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This was an excellent post, at least until it started advocating for “pandering.” Swap that with “attempt to understand and resist demonizing” and I’m on board!! I know I risk being perceived as a closet bigot on this threat for how often I challenge the “they’re all abhorrent racists” trope, and I come dangerously close to “what’s wrong with being racist?” But I genuinely believe a big part of the dynamic you describe is how racism/sexism/xenophobia went from “unacceptable, rude and ignorant” to “unacceptable, evil and vile.” Kamala would NEVER say anything about SFSB because she’s already on a knife’s edge with progressives over her career as a prosecutor and she wants to run in 2024/2028. But the fact is, what SFSB is doing is as rude/ignorant/evil/vile to conservatives as being skeptical of immigrants is to us. I only get worked up about this because I think it’s so important for the EXACT reasons you cite- Democrats’ legislative and ideological lurch to the left is absolutely what’s sending conservatives to the looney bin.

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I agree with the sentiment here but I find it very confusing to say that the Dem Party as a whole is becoming more strident on every issue. They ran a lot of moderates in the Senate elections, did some effective econ. populism and pandering in GA, and Joe Biden is focused on vaccines and stimulus.

There are absolutely a lot of progressives who are looking for moral battles instead of political wins. I also think there are quite a few people like that in public life or working at influential nonprofits. But I don't see the evidence that they are running the party.

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So Democrats did run a lot of senate candidates who are moderate by today's standards, and that's appropriate.

But part of my point here is that the definition of moderate-ness has shifted. You did NOT see Democrats candidates doing what I characterized as Obama's pandering to xenophobic sentiments.

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Abortion is another example of the shift in rhetoric independent of any specific policy. A Google search for "safe, legal and rare" turns up a bunch of pieces on how Democrats abandoned the slogan, like this one: https://www.vox.com/2019/10/18/20917406/abortion-safe-legal-and-rare-tulsi-gabbard

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Good point! Had not considered that. But also, none of the recent results are about major politicians using that phrase, so all the recent talk is about it being pretty much gone. In 1992 Bill Clinton came up with it, in 2008 Hillary Clinton was using it while *emphasizing* "rare", in 2016 she changed it to "safe and legal", and by 2020 the major candidates got nowhere near it and it was left to Tulsi Gabbard to bring it up.

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True, true. Perhaps it’s just the media/social media dynamic that plays up the extremes. To the average Republican, AOC is who’s really in charge. To the average Democrat, Steve Bannon is pulling the strings. People believe what they want to believe, especially if it lets them see the other guys as evil incarnate.

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I'd add to a centrist ... both are "dangerous and authoritarian". The radical left (e.g., DSA, de-growth eco-Marxists) scares me, as much or more, than anything Bannon has said.

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I really wouldn't lump in DSA there. I know lots of DSA people who yes are very leftist and also not very open to new ideas, but their ideas really are European Social-democracy stuff. Maybe we don't want that, but it really shouldn't be scary.

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As I often do in these comment sections, I will admit that we sometimes have confusing names for our political parties in the EU, but the reality is that socialism is very different from social democracy.

There is a reason why Denmark implements no socialist policies, and that's the Treaty of Lisbon. Moreover, I think that Bernie chose to partner with Varoufakis out of all the EU politicians, who became well-known for the brilliant idea of imposing capital controls in Greece.

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I guess I'm looking more at the DSA public positions (e.g., state-run ownership of large industries, breaking existing capitalist structures and implementing worker-coops). But agree, the average DSA member might have a less radical view of change.

https://www.dsausa.org/about-us/what-is-democratic-socialism/

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I don't really agree that DSA is as scary as Bannon but, even if they were, Bannon was clearly more powerful than DSA ever was. I think its important to look at how far up the party hierarchy the people you think are dangerous are.

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No, to the average Democrat, Trump is the one in charge.

The difference is that in reality AOC is a relatively new Congresswoman, and Trump was the President. So one side’s perception is objectively far more accurate.

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I get in 3 arguments a day on Twitter where I have to emphasize the hat we shouldn’t elevate annoyance to a political principle.

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Exactly - although Fox News is to blame for focusing on her, it's also incumbent on us to push back. My brother, a democrat in a rural area, has to often explain to the people he engages on politics with that we don't agree with AOC much either.

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It's true that the "moral battles" progressives lost, but they sure don't feel like they lost.

Joe Biden won the primary pretty easily, but remember he was the only person on the debate stage to say he wouldn't decriminalize or even legalize border crossings? Why would almost every candidate take such an extreme, unpopular position? It's because the elite progressive sphere ("Twitter", media, think tanks, academia) has so much influence in the party—and still does! Biden hasn't made a clean break from this group because they're influential and he can't change the tone by himself.

It's true there was some economic populism stuff, but Joe Biden's party never fully gave up the decisive shit that people dislike about Democrats. Remember how out-of-touch the convention was? Sheesh.

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I agree that the primary featured a lot of candidates who competed to be more to the left. I was particularly disappointed in Warren, who I really like. However, I think it remains to be seen if that will he a continuing trend. I think we've seen a lot of Dems trying to make noise but ultimately it's the ones who are less eager to please the base who end up winning and running the party.

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I take your point that it may be a bit too early to see what actually happens. I think Joe Biden himself is doing a great job on this point, actually. But as Matt concludes, other Democrats could be doing so much more to reject divisive bullshit and pander to voters in ways that aren't hateful.

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I wonder if Matt's suggestion would just create an image of infighting and "Dems in disarray". It seems like Biden really wants to talk about economics and vaccines and all the rest is a distraction. That seems like a reasonable strategy to me. Why give oxygen to cultural fights when you really want to be talking about your positive agenda?

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I think it's hard to tell how much "progressives looking for moral battles instead of political wins" is due to a shift to the party's wing (which I think really is happening) and how much is just because no one is playing with live ammo anymore. In a world where we can do one real bill a year, that leaves a lot of time to argue over pretend politics. Everyone can be a radical in the padded room.

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You don't see evidence the left is running the party? Biden won as a moderate but as Matt points, out the Overton Window is moving far left. Just as an example, a Politico article came up in my newsfeed today: "Reparations bill tests Biden and Harris on Racial Justice." Reading the article, it sounds like Biden/Harris are making supportive noises while hoping this dies in congress. This is our moderate administration? The far left is very vocal and pushy and I, for one, don't hear the the current White House pushing back. I don't hear anyone pushing back. Except Republicans.

After the House lost a bunch of seats in the recent election there was a little public spat between Connor Lamb and AOC. The former said the progressives were poisoning the well for moderate democrats, while AOC claimed that no, the solution was to go big and bold and more progressive, to excite people. Don't forget that the left can easily have their brand of populism. Populism is exciting. Fighting injustice, being woke, scorning those that disagree with you - that's exciting. There's a purity there, tribalism, belonging to a cause. It's also dangerous and frightening.

Even the stimulus is bigger and goes further than ever before. MY says it won't cause inflation despite the CBO analysis that it will. I hope he's right. But at least please recognize that it's not moderates running the ship here.

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The "reparations bill" creates a Commission that would study the lingering effects of slavery and Jim Crow on black people. That's not exactly a wild/crazy thing, and it's actually mildly alarming that you consider it to be so.

Biden also (proverbially) pissed in the face of the progressives (and Schumer) yesterday by boldly rejecting their college debt forgiveness scheme.

Also notice that for all the "abolish the police" stuff that the left was shouting last summer, Biden's plan is to give cops more money (which, as MattY has pointed out, is the actual way to get better policing).

And of course, the stimulus package is going to be exactly as large as Manchin and Sinema want it to be, with the two of them being centrist royalty. The infrastructure adventure later this year is also going to be theirs to shape, so it isn't going to be any sort of Green New Deal.

The moderates are steering the actual ship, it's just that the progressives have very big bullhorns and shout over everyone. The progressives hogging the bullhorns is definitely a *problem of some sort, but that's all they've got until they magic up a way of passing legislation while being minorities in the House and Senate Democratic caucuses.

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“It’s mildly alarming that you consider it to be so”. This is the kind of knee-jerk, preachy attitude that is part of the problem with the woke left. My issue with such a commission is that, at best, it’s a virtue-signaling distraction, at worst, divisive.

Regarding your second point, you’re right. We’ve still moved very far left and what was moderate a decade ago is far different than now, but the progressives can only do so much w the moderates in place. Thank you for reminding me of that. That is comforting.

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But for how long? How much of this sure hand on the tiller is due to Biden personally. Where is the political bench here, if Biden fails? The reason that the progressives have grown in prominence is that the moderate wing of the party is aged and has been discredited (especially among the young) by its past neoliberalism. Biden could become incapacitated at any moment, and the vice-president clearly wants to be the tribune of the progressives, who would have no reason or incentive to moderate or adapt themselves to the actual sentiments of the American people. And this would be a a bad, bad situation.

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"Democrats’ legislative and ideological lurch to the left is absolutely what’s sending conservatives to the looney bin." The Left has its share of self-inflicted wounds to be sure, but I'm on board with Ezra that the rural bias in the country is what's sending conservatives to the looney bin because they can only be challenged from the Right. Imagine if the Bay Area were 10 states, LA were another 10, and the plain states and mountain states were two giants state. You'd have liberal senators racing to support the decisions of the SFSB.

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i think i've heard someone else suggest it in an article somewhere, but shouldn't all the liberals in strong republican states register as republicans to try to get the least bad candidate in the primaries, knowing their candidates are going to lose anyway?

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There doesn't have to be just one thing acting on conservatives. I think reaction to the left is real, and I think the primary system favors wing-nuts too.

