226 Comments

The diversity training stuff is a real issue that motivates a lot of voters. It is an effort to make corporate America less hostile to us and try and protect us from discrimination. There have always been entire occupations that are essentially closed to us (college professors for instance) but in recent years all white collar occupations have become difficult to work in if you don't believe in wokeness/DEI.

The other real issue is education. CRT in schools is widespread and yes we use that term to describe a variety of bad things that may or may not be in a CRT textbook. Getting rid of advanced math classes and shutting down schools that accept the top kids based on standardized tests are two examples. The Kendi idea of teaching kids to hate each other based on race is toxic and parents don't like it. We were actually taught in school that we should have a fair color blind society and now that has been completely flipped and our kids are being taught to obsess over race and support racial discrimination and identitarianism.

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This is bizarre. Like bizarro world weird.

Like you can't say whoppers like "CRT in schools is widespread" unless you want us to inspect the rest of your claims with more scrutiny. If you could define what you think CRT is rather that rely on the big Fox News, Christopher Rufo, boogieman abstraction, that'd be great. If it includes your claim that they are "teaching kids to hate each other based on race," it would really help clarify what you're even talking about.

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"Let's argue about the semantics of CRT" is the most tiresome form of engaging with people's concerns about the race and gender essentialism of the modern woke/DEI/HR paradigm.

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Given how rare actual CRT is in practice, it’s not just “semantics”. To some folks, teaching that Jim Crow was a thing or that slavery was the reason behind the Civil War is “CRT”.

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Literally no one cares if what they are describing is "actual" CRT. At no point has anyone suggested that Bell and Crenshaw texts are being put on elementary school reading lists and that's what they're mad about.

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Then what are they mad about?

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Roughly:

Pervasive affirmative action based on some weird "progressive" version of the one drop rule of racial classification that also applies to "gender identity" somehow.

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Bingo.

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founding

Wait, is gender essentialism part of this now? If you’re going to make a claim like that, then it’s clear that whatever you’re complaining about is only a small fraction of the relevant contemporary left social issues, many of which go precisely the opposite direction.

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I mean the gender stuff is even more of an incoherent clusterfuck than the racial stuff, but yes there's a core project of intersectional identitarian essentialism that encompasses race and gender identity ideologies emanating from social science academia via HR/DEI and Ed primarily.

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The shift from "fundamentally, we are all human and we're all in this together" to increasingly hyper-specific and multidimensional categorization/binning was a jarring development on the broader left-of-center. I preferred the old vision.

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These discussions are indeed infuriating.

How about - where is this actually affecting the people complaining about it in meaningful ways that can be addressed by government Policy

Is this about a privileged subset with access to all the resources also demanding access to the topmost educational institutions for their based on test scores and not other factors? Or is it just people mad they have to sit through annoying sexual harassment training videos that are just a dumb cya for the corporate attorneys?

And how about even better than defining a grievance, actually defining a proposal to fix the grievance that actually makes sense, is constitutional and achievable.

Otherwise its just rabble rousing bullshit.

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Jan 2, 2023·edited Jan 2, 2023

Again, insulting us and claiming it's not real does not work for those of us who are seeing it all the time. I gave two examples but you did not give any real evidence, just ad hominem insults. For a CRT definition check Chris Rufo's web site.

I'm not here to try and convert crazy people to my side-- that doesn't work. I'm looking for legal protections from you at school and work.

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Before this conversation devolves into the usual shouting match over what is/isn't CRT, do you have some falsifiable test for whether CRT is really widespread in schools? I live in an extremely liberal college town and I can assure you that my kids are still taught the basic values of a colorblind society where everyone is treated fairly; Yglesias has argued similarly about the actual education his kids are receiving; as have many other liberals in this comment section. Are those anecdotes sufficient counter evidence? If not, what would be sufficient?

From my opposite perspective, I find it telling that there's now a cottage industry of substacks/podcasts focused on wokeness in schools (Bari Weiss, of note) and their examples are almost always from tony liberal private schools. In fact, I don't think I've ever seen Weiss write about school wokeness in a generic public school, even in a liberal state. That, to me, indicates this is still a highly niche phenomena in real life and mostly a moral panic online.

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Also, as Matt has (correctly) argued many times, this is a very big country so you'll always be able to find some crazy people somewhere if you look hard enough. If you go out of your way to ingest content that makes a concerted effort to aggregate that stuff, you'll easily be able to feed your paranoia that it's everywhere. The exact same thing could be done in the opposite direction: I'm sure you could find lots of racist or anti-gay or etc. public employees in Mississippi or wherever if you looked hard enough.

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Sure, but I just wish people would state whether they think something is good or bad rather than deflecting based on the presumed permeation of it (or lack thereof). I don't think those on the right have any problem denouncing racism, for instance.

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People on the right do exactly the same thing you're complaining about here.

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Imagine the discourse if "the left" wanted to wage a moral panic culture war over intelligent design being taught in BFE country bumpkin schools, subtly grooming kids to be susceptible to the clergy and their sexual advances!

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Spot on Evan. This BigThink publication (excellent btw) on substack ran a piece on “collective illusions.” Unfortunately, seems this phenomenon is being exploited by enemies foreign and domestic.

See here:

https://bigthink.com/series/collective-illusions/

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Jan 2, 2023·edited Jan 2, 2023

I get the desire to ask "how big is this problem, really?": it's a fair question as far as it goes and I'm very interested in an answer.

But I don't think "is it widespread?" is the only relevant question - no one wants to fight a war inside the castle walls, right?

I also live in a deep-blue college town and my kids have had the opposite experience. At our schools, color-blind ideals are treated with suspicion and hostility: if you articulate them, the best case is that people treat you like a benighted rube that needs to be educated. More often, you'll be accused of harming people, which I've seen with my own eyes in person, on social media, and in letters to the editor of our local paper.

Ideally we'd all just say "hey, local school boards get to decide," but at least where I live, school boards are only semi-democratic (don't get me wrong, I'm not sure we can do much better): most seats are uncontested (or stand vacant!). To make matters worse, people that stir the pot on culture war issues are quickly branded racists, which creates an enormous risk for parents whose kids are still in school. I think there's got to be a way to stand against the excesses in good faith without incurring all that risk, but I haven't seen anyone figure it out yet.

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I agree that both stock and flow is important, but a major component of the anti-CRT grievance is the claim that it's rapidly accelerating. If it was just a baseline level of liberals having liberal views the answer would be to shrug, or find ways of persuading them. But the implication that this is a "culture" that's going to spread to YOUR school and YOUR kids next is what drives the panic and, more recently, heavy-handed policies to clamp down on progressive wrongthink. Is there actual evidence that it's rapidly accelerating?

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You keep moving the goal posts here. First your questions were "is CRT happening anywhere beyond a few isolated and extreme examples". Now it's "the whole point is that it's accelerating, if it's not spreading it's all a moral panic". Now come further demands for evidence in a Substack comment section - where's your evidence that it's not accelerating?

The spirit of this comment reminds me of a quote I saw somewhere and saved:

"Do you have a source on that?

Source?

A source. I need a source.

Sorry, I mean I need a source that explicitly states your argument. This is just tangential to the discussion.

No, you can't make inferences and observations from the sources you've gathered. Any additional comments from you MUST be a subset of the information from the sources you've gathered.

You can't make normative statements from empirical evidence.

Do you have a degree in that field?

A college degree? In that field?

Then your arguments are invalid.

No, it doesn't matter how close those data points are correlated. Correlation does not equal causation.

Correlation does not equal causation.

CORRELATION. DOES. NOT. EQUAL. CAUSATION.

You still haven't provided me a valid source yet.

Nope, still haven't."

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I have children in public schools in a red state and I'm basing my analysis purely on their school district. It is not a moral panic online for me personally. I cant say a lot more without saying exactly where I live though. I don't really base my opinions on this subject on statistics or news articles although that would be a good thing to look at. There was a paper out recently from Eric Kaufmann who polled kids about CRT concepts and found that the vast majority had been taught the concepts in school.

