions?

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dilbert dogbert 02.27.17 at 2:07 pm

Re: State of the Union
The dims should use the old Russian synchronized clapping, very quiet clapping or none, at every point in the sordid affair.

83

Kalkaino 02.27.17 at 3:06 pm

Ben K says this dubious thing:

“‘Decent’ – consider people who believe they are making the world a better place, striving to meet their own ethical and moral standards. One may not agree with those standards or think that they will make the world a better place, but those people are ‘decent.’”

First, I don’t think that this describes very many people. Most, in my experience, muddle along in a moral sleepwalk hardly ever applying ethical considerations to their own actions — while of course not hesitating to apply them to the actions of others. Second: under this definition of the word, those who sincerely seek to better the world by exterminating the Evil Others (as has definitely happened) are “decent.”

Ben K also says this preposterous thing.

“They are not people to despise. It isn’t about agreeing with the concrete ethical and moral standards, its about accepting that they pursue those standards honestly, without evil intent.”

Ben needs to get out more. In my experience the America right-winger uses “concrete moral and ethical standards” not honestly but precisely as the card-sharp uses the rules — as a weapon against those who take them seriously. (For instance: those Christian Fundamentalist sure do love them some Pussy Grabber — what happened to their vaunted standards?)

Finally, people who think that evil commences with “evil intent” really need to get a grip. By and large evil doesn’t look and sound like Hannibal Lecter; it’s just everyday negligence, both the venial and the vast carelessness. We need always remember, however, there are monsters who will aggregate it. Enter Bannon and Trump….

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Heliopause 02.27.17 at 5:10 pm

@72
“It is likely that the easiest way to win back the Senate and House of Representatives
in 2018 would be to appeal to people who are not currently voting for some reason. As
far as I can make out, these people are not being appealed to…”

Yes, this much is clear, and the next question is why do Dems make so little effort to appeal to these tens of millions of people? Why, as noted at the top, did Hillary Clinton try to peel off those last few “moderate” Republicans instead? The answer, I think, is that Dems don’t want those people to vote. A new constituency brings new votes, but also new demands. There is a widespread feeling amongst non-voters that the system is rigged in favor of monied interests, and of course they’re correct, so courting these tens of millions of potential voters would mean a long-term project of turning off the Wall Street money spigot, and at the moment Dems don’t appear to have any intention of doing that.

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marku52 02.27.17 at 5:51 pm

Maybe we don’t need to convert any republicans? Maybe we already have plenty of Dems and undecideds to attract? Maybe we just need a Dem national party that isn’t deeply in hock to incompetent and highly paid consultants?
https://medium.com/theyoungturks/are-multi-million-dollar-consulting-contracts-worth-the-future-of-the-democratic-party-247f3ecba480#.htyzumva1

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EB 02.27.17 at 5:54 pm

J-D @ 45: Of course, it will be easier to recruit those who stayed home as compared to those who voted for Trump. But if the Democrats do a better job of framing their messages (i.e. why did they fail to describe their efforts around jobs? why did they not say something like “yes, immigrants who come here without documents have broken the law, but there are good reasons why we should not enforce that law in a brutal and xenophobic manner.”), I think a non-trivial number of even Trump voters could be regained.

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Stan 02.27.17 at 6:13 pm

as I understand it, when an iceberg of whatever size melts, sea level is not affected at all. Am I wrong?

Yes. melted fresh water (in the iceberg) takes up more volume than the saltwater that was displaced by a floating berg.

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wj 02.27.17 at 6:24 pm

You might consider that the reason Clinton got no more support among Republicans than Romney did might be that some of us decent, conservative, Republicans preferred Obama to Romney, too. Actually, in any sane taxonomy, Obama is seen as a center-right politician (and Clinton isn’t anywhere near as conservative). Made it easy to support him.

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Stan 02.27.17 at 6:29 pm

It is likely that the easiest way to win back the Senate and House of Representatives
in 2018 would be to appeal to people who are not currently voting for some reason.

That is indeed what common sense suggests, but, it is exceptionally hard to get people who don’t vote to vote. This is why virtually no political candidate uses this strategy. It is smarter to mobilize regular voters who might agree with you than it is to try to turn nonvoters into voters. i wish this were not so but, well, it is.

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Keith 02.27.17 at 7:12 pm

RE:72 and MFB It certainly seems to me that rather than complaining that the GOP are shits, which they are, the key lesson for the Democrats in a two party system where many do not vote is for the Dems to build a mass party and increase their base of support. The democratic leadership have failed to build up their own party at the grass roots. Is that because they fear that they will be pressured by a active party to be more radical? just having more core supporters who vote more often would go a long way to solve the problem of the rights influence in elections. The loss of rust belt states speaks to the decay of a traditional voting base among unionised workers. It is here the problem lies. It is here the answer lies too.

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Doug K 02.27.17 at 7:31 pm

one of the astonishing things about Trump voters is that for most of my acquaintance, it came down to the single issue of abortion, plus some degree of unthinking R loyalty (Daddy was a Republican). Accidents of history made abortion a unique issue in the USA, for which many Trump voters were willing to stomach all the other vileness. A few are radical Christianists, Pence supporters, but the crazy you will always have with you. Between these two I cannot think of any persuasion that could work.

Luckily it’s not necessary to persuade them. They are a small minority of voters. Voter suppression efforts have been very successful, including voter id laws, shutting down polling stations (over 500 in the South), targeted Facebook and other social campaigns, and plain old physical intimidation. Add to that the inability of people working 2 or 3 jobs to get to the polls, or find public transportation to get to the polls, or stay long enough to vote at the single polling station left open; and a lot of the missing voters are explained.

Some percentage of R votes can be attributed to voting machines provided by Republican firms to Republican states, that have no audit trails and allow for undetectable hacking. The large discrepancies between exit polls and election results in the critical counties are suggestive.

REDMAP was also very successful, redrawing the electoral map to ensure R victories. See
http://www.nytimes.com/2013/02/03/opinion/sunday/the-great-gerrymander-of-2012.html
This can be fixed, by creating non-partisan redistricting commissions, and using Professor Duchin’s insights into metric geometry to ensure fairness.

Benjamin Letzler’s letter to the LRB expresses this very well.
“Half of the American voting population doesn’t vote at all – namely, the poorer half. Some countries hold elections on weekends or ad hoc holidays; US elections are on a Tuesday, following a 19th-century farm schedule. Americans with no job security working multiple jobs with no breaks often have no time to vote. If Americans have been convicted of felonies, they are in many states disenfranchised for the rest of their lives.

Most of those who are entitled to vote in the US and who have the leisure to do so will take part in a primitive winner-takes-all system of electoral districts that the Republican Party has systematically manipulated. They will vote on electronic voting machines with minimal electronic security, purchased by Republican state governments from Republican-donor equipment suppliers, machines that routinely return Republican candidates to office even when polls show a wide lead for the other party – this may inform the Democrats’ ‘loss of nine hundred seats in state legislatures’.”
https://www.lrb.co.uk/v39/n05/letters

Fix the elections and the deplorables will have to go back to seething quietly by themselves. As Galbraith wrote, “Better that the fool be aware of his reputation, for this would encourage reticence, which goes well with stupidity.”

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Ben Alpers 02.27.17 at 8:55 pm

MFB@72:

A sizable number of scholars of fascism see strong fascist tendencies in the Trump administration. You can certainly disagree with this conclusion. And you might also argue that much of America doesn’t give a damn if the country is run by fascists as long as they call themselves Republicans (I’d actually agree with you about this one). But you cannot wave your hands and declare that the accusation that Trump is a fascist is simply absurd. It isn’t. And if you want to disagree with it, you actually need to make an argument.

Similarly, the evidence of Russian hacking and Russian connections in the Trump Administration comes from a variety of sources and is, similarly, not simply dismissable by a hand wave and a declaration that its “mendacious propaganda” or fake news.

Does anyone care about these things? That’s an interesting question. Trump is more unpopular at the beginning of his term than any other president since modern polling began. Now possibly this unpopularity has nothing to do with the fact that some people think he is a fascist and/or a Russian agent. Of course, whether or not either of these accusations is true and whether or not they will make any political difference are separate issues. Most of the nonsense about Hillary’s emails was false, but it pretty clearly had an impact on the election last fall.

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CJColucci 02.27.17 at 9:37 pm

Might it, then, not be useful to try to develop a strategy for expanding support,
rather than rhetorical efforts to make existing support terrified and docile?

Any specifics of any such strategy would be heartily welcomed. I would hope for more than not hurting the delicate feelings of unreachable voters, which, from all I can see, is something that people who won’t vote for Democrats anyway say when confronted with the awfulness of the person they did vote for.

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anon/portly 02.27.17 at 10:26 pm

According to recent polling, while Donald Trump is the most unpopular newly-elected president in polling history, he is the most popular among Republicans, easily beating Ronald Reagan.

It’s not “Republicans” it’s “Republican/Lean Republican,” and I wonder whether Trump’s most notable quality as a candidate, the extent to which he is generally disliked, affected the number of people who identified as such. Note that in the total sample of 1503 there are 797 D/Lean D and only 581 R/Lean R.

