R U Sure Tho?

by Belle Waring on September 11, 2017

This seems to violate the Belle Waring unitary theory of American politics. Kevin Drum proposes that “racism is not the explanation for everything Republicans do.” I grant that they want to cut taxes on the super-rich, but this is specifically with reference to Trump’s birtherism as well as Republicans’ refusal to accept Obama as a legitimate president (remember how he only got to serve 3/5 of a term when it came to nominating SC judges?). Ummm. Let’s just say I side with Marcotte in this dispute.

{ 88 comments }

1

John Quiggin 09.11.17 at 1:46 am

The Republican party is a broad church with plenty of room for people whose bigotry is primarily against gays, women, Jews, urban liberals and anybody else who isn’t, in their eyes, all-American. But Trump is a racist first and foremost, and he obviously represents the biggest single bloc in the Repub base.

2

Chet Murthy 09.11.17 at 1:58 am

My reading of the piece is: he’s trying to appeal to a certain regretful-Trumpist readership, giving them reasons why their previous support was not as execrable as we all know it truly is, while -now- arguing that they should step away from him. And yeah, given that he’s writing for that audience, it’s going to sound awful to those like me who can’t write the fucker’s name except in the word “Trumpist” (and instead call him Lord Putinfluffer or Commander Heel Spurs, or whatever.) To us, it sounds like he’s excusing a racist (and the same for the entire Treason In Defense of White Supremacy Party), but he’s not writing to appeal to me, and that’s something I can live with. After all, I’ll never have polite relations with a Trumpist, and if the Dems are gonna win it back in 2018/20, -some- Trumpists have to be convinced to vote Dem. I trust the Dems enough to believe they won’t throw over their constituency (though I don’t trust shitbirds like Tim Ryan, for sure).

3

Gareth Wilson 09.11.17 at 3:54 am

Hey now, it could be xenophobia instead.

4

JanieM 09.11.17 at 4:05 am

and instead call him Lord Putinfluffer or Commander Heel Spurs

President Clickbait

5

J-D 09.11.17 at 4:16 am

Chet Murthy

My reading of the piece is: he’s trying to appeal to a certain regretful-Trumpist readership …

Then he’s doing a rotten job of it. I doubt it’s effective to try to appeal to them by saying ‘I understand that you didn’t vote for Trump because you’re racists, I understand that you voted for him because you’re fools’, and I also doubt it’s effective to appeal to them by saying ‘I understand that you didn’t vote for Trump because you’re racists, I understand that you voted for him because you’re bloody-minded obstructionists’. Those are the alternative explanations he’s offering, aren’t they? I couldn’t find any others in the article.

… and if the Dems are gonna win it back in 2018/20, -some- Trumpists have to be convinced to vote Dem

That’s mathematically inaccurate.

6

Raven 09.11.17 at 6:03 am

Oh yeah, Republican racism absolutely does not explain, for instance, Richard Nixon’s “There are times when an abortion is necessary. I know that. When you have a black and a white.”, -or- Ronald Reagan’s “welfare queen” or “strapping young buck” campaign lines or his administration opposing a federal Martin Luther King Jr. Day (as all the way back in 1964 he had sided with Goldwater in opposing the Civil Rights Act), it was all, all, sheerly coincidental. Just like the choice of that 1980 presidential campaign opening speech location, previously best known for being where three civil-rights workers had been murdered. Dog-whistle what? Southern strategy who?

7

b9n10nt 09.11.17 at 6:30 am

I don’t see much daylight between Drum and Marcotte here.

As a point in Drum’s favor, Clinton Derangment Syndrome was a thing before Obama. Furthermore, as the OP suggests it might concede, tax-cutting class warriors are first and foremost just that, and not necessarily more racist than their White Democratic co-ethnics.

I assume Slavery and Western expansion provided a rich opportunity for 18th C US Elites to regard their own priveledged status as a birthright much as their European equivalents would have. (This belief is even lazier than the alternate strategy of a belief in “meritocracy” and was correspondingly more attractive before the birth of Modernity). History may have relegated this conceit to the ghettoes of White American apologetics, but the vestiges of a belief in privilege-by-birth can still be detected today among a large class of modern right wingers as a belief that liberals (Clinton, Obama) aren’t True Americans.

So as a point in Marcottes’ favor, Clinton Derangement Syndrome was itself an expression of a historically racist ideology of Elite privelege.

And yet racism itself was just politics before it took on a life of its own. The more fundamental forces at work are (illusory) self-interest and (illusory) self-regard among those with the power to project these as Culture. Buddhists say you can drive yourself crazy trying to comprehend Karma. That’s kind of how I’d guess most of us feel about trying to disentangle race and class in American politics.

As for Trump, I assume he’s no more subconsciously racist than Euro-American culture generally. At the level of conscious thought, his racism is opportunistic and not a genuinely-held ideology (the thing that took on a life of its own). Granted, as mental atrophy does its work, Trump may yet be devolving from a meritocratic ideology of self-justification to a more racial/birthright-inspired one. Didn’t that happen to Nixon, after all?

8

Nia Psaka 09.11.17 at 6:48 am

Well, racism is not the sole driving force in an entire enormous party like the Conservative Movement. There are also, say, cheapness, greed, superstition, confusion, false consciousness, class-based contempt, contempt for law, and bandwagon mentality.

9

bad Jim 09.11.17 at 8:20 am

Bob Somerby made the point at the beginning of Obama’s administration that Republicans’ opposition to Democrats was so absolute that it hardly mattered that this president was black. Their reaction to Clinton was just as extreme.

This is not to say they aren’t racist. Of course they are, and our last president’s skin color certainly motivated them to buy even more guns. However, their fear and hatred is comprehensive.

They don’t want to deny healthcare only to indigent blacks and immigrants, they want to deny it to anyone too poor to pay for it. They want the harshest possible penalties for anyone suspected of a crime.

Abortion is an issue that especially excites the base, and it’s not an especially racist issue on its face, though that it is, obscurely, its motivation. It’s facially sexist, which may account for its continuing appeal (shame the fallen women!), but at its late 70’s inception the evangelical opposition to abortion was a cynical political ploy, making common cause with conservative Catholics.

Climate change is a sanity test that conservatives fail which involves neither race nor sex. One might suspect that trillions of dollars worth of fossil fuel reserves might weight the balances on this judgment, but the absence of a libertarian solution is a problem as well.

In short, it’s difficult to tease out the different strands of hatefulness and obtuseness, sloth, anger and greed. These are things which go together well.

10

bob mcmanus 09.11.17 at 9:13 am

Marcotte: I really think digging one’s heels into the “Trump’s not a racist it MUST be something else” argument is unwise

Drum did not say this, and this is the move that irritates.

Trump wants at least a three month extension on the debt ceiling, Democrats from Schumer to the rank-and-file are all on board. Many Republicans oppose. Help me out here on the racism here.

I see this from Marcotte as directed more toward current intraparty Democratic politics, as trying to reach for instance young black women who supported Sanders. I myself, from my subject position, note that Schumer is the Senator for Wall Street and the bond market when discussing the debt ceiling. This is part of how current politics is done, including how often Democratic feminists use an antiracist standpoint instead of feminist.

I have a great, but too long, deconstruction quote from Stephen Bronner, that help me accept “identity politics.” Starts like this: “Thinkers like Michel Foucault began with the assumption that reference to a totally integrated society was predicated on the
use of abstractions that were artificially constructed. Better in his view to under-
stand subjectivity in terms of binary oppositions that immediately and directly
constrain its practice: gay/straight, male/female, black/white—though, obvi-
ously, these distinctions can be multiplied further. Experiential identity always
contested in its ever more hybrid constructions becomes the source of soli-
darity and freedom.” It goes on, even better, and is not so long as a Holbo post.