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*giant states

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Whenever I talk to progressives (and that's the only people I get to talk to, because I'm in Massachussetts...), I try to beat the drum of "don't be mean to the conservatives." My fear is that Trump was so gross that he normalized progressives denouncing him out loud, all over the place, in previously non-political venues, and if we (the left side of the isle) don't put that back in the bag, it will represent an ugly step down in our already strained political discoarse.

So when I do that, I talk to two types of progressives. Some of them are pretty open-minded, and I can go off on moral taste-buds and the roll of progressive and conservative voices in the political process, etc. etc. etc. With that audience, I can make a pitch that listening and understanding is really important.

But I also talk to progressives who are just. so. mad. They are so mad at the mean Orange guy, and all of the things he tweeted, and at Pence, and at the Federal response to the pandemic, and to January 6th, etc. etc. etc. etc. I know I'm talking to one of these progressives when they say something like "all conservatives are evil." I don't think they really think that deep in their heart...but I do think they are really. really. really. mad.

So for those progressives...I kind of advocate pandering? My goal isn't to get them to deeply listen to conservatives...it's just to get them to stop saying "conservatives are evil" _out loud_ all over the place 24/7. You gotta crawl before you walk, and I think I can only persuade them to maybe move (or even think about moving) one notch in terms of de-escalation.

One of the central themes in all of Matt's posts is that they sit at the intersection of good policy (or at least what MY advocates to be good policy) and what is pragmatically possible. And a lot of the time, the pragmatism can side-step complicated, messy and hard-to-resolve issues where we could end up stuck in the weeds of differing moral weights, with no resolution in sight.

I read today's post in that light - it's a hard pitch to progressives to tack mainstream, on the grounds that what we need now is more winning, not more overton-window-moves left, beacuse we have the second thing and not enough of the first. As such, it's not a post that's trying to talk anyone down from our progressive ledges - the argument isn't "you should stop caring about gun control because you're _wrong_ on the 2nd amendment" - it's "gun control isn't winnable, health care is, let's get the health care."

If someone is mad enough at conservatives, "attempting to understand deeply" may have to be down-stream of "if you don't have anything nice to say". We may have to pretend to be civil in order to take the temperature down enough to actually be civil.

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Is part of the issue here that each part of the Democratic coalition regards it's interest as the most important thing, to the exclusion of other things?

I think your example of gun control is correct, but an activist who's really really into gun control might say "yes, health care's important, but that's just treating the symptoms of our epidemic of mass shootings!" Same for criminal justice/BLM, trans rights, climate change, etc. - something like health care or an expanded child tax credit/universal benefit gets portrayed as weak stuff compared to "the return of Jim Crow" or "not recognizing people's humanity" or "letting the Earth burn to a cinder".

I'm not saying that these causes are wrong, but the framing of "let's focus on X right now and not Y or Z" when X is everyone's distant second priority to their first-most-important issue is kind of a problem. It seems like this should happen on the right too, but doesn't, unless I'm not near enough to that ecosystem to pick up on any intra-right fights over priorities.

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I think when it comes to throwing a particular coalition of the bus, this will be a problem. If you've got that one issue, and you get put on hold, there aren't a lot of incentives not to make the biggest stink you can.

(The flip side is: it's a two party system - if you look at the Republicans and they look bad, that keeps an interest party that's been put on hold in the tent.)

But there are also degrees to any particular issue; if Matt's over-all idea is "do the things we can actually do, rather than argue about the things we can't", the implication is that within a particular coalition interest, prioritize the doable stuff. So e.g. for environmentalists this would mean not dying on the sword of anti-nuclear at the expense of decarbonization. For health care this would mean accepting some kind of intermediate plan, warts and all that can pass, rather than going "exclusive single payer or bust."

There's one difference on the right that I think matters: a lot of people on the right define their stance by _not_ wanting things to happen. "I don't want new legislation that takes away my guns." "I don't want new legislation that gives rights to trans people." "I don't want a big new public health care system."

If that's your view, _nothing happening_ is winning. I wonder if this gives the Republican party a little more leeway with its interest groups.

(We do get the rare outburst - Hawley had a tantrum when Gorsuch ruled in favor of trans rights.)

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I _completely_ agree with the gist of what you’re saying, Marie. The Dems have a lot of culpability in the current atmosphere of animosity and anger.

Dems and Republicans are almost equally likely (60-65%) likely to say that they would have a problem with their child bringing home a member of the opposite political party. They are equally likely (10-15%) to endorse violence against the other side. And they are equally likely (20%-60% depending on the metric) to dehumanize the other side.

All of that said, I disagree that it’s _absolutely_ the Dems that are responsible for conservatives being crazy. If the Dems were to magically revert to less toxic messaging and politics, I genuinely believe that would help a lot, but do you really see conservatives turning around and playing nice?

The conservatives love Trump because “he fights.” Many of them _want_ a fight at this point. And I don’t think that’s all the Dems doing. (Some, but not all.)

My point is that there are clearly internal factors (in addition to the external factor of negative polarization) within each of these parties that is fueling their trajectories. Mitigate the external factors and the internal ones will persist, I think.

The Dems need to do much better—and I won’t stop saying or believing that until I see some real change from my side—but so too do the Republicans.

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I don’t think you can just say that because Democrats don’t like Republicans, they are also at fault.

If you’re a Muslim, is it strange if you’re upset that your child is dating someone who wants Muslims banned from the country? If you’re gay, is it strange if you’re upset that your child is dating someone who opposes gay marriage?

A lot of Democrats are Democrats as a result of Republicans endorsing bigotry against them. Not liking someone who hates you isn’t equivalent to the original hate.

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Both your examples are a bit of an overstatement, which may be part of the more general problem: associating everyone with the perceived worst views of their side. For example, republican support for gay marriage is nearly 50%, and it was even 25% two decades ago (when dems were nearly 50%).

https://www.pewforum.org/fact-sheet/changing-attitudes-on-gay-marriage/

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I mean, Mike Pence was the Vice President and Donald Trump was the President. Pence is vehemently homophobic and Trump explicitly said he wanted to ban Muslims from entering the US.

And while the Supreme Court effectively settled the specific issue of gay marriage, there are still ongoing fights around discrimination against LGBT people. Trump notably banned trans people from serving in the military.

This isn’t just me picking a couple fringe Republican officials. Bigotry is pushed from the very top of the party. If you are a victim of that bigotry it is entirely justified to be upset.

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I think attributing every belief or statement of a party's leader to an individual voter, in a binary system where there are only (realistically) two choices of leaders for a country of 300m+ people, as you've done here, is precisely what James is talking about. It is entirely possible someone voted Republican in spite of Pence and Trump's belief on those points for some other reason (such as tax cuts), just as someone might vote Democrat due to, e.g., healthcare policy even while detesting abortion rights as baby murder. You may disagree that the Republican voter should or morally can make that trade-off, but regardless, the assumption they personally want Muslims banned doesn't work.

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Do you think it’s unfair to assume that if someone votes Democratic, that they’re probably either pro-choice or they are at least not strongly anti-abortion?

I think that’s a fair assumption to make.

If someone thinks that in isolation that Muslims shouldn’t be banned, but they think that’s a good trade if the upside is that rich people’s taxes will go down, I’m not sure how that’s really exonerating.

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I think the key is simply to avoid trying to ascribing any one particular view, espoused by either a political party or representative of said party, to any particular voter for that party. We'd all be better off interacting as individuals rather than as avatars of a tribe.

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Completely agree. For some Democratic voters, their frustration with Republicans is deserved and valid. For _many_ others their hatred of Republicans is based on bias, stereotype, group-think, and ignorance.

And yes, I think that these factors (among others, such as the incentives on social media) lead Democrats to be far more inflammatory, angry, shaming, and cruel than need be, which is, I think responsible for some of the (reasonable) frustration that Republicans can have with Democrats.

I'm not trying to say that all Democratic frustration with Republicans is unwarranted or undeserved. Clearly, A LOT of it is.

I'm trying to say that things would be somewhat better (but only somewhat) if our own side policed itself more and called out inflammatory falsehoods and unwarranted cruelty.

I've recently learned the expression "nutpicking," which is something that right-wing media does a lot. (So too do certain parts of left-wing media, unfrotunately, but I _think_ the issue is less widespread on the left.) And basically, my view on this (which I think is illustrative of the larger point I'm trying to make), is that the right will go on nutpicking no matter what we do; I just want our side to produce fewer nuts for them to pick from.

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How is a school no longer being named after Dianne Feinstein morally equivalent to racism?

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"Morally equivalent" is a high bar but there is a definite similarity between passion for ideological purity and passion for racial purity

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There really really isn’t. Opposing an idea or ideology is not the same as opposing a race.

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Holding a political opinion is very different from holding racial bias. Puritanical zeal in imposing your positions is a different issue.

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There is an attraction to both in certain personality types.

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Here is a hint: most people on the right aren’t opposing a race, they’re opposing the ideas or ideologies popular within that racial group.

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I agree with Matt that politicians being honest about how stupid and evil the US electorate really is would just result in losing elections - but we aren't running for office here...

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The percentage of Rs who are/were birthers seems like a good proxy for the number of deplorable racists

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It's not. But reaching around to trash American culture is intended to be, and is, offensive.

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Lincoln was canceled because of his part in something called "The Minnesota Uprising." This used to be known as the "New Ulm Massacre," because of, well, the massacre part. Lincoln's role was in enforcing the law against murder and insurrection. He could have executed hundreds, but he commuted most of the sentences.

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I'm sure they DGAF about Feinstein, but they're pretty upset about Lincoln.

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+1!

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^^^^^ yes! Hard agree!

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“Understand and attempt to resist demonizing” is what makes me enthusiastically punch that little heart button. I don’t love that the best phrase for this is a Christian one, but “love the sinner, hate the sin” is sorely missing on the left.

