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Another subtweet to Kamala and her team:

Candidates of color can win. Candidates of color who want to win the whole country need to appeal to at least some right-leaning voters.

Candidates of color who would rather appeal to left-leaning voters will never win national elections.

Don't run from Kamala the cop. Lean into it. Expand on it. If your old allies on the left are not calling you a traitor, then you're not going far enough.

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But also she has the opportunity to say and do certain things without being suspected of harboring secret white supremacist sentiments. Biden is on a shorter leash than Obama ever was with Black moderates and needs to walk a very careful line. Harris can be more like Obama if she wants to.

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Very much. Her own ethnic/racial identity should give her more leeway. How many of her allies, no matter how betrayed they feel, are going to vote for the Republican? Coates was pissed at Obama, but I suspect he still voted for him.

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"harboring secret white supremacist sentiments."

Right, and her marriage does something to insulate her from the charge of harboring secret Hindutva sentiments.

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I do wonder if economic policy achievements would give Biden a longer leash

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I’m very concerned about how much Harris is loathed on the right. She needs to burnish her reputation as a centrist. As one commenter said, lean into “Kamala is a cop.”

Let’s be frank, Harris would probably have not been picked as VP if the selection had not been made during the height of the BLM protests. We had stronger female candidates.

Presuming Harris has eight years as VP, that’s a lot of time to make her untouchable. She is very charming and charismatic, but Buttegieg seems to be the Administration’s main surrogate. But if she’s not popular, she’s not easily shunted off the ticket in 2028 — the MSM will lose its mind over not nominating a black woman. Quietly pushing Biden aside for Hillary Clinton was accomplished easily.

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I think a real problem with Harris is that not only are she and her staff too online, but she has an online fan base that is so devoted to her as to border on worshipful - she can do no wrong with them. It's a level of "stan" behavior that politicians rarely get: In the internet age, the only Democrats I can think of whose core fans acted like this are Obama and Bernie Sanders, but those two combined it with (a) being much less online, and (b) having more appeal to "casuals." In her case, it's the worst of both worlds. So the feedback she absorbs is probably the opposite of what would be most beneficial for her to hear.

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That's why Matt is dishing the tough love. He knows that Kamala is an avid reader of Slow Boring, so he's got a direct line to her. You'll notice that she sometimes comments here as "no really not the VP much cooler than that".

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I thought she was Pat Sajak.

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Pat Sajak is Pat Sajak.

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I like Kamala. I think she might be a worthy successor to Biden. But what I'm afraid about her is that she hasn't been knocked down enough by defeat. Sometimes when you win all the time, you start to think that you're golden and a genius. And she is most definitely not. Bill Clinton suffered an agonizing defeat in an Arkansas reelect. Biden was a total failure at running for President (well, almost). They came out much stronger for that. (Insert obligatory FDR polio reference here too.)

Did Harris learn anything from her blink and you missed it presidential run? Boy, I hope so. Otherwise, I fear for the nation and the world that she may wind up being a manifestation of the Peter Principle.

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We are accepting Kamala as the heir-apparent in the same way that we accepted Hillary.

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Obama lost a race for Congress, too. Reagan lost two bids for the GOP nomination. (George H.W. Bush lost one, too, in 1980, as well as Senate race in 1970).

John Kerry never lost a think prior to 2004, if memory serves.

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I don't know that you necessarily have to lose to become a good politician. Kerry is actually a decent counterexample: as Matt likes to point out, he beat the fundamentals in 2004! But I agree in the sense that the *reason* Harris hasn't lost is that she rose through the ranks in a very blue city and state, so the only skill set of hers that's been tested is her ability to maneuver within the Party (not that that helped her in the 2020 primaries), which is a very different skill set than the one that's necessary to win general elections. In fact she's only ever won one competitive general election in her life (her first race for AG in 2010), and she won it in a squeaker, in the same year Jerry Brown was at the top of the ticket and won his race by 14 points. When she ran for reelection in 2014, the Republicans didn't run a serious opponent.

Some people have argued to me that her 2010 race was more impressive than it looks. I'm a little skeptical, but there are reasonable arguments there. But even if one agrees with those points, it still wasn't *that* impressive.

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I see similarities to Hillary as well.

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Obama and Bernie also had way more overall support, Harris's "stan" support compared to casual support is very high.

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Better yet be the bridge between BLM and the Cops. There was a time when we expected elected officials to be leaders.

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You may be correct. However, I’m further to the left on criminal justice than economic issues, so Kamala the cop is repellent to me. I understand my own possible idiosyncrasies as a criminal defense attorney

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I don't have a view on this, I am just attempting to make MY's message more explicit. He's not talking to you or me, because neither of us are likely to run for president. He's talking to the person most likely to be nominated after Biden, and secondarily to her political team and supporters.

Should she recalibrate to appeal to the crucial electoral block of defense attorneys who are not so far left on the economy? Only if she can do it without jeopardizing support among the vast number of voters who are university professors with snarky nyms. I.e., sorry, but your interests and my interests are among the last that she should pander to.

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And more imminently to the people who are soon to be running for senate seats. The Democrats have a huge risk of losing their 50/50 senate with the Harris +1. Mitch is salivating.

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Agreed. Though there MY's point has to be tailored to the composition of the state in question. Pandering looks different in Mass. than in Montana.

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“I bet a bunch of young, college-educated, city-dwelling staffers for the campaigns faced some eye-rolling from their young, college-educated, city-dwelling friends about some of their messaging choices.”

I think this is likely true, and I think the big unmentioned variable here - how Trump was a very different opponent than McCain or Romney - made it a lot more difficult for campaign organizations to hold their nose and stick to a tactically sound line. By raising the rhetorical stakes through his various outrages Trump goaded his opponents into electorally dubious moves like Clinton’s “deplorables” speech and Biden flirting with Defund the Police and packing the Supreme Court ideas.

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Yes but again rationally to the extent you find Trump unusually alarming you should be willing to make unusually large compromises to beat him.

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Yes, if we really believe we are facing a fascistic anti-democratic force, then beating back that force has to be the overriding objective. That calls for compromise and for making allies where we can find them. But the politics of the D party are being driven by lots of groups that each have their policy objective(s) that they will not compromise on. The modern left is more about purity than winning. Take for example Bernie Sander's unwillingness to compromise on $15/hour. There is no acceptance of anything short of that magic number. That's Bernie's brand, and why he was an obscure Senator for so long. His image changed when he did well against an unpopular Hillary, but lots of that was obviously more about Hillary than Bernie. But Ds have taken it as a sign that Bernie's political approach is The Way. Tragic mistake.

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Yea, but thankfully third parties are a joke. Say I am in favor of 11 minimum wage if you don’t like it vote Republican. On culture war stuff say I am opposed to federal funding for abortion if you don’t like it for Republican. Republicans do this to their base and they have a media ecosystem that reinforces this. I mean Christian conservatives voted for a guy who had like 4 marriages and cheated on his wife with a porn star.

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And liberal feminists voted for a guy who cheated on his wife constantly, including with an intern while he was the most powerful person in the world.

In both cases, you can find people who will try to crazy around the cognitive dissonance there and believe that Trump is God's chosen or that Clinton was a great guy, but I think the majority believed (correctly!) that this President was On Their Side In Terms Of Policy even if he didn't live those ideals in his personal life.

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Reminder: the intern scandal happened *after* Clinton had won re-election. Had it happened in 1995 instead of 1998 things might have turned out differently. By 2000 “Clinton fatigue” led Al Gore not to campaign with him.