Also the margin of error in the Trump vote is .047. Also if you control for the state of the economy, it might be that Reagan’s “true” popularity was really greater, but this is obviously speculative. Anyway I don’t think Trump’s 84 to 78 advantage means that he “easily beat” Reagan 84-78 among Republicans, I think it means that he may have beaten Reagan among Republicans.

Not that one poll at the beginning of the respective administrations means much of anything anyway….

During the election campaign, Hillary Clinton relied almost exclusively on the strategy of appealing to decent conservatives.

Can this really be true? I thought modern American campaigns were all about energizing the base, plus (maybe) some efforts to appeal to swing voters or “moderates.” To appeal to conservatives, wouldn’t she have had to reverse a lot of her positions?

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anon/portly 02.27.17 at 11:00 pm

The result of all this was that Trump attracted virtually the same support among Republicans as did Mitt Romney. It was the failure of any significant number decents to switch to Clinton, rather than large-scale desertions from Democrats, that was crucial factor in Trump’s victory.

What this elides is that just as Trump’s most notable quality as a candidate was being heavily disliked, his opponent’s most notable quality as a candidate was being heavily disliked also.

https://fivethirtyeight.com/features/americans-distaste-for-both-trump-and-clinton-is-record-breaking/

So while some of the “decents” may have voted against Trump, or not voted at all, others may voted against Clinton, or not voted at all. It would be interesting to have data.

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Dr. Hilarius 02.27.17 at 11:10 pm

CJColucci@93: I think it will take a major rebuilding of the Democratic Party from the ground up. It will require people, like me, going to district meetings and forcing existing officials to take a more porgressive stance on issues and forcing out those who will not change. The Tea Party managed this, the tactics are not linked to any particular ideology.

Non-voters often say there’s no reason to vote, that it makes no difference to them, it’s all the same no matter who wins. A good deal if this is rooted in ignorance but who’s to blame for that?

This attitude can be attacked by doing something that provides a clear benefit. How about allowing Medicare/Medicaid to negotiate drug prices (or in the alternative, to re-import drugs from Canada as a start)? This is simple and would provide an immediate, visible benefit. A recent bill to do the latter was recently defeated in the Senate with the “nay” votes of both of my allegedly liberal senators, Murray and Cantwell. (Murray is major recipient of donations from pharmaceutical companies.) Therein lies much of the problem.

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J-D 02.27.17 at 11:38 pm

The rainbow coalition do have community roots: feminists, blacks, Latinos, gays, greens. Abandoning these groups does not rebuild unions.
From the perspective of somebody who has tried to get people to join unions, and had a small number of successes, the kind of groups you mention don’t seem like rivals for political attention; unions and your ‘rainbow coalition’ groups are allies, certainly in aspiration and in potential, and I hope also in practice. I don’t want those groups abandoned. I am confident that’s the attitude of the two unions I have been a long-term member of, and of many other unions in my country (I wish I could be equally confident that it’s the attitude of all of them); maybe that’s true in the US as well, and if it’s not it should be.

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PatinIowa 02.27.17 at 11:44 pm

As I understand it, Trump got approximately the same number of votes as Romney did in 2012, and Clinton got in the neighborhood of 2 million votes fewer than Obama did.

Further, the people who didn’t come out for Clinton skewed young, brown and black.

It strikes me that we’ve already seen what a slight move to the right, targeting decent conservatives (is this code for white suburbanites, especially women?) got us.

I suspect there are a lot more people who are willing to hold their noses and vote Democratic to the left of the center, than there are to the right. Someone, I’m sure will give me chapter and verse on why that’s wrong, statistically speaking.

In any case, imagine the following scenario: “Join the Democratic Party and you’re eligible for high quality childcare and group health insurance, funded by party dues collected on a sliding scale.”

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T 02.28.17 at 12:07 am

@94
In fact, at the end, the HRC ads were directed at moderate wealthy repubs — Kasich-type voters. Lots of ads replaying the “grabbed her” audio. And a shift toward supposed swing states like Azizona. She thought she had moderate Repub women wrapped up. Meanwhile Trump was all jobs jobs jobs mixed in with The Wall and Lock Her Up in his final Midwest swing. The election was lost when the Clintons strong-armed Biden and others out of the primary. How frickin’ incompetent were the Dems to lose to Trump? Extraordinarily. They couldn’t generate Black turnout. They lost the working class. They were too stupid to realize that they never could get the Kasich vote. They underestimated the obvious – just how disliked the Clintons (and Bushes) are — and that any dem would have crushed in NY and CA. The Dem establishment is incredibly insular. It’s the same insiders forever. It took real skill to lose to Trump. And now frickin’ Chelsea appears to be joining the family business after Sidwell/Stanford/Hedgefunds. Please, make it stop.

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J-D 02.28.17 at 12:11 am

Stan

That is indeed what common sense suggests, but, it is exceptionally hard to get people who don’t vote to vote.</blockquote.

It should be obvious that this is not true. Turnout at US elections fluctuates a lot from election to election, sometimes moving up and sometimes moving down. Every time it goes up, that means lots of people voting who did not vote at the previous election. There are almost certainly large numbers of eligible voters who never vote, but there are also almost certainly large numbers of eligible voters who vote at some elections but not others.

For anybody who is trying to mobilise opposition to Trump, therefore, it remains the case that the obvious strategy is to give priority to people who did not vote for Trump over people who did; another part of the obvious strategy is to give priority, within that category of people who did not vote for Trump, to those who vote sometimes over those who never vote.

101

J-D 02.28.17 at 12:14 am

Doug K

Accidents of history made abortion a unique issue in the USA

It wasn’t just accidents of history, it was a calculated political strategy.

102

JRLRC 02.28.17 at 1:41 am

On fascism (the nazi kind), see Richard Evans and/or Timothy Snyder…
Oh yes, there are “trumpian coincidences”…

103

mojrim 02.28.17 at 2:17 am

Re: MFB@72. That would appear, to an outside observer, to only be two themes: signalling and post-op analysis. The first is helpful for people trying to cope with this situation emotionally; the second useful in developing strategy going forward. I generally suck at the first in almost all venues and gravitate to the second instantly. As for the, shall we say, Russo-antipathy, it appears largely true but a dangerous distraction in theme two. It may be comforting (theme one) to assert that James Comey/V. Putin/Misogyny was responsible for this defeat, but they are unlikely to have played a significant role. Many of the black (mostly men) and white women that went to the polls for Obama but stayed home or voted for Trump respectively did so because Obama was inspiring and Clinton was not.

The simple reality is that, unless you were already in love with her, Hillary Clinton was a singularly unappetizing candidate, for reasons of both policy and persona. Realpolitik dictates that you take the lesser evil, but that is not how the human mind is wired. D of Y (@16) and OC (@48) mentioned cognition and the operator’s manual for the human psyche; I suggest we all step back and browse some anthropology and social psych texts in preparation for 2018. We are, by thousands of generations, tribal creatures, regardless of our avowed political positions. If you say your tribe is humanity you really saying that it includes people far away at the expense of people near by. To a conservative that is a fundamentally immoral proposition.

For whatever reasons you wish to assign, republican voters will reliably vote republican for the forseable future while democratic voters will do likewise. We all know HRC won the ‘popular vote’ just as we all know it is both irrelevant and not going to change. This election was lost because Trump, not the GOP in general, breached the ‘blue wall’ states of Wisconsin, Michigan, and Pennsylvania. Given the way we elect at the federal level, that point is uniquely important. Voters in the rust belt states, primarily suburban and rural whites, switched sides (as many union people I know), some after supporting Sanders in the primary. It is that segment the democratic party can make headway with for the near-term prospect of regaining the presidency. That will require, for upper/upper-middle class democratic elites, embracing the unfamiliar ideas and uncomfortably combative rhetoric of industrial labor progressivism. In the long term it brings displaced industrial labor back into the democratic fold.

The point made by James Wimberly (@43) and J-D (@97) does not stand up to scrutiny.
Being latino or gay does not a community group make. The essential thing is that the groups which hold republican voters together do something else between elections. Churches (for example) have power because they keep their members engaged and provide something tangible every single day. PatinIowa (@98) alluded to this and it seems a good place to start rebuilding the democratic party bench. Go down to the DNC office for help with job discrimination, landlord problems, etc… The social justice wing of the catholic church can play souls to the polls well if it abandons shame as an operating principle. I’m sure all of you can add to the list. Bobby Kennedy had it right: the black-blue coalition should be the cornerstone of the democratic party; rainbows are ephremal by nature.

104

Barry 02.28.17 at 2:29 am

Octavian: “As a libertarianism person I’d say the Dems have been less appealing than they are now in the manner of their ‘resistance.’”

November taught us just how many real libertarians there are – not many. They all went back to the GOP.

105

J-D 02.28.17 at 3:32 am

mojrim
How do you get from ‘primarily suburban and rural whites’ to ‘industrial labor progressivism’?

106

Ithaqua 02.28.17 at 3:50 am

Mojrim @103 – Actually, I believe various analyses have showed that Comey was worth two or more percentage points to Trump, and was decisive. Even before the election: https://fivethirtyeight.com/features/how-much-did-comey-hurt-clintons-chances/ … and after: http://www.dailykos.com/story/2016/12/20/1613204/-Nate-Silver-Says-Data-Confirms-That-Comey-Letter-Swung-Election-to-Trump, http://election.princeton.edu/2016/12/10/the-comey-effect/.