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You're a Christopher Rufo disciple, but don't base your opinions on "statistics" or "news articles?"

Honestly, who do you think you're fooling?

Can you tell us what are these nefarious CRT concepts?

Or is it as vague as you've said "We use CRT to describe a spectrum of bad behavior and wrong ideas that were thrust on us in 2020."

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Is there a way to block trolls on substack Matt?

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What are we supposed to take away from these examples, which are all aimed at teachers and not students? Is it bad for teachers to learn about the experiences of others? Is it bad for teachers to allow multiple entry points for students to discuss? Is there something inherently inaccurate about the "Four I's of Oppression"? Should Salvadoran Migration to the US not be taught in schools? What's the actual critique here?

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Jan 2, 2023·edited Jan 2, 2023

That's a pretty discouraging response. If your mental model of your opponent pits them against common sense (e.g. "is it bad for teachers to allow multiple entry points for students to discuss?") you aren't trying hard enough to understand what they want.

KV34 listed quite a few things in the CA curriculum: if you really can't at least recognize why someone would object to parts of that list, you probably won't have productive discussions with people about these topics.

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So in other words, this is not happening, and even if it is happening, it's good that it's happening?

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Why would teachers have to go through this if the goal wasn't for them to teach the same things to their students? It is not bad for teachers and students to learn about the experience of others, but it is bad for students (and teachers) to be told implicitly or even explicitly through this cirriculum that they are oppressors or oppressed based on their skin color or sex. And that is not the worst of it. During the development of this cirriculum there was a prescribed lesson in which teachers lead their students in worship of Aztec gods of death. It was removed for obvious 1st Amendment reasons, but the worst aspects of Kendi-ism are all over this cirriculum.

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You'd be surprised to learn that "CRT" is not at all related to ethnic essentialism.

You'd be surprised that anything mentioning "race" and anything that's "critical" is not CRT either.

But if you want to get into the social, cultural, and political structural reasons why cops are disproportionately white, and renters are disproportionately non-white, and cops disproportionately surveil neighborhoods with more rented properties, then maybe you're on to something that doesn't have anything to do with whites having an essentialist "cop cranial structure" or some sort of innate predisposition.

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You'll find that I didn't throw out any ad hominems. After all you're just an anonymous person on the internet.

But if your "legal protections" wind up propagating further legal discriminations, it'd probably be worth getting the story straight rather than rely on Christopher Rufo.

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Rufo is a schmuck, but the Tema Okun/Saira Rao vision of DEI is also cuckoo bananas and appalling. "Rufo/Chaya Raichik are bad people and liars" is not actually responsive to the content of the things they amplify, no matter how true it may be.

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I think it’s really instructive in this CRT/Kendi/DEI debate to see how much less this stuff has been in the news last 6 months.

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We switched from bitching about Rufo to bitching about libsoftiktok and Elon Musk.

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I agree, there has been a vibe shift in a positive direction.

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It's probably most instructive to the debate to analyze the outcomes in the workplace and youth instead of conjuring up boogeymen from bad actors and pure theory.

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>>For a CRT definition check Chris Rufo's web site.<<

Where the hell is Matt advertising?

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https://www.city-journal.org/yes-critical-race-theory-is-being-taught-in-schools is a study about what "CRT concepts" are taught widely, based on a national survey. The authors give a working definition of what they mean by CRT with a list of fairly specific and neutrally worded concepts such as "gaps in pay between Whites and Blacks are mainly due to discrimination". It's interesting and IMO somewhat convincing (granted it was done by a conservative think-tank and details of how the survey was done haven't been published yet).

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I think there's probably much better "primary source" material to look at about what CRT is, rather than an opportunistically plucked public opinion survey with dubious methods.

You'd be surprised what people would say about a less arcane concept like "marxism." You could probably even get a majority of people claiming "Obamacare is marxist" if you didn't release your methodology.

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The survey asks clear factual questions about whether the respondents have encountered a claim, not whether they believe it, and it separates "I have heard <claim>" from "I have been taught <claim> in school by a teacher" (and then has a follow-up question on whether it was taught as a point of view or as unquestionable truth); it seems well done from the limited material that's available (they promise a full release in a few months).

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Yeah, and again, how many Americans would answer "I have heard the claim: Obamacare is marxist."

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Doesn't that just reinforce the point you're trying to argue against?

That many millions of Americans have heard that claim strikes me as a bad thing. You'd probably agree. And it would be worse if they were being taught that claim directly in schools.

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I’m often in disagreement with far-left takes on social issues, but I literally have not seen evidence of “woke schools”. DeSantis’ gay bill was so devoid of actual details that it’s impossible to say if/how it will ever be enforced - very likely just a publicity stunt.

I watched a segment on Florida local news about a school - in California - where a STUDENT posted a flyer about a family-friendly drag show OUTSIDE OF SCHOOL. It was seriously a 5 minute segment. The school was understandably like “we don’t check every single thing that goes up on the wall immediately”. This is when I was convinced the whole thing is a politically-motivated moral panic..

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Below is the BLM at Schools set of guiding principles. I thought Conor Friedersdorf captured some of the concerns with adoption of the curriculum in Evanston, IL well. I live close by but in a different school district. I'd say concern from parents is pretty widespread.

https://www.blacklivesmatteratschool.com/13-guiding-principles.html

https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2021/03/should-black-lives-matter-agenda-be-taught-school/618277/

https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2021/04/black-lives-matter-curriculum-has-unintended-lesson/618501/

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This is a good example and Friedersdorf is one of the writers on this issue who tries to seek out genuine discussion. But what are we actually talking about:

- Evantson voted >90% for Biden in 2020 (https://evanstonroundtable.com/2020/11/23/how-evanstonians-voted-in-the-nov-3-general-election/) and has voted to initiate a local program of slavery reparations. So we're talking about an extremely liberal community and not some generic district. Naturally their curriculum is going to skew more towards BLM.

- The curriculum being described is a single Week of Action, which both the parents and Friedersdorf describe as largely consistent with teaching empathy and tolerance. The specific negative examples Friedersdorf describes are not actually things that happened in the classroom, but rather certain study guides and suggested readings that he thinks *could* have some problematic implications. So far it's all hypotheticals.

- The curriculum was apparently developed by teachers and approved by the school board. A candidate that strongly disagrees with the curriculum (Muboyayi) ran for the school board in 2021 and lost (she's running again). There's no evidence that this was enacted against the wishes of parents or board members.

In other words, we have an example from one of the most extremely liberal districts in the country, it involves a single week of activities, it has yet to result in any specific problematic *in-class* interactions, and it has broad support from the local community.

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I think we’re talking about *very* radical ideas that are isolated from criticism:

From the lead ... “Not My Idea is also a jarringly didactic assignment for kindergartners.”

From the principles ... “The “Black villages” principle declares that “we are committed to disrupting the Western-prescribed nuclear family structure requirement by supporting each other as extended families and ‘villages’ that collectively care for one another, and especially ‘our’ children to the degree that mothers, parents and children are comfortable.”

From a parent ... “This parent requested anonymity because he fears the potential career repercussions of publicly criticizing an initiative touted as combatting racism. In his telling, his school district’s leadership frames any criticism of its “equity” curricula as “white supremacist thinking.”

Is it a problem parents with differing views won’t move to Evanston anymore? Long-term probably.

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Fortunately (?), I'm sure the ever-tightening gyre will ensure that the revolutionaries will eat their own over a much shorter timescale.

I wish we didn't have to depend on that feedback mechanism, though, and I deeply regret the third parties who will be harmed along the way.

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I think it's very hard to evaluate how "jarringly didactic" these assignments are without some description of how they are actually taught, something Friedersdorf didn't bother to report on. The only hard evidence we have is that the woman he interviewed got national press, ran for the school board, and lost -- suggesting her view is not widely held. Beyond that, I don't see how the parochial interests of a 90% Biden district are of national importance.