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Sarah, probably the weirdest thing that happened to me this year as an agnostic humanist is how much wisdom I’ve found in Christianity. Check out MLKs non-violence philosophy, it’s really moving. Whether or not there’s a supreme spaghetti monster in the sky, it’s hard to deny that JC had some knowledge bombs to drop.

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Marie, yes, some deep wisdom in that tradition to be sure. I took a deep dive into Buddhism and have come to believe that many of these religious or wisdom traditions, when at their best, are all pointing at the same lessons. And, I definitely feel more comfortable accessing those lessons through a humanist approach, as opposed to a divine one.... but I definitely sense the resonance when I encounter the same truths in a different tradition, if you know what I mean.

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This is so true. I am basically entirely areligious, but there's a lot of beauty and wisdom in all religions. The increasingly atheistic US left really should be okay with and loving of religiosity. It helps politically and just is nicer.

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I am a fellow agnostic and feel the same! I think we can draw wisdom from religion and particular religious people even if we don’t believe in the entire doctrine. And many who consider themselves religious pick and choose what to believe as well.

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I admit I am, as of now, only superficially knowledgeable of his work, but this page was very eye-opening, inspiring, and moving to me. https://thekingcenter.org/about-tkc/the-king-philosophy/

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Trouble is, back when homosexuality was criminalized, it sure felt like they were jailing the sinner along with the sin.

"Don't worry, Inmate #305, we're just hating your sin, not you qua sinner!"

The Christian injunction may have some value for personal conduct -- I am agnostic on that question, never having seen it practiced -- but it is not a distinction that any government plan can operationalize.

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Come to think of it, my part in quotations may not be accurate to the Christian injunction when it says "not you qua sinner."

The Christian distinction says that I hate Inmate #305's sin, but I do not hate him, Fred Miller.

But does the Christian distinction permit or forbid my hating him *qua* sinner? It' s not clear to me.

I mean, suppose I'm a good Christian, so I hate rape. And I don't hate Fred Miller. But what about rapists? Can I hate them as a group? What about hating Fred insofar as he's a rapist? What about hating Fred's psychological proclivities to rape? What about hating Fred's role in the rapes that he has committed? Which of those is hating the sin or the sinner?

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It's pretty simple... don't let your strong aversion to certain actions people take transmute into permanently dehumanizing the person who did it. Stay humble, recognize we're all capable of making shitty choices and always keep the path to redemption open. This is exactly what the "restorative justice" movement is all about.

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Sounds great!

So, on this plan it's fine to jail homosexuals, so long as I do not "permanently dehumanize them," and I "keep the path to redemption open." I'd say this is a plan for jails *plus* re-education conversion sessions! After all, the conversion-sessions are meant to save their Christian souls and lead them to redemption!

This plan also allows me to send all of the intelligentsia out into the fields to work on farms, so long as I "leave the path to redemption open" to them by allowing them to confess their capitalist sins and condemn their family members. After all, the maoist sessions are meant to save their maoist souls and lead them to redemption!

I am describing these absurdities because I think your advice is politically trivial. It gives us no guidance on the design of policy, institutions, or laws. It is compatible with the best laws and with the worst laws. Even advocates of capital punishment will tell you that the redemption of the convicted is left open to them, either here or in the afterlife.

It's a great slogan, and maybe it will change some interpersonal interactions. But its contribution to political debate is a net negative.

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I agree. Contrast that with Clinton's "basket of deplorables" comment (which I agreed with at the time! I was a huge Clintonista!) and it becomes very clear why there were a non-trivial number of Obama-Trump voters.

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Didn't Clinton's remark about "deplorables" involve dividing Trump's supporters into two groups, one with understandable concerns and one whose political attitudes were, frankly, deplorable? This , I think, blew up because right-wing commentators chose to ignore the former and act like she had called all Trump supporters deplorable. Yes. she could have chosen her words more carefully. making sure to sound like the latter group was a distinct minority and affirming more strongly that she respected the former.

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It was inexcusable for her to so stigmatize even a portion of the American people. It's not just a matter of choosing words, it was instinctively revolting.

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It was partly the bad faith "understanding" by right-wing commentators that she said "half of Americans" instead of "about half of Trump voters", but another part of it was probably just the use of the world "deplorable", which is a bit of an uncommon term.

Along the same lines, Rubio's weird robotic debate breakdown (https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/video/2016/feb/06/marco-rubio-same-line-repeat-obama-chris-christie-republican-debate-video) wouldn't have been so memorable if the phrase he kept repating wasn't "let's dispel with this fiction", which isn't how a normal person talks. I anticipate future gaffes around the terms "foment" and "geopolitical adversary".

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I believe she quantified it as “about half.”

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"Half", not "about half", People commonly refer to "half" when they mean one of two pieces comprising a whole, even if they differ greatly in size. Again, careless language

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Ironically, I think she was trying to segue into a speech advocating for empathizing with the "other half." No one got past the basket line. You are right, careless!

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Marie - you have some of the most thoughtful comments here, so I want to ask you about being a Clintonista.

I really struggle to understand why the Democratic party would nominate Hillary Clinton. Bill Clinton left office popular, which was primarily because of the economic situation he presided over and incredible personal political skill. He also left with a large number of personal scandals (what would later become MeToo stuff, the sketchy pardons, etc.) surrounding him and was only the second president to be impeached at the time. Nominating Hillary was similar to talk about Republican's nominating one of Trump's family in 2030 (or Jeb Bush running in 2016). She didn't have Bill's political skills and was already disliked by a large portion of the country. Yet it also seemed inevitable for her to be nominated eventually, even though she lost the primary in 2008! I've never understood why she would be the nominee but wondered if you could share your perspective.

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As a woman, Hillary was very inspiring to me, and still is. She is someone who I thought was brilliant, pragmatic, and had her own ambitions separate from Bill's, and I felt like she was unfairly stained by her husband's choices. I liked her bold policy ideas and her willingness to adapt her views in the light of new perspectives. I saw her as a systems thinker--someone who thought about the systemic ramifications of what she was proposing and genuinely tried to optimize for the greatest total good. I thought she got a bad rap from impressions people formed about her in the 90s when sexism was less widely recognized than it is today. I'm writing all this in the past tense but it's all still true. I just now see she has the same blind spot I had, which is being filled with a judgmental rejection of half of the country because they see things differently. I think for her, it was a reasonable defensive response to how she was treated as first lady. Reasonable, but not wise, for someone who wanted to be president.

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While I'm preaching, my enthusiasm for humanism is only rivaled by my enthusiasm for systems thinking. I think it merits more discussion than "rationalism" but has similar benefits. https://thesystemsthinker.com has good resources, including this pamphlet on common system archetypes: https://thesystemsthinker.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/03/Systems-Archetypes-I-TRSA01_pk.pdf I think modern anti-racism is facing several of these phenomena at once, leading to a stagnation in progress on achieving racial equity. But that's another sermon entirely.

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It would feel a lot different being a former Clinton supporter if a few votes had gone the other way because it rained/didn't rain on right counties... We read too much into close election results as to the nature of the electorate and the political skill of the politicians... I'm really interested in your political evolution because you strike me as rather 'anti-woke' or 'IDW' sympathetic and Clinton exemplified the worst of American corporate wokeism for me

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Marie, your comments really are thoughtful, and I feel exactly the same way about Hillary Clinton.

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First - thank you for the response. This has puzzled me for so long that I am very grateful for you explaining your perspective. I always understood why someone would vote for her over Trump, but never understood why she wasn't challenged more strongly in the primary because of the obvious (to me) baggage she had.

Your comment that "I felt like she was unfairly stained by her husband's choices" intrigues and confuses me. If you are part of a team, then I assume you validate the choices made by the team unless you are explicit about your differences. How do you separate her choices from his without her explicitly condemning the choices he made?

In terms of inspiration - how does Hillary compare to Nancy Pelosi for you?

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The specific choices I was thinking of were his sexual harassment, inappropriate relationship with an intern, and perjury, all of which bothered me as a teenager. I don’t think she deserves to be chastised for forgiving him. Her choices on health care advocacy, “super predators,” UN speech, all that is on her, good and bad. The shady pardons- ok that’s fair to ask about. I just object to people treating them as conjoined twins.

Nancy has never been particularly inspiring to me but I don’t know her backstory as well.

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For myself, I find it hard to reconcile two things I firmly believe: that Clinton was historically, personally unpopular and polarizing, making it suicidal to nominate her; and that that unpopularity was grossly unfair and largely based in sexism (at least on the part of the media, not necessarily by those who disliked her, though often then too) and so refusing to nominate a highly qualified woman popular with Democrats would be “giving in” to sexism. This is related to a comment I made below, that psychologically it’s hard to get on board with bowing to unfair tactics for pragmatic reasons, even if it helps you win bigger victories later. I recognize that the Democrats were objectively wrong to nominate her, but it’s a tough pill to swallow.

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I think these things can both be true. I’m still annoyed at how unfair the critiques of Hillary are and that so much of the dislike of her is based on pretty obvious sexism. But politics isn’t fair and it’s suicide to nominate people who can’t win because we think the voters *should* like them. I came around to this view after voting for Warren in the California primary and then, upon further consideration, realizing that I absolutely should have voted for Biden, and feeling very relieved that he ended up being the nominee!

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I mean, there is no rule that says that political outcomes are just or fair.

It’s likely that nominating a woman for President does cost votes and make it much harder to win. People can decide whether they think that the benefits of nominating a woman outweigh the increased odds of losing the election as a result.