107

John Quiggin 02.28.17 at 4:01 am

Richard @75 “It is presumably uncontroversial that that sounds like a recipe for civil war?”

That cake is already baked when you have a large enough group of theocrats, willing to back an authoritarian demagogue who will pander to them. There are no good options here.

On the positive side, there’s a lot of ruin in a nation. The Repubs have been pushing for this ever since Nixon and Buchanan decided to “tear the country in half and take the bigger half”. They are now the smaller half, and are likely soon to become too small to win, even with all the advantages of a gerrymander and voter suppression. If democracy can survive past that point, they will have to change or become a permanent minority, in representation as well as numbers.

108

Joshua Holmes 02.28.17 at 4:04 am

November taught us just how many real libertarians there are – not many. They all went back to the GOP.

Recent Libertarian presidential candidate vote totals:

2000 – 384k
2004 – 397k
2008 – 524k
2012 – 1.28m
2016 – 4.49m

109

NickT 02.28.17 at 4:26 am

For what it’s worth, I really do think the problem with the Clinton campaign was primarily the candidate, with her characteristically poor choice of advisers and strategies as a secondary factor. My friends/acquaintances are mostly on the liberal side of the scale and even now, after the Trump “victory”, there’s a substantial percentage of them who felt and feel no enthusiasm for or trust in HRC, even though they overwhelmingly voted for her. This isn’t something driven primarily by Trump propaganda – it goes back decades for some of them – and it comes out of a strong sense that HRC was not especially competent, that she was prepared to play footsie with some very questionable groups and individuals, and that she had been willing to say some extremely ill-advised things in the course of the 2008 primary that put her commitment to liberal ideas in serious question. I think people studying the Clinton debacle should look at the end of the 2008 primary to get a sense of why a substantial number of Obama voters simply didn’t think HRC was worth showing up for. To me, the memory of that parade of follies, lies and injudicious utterances mattered rather more than the mythical Evil Bernie Sanders.
I suspect that a competent Democratic candidate in 2022 without Clinton’s baggage will beat Trump handily. I just hope the Democratic party has managed to get its act together by them and gives that candidate a Democratic House and Senate to work with. The wreckage of post-Trump America is going to take a lot of fixing.

110

mclaren 02.28.17 at 5:11 am

In America, a “decent” Republican is someone who believes that the poor should be euthanized painlessly rather than be allowed to starve to death.

A “decent” Republican foreign policy involves advocating the use of nuclear weapons rather than the white phosphorus munitions used in the siege of Falluja, so as to avoid prolonged suffering. Vaporizing brown babies is far more humane than letting their skin burn off slowly.

“Decent” Republican crime policy boils down to generously allowing incarcerated minorities/poor people to work for 20 cents per day for for-profit corporations while in prison, so as to learn useful skills while doing 20 years for marijuana possession.

111

Alan White 02.28.17 at 5:22 am

John @107–I would gladly surrender your points but for the money–the multi millions that have infused the politics of my once-beloved progressive state of Wisconsin to make it an abjectly northern Wississippi in less than 10 years. How can we underestimate the power of 2500 billionaires–0nly the top 8 of whom possess half of the world’s wealth–to truly dictate the near-term direction of not just US but global politics? What space for egalitarian optimism remains given this world-wide plutocracy allied with its power to tap fear of terrorism?

112

Sebastian H 02.28.17 at 6:31 am

Again, this bears directly on the popular advice given to Arab nations re Islamist terrorists. You seem to be acting as if most such countries are a tiny percent Islamist terrorist leaning, with the rest of the people fitting comfortably in a local Democratic Party. In fact they are a tiny percent Islamist terrorist leaning with a huge number of people who would fit comfortably in an Islamic version of the Republican Party

As matter of electoral logic the “screw them” approach is just foolish. The electoral college isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. So Democrats need to pick up a few votes in a few of the more rural states. That probably isn’t impossible if you aren’t absolutely determined to ram unnecessary things directly down their throat. But no, saying “any concerns you have are probably racist” isn’t likely to work (even if you believe it to be true).

113

David Lloyd-Jones 02.28.17 at 6:31 am

Stephen,

When a floating ice mass cuts loose and floats out to sea there is no effect on worldwide sea levels.

When amounts of Antarctic ice melt, the near shore surface water becomes less saline, and hence freezes more easily than the more saline it has floated over. Hence in the short run satellites sometimes show a seasonal surface ice of greater area than before.

Inland ice and calving icebergs add to the volume of the seas at a rate of one cubic metre per previously above-sea-level ton, identically before and after they melt. This raises sea levels around the world.

-dlj.

114

Sebastian H 02.28.17 at 6:38 am

One way of thinking about it is that there has never been a large country where the wasn’t a huge percentage of racists often with huge amounts of religion mixed in. Yet there have been lots of recent examples of those very same countries having pretty decent governments.

So the question isn’t “can racists be worked with” The question is “why have we forgotten how to work with them?”

115

Hidari 02.28.17 at 6:58 am

‘ They are now the smaller half, and are likely soon to become too small to win, even with all the advantages of a gerrymander and voter suppression.’

This point might not be quite as strong as you think it is. After all voters have more than just two choices: they can vote Democrat, or Republican, or they can vote for a third party or independent or they can choose not to vote . It is noticeable that the American electorate overwhelmingly chooses this last option.

Also don’t discount the sheer scale of Republican gerrymandering/voter suppression.

116

John Quiggin 02.28.17 at 11:27 am

“The question is “why have we forgotten how to work with them?””

Since 1945, the usual, and generally successful approach , has been to treat racists as beyond the pale, refuse any coalition deals with them and so on. See, for example, the huge vote against Le Pen in 2002, the exclusion of racist parties from coalition governments and so on. The problem in the US, Australia and other places is that “decent conservatives” have now decided to work with racists rather than support liberals or social democrats. It’s easy to recall past examples of this strategy, and their results.

117

casmilus 02.28.17 at 11:47 am

Meanwhile, in the Dreherverse:

http://www.theamericanconservative.com/dreher/imaginative-david-gelernter/

“The Left hears nothing we say” – all those lefties need to shut up and listen to the conservatives.

Interesting to learn that Roger Scruton is “exiled from the academy” rather than merely retired from it; he did actually have academic posts and deliver lectures during the strife-torn Thatcher years, when he was a hate figure. I saw him speaking in Cambridge in the mid 90s, sneering at Derrida and Foucault and all that, and the audience (mostly staff of the Philosophy department) lapped it all up, even though most of them were politically against him (but in agreement about postmodernism). But that doesn’t fit the victimology narrative so well.

118

Barry 02.28.17 at 12:23 pm

Joshua Holmes 02.28.17 at 4:04 am
Me: “November taught us just how many real libertarians there are – not many. They all went back to the GOP.”

Joshua Holmes: “Recent Libertarian presidential candidate vote totals:

2000 – 384k
2004 – 397k
2008 – 524k
2012 – 1.28m
2016 – 4.49m”

Thanks! In my defense, I was referring to the massive polling before the election, which indicated much higher numbers, and to the fact that in the end, Trump pulled standard GOP numbers. The latter ties into the theme of this post, which is that in the end there were no ‘decent conservatives’ (actually, ‘conservative’ is what right-wingers call themselves whenever the GOP becomes too toxic).

It is encouraging to see, but I won’t hold my breath waiting for the LP to make a difference.

119

Layman 02.28.17 at 1:08 pm

Sebastian H: “So Democrats need to pick up a few votes in a few of the more rural states.”

No, not really. Fewer than 100,000 votes in Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania would do it. None of those are rural states. Your way, I’m guessing they need millions of votes.

120

vasilis 02.28.17 at 1:11 pm

“They are now the smaller half, and are likely soon to become too small to win, even with all the advantages of a gerrymander and voter suppression. If democracy can survive past that point, they will have to change or become a permanent minority, in representation as well as numbers.”

This is engaging in a bit of wishful thinking. It’s not too farfetched that GOP might add Latino votes in a few years, even with the immigration crackdown. Already it’s getting an ungodly percentage, something like 20% I think. Also, voter suppression can get quite a bit worse than it is today — reaction to current practices has been extraordinarily muted, which is cause for concern for the future.

121

vasilis 02.28.17 at 1:20 pm

“there has never been a large country where the wasn’t a huge percentage of racists often with huge amounts of religion mixed in”

Actually, this is not true. In most large countries there wasn’t a “huge percentage of [overt] racists” after WWII.

122

Consumatopia 02.28.17 at 3:51 pm

“Or do you say “some Islamic adherents get super-radicalized, and you need to work to keep them to a minimum, probably through a combination of co-opting a bunch of them, making lives better for a bunch of them, and helping them feel more rooted so that they don’t think tearing everything down is a good gamble”?”