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I’m a feminist and I don’t care if politicians cheat on their spouses. It’s exceedingly common behavior for both men and women, and has nothing to do with their ability to govern.

Conservatives on the other hand, insisted that personal character was policy, right up until it was inconvenient.

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I have eccentric views but I think the national 15 dollar minimum wage is a ploy to maintain business in expensive urban areas. I believe this because on a recent town hall with my Rep Jimmy Gomez that is what he implied. It would make sense though if you think about it. For the most part Democratic reps have no electoral incentive to help out rural folk. While on the surface it may appear that a national 15 dollar wage would help out all workers it could make jobs more scarce in rural areas thus harming people with little work experience. But on the flip side it would give businesses less incentive to leave cities as their costs wouldn't go down as much with a move to rural areas. So in the end the winners from a national 15 dollar minimum wage would be urban areas.

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That is the economist consensus. Purto Rico is harmed by the current minimum wage. What a minimum wage does is it forces people to up the quality of the work they offer. Do things like get more education or only have employees when your busiest. This has the effect of increasing productivity.

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So I am not that eccentric after all....

Just wondering what you would consider education? Would it be something along the traditional degree path like a bachleors, masters, or PhD? Or would you lump anything like apprenticeships or on the job training in that category?

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So it is generally all forms of education. Productivity does increase. But GDP and even per capital GDP goes down as fewer people work and some of those working only work the most productive hours. And terrible jobs such as dancing on the corner holding a sign, disappear.

I am sympathetic to the libertarian idea of if someone is offering a slacker job with slacker pay why can’t I take that BS “security” job where I have a uniform and goof on my phone 8 hours a day.

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It seems to be much easier to make those compromises in practice (see Israel) than in rhetoric. Working with people you don't have to pretend to agree with and make explicit political concessions to them where you don't pretend you like those concessions is easier than keeping the left flank (or the right flank, for that matter) of your coalition quiet.

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This seems extra true in the sense that "anyone but Trump" was an extremely common rallying cry. You would think that would give someone more leeway to be centrist, and it's probably why a centrist like Biden was so successful.

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I tend to agree with this but there doesn't seem to be any long term plan to fix the underlying culture and instead is just a delay and hope the problems go away.

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Cohort replacement is how most of cultural problems go away

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As a young, college-educated, city-dwelling staffer in DC in the early Obama years, I remember not just some eye rolling because of both messaging and policy choices, I remember staffers breaking down in tears.

And because DC has the memory of a goldfish, the narrative I'd emphasize is that the party lost in 2010, big time. It won in 2012, but it pat itself on the back pointing to exit polls showing that the downscale white vote didn't matter. And no one really talks about 2014. And Hillary was obviously going to win in 2016 ...

So when you get to Trump's victory in 2016, and this new discussion over the last four years about downscale whites, you're going up against a lot of momentum. I think the party started going down a pathway in 2009, not always deliberately, that it's now trying to walk back from but it takes a lot of time. And if you don't know where you are going, you'll end up someplace else.

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Yeah particularly the 2012 victory was aggressively retconned to be about immigration. In reality the big issues at the time were almost entirely economic - Romney's callous "Let Detroit Go Bankrupt" op-ed vs. Obama's auto bailout, Romney's 47% comment, and also the perception that it was the GOP's last shot at Obamacare repeal.

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How do you know whether voting shifts in 2016 were due to changes in Trumps messaging or Hillary taking the bait and making her deplorables comments? Seems impossible to decompose the variables. Did the polling change by more than a few points right after that speech? Otherwise, there was only one election. and the question is unanswerable.

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I think Matt mentioned this on a Weeds podcast one time, but you may not even have to necessarily compromise on unpopular positions- just don’t talk about them. He pointed out that Republicans are really interested in lowering taxes for the rich, (look at one of Trump’s only substantive policy wins) but they never campaign on it. They campaign on other, more popular stuff and then do the tax cuts when they win. And perhaps more importantly, the donors/activists who want the tax cuts for the rich ALSO know it’s not popular, so don’t publicly pressure the Republicans to commit to it in campaigns. They are secure in the knowledge that they’ll get them when their candidates when. It’s a dynamic that Democrats could learn from.

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Except there's always someone, somewhere, who is a Democrat, or at least a leftist, saying something unpopular, or Tweeting something crazy, or some local city council or college administration doing something woke, and we've advanced from Fox News blasting that everywhere to the more complex systems of social media online pushing out those narratives. The degree of message discipline to achieve what Obama did back in 2008 is significantly higher for the entire Democratic Party brand. Which is rather scary.

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A lot of that is because Democrats don't trust their elites to do the unpopular things that the base wants, quietly (and that mistrust is earned--the elected leadership of the party was substantially more conservative than its activist core for a long time). If you didn't want people yelling about their unpopular beliefs, you should have indulged those beliefs more back in 2009. Instead, we got an immigration crackdown from the supposedly pro-immigration party. Of course people are going to keep Biden and Hillary on a shorter leash.

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But the activist core is different than the median Democratic voter. Implicitly a lot of Democratic activists feel they should control the Party's agenda when they haven't even persuaded the Party's voters the agenda is correct.

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I think this is a misunderstanding. The base doesn't want this stuff either. Its not like the majority of the republican base wants tax cuts for the wealthy. Its unpopular with them as well! Similarly, I don't think the actual base of the democratic party wants nearly as much of the unpopular stuff as the small % who are activists thinks it does.

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Well, in defense of the Democratic base, doing the unpopular things that it wants is a lot harder than when the GOP tries to do the unpopular things that it base wants, tax cuts through reconciliation and bad judges. We get temporary executive action.

Adam Hilton in his new book "True Blues" also discusses this dynamic where the base of the Democratic Party as a bunch of social advocacy organizations, on top of the realities of the legislative process, puts a lot of emphasis on the Presidency in providing results. Like Obama and Dreamers.

In fact, immigration is a good example of this dynamic. The immigration crackdown was supposed to showcase that Obama was taking GOP concerns seriously and bring them to the negotiating table, which would be necessary to pass any sort of immigration reform package. That ... sorta worked, to the degree that 2012 and Rubio's presidential aspirations produced a Senate bill. And nothing in the House.

I don't know if a reversal would have worked out any differently. If Obama hadn't started out with a crackdown, it still doesn't change the dynamics in the House in 2013 and 2014.

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The issue is that Obama basically told immigration activists to hold their fire and not worry, because even though he was deporting a ton of people, it was a necessary evil to get Republicans to get onboard with immigration reform.

Then immigration reform didn’t happen, and those deportations that immigration activists despised happened for nothing.

So they are much less willing to accept 12th Dimensional Chess strategies now. If an immigration crackdown doesn’t actually lead to reform, then why would you remain silent about the crackdown?

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So what if Obama hadn't leaned on the deportations as a negotiation strategy, Rubio et. al. work on an immigration reform bill in 2013, but it gets bogged down in the House because Speaker Boehner doesn't believe the President will enforce the law, and the DC punditry blame Obama for not being credible on immigration as the reason why we don't have permanent protections, including a pathway to citizenship.

If immigration activists today aren't willing to accept the 12th Dimensional Chess strategies today, what exactly are they wanting? If Biden takes a better executive approach than Obama, but we don't get any bills through the Congress--let alone the House--will immigration activists be happy? Or will they complain that the Democratic trifecta failed them.

I think this applies to all the activist groups on the left. Politics is the art of the possible. What's possible right now?