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I don’t understand this statement at all. He explains it in extensive detail:

For example, parents of kindergartners in District 65 were asked to spend time at home discussing a book on race that teachers had read aloud to their children.

Not My Idea: A Book About Whiteness, by Anastasia Higginbotham, begins with a white mother turning off a television set to prevent her little daughter from seeing footage of a white policeman shooting a Black man. “You don’t need to worry about this,” the mother says. “You’re safe. Understand? Our family is kind to everyone. We don’t see color.” The book corrects the mother: “Deep down, we all know color matters,” it states. “Skin color makes a difference in how the world sees you and in how you see the world … It makes a difference in how much trouble seems to find you or let you be.” The book teaches that the truth about “your own people, your own family” can be painful. Next to an illustration of the mother locking her car door and grasping her wallet while driving in a neighborhood where Black children are standing on the street, the narrator notes, “Even people you love might behave in ways that show they think they are the good ones.” Later, the little girl castigates her mother for trying to hide the police shooting and other racism. “Why didn’t anyone teach me real history?” she yells. “I do see color … You can’t hide what’s right in front of me. I know that what that police officer did was wrong!”

The book instructs a young white reader that she doesn’t need to “defend” racism, and it presents her with a stark decision. An illustration depicts a devil holding a “contract binding you to whiteness.” It reads:

You get:

✓stolen land

✓stolen riches

✓special favors†

WHITENESS gets:

✓to mess endlessly with the lives of your friends, neighbors, loved ones, and all fellow humans of COLOR

✓your soul

Sign below:

_____________

†Land, riches, and favors may be revoked at any time, for any reason.

In Evanston, parents are asked to quiz their kids on whiteness and give them approachable examples of “how whiteness shows up in school or in the community.” In its focus on “whiteness” and its invitation to readers to challenge racism by interrogating and rejecting it, the worldview of Not My Idea is similar to that of Robin DiAngelo’s White Fragility, now a staple of diversity-and-inclusion programs and anti-racism training. Not My Idea is also a jarringly didactic assignment for kindergartners.

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I think one issue here is the question of if conservatives believe in local control of schools or not.

Conservatives are usually the ones advocating against centralized standards, but recently they’ve turned against that idea because conservative media cherry picks the furthest left examples they can find and fixates on them.

If parents in a very liberal area want their kids to be exposed to “woke” ideas at school, is that okay, or should the state or even federal government intervene and stop it?

You also see conservatives moving away from a focus on parental rights with the recent panics about parents letting their children see drag shows, as well as the efforts to define a parent accepting their transgender child as a form of child abuse.

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Agreed. And I think there's a very clear correlation between (a) conservatives feeling like they are losing the culture war in the marketplace of ideas and (b) conservatives embracing top-down regulation of the marketplace of ideas.

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This is the main reason I am not worked up about this; my kid goes to a supremely woke, parent-run cooperative preschool in a 85-15 Biden county, and they still don’t go overboard on this crap, and the DEI chair’s persistent attempts to get us all to attend “expert-led” seminars on how to teach our kids about race and gender keep attracting the same 4 parents (out of 60).

The folks who avidly believe in this constellation of race-essentialist and gender-flexible ideas have piddling levels of influence in the vast majority of places, most of the folks they think agree with them are just staying quiet around them, and they’re too busy rhetorically shooting at one another to notice the tide turning in the marketplace of ideas.

Meanwhile, if we let the Rufo-led batshit dumbass faction win, there won’t *be* a marketplace of ideas for a long, long time.

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>>I think one issue here is the question of if conservatives believe in local control of schools or not.<<

Conservatives believe in local control when the local controllers agree with them ideologically. When that's not the case they believe in electing a hard right state government and obviating local control.

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I don't think this is quite right, and pretty close to wrong, though the state-level legislative attempts to ban "CRT" have generally been awful and exemplify the attitude you're talking about.

First, and most importantly, (pardon the convenient labels) conservatives have been promoting anti-woke candidates where they can, as we saw in San Francisco and Virginia. They are absolutely participating in the democratic process.

Second, as I described in another comment, school boards are not exactly responsive democratic institutions. We're not likely to do better, but a given school board's policies are extremely weak evidence of popular support.

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But conservatives are running “anti-woke” candidates even in areas without anything particularly woke being taught in local schools, and right wing media and social media have made it big on focusing on woke stuff from very liberal cities for conservative viewers to get outraged about.

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Very interesting interview. I’m in agreement that this is inappropriate. Seems like parents are understandably pushing back and the whole thing is slowly course-correcting

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The chilling effect of corporate wokeness is on display right here. Very few people post under their actual names. I certainly would not advertise my politics if I worked for corporate America and it’s not like I follow Stormfront or even NewsMax. Thankfully, I have my own law practice and anyone who wants to shun me for my politics can fuck themselves. I feel like I am one of the last free Americans.

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Smart people always had to watch what they say around other people. That's just called being polite. And employers have always been able to fire people who caused controversy, its actually a lot harder to do that in our sue happy culture we have today than it was at any time in our history. You are confusing vibes with reality. There is no mass purge of conservatives happening anywhere in the American workforce.

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Jan 2, 2023·edited Jan 2, 2023

"chilling effect"

Oh cool another ambiguous abstract boogieman right wingers get to feel persecuted by. Personally I like that there's a "chilling effect" on bad ideas, and that all the flat earthers or theocrats have realized their comments are not warranted.

But on the other hand, it's amazing that you can make this fascist stuff up. You've got a victim complex, despite owning a law office and living in America. That's pretty ugly stuff that only serves to rationalize why you get to punch down.

Do yourself a favor and read what Umberto Eco had to say about this.

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Maybe you should spend less time online getting upset about random comments.

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Not even upset dude, Slow Boring is just a better use of company time than TikTok is.

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Well I can only read what you write, and you come off as worked up. That comment in particular is short on substance but long on emotional language.

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I think you're projecting. Usually talking about lumpen proletariat isn't all that emotional.

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My wife is a teacher in a pretty liberal part of the country and absolutely no one is teaching anything remotely related to CRT. Complete Hoax, fake news.

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How about schools no longer accepting the SATs / ACTs as part of their admission process? Or shutting down gifted programs? Or the whole affirmative action thing before the Supreme Court just now? Or my local district hiring a DEI person to do...I'm still waiting to find out what they will do apart from siphon money off the budget. These are real, right?

The most tiresome part of this debate is continually hearing "those aren't actually CRT". Of course they aren't literally CRT, but they are linked in some voters mind and in reality appear to emanate from the same intellectual sources and champions. Calling it all "fake news" is talking past at least a portion of the people concerned about it.

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This frustrates me as well. All of this arguing over semantic definitions is one step above pure name-calling. What conservatives now call CRT they recently called Wokism, and before that it was identity politics; all of these terms are phrases that attempt to capture a very real set of relatively radical cultural and intellectual reforms that the left has been pushing for.

See: Freddie DeBoer’s “Just Please Tell Me What Term I’m Allowed to Use…[etc.]”

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What's the utility in lumping all of these disputes together rather than talking about them individually with more precision? The arguments for (a) hiring a DEI consultant; (b) teaching the 1619 project; (c) favoring GPA/class-rank over SATs; (d) various class tracking designs, are all quite distinct, involve different constituencies, and different levels of policy. Why obfuscate them other than to create a false sense of urgency?

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I think that's a very worthy question and one I often ask anytime an issue of labels comes up. But I don't fully agree with that answer - we naturally label and group seemingly related things all the time, especially in politics, and for all kinds valid and invalid reasons.

In this case there's two valid reasons: #1) the 4 all seem to derive from the same sources and underlying theories, and #2) they are most strongly championed by the same people.