11

modlux@gmail.com 09.11.17 at 9:48 am

They hated Obama somewhat more than they hated Clinton but that was before Fox News. They really, really, really, really hated Bill Clinton. Things were very different then so who knows.

Of COURSE the Birtherism, and the Obama thing, and 90% of their current policies–including many economic policies–get their footing because of racism. They are flat out racist obsessions.

In fact, some of the dedicated racists even admit this about the economic policy. They want a more egalitarian economic system & institutions but claim these are only possible with a racially homogenous society (the kind that has never existed, and especially has never existed in the United States).

The people who ardently support Trump will never vote Democratic. Not everyone who voted him was ardently supporting him. Some people may have voted for him because they were construction workers, and hoped for an infrastructure plan, or had other jobs (especially in manufacturing) that he promised to directly benefit. He also promised to get everyone more comprehensive healthcare at a lower cost. I suspect there are some people who are naive about economics, and don’t get it is not a zero sum game, and are hoping to clear the field by shutting off the supply of immigrants. They sense that if there is a labor shortage, their wages will rise.

All those things require chilling indifference to the welfare of other Americans. You can’t get rid of racism & xenophobia as an explanation for such thinking. It makes one feel better about the cruelty of the things that you (mistakenly) believe are required for your wages to go up. But racism is more in the background in those cases.

You’d have to be a racist to support or vote for Trump. If you aren’t horrified and revolted by many of the things he says, then something is very wrong with how you see your fellow citizens. That’s not the same as doing everything for racism. Racism is required for all this to work, but it doesn’t have to be a prime motivator.

It’s important not to forget what a master con artist Donald Trump is. That was an important part of the explanation for his success, but we’ve kind of forgotten that at this point. Some people still think their ship will come in with this guy.

12

John R Garrett 09.11.17 at 1:23 pm

Master con artist? Drumpf? If you actually look at his record, business and now, it’s obvious that he’s a determined but terrible con artist, because he will always choose good press over a good con. No good con artist wants press: look at THE STING!

13

bob mcmanus 09.11.17 at 1:52 pm

Hmm, it got through. Note, in a way , I am on Marcotte’s side here, and trying to explain how I see her position, including her quoted statement, which is all I can do. Never have found much to be excited by over at Drum’s, although rarely offended by him either. If you want more Bronner, with glossy glosses, let me know or let me slide. I will leave Chela Sandoval and “oppositional/differential consciousness” aside for the nonce. Probably.

“racism is not the explanation for everything Republicans do.” Yes it is.
Also “class is the explanation for everything” and “misogyny is the explanation” and Imperialism etc. Intersectionality is brutally hard work.

14

Yankee 09.11.17 at 3:23 pm

IANAHistorian, but I’ve always been taken with Kevin Phillips’ take that there’s a long-running divide in Anglo-American culture between aristocrats and populists, which seems to me to equate to slaveholders and entrepreneurs (who exploit labor differently). Aristocracy is totally about the right people, the servants, and the untouchables, so racism yes but not specifically anti-Black.

So the American Civil War didn’t settle anything and here we go again, round 4? 5?

15

Raven 09.11.17 at 3:31 pm

bad Jim @ 9: > “… Republicans’ opposition to Democrats was so absolute that it hardly mattered that this president was black.”

D’ye think it might have mattered that many Democrats (i.e. many of those they were trying even then to suppress the votes of, to effectively disenfranchise as of old) were black?

Or, as much to the point, that with LBJ’s two great Acts in 1964 and 1965 and thereafter, Democratic policies had been sufficiently pro-black to help Nixon et al. recruit Southern racists into the GOP (the ‘Southern Strategy’)?

16

bob mcmanus 09.11.17 at 3:36 pm

Okay, maybe I have work to do.

Everybody I give a damn about is trying to find and build a broader winning coalition of resistance without abandoning our allies, and we all have different ideas of what that coalition should look like. That includes Drum, Marcotte, Jacobin, the Clintons, everybody.

5, J-D: That’s mathematically inaccurate.

Yes and No, because certain coalitions might give us the Presidency, but will not win the Electoral College consistently, enough of Congress, and the statehouses to build the country I want to live in.

62% of white women without college degrees voted for Trump. Without patronizingly claiming I want to save them and without telling feminists what to do

a) These are my mother, sisters, cousins and I will not abandon them to their fathers, brothers, and husbands
b) this is the target-rich environment to get the Democratic Party to a national majority without abandoning our other constituencies. I think. I hope.

Too many comments. Others for a while.

17

LFC 09.11.17 at 4:20 pm

mcmanus @13

“racism is not the explanation for everything Republicans do.” Yes it is.
Also “class is the explanation for everything” and “misogyny is the explanation” and Imperialism etc.

The phrase “the explanation,” with an implied emphasis on the definite article “the,” suggests or signals an exclusionary statement, i.e., a statement that racism is the only explanation. If you want to suggest/argue/state that racism, class, misogyny, etc. are all explanations, then it would be better to use the word “an” rather than the word “the” and say that racism is “an explanation” along with the others, not “the” explanation.

Your consumption of the works of every (trendy) theorist who has ever published a book w Verso seems to have dulled your responsiveness to the resonances — perhaps not the best word, but it’ll probably do — of English. But then it’s not altogether surprising that a steady diet of such theorists would or could produce that effect.

18

LFC 09.11.17 at 4:35 pm

Mcmanus’s Bronner quote comes from an essay in The Palgrave Handbook of Critical Theory, yours on Amazon for only $192.55, discounted from the publisher’s list price of $209.00.

19

Matt McKeon 09.11.17 at 5:07 pm

Read TNC’s article at the Atlantic: Trump is the first white president. Very much worth a look.

20

Joseph Brenner 09.11.17 at 5:27 pm

Gareth Wilson@3:

“Xenophobia” is a useful, precise term, but many of the people
who are don’t know the word.

21

Bill Murray 09.11.17 at 5:57 pm

All those things require chilling indifference to the welfare of other Americans. You can’t get rid of racism & xenophobia as an explanation for such thinking.

modlux, they could be sociopaths

22

Raven Onthill 09.11.17 at 6:03 pm

Kevin Drum is missing how conservative Obama was, on everything except social issues. The war in Iraq. The ACA – Romneycare writ large. Making 80% of the Bush II tax cuts permanent. And yet the Republican conservatives fought so hard against their own ideas – couldn’t take yes for an answer.

Why does Drum miss this? Well, I suspect he can’t see past Obama’s skin color.

23

Heliopause 09.11.17 at 6:04 pm

@9

“Bob Somerby made the point at the beginning of Obama’s administration that Republicans’ opposition to Democrats was so absolute that it hardly mattered that this president was black. Their reaction to Clinton was just as extreme.”

I’d go further than that. Obama was treated with kid gloves in comparison to Clinton. Clinton was relentlessly investigated, impeached, and had a sitting senator threaten his life. Of course, part of that was the fact that the Clintons are much greater pathological liars than the Obamas, but still, it makes the point.

Specifically regarding DACA, obviously this is a sop to the nativists who helped elect Trump. Regarding the statement in isolation, “racism is not the explanation for everything Republicans do,” I don’t see how that’s an arguable point either. The problem with sloppy thinkers like Marcotte is that once they level the racism charge they just don’t know when to stop, and they end up alienating millions of potential allies.