Republicans:Trump::Islam:terrorists is a bad comparison, to say the least. Better would be to look at the relationship between radical jihadists and, say, Saudi-funded Wahhabi sects. There are well funded institutions pushing an ideological/sectarian viewpoint in which taking the next step into Trumpism or ISIS is the next logical step. Furthermore those institutions sometimes directly align themselves with the radicals for strategic reasons (as Saudi money did in Syria at times and the GOP establishment is doing right now) And even ignoring Trump/ISIS, life is or would be near intolerable if those institutions could fully implement their agenda, as in present Saudi Arabia or under Jim Crow.

Whatever the solution is to either problem, it can’t be in terms of radicalized individuals. It’s the radicalizing institutions that are the problem. Not should we expect a common response to both problems given the absolute power of the House of Saud in that country.

123

nastywoman 02.28.17 at 3:59 pm

– and everybody:

‘Don’t you just see he is an asshole’?
-(courtesy Jon Stewart)

124

MPAVictoria 02.28.17 at 4:06 pm

“In the end, doubling down on identity politics (‘reverse’ racism and sexism) and anti-capitalism are a losing strategy for the left, imo. As a libertarianism person I’d say the Dems have been less appealing than they are now in the manner of their ‘resistance.’”

Yeah lets all take advice on politics from a follower of the least popular strain of political thought in the Western World.

125

chris s 02.28.17 at 4:40 pm

“This is engaging in a bit of wishful thinking. It’s not too farfetched that GOP might add Latino votes in a few years, even with the immigration crackdown.”

Just picking up on this one point – I agree that it’s a little short-sighted to necessarily see the whole of the Latino vote as naturally favouring Democrats, a lot of them come from fairly racially stratified societies and have a certain definition of themselves as ‘white’ as opposed to others in their society who are not. Plus there is the natural conservative tendency also.

126

Sebastian H 02.28.17 at 4:48 pm

John your explanation is incomplete (and I think wrong more generally, but certainly incomplete). I’d add to it “and generally made sure that a vast majority of them were doing economically well in ways that aren’t the case now”.

It feels like there is a bit of a two step on racism here, though it may just be because lots of people are transmitting incompatible theories. But what it feels like is

1. Racists, we can’t work with them because they just stay racist (used to write off enormous swaths of Trump voters).
2. We didn’t work with them in the past.

But 2 isn’t true if they stay racist per 1.

Either we worked with huge swaths of the population that was racist just a year or two before the 50s, or you can keep people happy enough to make racism not one of the big expressions of their political will.

I want to push back on the “we didn’t let racists in the coalition” argument anyway though. Robert Byrd was the Democratic Senate leader 1981-1987 which definitely counts as post-1945. This suggests that racists were ok so long as they toned it down (i.e. you CAN work with them), or that racism can be eliminated (contradicting the “there is just no appealing to them” strain which is VERY strong here at crookedtimber.).

127

Mario 02.28.17 at 4:59 pm

@vasilis (120)

Your point on the Latino votes is an important one. Part of the issue is that many Latinos consider themselves (and basically are) white.

128

Guy Harris 02.28.17 at 6:30 pm

Sebastian H, Layman:

Sebastian H: “So Democrats need to pick up a few votes in a few of the more rural states.”

Layman: “No, not really. Fewer than 100,000 votes in Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania would do it. None of those are rural states. Your way, I’m guessing they need millions of votes.”

OK, so what does “rural” mean?

It doesn’t necessarily mean “place that mostly does farming”, as there’s a lot of manufacturing done in areas that have been designated “rural”

A search for “rural Indiana” found a paper proposing not treating “rural” as a Boolean property, but as an index going from 0 to 1 and a note from Purdue University entitled “Defining Rural Indiana”. (It also found an unincorporated community named “Rural” in Indiana.)

And apparently shifting of manufacturing from urban to rural areas isn’t unique to the U.S.A. or even to North America.

So what is meant by “rural states” here?

129

Guy Harris 02.28.17 at 6:39 pm

RichardM, NickT:

(Presumably you meant “in 2020” rather than “in 2022”, as the next US Presidential election would occur in 2020, not 2022.)

130

mojrim 02.28.17 at 9:04 pm

J-D@105: Seems pretty straightforward to me. These are people who either lost their ‘good’ jobs, never had them as their fathers did, or are insecure in the one they have. In this case it’s not about union organizing per se but unvarnished protectionism. Stimulus spending will get you the building trades but progress(ivism) depends on industrial labor and rebuilding that in the US is going to be a heavy lift.

Ithaqua@106: Given how wrong the polling was in this election it’s fair to look askance at any analysis which depends on them. I’ve read much of it and am rather distrustful of the lot. It became clear in the aftermath that there were a significant number of people that lied to pollsters, their spouses, and possibly themselves before the election. The Comey kerfluffle merely legitimized their preference enough that they could say it out loud. I have only anecdotal support for this, but pattern recognition has always worked for me and I stand by it in this case.

Quiggen@107: Given that (a) we don’t have real national elections, (b) liberals tend to concentrate themselves in coastal cities, and (c) immigrant descended populations ‘become’ white, waiting for the demographics fairy to grant us a majority is a shaky strategy.

131

Mike Furlan 02.28.17 at 9:59 pm

“Since 1945, the usual, and generally successful approach , has been to treat racists as beyond the pale, refuse any coalition deals with them and so on.”

In this post fact, “what the President believes world” we need the blunt force tool of more and more massive demonstrations. We will not be able to persuade ourselves out of this mess.

Pester a congressman, join a march, protest.

Here is one I’m planning on, Protest Paul Ryan, Chicago at the Chicago Club in the South Loop on March 23.

132

John Quiggin 03.01.17 at 12:02 am

“Robert Byrd was the Democratic Senate leader 1981-1987 … which definitely counts as post-1945. This suggests that racists were ok, as long as they toned it down”

Perhaps I’m misremembering, but I don’t recall the Senate Democrats pushing any racist policies in the 1980s, toned down or otherwise. Yet you say they elected a racist leader. As our favorite Oz racist would say, please explain?

133

Consumatopia 03.01.17 at 12:25 am

Compromising on economic equality, social justice or environment is likely to cost as many votes to apathy and divisive intraparty fights as it wins by appealing to GOP moderates. And note that different moderates can defect from GOP for completely opposite reasons. Former coal miners or factory workers rejecting Trump because he fails to bring back their job are very different from wealthy but educated suburbanites who find his rhetoric offensive–Democratic moves designed to appeal to one group would likely repel the other.

Even just trying to hold back on the “mean” rhetoric concern trolls are complaining about could easily backfire–a lot of the appeal of Trump (and Sanders) was their media image as straight talkers, their willingness to criticize the political establishment in harsh terms.

The only issue I’d compromise on if not toss out altogether is gun control, because it’s a political loser for the Dems, has no chance of happening, and some parts of Democratic coalition may be changing their minds on it post-Trump (look who’s buying guns).

Other then that, the issue isn’t who voted for Trump it’s who didn’t vote.

134

Sebastian H 03.01.17 at 12:38 am

Robert Byrd was Ku Klux Klan member who filibustered against the Civil Rights Act of 1964. He was the only Senator to vote against both African American nominees to the Supreme Court (Marshall very left, and Thomas very right).

So he is either evidence that reaching out to racists (even high profile racists) can change their minds enough to matter in the political sphere, or he is evidence that we did in fact know how to work with racists at high levels of government in the past and still get progressive things done.

Neither of those fit well into the “we can’t (and never did) work with them”/”they don’t change (and never have)” mindset that is prevalent here.

135

harry b 03.01.17 at 1:15 am

He was leader of the Senate Democrats for 12 years. He was a founder of the Sophia, West Virginia, chapter of the KKK in the early 1940s.

He was abject in his public apologies for having been a member of the KKK, long after his career was over. Whether he was in any (interesting) sense racist when he led the Senate Democrats is not clear to me (it might be to others). Denis Healey wasn’t a Communist, in any (interesting) sense, when he was UK Chancellor of the Exchequer.

136

John Quiggin 03.01.17 at 1:24 am

OK, so Byrd was a racist in 1964, and was at some point a KKK member. But a quick search suggests he renounced these positions and voted for the Civil Rights Act of 1968.

So, we appear to be in furious agreement. It’s fine to work with repentant racists who renounce their assocation with racist groups, such as the Republican Party. And in this context, I’m not really fussed if this repentance is politically calculated, rather than sincere, as long as it is reflected in political choices. The problem is how to deal with unreprentant racists, such as those who support Trump.

Coming back to the original point, the crucial choices by the Dems to push racists out, and by Republicans and libertarians to embrace them, began soon after 1945, and wree pretty much complete by 1968.

137

NickT 03.01.17 at 1:28 am

@129

Indeed. I hate my sinuses. I shall hang my head in shame, flog myself lightly and then have a damn fine cup of coffee and go again.