It all seems to arise from a certain type of Left-thought that's especially popular in Academia, particularly in Education departments. The ideas are all rooted in the idea that some minority groups have been and still are badly treated by society, a la "institutional racism" and that those 4 examples are ways of counter-acting that racism. And you'll seldom find strong supporters of any one of those 4 come out against any of the others.

Given that relation in support and common underpinning origin and thought, it makes sense to group them together with a common label.

Personally I'm up for discussing them individually on their own merits, too, but that's not where the vast majority of discourse it at.

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Grouping concepts together based on who supports them doesn't seem particularly illuminating to me. Groups of people often hold contradictory views simply because that's how they were raised, or because it benefits them personally, or because of gut feelings. It also implies that the underlying grievance here is not really with "CRT" as some coherent conceptual framework but with "stuff educated liberals like", which seems like a bad reason to be against something.

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Grouping ideas is a way to simplify the conversation but to do so you have to be less specific. It's always a tradeoff. We need to be able to generalize sometimes and talk about specifics other times. The idea that some minority groups have been and are still treated badly by society is not a purely left wing idea, so if you are trying to take down a specific policy by saying no minority group has ever been mistreated you are going to lose a lot of people who might otherwise agree with you.

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I am not a conservative, but I think a conservative answer would argue that all of those disputes are fundamentally borne of a similar intellectual homogeneity, a common impulse. That is, taking these disputes to be disparate and unrelated is a natural framework for a liberal disposition, but is completely alien for a conservative.

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Conservatives are the ones that decided to brand racial justice as CRT, that is your guys fault, not ours.

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"your guys fault" - as if this comment section is full of conservatives, let alone conservative leaders who played a part in branding or slogan making.

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I am not a conservative. Again, see Freddie DeBoer on this issue.

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For us to have any kind of meaningful conversation we have to be using words that mean the same thing to both of us. Diversity training for adults is a very different thing than CRT instruction in schools, which is what the comment I replied to was specifically referencing. Obviously those are all real things, but they are not what was being discussed and they should be discussed separately because they are different things. For instance I think that eliminating SAT scores was a horrible idea that will make it harder for some POC to go to college, I'm ambivalent about diversity training, and I'm mostly pro affirmative action. There are things we would agree about and things we would disagree about, but if you label every aspect of racial equality as CRT and call it bad then you force me to take a stance in opposition. Far left folks do the same thing when call every idea they don't like racism.

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Let me be more clear about that then - I'm not trying to defend CRT, as appropriated by Rufo or whoever, as the best, most clear language of communication for debating or solving related topics. They're flawed just like most political terms, for example I'm "anti-racist" just like most people but I think some people have appropriated that terminology to mean various things that I wouldn't necessarily agree with. It is what it is.

So I accept those definitions as givens, mostly outside my control. If the average person or swing voter hears CRT and understands that it probably means getting rid of testing in the name of equity, then that's where we have to meet the average person. Telling them "that's not what it really means" is a waste of time.

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I disagree. Language has meaning and names have meaning.

Liberals tend to give too much weight to this concept and conservatives none, but there is certainly much truth in that names and labels matter fundamentally. If you let people rewrite the meaning of everything, especially among a political rift, we can no longer debate at a certain point. Its actually happened to our society unfortunately as we silo ourselves into information tubes.

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I share the frustration but on the other hand I am encouraged by seeing such comments here still. It means our comments section hasn't yet become a bubble and we are still reaching more mainstream liberals. Some of them will hopefully engaged with us seriously enough to realize many of us are progressives like them but with slightly more nuanced views on certain issues, e.g. we realize the right is cyncially using the CRT debate, but that it doesn't follow that there isn't any there there....

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Jan 2, 2023·edited Jan 2, 2023

I agree that we should use clear language for issues we care about, but I also think there's a lot of uncharitable nit-picking getting in the way of substantive discussion about the disagreements people have regarding American progressive ideology in public schools. Chris Rufo may not deserve your charity, but a lot of the people he represents do.

In addition to the issues Wigan brought up above, people are concerned about public schools using materials from, e.g., Anastasia Higginbotham and Robin DiAngelo. They object to some of the BLM at school principles, like "disrupting the Western-prescribed nuclear family structure". They dislike one-dimensional historical narratives that impose an isolated demand for virtue on the United States. It doesn't matter that some people haven't run into this (like Nels, commenting in the great-grandparent post), because it's been widely documented and people see it happening in their own communities.

I agree that many conservatives overreact at the first signs of this, and I think a lot of the legislative attempts to stop this have been hideous unconstitutional overreach, but I don't think this is really a case where conservatives are trying to obfuscate their objections.

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> And just as a lawyer, it’s really annoying to have everyone act like they actually have an opinion on an obscure area of legal academia.

I mean, this is kind of my point: no one (not even Rufo) is pretending to have an opinion on Kimberlé Crenshaw, Derrick Bell, or any other CLS/CRT professor. In general, if you care to really know why people have responded to Rufo's provocations, they aren't hiding it and it's pretty easy to figure it out.

I don't love Rufo, and I'm repulsed by his efforts to repeat with "groomer", but he's a believer on the anti-"CRT" front. He's not just trying to help Republicans win elections, except insofar as that's a way to put pressure on schools.

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This all kind of amounts to "there's nothing to see here". But then you should really look more into some of the examples that challenge that view.

The University of California system not only doesn't require SATs, but will not even accept them. If Affirmative action isn't a big deal then why are Harvard and other institutions fighting for it? If it has a trivial impact you'd think they'd just roll over. I wish I had better data on how frequently gifted education is being cut out, but it's been removed from NYC public schools, which is a pretty big data point.

A lot of this is like the parable of the "4 blind men and the elephant". I believe you when you say you're not seeing much of it where you live, but other people may have different experiences.

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>I am not aware of schools not accepting test scores; I think it’s more common for them not to require them<

My sense is this is mostly a sham in any event. If you really, really *really* want to go to Stanford, are you voluntarily going to decide not to submit your SATs?

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The University of California System will not accept them. I'm not sure how common non-acceptance is outside of that but it's a major example and a sign of which way the wind is blowing.

Going back to Stanford - you likely can submit them if they are good, but it's entirely unclear to me how common that is. If 90% of people are submitting them than it feels a bit overblown, if not quite a sham, but if it's 50%? That seems like a major change in admissions!

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Came here to post just this (that UC is test blind). It seems pretty rare outside of them so far, but who knows long term. I can tell you that GREs (for graduate school) are rapidly going extinct, with many schools refusing them (i.e., not even optional).

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Better question is if you're really that much of a shoe in for Stanford, why in the world do you need standardized test scores to show it?

Better yet, if you dislike Standford's values so much that you argue about its admissions policy on internet forums, is not the appropriate remedy (at least in a free society) is simply to not support/participate in any way with Stanford?

We run into trouble with these things when we try to use the state to control the other side of the aisle. Liberals sometimes do this with overbearing regulation, sometimes regulation that is somewhat justified. There is just a massive issue in regulating issues of education. How education is delivered and to whom is a free speech issue fundamentally. Its one thing to have "separate but equal" and all the best institutions only serve one race - a dynamic that justified civil rights activism and legislation. Its quite another to use the laws that emerged to resolve that unfairness to justify using the state to force admissions policy standards that the schools stakeholders have not chosen.

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>>Better question is if you're really that much of a shoe in for Stanford, why in the world do you need standardized test scores to show it?<<

Who said anything about "shoe-in"? My point was just the opposite: if you very strongly desire to get into a certain university, you're going to try to give yourself every possible edge. That includes massively preparing for and taking the "voluntary" SAT/ACT.