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I think that nominating a women might cost votes, but might also gain votes as well. Probably depends on the women. Hillary was a particularly bad candidate beyond the sexism she faced. I think it was Boehner who said that Hillary is the only Democrat that Trump could have beaten and Trump was the Republican that Hillary could have beaten. Just so happens they split the popular vote and electoral vote.

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I read that the exact same way. I found Matt's "80% bullshit" line jarring and unsupported.

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Matt is "pandering" to his liberal audience with this line. It's part of his mock/serious style. I like this tone, but it can be jarring if you're not tuned in.

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I think the issue is the other side doesn't seem to support legal immigration either, not in practice anyway. It's just a talking point. Trump cut legal immigration drastically, didn't really do anything about illegal immigration, and GOP voters liked it. Obama is calling them generous/welcoming but they're not. Illegal immigrants are just a scape goat in that paragraph and in general on the American right.

And obama knows this, but he can't say it out loud.

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But it wasn't (and it is usually isn't) a single-issue election. Immigration was way farther down the priority list for most voters in 2020 compared to 2016. It's just hard to know exactly which aspects of Trump policy his voters liked, versus which they didn't care about, versus which they didn't like, versus which they didn't even know about (because most voters aren't particularly informed)

Maybe it's just my personal experience talking here and maybe it's not as representative of a broader trend as I think it is, but I know and work with a lot of legal immigrants, including people from every continent except Australia, and as a group they are much more right-leaning and Trump supporting than my native-born coworkers and friends. So I tend to see the arguments making Trump's anti-immigrant rhetoric into primarily racism or less about illegal immigration as quite different from my personal experience.

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I think a huge part of this is just aesthetics. You don't even actually need to change any policy positions (this is why I disagree with you about the Hyde amendment, ftr) because barely anyone actually cares and/or knows about policy specifics. The Hyde amendment, or smart border enforcement, or what have you, is just totally irrelevant to the vast majority of voters. They only care about/understand the broad strokes. Is Biden pro-life or pro-choice? How favorable is he to the immigration of undocumented people? Etc. In the universe we live in now, where lies are traded more than truth, you don't open yourself up to any additional vulnerability by taking a specific position.

Now, what DOES matter is the aesthetic consciousness that your movement engenders. Think of a (in)famous Biden line from the general, "Do I look like a socialist?" The implication of course is that he's an old white guy with a clean-cut, regular-folks demeanor, so of course he's not a radical leftist. This despite him being the most left-wing president on policy questions in decades.

I think many of the other things you mention, like Obama's rhetoric on immigration, are also part of this. You have to seem like you're a down-to-earth regular Joe (lol), not part of the swirling universe of academic, progressive nonsense. Toward that end, something like Kamala making fun of the SFSB would be very helpful. Of course, much of the progressive movement is about aesthetics as well (see the MA senate race, where the two candidates were almost painfully similar on policy but took entirely divergent aesthetic positions), so you're going to get a lot of blowback for that which will be dressed up as making X marginalized group feel unsafe or whatever, but that's actually a good thing. Nothing helped Biden more in the general than the fury directed toward him from the left.

Our coalition is a winning one. The combination of educated suburbanites and secular working-class folks just need to feel comfortable that they are in the drivers' seat, rather than the young, over-educated lefties.

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So, MY, this sounds like excellent advice, and I agree about the rationale.

If we make the protection of unpopular positions and groups the centerpiece of our electoral identity, then we'll lose elections, and lose the very possibility of winning elections in the future.

If we do popular stuff, we'll be able to address the structural threats to democracy, and in time, we'll get back to protecting the unpopular positions and minorities.

Now, I want you to pick an unpopular position or minority and make this pitch to them.

"Dear abortion advocates...." "Dear immigration advocates....." "Dear trans advocates...." or whoever it may be,

"... here's why we are going to abandon you for the next few cycles, and here's why it is for your own good."

Until you give the party explicit advice about whom we should abandon for their long-term good, this advice strikes me as correct, but weak-sauce.

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I don't think he's advocating for actual abandonment of any particular position. Rather, he's saying that Democrats shouldn't be taking maximally confrontational, maximally ideological positions on things that aren't broadly popular. The immigration "pledge" during the primary is a good example. That was a really dumb thing to do and it makes Democrats look bad. But not doing that isn't abandoning immigrants.

The point is that to be politically efficacious, you should *not* constantly proclaim your most provocative positions.

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It's not just that it "isn't abandoning immigrants" (or whatever else). If you want to win a path to citizenship, you need to win elections — tweeting "abolish ICE" is hurting immigrants not helping them. Espousing taxpayer funding for abortions makes it harder to defend choice not easier.

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As a pro choice immigrant, I agree. Also let’s face it, where else am I gonna go in a two party system? The Dems can afford to take my vote for granted and pander to white people in the Upper Midwest. I want them to! The results will be better for me.

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Thanks, those two proposals are detailed enough to consider the costs and benefits.

Let's take abortion: you are willing to say to people who want to repeal the Hyde Amendment, "...here's why we're going to abandon poor women who cannot afford abortions for the next few cycles, in order to be able to win some elections and protect reproductive choice in the long run. Yes, in principle we think that all women have a right to abortion regardless of their income, but in defense of that position we're going to have to leave some poor women in the lurch right now."

I think that is the right calculation to make on that particular issue as well.

But a) that's easy for me, being neither poor nor a woman,

and, b) that's the kind of conversation you have to have for every issue, separately on its own merits, with the disappointed advocates of that issue.

Making the case for "doing popular stuff" is easy. The hard part is telling each particular unpopular group (e.g. poor pregnant women, trans rights advocates, etc.) that they are the group that has to bear the cost of this political calculation.

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I agree that we don't need to constantly proclaim our most provocative positions.

We don't need to, because Fox News will do it for us, whether we like it or not.

If our position is at all controversial, then the right-wing puke-funnel will make it the centerpiece of our image to their flocks of believers. (Just check out the letter that Kinzinger got from his cultist relatives-- Democrats are the devil's army of abortionists and socialists.)

The era of quiet, under-the-table advocacy is over. The era of helping out a constituency while not making a fuss about it is over. Nationalisation of all campaigns, plus the efficiency and velocity of the puke-funnel -- very much including Facepuke -- entails that there are no secrets, there is no nuancing, there is no down-playing and soft-pedaling.

Advocacy or abandonment are the only options. What you do not explicitly disavow will be made the center of your image -- sometimes, even if you do disavow it. (See again, Biden on socialism and Biden on fracking bans.)

Me? I think MY is right, and we should abandon some constituencies. I think this is what Obama did, for instance, with same-sex marriage advocates in 2008 and beyond. And he was right to do so. He would have been right to do so, even if the nation had taken another 20 years to come around to the right position.

But that's easy for me to say, since I'm an old straight white guy.

So: who are the same-sex marriage advocates of 2022?

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I disagree that quiet politics is gone. Governments, state and federal, do things all the time without people paying close attention. Biden won handily by in no small part by conspicuously not taking unpopular ideological pledges during the primary. The difference, again, is using maximally confrontational framings vs diplomatic ones.

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Okay, sounds good, and I hope that you are right. The viability of MY's proposal largely depends on it.

And I agree that Biden won by not saying unpopular things.

But that also means: Biden won because enough of the activist base was willing to act on Matt's principle, instead of acting on the principle that they have been shunted to the back of the line for long enough, and now it is time for their concerns to take center-stage.

That took discipline and a degree of self-renunciation on the part of a lot of young people -- e.g. AOC -- and I think they should get credit for it. We focus on the screw-ups that cost us votes -- calls to defend the police and abolish ICE -- but there were other issues where they took the longer view.

Yes, the right-wing is still far better on message-discipline. But it would be nice to think that parts of the left are learning.

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I do give them credit for that, actually. I have much more respect for the Bernie-era left than I do for the Kucinich-era left - today's (economic) leftists seem far more capable of accepting the give-and-take of real-world politics than the ones I grew up with.

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I think the key problem is that discourse is *not* limited anymore, and opponents are incentivized to find controversial hot takes.

It doesn’t matter if no Democratic politician endorses a particular hot take. Fox News will find a college student who was willing to post that hot take on social media. They will then convince a huge portion of the country that “the left” endorses that hot take. And Democrats will be associated with it as the party that represents the left of center of the country.

This wasn’t an issue in the past because one random person’s take wasn’t broadcasted nationally. But now it is. And it doesn’t hurt Republicans like it does Democrats because Democrats do not have any sophisticated propaganda arm like Republicans have with the conservative media ecosystem.

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I agree that the ability to scrape the whole country for one person saying something dumb you can tar their whole political wing with is a big problem. Is there some way to counter this, besides trying to get the left to start using the same tactic? Genuine question, I don't know, but it seems really important to Democrats being able to establish views separately from their most extreme activists.

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It helped that by 2008, gay-marriage advocates were hopeful that things were moving in their direction, so they were willing to cut Obama some slack (because none of them believed he was actually a principled opponent of gay marriage). If you want the left-wing to cut you some slack, show them some positive momentum!

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One of Obama's strengths as a politician is that a lot of well-educated, white leftists thought he was just like them so they just assumed his stated positions on gay marriage, religion, abortion and capitalism were lies he was telling dumber people to get elected.

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They were right about gay marriage!

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Absolutely. I think Republicans benefit from this same dynamic quite a lot. Voters like the politician, and so assume that they will like the policies and positions, even when they do not like the policies and position.

A famous study showed that when Republican voters were confronted with the unpopular details of the Republican platform, they simply refused to believe that this was the Republican platform.

So, the electoral sweet spot is to generate the appearance among the moderate electorate that you will do only popular things, while conveying to your extreme base that you will do extreme things even if they are not popular.

I'd say that our last *two* presidents did this quite successfully.

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Do you think that Obama's tight-rope walk would still work in the current media/political environment?