24

JRLRC 09.11.17 at 6:10 pm

My explanation is this: republican racism is not the only explanation but it is always an explanation -or part of it. So, racism is always an explanatory factor of republican actions.
Most republicans are racist, sexist, classist and homophobic, all at the same time. Racists are racists all the time, and racism always underlies the public action of the republican party.

25

bekabot 09.11.17 at 7:35 pm

racism is not the explanation for everything Republicans do

No, racism is not the reason for everything the Republicans do; racism is pretty much their excuse for everything they do, though. There is a difference.

26

alfredlordbleep 09.11.17 at 7:55 pm

I’m attracted to unitary theories even as I’m binary—meaning admitting to the, how do you say, “prevalence” of the two sexes (which may appear illiberal in this precinct). And surely few here can object to the mixing of the races/”races” such as the example of Elizabeth Pocahontas Warren or CT’s own:

– as WE – all German-American-Native Indians very well know ”that the genuine native stock for England’s cause” is actually ”German”

—n****woman 09.08.17

As for the rest of the story many here have ably bitten off juicy bits.

27

Dragon-King Wangchuck 09.11.17 at 8:41 pm

Maybe K-Drum has a point about racism not being the reason for everything Republicans do, but here in this specific case – it’s racism. He is dead wrong that this irrational and immoral position to fuck over immigrants is based in anything other than racism first. I mean the alternative is that a Republican administration is honestly concerned with executive overreach. The party of Dick Cheney.

Treating undocumented immigrants with basic human dignity is cause to worry about executive overreach, but ignoring haneas corpus is not. There’s a very simple reason explanation as to why this is the case and that explanation is racism.

28

anymouse 09.11.17 at 9:46 pm

Yea. Pretty sure. Actual data exists. In way it is pretty depressing stuff but it is more or less dispositive of Belle Waring unitary theory of American politics.

http://crookedtimber.org/2017/09/11/r-u-sure-tho/#comments

But by all means everyone carry on making a delicious stone hate stew.

29

anymouse 09.11.17 at 9:52 pm

30

Steve 09.11.17 at 11:00 pm

I have a deep hatred for Trump – and for the Republicans generally – but this thread seems as silly as saying that every single Democrat policy, rhetorical ploy or choice of campaign location is based on economic envy.

31

John Quiggin 09.11.17 at 11:55 pm

@29 Given that the data set shows very low self-reported racism among Republican voters, I think there must be an awful lot of social acceptability bias going on. I wonder what proportion would have admitted approving of Donald Trump in 2012.

32

Belle Waring 09.12.17 at 12:03 am

I wouldn’t actually go so far as to deny that for many things, Congressional Republicans hated Obama’s policy goals simply because they were Democratic policy goals which they hate in general; that would be dumb. I will also allow as to how growing up in S.C. may have affected my belief in the unitary theory. But when one is considering birtherism and the general attitude that Obama was not a legitimate president in some important way I think the answer is pretty Thurmond crystal clear.

33

EB 09.12.17 at 12:03 am

Steve @ 30, you are so right.

34

alfredlordbleep 09.12.17 at 12:23 am

So you’re a Southern Belle! That must answer questions previously unimagined.

BTW I was (also) born in Kenya (or Honolulu as it was originally called)

35

alfredlordbleep 09.12.17 at 12:33 am

Dragon-King Wangchuck :
The party of Dick Cheney

Now that’s speaking of unitarity, Unitary Executive Theory, John Yoo and all that.

To conclude playing around (for now).

36

bob mcmanus 09.12.17 at 12:35 am

It ain’t about facts, truth, logic, evidence, fairness, or universality. It is about choosing and expressing a subjectivity for solidarity with a specific community at a particular time. It is about saying it, the enunciator rather than the enunciation. The relevant questions are about whether it works, and how it works.

Waring is the best and kindest poster ever.

37

Gareth Wilson 09.12.17 at 12:36 am

So if Breivik Øbama, exchange student from Norway and future Social Democrat politician, replaced Barack Obama senior, how would his son have been treated running for President? No racism, obviously, but it wouldn’t be all puppy cuddles either.

38

bob mcmanus 09.12.17 at 1:06 am

I just don’t get it. “Truth is subjectivity” is 175 years old, followed by Marx and Nietzsche. A lot of this thread is so 18th century. Are we doing sociology here, or are we doing politics? Who are we talking to? Drum obviously wants to talk to Republicans, I don’t. I think there are people important essential to Democratic Party politics for whom that statement, or something like it, and believing it and acting on it, is critical to coalition building. Maybe I need to read the recent Coates for the fifth time, a little more slowly this time.

What imaginary audience thinks that the justification, that’s not right, a universal form of justification of a proposition is more important than its utility?

39

Raven Onthill 09.12.17 at 1:08 am

For me, one the surprises of the Obama administration was that our democracy could have legitimacy conflicts, just like a monarchy. Pretty clearly a sign of a deficient understanding of history, though; there were also legitimacy conflicts over FDR and Lincoln.

40

bob mcmanus 09.12.17 at 1:18 am

More Bronner, LFC cited for me.

“Striking is the way in which the idea of a unified society collapses along with a prefabricated revolutionary subject. Self-understanding takes on an existential quality that allows for resistance and solidarity against different and changing hegemonic discourses and categories that render a particular group subaltern. Embedded in this idea is the recognition that the ever more particular experience of reality is part of understanding it. Thus, the unique experience of the given subaltern fuses with rationality, thereby creating an episteme capable of calling traditional epistemology into question. Hegemony in its particular exercise and manipulation of artificially con-
structed categories becomes the site of shifting power relations that always requires resistance with an eye on expanding the possibilities for exercising subjectivity. Where this approach liberates subjectivity for practice by shattering the universal categories still employed by critical theory, and by highlighting forgotten forms of oppression”

Not Sokal shit, I take this very seriously as an immediate moral imperative. I have to choose sides.

(Sorry for formatting, no preview.)

41

b9n10nt 09.12.17 at 1:46 am

anymouse @ 29

Thanks. Makes me wonder whether saying “Republicans are racist” effectively focuses our attention (complacently) on partisan zero-sum politics rather than comprehend how broken our communities are and act from that wider view.

42

Raven 09.12.17 at 1:56 am

John Quiggin @ 31: “the data set shows very low self-reported racism among Republican voters”

The nature of the Dunning–Kruger effect is that the data set shows very low self-reported incompetence among the actually incompetent, because their own incompetence prevents them from recognizing it.

Could you venture a guess that racism might have a similar effect? That actual racists as a group might self-report as racists at a lower rate than actual non-racists? In other words, self-defensively deny?

43

Collin Street 09.12.17 at 3:03 am

The thing about conspiracy theorising is that, if you’re a woman or queer or the wrong ethnicity, and your life is shit, and you say that there’s a vast nation-wide conspiracy keeping you down… you’re right!

But if you’re a socioeconomic dominant group person and you say – mutatis mutandis – the exact same thing, you’re wrong.

44

Alan White 09.12.17 at 3:35 am

The fact that we electorally chose a plutocratic demagogic braggart about his P-grabbing in contrast to a rather stoic and yes flawed but strong woman also shows that sexism was one large factor at work. And the apparent ability of so many women to see Trump as a P-grabbing advocate for them, and Hillary as a villain, quite mystifies me, though it appears the Comey/Russian alliance had something to do with all that.

Since “Lying Hillary” was such effective rhetoric, may I recommend “Don-alt Trump”? Oh, too subtle. “Donald Ducks”? Closer for questions about delivering on promises. “Agent Orange” is apt but dated. “President Mulligan” would resonate with golfers. “G-oldfinger” might work on many levels. “IncompeTrump” is one I like. But we need to get to that basic gut level of rhetoric that moves many people to vote, even sometimes against their own interests, to help them help themselves.