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It feels like 2008-2016 was the boomers going from email to full social media usage, with 2016’s fire hydrants of misinformation wide open; all the biggest names of conspiracies with successful YouTube and Facebook channels. And while that’s somewhat tapped down, the look-at-what-some-leftist-said media empire will be with us forever.

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I think more emphasis needs to be made that we're just stuck with a certain degree of outrage politics until the boomers die off.

Take Abigail Spanberger, the Virginia Congresswoman who was the face of moderate Democrats blaming AOC and Defund the Police for the 2016 election outcome. She significantly outspent her GOP opponent, but still did about as well as Biden in her district. Just the GOP base turned out more than expected.

She wants the far left to just disappear. She thinks that would make her life easier. But in reality she's going to get redistricted, probably, and the super liberal college town of Charlottesville will be added to her district. She wants the Democratic votes, but not the social activism. But she may just have to accept that there will always be a professor or student at UVA (which isn't even that liberal!) doing something that annoys her and forces her to comment in the press about something.

I think at most the dynamic here is that Matt believes it's at least possible to make a constructive argument to donors and get them to stop funding this style of social activism that isn't electorally beneficial.

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Sounds like there's no hope for a Democratic Congressional majority, then.

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The more people that support his substack and talk about his ideas the better!

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All the Democrats need to do to win the downscale white vote is to come out swinging against all this woke nonsense. That stuff is hugely popular with about 3% of the population, tolerated by the rest of the Democrats who just roll their eyes and try to brush it under the rug, and despised by Republicans and most independents. Anti-wokeness is the entirety of the Republican platform, and motivates huge swathes of the electorate to vote against their interests. There's a chasm between being anti woke and being actually racist, and Democrats should occupy that space. It's the only way to pick up lots of new voters and they won't lose any of their existing voters. A no brainer.

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Immigration is another one where it wouldn't take much to position yourself as the "straight talk" candidate between both parties.

We are not going to deport the millions of people who are here illegally. It's just not going to happen. Trump had four years to do it and didn't really try, he preferred to complain about them. So let's stop the dishonesty and do a one time legalization to set them on a legal path and move forward.

On the other side, if you think we should have immigration laws at all, then you should support fully enforcing them. How hard is it to admit that? So having legalized those already here, going forward enforce the laws. And if they should be changed, have a debate that and change them.

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David Shor's advice to Democrats: do everything you can not to talk about immigration at all. He notes that Republicans came up with a defensible message on health care, but whenever they said it they still lost votes, because it raised the salience of health care and voters trust Democrats more on health care. Conclusion: do not raise the salience of immigration.

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The best strategy here seems to be Matt's continued effort to shame liberal foundations and donors into not funding groups that keep raising the salience of immigration or other issues.

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This sounds right.

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My understanding is a lot of people don't trust "one time legalization + enforce laws" because we've done that before: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Immigration_Reform_and_Control_Act_of_1986

and we're still having similar problems.

(And even if that's long enough ago that most people don't remember it specifically - it WILL be brought up by opponents)

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Except that is exactly what Obama did, an early emphasis on enforcing the laws on the book, with the goal of legalization for undocumented immigrants already here. And that didn't get any immigration bill passed, so he had to turn to executive action, which was catnip for the right wanting to talk about executive overreach, and also didn't offer any permanent protections. So is that just the best outcome that a President in 2009 could have offered?

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What exactly would that mean in practice?

A lot of “anti-woke” stuff is based around a pretty vague cultural grievance.

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It would mean dialing back on racial essentialism and race reductionism, focus on class issues and clear-cut racial discrimination. And dial down the anti-white rhetoric. I agree anti-wokeness quickly descends into tribal grievance but at the heart of the divide is that one side is operating with a moral definition of racism that is race-specific (something white people do to everyone else pretty much all the time) and the other side objects to that definition and favors a race-neutral one.

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(Same for any other “structural oppression” arena: men v women, cis v trans, etc. If standards of behavior rely heavily on your identity, you’re in “woke” territory.)

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But how much of that was being done by actual elected officials or candidates in the first place, at least at the statewide and presidential level? Joe Biden, for example, was hardly the "racial essentialist" candidate. Most of this rhetoric is actually coming from activists and intellectuals and a couple of fringe politicians like The Squad, all of whom have basically no incentive to dial back on anything.

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Agree. Most Republicans I talk to say Biden seems ok, but senile, and just a puppet for the rest of the party. They’d like to see him push back on some of this though.

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For many on the right, Biden saying “if you don’t vote for me, you’re not black,” or supporting targeted relief for minority owned businesses and farmers, are smoking guns that show he’s a racial essentialist. Much like Trump calling Africa a shithole or telling the Squad to go back to their countries was our smoking gun that he was racist AF. (I stand by that assessment of Trump, just trying to highlight how one side’s “gaffe” is the other sides “proof”.)

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"Most Republicans I talk to say Biden seems ok, but senile..."

As Dick Cheney said, "Reagan proved that cognitive deficits don't matter."

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The worst part about this is that it perpetuates the stereotype that most black people are poor and fee white people are. 22% of white households have incomes under $35k compared to 40% of black ones. Neither is acceptable! But it’s so misleading to crudely equate “black” with “underserved”.

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It kind of doesn’t matter whether Biden is secretly a racial essentialist or is actually a good moderate guy. The racial essentialist faction holds a balance of power position in the Democratic Party, and they will get a lot of what they want (what the courts will allow them to get, anyway) regardless of what Biden and the party's responsible moderates really think. Their game is power, not persuasion.

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It would mean doing very little legislatively, and just copying the Republican rhetoric against replacing "mother' with "birthing person" or whatever the issue of the day is. Individual Democrats will still say this stuff, but it would really help if the Democratic Establishment would disagree with it along with Republicans.

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The problem is that politicians have to win primaries, and the same logic that applies in general elections (pander to cross-pressured voters in the middle of the electorate) applies in primaries (pander to cross-pressured voters in the middle of the *primary* electorate). And since primaries are low-turnout affairs that you usually have to be a registered partisan to vote in, the median Democratic primary voter is probably around the 85th percentile of "progressiveness" relative to the total population, and that figure is even higher in dark blue metro areas. Politicians respond to incentives. The people who most need to hear your message are Democratic primary voters.

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The most progressive candidates in the NYC mayoral primary don't seem to be doing very well. If they can't win there even, is it really the case that the primary voter is in the 85th percentile?

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While I don't disagree with this point, I also think people like Yang and Garcia are very progressive compared to the average American. It's just that the Wileys and Moraleses are in like the 99th percentile, at least on "intersectionality" issues.

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Well, Biden would probably also rate as more progressive than the average American. But he and Yang and Garcia don't make it the most salient issue; they instead focus most of their attention on things that *all* people care about (jobs, money, and crime). And maybe the average American is more open to progressive ideas than we assume as long as they don't feel like they are being talked down to or scolded over it?

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It is interesting to me that the NYC Republicans can't (won't) pick up the sane-right territory left by the universally progressive-leaning Democrats. All they have is crazies.

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The NYC democratic primary is the election for NYC mayor at this point. So turnout is likely to be much higher and include people much further down the interest spectrum. Most primaries don't have nearly that level of engagement so the people who are engaged are typically much more extreme.

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I also have commonly assumed this, and I feel like we've seen it on the right, but is it as common on the left? Or does it just appear that way because most of us keep our heads down to not get yelled at but then vote for less progressive candidates?

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Maybe the Democrats should go back to the smoke-filled room to nominate their candidates . .