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Maybe. It's a question of trust--gay marriage advocates trusted Obama, so they refrained from criticizing him even though they had grounds to. What modern politicians are trusted, and by whom? It's possible that there's nobody in the modern Democratic party who's trusted by all factions, but it's also possible we just don't know who that person is yet.

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I do wish there would be more pushback on these advocacy groups to change the PUBLIC's mind rather than just trying to work the politicians. If you can get the public mood to change, it just gets easy for the politicians.

To that end, I would hope the response to these groups is more like "hey, *I* think your ideas are great, but we're here as a government to represent the people as a whole, and look how your ideas aren't what the people want. Here are some steps most people DO agree with, so that's as far as we're going to be able to go right now, until you build more support with the nation as a whole."

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I remember in 2004 reading an interview of Kerry in some LGBTQ magazine, can’t remember which, in which the first question was, “why don’t you support gay marriage?” And his answer was literally, “because it’s terribly unpopular.” Not a fun thing to read, but honest and made it clear where the work had to be done (and it was, obviously to great effect).

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In a lot of cases though those activists *have* succeeded at changing the public’s mind.

The problem is that it doesn’t matter what a majority of the “public” thinks when we don’t have a single institution that relies on a national popular vote. What matters is what people in sparsely populated states and key electoral college swing states think.

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I think where minds changed, policy did indeed follow. Gay marriage being a fine example. And I think you can make a good argument against the filibuster along the lines you're describing.

But I also hear this argument from people who are in a consensus bubble that doesn't hold up at a national level. Or they cite surveys about general ideas rather than specific policies - e.g. how so many people wanted to repeal Obamacare but then hated the actual legislation that would do so, or how "Medicare for all" is popular right up until you tell people it means changing *their* insurance.

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I mean, these days immigration and moderate forms of gun control poll well nationally, for example. But the problem is that opponents systemically have their votes count extra in our system.

I think gay marriage is an extreme edge case on policy quickly following public opinion once it shifted. Gay marriage happened because of the Supreme Court making a 5-4 ruling. If Anthony Kennedy had voted against gay marriage, my guess is that it would still be illegal today in most red states, despite increasing public support.

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I'm not trying to be the guy on the internet who drags on forever, but here's the polling I see on immigration:

https://news.gallup.com/poll/313106/americans-not-less-immigration-first-time.aspx

Pretty divided. Though I know the DREAMers are much more popular, so I guess fair to say Congress has been disappointing there.

On gun control:

https://news.gallup.com/poll/313106/americans-not-less-immigration-first-time.aspx

Sure, I guess you can say there's strong support for small things like better background checks. But not for the kind of major changes that would actually make a difference. And by the way, this might be one of the rare cases where the Senate is working as designed, and giving overweight representation to the rural states where guns are more popular and relevant.

Personally, my big issue is climate change and I do see hope given the polling there: https://www.pewresearch.org/science/2020/06/23/two-thirds-of-americans-think-government-should-do-more-on-climate/

Just need to get clean legislation that doesn't try to do the Green New Deal thing of getting weighed down by social justice issues. (Yes, I know this is a controversial position but that's my view on it.)

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But legislation protecting Dreamers and implementing universal background checks for guns are both extremely popular and completely dead in Congress with no hope of ever passing in the foreseeable future. That’s my point. The public supporting an idea does not mean it becomes law. So just focusing on getting the public behind an idea is pointless in many cases. The overall public isn’t who decides policy in our system.

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I think you may have stumbled upon your own solution: at some point, you have to marginalize and/or eject the disloyal activists. That's the double-edged sword of big tent politics. Discipline and loyalty are how the Republican party has been winning elections on unpopular policies for 40 years.

A lot of modern Democratic ideology is centered around the idea of solidarity (class solidarity, race solidarity, etc.), but for some reason political solidarity is anathema to Democratic activists. That has to change.

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Part of the problem is that they are often also fundamentally inaccurate. But they refuse to engage with anyone pointing this out because feelings matter more lately (on both sides).

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Yes, like people who have been saying “Flint doesn’t have clean water” years after the problem was fixed.

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My impression is that a lot of activists “make trouble” as a means of emotional expression rather than actual politics. These are angry times, there is a lot of emotion to express.

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A lot of this is about presentation and emphasis rather than policy. It might in fact be necessary to say "Dear trans advocates, we're going to vote against all the bathroom bills but we're not going to mention you very often on the campaign trail."

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Isn't this a collective action problem for Democrats? Individual Democrats can raise their standing within the party by staking out a more extreme position, even if this harms the image of the party as a whole. Republicans face the same difficulties but just seem to be not as a good at managing it as Democrats. I don't know whether this is because of institutions within the Republican Party, the positions and intensity of belief within their primary voters, donors, and media organizations, or what. But I think most Democrats accept Matt's arguments here, but worry about getting outflanked.

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Yeah, this is part of why it is important for the national party to have a national party line constraining the left flank. The reality in a two party system is that you have to limit your own side of the spectrum. We need a national platform and strong party apparatus capable of punishing democrats who stray to far to the left harming other democrats. Until the incentive structure is fixed I don't think the party will be able to reform its image the way it needs too to build a durable majority.

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Ezra Klein's book Why Are We Polarized maps out this problem precisely to when both parties decided to start using primaries to elect candidates, and incrementally stripping away power from the RNC / DNC. This move to populism and giving the common people a bigger voice is a good idea in theory, but unfortunately populism is very susceptible to overly simplistic and extreme ideas. Trump winning the 2016 Republic Primary is the obvious example here, but this also affected the Biden campaign in 2020 (thank goodness he still got elected). The Biden campaign for weeks had to waste time refuting things like "Abolish the Police" because there were high profile candidates / elected officials actually endorsing those measures. Clearly that was harmful to the party, but those candidates / elected officials did it anyways because their constituents like hearing provocative and simplistic ideas and it helped raise their profile. So I fully agree with david and leon, that most people probably know when a position is too far out and can harm the party, but unfortunately the primary structure incentivizes politicians to take them anyways.

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I agree with a lot of this --especially the last few paragraphs-- and would personally love to see the Democrats spend less time talking about Columbus Day and more time talking about Columbus, OH (and if they talked about Dayton or Cleveland, all the better) but it seems a tall order for the interest groups pushing all moral outrage all the time on all things to trim their sails even a bit and compromise to build a diverse, inclusive, coalition along the dimensions that would actually win elections.

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I don't understand which 80% of the immigration paragraph from Obama's book you consider bullshit. He makes three statements. First, immigrants are coming over the border from Mexico without our permission. Second, due to social media, Skype etc it's easier than ever for new immigrants to maintain cultural ties to their country of origin. And third, this is causing resentment among many Americans. These are just facts, and I thought the controversy was over what to do about it. Republicans might range from send them back to provide a path to citizenship to those already here, while Democrats might range from path to citizenship to open borders. But I don't think anyone is arguing that people aren't entering the country illegally.

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The bullshit is in considering this to be a huge problem. It's similar to getting mad at your neighbor for putting up modern window treatments in a historic district. It's true that your neighbor really did put up the window treatments, but that doesn't mean it's a very important issue.

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I guess the disagreement is that "bullshit" is a poorly defined term. I take it to mean untrue, whereas you take it to mean unimportant.

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founding

I suspect Matt may be working with the philosophical definition of "bullshit" due to Harry Frankfurt - it's where you say things and don't particularly care whether they're true or false, but just care about whether they set the right tone.

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It's definitely colloquial.

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The bullshit is less that it's untrue, and more that it's irrelevant pandering. The 20% that's real is that our immigration system is broken. The rest of the paragraph is just talking to people's vague sense of cultural unease and socio-economic anxiety, not anything quantifiable or actionable, while ducking the many underlying questions about where that anecdotal anti-immigration sentiment is rooted.

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The Obama bit definitely reminds me of an earlier thread, where there was some debate between those of us who read his books, listened to his words, and decided he was a moderate centrist we could happily support - and those who focused more on identity & rhetoric and thought they were getting a very progressive Black president. And then he won by combining those camps, really.

I do think there's some political magic there for others to consider... And I've heard some GOP hot-takers argue that Trump's 2016 win was executed by combining the hardcore wackos with enough GOP centrists who thought he was just kidding about the crazy stuff. GWB made the same move more quietly, pocketing the religious vote without much discussion so he could campaign as a centrist (ah, the "Compassionate Conservative" tag! Those were the days.)

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There’s a skill a few politicians have where you’re able to get people to project their own views onto you, which lets you get a ton of support from people who disagree with each other because they all think you actually agree with them. As you note both Obama and Trump 2016 had a knack for this (I think Hillary Clinton had the opposite problem in 2016 - people projected against her and everyone thought she disagreed with them).

One problem with this skill though is that when you govern you have to start explicitly taking sides. Obama failing to follow through with things he never promised but that people expected from him led to a lot of young people becoming cynical and disillusioned with politics.

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I have to launch into a diatribe about gerrymandering. Does it exist? Sure. Is it meaningful? No. Instead, I fear, it's an escape for Democrats to whine about how the system is rigged against us and the American people really want the Democrats to control the House, were it not for those terrible Republican state legislatures.

Let's go to the facts.

In the past 16 House elections (1990-2020), the Democrats have won a majority of the two-party aggregate vote in House elections eight times, and the Republicans have won the popular vote eight times. The Republicans won a majority of the House seats in all eight of their popular vote victories. The Democrats won a majority of House seats in six of the eight. The two times they lost a majority of the seats were in 1996 (when they won 50.03% of the 2-party vote) and 2012 (when they won 50.6% of the 2-party vote). One of those was a coin flip and the other *may* have reflected Republican success in the post-2010 redistricting.