45

bad Jim 09.12.17 at 5:52 am

Raven, you are of course correct that Republican opposition to Democrats is in no small part related to the latter’s support for and inclusion of blacks, and has been so at least since Lyndon Johnson’s presidency.

I’m not sure about the Dunning-Kruger diagnosis. The usual formulation is “I’m not a racist, but …” which reveals a guilty self-consciousness. Everyone knows that racism is wrong, and people will go to absurd extremes to avoid looking bad.

People who are not traditional racists, and I’m thinking of conservative Southern Californians, are outraged by phone prompts like “Press 1 for English” (although it’s actually always more like “Para español, oprima nueve”). The discomfort they have with the babble of different languages and the apparition of unusual faces is perhaps distinguishable from the urge to maintain social norms originally rooted in slavery.

Conservatives are unsurprisingly unhappy with change, and they’d rather have things the way they used to be, when women and blacks knew their place and immigrants were back where they came from.

46

J-D 09.12.17 at 7:20 am

bob mcmanus

Okay, maybe I have work to do.

Everybody I give a damn about is trying to find and build a broader winning coalition of resistance without abandoning our allies, and we all have different ideas of what that coalition should look like. That includes Drum, Marcotte, Jacobin, the Clintons, everybody.

5, J-D: That’s mathematically inaccurate.

Yes and No, because certain coalitions might give us the Presidency, but will not win the Electoral College consistently, enough of Congress, and the statehouses to build the country I want to live in.

62% of white women without college degrees voted for Trump. Without patronizingly claiming I want to save them and without telling feminists what to do

a) These are my mother, sisters, cousins and I will not abandon them to their fathers, brothers, and husbands
b) this is the target-rich environment to get the Democratic Party to a national majority without abandoning our other constituencies. I think. I hope.

Too many comments. Others for a while.

I’m not sure what you think I meant by my ‘mathematically inaccurate’ comment, but I’m fairly sure that what you think I meant is not what I actually meant, probably because I didn’t go into any detail; so now I will.

The people who will vote Democratic in the next election — or, alternatively, the people who might vote Democratic in the next election — can be broken down into four segments:
people who voted Democratic at the last election;
people who voted Republican at the last election;
people who voted for a third-party or independent candidate at the last election (a much smaller group than the other three);
people who did not vote at the last election.

Mathematically, if all the people who did not vote at the last election (but were eligible to) vote Democratic at the next election — and if all the people who voted Democratic at the last election also vote Democratic at the next election — then the Democrats will win by a comfortable margin, no matter how the people who voted Republican at the last election vote at the next one.

For the Democrats, prioritising attracting votes from people who voted Republican at the last election over attracting votes from people who did not vote at the last election would be a poor strategic choice. If you’re looking for a ‘target-rich environment’ (to use your term), look at people who didn’t vote at the last election. For example, when you write that 62% of white women without college degrees voted for Trump, I will hazard a guess that what you mean is that Trump received the votes of 62% of those white women without college degrees who voted at all; I’m sure there were plenty of white women without college degrees who did not vote at all, and I can’t think of any reason why you would want to ‘abandon’ them (using your term again).

47

J-D 09.12.17 at 8:34 am

Are there significant differences between the following?

Racism is not the explanation for everything Republicans do
Racism is not the explanation for everything Republicans do
Racism is not the explanation for everything Republicans do
Racism is not the explanation for everything Republicans do
Racism is not the explanation for everything Republicans do

48

bob mcmanus 09.12.17 at 1:48 pm

46: I repeat. I am not so focused on Presidential races.

I agree on turnout, but increased turnout among the usual Democratic will only help in blue and purple states.

I want 30+ statehouses, both chambers. What’s your plan.

49

F. Foundling 09.12.17 at 3:54 pm

@36

>It ain’t about facts, truth, logic, evidence, fairness, or universality. It is about choosing and expressing a subjectivity for solidarity with a specific community at a particular time.

I don’t see what that choice of solidarity can be justified by if not by facts, truth, logic, evidence, fairness, or universality.

>The relevant questions are about whether it works, and how it works.

Works for what? I don’t see how the purpose can be determined without recourse to facts, truth, logic, evidence, fairness, or universality. Nor can you determine *whether* (or *how*) it works without recourse to facts, truth, logic and evidence.

‘I lie, and I proudly admit it’ strikes me as vaguely fascist – reason’s betrayal of reason, intellectuals’ betrayal of intellect, humanity’s betrayal of humanity. Also, it doesn’t even work, or make sense, if you admit it.

No, definitely not a fan of Nietzsche. 18th century indeed.

I don’t want to feel bound by a commitment to engage in a longer discussion, so this will be a single comment.

50

icastico 09.12.17 at 3:58 pm

47: yes.

51

RD 09.12.17 at 4:15 pm

H@23
Re Clinton:
I remember Richard Reeves on the Tonight Show being asked to give a one sentence appraisal of the 7 Dwarves, as the (D) prospective candidates were called.
“Clinton?”
“Oh! He’s a liar.”

52

bob mcmanus 09.12.17 at 6:03 pm

I don’t see what that choice of solidarity can be justified by if not by facts, truth, logic, evidence, fairness, or universality.

I know, I understand. Liberals choose their partners according to standardized tests and credit scores and daily metrics.

Irrationalism is not something you can step out and watch from afar. You manage it by being conscious of and accepting/creating myths as myths.

But since I am here…

1) 2020 is another redistricting election. Democrats seem to have an astonishing history of losing those. Not sure how 2018 will play into it, maybe a lot of incumbents to oppose will help

2) Charlie Cook projects 2018 as a near wash, a few more Dems in the house, much the same Senate. Incumbent party, off year etc

But Republicans learned something very useful in 2002, how to do well that first midterm. Try to remember.

Kochs are putting most of their efforts into statehouses. Constitutional Convention is a hair’s breadth away. You won’t believe what happens next.

But we had x million extra votes in California, and Hill wrote a book.

53

bruce wilder 09.12.17 at 6:23 pm

I, too, have a unitary theory of American politics. I think it is about the money. I think it has always been about the money: that is, politics is always at its core a struggle over power, which is to say, a struggle over the distribution of income, wealth and status, and American politics is, too.

I think U.S. politics would be improved by the emergence of a left party, invested in representing the economic interests of the great mass of people, including what used to be called “the working classes” and “the middle classes”, over and against the interests of giant business corporations and the extremely wealthy. In the absence of such a party, it is natural to expect most people to either not-vote or to vote at random and it is natural to expect the two plutocratic parties to differentiate themselves on psychology, symbolism and nonsense (cf birtherism, Russiagate).

Drum’s argument is: “I think it’s unwise to tiptoe around racism, but I also think it’s unwise to make it the go-to explanation for everything. . . . Race is a powerful political weapon. It should be used judiciously.”

Unfortunately, if you are going to advocate for the other Plutocratic Party, the one disparaging the first for its undoubted racism, you really do not have a lot of alternatives. There’s sexism and sexual assault, of course, but Trump will not have the good grace to be embarrassed (and neither will Marcotte). Trump as Russian Stooge may not have a lot of mileage left, though there’s some hope that Mueller will turn up the equivalent of a blue dress).

Fighting racism and sexism will not do much to break up the banks or raise wages or end perpetual wars — at least fighting racism and sexism in the way Marcotte practices won’t. And, that I suspect, is a big part of its attraction for both Drum and Marcotte. If we are disparaging birtherism, we are not expressing our disappointment that Obama proved to be such a reliable friend of the plutocracy.