On the subject of what the Dems do next:
1)Don’t waste time pandering to racists.
2) Don’t waste time analyzing the thought processes of people who claim that they were “forced” to take sides. They had and have as much free will as anyone else. They chose .. poorly. End of.
3) Remember that several million Obama voters weren’t convinced by what the party was offering. Think about winning them back and turning out the people who don’t usually bother to get off the couch. Do that and you can make your majority a winning majority.
4) Offer a genuine Democratic program and spell out what that means for the future. Don’t mumble. Say it like you mean it. Make it clear that you are offering a healthier, cleaner, better future. The GOP are offering something nasty, brutish and short on facts – as is the conservative norm these days.
5) Remember, 10.5 million “minority” voters will come onto the rolls by 2020. 1.5 million pale pink “majority” voters. Which of them offers you better prospects for increasing vote share, hmmm? A head-scratcher this is not.
6) Don’t insult your voters by playing the bi-partisan game again. You end up losing credibility and enabling the racists, obstructionists and racist obstructionists who make up the GOP contingent in the House, the Senate and now, the Orange Creamsicle House.
7) Don’t pretend that all was well under Obama. Democrats made plenty of mistakes – and that’s part of the story of how they got slaughtered at the local level. Throw in a failure to organize and an over-reliance on people just seeing sense and you’ve got the disaster that we now face.

138

Sebastian H 03.01.17 at 1:51 am

“It’s fine to work with repentant racists who renounce their assocation with racist groups, such as the Republican Party.”

But is it politically wise to work to find common ground with [some] of the people who voted for Trump [probably by focusing on serious mitigation of globalism problems but your mileage may vary] so that they become ‘repentant racists’?

The general tenor of the threads around here since Brexit (especially the comments) would appear to me to be ‘no’. We would be in furious agreement if your answer is ‘yes’. What do you think?

139

Anon 03.01.17 at 2:05 am

Do any of you bother to check out the conservative end of the blogosphere?

The policies advocated here the help elect Democrats are to advocate identity politics and push the progressive platform.

Interestingly enough those are the exact policies Republicans are hoping that Democrats advocate as they are sure it cause even more Republicans to be elected in 2018.

One group or the other has to be wrong.

140

John Quiggin 03.01.17 at 2:09 am

@128 Sure, it’s worth working to win back people (previously Democrats, swinging voters or abstainers) who were attracted to Trump because of his promises to do something about globalisation. And, I’d say the same about Brexit supporters with similar motivations.

But the point of the OP is that the vast majority of Trump voters aren’t like this. They are longstanding Republicans who mostly voted for Romney in 2012, which suggests they aren’t particularly hostile to globalisation. The assumption of the Clinton campaign was that lots of Romney voters (the “decent conservatives” of the OP) would be repelled by Trump’s racism and misogyny, enough to vote against him.

Those advocating persistence with this approach, like Haidt, want to claim that, even though Repubs reluctantly voted for Trump, they really don’t like him. Again, the evidence in the OP refutes this. The only way to persuade Republicans to oppose Trump, at least until he absolutely crashes and burns, is to persuade them to stop being Republicans. In this context, pointing out what a shameful thing it is to be a Republican looks like the best strategy to peel off the small number who are open to shame, at the price of annoying the rest even more.

141

Moz of Yarramulla 03.01.17 at 2:20 am

pointing out what a shameful thing it is to be a Republican looks like the best strategy to peel off the small number who are open to shame, at the price of annoying the rest even more.

That also has the upside of appealing to the non-voters who are outraged at what’s happening, as well as the “they’re both bad” voters should any of them be amenable to persuasion. I’m hoping there are a chunk of Bernie-supporting types who’d vote Democrat if only it wasn’t a hold your nose exercise. The question is where *exactly* those voters are.

Another way to look at it is that the Dems can also win by wholesale recapture of the house and senate, even if that means a Republican president. The US is used to that sort of deadlock and it’s less damaging the the current three tier capture.

142

JRLRC 03.01.17 at 2:32 am

What the critics of the Trump critics are saying here is no more than this: a) whites can´t be indecent, if they see themselves as decent (no matter if they are racist, etc.); b) decency is overrated, it´s just Philosophy (as in: climate change would be “really real” until a definition and its implications are shared by everybody! Or, alternatively, everything is real and true…, so nothing is really real and true, so there is nothing wrong with racism, because there is no such thing as a racist act); c) the left/liberalism must excuse the racists in order to attract the racists: leftists/liberals need to stop being leftist/liberals (no matter if racism is wrong, and antiliberal, and the racists that want to continue as racists are unreachable); d) progressives have worked with racists that ceased to be racists… Which makes contemporary liberals fanatics and strategic idiots by insisting on liberalism. OK.

143

NickT 03.01.17 at 5:44 am

@139

“those are the exact policies Republicans are hoping that Democrats advocate as they are sure it cause even more Republicans to be elected in 2018”

And they are so convinced that those policies are a losing proposition that their response is to double/triple/quadruple down on vote suppression as a response. The GOP are running on rancid fumes at this point – and are about to produce even more backlash when Trump and his still not fully stocked cabinet of horrors finally manage to get their saggy old Russian-owned asses together and actually do some of that there bigly legislatifying. Some apathetic non-voters are going to get the mother, father and kin group of all wake up calls. Throw in the non-trivial percentage of Trump voters who thought that Donnie Putinobitch wasn’t really going to do any of the crazy stuff and the GOP have nothing to sell and the nation is going to discover that there’s nothing but fool’s gold in them there TRUMP-brand hills.
But sure, tell us more about your burning conviction that now is the time for the Democrats to leap aboard the conservative ship of fools.

144

John Quiggin 03.01.17 at 6:09 am

“One group or the other has to be wrong.” Well, yes, that’s typically true of political disagreements, except in cases where both can be wrong.

“Identity politics and the progressive agenda” I find it bizarre that a party depending almost entirely on appeals to white Christians to vote for (overwhelmingly male) white Christians, regards its opponents as practicing identity politics. And of course, once you combine the two, you’ve covered all the options for the left except the implied alternative of capitulation.

145

Heim 03.01.17 at 8:41 am

I believe that “Facts don’t matter” in these discussions. In my travels in being stuck for 10 hours at a time in truck stops and in communities all over America actual facts did not matter. Self-interest mostly did not matter. Charisma did. For me Trump had no charisma. BUT for many Trump had that magic and Clinton did not. As a practical person I supported the Democratic candidate. Obama had charisma. Clinton did not have charisma. Sanders did not,for me, have charisma. All people are a mix of somewhat good and somewhat evil. You need that person who captivates and appeals to their better natures. Facts will not get you over that line to victory. Policies need to be there. However the extra margin of 2-4% of the electorate will only be reached by emotional appeal. Bill Clinton had charisma like his policies or not. With over 300 million people in the US there has to be someone emotionally appealing with liberal policies. During a stop in Arkansas one time after doing that dance whether you can speak to the other person about politics a woman behind the bar told me a story that no one she had ever spoken to had voted for Bill Clinton. “And you know” she said “he won the governorship twice”?

146

Collin Street 03.01.17 at 9:31 am

And they are so convinced that those policies are a losing proposition that their response is to double/triple/quadruple down on vote suppression as a response.

Well, the enemy is both weak and overwhelming.

147

novakant 03.01.17 at 11:18 am

But is it politically wise to work to find common ground with [some] of the people who voted for Trump [probably by focusing on serious mitigation of globalism problems but your mileage may vary] so that they become ‘repentant racists’?

The general tenor of the threads around here since Brexit (especially the comments) would appear to me to be ‘no’.

So how is this supposed to work? They can hate me and my family until their personal economic problems and those created by globalization in general are solved? I will turn a blind eye to this hatred that is targeted very directly at me, my family and social circle on so many levels in the vague hope that a more just society will change people’s minds eventually? And I will ignore the fact that it is completely irrational and not goal oriented to blame me, my family and social circle for their misfortune, but that they don’t seem to have the guts and/or brains to identify the people who are responsible for their situation and instead elect them to the highest offices?

148

Pavel 03.01.17 at 4:42 pm

@Heim

I’ve made a similar argument in the past. The Democrats have forgotten the art and science of rhetoric. Rhetoric is more than just facts, it’s establishing the character of the speaker (which Clinton failed to do) and an emotional connection to the audience (which Clinton also failed, given that she wanted some of the “deplorables” to actually vote for her, and slamming Trump didn’t inspire anyone in the same way that “Yes, we can” did). Facts certainly have a role to play in establishing the baseline of your argument, but selling that argument cannot and usually does not rely on the facts themselves. Otherwise marketing wouldn’t be the multi-billion dollar industry that it is.

149

anymouse 03.01.17 at 4:44 pm

‘So, we appear to be in furious agreement. It’s fine to work with repentant racists who renounce their assocation with racist groups, such as the Republican Party. And in this context, I’m not really fussed if this repentance is politically calculated, rather than sincere, as long as it is reflected in political choices. The problem is how to deal with unreprentant racists, such as those who support Trump.’

Oh. So the real issue is that they oppose your favored set of public policies. You would be ok with them, if they made the right political choices, but if they make they make the wrong political choices they need to be called unrepentant racists.

You do not want to gut the EPA because you are a racist. If the country were entirely white, Republicans would still favor massive deficit financed tax cuts for the rich, and still favor almost all the same policies from guns to economics, that they favor today. Pretending that the Republican party is a racist institution like the KKK is wrong and silly.

You might be right that a blanket accusation of racism is the best approach. That ->

‘In this context, pointing out what a shameful thing it is to be a Republican looks like the best strategy to peel off the small number who are open to shame, at the price of annoying the rest even more.’

but I think it is more likely to drive people away, and to make them double down, and at the same time to render accusations of racism completely meaningless. The term racist will lose all of it’s power. If everyone you disagree with is a racist, everyone is a racist, and then no one is a racist.