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Lol maybe! Obviously that would have its downsides too. The Dems are actually lucky in that the largest, most loyal segment of their primary voters (older black voters) are actually moderates, not leftists. They'd really be up a creek if young voters or college educated whites were a larger share of their base.

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The NYC vote will be ranked choice. This kind of changes everything. Yang could be 2 or 3 for a lot of voters and this gives him a better chance than many might think.

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This is spitball but when a GOP type attacks affirmative action, acknowledge you support it but also think it needs it to be reformed to include other unrrepresented groups. Say something like just as African Americans are underrepresented in Ivy League universities so are Applachian whites. We're going to adopt policies to sure whites from these regions are also represented in our top universities.

Maybe it won't work but it may get some traction.

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I think aggressively moving towards policies that are facially neutral, but have a disparate impact in the direction of closing the racial wealth gap, is the right play. That's what we did in the New Deal, when a bunch of people in the administration were actively racist and _trying_ to exclude PoC, especially Blacks, and a ton of those voters went with their pocketbooks.

Cory Booker's Baby Bonds program is almost the Platonic ideal of this. There's nothing about race in the policy. But it would do more to close the racial wealth gap than any other serious proposal from a sitting Senator that I've ever heard. It would do more than most proposals formally described as "reparations".

You would think, given the widespread acknowledgment in activist circles that a lot of the policies that created and sustained the racial wealth gap, like exclusionary zoning, were facially-neutral, and that "disparate impact" is a thing, that it would be intuitively obvious that you can do the same thing in the opposite direction. But apparently a lot of people would rather die on the hill of explicitly addressing race, rather than do something that helps historically-marginalized groups but doesn't say explicitly that it's helping them _because_ they were historically marginalized.

Like, if some chunk of the Baby Bonds money "leaks" out to help a poor White family -- even a poor White family where the present generation had rich parents, but the parents were irresponsible, abusive, etc... Like, that's _not a bad thing_! It's a feature, not a bug! We want kids from that poor White family to grow up and be successful, just the same as we want kids from a poor Black family to be successful!

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See also: Policies to provide full-ride admittance to public universities to the top, say, 10% of every high school class. (Texas was the first to do this, I think? The n% has kept shrinking because they're underfunding it. But we could fix that with federal backing.)

We might need to re-think that policy if we successfully address school segregation based on residential segregation, but for at least the next decade it would work well.

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I thought the $50,000 in Booker's Baby Bonds could be combined with $50,000 to be used toward student loan forgiveness (or school or retirement expenses) for the living - basically combine Warren's and Booker's plans, it was the same number - would be a winning Dem strategy that overcomes some of the resentment involved from all sides

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It won’t work because for all its intent, affirmative action violates basic American values and definitions of fairness and political equality that are held across the political spectrum. People know that, and will reject any any form of sugar-coating you might choose to put on it. At this point it is a political machine in which well-off members of non-black “underrepresented” groups exploit the program to the exclusion of the very people it was intended to help. Democrats would do best to let the courts phase it out for them, and then try something else that would better address the underlying need.

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Yes but it's hard for Ds to make this adjustment. The Coalition of the Ascendant meant that we wouldn't have to appeal to WWC voters in these areas. That was a relief to many, and seen as justice by more than a few. But it was obviously a wrong theory of the case. So how do you reorient the party to include WWC voters? I hope it can be done.

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1. As a liberal, I dislike the idea we shouldn't care about a group of poor people just because they don't vote for us.

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Yeah, that's a really unfair statement. But it keeps you from thinking more deeply about it, so I guess that works for you.

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I mean, what you are saying is, "iF you disagree with me about political strategies, you don't care about poor people." That's so smug and self-congratulatory, it cringey. You should be ashamed

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In St. Louis the mayor has been asked many times what she plans to do for the murder rate which is at an all time high. She won’t deviate from the canned response of we are getting relief to communities to eradicate underlying causes line. This is the reasoning for reducing police budget by 4 mill at a time when I’ve read numerous stories about how overworked and stretched police are that they can’t even properly work up murders and arrests for murders are very low. She is supported by local activists and the coalition to defund the police and will not say a single thing about how she is going to address the violent crime, I think because she is pandering her messaging to these and other activists. Doesn’t have to go all antiwoke, but needs to find the courage to give direct plain English and common sense responses to questions about crime and not worry about local activists who are a tiny sliver of people. But maybe she is smart and knows in local politics you don’t tick these people off if u want to win she is succeeding a mayor who didn’t play the activist game as well and didn’t even run for re-election. Lacy clay was probably a similar casualty. The power struggle between activist and democrat voter sentiment is really well reflected in St. Louis politics right now.

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I completely agree. Every Democratic candidate should have a 21st century version of the Sister Soulja moment. That some would buy them a lot of credibility.

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Another factor in Obama-to-Trump voters:

There are many voters who don't research positions, don't follow politics, and vote on a whim. Novelty appeals to them. Let's give that new guy a try.

These people function like random number generators, introducing noise into any political analysis. When sober researchers are poring over Obama's rhetoric, color, positions, and so on, they are looking for patterns that, with respect to the random noise voters, just are not there.

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Another thing is that swing voters often make assumptions about policies based on personality or background characteristics of a candidate instead of actually basing it on the candidate’s stated policy.

For example: I remember reading about focus groups for the 2016 election where people just refused to believe that Trump was anti-abortion, because of his secular and promiscuous lifestyle. I think one of the participants joked that “he’s probably paid for a few abortions himself”. Pro-choice swing voters thought that Trump’s official stance was just BS pandering and that he was actually pro-choice. But he ended up appointing extremely anti-abortion judges, and his appointments are probably going to end Roe v. Wade sometime within the next few years.

Another example is that my guess is that one of the things that hurt Mitt Romney was that he used to work for Bane Capital, and he just came across as like your asshole boss who fires you so they can get outsourced cheap labor. I think that may have mattered more than his actual economic policy positions.

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This was also a big benefit for Joe Biden. It's hard to convince voters that a 78 year old folksy Caucasian man is a stalking horse for the activist left/Squad.

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This is very true, and it's the main reason why it's so hard for parties to win the White House three elections in a row. It's not because people's views on policy shift. They just get tired of having the same party and start itching for "change" and "new blood."

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Obama is custom built for that kind of voter. I think bill clinton was, too, though he was different, southern charm-y not intellectual though he was a Rhodes scholar. I think it’s hard to ride that image today, I think Andrew yang is sort of trying in NYC. One big difference is how activist language is totally different today IMO. If Kamala Harris deviates at her whim from what pretty left wing type people prefer in terms of language they could go pretty hard in saying she’s giving shelter to white supremacy culture and racism, something she just couldn’t have as a Democrat leader, and it could come from her own campaign staffers. I think this language has evolved and is just more powerful and more effective and hard to ignore today.

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" If Kamala Harris deviates... they could go pretty hard..."

I believe that Matt's point is: this is *exactly* what she should do, and exactly the counter-reaction that she should hope to provoke. She needs to distance herself from the people who are unpopular with the vast majority of voters. That's not a problem for her, that's a win for her.

It did not hurt Obama to have Cornel West criticizing him from the left. It helped him.

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If done right I think u are right. Joe did some rhetoric where he made it clear that rioting is not the same as protesting. It was a small thing and one where clearly the opposing view of looting is justice too was completely wrong and unpopular. He had to thread a needle on how he responded to accusations of inappropriate touching too and I think found an effective middle ground (I won’t say I was actually sexually assaulting anyone because I don’t believe that’s true but I understand times are changing and I will adjust my practice). I think on some clear cut issues she could win the “why can’t she just call a spade a spade” mentality people over. I’m not sure anyone can do the tightrope walk Obama did anymore but I could be wrong someone’s going to try let’s see if they are rewarded.