Drum makes the point that partisans will be partisans, and take up any cudgel against their opponents, sound any dog-whistle to rally their base — sincere conviction or commitment to principle need not apply, nor does there need to be any particular policy program in the offing. I am not sure where he’s going with that observation, regarding the charge of racism as motivation. The argument seems to turn on itself and then ends with an anodyne endorsement of judicious use. But, are partisans judicious? Ever? Cynical opportunists, yes, but judicious? Do we want to ask about how the sausage is made?

Drum’s argument overlooks a core problem for any mass electoral politics: from the top, how to manipulate the base; from the bottom, how to trust the politicians. In particular, how does any Party seeking an electoral majority, and nominally committed to the interests of the working and merely middle classes in order to get that majority, prove its bona fides to the rubes? In that context, racism and the charge of racism are both partisan arguments to the effect, “trust me”. In a contest between two pro-plutocratic Parties (or Party factions, if you think either Party is internally divided), neither argument is really trustworthy because the candidates are not trustworthy because the candidates do not really care much, certainly not enough to bind themselves to the interests of the lower classes when those interests conflict with those of the predatory and parasitic classes paying for the political Media and the electoral campaigns and the think tanks and all the rest.

The partisan use of racist appeals and charges of racism have a push-me, pull-me quality. Indeed, any partisan rallying cry has this quality, as the task at hand is a contest for hearts and minds, but not everyone’s hearts and minds: 50.1% (or possibly less in fptp) given whatever appeals the other Party is making. In our present-day context, it seems to me that that both racist appeals and charges of racism are meant to divide, rather than persuade. Arguments against racism could be aimed at persuading the erstwhile racist. Racism is a potent charge today because past campaigns against racism as a moral wrong have largely succeeded in dominating the culture. But, for partisans contesting an election, getting out our vote and suppressing their vote competes for resources against any plan to persuade on policy grounds. Judicious choices, indeed.

Politics may be paid for by the 0.1% but it is staffed by the 10% and if the 10% are happy enough with their lot, not much is going to happen, not many thoughts truly subversive of the <1% are going to rattle around in the political discourse. At least, they will not be mouthed by anyone credibly threatening to enact effective policy or build institutions to sustain such policy. And, charges of racism or sexism can be deployed in a rear-guard action against such as do appear from stage left, even as the main guns are deployed against those stage right. The partisan right can pick up the powerful cudgels the bought-and-paid-for "left" leave idle and make comical use of them, as when Trump pummeled Clinton for her ties to Goldman Sachs before appointing Goldman Sachs alumni to his Administration (as Obama had done before him with Goldman and other big bank alumni). All that does is remind us that both Parties are pro-plutocratic; people might as well not-vote or vote at random, as vote in response to anything politicians promise or advocate. For the majority of the electorate, any vote for a viable candidate is arguably a vote against their own economic interest. That's not necessarily true for the 10% and they will rationalize their own random allegiances with whatever brand of righteousness they have at home.

54

soru 09.12.17 at 8:50 pm

My explanation is this: republican racism is not the only explanation but it is always an explanation -or part of it.

‘It’s racism, stupid’ is about as much accuracy as you can fit into 3 words, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t more to be said.

TNC’s recent Nation piece expanded it somewhat: ‘the Republican party is the party of whites’. Democrats can appeal to poor whites _or_ educated whites, but struggle to appeal to both simultaneously. Republicans don’t have to choose; a single message is enough.

Now, the one universal demand of whites-qua-whites is that they not be condemned as racist. It may be expressed differently, but that motive unites the North and the South, (R) and the (D), the fa and the antifa.

The (D) strategy for meeting that demand is mostly to tell people to not _be_ racist. Unfortunately, at an individual level, it turns out that this is approximately as hard as vegetarianism, quitting smoking, or daily jogging. Some will manage it, but any alternative that doesn’t require so much damn effort will be tempting.

The (R) messaging strategy doesn’t have that problem; it simply says ‘you are not racist’. Whether or not its true, it doesn’t require any action from the listener. And you can’t beat free as a price.

Obama did have a killer message: ‘you are not racist if you vote for me’. Which worked, for him.

Another (D) politician might try to play the (R) game, and say ‘you are not racist if you support lower taxes, sensible immigration restrictions, or full jails’. But a (R) can always outbid them: ‘you are not racist even if you support the government going bankrupt, stupid and cruel immigration rules, or the death penalty for innocents’.

Given intra-(R) conflicts, that bidding process inevitably escalates. Which is how we ultimately ended up with Trump saying ‘you are not racist even if you march with Nazis in support of slavers’.

Maybe that will be visibly stupid enough to make an alternative strategy take off. Maybe one based on engineering society in such a way that there is no requirement for everyone to be _individually_ responsible for heroic efforts to avoid bias.

55

Raven 09.12.17 at 9:23 pm

J-D @ 46: “look at people who didn’t vote at the last election”
A lot of them tried to vote (Democratic) and weren’t allowed to, due to the Republican Party’s very successful voter-suppression efforts. You need not so much “look at” nor “appeal to” those people as act in their interest (and your own) by re-enfranchising them. But then the Democratic Party has been trying to do just that — e.g. helping voters get IDs in red states that instituted voter-ID laws; it’s just been a rear-guard battle.

56

J-D 09.12.17 at 10:43 pm

bob mcmanus

I repeat. I am not so focused on Presidential races.

Why do you repeat it? Nothing in my comment was specific to Presidential races. Please, reread my comment and then tell me what made you think I was referring to Presidential races. I’d really like to know. I don’t want to be giving people the wrong idea.

Now, I’m going to repeat my mathematical comment:

Mathematically, if all the people who did not vote at the last election (but were eligible to) vote Democratic at the next election — and if all the people who voted Democratic at the last election also vote Democratic at the next election — then the Democrats will win by a comfortable margin, no matter how the people who voted Republican at the last election vote at the next one.

In which elections is that not true?

Next, I’m going to repeat my observations on strategy:

For the Democrats, prioritising attracting votes from people who voted Republican at the last election over attracting votes from people who did not vote at the last election would be a poor strategic choice. If you’re looking for a ‘target-rich environment’ (to use your term), look at people who didn’t vote at the last election.

In which elections do those observations not apply (and why not)?

Finally, I’m going to answer your question:

I want 30+ statehouses, both chambers. What’s your plan.

I don’t have a plan. I don’t know how to get people to vote one way or another. I know how I make up my mind about how to vote, but it appears that most people approach it differently, and I have little or no insight into effective ways to appeal to them. But the mathematical and strategic errors I have detected don’t stop being errors just because I have no election-winning plan.

57

Helen 09.12.17 at 11:52 pm

If we are disparaging birtherism, we are not expressing our disappointment that Obama proved to be such a reliable friend of the plutocracy.

…As Dr House was heard to say once, when we assume, we make an ass of you and me….

58

alfredlordbleep 09.12.17 at 11:58 pm

Bruce Wilder wind up @53

Reduced to slogan—
Of course, Gore Vidal simply referred to (the United States of Amnesia) a one party state, the party of property.

The Federalist Society, now the feeder of extreme right-wing judges to the High Court pictures a dream world of long-ago as a property-owning democracy.

59

J-D 09.13.17 at 2:14 am

bruce wilder

I think it has always been about the money: that is, politics is always at its core a struggle over power, which is to say, a struggle over the distribution of income, wealth and status, and American politics is, too.

That’s clear; but reading on, another question comes into my mind on which your position is not quite as clear. That question is this: Is the struggle between the Democratic Party and the Republican Party a struggle over the distribution of income, wealth and status (in America)? When you write that both parties are pro-plutocratic, it seems as if you take the view that they both have the same position on the distribution of income, wealth and status in America and therefore that this, the distributional issue, is not what they are struggling over. But I may have misunderstood you there, so I’ll consider both possibilities.