150

anon/portly 03.01.17 at 5:31 pm

Coming back to the original point, the crucial choices by the Dems to push racists out, and by Republicans and libertarians to embrace them, began soon after 1945, and were pretty much complete by 1968.

This is just a jaw-dropper. I suggest that JQ read the Wikipedia entry on George Wallace.

151

Layman 03.01.17 at 7:04 pm

anymouse: “So the real issue is that they oppose your favored set of public policies.”

Since we cannot read minds, and because people are not reliably truthful about the contents of their heads, we’re left with determining what motivates people by looking at what they actually do. Republicans by and large consistently promote racist policies, often using racist messages(*), so whether they’re secretly not racist doesnt really matter. On the other hand, if inner racists consistently promote non-racist public policies, well, we’ll be fooled by their actions, and it won’t matter what they really think.

(*) Spending cuts that consistently cause greater harm to minorities sold by claims of ‘welfare queens’ and ‘young bucks buying T-bones with food stamps’; law and order regimes that feature racially motivated sentencing schemes that incarcerate disproportionate numbers of minorities sold by Willie Horton ads and worse; legislative districts engineered to minimize the impact of minority voters, and voting rules and procedures designed to suppress minority votes sold by specious claims of voter fraud by unAmericans for which no evidence ever materializes; laws and institutions which permit cops and white private citizens to shoot black men under almost any circumstances without any substantial legal penalty, and which at the same time identify any black man presumed to have a gun as a danger to society and fair game for shooting by anyone, anywhere, sold by inciting white fire of crime by minorities; legal and institutional antipathy for minority immigrants sold by the claim that they are all rapist or murderers, sold by lies about the rate of violent crime by immigrants. Shall I go on?

152

Mario 03.01.17 at 7:59 pm

One could also, perhaps, turn the curse into a blessing (on some issues at least) by making conservatives understand that migration of the kind they fear so much can be stopped if, and only if, the current countries of origin of refugees flourish. Which could be done if those conservatives support reversing the horrible trade deals and foreign policy that is bringing destitution and chaos to large parts of the world.

(I guess that outs me as a naive and childish optimist – oops)

153

anon/portly 03.01.17 at 9:28 pm

But the point of the OP is that the vast majority of Trump voters …. are longstanding Republicans who mostly voted for Romney in 2012, which suggests they aren’t particularly hostile to globalisation. The assumption of the Clinton campaign was that lots of Romney voters (the “decent conservatives” of the OP) would be repelled by Trump’s racism and misogyny, enough to vote against him.

Those advocating persistence with this approach, like Haidt, want to claim that, even though Repubs reluctantly voted for Trump, they really don’t like him. Again, the evidence in the OP refutes this.

The evidence in the OP is that voters currently willing to identify as “R/Lean R” are happy with the job Trump has done so far. Well sure, but it doesn’t tell us if the composition of “R/Lean R” changed from Romney to Trump. And there is still all the evidence that Trump was a very weak candidate. The increase in the Libertarian Party vote totals from comment 108 is one such piece of evidence. Another is that in Utah, having a local non-Trump conservative on the ballot drove the R vote from 73% (Romney) to 46% (Trump). Overall, Hillary won 6 states – Colorado, Maine, Minnesota, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico – with less than 50% of the vote. Overall the non-major party vote went from 2.74% to 6.03%. That may not seem like much, but against the backdrop of a series of close elections?

I will link again to this 538 article:

https://fivethirtyeight.com/features/americans-distaste-for-both-trump-and-clinton-is-record-breaking/

Okay, you say, but maybe it’s just Democrats who hate him. Well, that article links to this:

http://www.gallup.com/opinion/polling-matters/188177/trump-image-among-democrats-independents-negative-gop-candidate.aspx

Surely, when your opponent has such high unfavorables among people who identify as independents, and is not even particularly well-liked even among people who identify as Republicans, it makes some sense to appeal to those voters on that ground.

JQ’s thesis seems to be “that appeal didn’t work.” I don’t think this has been proved, in fact I think it’s untrue. The problem is that in a two-party system there are two candidates, not one, we are in a Trump-style zero-sum game. The problem the Democrats had, as I see it, was trying to tell people they didn’t want to vote for Trump, when they also didn’t want to vote for Clinton. It’s easy to look at the final results, 66-61 (m) Obama over Romney and 66-63 Clinton over Trump, and say Trump did better or about as well as Romney, or a typical Republican, but if Clinton was a significantly weaker and less appealing candidate than Obama, or a typical Democrat,that simply isn’t necessarily true.

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anymouse 03.01.17 at 11:20 pm

Layman,

‘Shall I go on?’

I disagree with much of the Republican Platform and think Trump’s personality defects should have disqualified him from becoming president.

But ……..

I really like his Supreme Court nominee.

So, yes, please continue.

155

JimV 03.01.17 at 11:23 pm

“So the real issue is that they oppose your favored set of public policies.”

Especially the ones intended to combat racism and decrease inequality, yes. That is the issue.

156

J-D 03.02.17 at 12:23 am

mojrim

Seems pretty straightforward to me.

No doubt; but your meaning is opaque to me. I’m groping in the dark to figure out what you’re getting at.

So I’ll take a couple of guesses and find out where that gets us.

One thing it seems you could possibly be arguing is that the Democratic Party should be aiming at expanding manufacturing industry — and therefore manufacturing industry employment — in the US, because if they do then the people who get those jobs will be more likely to vote Democratic.

Is that anything like what you mean? if not, how is what you mean different from that?

It also seems possible that you’re suggesting that the people most likely to be attracted to vote Democratic if it adopted this strategy of expanding manufacturing industry are suburban and rural whites. I can’t find any reason to think that’s plausible.

157

Heliopause 03.02.17 at 2:54 am

@150
A fun exercise is looking at the 1976 electoral map. It’s like America did Opposite Day from our perspective now.

158

John Quiggin 03.02.17 at 5:19 am

[JQ break between Dems and Southern racists pretty much complete by 1968]

“This is just a jaw-dropper. I suggest that JQ read the Wikipedia entry on George Wallace.”

You mean, the George Wallace who ran against the Democrats in the (emphasis added) 1968 Presidential election, taking five Southern states which had been solidly Democratic through 1960, and have been almost equally solidly Republican ever since? That George Wallace? If so, it was him I had in mind in picking that date.

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J-D 03.02.17 at 7:56 am

So what is meant by “rural states” here?

An interesting question.

There is an official reported index of urbanisation calculated on the basis of US census figures.

It turns out that, for the most part, States with an index of urbanisation higher than the national figure voted for Clinton, while States with a lower index of urbanisation (a category which turns out to include Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Wisconsin, all slightly less urbanised, on the official index, than the USA as a whole) voted for Trump.

Still, it’s only ‘for the most part’. There are ten exceptions. Is there anything to be learned from inspecting these exceptions?

There are four States with urbanisation indexes higher than the national one which voted for Trump: two are large States on the fringes of the old South, Texas and Florida, and the other two are Arizona and Utah.

There are six States with urbanisation indexes lower than the national one which voted for Clinton: three of them make up northern New England, Maine, New Hampshire, and Vermont, and the other three are Virginia, New Mexico, and Minnesota.

The one that interests me particularly is Minnesota, which stands out in another way as the State with consistently the highest turnout. Does its record in recent times as a reliably strongly Democratic State have any value as evidence that getting more people to vote is a good strategy for the Democrats?

And that prompts in my mind another question: why is making it so that people do not vote, voter suppression, such an important strategy in the US (I mean, for one side)? Are there other countries where it’s politically significant?

160

J-D 03.02.17 at 8:01 am

Recent Libertarian presidential candidate vote totals:

2000 – 384k
2004 – 397k
2008 – 524k
2012 – 1.28m
2016 – 4.49m

So, should we expect the Libertarian vote to peak at 3% of the total, or should we expect it to rise higher?

161

NickT 03.02.17 at 10:44 am

“So, should we expect the Libertarian vote to peak at 3% of the total, or should we expect it to rise higher?”

My guess is that 3% is peak glibertarian, provided that the Democrats nominate a candidate who is even reasonably credible to the yearning masses. Whether the Democrats are able to do so remains very much in question. Watching Steve Beshear’s bumbling response to Trump’s “neo-presidential with minimized fascist stylings” cosplay did not inspire confidence.

162

Layman 03.02.17 at 10:49 am

anymouse: “I really like his Supreme Court nominee.”

Given that the purpose of his Supreme Court nominee is to take the place of Scalia in promoting the GOP’s racist agenda, I think you’ve rather made my point.

163

Layman 03.02.17 at 1:07 pm

Also, if there are in fact decent conservative voters, there ought to be some decent conservative politicians they have elected. Who are these decent conservative politicians? Anyone care to name one? Not McCain – he put Palin on his ticket and let her and his team run an explicitly racist and nationalist campaign, because he thought he could win that way. He paved the way for Trump. Who else?

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anymouse 03.02.17 at 2:30 pm

‘Coming back to the original point, the crucial choices by the Dems to push racists out, and by Republicans and libertarians to embrace them, began soon after 1945, and wree pretty much complete by 1968.’