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It would help a lot if we can get Iowa and NH out of first and second places in the primary lineup. Paradoxically, D primary voters there seem to make choices that are way to the left of the center of gravity. South Carolina went for Biden and in Michigan, Biden won every single county, even the ones with the big universities. The fact that Biden beat Bernie is every county in Michigan is one that I don't think the left has fully processed.

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Iowa gets a little bit of a bad rap. It's not *very* diverse, but by the numbers it's more diverse than a lot of people think, certainly a lot more so than New Hampshire. The main problem with Iowa isn't where they are in the "primary lineup" but the fact that they don't have a primary at all, but rather, that stupid caucus system. If they did have a primary, then having them go first would be non-ideal but also non-terrible.

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Good point. A primary would be much better.

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I disagree that Kamala doesn't have leeway. The type of voters who care about language like "systemic," "Latinx," or "Defund" is quite marginal and they hardcore partisans who vote Democratic.

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Either that or they are the sort of voter who is hardcore third party anyway. The sort of person that gets caricatured as a Brooklyn resident with a podcast.

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A good point. Hilary was following eight years of a popular guy. It’s only natural that she inherited his enemies without automatically gaining his friends.

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It would have been hard to find a less-novel, more over-exposed public figure than she was at that point.

I realize, however, that my own point is confused: novelty seeking is not the same as pure randomizing. If an electorate has a predilection for novelty, then that is a factor that can be isolated and studied. It's not a traditional political axis like high/low taxes or hawk/dove on defense, but it is still a distinct preference that a party could cater to.

So I should have said: there are randomizers. There are also novelty-seekers. With both of them, it's a waste of time to wonder which part of the candidate's message worked.

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She also seemed like a return to a pre-Obama status quo. He vanquished her to get there. She seems, instinctively, like a vote against change. Business as usual. I was frankly stunned when Democrats cleared the lane for her. You can't take someone who has been one of the most powerful people in the world for a quarter century and sell them as a change agent.

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Step 1: Move your center of operations and thought out of Brooklyn/DC. I daydream about a Democratic Party based in Madison or Des Moines or even Chicago. Hillary's campaign went the Amazon route and chose...Brooklyn.

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What does this mean in practice? Does whoever is running against Ron Johnson in 2022 come out in favor of "bathroom bills" and ban teaching about slavery because it's a way to signal being one of the good democrats who hates wokeism? Do democrats need to pretend that there were election irregularities in 2020 that require investigations just so the median Fox News voter considers voting for them?

This comes off snarky but I mean it as a genuine question. At some point, there are policies attached to positions and candidates have to have stances on those. What is the optimal mix for some of the upcoming senate contests? How much pandering and to what extent? Is there a bridge too far? Do principles matter?

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I think the woke stuff is largely principle free, it's mostly rhetoric and virtue signaling that drives most people crazy. Latinx for example, drives everyone who doesn't work for a university or The NY Times insane, including the vast majority of Latinos. So stop using it. Stop putting your preferred pronouns everywhere, if I need to know I'll ask you. The examples you mention, bathroom bills, banning Sanskrit terms in yoga, etc are equally loony vote grabs by the Republicans. That's almost as unpopular as Latinx and birthing person. The large majority of Americans really aren't crazy, and just want the parties to stop pandering to their crazy wings and get back to work. The Republicans can't until Trump dies, so that leaves an opening for the Dems.

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The pronouns are starting to drive me insane, especially when they come at the beginning of a bio written in the third person that *proceeds to use the pronouns anyway.* It’s like subtlety is antithetical to the cause.

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Why does it affect you though? Like, what possible difference could it make to your life or anyone’s life to let people put whatever the hell they want in their profiles?

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I mean, people can knock themselves out. I had them too for a while in my email signature, but I took them back out. It’s just clunky, disruptive, serves very little purpose and increases the salience of gender in interactions. It simultaneously reinforces she/he as the norm yet also suggests you might be rude to assume. I’m getting old and cranky and probably in “slippery slope” territory but my money says the next micro-aggression will be assuming someone’s pronouns without asking first (even if you’re not misgendering), with a recommended default of they/them... who is this helping? It just cheapens the overall cause of social justice by wasting culture shifting energy on something so silly.

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I have zero problem with it when someone has unusual pronouns or a name without a strong gender association and the pronouns aren’t available any other way and the reader might have cause to refer to the person in the third person later. So, when someone might actually need to be informed.

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Incidentally: the latinx/pronouns stuff is not necessarily virtue signaling either. But in academic/intellectual environs to be way “out in front” with a ultraminoritarian position is a virtue in itself, kinda like how you get ahead. That’s something you need to keep in check, not adopt as marking a new frontier every couple of years.

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I understand that, but it's pretty unimportant when academics compete with each other to invent new names. It becomes supremely irritating when the politicians, activists and elite media start forcing everyone to use them. I can't think of any political upside to a small group of mostly white media and political potentates telling African Americans that they are now Black, Hispanics that they are now Latinx, Asian Americans that they are now AAPI, gays are now Queers and all whites are Racists.

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“Telling African Americans that they are now Black” is kind of amazing in itself since I was there thirty years ago when it went the other way (though without the capital B).

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Exactly, and queer used to be a slur, but now every university has a Queer Studies Department.

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Hey now, I’m a proud AANHPI!

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The underlying Matt point is that you should pander to clearly majoritarian positions (within the groups you’re trying to hold onto), if you indeed “pander” (ironic choice of words). The ones you mention are good candidates, but this stuff is not that difficult. Obama was doing traditional Chicago politicking in this sense, and he’s just somebody who seems instinctively trustworthy and you’re cutting him slack. So is Biden turns out. That’s a trait of any politician who assembled a majority coalition.

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Although it's a totally fair question, I think the two examples you listed aren't good examples. You need to think about issues where the average Democrat is out of sync with the average voter, while your examples are tow where the average Republican is out of touch with the median voter. Bathroom bills are just plain unpopular (see: North Carolina) and most voters don't believe the election conspiracy theories either (even if it's most Republicans, it's not that much of the overall electorate).

So on immigration, decriminalizing border crossings and refusing to talk about any sort of enforcement is going to be unpopular, while taking the Obama line of "we need a fix for the people who are here and we need to have basic control over who comes here" is popular.

On race/policing, instead of "we need to defund the police and have a college lecture about systemic racism" you acknowledge that there is racism and it hurts black people while not saying you want to abolish the police (which isn't actually popular with black people anyways). You say "we need to get rid of bad cops and support good ones." Along the same vein, instead of talking about reparations (which most people don't support) you talk about raising the minimum wage (which is stupidly popular and would help a looot of people of color).

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Immigration: The Obama line was and is extremely unpopular among Hispanics because we saw our families and communities gutted by deportations.

Race/policing: The vast majority of Democrats are doing exactly what you are suggesting. It seems like a reach to argue that we are being undone by the much smaller number of liberals who share our values but don't share our judgements about messaging. Instead of responding by saying, "hey, fellow Democrats, quit sucking," we could respond by saying, "this is how our work is helping the things you care about." It seems to me that the latter is more likely to help sustain a disciplined message across a shit-ton of interest groups.

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The messaging of fringe liberals is one thing, but serious politicians is another - Julian Castro on immigration arguing to decriminalize border crossings is not a policy that is going to help Hispanic communities because he is never going to get elected in a million years running on that platform.