On the one hand, if I’ve understood correctly, your position is that American politics is a struggle over how income, wealth and status are to be distributed (in America); but the struggle between Democrats and Republicans is not a struggle over how income, wealth and status are to be distributed in America. If that’s your view, then it follows necessarily that the struggle between Democrats and Republicans is not where American politics is going on, that American politics is going on somewhere (or perhaps I should write somehow) else and the struggle between Democrats and Republicans is separate from it. If that’s your view, then it’s clear enough, although it needs to be stated with great explicitness for clarity because otherwise confusion will result, because mostly when people talk about ‘American politics’, the struggle between Democrats and Republicans is precisely what they mean. Also, if that’s your view, it leaves open the question of what the struggle between Democrats and Republicans is about, if it’s separate from the struggle of American politics; and the question of where (or how) the struggle of American politics is taking place, if it’s not the struggle between Democrats and Republicans.

On the other hand is the possibility that American politics is a struggle over the distribution of income, wealth and status in America and that the struggle between Democrats and Republicans is also a struggle over the distribution of income, wealth and status in America, which fits with the common usage in which ‘American politics’ means (or mostly means) ‘the struggle between Democrats and Republicans’. But if that’s so, then, even if Democrats and Republicans are both generally pro-plutocratic, it necessarily follows that they don’t have the same position on the distributional issue, that they must have different positions, even if those different positions can both be covered by the broad description ‘pro-plutocratic’; which leaves open the question of what their differences are, on the distributional issue.

60

Raven 09.13.17 at 2:29 am

bad Jim @ 45: “Everyone knows that racism is wrong”

Errr, you have heard, have you not, of the quite unapologetic “alt-right”?

A political grouping or tendency mixing racism, white nationalism, anti-Semitism and populism; a name currently embraced by some white supremacists and white nationalists to refer to themselves and their ideology, which emphasizes preserving and protecting the white race in the United States.

61

J-D 09.13.17 at 3:33 am

icastico

47: yes.

A fair answer.

A follow-up question: which is closest to Kevin Drum’s intended meaning?

Alternative follow-up question: which is closest to the truth, and which furthest from it?

62

Heim 09.13.17 at 6:16 am

In trying to find a parallel here think to the minimum wage issue. For example if we reduced the minimum wage by say $2 an hour would the Republican party coaltion still exist?
I suggest yes. If one took the race issue away from the “moderate Republican” Republican party would the Republican party coaltion still exist? I suggest no.

63

bob mcmanus 09.13.17 at 9:46 am

J-D: that the struggle between Democrats and Republicans is also a struggle over the distribution of income, wealth and status in America

Well, Wilder tends to be more institutional than I (tho he does mention the top 10%), and I am a little more sociological, but I sometimes think we have, or have recreated, something of a patronage system akin to the other Gilded Age. For example, HRC gets a 1.5 billion dollars in campaign dollars in campaign money that does not all go to Penn or Mook’s bank account, some goes to local tv stations, some goes to an organizer of GOTV operations in Raleigh, and somebody gets $5-10k to draw the fonts for posters in Cleveland. Some goes to Wasserman-Schulz IT guy. I would be interested in a solid breakdown on the Democratic superdelegates, who they are and what they do, because they are likely small-scale power brokers in their localities, and this is one of the factors in the current competition between Clinton/Obama and Sanders supporters. Older vs younger poster designers. There is a lot of overlap between direct political money and various NGO distributions, I remember Deray McKesson showing up in Ferguson and after getting some NGO job*. When they said Sanders didn’t reach out to black people, what they are saying in part is that Sanders didn’t contact and reassure the right black people, older power brokers.

Of course, Republicans and Kochs have their own distributional networks.

Money means power, and power trickles down into jobs, resources, and loyalty.

*Wiki:”Mckesson was an organizer in Baltimore City as a teenager, notably as the Chairman of Youth As Resources, Baltimore’s youth-led grant-making organization. After graduation Mckesson began his education career by working for Teach for America for two years in a New York City elementary school.[8] Mckesson later worked as special assistant in the office of human capital with the Baltimore City Public Schools, for the Harlem’s Children’s Zone, and as a human resources official at Minneapolis Public Schools.[9][10] In June, 2016, he was appointed Baltimore City Schools’ interim chief human capital officer, i.e., chief personnel officer, by district CEO Sonja Santelises”

Not to single out McKesson or to criticize, but I have just followed him a little. 32, he supported Sanders in the primary. And of course, the jobs and loyalty are connected to idealism and good works.

64

Heim 09.13.17 at 10:34 am

The Sanders response to BLM with All Lives Matter is what hurt him. To his credit after the reaction Sanders kind of got it.

65

bob mcmanus 09.13.17 at 10:56 am

Umm, and if I get enraged when Marcotte or Lemieux talk about “Bernie-bros” or Sanders hanging on too long in the primaries, keep 63 in mind. I can’t say why Mckesson supported Sanders in the primaries, but I suspect he had reasons beyond personal interests and ambitions.

66

J-D 09.13.17 at 11:13 am

bob mcmanus
I’m not sure whether that’s actually supposed to be any kind of response to my comment; if it is, then the intended relationship between my comment and yours is obscure to me.

67

bob mcmanus 09.13.17 at 12:03 pm

64: Well, you know, Mckesson is a loyal Party member, working with kids in Baltimore and Harlem, so he wouldn’t even think about Obama “having to make a living” (LGM) at a half a million a speech, and I suppose he could hit the kids for pennies in order to pay Clinton for the $3000 good seats on her book tour.

68

alfredlordbleep 09.13.17 at 12:52 pm

In Dems vs Repubs there is always a question of posturing, but yesterday’s post on NY magazine is both timely and a stab of reality (see J-D’s wind up @59)

Congressional Republicans claim to believe that the deficit must be cut; the tax filing process, simplified; and the poor, given incentives to escape poverty through hard work.

Sardonic liberal bloggers, by contrast, claim that the congressional GOP believes in (virtually) nothing, save the Über-wealthy’s god-given right to their pretax income
.
In late July, House Republicans decided to settle this dispute in the latter’s favor: In an undercovered committee report, Paul Ryan’s caucus introduced a plan to expand the deficit; make tax filing more arduous for low-income families; reduce the rewards of employment for the working poor; and make it easier for billionaires to evade taxes — all at the same time!

. . . More critically, the GOP’s proposal is likely to cost the government more money than it saves. This is because:

(1) The administrative costs of corroborating the income information of all 28 million annual EITC filers would be immense.

(2) When you shake down working-poor tax cheats, relatively little cash falls out of their pockets: CBPP writes that, “the average EITC claim is $2,482, and overclaim errors are often a few hundred dollars.”

(3) The more resources the IRS devotes to chasing that chump change, the less they can spend on auditing the very rich or major corporations —endeavors that routinely win the government hundred of thousands, or even millions, of dollars. When the IRS goes after the big fish, its efforts are so remunerative that the Treasury Department estimates that for every $1 the government spends on tax compliance, it gets $6 back in recovered tax revenue.

That last point is crucial. Since taking Congress in 2010, Republicans have drastically reduced the IRS’s budget, despite the fact that these cuts actually cost the government money. And the White House has proposed cutting the agency’s funding further still — even though the president would also like to enact a tax cut for pass-through businesses, a proposal that would invite mass tax evasion from high-income individuals unless abuse of the provision were strictly policed.—Eric Levitz September 12, 2017 N Y magazine

[emphasis added]

reminder: you’ll get there faster to zero taxation on inheritance and income from wealth with the right wing party. It’s been party ideologist Ryan’s core dogma for ages and party presidential candidates’ position unless a top contender who requires, well, posturing (Romney 2012) or lying. (Believe, me, I read minds).