That is wrong.

80% of Republicans supported the 1964 Civil Rights Act.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Civil_Rights_Act_of_1964

Here is Eisenhower’s electoral college map->

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_presidential_election,_1952

Notice anything? Does anything stand out?

In 1964 at the presidential level Republicans begin courting racists. Goldwater who had supported early civil rights bills that Lyndon Johnson had voted against is the Republican nominee. He did not support the 1964 Civil Rights Act because he felt the restrictions on free association were wrong/unconstitutional. Black voters favored New Deal policies. At the presidential level they had begun leaving the GOP years ago during the New Deal.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/the-fix/wp/2015/07/07/when-did-black-americans-start-voting-so-heavily-democratic/?utm_term=.5b4cd8251427

Goldwater opposed the littler New Deal of the northern progressive wing of the Republican party and the latest Civil Rights bill. Faced with electoral extinction he courted racists. Not out of racism again he supported the earlier Civil Rights Acts that Johnson opposed but out of necessity.

At the congressional and state level the GOP switch to the party of the South takes decades.

1964 is when the GOP starts courting the South.

It is true that as early as early as 1948 the non South portion of the Democratic party began publicly supporting Civil Rights.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hubert_Humphrey

But the Republican ’embrace’ of racists begins in 1964 and the switch from Democrats to Republicans as the party of the South is a processes that begins in 1964 and takes decades to complete.

165

Chris Grant 03.02.17 at 4:58 pm

Wallace won 23.5% of the vote in the 1972 Democratic presidential primaries.

166

anon/portly 03.02.17 at 7:18 pm

You mean, the George Wallace who ran against the Democrats in the (emphasis added) 1968 Presidential election, taking five Southern states which had been solidly Democratic through 1960, and have been almost equally solidly Republican ever since? That George Wallace? If so, it was him I had in mind in picking that date.

Hmmm, it’s 1975 (or 1985), and when “in Birmingham they love the governor” comes on the radio, you think to yourself, well, thank goodness one of those racist Republicans isn’t in office there.

Coming back to the original point, the crucial choices by the Dems to push racists out, and by Republicans and libertarians to embrace them, began soon after 1945, and were pretty much complete by 1968.

Okay, if my point about Wallace (or Stennis, or Talmadge, or….) doesn’t convince you, why don’t you read that sentence to a sample of 5 Australians, and then ask them to guess who lead the opposition to the Civil Rights Act of 1964, or the Voting Rights Act of 1965, Democrats or Republicans?

I’m not disagreeing with the basic idea, just with the dates. If you replaced “1945” with “1965” and “1968” with “1980,” I think it would make 10 times more sense. (I’m not saying 1965/1980 is perfect, just that it’s not complete gibberish). Maybe you could ask someone with a nuanced understanding of recent American political history what dates they would choose in that sentence.

Here’s another reason to prefer my version: note that “almost equally solidly Republican ever since” 1968 is misleading; those 5 states were solid Republican in the landslides of 1972, 1980, 1984 and 1988 but solid Democrat in the one close election, 1976. Even in 1980 Carter won his home state, Georgia, and almost won three of the other four. Then in 1992 and 1996 Clinton picked off 3 and 2, for a batting average of .500.

Before 1964 in those 5 states you have 1 Republican victory, Eisenhower in Louisiana in 1956, and Dixiecrat wins in 1948 (3 states) and 1960 (1.5 states). That’s going back to 1896.

Technically the Dems lost 5.5 of those states from 1948 to 1960 while the Republicans lost 6 from 1972 to 1984 but of course the devil is in the details…. Those 5 states were an asset for the Democrats in 1976 and 1992 and a potential asset in 1980. They were never an asset or even a potential asset for the Republicans in any year from 1896 to 1960. So you’re saying a region that is sometimes a liability for the Republicans is “almost equally solid” for them as a region that is never a liability for the Democrats.

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mojrim 03.03.17 at 12:32 am

J-D@156: The voters I’m aiming for are the traditional cornerstone of the dems, industrial unionists, that have been getting peeled away by the repubs as they became displaced or are their sons living with the knowledge that they will never get as far. These people, the occupants of eastern PA and the like, gave the three previously reliable blue states to Trump. If we have given up on them, both as voters and as members of the tribe, then we have given up the purpose of the dem party.

Conversely, Trump was able to win them by at least paying lip service to their interests, which do not include free college, worker retraining, or increased minimum wage. The neoliberal wonks that gave us Clinton’s disastrous campaign imagine those policies as realistic adaptations to the inevitable, but that is neither true nor convincing. The hollowing out of our industrial base is the result of specific decisions made over time and, while not 100% reversible, can be countered. Addressing that directly and forcefully, talking openly about national industrial policy, and actually following through unlike the yam, can go a long way to bringing those people back.

Solyndra provides an excellent example of repub strength and dem weakness in this matter. It was, if I recall correctly, part of a $35b DOE loan program currently in the black. Contrary to the common narrative, Solyndra went under because the PRC responded with a $350b subsidy program for that industry, allowing chinese manufacturers to dump cells on the US market. Rather than stand by passively and allow the US company to be buried we should have rejected or tariffed the imports, propped up our own industry, and shouted about it from the rooftops. Instead dems did the same thing they did in the Acorn kerfluffle and got both an albatross and a lost industry in the bargain. Opportunities do come along to reinvigorate the industrial base and get the credit for it, but we have to publicly disavow the neoliberal trade schema that delivered us to this economic and electoral nightmare.

In electoral politics there is both the tangible and the symbolic. Prosecuting the bankers would was a missed opportunity. We can still campaign on breaking up banks, clearing the debts of homeowners that got crushed in the meltdown, protecting domestic industries from cheap imports, and cancelling labor import programs like H1B. If we put forward someone charismatic and combative we can still get these people back in the fold. The alternative is (still) waiting for the demographics fairy, a shaky proposition at best.

168

Tramp 03.03.17 at 4:30 am

The complete inability to argue with anyone in a head-to-head engagement if on your side you have principles and on the other they can simply call your principles absurd on their face, lacking any need to do anything other than mock because they have the immediate advantage, because it’s not the status quo leads me to think that argument is a bullcrap way of doing anything. The only answer is to cut out the actual material conditions from under their feet and hope the bastards whither. If it’s not possible to do this via a legislative program because you don’t have enough concentrations of numbers in enough local elections (and people have already explained how structurally all the advantages go principally to the party of the status quo), then we need to withdraw from our current sites of political battle and work outside and even against the state. War of maneuver, war of position.

169

J-D 03.03.17 at 6:51 am

mojrim

The voters I’m aiming for are the traditional cornerstone of the dems, industrial unionists

That’s clear enough as far as it goes but:
A. No adequate justification has been produced for the conclusion that industrial unionists are switching (nett, and at a significant rate) from the Democrats to the Republicans. What’s the percentage of industrial unionists who voted Republican in 2016, and how does it compare with the figures for earlier years?
B. If what you mean is ‘industrial unionists’, why did you refer earlier to ‘rural and suburban whites’? These two expressions are not synonymous, and not even close to it. Industrial unionists are more likely to be urban than rural, and I don’t know of any reason to expect them to be more white than non-white.

Conversely, Trump was able to win them by at least paying lip service to their interests, which do not include free college, worker retraining, or increased minimum wage.

They don’t? Why not? I know that unions in my country are in favour of such things; why would unions in your country be different?

The hollowing out of our industrial base is the result of specific decisions made over time and, while not 100% reversible, can be countered. Addressing that directly and forcefully, talking openly about national industrial policy, and actually following through unlike the yam, can go a long way to bringing those people back.

You seem to contradict yourself. If you’re right that Trump won the voters you’re talking about without delivering the agenda you’re talking about, there’s no reason why others can’t do the same.

170

J-D 03.03.17 at 7:00 am

It’s not too farfetched that GOP might add Latino votes in a few years,

What does ‘not too farfetched’ mean? If the probability of an event is 15%, I would describe it as ‘not too farfetched’, but that would still mean an 85% probability that it won’t happen.

171

JimV 03.03.17 at 11:46 am

“I know that unions in my country are in favour of such things; why would unions in your country be different?”

Could be the hierarchy of needs. Unions in the USA are fighting for basic survival.

“If you’re right that Trump won the voters you’re talking about without delivering the agenda you’re talking about, there’s no reason why others can’t do the same.”

The coal-miners are learning that Trump doesn’t keep his promises when they are hard to keep or they conflict with his own goals. The fact that Democrats also sometimes compromise their stated principles is why I am not a registered Democrat although I vote mostly for Democrats. It may be one reason for the large number of Independents here. Anyway, it is a poor long-term tactic. George H.W. Bush may have lost the election for a second term due to a broken promise (“Read my lips: no new taxes!”), although I think he was correct to break it (wrong to make it in the first place).

Michael Moore made a similar argument to mojrim’s, talking about how Trump stood in front of a Ford plant in Michigan and threatened to put a large tariff on cars made by Ford in Mexico if Ford closed a plant in the USA to move it to Mexico (as Ford had announced plans to do). The plant workers probably preferred that policy to free college, and they already made more than the minimum wage (as long as they had their current jobs).