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Castro is also not the reason we lost Texas.

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Castro isn't the reason we lost Texas. But his utter failure to appeal to voters in the primary calls into question his view about what the electorate cares about.

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But he was the only HIspanic on stage and hardly anyone challenged his views on open borders (except Beta), so it became seen as the default D position that other Ds couldn't disagree with. So the effect he had was bigger than you might think.

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Eh- he was a no hoper independent of that choice. He thought it might win him the Bernie/Warren lane.

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If it was unpopular it sure didn’t show up in the vote tallies. In 2012 he got 71% support. Since 1976 only Bill Clinton in 1996 did better, with 72%.

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But are the majority of Democrats willing to criticize the activist “defund the police” minority? I remember Spangenberger was one of the few who did and she took a lot of heat for it.

On immigration, didn’t Biden do worse with Hispanics than Obama did?

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I think most mainstream high-profile Dems contradicted "defund the police" messaging but did not explicitly attack Dems who were engaging in it.

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For example, Melanie Stansbury in that NM-1 race this week loudly emphasized her law-enforcement support/credentials in order to push back against the "soft on crime" message of the Republicans. And it worked there.

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Biden ended up at or very close to John Kerry levels with Hispanics, definitely worse than Obama*

some regional and ethnic variation here. It seems he did worse than Kerry with Dominicans and Cubans, but better with urban Mexicans.

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A strong candidate for a purple district should absolutely take a stance that identifies them as "not just another woke Democrat." Not gloss over the issue, but play up a heterodox identity. Then vote to support most D policies quietly, and occasionally take a stance on a high-visibility issue that solidifies your "moderate Democrat" identity. It works for Susan Collins, after all, I'm sure a Democrat could do it.

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Kyrsten Sinema's 2018 campaign is a pretty good blueprint for this (mutatis mutandis to account for region, of course): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jy9YPuZwFkA

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On the genuine question part ... Here's a few things I'm uncomfortable with as lifelong Democrat, maybe even a former Progressive: (1) Equity centric legislation - Allan Thoen pointed out last night the Sixth Circuit update to the SBA program (link below since it was posted in a daily thread without an email update so like 8 people saw it), (2) Defund ICE / Open Borders - any proponents of this rhetoric should be scorned, (3) female sports - there's no upside to this issue and I've been surprised by how strongly my female friends to played college sports feel about this.

There's probably more but my point is ... if *I'm* uncomfortable with these issues, I can only imagine how divisive they must be for persuadable voters.

https://www.opn.ca6.uscourts.gov/opinions.pdf/21a0120p-06.pdf

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Wait, what? No upside to female sports?

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Maybe I was unclear there but no, I don't think for example, this EO helps win votes ...

https://www.whitehouse.gov/briefing-room/presidential-actions/2021/01/20/executive-order-preventing-and-combating-discrimination-on-basis-of-gender-identity-or-sexual-orientation/

It leads to this predictable response and in my experience this is a wedge issue for former female athletes ...

https://www.wsj.com/articles/joe-bidens-first-day-began-the-end-of-girls-sports-11611341066

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Ok. Maybe rephrasing what you were referring to here would help. In social media there is a lot about “girls suck at sports and should be in the kitchen”. I thought that’s where you were going. Your point is really gender identity and sports.

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Ken G. -- You're right. But you know what's interesting is that even here (i.e., anonymous user name, behind a paywall of an obscure site, buried deep in a threaded comment section) I didn't know quite how to phrase this issue so I just generalized to the highest level possible to avoid any risk. Crazy times.

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First, let me say that women's sports has been shown to correlate with other positive results for young women (health, academic performance, social confidence), and Biden's strategy for winning women voters clearly worked in 2020.

The broader point, however, is who cares what the WSJ wrote? Conservative media will write the dishonest, racist, and sexist thing every time. I think it would be a mistake to stop signaling support for young women in an attempt to chase the WSJ editorial page, which will always hate us no matter what we do.

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Also that’s a hell of a strawman that you built. There is plenty of space between Ron Johnson and maximally woke policy..

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I know, I know! Sometimes it's good to get attention, though. I'd like to know what the right approach is for these kinds of contests. It's one thing to say "go pander to center-right voters" but I'd like more specifics about what that looks like. Who gets thrown under the bus? What happens when there are policies at stake?

To try a less woke vs non-woke example: maybe in Wisconsin is means further damaging public education or eroding the university system a la scott walker? To win elections we should pursue more policies that shuffle public money into private schools and cut state funding for higher education?

What does an optimal pandering policy look like for Marco Rubio's opponent? What would convince enough Florida voters to cross the fence?

I think the real answer is what @dysphemistic treadmill is saying elsewhere. Democrats should lie during elections to earn republican votes. But I don't have to like the taste!

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The two examples you brought up—bathroom bills and hurting public ed—are as far as I know not popular. The first is failed Republican pandering; the second is what Republicans actually care about and can actually do with all that yummy power they win. Which brings us back to the taste: I thought Election Day 2012, when we kept the White House and the Senate, tasted pretty great, certainly better than 2014 or 2016 did.

One more thing about “lie”: a lot of Matt has said would help isn’t even policy positions, just social statements, a la Sister Souljah. Would it be a lie for (say) Biden or Harris to say they don’t think Abe Lincoln High School should change its name? That’s the kind of thing that costs you nothing, not even a policy commitment/stain on your soul.

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"Who gets thrown under the bus?"

My hunch is that MY doesn't get very clear about this because any group getting "thrown under the bus" for the sake of Democrats winning will *still* be better off in that situation than they would be if Republicans won.

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This "who is thrown under the bus" framing is an awful one because it's not accurate. This is all about which issues and policies and messages get prioritizes more and which get less. No one is getting thrown under any busses, blamed, or turned on.

The idea isn't to come out and say "I hate trans people more than the Rs!" It's to talk about popular D part priorities as much as possible and talk about unpopular ones as little as possible. And when you talk about the unpopular ones at least do it in a way that doesn't make people who disagree with you feel like you despise or deplore them

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Yeah, if there's a bus-related metaphor it should really be "who gets pushed to the back of the line to get on the bus even though in the end they'll probably get on the bus". But Democrats at least have a bus, while Republicans are looking to replace the bus with a limo and then run over the Democratic constituencies who were waiting for that bus.

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I think this is the message people like me need to hear and take to heart.

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Matt never answers the "who gets thrown under the bus?" question because he doesn't want to take the blow back, but I'm guessing he would say the furthest left immigration, LGBTQ, and abortion activists would be those he would throw under the bus, just based on where some of those issues are in polling

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I actually feel Matt has been maybe *the* most outspoken progressive / left leaning public figure on this. Obviously he's written at length what a failed message Defund the Police was - and taken the arrows. I think he's an advocate of race-neutral policy and messaging. As Kyle M points out, an early SB post on deprioritizing gun control - maybe evening leaning into it in winnable purple states.

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Definitely fair. Maybe I've gotten used to him feeling like the most pragmatic Dem pundit that I notice him pulling punches more than others

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Which is in obvious tension with his posts about taking crime seriously as a political issue

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Which parts are in tensions? I can't quite follow.

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Raising the alcohol tax & increasing number of police officers would do more to control crime without raising the culture war that is gun control.

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To defend MY's evasiveness about the question, "who gets thrown under the bus":

Isn't the correct answer simply, "let's wait and see which people are least popular with the voters whose votes we need?"