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Good luck with “race blind”

If any of us lives in a race blind world, that might be appropriate. We don’t tho. And what has become more commonly understood by the “woke” crowd is that if you are on the receiving end of unfairness and told things are “race blind” that feels quite abusive and unfair itself., If a kid had to overcome huge adversity just to get a decent score, top 1% in his school, but still worse score than the private school kids with every advantage, it doesn’t mean that kid wasn’t more deserving or couldn’t do more with that too education, or will be more enriching to that educational environment. Stop looking at things so single minded from your own and your kids own perspectives please

There’s an excellent piece of film art called “2 Lizards” playing currently at the Whitney. They make everyone into an animal with computer animation technology as they discuss recent events to give some weird perspectives on the racial dynamics. But even when we can’t see explicitly when we are “raceblind”, we can tease out which races which characters belong, which tribes for sure, from the way they talk and what they talk about. We do it automatically. Its how we’re programmed.

So pretending we’re race blind is like pretending the Emperor is wearing fine silks when he is actually naked

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Fairness is pretty hollow when it comes to individuals. Is it fair that some people are smarter than others? Taller? sis it fair that half of all blastocysts spontaneously abort and never even become fetuses? That some fetuses have hugely better uterine environments than others? That some people are blind or autistic or bipolar?

Being born black is one of many possible disadvantages in the world. Because much of racism is structural, it can’t be remediated without completely overturning the distribution of social and financial capital.

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Jan 3, 2023·edited Jan 3, 2023

Fairness is pretty hollow when it comes to individuals. Is it fair that some people are smarter than others? Taller? sis [sic] it fair that half of all blastocysts spontaneously abort and never even become fetuses? That some fetuses have hugely better uterine environments than others? That some people are blind or autistic or bipolar?

Being a conservative trying to work in tech or media is one of many possible disadvantages in the world. Because much of wokeness is structural, it can’t be remediated without completely overturning the distribution of social capital in the workplace. Why should the heavy handed government go in and muck things up?

I think our friend Bob should just accept the natural order of things. /s

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If conservative techies are facing discrimination, they can form their own companies and out compete the discriminators. Market incentives will sluice capital straight to them, and they’ll be just fine.

I think the above is pretty much true.

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Jan 3, 2023·edited Jan 3, 2023

Ok glad we agree that diversity training and corporate wokeness aren't real workplace problems that require legislation against then

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and if unemployed conservative techies need food stamps and medicaid, i’m happy to give it to them and ask they change their tune.

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I agree that republicans do not have any policies they want to articulate. This is frustrating for me. I personally would like to see Florida's Stop Woke Act and Trumps executive order on CRT become the law nationally.

We use CRT to describe a spectrum of bad behavior and wrong ideas that were thrust on us in 2020. The reason is that we saw this bad social movement and Rufo gave us a term to describe it. Whether it matches the law school definition doesn't matter at all. It's a set of beliefs- such as the idea that all differences in group outcomes must be eliminated through racial discrimination- that are bad. But it's primarily a way of using power to hurt people who disagree. Republicans should be protecting their constituents from discrimination and harassment in the workplace and in schools.

Your statement about eliminating discrimination goes against the goal of DEI, which is to create the present and future racial discrimination that Kendi calls for in his book. If you create a fair system, there will be differences in outcomes. For example, if you create a fair standardized test for school admissions, Asians will do best. The DEI solution is that you get rid of these tests because it is racist to have a test that results in unequal outcomes. However conservatives believe we should live in a color blind society where everyone is treated fairly and we accept that may result in unequal outcomes between racial groups. That's fine especially given that the concept of racial groups barely has any meaning in a diverse country where so many people are mixed race. We're commenting on a blog of a Latinx Jewish man for example. Is he an evil white oppressor or a structurally oppressed brown man? I don't care! I just enjoy the takes.

However again, as bad as woke ideas are, what really hurts is the bullying from the left. We aren't allowed to disagree because they can take our livelihoods. This is not an abstract legal argument or something we saw on Fox News, its the daily reality of the workplace being politicized by people who hate us. We have to find a way to protect ourselves so that we can continue earning a living.

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It used to be considered good manners to not discuss politics and religion in mixed company, especially at work. Circa 2016, that changed for the former but only for left-coded views. I think a big win for *everyone* would be getting back to that earlier standard, and some companies are starting to mandate it, e.g., Meta recently.

https://fortune.com/2022/12/06/meta-facebook-bans-internal-discussion-abortion-gun-rights-vaccines-roe-v-wade/

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Want to chat about politics with your colleagues a little? Go talk a walk. Like, literally, go take a lap around the block; the fresh air will be good for you anyway.

Nothing in the office, ever.

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Yeah I have a friend who works at a big university and he became extremely anti-woke in the summer of 2020. I was even a little taken aback by it, at first, "why the hell does he care so much about this".

But then he was showing me the daily emails he was getting from the President of the Institution and his HR Departments, about how the University stood with BLM and was fully devoted to rotting out white supremacy from their own ranks and a bunch of other stuff that is 99% about politics and I started to understand. The same people, in his mind, were responsible for keeping his school district closed and blasting him with similar BLM, anti-cop messages on ESPN every night when he tried to get away from it.

This is a guy who has 2 black adopted daughters fwiw.

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The Meta/Basecamp/Coinbase thing is heartening and I do think it's taking place more broadly through changing social norms.

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The stop woke act is trash and FIRE is 1000% right when they say it's an unconstitutional speech code.

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"We use CRT to describe a spectrum of bad behavior and wrong ideas that were thrust on us in 2020." and "However again, as bad as woke ideas are, what really hurts is the bullying from the left. We aren't allowed to disagree because they can take our livelihoods."

If there was any better indication that this abstraction is more about out group fear mongering than it is about talking about any definitive policy proposals.

Do yourself a favor, and check out the other triangles and color coding system the nazis used for political prisoners.

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Ah yes, anyone who disagrees with you is a Nazi. The people who are against collective racial guilt are of course the biggest Nazis.

The definitive policy proposal is Trumps executive order on CRT. It was also used as the model for laws passed in many states.

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I didn't say anyone I disagree with is always a nazi, but I do always disagree with Nazis.

Please, try to faithfully represent the arguments of your interlocutors, let alone if you're going to bring up "collective racial guilt," it's going to make your argument more reasonable if we're all working with the same basic fact and forms of logic.

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Articulated a lot of my thoughts on this way better than I could. Thank you.

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There's another thread on this already, but I want to come at it from a slightly different angle:

> Were these diversity trainings an important issue? No. But they are indisputably within the purview of the executive branch of the federal government.

There's a lot to hate about DEI trainings as currently constituted, but for my money the worst part is that they institutionalize sloppy, fallacious thinking and subject adults to hours of counterproductive, emotionally inflammatory, internally contradictory nonsense like "implicit bias".

My view is that two factors explain 90% of the terrible black/white racial disparities in the US:

- The compounding negative effects of slavery and Jim Crow.

- Ongoing social segregation.

In terms of importance, diversity trainings aren't up there with medical care, homelessness or housing, but DEI is a $7.5 billion dollar industry (on pace to grow to $15.4 billion by 2026), an expensive, insulting distraction that degrades our ability to solve racial disparities in America today. If you agree with any of that, I think it qualifies as important *enough* to be worth addressing.

> wherever the hand of the state is already present — in government workforce trainings, in libraries, in K-12 schools, even in university faculties — Republicans are now looking to clamp down on progressive wrongthink.

Usually "clamp down on wrongthink" would refer to a powerful body stopping people from expressing dissident opinions. This is a grotesque inversion: undoing mandatory government-sponsored indoctrination is nearly the opposite.

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Implicit bias is something that can actually be measured. The idea came from real experiments performed on real people, it's not made up or contradictory. Even black people find other black people more intimidating than white people and are more likely to react negatively to them in high stress situations.

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It looks like a lot of that research (like a shocking amount of other research in sociology) has been discredited, though. Or at least others have failed to replicate it.