69

bob mcmanus 09.13.17 at 1:23 pm

I guess a 50 million dollar book deal doesn’t go as far as it used. Let me check my SS account, wouldn’t want Obama to starve.

But my larger point was a supplement to Wilder, that are probably thousands of Democrats, gender and ethnicity unspecified, that make 5, 6 or 7 figures from the Clinton/Obama corruption machine. It is not only about the plutocrats.

And there should be absolutely no doubt that we have Senators scrambling over each other, like rats to a lifeboat, to jump onto the Sanders single-payer bandwagon, solely and entirely because Sanders ran hard and Clinton lost the general. Harris is looking better, but has a ways to go before I trust her.

The Sanders kids are losing the intra-party battles, so it may take a couple more humiliations and tragedies to turn the Democratic Party into something better than a grifter and graft machine.

70

bruce wilder 09.13.17 at 2:30 pm

J-D @ 59

There ought to be more to reasoning than dichotomies of A and not-A. When you find yourself considering “both possibilities”, you ought to have some argument for why two exhausts the range of possibility. Also, logic does not actually require not-A to be a singular and diametrically opposed mirror image of A.

You have worked your mind into a corner where you imagine that I could hold the conviction that American politics is fundamentally a struggle over the distribution of power etc, but somehow the two U.S. political Parties are not engaged in politics. That seems to me such an odd and implausible interpretation of my remarks, I must wonder why you would introduce it argumentatively in a comment.

Perhaps you could troll someone else.

You have just witnessed an American Presidential campaign. On the Democratic side, an outsider candidate pressed the Party to adopt a stance, in funding and policy, hostile to the plutocracy, and lost. In the other Party, a reality teevee celebrity and billionaire walked away with the nomination by mouthing faux-populist sound bites and exploiting big differences of opinion between the Republican electorate and the politicians that make up its established elite.

In the lastest business cycle — the Obama recovery — all the economic gains in national income have gone to the 1%. The Democratic candidate, closely associated with the policies that brought that result about, lost the most recent election. Perhaps because a lot of people eligible to vote did not see the point. Perhaps because some took a flyer on change by voting for the clown running against the resume. And in the aftermath, an off-heard narrative explains that this election result was brought about by nefarious Russians!

It is hard not to be cynical, but apparently very easy to be stupid and / or righteous.

71

kidneystones 09.13.17 at 3:16 pm

Drum and Marcotte are doing what Democrats do best – wasting time while Trump runs rings around both the establishment of both parties. I can’t frankly think of a more pointless discussion than – how racist are Republicans? What happens when they arrive at an answer? What changes? Zip.

A better questions is what are Dems actually doing to demonstrate they’re going to improve conditions for the majority of Americans? Because the answer over the last 8 years at the local, state, and national level is clearly nowhere near enough. They’re losing, and continuing to lose, and because they’re losing at the local and state level, there is no bumper crop of bright young politicians capable of seizing power from a corrupt geritocracy who might, maybe, someday toss Amanda a crumb, or two. I recall her gushing over her photo-op with Bill Clinton – utterly revolting.

Dems better do something other than huddle in their enclave cocoons talking to themselves about how evil and racist Republicans are because Trump is carving his way into the middle even as he’s being denounced as a racist by pundits most Americans ignore. And if he can keep America out of any new wars, cut a few compromise deals with Dems, and keep the stock market up, he’ll help Republicans do well in 2018 and cackle all the way to 2020 watching Kevin and Amanda. The gullible believe that cause Bannon is out of the WH, Trump now suddenly forgot how to get the media to chase bright shiny objects.

http://www.rasmussenreports.com/public_content/politics/trump_administration/september_2017/most_voters_welcome_trump_s_outreach_to_congressional_democrats

72

TM 09.13.17 at 4:23 pm

I was puzzled by the latest mcmanus posts until I realized that he’s talking to himself.

73

bruce wilder 09.13.17 at 4:38 pm

alfredlordbleep @ 68
J-D @ 59

The Republicans and Democrats can both be pro-plutocracy Parties, in different ways and with different political strategies, ideologies and policy programs.

My point in labeling both Parties, pro-plutocracy — besides descriptive accuracy — was to highlight that a great majority of the actual and potential electorate finds the resulting unresponsiveness of the political system, frustrating and de-moralizing.

When one reads a narrative of the naked greed, corruption and viciousness of Republicans like that presented in the Eric Levitz September 12, 2017 N Y magazine article quoted above, one might well think the Democrats would gleefully take up the good fight in opposition and win elections to general acclaim. But, we would not have arrived at such a pass as this, if the Democrats were capable of effective opposition on clear, untarnished principles as champions of the general good. (hah!)

Less and less do I understand this fixation on there being some difference between the Parties, which small difference is suppose to be enough to redeem one Party or Candidate over the other and that’s all we need to know. Of course, there are differences between the Parties. That’s not what matters. What matters is the dynamic set in motion by the restricted range of those differences.

Sometimes like others I have used the label “neoliberal” for this tick-tock pattern of politics, where Reagan is followed by Clinton, Thatcher by Blair. I often point out that neoliberalism’s great strength is that it isn’t one fixed thing, but an adaptive dialectic between a right neoliberalism and a left neoliberalism sharing many of the same assumptions and not incidentally paid for by the same corporate Media and similar sets of donors to academia and think tanks and the like. The critical genesis of that dialectic was the decision of the nominal left to surrender in the perpetual economic war between the classes, to abandon the role of champion of the working classes, in the 1970s or 1980s. Looking back, there’s an inevitability to that political development, driven by the evolution of the economy; it is very stark in Britain as coal and steel fade away and is tied to the rise of global finance thruout the developed world. (The self-destruction of the Democratic Party as a party of the people, did not happen all at once, but it has happened (and not incidentally, electoral support for the traditional centrist social democratic parties have collapsed in many countries at nearly the same time).

So, now we are here, having travelled this path, and the much abused interests of what used to be the working and merely middle classes are struggling to find advocates and political means, and those interests, with somewhat inchoate understanding, are up against an elite political establishment of corporate Media and Political Parties dependent on their well-established donor classes (and we know who those people are), journalists and political operatives pursuing their careers on well-trodden paths. Those are the chattering classes and they are going to tell us stories.

For a popular Party or movement, driven by the interests of its mass membership, the challenge is to control its own leadership. For a plutocratic Party, the problem is to manipulate its electoral base and prevent the base from getting any ideas. Plutocratic Parties, without effective opposition, can also face the problem that their greed undermines the ability of the society and economy as a whole to function; left to their own devices, without effective pushback, their predatory impulses destroy all below them. Those are different kinds of struggles. In the U.S., there’s a struggle going on, over whether the Democratic Party is going to continue to be a plutocratic party and its establishment is being challenged and is fighting back with gaslighting and intra-party shenanigans. And, in the halls of power there’s another struggle, over whether a dominant Republican Party can function as a technically competent governing party at all.

74

TM 09.13.17 at 6:51 pm

BW 70: “There ought to be more to reasoning than dichotomies of A and not-A.”

Maybe there are other possibilities than “politics is all about money” and “politics is not all about money”? E. g. abortion – is it either about money or is it not part of politics, or am I getting the dialectics wrong? Rhetorical question, no need to answer.