That's a pretty weak basis for complaining about gerrymandering being so unfair. Instead what I take from this is: Democrats have to be popular! Win a majority of people's votes and you're highly likely to take the House. The Republicans didn't cheat their way into a House majority (OK, maybe 2012); they were more popular than the Democrats!

Maybe 2022 will be different, and be more like 2012. But most of 30 years of history is against that. That 30 years says: win the argument among the majority of the voters, either by making their lives better or getting them to believe that the other side is worse, and you're highly likely to win the House.

(Caveat to this: in many of these elections, especially in the 2010s, the Democrats have tended to win a smaller % of seats than % of the popular vote, which *may* reflect gerrymandering. But so what? They still got a minority of the popular vote and therefore lost the House. With "fairer" districts, they still would have been in the minority. You've got to be popular to control the House.)

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Would you say this about the gerrymandering at the state level as well? E.g. Wisconsin legislature?

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I wish I could answer that but I don't have the numbers. It seems quite possible to me that gerrymandering is effective for state legislatures, however. But I'd still like to see the numbers.

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founding

I think that most discussions of gerrymandering on the internet are facile and simplistic, and your data do a good job of dismissing those discussions. But there are still real concerns about gerrymandering.

Most discussions on the internet focus on the partisan implications of gerrymandering. However, the history of legislation and court cases is much more about the racial implications. Now that courts protect racial minorities from being too diluted by gerrymandering (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thornburg_v._Gingles), it's become a tool for shaping partisan representation.

The mid-cycle gerrymander of Texas in 2003 was intended to eliminate all white Democrats, and nearly did. Lloyd Doggett hung on against all odds, because the Hispanic Democrat they threw him up against moved to the next district over. Chet Edwards also managed to stick around for three terms, and Beto O'Rourke had a couple terms, and now there's Lizzie Fletcher in George H.W. Bush's old seat in suburban Houston, but otherwise, Doggett has been the only white Democrat in Congress from Texas. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_congressional_delegations_from_Texas#2013_to_present:_36_seats)

It may be not terribly common for the House to swing against the nationwide winner of the House vote, so that overall it's less significant for partisan balance than the electoral college is. But it still has the compositional effect that we get a few extra Democrats from Maryland and Illinois, and a few fewer from North Carolina, Wisconsin, and Texas, which does have implications, even if they're not the ones that people on Reddit are mad about.

(Also, if you want to find elections where the winner of the majority didn't win a majority of house districts, the 2012 presidential election would have gone that way, had it been the House vote: https://www.huffpost.com/entry/republican-vote-rigging-electoral-college_n_2546010 )

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I think people who crowed about gerrymandering have wisened up to the limitations of the argument which is why they've moved on to filibuster reform and abolishing the Senate.

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Well, I'm in favor of abolishing the Senate but keeping the filibuster.

:-)

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Interesting, but unstable. With zero Senators remaining, you'd need 3/5 of zero votes to end cloture, but only 1/2 of zero votes in order to change the rules to abolish the filibuster. Clearly you're going to get 1/2 of zero votes much more easily than 3/5 of zero votes.

This is all on the assumption that the Vice President is a zero, too, but history has shown that to be a pretty safe assumption.

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Abolishing the Senate would be quite a lift, given the need for substantially amending the Constitution. But I like your idea, with a twist: keep the Senate but give each Senator a vote worth zero. So the House passes a bill. It goes to the Senate, and every vote is tied zero to zero. The Vice President then breaks the tie with his/her (non-zero) vote.

Voila! A unicameral legislature.

(OK, let the Senate cast real votes for treaties, impeachments, and confirming nominees. Otherwise, its role is strictly advisory and non-binding.)

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You're making this harder than it has to be.

Amending the Constitution will be much easier, after we abolish States. Then, the amendment can be initiated by half of the zero states at a convention called by 2/3 of the zero state legislatures, and ratified by 3/4 of zero state legislatures.

And with that, changing Article I.3 to abolish the Senate is a done deal.

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Yes. A lot of this. I'm definitely in the minority here that I think the current R-skew is far more a function of our current coalition + policies rather than an inherent structural disadvantage. It's interesting tho, I find our '08 immigration platform seems pretty sensible, I can't find what's "80% bullshit" about Obama's immigration statement, and I don't get what's been "precious" about his description of Iowa and Ohio (e.g., Obama won Iowa by 10% points in '08 ... 10). Maybe a better description of my politics is an '08 vintage Progressive focused far more on class struggle.

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The bullshit in that statement is presenting today's immigration from Central America as somehow different than past waves of immigration, as being less likely to join the broad fabric of American society. In rural Minnesota where I grew up, as recently as the 1940s there were second-generation born here kids still learning Swedish and Norwegian at home as their first language, for example. Yet some of those same people, who are still alive, and their kids, are now terribly concerned that the latest immigrants from Mexico haven't already learned fluent English.

Suspicion of the latest wave of immigrants is a story almost as old as the United States, but generally it's also almost comically lacking in self-awareness by those stoking it.

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The other thing about those Scandinavians in Minnesota --

they were socialist as all get out! and openly! Like, it was a serious movement there!

The only thing that prevented them from being pursued as communist immigrant infiltrators was...ummm...could it have been the complexion of their ideas?

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it was more likely because this all happened before the Cold War... Like 1900-1920s. I mean it's even pre-Castro.

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

I know it's very modern to see the racial component of everything, but I really think this is because Socialism was more popular before people saw Communism in action. (And the US united against it.)

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Latin Americans also seem to be quite good at assimilating, even compared to other groups - as this anti-open borders conservative writes here https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2019/01/why-tom-brokaws-comments-assimilation-were-wrong/581548/

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Yes, at the end of the day, they are Americans. If it were up to me the top US foreign policy goal would be creation of an all-American common market and essentially a Schengen zone for the Americas. It would put the US in position to be in the driver's seat of the largest economy in the world for another century, like Germany and France are in the EU. And no offense to Mr Yglesias but it's also probably more realistic and doable than the US hitting a billion people on its own during the same timeframe.

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So, basically you'd like to put an American corner in front of every taco truck.

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A worthy end goal, with maybe a few lessons on mistakes to avoid (some would say the gap between, say, Massachusetts and Mississippi is already to great for a such a close union).

But we're already in the business of using access to the US market to subsidize the development of impoverished foreign countries - we've been doing it in Asia for decades, offshoring low wage work to other countries, etc. The difference is that in coming decades all of that will redound mostly to the strategic benefit and strength of China, not the US. Time to be smarter about it.

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What I see is the same three-generation assimilation pattern that my Italian ancestors followed, except 60 years later. Immigrant generation takes what manual work they can get. First generation assimilates and gets steady jobs. Second generation goes professional. This is why the left-wing Latinx concept is idiotic.

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Allan -- Ok. I can see this - especially on the assimilation side. One set of my grandparents spoke Polish and the other set spoke Swedish. I guess my response is ... isn't this wave actually different though in both scale and status? The immigrant share of US population is at historic highs of ~14% - back to 1900 levels and up from 5% in the 1970. The share of unauthorized immigrants had tripled from 1990 to 2007 from 3.5M to 12.2M.

https://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2020/08/20/key-findings-about-u-s-immigrants/

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I can't speak to status, but is there anything to suggest that the immigrants from 1900 assimilated any slower than the ones from 1940?

Also, is there anything showing that undocumented status of the immigrant generation has any significant effect on the assimilation rates of the native-born 2nd and 3rd generation? As I recall, the general trend is that immigrants themselves are relatively slow to adopt the English language and American customs, and assimilation tends to really only show up in the ranks of the 2nd and 3rd generations.

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Kareem -- Good questions. I don't know on either and a quick search came up short too.

On the first question... below is the community settlement map in Chicago from 1950. I'd be surprised if there was much difference in assimilation rates between 1900s and the 40s. I feel like urban immigrant communities were tightly bound through the 60s - or were here in Chicago. Maybe WWII quicken the integration for those who were Allied members by creating greater shared service cohesion.

On the second question... that Pew Research link I posted above has a chart on education rates. Looks like undocumented skews to < high school education. I imagine that plays a role in assimilation but couldn't find anything conclusive.

https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Chicago_Demographics_in_1950_Map.jpg

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David--Thanks for taking a look, I appreciate it! That map is interesting for a lot of reasons (one of them personal--my girlfriend grew up in Albany Park, and I've visited with her twice. So weird to think it used to be...Swedish and Ukrainian???).

Anyhow, on the second question, I take your point on the Pew Research, but I wonder how that compares to documented immigrants of similar educational attainment? I grew up in the Arab American community around Metro Detroit, where there's definitely a tendency for the children of the immigrants who came with a =<high school education not to make it as far in the education system as the children of immigrants who came in with advanced degrees or came here to study, even though most Middle Eastern immigrants are documented.

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founding

1970 was historically low, because it came at the end of the only 40 year period where most immigration was banned.

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I think I probably agree with you. I do wonder if the attitude about integration has changed though. Are familiar with the descriptors of the "melting pot" of the past to the "salad bowl" of the future? I tend to think the "melting pot" is better and over the long run what will actually happen in practice. There some pretty strong energy for the salad bowl approach though.

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A few generations back, my great grandparents came to New York from the old country and dropped their cultural ways just about as fast as they damn well could. My mother speaks a little Yiddish - she's the only one in the entire extended family.

Since that cultural heritage, post Holocaust, is so thoroughly lost, descendants of Eastern European Ashkenazi Jews like myself see the melting pot as a double-edged sword.

When I was a kid, one of my friends was first-generation American - his parents were Chinese expats who had fled North Korea. My friend's mother would always speak to him in Cantonese (I think) and he would _always_ reply in English. As an adult, he told me he regrets not being bilingual and having to re-learn Chinese as an adult.