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Yeah, Jesse Singal has looked a lot at the IAT and similar tests: https://www.thecut.com/2017/01/psychologys-racism-measuring-tool-isnt-up-to-the-job.html

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This is an odd reference since Singal actually shows that the IAT has significant test-retest reliability ("In 2014, using a large sample, Yoav Bar-Anan and Nosek reported a race IAT test-retest reliability of r = .4") and explains significant variance in behavior ("The overall correlation between implicit measures and behavior in our meta-analysis was small and closer to the estimates in the meta-analyses on these topics (rI-B= .09)" ~ Forscher et al.). It's true these numbers aren't good enough to accurately identify individual bigots but ... I don't think we needed a large meta-analysis to know that.

I came into the piece assuming that the IAT was full-on pseudo-science and came away from it thinking that the IAT is just a typical weak instrument that's likely useful in many group-based analyses.

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Doesn’t replicate.

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There's room for improvement but I don't know what it would be that wouldn't do more harm than good. I agree that people have biases, both conscious and unconscious, but the vast majority of people don't hold to them all that closely. They may think "X people are more likely to be Y" but it doesn't take much evidence for them to identify a person from X not being Y.

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I feel pretty confident that these trainings don't accomplish anything so I don't really care if we abolish them. I just hate listening to the right talk about them as if they are some kind of pernicious mind control. Like telling people to be nice to each other was the worst thing we could have done.

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If some people have a reaction like "FU, who are you telling me what to do?" (and there have been reports that some of these training show people may come out with more racial antipathy afterwards. e.g, https://hbr.org/2016/07/why-diversity-programs-fail), then, yeah, probably better to hope that people's mothers raised them right than do asinine DEI trainings.

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The actual problem is that the left right political spectrum is useless. If we're talking about left-right in purely economic terms, both parties are way left of where they were in 08, but the meme is mostly about identitarian culture war stuff where it is largely accurate to say the Dem conventional wisdom has gone off the rails.

The reality is that the events of the post cold war era have driven us to a place where the center of gravity in politics favors totalitarian, populist grievance of all varieties over more coherent ideological concerns. We've shifted along an entirely distinct axis in ways that scramble the parties of the post new deal equilibrium.

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Isn’t the point of this post that Republicans are not in fact more left on economics, and that they have largely abandoned Trump’s more moderate economic positions?

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I mean the Rs have never exactly been deeply ideologically committed to free market economics, but to the extent that the nationalists/populists remain elevated they are absolutely significantly less committed than ever.

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It seems to me that the Republican party as a group now is less committed to populist-left economic issues now and much more focused on cutting entitlements and taxes on rich people.

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In some ways like slashing entitlements yes, but there is still a part of the GOP that digs Trump's version of populist economics that ignores budget deficits to avoid hard choices and still cut taxes. That wing is much stronger than it used to be. Those people still want to cut entitlements, but unlike previous Republicans it's not really about balancing the budget.

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In my view, balancing the budget was mostly an excuse to cut entitlements. Balancing the budget talk never got in the way of cutting taxes.

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I don't think that's really true, but I don't have hard evidence in front of me. But I believe that in previous eras (Reagan for instance) tax cuts were always paired with budget cuts. Bush Sr even raised taxes rather than run a budget deficit. There have always been true believers in having a balanced budget on the Right, it's a modern change to have so many people willing to cut taxes without cutting spending. But I think that still demonstrates that Republicans of today prioritize cutting taxes over cutting entitlements.

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I'd recommend reading The Big Con by Jonathan Chait on this. He talks extensively about how unserious the Republicans are on balanced budgets.

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I wouldn’t say useless, I’d say insufficient.

You do make me wonder though whether we still consider the political compass useful? I’d say yes but I’d love to hear other people’s thoughts .

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The compass is good to the extent people engage with politics on an ideological level. Problem is, right now we're in a moment where tribal populism trump's ideology. People are mostly engaging with politics on the level of tribal affiliation that the compass doesn't really reflect.

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But don’t the tribes have ideologies ? Compass doesn’t measure *why* you have certain views but does track the views themselves. Aren’t dem and gop voters views father than ever , at least on some issues ?

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Jan 2, 2023·edited Jan 2, 2023

Their tribal preferences have diverged while their preferred institutional structures have grown more aligned. There's been increasing ideological consensus around empowering a government capable of imposing broad, totalitarian cultural preferences and stamping out dissent. The fight is over which tribe ends up aiming the weapon they're working together to build.

The good vs evil axis of modern politics isn't the trads vs the libertines or whatever. It's the pluralists vs the totalitarians. The people who want the government to be a tool of productivity vs the people weaponizing it.

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That’s too pessimistic imo. I still think most dem voters are small d democratic. It’s just that the authoritarian left (“totalitarian” seem imprecise and hyperbolic) has gained too much power in certain institutions (parts of media, academia, certainly museums, non profits), though there are sign for cautious optimism on that front too. Situation with gop is more worrying as too many of the actual political elites are authoritarian or at least happy to go along with that.

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Jan 2, 2023·edited Jan 2, 2023

The problem is in the trajectories. As the left racked up wins on civil rights and such, big parts of the traditional right were relatively happy to embrace a live and let live community based cultural/legal pluralism. At some point though the left's cultural project and general proclivity for "positive rights" and such, became so all encompassing the balance in the GOP flipped to where we're now in this arms race where neither side has a commitment to restraining the power of the government to reward friends and punish enemies..

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always need to point out that colin wright made that meme initially, and i'm the guy laughing on the right! i told colin he'd be a republican some point in the fall of 2018

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If I made memes it would be this exact one, but with left and right reversed. I'm still an Eisenhower republican which makes me a staunch Democrat today. Bill Clinton is still welcome on the Left even though he was a moderate, but Romney, McCain, and Bush are no longer welcome on the Right.

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Bill Clinton is still welcome on the Left? What? He was discarded a long time ago.

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Depends where on the "left" one is standing. He's still welcome at national Democratic Party events and I haven't heard of any candidates turning down an offer from him to campaign on their behalf, but his name is certainly mud on progressive websites.

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Thats my point. Plenty of Left wingers hate Bill Clinton for various reasons, but it doesn't really matter because the far Left isn't running the show. Bill can go to Democratic events and mostly receive fawning applause. On the Right, any of those former people get booed.

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I took “the Left” to mean just that, and not the sort of center-left Frontline Democrats that you reference.

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Romney, McCain, and Bush would still be (are) welcome on the right, I think.

They just wouldn't be accepted as the standard bearers.

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I doubt Romney could have won in 2012 through having a better platform. Romney really was a vulture capitalist. He fired lots of people to get richer. Even worse, he dressed and acted like the CEO who downsized your uncle. Obama was popular and won the tipping point state by almost five points.

Vote share is pretty stable and doesn’t seem

that influenced by candidates’ platforms. Democrats have gotten between 50.9% and 52.2% of the two party vote in the last three presidential elections. A uniform swing of three percent net would not have put Romney in the white house.

If Romney had run in a more moderate platform, no one would have believed him because he’s too much like a generic Republican. People in Ohio and Pennsylvania believed that Trump might be different because he smashed enough norms to look different. Matt is correct that Trump had an effective platform but that platform wouldn’t have helped Trump much without his gift for performative populism. Even so, it look 25 years of Hillary’s baggage to put Trump over the top.

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Romney needed the 2009-2012 bounceback to be slightly more tepid. My sense is this was a very close affair—closer than either the popular vote or Electoral College imply. The recovery from the economic crisis that ushered in the Obama presidency was pretty damn weak. Just a bit weaker, and Obama's a one-termer. To put it another way, Obama got about the minimal level of growth consistent with winning another term. It was just enough.

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Romney lost the tipping point state by five points, he wasn’t that close to winning. It would have taken gdp being near or below 2007 levels to throw the election the other way.

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"...but wherever the hand of the state is already present — in government workforce trainings, in libraries, in K-12 schools, even in university faculties — Republicans are now looking to clamp down on progressive wrongthink."

The framing here is that conservatives are on the attack, but it certainly feels like the inverse to me.

We're just trying to stop the culturally-progressive left from pushing that crap on people, and especially kids.