172

Layman 03.03.17 at 12:28 pm

mojrim: “Solyndra provides an excellent example of repub strength and dem weakness in this matter. It was, if I recall correctly, part of a $35b DOE loan program currently in the black. Contrary to the common narrative, Solyndra went under because the PRC responded with a $350b subsidy program for that industry, allowing chinese manufacturers to dump cells on the US market.”

It’s not clear to me that this is actually true. An analysis by MIT was unable to show that Chinese subsidies in solar exceed those in the US. What it found was that Chinese firms across industries habitually concentrate on production capacity to the point of flooding a market, driving prices down; while US companies tend to focus on R&D and are reluctant to invest in manufacturing scale. Thus Solyndra was largely an R&D effort focused on producing a technology that could compete with relatively high vista conventional solar cells, while Chinese firms invested in scale to drive down the cost of conventional solar cells.

https://energy.mit.edu/wp-content/uploads/2013/05/MITEI-WP-2013-01.pdf

That aside, choosing the Solyndra story as an example of what’s wrong with Democrats is, well, odd. Wasn’t the Republican narrative about Solyndra that Obama secretly knew Solyndra would fail but cynically committed the US to offer loan guarantees as part of a scam to deceive the American people about the potential of green energy technology to produce jobs, improve the environment, etc? That it was all part of the climate change fraud and conspiracy?

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J-D 03.03.17 at 8:45 pm

JimV

“I know that unions in my country are in favour of such things; why would unions in your country be different?”

Could be the hierarchy of needs. Unions in the USA are fighting for basic survival.

That’s not an answer to my question. There’s no conflict between, on the one hand, unions being in a fight for basic survival and, on the other hand, unions being in favour of things like free college, worker retraining, and increased minimum wage. What mojrim wrote was not those things are not currently high priorities for industrial unions but rather that those things are noe included in their interests, which is a much stronger claim, and so far an unsupported one.

174

J-D 03.03.17 at 9:04 pm

anon/portly

I suggest that JQ read the Wikipedia entry on George Wallace.

I did, and I read this

In the late 1970s, Wallace announced that he was a born-again Christian and apologized to black civil rights leaders for his past actions as a segregationist. He said that while he had once sought power and glory, he realized he needed to seek love and forgiveness. In 1979, Wallace said of his stand in the schoolhouse door: “I was wrong. Those days are over, and they ought to be over.”

and this

During his final years, Wallace publicly recanted his racist views and asked for forgiveness from African Americans.

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NickT 03.04.17 at 5:01 am

Solyndra lost out because of an unanticipated fall in silicon prices, which made their unorthodox solar panels unable to compete. That’s the whole story. The old GOP lies about the Solyndra subsidy/corruption/Obama and the lizard people deserve nothing but contempt.

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anon/portly 03.04.17 at 4:02 pm

Thanks J-D. Since your comment is directed at me, not JQ, I take it that you think Wallace’s reconciliation with blacks in the late 1970’s supports JQ’s “almost complete by 1968” formulation from comment 136.

And although you didn’t quote it and use it to argue against me, I take it that you did read the part most obviously pertinent to my comment, the description of Wallace’s 1970 campaign, and do not think it significantly contradicts JQ’s formulation:

In what (later-U.S. President) Jimmy Carter called “one of the most racist campaigns in modern southern political history”, Wallace aired television advertising with slogans such as “Do you want the black bloc electing your governor?” and circulated an ad showing a white girl surrounded by seven black boys, with the slogan “Wake Up Alabama! Blacks vow to take over Alabama.”

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J-D 03.05.17 at 4:10 am

anon/portly

Thanks J-D. Since your comment is directed at me, not JQ, I take it that you think Wallace’s reconciliation with blacks in the late 1970’s supports JQ’s “almost complete by 1968” formulation from comment 136.

No. I thought the quotes were interesting in themselves and relevant to this discussion generally. I don’t think dating of the transformation under discussion to exact years is important to this discussion.

178

Charles Peterson 03.05.17 at 8:30 pm

#17 and many followup comments. The main thing that needs be made clear is that the Antarctic is not fundamentally floating ice. It is glacial ice that is supported, at least in a central area, by land mass. When pieces of antarctic ice break off into the ocean, they raise sea level. This is not true of arctic ice, which is floating ice. But it is true of Greenland’s glaciers and other land mass supported ice.

Alarmist or not, if all the ice of antarctica were to melt, it would raise sea level by about 60 meters. Combined with other ice that would likely be melted by then also, like Greenland ice, and expansion, the ultimate total potential for sea level rise is 80 meters. Lack of permanent ice was the norm in the previous history of earth, and there was a correspondingly higher sea level also. We live in a peculiar era, which has served us well but we are hastily disposing of. Actually if we could have moderated global heating correctly, we could have simply prevented a otherwise forthcoming ice age. But that hope is distant now. From this point, there may not be any more ice ages going forwards. More immediately, on the order of a few thousand years or less, the ultimate sea level rise will make most of human establishment worthless, as a large proportion of human habitation and essential physical plant are less than 80 meters above current sea level, including structures which support essential trade. OK so this won’t happen tomorrow, but what will be happening tomorrow, and every day afterwards long into the future, is a halting rise, coupled with increased storms and surges which will chip away at what we have bit by bit, and moreso each coming year.

We’re only saved if you want to call it that by the time which would be required to melt all of the ice, which is often guesstimated on the order of 1000’s of years. But it seems every day we find this or that bit of glacial ice is melting faster than expected. Water flowing under the ice or in cracks can accelerate the process. So how long this is actually going to take is a deep unknown. It might well take less than 1000 years.

Global heating is also a millenial process by which I mean that even if we quit burning fossil fuels today (and that would still be too late, as by now a crippling 2C or so of rise is already baked in) it will take a millenia or so merely to reach the new equilibrium created by the higher level of CO2 we have created.

I’m sorry that most world politics doesn’t want to deal with this, but mine does. I work to make my own activities carbon neutral, and try to push society in general in this direction as much as I can. I always try to think of the very long term, and not just the next 50 years.

The reason politics can’t deal with this is that it is controlled by money, and there’s still a lot of money which could be made by more fossil fuels, and a lot of rich people are expecting return on their civilization destroying investments.

This is the ultimate test of “democratic” capitalism, and it will almost certainly fail to deliver a good outcome.

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anon/portly 03.05.17 at 8:39 pm

I don’t think dating of the transformation under discussion to exact years is important to this discussion.

Well the dating is really the entirety of my point!

Look again at JQ’s comment 158. He is defending the “pretty much complete” idea, even though, for an obvious example, many of the senators who led the fight against civil rights legislation in 1964 and 1965 would remain in office for many years afterward (e.g. Stennis, Eastland, Byrd, Sparkman, Long). No “pushing out” as comment 136 might suggest, they were generally kept in, unless JQ is not talking about the actual politicians, or only about “choices” and not the actual process. Was there a sea change in their thinking between 1965 and 1968? AFAIK most southern Democrat politicians, as with Wallace, eventually, if they hung around long enough, expressed a change of views and/or regret towards their earlier actions; how genuine this was or how much it affected their voting patterns or how they were viewed by other Southerners (black or white), I am not an expert. I suspect it is somewhat complicated and would have guessed the process was just starting, not finishing, in 1968.

As shown above, from 1968 to 1996 the 5 Wallace states were “almost equally solid” Republican only in the sense that, in presidential elections, these states would vote for a Republican over a Northern Democrat, but would more or less be split in a race between a Republican and a Southern Democrat.

Oddly enough from 1968 to 1996 the only time the Republicans needed to win in the South and won there was 1968, although if you give Dukakis the entire Confederacy he almost wins. The year the South as a whole really mattered, it went for Carter. (In 1992 and 1996 it split, so that Clinton could have lost the Southern states he won and still won). Of course in 2000, 2004 and 2016 things were very different. (And the Southern vote could have potentially have been the difference for Republicans in earlier years, it just happened not to).

If the presidential election voting doesn’t convince anyone, if anyone is still reading or cares, these 5 states kept on electing Democrats to the Senate for many years after 1968. Until 1978 the 5 Wallace states had 10 Democratic senators and 0 Republican senators. As late as 1988 it was still 9 to 1 (through most of the 1980’s it was 7 to 3). Arkansas didn’t elect a Republican to the Senate until 1997. Louisiana, 2005. I was surprised to discover this, myself, I thought the Republicans did better there before 2000 than they did.

If you reversed (from D to R and R to D) every Senate and Presidential vote in those states from 1970 to 1996, the Republican party would have benefited enormously. That’s some perverse way of dominating, isn’t it?

Hmmm, you say, Governors? Mississippi elected its first R Governor (since Reconstruction) in 1991. Alabama, 1986. Arkansas (2 year terms), 1966, Nelson’s brother Winthrop, but from 1970 to 1996 only R for two years. Louisiana, 1980 (then back and forth). Georgia, 2002.

(Under the new commenting guidelines, am I allowed to make a “those ________ can really hold a grudge” joke at this point?). https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cracker_(pejorative)

Final note: the point of my comment is not which public officials and which voters were how racist when. My point is simply that the 5 Wallace states after 1968 were not “almost equally solid Republican,” contra comment 158.

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