I think my view is: the children of immigrants often pick up being American - the melting pot melts, sometimes more than necessary. And Americans who are already assimilated will be mad at the next generation of immigrants, no matter how hard they are trying to assimilate.

If we've come to recognize that there's value in other cultures and not just value in "becoming American", to me that's progress. And if we have forgotten that "becoming American" is important too, we're going to have to relearn that.

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The theme of "Democrats should do things that are popular to win elections" has come up a few times. I keep thinking about this Josh Barro column from a few years ago that spells it out in ways that are blunt but feel accurate.

https://www.businessinsider.com/liberals-can-win-if-they-stop-being-so-annoying-2017-7

> As I see it, Democrats' problem isn't that they're on the wrong side of policy issues. It's that they're too ready to bother too many ordinary people about too many of their personal choices, all the way down to the hamburgers they eat.

Some of the progressive unpopularity is because of policy, but a lot of it is simply tone. You may say, "Well, all the crazy stuff is coming from random people in the media and culture." Josh's point is "What's not your fault can still be your problem." I think Matt's right that elected Democrats can address some of this stuff just by distancing themselves from the divisive shit certain progressives say—but a lot of it is tied up in the culture that Democrats have little control over.

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That's a fantastic article title. And I think this is right. Conservatives are keyed up about all of this "culture" stuff, it's not really on the ballot. Other than not saying "if you voted for Trump you are evil" out loud to anyone I run across, I'm not sure what to do about it.

But I think MY is right in this post - Democratic political leadership saying "that's just nutty" to the very nuttiest stuff out in the culture would probably help a little, and you don't even have to throw a real policy position under the bus.

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Matt likes to troll leftists by accurately pointing out that despite their professed hatred of The West Wing, Bernie Sanders is a very Bartlet-esque figure and their model of persuasion through bold moral consistency is very much in line with the show. I think the reluctance to moderate on positions in response to Republican aggression (a reluctance which to be clear is not restricted to Sanders leftists) is another example of West Wing thought. There’s a politically macho idea the show constantly bought into, that when your opponents are being unfair and ruthless, moderating in response would be craven, whereas if you stick up for what’s right the public will reward you. It’s psychologically attractive but unfortunately naive. (I’m not saying the show invented this attitude—it goes back at least to Capra—but it’s a prominent reflection of it.)

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Obama's approach on immigration, affirmative action, and other issues in the Audacity of Hope followed a pretty standard format: here's my center-left policy position; here are the strongest arguments by those who disagree; here's a consensus reframing of my center-left policy position. For example, he ended the immigration section like this: "Ultimately the danger to our way of life is not that will be overrun by those who do not look like us or do not speak our language. The danger will come if we fail to recognize [their] humanity[.]”

Obama in “Audacity” approaches issues not like an activist or politician, but more like a judge. He sought consensus where possible, and didn’t let his political decisions speak for themselves, but backed them up with the reasoning showing how he arrived at them. Showing your work — the values underlying your political beliefs, the counterarguments you took into account, and so on — is a double-win: it makes a stronger case for your ultimate position, while providing voters who may disagree with the opportunity to at least recognize commonality in the underlying values you share. (I wrote an extended post reflecting on this this last year here: https://joeldodge07.medium.com/the-audacity-of-hope-in-2020-b081e2d18cc6)

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A major problem -- and I don't know the solution -- is Democrats don't control their own messaging. Right-wing media does. Maybe that's a bit of an overstatement, but every day Fox, Rush, Tucker, etc. scour the country for the silliest, most strident liberal or leftist, then portray that person as the face of the party. Assisting their efforts, Democrats are not nearly as unified as Republicans (despite Republicans' recent kerfuffles), and have trouble sticking to any given talking point. So while Democratic leadership might *want* to talk about pandemic relief, or the minimum wage, there's always someone talking about a hot-button social issue that draws attention away from core concerns. The culture wars are just way sexier that boring old public policy, even if the latter is more important, in a material sense.

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Why can't Democrats do the same?

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Because progressive media has the same mission as conservative media, raising the profiles of the most progressive members of the Democratic coalition while downplaying the presence of more moderate Democrats who would appeal to a wider audience. The progressive media spent months telling everyone who would listen that no-one like Joe Biden, he was too conservatives for the Democratic Party and his nomination would be a disaster. Meanwhile they were desperately trying to raise the profile of candidates like Castro, who's campaign largely consisted of telling Iowans they were bad people because they were too white.

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Fair point -- but if the mission is the same as conservative media instead, why can't progressive media do a reverse Fox and spend its time portraying the most strident Republican as the face of the party and "own the messaging"? I agree with the reality that conservative media does a better job of creating the "average" voter's perceptions of the left/Democrats than progressive media - what I don't understand is why.

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I think there are two different questions here: how can the left get people to attach GOP faces to policy, and why the progressive media isn't more like the right.

For the first part, I think they were reasonably successful at making Trump own his messaging? He was the face on every Maddow Show as the father of evil. But there's a problem with more general messaging because often people just don't believe that the GOP is full of liars and scoundrels who really do want to take away your health care! And the Democrat audience is meaningfully different from the GOP one which is why going full Talk Radio doesn't work despite attempts at it.

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Because progressive media would rather attach the middle dems. I mean, have you watched Rising? I love it, but they talk more about the flaws of Biden than Trump. They still think that Trump was a populist not just a narcissist who stumbled into a few populist ideas.

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Because there is no Democratic version of Fox News. There’s no massively popular outlet that is devoted to promoting Democratic party propaganda.

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I get that - my fundamental question though is why? Is the message not susceptible to it in a way that conservative messaging is? Is it the lack of a Rupert Murdoch to pull it all together? Many of us like to believe that mainstream Democratic positions enjoy more popular support than Republican ones, in which case you would think there would be an audience eager for an agenda-setting outlet like that.

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I thought SSC's comments on this pointed to something interesting - and the article ages pretty well.

https://slatestarcodex.com/2017/05/01/neutral-vs-conservative-the-eternal-struggle/

Fox's one job is to provide a safe space for conservative viewpoints in the face of a neutral media that skews left. The left doesn't have that because no one feels like we have to build a safe space to protect our views from the NYT editorial board.

Another factor is that the left is kind of a big collection of randos - we have a lot of constituencies glued together - it'd be tough to make a single set of news outlets that meets the needs of the whole big tent and stays "on message".

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There have been some attempts at making a Fox News for Democrats but they’re never anywhere near as successful.

My guess as to why is because of both supply side and demand side reasons. The supply side reason is that there is a huge financial incentive for right wing media to exist because rich people want to maintain fiscal conservatism out of self-interest and they are willing to invest in building a right wing infrastructure to help achieve that.

The demand side reason is because the coalitions are different. The right relies on galvanizing the dominant social groups. It’s targeted towards older white Christian men. That’s a coherent identity, even if plenty of conservatives differ from it in one or two ways.

Democrats are built around representing outgroups as well as in-group members who sympathize with out groups. Democrats are the party of Hispanics, feminists, African-Americans, atheists, Jews, Muslims, poor people, gay people, trans people, etc. Democrats also have plenty of people who are activists focused on a single issue like the environment instead of general ideological activists.

All those groups in the Democratic umbrella have their own interests and cultural perspectives. It’s hard enough to keep them all in one party. It’s impossible to create media that panders to all of them.

Another related part of this is that if there *is* a cultural perspective that unites much of the Democratic coalition, it’s a focus on “reasonableness” and compromise. Democrats want to seem reasonable and open to compromise, they usually aren’t thinking of themselves as warriors crusading for justice. But if reasonableness and compromise are a part of your identity, then you are going to find outright propaganda distasteful.

So there isn’t funding to build a media system to rival Fox and rank and file Democrats don’t really want one.

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I live in Missouri and have been trying to get Dems to think about winning elections for a long time. But I am just an educated commoner. Tried getting involved with local party, they say, we would love to have you on board but you can't do anything other than make phone calls because all the committees are full. State party did the same thing.

I am a social scientist and a data analyst but the only thing Dems can come up with is the literal worst possible task for me because I am not already part of the apparatus or family of the apparatus. So we are stuck with a party that seems to think Scott Sifton will beat Roy Blunt and they have been badgering me with ads talking about Blunt and Hawley being the literal end of the world.

I just don't see this particular situation changing. Why would it? D's win urban, R's win rural, they both walk away with money and power. Term limits pop up and they get state or federal jobs or consulting gigs to perpetuate the cycle.

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Hey, you might get lucky and Scott Sifton will get $90M donated from every state except Missouri so he can lose by only 20 points. And by you getting lucky, I mean the Missouri media market.

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Democrats have definitely been pandering on trade, though! I will die on the hill that pro-trade is the leftist view and anti-trade is the conservative view, because people interpret the question not as capital vs. labor but as “is it disloyal to do business with foreigners”. I’m not actually sure in practical terms how useful being trade-skeptical is in winning elections though - it might play differently in the Sunbelt vs. the Midwest.

All I know is I would like all liberal pundits to be as honest with us and themselves as Matt is about when what we’re doing is necessary pandering to win elections, and not pee on my leg and tell me it’s raining. I agree Democratic politicians need to moderate to win and winning is important, but you will never convince me it actually is disloyal for me as a private citizen to value a foreigner’s life as highly as an American’s.

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“Pandering” is useless. Those who are pandered to, know that they’re being pandered to, and are even more resistant. I think there needs to be a willingness to engage and integrate different values from different people and map out a politically feasible pathway to which all parties are committed. Then, it's not pandering.