If we were trying to inculcate explicitly conservative values via the same means, then you may be justified in framing it that way...but by and large, we are not.

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Let's look at some specific examples in Florida:

- It is illegal for college professors to discuss whether particular race/sex groups have societal advantages or disadvantages. Even as hypothetical/devil's advocate debates (https://www.thefire.org/news/lawsuit-fire-challenges-stop-woke-acts-limits-how-florida-professors-can-teach-about-race-sex).

- It may be illegal for parents to voluntarily take their kids to drag queen events and businesses that hold such events may have their licenses stripped or face fines (https://www.foxnews.com/media/florida-ag-investigating-drag-show-exposing-kids-sexualized-acts-sit-back).

- It is illegal for teachers with a same-sex partner to ever mention said partner in class, even if prompted by students.

Would you say that these are attempts to clampdown on progressive wrongthink or to stop the culturally progressive left from pushing crap on people?

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I'd say it was a poorly designed law intended to do the latter.

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It was precisely designed to please their supporters and sow fear and confusion among progressives. Those who passed the law probably don't care if courts strike it down now, they've already reaped the benefits in turning out their base and cementing their control of the state and many local school boards.

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What evidence is there that this is poor design and not the specific intent?

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Jan 2, 2023·edited Jan 2, 2023

What evidence is there to the contrary?

Given it's apparent half-cocked nature, poor design seems like the simpler explanation.

And it meshes well with the general disorganization/lack of professionalism among Republicans recently.

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Jan 2, 2023·edited Jan 2, 2023

For the "don't say gay" bill, the evidence is that multiple amendments were proposed to clarify the language and they were voted down. For the STOP Woke act, the language of the bill is very explicit and after it passed the state continued to defended the law in court. For the AG prosecuting drag queen events (and not, say, beauty pageants or Hooters restaurants) the evidence is, well, the statements from the AG that he is doing it. More broadly, I've yet to see any national Republicans distance themselves from these laws the way that national Democrats distanced themselves from proposals to defund the police (and, in fact, Democrats specifically passed "Fund the police" legislation to counter).

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Jan 2, 2023·edited Jan 2, 2023

This is something I submitted for the Mailbag a couple weeks ago, but it seems relevant to this post; something that Republicans writ large are now seriously considering is almost literally decimating the federal government's policy making capability and replacing it (if at all), with political hacks.

How bad is it that the ban on Schedule F (technically, the Preventing a Patronage System Act) didn't get included in the NDAA (which is the only realistic chance to pass it)? Not just Trump, but RDS or basically any plausible Republican nominee in 2024 will absolutely use this to destroy the Civil Service to the greatest possible degree, right? And how would Democrats try to fix the results of that?

Also, for those commenters here who like to hate on public employee unions (who I concede have some valid points), are you at all concerned about decimating the policy making capabilities of the USG?

https://www.govexec.com/workforce/2022/12/lawmakers-left-anti-schedule-f-legislation-out-compromise-defense-policy-bill/380575/

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Do you think McConnell et al would ever really let the President fire all these civil servants? They didn't do it under Trump or Bush when they could have.

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Jan 2, 2023·edited Jan 2, 2023

Do you really think Trump cares a fig for what McConnell thinks, especially now? And while I think McConnell himself wouldn't push for it, I think the policy brains of the GOP, such as they are (Heritage, AEI, etc) would absolutely be pushing for it. Those guys are the ones who figured out that it's (apparently) legally possible, and Trump showed that there's a whole universe of things that you can do (especially once the Supreme Court and much of the federal judiciary is in your pocket) once you don't care what "polite society" (aka old school bipartisan Washington establishment, etc) thinks of you. It doesn't even have to be clearly legal, but just enough to execute and then tie it up in court for years, which is more than enough "pour encourager les autres"; why would anyone competent risk public service when the job security is replaced by a guarantee of political retaliation?

Under Bush and prior Republicans, there wasn't such an intense hatred of government, especially combined with a total rejection of norms. Even if the base might have wanted such a thing, the Republicans who would actually staff a presidential administration were mostly "serious professionals" who saw themselves as such, and would never even consider it.

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It's interesting seeing this post in hindsight because it seems to have gotten both major forward looking claims wrong:

1: Democrats were successful in holding off a major GOP midterm victory, but not by focusing on conservatives policies. Rather, they pushed in the other direction and made the election all about the Republican candidates being weirdo, out of touch, busybodies while the Democratic candidates are just ordinary civil servants who ~vaguely~ want government to work for you. Rufoism, in the end, proved to be a major own-goal for Republicans.

2: Republicans *did* capture the House and so far there is no evidence that they are returning from their "vacation from budgetary realities" (a turn of phrase I really enjoyed). Kevin McCarthy released a "Commitment To America" pocket card (https://www.republicanleader.gov/commitment/cta-pocket-card/) which includes: (1) the usual low-tax / deregulation / drill baby drill / border crime stuff; (2) the war on wokeness stuff: "only women can compete in women's sports", "confront big tech and demand fairness"; (3) and this on entitlements: "Save and strengthen Social Security and Medicare". In other words, a continuation of the MAGA + Rufo mindset.

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> Democrats were successful in holding off a major GOP midterm victory, but not by focusing on conservatives policies.

I’d argue that one of the big reasons Democrats did relatively well in this midterm was actually by focusing on conservative policy about abortion.

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> Rufoism, in the end, proved to be a major own-goal for Republicans.

I don't think this is exactly what happened; DeSantis crushed it in Florida for example. Fighting wokeism just didn't turn out to be the "cheat code" they hoped it would be. I was even a little surprised by this, as I'm pretty sure a lot of it does offend the average voter, but it's just not very salient. But note that the best performing democrats didn't exactly run on "woke" issues either.

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I think it's very hard to disentangle what's going on in red states with popular conservative incumbents. I was thinking more of places like Georgia where Herschel Walker primarily ran on pronouns and the woke military and underperformed other generic Republicans on the ballot.

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Walker was an absolute disaster of a candidate. Would a bog-standard Republican otherwise running the same campaign have won? Maybe! But I think you're right that it's just hard to disentangle these things.

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Jan 2, 2023·edited Jan 2, 2023

Rubio also crushed it in Florida. It seems clear that Florida is less about a particular Republican politician and more that the Democratic Party brand has become toxic in Florida.

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What Musk's meme misses is that his own head gets exponentially larger on each successive line.

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The linked video where Paul Ryan discusses his views is centered around Matthew Continetti’s book “The Right: The Hundred-Year War for American Conservativism.” That author and book topic sounded familiar and I found the May 2022 Ezra Klein Show interview with Continetti, https://www.nytimes.com/2022/05/06/podcasts/transcript-ezra-klein-interviews-matt-continetti.html

I recall this being an insightful discussion of the evolution of the Republican party, particularly the contradictions and conflicts between the elite Reagan-era consensus and the populist Buchanan/Trump wing. From the NYT description

> Continetti was straddling two conservative tendencies that were about to rip apart, the establishment conservatism of George W. Bush and Bill Kristol, and the populist conservatism of Spiro Agnew, and soon, Donald Trump. And rip apart they did. Today, the right that Continetti joined, it barely exists. “The Weekly Standard” is gone. Kristol became a leading Never Trumper. Trump took over the Republican Party in part by weaponizing anger and disappointment at its establishment, and particularly at the Bush family. The policy ideas so dutifully churned out by the American Enterprise Institute for so many years have little purchase on the rising generation of populist right leaders. In many cases, they’re running against those ideas. Continetti writes that — quote — “to define oneself as a conservative in the 2020s was to reject the ideas and practices of the establishment that 1150 17th Street had come to represent. I’ve spent the last decade thinking about this change.”