I mean -- MY is not proposing to throw LGBTQ people or abortion rights activists or Jews or whatever under the bus because he hates them personally. He's doing it because his general principle is "do popular things to get elected," and in some elections at some times and places, doing popular things will require throwing that group under the bus. Or down the well, as the case may be.

So anyone with the stance of "do popular things," when applied to unpopular people, really ought to be flexible and wait until the battle-lines of particular elections emerge clearly enough to show you what is popular and who is unpopular. Prior to that, there's no reason to hate on them.

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I completely agree with you. I respect how MY is willing to advocate *against* his own true policy preferences (immigration etc.) because it's very very important Republicans lose elections. I don't think he has it out for any of these groups who may get "thrown under the bus"

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>>>I respect how MY is willing to advocate *against* his own true policy preferences (immigration etc.)<<<

I don't think Matt's advocating against robust immigration levels: I interpret him to be saying it's important for Democrats to be careful with both political rhetoric, and perhaps the fine-tuning of immigration policy.

I personally don't get too worked up about undocumented immigration, for instance -- even quite large quantities. But I don't actually oppose effective border controls (and it certainly doesn't bother me if pro-immigration Democrats tout their "tough border" policies.)

A policy that effectively reduces undocumented immigration (whatever that looks like) need not affect legal immigration inflows at all.

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Yes, though I could not resist dropping a hint or two to ask, "exactly how far would MY go in his willingness to sacrifice the unpopular?"

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Every Party throws a subset of their voters under the bus.

The GOP has never made the anti-abortion their hardcore activists want. They've appoint several pro-choice SCOTUS picks, not killed planned parenthood funding. In 2006 Bush tried to throw the anti-immigrant types under the bus with immigration reform. The gang of 8 tried again. Bush Senior raised taxes. Bush Jr signed Medicare part D. etc.

The idea that Democrats are making some mortal sin by telling parts of their base they can't get everything they want is nuts. If you want say immigration reform, late term abortions, Dems should give up on gun control stop talking about it and say Heller was a good decision. By contrast, if you want gun control, immigration reform, late term abortion, broadest possible LGBTQ right you need to give ground on other issues that people who dislike these policies want: massive police/military spending expansion, school charter funding including religious schools.

But if you want a no compromise with the electorate platform you lose. This is true if you're a cosmopolitan Social Democrat, Trumpist, Ryanist or Deficit Hawk.

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+1. I truly do not understand this purity thing among young left activists. This is not how electoral politics, or governance, works, and it seems like the left in particular never learns this lesson.

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Democrats have a habit of overrating the opinion of young activists. Republicans have never been cool, even when they were younger, so they don’t overweight their opinions.

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In America it’s an old, old story: abolitionism, temperance, suffragism, all full of people with this purity thing. A different class of people from actual politicians.

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"who gets thrown under the bus" is a pretty drastic description of "which issues get prioritized less".

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And not even that. The Democratic Party isn’t a social justice activist group. Those issues can be prioritized by people whose job it is to push those issues.

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He wrote a piece arguing to deprioritize gun control. Lots of it is rhetorical and what you emphasize on the campaign and talk about in general.

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And, if you look at the recent legislative pushes on the right, there are specific laws attacked to these policy positions being advanced in a number of states. Does winning the senate call for broad support by democratic candidates (rhetorically, we know they're winking at us and lying through their teeth!) of, say, heartbeat bills?

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In Arkansas there is zero reason the Dem running shouldn't be completely pro-life. In Ohio maybe he/she would want to be softly against heartbeat bills, but skeptical of Planned Parenthood. Idk! Another issue I left out is policing. It's pretty clear purple state Dem senate candidates should be more vocally pro-police than the median Dem

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If we’re running pro life candidates and all Republicans are pro life what’s the vehicle to expanding abortion access?

This seems like it’s a call for broad surrender on social issues.

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In Arkansas “safe, legal and rare” was good enough for Bill Clinton to become governor. That was in the eighties though so...

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*laws attached*

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When informed about the fact 1 million Americans enter the country each year, 80% want to reduce immigration. That includes most first generation immigrants.

Likewise, 70% of Americans think abortion should be generally illegal after the first trimester.

Likewise, 60% of Americans believe that race should not play “even a minor role” in college admissions.

Democrats have gotten way out over their skates on these issues. Yglesias deserves a lot of credit for calling that out.

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Interesting that Black D voters clearly felt the candidate least likely to leave them stranded without a bus was the old white guy who started years ago by commenting on Obama being such an “articulated young man”.

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You have to win elections and Democrats can scrape policy ideas that Fox views hate like gun control or abortion. Or Democrats can talk smack about cancel culture.

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"Do principles matter?"

They do not matter politically, when you do not have the political power to make them matter. Winning is a precondition for making your principles matter.

Matter politically, that is. If you care only about winning crowns in heaven, then you will prize purity.

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Historical example: Lincoln on slavery. A firebrand abolitionist wouldn't have been the best candidate if you wanted to abolish slavery.

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Now that I think about it, this is a trick the GOP is great at playing. They routinely say one thing and do another at every level from local up to national yet seem to incur no costs for doing so. Where can we get that secret sauce?

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It's easier for them because their funding comes from a very small elite group of mega-donors. Which means: (1) on economic issues, you can actually go to those donors in person and reassure them that you'll cut the estate tax or whatever even though you aren't talking about it; (2) on social issues, you know that the $$ will still flow to you even if you aren't delivering on Roe, and you'll be able to continue targeting social conservative voters with ads.

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Small donors were a larger portion of Trump's donors than Bidens (45% to 38%) (donors contributing less than $200) and both raised hundreds of millions of dollars through small donations.

Down the ballot, two things are true and somewhat related:

1) The more extreme a candidate is, the more likely they are to rely on small dollar donations.

2) The more unlikely a candidate is to succeed, the more likely they are to rely on small dollar donations.

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Yes. (We're agreeing, right?)

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I guess the ends justify the means when it comes to politics.

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Not every end justifies every means.

But some ends justify some means.

And in fact, nothing ever justifies a means, in so far as it is a means, other than the end it is a means to.

Neither "The end justifies the means," not its negation, are worth arguing about without "some" "every" or "all" to make them determinate.

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I think that's where my questions of "how much" and "what is the optimal" come into play. MY's point is that there should be more pandering so dems can get votes but I'd like to know more about what that looks like, especially in some of the key races for the senate.

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Agreed: the only arguments worth having are about the details.

But that's why slogans like "the end justifies the means" or it's negation do not contribute to clear thinking.

Some ends justify some means. Not every end justifies every means. Only ends can ever justify means. Now let's get back to haggling.

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"I guess the ends justify the means when it comes to politics."

Max Weber described this as an "ethic of responsibility" (what are the consequences of my actions?) vs. an "ethic of conviction" (I should always do the right thing no matter the consequences - let justice be done, though the world perish).

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In Wisconsin it is things like:

1. Stating Defund the Police is a bad idea. I oppose it. The Democratic Party position is we need more police but more accountable police. We'll get more police by offering federal funding but that funding is contingent on better training and policy reforms to root out the bad apples who harm the good names of our police officers.

2. While I support immigration reform I also support serious law enforcement efforts going to prevent new undocumented immigration.

3. Blatant flag waving that makes a lot of cosmpolitans blush.

It can be other ideas but

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There are a couple of interviews of David Shor where he talks about this at length. You should read 1 or 2 of those, they'll give you a pretty full answer.