I suspect that we are far apart in our views about immigration. I, for instance, think that the American government is established by American citizens and is bound to look after their interests first. I also think that as a practical matter, any society can absorb only so many immigrants in a given period without serious problems (e.g. many countries in Europe). These are basic limiting factors. I see the solution as a balance, with no right answer, not as a moral issue of valuing or devaluing life. But I wouldn’t consider it pandering for me to take different ideas into account when forming a coalition to progress an immigration policy.

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What exactly are the bad things you think will happen with increased immigration? For example, 14% of the people in America are foreign-born, but in New York City, that number is 36%. And NYC certainly has its problems, but it's not at all clear to me that it's falling apart in some kind of obvious way relative to, say, West Virginia (2% foreign-born).

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I didn’t say I was against increased (legal) immigration, nor that it will cause the country to “fall apart.” As a New Yorker, I’m comfortable living with a large percentage of immigrants as neighbors and fellow citizens. There are many people in other parts of this large and diverse country that have different opinions. It is not up to me to tell them that their opinions are bad and racist because they don’t want their communities to be like New York. It's not a moral question.

Part of Europe’s problem now is that their governments chose to bring in very large numbers of Muslims who are culturally alien to them (particularly in attitudes towards women) in a very short time frame. The result has been a political turn to the right and even the far right among the native-born European populations. This is clearly pushing the limits too far. America has more leeway on this because of our history, but we don’t want to be in that position. The social conflict will create a backlash against all immigration.

If you want more immigration for its economic and social benefits, there is a bargain involved. People can accept foreign-born citizens because the act of getting citizenship implies a certain willingness to commit themselves culturally to America. If immigrant citizens are perceived as having not become assimilated into their communities, the native born population is going to feel that the bargain is not being kept, and be correct to do so. The government has to be seen to be enforcing the bargain. Right now we are weak about this. We’re not controlling the borders (in the big sense), we are failing to use e-Verify or to hold employers accountable, and we are permitting mass abuses such as with the H1-B program. This is hard-assed right-wing stuff but perfectly compatible with a liberal concern with a workable immigration policy that could include more legal immigration with all its benefits.

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The vast majority of immigrants would be perfectly willing to get US citizenship, if we were offering it. But we limit the number of legal immigrants to well under the number of people who actually want to move here, so of course we end up with a bunch of illegal immigration.

You seem to be arguing (correct me if I'm wrong) that people would be fine with more immigration, as long as it was legal. But that seems wrong to me--after all, we have those legal limits on immigration, and there's no political push to raise them substantially, certainly not to the levels required. People don't dislike illegal immigration; they dislike immigration, full stop. And contra you, that really is a moral issue--if we don't let Guatemalans move to the US because we're afraid they'll change our culture, that's a genuinely bad attitude that people shouldn't hold.

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I think most conservative resistance is not so much to immigration but to changes in culture. Immigration can be a catalyst for that change. And in fact can cause people to become more conservative because of their resistance to that change.

Amusingly, in the US I think the racial overtones that surround immigration are backward. More immigration from Europe would make a more socially liberal country while more more immigration from Central and South America would actually make the country more socially conservative.

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That's a brilliant point

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Some people dislike immigration as such, sometimes because they are nativist or racist. Some might support more immigration depending on the circumstances. I think that past poor performance in handling immigration, both legal and unauthorized, has had the effect of reducing support for larger-scale or fairer legal immigration. We effectively have no immigration policy because the issue is gridlocked in Congress. The employment aspects aren’t being managed, the cultural aspects aren’t being managed, it’s just a mess.

We may be limiting immigration too much. In fact, I think we probably are. But asserting an unlimited right to migrate into someone else’s country (I'm thinking of Julian Castro now) is a very strange way to make that case. I think a lot of people feel, as I do, that your country is like your home, that you should be hospitable, but in the end you have the right to determine who should be in it.

Have you checked how hard it is for an American to move permanently to Canada? Without Canadian family or a highly desirable technical skill set, it is very difficult. And yet Canada is a liberal, multicultural society that takes in a relatively large number of refugees, and has a relatively small number of illegal immigrants. They manage it properly. We could do the same, at a much higher level of legal immigration. But there’s no question here of any sort of obligation to allow people to come as residents just because they want to.

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I just don't see any moral difference between me and a Canadian that would give me the right to move to California whenever I wanted, but not the Torontonian.

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I agree that most people agree with you – I've heard versions of this argument elsewhere – but I don't think your country is like your home. In practical terms, you're already sharing the 'right to determine who should be in' the country with hundreds of millions of other voters. That falls pretty short of being genuine power to say who goes and who stays! The US is a big place, and I don't see why I should get a vote on who lives in Alaska or Iowa, places I've never even visited.

More philosophically, the reason I don't think a country is like a home is I don't see what is shared & distinct about Americanness that makes the country a community worth walling off. Honestly I feel that way about every country – these are groups of millions of people, set apart from others by historical accident rather than by any identifiable shared worldview. It just seems absurd to imagine that everyone in the US has my best interests at heart in a way that foreigners don't, especially when so many of my fellow Americans hate me and everything I stand for.

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Canada's immigration system (much like so much about the country) works because it has the US supporting it from below. If your an immigrant from Honduras, its worthwhile going through all the countries to get to the US. Going another thousand or so miles to get to Canada is usually not worth it. When Trump's policies actually made migrants go through the US to Canada, the Canadian government freaked out and started instituting some pretty severe restrictions.

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"Canada is a liberal, multicultural society that takes in a relatively large number of refugees, and has a relatively small number of illegal immigrants."

I attribute this to their success in building a fence around Baffin Island.

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These generalizations about what people like are just too broad. I know legal immigrants who vote republican because they are very much against illegal immigration, to the point where they are almost single-issue voters. There's definitely a spectrum of pro and anti-immigration views across the range of immigration categories (spouse, family, high-skilled, low-skilled, etc...). Some of these categories have a lot more support and some have a lot less across the general public.

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I think it's definitely true that some types of immigration tend to excite more opposition than others. But it's also true that there's no broad political energy in favor of increasing any type of immigration.

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Saying that the US is at fault for illegal immigration because we restrict the number of immigrants we accept each year is a little weird, and assumes no limit on our capacity to absorb immigration. It would be remarkable if that's true, given that no other country operates like that. If I want to park somewhere downtown, can't find a spot, and park on the sidewalk, is the city wrong to ticket me, because if there were more spaces then I could legally park?

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I'd be interested to know what you think about all the research that shows immigration is a net economic benefit.

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I'm not an expert on the research, but I believe that immigration is economically beneficial. The tricky word is "net" though. I think we have been managing matters very poorly, such that we do not gain the most net benefit we could (in relation to foreign countries) and such that considerable swathes of our society are disadvantaged. I'm thinking of the H1B program which is intended to strengthen the American technology sector with highly-skilled or potentially-skilled foreigners, but instead has become the instrument for exploitation by large headshops in India and the driving down of wages for native American technology workers. One wonders whether it might not be better to eliminate those visas entirely.

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At the very least, it also benefits the immigrant, who is also probably working class. I also like the idea that immigration creates more economic activity b/c it's more people buying goods and services. I agree that if the only benefit is to make a one person's steak a little cheaper by driving down wages, that's not a good thing. But it's also good for the immigrant and probably the overall economy

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I like this distinction between a moral issue and a practical issue.

Creating an immigration policy is not devaluing life, it’s creating an immigration policy.

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I mean you can’t be honest about when you are and aren’t pandering because that completely defeats the purpose. If you say “don’t worry everyone, I don’t mean what I just said, but I need these dumb rubes to fall for it and vote for me” - that’s not going to turn out well!

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Actual people running for office can't be honest about it, for sure! But pundits and politicians are different, and shouldn't act like each other – someone whose job is commenting on politics should feel free to be honest about what they really believe and what tradeoffs they can accept to move policy forward.

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Dems really have mixed views on trade and there really is not much energy behind it to me, so it really seems like the perfect place for pandering. The candidate can just say whatever they want about trade, knowing that probably dems won't do anything about it anyways. If anti-trade is the "conservative" position you need to take to win, then go for it and then go pass democracy reform and universal benefits programs. Popular progressive democracy saving stuff will pass, and it won't change what dems do on trade; it's nothing either way.

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not to totally sidetrack on trade policy- though Matt, take us there someday! - but it's worth noting that modern trade deals are often less about quotas and tariffs, and more about intellectual property protections... You can be pro-trade and still wonder if the US negotiating position has worked to benefit certain types of US firms/workers more than others. It's a complicated topic.

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I will fight you on that hill! :-) :-)

I would say that pro-free-trade is _neoliberal_ and anti-free-trade is...whatever the opposite of neoliberal is. That's an axis orthogonal to the left-right spectrum - both the left and right have developed a strong anti-neoliberal wing, which is different than, like, 15 years ago. So you can get people on the left and right who are all grumpy about free trade, and you can go right from Bush to Obama and not see policy change.

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I will concur with some of the other posters here and argue that immigration skepticism is not a tell-tale sign of racism. Not all Trump supporters are racists, not all Republicans are evil (in fact there were at least 17 Republicans in Washington who stood up for Democracy). I could argue Mitch McConnell is not anti-democracy, and I will say his two pro-democracy speeches (one on 1/6 the other this past Saturday) were quite strong defenses of our institutions. Which is to say: the current liberal attitude of demonizing anyone who may disagree with them is a poor way to expand the tent.

This attitude also creates a self-reinforcing tendency to harden around dogma instead of listening. How can you agree to temper your economic policy when the other side is defending the 'White Supremacist, neo-colonialist, economic model which keeps all People of Color down? There is no room for pro-life voters when their religion is racist, and anti-feminist. Americans genuinely concerned that progressives will tear down their cherished country's origin story are simply ignorant bigots when you view the entire American project (and American heroes like Lincoln, Washington, etc) as suspect.

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