> The product of Continetti’s decade of thinking and research isn’t a manifesto or an essay. It’s a history book, “In the Right: The 100 Year War for American Conservatism.” Continetti does something valuable. He takes seriously the populist history of conservatism, running from Joseph McCarthy to William F. Buckley Jr., to the John Birch Society, to Richard Nixon and Spiro Agnew, to the Tea Party, and Sarah Palin, and Donald Trump, and beyond. He doesn’t treat the forces that produced Trumpism as somehow alien to the Republican Party. What’s aberrational is not a populist right, but the belief, so widespread before Donald Trump, that conservatism was what Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell and “The Weekly Standard” and the American Enterprise Institute wanted it to be, that that is where the energy and the values of the people who put Republicans in power really sat.

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While the schism of the Republican party, with it's hardliners, old guard, and opportunists, is quite interesting in how it manages it's voter and donor base, it's cult of personality, and American imperialism in a dynamic post-modern world, I think the core goal of "the right" has still remained the same: they all want to preserve god-ordained aristocracy, by any means necessary!

It's even been that way since the first French Congress!

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American conservatism is nothing at all like European conservatism. If you can’t understand that very, very basic point you will continue to stumble through life misconstruing reality.

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"The american revolution had nothing to do with the french revolution"

Lafayette would like a word with you.

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As I said.

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Are you next going to tell me the founding fathers weren't liberals, but actually conservative stalwarts?

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Of course they were liberals, though obviously not in the way that the word is used today.

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It's funny because Kristol is Continetti's father-in-law!

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Personally, I just don't understand how Elon "A rational man of science" Musk can't look at a simplified spectrum of possibilities, and not consider that maybe there's a false dichotomy, or that maybe the data has been framed, or just maybe the abstractions of the model might yield inaccuracies that need be hiding finer granularity.

Honestly, as far as Elon Musk is concerned, he's probably just in it for the low taxes. He's done a cost benefit analysis, and then looked at the outcomes on a risk adjusted basis, and (as he once said about Apple) decided going to culture war is more important than paying a 30% tax.

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I think a better meme picture would depict how we went from a left/center/right line to a four-square with one axis being cultural (conservative/liberal) and the other being world view (globalist/nationalist). “Center” doesn’t really exist anymore because of cable news and social media. Trump just took Republican Party over to the conservative/nationalist square. Clinton took the Democrats over to the liberal/globalist square, abandoning the white working class who were conservative but supported the Democrats because of ties to organized labor. Those left in the other two squares have been marginalized and forced to pick sides they don’t fully support each election. Their candidates can’t make it through primaries. I think eventually we will end up back on a line, but it will be nationalist/center/globalist, once we sort out the culture issues. That will take a while. In the meantime, we are in this four-square mess with a two-party system.

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I’ll say I think you’re “yada yada yada”ing over GWB initiative to privatize social security. It’s literally the first thing he tried to do after re-election. My point is, destroying social security, Medicare and Medicaid has actually been a more consistent through line in GOP thought than is laid out in this post.

McCain and Trump are exceptions that prove the rule. McCain because he was a “Maverick”. And given what we saw with the Tories in U.K. post 2009, it seems really likely if McCain had won in 2008, there would have been enormous pressure to persue an “expansionary austerity” agenda. And in Trump’s case, he was a former Democrat who was free wheeling in his speeches and rallies (to say the least) and through out lines about protecting Medicare and health care as some half remembered amalgamation of what he saw on Fox and what he used to believe. And what happened? GOP came within one vote of overturning ACA.

My point on all this is I think we really underestimate the possibility that RDS has as a major part of his platform massive entitlement cuts. Seems very likely there will be some sort of recession in 2023. And as you’ve pointed, borrowing to cover tax revenue shortfalls is going to be a lot less feasible. There is going to be a ton of rhetoric on the right about “if Americans are tightening belts, then big government should do so as well”. If RDS is going to distinguish himself vis a vis Trump, besides covid vaccines, this seems to be prime territory.

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This is a musguided take that entirely misses the radicalization of the Republican Party.

Positions taken by presidential candidates are only one part of a party’s positions on issues. Zooming out, as external realities and short term political calculations have shifted, so have the mainstream views of both parties on taxes, spending, and foreign policy, and even climate change, in ways that often defy a left-right dichotomy.

But the Republican Party has hurtled to the right — far beyond the chart you’ve reproduced — on racial justice and cultural matters: immigration, CRT, voting rights, and more, even — arguably — guns. On this broad set of issues, todays Republican candidates and office holders aren’t even remotely recognizable from those of the last 1/2 century. They seem willing to abandon the rule of law and democracy itself to reclaim past glory, real or imagined.

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> immigration, CRT, voting rights, and more, even — arguably — guns.

It's demonstrably false to say that the Republicans have shifted right on any of these except voting rights, and I'm not really sure that voting rights really fits on a left-right spectrum.

It's hard to have a discussion on "racial justice and cultural matters" as an abstraction, but it appears to me that Republicans have been consistent on these issues the entire thirty-ish years I've been paying attention to politics. For example, they've opposed Affirmative Action since at least the 80s. If anything, it seems to me they've liberalized meaningfully, the chief example being views on same-sex partnerships.

Guns? You might find their positions extreme, but I don't see how you can say they've changed.

Finally, on immigration:

> In 2005, a left-leaning blogger wrote, “Illegal immigration wreaks havoc economically, socially, and culturally; makes a mockery of the rule of law; and is disgraceful just on basic fairness grounds alone.” In 2006, a liberal columnist wrote that “immigration reduces the wages of domestic workers who compete with immigrants” and that “the fiscal burden of low-wage immigrants is also pretty clear.” His conclusion: “We’ll need to reduce the inflow of low-skill immigrants.” That same year, a Democratic senator wrote, “When I see Mexican flags waved at proimmigration demonstrations, I sometimes feel a flush of patriotic resentment. When I’m forced to use a translator to communicate with the guy fixing my car, I feel a certain frustration.”

> The blogger was Glenn Greenwald. The columnist was Paul Krugman. The senator was Barack Obama.

(From the 2017 Atlantic article "How the Democrats Lost Their Way on Immigration", https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2017/07/the-democrats-immigration-mistake/528678/)

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I've never understood the belief that republicans have moved right- any politician from the 1990s or even 2008 Obama would be considered far right today. The country has moved to the left and the parties have moved left with it.

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On guns, as an example, the right moved from hardening schools to allowing teachers to carry guns to requiring teachers to carry guns.

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I agree that requiring teachers to carry guns would be moving rightward - are there serious proposals to that effect?

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I think with immigration it’s more that the parties have sorted. Yes you can find some liberals like Obama saying anti-immigration stuff in the past, but there are also quotes from Reagan and George W. Bush praising immigration and amnesty.

I don’t think Glenn Greenwald is a relevant example here though since Greenwald is a conservative.

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On CRT/wokeness, the Republican Florida governor revoked Disney's permits because he didn't like their PR statements; the Texas AG is suing social media companies to require them to publish conservative speech; and multiple Republican Senators have advocated for federal laws that revoke tax breaks from corporations that are too woke or insufficiently patriotic. This is a dramatic shift away from the limited government / free market dogmas Republicans espoused for decades prior.

On immigration, John McCain sponsored an immigration reform bill that would not get a single Republican vote today. The modern-day GOP sees him as a RINO and a traitor on immigration, and his wife endorsed Joe Biden. 15 years ago he was the GOP nominee for president and widely respected among his colleagues.

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And they were all correct. That first quote is particularly on point. It's a basic cognitive dissonance that the left, generally more economically progressive and emphatic on the rule of law than in the recent past have become indifferent-to-supportive of illegal immigration.

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Both the right and the left are not only on an extended vacation, but a permanent leave of absence from budget realities. Conservatives won't touch Pentagon waste because military spending is a jobs program for conservative constituencies. Meanwhile, progressives won't admit that funding a European style welfare state requires European style high middle class taxes.

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Happy new year. I'd like to read or reread the column you wrote on how the left/democrats have changed. I went to the website and, scrolling for something that I don't know the name of seems like a poor approach. Could you given name/date of that article? Thank you.

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