75

J-D 09.13.17 at 11:59 pm

bruce wilder
You have fallen victim to one of the classic blunders. Two that have attracted some attention are ‘getting involved in a land war in Asia’ and ‘going in against a Sicilian when death is on the line’, but perhaps more generally relevant is ‘thinking people know what you mean’. You think I know what you mean. You are mistaken. I don’t know what you mean. What do you suggest we do about that?

76

Raven 09.14.17 at 12:25 am

bruce wilder @ 70: “The Democratic candidate… lost the most recent election. Perhaps because a lot of people eligible to vote did not see the point.”

Actually, on the record, a lot of people eligible to vote (and likely to vote Democratic) got blocked from the polls during the most recent election.

For instance, in Wisconsin, a normally Dem-voting state which went to Trump by just 22,000 votes, the newly instituted voter-ID law had been projected to block 300,000 legal registered voters“disproportionately African-American and Latino voters”.

GOP politicians even boasted about their intentions and results with those tactics, so trying to blame the voters now carries no credibility.

77

Belle Waring 09.14.17 at 1:41 am

kidneystones: people are capable of holding more than one though in their heads. It is perfectly possible to consider the extent to which racism rather than any sort of economic rationalism motivates the behavior of Trump voter and Trump himself vs. the orthodox Republican apparatchiks such as Ryan while simultaneously supporting Medicare for all and the development of detailed Democratic policy proposals while out of office so as to be able to enact them more quickly when (God willing and the creek don’t rise) the time comes.

78

Raven 09.14.17 at 3:02 am

bad Jim @ 45: “Everyone knows that racism is wrong”

Yeah, argue with them.

(The background.)

79

Chet Murthy 09.14.17 at 4:41 am

72 “TM” : “I was puzzled by the latest mcmanus posts until I realized that he’s talking to himself.”

Dude, you’re too funny. +1000

(Not) Shorter: Thank you.

80

Raven 09.14.17 at 5:58 am

J-D @ 75: Just as frustrating to deal with are those who assert that they do certainly know what you mean, and that it isn’t what you assert you mean (no matter how hard you insist), but something else entirely….

In either case, to me there appears to be a very firm assertion of telepathy involved.

*sigh*

81

kidneystones 09.14.17 at 7:09 am

77@ I question what the utility of the answer might be. What do you plan to do with the answer, precisely?

Here’s a little reminder from NPR: http://www.npr.org/2016/03/04/469052020/the-democratic-party-got-crushed-during-the-obama-presidency-heres-why

I realize that characterizing the Obamas as American royalty, just like the Bush and the Clinton clans, is something of a no-no these parts. But that’s my view all the same. As noted, 75 percent of California’s African-American males of high-school age can’t meet basic literacy standards. That seems to me a much, much more pressing issue.

I agree, btw, that we can keep more than one idea in our heads. What I don’t get is why one of these might be trying to gauge how racist Republican actually are? The problem, btw, if we must address that topic, isn’t the percentage of Republicans who might be racist, but of Dems. Left-leaning folks like to keep things simple, I know, “we good, moral, clever,” they “bad”.

My favorite “analytical” statement on Amanda and Kevin’s “discussion” of moral purity comes from Shepard’s Sincere Convert: “if thou hast any good thing in thee, it is but a drop of poison in a bowl of rosewater.”

Shepard’s theology has rightly been described, imho, as one entirely devoid of both charity and common sense, but for my money the Puritans can’t be beat when it comes to the poetry of evil and eternal damnation. Nothing like a little perspective when we’re busy uncovering the evil residing in the hearts of others.

Presbyterian Magazine 1821
https://books.google.co.jp/books?id=y90cAQAAMAAJ&pg=PA195&lpg=PA195&dq=a+drop+of+rosewater+in+a+bowl+of+poison&source=bl&ots=lP9sX5X_qy&sig=o4A1zXWdSzmvt0-IxjdJEhQwC3o&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwjFrbPnjaTWAhUCVLwKHbOgCgIQ6AEIPzAJ#v=onepage&q=a%20drop%20of%20rosewater%20in%20a%20bowl%20of%20poison&f=false

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TM 09.14.17 at 8:00 am

Raven “Just as frustrating to deal with are those who assert that they do certainly know what you mean, and that it isn’t what you assert you mean”

I encountered those too. I once pointed out that we don’t have access to other people’s (unexpressed) thoughts and feelings and should refrain from imputing ideas and beliefs on other discussants. Some might remember how contentious that suggestion turned out to be.

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Peter T 09.14.17 at 1:11 pm

Racism it is:

https://piie.com/system/files/documents/wp17-7.pdf

But why be surprised? The US is, much more than most western countries, patronal – an intricate web of connections and favours directing resources at local and state level. Since it is an entrenched two-party state, there is a strong winner takes all element (unlike, say, post-war Italy, where spoils were divided by party in accord with their relative strengths). Patronalism plus strong party affiliation hands power to the plutocracy, as rents are gathered at the top to be distributed downward. This was always there, although it has became much more open and less balanced by other forces over the last thirty years.

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bruce wilder 09.14.17 at 2:59 pm

J-D @ 75

I took your comment @ 59 to expose your effort to understand my remarks, and I find your effort in that regard to be misguided to the point of being passive-aggressive. Which aggression continues @75 with what seems to be a gratuitous insult. Again, I ask you to troll someone else.

Raven @ 76

I was not blaming voters. But, you make a good point.

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J-D 09.15.17 at 1:07 am

bruce wilder

I took your comment @ 59 to expose your effort to understand my remarks …

Correct (except, possibly, for the use of the word ‘expose’; I don’t know whether that’s correct because I don’t understand it). The reason I was making an effort to understand your remarks is that I did not understand your remarks. I still don’t. I don’t understand the remainder of your latest comment, either. What do you suggest we do about that?

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Orange Watch 09.15.17 at 7:17 pm

Raven@80:

Just as frustrating to deal with are those who assert that they do certainly know what you mean, and that it isn’t what you assert you mean (no matter how hard you insist), but something else entirely….

More or less frustrating than those who assert that you know what they mean, and that it’s completely straightforward and unambiguous (no matter how hard you insist), and that any “failure” to understand is a sign of ignorance, character faults, or bad faith?

Because we also get that around here, and to me there appears to be a very firm assertion of telepathy involved in those instances as well.

*sigh*

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Orange Watch 09.15.17 at 7:21 pm

@19 in re: TNC’s Atlantic piece:

Counterpoint: https://www.theatlantic.com/notes/2017/09/ta-nehisi-coates-george-packer-white-president/539976/

When you construct an entire teleology on one cause—even a cause as powerful and abiding as white racism—you face the temptation to leave out anything that complicates the thesis. So Coates minimizes sexism—Trump’s disgusting language and the visceral hatred of many of his supporters for Hillary Clinton—background noise. He downplays xenophobia, even though foreigners were far more often the objects of Trump’s divisive rhetoric and policy proposals than black Americans. (Of all his insults, the only one Trump felt obliged to withdraw was his original foray into birtherism.) Coates doesn’t try to explain why, at one point in the campaign, a plurality of Republicans supported Ben Carson over the other nine candidates, all white. He omits the weird statistic that slightly more black and Latino voters and slightly fewer whites went for Trump than for Mitt Romney. He doesn’t even mention the estimated eight and a half million Americans who voted for President Obama and then for Trump—even though they made the difference. No need to track the descending nihilism of the Republican Party. The urban-rural divide is a sham.

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Raven 09.15.17 at 10:04 pm

Orange Watch @ 86: That’s exactly what my #80 was replying about (in J-D’s #75), thus “In either case, to me there appears to be a very firm assertion of telepathy involved.”

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