His idea is largely that Democrats should raise the salience of issues that are more popular and winning for their side, i.e. Health Care, Progressive Taxes and lower the salience of the ideas where the left is unpopular, i.e. Crime and Security, Immigration.

Whenever the big national stories are about the former, Ds are doing better. When national attention is on the latter, Ds are doing worse. Dropping a random signal here and there doesn't fit into his thesis, but my guess is he would say it would do almost nothing. Repetition is usually the way to get through to people on a message

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Thanks for the pointer. Here's the top result for me. I'll link it in case anyone else wants a gander: https://nymag.com/intelligencer/2021/03/david-shor-2020-democrats-autopsy-hispanic-vote-midterms-trump-gop.html

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Here's another good one ( although you might hit the paywall if you try to open them both on the same browser )

https://nymag.com/intelligencer/2020/07/david-shor-cancel-culture-2020-election-theory-polls.html

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Amazing to me that a guy at that age can be so good at what he does. He came up with his views at a really young age.

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Bathroom bills are an interesting example.

As North Carolina 2016 showed, this isn't exactly a winning issue for the GOP, and I don't think puberty blockers are either.

However, while I think the instinct of most liberals is to frame their opposition in terms of a broader philosophy of inclusion and opposing rigid categories, the message that plays the best electorally seems to be straight-up individual rights.

It's not fun, but, well, politics is a vocation. Queer activists never loved "born this way", but hell, it seemed to work.

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The song or the sentiment?

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I find it helpful to look at the Senators who have (at least until now) managed to still win in those states. If you watch a Joe Manchin ad, you'll see lots of guns (and other rural imagery) very little talk about party, a relentless focus on local ties, and a willingness to buck the national party ("I'll repeal the bad parts of Obamacare"). West Virginia is obviously an out-lier state, but I think if Texas Democrats ran a "cowboy candidate" who shot guns in ads, had a southern accent, and occasionally complained about Joe Biden, it could work.

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Some quick suggestions:

1) Call out defending the police as a dumb idea. Extra points for saying that the national guard should be used to protect property during future riots.

2) There's also implicit pandering in who runs against Ron Johnson. Ron Kind yes, Mark Pocan no. (Thankfully, Pocan already said no. Unfortunately, Kind hasn't said yes yet.)

3) Being pro-hunting is also a way to win some points in WI. E.g. Kind's bill to fund public shooting ranges https://kind.house.gov/media-center/press-releases/rep-ron-kind-s-bill-expanding-funding-public-target-ranges-signed-law "The bipartisan Target Practice and Marksmanship Training Support Act will give hunters and gun owners a safe location to teach responsible gun ownership and hunting safety"

4) Some pandering is just proper framing. E.g. sell conservation/environmental stuff in terms of being good for hunting/fishing.

5) Support agriculture and the dairy industry. Dairy farms in WI are going bust at a scary rate.

Need more ideas? Just look at Ron Kind's "issues" page https://kind.house.gov/issues

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>>>What does this mean in practice?<<<

A big part of it means nominating effective candidates. That's a truism if there ever was one, I know, but in uphill races everything has to go perfectly. And that starts with, again, strong candidates.

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Yup, and I add don't throw out candidates just because they lost once. If you see a candidate run a strong race and lose, nominate em again. Bill Clinton lost once early.

2nd encourage candidates to run in uphill races. I'm really pissed at the Castro Bros and Beto. The Castro Bros refuse to step up in Senate race. Beto lost a close one and instantly moved on to try to be President. We need candidates who are willing to risk losses. We also need to punish candidates who won't step up.

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Also https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-wqOApBLPio Ran over 8 points ahead of Clinton.

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Something I think about with this is “how does a candidate find the equilibrium point”, especially in a primary system? That is, how does a candidate get to the right enough to pick up a measurable amount of votes there without going so far to the right as to alienate their base voters?

Unless Matt and David Shor start a cult of popularism together and go out and start proselytizing to people about how they should vote against what they actually want for the Greater Good.

But actually though— I think most people’s instincts when they have the option (i.e. a primary) are to just “vote for someone who says stuff you like” and not “play mind games about voting for the guy who says stuff I don’t like and maybe actually believes it, but hey, better than the other guy”.

I mean I guess the counter-example to this is the 2020 primaries where the super-centrist got elected despite the vehement protestations of the leftward parts of the base. But I’m not sure to what extent that holds for smaller races, like House or Senate seats.

Or maybe people don’t pay enough attention to find out, or I’m just overestimating the numbers of people who would abandon a candidate for getting too far to their right.

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I think you overestimate how culturally left-wing Democratic primary voters are -- see, for example, the NYC Mayor election. The Justice Democrat active-aligned faction really doesn't seem to be that big. Moreover, people in competitive districts are perfectly willing to vote strategically. In 2018, we tried to knock off Diane Feinstein in very-liberal CA, and we still couldn't do it! In 2020, lots and lots of people in CA voted for Democrats but against Affirmative Action.

The issue doesn't seem to be so much that being ideologically left wing helps you in primaries, so much as it gets you media attention and fundraising. Witness how often the debate on Israel/Palestine was framed as Biden vs Ihan Omar, for instance. Bibi's wasn't pissing off AOC -- it was pissing off Chuck Schumer and Bob Menendez.

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I literally just read an article the other day that attacked the curriculum I taught last year in 2nd grade for being critical race theory for teaching the autobiography, "Ruby Bridges Goes to School" and the word injustice. I had thought the unit too colorblind and traditional when I taught it, CRT it was not.

So I'm not sure that's as far off the mark as I would have thought even a month ago.

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I'm sure I'm not the first person to whom this has occurred, but the corollary to the perception that Obama had to tread carefully on progressive policy priorities (lest he be stereotyped, because of his race, as an angry radical; some of you will you remember the infamous New Yorker cover) was the enhanced ability that his racial background -- his Blackness, if you will -- gave him to stand up to his party's left flank.

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Yup, a counterexample of a politician failing to take advantage of that opportunity is Romney. Due to his background, family and let's face it CEO central casting looks he had a lot of credibility to slap the business wing of the Party in a way that a normal Republican couldn't. Instead he leaned into his CEO image, picked the most business friendly GOP as VEEP and fought a campaign on enemy territory.

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I voted for Romney in 2012, and then moved to Clinton in 2016 and Biden in 2020. Bluntly, I firmly agree with Matt here, because if Mitt Romney was the candidate (running a relatively similar campaign) I'd strongly consider returning to the GOP. I find Donald Trump deplorable, a danger to our democracy, and now his party must be stopped. But given better choices, I would find the Democratic Party far less palatable, especially if the Bernie Sanders/AOC wing takes charge.

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This is me 100%. There's no home for even moderately Libertarian tendencies unfortunately. The situation now demands that we strive to achieve a solid majority (>55%) for rule-of-law, even if we have to compromise on almost everything else. I will continue trying to pull the Democratic party a bit more toward Libertarianism, if only at the margins, simply because there is no better hope.

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Replace “pander” with “accommodate” and this is a good take. “Pander” suggests smug condescension and it is part of the problem people are reacting to.

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Whenever people replace "pander" with "accommodate," I feel like they are pandering to me, and it pisses me off.

For god's sake, be frank! If you need to pander to me, then just do it, without pandering to my need to believe that you are not pandering to me!

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If I were pandering to you, I’d try to be as dysphemistic as possible :) I genuinely mean accommodate!!!!

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Yeah, right. "Genuinely." Nothing reeks of smug condescension more than when people say that they "genuinely mean accommodate." I mean, how stupid do you think we are?

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